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It is the grief of the bruised spirit awakened to the sense of sin, bowed down with its weight, and unable even to hope for pardon. The tenderest words pass over the sufferer as the idle wind. Vainly we may repeat promise after promise of the Scripture; they cannot be felt; none but the Holy Ghost "the Comforter" whom the Father has sent into the world in the name of the Son (that is, because of his finished and accepted work of Redemption,) can comfort a grief like this, and He comforts the mourner now, even as He comforted the sorrowing Apostles when they thought they had lost their Lord, by teaching them all things, and by bringing to their remembrance all things whatsoever their Lord had said unto them.
Thus taught how his sins may, must, be forgiven,—thus made to remember with adoring faith each word of promise and of love, the penitent sinner finds peace at last. Mark what Jesus
Verse 27. "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."
Jesus left the world, it is true; but in going He left a rich legacy to those he loved. Peace-the peace of Christ! Oh how great the gift! And what was this peace which he could thus impart? What gave that holy calm which the sorrows of life, the bitter revilings of man, the treachery of friends, and the pangs of an agonizing death never for a moment disturbed? What caused him now on this night to employ all his powers in the comforting and strengthening of his Apostles, without thought or care for the anguish he knew another hour would bring upon him! From whence came that holy peace which breathed from every word he spake? Surely it dwelt with him because he was the Son of God, and knew he was carrying out in all he suffered the great plan of love. He came to do his
Father's will, therefore his soul was filled with peace, and this is the peace He bestows on those who love him. He gives to them the assurance that they too are the children of His Father, and that all that befals them is part of a great plan in which their happiness, and the happiness of the whole universe is concerned. They see not now, but they believe that they shall see, and they know that by their cheerful obedience and submission God is glorified, therefore they have peace.
Truly "not as the world giveth" is this gift of Christ. The world may be said to give many things. In it people seek for power, for profit, for pleasure, for the praise of men,—and they find them, but they cannot keep them.
It is their very nature to pass out of the grasp of man however tightly he may hold them. While he lives, the slightest thing may take them from him. Others are struggling for them, and they wrest them from his grasp, for it is one of the signs that mark this world's gifts that there seems never to be enough for all. The success of one is the loss or at least the failure, of another. Not so the peace of God in Christ. He who values it is sure to keep it, and it is the deeper felt when thousands share it. Like all God's gifts it makes brothers and sisters of all mankind; for it would, in equal love, embrace them all. Thus is it in life. There is no need to dwell upon the difference in death, for none dream that they can take this world's gifts beyond the grave, and I think there are few who would not, when it comes to the dying hour, gladly change the prospect of the splendid tomb, the world's last gift, for peace in Christ.
The disciples loved their Lord, and all His consoling words could not prevent the feeling of grief for his loss. Now he adds one source of comfort drawn from this very love
Verse 28. "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would
rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I."
Can words be more touching than these! We may not venture to meddle with the deep mysteries of the Father's relationship with the Son; but surely it is lovely, even to our human hearts, to see how the Son longed to return to his Father, and called upon those who loved him, to rejoice, because Love ever rejoices in the happiness of the one beloved.
Shall not we remember this when we mourn the loss of those near and dear to our hearts who have departed "to be with Christ, which is far better" than the happiest home on earth?
That the disciples might not be taken by surprize by the dreadful event that was close at hand, the Lord Jesus bade them remember that he had foretold it, and that therefore, instead of destroying their hopes, it ought on the contrary to strengthen and confirm them, till that which had been only hope became faith.
Verse 29. "And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it came to pass, ye might believe."
Few and precious now must be the words of the Redeemer; for the purpose which brought him down from heaven was now to be fulfilled, and his voice on earth would soon be heard no
Verses 30, 31. "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.""
The Prince of this world! How awful are the thoughts that arise from this title given to the Spirit of evil; for it is plain that it is of Satan the Saviour speaks. His hour and
the power of darkness is at hand; but why is he called the Prince of this world? It is because in the beginning he obtained the victory over the first Adam, and through it has maintained his claim ever since. He is coming now in the hope of obtaining a like victory over Christ, but he will find that he has no part in the second Adam, he can but " bruise his heel." The Seed of the woman will suffer the penalty of the woman's sin, and so fulfil His Father's will, but in Him there is no consent to sin, nothing that gives the slightest encouragement to any temptation, therefore Satan can have no power.
O Christ! wonderful in thy love, and in thy glory! By the submission of thy human nature man's sin is punished. By the holiness of thy divine nature the manhood is raised to a closer communion with God than that from which Adam fell! Satan the usurper, the false prince of this world, hath nothing in Thee the true king of Earth and Heaven. He may afflict thy humanity, he cannot reach thy Soul. In thee Heaven and Earth are met: "tempted in all points like as we are," for thou art man; "yet without sin," for thou art God: in thy humanity thou hast lifted earth to Heaven.†
O Thou Three in One, Holy, Perfect, and All-sufficient God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, let thy finished work be accomplished in me thy sinful creature. Fill my heart with such love to Thee, that I may keep thy commandments, and delight in thy words, Thou wilt then come unto me and abide with me. "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none on earth I desire beside Thee." Oh give me thy peace. Let not the prince of this world, who hath nothing in thee, have any power over me; but let the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, teach me all things, and bring all things to my remembrance
* Hebrews iv. 15
↑ I. II. III. of Ephesians, form a beautiful exposition of St. John xiv.
whatsoever thou hast said, that I may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God.
Who am I that I may ask such things as these? What is my plea? Oh, it is unanswerable, for I am one for whom the Son has died. Born afar off from thee, but made nigh in the blood of Christ who is our peace, Lord, I believe thy word, that whatsoever we ask in thy Son's name thou wilt do it. It is in His name I ask. I entreat thee to make me thy true disciple, and that thou wilt manifest thyself in me, that it may be known that I love thee, by this sure sign-that I keep thy command
We know from John xviii. 1. that our Saviour did not leave the city for the garden of Gethsemane, till he had spoken more fully still to his disciples; therefore the words; "Arise, let us go hence" must mean only that Jesus thus reminds them that the time is come for rising from supper and preparing to depart. It is probable that as he spake he rose from table. How solemn must have been the feelings of the disciples, as they saw him preparing to go forth to meet the awful event which he had told them that very night should bring to pass! Up to this moment they had been as a peaceful band of brothers. Their own beloved Lord was yet with them, but he had warned them that the hour had come when a fearful separation must take place. Oh do we not know what it is, to shrink back from what we know must be? To strive to lengthen out each moment that yet remains, before our hearts must be wrung by the sad farewell of our best beloved; and if it is death that is to carry