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from heaven; and of the benefits which they would receive in consequence of His return to His Father's house. He had given them some hints on this subject, in the beginning of His discourse, with the view of consoling them under the loss which they were about to sustain; when He said, In My Father's house are many mansions: I go to prepare a place for you; and I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. But had their inquiries been directed to the subject, He would have told them more that would have been calculated to fill their hearts with joy. Instead of making the best use of their time for such inquiries, while He was with them; grief had so overpowered their minds, that they could think of nothing but the disappointment which they experienced of all their previous expectations. Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts. This had prevented them from conversing with Him on the subject of His departure. The thought of their loss oppressed their minds, and closed their lips. They felt that in losing Him they should be left without a friend, without a guide. With His departure also all the prospects of worldly honour, which had buoyed them up, entirely vanished. How did some of them express their
64 John xiv. 2, 3.
disappointment after His death, when they said, We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.65
Our Saviour, however, endeavoured to comfort them under the privation, by assuring them that they would, in reality, be benefited by His departure. 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. He had informed them, in the two preceding chapters, of the benefit which they would receive in consequence of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who should abide with them for ever.6 He now declared to them that this blessing could not be vouchsafed while He remained with them on earth. For until He should have died, and risen again, and ascended into heaven, the Holy Ghost would not be given. But when the prophecy should be accomplished, Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them, then the unspeakable blessing
would be bestowed.
Having given them this gracious promise, that He would send to them the Comforter, He mentions the purpose for which the Spirit would
65 Luke xxiv. 21. 66 John xiv. 16. 67 Psalm lxviii. 18.
be poured from on high.68 When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. These are the three topics which Christianity brings before mankind; it shows the awful condition in which man is by nature; what is required of him in order to his acceptance with God; and the necessity which exists that a change should take place in him, before he departs out of this life, in order to his eternal happiness. When these truths are set forth from the word of God, the Holy Spirit applies them to the conscience by His almighty power and grace, so that the testimony delivered concerning them is not in vain. He reproves, or convinces, or convicts the mind of sin. He brings home a sense of guiltiness to the conscience of the transgressor, awakens it from its state of hardened security and unconcern, and leads the sinner to embrace the salvation of God.
But our Saviour explains the subject Himself. He will reprove the world of sin, or of their sinful state, because they believe not in Me. All men are under the power and dominion of sin, who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He
came into the world to save sinners.69
And to Him
give all the prophets witness, that, through His name, whosoever believeth in Him, shall receive
68 Isaiah xxxii. 15.
691 Timothy i. 15.
remission of sins.
But those who do not believe in Him will die in their sins. There is no pardon of sin but through faith in His name.
The Spirit of God also reproves or convinces the world of righteousness, of the righteousness of Christ, of the perfection of His character, which was especially manifested by His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into heaven; because, said our Saviour, I go to the Father, and ye see Me no more. It became Him to fulfil all righteousness"1 on behalf of those whom He came to redeem; who are made the righteousness of God in Him.72 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth in His name. The righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.73 It is of this righteousness that the Spirit of God testifies, that it was completed by our blessed Saviour's obedience unto death. The proof given of this is, His resurrection from the dead, which was for the justification of the ungodly; and His ascension to the Father, to plead the merit of His obedience, as the High Priest of His church, before the throne of God; in order that for His sake the blessing promised to the righteous may be vouchsafed to them.
It is further said, that the Spirit of God should
70 Acts x. 43. 71 Mat. iii. 15. 722 Cor. v. 21. 73 Rom. x. 4, iii. 22.
reprove the world of judgment. This might be supposed to refer to the judgment to come; a subject on which the Apostles insisted in their discourses, after the ascension of their Lord and Master into heaven. They said that He commanded them to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. And we find St. Paul consequently discoursing before Felix of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, in such a manner that the Roman governor trembled in the presence of his prisoner. The reason given for the Spirit's reproving the world of judgment is, because the prince of this world is judged. The judgment or condemnation of Satan and the fallen angels has been considered as introduced here for the purpose of showing the ungodly that there is no hope of transgressors escaping the punishment denounced against sin.
But there is another interpretation put upon these words, in consequence of similar expressions being used by our blessed Lord on other occasions, which have evidently a different meaning from that which has been just mentioned. When some Gentiles came to see the Lord Jesus, and He was led in consequence of it to reflect upon the bitter sufferings that awaited