Page images
PDF
EPUB

been their grief at the prospect of parting with him, in whom were “ hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge !"

Again ; by the death of Christ his disciples would lose the holy pleasure which they enjoyed in contemplating a Pattern of perfect moral excellence, and of loving him who exbibited it with a pure and holy affection. Their hearts, indeed, had remains of selfishness and sin; but they had been touched by Divine Grace. They knew what it was to love Jesus for his intrinsic worth. They saw in him the “ glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth ;” and although their potions concerning his Divinity seem to have been for the most part imperfect and obscure till after his ascension, yet they saw the glimmerings of this truth, and felt that profound veneration and reverential love which it was calculated to inspire. Indeed, in the very chapter from which our text is taken, Jesus says to Philip, “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father: how sayest thou, then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The disciples, therefore, no doubt took a complacent delight-a delight of the same kind with that which pervades the breasts of the redeemed in heaven-in contemplating the spotless purity and excellence, the Divine perfection and majesty, of our Saviour's character. This object of their veneration and love was soon to be removed from their sight, and in a way, too, which seemed to them most awful and mysterious

The Messiah, the expected Deliverer of his people, the Desire of all nations—he who their scriptures taught them was the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”-was about to be delivered into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer a most cruel and ignominious death. What perplexity and doubt, what grief and dismay, what fear and horror must have seized upon their minds ! Such was the disconsolate situation of the disciples on the night immediately preceding the crucifixion of their Lord. It called for all his compassion. He was ready to afford it. He bound up their broken hearts ; and this, too, at a time when his own soul was agonizing at the prospect of his approaching sufferings. Yes, my brethren, he neglected his own sorrow, that he might sooth their's :

having loved his own, he loved them unto the

end."

II. This brings me to the second head of my discourse, which is to exhibit the various consolations that our Saviour afforded his disciples. “Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Confidence in himself-in his power, his wisdom and his goodness-even that same implicit trust which they reposed in God, he proposes to them as the only sure foundation of peace to their distracted souls. To convince them of his title to this confidence, and to encourage them to its cordial and unreserved exercise, he gives them “ exceeding great and precious promi

ses," and unfolds to them the nature of his kingdom, and the design and consequences of his death. Let us attend to these topics more particularly.

He encourages them under the prospect of personal suffering, by shewing them, that in this they will but share the fate of their Master, and “ suffer for righteousness sake.” “ If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” “In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Clad, therefore, for the conflict, with the armour of conscious rectitude, they might fearlessly follow, even to death, the great Captain of their salvation, who was to be made“ perfect through suffering," and to obtain a complete victory over all his enemies—“ spoiling principalities and powers, making a shew of them openly, and triumphing over them." Fully able, therefore, would he be to afford them his continual protection and support. And this he promised them --" I will not leave you comfortless ; I will come to you.” . “ If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” With God, therefore, and his Son occupying their hearts, truly the disciples had need to fear no evil. Go forth, then, ye little flock ! “ For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things présent,

nor things to come; nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus your Lord.” " Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel ; I will keep thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” “ The Lord is with you, as a mighty terrible one; therefore your persecutors shall tremble, and they shall not prevail ; they shall be greatly ashamed, for they shall not prosper; their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten."

Besides, our Saviour taught his disciples, that these very afflictions which they dreaded would serve to purify them; that their trials would wean their affections from this world, and “ work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

Again ; Christ promised the Apostles, that they should be invested with the power of working miracles, even greater than those which he wrought, and that " whatsoever they should ask in his name, that would he do, that the Father might be glorified in the Son." : With these divine resources-calculated, on the one hand, to command in some good degree the respect and dread of their enemies, and, on the other, to inspire the disciples with confidence in that God who heareth prayer,

and furnishes grace

and strength equal to the day of trial--they had good reason to banish all fear and despondency from their minds.

Further; they were assured by Christ, that after his departure he would send unto them, from the Father, another Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth. This Divine Agent, they were taught, would supply the bodily presence of their Lord. He would testify of Christ: he would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance. He would give them “ a mouth and wisdom, which all their adversaries should not be able to gainsay or resist.” He would fortify them against the trials to which they might be exposed. He would inspire them with hope and peace in believing, and cheer them all their way through this thorny world, to those peaceful mansions " where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."

Again ; our Saviour took special care to convince the disciples, that his death was voluntary, and in strict accordance with the purposes of God-and to unfold to them, in some degree, its design and consequences. Thus he endeavoured to do away, in their minds, the “ offence of his cross.” “I came forth from the Father, and am.come into the world : again I leave the world, and go to the Father." “ Truly the Son of man goeth as it was determined.”, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." + Neyertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient

« PreviousContinue »