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they love Christ: “ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
If we are his followers indeed, we shall love him also, because he is so patient, so forgiving, and so gentle towards us, in all our mistakes, our misdoings, and manifold imperfections. The disciples had experienced innumerable proofs of this forbearing spirit of their Lord. When he said, “ If ye love me," probably their feeling at once was, “ Lord, we all do love thee: we have good cause for loving thee: we are amazed at thy condescension and long-suffering towards us.”
2. Jesus immediately follows up his design, by stamping on their hearts the law of Obedience. Love is itself a principal part of holiness: it is the main-spring of all true service done to Christ. But let us reflect how much is intended by these few words, “ Keep my commandments.” What do they say to us?
First, Endeavour to know what is my holy will. Learn of me. Hear my words. Study my example, with a view to imitate it. Remember the blessings pronounced by me, on those who possess poverty of spirit, sorrow for sin, meekness, a longing after holiness, mercifulness, pureness of heart, a pacific temper, and patience of joyfulness under persecutions for my Name's sake.
Next, Strive by the help of my Spirit to put in practice all that you know to be your duty. You
are not to be mere admirers of what is good, but doers of it. Ye will but say that ye love me, if ye do not strive to excel in virtue. “Whoso keepeth my word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby shall ye know that ye are in me. He that saith be abideth in Christ, ought himself also so to walk even as Christ walked.”
And to this end, exercise a resolute Self-denial. The flesh will be much opposed to a life of holiness: the world and Satan will try to draw you off from it. Therefore, “ If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” If Self be mortified, and your rebellious wills brought into subjection, none of my commandments will ever appear grievous to you.
And further, Aim at Perseverance. Be not weary of well-doing. Be not satisfied with occasionally remembering my commandments and observing them in a few instances: but keep and do them constantly. Like me, remember the poor, the sick, the miserable : and especially have pity upon men, as being unhappy sinners. To show mercy, is your calling, as it hath becn mine. If you get no thanks from your fellow-creatures, yet remember that mine eye is over you for good; and when your course is finished, you shall hear from my lips the commendation, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, WHO IS ALSO THE
John xiv. 16, 17. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Many great truths are contained in these words of our Lord: let us examine them particularly, beseeching him to bestow on us that very gift of the Spirit, concerning which Jesus speaks.
He opens to his disciples, (for the first time in this discourse,) the great doctrine of the Trinity. This he does, as we before remarked, not in a formal and systematic manner; but by describing bow each Divine Person of the Trinity performs his respective office. The Son intercedes with the Father for a certain gift: the Father accedes to the petition of his Son: and, in consequence, the Holy Spirit is sent down from heaven, to abide with Christ's Church for ever. This is the simple meaning of our Saviour's words.
But it is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit that requires to be more fully explained at this time. It does not appear that our Lord had previously mentioned the subject, on this evening: but so important was it, that he again and again alluded to it afterwards; at each time throwing new light upon the doctrine. We may observe from his language, the following four things :—The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth; He is a Comforter; He abides for ever with Christ's true disciples; and, He is rejected by the world.
1. He is a Spirit of Truth.
There is, we know, a lying spirit, permitted by God to go to and fro in the earth, and to walk up and down in it: even Satan, who is also called the god of this world. Through his fraud and malice our first parents fell: and he still continues to deceive and destroy the nations by his falsehoods. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
But, “ for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” And he destroys this enemy, by lifting up against him the standard of the Spirit of truth.By that Spirit the Apostles were directed to write the books of the New Testament; as the ancient Prophets had, by the same Spirit, written the Old Testament. These volumes we now possess; and they together form 6 the word of truth.” “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." Let us reverence it, as being the voice of the Spirit, to us. Whenever we read the Bible, let us pray that the eyes of our understandings may be enlightened, by that same Holy Spirit. Then will this blessed Book be made profitable to us, “ for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness : we shall be perfected by it, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
2. The Holy Spirit is also a Comforter.
Christ had been a most kind and compassionate Friend to his disciples : in losing Him, they felt as if they were bidding a long farewell to all joy and consolation. “But (saith he) I will send you another Comforter.” The Spirit of God would, in answer to their prayers, come to them and dwell with them: He would be in their hearts: inwardly He would support them with such strong faith, such lively hopes, and such active dispositions of love, that they would feel perfectly blessed ; lifted up far above earthly sorrows, and full of joys unspeakable. They would feel that, in truth, Christ had not left them. They would have an internal evidence of his presence, and would be comforted!
3. And this Spirit abides with Christ's true disciples for ever!
With us, if we be of that happy number !- We too may take this promise to ourselves, and to our children after us! The Spirit will not fail to guide and teach us: He will dwell in us and walk in us : He will sanctify and preserve us: He will refresh, establish and comfort us. There is a promise of his influences, in the prophecy of Isaiah, which may well encourage poor, ignorant, helpless sinners, to hope for the blessing of the Spirit, in all ages. “ For (saith Jehovah by the mouth of his prophet) I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground : I will