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promise doubtless has its qualifications; nor may we presume to claim it in altogether the same sense as those might claim it to whom it was first addressed; the Elders of the New Covenant," the Apostles and first founders of His Church. Nevertheless it is to us very full of comfort, and we may interpret it with our Evangelist in an Epistle, “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us."? So is it ever true, though “our prayers are sometimes best answered when our desires are most opposed." Let the man of prayer suaded that God “will no longer deny him anything, but when it is no blessing; and when it is otherwise, his prayer is most heard when it is most denied." 4
"4 In our Lord's word and promise, twice proclaimed, presently repeated more than once, we have the warrant for that custom of the Church whereby her Collects are concluded in the name, and are offered through the mediation of Jesus Christ.
OBEDIENCE THE TEST OF LOVE. THE PROMISE
OF THE PARACLETE.
St. John xiv. 15-17.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the
I Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth ; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be
1 Rev. xiv. 4, 10. “ Four and twenty Elders;” representatives of the Old Dispensation and of the New; according to the number of the twelve Tribes and of the twelve Apostles.
? 1 St. John v. 14, 15, with iii. 22. 3 South, Ser. xv.
* Jer. Taylor, Ser. on The Return of Prayer, or The Conditions of a prevailing Prayer, part iii. Compare the verse in Cowper's hymn :
“Not what I wish, but what I want,
0 let Thy grace supply: The good unasked in mercy grant,
The ill, though asked, deny." So Augustine (in 8. Jo. Tr. lxxiii. 3): * That which we ask contrary to our salvation we ask not in the name of the Saviour. The physician knows, when the sick man asks, what is for what against his health."
5 St. John xv. 16; xvi. 23, 24, 26.
In the Lord's answer to his Apostles' questions, there was something addressed to the questioner himself, something to the rest of the body looking and listening, something to the whole Church as represented by these. The Lord has already answered the special question of His Apostle Philip, and begun to address the collective band,' and in them the Church of which they were at once the first husbandmen and the first fruits. He has spoken to them of prayer, and now He turns to that to which prayer will help us, obedience. Hence we may learn that the only sure proof that we love His Person is that we obey His Law. The promise of the Paraclete, which follows this exhortation to obedience, seems to have a close connexion with it. Loving and obeying Christ, they should receive God's greatest gift. It is in answer to Christ's prayer. It is the effect of His work. It is the result of His intercession.3 Not as though the Father were unwilling to grant it, but it must come to us through the Son. And what is this greatest gift of God? It is the Divine Paraclete; the Comforter, so Christ delights to call him; for such is one of the meanings of that comprehensive word. But it stands also for Advocate, Counsellor, Intercessor; one who stands by us, and stands up for us, and helps us. These gracious offices are applied in common to the Son and to the Spirit. And indeed what Christ was to His Disciples while He was on earth, all this should the Spirit be to them after He ascended into Heaven, Christ calls Him “another Comforter," and promises
1 V. 10 above, in which we may 41 St. John ii. l. The word " is note the transition from the singular five times used in the Scriptures, and number to the plural.
that by St. John alone; four times in 2 Wisd. vi. 18; St. Luke viii. 21; his Gospel, attributed to the Holy Rom. xiii. 8-10.
Ghost; once in his first Epistle, 3 The “I” in the original is em- spoken of Christ ... Christ who is phatically expressed. Lampe notes a Paraclete, said that he would send the word used for ask, which has the another Paraclete; and therefore the force of a demand. The Son of God notion must be the same in both." asks the Father, both as Man and as Pearson On the Creed, Art. viii. Note. Mediator.
that He shall abide with them for ever, in allusion to His own approaching departure, and to the shortness of His stay. His sojourn in the land is likened to a tent or tabernacle, a temporary thing, intended only for a time; but the abiding of the Spirit, and His dwelling among men, is likened to a temple, a permanent structure, never to be taken down or removed, intended not for a time but for ever. Christ calls Him “the Spirit of truth,” for in Him we see the fulfilment of Old Testament types. He is “the very Comforter, the unction spiritual,” ? whom that holy oil and other figures of
" the Law did signify. And His office is to guide His Church into all truth. The Lord predicts that the world, that is the evil part of it, the men of this world, that have their portion in this life, will not receive Him. And He gives the reason of this. They cannot, because they will not. There
. seems in the expressions here to be allusion to the seeing and knowing mentioned above. Besides the promise of good things to come, the Lord informs them of an ever-present blessing, which they are failing to realise. He is already among you. But shortly He shall be in you, in unmistakable manifestations, to your great and endless comfort. Here we have proof of the personality of the Holy Ghost.
