fanatical party among them, which went by a name which in our adopted term of zealot has a very mitigated meaning. Such conduct, the Lord here says, proves the ignorance and self-conceit of those who manifest it. He had before spoken of their sin as at once a consequence and a proof of their ignorance of the Father. Here He conjoins Himself. Had they known the Father, as they vainly boasted, they would have recognized and acknowledged Him. The Lord proceeds to give this additional reason for these predictions, that their faith in Him might be increased when the event should. confirm the prophecy.3 He tells them also why He had not told them at the first. The full revelation was more than their weak hearts could bear. They must be gradually trained to this. Not all at once, but by little and little, as they are able to bear it, He unfolds the scheme of His Cross and Passion, of their duty and their dangers. He has milk for His babes, and meat for His strong men. As time goes on, we see Him unfolding page after page of the volume of His secret Providence to their opening minds, till finally, as here, He tells them plainly of extremest trials. But not now do we find any asking, as before, "Whither goest Thou?" Is there not implied in this something of gentle reproof,-that they should be so absorbed in their grief as not to look beyond the cloud which seems to overshadow them; that they are more concerned for their own future than for His? Yet we may observe that the Lord speaks of Here was a combut one heart among these faithful ones." munity of interest and of sorrow.

on fire, they never doubted but it was from heaven. For there was no sin in those days like moderation, and no virtue comparable to a furious and headlong zeal . . . But that any man that knows God to be love, should imagine that He will dwell in a mind where there is nothing but hatred to be found, seemed a kind of prodigy." 1 St. John xv. 21.

2 It is the same word variously


rendered in vv. 1, 4, 6," spoken," and "told," and "said." So that there are not here, as we might have imagined, any various shades of meaning.

3 The pronoun in v. 4 is emphatically expressed, as also in v. 7, below.

4 St. John xiii. 36; xiv. 5.
5 Acts iv. 32.


2 A



St. John xvi. 7.

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.

Strange as it might seem, it was nevertheless nothing but the truth, that their Lord's departure was expedient for His Disciples. He not only assures them earnestly of the fact, but condescends to give them the loving reason.1 And He adds further that this mission of the Comforter is the very object of His approaching departure. There is something emphatic in this "I." 3 I tell you, who cannot deceive you, that it is expedient for you that even I go away. It is no feigned, no false consolation, to cheat you into submission, but only the simple truth. The coming of the Comforter is suspended upon the withdrawal of the Christ. It is as though He said (in the words of one of the old Fathers), "If I withdraw not the milk on which I have nourished you, you will not hunger after stronger meat. If you continue to cleave to the flesh, you will never be capable of the Spirit."4 "It seems to me," he says in another place,5 "that the Disciples were altogether taken up with the human form of their Master Christ, were bound to Him with the affection of a man. Now then He would have them learn to regard Him also as God, with a Divine affection. . . . But spiritual, He says, ye cannot become until ye cease to be carnal; and carnal ye will only cease to

1 "What secret miracle of love

Should make their Saviour's going
gain."-The Christian Year,
Fourth Sun. after Easter.

2 Alford notes that the distinction between the original verbs is not sufficiently brought out in the E. V. by the rendering go away and depart.

"Depart and go would be better: the first expressing merely the leaving them, the second the going up to the Father."

3 The pronoun in each case is expressed in the original.

Aug. in S. Jo. Tr. xciv. 4. 5 Id. Ser. cclxx. 2.


