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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
John 14

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-4

John 14:1-4

Let not your heart be troubled.

This clause is the true heading to the whole consolatory discourse, for it flows on in one channel of love and ends at last with the words, “Be of good cheer.”

Let not your heart be troubled

We may well feel glad that God’s people of old were men of like passions with ourselves. It is not the will of God that His people should “be troubled” in heart; hence these blessed words.

I. LET US TASTE OF THE BITTER WATERS.

1. Jesus was to die. It had finally dawned on them that they were to be left like sheep without a shepherd, and they were inconsolable.

2. He was to be betrayed by one of their own number. This pierced the hearts of the faithful. Of this bitter water the faithful at this hour are also made to drink. Reputed ministers under the banner of “advanced thought” make war upon those eternal truths for which confessors contended and martyrs bled, and the saints in past ages have been sustained in their dying hours.

3. Peter’s denial was to cause another pang to the faithful.

II. LET US DRINK OF THE SWEET WATERS, TO REFRESH US. Our Master indicates the true means of comfort under every sort of disquietude.

1. “Believe” not only My doctrine but in Me--a personal, living, ever-present, omnipotent Saviour.

2. Though He was going from them, He was only going to His Father’s house.

3. A great many would follow Him to the Father’s house.

4. “I go to prepare a place for you,” not only “many mansions” for our spirits, but an ultimate place of our risen bodies. We are apt to entertain cloudy ideas of the ultimate inheritance of the saints. Christ went away in body--not as a disembodied spirit, but as One who had eaten with His disciples, and whose body had been handled by them. His body needed a place.

5. The promise of His sure return--“If I go,” etc.

6. And then He will “receive” us. It will be

7. He will place us eternally where He is that we may be with Him. Can we not now, once for all, dismiss every fear in prospect of the endless bliss reserved for us? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let not your hearts be troubled

The disciples had been like lambs carried in the bosom of a loving shepherd. They were now about to be left by Him, and would be among the wolves and the terrors of the snowstorm. Frequently after conversion God, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, gives a period of repose; but for all of us there will come a time of trouble. Albeit that bark so lately launched upon a glassy sea has all her streamers flying, and rejoices in a favourable wind, let her captain remember that the sea is treacherous and that the stoutest vessel may find it more than difficult to outride a hurricane. But without due trial where would be our experience, and without the experience where increase of faith and triumph of love? We have each

1. A share of home trials.

2. Trials arising from the Church of God. In the best-ordered Church it must needs be that offences come.

3. Worst of all are soul troubles. Note that the advice of the text is

I. TIMELY AND WISE. There is no need to say, “Let not your heart be troubled,” when you are not in affliction. When all things go well with you, you will need, “Let not your heart be exalted.” Now, it is the easiest thing in times of difficulty to let the heart be troubled, to give up and drift with the stream. Our Lord bids us pluck up heart, and here is the wisdom of His advice, namely

1. That a troubled heart will not help us in our difficulties or out of them. In time of drought lamentations have never brought showers. A man whose business was declining never multiplied his customers by unbelief. It is a dark night, but the darkness of your heart will not light a candle for you.

2. A doubting, fretful spirit takes from us the joys we have. You have not all you could wish, but you have still more than you deserve, and far more than some others; health perhaps, God certainly. There are flowers that bloom in winter if we have but grace to see them.

3. A troubled heart makes that which is bad worse. It magnifies, aggravates, caricatures. Unbelief makes out our difficulties to be most gigantic, and then it leads us to suppose that never soul had such difficulties before. But think of Baxter, Calvin, the martyrs, St. Paul, Christ.

4. A troubled heart is most dishonourable to God. It makes the Christian suspect eternal faithfulness and to doubt unchangeable love. Is this a little thing? The mischief of the Christian Church at large is a want of holy confidence in God. When once an army is demoralized by a want of spirit and the soldier assured that he cannot win the day, then the conclusion is that every man had better take care of himself and fly. But as long as we do not lose heart we have not lost the day.

II. PRACTICABLE. “Let not your heart be troubled.” “Oh,” says somebody, “that’s easy to say but hard to do.” Here’s a man who has fallen into a deep ditch, and you say to him, “Don’t be troubled about it.” “Ah,” says he, “that’s very pretty for you that are standing up there, but how am I to be at ease while up to my neck in mire?” But if Jesus says it our heart need not be troubled.

1. He indicates that our resort must be to faith. If in thy worst times thou wouldst keep thy head above water, the swimming belt must be faith. In the olden times how were men kept from perishing but by faith (Hebrews 11:1-40)? There is nothing which it cannot do, but what can you do if you do not trust your God? and surely it ought not to be difficult for a child to believe his father.

2. The Saviour goes on to say, “You believe in God”; exercise that same faith with regard to the case in hand. The case in hand was this--could they rest upon One who was about to be crucified? “You have believed God about other things, exercise that same faith about this.” You have believed God concerning pardon, believe God about the child, the wife, the money.

3. It ought to be a great deal easier for us to live above heart trouble than it was to the apostles.

III. PRECIOUS. Remember that the loving advice

1. Came from Jesus. The mother says to the child, “Do not cry, child; be patient.” That sounds very differently from what it would have done if the schoolmaster or a stranger had spoken. His own face was towards the Cross, He was about to be troubled as never man was troubled. It is as if He wanted to monopolize all tears.

2. It points to Jesus. If you want comfort you must hear Jesus say, “Believe also in Me.” No place for a child’s aching head like its mother’s bosom. No shadow of a great rock in this weary land like our Saviour’s love consciously overshadowing us.

3. It speaks of Jesus. “In My Father’s house,” etc. Jesus is here seen in action. Think of all He said and did, and what He is doing for us now.

4. It hints that we are to be with Jesus forever. “An hour with my God,” says the hymn, “will make up for it all.” So it will; but what will an eternity with our God be? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Trouble not

The words are

I. NOT SENTIMENTAL. They are not spoken by one who wishes to silence sorrow by superficial kindliness. Christ does not say we are to disarm ourselves of prudence and energy; but He does say where all these work torture and misery you are faithless. There is a Providence that goes before you. Your Heavenly Father knoweth what things you have need of. There is more than sorrow in this world. Sin is here, but even over it we triumph by a salvation which makes a redeemed life the most glorious life of all. From the lips of Christ this is a reasonable comfort, because He is able to make all grace abound towards us, and because sorrow goes forth as His angel to make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

II. NOT EXHAUSTIBLE. This comfort is not exhaustible in time; nor can you exhaust its adaptation to the variety and speciality of personal sorrow. Does not Christ know your sorrow? We could gain no true comfort if Christ were merely a figure in history. If Christ had not risen the words are exhaustible. But Christ Himself has said, “I am He that liveth,” etc. The value even of an earthly friend is in the inexhaustibility of sympathy. But at the best human friendship is shallow, but it is different with Christ’s. His passeth knowledge. He who changes not and abideth always says, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

III. NOT LIMITABLE. These are words of consolation for all the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

1. No little community has any special privilege of excommunicating, nor has any large one.

2. All through the ranges of experience, as well as through all the ages of time, Christ bids us take these words of comfort. First of all they should be applied to the heaviest sorrows. Here at Christ’s Cross the most burdened may find release.

IV. NOT ALONE TEMPORAL. They do not simply relate to this time world or to our human and spiritual experiences here. Christ was comforting men concerning the rest that remaineth. And the spirit of man had never been so comforted before. He knew that hearts like ours would grasp every promise concerning the blessed dead. So these words should be taken up into the highest sphere to comfort us concerning those who sleep in Jesus that we sorrow not as those without hope, remembering that the risen Christ went back whence He came, to prepare a place for us.

V. NOT ALONE RETROSPECTIVE. Christ does not say, “Do not trouble about past sins, they are forgiven you.” No. He looks forward and comforts them in relation to their earthly future here and their home hereafter. And yet what did He see in the near perspective for many of them? On the edge of the horizon stand their crosses in the grey light of tomorrow. “The time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” Still He says, “Do not trouble.” Let us take Christ at His word as they did. (W. M. Statham.)

Christ’s cure for trouble

I. THE SORE OF THE WORLD IS TROUBLE AND ITS CURE IN FAITH. The seat of trouble is not in anything outside of us. It is the passions. Work, wakefulness, losses, bereavements, life’s burdens and battles are not troubles. They are discipline. While the passions are in right and healthful play all these things may befall a man, and yet he may be wholly untroubled. On the other hand, a man may be surrounded by all that can minister to his comfort and dignity, and yet be troubled. In the latter case the man’s passions are tossed about as the sea is when a tempest is on it; in the other case, they are serene as the lake in the fastnesses of a mountain.

1. The cause of all our trouble is the want of harmony between our wills and God’s will. Let them accord, and then nothing in heaven or earth or hell can trouble us. But when we beat ourselves against the barriers erected by Omnipotence for our safety and good, then there is trouble.

2. Our trouble arises from our want of faith in the rightfulness and paramount authority of God’s law. Men would not fight against God’s law of morals if they could perceive that the law is perfectly good and right. Men have an impression that the law of God is a kind of Procrustes’ bed, cutting long men short and stretching short men long for arbitrary reasons, and not that every regulation is for man’s sake and that of other creatures. And because men do not believe that the law of God is good they do not believe it is paramount. The origin of the trouble of every heart from the beginning is to be found in this failure of faith in God. It was so with Adam and Eve. There was no trouble while they trusted their Heavenly Father. You cannot seduce a man into wrong-doing until you shake his faith in God. It is this fundamental principle of which Jesus seems to have thought. This seems to me to mean two things

(a) We must hare some distinct evidence of His loving us. Of such love Jesus is the Demonstration. Belief in Jesus is belief in God incarnating Himself; putting Himself thus into most complete sympathy with us, making us feel that if any disasters should happen to us He would be the Person who most should feel it. This breaks down the opposition of our hearts to God.

(b) Jesus declares Himself the Governor of the world. Providence is in the hands of my Brother. He manages the universe for the purposes of the atonement. Why should my heart be troubled? Is not the King of eternity my Friend?

II. THEN FROM HIMSELF AS FROM A CENTRE HE SWEEPS THE UNIVERSE OF SPACE AND DURATION, AND FOLDS IT ALL DOWN UPON EVERY TRUSTING HEART AS A MEASURELESS BENEDICTION.

1. “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” How this takes the vagueness out of our ideas of God! How our recently constructed scientific instruments enlarge and deepen this saying of Jesus! It is to be noticed that our intellects gravitate toward a common centre. There, in that centre, we seem to feel must be the chief place of God. There is an unhealthy fear of God which is not humble reverence. Men dread to think of Him. In our catechisms we put Him just as far away from our children as we can. Jesus does no such thing. God is a Person. He has a house and a household. He makes homes for His children. Why, then, should I be troubled that I am to die? My removal will be like the progress of a prince from castle to castle of his father’s dominions. In each I shall find new work and new delights.

2. One of the phases of man’s unbelief is that he does not seem to have space and time enough to carry forward to completion the grand projects of his intellect. But if you will believe in Jesus, this trouble shall disappear. In the boundless field of the universe, in the perpetual cycles of eternity, you shall find space and time enough to do all that you desire now or may desire hereafter.

3. Another thing Jesus utters to be a heart cure: “If it were not so, I would have told you.” He will not only correct our thoughts of God, He will not let us have a false hope. Those men loved Him, and in some blind way had believed in Him. He knew that they had aspirations higher than the Temple and wider than the spangled tent that spread all night above the Holy Land. He would not go away and leave them cherishing a fond delusion. He would tell them if the things they hoped were an idle dream. In this there ought to be a happy lesson for every earnest heart. There is a gloomy infidelity in us which says of happiest things that they are “too good to be true.” If you have any hope for eternity, and Jesus Christ has not contradicted it, you may reasonably indulge it. See what a field that flings open to us. This is comforting, but grandly vague.

4. He goes further and tells us that He departs in order to “prepare a place for us.” This meets another phase of trouble. Our wills conflict with the will of God because we never feel at home totally suited in our surroundings on earth. Think how much is necessary for perfect comfort. There must be a suitable physique, agreeable in all the particulars of size, beauty, and health. There must be perfectly-fitting clothes; a collar too tight, a boot too small breaks one’s comfort. Then our house must be in everything complete; nay, it must be an elastic house, expanding or shrinking to our wants at different times. When the residence is complete, there is the absence of the beloved or the presence of an unpleasant neighbourhood. It is not an unamiable discontentedness in human nature which makes us dissatisfied or unsatisfied: it is the inability of this present world, with all its resources, to fill the soul; and this argues the soul’s greatness. Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He knows what is in us and what we need about us. He is putting all His resources to the work of fitting up for us mansions in the spiritual world. Our place will be complete. How that abates our troubles! There shall be nothing wanting in the place when Jesus pronounces it ready.

5. “Ready?” Then when it is ready we must go to it. There is to be a removal. But still there is something to try one in any change of residence, but Christ says, “I will come for you and take you,” and that “unto Myself.” (C. F. Deems, LL. D.)

Trouble and its cordial

I. GOD’S MOST FAITHFUL SERVANTS ARE SUBJECT TO TROUBLES OF HEART.

1. What troubles?

(a) Sin (Psalms 51:4-8).

(b) Corruption (Romans 7:24).

(a) Spiritual: Christ’s absence.

(b) Temporal: outward afflictions (Lamentations 1:4).

2. The reason.

II. FAITH IN GOD AND CHRIST IS THE BEST CORDIAL TO A TROUBLED HEART.

1. It is the surest and most infallible (Matthew 11:28).

2. The strongest (Isaiah 59:1).

3. The pleasantest (1 Peter 1:8).

4. The readiest (Psalms 46:1).

5. The most suitable (Isaiah 43:2-3).

6. The most constant (Hebrews 13:5).

7. The most universal.

III. APPLY THIS to

1. Temporal troubles. Art thou troubled with

(a) Faith is the best riches (James 2:5).

(b) It will turn thy very poverty into a blessing (Romans 8:28).

(a) By faith thou mayest see the emptiness of honour (Psalms 42:11).

(b) Faith will procure thee honour (Hebrews 1:14; 1 Samuel 2:30).

(a) Thou mayest see God’s love in them (Hebrews 12:6).

(b) Thou mayest get good by them (Psalms 119:71).

(c) Thou mayest receive more comfort in them than in health.

(a) Faith will show thee from whence they came (Job 1:21).

(b) Why (Hebrews 12:10).

(c) And so turn them to thy gain (2 Corinthians 4:17).

(a) That the sting is out (1 Corinthians 15:55).

(b) That death is but the entrance of life.

(c) And so turn thy fears into hopes (Philippians 1:23).

2. In spiritual troubles. Art thou troubled

(a) God is merciful (Psalms 103:8; Isaiah 43:25).

(b) Christ is all-sufficient (1 John 2:1).

(a) God is almighty.

(b) Christ will send His Spirit (chap. 16:7).

(c) Faith conquers them (1 John 5:4).

(a) God will never forsake thee wholly (John 13:1; Hebrews 13:5).

(b) Christ will pray that thy faith fail not (Luke 22:31-32).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

Christ’s word to the troubled

This is a discourse showing the disciple his refuge from trouble. The refuge

I. OF FAITH. “Believe in God: believe also in Me,” etc. Three grand truths are at the basis of Christianity: God, Christ, Immortality. They are the antidotes to atheism, the helplessness of guilt, and the hopelessness of death.

II. OF LOVE. A personal relation to Christ, He is the way of God to man and of man to God; the truth, about all the soul needs to know and which natural theology fails to answer; and the life, eternal and blissful.

III. OF HOPE. Here was a personal bereavement. He was about to withdraw, and the loss was the more inconsolable because He was the object of faith and love. But He compensates this loss by the promise of the Holy Ghost, through whom they should do greater works, by whom God is manifest in the believer, etc., and who should abide with them forever. And He promises that He will personally intercede for believers above, while the Spirit intercedes in them below. And so He who goes away actually does not leave them orphans, but comes to them, dwells in them, manifests Himself to them, and is seen by them. And so this part of the discourse ends as it began, with peace. Peace

1. For the mind harassed with doubt, by establishing the certainties of faith.

2. For the heart harassed with unsatisfied cravings, by establishing it upon God. (A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

Christ’s remedy for a troubled heart

I. THE TROUBLED HEART. Trouble in estate is bad, but heart trouble is worst. The mariner cares not for the howling tempest, but matters are serious when the sea gains entrance. Causes.

1. Unpardoned sin.

2. Separation from beloved friends.

3. Persecution.

4. Disappointed hopes. So the disciples have trials. Sometimes from a clear sky the thunder peals; from richest verdure the venomous serpent hisses.

II. THE QUIET HEART.

1. We acknowledge the authority of the decalogue; but our Lord’s command is equally binding.

2. This is the purpose of God. Every apparent discord leads up to the final harmony.

3. The quiet heart is the best learner, worker, warrior.

4. The quiet heart is a mirror of heaven.

III. HOW CAN THE TROUBLED HEART BE MADE INTO THE QUIET HEART.

1. The old belief in God. The Jews had fallen into polytheism, but the captivity cured them. Christ points to the old well of comfort--a firm belief in one ever-living God.

2. The new belief in Christ. Inferentially a proof of Christ’s Divinity.

We need not shrink from “Worlds unknown.” He has made them well known; “brought life and immortality to light,” and will come again and receive us unto Himself. (W. Andersen, LL. D.)

Christ comforting

There was some good in the disciples’ trouble.

1. There was natural trouble at the departure of such a friend. For we are flesh, not steel; and in that sense, Christ was troubled Himself to show the truth of His manhood. Nay, trouble is the seasoning of all heavenly comforts; there were no comforts if there were no trouble; and therefore this natural trouble was not disallowed by Christ.

2. There was likewise something spiritually good in this trouble. They loved their Master, who they saw was going away. They were right in this principle, that all comfort depends on the presence of Christ. For as all heavenly light, and heat, and influence come from the sun, so all heavenly comforts must come to us from Christ’s presence. Their error was in tying all comfort to a bodily presence; as if it were necessary for the sun to come down and abide upon the earth, to bestow its heat and influence.

I. THE BEST CHRISTIANS ARE SUBJECT TO BE TROUBLED MORE THAN SHOULD BE. Christ was troubled, but His trouble was like the shaking of clear water in a crystal glass. There was no mud in the bottom. But our trouble is of another kind, and apt to be inordinate (1 Samuel 1:13; Isaiah 38:14; Psalms 77:3; Jonah 2:2).

1. God permits us to be troubled

2. But how shall we know that our hearts are more troubled than they should be? We may sin in being overmuch troubled at things for which it is a sin not to be troubled. If they had not been at all affected with the absence of Christ, it had been a sin, and no less than stupidity; yet it was their sin to be overmuch troubled. A trouble is sinful when it hinders us in duties; or from duty, when the soul is like an instrument out of tune, or a limb out of joint. Naturally, affections should be helps to duty, they being the winds that carry the soul on, and the spiritual wings of the soul. But then they must be regulated and ordered at the command of a spiritual understanding. Now, besides the hurt that is in such affections themselves, Satan loves to fish in these troubled waters (Ephesians 4:26). That was Saul’s case (1 Samuel 16:23).

3. We should not yield to excess of trouble. And the reasons are:

II. THE WAYS WHEREBY WE MUST LABOUR TO COMFORT OUR HEARTS.

1. There must be a due search into the heart of the grounds of our trouble; for often Christians are troubled, they cannot tell wherefore; as children that will complain they know not why. See if there be not some Achan in the camp.

2. And when you have found out your sin give it vent by confession of it to God, and in some cases to others.

3. And when we have done so, consider what promises, and comforts, in that Word of God are fitted to that condition. And therefore we ought to be skilful in the Word of God, that we may store up comforts beforehand.

4. When we have these promises, let us labour to understand them thoroughly, and then to digest them in our affections, and so make them our own, and then to walk in the strength and comfort of them.

5. Labour likewise to have them fresh in memory. It is a great defect of Christians that they forget their consolation (Hebrews 12:5).

6. Labour to keep unspotted consciences.

7. And because there can be no more comfort than there is care of duty, therefore, together with innocency, let us be careful of all duties in all our several relations.

8. But above all let us labour for a spirit of faith. “You believe in God,” etc. How cloth faith in Christ ease the soul in trouble?

Christ comforting the disciples

I. THE HEROIC ATTITUDE CHRIST ASSUMES. He had just dismissed Judas, knew what was transpiring outside, and what would follow. And yet He sat amongst His disciples perfectly composed, and was able to counsel deliberate composure in the prospect of affliction. This was not from any insensibility to pain, nor superiority to it (John 11:33; Joh_12:27; Joh_13:21). Itwas a wonderful manifestation of spiritual strength, and as an example was more forcible than even His counsel for the production of a like spirit.

II. THE HEROIC SPIRIT CHRIST COMMANDS HIS DISCIPLES TO CULTIVATE. They were in a grievous plight. They had been drawn into fellowship with Christ. He had led them step by step, and they had learned to lean upon Him utterly. And now He was about to be taken from them by a cruel death, and leave them exposed to persecution for His sake. An hour ago there had been a strife among them which of them should be greatest. How vain all these ambitions seemed now! And yet our Lord counsels calmness. Then

1. It is possible to overmaster trouble, however hard the lot in life may be.

2. It is important to overmaster it; a troubled heart is our agitated medium and cannot see things clearly, and our enfeebled agent impotent to do them adequately.

III. THE SECRET OF A HEROIC SPIRIT WHICH CHRIST COMMUNICATED TO THEM.

1. Faith in God. The Old Testament saints found in this a panacea for all their cares. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace,” etc., There were resources in Omnipotence which they felt to be equal to all human exigency (Isaiah 26:3-4). Something of this the disciples knew.

2. Our Lord argues from the Father to Himself, and particularly recommends them to have such faith in Him as they have in God.

3. The advantage of this two-fold trust. Although the disciples had a certain faith in God, it left them far from satisfied with it. Hence Philip’s request. God was more or less remote from and incomprehensible to them; but Christ brought them near. “He that hath seen Me,” etc. This sufficed. (W. Roberts.)

Grounds of comfort

I. HEAVEN IS SURE (John 14:2-3).

II. THERE IS A CERTAIN WAY TO HEAVEN (John 14:4-11).

III. CHRIST’S WORK DOES NOT CEASE WITH CHRIST’S DEPARTURE (John 14:12-14).

IV. THE HELP OF THE SPIRIT IS VOUCHSAFED in the absence of Christ (John 14:15-17).

V. CHRIST’S ABSENCE IS ONLY TEMPORARY (John 14:18-24).

VI. THE SPIRIT WILL TEACH THE DISCIPLES, and supply their want of understanding when left alone (John 14:25-26).

VII. THE LEGACY OF PEACE to cheer in the Master’s absence (John 14:27). (Prof. Hengstenberg.)

Sources of Christian comfort

There is a class of words the meaning of which is known to all, and without consulting a dictionary most people know what the word “trouble” means. The man who should attempt to construct a theory of life and leave trouble out of the account would be no philosopher. How to deal with it, and not how to ignore it, becomes the great problem. From both ancients and moderns proposals of alleviation and help are forthcoming. But He who boldly cries, “Let not your heart be troubled” must possess infallible antidotes. What are they? Faith and Hope directed to their proper objects. We propose, then, to examine

I. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH CHRIST SOLICITS OUR FAITH. Relief comes by belief. To be able in some overpowering grief to throw the weight of one’s care upon another and to trust wholly in that other’s help is an eminently satisfying process; while the trustless soul is without the least gleam of comfort. In these times of daring denial and of timid doubt it is well to be reminded that in the great crises of life--poverty, bereavement, affliction--denial is mockery and doubt is impotence, and that only an honest andhearty belief will secure sufficient solace. Christ solicits our faith on the ground of

1. A prior acknowledgment of the Divine. “Ye believe in God.” Christ desires nothing contrary to already existing and inborn Godward conceptions of the soul, but merely that we enlarge those conceptions so as to include Him.

2. The defectiveness of our belief apart from Him. “Ye believe in God;” yes, but that is inadequate, it needs supplementing. The most anxious moments of humanity have been spent in searchings after such a view of God as would enable man to approach Him without dread. Humanity’s great longing has waited until Christ for its complete satisfaction. He has extracted from the thought of God all that is calculated to give pain and introduced everything calculated to give comfort. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”

3. His personality. Trust must repose on a person to be trust at all. Christian apologists often begin with the proofs of superhuman skill and power, and so lead up to the central object of Christian faith. But Christ asked for immediate trust in Himself, for with that would come a hearty belief in all He said and did.

II. THE MOTIVES BY WHICH HE ENCOURAGES OUR HOPE. By “two immutable things,” Christ intends us to have “strong consolation.” Hope is as important a contribution to comfort as faith; the two together, exercised rightly, never fail. Without a future what is the present worth? An English nobleman once asked himself why there should be a future existence, and answered, “Because, on any other hypothesis, the world would be a piece of magnificent nonsense.”

1. Christ, implying human immortality, reveals heaven. He bids the troubled be comforted by directing their hope to the positive existence of an absolutely untroubled state. Heaven is rendered attractive to us as much by its exemptions as by its possessions (Revelation 21:4). Christ does present also a positive view. Heaven is a home. “In My Father’s house!” A house is not necessarily a home, but a father’s house always is, or ought to be. A happy earthly home is the nearest approach to an adequate conception of the life of heaven. “My Father’s house” is a happier home than the happiest of earthly ones.

2. Hope is encouraged by the variety of heavenly enjoyments. “Many mansions,” many methods of enjoyment, various fields of occupation, unexhausted resources of interest and pleasure. An endless uniformity of type would be fatal to perfect happiness.

3. Hope is further encouraged by Christ’s guarantee of its realization. “If it were not so I would have told you,” etc. What security this! He could not countenance a delusion. Conclusion: We read of a Roman army, when eagerly engaged in battle with their country’s enemies, being unconscious of an earthquake which made the ground beneath their feet to tremble; and so will a high faith in God and Christ, and a holy hope of immortality and heaven, cause the true Christian to be insensible to the tossings to and fro of the life that now is. (W. Brooks.)

The Christian not afraid of unseen dangers

General Sherman is reported to have said: “One difference between General Grant and myself is this: I am not afraid of dangers that I can see, but he is not afraid of dangers that he cannot see.” Any good soldier of Jesus Christ has a right to absolute confidence as he goes forward, even in the dark. For the Saviour says to him, Whatever comes, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

Men seem unwilling to be without trouble

Men do not avail themselves of the riches of God’s grace. They love to nurse their cares, and seem as uneasy without some fret as an old friar would be without his hair girdle.

They are commanded to cast their cares upon the Lord; but, even when they attempt it, they do not fail to catch them up again, and think it meritorious to walk burdened. They take God’s ticket to heaven, and then put their baggage on their shoulders, and tramp, tramp, the whole way there afoot.

Christ will relieve our troubles

I heard of a man who was walking along the high road, with a pack on his back: he was growing weary, and was, therefore, glad when a gentleman came along in a chaise, and asked him to take a seat with him. The gentleman noticed that he kept his pack strapped to his shoulders, and so he said, “Why do you not put your pack down?” “Why, sir,” said the traveller, “I did not venture, to intrude. It was very kind of you to take me up, and I could not expect you to carry my pack as well.” “Why,” said his friend, “do you not see that whether your pack is on your back, or off your back, I have to carry it?” My hearer, it is so with your trouble: whether you care, or do not care, it is the Lord who must care for you. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The consolation of the gospel unique

In this I say the gospel differs sharply from the most cultivated pagan thought of the age in which it appeared in the world. When Seneca is trying to console a lady who is suffering agonies of mind under a severe bereavement, he can only suggest to her that she had better try as soon as possible to forget her trouble. She has, he says, good examples around her in the birds and in the beasts. They too love their relations, but after a momentary spasm when they lose them they take life easily again; and in doing this they show man an example which he would do well to imitate. As if the mental pain which means to man so much more than to the beast, precisely because he is man and not beast, could be conjured out of him by a philosophy which talks incessantly of his dignity and can only make him comfortable, if at all, at the cost of forgetting it! (Canon Liddon.)

Religion has many comforts

Why should you carry troubles and sorrows unhealed? There is no bodily wound for which some herb doth not grow, and heavenly plants are more medicinal. Bind up your hearts in them, and they shall give you not only healing, but leave with you the perfume of the blessed gardens where they grew. Thus it may be that sorrows shall turn to riches; for heart troubles, in God’s husbandry, are not wounds, but the putting in of the spade before the planting of seeds. (H. W.Beecher.)

Glimpses of our heavenly home

I. THE TROUBLE IN THE HEART OF THE DISCIPLES. The trouble

1. Of agonized ignorance and blank bewilderment. Long before, Jesus had dropped hints of a mysterious journey that He had to take. As the time went on, He spoke of it more frequently, and in terms more and more darkly suggestive of horror. This had not seemed to trouble their heart at first; they regarded His language as metaphorical Probably they had the impression that first some great battle had to be fought, or some unknown trial to be gone through; that would last three days. So just before, Peter asks, “Whither goest thou?”

2. Of bereaved love. “Do I love the Lord, or no?” was not a question in any heart there. Jesus had poured upon them all the very essence of kindness, and had received them into the very sanctuary of His heart. Naturally, it was this mighty love that made bereavement of its object so intolerable. Christ had not yet left them; but love may feel a bereavement before it is bereaved.

3. From the thought of having no share in the last passion of their Lord. “Why cannot I follow Thee now?” Love said then, as love says now, “Give me some work to do; some cross to carry; some block to lay nay head upon.” It is impossible to stand idly by while Christ gives and suffers all.

II. THE ANTIDOTE.

1. A peculiar, most tranquillizing revelation of the heaven to which He is going--“a place.” Along with other elements of comfort, our nature needs this. We have been told that this is a doctrine of Materialism, and that heaven is in character rather than in condition. This is only a half-truth, and we want the whole. “Heaven is principle,” said Confucius; but a house to live in must be built of something besides principle. Heaven is for the complete man, body and soul; and a body asks for a place, understanding that heaven is at least a place, we are ready to ask a thousand questions about it as such; and one of the first will be, “Where is it in the map of the universe?” In times not a few has this been made a question of astronomy, and to suggest the possibility of some central heaven amongst the stars. Well, the inquiry must start from our own solar system. This, with its circle of at least 5,000,000,000 miles in diameter, is but a speck in the creation. Its stars burn and roll round the sun, their centre. The sun, carrying all these his satellites with him, is moving round another centre, with its system; that, about another; that, about another; and where is the fixed ultimate centre round which all the other centres are wheeling and moving? The only One who could have settled this question was silent about it. He says nothing of its whereabouts, of its beauty, of its music, except in signs that are manifestly but hieroglyphic. He knew that the most exact precision of statement and the most dazzling magic of description would leave the greatest as well as the least of mortals as much in the dark as ever. Therefore Christ, aiming at our spiritual profit rather than at our scientific enlightenment, leaves for future solution all problems that have only to do with place.

2. That the heavenly place is His home and theirs. He has just addressed them in the language of family affection as His “little children.” With this word of love still in the air, He proceeds to speak of heaven as “My Father’s house.” A little child looks upon his father’s house as his own, and so would Christ have us look upon heaven. Even on earth, a father’s house is his child’s home; and the dearest place to the best man, woman, child, is home. “Home, sweet home.” Earth is one of My Father’s battlefields, farms, foundries, factories, roads that He travels on; but heaven is our “Father’s house,” and therefore the home of all His family.

3. That in that home are many mansions, i.e., settled abodes; the same word as in John 14:23. Emphasis resting on the idea of permanence. Jesus was speaking to the sad thoughts then stirring in the hearts of His mourners on account of the shortness of the time they had spent with Him, and which seemed, in the review, only like a dream. “What does this lack to make it perfect?” asked an old Roman of his companion, as they were together looking on some imperial show; and the answer was, “Permanence.” “Permanence adds bliss to bliss.” In the word “many,” He spoke to the thoughts of the company. When one of the disciples, on the notice of His near departure, asked if he might go with Him, the virtual answer was “No.” This refusal to the “one” was a blow to “the many.” If the happiness of going with the Lord is not to be given even to Peter, what is to become of the many? We had all expected that we should go with Him into His kingdom. If these happy dreams of ours are all to melt into misery, why were we not informed of this before? Before now, on some festive day, when a man has asked his friends to his house, he has been forced to ask only a few, because, though his heart was large enough for many, his house was not. Before now, in the straits of some war, some iron captain has spared the lives of only a few prisoners, simply on the ground of lacking room to accommodate the many. God has room in His purpose, in His heart, in His house, for all His captives. By the miracle of His grace He first changes all His captives into children, then welcomes them all home. No limitation is suggested by the indefinite plural, “many.” “Many” simply stands for all the children, “a great multitude which no man can number,” “and yet there is room!”

4. That He is going “to prepare a place” for them. While man is asleep in the night, the sun goes before him, that he may prepare the day for him to wake in. Thus he prepares light for him to see by, power for him to work with, and the spirit of gladness. So does Christ prepare heaven for the heirs of heaven. There can be no heaven without the revelation of God, and there can be no revelation of God without Christ. He prepares heaven for them, not only by preparing their right to the place, but by preparing their fitness for it. “Why cannot I go with Thee now?” asked Peter; and the saying, “I go to prepare a place for you,” is an answer to this “Why?” Christ was going to prepare a place for them; first, by His Cross; next, by the Spirit, who would change their hearts and train their natures for the rank they would inherit, as well as for the work they had to do.

5. That He would come again, and receive them unto Himself. Dying may be regarded as a mode in which Christ comes for His people, one by one. Death is not coming; death is not a person, only a door, to which Christ, the sovereign Lord who has at His girdle the keys of death and the unseen state, comes. (C. Stanford, D. D.)

Ye believe in God, believe also in Me

Belief in Christ

I. WHAT IS IT TO BELIEVE? Faith includes two things.

1. The submission of the reason to all Christ has revealed.

2. The trust of the heart in all He has promised. Both of these are difficult duties. To receive as true what we cannot understand, on God’s testimony is declared to be irrational. But remember that faith is rational, and that the testimony of God is informing. To trust that we shall be pardoned, saved, preserved, is equally difficult for unbelieving hearts.

II. THE OBJECT OF FAITH IS CHRIST--i.e., the things to which we are to assent are truths concerning Christ, and these things in which we are to trust are His promises. This is the only form in which we can exercise faith in God. If we believe not God, as seen, how can we believe in Him as not seen.

III. WHAT ARE WE TO BELIEVE CONCERNING CHRIST AND WHAT ARE THE PROMISES WHICH WE ARE TO TRUST?

1. We must believe that He is the Way, i.e., that He brings us to God. We are separated from God

2. That He is the Truth, i.e

3. That He is the Life--the source of universal, intellectual, spiritual and eternal life. It is not we that live, but Christ that lives in us.

IV. WHAT PROMISES ARE WE TO TRUST TO? The promises of the Spirit.

1. That His presence is permanent and internal.

2. That He will reveal Christ.

3. That He will be our Paraclete. (C. Hodge, D. D.)

Believe also in Me

1. It might have been urged that the disciples are addressed by our Lord as already believing, not in God only, but in Himself. But the Bible, and He who speaks therein, is truer to nature and experience than many who profess to interpret it. Are there not many in Christian Churches needing still the voice which shall say, Believer, believe; Christian, come to Christ; disciple of three or of thirty years, still, as for the first time, behold Him!

2. There are those, even among Christian people who confide to us, in the tone of sincere and humble regret--“I cannot see why a Saviour was needed. If I, being evil, know how to forgive, how much more shall a Father in heaven accept the first sigh and bestow the unpurchased grace? Is it not enough if I believe in God my Father? Why must I be encumbered with a revelation of sacrifice which rather repels me than reassures? I believe in God--why must I believe also in Christ?” Let us endeavour to answer this question.

I. Now, someone might say, Look at the saints of the Old Testament. What grace, of reverence, of affiance, of holy aspiration, was lacking in the patriarch Abraham, or to the poet-king of the Psalms? Christ was not manifested when those thoughts of eternal fulness glowed and throbbed in the big heart of David. We venture to dispute the very fact taken for granted. Abraham, “saw Christ’s day,” and walked in the light of it. David was reared amidst promises which made Christ a household word in Israel, and sacrifices which brought to the very senses the need and hope of propitiation.

II. Or you might speak of men who, in this century, have not only led good lives, but have had pious feelings, and done beneficent works, without realizing what we should call the fulness of the Christian faith--avowed Unitarians, e.g. But it is only truth to remember that men thus dispensing with Christ are yet unspeakably indebted to Him. The very idea of God as our Father comes from His revelation.

III. Still, you might say, having made this great revelation, may not Christ Himself disappear? Having taught that God is our Father, must He remain in sight to confuse or divide our allegiance? Believing in God by Christ’s help, why go on further to believe in Christ? Now, it is an obvious answer, and surely a just one. We cannot take Christ by halves. If Christ said one thing from God, He said all things: we must look to see what He said, and not, after catching one isolated word, presume to declare that one word all.

IV. Observe, too, how the particular truth received, no less than the accompanying doctrines objected to, runs up into matters which we can neither dispute as facts, nor yet, apart from God, settle. Sin--you see it, you feel it; all religions pre-suppose it. Evidently sin has made a great rent and breach in God’s work. Listen to this new Teacher, crying in the hearing of the dislocated and disorganized creation, “When ye pray, say, Our Father.” Yes, we say, something within tells me that I had a Father once--but long, long have I lost Him. Tell me the processes by which it has been recovered--the marvellous mystery of restored sonship and reawakened love. Shall we accept the bare fact, and ask nothing as to the proofs and the instrumentalities? Shall we let Christ say, “God is your Father,” and never question Him once as to anything further? They who believe the mighty intelligence must hearken what the same Lord bus to say concerning it. May it be, perhaps, that there was that in the Divine holiness which made sin a fatal bar to man’s acceptance, except on some condition which God only can perform? Shall we dare, we the guilty and helpless ones, to say that, with nothing but poor human tears and cries and paltry efforts, the stain of sin can be wiped out? Shall we dare to repose upon a feeble bureau analogy, and rest the whole weight of eternity upon the impulses and instincts (not always, even here, prevailing) of family love and parental tenderness? What if there lurked in the background of Deity an obstacle which Calvary alone could take away? It was, no doubt, with special reference to His sacrifice and its consequences that Christ spoke of His disciples, in the text, as having (in some sense) still to believe. They knew Him for the Messiah; what they had still to learn, still to believe in, was the death as itself the life. It is, indeed, the crucial test of faith. He who believes in Christ’s atonement believes Christ; believes that He came from God, and came with a message.

V. But, although we thus stand upon the dignity of the Cross as a mystery, we do find, as a matter of experience, that no man dispenses with it without being a definite loser in some feature of the Christian character.

1. There is often a feeble sense of the sinfulness of sin. A man cannot really see Himself a sinner, and not cry out for a Saviour.

2. There is often a want of true tenderness towards sinners. Benevolence there may be; but the discovery of unworthiness in the object of the philanthropy is often the death blow of charity. Or, again, there may be an easiness of good nature ready enough to see excuses: there will not be that unique combination, which was in the cross itself, and which is in the true family of the Crucified--tenderness towards the sinner, with displeasure against the sin.

VI. God, in arranging that we should receive this greatest of His gifts--reconciliation through His Son--has given a charm and pathos to the gospel which it could not otherwise have possessed. What possession do you not value tenfold if it is yours through love? That book, that trinket, why is it dear to you? It was the keepsake of a loving friend. And do you not think that God was appealing, perhaps, to some such instinct of your nature, when He would not only send word to you that you were pardoned, but bid you to receive the blessing through the willing self-gift of One who, sharing every emotion of God’s love for the self-ruined one, came Himself to plead, and at last to die, because thus He could effectually “roll away the great stone” sin, move the obdurate, and win back the lost? Conclusion: Try the charge, “Believe also in me.” Lean your whole weight of guilt, of sin, of weakness, of sorrow, upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified. See whether, in proportion as you trust Christ more, you become not, in yourself, happier, holier, stronger, gentler. Thus, in time, you shall have a witness within. You life shall be one echo to the sweet persuasive expostulation,” Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also in Me.” (Dean Vaughan.)

Faith in God one with faith in Christ

We get a more true and appropriate meaning if we keep both clauses in the imperative, “Believe in God, believe also in me.”

I. CHRIST HERE POINTS TO HIMSELF AS THE OBJECT OF PRECISELY THE SAME RELIGIOUS TRUST WHICH IS TO BE GIVEN TO GOD.

1. It is only our familiarity with these words that blinds us to their wonderfulness. Try to hear them for the first time, and to remember the circumstances. Here is a man amongst a handful of friends, within four-and-twenty hours of a shameful death, that to all appearance was the annihilation of all His claims and hopes. And He says, “Trust in God, and trust in Me!”

2. What is it that Christ offers us? A very low and inadequate interpretation is, “Believe that God is, that I am.” But it is scarcely less so to suppose that the mere assent of the understanding to His teaching is all that Christ is asking for. Faith grasps not a doctrine, but a heart. The trust which Christ requires is entire committal to Him in all my relations and for all my needs.

3. Further, note that this believing in Him is precisely the same thing which He bids us render to God. The two clauses in the original bring out that idea even more vividly--“Believe in God, in Me also believe.” And so He here proposes Himself as the worthy and adequate recipient of all that makes up religion in its deepest sense. That tone is the uniform characteristic of our Lord’s teaching. What did He think of Himself Who stood up before the world, and with arms outstretched, like that great white Christ in Thorwaldsen’s lovely statue, said to all the troop of languid and burdened ones crowding at His feet:--“Come unto Me all ye that are weary,” etc. That surely is a Divine prerogative. What did He think of

Himself Who said, “All men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father”? You cannot eliminate the fact that Christ claimed as His own the emotions of the heart, to which only God has a right and which only God can satisfy.

4. We have to take that into account if we would estimate the character of Jesus Christ as a teacher and as a man. What separates Him from all other teachers is not the clearness or the tenderness with which He reiterated the truths about the Father’s love, and morality and goodness; but the peculiarity of His call to the world is, Believe in Me. And if He said that, why, then, one of two things. Either He was wrong, and then He was a crazy enthusiast, only acquitted of blasphemy because convicted of insanity; or else He was “God, manifest in the flesh.”

II. FAITH IN CHRIST AND FAITH IN GOD ARE NOT TWO, BUT ONE. These two clauses on the surface present juxtaposition. Looked at more closely they present interpretation and identity.

1. What is the underlying truth that is here? How comes it that these two objects blend into one, like two figures in a stereoscope?

2. And if that be true, these two things follow.

III. THIS TRUST IN CHRIST IS THE SECRET OF A QUIET HEART.

1. It is no use saying to men, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” unless you finish the verse. The state of man is like that of some of those sunny islands in southern seas, around which there often rave the wildest cyclones, and which carry in their bosoms, beneath all their riotous luxuriance of verdant beauty, hidden fires, which ever and anon shake the solid earth and spread destruction. And where is the “rest” to come from? All other defences are weak and poor. We have heard about “pills against earthquakes.” That is what the comforts which the world supplies may fairly be likened to. Unless we trust we are, and shall be, “troubled.”

2. If we trust we may be quiet. To cast a burden off myself on other’s shoulders is always a rest. But trust in Jesus Christ brings infinitude on my side. Submission is repose. When we cease to kick against the pricks they cease to stick and wound us. Trust opens the heart, like the windows of the Ark, tossing upon the black and fatal flood, for the entrance of the peaceful dove with the olive branch in its mouth. But “the wicked is like the troubled sea which cannot rest.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Faith in God

1. Why should it have been needful to give such a command as this to any intelligent person? In one sense all men believe in God. We acknowledge and recognize a power which passes all control, measurement, or thought. We recognize an authority to which we are responsible. As the moral nature is cultivated, we recognize a moral order in the universe, a law of righteousness, and therefore a Lawgiver and a Judge. In the time of calamity or death all men call upon God. Why, then, teach men to believe in God, and command it? and especially the disciples who had been trained under the ancient system.

2. Of course the answer is that belief may be real and yet wholly ineffective. You see the vapour issuing from the kettle and disappearing through the air. It is steam power, but not enough to drive the train. You step upon the beach and find the little puddles of water, but there is not enough to float the boat and keep alive the fish. So belief may be real in the mind and yet be entirely insufficient for any useful and inspiring purpose. The master would have us carry our belief in God to a point where it shall involve every spiritual force within us. Believe to the roots of your nature; with all your strength and life: and your heart shall not be troubled. What is it thus to believe in God? It is to affirm

I. HIS ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL PERSONALITY OF EXISTENCE. And yet this it is not easy for us to do. If we search into our thoughts we shall find very often that He is to us rather a force without affection, intelligence, and life. So multitudes of men conceive of God, and scientific investigation often comes in to encourage this tendency of thought. On the other hand, the Scripture everywhere manifests to us God as a person. Our own personal constitution reflects and demonstrates that personality. As impossible as that the clod of the valley should generate a human soul, as that the blossoming branch of the tree should bring forth living intelligence; so impossible is it that personality in you and me should come from impersonal forces and mechanical laws. We see the indications of it in His works, where intelligent contrivances present themselves to us in the adjustment of force to force, in the relations of one object to another; and in Christ, who said, “I and My Father are one.” And this is to be affirmed, with all energy of conviction, and intensity of feeling, as the absolute and everlasting truth.

II. HIS PRESENCE WITH US in every hour and every place. Amazing! Yes, God is amazing in every attribute. The soul is amazing because it has something of God within it. Even natural theology affirms this; for it would imply Divine imperfection if God were not everywhere. The recognition of a moral order in the universe implies that; for otherwise the administration of that order would be necessarily imperfect. The constitution of the universe implies that, since otherwise there would be parts of the universe self-supporting and independent of God. His omnipresence shines throughout the whole Scriptures. There are times in spiritual experience when we feel it. But you say, We do not see Him I Do we see the air, magnetism, the productive force in nature, music, fragrance, the voice of a friend? We see the result.

III. HIS CHARACTER OF PERFECT HOLINESS AND PERFECT TENDERNESS. Undoubtedly there is much to perplex us in the prevalence of sin, and the long delay of punishment. These facts disturb our impression of the Divine holiness. And yet we do not doubt the sun when for a time obscured by cloud. The holiness of God must be recognized by anyone who would for a moment feel safe in the universe. If God were otherwise than holy, what could restrain any arbitrary exercise of His power? He could not properly be worshipped except He were holy. Worship mere power, and it demoralizes and demonizes. Worship intellect, and it degrades the moral nature. Worship can only be offered to absolute and sovereign purity of character; and that must be God’s character, or else let every harp on high be silent and every heart on earth be dumb. God’s holiness shines upon us through His law in our own reason and conscience and in the person of Christ. But then, with this holiness is united tenderness; and it is that which it seems harder still to recognize, for we associate with absolute justice absolute sovereignty rather than absolute tenderness: and yet there is in His Word the declaration of His tenderness. There is a reflection of that tenderness in our own hearts. Whence did these tender loves within us spring? It is idle to say they are transmitted. From whence did they come to our parents? We see them illustrated most perfectly in Christ, whose mission it was to so reveal the Father that we might not be afraid of His holiness.

IV. AFFECTIONATE SOLICITUDE FOR EVERY ONE WHO SEEKS HIM. And this is the most difficult. He is so infinite and we are so weak. Yet even here we find instruction from those who are nearest to Him in spirit and character. We get our clearest view of it from Christ, again, always so welcoming to all who sought Him, so tender towards those who trusted and loved Him. Conclusion: If thus we believe in God, then

1. There is peace for us and in us. We shall no more be afraid of any real harm while we are affiliated with God in spirit.

2. There is power, the power which sent forth the disciples on their errands of love.

3. Creation reveals its mystery of majesty and loveliness to us, and redemption its higher glories both of majesty and beauty.

4. We anticipate the promises and the provisions of grace.

5. We are assured of the victory of righteousness in the world. (R. S.Storrs, D. D.)

Belief in God emotional as well as intellectual

Truth that touches a man not merely through a cold perception, but through some warm feeling, is the kind of truth the Scripture teaches to constitute belief. It may be intellectually conceived, but no moral nor social truth is ever presented so as to be believed, unless it be presented in such a way as to carry sympathy and feeling with it; and that is not the case with all kinds of truth. Physical, scientific truths, do not touch the feelings, and do not need to. Arithmetic deals with truths that have no relation directly except with the understanding. They never come with desire, sorrow, pity, or emotion of any sort. But all truths that relate to dispositions in men, to moral duties--they never stop with the understanding, but touch the feeling as well. A man cannot be said to believe a moral truth unless he believes it so that it carries some emotion with it. And, in this respect, it makes a great difference what a man believes. (H. W. Beecher.)

