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The G o s P E L for the Sunday after Afcenfion-Day9
St. John xv, 26. and part of Chap. xvi.
When the Comforter is come, whom I will fend unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truths which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not
. be offended, &c,
WE pray in the Collect for this Day, that God would not leave us comfortless, but fend ut a Comforter in the absence of our Saviour. This Gospel for the Day shews us who this Comforter is, together with a Promise of sending him, and the Ends for which he is sent: which things are to be the Subject of the following Discourse.
When the Comforter is come: The Word here render'd a Comforter, is in the Original a Paraclete, which signifies three things, a Comforter, an Advocate, and a Teacher or Remembrancer j all which Offices were necessary to the Apostles at that time, and will be so to all Christians to the end of the World. And therefore 'tis requisite that each of them be here explain'd.
But before I do that, 'twill be necessary to know who or what this Paraclete is, that we may the better fee how these Offices are discharg'd by him. Now this Paraclete, as the Beginning of this Gospel, and sundry other places of Scripture inform us, is the Spirit of Truth, or the Holy Ghost, the third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity ; who in all the foremention'd Senses is truly and properly a Paraclete, as will evidently appear by a particular View and Consideration of them, And,
lfi. The word Paraclete signifies sometimes a Comforter; so 'tis here translated, as 'tis also John 14.16,17. where this spirit of Truth, soxall'd as being the Author of Troth, in opposition to all lying Spirits and false Prophets, is likewise call'd a Comforter, in opposition to all deceitful and uncomfortable Spirits, that create nothing but Sorrow and Sadness .5 whereas this Holy Spirit administers Cordials strong enough to bear up the Spirits in all Conditions, and communicates those Joys, that are sufficient not only to keep lis-firom fainting under, but even to make us rejoice in Tribulation. Hence we read of the Joys of the Holy Ghostv the Consolations of the Spirit, which far-exceed all the miserable Comforters of this World.
Indeed, 'twas Comfort that the Disciples wanted, when our*Savour spake these words to them; for Sorrow had fill'd their Hearts upon the news of Christ's going from them, knowing that they were to be like Orphans left destitute and friendless to the wide World, which could not but dismay and cast them down. Now in this dejected and disconsolate state, Christ tells them of one that was coming to comfort them : because Sorrow had chill'd and congeal'd their Spirits, he tells them of his coming in the form of Fire, to warm and enliven them •, and because the Tongue is the Instrument of Comfort, he should come iti the shape of Tongues, to minister to them a word in due season. And this they accordingly found, to their great comfort; for immediately upon their receiving the Holy Spirit, they were so chear'd and reviv'd, that the Bystanders thought them to be full of new Wine: from Persons, exceeding fearful, they became of a sudden exceeding foil of Courage and Spirit, like Men transported with Joy. Yea, when they were evil-intreated by the World, they went away not as Persons dejected, but dignify'd with a new Honour, that they should be counted worthy to suffer for Æt Name of Christ. And thus does the Holy Spirit still.perform the Office of a Paraclete or Comforter. , zdlp.,. The word Paraclete signifies sometimes an Advocate" Or Intercessorso 'tis render'd, 1 John 2.1. If any Man fin^ «^5c.'x^m?i» fee have a Paraclete or Advocate with the
Fathers.i.e. one to speak and act for us with the Father. And this Office the Holy Ghost performs for us, partly by acting our-jCause for us with God, partly with Men, and partly.by. acting Christ's Cause against the World* It acts as an Advocate for us with God, by helping us to pray, by i. :V.fil v. forming forming our Petitions, and inspiring us with those holy As. sections, that render them acceptable unto God. This St. Paul tells us, Rom. 8. 26. The Spirit also helpeth our Infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit it self tnaketh intercession for us, with Groanings that cannot be utter'd. Again, \ The Holy Spirit is our Advocate to plead our Cause before Men so our Saviour told his Disciples, Mat. 10.19, 20. When ye are brought before Governours and Kings for tny sake. , take no thought how or what ye stall speak, for it stall be given you in that same hour what ye stall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you* Furthermore,
This Holy Spirit is an Advocate or Actor of Christ's Cause against the World ., so he here told them, when he is come, he stall testify of me .- and John 16.8,9,10. He stall reprove the World of Sin, of Righteousness, and of Judgment: the three forts of Causes usually try'd in the Jewish Courts \ for which see the Gospel for the fourth Sunday aster Easter.
'$dly, The word Paraclete signifies a Teacher or Remembrancer ., for from whence 'tis deriv'd, is to exhort, admonish, and call to mind. This Office the Holy Spirit executed for the Apostles, by leading them into all Truth, by teaching and bringing all things to remembrances which Christ had said unto them; as we read, John 14. 26. & Chap. 16.13. And this Office he still does for us, by instructing us out of the Holy Scriptures, the Dictates of the feme Spirit; and by bringing to mind all necesfary Truths for our Benefit and Consolation, as Occasions shall require.