be when my incarnate form is withdrawn from your eyes. So shall my Divine presence be engrafted in your hearts." When in their calamity men look for comfort, they can commonly think of it in only one way; and if it come not so, they think that it can never come at all. But here the Lord assures His sorrowful friends, that what seemed to be most contrary to their comfort, should be the very means to promote it. "It is expedient for you that I go away." With these words we may comfort ourselves, and one another, in our seasons of imaginary desertion; when the eye of faith, from whatever cause, is dim; when the Lord seems to have left us, and the Comforter is not yet come unto us. We may apply it, in a lower sense, to our own bereavements. Day by day nearest and dearest are being called away from those who fain would hold them fast. Could we hear them speak, when death like a cloud has come between, if we knew all instead of only a part, would not their voice to us from the eternal world be but the humble echo of our Lord's to His own, "It is expedient for you that I go away." We know not how this presence might have hindered another; how this absence was the necessary step to our final and complete blessedness. This consolation we may apply in the case, not of persons only, but of things. It is the legacy bequeathed to us by our creature comforts as they pass. We thought that our happiness could consist only in the presence with us of this thing on which our hearts was set, and we learn that our highest happiness must come from its withdrawal. So was it with the Disciples of old in the seeming loss of their Lord. How otherwise might they reap the results of His Incarnation? Only so of old could the Church which mourned the withdrawal of her Lord, be really set on the way to the complete triumphs of the Holy Ghost. And so with us. What we call our losses may come to be reckoned among our gains. Only let us confide in Him who comforts us no less than those first Disciples with such words as these; praying Him always, as the Church teaches us, echoing His Divine words, to fulfil the desires and petitions of His servants "as may be most expedient for The idea is exquisitely applied in Wordsworth's Laodamia.

them." So let those that walk in darkness and have no light, still trust in the name of the Lord and stay upon their God; as the little child, in the gathering darkness and blackness, clings the closer to his father's hand.2




St. John xvi. 8-11.

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

The Lord proceeds to set forth the work of the Spirit in the world; what should come to pass from that Pentecostal day, when the dispensation of the Spirit should indeed begin. This was the result of His coming, to convince the world of its sin in not believing that Jesus was the Christ; of His righteousness, proved by His ascension into Heaven; of a judgment to come, in that the prince of this world, the adversary of the Prince of peace, has been judged, the oppressor of the first Adam defeated by the second Adam in that momentous duel. The seed of the woman has bruised the head of the serpent. Already had our Lord signalized Satan by that title of bad pre-eminence. It is the beginning of the judgment of the devil and his angels. Here then we have briefly set forth to us the sin of the Jews, the righteousness of Christ, the condemnation of the devil. Concerning the first of these we soon begin to have ample illustration in

1 Is. 1. 10.


2 We may note here the volition of the Comforter. Here are personal actions ascribed to the Holy Ghost. The pronouns in vv. 7, 8, 13, 14, are all masculine. We may note also His oneness with Christ. He comes

of Himself. And yet Christ sends Him. Between the Persons of the Godhead there is this perfect unity.

See the original word. It is the perfect tense. 5 Gen. iii. 15.

St. John xiv. 30.

the Acts of the Apostles. But we are not to limit its application to the people of the Jews, or to those primitive times of the Gospel. This is that same work which the Spirit of God is evermore accomplishing in the world; convincing sinners of their sins, and so leading them into the righteousness of our Saviour Christ. For no man will really value Christ's righteousness, till he begins to realize his own unrighteousness. So we may see the propriety of our Evangelist's language in his Epistle, where he speaks everywhere of "Jesus Christ the righteous.' It means more than mere


passive innocence. This was apparent to all. Pilate's wife expostulates with her weak and time-serving husband, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man;" and the Centurion, presiding at His judicial murder, could not help exclaiming as He hung upon the Cross, "Certainly this was a righteous man." But He was not only righteous in Himself. He is "the Lord our righteousness." And the proof of this is His return to the bosom of the Father. That which set the Disciples sorrowing, that they should see Him no longer as before, was for their lasting benefit. He is gone to the Father for their sakes; returned, His mission accomplished, to reap the fruit of His labour. Lastly, by the coming of the Holy Ghost we have the sure proof of that saying, "For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." 3



St. John xvi. 12–15.

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself ;


Acts ii. 32, 33, 36–38, 41; xvi. 30,

22 Cor. v. 21.

31 St. John iii. 8; Col. i. 13; Heb. ii. 14, 15; Rev. xi. 15; xii. 10.

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