Belief in God based on the knowledge of His character

A banknote is tendered to me--it is a promise to pay, but by whom? The Oriental Bank Corporation. I should not have it; that institution has lost its character. I could not trust it. Another note is handed to me; this bears the name of the Bank of England. Ah! that is a different matter. I know that bank has a name for solvency and stability. So, without any hesitation, I take the note just for what it stands. I do not ask for any discount off its amount, as I might if there was a shade of suspicion attaching to its name. I just take it for what it appears on its face to be worth, so confident am I that it will be paid to the full in the sterling coin of the realm. So a knowledge of the character of God will lead us to be fully persuaded “that what He hath promised He will be able also to perform.” (John K. Shaw.)

Belief in God inextinguishable

Whatever men may scientifically agree to believe in, there is in men of noble nature something which science can neither illumine nor darken. When Tyndall was walking among the clouds during a sunset upon the Alps his companion said to him, “can you behold such a sublime scene as this and not feel that there is a God?” “Oh,” said he, “I feel it. I feel it as much as any man can feel it; and I rejoice in it, if you do not tell me I can prove it.” The moment you undertake to bring the evidence with which he dealt with matter to the ineffable and the hereafter, then, he says, “I am agnostic. I don’t know. It isn’t true;” but the moment you leave the mind under the gracious influence of such a scene it rises above the sphere of doubt or proof, and he says, “I accept it.” (H. W.Beecher.)

Belief in God encouraging

When menaced by Indian war and domestic rebellion, when distrustful of those around him, and apprehensive of disgrace at court, Columbus sank for a time into complete despondency. In this hour of gloom, when abandoned to despair, he heard in the night a voice addressing him in words of comfort, “O man of little faith! why art thou cast down? Fear nothing, I will provide for thee. The seven years of the term of gold are not expired; in that, and in all other things, I will take care of thee.” (Washington Irving.)

Belief in God should inspire confidence

In a small town there lived the widow of a preacher, a God-fearing woman, who in days of trouble used to say to her children and friends, “Fear not, God lives.” Her trials were sometimes great, but she strove to bear all with cheerfulness and patience. One day her difficulty was greater than she could bear, and she sat down with a feeling of hopelessness, and allowed her tears to flow unchecked. Her little son saw her weeping; he put his little hand in hers, and said, while he looked into her face sorrowfully, “Mother, is God dead?” “No, my son,” she said, taking him on her lap. “I thank thee for thy question. He ever liveth; He is near to help in all trouble; He will help us.” She wiped away her tears and continued her work. She sought and found help in Jesus. (Der Glaubensbote.)

Belief in God stimulating

The late Professor Agassiz once said to a friend, “I will frankly tell you that my experience in prolonged scientific investigations convinces me that a belief in God--a God who is behind and within the chaos of vanishing points of human knowledge--adds a wonderful stimulus to the man who attempts to penetrate into the regions of the unknown. Of myself, I may say that I never make the preparations for penetrating into some small province of nature hitherto undiscovered without breathing a prayer to the Being who hides His secrets from me only to allure me graciously on to the unfolding of them.”

The revealing power of faith

Christian faith is like a grand cathedral with divinely pictured windows. Standing without you see no glory, nor can possibly imagine any; standing within, every ray of light reveals a harmony of unspeakable splendour. (Bp. Porteous.)

Believing in Jesus is laying hold of Him

A vessel is wrecked: one after another of her crew is swept away, and disappears. As she heaves to and fro, it seems as if every moment she would break up, and send her shivering passengers down into the deep. There is the cabin boy, thinking of his mother and his home, and praying, though scarcely hoping to be saved, when a plank floats past. Eagerly he lays hold of it, rests his whole weight upon it; and, while others perish, he is safe. That describes you. As you are just about to go down, the plank floats along, comes near you--within reach, within arm’s length. That plank is Christ. Lay hold of Him, rest yourself upon Him. He can bear your whole weight--the whole weight of your sins, which would have sank you to perdition--the whole weight of your soul. Try Him; and, like a sailor who tried Him, you’ll be able joyfully to say even in dying, “The plank bears, the plank bears!” (J. H. Wilson.)

Believing is looking to Jesus

Believing on Jesus is looking to Him for salvation. You see that poor widow with a young family, weeping as if her heart would break. When I ask her what ails her, she tells me she is behind with her rent, and her landlord threatens to turn her to the door, unless she can pay her debt, and find security for the next six months. So I tell her to dry her tears, and do her best to work for her children, and just look to me for her rent. How full of joy she is all at once! How cheerfully she works! and, though she has not a penny laid past for the term, she has no fear; and when asked, Why? she says,” I am looking to him, for he bade me; and I know he will not fail me. What he promised is just as sure as if I had it in my hand.” Now, believing on Jesus is something like this. If I might so speak, it is the heart’s look to Jesus--a single glance, indeed, at first, and yet a constant looking to Him ever after. (J. H. Wilson.)

Believing is trusting in Jesus

There is a boy whose father was buried yesterday. Today he is wearing his father’s gold watch. Some wicked lads are trying to take it from him. He is struggling to keep it; but they are too strong for him. He is just about to lose it, when I come up, and say, “Give it to me, my boy, and I’ll keep it safe for you.” For a moment he looks at me with doubtful eye; but as I say to him, “Trust me!” and he sees that I am earnest and sincere, he hands it over to me, and I prevent him from being robbed. That is just what the apostle Paul says of himself. He had, as you have, something far more precious than a gold watch--an immortal soul; and he was afraid of losing it: he could not keep it himself. Jesus said, “Give it to Me,” and he gave it to Him; and then you hear him saying rejoicingly, “I know whom I have believed” (which is the same thing as whom I have trusted), “and am persuaded that He will keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.” (J. H. Wilson.)

The comfort of believing in Christ

“What do you do without a mother to tell all your troubles to?” asked a child who had a mother, of one who had none. “Mother told me whom to go to before she died,” answered the little orphan. “I go to the Lord Jesus: He was mother’s friend, and He’s mine.” “Jesus Christ is in the sky. He is away off, and He has a great many things to attend to in heaven. It is not likely He can stop to mind you.” “I do not know anything about that,” said the orphan. “All I know, He says He will; and that’s enough for me.”

Untroubled faith

What the Caliph Omar is reported to have written to Amru, his general commanding in Egypt, has a grand moral. If those books contradicted the Koran, they were false, and ought to be destroyed. If they agreed with the Koran, they were of no use, and might well be spared. One book was enough for Mohammedans. So, when Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he said to his son-in-law one day, “Lockhart, read to me.” “What book shall it be?” said Lockhart. “Why do you ask? there is but one,” said Scott. Now, if this Book itself were in danger of being destroyed, and I might have only one chapter out of it, I rather think it would be this which Scott asked to be read to him. Probably no single chapter is read so much to the dying, over the dead. It was the Speaker who was about to die. His hearers were about to be launched into a lifelong service, and their last necessity was absolute, child-like faith.

I. LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED. Certainly they were troubled. And they had reason to be. Many times over Judas betrays his Lord, and hangs himself. Many times over Peter denies his Lord and repents. Many times over the Lord Himself is crucified, and buried, rises and goes away and comes again unseen. It is the same old story always; and always with the old refrain: “Let not your heart be troubled.”

1. Today, as related to heathen peoples and religions, the Judas Iscariot of Christianity is Christendom itself. At first, Christianity had behind it only the incomparable personality and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. If Christendom were only Christian really, how much longer would China probably be Confucian? or India Brahmanic? These are painful questions. But let not your heart be troubled. Inside of Christendom I see another betrayal of Christianity, which also is very painful. We behold a Christian civilization, incontestably and immensely superior to any heathen pattern. By and by this Christian civilization forgets its Christian parentage; or denies it, and claims for itself another pedigree. Scholarly men analyze and compare the great historic religions, allowing little preeminence to Christianity. Then after a while the conclusion is reached that we really need no religion at all, only science. Take your sop, Judas, and be gone. As for the eleven, let not their hearts be troubled.

2. Peter’s denial of the Lord also repeats itself. Scandals and offences are sure to come. Good men are tempted, stumble and fall. Let not your heart be troubled. Peter denied his Master with an oath. Whole communions apostatize. Verily, powers of darkness are busy; and the night is long. But let not your heart be troubled. The morning cometh. Peter repented.

3. As for what Christ said about going away and coming again, changing the economy from flesh to spirit, from sight to faith, it seems strange to us that His apostles should have been so staggered by it. Those apostles, for three years had been under marvellous tuition; and we wonder they got so little out of it. The day of Pentecost had not yet come. By and by men will be looking back and wondering that we so poorly understood the gospel, overlaying it, some of us with ritual, others with dogma. We have much to be ashamed of. But let not your heart be troubled. More Pentecosts than one have come already. And more are yet to come.

II. BELIEVE IN GOD.

1. Commanded belief implies always the possibility of honest unbelief. Such unbelief has increased greatly of late. Partly, it seems like a reaction against outward authority, and traditional opinions, or against a superstitious theism. Partly it is sheer science, clear-eyed and dispassionate, unable to help multiplying second causes.

2. I have no fear of any very long reign of Atheism. In the poor, apathetic Orient, there may be morality enough to conserve society, with little or no religion, as in China. But not in Europe and America, fall of vitality, greedy, rich and restless. With us, irreligion today is immorality tomorrow, and after that the deluge.

3. Much of what passes for belie! in God is mere scholastic assent to the proposition that God exists. Or the attributes most emphasized are those pertaining rather to the Divine essence. What we need is a vivid sense of the personality of God. He must come very close, and be very real, to us, in our whole experience of life. Mankind must be His offspring; and human history, from first to last, the working out of His own eternal and righteous purposes. “We are but two,” said Abu Bakr to Mohammed as they were flying, hunted, from Mecca to Medina. “Nay,” answered Mohammed, “we are three; God is with us.” And so belief in God is not mere assent, nor mere conviction, but absolute personal trust, submission, and service.

4. You and I know very well what troubles us in thinking of God--sin. But if He had no hatred of sin, how much worse it would be for us. We might be in the power of evil spirits stronger than we are, from whose hideous tyranny we should feel it a mercy to be delivered over to the righteous judgment of a pure and holy God. You say you are afraid of God. But what human imagination can picture the horrors of a universe given over to the rioting of evil unrestrained? Thank God for His holiness. Though He slay us, we had better trust in Him.

III. BELIEVE ALSO IN ME.

1. In me, not as a second rival object of trust, but as God manifest in the flesh, rounded out and historic. This takes us back into bewildering depths. Sin is a tremendous mystery. But for sin, however, we might never have known, in this world, the sublime Triunity of God. Triunity, as we have to study it, is the whole Godhead, dealing with the problem of moral evil.

2. “Believe also in Me.” The work of atonement is done, was done centuries ago in time, ages ago in eternity. God in Christ now stands pledged to the forgiveness of sin on the condition of repentance.

3. “Believe also in Me.” Human history is God’s judgment day. Nations are rising and falling. Human history is also God’s day of grace. The kingdom began in an upper chamber. From then till now the kingdom has steadily advanced. The steady progress of Christianity has no parallel in the history of any other religion. The problem demands solution. And only one is possible. But for the magnetism of the felt divinity of Christ, Christianity could not have started at all as it did, or continued as it has. It stands today the old solid bulwark of liberty and order against license and chaos. (R. D.Hitchcock, D. D.)

In My Father’s house are many mansions

The Father’s house

I. CHRIST SITS AND DISCOVERS HEAVEN TO US.

1. Its nature. His home. “This is not your rest.”

2. Its extent. “Many mansions.” “Yet there is room.”

3. Its reality. “If it were not so I would have told you.” Christ knew it--came from it--went to it. Stephen saw its open door and its glory when his breath was being beaten out of his body.

II. CHRIST ASCENDS AND PREPARES HEAVEN FOR US. “I go to prepare a place for you.” He prepares heaven for us

1. By making it accessible. The angel with the flaming sword no longer guards the tree of life, and the veil of the Temple no longer hinders man’s approach to God.

2. By gathering its people. Heaven becomes richer to us as Christians die. It is daily more home-like.

3. By supplying its blessings. Who knows so well as He the kind of heaven that will meet our needs? Yes, and He prepares it all.

III. CHRIST RETURNS AND ENTERS HEAVEN WITH US. “If I go,” etc. This applies to

1. All the journey of life. “My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest.”

2. All the labours of life. “Go ye into all the world and preach, etc.…and lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

3. All the trials of life. “When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee,” etc.

4. The close of life. He is there with the dying saint.

IV. CHRIST ABIDES AND BECOMES HEAVEN TO US. “That where I am there ye may be also.” This was Paul’s idea of heaven--having a desire to depart and to be with Christ. (W. H. Burton.)

My Father’s house

The very term changed the whole character and aspect of Hades. The invisible became visible in the form of the most benign and beautiful of all the institutions that lend charm and joy to life. My Father’s house! then for the first time men dared to think of death as a going home. It seems a vast, awful world, this invisible which stretches out to the infinite all round us; the trembling soul may well shudder as it goes forth to meet its destiny. But the thought “My Father’s house,” dissipates all dread. Be it what it may, and where it may, this vast unknown, it is filled with that nameless benediction, a Father’s presence and lit with the light of a Father’s smile. It is this sense of a loving Presence, meeting us at life’s outer gate, and bringing us into a bright home full of light and beauty and living joy, which, for the Christian, has so utterly dissipated the terror; and this made death seem to St. Francis a sister to take him by the hand and conduct him home. It is the activity, the animation, the joyful tasks, the abounding interest, of the life of the invisible world unveiled by Christ, which is the characteristic revelation of the gospel. It is not a world of shades, but a world of sons in strong immortal forms, instinct with energy, rich in faculty, busy with the tasks that occupy the angels; a world glad with work and bright with song. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

My Father’s house magnificent

A New Zealand chief who visited England was remarkable for the deep spirituality of his mind and his constant delight in the word of God. One day he was taken to see a beautiful mansion near London. The gentleman who took him expected to see him greatly astonished and charmed with its magnificence, but it seemed to excite little or no admiration in his mind. Wondering how this could be, he began to point out to him its grandeur. Tamahana heard all silently, then, looking round, said, “My Father’s house is finer than this.” “Your father’s house!” thought the gentleman, who knew that his father’s home was but a poor mud cottage. But Tamahana went on to speak in his own touching strain of the “many mansions” of the redeemed. (W. Baxendale.)

Entering the Father’s house

It was the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed: “I have no fear of going home. God’s finger is on the latch, and I am ready for Him to open the door. It is but the entrance to my Father’s house.

The house of many mansions

From these words we learn

I. The MAGNITUDE of heaven. Christ’s going away would naturally seem to them pure loss. Death, as a natural event, always seems so. But Christ says death is not a closing so much as an opening--not a going away so much as a coming home. It is the passing of a pilgrim from one mansion to another, from the winter to the summer residence, from one of the outlying provinces up nearer the central home. This is not a chance expression, far less a mere figure of speech. There are many others. “The third heavens”; Christ has “passed through all heavens”; “heaven, even the heaven of heavens,” a place evidently of inconceivable grandeur, for even that cannot contain the infinite presence of God. This idea of immense capacity is a real relief from some of the more popular conceptions of the future life, as that of a temple, etc. The population of this world is something tremendous. It has been yielding immense numbers to heaven in every age. Thus “a great multitude which no man can number,” has been passing, and will pass, in ceaseless procession. And we cannot help wondering how they are all to be provided for!

II. Out of the idea of vastness arises that of an endless VARIETY. The variety existing in God’s works here is one of the principal charms of the natural world. So as there are “many mansions,” the adorning of them will be very various. One will not be as another. We do not go to heaven to lose our natural tastes, our sinless preferences, but rather to have all these gratified in a far higher degree. Otherwise heaven would be plainer, poorer, and less interesting than earth. And unless our own nature were pressed down into some kind of mechanical exactness and shape, weariness would ensue. There would be a sighing for the lost seasons of the earth, its withered flowers, its light and shade, its many countries, and its encircling seas. But no! There will be places, pursuits, and enjoyments for all.

III. Then, lest this vastness and variety should seem too large to our thought, we have also in these words a sweet assurance as to the HOMELINESS of heaven.

IV. REALITY. ‘‘If it were not so, I would have told you.” This life in itself is shadowy enough. We speak of “long days,” and of “long years.” But when the awakened immortal soul looks at those spaces of time in the light of its own eternity, how short and shadowy they seem I In those times we feel that everything depends on the reality and permanence of the future life! No man who has not long been untrue to himself and to his God can be pleased with the thought of annihilation. But who can tell him firmly where lies the realm of life, or whether anywhere? He asks philosophy, and she answers, “I see something like it, but I cannot surely tell. It may be land or it may be cloud.” He asks his own reason, and the instincts of his heart, and they answer “yes” today and “no” tomorrow, according to the mood, and the aspects of outward life. Then, turning to Jesus Christ, he asks by his sorrow, by his hopes, by all the struggling instincts that will not die, by that upward look in which the soul is “seeking a city with foundations,” whether such a city is builded--whether such a life is secure. And the answer is here. Conclusion: The love of heaven has been derided by some as a selfish passion. No doubt heaven may be represented and desired by the mind as a place of escape from conflict, of mere ignoble rest. But if we take it just as it is projected to our view in the Scriptures--in its relations to earthly labour, and suffering, and desire; and as the place where our higher toils and nobler enjoyments shall begin:--then the desire of heaven is the noblest and purest passion we cherish. (A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Many mansions

Sorrow needs simple words for its consolation; and simple words are the best clothing for the largest truths. Note in these words

I. THE “FATHER’S HOUSE,” AND ITS AMPLE ROOM. There is only one other occasion in which our Lord used this expression: “Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Its courts, its many chambers, its ample porches, with room for thronging worshippers, represented in some poor way the wide sweep and space of that higher house.

1. How sweet and familiar this conception of heaven!

2. The ample room in this great house.

II. THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST’S REVELATION FOR OUR NEEDS. “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

1. He sets Himself forward in very august fashion as being the Revealer and the Opener of that house for us. There is a singular tone about all our Lord’s few references to the future--a tone of decisiveness. He stands like one on a mountain top, looking down into the valleys beyond, and telling His comrades in the plain behind Him what He sees. He speaks of that unseen world always as one who had been in it, and who was reporting experiences, and not giving forth opinions. Very remarkable, therefore, is it that with this tone there should be such reticence in Christ’s references to the future. But my text suggests to us that we have got as much as we need, and, for the rest, if we needed to have heard it, He would have told us. Let the gaps remain. The gaps are part of the revelation, and we know enough for faith and hope.

2. May we not widen the application of that thought to other matters? In times like the present, of doubt and unrest, it is a great piece of Christian wisdom to recognize the limitations of our knowledge and the sufficiency of the fragments that we have. What do we get a revelation for? To solve theological puzzles and dogmatic difficulties; to inflate us with the pride of quasi-omniscience: or to present to us God in Christ for faith, for love, for obedience, for imitation? Surely the latter, and for such purposes we have enough. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Many mansions

I. HEAVEN IS GOD’S HOUSE.

1. God is infinite (Psalms 147:5).

2. Therefore, not comprehended, or included anywhere (Isaiah 66:1).

3. But is present everywhere (Psalms 139:7).

4. But yet in some places unveils Himself, and discovers His glory more than in others.

5. Where God is pleased to reveal Himself most, is called His house. He has a two-fold house.

(a) The Church in general (Mark 3:35).

(b) A believer’s heart in particular (Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 3:20).

6. Hence, observe that they who come to heaven

II. IT IS CHRIST’S FATHER’S HOUSE. And this adds great comfort; for

1. We may be sure of entertainment, though not for our own, yet for Christ’s sake.

2. We shall dwell with Christ (verse 3).

3. In Christ: it is our Father’s house too (chap. 20:17).

III. THESE MANSIONS ARE CONVENIENT AND SUITABLE

1. For our natures and capacities (2 Peter 1:4).

2. For our wants and necessities: being

(a) Spiritual: as of the sense of God’s displeasure (Ezekiel 16:42); doubts about our estate; Satan’s temptations (1 Peter 5:8); the delusions of this world; our own corruptions Ephesians 5:27; Hebrews 4:10).

(b) Temporal (Revelation 7:17); for here is no want in our estates (Psalms 34:9; Psa_84:11), no crosses in our enjoyments, no disgrace upon our names (Psalms 119:39), no sickness in our bodies (Mark 12:25), no cares in our minds (Mt Philippians 4:6), no death (Revelation 21:4).

2. Furnished with all delightsome furniture.

(a) Our understandings.

(b) Our wills and affections (Psalms 16:11).

3. They are everlasting (Matthew 25:46; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1).

IV. IN HEAVEN THERE ARE MANY MANSIONS.

1. What is the purport of this expression? Not distinct cells, but

2. Whether in these mansions will there be degrees of glory?

(a) Their freedom from evil (Revelation 21:4).

(b) God’s love.

(c) Duration.

(d) Their capacities, i.e., everyone shall enjoy as much as he is capable of (Psalms 16:11).

(a) From Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:41-42; Mt

19:28).

(b) There are degrees of torments in hell (Luke 12:47-48; Matthew 11:21-22; Romans 2:9).

(c) There are degrees of angelical glory (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 1:9).

(d) There are degrees of grace and good works here (Ro 2 Corinthians 5:10; Luke 19:16-18).

3. There are many mansions. Then

The heavenly home

The text is suggested of

I. PERMANENCE.

1. “All things change, and we with them.” The earth and sun and stars are moving from their old forms into new, but their slow, stern cycles seem to us changeless when we think of ourselves. Let anyone who has advanced but a short way in life look round. Old times are away, old interests, old aims: the haunts, the friends, the faces of our youth, where are they? Gone, or so changed that we dare not think to recall them. And we are changing within. If we could keep up the life and freshness there it would be less sad. There is compensation for this, if we will seek it. If we have a home in God through Christ, it brings in something better than youthful brightness. But here, too, there is frequently change. The anchor of our hope seems to lose its hold, our sense of pardon and peace may be broken, and the face of God, if seen at all, may look dim and distant.

2. It is from such changes that the promise of Christ carries us to a fixed place of abode. The permanence of the dwelling shall ensure permanence in all that belongs to the dwellers in it. There must be, indeed, the change of progress: it is the permanence not of death but of life; and so the changes of decay, of loss, of bereavement, of the unretiring past, these are gone with the last great change, which ends the perishing and opens the eternal. There shall be no wavering of faith, no waning of hope, no chill of love. Here, change at every step leaves some lost good behind it; there change shall take all its good things forward into fuller possession, and thus become a growing performance. The way to be sure of a permanent home is to keep fast hold of Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

II. EXTENT. Our present life is related to it as that of childhood to manhood. Let us think of the dwelling of the child, where it looks from its little window on the few houses or fields which make up its world, and then let us compare it with what the man knows of his present world residence, when he has surveyed with his eye or his mind the breadth of the earth with its oceans and lands that stretch over continents by Alps and Andes. There enter at the wicket gate Christiana and also the children, many Ready-to-halts and Feeble-minds, and far-off pilgrims, for whom we can find no names, but who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Infants are carried through the door sleeping; and it is not for us to say by what far-off rays in dark nights, by what doubtful paths amid many imperfections, hearts have been yearning to this home. The notices of Rahab and Ruth, of Ittai and Naaman, of the wise men of the East, and the Greeks who came up to the Passover, of the Ethiopian eunuch and the devout Cornelius, are hints for the enlargement of our hopes about many who had the same yearning in their hearts, though they did not see the walls of any earthly Jerusalem. And, if we believe the Bible, there are long eras to run, when the flow shall be toward God more than it ever has been away from Him. And then there is to be a gathering together of all things in Christ, and the holy angels have relations to Him which will give them their share in His home. When we think of this, how the extent of the heavenly world grows I and the discoveries of science may help us to extend our hopes.

III. VARIETY. In all God’s works the many means the manifold.

IV. UNITY. These abodes of the future, manifold as they are, have walls around, and an over-arching roof, which make them one house, and that house a home. The chambers of a house have their communication with one another, and the heavenly world, wide as it is, shall have a unity of fellowship. In the present world the children of God are far apart, separated by the emergencies of life, by death, by misunderstandings and prejudices, by chills of heart and jealousies; and they rear their many little mansions, forgetful of the one house. The word of the Saviour promises a reversal of this long, sad history. Conclusion:

1. Something is needed to secure all this, and our Lord teaches us to carry to the thought of heaven a filial heart. It is “the Father’s” house. This is needed to make it a home in any sense; needed to give the heart rest either on earth or in heaven. Men who inquire into the facts and laws of the world, and find no God in it, have made themselves homeless. Men who have found human affection, but no God beneath it, have found only the shadow of a home. It is to teach us this that God has made a father’s love the bond of a true human household. If it were possible to enter heaven and find no Father there, heaven would be the grave of hope.

2. Our Lord has taught us to connect heaven with the thought of Himself--“My” Father’s house. Heaven is the house of Christ’s Father.

Home in heaven

I. A DESCRIPTION OF HEAVEN.

1. A house, not a tent, put up today, and taken down to morrow; but the home we come to at the end of all our travels; fitted up for rest, security and enjoyment.

2. God’s own house. Not merely the place where His people are to dwell, but the place where He Himself dwells, and enjoys His unutterable happiness and rest. It is not simply, “the kingdom”--it is “the palace of the great King.” What, therefore, we may ask, may we not expect in heaven? We do not go there as strangers or foreigners; we go to the richest house in the universe as the children of the owner of it. The very best things it can afford will be ours. The astonished prodigal had the best provisions, and the best robe, brought forth for him, when he got home.

3. A house with “many mansions” in it, large, spacious, having many rooms, fitted up for the reception of many guests.

II. AN ASSURANCE OF ITS TRUTH.

1. Here is greatness. He speaks of heaven as none other: like One who had been familiar with it.

2. Here, too, is His love; “If it were not so, He would have told them.” They had left all to follow Him, with some earthly expectations, perhaps, but yet chiefly in the expectation of a future recompense.

III. THE END OF OUR LORD’S DEPARTURE TO THE HEAVEN HE HAS BEEN DESCRIBING. And here is love again. Had we been asked what He was going to heaven for, we should have said--To get away from this evil world; to enter into His joy, etc. But He says, No; “I go there to prepare a place for you.” He left His Father’s house for us; He now returns to it for us. By this we must understand, not His creating heaven for us, or enlarging or adorning it, but removing out of the way all things which would prevent our entering into it. He goes there to prove our title to it; to show, in His wounded hands and pierced side, that He has paid for us its stipulated price. He goes to claim it on our behalf; to take possession of it in our name and stead. Hence He is said to have entered it as our Forerunner.

IV. THE WAY IN WHICH CHRIST WILL PUT US IN POSSESSION OF THE HEAVEN HE HAS PREPARED FOR US. “He will send death to us,” you may say, “to summon us to His kingdom.” No: “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” It does not satisfy Him to snatch us from destruction, to open heaven for us, to bring us into the way to it, to make us meet for it; He will come Himself, and take us to it. And when we are there, He will not say--“There is the door of My Father’s house open for you; you may now enter in;” He will not leave angels to welcome us, or our holy ministers and friends, who have gone before, to receive us; He Himself will come like a parent to his door to receive there his long expected and beloved child. He seems to regard this as the very summit of the heavenly happiness. And so every real believer feels that nothing higher can be promised him, than that he should “be ever with his Lord.” (C. Bradley, M. A.)

Heaven the Christian’s home

It is impossible wholly to estimate the value of the gospel. It is not only that it brings the knowledge of salvation to us; but it makes revelations that no other book on earth ever made with reference to a future state of existence.

I. You find in the text, then, first, the idea of COMFORT. You will remark that it was Christ’s intention, by this description of heaven, to administer comfort to the disciples. Then mark the consolations of religion, and the consolatory hope of heaven, belong to a certain class--to those that believe in God and believe also in Christ. But now, what is the comfort that the idea of a father’s house, or home, conveys to the mind? First of all, Christ speaks of His Father’s house, and therefore we call it our Father’s house--just because he says, “My Father and your Father, my God and your God.” Of all the ideas of comfort that we can form, “home” conveys the sweetest.

1. Now the first thing that strikes us here is a wonder certainly--but it is the truth--that we shall feel perfectly at home in our Father’s house. When we think of our own weakness and sinfulness here, and then think of the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the glory of angels, and the glory of the spirits of just men made perfect, it requires no slight effort of mind to fancy that we shall be at home there: but we shall.

2. To constitute a home there must be familiarity and confidence. We can talk with the folks at home with a confidence that we cannot use towards strangers. Now imagine yourself in familiar conversation, in love, with patriarchs, and with prophets, and with Christ Himself--for He will be there. It requires an elevation of faith and confidence, and spirituality of mind.

3. But, of course, this supposes another thing with regard to home--that it is all love there. Here we are strangers--it may be, perhaps, surrounded by enemies; there all is love. Evil tempers, crabbed dispositions, restless fretfulness, that even some good men manifest, will not be there. There will be perfect love; and everyone will wear a cheerful countenance; and it will be a glorious home. Well, that is what you are to think about; that is what it will be. Don’t let your hearts be troubled. If troubles come, think of your home, as a stranger does who has long journeyed, and not had a very comfortable berth to rest in at night.

II. In the second place, we have the idea of PERMANENCE. There is a permanence about heaven that we can well understand, if we cannot fully comprehend.

1. The first thing is this, that when we get there nobody can turn us out again.

2. Then you will further observe, that as to this permanence, there will be ample sources of joy for us throughout eternity.

III. The third idea in our text is PREPARATION. Observe it is prepared for us, and the preparation is made by Christ Himself. And you will notice that preparation made for us testifies to the kindness and love of Him who prepares it.

1. Now whilst this shows the love of Christ to His people, the simple fact of His going to prepare a place for us you see involves too His knowledge of our love to Him. It is really as though He had said, “Heaven won’t be a complete home to Me till you are there, and I am sure it will not be to you till I am there; we must be together.”

2. But, moreover, this preparation shows the adaptation of our present state to that home that He is gone to prepare for us. “He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who bath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.”

IV. But in the next place we have the idea of RECEPTION. “I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also.” You immediately catch the idea of home here. The reception one will meet with from wife and children is one of the delightful anticipations of returning home. The moment the spirit is out of the body the first object on which it will fix its sight is Christ, with smiles on His face and glory on His brow. For, mark you, Christ would not trust the safety of one of His redeemed spirits in the hands of all the angels of heaven. He will be there Himself to take care of it. We do not know what death is: He does. Observe, there is a two-fold reception which Christ will give us--first, that which we may call our personal reception in heaven; and next that public, glorious reception that He will give us at the last great day, when He shall come a second time without sin unto salvation.

V. Now, in the last place, here is CERTAINTY. “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

1. Christ is already there in possession.

2. Next, Christ says He would have told us if there had been no heaven. Further, our hopes of heaven should guard us against two evils that we are subject to. The first is that which Christ has set before you. Don’t be unduly troubled about earthly things. Then, on the other hand, do not be too delighted with earthly things. (J. Carter.)

Heaven--home

Someone asked a Scotchman if he was on his way to heaven. “Why, man,” he said, “I live there.” He was only a pilgrim here. Heaven was his home. (D. L. Moody.)

Heaven--home

Death came unexpectedly to a man of wealth, as it almost always does; and he sent out for his lawyer to draw his will. He went on willing away his property; and when he came to his wife and child, he said he wanted his wife and child to have the home. The little child didn’t understand what death was. She was standing near, and she said, “Papa, have you got a home in that land you are going to?” The arrow reached that heart; but it was too late. He saw his mistake. He had got no home beyond the grave.

Heaven--home

“Home”--oh, how sweet is that word! What beautiful and tender associations cluster thick around it! Compared with it, house, mansion, palace, are cold, heartless terms. But “home!” that word quickens the pulse, warms the heart, stirs the soul to its depths, makes age feel young again, rouses apathy into energy, sustains the sailor in his midnight watch, inspires the soldier with courage on the field of battle, and imparts patient endurance to the worn-down sons of toil. The thought of it has proved a sevenfold shield to virtue: the very name of it has been a spell to call back the wanderer from the paths of vice. And far away, where myrtles bloom and palm trees wave, and the ocean sleeps upon coral strands, to the exile’s fond fancy it clothes the naked rock, or stormy shore, or barren moor, or wild highland mountain, with charms he weeps to think of, and longs once more to see. Grace sanctifies these lovely affections, and imparts a sacredness to the homes of earth by making them types of heaven. As a home the believer delights to think of it. Thus, when lately bending over a dying saint, and expressing our sorrow to see him lay so low, with the radiant countenance rather of one who had just left heaven than of one about to enter it, he raised and clasped his hands, and exclaimed in ecstasy, “I am going home.” (T. Guthrie.)

Heaven, our home

In our last dreadful war the Federals and the Confederates were encamped on opposite sides of the Rappahannock, and one morning the brass band of the Northern troops played the national air, and all the Northern troops cheered and cheered. Then, on the opposite side of the Rappahannock, the brass band of the Confederates played “My Maryland” and “Dixie,” and then all the Southern troops cheered and cheered. But after a while one of the bands struck up “Home, Sweet Home,” and the band on the opposite side of the river took up the strain, and when the tune was done the Confederates and the Federals all together united, as the tears rolled down their cheeks, in one great “Huzza! huzza!” Well, my friends, heaven comes very near today. It is only a stream that divides us--the narrow stream of death; and the voices there and the voices here seem to commingle, and we join trumpets and hosannahs and hallelujahs, and the chorus of the united song of earth and heaven is, “Home, Sweet Home.” (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

A good home to go to

Mr. Mead, an aged Christian, when asked how he did, answered, “I am going home as fast as I can, as every honest man ought to do when his day’s work is over, and I bless God I have a good home to go to.”

Nearing home

It was stormy from shore to shore, without a single fair day. But the place to which we were going was my home; there was my family; there was my church; there were my friends, who were as dear to me as my own life. And I lay perfectly happy in the midst of sickness and nausea. All that the boat could do to me could not keep down the exultation and joy which rose up in me. For every single hour was carrying me nearer and nearer to the spot where was all that I loved in the world. It was deep, dark midnight when we ran into Halifax. I could see nothing. Yet the moment we came into still water I rose from my berth and got up on deck. And as I sat near the smoke stack while they were unloading the cargo, upon the wharf I saw the shadow of a person, apparently, going backward and forward near me. At last the thought occurred to me, “Am I watched?” Just then the person addressed me, saying, “Is this Mr. Beecher?” “It is,” I replied. “I have a telegram for you from your wife.” I had not realized that I had struck the continent where my family were. There, in the middle of the night, and in darkness, the intelligence that I had a telegram from home--I cannot tell you what a thrill it sent through me! We are all sailing home; and by and by, when we are not thinking of it, some shadowy thing (men call it death), at midnight, will pass by, and will call us by name, and will say, “I have a message for you from home; God waits for you.” Are they worthy of anything but pity who are not able to bear the hardships of the voyage? It will not be long before you, and I, and every one of us will hear the messenger sent to bring us back to heaven. It is pleasant to me to think that we are wanted there. I am thankful to think that God loves in such a way that He yearns for me--yes, a great deal more than I do for Him. (H. W. Beecher.)

Diverted from thoughts of home

Why do we not go home? Why are we like a silly child, that when his father sends him forth, and bids him hie him home again, every flower that he meets with in the field, every sign he sees in the street, every companion that meets him in the way, stops him, and hinders him from repairing to his father? So it is with us for the most part: every trifle, every profit, every bauble, every matter of pleasure, every delight, is enough to divert and turn aside our thoughts from death, from home, from heaven, from our God; and we are taken up and lose ourselves, I know not where. (R. Sibbes, D. D.)

Heaven

I. THE UNIVERSAL HEAVEN OF THE GOOD--“Father’s house.” It is a scene of

1. Family life. It is the “Father’s house.”

2. Undoubted reality. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” It is no poet’s dream, no fictitious realm.

II. THE SPECIAL HEAVEN OF CHRIST’S DISCIPLES. “I go to prepare a place for you.” (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The holy habitation of heaven

I. HEAVEN IS THE HOUSE OF OUR FATHER AND UNITES ALL THE ASSOCIATIONS OF FILIAL HAPPINESS AND REVERENT DEVOTION. The relationship of family is supposed by the scheme of our redemption. Sin is alienating; but we are made nigh by the blood of Christ, and our consequent fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. A childlike title and a child-like temper are the results: “Now are we the sons of God,” and home is the abode of children. Touching are the thoughts of home: what is the home of heaven?

1. Quiet and repose. We are wanderers on earth. “Without are fightings, within are fears.” But soon shall we toil no more. The days of our mourning shall be ended. We shall come to our Father’s house in peace.

2. Confidence. Look at the home-born child. When danger threatens, home is the bulwark: when affliction weeps, this is the asylum. It is this assuredness which is the secret of all earthly satisfaction and peace. Yet is it not always to be cherished, it may not be invariably justified. Suspicion coils like a serpent about each flower of existence; or, like a lurking poison, taints all its springs. But with what strictest security does all the happiness of heaven rise on our view! Nothing maketh a lie. Thieves do not break through and steal. There is no more death.

3. Concord. Nevertheless a house may be divided against itself. But the inhabitants of that house are “made perfect in one.” They have one heart. They see eye to eye. If we too much forget to ask each other while here below, “Have we not all one Father?”--the remembrance of that truth will ever be vivid and efficacious in our “Father’s house.”

4. Sympathy.

5. Improvement. This is the true sphere of education. But during our moral state, however matured our powers and enlarged our attainments, we “speak as a child,” etc. In heaven we “shall put away childish things.” In that light we shall see light.

6. Content and happiness.

7. But it is not only our Father’s house in the associations of a home, it is the consecrated receptacle of His worship. And these ideas are not incompatible. For, to the Christian’s perception and taste, what can make heaven more delightful, in addition to its illustration as a home, than that this home shall be devoted, with the family which fills it, to the high praises of our Father in heaven? The votary is the child! The child is the votary! Pilgrim never touched more reverently the dreadful shrine: son never more joyously bounded upon the paternal threshold. With this double intention, of resting in a home and of ministering in a sanctuary, he exclaims: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

II. IN THIS HOUSE OF HOME AND TEMPLE THERE ARE MANY MANSIONS. And thus are we taught that the greatest amplitude consists with the strictest unity, that though the mansions are numerous the house is one. And thus, also, we learn that there is no monotony in that blessed state. There is order in the harmony of difference, and the distribution of the mansions completes the identity of the house. Meditating, then, on this multiform glory, what do we ascertain of the blessed immortals?

1. The immensity of their number. Heaven once suffered a vast depopulation. The influence of the catastrophe we cannot determine. There was a strange vacancy amidst those groves: untrodden paths and ungathered fruits. But that heaven might not always remain thus diminished, it was arranged that beings who had themselves lapsed, and whom a most stupendous salvation should rescue from all their guilt and rebelliousness and ruin, should constitute an incomputable augmentation over the deficiency and loss. There was a wonder in heaven. Meek and humble, there bent before the Divine Majesty a solitary human spirit. It sung, but it was a lonely song. It gazed, but its eye rested upon nothing like itself. Up from this world another and another sprung. He the solitary was set in a family. The question of preponderance, in the number of the saved over that of the lost, might now be properly argued.

2. The inequality of their glory. Where there are rewards, there must be differences. They suppose adaptation and adjustment to every form and habit of excellence. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly,” etc. This man has been like a continued sigh and aspiration and panting after holiness. That man, truly sincere, has pursued a far less devoted course. These could not enjoy the same portion. Nor is there a supposeable alternative, save that all were forcibly, mechanically, conformed to one standard. There would be, then, a necessity to lower as well as to raise, to repress as well as to expand. The first process would be unjust, however the second might be gracious. The speed of a zealous life would give no advantage in the immortal race. Yet if these inequalities exist, some think they must engender envy. Is it necessarily thus even in this imperfect state of ours? Charity envieth not, etc. In heaven nothing is loved but holiness, and the highest holiness is loved the most.

3. The diversity of their character. The modifications of the regenerated soul are not fewer and less notable than those of the soul unrenewed. And who does not rejoice in this difference of mental powers and habits, this diversity of gifts and graces, during the earthly exhibition? In heaven our nature has not perished: our being is only fulfilled. All of it is brought out and glorified. What pleasure to search through these “many mansions” and to find every form of worth and might, every species of intellectual activity and spiritual perfection, all endlessly, as actually, Variegated, multiplied, and combined!

4. The transition of their employment. One investigation, unchequered and unrelieved, strains the mind. One enjoyment, unvaried, and undiverted, cloys. The glorified spirit may, therefore, not only find its mansion, but be free of the many mansions. Thus may it renew its youth and recreate its immortality. Now shall it offer praise. It bends in adoring contemplation. It sees the King in His beauty. It exercises itself in the research of wonder and mystery. It cultivates communion with all other heavenly spirits. What may not angels, who have ministered to the heirs of salvation, tell of their knowledge and their experience? What saints are there, and we shall recognize them. And are we not then to be still more filled with the love of God, more delineated with the image of Christ, more imbued with love for all saints? and then each effort brings its repose. “They rest not,” and in that ceaselessness of activity is their rest.

6. The regularity of their arrangement. In this “great house,” every “vessel,” all “sanctified and meet for the Master’s use,” has its valuation and its function. There is the mansion

6. The series of their progression. The tendencies and yearnings of the human mind are towards an indefinite life and advancement. These keep us restless and dissatisfied while we are in our sins: these excite us to follow on to know the Lord, when we receive the grace of God. If there was a point in our existence beyond which we could learn nothing further and enjoy nothing more, that would be the limit of well-being. Our misery, instead of being lessened by what we had acquired, would be unspeakably aggravated. It would be like an ascent to some everlasting hill to gaze for first and for last our full of the glorious land, not then to die amidst the rapture, but to be doomed to life beneath the sudden fall of an endless night. The stretch for these progressions is the duration of eternity! (R. W. Hamilton, D. D.)

Variety in heaven

A mother was standing by the dying bed of her little child. She tried to lead the child’s thoughts to heaven, and told her of how the city was of pure gold, of dazzling brightness. But the little one shuddered, and cried that the light would hurt her eyes. Then the mother told her of the choirs of angels, and the songs before the throne, and the child answered that the noise would make her headache. At last the mother took the moaning child to her breast, and as she nestled there, she said, “if heaven is like this, I am ready to go there.” For some there will be an existence of dazzling brightness, an existence full of grandeur and glory, like the sound of a mighty anthem; others, those who loved much, shall find, like St. John, their greatest joy in resting on the bosom of their Lord. (H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

Recognition in heaven

Not long ago I stood by the death bed of a little girl. Every fibre of her body and soul recoiled from the thought of death. “Don’t let me die,” she said; “don’t let me die. Hold me fast. Oh, I can’t go.” “Jenny,” I said, “you have two brothers in the other world, and there are thousands of tender-hearted people over there who will love you and take care of you.” But she cried out again despairingly, “Don’t let me go; they are strangers over there.” But even as she was pleading her little hands relaxed their clinging hold from my waist and lifted themselves eagerly aloft. Her face was turned upwards; but it was her eyes that told the story. They were filled with the light of Divine recognition. They saw something plainly that we could not see; and they grew brighter and brighter. “Mamma,” she said, “mamma, they are not strangers; I’m not afraid.” Her form relapsed upon the pillows, and she was gone. (Helen Williams.)

Not dead, but gone home

We lament for the dead, because we ourselves dread death. The physical instinct, wisely given for the preservation of life, is controlled but not destroyed by faith. Afflicted believers, your sorrows are only the discomforts of a journey, each stage of which, however rough the road and wild the weather, brings you nearer home. The darkness is only that of the tunnel through which you are hurrying, and the speck of light at the end is nearing and brightening as you speed onward to the eternal sunshine. Our Lord speaks of heaven as home--“My Father’s house.” What a contrast to the gorgeous imageryemployed by servants is this sublimely simple familiarity of the Son l Inspired men are overawed by the distant vision of the celestial city, with its pearly gates and streets of gold; as if a poor cottager, after visiting a royal palace, tried to describe the unimagined splendours of a place which members of the royal family simply knew as home. This was in harmony with His high claims of Deity! The disciples were not to be troubled on His account. Although betrayed, condemned, crucified, He was going home. They were not to be troubled for Him; and because of their intimate union with Him, they were not to be troubled for themselves. If heaven is Christ’s home, it is ours also. We are “joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” What hallowed associations are suggested by the word! Love makes home.

1. Home promises rest. There the wearied limbs or wearied brain repose after the day’s toil. “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord; they rest from their labours.”

2. Home suggests fidelity. We may suspect deceit and treachery outside, but we can cast off all reserve, all distrust at home.

3. Home suggests sympathy. There may be enmity outside, avowed or concealed, and even friends may sometimes prove forgetful, selfish, and unkind; but true home is the palace of love, “where hearts are of each other sure.” But the purest of earthly homes are but faint types of that above. There every heart is wholly true to every other, being wholly true to God.

4. It is a permanent home; mansions, not movable tents, but an enduring habitation. “We know that when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved we have a building of God.” How unlike the uncertainty of earthly things! The lake, reflecting from its unruffled surface the sky and stars, may, in one short hour, be wild with storms. The stream, which oft refreshed us, suddenly becomes dry. The fairest flowers droop even as we gaze on them. The loveliest homes are quickly broken up. No locks and bolts can shut out sickness and death.

5. And there is abundance of supply. There are “many mansions.” The Father’s house is large enough for all His children--vast as His own heart.

6. Number implies variety. The mansions are not uniform, though all are perfect. They are prepared for dwellers of varied capacity--for children and young men, for babes in Christ and for those of full age.

7. These hopes are not visionary. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” The disciples had forsaken all to follow Him. They loved their Lord, and knew He loved them. Could such love perish? They expected a kingdom; and as it was not to be earthly, it must be heavenly. Would Christ allow them to serve Him as they did, on false expectations? He did contradict their expectation of a temporal kingdom--would He not have contradicted this heavenly hope had it also been unfounded? O believer, your hope is no idle dream! That city does glow with splendour. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” St. Paul says, “We are of good courage, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord” (R.V.) Death is only the migration of the soul from the fleshly tabernacle to the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We will not weep for them as dead. Is it death to reach home after the toilsome journey, to wear the crown after the fierce fight, to serve in the presence of the King, where there is fulness of joy? The funeral was only that of frailty, sorrow, and sin. A Christian in that coffin, in that grave? No! he is at home in the Father’s house. (N. Hall.)

Room for all saved sinners in heaven

There was a poor man who had been a long while burdened in spirit. One night he dreamed that he stood at the gates of heaven, longing to enter; but he are not, and could not, for sin had shut him out. At length he saw approaching the pearly gates a company of men who came on singing, dressed in white robes. So he stepped up to one of them, and said, “Who are you?” And they replied, “We are the goodly fellowship of the prophets.” He said, “Alas! I cannot enter with you.” And he watched them until they had passed the gates, and he heard outside the voice of song as they were received with welcome. Cast down and troubled, he watched until he saw another company approach, and they came with music and rejoicing. He said to them, “Who are you?” and they replied, “We are the noble army of martyrs.” He said, “I cannot go with you; and when he heard the shouts a second time ascending from within the gates, his heart was heavy within him at the thought that it was not possible for him to enter there. Then came a third company, and he detected in the van the apostles, and after them there came mighty preachers and confessors of the Word. He said in his heart, “Alas! I cannot go with you, for I am no preacher, and I have done nothing for my Master.” His heart was ready to break, for they entered and were lost to his sight; and he heard the triumphant acclamations as the Master said, “Well done, enter into the joy of your Lord.” But as he waited, he saw a greater company approaching. He marked in the forefront Saul of Tarsus, Mary Magdalene, the thief that died upon the cross; and they came streaming on. So he said to one of them, “Who are ye?” And they replied, “We are a company of sinners whom no man can number, saved by blood, through the rich, free, sovereign grace of God.” Indeed, all the companies might have said the same, and the dream would have been more complete. But as this poor man, with the tears in his eyes, heard this word, he said, “Thank God, I can go with you, for I am a sinner like you, and like you I will trust in the merit of Him that died on Calvary.” So he joined their ranks, and was about to enter, but he said in his heart, “When we come there shall be no songs; they will admit us, but it will be in silence, for we bring no honour to God; we have done nothing for Him.” But to his surprise the acclaim was louder, the music was more melodious, and the shouts of acclamation were louder far, while they said, “Here are they who come to complete the number of the host whom Jesus bought with blood.” (C. H.Spurgeon.)

The parting consolation

Let us consider

I. THE TRUTH DECLARED. Consider the Father’s house

1. In its majesty and greatness. It is the abode of the great King; where He holds His court, surrounded by all the angels and sons of light.

2. In the right which our Lord here supposes we have to it, But how shall guilty and polluted man hope for admission there? His right is, it is Christ’s Father’s house. We go there by the invitation of the Lord of glory; we go there by the bidding of Him who is the Heir. “Ye are Christ’s.” “Heirs of God and joint heirs with Him.”

