Richard Hale

The Word Given, And The World’s Hatred

“I have given unto them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”—John 17:4

These words form part of an address from the Lord Jesus Christ to His Divine Father, and it must be obvious that the persons He speaks of are not all men generally. By referring to the first part of this chapter, we shall find that the persons of whom our Lord speaks in the text, and the whole way through the chapter, were the Father’s gift to Him. In the second verse He says, “Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him”; and in the sixth verse, “I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were and Thou gavest them Me.” From this we may understand of whom our Lord speaks in the text, when He says, “I have given them Thy Word,” &c. Our Lord spoke these words to His disciples, to whom He had preached the Gospel, which is the Word of God, and by which they had been “quickened when dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), regenerated and converted; and through His grace they had received the Word, “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13). And the same effects are produced by the Word faithfully preached by men called or sent by Him at this day. It is the means which God makes use of in quickening dead sinners, enlightening blind sinners, softening hard hearts, and of reconciling His people to Himself, who by nature are enemies to Him. Yea, great things are effected by the Word. Regeneration is effected by the Word; The Lord’s people are, in His own time, “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Conversion is effected by the Word, and thus three thousand were converted at one time under the the Word preached by the Apostle Peter (Acts 2:41). The gathering of Christ’s people into His visible Church is by the Word: “They shall hear My voice” (said He); ”and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd” (John 10:16). They shall all sooner or later hear His voice in the Gospel, not only externally but internally, and they shall be as sheep gathered into one fold under Him, the great “Shepherd and Bishop of their souls” (1 Peter 2:25), Spiritual life comes by the Word. “The entrance of Thy Word,” says the Psalmist “giveth light” (Psalm 119:130); hope comes by the Word (Psalm 119:49); joy cometh by the Word (1 Thess. 1:6); spiritual life cometh by the Word (John 10:25); faith cometh by the Word (Rom. 10:17); sanctification is by the Word (John 17:17). But then all men do not enjoy these benefits of the Word, those only whose hearts the Lord opens to receive it (Acts 16:14); those only to whom it is sent in demonstration of the Spirit and of the power of God (1 Cor. 2:4); those only who are of God’s Covenant people, and His children by adoption, hear His Word with benefit. “He that is of God” (said Christ to the unbelieving Jews) ‘’heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47). And is it so, that those whom God the Father loved from everlasting, and gave to His Son to be saved by Him, and whom He united to Himself, and came into the world to save, and hath obtained eternal redemption for them, and whom, in His own good time, He regenerates by His Word, and effectually calls by the power of His grace and Spirit from among the men of the world, to be a peculiar people for Himself, to live to His praise here, and afterwards to live in glory;—is it so, that these people so beloved of God and so highly favoured by Him, are the objects of the world’s hatred? Yea, Christ has Himself said, “The world hath hated them because they are not of the world.” Worldly men, who are under the influence of Satan, the god of this world, and who are led by the spirit of it, and are taken up with the things of it, and live without God in it—these hate the people whom God hath chosen out of the world, and effectually called by His grace from the men of it; secretly plot against them, rejoice at any evil that befalls them, catch at anything that will reproach them, and scruple not to say all manner of evil of them. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.” If He, then, who was so much before His people in personal worth and greatness, was hated by the world, His people should not think it strange if they are hated too. If they belonged to the world, walking with the throng in the broad road that leadeth to destruction, courting its applause, grasping its gains, and greedy of its sensualities, the world would love them, for the world loves his own, and hates those who are separated from the world in election, and who are manifestly so in vocation; nay, not only does our Lord forewarn His people of the hatred and persecution they will always meet with from the world, but calls upon them to rejoice at it as a token of belonging to His family, for whom heaven is in reserve. “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.” See to it then, my friends, that you are indeed in the number of the Lord’s people, for whom heaven is in reserve; see to it by that rule which He has given in the text: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” It is true, indeed, of the best of the Lord’s regenerated people, who have made the greatest advance in grace and holiness, they are not so perfect in their walk and conversation in the world or separation from it as He was, for they stand at a great distance from Him, and it will not be till they see Him as He is that they will be exactly like Him, by that transforming and assimilating sight of Him which they will enjoy. Yet even in this world there is some likeness between Him and them, and when compared to the men of the world, whose thoughts, hopes, and happiness are in it, and not beyond it, it may be said they are not of the world, even as He was not of the world. See to it, my friends, that ye are not of the world, nor in friendship with it, nor love it, for “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” My friends, if indeed you are in the number of God’s chosen, called, regenerated people, you will, through the effectual working of the Spirit of grace, become mortified in your affections to those lusts which ruled over you in the time of your ignorance and estrangement from God. You will grow more and more dead to self, with all its false ambitions and groveling views, and more and more at a distance from the life and spirit of the world, and will tremble to follow its maxims and to mix in its pursuits.

You will be taught, and not only taught, but induced to look upon earth as a strange place, where every object presents a danger, and almost every step a snare, as a region now far from the Sun of Righteousness, where your spiritual nature is exposed to storms, and your new life to deadening cold; in short, as a howling wilderness, where no spiritual herb grows for your souls, but must daily descend from your own country above, and where every kind of enemy, and every species of banenness, want, and emptiness, must continually be found. Like Israel of old, you will wander in the wilderness, in a solitary way, and find no city to dwell in. You will be as strangers in a strange land, and must expect to be treated accordingly. Walking in the spirit of your Master, the world will soon perceive the alienation and ridicule you, and, if permitted, persecute you to death, and neither the innocency nor the unselfishness of your lives will screen you from its censure, or save you from its malignity.

But be of good cheer, my Christian friends. Yet a little while, and this world with all its gilded toys, its pomp and pride, shall pass away, and you shall see Him whom your souls love, and shall be like Him. Yet a little while and you shall be delivered from the tabernacle of clay in which you are pent up, and in which you “groan being burdened,” and shall be with Christ, and behold His glory. Yet a little while and you shall have addressed to you those transporting words, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.”

Richard Hale (1773-1854) was an Anglican High-Calvinist preacher. He served for many years as Vicar of Harewood.