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was going, as our High Priest, to present the merits of his precious blood-shedding, for the pardon of our sins. As our Intercessor and Advocate he was going to plead on our behalf, and to obtain every gift needful for our sanctification, our growth in grace, and our complete salvation.
2. The next point to be considered, is, What were the gifts, with which our Lord designed thenceforth to bless his Church? They were partly miraculous; and partly, the ordinary gifts of grace.
To his eleven disciples, (and, for a time, to others in his Church,) he intended to vouchsafe miraculous gifts; that is, the power of performing works supernatural. Jesus had himself done many mighty works; so many, that St. John at the close of this Gospel, says, (by a strong figure of speech,) " that if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” But his disciples, being many in number, and their lives prolonged, and their ministrations extended to the remotest parts of the world, probably wrought more miracles than even their Master: and though no exertion of power can be more certainly supernatural, than the raising of the dead (a miracle which our Lord repeatedly wrought, as well as his disciples after him); yet, on the whole, it may probably be said with truth, that they performed miracles more abundant than he; many of them being of the most surprising nature.
All this was done, in order to give authority to their preaching : and it was effected through the power of the Holy Ghost; whose descent upon the Apostles was itself the grand miracle of the Gospel dispensation, introductory to all the rest.
By the Holy Spirit came also the ordinary gifts of grace. What these are, it behoves us to know by our own inward experience. The chief of them are the following:
By the power of the Spirit it is, that a sinner obtains the gift of Repentance unto life. Of ourselves, we have no ability to repent, or turn ourselves to God. It is by the Spirit that any heart is moved to godly sorrow for sin. He, and he alone, causes the sinner's hard nature to soften, and inclines the rebel to submit. He smites the rocky heart, and the waters flow.
By his power it is, that the soul is led to cherish Hope in Christ. Till the Spirit imparts this gift, the soul of a convinced sinner must needs be sad, downcast and desponding. But by his influence the word of Christ is applied sensibly to the heart; especially that hope-inspiring word, " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden; and I will give you rest.” “Look unto me, and be ye saved.”
The same Spirit hath power to implant in our hearts the Love of holiness. He casts down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the law of Christ. Of his internal operations, this is the greatest : it is a work within the sinner's heart. And oh, how many captives hath he thus set free from the cruel slavery of the world, the flesh and the devil ! These are his spiritual miracles; wrought indeed by the ordinary influences of the Spirit, and through the simple preaching of Christ's word: yet so transcendently wonderful, that they are compared to a resurrection: 6 You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
3. The third Truth, brought to our notice in this passage, is, the power of The Prayer of faith, to obtain these blessings.
Faith must have its warrant: and that warrant is, the Name of Christ. The Apostles wrought their miracles in Christ's name. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” • Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” Thus they honoured the name and power of their Lord and Master.
We too, when asking for the ordinary gifts of the Spirit, are emboldened to plead the same Name, and in that Name to approach the throne of grace with the Prayer of faith. “Ask in faith, nothing wavering.” Whenever we kneel down in prayer, we may conceive our Saviour to be addressing to us this inquiry — " Believest thou, that I am able to do this thing for thee?” And the simple answer of our heart should be, “ Yea, Lord !” If we brought all our wants, all our sorrows, trials and temptations to Christ in this way, and in this spirit, would He not delight to hear and bless us ? Assuredly he would ! Nothing can be more plain or encouraging, than his own words—“ If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
Lord Jesus, inspire us with faith in thy precious promises ; that, in all our necessities we may come boldly unto the throne of grace; assured that, whatsoever we ask according to thy will, thou hearest us!
LOVE AND OBEDIENCE.
John xiv. 15. If ye love me, keep my commandments. There are many and strong reasons why we ought to love Christ: and if we do indeed love him, it will be our supreme delight to learn and do his will.
1. The reasons for loving our Saviour, are chiefly the following:
First, “ We love him, because He first loved us.” This is the argument of St. John, in his first Epistle. How beautifully does he there discourse on this endearing subject :-“ Love is of God.” “ God is love.” “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his onlybegotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Again, we ought to love Christ, because in his own nature and character he is Altogether lovely. He is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of bis Person. In him the Father is well-pleased. To those who received him, he was revealed as being full of grace and truth. “ He opened his mouth with wisdom, and in his tongue was the law of kindness." "He went about doing good.”—In reading the Gospels we feel as if we never could be tired. How delightful to contemplate the lovely character of Jesus, as it is there set forth, in the history of his life, miracles, discourses, conversations, sufferings, and exaltation to glory! Who is like unto Thee, O adorable Jesus, Son of God, and Son of man, our Mediator and Redeemer !
And this shows us another reason, which all genuine believers have for loving Christ: it is, because He hath given them An heart to love him. Naturally, this is not the case with us. Although sinners lie under such infinite obligations to the Redeemer, they are not easily moved to love him. Careless, ungodly men view this Saviour with the same eye of indifference, that the Jews of old did. To them “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when they see him, there is no beauty that they should desire him.” But believers, when they have once tasted that the Lord is gracious, begin to feel a flame of pure and fervent love mightily kindling sin their hearts. And for this inestimable gift, the gift of a heart capable of loving and enjoying him,