3. In the vastness of its dimensions. Christ, who will “bring many sons into glory,” hath for these sons many prepared and furnished mansions. Christ’s mansions, like Christ’s heart, will be found to be full and large, and ready to embrace every humble, penitent and believing soul.

4. In its everlastingness. “Hitherto ye have dwelt in tabernacles; then ye shall enter into the everlasting mansions,” into “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

5. In its unfailing certainty. “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

II. THE PURPOSE AVOWED. To “prepare a place.” Were not those bright walls built before the birth of time? Did not the turrets of those everlasting mansions glitter before the first sun rose upon the hills? Yes, but these mansions were prepared for men who knew no sin. Our Lord says, “I am going, so that when these seats are sprinkled with My sacrificial blood, and when your hearts are sprinkled with that blood too, He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified, being all one, may sit down together, and I go to keep possession, to preserve the place in continual readiness for your arrival.”

III. THE ASSURANCE GIVEN. “I will come again,” etc. See how large and full is the love of Christ. After having shown us the house, and opened the house, and prepared the house, will He then leave us to ourselves to come afterwards? No; He says--“I will come and fetch you. Will forsake the companionship of these immortals that now surround Me, ‘and I will come and receive you unto Myself.’”

IV. THE CONSUMMATION TO BE ATTAINED. “That where I am, there ye may be also.” (D. Moore, M. A.)

If it were not so, I would have told you

Christ’s appeal to His disciples’ confidence

We are eager for certainty, for reality. In the hour of a bitter loss the heart refuses fictitious comfort, for sorrow makes men wonderfully real.

I. CHRIST ANNOUNCES HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS. These are remarkable words in many aspects, but particularly so in that they imply a full knowledge of the secrets of another world. It was just the truth we should suppose a good, loving, tender God would be anxious to make known to the myriads of His children who were treading every hour the sad pathway of death.

II. CHRIST APPEALS TO HIS KNOWN CHARACTER. He knew that the disciples to whom He spoke could not point to any incident in His intercourse with them which would justify a doubt of His perfect truthfulness. Further, Christ was not only truthful, but He was too good to deceive them. It is possible for a man to be sternly, rigidly true, and yet not be good in the large sense of that word. We have known men who would scorn to utter a lie or to draw a false picture, but they were not kind, gentle, compassionate, sympathizing men.

III. CHRIST SEEKS THE CONFIDENCE OF HIS DISCIPLES. If I speak to any doubter who has long struggled in the midst of perplexities, these words are for you. Could He deceive any soul, however humble, on a matter of such supreme importance? (W. Braden.)

The silence of Scripture

1. A familiar proverb says “Speech is silvern, but silence is golden.” Thoughts are often best expressed by silent acts than words. A grasp of the hand, a glance of the eye may stir us more than a trumpet peal. Christ looked at Peter.

2. Written revelation has its necessary limitations. Only essential truths are given. Much is left to inference. But silence is a source of pain and in no subject more than the future life.

I. LET US SEE THIS RETICENCE OF SCRIPTURE AS CARRIED INTO OTHER TRUTHS.

1. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. We can deny neither; history proves both. For their reconciliation we must wait.

2. The Resurrection. Reason is staggered and asks, “How are the dead raised?” We cannot explain the process. But God’s power is adequate. The darkness is not with God but with us.

3. The proofs of the existence of a personal God, The Bible simply assumes His existence. But we know that our watch must have had a maker. This we believe without referring to our ignorance of him. There must have been a Maker of the eye, whether we know Him or not.

II. FROM THIS THEME WE LEARN HOW TO INTERPRET GOD’S SILENCE.

1. It is God’s glory to conceal a matter.

2. Secret things belong to Him; things revealed to us and to our children.

3. We are to walk by faith not by sight.

4. We are indeed to dig and toil for truth, yet ever remember that there are depths we cannot now fathom.

5. All true science is humble, and the language of our faith should be, “Even so, Father, for so seemeth it good in Thy sight.” (D. Murdoch, D. D.)

Inferences from the silence of Christ

This is an appeal of Christ to His own truthfulness and love. He could not allow His disciples to remain victims of delusion. He had often wounded them by telling painful truths, and had their expectation of an immortal life been a mistaken one, He would most certainly have contradicted it. Our text, then, enunciates a grand principle. Christ made it a main part of His work to expose Jewish error. Whenever, therefore, He refrained from contradicting any deeply rooted belief, we have an argument for its truth. Apply this to

I. THE DOCTRINE OF OUR LORD’S DEITY. Christ was worshipped over and over again during His earthly ministry. We know that Peter (Acts 10:26) and the angel (Revelation 22:9) shrunk from such homage; but Jesus never did. When His enemies accused Him of making Himself equal with God He did not repel the charge. Meek and lowly as He was, He accepted all the worship men offered, Had He not been Divine would He not have told us?

II. THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. This the destructive criticism of our time denies. Now remember that to the Jews were “committed the oracles of God,” and they were conspicuously faithful to their trust. But Christ never questioned the purity and integrity of the ancient scriptures. He held them in the deepest reverence, referred to all classes of facts recorded in them, set His seal to minor incidents, encouraged the people to search them, declared that they could not be broken, and that not one jot or tittle should fail. What a gulf between Christ’s criticism and that of the modem school! Had the latter been correct, how is it that He, “the Truth,” did not tell the world so? We need not fear, therefore, any of the lower or higher criticism of our day.

III. THE PERPETUITY OF THE SABBATH LAW. That the weekly Day of Rest was not a mere Jewish institution is proved from its position in the Decalogue, and from the design of God in appointing it. And had it been abrogated, or if it was to have no place in the Christian code of ethics, would not Jesus have told us? He often had to deal with the question of Sabbath observance, and to correct the rabbinical interpretations of the Fourth Commandment; but never did He drop a single word to countenance the idea that the Sabbath law was not to remain in force. On the contrary, He claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. He found the Sabbath a standing Divine ordinance, and left it such only freshened with the dew of His blessing.

IV. MAN’S HOPE OF IMMORTALITY. Thoughtful men in every age have cherished this. Socrates held the doctrine, but admitted that a good deal could be said against it. In the oldest scriptures we find deep yearnings, and over against them hopes very distinct and definite (Job 14:14-15; Job_19:25-27). We learn from what our Lord said to the Sadducees, that the doctrine was from the beginning part of the faith of God’s ancient people; and one of the purposes for which He came was to tell men that this was a reasonable hope. In the text He assumed that the disciples cherished it, and in words of deepest tenderness tells them that they are right. (C. Jerden, LL. B.)

Man’s hope of immortality uncontradicted by God

I. OUR POSITION TO GOD IS SIMILAR TO THAT IN WHICH THE DISCIPLES STOOD TO CHRIST--We are looking to Him for the fulfilment of hopes which reach beyond our present life.

1. It cannot be questioned that there is a deep and wide testimony in man’s nature to the existence of a God and of a future life.

2. If in these hopes and aspirations men were deceived, and were appealing to the Author of their being, so widely and so constantly, for the fulfilment of what He never intends to bestow, then--in some distinct way or other--by some voice from heaven, or some prevailing voice of reason in their own hearts--we might justly conclude that He would act on this principle--“If it were not so, I would have told you.”

II. THE SAME CONSIDERATIONS WHICH WOULD HAVE LED CHRIST TO UNDECEIVE HIS DISCIPLES, HAD THEY BEEN IN ERROR, APPLY TO GOD IN HIS POSITION TO US.

1. Those which lie in God’s own character.

2. Those which lie in the relation which exists between God and His human creatures.

1. That God has contradicted this hope in the lower creatures, that is, He has not suffered it to spring up.

2. He has contradicted prevalent falsities in human nature in various ways. Apart from supernatural utterance, there is the progress of reason, the growth of conscience, the rise of the soul’s highest life, which make superstitions and immoralities that have covered whole ages and nations to pine and die. In these ways He tells man what is false; but here it is in proportion as the soul grows and sin dies, that this hope increases, and it is strongest when we find our highest intuitions answered in the light and life of God. (J. Ker, D. D.)

I go to prepare a place for you

The Forerunner

1. What Divine simplicity and depth are in these words! The emblem is homely, the thing meant is transcendent.

2. Not less wonderful is the blending of majesty and lowliness. The office which He takes upon Himself is that of an inferior and a servant. And yet the discharge of it, in the present case, implies His authority over every corner of the universe.

3. Nor can we fail to notice the blending of another pair of opposites, His certainty of His impending death, and His certainty, notwithstanding and thereby, of His continual work and His final return.

I. THE DEPARTURE. Our Lord’s going away from that little group was a journey in two stages. Calvary was the first; Olivet was the second. He means by the phrase the whole continuous process.

1. He prepares a place for us by His death. The High Priest of old once a year was privileged to pass into the holiest, because he bore in his hand the blood of the sacrifice. But in our New Testament system the path into the holiest is made possible for every foot, because Jesus has died. And as the communion upon earth, so the perfecting of the communion in the heavens. Old legends tell us of magic gates that resisted all attempts to force them, but upon which, if one drop of a certain blood fell, they flew open. And so, by His death, Christ has opened the gates and made the heaven of perfect purity a dwelling place for sinful men.

2. He prepares a place for us by His entrance into and His dwelling in the heavenly places.

3. Not only did He go to prepare a place, but He is continuously preparing it for us all through the ages. We have to think of a double form of the work of Christ.

II. THE RETURN. The purpose of our Lord’s departure, as set forth by Himself here, guarantees for us His coming back again. He who went away as the Forerunner has not done His work until He comes back, and, as Guide, leads those for whom He had prepared the place to the place which He had prepared for them. That return, like the departure, may be considered as in two stages

1. The main meaning is that final and personal coming which stands at the end of history. And He will come as He went, a visible Manhood, only throned amongst the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. This return ought to be the prominent subject of Christian aspiration and desire. We have a double witness to bear. One half stretches backwards to the Cross and proclaims “Christ has come”; the other reaches onwards to the Throne and proclaims “Christ will come.”

2. But Scripture knows of many comings of the Lord preliminary to, and in principle one with, His second coming. For nations, all great crises of their history are “comings of the Lord,” the Judge. And in reference to individuals, we see in each single death a true coming of the Lord. Beyond all secondary causes, deeper than disease or accident, lies the loving will of Him who is the Lord of life and of death. Death stands amidst the ranks of the “ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation.” Whensoever a Christian man lies down to die, Christ says, “Come!” and he comes. How that thought should hallow the death chamber as with the print of the Master’s feet! How it should quiet our hearts and dry our tears! With Him for our companion the lonely road will not be dreary. The dying martyr beneath the city wall lifted up his face to the heavens and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” It was the echo of the Master’s promise: “I will come again and receive you to Myself.”

III. THE PERFECTED UNION. The departure and the return are stages in the process, which is perfected by complete union--“that where I am there ye may be also.” Christ is Heaven. To be with Him is to behold His glory. And to behold His glory, as John tells us in his epistle, is to be like Him. So Christ’s presence means the communication to us of all the lustre of His radiance, of all the whiteness of His purity, of all the depth of His blessedness, and of a share in His wondrous dominion. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The prepared place

There are two remarkable things about Christ’s statement.

1. That the Master should prepare for the servant. But this is in keeping with Christ’s whole method.

2. That the Divine Christ should ever have occasion to prepare anything. Can He who fills eternity have anything to arrange for His servants? The answer is, that Christ accommodates Himself to our way of thinking. There are some things which the Master only can do. We can do one hundred and fifty little things, and double that, and get the notion that we can do anything. But go and prepare summer! You have seen half a hundred: try and make the fifty-first! If the servant cannot prepare the summer, how can he prepare heaven? The text gives three comforting and inspiring views of the Christian’s position and destiny

I. HE IS THE OBJECT OF CHRIST’S ZEALOUS AND TENDER CARE “For you;” and Paul catching his Master’s tone said, “All things are yours.” Yet we hang our heads and cry as though we had nothing unless we could lace our fingers round it, not knowing that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Wherever you find Christ you find Him working for His people. There is a beautiful necessity of love about this arrangement. For if He were to fail here--in training and sanctifying the Church--He would fail altogether. What if He has made countless millions of stars? Can they talk to Him? If He does not get us--poor, broken things--right into His heaven He has failed. This is the one work He set Himself to do.

II. CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE ETERNALLY HIS JOY. As for these heavens, He will one day dismiss them. He makes some things for the time being; but when we read of the place prepared for believers we have the idea of never-ending fellowship. All true life is in the heart. Love alone is immortal. God is love. Love it is which binds Christ and Christians. If we love Him we shall be with Him forever.

III. Seeing that all this is so, THE CHRISTIAN IS ENTITLED TO LOOK AT THE PRESENT THROUGH THE FUTURE. The Christian is not to be troubled, because in His Father’s house are many mansions. When you are weary of the present, look forward into the future. Conclusion: If Christ is gone to prepare a place for us, then

1. The place will be worthy of Himself. Send a poor creature, and the place will be prepared according to the capacity and resources of the messenger? What kind of place will He prepare, who has all things at command?

2. Christ is waiting for His guests. Bad man! God has prepared nothing for you. There is a place--but it was prepared, not for you, but for the devil and his angels. That is the only place He has to put you in. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Christ preparing a place for us

I. WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO HEAVEN BY NATURE (Ephesians 2:3).

II. NEITHER CAN WE HAVE RIGHT BUT BY CHRIST (Acts 4:12).

III. THIS TITLE CHRIST PURCHASED FOR US BY HIS DEATH (Mt Ruth 3:9; Rth_3:12; Rth_4:1).

IV. Having purchased it, HE GOES TO TAKE POSSESSION OF IT AND HAVE IT SURRENDERED TO HIM FOR OUR USE. (Hebrews 6:20).

V. Having taken possession of it in our names, HE PREPARES IT.

1. By getting us actually admitted or entitled to it; pleading (1 John 2:1)

2. By preparing us for it, by

3. Regulating our affections. (Bp. Beveridge.)

Christ gone to prepare a place for us

In the days before the railway showered its sparks upon the darkness of the wilderness, people put out on foot, or in slow cumbrous waggons, from our Eastern homes, and in the wild thickets of the far West sought to clear for their families a home. Ofttimes leaving their tender little ones in the New England village, with blanket, and gun, and axe, they dared the forest, terrible with bear’s bark, and panther’s scream, and the war whoop cry of scalping savages. After awhile the trees were felled, and the underbrush was burned, and the farm was cleared, and the house was built. Then word came back here, saying that everything was ready. The family would get into the waggon and start on at a slow pace for a very long journey. After awhile, some evening tide, the shout of recognition was heard, and by the fire of the great black log the newly-arrived would recount the exciting experiences of the way. Well, my friends, we are all about to become emigrants to a far country. This is no place for us to stay. Our Older Brother, Jesus, Him of the scarred brow and the blistered feet, has gone ahead to build our mansion and to clear the way for us, and He sends a letter back, saying He has it all ready; and I break the seal of that letter and read to you these words: “I go to prepare a place for you.” I might put it in another shape. A young man resolves to build a home for himself. He has pledged himself in one of the purest of earthly attachments. He toils no more for himself than for the one who will share with him the results of his industrious accumulation. After awhile the fortune is made, the house is built, the right hands are joined, the blessing is invoked, the joy is consummated. So Jesus, the lover of our souls, has been toiling to make a place for us. He is fitting up our mansion. He is gathering around it everything that can possibly enchant the soul, and after awhile he will say: “It is all ready now,” and He will reach down His hand and take up to His fair residence “the Church, which is the Lamb’s wife.” “I go to prepare a place for you.” (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Christ gone to prepare a place for us

I was visiting a friend some years ago, who had just built a new house. It was beautiful, useful. He took me upstairs. It had wardrobes, toilet glasses, books, and paintings. It was furnished grandly. And the father turned to me, and said, “This room is for our daughter. She is in Europe, she does not know we are arranging it. Her mother and I have fixed up everything we could think of for her. As soon as the house is fully finished, we are going to Europe to bring her back; and we are going to bring her upstairs, and open the door and say, ‘Daughter, this is yours.’ And I thought of the joy it would give her, and I thought, how kind these parents are! Just then I turned away and thought, That is what Jesus is doing for me. He says He is going away to prepare a place for me: he will come again, and receive me unto Himself. Then I thought, This father and mother are rich: but they have not all treasures, there are a great many things they do not know how to get. But Jesus, who is furnishing my mansion in glory, has everything. He has undertaken to furnish a place for me, and I shall be with Him forever. (C. S.Robinson, D. D.)

Heaven adapted to us by Christ

In the works of God I know nothing more beautiful than the perfect skill with which He suits His creatures to their condition. He gives wings to birds, fins to the fish, sails to the thistle seed, a lamp to light the glowworm, great roots to moor the majestic cedar, and to the aspiring ivy a thousand hands to climb the wall. Nor is the wisdom thus conspicuous in nature less remarkable and adorable as exhibited in the arrangements of the Kingdom of Grace. He forms a holy people for a holy state. He fits heaven for the redeemed, and the redeemed for heaven. (J. Guthrie, D. D.)

Christ preparing heaven for the believer

It was customary for travellers in those old days to send some of their party on in advance to find lodging and make arrangements for them in some great city. Many a time one or other of the disciples had been sent before His face into every place whither He Himself should come. Christ here takes that office on Himself. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

If I go … I will come again and receive you unto Myself

Christ’s coming and our future fellowship with Him

I. THE DEATH OF A BELIEVER IS CHRIST’S COMING. At death their Saviour comes to fetch them away from this strange land; and thus

1. To rescue them from its numerous snares.

2. To deliver them from its multiplied sorrows. These are often owing

3. And He will thus show

II. HOW TO REGARD THE FUTURE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS. It is for them to be with Christ. (John 17:24). In that blessed land will the Saviour have all His followers dwell, because

1. They are united to Him (Hebrews 2:14-15).

2. They bear His image. They now seek and pray to resemble Him.

3. They delight in fellowship with Him. And as they are formed to this heavenly temper, now so in glory they will be received to this unspeakable felicity. They will there enjoy it

4. They may then be made perfect

Jesus comes

“He drew very near,” solemnly uttered a youthful believer within a few hours of death. “Who drew near?” anxiously inquired a friend who was present, fearful to hear her pronounce the word “death.” “Jesus,” she replied, with an unutterable earnestness of expression. “I felt just now as if He stood close beside me.” Soon after she was asked by her sister if she would like her to pray with her. She gladly assented. But while she prayed the countenance of the dying one changed, the expression of supplication was succeeded by one of adoring contemplation--it would have been rapture but for its perfect calm. A kind of glow suffused her features, then faded gradually away, and before that prayer was ended she was gone. Her “amen” to it was her first hallelujah in heaven. Jesus had “come again” and received her unto Himself. (New Testament Anecdotes.)

Christ will corse again

A minister once entered an almshouse of which an aged couple were the inmates. Beside a little round table sat the husband, and as he was very deaf his visitor shouted in his ear, “Well, Wisby, what are you doing?” “Waiting, sir.” “For what?” “For the appearing of my Lord.” “And what makes you wish for His appearing?” “Because I expect great things then.”

The saint’s best days to come

A young girl of fifteen, a bright, laughter loving girl, was suddenly cast upon a bed of suffering. Completely paralysed on one side and nearly blind, she heard the family doctor say to her friends, who surrounded her, “She has seen her best days, poor child!” “Oh no, doctor,” she exclaimed, “my best days are yet to come, when I see the King in His beauty.”

Death brings Christ and the soul together

very affecting account is given of the death of Williams of Wern. He had lost his wife some time before, and he and his daughter were dying together in different rooms of the same house. As he said to her one day, “We appear to be running, with contending footsteps, to be first at the goal.” They spent much time in talking together of death and heaven, and being “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” Every morning as soon as he was up found him by the bedside of his daughter. “Well, Eliza, how are you this morning?” “Very weak, father.” “Ah!” said he, “we are both on the racecourse. Which of us, do you think, will get to the end first?” “Oh, I shall, father.” “Perhaps,” he said, “it is best that it should be so, for I am more able to bear the blow. But do you long to see the end of the journey?” “Oh, from my heart!” she replied. “But why?” “Because I shall see many of my old friends, and my mother: and above all, I shall see Jesus.” “Ah well, then,” he said, “tell them I am coming! Tell them I am coming!” She died first. He followed shortly after, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. With Christ--heaven:--A little negro boy, when on his death bed, was visited by a missionary, to whom he spoke of the happiness he felt, and the longing desire he had to be with Jesus. “I am going to heaven soon; and then I shall see Jesus, and be with Him forever,” said the little fellow. “But,” rejoined the missionary, “if Jesus were to leave heaven, what would you do?” “I would follow him,” replied the boy. “But suppose,” said the missionary, “Jesus went to hell: what would you do then?” In an instant, with an intelligent look and a smile on his countenance, he replied, “Ah, massa! there is no hell where Jesus is.” (S. M. Haughton.)

Christ the supreme attraction of heaven

Have you heard of the poor Chinaman in London? Walking along the streets of the metropolis in the fog and the drizzling rain, he was well-nigh breaking his heart with longing for his native land. One day, however, the sun rose brighter than usual, drove the clouds before him, and lifted the fog. Thereupon the little Chinaman cheered up amazingly. “Why, what is the matter with you today? what is the cause of your rejoicing?” asked an acquaintance. “What is the cause indeed,” replied the poor foreigner in broken English, pointing with his finger to the sky. “Don’t you see there? that is China’s sun?” and with the word he was dancing on the pavement like a delighted schoolboy. Everything else was strange to him--the streets, the inhabitants, the sceneries, and even the stars. The only thing he beheld in England that he had seen at home was the sun; and he felt comforted under the face of the same sun. Thus, when we go to eternity, things will appear very strange--the city with its golden streets, the inhabitants with palms in their hands, the sceneries “ever decked in living green.” But the same Sun shines there as here, and under its shining we shall feel all fear and tremor depart. The Sun of earth is the Sun of heaven, the Sun of Cardiff is the Sun of the New Jerusalem. (J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

Acquaintances in heaven

“When I was a boy,” said a minister, “I thought of heaven as a great shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white tenuous angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of a great city with walls, and domes, and spires, and a flock of cold, unknown angels, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother died, and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die, and the flock continually grew; but it was not until I had sent one of my little children to his grandparent--God--that I began to think I had a little in myself. A second went, a third went, a fourth went; and by that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the Celestial city; and now there are so many of my acquaintances gone there that it sometimes seems to me that I know more in heaven than I do on earth.”


Verses 1-4

John 14:1-4

Let not your heart be troubled.

This clause is the true heading to the whole consolatory discourse, for it flows on in one channel of love and ends at last with the words, “Be of good cheer.”

Let not your heart be troubled

We may well feel glad that God’s people of old were men of like passions with ourselves. It is not the will of God that His people should “be troubled” in heart; hence these blessed words.

I. LET US TASTE OF THE BITTER WATERS.

1. Jesus was to die. It had finally dawned on them that they were to be left like sheep without a shepherd, and they were inconsolable.

2. He was to be betrayed by one of their own number. This pierced the hearts of the faithful. Of this bitter water the faithful at this hour are also made to drink. Reputed ministers under the banner of “advanced thought” make war upon those eternal truths for which confessors contended and martyrs bled, and the saints in past ages have been sustained in their dying hours.

3. Peter’s denial was to cause another pang to the faithful.

II. LET US DRINK OF THE SWEET WATERS, TO REFRESH US. Our Master indicates the true means of comfort under every sort of disquietude.

1. “Believe” not only My doctrine but in Me--a personal, living, ever-present, omnipotent Saviour.

2. Though He was going from them, He was only going to His Father’s house.

3. A great many would follow Him to the Father’s house.

4. “I go to prepare a place for you,” not only “many mansions” for our spirits, but an ultimate place of our risen bodies. We are apt to entertain cloudy ideas of the ultimate inheritance of the saints. Christ went away in body--not as a disembodied spirit, but as One who had eaten with His disciples, and whose body had been handled by them. His body needed a place.

5. The promise of His sure return--“If I go,” etc.

6. And then He will “receive” us. It will be

7. He will place us eternally where He is that we may be with Him. Can we not now, once for all, dismiss every fear in prospect of the endless bliss reserved for us? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let not your hearts be troubled

The disciples had been like lambs carried in the bosom of a loving shepherd. They were now about to be left by Him, and would be among the wolves and the terrors of the snowstorm. Frequently after conversion God, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, gives a period of repose; but for all of us there will come a time of trouble. Albeit that bark so lately launched upon a glassy sea has all her streamers flying, and rejoices in a favourable wind, let her captain remember that the sea is treacherous and that the stoutest vessel may find it more than difficult to outride a hurricane. But without due trial where would be our experience, and without the experience where increase of faith and triumph of love? We have each

1. A share of home trials.

2. Trials arising from the Church of God. In the best-ordered Church it must needs be that offences come.

3. Worst of all are soul troubles. Note that the advice of the text is

I. TIMELY AND WISE. There is no need to say, “Let not your heart be troubled,” when you are not in affliction. When all things go well with you, you will need, “Let not your heart be exalted.” Now, it is the easiest thing in times of difficulty to let the heart be troubled, to give up and drift with the stream. Our Lord bids us pluck up heart, and here is the wisdom of His advice, namely

1. That a troubled heart will not help us in our difficulties or out of them. In time of drought lamentations have never brought showers. A man whose business was declining never multiplied his customers by unbelief. It is a dark night, but the darkness of your heart will not light a candle for you.

2. A doubting, fretful spirit takes from us the joys we have. You have not all you could wish, but you have still more than you deserve, and far more than some others; health perhaps, God certainly. There are flowers that bloom in winter if we have but grace to see them.

3. A troubled heart makes that which is bad worse. It magnifies, aggravates, caricatures. Unbelief makes out our difficulties to be most gigantic, and then it leads us to suppose that never soul had such difficulties before. But think of Baxter, Calvin, the martyrs, St. Paul, Christ.

4. A troubled heart is most dishonourable to God. It makes the Christian suspect eternal faithfulness and to doubt unchangeable love. Is this a little thing? The mischief of the Christian Church at large is a want of holy confidence in God. When once an army is demoralized by a want of spirit and the soldier assured that he cannot win the day, then the conclusion is that every man had better take care of himself and fly. But as long as we do not lose heart we have not lost the day.

II. PRACTICABLE. “Let not your heart be troubled.” “Oh,” says somebody, “that’s easy to say but hard to do.” Here’s a man who has fallen into a deep ditch, and you say to him, “Don’t be troubled about it.” “Ah,” says he, “that’s very pretty for you that are standing up there, but how am I to be at ease while up to my neck in mire?” But if Jesus says it our heart need not be troubled.

1. He indicates that our resort must be to faith. If in thy worst times thou wouldst keep thy head above water, the swimming belt must be faith. In the olden times how were men kept from perishing but by faith (Hebrews 11:1-40)? There is nothing which it cannot do, but what can you do if you do not trust your God? and surely it ought not to be difficult for a child to believe his father.

2. The Saviour goes on to say, “You believe in God”; exercise that same faith with regard to the case in hand. The case in hand was this--could they rest upon One who was about to be crucified? “You have believed God about other things, exercise that same faith about this.” You have believed God concerning pardon, believe God about the child, the wife, the money.

3. It ought to be a great deal easier for us to live above heart trouble than it was to the apostles.

III. PRECIOUS. Remember that the loving advice

1. Came from Jesus. The mother says to the child, “Do not cry, child; be patient.” That sounds very differently from what it would have done if the schoolmaster or a stranger had spoken. His own face was towards the Cross, He was about to be troubled as never man was troubled. It is as if He wanted to monopolize all tears.

2. It points to Jesus. If you want comfort you must hear Jesus say, “Believe also in Me.” No place for a child’s aching head like its mother’s bosom. No shadow of a great rock in this weary land like our Saviour’s love consciously overshadowing us.

3. It speaks of Jesus. “In My Father’s house,” etc. Jesus is here seen in action. Think of all He said and did, and what He is doing for us now.

4. It hints that we are to be with Jesus forever. “An hour with my God,” says the hymn, “will make up for it all.” So it will; but what will an eternity with our God be? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Trouble not

The words are

I. NOT SENTIMENTAL. They are not spoken by one who wishes to silence sorrow by superficial kindliness. Christ does not say we are to disarm ourselves of prudence and energy; but He does say where all these work torture and misery you are faithless. There is a Providence that goes before you. Your Heavenly Father knoweth what things you have need of. There is more than sorrow in this world. Sin is here, but even over it we triumph by a salvation which makes a redeemed life the most glorious life of all. From the lips of Christ this is a reasonable comfort, because He is able to make all grace abound towards us, and because sorrow goes forth as His angel to make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

II. NOT EXHAUSTIBLE. This comfort is not exhaustible in time; nor can you exhaust its adaptation to the variety and speciality of personal sorrow. Does not Christ know your sorrow? We could gain no true comfort if Christ were merely a figure in history. If Christ had not risen the words are exhaustible. But Christ Himself has said, “I am He that liveth,” etc. The value even of an earthly friend is in the inexhaustibility of sympathy. But at the best human friendship is shallow, but it is different with Christ’s. His passeth knowledge. He who changes not and abideth always says, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

III. NOT LIMITABLE. These are words of consolation for all the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

1. No little community has any special privilege of excommunicating, nor has any large one.

2. All through the ranges of experience, as well as through all the ages of time, Christ bids us take these words of comfort. First of all they should be applied to the heaviest sorrows. Here at Christ’s Cross the most burdened may find release.

IV. NOT ALONE TEMPORAL. They do not simply relate to this time world or to our human and spiritual experiences here. Christ was comforting men concerning the rest that remaineth. And the spirit of man had never been so comforted before. He knew that hearts like ours would grasp every promise concerning the blessed dead. So these words should be taken up into the highest sphere to comfort us concerning those who sleep in Jesus that we sorrow not as those without hope, remembering that the risen Christ went back whence He came, to prepare a place for us.

V. NOT ALONE RETROSPECTIVE. Christ does not say, “Do not trouble about past sins, they are forgiven you.” No. He looks forward and comforts them in relation to their earthly future here and their home hereafter. And yet what did He see in the near perspective for many of them? On the edge of the horizon stand their crosses in the grey light of tomorrow. “The time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” Still He says, “Do not trouble.” Let us take Christ at His word as they did. (W. M. Statham.)

Christ’s cure for trouble

I. THE SORE OF THE WORLD IS TROUBLE AND ITS CURE IN FAITH. The seat of trouble is not in anything outside of us. It is the passions. Work, wakefulness, losses, bereavements, life’s burdens and battles are not troubles. They are discipline. While the passions are in right and healthful play all these things may befall a man, and yet he may be wholly untroubled. On the other hand, a man may be surrounded by all that can minister to his comfort and dignity, and yet be troubled. In the latter case the man’s passions are tossed about as the sea is when a tempest is on it; in the other case, they are serene as the lake in the fastnesses of a mountain.

1. The cause of all our trouble is the want of harmony between our wills and God’s will. Let them accord, and then nothing in heaven or earth or hell can trouble us. But when we beat ourselves against the barriers erected by Omnipotence for our safety and good, then there is trouble.

2. Our trouble arises from our want of faith in the rightfulness and paramount authority of God’s law. Men would not fight against God’s law of morals if they could perceive that the law is perfectly good and right. Men have an impression that the law of God is a kind of Procrustes’ bed, cutting long men short and stretching short men long for arbitrary reasons, and not that every regulation is for man’s sake and that of other creatures. And because men do not believe that the law of God is good they do not believe it is paramount. The origin of the trouble of every heart from the beginning is to be found in this failure of faith in God. It was so with Adam and Eve. There was no trouble while they trusted their Heavenly Father. You cannot seduce a man into wrong-doing until you shake his faith in God. It is this fundamental principle of which Jesus seems to have thought. This seems to me to mean two things

(a) We must hare some distinct evidence of His loving us. Of such love Jesus is the Demonstration. Belief in Jesus is belief in God incarnating Himself; putting Himself thus into most complete sympathy with us, making us feel that if any disasters should happen to us He would be the Person who most should feel it. This breaks down the opposition of our hearts to God.

(b) Jesus declares Himself the Governor of the world. Providence is in the hands of my Brother. He manages the universe for the purposes of the atonement. Why should my heart be troubled? Is not the King of eternity my Friend?

II. THEN FROM HIMSELF AS FROM A CENTRE HE SWEEPS THE UNIVERSE OF SPACE AND DURATION, AND FOLDS IT ALL DOWN UPON EVERY TRUSTING HEART AS A MEASURELESS BENEDICTION.

1. “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” How this takes the vagueness out of our ideas of God! How our recently constructed scientific instruments enlarge and deepen this saying of Jesus! It is to be noticed that our intellects gravitate toward a common centre. There, in that centre, we seem to feel must be the chief place of God. There is an unhealthy fear of God which is not humble reverence. Men dread to think of Him. In our catechisms we put Him just as far away from our children as we can. Jesus does no such thing. God is a Person. He has a house and a household. He makes homes for His children. Why, then, should I be troubled that I am to die? My removal will be like the progress of a prince from castle to castle of his father’s dominions. In each I shall find new work and new delights.

2. One of the phases of man’s unbelief is that he does not seem to have space and time enough to carry forward to completion the grand projects of his intellect. But if you will believe in Jesus, this trouble shall disappear. In the boundless field of the universe, in the perpetual cycles of eternity, you shall find space and time enough to do all that you desire now or may desire hereafter.

3. Another thing Jesus utters to be a heart cure: “If it were not so, I would have told you.” He will not only correct our thoughts of God, He will not let us have a false hope. Those men loved Him, and in some blind way had believed in Him. He knew that they had aspirations higher than the Temple and wider than the spangled tent that spread all night above the Holy Land. He would not go away and leave them cherishing a fond delusion. He would tell them if the things they hoped were an idle dream. In this there ought to be a happy lesson for every earnest heart. There is a gloomy infidelity in us which says of happiest things that they are “too good to be true.” If you have any hope for eternity, and Jesus Christ has not contradicted it, you may reasonably indulge it. See what a field that flings open to us. This is comforting, but grandly vague.

4. He goes further and tells us that He departs in order to “prepare a place for us.” This meets another phase of trouble. Our wills conflict with the will of God because we never feel at home totally suited in our surroundings on earth. Think how much is necessary for perfect comfort. There must be a suitable physique, agreeable in all the particulars of size, beauty, and health. There must be perfectly-fitting clothes; a collar too tight, a boot too small breaks one’s comfort. Then our house must be in everything complete; nay, it must be an elastic house, expanding or shrinking to our wants at different times. When the residence is complete, there is the absence of the beloved or the presence of an unpleasant neighbourhood. It is not an unamiable discontentedness in human nature which makes us dissatisfied or unsatisfied: it is the inability of this present world, with all its resources, to fill the soul; and this argues the soul’s greatness. Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He knows what is in us and what we need about us. He is putting all His resources to the work of fitting up for us mansions in the spiritual world. Our place will be complete. How that abates our troubles! There shall be nothing wanting in the place when Jesus pronounces it ready.

5. “Ready?” Then when it is ready we must go to it. There is to be a removal. But still there is something to try one in any change of residence, but Christ says, “I will come for you and take you,” and that “unto Myself.” (C. F. Deems, LL. D.)

Trouble and its cordial

I. GOD’S MOST FAITHFUL SERVANTS ARE SUBJECT TO TROUBLES OF HEART.

1. What troubles?

(a) Sin (Psalms 51:4-8).

(b) Corruption (Romans 7:24).

(a) Spiritual: Christ’s absence.

(b) Temporal: outward afflictions (Lamentations 1:4).

2. The reason.

II. FAITH IN GOD AND CHRIST IS THE BEST CORDIAL TO A TROUBLED HEART.

1. It is the surest and most infallible (Matthew 11:28).

2. The strongest (Isaiah 59:1).

3. The pleasantest (1 Peter 1:8).

4. The readiest (Psalms 46:1).

5. The most suitable (Isaiah 43:2-3).

6. The most constant (Hebrews 13:5).

7. The most universal.

III. APPLY THIS to

1. Temporal troubles. Art thou troubled with

(a) Faith is the best riches (James 2:5).

(b) It will turn thy very poverty into a blessing (Romans 8:28).

(a) By faith thou mayest see the emptiness of honour (Psalms 42:11).

(b) Faith will procure thee honour (Hebrews 1:14; 1 Samuel 2:30).

(a) Thou mayest see God’s love in them (Hebrews 12:6).

(b) Thou mayest get good by them (Psalms 119:71).

(c) Thou mayest receive more comfort in them than in health.

(a) Faith will show thee from whence they came (Job 1:21).

(b) Why (Hebrews 12:10).

(c) And so turn them to thy gain (2 Corinthians 4:17).

(a) That the sting is out (1 Corinthians 15:55).

(b) That death is but the entrance of life.

(c) And so turn thy fears into hopes (Philippians 1:23).

2. In spiritual troubles. Art thou troubled

(a) God is merciful (Psalms 103:8; Isaiah 43:25).

(b) Christ is all-sufficient (1 John 2:1).

(a) God is almighty.

(b) Christ will send His Spirit (chap. 16:7).

(c) Faith conquers them (1 John 5:4).

(a) God will never forsake thee wholly (John 13:1; Hebrews 13:5).

(b) Christ will pray that thy faith fail not (Luke 22:31-32).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

Christ’s word to the troubled

This is a discourse showing the disciple his refuge from trouble. The refuge

I. OF FAITH. “Believe in God: believe also in Me,” etc. Three grand truths are at the basis of Christianity: God, Christ, Immortality. They are the antidotes to atheism, the helplessness of guilt, and the hopelessness of death.

II. OF LOVE. A personal relation to Christ, He is the way of God to man and of man to God; the truth, about all the soul needs to know and which natural theology fails to answer; and the life, eternal and blissful.

III. OF HOPE. Here was a personal bereavement. He was about to withdraw, and the loss was the more inconsolable because He was the object of faith and love. But He compensates this loss by the promise of the Holy Ghost, through whom they should do greater works, by whom God is manifest in the believer, etc., and who should abide with them forever. And He promises that He will personally intercede for believers above, while the Spirit intercedes in them below. And so He who goes away actually does not leave them orphans, but comes to them, dwells in them, manifests Himself to them, and is seen by them. And so this part of the discourse ends as it began, with peace. Peace

1. For the mind harassed with doubt, by establishing the certainties of faith.

2. For the heart harassed with unsatisfied cravings, by establishing it upon God. (A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

Christ’s remedy for a troubled heart

I. THE TROUBLED HEART. Trouble in estate is bad, but heart trouble is worst. The mariner cares not for the howling tempest, but matters are serious when the sea gains entrance. Causes.

1. Unpardoned sin.

2. Separation from beloved friends.

3. Persecution.

4. Disappointed hopes. So the disciples have trials. Sometimes from a clear sky the thunder peals; from richest verdure the venomous serpent hisses.

II. THE QUIET HEART.

1. We acknowledge the authority of the decalogue; but our Lord’s command is equally binding.

2. This is the purpose of God. Every apparent discord leads up to the final harmony.

3. The quiet heart is the best learner, worker, warrior.

4. The quiet heart is a mirror of heaven.

III. HOW CAN THE TROUBLED HEART BE MADE INTO THE QUIET HEART.

1. The old belief in God. The Jews had fallen into polytheism, but the captivity cured them. Christ points to the old well of comfort--a firm belief in one ever-living God.

2. The new belief in Christ. Inferentially a proof of Christ’s Divinity.

We need not shrink from “Worlds unknown.” He has made them well known; “brought life and immortality to light,” and will come again and receive us unto Himself. (W. Andersen, LL. D.)

Christ comforting

There was some good in the disciples’ trouble.

1. There was natural trouble at the departure of such a friend. For we are flesh, not steel; and in that sense, Christ was troubled Himself to show the truth of His manhood. Nay, trouble is the seasoning of all heavenly comforts; there were no comforts if there were no trouble; and therefore this natural trouble was not disallowed by Christ.

2. There was likewise something spiritually good in this trouble. They loved their Master, who they saw was going away. They were right in this principle, that all comfort depends on the presence of Christ. For as all heavenly light, and heat, and influence come from the sun, so all heavenly comforts must come to us from Christ’s presence. Their error was in tying all comfort to a bodily presence; as if it were necessary for the sun to come down and abide upon the earth, to bestow its heat and influence.

I. THE BEST CHRISTIANS ARE SUBJECT TO BE TROUBLED MORE THAN SHOULD BE. Christ was troubled, but His trouble was like the shaking of clear water in a crystal glass. There was no mud in the bottom. But our trouble is of another kind, and apt to be inordinate (1 Samuel 1:13; Isaiah 38:14; Psalms 77:3; Jonah 2:2).

1. God permits us to be troubled

2. But how shall we know that our hearts are more troubled than they should be? We may sin in being overmuch troubled at things for which it is a sin not to be troubled. If they had not been at all affected with the absence of Christ, it had been a sin, and no less than stupidity; yet it was their sin to be overmuch troubled. A trouble is sinful when it hinders us in duties; or from duty, when the soul is like an instrument out of tune, or a limb out of joint. Naturally, affections should be helps to duty, they being the winds that carry the soul on, and the spiritual wings of the soul. But then they must be regulated and ordered at the command of a spiritual understanding. Now, besides the hurt that is in such affections themselves, Satan loves to fish in these troubled waters (Ephesians 4:26). That was Saul’s case (1 Samuel 16:23).

3. We should not yield to excess of trouble. And the reasons are:

II. THE WAYS WHEREBY WE MUST LABOUR TO COMFORT OUR HEARTS.

1. There must be a due search into the heart of the grounds of our trouble; for often Christians are troubled, they cannot tell wherefore; as children that will complain they know not why. See if there be not some Achan in the camp.

2. And when you have found out your sin give it vent by confession of it to God, and in some cases to others.

3. And when we have done so, consider what promises, and comforts, in that Word of God are fitted to that condition. And therefore we ought to be skilful in the Word of God, that we may store up comforts beforehand.

4. When we have these promises, let us labour to understand them thoroughly, and then to digest them in our affections, and so make them our own, and then to walk in the strength and comfort of them.

5. Labour likewise to have them fresh in memory. It is a great defect of Christians that they forget their consolation (Hebrews 12:5).

6. Labour to keep unspotted consciences.

7. And because there can be no more comfort than there is care of duty, therefore, together with innocency, let us be careful of all duties in all our several relations.

8. But above all let us labour for a spirit of faith. “You believe in God,” etc. How cloth faith in Christ ease the soul in trouble?

Christ comforting the disciples

I. THE HEROIC ATTITUDE CHRIST ASSUMES. He had just dismissed Judas, knew what was transpiring outside, and what would follow. And yet He sat amongst His disciples perfectly composed, and was able to counsel deliberate composure in the prospect of affliction. This was not from any insensibility to pain, nor superiority to it (John 11:33; Joh_12:27; Joh_13:21). Itwas a wonderful manifestation of spiritual strength, and as an example was more forcible than even His counsel for the production of a like spirit.

II. THE HEROIC SPIRIT CHRIST COMMANDS HIS DISCIPLES TO CULTIVATE. They were in a grievous plight. They had been drawn into fellowship with Christ. He had led them step by step, and they had learned to lean upon Him utterly. And now He was about to be taken from them by a cruel death, and leave them exposed to persecution for His sake. An hour ago there had been a strife among them which of them should be greatest. How vain all these ambitions seemed now! And yet our Lord counsels calmness. Then

1. It is possible to overmaster trouble, however hard the lot in life may be.

2. It is important to overmaster it; a troubled heart is our agitated medium and cannot see things clearly, and our enfeebled agent impotent to do them adequately.

III. THE SECRET OF A HEROIC SPIRIT WHICH CHRIST COMMUNICATED TO THEM.

1. Faith in God. The Old Testament saints found in this a panacea for all their cares. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace,” etc., There were resources in Omnipotence which they felt to be equal to all human exigency (Isaiah 26:3-4). Something of this the disciples knew.

2. Our Lord argues from the Father to Himself, and particularly recommends them to have such faith in Him as they have in God.

3. The advantage of this two-fold trust. Although the disciples had a certain faith in God, it left them far from satisfied with it. Hence Philip’s request. God was more or less remote from and incomprehensible to them; but Christ brought them near. “He that hath seen Me,” etc. This sufficed. (W. Roberts.)

Grounds of comfort

I. HEAVEN IS SURE (John 14:2-3).

II. THERE IS A CERTAIN WAY TO HEAVEN (John 14:4-11).

III. CHRIST’S WORK DOES NOT CEASE WITH CHRIST’S DEPARTURE (John 14:12-14).

IV. THE HELP OF THE SPIRIT IS VOUCHSAFED in the absence of Christ (John 14:15-17).

V. CHRIST’S ABSENCE IS ONLY TEMPORARY (John 14:18-24).

VI. THE SPIRIT WILL TEACH THE DISCIPLES, and supply their want of understanding when left alone (John 14:25-26).

VII. THE LEGACY OF PEACE to cheer in the Master’s absence (John 14:27). (Prof. Hengstenberg.)

Sources of Christian comfort

There is a class of words the meaning of which is known to all, and without consulting a dictionary most people know what the word “trouble” means. The man who should attempt to construct a theory of life and leave trouble out of the account would be no philosopher. How to deal with it, and not how to ignore it, becomes the great problem. From both ancients and moderns proposals of alleviation and help are forthcoming. But He who boldly cries, “Let not your heart be troubled” must possess infallible antidotes. What are they? Faith and Hope directed to their proper objects. We propose, then, to examine

I. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH CHRIST SOLICITS OUR FAITH. Relief comes by belief. To be able in some overpowering grief to throw the weight of one’s care upon another and to trust wholly in that other’s help is an eminently satisfying process; while the trustless soul is without the least gleam of comfort. In these times of daring denial and of timid doubt it is well to be reminded that in the great crises of life--poverty, bereavement, affliction--denial is mockery and doubt is impotence, and that only an honest andhearty belief will secure sufficient solace. Christ solicits our faith on the ground of

1. A prior acknowledgment of the Divine. “Ye believe in God.” Christ desires nothing contrary to already existing and inborn Godward conceptions of the soul, but merely that we enlarge those conceptions so as to include Him.

2. The defectiveness of our belief apart from Him. “Ye believe in God;” yes, but that is inadequate, it needs supplementing. The most anxious moments of humanity have been spent in searchings after such a view of God as would enable man to approach Him without dread. Humanity’s great longing has waited until Christ for its complete satisfaction. He has extracted from the thought of God all that is calculated to give pain and introduced everything calculated to give comfort. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”

3. His personality. Trust must repose on a person to be trust at all. Christian apologists often begin with the proofs of superhuman skill and power, and so lead up to the central object of Christian faith. But Christ asked for immediate trust in Himself, for with that would come a hearty belief in all He said and did.

II. THE MOTIVES BY WHICH HE ENCOURAGES OUR HOPE. By “two immutable things,” Christ intends us to have “strong consolation.” Hope is as important a contribution to comfort as faith; the two together, exercised rightly, never fail. Without a future what is the present worth? An English nobleman once asked himself why there should be a future existence, and answered, “Because, on any other hypothesis, the world would be a piece of magnificent nonsense.”

1. Christ, implying human immortality, reveals heaven. He bids the troubled be comforted by directing their hope to the positive existence of an absolutely untroubled state. Heaven is rendered attractive to us as much by its exemptions as by its possessions (Revelation 21:4). Christ does present also a positive view. Heaven is a home. “In My Father’s house!” A house is not necessarily a home, but a father’s house always is, or ought to be. A happy earthly home is the nearest approach to an adequate conception of the life of heaven. “My Father’s house” is a happier home than the happiest of earthly ones.

2. Hope is encouraged by the variety of heavenly enjoyments. “Many mansions,” many methods of enjoyment, various fields of occupation, unexhausted resources of interest and pleasure. An endless uniformity of type would be fatal to perfect happiness.

3. Hope is further encouraged by Christ’s guarantee of its realization. “If it were not so I would have told you,” etc. What security this! He could not countenance a delusion. Conclusion: We read of a Roman army, when eagerly engaged in battle with their country’s enemies, being unconscious of an earthquake which made the ground beneath their feet to tremble; and so will a high faith in God and Christ, and a holy hope of immortality and heaven, cause the true Christian to be insensible to the tossings to and fro of the life that now is. (W. Brooks.)

The Christian not afraid of unseen dangers

General Sherman is reported to have said: “One difference between General Grant and myself is this: I am not afraid of dangers that I can see, but he is not afraid of dangers that he cannot see.” Any good soldier of Jesus Christ has a right to absolute confidence as he goes forward, even in the dark. For the Saviour says to him, Whatever comes, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

Men seem unwilling to be without trouble

Men do not avail themselves of the riches of God’s grace. They love to nurse their cares, and seem as uneasy without some fret as an old friar would be without his hair girdle.

