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as it can be made comprehensible to human understandings. We learn then, that in the administering of the Covenant of grace each Person observes his proper office, his time and his place. They are co-equal, and co-operative; no one of the three Persons acting independently of the others; much less in contrariety the one to the other. And all three are engaged in promoting the knowledge, happiness, and eternal salvation of believers.
It is the peculiar office of the Spirit, to “receive” of the things of Christ, and to glorify him by showing these things to the Church.—We have an example of this, in the very case of this Evangelist, St. John. The Spirit revealed to him, or brought to his remembrance, many things concerning the Divine Person, the Mediatorial work, and the instructive spiritual discourses of Christ. Had not this Apostle, and the others, enjoyed the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, how could we ever have learned the glorious mysteries of the Gospel; how could we have known these matters of high and everlasting import, which kings and prophets earnestly desired to see, but did not see them ?
We may draw two remarks of a practical kind, from this part of our Lord's discourse.
1. First, from the example of his disciples, we may be reminded, that there generally is a period of much ignorance, prejudice, and slowness of heart, at the commencement of our spiritual life. Out of this dulness of mind, we should pray to be quickly delivered. We should earnestly ask of God, that in the reading of his holy word we may be effectually freed from all those prejudices and misconceptions, which bedim our spiritual sight. Oh, that the Truth might flow direct into our souls; just as the sunbeams pass straight into an opened chamber, which before was dark! Why cannot we understand the words of Christ? Why cannot we “bear them now”? Did we with all simplicity of heart implore the promised aid of the Spirit, would He not “guide us into all truth”? Assuredly he would. Our eye being single, our whole body would be full of light.
2. Next, let us constantly bear in mind, that the glorifying of Christ is the main business of the Spirit, and of all spiritually-minded Ministers. O then let our adoring thoughts be fixed on our Redeemer! His Person is divine: his word is truth: his blood hath power to cleanse from all sin: his intercession before the Father is all-prevailing: his gift of the Spirit is large and free. Although, on that night, He was all condescension, and on the next day, all humiliation; yet now 6 God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
THE SORROW OF CHRIST'S DISCIPLES, TO BE
EXCHANGED FOR JOY.
John xvi. 16—22.
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.
Then said 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 see me: and, because I go to the Father?
They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while ? we cannot tell what he saith.
Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and 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?
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. That reverent familiarity which the disciples entertained toward their Divine Master, was occasionally evinced by their talking over their difficulties among themselves in his presence. He himself frequently led to these musings and discussions among them, by saying things beyond their comprehension. So here: they catch at his words, 6 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.” They are perplexed with this, “ A little while; and again, a little while.” They cannot conjecture also, what may be the meaning of this, “ Because I go to the Father.” They keep harping on the words, "A little while:" and being reluctant to ask, they get no further than, 66 We cannot tell what he saith.”
Jesus heard their whisperings, and knew their thoughts. To meet their desire of information, he observes that there were now two distinct periods of time before them; a time of sorrow, and a time of joy: sorrow, because he would be parted from them; joy, because he would return to them, and then, shortly after, ascend to the Father, to plead on their behalf, and pour upon them the richest blessing which God can bestow; the gift of his Holy Spirit.
1. First, their Time of sorrow would be but for a little while; for three days at most. They would mourn the betrayal, crucifixion, death, and burial of their Lord. And while they wept and lamented, their grief would be aggravated by the cruel and wanton exultations of his Jewish enemies, and Heathen murderers. We cannot wonder that their hearts sunk within them. Short, comparatively, as the time of his humiliation was, and rapidly as events followed one upon another, yet, like the throes of a woman in travail, the sorrows of the disciples appeared to them insupportable. Some of them even yielded to the idea, that all was now
over, and their hopes lost. 66 We trusted (said some of them) that it was he that should have redeemed Israel:”—meaning, our confidence in him now is expiring
2. But there shall be also a Time of joy. “I will see you again.” This will also be for a short period, though longer than my absence :-a space of forty days. Then, I go to the Father; after which ye shall see me by faith, as your ever-present Friend, Advocate, and Intercessor. How will your sorrow be turned into joy, when, after my tion, ye shall be permitted to handle me, and see that it is even I myself that still converse with you! How, too, will ye wonder and adore, but not mourn, on beholding me ascend into heaven, to obtain for you the promise of the Father, even his Holy Spirit !
Two things would heighten the delightfulness of this joy.
(1) First, because it was the completion of an arduous plan. The anguish of a mother in childbirth is no more remembered by her, as soon as her infant, the tender object of her affections, is born into the world. So likewise the distress of the Eleven at losing their Master, would vanish on his rising again : “then were the disciples glad, when they had seen the Lord.” After his resurrection, they beheld him as a Conqueror: the world, Satan, and the grave, were now vanquished. Death had no more dominion over him.
His warfare was accomplished. Having vanquished the