St. John xiv. 18-21.
I will not leave you comfortless : I will come to you. little while, and the world seeth me no more ; but ye see me : because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that
, hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth
1 St. John i, 14 in the original.
6 V. 17.
$ Gen. xxviii. 16; 1 Cor. iii, 16; Eph. ii. 22.
me : and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
What a word is this that comes next! “I will not leave you orphans.”] They had left father and mother, they had left all, and followed Him; and now that He, who was all this to them and more, announced His approaching departure, they, like poor desolate children, felt themselves suddenly orphaned. But the gracious Saviour, thoughtful as a father, tender as any mother, speaks to their heart words of comfort. By the kindred and endearing term "little children,"4 He had already called them. "I am coming to you," He says now to these. I will not leave you in this lonely state. "I will come speedily to you at my resurrection. I will not be long away, but will be with you again in a little time . . . I will be coming to you daily in my Spirit ... I will come certainly at the end of
I time.”? Even in His temporary absence they might see Him with the eye of faith. “I live," He says, when the Cross was close at hand, when death must possess Him on the morrow. Nevertheless “I live," because, as David speaketh concerning Him, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." So He comforts His own. Their souls were bound in the bundle of life with the Lord their God. They were the body of Christ, and members in particular. Their safety stands or falls with His.' Of this union betwixt Christ and His Church, He speaks again, and deigns to illustrate it by the union between the Father and the Son.10 And this He declares they shall know " and realize in
So in the original. De Dieu cites Henry. St. John xvi. 22. from the Arabic a sentence which may
8 Heb. xi. 27. illustrate this: "For he is not an 9 St. John xi. 25, 26. Bengel notes orphan, whose father is dead; but he the difference of tense; the present is an orphan who has neither know- applied to Christ, the future to His ledge nor manners."
people. Rev. i. 18; St. John vi. 57. ? Compare Hom. II. vi. 429.
10 A reference which harmonizes 3 Compare the scene in the Phado, with His reference to them as chil149; a sort of faint foreshadowing of dren, though for the time orphans. this.
11 Observe again the seeing and · St. John xiii. 33.
knowing of vv. 19, 20. Compare 5 The verb is in the present tense. vv. 7, 9, 17 above. V. 28 below.
the coming day or dispensation of the Spirit. He winds up with the same note which He had struck at the outset. This turn in the conversation began with love and obedience 1; with love and obedience it concludes. The Lord shows in what true love to Him consists; and He throws in that parenthesis · which intimates how much more there was in this than they might think. It should even ensure them the love of that Father whom Philip had besought Him to show them. The Lord loves them that love Him; and as they prove their love by obeying Him, so He proves His love by manifesting Himself unto them. What an encouragement is here to us in our Christian course, when we seem to go mourning without the sun. In the way of His commandments let us wait for Him. He will account it love to Him. It shall lead to Divine manifestations.
has poured the clearest light over the 2 Compare 1 St. John v. 3; 2 St. every-day path of duty, and has given John 6.
the solemn authority of a requirement 3 Read, “He that hath my com- from Him to His lessons and His mandments and keepeth them, he it luws . . . There is nothing incompreis that loveth me: (and he that loveth hensible in the exercise of kindness me, shall be loved of my Father :) among the needy, in the exercise of and I will love him.
patience among the irksome, in the 4 Isa. 1. 10.
exercise of forgiveness among the in5 St. John xv. 10.
jurious . . . Let me rejoice that I 6 Psa. 1. 23; Acts v. 32. See a have found something which I clearly sermon by Dr. Chalmers on this sub- and certainly know to be the will of ject. (Posthumous Works, Ser. xiii.) my Saviour concerning me ... He A few sentences are subjoined: “While accepts it as the evidence of love . some ... ramble in pursuit of frames O that what I have said could be and raptures and manifestations, let converted into a lesson of patience or me take the humble but obvious path of comfort to any melancholy Christian of duty wbich my Saviour lays before . . To divert bis melancholy, I give me . . . Instead of walking on un- him something to do ... This is the known ground, with no other light to way revealed in my text for conductdirect me than the sparks of my own ing you to the manifestations you kindling, I go to the plain way of our long after. Weeks and months and Saviour's commandments, and rejoice years may elapse before they arrive : to think, that while performing the but believe and persevere . . . Hold very least of them, I am taking the fast by what you do see, and God in nearest road to the very light which His good time will reveal what you I aspire after .. I would be over
do not see. Hold fast by known whelmed ... if I were called upon duties, and you will come to exat this moment to prove a rapture perience what are yet unknown and which I do not feel ... Jesus Christ unfelt privileges."