Thus we fee who and what this Paraclete is, and how he executes the Offices of a Comforter, an Advocate, and Instructor in the Church of Christ ■, all which are imply'd in that Word, and ought to be understood in that Latitude, as to comprehend them all. For to them that are oppress'd with Grief and Sorrow, 'tis a Comforter to cheat and revive them: to them that are in Errorj 'tis a Spirit of Truth, to guide and direct them in the right way: to them that are assaulted with Temptations to Sin, 'tis a Spirit of Holiness, to support and fanctify them. In a word, 'tis a^ Spirit of Grace and Supplication, to help all our Infirmities, and. to carry us through all the Doubts and Difficulties that we meet with in this present Life.
Now this Comforter was here promis'd to come ; When the Comforter is come, whom I will fend unto you from the Father : which words suppose his Coming, and that suddenly too and so it soon after came to pass, as we shall have occasion to shew in our next* In the mean time we may observe, that Christ here promis'd to fend this Spirit of Truth from the Father: and in the next words it is said to proceed from the Father. From which the Creeds and Confessions of the Christian Church have taught us to believe, that he proceedeth from both. . . *
Having told them these things, he proceeds, in the next place, to let them know the End of this Comforter's Coming : which, among other things, was to bear testimony of him; He Jhall testify of me. And this he did several ways; as,
(1.) By his inward Inspirations, whereby he enlighten'd Mens Minds, and gave them a right Understanding of Christ, as the promis'd Messias and Saviour of the World; which, without the Light of God's Holy Spirit, had never been so clearly known: for no Man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed; and no Man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, hut by the HolyGhost. I Cor. 12. 3.
(2.) The Spirit bears witness of Christ, by inditing the Holy Scriptures, which reveal him to the World, and convey the Knowledg of him to all Nations. Hence we find our Saviour sending the Jews to the Holy Scriptures for a Testimony of him, faying, Search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of me; John 5.'39.':
(3.) The Spirit bore witness of Christ, by the many Miracles and mighty Works wrought by him, for the Confirmation of Christ's Doctrine. So the Author to the Hebrews tells us, that the Word which first began to be spoken by the Lord, was after confirm'd by them that heard him; God also bearing witness by Signs and Wonders, and divers Miracles, and Gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his Will; Heb. 2. 3,4. And St. Peter in his Sermon to the Jews declar'd, that Jesus of Nazareth was a Man approv'd of God among them by Miracles, Wonders, and Signs, which God did in the midst of them, as they themselves also knew; Acts 2. 22. Which Miracles being done by the Divine Spirit for the honour of Christ, was the Testimony he is here Cud to bear of him.
To which may be added, the Holy Ghost's constituting and consecrating an Order of Men to publish Christ's Doctrine and Miracles to all the World, as a farther Instance of the witness he gave to him: which occafion'd those next words of Christ to his Apostles And ye also stall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning: that is, you that have been Eye and Ear-witnesses of all that I have faid or done, having been with me at the first, and continu'd with me ever since, are fittest to bear witness of me; and this must be the Employment of all that succeed in your Office to the World's end. So we read, 1 John 1.
These things (faith our Saviour) have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended: that is, I have told you of mine and your Sufferings, and likewise promis'd you sufficient Comforts and Supports under them, merely to prevent Surprize, and to keep you from being offended at the Extremity of any Affliction that may happen unto you. By being offended here is meant not barely a being displeas'd, or conceiving of some Dislike, but such a Displeasure and Dislike as carry Men on to the falling from, and utter forfaking of Christ, to the denying of him, and casting off all Profession of Faith and Hope in him: And this hath been often occafion'd by the Difficulties and Hazards that attend his Service. The Scandal of the Cross prov'd a great Offence to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, for it made the one to deny him, and the other to forfake him: Christ crucify'd was a Stumbling-block to the Jews, and to the Greeks Foolishness; i Cor. 1.23. And many have made the Sufferings of Christ an Occasion of relinquishing him. The Prophet Isaiah foretold, that he should be a Stone of Stumbling, and a Rock of Offence to the House of Israel, a Gin and a Snare to the Inhabitants of Jerufalem- , and many should stumble and sall, and be broken in pieces: Isa. 8.14,15. And good old Simeon declar'd at our Saviour's Birth, that this Child was set for the sall, as well as the rising again of many in Israel, and for a Sign that shall be spoken against; Luke 2. 34. Accordingly we read in the Gospel, that many were offended in him; that is, many took occasion to spurn and fall at him, and even to dash against the Rock of their Salvation: and all this by reason of the Sufferings that befel our Saviour, and that after happen'd to those that adher'd to him; for many stick to him in the Sunshine of Prosperity, who in she time of Temptation and Trouble fall away. So