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vouchsafed to us? Our bodies and our minds will then be laid aside, not with dishonour nor with a vain regret : it is time for the blossom to shed when the fruit is set; and though we would not be unclothed, we may yet desire to be clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life.
ST. JOHN xvi. 31, 32.
Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the
hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone.
This answer was made to a sort of burst of entire confidence in our Lord, which had just been drawn forth from his Disciples. “Now we are sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee; by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.” They seemed at last to have been entirely convinced of their Master's power and knowledge, and to be satisfied that he was the Son of God. But he who knew what was in their hearts better than they did themselves, saw that this faith was not strong enough to overcome the world ; that although it now seemed so lively, yet within two or three short hours it would become as dead ; that they would all desert him when they saw him in the power of his enemies, although they now felt so sure that he came out from God. And so it happened ; St. Matthew tells the story of his own weakness, and that of his fellow-disciples; as soon as the soldiers had laid hold on Jesus, he says that all the Disciples forsook him and fled. They thought no longer that he was the Redeemer whom they had expected; and their feelings were well expressed by the confession of the two who walked with Christ towards Emmaus, after his resurrection; “ We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel ;" as if they had said, “ We did trust so once, but his death has shewn us that our hope deceived us.”
But if we turn on a few pages of the Scripture, and look at the feelings and conduct of these same men seven weeks afterwards, how strikingly different a picture is presented to us. Instead of saying, “ We trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel,” their language now is, “ Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Instead of forsaking their Master, and not daring to share his danger, they now answer to the chief priests and elders, who had commanded them not to speak or teach in his name; “ Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” And again, after they had been beaten, and commanded the second time to be silent, “ they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name; and daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ.” This great change did not arise solely from their having seen Christ after his resurrection, and being thus convinced that he was the Son of God; they had seen miracles enough before during his life-time, to convince them of that, and they had declared their full belief in it; and yet when the hour of danger came, they were scattered every man to his own, and left him alone. So it would have been even after his resurrection, if their hearts had not been strengthened, and their faith confirmed by the descent of the Holy Ghost. The prayer which they had once before addressed to him, “Lord, increase our faith,” was now fully answered; a new spirit of wisdom and courage, and holiness, was put into them; and they who before could so misunderstand our
Lord, as to think that he spoke of the leaven of bread, when he told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod, were now so filled with the spirit of a sound understanding, that nothing is to be found in their writings which is not in the highest degree sensible and useful. It would be difficult to fancy a more complete instance of that great truth, that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.
From what has been said too, we may learn to understand those other words of our Lord, which many persons, I doubt not, read with extreme surprize. He said to his Disciples, “I tell you the truth : it is expedient that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Many, perhaps, cannot understand how the condition of Christians now is better than that of the Disciples when our Lord was upon earth; how the Comforter,
. whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, can be a greater blessing than the visible presence of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Yet if we look at the character of the Apostles, we shall see that our Lord's words were exactly true. It was expedient for them that he should go away,