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Apostles only, but to the Church of Christ; to all them that love him, and keep his commandments, to the end of the world; for it is added, “that he may abide with you for ever;" which how could it be applied to individuals, who would die in the course of a few years ? The world cannot receive this Holy Spirit, because they, who are addicted to the things of this world, being “ choked with its cares, and riches, and pleasures *,” are incapable of attending to the spiritual suggestions of his counsel ; but he dwelleth with those of a religious and good heart, and shall be in them. Not that such persons are to expect any extraordinary illumination, any sudden change of their affections and passions. These are but the dreams of enthusiasts. But the operations of the Spirit are secret and gradual, co-operating with men's own endeavours, confirming their faith, assisting them to think, and to do, what is good and right, and enabling them to grow from grace to grace in the Lord Jesus.
Ver. 19. Jesus thought fit repeatedly to prepare his disciples for his quitting the world; and, as at other times, so now, comforts them with the assurance of his living again. Moreover, his resurrec
Luke viii. 14.
tion should be to them a sure pledge, that they also should rise to the life immortal. “ At that day,” that is, after the resurrection of Jesus, they should more certainly know that he was “in the Father," was intimately united with God the Father, supported by his power, and actuated by his will; and that they likewise were supported and directed by Christ dwelling in them, and imparting to them the gifts of the Spirit. It is probable the Apostles might feel a more than ordinary glow of affection towards Jesus, as he talked with them; and that hence might arise the observation which follows, that they, who loved him indeed, must shew their love by keeping his commandments. Then would the Father and the Son love them, and come to them, and make their abode with them ; would shed abroad in their hearts the comforts arising from a steady faith, and a more perfect knowledge of divine truth. In taking leave of them, he promises that he will not leave them comfortless, inasmuch as the Father would send the Holy Spirit to instruct and assist them in all things. He was indeed going away; but this ought not to grieve them; for, as he had said, he would shew himself again to them. Nay, if they loved him, they would rather rejoice, be
cause he was going to reside in glory with the Father. And he tells them before it comes to pass, that when it is come to pass, they may not
sorrow, even as others which have no hope but may
the more believe him to be the Messiah. He should have little further opportunity of talking with them; for the devil, that prince of this world, having prepared his instruments, was already at hand; and though he would find no sin in Jesus, to give him any power over him; yet would Jesus voluntarily lay down his life, to shew his perfect love towards men, and ready obedience to the will of God the Father.
As the trunk and stem of a tree transmits its juices and vigour to the branches; so Christ describes himself as the genuine stock, whence alone his disciples could derive the principles of eternal life. And God the Father is represented as the husbandman, whose care provides for the fruitful growth of the plant, pruning off the unprofitable shoots, and cleansing from impurities all such as are healthy. These sentiments are but introductory to the earnest exhortations, of Jesus to his Apostles, that after his departure they would continue stedfast in their love towards him, and towards each other. If they would be indeed his disciples, and bear much fruit, they must remain firmly united to him in faith, and in affection; and they must manifest their affection by keeping his commandments; then, says he, " ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” What! shall every foolish, every worldly petition, that men may offer, immediately be granted ? Observe who they are, to whom this promise is made. They are not the foolish, they are not the worldly minded; but those whom Jesus had chosen out of the worl *." Whoever has shaken off his attachment to the world, and is rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, will ask nothing, will think nothing worth asking, but what will tend to the glory of God, and the promotion of true religion. We are not indeed forbid to address ourselves to God on subjects relating to our present state; on the contrary, we are directed “ in all things, by prayer and supplication to make our wants known unto God.” But this must be done in perfect submission to the will of him, who alone knoweth what is best, and most expedient for us. For so Christ himself prayed to God in his agony; but prayed at the same time, that not his own will, but his Father's will might be done. We have an example too, nearer to our own condition, in the Apostle Paul, who tells us that thrice he besought the Lord to deliver him from some bodily infirmity (though even this he probably did, thinking that it might enable him more effectually to prosecute the work of the Lord); but as soon as he was informed, that “ Christ's favour was sufficient for him," and that “the power of Christ was perfected through weakness,” was rendered the more manifest through the weakness of his instruments; he immediately adds, “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me *"
* 1 Thess. iv. 13.