« PreviousContinue »
śreet with general approbation, and be much caressed. But because your dispositions and actions are very different froin those of the world, and because I have separated you from secular affairs, and commissioned you to oppose all false religions, to reprove men's vices, and to press the necessity of a general reformation, therefore the bulk of mankind every where will hate and persecute you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will ulso persecute you. To reconcile you to the persecutions you are to meet with, you ought always to bear in mind what I told you on this subject the first time I sent you oct; that no servant can expect to be treated better thax his Master; and therefore, seeing they have persecuted me, they will paturally persecute you. You are to expect they will keep your saying only if they have kept mine ; therefore, by the reception which my doctrine meets with, you may judge how yours will be relished. But all these things will they do unto you for my nanes' sake, beccuse they know not him that sent me. None of the evils which
you shall suffer on my account, or the gospel's, will flow from any deficiency in the evidences of my mission, or from any fault that can justly be found with the gospel. They will all flow from your persecutors being ignorant of the nature and perfections of the true God, who has sent me into the world, and of the doctrines of religion published to them under former dispensations. I assure you it is so; and when the things happen you will actually find this to be the case. ithal, the consideration of it will strengthen you not a little. However, the ignorance of the Jews in particular will not excuse them, seeing they have had more than sufficient means of information. If I had not appeared in person among them, according to their own prophecies, and proved my mission by arguments which put it beyond all reasonable possibility of doubt, they would not have been so much to blame for rejecting the gospel : but now that all the things foretold by Moses and the prophets are fulfilled in me, that
my gospel is every way worthy of God, and that my mission from God is sufficiently proved by my miracles, they have no plea whatever to excuse their unbelief. In short, this clearness of evidence wherewith my mission is attended, makes the crime of rejecting me equal to, if not the same with, the crime of rejecting God. (John xv. 33.] He that hateth me hateth my Father also. The proofs of my mission which I have principally in view are my miracles, concerning which I must observe, that if they had not been more in number, and greater than the miracles of Moses, the Jews would not have been to blame for rejecting me, who am come to abrogate the institutions of Moses. If I had not done among them the works which none other anan did, they had not had sin. But now they have both seen and hated one and my Futher. In my miracles, which are greater than any hitherto exhibited, they have seen, or might have seen, wlio I am, namely, the only begotten Son of God. In these, miracles, likewise, they have seen who is my Father; for the glory of the whole divine perfections slineth in my miracles, Nevertheless, they have rejected me who have performed these miracles, and my Father likewise who sent me to perform them ; so that they are utterly inexcusable. But this cometh to pass, that the word night be fulfilled which is written in their law, they have haied me without a cause. Be not surprized that I, who am Messiah, kave been rejected of the Jews. It hạth happened according to the prediction of their own prophets. For your encouragement, however, I assure you, that they will not always continue thus obstinately bent against me and my religion. When he who is to comfort you under all your troubles, hy the aid he will allord, and who, on that account, is justly styled the Comforter ; when this person is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father to remain always with you, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness
to me and to my religion so effectually, that many of the Jews shall be converted. And
ус also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. In process of time, men's eyes shall be opened to discern the authority of your tes. timony: they shall give credit to your reports concerning me, because ye have been my companions from the very first, conseque tiy eye and ear-witnesses of all that I have done and said ; so that after awhile you shall bear witness concerning me, and preach my religioo far more successfully than it will be in your power to do at the begivning, before the Spirit has descended.
(John xvi. I.] These things have I spoken unto you that ye should not be offended. The things which I have now told you concerning the hatred of the world, the reason of that hatred, the dishonour done by it to God, the punishment wherewith it shall be followed, and the supernatural assistance which you shall receive, I have spoken to keep you from taking offence at the further discoveries I am going to make of the evils you shall be exposed to, and to prevent your being overcome by those evils when they befal you. The Jews will excommunicate you as the most execrable of men.; nay, to such a length will their hatred of you carry them, that whoever killeth you will think he doth the niost acceptable thing possible unto God. And these things will they do, because they have not known the Father nor me. They will excommunicate and kill you, and, in so doing, will think they serve God ; because they are ignorant of his will concerning the abolition of the Jewish economy, and the establishment of the new dispensation ; also because they do not know me to be the Messiah, and mistake the nature of my religion. For, seeing Jesus is here speaking of the
Jews, he cannot be supposed to say that they did not know God in general, but only that they did not know his will concerning the gospel.
