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Saviour's care. Into that fold no enemy shall enter! “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”
Further, Jesus solemnly warns Peter: this we have already noticed.
Again, Jesus prays for him, while Peter was too heedless to pray for himself. “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”
Jesus also directs him, how he is to act after his recovery from sin: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Having forgiven and restored him, Jesus would afterwards fully put his love to the test : “ Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Lovest thou me more than these ? Feed my lambs: Feed my sheep."
The ten other disciples, like Peter, avowed their readiness to die for Christ; “ Likewise also said they all :" yet, like him, they all forsook Jesus, and fled. But as Peter was boldest in profession, so was he chief in sin: thrice he denied his Lord ! How can we sufficiently admire the patient, forbearing, tender, forgiving spirit of our Lord himself! True indeed was that sentence, with which the Chapter opens—“ Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end !”
FAITH AND HOPE.
John xiv. 1-3. Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. They who desire to comfort the afflicted, should understand the secret of speaking to the heart. Sorrows lie deep: they cannot be plucked out of the mind by a few common-place sentiments. We need what Isaiah calls, “ the tongue of the learned,” in order “ to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” Such a tongue was given to our Lord Jesus Christ: he was expressly anointed with the Spirit, and then sent to heal the broken-hearted. The disciples could not but wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out of his lips: every thing he said was characterized by Truth, Simplicity, and Tenderness.
He saw them troubled : he bids them be calm. And the calmness which he recommends was to be founded on two main supports : namely, a firm faith, and a lively hope.
1. A firm Faith. 6 Ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
There are seasons when we must ascend to the very first principles of Religion. Faith in God is the foundation of all our principles. To know with
full conviction of the heart, that there is one true God, the Creator and Governor of all things, infinite in power, wisdom, love, and truth; a God on whom all things depend, and without whose providence not a sparrow falleth to the ground; a God who is always present, who keepeth the feet of his saints, so that none that trust in him shall be desolate: a Father, a Sovereign Lord, a Holy Judgeto believe in such a God, and to call him “our God and our Guide;" this ought to settle the mind and establish the heart, as on a Rock.
But this faith cannot be attained without a knowledge also of Christ, the Mediator between God and man. - Believe also in me,” saith Jesus to his disciples. Have I not been with you all this time, making myself known unto you, expressly that through me ye might have access by one Spirit unto the Father? If, at this trying moment, and throughout the painful scene which is approaching, you can only put your whole trust and confidence in me, as fulfilling the good pleasure of my Father, and doing all things well, your agitation of mind will be quieted. The burden laid on your spirits will indeed be heavy: but you will not sink under it. You will be supported.
How simple a thing is true Faith! Yet, how difficult to attain! What need have we to pray, 6 Lord, give me this divine grace ! Lord, increase my faith!”
2. But our Saviour recommends also another grace to his disciples; and his love inspires them
with it. He imparts a lively Hope. He carries them beyond the present scene; far, far beyond ; even to the future time of everlasting glory.
He tells them now, whither he is going. Heaven is the dwelling-place of his Father, God: and in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, there are many mansions, many restingplaces, where the righteous enter into peace; where they rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.
He tells them, for what he is going: “I go to prepare a place for you.”—There is a certain course of preparation and training, through which our souls must pass, ere they become meet for the inheritance of the saints in light: much discipline, to carry on within us the work of sanctification. But the place itself Jesus intended now quickly to prepare: although it shall cost him dear, even the price of his most precious blood.
And when all is prepared; when I shall have died and risen and ascended; and when the saints have slept in Jesus, and awaked at the morning of the resurrection; then shall be brought to pass my saying, “ I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” Not merely would Jesus come with the gift of his Spirit, which Holy Spirit was to abide in Christ's stead with his Church, always even unto the end of the world: but Jesus himself is to come again, to judge all the earth, to accomplish the number of his elect, to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.
What can support the fainting soul, if not this hope ? Oh, that we had more of it; a lively, stedfast hope, a holy hope, an assured hope, a hope that maketh not ashamed: the expectation of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away!
But the chief beauty and glory of this hope consists in the declaration of Jesus, that his disciples shall then dwell for ever in his presence. “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” And not only with Christ: but likewise in him, partaking of his nature by an inseparable union. Truly, “ it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
O then, let all afflicted disciples, let the sick and dying who believe and hope in Christ, take comfort from his words! And since he declares, “Surely I come quickly;" so let us, with heart and voice, reply, “ Even so, come, Lord Jesus !"