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THE FOURTEENTH CHAPTER OF JOHN, ETC. TRULY wonderful and infinite is the blessing which is opened out for us in the fourteenth and following chapters of John. I desire to trace it a little.
We will notice first the commencement of all, the way to the Father, “ I am,” says Jesus, " the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me. No way, but through Him—through his blood-the new, and living way now made open for us into the holiest of all, even the presence of God (the point of connexion between this and ver. 1 to 3 being, that they who have access or entrance to the Father by him, have of course entrance also to the Father's house.)
We next learn the blessed truth, that by coming through Jesus, we not only come to the Father, but we get the Father.
ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also, and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen Him.” The poor weak heart, ignorant of its full blessedness in Jesus, would embody its soul in that language, “Shew me the Father and it sufficeth me. Only let me know that the Father too is mine, and it is enough—it is all. And that satisfaction is nigh at hand — " He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” We cannot separate between the two-we cannot get Jesus, without getting the Father. Because the Father was-is, in Jesus. If by faith we have looked upon Jesus crucified and risen for the forgiveness of our sins—if we have thus seen Jesus, we have seen the Father, if we have thus got Jesus, we have got the Father. Too much have these things been separated between Jesus looked at as an Averter between us and an offended God; so that the love of Jesus has been honoured, to the disparagement of the love of the Father that gave Him (John iii. 16),—that raised him up from the dead when his work was completed (1 Pet. i. 21), “ that our faith and our hope might be in God.”
It was the Father's love that provided the Son's satisfac
tion—the sheet is let down from Him and takes us back to Him.
Surely therefore here we find full satisfaction. Blessed truth !--to know that God even our Father's countenance ever rests upon us now in love (2 Cor. iv. 6). It can never, in reality, change. As Christ is, so are we; and His position now is so blessedly opened to us in spirit (Ps. xxi. 6). And the Lord says, “ Ye know him.” What a nobility there is in the saint ! It is not only that our sins are forgiven, and we are in an acceptable relation to him; the poorest saint can say, what the proudest, most lofty amongst men cannot say with truth, by nature, “ I know God." And surely this is eiernal life in its truest sense. to know Him the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. “I know him,” and “He is mine," I suppose constitute the full blessing of our portion.
This thought of the union of the Father and the Son brings in another thought, I think, viz. of our union in them. But I will pass on now to preserve more order. The next truth I notice is union with Christ. This is our full joy. “In that day (the Spirit being come] ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” Blessed truth! We may say it is the centre truth of God. Union for the Church-union for the individual. The Church His body—the individual bone of His bone, etc. I would notice here that I believe the Spirit is here spoken of as the Witness and Agent of this our union with the Head, taking ver. 17, 18, 20. in connection. He is the Jacob's ladder.
I would notice now what two important truths we have here together, opposite, yet connected. As to our union with Christ, we know, blessed be God! that it does not depend upon our walk and doings; it is settled and secured for us by Him in Christ Jesus. It does not depend upon our frames and feelings. It ever exists. But the realization of that union is closely connected with our walk. “ He that hath my commandments and keepeth them," says the Lord, “he it is that loveth me (ver. 21); and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
Yea He has something more than manifesting to speak VOL.II. PT.II.
of. He does not come alone in the 23rd verse, but another with Him; and they come to abide. " We (the Father with Him] will come unto him, and make our abode with him." How important to see these two! That our union is established irrevocably in Him, thus giving full rest to our souls, independent of our works, and yet so to walk as to have its full joy in us.
This union with Christ brings in another thing, which I passed over before:-our position here of power as in union with Christ, having the Spirit, (ver. 12) “ 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.”
Our place now in the world, if we use it aright, is one of power. I do not mean necessarily external power, at all; because we are united with Him who is in the place of power, “ gone to His Father” (ver. 12),
. )“ exalted by the right hand of God," says Peter (Acts ii. 33.), “glorified” (iii. 13.) This was, I judge, a great power of their testimony just then. I suppose this was quite verified at Pentecost, when the Spirit was given, when three thousand souls were added to them in that day. “ The time of power, the demonstration of power was come, because Jesus was glorified” (perhaps this thought is a little conveyed to us in the words “ the day of Pentecost was fully come”). The fruits of the seed which He had sown were quickened. Remark_in (John vii
. 37, etc.) the beautiful connexion between Jesus glorified, and the Spirit present-the power of our union with Him; “ He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” And let us remark, this is equally our portion now, though it may be modified in application by apostasy—“we are in union with Jesus, we have the indwelling Spirit.” We ought therefore to shew forth the power of Him with whom we are in union, that good Vine, into which we have been grafted. Our power to do this is shewn in John xv. 4, 8.
A further way of our power is shewn in xiv. 13,how regulated xv. 7.
When I add to this the teaching of chap. xv. our power of service as in the living Vine, -our relation to Him as friends, having the full knowledge and communion of His mind, the mind of Christ," the Spirit's agency, as “the Revealer" (xvi. 7, 12, 13)--the boundless store that in consequence of our position belongs to us (xvi. 14, 15) —the simple, naked position of love in which we stand before the Father, so as, in one sense, to need nothing to support us (xvi. 26, 27)-(though we know in His wisdom and grace there is something more to support us, quite indispensable, even the Priesthood of Christ)—and finally presentation unto Him in glory, according to His own will(xvii. 24), we may truly say, "Who hath heard such a thing, who hath known such a thing?” “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what good things God has provided for them that love Him,” “the called” Paul, adds “according TO HIS PURPOSE.”
“ But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”—Matt. xix. 14.
How sweet, dear Lord, to hear thy voice
Invite our children near ;
That such to thee are dear.
Thine invitation free:
To draw them unto Thee.
Their simple, guileless love;
Their destined home above.
They hung about Thy breast;
They could but feel at rest.
How winning was Thy way!
Enchanted them to stay.
To bring them unto Thee;
From sin and death set free.
A parent's prayer will hear;
For mansions bright and clear.
FELLOWSHIP AND ITS RESPONSIBILITIES.
The principle of fellowship is one of exceeding importance to us. And if we ask what the unity or fellowship of the church is, it is I believe answered in that one word—“the unity of the Spirit”—"endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephes. iv).
We have too much, I think, looked on unity as our unity, instead of the unity of the Spirit. The two things are very different. Our unity would indeed be a rope of sand, as many have supposed it to be; yet had it something durable in it, because, though not seeing, perhaps, our full strength, it was held as to God. But, as I say, we want a bond, and that bond is the Spirit
What then is the position—the unity-of the church in the world ? It is the temple, the habitation of God by the Spirit.” The position of the Church, as it should be in the world, is this,-it is the one body of Christ animated and guided by the Spirit. The promise of Christ, in departing from His Church was, “I will send you another Comforter (which I should be much more inclined to render "another guardian"] that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth."
And His care for the Church, in guarding and guiding them, may be nicely suggested, I think, by those words “He shall guide (odnymoei) you into all the truth.” are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God." This shews it is our privilege to be led by Him. Thus it is therefore with the whole Church (if it would allow it), and thus it is with every assembly gathered
6. As many as
a I take the opportunity, and beg leave to press upon attention a tract which may be familiar to some, and to others perhaps will not be so, called "Letter to the Saints in London as to the Presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church." I did not see it until writing this; but it contains a statement of that truth more full than I hitherto remember to have seen, and in a way calculated to warm and gladden the heart of every right-minded saint.
b I use the word prospectively.