صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

the almighty preserver and governor of the world, who is able to deliver you out of all your distresses, you ought to believe in me, who am not only sent by God, but, being appointed governor and judge of the world, I can both protect you from evil, and reward you plentifully for whatever losses you sustain on my account. For in my Father's house, whither I am carrying you are many mansions, or apartments, in allusion to the palaces of kings If it were not so I would have told you. If there were no state of felicity hereafter, into which good men are to be received at death, I would have told you; and not have amused you with dreams of things that never shall happen. And, therefore, though I am to be killed, ye need not be troubled at it, since I go away for no other reason but to prepare those mansions in my Father's house for your reception, which were destined for you from the foundation of the world. [Mat. xxv. 34.] I go to prepare a place for you. I die to open heaven to you. [John xiv. 3.] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. I will return, and carry you with me into the mansions of the blessed, that you may be forever where I am to remain, and that you may partake with me in my felicity. This Christ will accomplish when he comes to judge the world. [John xiv. 4.] And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Ye cannot but know the place to which I am going, and the way that leads to it; for I have told you both plainly enough. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? We know not where thy Father's house stands, and consequently cannot know the way to it for as their thoughts turned very much upon a temporal kingdom, they might imagine that their Master intended to remove to some splendid palace on earth, which he was to prepare for their reception, making it the seat of his court. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. Perhaps our Lord had now in view the metaphors which he formerly used, viz. "I am the door of the sheep." [John x. 7.] "I am the bread of life. [John vi. 35.] Or we may suppose the form of expression to be an Hebraism, whose meaning is, I am the true and living way; as Dan. iii. 7, "all the people, the nations, and the languages," signifies people of all nations and languages. But in whatever manner we resolve the sentence, its meaning is the same, viz. this faith in me and obedience to my commandment, will lead you to the Father's house whither I am going; they are the only true road to the mansions of felicity. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. If ye had known my doctrine fully, and obeyed my precepts, ye should have known the perfections and counsels of my Father, and have done his will as far as is necessary to your enjoyment of him. And from henccforth ye know him, and have seen him Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. It is hard to say whether Philip as yet understood who the Father was of whom his Master spake If he did, we cannot suppose that he asked a sight of the divine essence, which in itself is invisible; but, like Moses, he desired to see the inaccessible light wherein God dwells, it being the symbol of his presence in heaven. 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, for I am the image of the invisible God; 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 doth the works. Dost thou not believe that there is the closest union between the Father and the Son? and that as the Father knows all the thoughts of the Son, so the Son causeth men to know all the thoughts of the Father respecting their salvation, and is vested with his power and authority. This thou must acknowledge, if thou considerest the works which I

do, even the miracles whereby my mission is established. Believe me, upon my own. testimony, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the ery works' sake.

Having mentioned his miracles, Jesus promised to endow his apostles with a power of working greater wonders thar any they had ever seen him do. [John xiv. 12. Verily, verily Isay unto you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father. He made them this promise to animate them in their work, and that they might not despond in his absence when they received such tokens of his remembering them, and such proofs of his power with the Father. Farther he assured them that whatever miracle they asked in his name they would perform, provided it tended to the glory of God, and the furtherance of the gospel. This promise is conceived in general terms. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Nevertheless, the subject treated of directs us to understand it particularly of miracles to be wrought in confirmation of the gospel. He added, inoreover, that any other matter which they should ask for the furtherance of the gospel, he would by his own power and authority bring to pass. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. However, he required an exact and stedfast obedience to his commands, as the condition on which their prayers were to be heard. If ye love me keep my commandments. He told them, in that case, he would send down another comforter, advocate, or intercessor, who would abide with them constantly, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world could not receive. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you, not for a little while, as I have done, but for ever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, as you shall do, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. The world being blinded with sensuality, can neither discern the operations of his Spirit, nor partake of his joys. But ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Ye know him, because he is with you in some measure, already enabling you to work miracles, and because he shall be given you much more abundantly hereafter. This happened on the day of Pentecost; from which time forth the Spirit dwelt with the apostles, and was in them. Thus, said he, though I am going away, [John xiv. 18.] I will not leave you comfortiess. Besides, I will return to you myself: Iwill come to you. For, although the time is at hand that the world shall see me no more, ye shall see me. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me: nay, because I live, by rising from the dead, ye shall live also by arising from the dead. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father. When ye see me after my resurrection, ye shall no more doubt that I am come from God; but ye shall be fully convinced that I have all along acted by the power and authority of the Father, and that I have had his counsels fully communicated to me. And you in me, and I in you. Ye shall likewise be sensible that my will is fully revealed to you, and my power bestowed on you. For which reason, though I be absent in body, ye shall enjoy every advantage that could have accrued to you from my personal presence. Ye shall preach by my inspiration, and govern the minds of men by my power. In a word ye shall be sensible that I am in you, only you must constantly bear this in mind, that you obey my commandments; for they alone love me who do so. And they that love me shall be loved both of my Father and me; and, as an expression of my love, I will manifest my love unto them. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest. myself unto him. These latter words surprized the apostles not a little for, ac-

