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come unto you.” One reason why, if he went not away, the Holy Ghost could not come, we may gather from what has been observed, concerning the prudent and wary carriage of our Saviour all through his ministry, that he might not incur death with the least suspicion of a malefactor. And therefore, though his disciples believed him to be the Messiah, yet they neither understood it so well, nor were so well confirmed in the belief of it, as after that, he being crucified and risen again, they had received the Holy Ghost; and with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, a fuller and clearer evidence and knowledge that he was the Messiah. They then were enlightened to see how his kingdom was such as the Scriptures foretold ; though not such as they, till then, had expected. And now this knowledge and assurance, received from the Holy Ghost, was of use to them after his resurrection; when they could now boldly go about, and openly preach, as they did, that Jesus was the Messiah ; confirming that doctrine by the miracles which the Holy Ghost empowered them to do. But till he was dead and gone, they could not do this. Their going about openly preaching, as they did after his resurrection, that Jesus was the Messiah, and doing miracles every where, to make it good, would not have consisted with that character of humility, peace, and innocence, which the Messiah was to sustain, if they had done it before his crucifixion. For this would have drawn upon him the condemnation of a malefactor, either as a stirrer of sedition against the public peace, or as a pretender to the kingdom of Israel. Hence we see, that they, who before his death preached only the “Gospel of the kingdom ;” that the kingdom of God was at hand;" as soon as they had received the Holy Ghost, after his resurrection, changed their style, and every where in express words declare, that Jesus is the Messiah, that King which was to come. This the following words here in St. John xvi. 8-14, confirm ; where he goes on to tell them, “ And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin; because they believed not on me.” Your preaching then, accompanied with miracles, by the assistance of the Holy Ghost, shall be a
conviction to the world, that the Jews sinned in not believing me to be the Messiah. “Of righteousness," or justice; “because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." By the same preaching and miracles you shall confirm the doctrine of my ascension; and thereby convince the world, that I was that just one, who am, therefore, ascended to the Father into heaven, where no unjust person shall enter. “Of judgment; because the prince of this world is judged.” And by the same assistance of the Holy Ghost ye shall convince the world, that the devil is judged or condemned by your casting of him out, and destroying his kingdom, and his worship, wherever you preach. Our Saviour adds, “ I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now.” They were yet so full of a temporal kingdom, that they could not bear the discovery of what kind of kingdom his was, nor what a king he was to be: and therefore he leaves them to the coming of the Holy Ghost, for a farther and fuller discovery of himself, and the kingdom of the Messiah; for fear they should be scandalized in him, and give up the hopes they now had in him, and forsake him. This he tells them, ver. 1 of this xvith chapter: “ These things I have said unto you, that you may not be scandalized.” The last thing he had told them, before his saying this to them, we find in the last verses of the preceding chapter: 6 When the Paraclet is come, the Spirit of truth, he shall witness concerning me.” He shall show you who I am, and witness it to the world; and then, “ Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning." He shall call to your mind what I have said and done, that ye may understand it, and know, and bear witness concerning me. And again here, John xvi., after he had told them they could not bear what he had more to say, he adds, ver. 13, “ Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; and he will show you things to come: he shall glorify me." By the Spirit, when he comes, ye shall be fully instructed concerning me; and though you cannot yet, from what I have said to you, clearly comprehend my kingdom
and glory, yet he shall make it known to you wherein it consists: and though I am now in a mean state, and ready to be given up to contempt, torment, and death, so that ye know not what to think of it; yet the Spirit, when he comes, “shall glorify me," and fully satisfy you of my power and kingdom ; and that I sit on the right hand of God, to order all things for the good and increase of it, till I come again at the last day, in the fulness of glory.
