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1. It is matter of consolation to all Christians that in God's house there are many mansions, suited to the character and circumstances of every individual; none indeed for the wicked and impenitent; for without holiness no man shall see the Lord; but apartments which are adapted to real Christians of every degree. Let none of the humble followers of Jesus then despond; I will not say, however mean their condition in life, or however limited their knowledge; for these circumstances are not inconsistent with the best qualifications for heaven; but however imperfect their attainments in virtue and piety, provided these attain. inents are real, and proportioned to the advantages which they have enjoyed. There is a place provided for you in heaven, a inansion of glory and honour, in which you will not be disturbed for ever. Let this be your comfort and refuge amidst all the evils and distractions of life:
2. Let Christians support their minds under the absence of Christ by the considerations suggested to the apostles : he is gone to prepare a place for you, to dispose for your residence that portion of the universe which God, in his infinite wisdom; has designed for this purpose, whether it be above the sky, or, as is more probable, on this earth. He is still, therefore, acting the part of a friend, although in a manner unknown to you, and you will see hini again; for when he has accomplished this necessary work, he will come and take you to himself, that you may dwell with him. Why then should you repine at his absence? It is only a separation for a short period, necessary for your benefit, and to be succeeded by an union which shall never be broken. Wherefore let not your hearts be troubled, but, comforting yourselves with this prospect, walk in the way which he has kindly pointed out to you, not doubting that it will have this happy termination.
3. Remember that in order to entertain these prospects it is necessary to exercise faith both in God and Christ: for it is upon them that you depend for the accomplishment of the whole. Labour, therefore, to have this principle strengthened in your minds; for this purpose reflect frequently upon the manifestations of divine power, as they appear in the works of nature, and more especially in the miracles of Jesus Christ. He that could do such things must assuredly have come from God, and is a striking image of the Deity; he who was invested with power to raise Lazarus from the grave, may likewise be enabled by the same Being to raise the whole race of mankind at the last day. Let us, therefore, 'trust his power; for there is nothing which he may not be able to do, when thus supported and with God dwelling in him.
John xiv. 15. to the end. Our Lord still continues to suggest topics of consolation to his apostles, oppressed with grief at the prospect of his removal from them; and with this view assures them that they will have another friend, to supply the place of him whom they were about to lose.
15. If ye love me keep my commandments.
If you feel for me so much affection as you profess by your words, or as you intimate by your looks and gestures, manifest it by observing my precepts, which will be more acceptable to me than any signs of grief which you discover at the news of my departure. :: 16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another advocate that he may abide with you for ever.
An advocate, for so the word ouglit to be rendered, 1 John ii. 1. among the ancients, was a person who assisted another in any cause by his presence and counsel. Such a person had Christ been to his disciples, while visibly present with them, and such would the gifts of the Holy Spirit be, wlich they were now to receive from God, at his departure, by explaining the nature of that dispensation which the apostles were to be employed in communicating to the world, and justifying the character which they assumed as divine teachers. The divine influence, we see, is here personified, a mode of speaking which was familiar to the Jews, and of which we have remarkable examples in what is said of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and of sin and death in the New Testament. In like manner the providence of God is often personified in our own language. Neither this passage nor any that follow in this discourse of Christ afford any countenance to the commonly received opinion of the personal and separate existence of the Holy Spirit.
“ That he may abide with you for ever.” Their master remained with them but a short time; but this friend was to continue with them as long as they lived, a circumstance which would not fail to afford them much encouragement. Accordingly we find that miraculous powers continued during the whole of the apostolic age.
“I will pray the Father.” These miraculous powers had been already promised by Christ and predicted by the Divine Being in the prophecies of the Old Testament, but Christ would ask them in prayer, notwithstanding, as an acknowledgment that they came from heaven; and an assurance of this nature from one who stood so high in the divine favour as their master did, would greatly strengthen the faith of his disciples. In the fourteenth verse of this chapter he had said, referring to these miraculous gifts, that whatever they should ask of God he would do; but his language now and on that occasion is perfectly consistent. After the ascension of Christ, as well as while he was visibly present with his disciples, the miraculous powers with which they were endowed came immediately from Christ, but originally from God.
17. Even the spirit of truth, so Vol. 2.)
called, because bestowed in order to confirm, and sometimes to communicate; the most important truth, that which is contained in the gospel of Christ, whom the world cannot receive, because it discerneth it not, neither knoweth it.
Miraculous powers were communicated only to those who believed in the divine mission of Jesus, and consequently in the existence of such powers. They were therefore withholden from the greatest part of the Jewish nation, who could perceive no traces of the existence of such powers, or of the truths which they were employed to establish. On the contrary, the disciples of Jesus, who believed the evidence of miracles, should have these powers residing in them as long as they lived.
But ye will know it; for it will dwell with you and shall be in you.
18. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you in a little time.
The disciples were afraid that, when their master departed from them, they should be left like children without a father; but Christ assures them that he will not leave them in so destitute a condition, but come again to them himself in a very short tiine.
19. And the world seeth me no more, but ye will see me: because I live ye shall live also.
Although I shall not show myself publicly to the Jews after my resurrection, yet I shall appear to you, my disciples, and hereby afford you the consoling assurance that, as I your master and fellow-mortal have risen to eternal life from the grave, so shall you likewise.
20. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
When I return to life and have ascended on high, you will be convinced more fully than at present of the intimate union which subsists between me and the Father; for you will find that I am perfectly aüquainted with the plan which he has formed for the salvation of mankind by the gospel. You will also find in that day, in consequence of the many things which I shall explain to you, that there is an intimate union subsisting between yourselves and me, and that I am likewise perfectly acquainted with your thoughts and purposes, so that it may be said that I am in you. Christ again reminds his disciples that these favours could be expected only by those who showed their affection to him by keeping his commandments.
21. He that hath •my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
The manifestation here promised to the disciples was to be wholly of a spiritual nature, and to consist in the communication of supernatural knowledge and supernatural powers: but some of the disciples, whose minds were still occupied with the idea of his being a temporal prince, supposed that it would consist in some public appearance, and therefore wondered how it could be confined to themselves.
22. Judas saith unto him (not Iscariot) Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world ?