cording to the notions they had conceived of Messiah, he was to appear unto all the Jews, nay, to the whole world, and was to take unto himself universal empire. Therefore Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus told him that he spake chiefly of a spiritual manifestation, such as the Father and he make of themselves to true believers, even on earth, by the influences of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them as his temples. [1 Cor. iii. 16.] For, through the influences of the Spirit of God, believers are enlightened with the knowledge of the perfections of God, and with just views of the characters and offices of his Son. Moreover, by the same influences, they are sanctified for au babitation of God, [Eph. ii 22] who makes his abode with them, that is to say, who fills them with all joy and peace in believing, and with the most elevating hopes; and, in consequence of their sanctification, sheds abroad in their hearts a sense of his love, and, by so doing, gives them prelibations of heaven while on earth. Jesus answered and said unto them, If a man love me he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. This latter clause is remarkable. For had our Lord been a creature, though of the highest rank, it would have been blasphemy in him to have joined himself in this manner with God. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. The reason why those who profess to be my disciples do not obey my precepts, is because they do not love me for which cause, since my precepts are the precepts of God, such a person has no ground to expect God's love, or any manifestatious from God.

[John xiv. 25.] These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. I have spoken these things during my personal presence briefly, because my time with you is short. And though you may not just now understand many of the particulars mentioned by me, you shall have perfect knowledge of them afterwards. For my Father will give you the Holy Spirit to supply my place; and he shall be a comforter to you, teaching you every article of the Christian faith, and bringing to your reniembrance all the things I have ever said to you in the course of my ministry. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. "Peace be to you" was the common salutation and compliment mutually given by the Jews to each other at meeting and at parting. But although this compliment implied a wish of every thing that could make one happy, it was often used without any meaning. At best, it was but a wish, however sincere; and had no real efficacy in making him happy to whom it was given. Yet in the mouth of Jesus, by whose wisdom and power the affairs of the world are governed, a farewel wish was a matter of a very different kind. His peace, his parting blessing, would draw down all manner of felicity upon those who were the objects of it. Accordingly, he encouraged his disciples from that consideration, under the prospect of his departure, desiring them not to be in the least anxious about what was to befal them after he was gone. Moreover, he bade them remember what he had told them before, namely, that though he was to die, he would rise again from the dead. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said, I go unto my Father; for my Father is greater than I. These words afford a strong argument for the proper divinity of our Lord. For had he been a mere man, or even a creature of the highest order, the comparison would have been foolish and impertigent. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass

[ocr errors]

ye might believe. I have foretold my sufferings and death in order that, when they happen, your faith, instead of being shaken, may be confirmed. But I shall not have much opportunity to talk with you after this, because the devil will stir up wicked men to kill me. Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. Be assured that I shall undergo the punishment of death, not because I deserve it, but that the world may know that I love the Father. I undergo it to shew the world how much I love the Father for in this I act according to his express commandment; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I du. Arise, let us go hence let us, in conformity to the divine will, go away, that I may enter in my sufferings.

