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Christ therefore resists and conquers him, by exposing to open view the subtle arts of deceivers and every Antichrist. He dwells also, as a Spirit of truth, in the hearts of his faithful and simple-minded followers. “ Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
4. Satan lifts himself up, as the Accuser and slanderer of the brethren. Taking advantage of their sins, (and what man is he that sinneth not?) he would represent them to God, to the Charch, and to their own consciences, as unholy and unfaithful. This we see remarkably stated in the opening of the book of Job. And in Revelation xii. 10, 11., Satan is described as being very busy at this malignant work. But he is baffled by believers, through their simple adherence to Christ. “ The accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
5. Satan rules by inflicting Terrors of conscience. But from these also our Saviour delivers the believer; taking from him the Spirit of bondage, and imparting the Spirit of adoption. Thus is he enabled to plead, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
6. Satan attempts to rule by means of our natural Infirmities: especially that of fear. To counteract this, the Lord vouchsafes to his waiting servants the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” He causes his own power to rest on those who naturally are most weak; and encourages them with the assurance, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
7. Especially, Satan aims to rule as a Persecutor. But Christ imparts courage and fortitude to all bis faithful servants. “ Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation ii. 10.)
8. Yet again we observe-Satan bears in his hand the iron sceptre of death. Having tempted our first parents, and occasioned their fall, to him was assigned the office of executing the dread sentence on them and their descendants, “ Dying thou shalt die.” But Christ hath judged and subdued Satan in this also. On the day following this conversation, Jesus by the death of the cross “spoiled principalities and powers, making a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” “Through death, he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and delivered them, who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage.” (Hebrews ii. 14, 15.) Therefore, though believers are not exempted from dying, yet they will not suffer the second death. This will be the judgment only of the impenitent and unbelieving: who will be condemned at the last day, together with the devil and his angels. But believers will be raised incorruptible and immortal: their last enemy, death, will be destroyed. 66 Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
O glorious and comforting doctrines, which were so fully revealed, first, to these amazed and downcast disciples; and afterwards, through their inspired writings, to the whole world ! Blessed Spirit, convince us of sin! Lead us to apprehend the righteousness which is of faith! Strengthen us to resist our subtle, cruel enemy; to mortify all sin; and to go on, perfecting holiness in the fear of God! We are travelling through this world, as believers before us have done, and as others will do after us, trusting only to the grace of Christ. We desire to follow the light of his word, and to be cheered by the presence of his Spirit. Lord, be with us all our journey through : and when we come to the end of it, still support and comfort us ! Leave us not, neither forsake us, O God of our salvation !
THE SPIRIT, GLORIFYING CHRIST.
John xvi. 12—15. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. Our Lord had now touched, (briefly indeed, yet more closely than hitherto), on the sacred commission of his Apostles ; in the fulfilment of which they were to be assisted by the Holy Ghost. He had given them the grand outline of doctrine. Yet there were many other points, on which they would need direction and encouragement: for they were shortly about to become the instruments of the greatest religious movement, that has ever taken place in our world. They were, however, as yet unequal to so vast a charge. Our Lord knew their dulness, their prejudices, and the carnal state of their minds: he therefore forbore explaining any thing further to them, leaving it to the communication of the Divine Spirit, to purify, enlarge and strengthen their hearts. When once taught by the Spirit of truth, they would become Teachers indeed; teachers of all nations !
Our Lord alludes to 6 many things," as reserved for explanation at a future period. Judging from what the Apostles and Evangelists subsequently wrote, we may infer that these “ many things
” related to the abolition of the Mosaic dispensation; the opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles; the change of the Sabbath to the first day of the week; and various matters relative to church order and government. They were to be gifted, moreover, with the Spirit of prophecy: no one of them more so, than this very Evangelist, St. John ; whose Book of Revelation closes the Sacred Scriptures. 66 All truth," that is, all needful truth, was revealed to them; and by them conveyed to us.
Their writings, and those of the Old Testament, differ from all other books, in this one essential characteristic: namely, that they are derived from communications made to the writers of them by the ever-blessed and adorable Jehovah. And this part of our Lord's discourse reveals, in a very remarkable manner, the interest taken by the whole of the three Persons of the Godhead, in thus guiding the disciples. “All things that the Father hath, (says Christ), are mine:” to which he adds, "He (that is, the Spirit) shall take of mine, and show it unto you.” The Spirit was to receive from the Son, even as the Son from the Father: and thus all the Three harmoniously combined in teaching and guiding these heralds of salvation. We pretend not to understand, how this is : but that this is the fact, is plain : and it was considered by our Lord as of so much moment, that he here unfolds it, so far