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CHRIST RAISED FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION.
no grace. · Their Christianity is hitherto a name and profession only. They need a change indeed, a true conversion; and may the grace of God bestow it on them!
But they who in an honest, good, and simple heart come to the Cross for hope, and to the Spirit for strength ; who zealously offer their imperfect efforts to God, and strive to render Him by grace a better and a better service : to them the Resurrection of their Lord shall minister abundance of peace, and the Holy Sacrament, abundance of grace : Grace and peace, the Apostolic blessing to all the Churches ! They shall find in these meditations, and in these means, a plentiful supply of comfort and of strength. He in whom they hope shall continue to support them. He who has risen again from the dead and sitteth at the right hand of God shall intercede for them, and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep their hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
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.”
THESE words, uttered by our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to His Apostles, at the most solemn season of His life, must have appeared to them most strange and difficult to understand. They had long looked upon Him as the promised Messiah. St. Peter, St. Nathanael, and Martha, had expressly acknowledged Him as the Son of the living God, the King of Israel. They thought that it was He who, in accordance with ancient prophecies, was to redeem Israel. For a long while past, however, He had been teaching them that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected of the Priests and Pharisees. Even when some of them had seen His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, He had chosen that very time to speak (as indeed He did to Moses and Elias on the mount,) of the death which He was about to undergo at Jerusalem. He had repeatedly told them that He was come, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. These things, so often repeated, even in the midst of miracles and signs of power, must have caused them great perplexity and difficulty. He spoke indeed, as the prophets constantly had done, of His kingdom. He spoke of His power, of His judgment, of His attendant angels; but meanwhile He forewarned them that they His disciples would have to endure the same hatred from the world which should oppress and destroy Himself, that He should be lifted up, or crucified, and die the death of a criminal and malefactor.
But now that His earthly life was drawing to a close, He spoke to them in a still more solemn strain. As one about to quit them,—to quit them under circumstances of apparent degradation and misery, to leave them and His truth apparently at the mercy of savage and implacable enemies : He talked to them of all that they should suffer. The time was coming when the Bridegroom was to be taken away from them; when they were to have tribulation; when those who killed them should think that they did God service; when they were to be brought before rulers and kings for His sake ; --all this He solemnly foretold to them. And then He began to give them comfort. He would not leave them orphans; though a little while He should be away, yet in'a little while He would return to them–He would only go for the purpose of preparing a place for them, His Holy Spirit should console them: the promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, should be theirs not many days hence,—that Spirit should recal to them all that He had said to them, should lead them into all truth, should be with them unto the end of the world. He promised them the Father's love, which should anticipate and bless His own mediation : though they should indeed have tribulation in the world, He bade them be of good cheer, for that He had overcome the world. But in this
He does more, He exalts the promised blessing of the Comforter more highly than ever. “ 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 to you ; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” It was to be joy and blessing for the children of the bridechainber that the Bridegroom was to depart from them! It was to be expedient for the timid disciple that his Lord should by wicked hands be crucified and slain! It was to be their happiness that they were to be for a few days comfortless, for a few days walking sadly,—that for a few days they should weep and lament while the world should rejoice,—that they should be sorrowful,--because
their sorrow was to be turned into joy. Strangely indeed must this have sounded in the ears of that mournful company! He who spake to them was already anointed to His burial—already the traitor was gone from them to do quickly that which he was doing. The swords and staves for His seizure, the false-witnesses for His condemnation, were preparing; but the Holy Victim was calm, affectionate, and gently triumphant, soothing his fearful and afflicted friends—praying to the Father for them, warning them of their trials, not unaware of their temporary apostacy,--and assuring them, with no unreal or fictitious comfort, that it was expedient for them that they should lose Him; for that unless He departed from them, the Holy Ghost, the blessed Paraclete, would not come to them; but that if He went away,
He would send Him to them. My brethren, we are very apt to think that it would have been a happier lot for us, if we had seen with our eyes, and heard, and our hands had handled the blessed Word of Life ; that we live in less favoured times ;-that our piety would have been warmer, and our faith, and love, and holiness more constant and trustworthy, if we had been of the number of those who companied with Him during all the time that He went in and out among His disciples on earth. It is a mistaken, and a very mischievous thought. It was expedient for those very Apostles that Christ went away from them. It was expedient for them, highly favoured as we