Having thus spoken, they finished the passover with singing a hymn, and went out to the mount of Olives. [Mat. xxvi. 30.] And when they had sang an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. The hymn which they sung was, probably, the conclusion of that which the Jews called the Hallel, or great hymn, and which consisted of the hundred and thirteenth, with the five subsequent Psalms; part thereof being sung in the beginning, and part at the end of the solemnity. [Luke xxii. 40.] And when he was at the place, he said unto them, pray that ye enter not into temptation. When he was come to the scene of his sufferings, he desired them to fortify themselves by prayer, and forewarned them of the lamentable effects which his sufferings were to have upon them; they would make them all stumble that very night, agreeably to Zechariah's prophecy, ch. xiii. 7. [Mat. xxvi. 31.] Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. To strengthen their faith, therefore, he not only mentioned his resurrection, but told them where they should see him after he was risen. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilce. No sooner did Jesus mention the offence which his disciples were to take at his sufferings, than Peter recollected what had been said to him in particular before they left the house. Wherefore, being grieved afresh to find his Master still entertaining such thoughts of him, and being now armed with a sword, the vehemence of his temper hurried him to boast a second time of his courageous and close attachment to Jesus. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. In this protestation, Peter, no doubt, was sincere. Nevertheless, he was greatly to blame for not paying a due attention to his Master's repeated predictions concerning his fall, for the preference which he gave himself above his brethren, and for leaning to his own strength instead of begging assistance of him from whom all human sufficiency is derived. Wherefore, to make him sensible, if possible, that pride, confidence, and security, are great enemies to virtue, his Master thought fit to forewarn him again of his danger. [Mark xiv. 30.] And Jesus saith unto him, verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice. [Mat. xxvi. 35.] Peter said unto him, though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. They all joined Peter in professing their fixed resolution of suffering death rather than they would deny their Master; yet the event was exactly as Jesus had said: from which we may learn how ignorant men are of themselves; and that to be virtuous, it is not enough that we form the strongest resolutions.

Our Lord spent the remaining hours of his ministry in preaching to his disciples a long, but excellent sermon, recorded by John in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of his gospel. He began with the parable of the vine, taken from the vines that were growing around them on the mount of Olives. In this parable, he taught them the excellency of his religion, and the nature of the relation they stood in to him by the

-profession thereof. Moreover, he explained to them the advantages which accrued to them from this relation. As the branches of the vine draw nourishment and are made fruitful by their union to the stock, and by the care of the dresser, so the disciples of Christ, by the belief of his religion, by the influences of the Spirit, and by the care of providence, are made fruitful in holiness. [John xv. 1.] I am the true vine: my gospel is the most excellent dispensation of religion that was ever given to men. My Father is the husbandman: my religion is from God, belongs to him, and, with its professors, is the peculiar object of his care. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away though by the outward profession of religion you become members of the visible church of God, you must remember that, of itself, this is not sufficient to entitle you to the favour of God, the great Master of this dispensation. You must answer the end for which it is given, by bringing forth fruit; otherwise he will cut you off, depriving you of all the advantages which true disciples reap from the sincere profession and practice of the Christian religion. He told them farther, that as the husbandman prunes the bearing branches of his vines, so God, among other methods, suffers the lovers of virtue to be spoiled of the conveniences of this life, for no other reason but that their virtue may grow the stronger, and become the more fruitful. In the course of his providence, my Father sends a variety of afflictions upon every one who sincerely makes profession of my religion, and who diligently endeavours to obey its precepts, spoiling him of the temporal enjoyments which engage his affections, and render him unfruitful.

These things Jesus said to reconcile his disciples to the persecutions that were coming on them; perhaps, also, he had in his view the other methods which God makes use of for purifying his people; for in the following verse, he represents his disciples as cleansed through the word he had spoken unto them. The doctrine I have preached to you by the blessing of God, has cleansed you from many evil affections, has inspired you with holy desires, and invigorated you with good resolutions; so that, like the pruned branches of the vine, ye are fitted to bring forth fruit. Yet there is still need to caution you against backsliding. Continue stedfast in the belief and profession of my religion, and be diligent in the practice of its precepts; for this is the method to derive from me all needful supplies, particularly the influences of my Spirit, the comfort of my presence, the direction of my word, and the protection of my providence. Your continuing in the belief, profession, and practice, of my religion, is as necessary to your performing good works, as the continuing of the branches in the vine is to their fruitfulness. To make you sensible of this, was what I proposed when I told you that I am the true vine, and you the branches. I must therefore repeat it again, that sincerity in the belief, stedfastness in the profession, and diligence in the practice, of my religion, followed, as they always are, with my blessing and assistance, are the only means of making a man remarkably fruitful in holiness. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, separated from me, in allusion to the vinc and his branches, ye can do nothing. If you apostatize from me, and are deprived of my influences, you can do nothing for your own sanctification and salvation. To shew you further the necessity of abiding stedfastly in the belief and profession of my religion, I would propose to your consideration the dreadful effects and punishments of apostacy. By apostacy you separate yourselves from me, and deprive yourselves of all the advantages which accompany the sincere belief, sted fast profession, and diligent practice, of my religion, particularly the influences of my Spirit, the direction of my word, and the protection of my providence; also the pardon of your sins, and the enjoyment of heaven. Nor is this all you shall be punished as apostates for you shall be cast out of the

« السابقةمتابعة »