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concludes His answer to His Disciple with what is at once a reproof of past ignorance, and an encouragement to present faith; confirming His former words. Yet His reproof of His Disciples here, though in the like words, is different in degree to His reproof of the Jews before. For these held the language of hatred and unbelief; those "the mournful language of complaining love." 3
THE INTERPELLATION OF PHILIP.
St. John xiv. 8-11.
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
Our Lord had come from telling His Disciples that, if they would see the Father, they must first learn to know the Son. Only through their knowledge of the Son could they arrive at the vision of the Father. Philip, whose faith was at this time imperfect, neither apprehends nor realizes these words. With that strange tendency of the human mind to overlook the more important points of any subject, and to seize only that on which our own thoughts have been running, this Disciple can think only of seeing the Father, not how only He is to be seen. Yet this was the point on which the Saviour had been dwelling; and, with a gentle reproof, He recalls His Disciple's wandering and partial mind thereto. But His
1 St. Johu x. 30.
2 St. John v. iii. 19.
3 A Plain Commentary.
St. John vi. 5-7.
language presently assumes a form we should scarcely expect; and it is worth while to notice it, were it only that we may come to see how much more there is in Holy Scripture than we may at first sight suppose; and be careful also how we correct the Divine speaker according to our human conjectures. The Lord seems to speak of words as corresponding to works, and of speaking as commensurate with doing. Words and works, we might be apt to think, can scarcely correspond; neither are speaking and doing, in human matters, the same thing. But we are not to judge of things Divine by the same standard. For are not the Lord's words works indeed? 1 "He spake, and it was done." So neither could the Lord's words or works be independent of the Father. His works proved His words; and both proved that He and the Father are one. For Christ in His miracles spake always with authority. His language ever is, "I say unto thee;" while the Apostles, in working miracles, had to use His name and authority. For He was God's only begotten Son; they were only His chosen servants. So our Lord appeals to His works as evidencing His Divine mission; proving His claims; declaring Him to be the Son of God with power. And to show the intimate nature of the union between the Father and the Son, that it is not merely the Spirit of God inhabiting the mind of a man, as in the case of prophets and holy men of old,-He is careful to present both sides of the case: “I am,”—and the same works prove it"in the Father, and the Father in me."
1 Ecclus. xlii. 15; 2 Esdras vi. 3843. Chrysostom (Ser. vii. In Paralyticum) says, "There was no interval. The voice went forth. The disease departed. The word became a work." So in 1 Sa. iii. 11, "I will do a thing." The Hebrew is a word." Augustine (Ser. cclii. 1) says, “Christ
is the Word of God, who speaks to men not only by sounds but by deeds."
2 Gen. i. 3; St. Matt. ix. 5-7; St. Luke vii. 14, 15; St. John xi. 43, 44. 3 Acts iii. 6; iv. 10; ix. 39. 4 St. John x. 37, 38.
5 See the original, v. 11.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xiv. 12–14.
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. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I
will do it.
Having spoken of the works which He Himself did, our Lord proceeds to speak to His Disciples of the works which they should thereafter do. But in what sense can it be said that their works should be greater than His?1 The words which He subjoins suggest the answer. He returned to the Father, that He might pour out upon them the Holy Ghost, and cause the leaven of His Church to leaven the whole world. His miracles, wondrous as they were and altogether Divine, were scarcely at all in the realm of spirit. The hour for that was not yet come.2 "He has sown, we reap; and the harvest is greater than the seed-time."3 In that great Pentecostal increase we have the first instalment of the promise, which He procured to be fulfilled; and in the spread of His Church and the propagation of the Gospel, we see its ever accumulating accomplishment. In the twice-proclaimed promise that follows He encourages them to pray. He will present their petitions and procure an answer. It is Christ Himself, one with the Father, who grants our requests. The
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." 2 So is it ever true, though "our prayers are sometimes best answered when our desires are most opposed."3 Let the man of prayer be persuaded 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." 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 Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the
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.
21 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,
5 St. John xv. 16; xvi. 23, 24, 26.
world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
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. 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 note the transition from the singular number to the plural.
2 Wisd. vi. 18; St. Luke viii. 21; Rom. xiii. 8-10.
3 The "I" in the original is emphatically expressed. Lampe notes the word used for ask, which has the force of a demand. The Son of God asks the Father, both as Man and as Mediator.
41 St. John ii. 1. The word "is five times used in the Scriptures, and that by St. John alone; four times in his Gospel, attributed to the Holy Ghost; once in his first Epistle, spoken of Christ . . . Christ who is a Paraclete, said that He would send another Paraclete; and therefore the notion must be the same in both."Pearson On the Creed, Art. viii. Note.