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And we do comfort ourselves, when trouble is needed; and we deny ourselves, when self-denial is needed ; and we govern ourselves by rules which are always needed, trusting to these words.
Here, however, some of the children interpose, and seek for further assurance and information.
5. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Thus slowly did the apostles learn to comprehend the whole of Jesus's character. They acknowledged him as a prophet, sent to announce God's will; nay, more, they acknowledged him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. But they scarcely yet perceived him to be the representative of the Father, “ the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person :” the way, by whom alone men have access to the Father : the truth, the reality and substance of all those types and shadows under which God had hitherto been partly concealed, and partly manifested : the life, who hath“ life in himself, and quickeneth whom he will :” who communicates a spiritual power to all who apply themselves to him.
Can we wonder that they were slow to under
stand this? What do we still often find ? May not men long have the Scriptures in their hands, which from the beginning to the end verge towards one point, the history of REDEMPTION :—may they not long be in the habit of hearing discourses, which set forth the way of eternal life :—may they not long be conversant with prayers, which are offered in the Saviour's name : and yet have no knowledge of him, as the way, the truth, and the life ; no spiritual discernment of that righteousness, which is “unto all and upon all them that believe?" These are spiritual truths, “ spiritually discerned ;” and can only penetrate the heart, as the heart is opened by the Spirit of God.
Jesus replies, by declaring the fact, how he was in the Father, and the Father in him : that whoever had seen him, had seen the Father also. This would be further understood, when he should have ascended to the Father, and the Holy Ghost be more largely shed abroad upon their hearts : “receiving the things of Christ and showing them.”1
9. 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 ?
10. 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.
11. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
1 John xvi. 14.
12. 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.
13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
The apostles had already seen great proofs that Jesus was one with God : they might believe for the works' sake : the works which they had seen him do. But greater proofs still remained to be hereafter seen: nay, to be done by the apostles themselves: because he was going to the Father ; because his work of redemption should be finished; because the Holy Ghost should descend, and carry on to their completion the things which had been begun.
We may be surprised to hear of greater works, than the making the dumb to speak, the blind to see, the dead to revive. But it is a greater work, to overcome sin; to reclaim the wicked from the error of their way; to lead the spiritually blind into the paths of holiness; to rouse those who are spiritually dead to the life of righteousness. It was a great work to heal the cripple, as John and Peter did, (Acts iii.) as he “lay at the gate of the temple.” This they were enabled to do in the name of Jesus, and asking in his name.
Such was the promise. They believed, and acted upon their belief. Peter said to the man, “ In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.” And this name, through faith in his name, made the man strong; yea, the faith which is by him gave him perfect soundness in the presence of them all. This was a fulfilment of the promise given. But there was a further promise. Greater works than these shall he do. This too was accomplished : for it was a greater work, when three thousand of the Jewish assembly, convinced by the words of Peter,
repented, and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ;" eren of him, whom not two months before they had “ taken, and by wicked hands had crucified and slain.”
Let this encourage all to go forward in the same strength, trusting that they may accomplish the same great work in their own hearts, through the like might and power.
“ This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” And to him who has achieved this first victory, the final promise shall be made good : “ To him that overcometh, I will give to sit with me on my throne.” I will come again and receive you to myself ; that
, there ye may be also.
where I am,
JESUS ENCOURAGES THE APOSTLES WITH THE
PROMISE OF A COMFORTER.
John xiv. 15–17.
15. If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever ;
17. 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 in you.
Words could scarcely have been more plainly spoken, than those in which the distinct persons of the Trinity are here revealed to us in their several offices. Christ, as the Redeemer, prays the Father, and he shall send another, here described under the title of the Spirit of Truth, and of Comforter, who shall not, like the Son, appear for a little while, and then be seen no more; but shall abide with the disciples of the Son to the end of the world. In their proper essence, these three characters are revealed as one. But they are also revealed as bearing distinct parts in the work of man's salvation. The Father provides the plan. The Son undertakes the means. The Holy Ghost perfects the work in the soul of man. And the