They are commanded to cast their cares upon the Lord; but, even when they attempt it, they do not fail to catch them up again, and think it meritorious to walk burdened. They take God’s ticket to heaven, and then put their baggage on their shoulders, and tramp, tramp, the whole way there afoot.

Christ will relieve our troubles

I heard of a man who was walking along the high road, with a pack on his back: he was growing weary, and was, therefore, glad when a gentleman came along in a chaise, and asked him to take a seat with him. The gentleman noticed that he kept his pack strapped to his shoulders, and so he said, “Why do you not put your pack down?” “Why, sir,” said the traveller, “I did not venture, to intrude. It was very kind of you to take me up, and I could not expect you to carry my pack as well.” “Why,” said his friend, “do you not see that whether your pack is on your back, or off your back, I have to carry it?” My hearer, it is so with your trouble: whether you care, or do not care, it is the Lord who must care for you. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The consolation of the gospel unique

In this I say the gospel differs sharply from the most cultivated pagan thought of the age in which it appeared in the world. When Seneca is trying to console a lady who is suffering agonies of mind under a severe bereavement, he can only suggest to her that she had better try as soon as possible to forget her trouble. She has, he says, good examples around her in the birds and in the beasts. They too love their relations, but after a momentary spasm when they lose them they take life easily again; and in doing this they show man an example which he would do well to imitate. As if the mental pain which means to man so much more than to the beast, precisely because he is man and not beast, could be conjured out of him by a philosophy which talks incessantly of his dignity and can only make him comfortable, if at all, at the cost of forgetting it! (Canon Liddon.)

Religion has many comforts

Why should you carry troubles and sorrows unhealed? There is no bodily wound for which some herb doth not grow, and heavenly plants are more medicinal. Bind up your hearts in them, and they shall give you not only healing, but leave with you the perfume of the blessed gardens where they grew. Thus it may be that sorrows shall turn to riches; for heart troubles, in God’s husbandry, are not wounds, but the putting in of the spade before the planting of seeds. (H. W.Beecher.)

Glimpses of our heavenly home

I. THE TROUBLE IN THE HEART OF THE DISCIPLES. The trouble

1. Of agonized ignorance and blank bewilderment. Long before, Jesus had dropped hints of a mysterious journey that He had to take. As the time went on, He spoke of it more frequently, and in terms more and more darkly suggestive of horror. This had not seemed to trouble their heart at first; they regarded His language as metaphorical Probably they had the impression that first some great battle had to be fought, or some unknown trial to be gone through; that would last three days. So just before, Peter asks, “Whither goest thou?”

2. Of bereaved love. “Do I love the Lord, or no?” was not a question in any heart there. Jesus had poured upon them all the very essence of kindness, and had received them into the very sanctuary of His heart. Naturally, it was this mighty love that made bereavement of its object so intolerable. Christ had not yet left them; but love may feel a bereavement before it is bereaved.

3. From the thought of having no share in the last passion of their Lord. “Why cannot I follow Thee now?” Love said then, as love says now, “Give me some work to do; some cross to carry; some block to lay nay head upon.” It is impossible to stand idly by while Christ gives and suffers all.

II. THE ANTIDOTE.

1. A peculiar, most tranquillizing revelation of the heaven to which He is going--“a place.” Along with other elements of comfort, our nature needs this. We have been told that this is a doctrine of Materialism, and that heaven is in character rather than in condition. This is only a half-truth, and we want the whole. “Heaven is principle,” said Confucius; but a house to live in must be built of something besides principle. Heaven is for the complete man, body and soul; and a body asks for a place, understanding that heaven is at least a place, we are ready to ask a thousand questions about it as such; and one of the first will be, “Where is it in the map of the universe?” In times not a few has this been made a question of astronomy, and to suggest the possibility of some central heaven amongst the stars. Well, the inquiry must start from our own solar system. This, with its circle of at least 5,000,000,000 miles in diameter, is but a speck in the creation. Its stars burn and roll round the sun, their centre. The sun, carrying all these his satellites with him, is moving round another centre, with its system; that, about another; that, about another; and where is the fixed ultimate centre round which all the other centres are wheeling and moving? The only One who could have settled this question was silent about it. He says nothing of its whereabouts, of its beauty, of its music, except in signs that are manifestly but hieroglyphic. He knew that the most exact precision of statement and the most dazzling magic of description would leave the greatest as well as the least of mortals as much in the dark as ever. Therefore Christ, aiming at our spiritual profit rather than at our scientific enlightenment, leaves for future solution all problems that have only to do with place.

2. That the heavenly place is His home and theirs. He has just addressed them in the language of family affection as His “little children.” With this word of love still in the air, He proceeds to speak of heaven as “My Father’s house.” A little child looks upon his father’s house as his own, and so would Christ have us look upon heaven. Even on earth, a father’s house is his child’s home; and the dearest place to the best man, woman, child, is home. “Home, sweet home.” Earth is one of My Father’s battlefields, farms, foundries, factories, roads that He travels on; but heaven is our “Father’s house,” and therefore the home of all His family.

3. That in that home are many mansions, i.e., settled abodes; the same word as in John 14:23. Emphasis resting on the idea of permanence. Jesus was speaking to the sad thoughts then stirring in the hearts of His mourners on account of the shortness of the time they had spent with Him, and which seemed, in the review, only like a dream. “What does this lack to make it perfect?” asked an old Roman of his companion, as they were together looking on some imperial show; and the answer was, “Permanence.” “Permanence adds bliss to bliss.” In the word “many,” He spoke to the thoughts of the company. When one of the disciples, on the notice of His near departure, asked if he might go with Him, the virtual answer was “No.” This refusal to the “one” was a blow to “the many.” If the happiness of going with the Lord is not to be given even to Peter, what is to become of the many? We had all expected that we should go with Him into His kingdom. If these happy dreams of ours are all to melt into misery, why were we not informed of this before? Before now, on some festive day, when a man has asked his friends to his house, he has been forced to ask only a few, because, though his heart was large enough for many, his house was not. Before now, in the straits of some war, some iron captain has spared the lives of only a few prisoners, simply on the ground of lacking room to accommodate the many. God has room in His purpose, in His heart, in His house, for all His captives. By the miracle of His grace He first changes all His captives into children, then welcomes them all home. No limitation is suggested by the indefinite plural, “many.” “Many” simply stands for all the children, “a great multitude which no man can number,” “and yet there is room!”

4. That He is going “to prepare a place” for them. While man is asleep in the night, the sun goes before him, that he may prepare the day for him to wake in. Thus he prepares light for him to see by, power for him to work with, and the spirit of gladness. So does Christ prepare heaven for the heirs of heaven. There can be no heaven without the revelation of God, and there can be no revelation of God without Christ. He prepares heaven for them, not only by preparing their right to the place, but by preparing their fitness for it. “Why cannot I go with Thee now?” asked Peter; and the saying, “I go to prepare a place for you,” is an answer to this “Why?” Christ was going to prepare a place for them; first, by His Cross; next, by the Spirit, who would change their hearts and train their natures for the rank they would inherit, as well as for the work they had to do.

5. That He would come again, and receive them unto Himself. Dying may be regarded as a mode in which Christ comes for His people, one by one. Death is not coming; death is not a person, only a door, to which Christ, the sovereign Lord who has at His girdle the keys of death and the unseen state, comes. (C. Stanford, D. D.)

Ye believe in God, believe also in Me

Belief in Christ

I. WHAT IS IT TO BELIEVE? Faith includes two things.

1. The submission of the reason to all Christ has revealed.

2. The trust of the heart in all He has promised. Both of these are difficult duties. To receive as true what we cannot understand, on God’s testimony is declared to be irrational. But remember that faith is rational, and that the testimony of God is informing. To trust that we shall be pardoned, saved, preserved, is equally difficult for unbelieving hearts.

II. THE OBJECT OF FAITH IS CHRIST--i.e., the things to which we are to assent are truths concerning Christ, and these things in which we are to trust are His promises. This is the only form in which we can exercise faith in God. If we believe not God, as seen, how can we believe in Him as not seen.

III. WHAT ARE WE TO BELIEVE CONCERNING CHRIST AND WHAT ARE THE PROMISES WHICH WE ARE TO TRUST?

1. We must believe that He is the Way, i.e., that He brings us to God. We are separated from God

2. That He is the Truth, i.e

3. That He is the Life--the source of universal, intellectual, spiritual and eternal life. It is not we that live, but Christ that lives in us.

IV. WHAT PROMISES ARE WE TO TRUST TO? The promises of the Spirit.

1. That His presence is permanent and internal.

2. That He will reveal Christ.

3. That He will be our Paraclete. (C. Hodge, D. D.)

Believe also in Me

1. It might have been urged that the disciples are addressed by our Lord as already believing, not in God only, but in Himself. But the Bible, and He who speaks therein, is truer to nature and experience than many who profess to interpret it. Are there not many in Christian Churches needing still the voice which shall say, Believer, believe; Christian, come to Christ; disciple of three or of thirty years, still, as for the first time, behold Him!

2. There are those, even among Christian people who confide to us, in the tone of sincere and humble regret--“I cannot see why a Saviour was needed. If I, being evil, know how to forgive, how much more shall a Father in heaven accept the first sigh and bestow the unpurchased grace? Is it not enough if I believe in God my Father? Why must I be encumbered with a revelation of sacrifice which rather repels me than reassures? I believe in God--why must I believe also in Christ?” Let us endeavour to answer this question.

I. Now, someone might say, Look at the saints of the Old Testament. What grace, of reverence, of affiance, of holy aspiration, was lacking in the patriarch Abraham, or to the poet-king of the Psalms? Christ was not manifested when those thoughts of eternal fulness glowed and throbbed in the big heart of David. We venture to dispute the very fact taken for granted. Abraham, “saw Christ’s day,” and walked in the light of it. David was reared amidst promises which made Christ a household word in Israel, and sacrifices which brought to the very senses the need and hope of propitiation.

II. Or you might speak of men who, in this century, have not only led good lives, but have had pious feelings, and done beneficent works, without realizing what we should call the fulness of the Christian faith--avowed Unitarians, e.g. But it is only truth to remember that men thus dispensing with Christ are yet unspeakably indebted to Him. The very idea of God as our Father comes from His revelation.

III. Still, you might say, having made this great revelation, may not Christ Himself disappear? Having taught that God is our Father, must He remain in sight to confuse or divide our allegiance? Believing in God by Christ’s help, why go on further to believe in Christ? Now, it is an obvious answer, and surely a just one. We cannot take Christ by halves. If Christ said one thing from God, He said all things: we must look to see what He said, and not, after catching one isolated word, presume to declare that one word all.

IV. Observe, too, how the particular truth received, no less than the accompanying doctrines objected to, runs up into matters which we can neither dispute as facts, nor yet, apart from God, settle. Sin--you see it, you feel it; all religions pre-suppose it. Evidently sin has made a great rent and breach in God’s work. Listen to this new Teacher, crying in the hearing of the dislocated and disorganized creation, “When ye pray, say, Our Father.” Yes, we say, something within tells me that I had a Father once--but long, long have I lost Him. Tell me the processes by which it has been recovered--the marvellous mystery of restored sonship and reawakened love. Shall we accept the bare fact, and ask nothing as to the proofs and the instrumentalities? Shall we let Christ say, “God is your Father,” and never question Him once as to anything further? They who believe the mighty intelligence must hearken what the same Lord bus to say concerning it. May it be, perhaps, that there was that in the Divine holiness which made sin a fatal bar to man’s acceptance, except on some condition which God only can perform? Shall we dare, we the guilty and helpless ones, to say that, with nothing but poor human tears and cries and paltry efforts, the stain of sin can be wiped out? Shall we dare to repose upon a feeble bureau analogy, and rest the whole weight of eternity upon the impulses and instincts (not always, even here, prevailing) of family love and parental tenderness? What if there lurked in the background of Deity an obstacle which Calvary alone could take away? It was, no doubt, with special reference to His sacrifice and its consequences that Christ spoke of His disciples, in the text, as having (in some sense) still to believe. They knew Him for the Messiah; what they had still to learn, still to believe in, was the death as itself the life. It is, indeed, the crucial test of faith. He who believes in Christ’s atonement believes Christ; believes that He came from God, and came with a message.

V. But, although we thus stand upon the dignity of the Cross as a mystery, we do find, as a matter of experience, that no man dispenses with it without being a definite loser in some feature of the Christian character.

1. There is often a feeble sense of the sinfulness of sin. A man cannot really see Himself a sinner, and not cry out for a Saviour.

2. There is often a want of true tenderness towards sinners. Benevolence there may be; but the discovery of unworthiness in the object of the philanthropy is often the death blow of charity. Or, again, there may be an easiness of good nature ready enough to see excuses: there will not be that unique combination, which was in the cross itself, and which is in the true family of the Crucified--tenderness towards the sinner, with displeasure against the sin.

VI. God, in arranging that we should receive this greatest of His gifts--reconciliation through His Son--has given a charm and pathos to the gospel which it could not otherwise have possessed. What possession do you not value tenfold if it is yours through love? That book, that trinket, why is it dear to you? It was the keepsake of a loving friend. And do you not think that God was appealing, perhaps, to some such instinct of your nature, when He would not only send word to you that you were pardoned, but bid you to receive the blessing through the willing self-gift of One who, sharing every emotion of God’s love for the self-ruined one, came Himself to plead, and at last to die, because thus He could effectually “roll away the great stone” sin, move the obdurate, and win back the lost? Conclusion: Try the charge, “Believe also in me.” Lean your whole weight of guilt, of sin, of weakness, of sorrow, upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified. See whether, in proportion as you trust Christ more, you become not, in yourself, happier, holier, stronger, gentler. Thus, in time, you shall have a witness within. You life shall be one echo to the sweet persuasive expostulation,” Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also in Me.” (Dean Vaughan.)

Faith in God one with faith in Christ

We get a more true and appropriate meaning if we keep both clauses in the imperative, “Believe in God, believe also in me.”

I. CHRIST HERE POINTS TO HIMSELF AS THE OBJECT OF PRECISELY THE SAME RELIGIOUS TRUST WHICH IS TO BE GIVEN TO GOD.

1. It is only our familiarity with these words that blinds us to their wonderfulness. Try to hear them for the first time, and to remember the circumstances. Here is a man amongst a handful of friends, within four-and-twenty hours of a shameful death, that to all appearance was the annihilation of all His claims and hopes. And He says, “Trust in God, and trust in Me!”

2. What is it that Christ offers us? A very low and inadequate interpretation is, “Believe that God is, that I am.” But it is scarcely less so to suppose that the mere assent of the understanding to His teaching is all that Christ is asking for. Faith grasps not a doctrine, but a heart. The trust which Christ requires is entire committal to Him in all my relations and for all my needs.

3. Further, note that this believing in Him is precisely the same thing which He bids us render to God. The two clauses in the original bring out that idea even more vividly--“Believe in God, in Me also believe.” And so He here proposes Himself as the worthy and adequate recipient of all that makes up religion in its deepest sense. That tone is the uniform characteristic of our Lord’s teaching. What did He think of Himself Who stood up before the world, and with arms outstretched, like that great white Christ in Thorwaldsen’s lovely statue, said to all the troop of languid and burdened ones crowding at His feet:--“Come unto Me all ye that are weary,” etc. That surely is a Divine prerogative. What did He think of

Himself Who said, “All men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father”? You cannot eliminate the fact that Christ claimed as His own the emotions of the heart, to which only God has a right and which only God can satisfy.

4. We have to take that into account if we would estimate the character of Jesus Christ as a teacher and as a man. What separates Him from all other teachers is not the clearness or the tenderness with which He reiterated the truths about the Father’s love, and morality and goodness; but the peculiarity of His call to the world is, Believe in Me. And if He said that, why, then, one of two things. Either He was wrong, and then He was a crazy enthusiast, only acquitted of blasphemy because convicted of insanity; or else He was “God, manifest in the flesh.”

II. FAITH IN CHRIST AND FAITH IN GOD ARE NOT TWO, BUT ONE. These two clauses on the surface present juxtaposition. Looked at more closely they present interpretation and identity.

1. What is the underlying truth that is here? How comes it that these two objects blend into one, like two figures in a stereoscope?

2. And if that be true, these two things follow.

III. THIS TRUST IN CHRIST IS THE SECRET OF A QUIET HEART.

1. It is no use saying to men, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” unless you finish the verse. The state of man is like that of some of those sunny islands in southern seas, around which there often rave the wildest cyclones, and which carry in their bosoms, beneath all their riotous luxuriance of verdant beauty, hidden fires, which ever and anon shake the solid earth and spread destruction. And where is the “rest” to come from? All other defences are weak and poor. We have heard about “pills against earthquakes.” That is what the comforts which the world supplies may fairly be likened to. Unless we trust we are, and shall be, “troubled.”

2. If we trust we may be quiet. To cast a burden off myself on other’s shoulders is always a rest. But trust in Jesus Christ brings infinitude on my side. Submission is repose. When we cease to kick against the pricks they cease to stick and wound us. Trust opens the heart, like the windows of the Ark, tossing upon the black and fatal flood, for the entrance of the peaceful dove with the olive branch in its mouth. But “the wicked is like the troubled sea which cannot rest.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Faith in God

1. Why should it have been needful to give such a command as this to any intelligent person? In one sense all men believe in God. We acknowledge and recognize a power which passes all control, measurement, or thought. We recognize an authority to which we are responsible. As the moral nature is cultivated, we recognize a moral order in the universe, a law of righteousness, and therefore a Lawgiver and a Judge. In the time of calamity or death all men call upon God. Why, then, teach men to believe in God, and command it? and especially the disciples who had been trained under the ancient system.

2. Of course the answer is that belief may be real and yet wholly ineffective. You see the vapour issuing from the kettle and disappearing through the air. It is steam power, but not enough to drive the train. You step upon the beach and find the little puddles of water, but there is not enough to float the boat and keep alive the fish. So belief may be real in the mind and yet be entirely insufficient for any useful and inspiring purpose. The master would have us carry our belief in God to a point where it shall involve every spiritual force within us. Believe to the roots of your nature; with all your strength and life: and your heart shall not be troubled. What is it thus to believe in God? It is to affirm

I. HIS ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL PERSONALITY OF EXISTENCE. And yet this it is not easy for us to do. If we search into our thoughts we shall find very often that He is to us rather a force without affection, intelligence, and life. So multitudes of men conceive of God, and scientific investigation often comes in to encourage this tendency of thought. On the other hand, the Scripture everywhere manifests to us God as a person. Our own personal constitution reflects and demonstrates that personality. As impossible as that the clod of the valley should generate a human soul, as that the blossoming branch of the tree should bring forth living intelligence; so impossible is it that personality in you and me should come from impersonal forces and mechanical laws. We see the indications of it in His works, where intelligent contrivances present themselves to us in the adjustment of force to force, in the relations of one object to another; and in Christ, who said, “I and My Father are one.” And this is to be affirmed, with all energy of conviction, and intensity of feeling, as the absolute and everlasting truth.

II. HIS PRESENCE WITH US in every hour and every place. Amazing! Yes, God is amazing in every attribute. The soul is amazing because it has something of God within it. Even natural theology affirms this; for it would imply Divine imperfection if God were not everywhere. The recognition of a moral order in the universe implies that; for otherwise the administration of that order would be necessarily imperfect. The constitution of the universe implies that, since otherwise there would be parts of the universe self-supporting and independent of God. His omnipresence shines throughout the whole Scriptures. There are times in spiritual experience when we feel it. But you say, We do not see Him I Do we see the air, magnetism, the productive force in nature, music, fragrance, the voice of a friend? We see the result.

III. HIS CHARACTER OF PERFECT HOLINESS AND PERFECT TENDERNESS. Undoubtedly there is much to perplex us in the prevalence of sin, and the long delay of punishment. These facts disturb our impression of the Divine holiness. And yet we do not doubt the sun when for a time obscured by cloud. The holiness of God must be recognized by anyone who would for a moment feel safe in the universe. If God were otherwise than holy, what could restrain any arbitrary exercise of His power? He could not properly be worshipped except He were holy. Worship mere power, and it demoralizes and demonizes. Worship intellect, and it degrades the moral nature. Worship can only be offered to absolute and sovereign purity of character; and that must be God’s character, or else let every harp on high be silent and every heart on earth be dumb. God’s holiness shines upon us through His law in our own reason and conscience and in the person of Christ. But then, with this holiness is united tenderness; and it is that which it seems harder still to recognize, for we associate with absolute justice absolute sovereignty rather than absolute tenderness: and yet there is in His Word the declaration of His tenderness. There is a reflection of that tenderness in our own hearts. Whence did these tender loves within us spring? It is idle to say they are transmitted. From whence did they come to our parents? We see them illustrated most perfectly in Christ, whose mission it was to so reveal the Father that we might not be afraid of His holiness.

IV. AFFECTIONATE SOLICITUDE FOR EVERY ONE WHO SEEKS HIM. And this is the most difficult. He is so infinite and we are so weak. Yet even here we find instruction from those who are nearest to Him in spirit and character. We get our clearest view of it from Christ, again, always so welcoming to all who sought Him, so tender towards those who trusted and loved Him. Conclusion: If thus we believe in God, then

1. There is peace for us and in us. We shall no more be afraid of any real harm while we are affiliated with God in spirit.

2. There is power, the power which sent forth the disciples on their errands of love.

3. Creation reveals its mystery of majesty and loveliness to us, and redemption its higher glories both of majesty and beauty.

4. We anticipate the promises and the provisions of grace.

5. We are assured of the victory of righteousness in the world. (R. S.Storrs, D. D.)

Belief in God emotional as well as intellectual

Truth that touches a man not merely through a cold perception, but through some warm feeling, is the kind of truth the Scripture teaches to constitute belief. It may be intellectually conceived, but no moral nor social truth is ever presented so as to be believed, unless it be presented in such a way as to carry sympathy and feeling with it; and that is not the case with all kinds of truth. Physical, scientific truths, do not touch the feelings, and do not need to. Arithmetic deals with truths that have no relation directly except with the understanding. They never come with desire, sorrow, pity, or emotion of any sort. But all truths that relate to dispositions in men, to moral duties--they never stop with the understanding, but touch the feeling as well. A man cannot be said to believe a moral truth unless he believes it so that it carries some emotion with it. And, in this respect, it makes a great difference what a man believes. (H. W. Beecher.)

Belief in God based on the knowledge of His character

A banknote is tendered to me--it is a promise to pay, but by whom? The Oriental Bank Corporation. I should not have it; that institution has lost its character. I could not trust it. Another note is handed to me; this bears the name of the Bank of England. Ah! that is a different matter. I know that bank has a name for solvency and stability. So, without any hesitation, I take the note just for what it stands. I do not ask for any discount off its amount, as I might if there was a shade of suspicion attaching to its name. I just take it for what it appears on its face to be worth, so confident am I that it will be paid to the full in the sterling coin of the realm. So a knowledge of the character of God will lead us to be fully persuaded “that what He hath promised He will be able also to perform.” (John K. Shaw.)

Belief in God inextinguishable

Whatever men may scientifically agree to believe in, there is in men of noble nature something which science can neither illumine nor darken. When Tyndall was walking among the clouds during a sunset upon the Alps his companion said to him, “can you behold such a sublime scene as this and not feel that there is a God?” “Oh,” said he, “I feel it. I feel it as much as any man can feel it; and I rejoice in it, if you do not tell me I can prove it.” The moment you undertake to bring the evidence with which he dealt with matter to the ineffable and the hereafter, then, he says, “I am agnostic. I don’t know. It isn’t true;” but the moment you leave the mind under the gracious influence of such a scene it rises above the sphere of doubt or proof, and he says, “I accept it.” (H. W.Beecher.)

Belief in God encouraging

When menaced by Indian war and domestic rebellion, when distrustful of those around him, and apprehensive of disgrace at court, Columbus sank for a time into complete despondency. In this hour of gloom, when abandoned to despair, he heard in the night a voice addressing him in words of comfort, “O man of little faith! why art thou cast down? Fear nothing, I will provide for thee. The seven years of the term of gold are not expired; in that, and in all other things, I will take care of thee.” (Washington Irving.)

Belief in God should inspire confidence

In a small town there lived the widow of a preacher, a God-fearing woman, who in days of trouble used to say to her children and friends, “Fear not, God lives.” Her trials were sometimes great, but she strove to bear all with cheerfulness and patience. One day her difficulty was greater than she could bear, and she sat down with a feeling of hopelessness, and allowed her tears to flow unchecked. Her little son saw her weeping; he put his little hand in hers, and said, while he looked into her face sorrowfully, “Mother, is God dead?” “No, my son,” she said, taking him on her lap. “I thank thee for thy question. He ever liveth; He is near to help in all trouble; He will help us.” She wiped away her tears and continued her work. She sought and found help in Jesus. (Der Glaubensbote.)

Belief in God stimulating

The late Professor Agassiz once said to a friend, “I will frankly tell you that my experience in prolonged scientific investigations convinces me that a belief in God--a God who is behind and within the chaos of vanishing points of human knowledge--adds a wonderful stimulus to the man who attempts to penetrate into the regions of the unknown. Of myself, I may say that I never make the preparations for penetrating into some small province of nature hitherto undiscovered without breathing a prayer to the Being who hides His secrets from me only to allure me graciously on to the unfolding of them.”

The revealing power of faith

Christian faith is like a grand cathedral with divinely pictured windows. Standing without you see no glory, nor can possibly imagine any; standing within, every ray of light reveals a harmony of unspeakable splendour. (Bp. Porteous.)

Believing in Jesus is laying hold of Him

A vessel is wrecked: one after another of her crew is swept away, and disappears. As she heaves to and fro, it seems as if every moment she would break up, and send her shivering passengers down into the deep. There is the cabin boy, thinking of his mother and his home, and praying, though scarcely hoping to be saved, when a plank floats past. Eagerly he lays hold of it, rests his whole weight upon it; and, while others perish, he is safe. That describes you. As you are just about to go down, the plank floats along, comes near you--within reach, within arm’s length. That plank is Christ. Lay hold of Him, rest yourself upon Him. He can bear your whole weight--the whole weight of your sins, which would have sank you to perdition--the whole weight of your soul. Try Him; and, like a sailor who tried Him, you’ll be able joyfully to say even in dying, “The plank bears, the plank bears!” (J. H. Wilson.)

Believing is looking to Jesus

Believing on Jesus is looking to Him for salvation. You see that poor widow with a young family, weeping as if her heart would break. When I ask her what ails her, she tells me she is behind with her rent, and her landlord threatens to turn her to the door, unless she can pay her debt, and find security for the next six months. So I tell her to dry her tears, and do her best to work for her children, and just look to me for her rent. How full of joy she is all at once! How cheerfully she works! and, though she has not a penny laid past for the term, she has no fear; and when asked, Why? she says,” I am looking to him, for he bade me; and I know he will not fail me. What he promised is just as sure as if I had it in my hand.” Now, believing on Jesus is something like this. If I might so speak, it is the heart’s look to Jesus--a single glance, indeed, at first, and yet a constant looking to Him ever after. (J. H. Wilson.)

Believing is trusting in Jesus

There is a boy whose father was buried yesterday. Today he is wearing his father’s gold watch. Some wicked lads are trying to take it from him. He is struggling to keep it; but they are too strong for him. He is just about to lose it, when I come up, and say, “Give it to me, my boy, and I’ll keep it safe for you.” For a moment he looks at me with doubtful eye; but as I say to him, “Trust me!” and he sees that I am earnest and sincere, he hands it over to me, and I prevent him from being robbed. That is just what the apostle Paul says of himself. He had, as you have, something far more precious than a gold watch--an immortal soul; and he was afraid of losing it: he could not keep it himself. Jesus said, “Give it to Me,” and he gave it to Him; and then you hear him saying rejoicingly, “I know whom I have believed” (which is the same thing as whom I have trusted), “and am persuaded that He will keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.” (J. H. Wilson.)

The comfort of believing in Christ

“What do you do without a mother to tell all your troubles to?” asked a child who had a mother, of one who had none. “Mother told me whom to go to before she died,” answered the little orphan. “I go to the Lord Jesus: He was mother’s friend, and He’s mine.” “Jesus Christ is in the sky. He is away off, and He has a great many things to attend to in heaven. It is not likely He can stop to mind you.” “I do not know anything about that,” said the orphan. “All I know, He says He will; and that’s enough for me.”

Untroubled faith

What the Caliph Omar is reported to have written to Amru, his general commanding in Egypt, has a grand moral. If those books contradicted the Koran, they were false, and ought to be destroyed. If they agreed with the Koran, they were of no use, and might well be spared. One book was enough for Mohammedans. So, when Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he said to his son-in-law one day, “Lockhart, read to me.” “What book shall it be?” said Lockhart. “Why do you ask? there is but one,” said Scott. Now, if this Book itself were in danger of being destroyed, and I might have only one chapter out of it, I rather think it would be this which Scott asked to be read to him. Probably no single chapter is read so much to the dying, over the dead. It was the Speaker who was about to die. His hearers were about to be launched into a lifelong service, and their last necessity was absolute, child-like faith.

I. LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED. Certainly they were troubled. And they had reason to be. Many times over Judas betrays his Lord, and hangs himself. Many times over Peter denies his Lord and repents. Many times over the Lord Himself is crucified, and buried, rises and goes away and comes again unseen. It is the same old story always; and always with the old refrain: “Let not your heart be troubled.”

1. Today, as related to heathen peoples and religions, the Judas Iscariot of Christianity is Christendom itself. At first, Christianity had behind it only the incomparable personality and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. If Christendom were only Christian really, how much longer would China probably be Confucian? or India Brahmanic? These are painful questions. But let not your heart be troubled. Inside of Christendom I see another betrayal of Christianity, which also is very painful. We behold a Christian civilization, incontestably and immensely superior to any heathen pattern. By and by this Christian civilization forgets its Christian parentage; or denies it, and claims for itself another pedigree. Scholarly men analyze and compare the great historic religions, allowing little preeminence to Christianity. Then after a while the conclusion is reached that we really need no religion at all, only science. Take your sop, Judas, and be gone. As for the eleven, let not their hearts be troubled.

2. Peter’s denial of the Lord also repeats itself. Scandals and offences are sure to come. Good men are tempted, stumble and fall. Let not your heart be troubled. Peter denied his Master with an oath. Whole communions apostatize. Verily, powers of darkness are busy; and the night is long. But let not your heart be troubled. The morning cometh. Peter repented.

3. As for what Christ said about going away and coming again, changing the economy from flesh to spirit, from sight to faith, it seems strange to us that His apostles should have been so staggered by it. Those apostles, for three years had been under marvellous tuition; and we wonder they got so little out of it. The day of Pentecost had not yet come. By and by men will be looking back and wondering that we so poorly understood the gospel, overlaying it, some of us with ritual, others with dogma. We have much to be ashamed of. But let not your heart be troubled. More Pentecosts than one have come already. And more are yet to come.

II. BELIEVE IN GOD.

1. Commanded belief implies always the possibility of honest unbelief. Such unbelief has increased greatly of late. Partly, it seems like a reaction against outward authority, and traditional opinions, or against a superstitious theism. Partly it is sheer science, clear-eyed and dispassionate, unable to help multiplying second causes.

2. I have no fear of any very long reign of Atheism. In the poor, apathetic Orient, there may be morality enough to conserve society, with little or no religion, as in China. But not in Europe and America, fall of vitality, greedy, rich and restless. With us, irreligion today is immorality tomorrow, and after that the deluge.

3. Much of what passes for belie! in God is mere scholastic assent to the proposition that God exists. Or the attributes most emphasized are those pertaining rather to the Divine essence. What we need is a vivid sense of the personality of God. He must come very close, and be very real, to us, in our whole experience of life. Mankind must be His offspring; and human history, from first to last, the working out of His own eternal and righteous purposes. “We are but two,” said Abu Bakr to Mohammed as they were flying, hunted, from Mecca to Medina. “Nay,” answered Mohammed, “we are three; God is with us.” And so belief in God is not mere assent, nor mere conviction, but absolute personal trust, submission, and service.

4. You and I know very well what troubles us in thinking of God--sin. But if He had no hatred of sin, how much worse it would be for us. We might be in the power of evil spirits stronger than we are, from whose hideous tyranny we should feel it a mercy to be delivered over to the righteous judgment of a pure and holy God. You say you are afraid of God. But what human imagination can picture the horrors of a universe given over to the rioting of evil unrestrained? Thank God for His holiness. Though He slay us, we had better trust in Him.

III. BELIEVE ALSO IN ME.

1. In me, not as a second rival object of trust, but as God manifest in the flesh, rounded out and historic. This takes us back into bewildering depths. Sin is a tremendous mystery. But for sin, however, we might never have known, in this world, the sublime Triunity of God. Triunity, as we have to study it, is the whole Godhead, dealing with the problem of moral evil.

2. “Believe also in Me.” The work of atonement is done, was done centuries ago in time, ages ago in eternity. God in Christ now stands pledged to the forgiveness of sin on the condition of repentance.

3. “Believe also in Me.” Human history is God’s judgment day. Nations are rising and falling. Human history is also God’s day of grace. The kingdom began in an upper chamber. From then till now the kingdom has steadily advanced. The steady progress of Christianity has no parallel in the history of any other religion. The problem demands solution. And only one is possible. But for the magnetism of the felt divinity of Christ, Christianity could not have started at all as it did, or continued as it has. It stands today the old solid bulwark of liberty and order against license and chaos. (R. D.Hitchcock, D. D.)

In My Father’s house are many mansions

The Father’s house

I. CHRIST SITS AND DISCOVERS HEAVEN TO US.

1. Its nature. His home. “This is not your rest.”

2. Its extent. “Many mansions.” “Yet there is room.”

3. Its reality. “If it were not so I would have told you.” Christ knew it--came from it--went to it. Stephen saw its open door and its glory when his breath was being beaten out of his body.

II. CHRIST ASCENDS AND PREPARES HEAVEN FOR US. “I go to prepare a place for you.” He prepares heaven for us

1. By making it accessible. The angel with the flaming sword no longer guards the tree of life, and the veil of the Temple no longer hinders man’s approach to God.

2. By gathering its people. Heaven becomes richer to us as Christians die. It is daily more home-like.

3. By supplying its blessings. Who knows so well as He the kind of heaven that will meet our needs? Yes, and He prepares it all.

III. CHRIST RETURNS AND ENTERS HEAVEN WITH US. “If I go,” etc. This applies to

1. All the journey of life. “My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest.”

2. All the labours of life. “Go ye into all the world and preach, etc.…and lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

3. All the trials of life. “When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee,” etc.

4. The close of life. He is there with the dying saint.

IV. CHRIST ABIDES AND BECOMES HEAVEN TO US. “That where I am there ye may be also.” This was Paul’s idea of heaven--having a desire to depart and to be with Christ. (W. H. Burton.)

My Father’s house

The very term changed the whole character and aspect of Hades. The invisible became visible in the form of the most benign and beautiful of all the institutions that lend charm and joy to life. My Father’s house! then for the first time men dared to think of death as a going home. It seems a vast, awful world, this invisible which stretches out to the infinite all round us; the trembling soul may well shudder as it goes forth to meet its destiny. But the thought “My Father’s house,” dissipates all dread. Be it what it may, and where it may, this vast unknown, it is filled with that nameless benediction, a Father’s presence and lit with the light of a Father’s smile. It is this sense of a loving Presence, meeting us at life’s outer gate, and bringing us into a bright home full of light and beauty and living joy, which, for the Christian, has so utterly dissipated the terror; and this made death seem to St. Francis a sister to take him by the hand and conduct him home. It is the activity, the animation, the joyful tasks, the abounding interest, of the life of the invisible world unveiled by Christ, which is the characteristic revelation of the gospel. It is not a world of shades, but a world of sons in strong immortal forms, instinct with energy, rich in faculty, busy with the tasks that occupy the angels; a world glad with work and bright with song. (J. B. Brown, B. A.)

My Father’s house magnificent

A New Zealand chief who visited England was remarkable for the deep spirituality of his mind and his constant delight in the word of God. One day he was taken to see a beautiful mansion near London. The gentleman who took him expected to see him greatly astonished and charmed with its magnificence, but it seemed to excite little or no admiration in his mind. Wondering how this could be, he began to point out to him its grandeur. Tamahana heard all silently, then, looking round, said, “My Father’s house is finer than this.” “Your father’s house!” thought the gentleman, who knew that his father’s home was but a poor mud cottage. But Tamahana went on to speak in his own touching strain of the “many mansions” of the redeemed. (W. Baxendale.)

Entering the Father’s house

It was the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed: “I have no fear of going home. God’s finger is on the latch, and I am ready for Him to open the door. It is but the entrance to my Father’s house.

The house of many mansions

From these words we learn

I. The MAGNITUDE of heaven. Christ’s going away would naturally seem to them pure loss. Death, as a natural event, always seems so. But Christ says death is not a closing so much as an opening--not a going away so much as a coming home. It is the passing of a pilgrim from one mansion to another, from the winter to the summer residence, from one of the outlying provinces up nearer the central home. This is not a chance expression, far less a mere figure of speech. There are many others. “The third heavens”; Christ has “passed through all heavens”; “heaven, even the heaven of heavens,” a place evidently of inconceivable grandeur, for even that cannot contain the infinite presence of God. This idea of immense capacity is a real relief from some of the more popular conceptions of the future life, as that of a temple, etc. The population of this world is something tremendous. It has been yielding immense numbers to heaven in every age. Thus “a great multitude which no man can number,” has been passing, and will pass, in ceaseless procession. And we cannot help wondering how they are all to be provided for!

II. Out of the idea of vastness arises that of an endless VARIETY. The variety existing in God’s works here is one of the principal charms of the natural world. So as there are “many mansions,” the adorning of them will be very various. One will not be as another. We do not go to heaven to lose our natural tastes, our sinless preferences, but rather to have all these gratified in a far higher degree. Otherwise heaven would be plainer, poorer, and less interesting than earth. And unless our own nature were pressed down into some kind of mechanical exactness and shape, weariness would ensue. There would be a sighing for the lost seasons of the earth, its withered flowers, its light and shade, its many countries, and its encircling seas. But no! There will be places, pursuits, and enjoyments for all.

III. Then, lest this vastness and variety should seem too large to our thought, we have also in these words a sweet assurance as to the HOMELINESS of heaven.

IV. REALITY. ‘‘If it were not so, I would have told you.” This life in itself is shadowy enough. We speak of “long days,” and of “long years.” But when the awakened immortal soul looks at those spaces of time in the light of its own eternity, how short and shadowy they seem I In those times we feel that everything depends on the reality and permanence of the future life! No man who has not long been untrue to himself and to his God can be pleased with the thought of annihilation. But who can tell him firmly where lies the realm of life, or whether anywhere? He asks philosophy, and she answers, “I see something like it, but I cannot surely tell. It may be land or it may be cloud.” He asks his own reason, and the instincts of his heart, and they answer “yes” today and “no” tomorrow, according to the mood, and the aspects of outward life. Then, turning to Jesus Christ, he asks by his sorrow, by his hopes, by all the struggling instincts that will not die, by that upward look in which the soul is “seeking a city with foundations,” whether such a city is builded--whether such a life is secure. And the answer is here. Conclusion: The love of heaven has been derided by some as a selfish passion. No doubt heaven may be represented and desired by the mind as a place of escape from conflict, of mere ignoble rest. But if we take it just as it is projected to our view in the Scriptures--in its relations to earthly labour, and suffering, and desire; and as the place where our higher toils and nobler enjoyments shall begin:--then the desire of heaven is the noblest and purest passion we cherish. (A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Many mansions

Sorrow needs simple words for its consolation; and simple words are the best clothing for the largest truths. Note in these words

I. THE “FATHER’S HOUSE,” AND ITS AMPLE ROOM. There is only one other occasion in which our Lord used this expression: “Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Its courts, its many chambers, its ample porches, with room for thronging worshippers, represented in some poor way the wide sweep and space of that higher house.

1. How sweet and familiar this conception of heaven!

2. The ample room in this great house.

II. THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST’S REVELATION FOR OUR NEEDS. “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

1. He sets Himself forward in very august fashion as being the Revealer and the Opener of that house for us. There is a singular tone about all our Lord’s few references to the future--a tone of decisiveness. He stands like one on a mountain top, looking down into the valleys beyond, and telling His comrades in the plain behind Him what He sees. He speaks of that unseen world always as one who had been in it, and who was reporting experiences, and not giving forth opinions. Very remarkable, therefore, is it that with this tone there should be such reticence in Christ’s references to the future. But my text suggests to us that we have got as much as we need, and, for the rest, if we needed to have heard it, He would have told us. Let the gaps remain. The gaps are part of the revelation, and we know enough for faith and hope.

2. May we not widen the application of that thought to other matters? In times like the present, of doubt and unrest, it is a great piece of Christian wisdom to recognize the limitations of our knowledge and the sufficiency of the fragments that we have. What do we get a revelation for? To solve theological puzzles and dogmatic difficulties; to inflate us with the pride of quasi-omniscience: or to present to us God in Christ for faith, for love, for obedience, for imitation? Surely the latter, and for such purposes we have enough. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Many mansions

I. HEAVEN IS GOD’S HOUSE.

1. God is infinite (Psalms 147:5).

2. Therefore, not comprehended, or included anywhere (Isaiah 66:1).

3. But is present everywhere (Psalms 139:7).

4. But yet in some places unveils Himself, and discovers His glory more than in others.

5. Where God is pleased to reveal Himself most, is called His house. He has a two-fold house.

(a) The Church in general (Mark 3:35).

(b) A believer’s heart in particular (Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 3:20).

6. Hence, observe that they who come to heaven

II. IT IS CHRIST’S FATHER’S HOUSE. And this adds great comfort; for

1. We may be sure of entertainment, though not for our own, yet for Christ’s sake.

2. We shall dwell with Christ (verse 3).

3. In Christ: it is our Father’s house too (chap. 20:17).

III. THESE MANSIONS ARE CONVENIENT AND SUITABLE

1. For our natures and capacities (2 Peter 1:4).

2. For our wants and necessities: being

(a) Spiritual: as of the sense of God’s displeasure (Ezekiel 16:42); doubts about our estate; Satan’s temptations (1 Peter 5:8); the delusions of this world; our own corruptions Ephesians 5:27; Hebrews 4:10).

(b) Temporal (Revelation 7:17); for here is no want in our estates (Psalms 34:9; Psa_84:11), no crosses in our enjoyments, no disgrace upon our names (Psalms 119:39), no sickness in our bodies (Mark 12:25), no cares in our minds (Mt Philippians 4:6), no death (Revelation 21:4).

2. Furnished with all delightsome furniture.

(a) Our understandings.

(b) Our wills and affections (Psalms 16:11).

3. They are everlasting (Matthew 25:46; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:1).

IV. IN HEAVEN THERE ARE MANY MANSIONS.

1. What is the purport of this expression? Not distinct cells, but

2. Whether in these mansions will there be degrees of glory?

(a) Their freedom from evil (Revelation 21:4).

(b) God’s love.

(c) Duration.

(d) Their capacities, i.e., everyone shall enjoy as much as he is capable of (Psalms 16:11).

(a) From Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:41-42; Mt

19:28).

(b) There are degrees of torments in hell (Luke 12:47-48; Matthew 11:21-22; Romans 2:9).

(c) There are degrees of angelical glory (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 1:9).

(d) There are degrees of grace and good works here (Ro 2 Corinthians 5:10; Luke 19:16-18).

3. There are many mansions. Then

The heavenly home

The text is suggested of

I. PERMANENCE.

1. “All things change, and we with them.” The earth and sun and stars are moving from their old forms into new, but their slow, stern cycles seem to us changeless when we think of ourselves. Let anyone who has advanced but a short way in life look round. Old times are away, old interests, old aims: the haunts, the friends, the faces of our youth, where are they? Gone, or so changed that we dare not think to recall them. And we are changing within. If we could keep up the life and freshness there it would be less sad. There is compensation for this, if we will seek it. If we have a home in God through Christ, it brings in something better than youthful brightness. But here, too, there is frequently change. The anchor of our hope seems to lose its hold, our sense of pardon and peace may be broken, and the face of God, if seen at all, may look dim and distant.

2. It is from such changes that the promise of Christ carries us to a fixed place of abode. The permanence of the dwelling shall ensure permanence in all that belongs to the dwellers in it. There must be, indeed, the change of progress: it is the permanence not of death but of life; and so the changes of decay, of loss, of bereavement, of the unretiring past, these are gone with the last great change, which ends the perishing and opens the eternal. There shall be no wavering of faith, no waning of hope, no chill of love. Here, change at every step leaves some lost good behind it; there change shall take all its good things forward into fuller possession, and thus become a growing performance. The way to be sure of a permanent home is to keep fast hold of Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

II. EXTENT. Our present life is related to it as that of childhood to manhood. Let us think of the dwelling of the child, where it looks from its little window on the few houses or fields which make up its world, and then let us compare it with what the man knows of his present world residence, when he has surveyed with his eye or his mind the breadth of the earth with its oceans and lands that stretch over continents by Alps and Andes. There enter at the wicket gate Christiana and also the children, many Ready-to-halts and Feeble-minds, and far-off pilgrims, for whom we can find no names, but who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Infants are carried through the door sleeping; and it is not for us to say by what far-off rays in dark nights, by what doubtful paths amid many imperfections, hearts have been yearning to this home. The notices of Rahab and Ruth, of Ittai and Naaman, of the wise men of the East, and the Greeks who came up to the Passover, of the Ethiopian eunuch and the devout Cornelius, are hints for the enlargement of our hopes about many who had the same yearning in their hearts, though they did not see the walls of any earthly Jerusalem. And, if we believe the Bible, there are long eras to run, when the flow shall be toward God more than it ever has been away from Him. And then there is to be a gathering together of all things in Christ, and the holy angels have relations to Him which will give them their share in His home. When we think of this, how the extent of the heavenly world grows I and the discoveries of science may help us to extend our hopes.

III. VARIETY. In all God’s works the many means the manifold.

IV. UNITY. These abodes of the future, manifold as they are, have walls around, and an over-arching roof, which make them one house, and that house a home. The chambers of a house have their communication with one another, and the heavenly world, wide as it is, shall have a unity of fellowship. In the present world the children of God are far apart, separated by the emergencies of life, by death, by misunderstandings and prejudices, by chills of heart and jealousies; and they rear their many little mansions, forgetful of the one house. The word of the Saviour promises a reversal of this long, sad history. Conclusion:

1. Something is needed to secure all this, and our Lord teaches us to carry to the thought of heaven a filial heart. It is “the Father’s” house. This is needed to make it a home in any sense; needed to give the heart rest either on earth or in heaven. Men who inquire into the facts and laws of the world, and find no God in it, have made themselves homeless. Men who have found human affection, but no God beneath it, have found only the shadow of a home. It is to teach us this that God has made a father’s love the bond of a true human household. If it were possible to enter heaven and find no Father there, heaven would be the grave of hope.

2. Our Lord has taught us to connect heaven with the thought of Himself--“My” Father’s house. Heaven is the house of Christ’s Father.

Home in heaven

I. A DESCRIPTION OF HEAVEN.

1. A house, not a tent, put up today, and taken down to morrow; but the home we come to at the end of all our travels; fitted up for rest, security and enjoyment.

2. God’s own house. Not merely the place where His people are to dwell, but the place where He Himself dwells, and enjoys His unutterable happiness and rest. It is not simply, “the kingdom”--it is “the palace of the great King.” What, therefore, we may ask, may we not expect in heaven? We do not go there as strangers or foreigners; we go to the richest house in the universe as the children of the owner of it. The very best things it can afford will be ours. The astonished prodigal had the best provisions, and the best robe, brought forth for him, when he got home.

3. A house with “many mansions” in it, large, spacious, having many rooms, fitted up for the reception of many guests.

II. AN ASSURANCE OF ITS TRUTH.

1. Here is greatness. He speaks of heaven as none other: like One who had been familiar with it.

2. Here, too, is His love; “If it were not so, He would have told them.” They had left all to follow Him, with some earthly expectations, perhaps, but yet chiefly in the expectation of a future recompense.

III. THE END OF OUR LORD’S DEPARTURE TO THE HEAVEN HE HAS BEEN DESCRIBING. And here is love again. Had we been asked what He was going to heaven for, we should have said--To get away from this evil world; to enter into His joy, etc. But He says, No; “I go there to prepare a place for you.” He left His Father’s house for us; He now returns to it for us. By this we must understand, not His creating heaven for us, or enlarging or adorning it, but removing out of the way all things which would prevent our entering into it. He goes there to prove our title to it; to show, in His wounded hands and pierced side, that He has paid for us its stipulated price. He goes to claim it on our behalf; to take possession of it in our name and stead. Hence He is said to have entered it as our Forerunner.

