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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 he do, because I go unto my Father, ch. xiv. 12. By the works which the apostles were to do, we understand miracles. These 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
Howbeil, when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, chap. 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 them 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 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 calamity, and make us more than conquerer's over every foe.
S. In all your distresses, call to remembrance the place to which Jesus Christ is gone. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, chap. 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 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 inake 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 haye 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: be has breathed out his soul in the hands of bis 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 combating 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 earth / the person, whose loss you so bitterly deplore, would reproach you with that excess of grief. He would address you in the words of the Saviour to his disciples: if you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, for the Father is greater than 1. Would
you tear me from the bosom 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 bath 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, chap. xiv. 2. God no longer dwells in light which no man can approach unto, i Tim. vi. 16. Direct your eyes to heaven. There are no longer cherubims and a flaming sword, Gen. m. 24. to obstruct your passage. Wither 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 your 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 us, as into a state of exile, and the place which Christ is preparing for us. God is still, with respect to us, a strong God, who hideth himself, Isa. xlv. 15. Well, you must learn to look through that veil. You must learn to fill up the mighty void which is between heaven and earth, and to see this God who still conceals himself from our eyes. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. 'The Christian is instructed to unite the present to futurity. The Christian is instructed to anticipate periods the most remote. The Christian is a man already quickened together with Christ; already glorified ; already seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, Eph. ii. 5. How so ? By the foretastes of those blessings which are the objest of his expectations. This is the fourth source of the consolation which our Lord opens to his disciples, and which we, after him, open unto you. From henceforth, ye know the Father, and have seen him: he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father : peace I leave with you ; my peace I give unto you ; not as the world giveth, give I unto you, chap. xiv. 7, 9, 27.
My soul, if these are mere empty ideas with respect to thee, to thyself alone is the evil to be imputed. Thou hast corrupted thy taste: thou art plunging thyself in the world : distracting thyself with its projects : eagerly hunting after its pleasures: thou art suffering thyself to be facinated with its charms: thou art devoting no portion of thy immortal capacity to the perception of that delight which the regenerated man enjoys, when he can say to himself, “ I know the Father : he is such as I know the Son to be, full of love, full of charity, full of goodness and long-suffering. Jesus Christ has left me his peace : I bear within me