« AnteriorContinuar »
be pleased to administer to sustain them: “O my God, hear the prayer of thy servant; cause thy face to shine upon me, for the Lord's sake.” Dan. ix. 17. This exercise, my friend, will render thee invulnerable; this exercise will communicate strength on which thou mayest, with confidence, rely, far beyond what thou durst have expected: it will place thee under the shadow of the Almighty, and will establish thee “ as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever,” Ps. cxxv. 1.
2. In all your distresses call to remembrance the promise of the Comforter, which Jesus Christ gave to his disciples: “I will pray the father, and he shall give you another Comforter; that he may abide with you for ever,” ch. xiv. 16. This promise contained something peculiar, relatively to the apostles, and to the then state of the infant church. It denoted the economy of miracles, which was not to commence till Jesus Christ had re-ascended into heaven; and this is precisely the meaning of these words: “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you," ch. xvi. 7.; it is likewise the meaning to be assigned to that passage, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall hedo; because
go unto my Father," chap. xiv. 12. By the works which the apostles were to do, we are to understand miracles. Those works were to be greater than the works of Jesus Christ, with respect to their duration, and with respect to the number of witnesses in whose presence they were to be performed.
This is, farther, the idea which we are to affix to those other words of our Saviour: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth,” ch. xvi. 12,13. This refers to those extraordinary gifts which the Holy Spirit was to pour down upon the apostles, the aid of inspiration, and the grace of infallibility, which were going to be communicated to them. It is likewise of those peculiar circumstances, that we must explain the effects which Jesus Christ ascribes to that Spirit whom he promises to send to his disciples: “And when he the Comforter is come, he will reprove the world of sin, because they believe not on me," chap. xvi. 8, 9.; or as it might have been translated, he shall convince them of their criminality in refusing to believe on me: in other words, that the mission of the Holy Spirit which Jesus Christ had promised to his disciples, should be a new proof of the divinity of his own mission, and should render those persons
inexcusable who presumed to call it in question.
Again," he shall reprove them of righteousness, because I go to my Father,” ver. 10. that is, the miraculous gifts communicated to the first heralds of the gospel, should demonstrate, in a sensible manner, that Jesus Christ was in heaven, and should, from that very circumstance, evince that he was perfectly righteous, although he had been condemned as an impostor, seeing that God had thus exalted him to the highest pinnacle of glory.
Once more," he shall reprove then of judgment; because the prince of this world is judged,” ver. 11.; in other words, that the triumphs which the Christian religion was about to obtain, through the miraculous endowments of its ministers, were to be an awful forerunner of the judgments which should overtake those who persisted in their unbelief. All this is peculiar to the apostles ; all this relates to the circumstances of the primitive church.
But this promise, my beloved brethren, has a reference to us also ; and let it be our support in the midst of tribulation. Jesus Christ has promised to us also, the Comforter. His spirit is within us : “ Greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world," 1 John iv. 4. Let us yield ourselves to the guidance of this Spirit : he will not grant us to exercise authority over insensible beings, to control the powers of nature, and to rule the elements ; but he will exalt us to a glorious superiority over flesh and blood; he will support us under every pressure of calatnity, and make us more than conquerors over
3. In all your distresses, call to remembrance the place to which Jesus Christ is
loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father," ch. xiv. 28. It is the desire of Jesus Christ, that his disciples, on being separated from him, should not confine their thoughts to their own interest merely. It is his wish, that the glory to which he was about to be exalted, should sweeten to them the bitterness of separation. Jesus Christ teaches us how to love. We
We frequently imagine, that we
are inspired with love to a person cruciated with agonizing pain, whereas it is only self-love in disguise. When death has removed a person, who was justly dear to us, we dwell only on the loss which we have sustained, but make no account of what our friend has gained. Whence proceed those tears which stream from your eyes ? Whence these sighs and sobbings? What dreadful event can thus have rent your heart, and excited those piercing shrieks which rend the air ? You have just beheld one who was the object of your tenderest affection depart out of this valley of tears : he has breathed out his soul into the hands of his Creator, and the blessed angels, who rejoice over a sinner that repenteth, Luke xv. 10. experience new transports of delight, when a believer who had been combatting under the banner of the cross of Christ, comes to be admitted to a participation in his triumph : and can you consider this as a ground of affliction to you? Do you call this love ? No, you know not how to love.
Ah! if the departed could see what is passing below the sun! if the supreme order of the Almighty would permit those who are in heaven to maintain a communication with their surviving friends on the earthi ! the person, whose loss you so bitterly de plore, would approach you with that excess of grief. He would address you in the words of the Saviour to his disciples : “If you loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” Would you tear me from the bosomi of that Father? Would you recall me to this scene of tribulation and distress? Do you wish to see me
again struggling with the calamities which are inseparable from the life of wretched mortals ?
But there is something farther which challenges our attention. All that our blessed Lord has done for himself, has an intimate relation to us. All the glory which rests on our illustrious Head, extends its influence to each of its members. All the parts of the economy into which he has entered for our salvation, have a direct reference to our salvation. “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification: He is even at the right hand of God, where he also maketh intercession for us," Rom. iv. 25. viii. 34. In all your distresses, reflect not only on the place to which Christ is gone, but likewise on what he hath thither gone to do, on your behalf. “In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you,” ch. xiv. 2. God no longer dwells in light which no man can approach unto, 1 Tim vi. 16. Direct your eyes to heaven. There are no longer cherubims, and a flaming sword, Gen. iii. 24. to obstruct your passage. Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know : .... Jesus Christ is the way, and the truth and the life, ch. xiv. 4. 6. Keep but yourselves closely united to the Redeemer in the hour of tribulation; place continually before your eyes this model of patient suffering, and he will himself conduct you to those mansions of glory.
4. But an impenetrable veil conceals from our eyes those mansions in our Father's house : but there is an infinite distance between this little corner of the world, into which God has been pleased to send