But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come ye may remiember that I told you of them. I have spoken these things to you, that when they come to pass you may remember that I foretold them, which, indeed, will be of manifold advantage to you, both as it will convince you that these things did not happen beyond my expectation, and as it will hinder them from surprizing or discouraging you. These things I said not to you from the beginning, because I was with you. From Mat. x. 17.. 28, it appears that Jesus plainly enough foretold the persecutions which his a postles and disciples were to meet with after his death. I did not inculcate these things upon you from the beginning ; I did not frequently insist upon them, because the lesson would come time enough before my departure : or by these things we may understaud the Jews' ignorance of God's designs, and their ignorance of Jesus as Messiah ; particulars which he had just now mentioned as the causes why the Jews would persecute his apostles, and which, no doubt, were more afflicting to the latter than the persecutions themselves ; because these persecutions they supposed would end in the enjoyment of the kingdom ; whereas, the rejection of their Master cut off their hopes all at once. But now I go my way to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me, whither goest thou? But now that my ministry is drawing towards a conclusion, and I am going to him that sent me, I could no longer defer speaking of these things to you. In the mean time, I cannot but take notice, that though I mentioned to you my departure once before, [John xiii. 33.) none of you has inquired of me the reasons of my departure, nor the effects of it. However, I impute this to the deep impression which my prediction concerning the persecutions you are to meet with when I am gone baih made upon you, filling you with sadness, and engrossing your thoughts. But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath Jilled your hearts. 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. Though you have not asked the reasons of my going away,
title to government. This description of the office of the Holy Ghost seems to be taken from the office of an advocate at the bar, who, by producing witnesses, and pleading upon the proof, shews his adversary to be guilty of the crimes laid to his charge, or clears the innocence of his client falsely accused, and gets justice executed upon the guilty. When the Comforter comes, he will, by the miraculous effusion of his gifts, convince the world of the sin they commit in disbelieving me, who, though absent, am able to confer such extraordinary powers on my ministers. Accordingly we find that multitudes of the Jews were thus convinced by the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles. [Acts ii. 37.] The Comforter, by teaching you the true nature of Messiah's kingdom, and making you explain it to the world, will convince the Jews more especially of the fitness of my leaving the world, of my going to the Father, and of my not returning any more till the last day. That this is the meaning of the passage appears from the precedent and subsequent verses, in which the latter clauses are explicatory of the former. For as the sin of which the world was to be convinced was that of their not believing in Christ, and the judgment was that of the prince of this world ; so the righteousness of which they were to be convinced must have been the righteousness of Christ's going away, and of the disciples' seeing him no more. And to say the truth ; considering how firmly the Jews expected their Messiah was to erect a temporal kingdom, and to remain with them for ever on earth, it was absolutely necessary that the Holy Spirit should have been sent to convince them of the fitness of his departure out of the world. In the last place, when the Holy Ghost cometh, he will convert men from idolatry to the knowledge and practice of true religion ; and by thus vigorously depriving the devil of that dominion which he has hitherto exercised over the minds of men, he will convince the world of judgment; he will demonstrate, not only that the world is governed by God, but that all power in heaven and earth is given to me, who, by my Spirit, have dethroned the devil. Moreover, this present punishment of the devil will be an earnest and proof of that judgment, which, at the last day, I will execute upon him and all his adherents.
[Joho xvi. 12.] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. I have many other things to tell you besides those I have mentioned ; but your prejudices in favour of your own nation and law, your aversion to the Gentiles, and your weakness of understanding, are so great, that you cannot yet bear the discovery; for which reason, I judge it more prudent to be silent. The things our Lord had in view were the abolition of the whole Jewish economy, the doctrine of justification by faith only, the reception of the Gentiles into the church without subjecting them to the law of Moses, and the rejection of the Jewish nation. Howbeit, when he, even the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. You will sustain no luss by my wot discovering these things to you pow; for when the Comforter comes,
on account of his office, is fitly styled the Spirit of truth, he will inspire you with the knowledge of them and of every other matter necessary for you to understand. And that you may have the greater confidence in, and satisfaction from, the revelations which be shall make to you, know that he shall not speak to you of himself, but by
my direction, revealing to you nothing but what he is commissioned to discover. Für he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that he shall speak. Besides, his revelations shall be so full and complete, that he will discover u to you all such future events as you may be any way concerned to know. And he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me : for he shall receive of mine, and! ball shew it unto you. He shall do me great honour in this respect, that all his les cations to you shall be perfectly conformable to the doctrines which I have taught yo.. in person : for though he shall be instructed and commissioned by the Father, he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. Be not surprized that I said unto you, he shall receive of mine, and shew it unto you; for the whole treasures of the Fathei's wisdom belong to me. (See Col. ii. 3.] Those who oppose the divinity of Christ seem to be at a loss for an explication of this passage.