Accordingly, the apostles had a full and clear sight and persuasion of this, after they had received the Holy Ghost; and they preached it every where boldly and openly, without the least remainder of doubt or uncer. tainty. But that, even so late as this, they understood not his death and resurrection, is evident from ver. 17, 18, " Then said some of his disciples among themselves, « What is it 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 know not what he saith.” Upon which he goes on to discourse to them of his death and resurrection, and of the power they should have of doing miracles. But all this he declares to them in a mystical and involved way of speaking: as he tells them himself, ver. 25, « These things have I spoken to you in proverbs ;” i. e. in general, obscure, ænigmatical, or figurative terms (all which, as well as allusive apologues, the Jews called proverbs or parables.) Hitherto my declaring of myself to you hath been obscure, and with reserve; and I have not spoken of myself to you in plain and direct words, because ye" could not bear it.” A Messiah, and not a King, you could not understand : and a King living in poverty and persecution, and dying the death of a slave and malefactor upon a cross ; you could not put together. And had I told you in plain words, that I was the Messiah, and given you a direct commission to preach to others, that I professedly owned myself to be the Messiah ; you and they woulů have been ready to have made a commotion, to have set me upon the throne of my father David, and to fight for me; and that your Messiah, your King, in whom are your hopes of a kingdom, should not be delivered up into the hands of his enemies, to be put to death; and of this Peter will instantly give you a proof. But “the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in parables; but I shall show unto you plainly of the Father.” My death and resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, will speedily enlighten you, and then I shall make you know the will and design of my Father; what a kingdom I am to have, and by what means, and to what end, ver. 27. And this the Father himself will show unto you; “ For he loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from the Father.” Because ye have believed that I am “the Son of God, the Messiah;” that he hath anointed and sent me; though it hath not yet been fully discovered to you, what kind of kingdom it shall be, nor by what means brought about. And then our Saviour, without being asked, explaining to them what he had said, and making them understand better what before they stuck at, and complained secretly among themselves that they understood not; they thereupon declare, ver. 30, “Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee.” It is plain, thou knowest men's thoughts and doubts before they ask. “By this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered, Do ye now believe?” Notwithstanding that you now believe, that I came from God, and am the Messiah, sent by him; “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered;" and as it is Matth. xxvi. 31, and “shall all be scandalized in me.” What it is to be scandalized in him, we may see by what followed hereupon, if that which he says to St. Peter, Mark xiv., did not sufficiently explain it.
This I have been the more particular in, that it may be seen, that in this last discourse to his disciples (where he opened himself more than he had hitherto done; and where, if any thing more was required to make them believers than what they already believed, we might have expected they should have heard of it) there were
no new articles proposed to them, but what they believed before, viz. that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, sent from the Father; though of his manner of proceeding, and his sudden leaving of the world, and some few particulars, he made them understand something more than they did before. But as to the main design of the Gospel, viz. that he had a kingdom, that he should be put to death, and rise again, and ascend into heaven to his Father, and come again in glory to judge the world; this he had told them: and so had acquainted them with the great counsel of God, in sending him the Messiah, and omitted nothing that was ne. cessary to be known or believed in it. And so he tells them himself, John xv. 15, “ Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord does : but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you ;” though perhaps ye do not so fully comprehend them as you will shortly, when I am risen and ascended.
To conclude all, in his prayer, which shuts up this discourse, he tells the Father, what he had made known to his apostles; the result whereof we have, John xvii. 8, “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and they have believed that thou didst send me." Which is, in ef. fect, that he was the Messiah promised and sent by God. And then he prays for them, and adds, ver. 20, 21, “ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word.” What that word was, through which others should believe in him, we have seen in the preaching of the apostles, all through the history of the Acts, viz. this one great point, that Jesus was the Messiah. The apostles, he says, ver. 25,“ know that thou hast sent me;" i. e. are assured that I am the Messiah. And in ver. 21 and 23, he prays, “ That the world may believe" (which, ver. 23, is called knowing) " that thou hast sent me." So that what Christ would have believed by his disciples we may see by this his last prayer for them, when