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he has here declared, Ye are my friends indeed, if ye do whatever command I you. Lord, we will run the way of these thy commandments, when on this noblest principle thou shalt enlarge our hearts! (Psalm cxix. 32.)
He has loved us with an unexampled affection, which has approved itself stronger than death; and, in return, he requires us to love one another. How gracious a command! How merciful to our fellow-creatures and to ourselves, who should infallibly feel the benefit of the practice of it, both in the delight inseparable from benevolent affections, and in the circulation of kind and friendly offices, which, degenerate as human nature is, few are so abandoned as not to endeavour to repay! Who would not imagine that the whole world should feel and obey the charm? And yet, instead of this, behold, they hate Christ, and his servants for his sake, though without a cause, and against the strongest engagements. Miserable creatures! who by a necessary consequence, whatever they may fondly imagine, hate the Father also, and stand daily and hourly exposed to all the dreadful terrors of an almighty enemy.
Let us not wonder if the world hate us: nor greatly regard it if it injure us. We are not of the world, nor is the servant greater than his lord: but surely the opposition which the gospel brings along with it, is nothing when compared with those blessings which it entails on all who faithfully embrace it. Were the sufferings and difficulties a thousand times greater than they are, we ought to esteem the Pearl of price, the most happy purchase at any rate, and to be daily returning our most thankful acknowledgments, that Christ sent forth his apostles, qualified with such a knowledge of himself, and assisted by such power from his Spirit, appointing them to go and bring forth fruit, even fruit which should remain to the remotest ages. Through his guardian care it still remains in the world: Oh may it flourish more abundantly among us! and may its efficacy on our hearts and lives be more apparent! And may Divine grace convince those who now reject and oppose it, that in the midst of such various evidence of his having come and spoken to them, they have no cloak for their sin! but with whatever fond excuses they may amuse themselves and others, it will quickly appear, that the bed is too short to stretch themselves on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap themselves in. (Isa. xxviii. 20.)
JOHN XVI. 1-15.
THESE things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.—But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you 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. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
How great is the ignorance and folly of them that persecute their brethren iu the name of the Lord, and kill his dear children under the pretence of offering him an acceptable
sacrifice! Thus were the apostles treated by those that knew not the God for whom they professed all this burning zeal. Let us bless God that we are providentially sheltered from those effects of it which might otherwise bear so hard upon us: and let us diligently watch over our hearts, that no irregular affections may work there, and no uncharitable sentiments be harboured. When, like the apostles, our hearts are filled with sorrow, let us be cautious that they may not be stupified by it, so that any call of duty should pass unheard or any opportunity of religious advancement unimproved; and let us not be indolent in our inquiries into the meaning of those dispensations which we do not understand; but seriously consider whether we are not sorrowful for that which is indeed designed for our advantage, and in the issue will be matter of rejoicing to us.
We hear to what purposes the Comforter was sent. His coming was designed in a peculiar manner for the advantage of the apostles; and was of greater service to them than the continuance of Christ's presence with them in the body would have been, not only to support and comfort them under all their trials, but to acquaint them with all necessary truth, and fully to instruct them in the mysteries of godliness. And he came also for the conviction of an apostate world; for the important errand he was sent upon was to awaken men's minds, and to convince them of their own guilt, and of Christ's righteousness, and of that awful judgment which should be executed on the most inveterate of his enemies. Let us often think of the force of the Spirit's testimony to the truth of Christianity, and endeavour to understand it in all its extent. Let us bless God that the gospel, and the character of his Son, were thus vindicated; and rejoice in the views of that complete conquest, to which Satan is already adjudged. In the mean time let us earnestly pray that the influences of the Holy Spirit may be communicated to us in such a manner that Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him; and that the things of Christ may be taken, and shewn to us by that Spirit; for it can only be done by means of his influence and operations.
JOHN XVI. 16-33.
A LITTLE While, and ye shall not see me and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A
little while, and ye shall not see me and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name : and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we 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. 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 and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
We are, perhaps, often regretting the absence of Christ, and looking back with emulation on the happier lot of those who conversed with him on earth in the days of his flesh : but if we are true believers in an unseen Jesus, it is but a little while and we shall also see him; for he gone to the Father, and will so successfully negociate our affairs there, that whatever our present difficulties and sorrows are, they shall end more happily than those of a woman, who after all the pangs and throes of her labour, through the merciful interposition of Divine Providence, is made the joyful mother of a living child.
In the mean time, we have surely no reason to envy the world its joys and triumphs; alas, its season of weeping will quickly come! But our lamentations are soon to be turned into songs of praise and our hearts to be filled with that solid, sacred and peculiar joy, which, being the gift of Christ, can never be taken away.
While we are in this state of distance and darkness, let us rejoice that we have access to the throne of grace through the prevailing name of Christ. Let us come thither with holy courage and confidence, and ask that we may receive; and so our joy may be full. With what pleasure may we daily renew our visits to that throne, before which Jesus stands as an Intercessor; to that throne, which is possessed by the Father, who himself loveth us, and answers with readiness and delight those petitions which are thus recommended! May our faith in Christ, and our love to him, be still on the increasing hand; and our supplications will be more and more acceptable to him, whose loving-kindness is better than life! (Psalm lxiii. 3.)
Surely we shall be frequently reviewing these gracious discourses which Christ has bequeathed us as an invaluable legacy. May they dwell with us in all our solitude, and comfort us in every distress! We shall have no reason to wonder if human friendship be sometimes false, and always precarious : the disciples of Christ were scattered in the day of his extremity, and left him alone, when they were under the highest obligations to have adhered to him with the most inviolable