IV. THE WAY IN WHICH CHRIST WILL PUT US IN POSSESSION OF THE HEAVEN HE HAS PREPARED FOR US. “He will send death to us,” you may say, “to summon us to His kingdom.” No: “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” It does not satisfy Him to snatch us from destruction, to open heaven for us, to bring us into the way to it, to make us meet for it; He will come Himself, and take us to it. And when we are there, He will not say--“There is the door of My Father’s house open for you; you may now enter in;” He will not leave angels to welcome us, or our holy ministers and friends, who have gone before, to receive us; He Himself will come like a parent to his door to receive there his long expected and beloved child. He seems to regard this as the very summit of the heavenly happiness. And so every real believer feels that nothing higher can be promised him, than that he should “be ever with his Lord.” (C. Bradley, M. A.)

Heaven the Christian’s home

It is impossible wholly to estimate the value of the gospel. It is not only that it brings the knowledge of salvation to us; but it makes revelations that no other book on earth ever made with reference to a future state of existence.

I. You find in the text, then, first, the idea of COMFORT. You will remark that it was Christ’s intention, by this description of heaven, to administer comfort to the disciples. Then mark the consolations of religion, and the consolatory hope of heaven, belong to a certain class--to those that believe in God and believe also in Christ. But now, what is the comfort that the idea of a father’s house, or home, conveys to the mind? First of all, Christ speaks of His Father’s house, and therefore we call it our Father’s house--just because he says, “My Father and your Father, my God and your God.” Of all the ideas of comfort that we can form, “home” conveys the sweetest.

1. Now the first thing that strikes us here is a wonder certainly--but it is the truth--that we shall feel perfectly at home in our Father’s house. When we think of our own weakness and sinfulness here, and then think of the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the glory of angels, and the glory of the spirits of just men made perfect, it requires no slight effort of mind to fancy that we shall be at home there: but we shall.

2. To constitute a home there must be familiarity and confidence. We can talk with the folks at home with a confidence that we cannot use towards strangers. Now imagine yourself in familiar conversation, in love, with patriarchs, and with prophets, and with Christ Himself--for He will be there. It requires an elevation of faith and confidence, and spirituality of mind.

3. But, of course, this supposes another thing with regard to home--that it is all love there. Here we are strangers--it may be, perhaps, surrounded by enemies; there all is love. Evil tempers, crabbed dispositions, restless fretfulness, that even some good men manifest, will not be there. There will be perfect love; and everyone will wear a cheerful countenance; and it will be a glorious home. Well, that is what you are to think about; that is what it will be. Don’t let your hearts be troubled. If troubles come, think of your home, as a stranger does who has long journeyed, and not had a very comfortable berth to rest in at night.

II. In the second place, we have the idea of PERMANENCE. There is a permanence about heaven that we can well understand, if we cannot fully comprehend.

1. The first thing is this, that when we get there nobody can turn us out again.

2. Then you will further observe, that as to this permanence, there will be ample sources of joy for us throughout eternity.

III. The third idea in our text is PREPARATION. Observe it is prepared for us, and the preparation is made by Christ Himself. And you will notice that preparation made for us testifies to the kindness and love of Him who prepares it.

1. Now whilst this shows the love of Christ to His people, the simple fact of His going to prepare a place for us you see involves too His knowledge of our love to Him. It is really as though He had said, “Heaven won’t be a complete home to Me till you are there, and I am sure it will not be to you till I am there; we must be together.”

2. But, moreover, this preparation shows the adaptation of our present state to that home that He is gone to prepare for us. “He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who bath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.”

IV. But in the next place we have the idea of RECEPTION. “I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also.” You immediately catch the idea of home here. The reception one will meet with from wife and children is one of the delightful anticipations of returning home. The moment the spirit is out of the body the first object on which it will fix its sight is Christ, with smiles on His face and glory on His brow. For, mark you, Christ would not trust the safety of one of His redeemed spirits in the hands of all the angels of heaven. He will be there Himself to take care of it. We do not know what death is: He does. Observe, there is a two-fold reception which Christ will give us--first, that which we may call our personal reception in heaven; and next that public, glorious reception that He will give us at the last great day, when He shall come a second time without sin unto salvation.

V. Now, in the last place, here is CERTAINTY. “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

1. Christ is already there in possession.

2. Next, Christ says He would have told us if there had been no heaven. Further, our hopes of heaven should guard us against two evils that we are subject to. The first is that which Christ has set before you. Don’t be unduly troubled about earthly things. Then, on the other hand, do not be too delighted with earthly things. (J. Carter.)

Heaven--home

Someone asked a Scotchman if he was on his way to heaven. “Why, man,” he said, “I live there.” He was only a pilgrim here. Heaven was his home. (D. L. Moody.)

Heaven--home

Death came unexpectedly to a man of wealth, as it almost always does; and he sent out for his lawyer to draw his will. He went on willing away his property; and when he came to his wife and child, he said he wanted his wife and child to have the home. The little child didn’t understand what death was. She was standing near, and she said, “Papa, have you got a home in that land you are going to?” The arrow reached that heart; but it was too late. He saw his mistake. He had got no home beyond the grave.

Heaven--home

“Home”--oh, how sweet is that word! What beautiful and tender associations cluster thick around it! Compared with it, house, mansion, palace, are cold, heartless terms. But “home!” that word quickens the pulse, warms the heart, stirs the soul to its depths, makes age feel young again, rouses apathy into energy, sustains the sailor in his midnight watch, inspires the soldier with courage on the field of battle, and imparts patient endurance to the worn-down sons of toil. The thought of it has proved a sevenfold shield to virtue: the very name of it has been a spell to call back the wanderer from the paths of vice. And far away, where myrtles bloom and palm trees wave, and the ocean sleeps upon coral strands, to the exile’s fond fancy it clothes the naked rock, or stormy shore, or barren moor, or wild highland mountain, with charms he weeps to think of, and longs once more to see. Grace sanctifies these lovely affections, and imparts a sacredness to the homes of earth by making them types of heaven. As a home the believer delights to think of it. Thus, when lately bending over a dying saint, and expressing our sorrow to see him lay so low, with the radiant countenance rather of one who had just left heaven than of one about to enter it, he raised and clasped his hands, and exclaimed in ecstasy, “I am going home.” (T. Guthrie.)

Heaven, our home

In our last dreadful war the Federals and the Confederates were encamped on opposite sides of the Rappahannock, and one morning the brass band of the Northern troops played the national air, and all the Northern troops cheered and cheered. Then, on the opposite side of the Rappahannock, the brass band of the Confederates played “My Maryland” and “Dixie,” and then all the Southern troops cheered and cheered. But after a while one of the bands struck up “Home, Sweet Home,” and the band on the opposite side of the river took up the strain, and when the tune was done the Confederates and the Federals all together united, as the tears rolled down their cheeks, in one great “Huzza! huzza!” Well, my friends, heaven comes very near today. It is only a stream that divides us--the narrow stream of death; and the voices there and the voices here seem to commingle, and we join trumpets and hosannahs and hallelujahs, and the chorus of the united song of earth and heaven is, “Home, Sweet Home.” (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

A good home to go to

Mr. Mead, an aged Christian, when asked how he did, answered, “I am going home as fast as I can, as every honest man ought to do when his day’s work is over, and I bless God I have a good home to go to.”

Nearing home

It was stormy from shore to shore, without a single fair day. But the place to which we were going was my home; there was my family; there was my church; there were my friends, who were as dear to me as my own life. And I lay perfectly happy in the midst of sickness and nausea. All that the boat could do to me could not keep down the exultation and joy which rose up in me. For every single hour was carrying me nearer and nearer to the spot where was all that I loved in the world. It was deep, dark midnight when we ran into Halifax. I could see nothing. Yet the moment we came into still water I rose from my berth and got up on deck. And as I sat near the smoke stack while they were unloading the cargo, upon the wharf I saw the shadow of a person, apparently, going backward and forward near me. At last the thought occurred to me, “Am I watched?” Just then the person addressed me, saying, “Is this Mr. Beecher?” “It is,” I replied. “I have a telegram for you from your wife.” I had not realized that I had struck the continent where my family were. There, in the middle of the night, and in darkness, the intelligence that I had a telegram from home--I cannot tell you what a thrill it sent through me! We are all sailing home; and by and by, when we are not thinking of it, some shadowy thing (men call it death), at midnight, will pass by, and will call us by name, and will say, “I have a message for you from home; God waits for you.” Are they worthy of anything but pity who are not able to bear the hardships of the voyage? It will not be long before you, and I, and every one of us will hear the messenger sent to bring us back to heaven. It is pleasant to me to think that we are wanted there. I am thankful to think that God loves in such a way that He yearns for me--yes, a great deal more than I do for Him. (H. W. Beecher.)

Diverted from thoughts of home

Why do we not go home? Why are we like a silly child, that when his father sends him forth, and bids him hie him home again, every flower that he meets with in the field, every sign he sees in the street, every companion that meets him in the way, stops him, and hinders him from repairing to his father? So it is with us for the most part: every trifle, every profit, every bauble, every matter of pleasure, every delight, is enough to divert and turn aside our thoughts from death, from home, from heaven, from our God; and we are taken up and lose ourselves, I know not where. (R. Sibbes, D. D.)

Heaven

I. THE UNIVERSAL HEAVEN OF THE GOOD--“Father’s house.” It is a scene of

1. Family life. It is the “Father’s house.”

2. Undoubted reality. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” It is no poet’s dream, no fictitious realm.

II. THE SPECIAL HEAVEN OF CHRIST’S DISCIPLES. “I go to prepare a place for you.” (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The holy habitation of heaven

I. HEAVEN IS THE HOUSE OF OUR FATHER AND UNITES ALL THE ASSOCIATIONS OF FILIAL HAPPINESS AND REVERENT DEVOTION. The relationship of family is supposed by the scheme of our redemption. Sin is alienating; but we are made nigh by the blood of Christ, and our consequent fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. A childlike title and a child-like temper are the results: “Now are we the sons of God,” and home is the abode of children. Touching are the thoughts of home: what is the home of heaven?

1. Quiet and repose. We are wanderers on earth. “Without are fightings, within are fears.” But soon shall we toil no more. The days of our mourning shall be ended. We shall come to our Father’s house in peace.

2. Confidence. Look at the home-born child. When danger threatens, home is the bulwark: when affliction weeps, this is the asylum. It is this assuredness which is the secret of all earthly satisfaction and peace. Yet is it not always to be cherished, it may not be invariably justified. Suspicion coils like a serpent about each flower of existence; or, like a lurking poison, taints all its springs. But with what strictest security does all the happiness of heaven rise on our view! Nothing maketh a lie. Thieves do not break through and steal. There is no more death.

3. Concord. Nevertheless a house may be divided against itself. But the inhabitants of that house are “made perfect in one.” They have one heart. They see eye to eye. If we too much forget to ask each other while here below, “Have we not all one Father?”--the remembrance of that truth will ever be vivid and efficacious in our “Father’s house.”

4. Sympathy.

5. Improvement. This is the true sphere of education. But during our moral state, however matured our powers and enlarged our attainments, we “speak as a child,” etc. In heaven we “shall put away childish things.” In that light we shall see light.

6. Content and happiness.

7. But it is not only our Father’s house in the associations of a home, it is the consecrated receptacle of His worship. And these ideas are not incompatible. For, to the Christian’s perception and taste, what can make heaven more delightful, in addition to its illustration as a home, than that this home shall be devoted, with the family which fills it, to the high praises of our Father in heaven? The votary is the child! The child is the votary! Pilgrim never touched more reverently the dreadful shrine: son never more joyously bounded upon the paternal threshold. With this double intention, of resting in a home and of ministering in a sanctuary, he exclaims: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

II. IN THIS HOUSE OF HOME AND TEMPLE THERE ARE MANY MANSIONS. And thus are we taught that the greatest amplitude consists with the strictest unity, that though the mansions are numerous the house is one. And thus, also, we learn that there is no monotony in that blessed state. There is order in the harmony of difference, and the distribution of the mansions completes the identity of the house. Meditating, then, on this multiform glory, what do we ascertain of the blessed immortals?

1. The immensity of their number. Heaven once suffered a vast depopulation. The influence of the catastrophe we cannot determine. There was a strange vacancy amidst those groves: untrodden paths and ungathered fruits. But that heaven might not always remain thus diminished, it was arranged that beings who had themselves lapsed, and whom a most stupendous salvation should rescue from all their guilt and rebelliousness and ruin, should constitute an incomputable augmentation over the deficiency and loss. There was a wonder in heaven. Meek and humble, there bent before the Divine Majesty a solitary human spirit. It sung, but it was a lonely song. It gazed, but its eye rested upon nothing like itself. Up from this world another and another sprung. He the solitary was set in a family. The question of preponderance, in the number of the saved over that of the lost, might now be properly argued.

2. The inequality of their glory. Where there are rewards, there must be differences. They suppose adaptation and adjustment to every form and habit of excellence. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly,” etc. This man has been like a continued sigh and aspiration and panting after holiness. That man, truly sincere, has pursued a far less devoted course. These could not enjoy the same portion. Nor is there a supposeable alternative, save that all were forcibly, mechanically, conformed to one standard. There would be, then, a necessity to lower as well as to raise, to repress as well as to expand. The first process would be unjust, however the second might be gracious. The speed of a zealous life would give no advantage in the immortal race. Yet if these inequalities exist, some think they must engender envy. Is it necessarily thus even in this imperfect state of ours? Charity envieth not, etc. In heaven nothing is loved but holiness, and the highest holiness is loved the most.

3. The diversity of their character. The modifications of the regenerated soul are not fewer and less notable than those of the soul unrenewed. And who does not rejoice in this difference of mental powers and habits, this diversity of gifts and graces, during the earthly exhibition? In heaven our nature has not perished: our being is only fulfilled. All of it is brought out and glorified. What pleasure to search through these “many mansions” and to find every form of worth and might, every species of intellectual activity and spiritual perfection, all endlessly, as actually, Variegated, multiplied, and combined!

4. The transition of their employment. One investigation, unchequered and unrelieved, strains the mind. One enjoyment, unvaried, and undiverted, cloys. The glorified spirit may, therefore, not only find its mansion, but be free of the many mansions. Thus may it renew its youth and recreate its immortality. Now shall it offer praise. It bends in adoring contemplation. It sees the King in His beauty. It exercises itself in the research of wonder and mystery. It cultivates communion with all other heavenly spirits. What may not angels, who have ministered to the heirs of salvation, tell of their knowledge and their experience? What saints are there, and we shall recognize them. And are we not then to be still more filled with the love of God, more delineated with the image of Christ, more imbued with love for all saints? and then each effort brings its repose. “They rest not,” and in that ceaselessness of activity is their rest.

6. The regularity of their arrangement. In this “great house,” every “vessel,” all “sanctified and meet for the Master’s use,” has its valuation and its function. There is the mansion

6. The series of their progression. The tendencies and yearnings of the human mind are towards an indefinite life and advancement. These keep us restless and dissatisfied while we are in our sins: these excite us to follow on to know the Lord, when we receive the grace of God. If there was a point in our existence beyond which we could learn nothing further and enjoy nothing more, that would be the limit of well-being. Our misery, instead of being lessened by what we had acquired, would be unspeakably aggravated. It would be like an ascent to some everlasting hill to gaze for first and for last our full of the glorious land, not then to die amidst the rapture, but to be doomed to life beneath the sudden fall of an endless night. The stretch for these progressions is the duration of eternity! (R. W. Hamilton, D. D.)

Variety in heaven

A mother was standing by the dying bed of her little child. She tried to lead the child’s thoughts to heaven, and told her of how the city was of pure gold, of dazzling brightness. But the little one shuddered, and cried that the light would hurt her eyes. Then the mother told her of the choirs of angels, and the songs before the throne, and the child answered that the noise would make her headache. At last the mother took the moaning child to her breast, and as she nestled there, she said, “if heaven is like this, I am ready to go there.” For some there will be an existence of dazzling brightness, an existence full of grandeur and glory, like the sound of a mighty anthem; others, those who loved much, shall find, like St. John, their greatest joy in resting on the bosom of their Lord. (H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

Recognition in heaven

Not long ago I stood by the death bed of a little girl. Every fibre of her body and soul recoiled from the thought of death. “Don’t let me die,” she said; “don’t let me die. Hold me fast. Oh, I can’t go.” “Jenny,” I said, “you have two brothers in the other world, and there are thousands of tender-hearted people over there who will love you and take care of you.” But she cried out again despairingly, “Don’t let me go; they are strangers over there.” But even as she was pleading her little hands relaxed their clinging hold from my waist and lifted themselves eagerly aloft. Her face was turned upwards; but it was her eyes that told the story. They were filled with the light of Divine recognition. They saw something plainly that we could not see; and they grew brighter and brighter. “Mamma,” she said, “mamma, they are not strangers; I’m not afraid.” Her form relapsed upon the pillows, and she was gone. (Helen Williams.)

Not dead, but gone home

We lament for the dead, because we ourselves dread death. The physical instinct, wisely given for the preservation of life, is controlled but not destroyed by faith. Afflicted believers, your sorrows are only the discomforts of a journey, each stage of which, however rough the road and wild the weather, brings you nearer home. The darkness is only that of the tunnel through which you are hurrying, and the speck of light at the end is nearing and brightening as you speed onward to the eternal sunshine. Our Lord speaks of heaven as home--“My Father’s house.” What a contrast to the gorgeous imageryemployed by servants is this sublimely simple familiarity of the Son l Inspired men are overawed by the distant vision of the celestial city, with its pearly gates and streets of gold; as if a poor cottager, after visiting a royal palace, tried to describe the unimagined splendours of a place which members of the royal family simply knew as home. This was in harmony with His high claims of Deity! The disciples were not to be troubled on His account. Although betrayed, condemned, crucified, He was going home. They were not to be troubled for Him; and because of their intimate union with Him, they were not to be troubled for themselves. If heaven is Christ’s home, it is ours also. We are “joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” What hallowed associations are suggested by the word! Love makes home.

1. Home promises rest. There the wearied limbs or wearied brain repose after the day’s toil. “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord; they rest from their labours.”

2. Home suggests fidelity. We may suspect deceit and treachery outside, but we can cast off all reserve, all distrust at home.

3. Home suggests sympathy. There may be enmity outside, avowed or concealed, and even friends may sometimes prove forgetful, selfish, and unkind; but true home is the palace of love, “where hearts are of each other sure.” But the purest of earthly homes are but faint types of that above. There every heart is wholly true to every other, being wholly true to God.

4. It is a permanent home; mansions, not movable tents, but an enduring habitation. “We know that when this earthly tabernacle is dissolved we have a building of God.” How unlike the uncertainty of earthly things! The lake, reflecting from its unruffled surface the sky and stars, may, in one short hour, be wild with storms. The stream, which oft refreshed us, suddenly becomes dry. The fairest flowers droop even as we gaze on them. The loveliest homes are quickly broken up. No locks and bolts can shut out sickness and death.

5. And there is abundance of supply. There are “many mansions.” The Father’s house is large enough for all His children--vast as His own heart.

6. Number implies variety. The mansions are not uniform, though all are perfect. They are prepared for dwellers of varied capacity--for children and young men, for babes in Christ and for those of full age.

7. These hopes are not visionary. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” The disciples had forsaken all to follow Him. They loved their Lord, and knew He loved them. Could such love perish? They expected a kingdom; and as it was not to be earthly, it must be heavenly. Would Christ allow them to serve Him as they did, on false expectations? He did contradict their expectation of a temporal kingdom--would He not have contradicted this heavenly hope had it also been unfounded? O believer, your hope is no idle dream! That city does glow with splendour. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” St. Paul says, “We are of good courage, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord” (R.V.) Death is only the migration of the soul from the fleshly tabernacle to the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. We will not weep for them as dead. Is it death to reach home after the toilsome journey, to wear the crown after the fierce fight, to serve in the presence of the King, where there is fulness of joy? The funeral was only that of frailty, sorrow, and sin. A Christian in that coffin, in that grave? No! he is at home in the Father’s house. (N. Hall.)

Room for all saved sinners in heaven

There was a poor man who had been a long while burdened in spirit. One night he dreamed that he stood at the gates of heaven, longing to enter; but he are not, and could not, for sin had shut him out. At length he saw approaching the pearly gates a company of men who came on singing, dressed in white robes. So he stepped up to one of them, and said, “Who are you?” And they replied, “We are the goodly fellowship of the prophets.” He said, “Alas! I cannot enter with you.” And he watched them until they had passed the gates, and he heard outside the voice of song as they were received with welcome. Cast down and troubled, he watched until he saw another company approach, and they came with music and rejoicing. He said to them, “Who are you?” and they replied, “We are the noble army of martyrs.” He said, “I cannot go with you; and when he heard the shouts a second time ascending from within the gates, his heart was heavy within him at the thought that it was not possible for him to enter there. Then came a third company, and he detected in the van the apostles, and after them there came mighty preachers and confessors of the Word. He said in his heart, “Alas! I cannot go with you, for I am no preacher, and I have done nothing for my Master.” His heart was ready to break, for they entered and were lost to his sight; and he heard the triumphant acclamations as the Master said, “Well done, enter into the joy of your Lord.” But as he waited, he saw a greater company approaching. He marked in the forefront Saul of Tarsus, Mary Magdalene, the thief that died upon the cross; and they came streaming on. So he said to one of them, “Who are ye?” And they replied, “We are a company of sinners whom no man can number, saved by blood, through the rich, free, sovereign grace of God.” Indeed, all the companies might have said the same, and the dream would have been more complete. But as this poor man, with the tears in his eyes, heard this word, he said, “Thank God, I can go with you, for I am a sinner like you, and like you I will trust in the merit of Him that died on Calvary.” So he joined their ranks, and was about to enter, but he said in his heart, “When we come there shall be no songs; they will admit us, but it will be in silence, for we bring no honour to God; we have done nothing for Him.” But to his surprise the acclaim was louder, the music was more melodious, and the shouts of acclamation were louder far, while they said, “Here are they who come to complete the number of the host whom Jesus bought with blood.” (C. H.Spurgeon.)

The parting consolation

Let us consider

I. THE TRUTH DECLARED. Consider the Father’s house

1. In its majesty and greatness. It is the abode of the great King; where He holds His court, surrounded by all the angels and sons of light.

2. In the right which our Lord here supposes we have to it, But how shall guilty and polluted man hope for admission there? His right is, it is Christ’s Father’s house. We go there by the invitation of the Lord of glory; we go there by the bidding of Him who is the Heir. “Ye are Christ’s.” “Heirs of God and joint heirs with Him.”

3. In the vastness of its dimensions. Christ, who will “bring many sons into glory,” hath for these sons many prepared and furnished mansions. Christ’s mansions, like Christ’s heart, will be found to be full and large, and ready to embrace every humble, penitent and believing soul.

4. In its everlastingness. “Hitherto ye have dwelt in tabernacles; then ye shall enter into the everlasting mansions,” into “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

5. In its unfailing certainty. “If it were not so, I would have told you.”

II. THE PURPOSE AVOWED. To “prepare a place.” Were not those bright walls built before the birth of time? Did not the turrets of those everlasting mansions glitter before the first sun rose upon the hills? Yes, but these mansions were prepared for men who knew no sin. Our Lord says, “I am going, so that when these seats are sprinkled with My sacrificial blood, and when your hearts are sprinkled with that blood too, He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified, being all one, may sit down together, and I go to keep possession, to preserve the place in continual readiness for your arrival.”

III. THE ASSURANCE GIVEN. “I will come again,” etc. See how large and full is the love of Christ. After having shown us the house, and opened the house, and prepared the house, will He then leave us to ourselves to come afterwards? No; He says--“I will come and fetch you. Will forsake the companionship of these immortals that now surround Me, ‘and I will come and receive you unto Myself.’”

IV. THE CONSUMMATION TO BE ATTAINED. “That where I am, there ye may be also.” (D. Moore, M. A.)

If it were not so, I would have told you

Christ’s appeal to His disciples’ confidence

We are eager for certainty, for reality. In the hour of a bitter loss the heart refuses fictitious comfort, for sorrow makes men wonderfully real.

I. CHRIST ANNOUNCES HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS. These are remarkable words in many aspects, but particularly so in that they imply a full knowledge of the secrets of another world. It was just the truth we should suppose a good, loving, tender God would be anxious to make known to the myriads of His children who were treading every hour the sad pathway of death.

II. CHRIST APPEALS TO HIS KNOWN CHARACTER. He knew that the disciples to whom He spoke could not point to any incident in His intercourse with them which would justify a doubt of His perfect truthfulness. Further, Christ was not only truthful, but He was too good to deceive them. It is possible for a man to be sternly, rigidly true, and yet not be good in the large sense of that word. We have known men who would scorn to utter a lie or to draw a false picture, but they were not kind, gentle, compassionate, sympathizing men.

III. CHRIST SEEKS THE CONFIDENCE OF HIS DISCIPLES. If I speak to any doubter who has long struggled in the midst of perplexities, these words are for you. Could He deceive any soul, however humble, on a matter of such supreme importance? (W. Braden.)

The silence of Scripture

1. A familiar proverb says “Speech is silvern, but silence is golden.” Thoughts are often best expressed by silent acts than words. A grasp of the hand, a glance of the eye may stir us more than a trumpet peal. Christ looked at Peter.

2. Written revelation has its necessary limitations. Only essential truths are given. Much is left to inference. But silence is a source of pain and in no subject more than the future life.

I. LET US SEE THIS RETICENCE OF SCRIPTURE AS CARRIED INTO OTHER TRUTHS.

1. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. We can deny neither; history proves both. For their reconciliation we must wait.

2. The Resurrection. Reason is staggered and asks, “How are the dead raised?” We cannot explain the process. But God’s power is adequate. The darkness is not with God but with us.

3. The proofs of the existence of a personal God, The Bible simply assumes His existence. But we know that our watch must have had a maker. This we believe without referring to our ignorance of him. There must have been a Maker of the eye, whether we know Him or not.

II. FROM THIS THEME WE LEARN HOW TO INTERPRET GOD’S SILENCE.

1. It is God’s glory to conceal a matter.

2. Secret things belong to Him; things revealed to us and to our children.

3. We are to walk by faith not by sight.

4. We are indeed to dig and toil for truth, yet ever remember that there are depths we cannot now fathom.

5. All true science is humble, and the language of our faith should be, “Even so, Father, for so seemeth it good in Thy sight.” (D. Murdoch, D. D.)

Inferences from the silence of Christ

This is an appeal of Christ to His own truthfulness and love. He could not allow His disciples to remain victims of delusion. He had often wounded them by telling painful truths, and had their expectation of an immortal life been a mistaken one, He would most certainly have contradicted it. Our text, then, enunciates a grand principle. Christ made it a main part of His work to expose Jewish error. Whenever, therefore, He refrained from contradicting any deeply rooted belief, we have an argument for its truth. Apply this to

I. THE DOCTRINE OF OUR LORD’S DEITY. Christ was worshipped over and over again during His earthly ministry. We know that Peter (Acts 10:26) and the angel (Revelation 22:9) shrunk from such homage; but Jesus never did. When His enemies accused Him of making Himself equal with God He did not repel the charge. Meek and lowly as He was, He accepted all the worship men offered, Had He not been Divine would He not have told us?

II. THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. This the destructive criticism of our time denies. Now remember that to the Jews were “committed the oracles of God,” and they were conspicuously faithful to their trust. But Christ never questioned the purity and integrity of the ancient scriptures. He held them in the deepest reverence, referred to all classes of facts recorded in them, set His seal to minor incidents, encouraged the people to search them, declared that they could not be broken, and that not one jot or tittle should fail. What a gulf between Christ’s criticism and that of the modem school! Had the latter been correct, how is it that He, “the Truth,” did not tell the world so? We need not fear, therefore, any of the lower or higher criticism of our day.

III. THE PERPETUITY OF THE SABBATH LAW. That the weekly Day of Rest was not a mere Jewish institution is proved from its position in the Decalogue, and from the design of God in appointing it. And had it been abrogated, or if it was to have no place in the Christian code of ethics, would not Jesus have told us? He often had to deal with the question of Sabbath observance, and to correct the rabbinical interpretations of the Fourth Commandment; but never did He drop a single word to countenance the idea that the Sabbath law was not to remain in force. On the contrary, He claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. He found the Sabbath a standing Divine ordinance, and left it such only freshened with the dew of His blessing.

IV. MAN’S HOPE OF IMMORTALITY. Thoughtful men in every age have cherished this. Socrates held the doctrine, but admitted that a good deal could be said against it. In the oldest scriptures we find deep yearnings, and over against them hopes very distinct and definite (Job 14:14-15; Job_19:25-27). We learn from what our Lord said to the Sadducees, that the doctrine was from the beginning part of the faith of God’s ancient people; and one of the purposes for which He came was to tell men that this was a reasonable hope. In the text He assumed that the disciples cherished it, and in words of deepest tenderness tells them that they are right. (C. Jerden, LL. B.)

Man’s hope of immortality uncontradicted by God

I. OUR POSITION TO GOD IS SIMILAR TO THAT IN WHICH THE DISCIPLES STOOD TO CHRIST--We are looking to Him for the fulfilment of hopes which reach beyond our present life.

1. It cannot be questioned that there is a deep and wide testimony in man’s nature to the existence of a God and of a future life.

2. If in these hopes and aspirations men were deceived, and were appealing to the Author of their being, so widely and so constantly, for the fulfilment of what He never intends to bestow, then--in some distinct way or other--by some voice from heaven, or some prevailing voice of reason in their own hearts--we might justly conclude that He would act on this principle--“If it were not so, I would have told you.”

II. THE SAME CONSIDERATIONS WHICH WOULD HAVE LED CHRIST TO UNDECEIVE HIS DISCIPLES, HAD THEY BEEN IN ERROR, APPLY TO GOD IN HIS POSITION TO US.

1. Those which lie in God’s own character.

2. Those which lie in the relation which exists between God and His human creatures.

1. That God has contradicted this hope in the lower creatures, that is, He has not suffered it to spring up.

2. He has contradicted prevalent falsities in human nature in various ways. Apart from supernatural utterance, there is the progress of reason, the growth of conscience, the rise of the soul’s highest life, which make superstitions and immoralities that have covered whole ages and nations to pine and die. In these ways He tells man what is false; but here it is in proportion as the soul grows and sin dies, that this hope increases, and it is strongest when we find our highest intuitions answered in the light and life of God. (J. Ker, D. D.)

I go to prepare a place for you

The Forerunner

1. What Divine simplicity and depth are in these words! The emblem is homely, the thing meant is transcendent.

2. Not less wonderful is the blending of majesty and lowliness. The office which He takes upon Himself is that of an inferior and a servant. And yet the discharge of it, in the present case, implies His authority over every corner of the universe.

3. Nor can we fail to notice the blending of another pair of opposites, His certainty of His impending death, and His certainty, notwithstanding and thereby, of His continual work and His final return.

I. THE DEPARTURE. Our Lord’s going away from that little group was a journey in two stages. Calvary was the first; Olivet was the second. He means by the phrase the whole continuous process.

1. He prepares a place for us by His death. The High Priest of old once a year was privileged to pass into the holiest, because he bore in his hand the blood of the sacrifice. But in our New Testament system the path into the holiest is made possible for every foot, because Jesus has died. And as the communion upon earth, so the perfecting of the communion in the heavens. Old legends tell us of magic gates that resisted all attempts to force them, but upon which, if one drop of a certain blood fell, they flew open. And so, by His death, Christ has opened the gates and made the heaven of perfect purity a dwelling place for sinful men.

2. He prepares a place for us by His entrance into and His dwelling in the heavenly places.

3. Not only did He go to prepare a place, but He is continuously preparing it for us all through the ages. We have to think of a double form of the work of Christ.

II. THE RETURN. The purpose of our Lord’s departure, as set forth by Himself here, guarantees for us His coming back again. He who went away as the Forerunner has not done His work until He comes back, and, as Guide, leads those for whom He had prepared the place to the place which He had prepared for them. That return, like the departure, may be considered as in two stages

1. The main meaning is that final and personal coming which stands at the end of history. And He will come as He went, a visible Manhood, only throned amongst the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. This return ought to be the prominent subject of Christian aspiration and desire. We have a double witness to bear. One half stretches backwards to the Cross and proclaims “Christ has come”; the other reaches onwards to the Throne and proclaims “Christ will come.”

2. But Scripture knows of many comings of the Lord preliminary to, and in principle one with, His second coming. For nations, all great crises of their history are “comings of the Lord,” the Judge. And in reference to individuals, we see in each single death a true coming of the Lord. Beyond all secondary causes, deeper than disease or accident, lies the loving will of Him who is the Lord of life and of death. Death stands amidst the ranks of the “ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation.” Whensoever a Christian man lies down to die, Christ says, “Come!” and he comes. How that thought should hallow the death chamber as with the print of the Master’s feet! How it should quiet our hearts and dry our tears! With Him for our companion the lonely road will not be dreary. The dying martyr beneath the city wall lifted up his face to the heavens and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” It was the echo of the Master’s promise: “I will come again and receive you to Myself.”

III. THE PERFECTED UNION. The departure and the return are stages in the process, which is perfected by complete union--“that where I am there ye may be also.” Christ is Heaven. To be with Him is to behold His glory. And to behold His glory, as John tells us in his epistle, is to be like Him. So Christ’s presence means the communication to us of all the lustre of His radiance, of all the whiteness of His purity, of all the depth of His blessedness, and of a share in His wondrous dominion. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The prepared place

There are two remarkable things about Christ’s statement.

1. That the Master should prepare for the servant. But this is in keeping with Christ’s whole method.

2. That the Divine Christ should ever have occasion to prepare anything. Can He who fills eternity have anything to arrange for His servants? The answer is, that Christ accommodates Himself to our way of thinking. There are some things which the Master only can do. We can do one hundred and fifty little things, and double that, and get the notion that we can do anything. But go and prepare summer! You have seen half a hundred: try and make the fifty-first! If the servant cannot prepare the summer, how can he prepare heaven? The text gives three comforting and inspiring views of the Christian’s position and destiny

I. HE IS THE OBJECT OF CHRIST’S ZEALOUS AND TENDER CARE “For you;” and Paul catching his Master’s tone said, “All things are yours.” Yet we hang our heads and cry as though we had nothing unless we could lace our fingers round it, not knowing that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Wherever you find Christ you find Him working for His people. There is a beautiful necessity of love about this arrangement. For if He were to fail here--in training and sanctifying the Church--He would fail altogether. What if He has made countless millions of stars? Can they talk to Him? If He does not get us--poor, broken things--right into His heaven He has failed. This is the one work He set Himself to do.

II. CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE ETERNALLY HIS JOY. As for these heavens, He will one day dismiss them. He makes some things for the time being; but when we read of the place prepared for believers we have the idea of never-ending fellowship. All true life is in the heart. Love alone is immortal. God is love. Love it is which binds Christ and Christians. If we love Him we shall be with Him forever.

III. Seeing that all this is so, THE CHRISTIAN IS ENTITLED TO LOOK AT THE PRESENT THROUGH THE FUTURE. The Christian is not to be troubled, because in His Father’s house are many mansions. When you are weary of the present, look forward into the future. Conclusion: If Christ is gone to prepare a place for us, then

1. The place will be worthy of Himself. Send a poor creature, and the place will be prepared according to the capacity and resources of the messenger? What kind of place will He prepare, who has all things at command?

2. Christ is waiting for His guests. Bad man! God has prepared nothing for you. There is a place--but it was prepared, not for you, but for the devil and his angels. That is the only place He has to put you in. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Christ preparing a place for us

I. WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO HEAVEN BY NATURE (Ephesians 2:3).

II. NEITHER CAN WE HAVE RIGHT BUT BY CHRIST (Acts 4:12).

III. THIS TITLE CHRIST PURCHASED FOR US BY HIS DEATH (Mt Ruth 3:9; Rth_3:12; Rth_4:1).

IV. Having purchased it, HE GOES TO TAKE POSSESSION OF IT AND HAVE IT SURRENDERED TO HIM FOR OUR USE. (Hebrews 6:20).

V. Having taken possession of it in our names, HE PREPARES IT.

1. By getting us actually admitted or entitled to it; pleading (1 John 2:1)

2. By preparing us for it, by

3. Regulating our affections. (Bp. Beveridge.)

Christ gone to prepare a place for us

In the days before the railway showered its sparks upon the darkness of the wilderness, people put out on foot, or in slow cumbrous waggons, from our Eastern homes, and in the wild thickets of the far West sought to clear for their families a home. Ofttimes leaving their tender little ones in the New England village, with blanket, and gun, and axe, they dared the forest, terrible with bear’s bark, and panther’s scream, and the war whoop cry of scalping savages. After awhile the trees were felled, and the underbrush was burned, and the farm was cleared, and the house was built. Then word came back here, saying that everything was ready. The family would get into the waggon and start on at a slow pace for a very long journey. After awhile, some evening tide, the shout of recognition was heard, and by the fire of the great black log the newly-arrived would recount the exciting experiences of the way. Well, my friends, we are all about to become emigrants to a far country. This is no place for us to stay. Our Older Brother, Jesus, Him of the scarred brow and the blistered feet, has gone ahead to build our mansion and to clear the way for us, and He sends a letter back, saying He has it all ready; and I break the seal of that letter and read to you these words: “I go to prepare a place for you.” I might put it in another shape. A young man resolves to build a home for himself. He has pledged himself in one of the purest of earthly attachments. He toils no more for himself than for the one who will share with him the results of his industrious accumulation. After awhile the fortune is made, the house is built, the right hands are joined, the blessing is invoked, the joy is consummated. So Jesus, the lover of our souls, has been toiling to make a place for us. He is fitting up our mansion. He is gathering around it everything that can possibly enchant the soul, and after awhile he will say: “It is all ready now,” and He will reach down His hand and take up to His fair residence “the Church, which is the Lamb’s wife.” “I go to prepare a place for you.” (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Christ gone to prepare a place for us

I was visiting a friend some years ago, who had just built a new house. It was beautiful, useful. He took me upstairs. It had wardrobes, toilet glasses, books, and paintings. It was furnished grandly. And the father turned to me, and said, “This room is for our daughter. She is in Europe, she does not know we are arranging it. Her mother and I have fixed up everything we could think of for her. As soon as the house is fully finished, we are going to Europe to bring her back; and we are going to bring her upstairs, and open the door and say, ‘Daughter, this is yours.’ And I thought of the joy it would give her, and I thought, how kind these parents are! Just then I turned away and thought, That is what Jesus is doing for me. He says He is going away to prepare a place for me: he will come again, and receive me unto Himself. Then I thought, This father and mother are rich: but they have not all treasures, there are a great many things they do not know how to get. But Jesus, who is furnishing my mansion in glory, has everything. He has undertaken to furnish a place for me, and I shall be with Him forever. (C. S.Robinson, D. D.)

Heaven adapted to us by Christ

In the works of God I know nothing more beautiful than the perfect skill with which He suits His creatures to their condition. He gives wings to birds, fins to the fish, sails to the thistle seed, a lamp to light the glowworm, great roots to moor the majestic cedar, and to the aspiring ivy a thousand hands to climb the wall. Nor is the wisdom thus conspicuous in nature less remarkable and adorable as exhibited in the arrangements of the Kingdom of Grace. He forms a holy people for a holy state. He fits heaven for the redeemed, and the redeemed for heaven. (J. Guthrie, D. D.)

Christ preparing heaven for the believer

It was customary for travellers in those old days to send some of their party on in advance to find lodging and make arrangements for them in some great city. Many a time one or other of the disciples had been sent before His face into every place whither He Himself should come. Christ here takes that office on Himself. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

If I go … I will come again and receive you unto Myself

Christ’s coming and our future fellowship with Him

I. THE DEATH OF A BELIEVER IS CHRIST’S COMING. At death their Saviour comes to fetch them away from this strange land; and thus

1. To rescue them from its numerous snares.

2. To deliver them from its multiplied sorrows. These are often owing

3. And He will thus show

II. HOW TO REGARD THE FUTURE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS. It is for them to be with Christ. (John 17:24). In that blessed land will the Saviour have all His followers dwell, because

1. They are united to Him (Hebrews 2:14-15).

2. They bear His image. They now seek and pray to resemble Him.

3. They delight in fellowship with Him. And as they are formed to this heavenly temper, now so in glory they will be received to this unspeakable felicity. They will there enjoy it

4. They may then be made perfect

Jesus comes

“He drew very near,” solemnly uttered a youthful believer within a few hours of death. “Who drew near?” anxiously inquired a friend who was present, fearful to hear her pronounce the word “death.” “Jesus,” she replied, with an unutterable earnestness of expression. “I felt just now as if He stood close beside me.” Soon after she was asked by her sister if she would like her to pray with her. She gladly assented. But while she prayed the countenance of the dying one changed, the expression of supplication was succeeded by one of adoring contemplation--it would have been rapture but for its perfect calm. A kind of glow suffused her features, then faded gradually away, and before that prayer was ended she was gone. Her “amen” to it was her first hallelujah in heaven. Jesus had “come again” and received her unto Himself. (New Testament Anecdotes.)

Christ will corse again

A minister once entered an almshouse of which an aged couple were the inmates. Beside a little round table sat the husband, and as he was very deaf his visitor shouted in his ear, “Well, Wisby, what are you doing?” “Waiting, sir.” “For what?” “For the appearing of my Lord.” “And what makes you wish for His appearing?” “Because I expect great things then.”

The saint’s best days to come

A young girl of fifteen, a bright, laughter loving girl, was suddenly cast upon a bed of suffering. Completely paralysed on one side and nearly blind, she heard the family doctor say to her friends, who surrounded her, “She has seen her best days, poor child!” “Oh no, doctor,” she exclaimed, “my best days are yet to come, when I see the King in His beauty.”

Death brings Christ and the soul together

very affecting account is given of the death of Williams of Wern. He had lost his wife some time before, and he and his daughter were dying together in different rooms of the same house. As he said to her one day, “We appear to be running, with contending footsteps, to be first at the goal.” They spent much time in talking together of death and heaven, and being “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” Every morning as soon as he was up found him by the bedside of his daughter. “Well, Eliza, how are you this morning?” “Very weak, father.” “Ah!” said he, “we are both on the racecourse. Which of us, do you think, will get to the end first?” “Oh, I shall, father.” “Perhaps,” he said, “it is best that it should be so, for I am more able to bear the blow. But do you long to see the end of the journey?” “Oh, from my heart!” she replied. “But why?” “Because I shall see many of my old friends, and my mother: and above all, I shall see Jesus.” “Ah well, then,” he said, “tell them I am coming! Tell them I am coming!” She died first. He followed shortly after, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. With Christ--heaven:--A little negro boy, when on his death bed, was visited by a missionary, to whom he spoke of the happiness he felt, and the longing desire he had to be with Jesus. “I am going to heaven soon; and then I shall see Jesus, and be with Him forever,” said the little fellow. “But,” rejoined the missionary, “if Jesus were to leave heaven, what would you do?” “I would follow him,” replied the boy. “But suppose,” said the missionary, “Jesus went to hell: what would you do then?” In an instant, with an intelligent look and a smile on his countenance, he replied, “Ah, massa! there is no hell where Jesus is.” (S. M. Haughton.)

Christ the supreme attraction of heaven

Have you heard of the poor Chinaman in London? Walking along the streets of the metropolis in the fog and the drizzling rain, he was well-nigh breaking his heart with longing for his native land. One day, however, the sun rose brighter than usual, drove the clouds before him, and lifted the fog. Thereupon the little Chinaman cheered up amazingly. “Why, what is the matter with you today? what is the cause of your rejoicing?” asked an acquaintance. “What is the cause indeed,” replied the poor foreigner in broken English, pointing with his finger to the sky. “Don’t you see there? that is China’s sun?” and with the word he was dancing on the pavement like a delighted schoolboy. Everything else was strange to him--the streets, the inhabitants, the sceneries, and even the stars. The only thing he beheld in England that he had seen at home was the sun; and he felt comforted under the face of the same sun. Thus, when we go to eternity, things will appear very strange--the city with its golden streets, the inhabitants with palms in their hands, the sceneries “ever decked in living green.” But the same Sun shines there as here, and under its shining we shall feel all fear and tremor depart. The Sun of earth is the Sun of heaven, the Sun of Cardiff is the Sun of the New Jerusalem. (J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

Acquaintances in heaven

“When I was a boy,” said a minister, “I thought of heaven as a great shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white tenuous angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of a great city with walls, and domes, and spires, and a flock of cold, unknown angels, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother died, and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die, and the flock continually grew; but it was not until I had sent one of my little children to his grandparent--God--that I began to think I had a little in myself. A second went, a third went, a fourth went; and by that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the Celestial city; and now there are so many of my acquaintances gone there that it sometimes seems to me that I know more in heaven than I do on earth.”


Verses 4-6

John 14:4-6

Whither I go ye know

The interpellation of Thomas

Observe

I.
THAT A MAN MAY, IN SPIRITUAL THINGS, KNOW MORE THAN HE IS CONSCIOUS OF KNOWING. “Ye know,” “We know not.” It may be said that our Lord is only attributing a certain knowledge with a view to stirring up His disciples to think so that they may come to know distinctly, just as we say to a child, “You know if you would only think.” But here the fact stands that Thomas did not know, and yet Christ said he did. So a man may know, and yet not know that he knows. What was it that the apostles actually knew? They knew Christ--very imperfectly, but they did know Him. Thomas’s “Lord,” the same word that He used subsequently, in an association that leaves no room to doubt its signification, shows us this. Now Christ was the Way; and therefore in knowing Christ, he knew the Way, although he did not know Him as the Way. And more than this. Thomas and the rest were practically walking in the right way in believing in Christ. But not understanding that Christ was the Way, they did not understand that they were in the right way. Whence it follows that a man may be actually in the right way before he is quite conscious of it. This must be so; for being conscious of a thing means coming to a distinct consciousness of it as an existing fact. Then it must exist as a fact prior to consciousness. The time that may elapse between a man being in a certain condition and becoming conscious of it may vary according to circumstances.

II. THAT TO KNOW CHRIST IS TO BE IN THE RIGHT WAY. “I am the Way.” Christ had just told them of the Father’s house, and they were naturally anxious to know the way. But notice how He modifies the aspect of future blessedness. He now speaks of the Father Himself. For it is the Father’s presence that makes home--not a house built by the Father, however much the Father’s love may have been lavished on it for His children’s sake. To this Father Christ is the Way, and how His subsequent conversation shows. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 10:19-20). There is no direct access for man to God. Christ is the way to God, and the way to God is the way to Heaven. And he who knows Christ, however imperfectly, is in the right way.

III. THOSE WHO REALLY KNOW CHRIST AS THE WAY WILL SOON LEARN THAT HE IS MUCH MORE TO THAN THE WAY ONLY. Christ adds the ample appendix, “and the Truth and the Life.” These three lead on, the one to the other. Religion begins in practical conformity to a Divine “way,” and so comes down to the level of the simplest and the feeblest. But when a man has walked some time in the Divine way, he begins to desire a fuller understanding of the reasons of the way. Then Christ comes as the Truth, disclosing the grounds on which religious duty rests, satisfying thus the speculative, as He formerly did the practical, faculty. Finally Christ reveals Himself as the Life. Then it is seen that religion is more than practice and knowledge, it is the communication of vital powers, of the powers of the life of God, of power to become the child of God; and that this new vitality in turn prompts to pious practice, and capacitates for spiritual perception. (W. Roberts.)

Christ’s farewell

It serves

I. TO EXERCISE FAITH IN CHRIST.

1. In His omniscience. For He knows

2. In His truthfulness (John 14:7). For

II. FOR CONSOLATION WHEN WE FEEL THE PANG OF SEPARATION. For

1. Christ is omniscient. He alone knows

2. Christ is truthful. Therefore we are certain that we go

God’s omnipotent love and our sense of dependence on Him.

(Pastor Fricke.)

The way, unknown and yet well known

When you say to a man, “You know the way,” you mean “Come.” And in these words there lie a veiled invitation, and the assurance that they, though separated, might still find the road to the Father’s house, and so be with Him still. Observe

I. THE DISCIPLES’ UNCONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE.

1. Christ says: “Ye know the way and the goal.” Thomas ventures flatly to contradict Him. Was Jesus right? or Thomas? or both? The fact is, they had heard plenty in the past as to where Christ was going. It had made some kind of lodgement in their heads, and, in that sense, they did know. It is this unused and unconscious knowledge of theirs to which Christ appeals.