Le Clerc tells us it is highly figurative, that the subject treated of is such as cannot be understood by reason, that the manner of it is not revealed, and therefore that it is not possible to mark precisely the proper sense of every expression. All these things he told them it was their interest, as well as their duty, to riyet in their memories, because they were his dying words. A few hours would put an end to his life ; and though he was to rise again from the dead, he was to remain but a very little while with them. He was soon to ascend into heaven, and to be seated at the right hand of God. A little while, and ye shall not see me ; and again a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
The terms in which Jesus had spoken of his death, resurrection, and ascension, being very obscure, the disciples were altogether at a loss to understand them. Wherefore, having revolved them awhile in their own minds, they asked one another privately if they could comprehend what he meant. But each of them declared, with a kind of astonishment, that he could affix no idea to his words at all. [John xvi. 17. Then sitid some of his disciples among themselves, what is this that he saith unto us? a little while, and ye shall not see me ; and again a little while, and ye shall secme : and because I go to the Father ? They said therefore, what is this that he saith, a little while ? we cannot tell what he saiih. Jesus, observing their perplexity, and knowing that they inclined to ask him about this matter, prevented them, by signifying that he knew what they had been saying: 'Nou Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, ani said unto them, do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, a little while, and ye shall not see me ; and again a little while, and ye shall see me? I will explain myself upon this point : your not seeing me is an event that shall occasion great grief to you, and joy to my enemies. From these circumstances you may collect, that by your not seeing me I meant my dying. However, your sorrow shall be turned into joy; you shall see me again for I will rise again from the dead. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowiul, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. The state of mind you shall be in when the events happen of which I am speaking, I camot better describe than by comparing it to the condition of a woman in travail. During her labour she hath cxquisite pain, because the birth approaches; but as soon as she is delivered she forgets tlie anguish she was in, being filled with joy that she has brought one of the human species into the world. Just so you, my disciples, will be in the greatest distress during the time of my departure. But as I am to rise again from the dead, and to ascend into heaven, you will forget your sorrow, and rejoice exceedingly; and from that time forth your joy shall be of such a kind as that it shall not be in the power of men to rob you of it. One great source of your joy in the period I am speaking of will be that your understanding shall be enlarged and enlightened, so that
you shall have no need of my personal presence with you, nor any occasion to ask questions concerning intricate points, as you find yourselves obliged to do now. And if ever you stand in need of instruction or assistance, or any other blessing, whether for the propagation of the gospel or your own salvation, the Father will immediately supply you with, upon your asking it in my name. On this occasion, I must put you in mind that you have never yet prayed to God in my name.
From this time fortlı, I coinmard you to put up all your petitions in my name, and you shail receive such gracious answers as will exceedingly increase your joy. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name ; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Perhaps you do not yet understand me, because I have expressed myself in dark sayings ; but you may comfort yourselves with this thought, that the time is at hand when I shall speak no more obscurely ; but by the teaching of my Spirit, I shall shew you in plain language the whole counsels of God relating to the erection of liis church and the salvation of men. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs; but the time comèth, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shull shew you plainly of the Father. I repeat it to you again ; that after my ascension you shall offer up all your addresses unto the Father through my mediation ; by this I do not mean, that I will solicit the Father in your bebalf, as if he was unwilling to bestow on you the blessings ye stand in need of: no; the Father himself bears a warm love towards you chiefly on this account, that ye liave loved me, and have believed that I came from God.
To conclude : the true and proper meaning of my discourse to you at this time, and particularly of the expression which appeared so obscure to you, is, that as I was commissioned by the Father, and came into the world to reveal his will to mankind, so, having finished that work, I now leave the world, and return to the Father from whom I came. His disciples said to him, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest 10 proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any inar should ask thee ; by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. We acknowledge that now thou speakest in such a manner as we can understand thee ; for what thou sayest is by no means dark, like the things which thou utteredst before. Moreover, by the things which thou hast now spoken to 16, we clearly perceive that thou kvowest the hearts of men, and that in conversing with men thou hast no need that they should tell thee their thoughts by any question. In short : thy knowledge of our hearts fully convinces us that thou art come from God. It seems, through the whole of this discourse, Jesus had obviated the objections and answered the questions which the apostles were going to propose, or would gladly have proposed to him. Jesus answered, do ye now believe ? . behold, the hour cometh, nay, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone ; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. Are ye bow, at length, fully persuaded that I am the promised Messiah ? be on your guard. Your faith in me is not so firm but it may be shaken. For the time is coming, nay, is come already, when every one of you shall desert me, flying wherever you think to be in safety from the approaching danger, so that I shall be left singly to encounter mine enemies. Nevertheless, I am not alone, because the Father is with me continually. I have said these things to you, concerning my departure out of the world, concerning the coming of the Holy Ghost, concerning niy resurrection from the dead, concerning the Father's hearing your prayers, and con cerning the trial you are to be exposed to, in order that you may bare consolation in the prospect of tlie benefits you are to receive, and not be terrified when the afflictions draw nigh which are to overtake you. The truth is, you shall have great tribuLet ion in this present life, because the malice of meu will every where pursue you;