2. The dialogue is an instance of what is true about us all, that we have in our possession truths given to us by Jesus Christ, the whole sweep and bearing of which we do not dream of yet. Time and circumstances and some sore agony of spirit are needed in order to make us realize the riches that we possess; and the practice of far more patient, honest, profound meditation is needed, in order that we may understand the things that are given to us of God. The life belts lie unnoticed on the cabin shelf as long as the weather keeps fine, but when the ship strikes people take to them.

3. All our knowledge is ignorance. And ignorance that confesses itself to Him is in the way of becoming knowledge. And we are meant to carry all our inadequate and superficial realizations of His truths into His presence, that, from Him, we may gain deeper knowledge, and a more joyous certitude in His inexhaustible truths.

II. OUR LORD’S GREAT SELF-REVELATION WHICH MEETS THIS UNCONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE. Of these three great words, the Way, the Truth, the Life, we are to regard the second and the third as explanatory of the first.

1. Note, then, as belonging to all three of these clauses that remarkable “I am.” We show the Way, Christ is it. We speak truth, Christ is it. Parents impart life, which they have received, Christ is life. He separates Himself from all men by that representation which He made when Calvary was within arm’s length. What did He think about Himself, and what should we think of Him?

2. And note that He here sets forth His unique relation to the truth as being one ground on which He is the Way to God.

2. He is the Truth, inasmuch as, in His life, men find the foundation truths of a moral and spiritual sort. “Whatsoever things are true,” etc., He is these.

3. He is the Way because He is the Life. Dead men cannot walk a road. It is no use making a path if it starts from a cemetery. And Christ taught that men apart from Him are dead, and that the only life that they can have by which they can be knit to God is the Divine life which was in Himself. He is the Life--and, paradox of mystery and yet fact which is the very heart and centre of His gospel, His only way of giving His life to us is by giving up His physical life for us.

4. And what about people that never heard of Him. Ah! Christ has other ways of working than through His historical manifestation, He is “that Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” But for us to whom this Book has come, the law of my text rigidly applies. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” It is either--take Christ for the Way, or wander in the wilderness and forget your Father; take Christ for the Truth, or be given over to the insufficiencies of mere natural, political, and intellectual truths, and the shows and illusions of time and sense; take Christ for your life, or remain in your deadness separate from God.

III. THE DISCIPLES’ IGNORANCE AND THE NEW VISION WHICH DISPELS IT. “If ye had known Me ye should have known My Father also,” etc. Our Lord accepts for the moment Thomas’ standpoint. He supplements His former allegation of their knowledge with the admission of the ignorance which went with it as its shadow, and tells them that they did not know what they thought they knew so well, after so many years of companionship--even Himself. The proof that they did not is that they did not know the Father as revealed in Him, nor Him as revealing the Father. If they missed that, they missed everything.

1. The lesson for us is that the true test of the completeness and worth of our knowledge of Christ lies in its being knowledge of God the Father, brought near to us by Him. This saying puts a finger on the radical deficiency of all merely humanitarian views of Christ’s person. If you know anything about Jesus Christ rightly, this is what you know about Him, that in Him you see God. The knowledge of Christ which stops with the martyr, and the teacher and the brother, is knowledge so partial that even He cannot venture to call it other than ignorance.

2. And then our Lord passes on to another thought, the new vision which at the moment being granted to this unconscious ignorance that was passing into conscious knowledge. “From henceforth ye know Him and have seen Him.” We must give that “from henceforth,” a somewhat literal interpretation, and apply it to the whole series of utterances and deeds of which the words of our text are but a portion. It is the dying Christ that reveals the living God. Conclusion: So He is your way to God. See that you seek the Father by Him alone. He is your truth; enrich yourselves by all the communicated treasures that you have already received in Him. He is your Life; cleave to Him, that the quick spirit that was in Him may pass into you and make you victors over all deaths, temporal and eternal. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Knowledge unconsciously possessed

A man may have grace and yet not know it; yea, he may think He hath it not, as we seek for the keys that are in our pocket: or think that we have lost a jewel that we have locked up in a chest; yea, as the butcher looketh for the candle that sticketh in his hat. (J. Tramp.)


Verses 5-7

Verse 6

John 14:6

Jesus said unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Brief expositions

The way of a holy conversation; the truth of a heavenly doctrine; the life of a bliss everlasting (Leo)
.
The way to beginners, the truth to the progressing (chap. 8:32), the life to the perfect (
Ferus)
. I am the Way, leading to the truth; I am the Truth, promising life; I am the Life, which I give (St. Augustine)
. I am the Way and the Life; the way on earth, the life in heaven: I am He, to whom you go; I am He, by whom you go (St. Augustine)
. The way, in which we walk by charity; the truth, to which we cling by faith; the life, to which we aspire by hope. The life in His example, the truth in His promise, the life in His reward (St. Bernard)
. Truth lies between way and life, as if the way to life were through truth (Leigh)
. The true way to eternal life (Dr. Whichcote)
. Without the Way there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there is no living. I am the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the Truth which thou oughtest to trust; the Life which thou oughtest to hope for. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the Godless Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know the truth, and the truth shall make thee free and thou shalt lay hold on eternal life. (Thomas a Kempis.)

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

Mistakes have been made the occasion of profoundest utterances. It was so here

I. “I AM THE WAY.” Man’s primal communion with God in Eden was broken by his fall. Henceforth humanity became as an islet in mid-ocean, without material for bridge or boat. And the Eternal Word became flesh in order that He himself might become the causeway which should reconnect the island man and the continent God. He not only shows the way, as our Teacher, He is the way itself, the true ladder connecting earth and heaven. He is alike the portal, the line of direction, the true Scala Santa, “The great world’s altar stairs that slope through darkness up to God.” His Via Dolorosa is our Via Gloriosa. His valley of Achor is our door of hope.

II. “I AM THE TRUTH.”

1. In distinction from what is symbolic. He is the fulfiller and realizer of all prophetic hints. Thus He is said to be the True Light, the True Bread, the True Tabernacle, etc.

2. In distinction from what is phenomenal. For truths are ever greater than facts. There is no necessary morality in mere facts as such, e.g., in the fact that every particle of matter attracts every other particle in the direct ratio of its mass, and in the inverse ratio of the square of its distance. Truth is moral, and can exist only in connection with person, i.e., a person who shall somehow stand as its end or representation. Such a person is Christ. He not only has truth, He is the Truth--Himself its eternal embodiment; its source, means, and end. He is the meaning of facts. All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is creation’s definition or final cause.

III. “I AM THE LIFE.”

1. Of all animate existence; all things are also subsisting in Him.

2. Particularly is this true of man.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

Science tells us that there are three elements in light--the illuminating, the chemical, and the heat power. So in Him who is “the Light of the World” there is a threefold perfection.

I. THE TRUTHS SEPARATELY.

1. Christ the Way. One of the deepest feelings in man’s nature is that of a want of something which this world is found not to supply. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing, nor the ambition with success, nor the lust” with gratification. It arises from the terrible disruptions with the intervening chasms which sin has produced. Despite our downward tendencies, man is led by what he feels within, and sees around, to look up to a Divine Power. That Being we would fondly claim as a Father. But where is that Father? There is a way, but somehow we have lost it, and the difficulty is to find it. Conceive a planet wandering from its sphere. Now it is hindered by bodies attracting it or attracted by it, and forthwith it dashes through space, threatening to strike and break in fragments, or to kindle into a conflagration, all the other planets and suns it meets with. It is a picture of a wandering man loosened from the Central Power that stays him, and from the Central Light that should illuminate him. Neither wanderer will right itself till made to move in its old path. But how can we know the way? The flaming sword, turned every way to keep the sinner from the tree of life, has entered into him who is God’s fellow, and hath now power against us, and there is a way opened by which the sinner can come into the very presence of God. “I am the Way.”

2. Christ the Truth. By truth, in this passage, we are not to understand abstract or general doctrine. Systematized truth may serve most important purposes; but it is not to such that our Lord refers. Truth is defined by philosophers as the agreement of our ideas with things. If we know God as He really is, then have we truth in religion. But how can we know God as He really is? Do we not feel as if He were at an infinite distance, as if we could no more rise to Him with our spirits than our frail bodies could mount from earth to heaven? Who will give us wings that we may ascend to Him? Alas! the attraction of earth is too powerful to admit of our rising to Him. The approach must be on His part. Plato was obliged to say: “The Father of the world is hard to discover, and when discovered cannot be communicated.” But when we go on by Christ as the Way, He introduces us to the Father, and we have the truth. God is no longer at a distance; “Emmanuel, God with us.” Aristotle has said that the mind as it came from its Maker is organized for truth, as the eye is to perceive light and the ear to hear sounds. He who has found Christ knows that he has found the truth. With the truth there is assurance; the eye has found the light, the ear is listening to the sound. This, this is the reality of things.

3. Christ the Life. It is of vast moment that we know the way, all good that we reach the truth; but we must have more. The well-formed statue is an interesting object, but none of us would exchange our living condition for that of the chiselled marble. Along with the truth we must have life. There are few or no sinners so dead that they do not wish at times to have life. And yet when they would excite and stimulate it, they find that they have only the cold and the clamminess of death. Feeling never will be excited by a mere determination to raise it. There must be a something to call it forth. Nor will it be evoked by an abstract statement or general doctrine. It is called forth by a living person. Christ so lovely and so loving. Apprehended as the truth He becomes the life.

II. THE TRUTHS IN THEIR CONNECTION. The full truth is to be found in the union of these various truths. If we would have a true religion, and a proper theology founded upon it, we must give Christ the supreme place. Displace Christ the head from this His proper position and the whole form becomes disproportioned.

1. There are some who would have men first to find the way, and then in the way to find Christ. Who would have, e.g., inquirers first to find the true Church, and then through it to find Christ. But this is to reverse the Scriptural order.

2. Some would have us first seek the truth, and then seek Christ. Seekers of truth deserve all the honour that has been paid to them, but they will never find truth in religion till they find Christ. So Justin Martyr acknowledged, and Augustine, and Luther. Let us not go out with the tapers of earth to seek the sun. Any other light can at best be merely like the star to guide the wise men, serving a good end only so far as it guides us to where Christ as the truth is to be found.

3. Again, some would find life without Christ. Their appeal is to inward feelings, sentiments, and intuitions. But what, I ask, is to evoke such sentiments from our dead and sinful hearts? They tell us by such grand and generous ideas as the infinite and the eternal. But these ideas call forth love only when they are associated with a living being whose love is infinite and eternal. And such is Christ.

4. There are some who would seek for Christ under one of these aspects or in one of these characters, but who do not care for the others.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

1. Christ is the Way, for He recovers man from his godless wandering. The metaphor views man in the light of his practical obliquities. He is estranged by wicked works from the filial fellowship in which the life of Jesus Christ was unchangeably centred. A way is that which connects the distant and inaccessible. Traversed as is our land in every possible direction by the highways of commerce and civilization, we perhaps scarcely feel the force of this figure. Poor Livingstone, who waded waist deep through pestilential marshes for weeks, to die at last in a miserable hut by the lake shore; the traveller, who has to cut his way for hundreds of miles through tangled forest and jungle at the rate of half a mile a day; the emigrant, who has to cross the trackless alkali plain, and who may perish midway; the military commander, who had to carry his forces over mountains, some sections of which are almost perpendicular,--know how a well engineered path is the first condition of successful movement. A way is that which makes movement in some specific direction possible. Movement towards God is impossible without the work of Jesus Christ the Mediator. Jesus Christ brings together in His own person the two most distant objects the whole circle of the universe can contain, God dwelling in unapproachable light, and man wallowing in guilt, worldliness, transgression. Christ subverts and destroys the work of sin in human nature, and makes progress towards God possible to us once more. In Him the alienated are brought back into relations of gentleness, endearment, and obedience.

2. Christ is the truth, for He recovers man from his godless error. The metaphor looks upon man from his intellectual side. Men are estranged from God in their thinkings, “alienated from the life of God by reason of the ignorance that is in them.” Christ answers our intellectual need. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Scientific truth puts us into intelligent relation with the world of established scientific fact. Historic truth puts us into intelligent relation with the facts that have determined the growth of particular types of government and civilization. Sociological truths puts us into intelligent relation with the facts that have moulded the social life of mankind. Jesus Christ puts us into intelligent relation with all the vital facts of God’s being and nature and government. He is the only possible word by which God can address Himself to a world of sinners. No intellectual activity, no induction of reason, no range of research can fill up this chasm in the mind of man. We can only know God as we give ourselves up to Jesus Christ, and suffer the energy of His spirit and presence to rule us. He is made unto us the wisdom by which we come to the saving knowledge of God. All knowledge that lies outside this sphere of contract with Christ is at the very best but adroit guess work.

3. Christ is the Life, inasmuch as He raises men from their godless insensibility and death. The ideas deepen as they succeed each other. Knowledge passes into life. “This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” He stands forth in the midst of the universe to counterwork the disintegration and decay that set in when the tie binding all life to its first Centre was ruptured by transgression. Union with Christ, our everlasting Life, will guard against the shock and sting and disability of death. The man who is sailing under trustworthy captainship, and in company with genial friends, cut of one zone into another, is scarcely conscious of the lines of demarcation over which the ship glides. So with the man who lives and dies in fellowship with Christ. Throughout the months of summer, darkness is unknown in the latitudes of the far north. The rising and the setting suns blend their light without the hairbreadth of a shadow between. Tourists are all eager to visit the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” It seems to me that for the man who is vitally united to Christ, the event of death is very much like that. He sails through the quiet, solemn seas of the midnight sun, and before the light of the earthly life has quite gone the light of a nobler sunrise has come to blend with it. In the solemn crisis of transition, for the man who has become one with Christ his Life no darkness deepens, and the shadow of the grave marks the dayspring.

4. Christ’s words present a corrective to all distracted faith. He asks from His followers concentrated thought and attachment and expectation. They had sought a way outside Christ, though a way through whose mazes He was to guide them; a truth outside Christ, though a truth the exposition of which was to come from His lips; a life outside Christ, though a life of which His immortal reign was to be the seal and the defence. The purport of these words is, that they must seek their all in Christ. They must let their eye rest upon His person as the one centre from which all saving power, all teaching light, all quickening inspiration must come. Mark how in these words the Master leads on His disciples to faith in a Saviour unseen. The love of the disciples had been very apt to glide into an idolatry of Christ’s human form. But all this is to be corrected by the fresh events that are at hand. The text suggests a warning against all low and dishonouring views of the Saviour’s work and person. (T. G. Selby.)

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

I. I AM THE WAY. To what? To our eternal destiny. There are ends closer at hand than this which man, if left to himself, seeks before all other things--pleasure, fortune, glory, science. That is what the heathens ardentlydemanded of their gods; but never by a single word did Jesus Christ offer to lavish them upon men.

1. I know that when we speak of the higher aim of life, worldlings shrug their shoulders and smile; and a certain school, now in high favour, gravely affirms that we can neither attain it nor even so much as understand it. But I needs must know whither I go, and if I deem foolish the man who would fling himself in a railway train or embark upon a vessel without asking where the steam power or the breath of the wind is taking him, by what appellation shall I characterize those who allow themselves to be borne away in the voyage of life without knowing whether their destination is death or life?

2. “But,” says the sceptic, “supposing a higher life is indeed reserved for man, how shall he know it? So many ways are open before us! How find out the right path?” Not much science is required to discover which is the path to be preferred, of pleasure or duty, iniquity or justice, selfishness or sacrifice, pride or devotion, purity or corruption. And heathens themselves have understood this well. But how much more simple, and solemn has the question become since Christ said, “I am the Way!” To know if He speaks true, I have only to consider whither He means to lead me. What then is the end which He sets before me? It is the one, holy, just and good Being reigning over all beings: it is harmony governing the world, man loving man. Well, if that is the end towards which Christ would lead me, what need have I to argue further? Were I the most ignorant of men, I would instinctively understand that I must indeed tend towards this aim. Were I the most learned, what could I add to this ideal?

II. I AM THE TRUTH.

1. That is what greatly astonishes many of those who hear Him. They are willing to accept Christ as the instructor of souls. But if Jesus Christ had been nothing more than this, we instinctively feel that, after having guided men to the true God, He should have retired in the background and re echoed the words of the Forerunner: “God must increase, and I must decrease.” Others, and among these many of the noblest benefactors of mankind, have been compelled to speak thus. Aristotle, Copernicus, Newton, Bacon, Descartes might be unknown to us without this fact depriving their works of aught of their value. And in the religious order, knew we nothing whatever of Moses, David, or St. Paul, we would none the less be in possession of the genesis of the world, of the most heart-thrilling hymns and of the grand doctrine of grace. These men were the witnesses of the truth. This Jesus Christ has also been; but more than all this, and that is why He utters these words, which in the lips of Moses, David, or St. Paul, had been blasphemy: “I am the Truth.”

2. What is truth? It is the exact relation between two things. Thus a word is true when it corresponds perfectly with the fact or the idea it expresses; and arithmetical calculation is true when it gives accurately the results of a relation between two different quantities. Every truth, therefore, supposes a relation. Well, truth in religion will be the harmonious, and perfect relation between man and God. Now Jesus Christ has not only taught us what this relation is, but that He has realized it in His person. You ask what is the true religion. We point to Jesus Christ and answer: “Behold it.”

III. I AM THE LIFE.

1. Life, which is the most habitual and common of phenomena, is the most unfathomable of mysteries. Materialism, which triumphs today in so many schools, is stopped by this problem as before a brazen door forever sealed. The Eternal God alone calls forth life; I know the terrible objection, if God alone is the Author of all life, wherefore evil? To this the gospel answers that the world is not in a state of order, that evil has, from the origin, been the consequence of the improper use of liberty. But have you observed how closely the notion of sin and that of death are bound up together; have you remarked that the sublime promise of life is essentially reserved for that alone which is in harmony with the will of God? Consequently, strong is our faith, we are able to say to all the powers of evil: “You shall not live forever.” The gospel is the doctrine of life; earth has been visited by the perfect Being, and according to His own words: “As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” Alone the Son of God hath life in Himself. Therefore can He say: “I am the Life.”

2. As Christ possesses life in Himself, He also brings life. Life alone can bring forth life. Christ came into a world which was literally dried up. What He did in Judea He has done in Rome, in the uncivilized world; what He did in olden time He is doing today; and whilst it remains a fatal law for these nations that civilization alone leads them to destruction, it also remains a certain and striking fact that civilization with Jesus Christ is able to transform and save them. But if Christ brings life to nations, it is by imparting it to souls individually. (E. Bersier.)

The movement of the ages

May it not be said that the movement of our age is towards life? I sometimes fancy that I can discern three epochs in the Reformed Churches corresponding in the main to those three mighty words, via, veritas, vita. The Reformers themselves no doubt laid the stress chiefly upon this first. It was on this Popery had gone most astray, obscuring the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The epoch following was essentially dogmatic when the doctors drew up systems of the truth. It was now indeed Christ as veritas! but the dogma taken alone led to coldness, dogmatism, sectarianism and formality. Happy will it be for the Church if, not forgetting the other two, she shall now be found moving on to the third development of Christ as the Life, which well regulate the two former aspects, while it consummates and informs them. The life must develop the individual, and on individuals the Church depends; for in God’s sight it is no abstraction. (J. Mackintosh.)

I am the Way

The Way

The most precious things lie in the smallest compass. Diamonds have much value in little space. Those Scriptural sayings which are fullest of meaning are many of them couched in the fewest words.

I. HOW JESUS CHRIST IS THE WAY AND HOW HE COMES TO BE SO. A way supposes two points--from which and to which.

1. Christ is the Way

Now, when the sin of God’s people was moved from them to Christ, the wrath of God went where the sin went.

2. Christ is the Way

II. WHAT SORT OF WAY IS CHRIST AND FOR WHAT SORT OF PEOPLE?

1. What sort of way. He is

2. For what sort of people. For all sorts

III. HOW WE MAKE CHRIST OUR WAY.

1. How do we make Christ our way? As we make any other way our way: by getting into it.

2. In order to keep the way your own, all you do is to continue in it. “The just shall live by faith,” not by any other means. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Jesus the Way

This word “way” may mean either one of two things--the road along which you must go to reach a certain place; or the thing that must be done in order to secure any particular end. When we think of heaven, Jesus is the way in both these senses. He is the road along which we must walk. He has done all that is necessary, in order that we may get there. The way of salvation through Jesus is

I. A PLAIN WAY. A paved street or a turnpike road, is a plain way. But if we are travelling over a sandy desert, or through a rocky country where there is nothing to mark the path, then we are in a way that is not plain. It is hard to find the way, and at every step, we are liable to get off the right track. The way of salvation in Jesus is easy to find and easy to keep, if we only ask God to help us in finding and keeping it. (Isaiah 35:8; Habakkuk 2:2). The father of a little girl was once in great trouble on account of his sins. He lay awake, after going to bed one night, in fear and dread. His little daughter was sleeping in her crib beside his bed. Presently she began to move about uneasily. “Papa, papa!” she called. “What is it, my darling?” he asked. “Oh, papa, it’s so dark! Take Nellie’s hand.” He reached out and took her tiny little hand, clasping it firmly in his own. A sigh of relief came from her little heart. At once she was quieted and comforted. That father felt that his little child had taught him a valuable lesson. “Oh, my Father, my Saviour,” he cried, “it is dark, very dark in my soul. Take my hand.” So he turned to Jesus and trusted in Him. A minister had a son in the army. Tidings came that his son had been wounded and was not expected to live. On arriving there, the doctor said, “He may die any moment.” With a sad heart, the father went in. “Oh, father,” said the wounded man, “the doctor says I must die, and I am not prepared for it. Tell me how I can be ready. Make it so plain that I can get hold of it.” “My son,” said the father, “do you remember one day, years ago, I had occasion to rebuke you for something you had done? You became very angry and abused me.” “Yes, father.” Do you remember, after your anger had passed off, how you came in and threw your arms round my neck and said: ‘My dear father, I am so sorry, won’t you forgive me?’” “Yes, I remember it very distinctly.” “Do you remember what I said? Oh, yes. You said: ‘I forgive you with all my heart,’ and you kissed me.” “Did you believe me?” “Certainly.” “And then did you feel happy again?” “Yes, perfectly happy, and since that time I have loved you better than ever before.” “Well, now, my son, this is the way to come to Jesus. Tell Him, ‘I am so sorry,’ just as you told me: and He will forgive you a thousand times quicker than I did.” “Father, is this the way. Why, I can get hold of this.” And he did get hold of it and was soon happy. After awhile, the doctor came in. He felt the pulse of the wounded man, and said with surprise: “Why, Colonel, you look better.” “I am better, doctor. I’m going to get well.” He got well; and he is living now, the joy and comfort of that father who made the way of salvation so plain that he could get hold of it.

II. A BROAD WAY (Matthew 9:28; Revelation 22:17). There was a poor sailor who had lived a very wicked life. Once, while far off at sea, it pleased God to awaken his conscience. Then he was in great distress. There was no one on board to tell him what to do. One night he lay in his berth, and in the dim light of the feeble lamp, he was reading the Bible. He came to John 3:16. He put his finger on the word “whosoever,”“Whosoever,” said he, “that means anybody; that means everybody! Why, that means me!” Then he turned in faith to Jesus, and He received him. He got into the broad way of salvation through this sweet word. One day a minister was visiting with a friend among some of the poorest of the population. He entered a wretched looking house. A rickety bedstead, a couple of broken chairs, the remains of a table, and a few pieces of earthenware on the shelf, made up all the furniture. In the middle of the room a miserable looking woman lay on the floor drunk. The minister said to his friend: “Let us pray for her.” They kneeled down and prayed that God would have mercy on this poor woman. She lay there still and stupid, and seemed to take no notice. They went away. Some months after the minister was going again through that part of the city. A well-dressed, respectable-looking woman came up and spoke to him. “Do you not remember some months since praying over a woman who lay drunk on the floor?” “I do.” “Well, sir, I am that woman. I was respectably brought up by Christian parents. I married; but after awhile my husband died, and left me with three children in utter poverty. I saw no way of support but by my own shame. Then I took to drinking to drown my sorrow. I was at the lowest point of sin and misery when you stopped and offered that prayer. It saved me. It made me think of my dear mother, now in heaven. And, by God’s help, I hope yet to loin her there.” Oh, it is a broad way of salvation that can take in such poor wretched creatures as this! A gentleman was sent for once to visit one of his class, a newsboy, named Billy, who was very ill. As he entered the room, Billy said: “Oh, captain, I’m mighty glad to see yer.” “What can I do for you, my dear fellow?” “I wanted to ax yer two questions. Did you tell us the other night as how Jesus Christ died for every feller?” “Yes, ‘Jesus Christ tasted death for every man.’” “Good!” said Billy: “I thought so. Now did you tell us as how Jesus Christ saves every feller that axes Him?” “Yes,” said his friend; “Everyone that asketh receiveth.” “Then I know,” said Billy, with a feeble but happy voice, “That He saves me because I axes Him.” The teacher paused to wipe away a tear from his eye. Then he stooped down to speak to the boy. But Billy’s head had dropped back on his pillow of rags, and his happy spirit had gone to Jesus.

III. A NARROW WAY. It is a broad way, because the greatest sinners may come into it, and any number. It is a narrow way, because when sinners come into it they must leave all their sins behind (Matthew 7:13).

1. There is a vessel lying at anchor, It can make no progress while the anchor holds it. It may rise and fall, as the tide rises or falls; but it cannot move away. And just what the anchor does to the vessel, one sin, one wrong thought or feeling indulged or allowed, will do for the Soul. It will keep it from going on in the way of salvation.

2. A lady once was led to see that she was a sinner. The thought of her sins made her feel very unhappy. The difficulty was just here. She had been a very charitable woman, and wanted to trust in part to good works. One night, after weeping and praying in great distress, she went to bed. In her sleep she dreamed that she fell over a dreadful precipice. In falling, she caught hold of the branch of a tree. In her terror she cried out: “Oh, save me, save me!” She heard the voice of Jesus saying: “Let go that branch, and I will save you.” But she was unwilling to loose her hold. Again she cried: “Oh, save me!” The same voice said: “I cannot help you while you cling there.” At last she let go, expecting to be dashed to pieces. But, instead of this, she found herself caught in the strong arms of her Saviour. In the joy of feeling herself safe, she awoke. And so in her dream she had learned the lesson which she had failed to learn in her waking hours. She saw that the way of salvation was too narrow for her to carry any of her good works into it.

IV. THE ONLY WAY. Some people think that there are a great many ways to heaven, and that one of these is as good as any of the others. What does God say about it? (Isaiah 43:11; Acts 4:12). No one can ever get to heaven who does not go there through Jesus Christ. Many will go to heaven without knowing how they get there. But they will find it was Jesus alone who brought them there. A little girl was very ill. She asked: “Papa, does the doctor think I shall die?” With a very sad heart, her father said: “My darling, the doctor is afraid you cannot live.” Then her pale face grew very sad. She thought about the dark graves, and her eyes filled with tears as she said: “Papa, the grave is very dark. Won’t you go down with me into it?” With a bursting heart, her father told her he could not go with her, till the Lord called him. “Papa, won’t you let mamma go with me?” It almost broke that father’s heart to tell her that, much as her mother loved her, she could not go with her either. The poor dear child turned her face to the wall and wept. But she had been taught about Jesus, as the Friend and Saviour of sinners. She poured out her little heart to Him with a child’s full faith, and found comfort in Him. Soon she turned again to her father, with her face all lighted up with joy, and said: “Papa, the grave is not dark now. Jesus will go with me.” But Jesus is the only one who can do this Psalms 23:4). Some years ago there was a distinguished lawyer, who had an only daughter, the light and joy of her father’s life. The mother of this young girl was an earnest Christian woman. She had tried to teach her child that Jesus was the only way of salvation. But her husband was an infidel. He had told his daughter that we could get to heaven without the help of Jesus. This daughter loved and honoured both her parents; but as her father told her of one way and her mother of another way, she could not make up her mind which of these two ways was the right one. At the age of sixteen she was taken very ill. One day, she said to her father with great earnestness: “Father, I am going to die. What must I do to be saved? My mother has taught me that the only way of salvation is in Jesus Christ. You have taught me that we can be saved without Jesus. Shall I take my mother’s advice or yours?” The strong man was deeply moved. After a while, he came to the bedside of his daughter. He took her pale, thin hand in his, and said slowly but solemnly: “My darling daughter, take your mother’s way.” Here is a ship at sea. She has been overtaken by a dreadful storm. Her masts are broken, her sails are rent. She has sprung a leak, and now the pumps are choked, and can no longer be worked. The water is rising. It is very evident that she cannot be kept afloat much longer. There is only one way left to the poor sailors for saving their lives? What is that? It is to take to the lifeboat. And we, as sinners, are just in the position of such a storm-tossed wreck at sea. Jesus is the lifeboat. (R. Newton, D. D.)

Christ the Way

We could never rejoice in this His way, if He merely stood in the way as a sign post, or went before us as a Guide. God be praised, our Jesus is not only Counsellor, but mighty as well; and not mighty only, but Mighty God! (Isaiah 9:6). If He is as a sign post, He is one with living arms; for He receives us to Himself, from His Cross He draws us up to Himself, He lifts us upon His shoulders; in short, He is Himself the way, the new living way, which, like a full flowing river, bears along our little hark, and brings it to the ocean of a blissful eternity. Conrad Rieger sets before us Jesus as the way, thus: “Where is the man who will give himself to another to be his way? If the king could not cross over a dyke, and were to say to one of you, ‘Lay thyself in this dyke to make a bridge that I may cross over upon thee,’ where is the meanest subject in the land who would consent to do it? But what no man would like to do for another, that Jesus does for us all.” (R. Besser, D. D.)

Christ the way to God

I. IN WHAT RESPECTS IS CHRIST “THE WAY?”

1. As a Teacher. He came into a world that was filled with error and falsehood. Everywhere men were groping in the dark, following “blind leaders.” And the Saviour affirmed, “I am the Light of the World.” “I am the Truth.” All spiritual truth is associated with Christ, because it proceeds from Him and terminates in Him.

2. As a Mediator. Many can see that Christ is “the Way” as a Teacher, but not as a Mediator. But if Christ be a Teacher, and nothing more, then He rather shows “the Way,” than is “the Way.” Between man and God there stretches a wide gulf which sin has opened. Amidst the many expedients which man vainly devises, the Saviour interposes and becomes the “one Mediator between God and man.”

3. As such

II. Some of THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS “WAY.”

1. Truth. Immediately our Lord adds, “I am the Truth.” From the Fall until now the human mind has been in matters of religion avaricious of error. Now, amidst the many ways which men have invented, Christ presents Himself as the true Way--the Way which God provides, and which Scripture reveals. What other way so commends itself to an enlightened reason as this.

2. Purity. False systems of religion must accommodate themselves to man’s frailties, and enable him to compound for his sins; it is only the gospel that presents a pure and perfect standard.

3. Happiness and security. Emphatically may it be said that it is a way of peace. But can you affirm this of those methods of salvation which man has invented? “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.” Safe as well as happy!--for as this is allying way, all who walk in it participate in that eternal life which it bestows (Isaiah 35:8-10). I think of every imagethat can suggest this security, but they all fail adequately to shadow it forth. I think of Noah sheltered in the ark; of Lot, plucked as a “brand from the burning;” of the criminal pursued by the officers of justice reaching the Temple; of the man slayer in the city of refuge. “There is no condemnation,” etc.

4. Simplicity. What can be plainer than this promise, “He that believeth, shall be saved;” or than this invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour,” etc.; or than this assurance, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out;” or than this command, “Look unto Me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved”?

5. Exclusiveness. “There is no other name,” etc. (H. J. Gamble.)

Make sure that you are in the right way

When I was at Fall River, I was obliged to rise at four o’clock in the morning to take the train. I took my carpet bag in my hand, and ran, but was in trouble lest I might be running directly from the cars, instead of towards them. There was not a person in sight; but I saw a light in one upper window. A watcher was there. I rang the bell, and asked information as to my way. It was given. I was about right--only needed a little help, and now, knowing that I was in the right way, I did run. A bird might have counted it doing well to keep up with me; for I expected every moment to hear the bell, and the rushing off of the train, and then I should be there, and my people without a sermon on Sunday. Only let me be sure that I was in the right way, and I was willing to run. So says the Christian, “Only let me be sure that I am on my way to heaven, and there is nothing that I am not willing to do or to bear.” Well, if you are so earnest, know that Christ is the Way; and if you are desirous to cast away all that shall hinder your race, I think that you need not doubt that you are already in it. (H. W. Beecher.)

Christ the only way

Mrs. Bennet, wife of John Bennet, minister of an Independent Church in Cheshire, the day before she died, raised herself into a very solemn attitude, and with most striking emphasis, delivered, in the following language her dying testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus: “I here declare it before you that I have looked on the right hand and on the left--I have cast my eyes before and behind--to see if there was any possible way of salvation but by the Son of God; and I am fully satisfied there is not. No! none on earth, nor all the angels in heaven, could have wrought out salvation for such a sinner. None but God Himself, taking our nature upon Him, and doing all that the holy law required, could have procured pardon for me, a sinner. He has wrought out salvation for me, and I know that I shall enjoy it forever.”

The way to our wishes

Thomas was the spokesman of the disciples for the moment. The Saviour speaks to them and to us as if we were anxious to get a glimpse of a particular person, and to go to a particular place. Are not these longings strong and deep in the heart of humanity? Is not science itself in search of the Father? Is it not trying by every means in its power to get up to the Great First Cause? And does not superstition unite its sighs with those of science? When it makes its idol and falls down before it, is it not trying to bring God within the bounds of visibility? And is not Pantheism in pursuit of the same object? God everything, and everything God. Deeper still is the desire in the heart of the Church. Now Christ says, “I am the Way.” Would it not be wonderful if it were otherwise, if there were no way? We see on all sides provision made for the wants of our nature, for the gratification of the wishes of our hearts. Are we to believe that the desires which we have for the highest and noblest and holiest of all things are to be made exceptions to the rule?

I. CHRIST IS THE WAY BY WHICH THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE, THE FATHER OF ALL, HAS BEEN BROUGHT WITHIN THE RANGE OF HUMAN VISION IN A REAL PERSONAL FORM. His attributes are evident from His works. Holy men of old were permitted to hear His voice sometimes, and to behold symbols of His presence. But the Lord Jesus made the eternal God visible to the eye of man in human form--“In Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” And that was the only way in which He could be manifested personally to the eye of flesh. Mortal man could not go up to God where He is. The only alternative was, that God should come down in the fashion of a man. In no other nature could He convey a complete conception of His character to the mind.

II. CHRIST IS THE WAY BY WHICH MAN GETS UP TO GOD, AND DWELLS WITH HIM AT LAST IN HIS HOUSE. When we were bearing our own sins, we dreaded Him; when He is placed before us bearing our sins, we are attracted to Him, and take hold of Him with our whole heart, as His heart took hold of us when we were perishing. When we are drawn to Him we partake of His nature as really as He partook of ours. His Spirit flows into us, and all that is good is quickened and strengthened in us, so that an affinity is established between us and Him, just as an affinity had been previously established between Him and us. “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.” His people “seek the things which are above,” etc. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” When the souls of His people are loosed from their bodies at death they go up to Him. And the bodies of believers, as well as their spirits, will be drawn up to Him at last. “And so we shall be ever with the Lord.” (W. Simpson.)

The way to the Father

We hear much of the Fatherhood of God, and cannot hear too much if the doctrine be truly stated. It is not a new doctrine. The heathen knew something of it; it is in the Old Testament, while it is the very substance of the New. Only in the latter, what heathenism never knew, and what the Law and the Prophets only taught imperfectly, God is our Father in the Eternal Son. This distinctly Christian doctrine is declared in our text

I. POLEMICALLY. It protests against certain religious teachings which contravene it. Throughout His ministry Christ was in conflict with men who held a false doctrine of the Fatherhood of God.

1. There were those who represented God as though He looked on His human offspring with a complacency which winked at all moral distinctions. The Supreme Father looked upon all with equal indifference. In opposition to this Christ taught that man was estranged from God through sin. He had lost the knowledge of God and was spiritually dark; the favour of God and was guilty; the image of God and was corrupt; the life of God and was dead in trespasses and sins; and that men could only secure the prerogatives of sonship by intervention from without. There are those today who teach the old doctrines of a philosophical Sadduceeism. Christianity challenges them. Appealing to Christ’s credentials as a Teacher sent from God, it proclaims to the world that God hath given unto us eternal life, and that this life is by a Mediator whom He hath ordained. There is no absurdity in the doctrine. Who but God can determine how we may most fitly come to Him? And as the Mediatorship is actually constituted, what lessons touching Divine love and holiness, and human helplessness and dignity, does it not pour into our ears.

2. But Christ’s ministry did battle even more keenly with those who held that God was their Father through mediatorship. Angels, Abraham, Moses, saintly pedigree, holy observances, etc., were their mouthpieces with God, and stepping stones to immortality. Christ told them they carried a lie in their right hand; that there was but one Mediator--Himself. Alas! we have the doctrine of the Pharisees too. Men are heard proclaiming that the prayer of a disembodied saint, the magic of a Christian rite, etc., have the stupendous power to join heaven and earth together. The New Testament pronounces all this to be falsehood. Our alms, deeds, lastings, communions, baptisms, etc.

these bridge the gulf between us and God I

What does a man think of himself, what does he think of God, who takes up with such a hypothesis?

II. DOCTRINALLY. Taken with its context, the text is the summary and index of a most large and precious Scripture teaching. How do men come to the Father through Christ? Necessarily the Person, character, and history of the Mediator will have much to do with the nature and method of His mediation. Who the Mediator was let John tell us (chap. 1), and His character and history let him and his brethren tell. With these facts in view men have held that the value of Christ’s mediation consists in the energy of the truth He taught, and the force of His example. Others explain that by His perfect fulfilment of the will of God as our representative, He became so acceptable to God, that by reason of what He did God is now the loving Father of us all, and in Him all men are already virtually, and will be by and by actually justified and glorified. Now both these theories mistake the entire basis, method and scope of Christ’s Mediatorship, which is essentially an economy of holy law, in which God and man sustain not simply the relations of Father and Son, but those of moral Governor and rational and responsible creature. According to Scripture

1. Christ’s blood has made satisfaction in law to Divine justice for the sins of all mankind, by virtue of which sin is expiated, and all men through personal faith may find mercy and acceptance.

2. As the recompense of the Redeemer’s passion. God gives to the world by Christ’s hands His Holy Spirit, by whom assurance of pardon is given, and new birth to righteousness.

3. Under the reign of Christ believers are protected from the evil that is in the world; subjected to providential discipline, and furnished with strength to do the will of God and make their way to everlasting life.

III. EVANGELICALLY AND PROMISSORY. Men can only come to God by Christ; but by Him there is free access for every soul. To come to the Father is

1. To know God.

2. To be the object of the love of God.

3. To be with God forever.

Conclusion:

1. The words illuminate the widest possible area of religious truth. God is and always has been, whether as Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, the Father of men through a Mediator.

2. Within a narrower circle, Christ’s doctrine lays down broad lines of duty and privilege for the Church of God. Let no false charity presume to enlarge what God has straitened. It is at the Church’s peril that it dares to cripple man’s evangelical liberty.

3. The text speaks with a gracious but authoritative voice to every hearer of the gospel.

Christ the only way to the Father

Not long ago, two little children rambling from home over a wild and dangerous part of Dartmoor, lost their way. Utterly unable to find the right path, they sat down, and cried bitterly. “And what did you do next?” was the question put to them afterwards. “I said, ‘Our Father,’ answered the boy, “and sister said, ‘Gentle Jesus.’” Then they made another attempt, and discovered a moorland road which led them safely home. Surely the conduct of those little ones, lost on the moor, has a lesson for us. If any of us have wandered from the right way, and lost sight of our Father’s House, and fallen among the dangers of a sinful world, what can we do better than shed tears of sorrowful repentance; what can we do better than cry to Our Father and Gentle Jesus? (H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

Christ the only way of approach to the Father

I. To come UNTO THE FATHER MUST BE REGARDED AS THE CHIEF CONCERN OF MAN.

1. The nature of this coming to the Father. It is

2. The importance of thus coming to the Father. Adopting the most general assumption that God is the Governor, and that man is a subject, and that the sanction by which the government of God is vindicated, over the retribution of eternity, then it must follow that nothing can be of importance at all compared to the attainment of a state by which the infliction of the Divine anger may be avoided, and by which the enjoyment of the Divine favour may be secured.

II. THE WORK OF THE LORD JESUS AFFORDS A METHOD BY WHICH MEN MAY COME UNTO THE FATHER. In the whole of the series of verses, with which the text is connected, our Saviour speaks of Himself as being one who had been introduced for the purpose of accomplishing a work, through the agency of which man might be made possessor of all that is desirable in the state we have endeavoured to describe. Let us notice

1. The nature of the work which our Lord Jesus has accomplished.

2. The extent to which this work is intended to be applied. The merit of the work of the Saviour is intrinsically sufficient for the world. The means of access and acceptance with God, under the Levitical dispensation, were restricted to a small nation; but under that dispensation of grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ, it announced that the party walls were to be broken down, and the distinction of Jew and Gentile known no more; and that whomsoever, of any age, nation, rank, or character, would come unto the Father through the work of the Son, should find in the work of the Son a ready plenitude of Almighty energy and grace. There is no limit to that promise--“He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.”

III. TO COME UNTO THE FATHER, EXCEPT THROUGH THE WORK OF JESUS, IS PERFECTLY AND ETERNALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

1. No other being possesses the characteristics which are possessed by our Lord Jesus, and which are necessary to constitute a sufficient mode of access to the Father. For, what is Christ? He is God, and He is Man. The way to God would be shut if it were not for the humanity of Christ; the way to God would be imperfect if it were not for the Divinity of Christ. Humanity is what gives to the work of the Saviour adaptation; Divinity is what gives to the work of Christ efficacy, plenitude, and power.

2. The Sacred Writings distinctly and solemnly declare that the work of Christ, as the Medium of access to the Father, stands exclusive and alone. “Neither is there salvation in any other,” etc. “Other foundation can no man lay,” etc. Conclusion:

1. Have you come to the Father?

2. Will you come unto the Father? (J. Parsons.)

Christ the only means of access to the Father

The passage implies

I. THAT IT IS A PRIMARY DUTY OF ALL INTELLIGENT BEINGS TO COME TO GOD. God is the Father of all spirits, of all beings, to whom He has given an intelligent nature, on whom He has conferred moral capacities. From that very circumstance it is their first and positive obligation, and will constitute their happiness to come to Him, i.e., to have constant intercourse with Him. There is something solemn and impressive about it. To come into contact with the eternal and infinite mind! We feel strongly when we have a prospect of coming into contact with some eminent person. But everything falls short of the idea of coming into the presence of God. And then to have a proper idea of our responsibility, and our being constantly under His eye--and yet it is our primary duty to delight in this, and to do it.

II. THAT THERE IS A VERY REMARKABLE SINGULARITY ABOUT THE WAY IN WHICH MAN IS TO COME TO GOD. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Anything like that was never uttered in heaven. It never was uttered, and never will be, in any world in which the beings continue to be just as they proceeded from the hands of God. They delight in constant intercourse with God. Why is this? Worlds that have never fallen are in a state of natural religion. With respect to us who have fallen, if we come to God we must come in a particular manner. And the singularity of this arises from our guilt. God is to be viewed by us not merely as God, but as a God whom we have offended. And, therefore, there is some process required to mark our circumstances, both upon God’s part and upon ours. And the peculiarity of the thing as revealed in Scripture is, that we are to come to God, through a Mediator, and to plead the work and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to ask the forgiveness of sin, in the consideration of that reason. Now all just wows of religion rest upon this foundation. The Deist rejects revelation and a mediator altogether, because he looks abroad on the face of the world, and he thinks that nothing more is necessary to come to God but some prayer and some expression of penitence. Then, again, some men reject the idea of the Divinity and sacrifice of Christ, and think it is enough to come to God, as professing to receive the truth of Christ. These views result from very inadequate impressions of the holiness and majesty of God and of the nature of sin, and of that kind of medium which is represented in the New Testament as the way into the presence of the holiest of all.

III. THAT IN COMING TO GOD IT BECOMES US TO HAVE RESPECT TO THE MEDIATOR, AND TO COME ON THE SPECIFIC BUSINESS FOR WHICH HE IS APPOINTED. Only imagine that one of your children, or several of them, had deeply and grievously offended you. Or imagine the case of a monarch, against whom a certain portion of his subjects had rebelled. Imagine, in either of these cases, that some kind and gracious and affectionate declaration of readiness to forgive on certain conditions and in a certain way. And just imagine that either the child, or the subject should dare to come into the presence of the parent or of the sovereign, unconcerned about the matter wherein they had offended. Imagine that your child, without adverting to the circumstances of his actual offence, and of your displeasure, and to the plan which you had designed by which reconciliation might be effected between you--that your child came and praised the properties of your character, and rejoiced in the genuine affections of your nature, and the principles of your behaviour, and praising your heart, or your hands, or your head. Or conceive of the subjects entering the presence chamber of their monarch, and that without adverting to the proclamation that had been made, they should come and unite together in some manifestation of their feelings with regard to his government and his reign, and the happiness of his subjects; never once referring to the business on which they were supposed to come. Would there not be something monstrous in all this? And do you not perceive that the child would increase his offence, and that the subjects would add something like ingratitude and contempt to their rebellion? There are many who just treat God in this way.

IV. THAT IN COMING IN THE WAY THAT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT WE HAVE EVERY ENCOURAGEMENT AND WE SHALL FIND IT TO BE SUFFICIENT. We shall have a welcome, and shall surely receive whatever is requisite to ensure for us happiness and satisfaction. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” But “whoever cometh I will in no wise cast out.” And the reason why you do not enjoy all this is, because you will not.

V. THAT THOSE WHO COME TO GOD BY THE MEDIATOR, AND THEY ONLY, ARE PREPARED FOR DWELLING WITH GOD HEREAFTER. It is not enough to die, and be happy, as some people seem to imagine; you may die and be damned--the Bible says so.

VI. THAT THIS SUBJECT IS EXCEEDINGLY FORGOTTEN AND NEGLECTED BY MEN.

1. There are many men who never come to God at all. They never come in any way; they never think of it.

2. There are others who come to God, professedly, but in the wrong way. They do not come to the Father by the Son.

3. There are others who neglect the spirit of this declaration. They profess to come in the right way; but the particular exercises, and the positive enjoyments of religion, are to them an end of itself. (T. Binney.)

Truth

The Truth

Christ is the Truth

I. IN THE HIGHEST SENSE of that word. Some by the word mean literal accuracy of speech, some a restricted class of theological truths; others some philosophical theories. We use the word to denote the whole sum of Christianity as revealed in the person, teaching, and life, of Jesus; the final test and appeal to which all religious and moral truth must be referred; eclipsing all by its glory, overtopping all by its majesty, swaying all by its authority, and determining all by its decision.

II. THE SAVING TRUTH. A few simple facts and doctrines constitute the main features of our religion. They exhibit the Divine law broken by man’s transgression. They proclaim the eternal justice condemning man. Man is guilty, and therefore condemned; depraved, therefore impotent; hopeless, therefore wretched. This, then, is the mystery of godliness: the Christ, who is the sinless one, became the representative and the surety of the sinful, obeyed the law we had broken, endured the penalty we had deserved, is gone to heaven to shed down on our hearts the influence which alone can renew and sanctify. By faith we are united to Him. Thus we are cleansed from our transgression, justified from all condemnation, made partakers of the Saviour’s Spirit, destined to the Saviour’s glory.

III. INCOMPARABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL TRUTH. No error can be harmless; every truth must have its use; yet it is equally evident that all truth is not of the same importance; but this is the central, all-pervading truth. If we diverge here, we can only go further and further astray. It is in spiritual science what the law of gravitation is in physical science. Other truth will affect your intelligence, your conscience, your luxuries, your civilization your personal freedom; but this affects your soul, your conscience, your character, your eternity.

IV. TO CONTRADICT AND REFUTE THE WORLD’S FALSEHOOD. The first temptation was a lie; and ever after that time men were deceived. Thus it came to pass that history, with a slight substratum of fact, became little else than a tissue of fables; philosophy, notwithstanding its high pretensions, became for the most part a mere logomachy or imposing sophism; poetry was employed to dazzle the imagination, to blind the understanding, to decorate the vices; while religion, which, above all things, ought to be the unadulterated truth, became the most complicated and abandoned lie; till Christ stood in the deluded world, and confronted all its delusions, and said, “I am the Truth.” But since then even the gospel has been perverted. We have need incessantly, therefore, to refer to the first principle; to correct everything by this, “I am the Truth.”

V. NOTWITHSTANDING THE INDIFFERENCE THAT MEN GENERALLY MANIFEST IN RELATION TO IT. I know of nothing which men are so reluctant to honour. If, indeed, you will lower its tone and destroy its vitality; if you will represent it as a philosophy amenable at the bar of man, and class it as a speculation with all other speculations it will be tolerated.

VI. NOTWITHSTANDING THE WORLD’S HOSTILITY. Thus hostility has put the seal to the declaration. Had it not been mighty, it would never have awakened that hostility; had it not been right-hearted, it would never have dared it; had it not been immortal, it would never have survived it; but having awakened, dared, and survived it, in the person of Christ, and in His truth we see it, as if it came direct from heaven, bearing this testimony before all unequivocally and unshakingly, “I am the Truth.”

VII. AS THE POWER ULTIMATELY TO SUBDUE THE WORLD. “Great is the truth, and shall prevail.” The thoughtful of all parties assent to that; the mistake is that men should so hastily conclude that the truth is with them. Even they who are engaged in the worst of enterprises wish to have the truth on their side, and labour to have it appear that it is so. And why? Because truth is of God; the man who knowingly goes against it feels he is struggling with Omnipotence. When men see error with their eyes open the spirit shrinks away from it. And if Christ’s doctrine be not true it must perish; all the learning, and power, and skill, and genius, of the universe cannot save it from the perdition it deserves; but Christ cannot be defeated so long as this text is true. Christ’s people cannot be defeated so long as they can say, “We are in Him that is true.” Living in Him; the Church is founded upon a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Remember

1. That though this truth is set before you, it will never be yours but in the exercise of deep humility.

2. That fully to enter into this truth you must possess the spirit of Him from whom it comes.

3. That this truth is Divine in its origin, and intends to be saving in its result.

4. Take it with you as at once your defence and your law. (J. Aldis.)

Jesus, the Truth

It is a truth in arithmetic that two and two make four. It is a truth in geometry that “the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line.” Certain facts are truths of history. And what we are taught about God or heaven are truths in religion. But Jesus has so much to do with our religion, that we sometimes put His name in place of the word religion, and say of a certain doctrine that it is a truth in Jesus. And this is what Jesus means when He says: “I am the Truth.” The truth in Jesus is the best of all truth, because it

I. SANCTIFIES OR MAKES US GOOD. The model of goodness is the example of Jesus. There is node like Him in heaven, in the earth, in any other world. He is “the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” And that which helps to make us like Jesus is the very best thing in the world for us. It is the truth the Bible teaches us about Jesus, which makes us Christians in the beginning. And then it is only by knowing more of this truth that we “grow in grace,” or become better Christians.

II. SATISFIES AND MAKES US HAPPY. When you are hungry you have a very disagreeable feeling, and nothing will take it away and make us feel comfortable, but substantial food. But the hunger of the soul is harder to bear than the hunger of the body. Suppose you go to a person, whose soul is in trouble on account of some great sorrow or sin, and try to comfort him by telling him one of the truths in arithmetic or geography. You say to him: “Don’t be troubled; two and two make four; or the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.” Do you think that would satisfy him, or do him any good? None whatever. But suppose that, instead of this, you tell him, and he believes, about “the truth as it is in Jesus.” This is the food that this hungry soul craves. The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Charles I, lies buried in Newport Church, in the Isle of Wight. A marble monument erected by Queen Victoria shows, in a very touching way, what her feelings were about the matter of which we are now speaking, at the time of death. During the time of her father’s troubles, she was a prisoner in Carisbrook Castle. She was alone, separated from all the friends and companions of her youth, and lingered on in her sorrows, till death came and set her free. She was found one day dead in her bed, with her Bible open before her, and her finger resting on these words: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And this is what the monument in Newport is intended to show. What a sermon in stone that monument preaches! To everyone who looks at it, it seems to say: “Riches and rank cannot make you happy. Jesus only can satisfy the soul.”

III. SAVES US. But this is what no other kind of knowledge will or can do. You may know all about arithmetic, geography, history, etc., and this knowledge may be very useful to you in the business of this life, but it will not be of the least use to you in trying to get to heaven. If some poor soul, distressed about his sins, should come to you and ask the question: “What must I do to be saved?” you would find nothing in all those studies that would be the least help to you in answering that question. But, if you only know what the Bible teaches about Jesus, you will be able to answer this question in a moment. It is the truth in Jesus alone which shows us the way to heaven. Some years since, a respectable-looking person said to two collectors for the Bible Society, “I belonged to a company of pickpockets. About a year since, two of my companions and myself were passing by a church. It was the anniversary of the Bible Society. Seeing so many there, we thought it would be a good chance for us to carry on our wicked business. The Ten Commandments, in large gilt letters, were on the wall behind the pulpit. The first words that caught my eye were: ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ In a moment, my attention was arrested. I felt as if God were speaking to me. My conscience troubled me, and my tears began to flow. As soon as the meeting was over, I hurried away to a distant part of the city, where no one knew me. I got a Bible, and began to read it. It showed me what a great sinner I was; but it showed me also what a great Saviour Jesus is. I prayed to Jesus with all my heart. He heard my prayer. Please accept five guineas, and may God bless you in the good work you are doing.” The late Dr. Corrie, bishop of Madras, in India, was a chaplain there for some time before he was made bishop. At that time, no translation of the Bible had been made into the language of that country. To help in scattering a little light, he was in the habit of translating striking passages of Scripture on little scraps of paper, and having his servant distribute them at his door every morning. Twenty years afterwards a missionary at Allahabad wrote to him: “I have lately visited a Hindoo, who came to this place in ill health. I was surprised to find that he was not only a Christian, but a Christian with a very clear knowledge of Jesus, and of the way in which he saves the souls of His people. ‘How is it, my friend,’ I said to him, ‘that you understand so much about the Scriptures? You told me you never saw a missionary in your life, and never had anyone to speak to you about the way of salvation?’ He answered this question by putting his hand under his pillow, and drawing out a parcel of well-worn ragged bits of paper, and saying: ‘From these bits of paper, which Sahib Corrie used to distribute by a servant at his door every day, I have learned all I know about the religion of Jesus. I have read them till, as you see, they are almost worn out. All I know about Jesus they have taught me; but what I do know of Him is worth more than all the world to me. It has saved my soul.’” (R. Newton, D. D.)

Christ, “the Truth”

We do not wonder to find “Truth” made the centre bit of the arch. For “truth,” wherever it is, holds everything together. It is the integrity of a man which gathers up the man, and gives a unity to his character. Take away truthfulness, and all his virtues, if he have any, fall to the ground. In like manner, “the Truth” of Christ is the cardinal point of all the strength of Scripture. Therefore, Christ placed it in the middle. For the same reason, in the figurative dress, both of Christ (Isaiah 11:1-16), and of the Christian (Ephesians 6:1-24), “Truth” is the girdle--that which binds up and knits the power of the man. Consider

I. TRUTH WAS AN ATTRIBUTE ABOVE ALL OTHERS, ESSENTIAL TO THE OFFICES WHICH CHRIST UNDERTOOK TO FULFIL.

1. As Witness. In this character, He came from heaven to reveal and testify to men the invisible things of another world. But what is a witness without truth?

2. As the Substance of that of which the whole of the Old Testament was the shadow. But the substance of anything is “the truth” of anything. Therefore Christ is “Truth.”

3. As the Founder of a faith very different from all others which ever appeared upon this earth, Its precepts are the strictest--its doctrines are the loftiest--its consolations are the strongest. Now what intense veracity did all that require in Him who propounded such a thing! If one iota or any word of His should ever fail, what would become of the whole gospel, of which He was the Author?

4. As His people’s Righteousness. Truth had died out of the earth, when Christ came to re-make “truth,” to be “Truth.” But what must be the “truth” of Him who was to be “the Truth” of all the whole world?

5. As Judge.

II. HOW DOES CHRIST BECOME “TRUTH?”

1. He is nature’s “truth.” The earliest record that we have of Him is, that He was that “Wisdom” which dwelt with God when He made the worlds--that Word by which all things were made. Therefore, all things whichare now in the world were first ideas in the mind of Christ. And there they lay, until His willing it gave those ideas their form, and they took the material substances with which we are conversant. That is the only idea we can form of creation.

2. He is “the Truth” of God. God is a Being of perfect love. And yet, God has announced, that “every soul that sins shall perish.” Can you reconcile it? And yet, if two attributes of God cannot be reconciled, where is God’s “truth?” In Christ the justice is satisfied that the love may be free.

3. He is man’s “Truth.” There are three empires of “truth.”

Christ, “the Truth”

Christ is the Truth, because He came to

I. REVEAL TRUTH, and, but for Christ’s revelation of it, we should be utterly ignorant of it. He is Himself the substance of all revealed truth.

1. Christ came to teach us about God. And how? “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” What could we have known of God, of His mercy, His faithfulness, His truth, His justice, but for the revelation of them that is made in Christ?

2. Christ is Truth substantially in relation to the types and shadows of the Old Testament. These all pointed to Him. Under the New Testament we are referred for all truth to Jesus Christ, let who will be the teacher. “Every man that hath learned of the Father cometh unto Me.” The office of the Holy Spirit is to take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us. And why is this? Because “it hath pleased the Father that in Him should be hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

II. CONFIRM THE TRUTH. Christ came

1. “To confirm the promises made unto the fathers, that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercies.” God graciously sustained the faith of the Old Testament saints by a succession of prophecies, and the truth of them was confirmed by the life, and death, and resurrection of Christ.

2. To confirm the threatenings. He had said in Eden that He would punish the breach of His law, at the same time that He promised to spare the offender. Christ confirmed this truth, for in Him we see how the threatenings of the law and the promises of the gospel harmonize.

3. In confirming the Word of God, Christ shows how impossible it is for God to lie. However great the difficulty may be in fulfilling a promise in our estimation, it is impossible for God to lie; and while the infallibility of God’s promises should afford strong consolation to all that trust them, it should be a terror to them that will not obey; for the threatenings will as infallibly he fulfilled as the promises.

III. ESTABLISH THE TRUTH, and to set up a kingdom in which truth reigns, and the subjects of which have truth in their inward parts. Now, in establishing truth in a man’s heart, Christ not only sets up the principle of obedience to the Word of God, but He establishes that principle by the power of His own life. It is not so much that they live, as Christ that liveth in them. Whatever knowledge men may have of the truth, if it do not lead to the establishing of Christ’s kingdom in their hearts, it is lifeless, unprofitable, condemning knowledge.

IV. USE THE TRUTH?

1. He converts men by the convincing evidence of truth. Christ does not deal with us as machines, but as reasonable beings. He brings truth to bear on our understanding, reason, and judgment; and He makes men exercise them upon the truth. Thus the full responsibility of man is maintained, while the power of God comes in all its sovereign force upon their hearts and consciences. For this purpose He sends forth the Spirit; who makes men feel that they are sinners, and then He leads them to desire the salvation of Him who is the Truth. And the same Holy Spirit who reproves of sin also goes on to display the perfect righteousness of Christ, in which the sinner is accepted.

2. He rules in a converted heart by the commanding power of the truth. This power extends to all parts of God’s holy Word. His right to command is as extensive in one thing as another; His least command is as important as His greatest. (J. W. Reeve, M. A.)

The Life

Jesus, the Life

He is

I. THE GIVER OF LIFE. We cannot go anywhere without finding living things. Heaven is full of life; for the angels live there. This world is full of life; for, wherever we go, we find people living. And, when we go outside of the homes, in the fields, on the hills, in the ponds, and rivers, and seas, far down to its lowest depths, something or other is found living. And the air is full of life. And it is Jesus who gives life to all these things (Acts 3:15). But it is particularly because He gives life to souls dead in sins, and makes it possible for them to live forever, that Jesus is called “the Life.” “I say, Charlie,” said Willie to his brother, “isn’t it nice to be alive! Why, only see how I can toss my arms about, and use my legs, and feet, and hands. And, then, I can see, and hear, and feel. It’s real nice to be alive, especially when you are all alive and have no part of you dead.” “No part of you dead!” said Willie. “Who ever heard of such a thing as being part alive and part dead?” “I have, Willie. It was myself. The best part of me was quite dead; and what made it still worse was that I didn’t know it.” “But what part of you was dead, Charlie?” “My soul was dead towards God. When God spoke to me, I didn’t hear His voice; when He called me to look to Him, I couldn’t see Him; and when He told me to love Him, I didn’t do it.” “Well, how did it ever come alive?” “Well, Willie, it was Jesus who did it all for me. He sent His blessed Spirit into my heart, to show me that my soul was dead; and that I never could be happy, and never go to heaven unless my soul was made alive. Then I prayed to Him, and He heard me, and ever since He has made me feel so happy!”

II. THE SUPPORTER OF LIFE. We have no power to make ourselves alive, and when life is given we have no power to keep or preserve it, and therefore we need such a one as Jesus. Nothing could continue to live, if it were left entirely to itself. Some things, when they begin to live, need a great deal more care and support than others. Look, for instance, at a babe that is just born, and a chicken that is just hatched. How very different they are in the care they require! But there is nothing that requires more care than our souls, after Jesus has made them alive. We are in a position of great danger. If left to ourselves, we must perish. If we have a servant working for us, we can show him the work we want him to do; but we cannot give him the strength to do it. Jesus can do both. He is like a great mountain that can support everything that rests upon it, whether an army or a fly. And He is like the ocean, too. When men launch their huge iron steamers, by scores and by hundreds, the ocean supports them as easily as though they were light as a piece of cork. And so Jesus can support all His people.

III. THE EXAMPLE OF LIFE (1 Peter 2:21). When Jesus makes our souls alive, then the one thing we have to do is to try to be like Jesus. A little girl went to a writing school. When she saw the copy set before her, she said; “I can never write like that.” But she took up her pen, and put it timidly on the paper. “I can but try,” she said. “I’ll do the best I can.” She wrote half a page. The letters were crooked. She feared to have the teacher look at her book. But when the teacher came, he looked and smiled. “I see you are trying, my little girl,” he said kindly, “and that is all I expect.” She took courage. Again and again she studied the beautiful copy. She wrote very carefully, but the letters straggled here, were crowded there, and some of them seemed to look every way. She trembled when she heard the step of the teacher. “I’m afraid you’ll find fault with me,” she said. “I do not find fault with you,” said the teacher, “because you are only a beginner. Keep on trying. In this way, you will do better every day, and soon get to be a very good writer.” And this is the way we are to try to be like Jesus. But when we read about Jesus and learn how holy, and good, and perfect He was, we must not be discouraged if we do not become like Him at once. But, if we keep on trying, and ask God to help us, we shall “learn of Him to be meek and lowly in heart;” and we shall become daily more and more like Him.

IV. THE REWARDER OF LIFE. Those who love Jesus are the happiest in this world, and will be the only happy people in the world to come. (R. Newton, D. D.)

Christ, our Life

Life includes

1. Appropriate activity.

2. Happiness. The life here intended is not natural and intellectual, but spiritual and eternal. Christ is the Life, as He is

I. ITS AUTHOR.

1. He saves us from death

2. He gives inward spiritual life, because

II. ITS OBJECT.

1. The exercises in which the Spiritual life consists terminate in Him.

2. The happiness involved consists in fellowship with Him. He is our life, as He is our joy, our portion, our everlasting inheritance.

III. ITS END. It is Christ for us to live. While others live for themselves, their country, mankind, the believer lives for Christ. It is the great design of His life to promote Christ’s glory, and to advance His kingdom. Inferences

1. Test of character. The difference between the true and the nominal Christian lies here. The one seeks and regards Christ as his life only, as He delivers from death; the other as the object of his life.

2. The true way to grow in grace, and in vigorous spiritual life, is to get more of Christ.

3. The happiness and duty of thus making Christ our life. (C. Hodge, D. D.)

Christ, the Life

A well-known modern scientist has hazarded the speculation that the origin of life on this planet has been the falling upon it of the fragment of a meteor or an aerolite, from some other system, with a speck of organic life upon it, from which all has developed. Whatever may be the case in regard to the physical life, that is absolutely true in the case of spiritual life. It all comes because this heaven-descended Christ has come down the long staircase of Incarnation, and has brought with Him into the clouds and oppressions of our terrestrial atmosphere a germ of life which He has planted in the heart of the race, there to spread forever. (Homiletic Monthly.)

Christ, the Christian’s life

I. LIFE IN CHRIST. As the life of the mother is imparted to the child, so Christ’s life is imparted to the Christian. Baptism symbolizes our being born in Christ, and the Lord’s Supper symbolizes our being fed by Him. Both exhibit a common life between the believer and Christ. In this lies the security of the Christian. If you saw a rill running down a mountain side, you might wonder if that stream would not soon cease to run; but if you found out that a fountain fed it, then you could readily believe that it would keep on running, and that, whatever obstacles might cross its course, it would go on and on toward the ocean. Christ is the eternal fountain--the life of the soul (Romans 8:38-39).

II. LIFE ON CHRIST Some plants grow on that on which they lean. So the life of Christ is to the Christian a support and a supply. This life is given to us through

1. The Word. The words of the Bible are life. Christ is in them. There is not a word here in which, if you go down deep enough, you will not find Christ, as there is not a spot of ground where, if you go down deep enough, you cannot find water.

2. The Sacraments. We do not value these as highly as we ought. In the sixth chapter we read that if we partake of Christ we shall live. This, of course, is but the outward expression of the infinite truth. There is an inward oneness with Christ revealed in the sacraments. We can never understand this union unless we have experienced it.

III. LIFE FOR CHRIST. No one can realize Christ’s worth to his soul until He works for Him, until he consecrates his life to Him. In consecration Christ is revealed.

IV. LIFE WITH CHRIST. The entire life of the Saviour, from Bethlehem to Calvary, is, I may say, an allegory, a mould in which the Christian’s life is cast. Christ was born: the Christian is born in Him, etc. We have no trial that Christ did not experience. We can roll all our burdens on Christ, who is by our side. (J. A. M. Chapman.)


Verses 8-11

John 14:8-11

Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us

Man’s cry and Christ’s response

I.
THE SPIRITUAL CRY OF MANKIND. Philip represents all men in their deepest spiritual experiences. What is this but the cry of spiritual orphans for a lost Father. “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him.” The cry implies an underlying belief

1. In the existence of a great Father. In the human heart

2. In the sufficiency of the Father’s manifestation. Until the Father comes the soul will have a gnawing hunger and an aching void. It will satisfy

II. THE SATISFACTORY RESPONSE OF CHRIST. In Christ the Father of man appears to man in man’s nature.

1. This was now amply attested (John 14:10-11). Who but the Father could have wrought those works which He accomplished, inspired the doctrines He proclaimed, produced such a character as He manifested?

2. This was now practically ignored (John 14:9). Note here

Man’s deep cry for the paternal in religion

I. THAT THE DEEP CRY OF MAN IS FOR THE UNFOLDING OF THE PATERNAL IN RELIGION. Men cry for the paternal rather than

1. The historical in religion. Religion has a history both interesting and significant. It comes down to us from the earliest times.

2. The philosophical in religion. Religion has not merely a history, but also a philosophy. It is at the basis of all philosophical questions. It has given rise and importance to them all. The philosophy of evil, of mediation, of salvation, of futurity, is inseparably connected with the religion of Jesus Christ. These problems are perplexing. They have taxed the best minds. They are still unsolved. Heaven can only give the solution of them. Man studies the philosophy of religion in order to get at the Great Father of the universe, and of His being.

3. The theological in religion. Religion has not merely a history, a philosophy, but also a theology. This theology has been systematized by councils, and crystallised in creeds. The development of Christian doctrine is interesting. But in the study of the Bible, man seeks more to catch the smile of his Father, than to see the sceptre of his legislator, or to hear the voice of his teacher. This is the present direction of human sentiment. Men are everywhere seeking the paternal; they are doing so to an unwarrantable extent; to the overbalance of theology; to the destruction of the moral government of God, in utter forgetfulness, or neglect of other attributes equally involved in His existence. Let men see the Father, but let them also see the King, and the Judge.

II. THAT THE DEEP CRY OF MAN’S HEART IS FOR A SENSUOUS UNFOLDING OF THE PATERNAL IN RELIGION.

1. Some men’s ideas of religion are thoroughly sensuous. Such was the case with Thomas and Philip. It would seem that the religion of these two men was confined to what they knew and saw. Some men cannot interpret the spiritual meaning of imagery, nor understand symbolism. They remain in its outer court, and appear unable to enter its holy of holies. We want the power to see heavenly meanings in earthly words. There is another vision than that of sight, even that of faith.

2. We should strive to correct the sensuous ideas associated with the religious life of men. “Have I been so long time with you,” etc. Christ was the manifestation of the Divine Father. Philip, in seeing Him, ought to have risen to a vision of the Father.

3. We should strive to lead men into the bright vision of faith. “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Some only see half of the things they look at. They look at mountains, and see nothing but crags; at trees, and see nothing but sticks and leaves; at stars, and see nothing but candles; at Christ, and see nothing but manhood. Whereas, to other men all nature is a revelation of God. They penetrate into the inner meaning of things; they behold the invisible. When such men look at Christ, they also see the Father.

III. THAT MAN HOPES TO OBTAIN, FROM A VISION OF THE PATERNAL, DEEP SATISFACTION OF HEART.

1. A sensuous vision of the paternal in religion will never satisfy the human heart. Man cannot with bodily eye behold the Father. If he were to see Him, he would doubt the accuracy of his sense immediately the glad vision were gone. This would be but a glimpse of Fatherhood. It would not give satisfaction.

2. A view of the paternal, obtained by faith, will give constant satisfaction to the soul of man. From this vision the Divine Father will never withdraw. The vision shall be co-extensive with the faith. It will produce the satisfaction of peace, of hope, and of joy. The soul will want no other vision. Lessons:

1. To cultivate the inner sense of the soul.

2. To make Christ the interpretation of all our heavenly relationships.

3. To obtain heart rest from a consciousness of the Divine

Fatherhood. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Show us the Father

The mystery of “going away” was deepened when the Master declared that through Him they were to know the Father. The surprise of Thomas, whose faith was dull, but whose love was, nevertheless, genuine--was natural; while the sentiment of Philip was a sort of desperate clutching at something very glorious, but very difficult of obtaining. For an absent Son he asked, as the only compensation, a manifested Father. His words show us

I. THE GREAT WANT OF MANKIND. God has not left Himself without witness, and not the least of His evidences is that our nature is ever seeking Him. The question of Philip

1. Asserts the knowledge of the Father as that which suffices. It is an assertion of our grandeur. Ours are not glow worm faculties; ours no owl-like souls. No dim vision, no starlight manifestations can content us. Our capacity takes in the universe, and then cries, “Show us the Father,” etc. Less than such a desire is a degradation of man. Less is to make his nature a dwarfed and sickly thing.

2. Echoes the cry of the races. Our nature is not always conscious that it is after Him; but it reaches and calls after what is in Him alone. The savage approaches the conception of power by his adoration of strength; the sage the worship of infinite understanding through study of the truth; the artist through his vision of the beautiful; the poet through his dream of the right and good. The world swings round, and men catch single gleams of Godhead, and know not what it is--only something great and noble.

3. Is the instructed soul asking for the Father. It is not scepticism searching for a deity--an insensate principle. It is not half convinced doubt feeling along the links of creation after a first cause. It is not amiable optimism out in immeasurable extension of beneficent actuality asking for a Creator. It is awakened faith seeking its author; a hungry soul searching a satisfying love.

II. WANT, UNCONSCIOUS OF NEAR SUPPLY.

1. Men go afar for the knowledge at their doors; nay, at their very feet. They search after the mystery of God. They sound for Him in depths; they climb for Him in the heights! Yet His footprints are on every green, His hand touches on each flower and shrub and spire. Gentle and Titanic forces alike declare Him. Could I give the atom a tongue, it would cry, “Have I been so long time with you, and have I not spoken to you of God?” The river sings as it hastens oceanward, “Have I been so long time with you, and have you not seen God reflected in my silver beauty?” Oh, blindness, which can fail to discern Him I Has that word lain by you so long with promise, covenant, and command, and yet have you not known the God it discloses?

2. Philip’s error was, that he had looked elsewhere than to Christ for the vision of the Father. God had been described. He had been promised. For the first time he was manifested. His love came out in Christ’s Divine human voice, and was in the touch of those human fingers. It was the Father’s authority in the “Go in peace and sin no more.” It was the Father’s majesty in the awakening voice at the grave of Lazarus. Yet it was God incarnate, and Philip knew it not.

Conclusion: There is profound significance to us in the lesson of Jesus to Philip.

1. We are to find the Father in the Only-begotten, who dwelt in His bosom, and hath declared Him. You can neither understand Him in His works or word until you study both through the Incarnation. Around that, as we look steadily, both a theology and a theodicy must crystallise. Our knowledge of Jesus is through faith, and through that our knowledge of the Father becomes experimental.

2. It is hence that we know the infinite. Christ’s mediation stretches a cord between heart-love and God-love, soul-life and God-life, human nature and Divine nature. It answers nothing as to mysteries it oversweeps. It is silent as to riddles of theology and questions of schoolmen. But it touches us here, God there; we touch it with our guilt, He with His compassion. We apprehend the Infinite we can never comprehend. Jesus came to reveal the Father who hears prayer, who governs in providences, who smiles upon His child; who sees the prodigal, foot sore and tattered, yet trying to come home, and runs to meet him. (T. M. Eddy, D. D.)

The true vision of the Father

Philip knew that Moses had once led the elders up to the mount where “they saw the God of Israel,” and that to many others had been granted sensible manifestations of the Divine presence. As a disciple he longed for some similar sign to confirm his faith. As a man he was conscious of the deep need which all of us have for something more than an unseeable and unknowable God. The peculiarities of Philip’s temperament strengthened the desire. To all Nathanael’s objections he had only the reply, “Come and see.” And here he says, “Oh! if we could see the Father it would be enough.” His petition is child-like in its simplicity, beautiful in its trust, noble and true in its estimate of what men need. He meant a palpable manifestation, and so far he was wrong. Give the word its highest and its truest meaning, and Philip’s error becomes grand truth.

I. THE SIGHT OF GOD IN CHRIST AS ENOUGH TO ANSWER MEN’S LONGINGS. There is a world of sadness and tenderness in the first words of our Lord’s reply. He seldom names His disciples, When He does there is a deep cadence of affection in the designation. This man was one of the first disciples, and thus had been with Him all the time of His ministry, and the Master wonders that, before eyes that loved Him as much as Philip’s did, His continual self-revelation had passed to so little purpose. Learn

1. That we all need to have God made visible to us. The history of heathendom shows us that. And the highest cultivation of this nineteenth century has not removed men from the same necessity. A God who is only the product of inferences, the creature of logic or of reflection, is very powerless to sway and influence men. The limitations of our faculties and the boundlessness of our hearts both cry out for a God that is nearer to us than that, and whom we can see and love and be sure of.

2. Christ meets this need. How can you make wisdom visible? How can a man see love or purity? By deeds. And the only way by which God can ever come near enough to men to be a constant power and smile in their lives is by their seeing Him at work in a man. Christ’s whole life is the making the invisible God visible.

3. That vision is enough. The mind settles down upon the thought of God as the basis of all being, and of all change; and the heart can twine itself round Him, and the seeking soul folds its wings and is at rest; and the troubled spirit is quiet, and the accusing conscience is silent, and the rebellious will is subdued, and the stormy passions are quieted; and in the inner kingdom is a great peace. We are troubled because we see not God, our Father, in the face of Jesus.

4. Our present knowledge and vision are far higher than the mere external symbol of a presence which this man wanted. The elders of Israel saw but some symbolical manifestation of that which in itself is unseen and unattainable. But we who see God in Christ see no symbol but the reality.

II. THE DIVINE AND MUTUAL INDWELLING BY WHICH THIS SIGHT IS MADE POSSIBLE (John 14:10). There are here

1. Christ’s claim to the oneness of unbroken communion. “I am in the Father” indicates the suppression of all independent will, consciousness, thought, action: “And the Father in Me,” indicates the influx into that perfectly filial manhood of the whole fulness of God.

2. The claim, that because of this there is perfect cooperation. Jesus Christ in all His words and works is the perfect instrument of the Divine will, so that His words are God’s words, and His works are God’s works.

3. And from all this follow

III. THE FAITH TO WHICH CHRIST INVITES US ON THE GROUND OF HIS UNION WITH, AND REVELATION OF, GOD (John 14:11). Observe that the verb at the beginning of this verse passes into a plural form. Our Lord has done with Philip especially. He bids us believe Him.

1. The true bond of union between men and Jesus Christ is faith. We have to trust, and that is better than sight. We have to trust Him. He is the personal Object of our faith. Faith is the outgoing of the whole man--heart, will, intellect and all--to a person whom it grasps. But the Christ that we have to trust is the Christ as He has Himself declared to us. If He be not God manifest in the flesh, I ought not to trust Him. I may admire Him, reverence Him, have a kind of a love to Him. But what in the name of common sense shall I trust Him for? And why should He call upon me to exercise faith in Him unless He stand before me the adequate object of a man’s trust--namely, the manifest God?

2. Believing in the sense of trusting is seeing and knowing. Philip said, “Show,” etc. Christ answers, “Believe! and thou dost see.” If you look back upon the previous verses of this chapter you will find that in the earlier portion of them the keyword is “know”; that in the second portion of them the keyword is “see”; that in this portion of them the keyword is “believe.” The world says, “Ah! seeing is believing.” The gospel says, “Believing is seeing.” The true way to knowledge, and to a better vision than the uncertain vision of the eye, is faith.

3. Faith, even if based upon lower than the highest grounds, is still faith and acceptable to Him, “Or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.”

The vision of God

This request of Philip touches the heart of all religion. It is a question as old as humanity. Sometimes, indeed, the soul becomes so debased, that the desire ceases to be eager, or even conscious; a perversion of natural law as disastrous as if the flame were not to seek the sun, the magnet not to turn to the pole, the solid not to fall to the earth. But in a normal state of human feeling, it has no yearning so spontaneous and strong. This last discourse of our Lord--the greatest and profoundest of His teachings--is simply His answer to this inquiry. It would indeed be a fatal invalidation of the religion of Christ, if it had no answer to this fundamental quest of men. Indeed, the exhaustive definition of Christ’s salvation is the Christian way of seeing God.

I. THE CRAVING FOR GOD WHICH IS CHARACTERISTIC OF ALL MORAL NATURES.

1. To those who deny God, I am justified in putting the question--Why do I concern myself about religious things? Why do I crave some vision of God? As well ask why my physical body craves food, or my intellectual soul seeks knowledge. By persistent sin, a man may practically disable his soul; just as by drunkenness or licentiousness he may disable his body, or reduce to idiocy his mind. So also he may reason down his religious instincts by material philosophies; just as by fanciful notions concerning his body he may make himself a hypochondriac. But it is part of him still. He may damage, but he cannot kill it. And sometimes--it may be after years of sin,. or scepticism--there shall be a sudden rolling away of the stone, and a coming forth of the entombed soul, and it shall cry out for God, and refuse to be comforted if it cannot find Him.

2. But this, we are told, is only traditional superstition, educational influence, social environment. But how account for the superstition, the social sentiment? Its universality and uniformity point to something inherent and ineradicable. The soul may be befooled, Men take advantage of it when ignorant or morbid, and urge upon it religious sacrifices, services, and ceremonies, sacraments, penances, and prayers. But even those do not suffice. No religious things can satisfy, the living soul cries out for the living God. True, in Philip the desire shaped itself in ignorant forms; but in which of us does it not? Sometimes it is only a feeling of blind unrest, a craving for we know not what. We moan and toss like men in a fever.

3. Who, conscious of a living soul, can be contented with mere laws of nature instead of the living God? If there be no God, our nature, as it is, is the greatest solecism in the universe. All things else have their purpose and harmony. But for man, this spiritual nature is a waste, and a mockery. Robespierre was right. “If there be no God, then it behoves man to make one.”

4. The strength of this craving is attested by the credulities of scepticism as much as by the confidences of faith. Let men reject the Christian revelation of God, and as surely as they succeed, wild and incredulous imaginations will break forth and in pitiful forms give the lie to all their philosophy. The fantasies of modem spiritualism are as conclusive attestations as the convictions of Paul. Blind to spiritual truth, men are by the very strength of their spiritual nature “given over to strong delusions, and believe a lie.”

II. THE MISCONCEPTIONS INTO WHICH, IN THEIR QUEST AFTER GOD, EVEN GOOD MEN FALL.

1. The disciples generally had but a very confused and imperfect conception of Christ and His work. Their persistent dream of a restoration of David’s throne and dominion hung like a yell between them and Christ. We find few things more difficult than to believe in purely spiritual forces and processes. It is a poor spiritual teaching that can be fully comprehended. Our Lord has to speak of the highest spiritual things to men of low spiritual type; and after vain attempts to make them understand, He has to content Himself with a promise of the Holy Spirit, who should “teach them all things.”

2. Probably Philip thought of some visible manifestation, such as the Shekinah symbol or of Isaiah’s vision. How rarely men recognise manifestations of God in purely spiritual forms, in true religious ideas, in holy actions, in Godlike character. For three years Christ had been with these men, and they were utterly unconscious that, in all His moral glory, they were looking upon the truest and highest manifestation of God. When we think of Divine manifestation we think of supernatural miracle, of inspired fervours, of signal conversions, of ecstatic services. How difficult we find it to realize that in the sublime faith, the unselfish love of a quiet saintly life, there is a far higher manifestation of God than in all miracles! The great aim of our Lord’s teaching was to turn men’s quest after God from signs and wonders to His spiritual workings in religious hearts. Philip asked some theophany--“the Lord coming suddenly to His temple,” as Malachi had predicted--which he thought would give certainty to his faith and precision to his idea. Christ replies by directing him to a living spiritual Person, “full of grace and truth.”

3. If, then, this manifestation of purely moral and spiritual glories be the true vision of God--the glory of His goodness which God caused to pass before Moses--may we not, in the light of it, test the various ways of seeking God which men pursue?

Being, it must in the necessity of things be that the world by its mere intellectual wisdom cannot know God.

III. THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD THAT MEN CRAVE IS THAT OF A FATHER. In our Lord’s day, as in our own, men had been told much about God as the Creator, the Ruler, the Judge of men. But it did not satisfy the soul. They yearned for something else in God--for pity, patience, help, love. Let the thought come that this great and holy God is also the Father. How our hearts leap towards Him! As a Father, He is precisely the God we need; our sins crave the forgiveness, our weakness and imperfections the patience, our sorrows the sympathy of a Father; our yearnings His fatherly love and bosom. We kneel down to pray to Him how gladly we catch up the great word put into our lips, and say, “Our Father who art in heaven.” Some glimpses of this the old Jew had. But, as with all religious truths, the realization of God as a Father depends not upon intellectual ideas merely, but upon religious experiences. It is the experience of what, as a Father, God does for us, that enables us to understand what He is.

IV. GOD AS A FATHER IS REVEALED TO US ONLY IN CHRIST.

1. Christ claims this as His distinctive revelation of God. Like a refrain it rings through the Sermon on the Mount at the beginning of His ministry; like an atmosphere it suffuses this last great discourse “on the night that He was betrayed.” It is the one unvarying representation of all His intervening teaching. But, in this great word to Philip much more than a teaching is meant It would be a cold and meagre paraphrase of it to say, “He that hath received My teaching hath received a true doctrine of the Father.” It is a vision of God, not a theory of God, which He gives.

2. I do not think that the explanation is to be found in the Incarnation. Men saw Him, the veritable incarnate Son, and yet they did not see the Father. Nor does He refer to His miracles, the displays of His supernatural power: these He always put in disparaging contrast with His spiritual glories. Clearly His idea is of a purely spiritual conception of God, a vision of God’s spiritual character such as God proclaimed to Moses when He made “all His goodness pass before him.” There is no sense in which, as distinguished from His almighty works, the spiritual God can be seen but in manifestations of His holiness, goodness, and love. And these can be adequately embodied and expressed only in a personal moral life--the life of the only begotten Son. This is the true incarnation--the embodiment in a human life of these Divine moral qualities. As we conceive of the spiritual God, there is nothing else in Him that could be incarnated.

3. May we venture a speculation upon God’s peculiar Fatherhood in its relation to the Incarnation? Is there not an essential oneness between the spiritual nature of God and the spiritual nature of man, as between fire and the sun, the father and the child? Is there not something in the Divine nature of which the Incarnation is the supreme expression?--something in human nature which makes the Incarnation possible in virtue of affinity? Does He not love us because a father must love his children? And does He not in the Incarnation of Christ show us how closely our nature is allied to His?

4. I need not dwell here upon the inevitable inference from all this, as to who or what this transcendent Personage really is. No creature may claim Divine glories, least of all God’s spiritual perfections. Deliberately and emphatically this calmest and most ingenuous of men claims to have perfectly embodied them. No other interpretation of the claim is rationally possible than the accepted interpretation of the Christian Church. “I and my Father are one.” This conception of the Christ is much more than a theological dogma. It is a great religious inspiration full of practical uses. Nothing so assures our hearts, nothing gives us such a feeling of Christ’s practical sufficiency as a Redeemer. We can trust such a Christ, pray to Him, worship Him, realize His presence and help.

V. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE FATHER IN CHRIST IS A PERFECT SATISFACTION TO THE SPIRITUAL SOUL. Philip was right. He who really can show us the Father does “suffice us.” Let the claims of Jesus be submitted to this test. He who really shows us God must be of God. No one has revealed God to men as Christ has done. And is not this the true and sufficient test of every religious teacher: How truly and in what degree can He show us the Father? Is it not the sufficient authentication of every teaching--does it bring us face to face with the spiritual God? Is it not in this that so much religious teaching is defective? Men tell us about God, but it is doctrine only, they fail to make us see God. About means of grace, again, they have much to say: upon these they insist as the appointed, the indispensable means of seeing God. But we see only the means, not God Himself. Whatever its theological truth, no teaching is really and spiritually such if it do not reveal God to us. This was the supreme characteristic of the teaching of Christ. The sum of all religion is to see the Father; and by whomsoever and by whatsoever the Father is most fully revealed to us, and we are but made to stand in the pure white light of His spiritual glory, there is the truest teacher and the highest worship. “It sufficeth us.”

VI. HOW THEN MAY WE PERSONALLY REALIZE ALL THIS?

1. The Father can be seen only by men of spiritual vision. “The pure in heart see God.” Christ does not demonstrate God, He simply manifests Him. The process is not a theological, it is a religious one. We can know God as a Father only by religious experience of Him. All life, all great passions of life, are understood only by experience. It demands the poet’s eye to see poetic beauty; the artist’s eye to see art beauty. We do not see light through the demonstrations of the astronomer; we know love only by loving; and life only by living. In the essential nature of things God cannot manifest Himself to an impure unspiritual soul, any more than the sun can shine into a blind man’s eye. We know God only by the indwelling of God.

2. The Father is revealed to us in processes and experiences of common religious life. “If any man love Me he will keep My words, and My Father will love him,” etc. The obedient in life see God, obedience is practical experience of God.

3. The process is somewhat prosaic: men of great fervours and of ecclesiastical enthusiasm get somewhat impatient with it. But here, as everywhere, the divinest wisdom lies in common place methods. And how transcendent the visions of God which the man attains who thus, by patient processes of purity and obedience, develops all the faculties of his religious life! (H. Allon, D. D.)

The revelation of the Fatherhood of God in Christ

Modern theology recognizes two Fatherhoods in God--the extrinsic and intrinsic; first arising from His relation to the external world, the second, from the depths of His eternal nature. Now, the first did not require the Incarnation to disclose it. It depended on the doctrine of creation. “Let us make man,” etc., and as the extrinsic Fatherhood was involved in the creation of man in God’s image, it was reasonably to be expected that a close and exhaustive analysis of our nature would ultimately discern the likeness, and that an inference should be made therefrom of our sonship and His Fatherhood. As indeed, one of the Greek poets said, “We also are His offspring.” But not till men saw the Son coming out from the Father did they understand that He was always with the Father. In the “coming out” they perceived what was always in, and a new truth thus dawned upon the world, to eclipse all others with its grandeur and brightness. A Son has come out from the Father! Then it was understood that Sonship and Fatherhood must have existed from eternity within the inner circle of the incomprehensible Godhead. God is Father in the profoundest abysses of His essential nature. There is no room for this intrinsic Fatherhood in Unitarian theology, because there is no place in it for the Incarnation. The God of Unitarianism, therefore, is not a Father in the profoundest sense; He is not a Father in the deepest essence of His being; He is simply a Father in relation to the world. We are not begotten by Him, of the same substance with Him; He is therefore a Father to us by creation, not by generation. But a Father by creation is only a figurative Father; the Father by generation only is genuine, real Father. According to Unitarianism, before creation God was not a Father; destroy creation and He will again cease to be a Father. His Fatherhood, therefore, is a variable, accidental, extrinsic quality. He can take it up and lay it down when He pleases. With it He is God; without it He is God just the same. But believe in the Incarnation of the Son, and you believe in the truest, deepest Fatherhood of God. Here you have clear, positive, I may say, infinite gain. If the highest, noblest aspect in which we can contemplate God is that of a Father, a real, true Father, then the God of Trinitarianism is immeasurably superior to that of Unitarianism. One is a Father really, truly, intrinsically, forever and ever; He cannot help being a Father: the other is a Father simply in relation to His creatures; let the universe collapse, and His Fatherhood vanishes the same moment. (J. C. Jones, D. D.)

The sufficiency of Christ’s revelation of the Father

When the pitiless power and fixity of nature seems to oppress our little individual life and we faint under the sense of our vanity and selfishness; or when we groan under the pressure of the burden, and cry madly, Why hast Thou made me thus, and with this passion, this propension to the dust, this enmity to God, this deadness to the true, the beautiful, the Divine? Christ shows to us the Father, and strengthens us to endure. When the heartstrings are tensely strained, and every touch of things external is anguish, when all that makes life beautiful and dear is vanishing in the darkness, and we look round on what seems a cold drear prison house of a world, He shows us the Father and it comforts us. And when at last the shadows fall round us thicker, deeper, when heart faints and flesh fails, when the dews of death gather on the brow, and the chill steals into the inmost pulses of the life, He will show to us the Father, and make us more than conquerors over Death and Hell. And when we stand up at last in the great assembly and Church of the first-born, when we gaze on the splendours of the New Creation, when we see the shining hosts in their radiant circles, sphere beyond sphere, and catch the music of their mighty hymn as it floats on a bright sea of harmony around the eternal throne; when the soul faints before the beatific Vision, trembles at its beauty, and shrinks from its splendour, then Saviour, show to us the Father, and it shall suffice us forever more. (J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

The heart longs to know God

The greatest hunger of the human soul is for a knowledge of its God. The unknowable never takes hold, and never can take hold, of human experience. The orphaned heart yearns for its Divine Father, and will not be content in its orphanage. It looks on the sunset or the flower, and sees the Artist. It looks on the ocean or the forest, and sees the Divine Mechanician. It looks on the manifestations of force and law, and sees the Divine Governor. But it looks in vain in nature for a disclosure of the personal God; of a heart that loves and that can be loved. It is true that the finite soul can never comprehend its God; as the babe can never comprehend its mother. But it longs for a personal presence--for a real interpreter--for a face that shows where the uninterpretable heart is, and a word that speaks the lava that transcends speech. (Christian Union.)

A sight of God in Jesus Christ

A forlorn woman, discovered by one of our missionaries in the depths of Central Africa, is reported by him to have broken out in the most affecting demonstrations of joy, when Christ was presented to her mind, saying, “Oh, that is He who has come to me so often in my prayers. I could not find who He was.”

Have I been so long with you and yet hast thou not known Me

The patient Master and the slow scholars

The question carries a lesson

I. AS TO WHAT IGNORANCE OF CHRIST IS. Our Lord charges Philip with not knowing Him because Philip had said, “Lord! show us the Father.” And that question betrayed Philip’s ignorance of Christ, because it showed that he had not understood that “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Not knowing that, all his knowledge of Christ--howsoever full of love, and reverence, and blind admiration--is but twilight knowledge, which may well be called ignorance.

1. Not to know Christ as the manifest God is practically to be ignorant of Him altogether. This man asked for some visible manifestation, such as their old books told them of. But if such a revelation had been given--and

Christ could have given it if He would--what a poor thing it would have been when put side by side with that mild and lambent light that was ever streaming from Him, making God visible to every sensitive and responsive nature! The revelation of righteousness and love could be entrusted to no flashing brightnesses, and to no thunders and lightnings. Not the power, not the omniscience, are the Divinest glories in God. These are but the outermost parts of the circumference; the living Centre is a Righteous Love, which cannot be revealed by any means but by action; nor shown in action by any means so clearly as by a human life. Therefore, above all other forms of manifestations of God stands the person of Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh.

2. This is His own claim, not once or twice, not in this Gospel alone, but in a hundred other places. And we have to reckon and make our account with that, and shape our theology accordingly. So we have to look upon all Christ’s life as showing men the Father. His gentle compassion, His meek wisdom, His patience, His long-suffering yearning over men, His continual efforts to draw them to Himself, all these are the full revelation of God to the world. They all reach their climax on the cross. “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us.” There are some of you who admire and reverence this great Teacher, but who stand outside that innermost circle wherein He manifests Himself as the God Incarnate, the Sacrifice, and the Saviour of the world. But not to know Him in this His very deepest and most essential character is little different from being ignorant of Him altogether.

3. Here is a great thinker or teacher, whose fame has filled the world, whose books are upon every student’s shelf; he lives in a little remote country hamlet; the cottagers beside him know him as a kind neighbour, and a sympathetic friend. They never heard of his books, his thoughts, his worldwide reputation: do you call that knowing him? You do not know a man if you only know the surface, and not the secrets of his being. You may be disciples, in the imperfect sense in which these apostles were disciples before the Ascension, but without their excuse for it. But you will never know Him until you know Him as the Eternal Word, and until you can say, We beheld His glory, etc. All the rest is most precious; but without that central truth, you have but a fragmentary Christ, and nothing less than the whole Christ is enough for you.

II. AS GIVING US A GLIMPSE INTO THE PAINED AND LOVING HEART OF OUR LORD. We very seldom hear Him speak about His own feelings or experience, and when He does it is always in some such incidental way as this. So that these glimpses, like little windows opening out upon some great prospect, are the more precious to us.

1. In another place we read: “He marvelled at their unbelief.” And here there is almost a surprise that He should have been shining so long and so near, and yet the purblind eyes should have seen so little. But there is more than that, there is the pain of vainly endeavouring to teach, to help, to love. And there are few pains like that. The slowness of the pupil is the sorrow of the honest teacher. If ever you have bad a child, or a friend, that you have tried to get by all means to take your love, and who has thrown it all back in your face, you may know in some faint measure what was at least one of the elements which made Christ the “Man of Sorrows.”

2. But this question reveals also the depth and patience of a clinging love that was not turned away by the pain. How tenderly the name “Philip” comes in at the end! It bids us think of that patient love of His which will not be soured by any slowness or scantiness of response. Dammed back by our sullen rejection, it still flows on, seeking to conquer by long suffering. Refused, it still lingers round the closed door of the heart, and knocks for entrance. Misunderstood, it still meekly manifests itself. Surely in that we see the manifested God.

3. Remember that the same pained and patient love is in the heart of the throned Christ today. We cannot understand how anything like pain should, however slightly, darken His glory; but if it be true that He in the heavens has yet “a fellow feeling of our pains,” it is not less true that His love is still wounded by our lovelessness, and His manifestation of Himself made sad by the slowness of our reception of Him.

III. AS BEING A PIERCING QUESTION ADDRESSED TO EACH OF US.

1. It is the great wonder of human history that, after eighteen hundred years, the world knows so little of Jesus Christ.

2. But let us narrow our thoughts to ourselves.

He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father

The Father manifested in the Son

Our Lord meant that in His person, as well as by His doctrine, miracles, benevolence, life, death, resurrection, ascension, God is manifested, as far as could be, even to our senses, as well as to our understanding, and that this is the clearest manifestation God has been pleased to make of Himself to man on earth. Hence, to such as wish to know God, we must say, Behold, and consider, not only His works of creation; look not only at the dispensations of Providence, which manifest such attributes as the works of creation were not calculated to discover; nor read and consider only His Word, which shows Him still more; but behold the person of His Son, who is “the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature” (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; John 1:18). Would we discover the Father’s wisdom? let us hearken to Him who was the wisdom and word of God incarnate. Would we know the Father’s power? let us observe it in the miracles of Christ. Would we know how holy God is, and the nature of His holiness? let us observe the spirit which Jesus breathed and the conduct He maintained. Would we know whether God be a kind and compassionate Being, and what is the nature of His benevolence and love? we must look how these qualities were displayed in the character of Jesus Christ. Would we see His meekness, patience, forbearance, and long suffering? let us observe how these dispositions shone forth in Christ. Would we have a display of His justice? let us see sin condemned and punished in Him who “gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.” Do we wish to see the love of God exemplified? observe Christ dying for us, “dying for the ungodly;” “when we were enemies, reconciling us to God by His death.” Would we know God as our Creator? observe Christ secretly and insensibly multiplying the loaves and fishes; observe Him giving sight to the blind, and life to the dead. Would we know God as our Preserver? let us contemplate Jesus upholding Peter while walking on the water. As our Governor? let us observe Him controlling the powers of nature, “rebuking the winds and the sea, and producing a great calm.” As our Redeemer? see Him “giving His life a ransom for us.” As our Saviour? consider Him coming “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Would we know God as a Friend? mark the familiarity and tenderness with which Jesus conversed with His disciples. As a Father? observe Jesus “begetting us again by His Gospel,” and see His parental care for His disciples. In a word, if we wish to know the mind, dispositions, and intentions of God towards man, we must see them delineated and exhibited in the doctrine, example, and works of Christ. In order to this, however, it is necessary we should be enlightened by the Divine Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11); that we be “taught” and “learn of the Father” (John 6:45; Matthew 11:27; Mat_16:17). (J. Benson.)

The effect of Christ’s manifestation of the Father on individuals

A sick woman said to Mr. Cecil, “Sir, I have no notion of God; I can form no notion of Him. You talk to me about Him, but I cannot get a single idea that seems to contain anything.” “But you know how to conceive of Jesus Christ as a man,” replied Mr. Cecil; “God comes down to you in Him, full of kindness and condescension.” “Ah! sir, that gives me something to lay hold on. There I can rest. I understand God in His Son. God was in Christ.”

The effect of Christ’s manifestation of the Father on history

The great mass of mankind must have images. The strong tendency of the multitude in all ages and nations to idolatry can be explained on no other principle. The first inhabitants of Greece, there is every reason to believe, worshipped one invisible Deity. But the necessity of having something more definite to adore produced, in a few centuries, the innumerable crowd of gods and goddesses. In like manner the ancient Persians thought it impious to exhibit the Creator under a human form. Yet even these transferred to the sun the worship, which speculatively they considered to be due only to the supreme mind. The history of the Jews is the record of a continual struggle between pure theism, supported by the most terrible sanctions, and the strangely fascinating desire of having some visible and tangible object of adoration. Perhaps none of the secondary causes which Gibbon has assigned for the rapidity with which Christianity spread over the world, while Judaism scarcely ever acquired a proselyte, operated more powerfully than this feeling. God the uncreated, the incomprehensible, the invisible, attracted few worshippers. A philosopher might adore so noble a conception; but the crowd turned away in disgust from words which created no image in their minds. It was before the Deity, embodied in a human form, walking among men, partaking of their infirmities, leaning on their bosoms, weeping over their graves, slumbering in the manger, bleeding on the cross, that the prejudices of the synagogue, and the doubts of the academy, and the pride of the portico, and the forces of the lictors, and the swords of thirty legions were humbled in the dust. (Lord Macaulay.)

Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?

I. CHRIST IN THE FATHER. In the Father’s

1. Affections. He loves Christ more than He loves the universe. “This is My beloved Son.” As a loving child lives in the affections of his parents, so Christ, only in an infinitely higher degree, lives in the heart of God.

2. Thoughts. What an intelligent being loves most he will think most about.

II. THE FATHER IS IN CHRIST as in His special

1. Temple. He whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain has a special dwelling in Christ. In Him He manifests Himself in a fulness and glory seen nowhere else.

2. Organ. As the soul dwells in the body, God dwells in Christ and works by Him.

3. Revealer. “The brightness of His glory,” etc.

the Revealer of His power, wisdom, character, as all that is pure, just, tender, and compassionate.

4. Devotee. God is the object of Christ’s supreme love. All His thoughts, powers, and aims, were subordinate to Him. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

God in Christ

But is not the Father in all? In every tree, stream, and star? Yes. There is no life where He is not. But He is in Christ in a higher sense. He is in nature as an animating principle, in holy souls as an inspiring influence, in Christ as a Divine Personality. In Him He is God manifest in the flesh. The Father is in Him as

I. An APPRECIABLE personality. It is difficult, if not impossible, to realize the Divine Personality in nature. He seems so vast and boundless. But in Christ He comes within the range of our

1. Senses.

2. Sympathies.

3. Experiences.

II. An ATTRACTIVE personality.

1. Does wonder attract? He is “the Wonderful.”

2. Does love attract? His is the tenderest, strongest, most self- sacrificing, and unconquerable love.

3. Does beauty attract? He is “the altogether lovely.” In Christ there is power to draw all men to Him.

III. An IMITABLE personality. Our obligation and well being require us to become like God, partakers of the Divine nature--“holy, even as He is holy.” In Christ He appears preeminently imitable.

1. His love wins our hearts.

2. His principles command our consciences.

3. His moral glories inspire our admiration. Thus we can imitate Him. (D. Thomas, D. D.)


Verses 8-21

Verse 11

John 14:11

Believe Me … for the very works’ sake

The miracles

I.
SHOULD WE BELIEVE THE MIRACLES?

1. Are miracles possible? Hume, Spinosa, and others say, “No: reason pronounces them impossible.” But whose reason? Theirs? Then that contradicts the all but universal reason, which affirms that with God all things are possible.

2. Are miracles improbable and incredible? Yes, say the same authorities. But did they live when they are alleged to have been performed? One ground of disbelief is, that it is impossible to believe what contradicts experience. But what remains to be proved is, Did miracles contradict the experience of the professed witnesses? The denizens of the equator never saw ice. Their experience contradicts that of the Greenlanders. But which shall we accept? Another ground is that it is unlikely that the Creator would disturb the beneficent order of events. Granted, except for the best and wisest purposes, and in such a way as not to derange the order of the universe. This is what is claimed for Christ; and, indeed, on behalf of the freedom and beneficence of the Creator. The anti-miraculous position is the dethronement of God in favour of natural law.

3. Have we satisfactory ground to believe that Christ performed miracles? There is the same evidence for them as that Caesar entered Gaul and

Britain. Upon this evidence the Christian Church is built; the witnesses died to support their testimony. The fabrication of this testimony would be more miraculous than what it records.

II. SHOULD WE BE INDUCED BY THEM TO ADMIT CHRIST’S DIVINE CLAIMS? Yes, for

1. They are the acts of a Creator. We recognize the same Voice saying, “Let there be light!” that said, “Lazarus, come forth!” We believe Him “for the works’ sake.”

2. Christ is the efficient Agent in all miracles. He promised, and gave to, the apostles their supernatural power; and they referred the effects of it back to Him, and exerted it to produce faith in Him.

3. Christ performed miracles by His own power and in His own name, which the apostles never did.

Conclusion:

1. The blessedness of belief in Christ.

2. The peril of disbelief. (E. N. Kirk, D. D.)

The reasonableness of the evidence of miracles, and its impotence alone

It is quite consistent with God’s wisdom to reveal Himself to the senses,as well as to the soul; and if the gospel were utterly deficient in this latter kind of proof, one great evidence that it is from God would be wanted--an evidence that we are fortified in expecting from the analogies of nature. God has written His glory--e.g., in the heart--at the same time, He has so constructed the visible universe, that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” And when the eternal Word is manifested into the world, we naturally expect that Divine power shall be shown, as well as Divine beneficence. Miracles, therefore, are exactly what we should expect; and I acknowledge a great corroboration and verification of His claims to Sonship. Besides, they startled and aroused many to His claims who otherwise would never have attended to them. Still the great truth remains untouched, that they, appealing only to the natural man, cannot convey the spiritual certainty of truth which the spiritual man alone apprehends. However, as the natural and spiritual in us are both from God, why should God not have spoken to both, and why should not Christ appeal to natural works, subordinate always to the spiritual self-evidence of Truth itself? (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)


Verses 12-14

John 14:12-14

He that believeth on Me the works that I do shall he do also.

The activity of the glorified Christ

I. ITS REALITY AND CERTAINTY. Verses 13, 14 show that Christ regarded Himself as the worker and His followers only as His agents.

II. ITS ORGAN AND INSTRUMENT. Our Saviour’s language

1. Does not mean that He will work through no other way than the collective Church, which is His body, and the believer who is a member of it; because in point of fact He does, as the Governor of the universe which He summoned into being.

2. Nor that everything done by the Church or the believer is a manifestation of His activity. To maintain this would be to open a wide door to fanaticism.

3. It does signify, however, that Christ uses His Church collectively and individually to operate on the earth; and that not merely as His representative, but as His body, pervaded by His power and swayed by His will. His own works indicate His unity with the Father (John 14:11): the works of believers their unity with Himself (John 14:12; Joh_14:20).

III. ITS NATURE AND EXTENT.

1. Its nature--“The same works,” etc. This was fulfilled in the miracles of the disciples after Pentecost. But that they performed no works, except as they were employed by Christ is shown by the fact they wrought no miracle to cure their friends (Philippians 2:26-27; 2 Timothy 4:20). They had no power to work indiscriminately.

2. Its extent. “Greater works”--not greater miracles, but such works as Peter’s at Pentecost, and Paul’s in his missionary journeys.

IV. ITS MODE AND CONDITION. If Christ is the prime worker and the believer the instrument, connection must be established between them.

1. Christ must be able to reach the believer. This He does by the impartation of the Spirit (John 14:16-17).

2. The believer must be able to communicate with Christ. This he does by prayer (John 14:13-14). Nothing could be

Christ’s name.

Lessons

1. The supreme divinity of Christ involved in all He here says about Himself.

2. The essential dignity of the Christian--a fellow worker with Christ.

3. The true doctrine of prayer--asking in the name of Christ.

4. The reason why miracles have ceased--the Holy Ghost does not consider them necessary. (T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

The works of the ascended Christ

The keyword of this context is “Believe!” In three successive verses we find it, each time widening in its application--to the single disciple: “Philip!” to the whole group: and now, here, to whosoever believeth in Him. Our Lord has pointed to believing as the great antidote to a troubled heart, as the sure way of knowing the Father, as the better substitute for sight; and now here He opens before us still more wonderful prerogatives and effects. We have here

I. THE CONTINUOUS WORK OF THE EXALTED LORD FOR AND THROUGH HIS SERVANTS. These disciples, of course, thought that the departure of Jesus would be the end of His activity. Henceforward whatever distress or need might come, that voice would be silent, and that hand motionless. Some of us know how dreary that makes life, and we can understand how these men shrank from the prospect. Christ’s words tell them that in them He will work as well as for them, after He has departed.

1. Christ’s removal from the world is not the end of His activity in the world. We are not to water down such words as these into the continuous influence of His memory. That is true, but over and above that, there is the present influence of His present work. One form of His work was “finished” on Calvary, but there is another work, which will not be ended until the angel voices shall chant “It is done, the kingdoms of the world are the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.” And therefore these disciples were not to be cast down as if His work for them were ended. It is clear, of course, that such words as these demand something perfectly unique in the nature of Christ. All other men’s work is cut in twain by death. “This man, having served his generation by the will of God, was gathered to his fathers. And he (and his work) saw corruption.” That is the epitaph over the greatest, the tenderest, and most helpful. But Christ is living today, and working all around us. Now, it is of the last importance, that we should give a very prominent place in our creeds, and hearts, to this great truth. What a joyful sense of companionship it brings to the solitary, what calmness of vision, in contemplating the complications and calamites of the world’s history.

2. But not only for us, but on and in and therefore through us Christ is working. “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” and through me, if I keep close to Him, will work mightily in forms that my poor manhood could never have reached. And now, mark that a still more solemn and mysterious aspect of this union of Jesus Christ and the believer. It is no accident that in one clause He says, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. The words that I speak unto you,” etc.; and that in the next He says, “The works that I do shall He do also;” and so bids us see in that union between the Father and the Son, a pattern after which our union with Him is to be moulded, both as regards the closeness of its intimacy and as regards the resulting manifestations in life. All the doings of a Christian man holding by Christ, are Christ’s doings, inasmuch as He is the Life and the Power which does them all. So let us curb all self-dependence and self-will that that mighty tide may flow into us; and let us cast from us all timidity, and be strong in the assurance that we have a Christ living in the heavens to work for us, and living within us to work through us.

II. THE GREATER WORK OF THE SERVANTS ON AND FOR WHOM THE LORD WORKS. Is, then, the servant greater than his Lord? Not so, for whatsoever the servant does is done because the Lord is with and in him. The contrast is between Christ’s manifestations in the time of His earthly humiliation and His manifestations in the time of His glory. We need not be afraid that such words trench on the unapproachable character of the earthly work of Christ. This is finished. But the work of Revelation and Redemption required to be applied through the ages. The comparison is drawn, between the limited sphere and the small results of Christ’s work upon earth, and the worldwide sweep and majestic magnitude of the results of the application of that work by His servants’ witnessing work. And the poorest Christian who can go to a brother soul, and draw that soul to Christ, does a mightier thing than it was possible for the Master to do whilst He was here. For the Redemption had to be completed in act before it could be proclaimed in word, and Christ had no such weapon as we have when we can say, “We testify unto you that the Son of God hath died for our sins, and is raised again according to the Scriptures.” “He laid His hands on a few sick folk and healed them,” and at the end of His life there were 120 disciples in Jerusalem and 500 in Galilee. That was all that Jesus Christ had done, while today, the world is being leavened, and the kingdoms of the earth are beginning to recognize His name.

III. THE CONDITIONS ON WHICH THE EXALTED LORD WORKS FOR AND ON HIS SERVANTS.

1. Faith, the simple act of loving trust in Jesus Christ, opens the door for the entrance of all His solemn Omnipotence, and makes us possessors of it. So if Christian individuals and communities are impotent, there is no difficulty in understanding why. They have cut the connection, they have shut the tap.

2. Prayer.

Christian work with an absent Redeemer

I. THE BLESSINGS WHICH THIS PROMISE CONTAINS OR CONVEYS?

1. Ability to work. Professing Christians of a certain school speak scornfully of this “to do,” but this is to despise the words and things of God. He who redeems us works in us to will and “to do.”

2. Power to do good and to serve others. This was and is the great feature of Christ’s character.

3. Power to work as Jesus Christ wrought. There is an evident limitation here. Miracles cannot be perpetual; but if the working of miracles were at all desirable now, the power would be again given. Atonement for sin is another work which we cannot imitate. Still there is a path of work in which we may follow our Saviour. The blessing promised is

4. The power to work superior work. “The greater” here may, perhaps, point to more extensive service, but we think the word rather points to nobler and to higher service. Now, it is greater, to enlighten the mind than to open blind eyes; to create faith than to unstop deaf ears; to awaken praise than to loosen dumb tongues; to purify from sin than to cleanse from leprosy; to quicken the dead soul than it is to raise the corporeally dead.

5. Not an extraordinary blessing, but one that is the common heritage of all who believe. Great injury has been done to the Church, and to many not in the Church, by the fuss which is made about any man or woman who happens to try to be useful, So much is made of the mere human worker, as that He who works in, and by us all, becomes completely concealed. Now there are many persons who seem to think that admiring those who do Christian work a very blessed substitute for doing that work. We require in our churches less said about what is done, in order to begin to do more. It is thus too about giving. Men who give a little expect so much notice taken of that little, that their hands are closed by the mischievous power of that very expectation.

II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN CONNECTION WITH WHICH THE FULFILMENT OF THIS PROMISE IS SECURED. “Because I go unto My Father.” The Father is everywhere; but He is not in all places equally manifest. Where the manifestation of the Father is perfect, Jesus Christ now is. There He is seated on the throne of His Father.

1. With the Father, Jesus is absent from this earth, and

2. There is a close connection between believing on Christ and Christ-like work. Believing qualifies for it and impels to it.

3. This Christ-like work is a privilege and a blessing to the man who performs it.

4. Moreover, the Christian disciple has the highest power, and the largest resources, and the noblest motives in the direction of doing good. If a Christian cannot render service in this world of sin and sorrow, who can? Some of you will say, that Christians are not generally wealthy, and not generally in high social positions. Put your finger upon a passage in the New Testament that teaches you that these two things are essential to doing good, or that good is often done where these two things exist. One reason why many of our evangelistic operations are so blasted is to be found in this fact, that those who conduct our societies go hunting for what they call patronage. Patronage for the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ! One’s very heart is sick sometimes over this human patronage of Divine things.

5. Those who look for Christ’s coming again speedily, seem to think that that will bring an increase of the working power. We believe that all the power that Christians want now may be obtained now. Our tendency is continually to say that “the time has not come,” and we must wait for a larger outpouring of the Spirit? Is not the Spirit here? Will the Spirit ever be here more than He is now?

6. Do your work. I say it because some among you are spending your time in idleness. (S. Martin.)

The believer doing greater works than Christ

I. THE WORKS IN WHICH CHRIST AND THE BELIEVER HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON.

1. In His greatest work of course Christ stands alone. He came to work out and bring in an everlasting righteousness; to be the embodiment of a perfect obedience. Further, He came to die as an atonement for sin, and to rise and ascend and plead its merits in heaven. In neither of these can the believer have any part. “I have trodden the wine press alone.” “Mine own arm hath wrought salvation.” And yet in the ministrations of truth, in the exemplifications of goodness, and in the triumphs of mercy in which that sacrifice shall demonstrate its power, and that righteousness find its embodiment, all believing souls are invited to take their share.

2. The apostles were endowed with the power of working miracles. In this sense the doing of the works of Christ was confined to them. But Christ’s miracles and theirs while real, and not to be spiritualized away, were physical types of spiritual. As bodily misery pointed out the misery of the soul, so healing symbolized salvation.

II. THE WORKS IN WHICH RELIEVERS, IN SOME SORT, SHALL EXCEL. To apprehend this, look at

1. The results of our Lord’s personal ministry. That cannot be regarded as unsuccessful. No doubt much of His teaching ripened after the rain of Pentecost, and those impressed before became converted afterwards. But during those three years how many benighted minds must have received light and foul hearts cleansing! Yet--as far as visible results now--how few even amongst the disciples, and of what a quality!

2. The results of the ministry of the Church. These great works are the burden of the Acts of the Apostles. How soon in the place where they murdered Christ were thousands won to His cause? Then the work spread to Samaria. Then the representative of far off Ethiopia was converted: then Cornelius the representative of Rome, and so on under the Apostles and their successors the tidal waves flowed on, until in the course of three centuries Christianity had overflown the world. Better still the nature of the results produced. The world was then at its very worst. At Thessalonica you have only a representation of what was universal. Men swallowed up in idolatry, but “the Word came with the demonstration of the Spirit,” etc. In Corinth philosophy was rampant on the one hand and vice on the other, but then people were “washed, sanctified,” etc. And thus from that time to this the gracious words have been fulfilled.

III. THE GROUND OF THIS. “Because I go,” etc.

1. Christ went from them, but for them. It was not His departure simply, but what followed upon it--the gift of the Comforter, the burden of this discourse. Christ’s departure was expedient

2. Christ went from them yet remained with them. This enigmatical form of speech occurs often. “I go away.” “Lo, I am with you alway.” Our Lord would not leave them to the miseries of defeat or to the calamity of self-sufficiency. He therefore resolved to abide with them, and by His Spirit to be in them, their energy, courage, wisdom, sanctifying power.

3. All this is guaranteed to us.

IV. THE RESPONSIBILITY THIS INVOLVES. “If ye shall ask anything in My name,” etc. You will prove your faith that you are Mine, and that I am with you, only as you, by grace work out these results. (J. Aldis.)

Greater than miracle

This is one of the reasons why the disciples, whom Christ was about to leave, were “not to let their hearts be troubled.” The discipleship to which He had called them was a very arduous one, but so long as He was with them, performing such miracles, they were safe. They would therefore think with dismay of His going away, inasmuch as this marvellous miracle working would cease, and they would be left to the merciless Pharisees. It was, then, fitting to tell them that they should do the miraculous works and greater things. The way in which our Lord speaks about miracles is striking. Had these narratives been a fiction, Christ would have spoken of miracles very differently. So far from magnifying them, He speaks of them as inferior things. Both Christ and His apostles appealed to men in two ways. Such as were unspiritual were appealed to by miracle; but He often told them that it was a higher and more spiritual thing to believe Him for His truth’s sake than for His works’ sake. So He tells His disciples here they should have power to work miracles, so far as this was needed to convince the unspiritual world; but they should have a greater power, viz., to do spiritual works in the conversion and sanctification of men. This is Christ’s meaning.

I. THE HISTORY OF THE APOSTLES ABUNDANTLY FULFILS THIS PROMISE. Depending upon His power, that is, “believing on Him,” they did the miraculous works.

1. Christ does not mean that these were greater than His own; no miracles may be compared with His.

2. But their spiritual achievements were to be greater than Christ’s miracles.

“Never man spake like this Man.” And yet the Jews listened to His preaching and remained unconverted. Was it that Peter had a greater truth to proclaim than even Christ taught? Was it that no preaching can be powerful to save men’s souls but the preaching of the Cross? Christ predicted His death, and spake of its atoning character, but He did not preach it to the people: the apostles “preached Jesus and the resurrection”; and even in their comparatively rude and unskilful hands it proved more powerful in subduing men than Christ’s Divine words. His own great prediction was fulfilled--“I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”

II. OUR LORD INTIMATES A GREAT AND IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE IN THE SERVICE OF HUMAN LIFE--that grace is greater than gifts; that the ministry of moral truths and influences is greater than the exercise of the most brilliant talents. It is a great work to perform a miracle; but the credentials of a messenger are not so great as his message. It is an honour to be so employed and attested, but this is in order to the accomplishment of the mission. In Christ Himself miracles were the lowest manifestations of His glory. They showed that God was with Him; but His true glory was in His own character, and mission, and words. So it was with the apostles. Paul’s shaking the viper off his hand is but a small thing compared with his sacrifice of his honours and emoluments for Christ’s sake. Peter’s healing of the lame man is but a small thing compared with the conversion of three thousand on the day of Pentecost. The moral sense of all men confesses this. There is constant danger lest we be led away by brilliancy, crowds, outward successes, intellectual miracles. Ministers sometimes so mistake, and others so mistake them. A man is lost as a minister of Christ who thinks about popularity or sets himself to seek it. The humble, obscure man is often greater than the prominent and brilliant one; he has greater aims, secures nobler things, bears a nobler character.

1. Conversion is greater than miracle

2. Charity is greater than miracle (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Moral excellencies have in them the quality of permanence; Christ’s miraculous acts have ceased. His love moved His power, which was miraculous; our love moves our power, which is not miraculous: the feeling and motive are the same, only the power and the form of the action differ. Christ’s disciples perpetuate His pitying love--they visit the sick, they relieve the poor, etc. And this is far grander than miracle: the aggregate benevolence of the Church of Christ is a nobler thing than the creation of a new world would be.

3. Patient submission to God’s will is greater than miracle. What can be nobler than a life wholly consecrated to God and to whatever is holy and benevolent? as life of self-sacrificing service in the Church, the school, or the mission field--a life that surrenders its dearest joys and interests for Christ’s sake? Perhaps the only nobler thing is, when devoted service is crowned by patient suffering.

4. Victory over death is greater than miracle. (H. Allon, D. D.)

The disciple’s work greater than his Lord’s

It is a common thought and remark with us, that the child and the day labourer now use forces and truths, and do works, without esteeming it unusual, which the earlier ages of science and thought, the ages of Copernicus and Columbus, were dimly and laboriously guessing and imagining and hoping. Those early masters laid down theories and principles, and they were ridiculed if not persecuted, misrepresented if not denied, obstructed if not stopped and interdicted. Their work was immense, greater than the work of their successors. It was the massive foundation. But their successors stand on a vantage ground. Slowly those beneficent theories have won acknowledgment. They had enlarged their sphere and field and power of operation. Their activity has increased till nothing now impedes. The noble originators have mounted into universal recognition. And their children daily develop the power which they made possible; make new applications as new exigencies arise and new fields open. Their successors and disciples do the same works in one sense, for it is the continuation of the same principle in activity: or, in one sense they do a lesser work, for it is less to continue than to originate. But in another sense they do “greater works,” for their activity is daily widening, daily less impeded, daily more and more encouraged by more auspicious surroundings. And yet they are not greater than the early originator, who cannot show the “greater works” which come so properly and naturally to them. They follow him. Yet they go beyond him. Nay, stranger still, they go beyond him only because they follow him, and are the disciples of and the believers in his first great underlying work. Apply this illustration to Christ and His disciples. True, His was the great spiritual, all-supporting work. The great problem was finished and enunciated at the Cross. It received its seal at the Easter. And yet the field of the Lord’s activity during His own earthly life was contracted to the smallest limits. He could not go beyond Judaea. His spiritual work found no spiritual surrounding, found no spiritual response, left no spiritual fruit (John 1:5; Joh_1:11; Mark 6:5). These were the judgments of His contemporaries upon Him (Matthew 13:55; Mk John 9:29; Joh_7:47-48). Stop the world after Christ’s ascension, andask it how it had been the better for Christ’s living, and it would have nothing to show you. It would know of nothing done, but a few that were blind, now seeing, a few that were deaf, hearing, a few lepers cleansed, a few inanimates restored. And a single generation would have removed even these. Struggling as man in the world of men: bearing sin in the world of sin, Christ laid indeed the massive foundation of a world’s redemption; but it was a work wholly wrought out in and by Himself. None other knew of it. It hardly left any outward impression upon men and their lives. And what it did leave was vague, and easily lost. But at the Ascension a change begins. He goes to the Father. He is no more a mere single labourer, working out a great work among men; sufficient to do all, and doing all by Himself; but He has mounted to the seat of His power. And the Spirit of His power goes forth to create outward impressions upon men, to carry His work to others. In the first day of Peter’s preaching three thousand are converted; vastly more than Christ ever influenced; greater works than Christ’s, because He has gone to the Father. His successors and followers stood on a vantage ground of work. Their great, earlier Master had mounted into universal power. He was no longer compelled simply to suffer and submit as in the garden; but was omnipresent and omnipotent by His Spirit. And daily His Spirit makes new advances possible for them, which were not possible for Him when dwelling in the flesh. (Fred. Brooks.)

Greater works than Christ’s

What were the works that Jesus did? What was their very essence? We must look a little beneath the surface. Some minds are apt to confine their attention to the surface results of our Saviour’s wonderful course. They think of the leaping of the lame, the seeing of the blind, the hearing of the deaf, the speaking of the dumb, the rising of the dead, the conscious strength of the paralytic, and the emancipation of the demoniac. It is befitting to think of these things. Our Saviour wished them to be considered. They were as a voice from the excellent glory and drew attention to the fact that a gracious Divine Person was at work among men. And yet, comparatively speaking, they were but a voice drawing attention to something else. They pointed to something that was really higher and greater than themselves. It is good indeed that the lame should leap; but surely there is something better even for the lame. What if after leaping they hasten away to the haunts of dissipation! Of what very great benefit will their leaping be to them? It is true, too, that it is good for the blind to see, and to see clearly. But what if, after the first transports consequent on the restoration of vision, the eyes neither read the glory of God in the heavens, nor the glory of His grace on the pages of revelation? What if they lower with passion, or look out for opportunities of alluring the unwary to their destruction? There are surely better things still than mere seeing, hearing, speaking. Even life from the dead, if merely physical, is not the highest conceivable blessing. A new lease of life, if it turn, as may too often be the case, to be a lease misspent, is not the greatest possible benefit which can be conferred upon an immortal man. Neither is deliverance from demoniac torture and oppression the most glorious emancipation of which we can conceive. Surely, then, there was scope for the apostles doing even greater works than our Saviour performed when He scattered miracles of power all along the pathway of His terrestrial career. There was scope for those greater works, because the Saviour was resolved to go on, and yet further on, till He went up to His Father. Had He faltered in this resolution, had He shrunk when the crisis became imminent, had He refused to suffer and to die as an atoning Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, then, not only would there have been no provision in Divine moral government for a repetition, or continuance, of such miracles of power, as were also miracles of mercy, but the door would have been actually closed upon hope in reference to deliverance from spiritual lameness, blindness, deafness, dumbness, paralysis, and death, and from all the spiritual demons of discord, and passion, and hate, and intemperance, and licentiousness, that are making demoniacs of myriads, and that would be in danger but for Christianity of making demoniacs of us all. Our Lord did not, however, repent of His high resolve. He did not draw back from the completion of His enterprise when the difficulty was at its climax, and the hosts of darkness had gathered around Him in their serried and most formidable array. Oh, no! He strode on to victory. And it was in view of that victory, and of its mighty moral influence in the Divine government, that He promised that all the blessings which He had conferred on individuals during the brief period of His own personal and preliminary ministry, should be but the precursory drops as compared with the plenteous rain that would by and by descend and refresh, not the laud of Palestine alone, but all the dry and thirsty lands on the face of the earth. The Saviour looked far and wide from His elevated standpoint and saw, as the consequent of His triumphal ascent to His Father, the overthrow of Phariseeism and Sadduceeism. That was a very great work. He looked further and saw the overthrow of Roman and Grecian and Scythian idolatry. What great works were these! He looked further and saw the destruction of slavery through the influence of His gospel of love as preached by His disciples. He saw too the gradual emancipation of the masses from the tyranny of tyrants, and their elevation into political and social privileges. He saw, besides, the erection of hospitals and other institutions of benevolence wherever His Cross should be planted fast and firm. He saw the establishment on the one hand of home missions descending to the hundreds of thousands who have lapsed, and the establishment, on the other, of foreign missions sending the gospel of His grace to the ends of the earth in hundreds of tongues. What wonder that He spoke of “greater works” than He Himself had performed on a few impotent folk round about the Sea of Galilee, and in a few other insignificant places within the narrow radius of the Holy Land? And then He looked still further forward, and saw His Church everywhere purified after it had passed through fiery trials. He saw, in that future, that just because He was about to go up to His Father, all demonism would be vanquished, all diseases would be healed; men and women everywhere would see right, and hear right, and speak right, and act right. He saw, as the grand conclusion of His enterprise, that men everywhere would be a brotherhood of love, no one acting selfishly, but each ministering benevolently to all around. (James Morison, D. D.)

Miracles in nature and grace contrasted

I. THE WORK OF CHRIST IN THE KINGDOM OF NATURE, CARRIED ON THROUGH HIS DISCIPLES.

1. The use of miraculous powers. Miracles were the credentials of Christ’s Messiahship. The words of the Saviour ought to have brought the world in homage to His feet. But seeing that men are held in bondage to sense He condescended to this weakness, and substantiated His preternatural knowledge by the exercise of preternatural power. When He added to His words this sign manual of Heaven, then numbers like Nicodemus said, “No man can do these miracles,” etc.

2. Their present disuse. They were only for the commencement of our religion. The pillar of a cloud and fire was God’s miraculous ratification of the authority of the Hebrew legislator. But that pillar was not a permanent gift. The Jews were trained to higher spiritual manifestations of the Divine presence, and then the cloud retired into the holy place and was seen no more. So the miracles of Christ and His apostles were the leading strings in which the infant Church was tenderly led until her inherent strength was developed, and she was enabled to walk alone in her spiritual might. The miracles in nature waned as the miracles of grace waxed, and the transforming influence of the gospel on the heart and life of a believer was left to be the world’s standing sign and proof that it was the power and the wisdom of God.

II. THE GREATER WORK OF CHRIST IN THE KINGDOM OF GRACE. The conversion of the soul is a greater work, because

1. It is wrought upon a greater object. Miracles were wrought upon material things; but conversion is wrought upon the soul. Who can calculate the vast superiority of spirit over matter? The soul allies us with Deity, for God is a spirit. It is the breath of the Almighty: matter is the rough clay in His hands. Hence the most degraded human being can say to the sun, “I am greater than thou!”

2. It demands more and greater attributes to effect it. Miracles were in the main displays of power. But in the conversion of our soul all the attributes of Jehovah are brought into play. Infinite wisdom must solve the problem, how the condemned can be pardoned, the lost saved, and the law honoured. Infinite power must work out the plan which wisdom has devised, and unite the Godhead and humanity in the person of Immanuel.

Infinite love must be manifested in the undertaking of such an amazing work.

3. It encounters greater difficulties. It was easier to make a world than remake a fallen soul. In miracles of nature there was nothing to resist the Divine will. But in the restoration of the soul difficulties on all sides were encountered. Divine justice and truth stood in the way. All the powers of darkness were marshalled against it. The soul opposes its own conversion. It required four thousand years to prepare for the coming of Christ, and after His coming His thirty-three years of humiliation, privation, and toil. It still requires the striving of the Spirit on earth, the unwearied intercession of Jesus above, and the process of earthly discipline before one soul can be brought to glory.

4. It secures a greater good. Even the miracles of Jesus secured only a temporal good, though they aimed at awaking desires after spiritual benefits. But conversion is man’s highest good, securing the richest blessings.

5. It has a greater duration. A change of heart has imperishable results. Where are the few whom Jesus summoned from the grave? To the grave they were summoned again. Where is the crowd from whom disease fled? The forces of human affliction returned, and brought death as their leader. Where are those miraculously fed They hungered again.

III. THE ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATION FOR THIS WORK. “He that believeth.” One of the most prominent features in our Lord’s teaching is the importance attached to faith. With respect to outward miracles, none of His disciples could perform them, none of the multitude could enjoy them without faith. If confidence in Christ was so essential in outward miracles, much more is it essential

1. In the reception of the great miracle of grace.

2. To its instrumental accomplishment. The conversion of the world is entrusted to the Church as the instrument by which the Spirit effects this spiritual change. “He that believeth,” whosoever he may be, may aspire to this surpassing honour. There are three truths which should be deeply graven on our hearts.

IV. THE SOURCE OF ALL SUCCESS IN THIS WORK. The outpouring of the Spirit resulting from the exaltation of Jesus. “For if I go not away, the Comforter,” etc.

1. Our inward state requires this. To suppose a spiritual change without the Spirit is to suppose not only an effect without a cause, but an effect contrary to all causes.

2. Our outward state requires it. How can we conquer a hostile world, except by that Spirit who makes His strength perfect in our weakness?

3. Spiritual agency of a corrupting and deadly character shows our need of it. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord.”

Conclusion: Learn

1. The Divinity of Christ Jesus. Man, however gifted, is never able to impart at his will, his power to another. Napoleon could not bestow as a legacy on his faithful adherents his own genius. Christ says, “The works that I do shall ye do also.”

2. The honour and dignity of all believers. A greater miracle has been wrought on them than on the body of Lazarus.

3. The ennobling character of Christian work.

4. The lamentable condition of every unbeliever. (R. Best.)

The eclipse of miracle

I. The text presents us with a PARALLEL. Christ teaches that there shall be a relation of likeness or identity between His own personal works and the works carried on by believing disciples after His departure. “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do, shall he do also.” The terms in which Christ describes His own supernatural works are remarkable and suggestive. He scarcely ever speaks of them as miracles. He nearly always uses the quiet, unostentatious phrase employed in the text--“works.” The mere triumph over physical law seems to be forgotten, and there is a godlike unconsciousness of that which is extraordinary to us. The term is suggestive of calm power. These things are not miracles to Him, they were miracles only to the beholder. The word too is one that links His achievements with the achievements of the future Church. It expressed only that which should be common between the two. The miraculous element, in the popular sense of that word, was not the most conspicuous feature in the works. Christ’s thought would seem to have been fixed upon those elements in the works that embodied living relations. The eye of the child is caught by the glare of colour in the picture, and a little Red Riding Hood from an illustrated paper will fascinate it just as much as a Holy Family by Titian. The eye of the artist is riveted by the form and composition and delicate suggestion and sentiment with which the canvas has been made to speak. The first living relation in Christ’s works was with the Father. They were a continuous testimony of the Father to the Son before the world. “The Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.” “The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” The second living relation embodied in Christ’s works was with the Holy Spirit. Now these are the essential elements in Christ’s works, and the power of accomplishing such works is given just as much to us as to Jesus Christ. Through all the life of a man who believes in Jesus Christ the Father directly testifies concerning His Son. Whilst the man retains a loyal, believing relation to his great Head, the Holy Ghost is the sovereign guide of all his activity, and his works are as perfectly adapted to the removal of suffering, the destruction of unbelief, and the awakening of faith in those with whom he is associated, as were the most imperial works of the Son of God upon earth. “The works that I do shall he do also.” If we cannot do works upon which the miracle glory rests, we can do works upon which there rests a glory that in Christ’s view outshines and eclipses that of miracle, so that even” that which was made glorious had no glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth.”

II. The text contains a CONTRAST. There is to be a splendid advance in the character of the believer’s achievements, an advance that will make them transcend even the Lord’s own personal works amongst men. “Greater works than these shall he do.” Christ had always thought more of the moral elements and relations in His works and those of His disciples, than of the merely miraculous. The time Christ spent in teaching men was enormous, compared with the time spent in healing disease. A second sufficed to touch a leper with His restoring hand: it sometimes cost Him days to do the yet greater work of touching a polluted soul with heavenly light. In the Acts of the Apostles we find the space occupied by narrating the work of miracle small, and that occupied by the work of conviction increasingly large, in comparison with the relative spaces they fill in the synoptical gospels. The apostles were beginning to enter into Christ’s estimate of the relative value of the two types of work. The physical conditions that constituted Christ’s works miraculous are often realized in connection with spiritual work upon a much more commanding scale. Did some of Christ’s works, such as turning the water into wine and feeding the multitudes, imply mastery over creative processes? Whilst fruitful seasons and food and gladness are given by the loving Father to good and evil alike, I have no doubt, the cry of the scientists notwithstanding, they are given in conspicuous degrees to the piety and prayers of God’s people. And not to speak of the supernatural influence of Christianity, how much of the wealth of the world is due to the thrift and righteousness growing up out of its conversions! Take away its presence from the earth, and nations that now overflow with luxury would be represented by groups of scattered savages gnawing roots and uncooked carrion. It is Christianity that is feeding the nations. By its uplifted hands of righteousness and prayer it is multiplying bread for thousands in comparison with whom the crowds Christ fed were but as units. And is not this a greater thing than the miracle on the tableland of Bethsaida or the plain of Gennesaret? Did the largest group of Christ’s miracles imply command over disease and death? How much has that active sympathy, which is the outcome of faith in Christ, done to limit the ravages of disease and add to the length of human life? The evils turned back by the conversion of those present in thousands of Christian congregations are as ghastly and as terrible and manifold as the evils that shrank before Christ’s word in the days of His flesh. For Christian faith and love to put healing hands upon human sickness and infirmity, to prevent in incalculable degrees human pain, to add year by year to the length of human life in all quarters of the globe, is it not a greater work than Christ’s comparatively circumscribed work of healing the sick and raising the dead when upon earth? The spiritual works effected by believers in Jesus Christ bring about that conviction which is the great end of miracle by more effective methods. In miracle the work of the Spirit came before the eye. Miracle left the man more or less the victim of his own prejudice, unbelief, self-will. Miracle was only occasional in its appeal. The demonstration of the Spirit in the heart of man was a power that outlasted the believing prayers and labours to which its first coming was a response. If our faith reach up to the full evangelical altitude, we may do by the instantaneous help of the Spirit what it cost Christ years full of pains and sighs and toils to accomplish. Our work transcends miracle because the spirit, which is the special sphere touched by it, is more delicately sensitive than the body, which is the sphere in which miracle was wrought. The unseen part of a man’s nature has capabilities of enjoyment or suffering which are indefinitely in advance of the part of his nature represented by the senses; the work of saving and tranquillising it must be indefinitely higher in both process and result. In comparison with the agony of a wounded spirit, physical suffering is a mere pin prick. To impart health by miracle to a diseased frame is a work unspeakably inferior to that of ministering salvation to diseased souls, plucking out rooted sins from the memory in which they rankle, and freeing the conscience from the haunting sense of eternal wrath. The spiritual works it is the believer’s high privilege to do outshine Christ’s personal miracles, because spiritual work is the key to the final destruction of all physical evil and disability at the last day. In spiritual miracle, the sentence is pronounced that shall then be carried out, and evil is virtually dead for the man whose nature has been touched by the works we do through our believing fellowship with Christ. The miracle was only respite. “Lo! disease and death come back to undo the triumph of the vanished wonder worker.” By the power I wield as a believer in Jesus Christ I work irreversible miracles. I dismiss disease and death into a realm from whence they can never return. The inward miracle of regeneration is the mainspring of that climatic miracle which sums up all other acts of healing power, when sickness and sorrow and sighing shall be swept forever away. This is the true virtue radiated from the ascended Saviour, imparted freely to all His disciples, and perpetually reflected from every quickened Church in fellowship with its Lord. It pulsates unseen in our midst lust now, but a few transient breaths must come and go before it can be seen that the flush of immortal health has been restored to the universe.

III. The text points out THE SECRET OF THIS CONTRAST between Christ’s works and those of His favoured followers. The secret has a Divine and a human side. Christ’s presence at the right hand of the Father is the pledge and sign that sin has been dealt with, man’s unfitness to receive these high and holy gifts has been taken away, the burden which crushed human nature into impotence removed, and the Father’s hand opened to His reconciled people in more than its ancient wealth of blessing. This secret of transcendent power has an earthly as well as a heavenly side. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do.” Some of the natural forces of the universe can only be manifested through the special elements and agencies that are adapted to transmit them. Electricity must have a pathway of susceptible matter over which to travel, even if that pathway be one of indefinitely minute particles of ether only. So with the spiritual forces of the universe. If the power of the mediatorial presence have no conducting lines of faith along which to travel, it must sleep forever, and the world be left to swing on in its old grooves of evil and death. The manifestation of all the energies of that presence can only come through the believing request of the disciples. Prayer, bound only by the holy instincts of the faith that inspires it, and the rights of the name in which it is presented, is a thing of illimitable power. Let us never forget the dignity and beneficence of all spiritual work. This promise suggests the plenary character of the Pentecostal endowment. (T. G. Selby.)

Because I go unto My Father

I. COMPLETING MY WORK IN THE FLESH.

II. ACCEPTING MY PLACE AT THE THRONE.

III. BEQUEATHING MY WORK TO THE CHURCH.

IV. ENDURING MY SAINTS WITH THE SPIRIT. (S. S. Times.)


Verse 13-14

John 14:13-14

Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name that will I do

Praying in the name of Christ

I.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

1. To obtain anything in the name of another supposes that your own name is an insufficient warrant. In the negotiation by which you secure it, your own personality is lost altogether. Thus an ambassador personifies the country he represents; he has no personal recognition when he sits in the councils of foreign potentates. So in familiar life we invest a subordinate agent with our own reputation and credit.

2. But in neither of these senses do we make mention of the name of Christ in our prayers. We may be said, it is true, to traffic with another’s credit, and represent the authority of a sovereign in some conditions of intercourse with God; but praying in the name of Jesus implies a closer union than that of service. “If ye shall ask the Father” (see chap. 20:17). Prayer rises from outside, knocking into the tender confidences of family intercourse. We ask in the name of Christ because we have put on that name as a woman by marriage puts on the name of her husband, and with it his rank and property. When she asks anything in the husband’s name she brings with her whatever that name merits or can demand. To deny her is to deny him, In the Scriptures our union with Christ is described by marriage. This is foreshadowed by the prophets (Isaiah 54:5; Isa_62:5), and God’s name is used as an argument of deprecation as if somehow that name were bound up with the fate of His people (Jeremiah 14:21; Joshua 7:9; Ezekiel 36:22-23). In Matthew 9:15, Christ accepts all this, and in His marriage parables. And so St. Paul (Ephesians 5:25-32), and St. John (Revelation 19:6-9; Rev_21:2-9). Let the light of these statements shine on the text. In communion with the Father we have lost our name. He found us nameless, for we had not a name of any honourable distinction to lose or merge. The Saviour describes our condition as lost--without name, home, repute. He allured us back (Isaiah 62:2), and gave us His own name, and our miserable name was hidden and lost in the brightness of Christ. That name is ours, its renown and the vast treasures of grace procurable by its warrant (1 Corinthians 3:23).

II. THE POWER OF PRAYER MUST BE PROPORTIONED TO OUR ABSORPTION IN CHRIST.

1. It is the conscious weight of His name that gives its energy to faith. When that name is not predominant, we naturally dwell on our own unworthiness, etc., which produces distrust--the fatal sickness of prayer. Distrust blocks the way up to God, and no prayer can pass to Him James 1:5-7). Not that no prayer can prosper unless faith be perfect, for then how could we pray for faith at all; but the chief condition of our receiving is a belief that Christ will do it (Mark 11:24). It is the name of Christ, and that only, that gives us such a confidence. With His name in our hands, or rather written on the covenant register of our love, we can no more fail with the Father than He can. When we pray in His name it is as if He prayed.

2. This nearness of fellowship with Christ explains the “anything” of the text. It is not supposed that such a licence will be abused by caprice. The prayer of a depending love to a conferring love will interpret it by the extent of its wants, and the right it is permitted to assume.

3. The endearments of such a state are not sustained by great services. Whatever concerns you concerns Him; if in itself it be a trifle, it is not a trifle to Him if it affects you. (E. E. Jenkins, LL. D.)

If ye shall ask anything in My name

Prayer in Christ’s name

I. THE FACT WHICH IS THE ROOT OF THIS PROMISE is described in what our Lord says about the vine. The vine and the branches are one, the same name covers them. Whatever the branch asks for--that its blossoms may be abundant, and that its clusters may ripen--the vine asks for. And it was in immediate connection with this that our Lord said, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will,” etc. We are to pray in Christ’s name because we are so undeniably one with Him that what we ask He asks. The use of His name, then, is not an incantation, nor is it one of a number of conditions of successful prayer. It is the one condition of both prayer and work. This promise is connected with that which precedes it. “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do,” etc. Why? “Because I go unto My Father; and those who are one with Me share My glorified powers.” It is the consciousness of this union that enables us to pray too and work for God with a large and happy faith that He will hear us and help us.

II. THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF THE PROMISE.

1. It may be objected that when we pray in the name of Christ the range of our prayers must be narrowed. We must pray about Christ’s affairs, and not about our own. We may pray, for example, that the gospel may reach the hearts of men; but can we ask in Christ’s name that we may be successful in business, or that our children may be healthy and happy? When we pray for the strong help of the Spirit of God to enable us to practise all Christian virtues we may pray in Christ’s name; but if we want to get an appointment which will bring us a larger income, to win a contested election, to escape a bad debt, protection, or better health--these are our own affairs. It is as if a minister of the Crown were to use his official authority for his own personal interests; or as if the representative of a commercial firm, who was authorised to sign cheques for the firm, signed cheques for the payment of his private and personal accounts. But have we any interests that are not Christ’s? Should we really choose the better appointment and the larger income at the risk of becoming of less use to Christ? Should we care to win the contested election if success did not give us new opportunities for serving Him? Are we not carrying on our business as Christ’s servants? And when we pray for our children, do we not remember with a leap of the heart that they are much more dear to Him than they are to us? Can we really desire anything for ourselves that Christ does not desire us to have? Can we desire anything for others that Christ does not desire them to have?

2. But these answers, though good as far as they go, are incomplete. The real root of that vague discontent is in that dualism which divides human life into the religious and the secular; in one of which we know that Christ is interested, while the other seems to be of interest only to ourselves. That we should care for righteousness more than for everything besides we acknowledge frankly. To serve Christ well--that is what we desire above everything. If the chance were offered to us between a saintly character and the most splendid earthly position, not for a moment should we hesitate. But our nature is complex. Righteousness is the great good to which every inferior good gives place; but there are many good things besides. The worst of all evils is to sin against God; but it is a bad thing to be cold, hungry, friendless; to see the wealth which has been accumulated by skill, industry, and thrift, wasting away through the dishonesty of those we have trusted. It is the worst of all evils to be lashed day after day by a guilty conscience; but it is also a bad thing to suffer the physical tortures which are the result of some terrible forms of disease. From the worst evils we can ask in Christ’s name to be delivered, that others should be delivered from them; but how is it with the rest? Have we forgotten that Christ created us body and soul? When a limb is broken, Christ’s own creation is injured, just as the creation of an artist is injured when the marble which is the triumph of his genius is shattered, or when the canvas on which he has recorded some dream of beauty is rent. Christ’s miracles were the signs of the depth of His compassion for the miseries of our race; and has He not made it apart of the service which we owe to Himself to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, etc. In His name we are to relieve all forms of human want--in His name, when the want is our own, we may ask that the want may be relieved. If we serve Christ in common things, we shall be able to pray ill His name about common things; and perhaps it is because we alienate a large part of our life from His service that we are conscious of a certain incongruity when we try to pray about it.

3. But we may sometimes doubt whether relief from want, pain, trouble, is really good. It is right to ask, and to ask in Christ’s name, for relief from it; but Christ may cancel the prayer, and put in its place a petition for a higher blessing. We pray that it may be removed: He loves us too well for the prayer to be answered. But when we pray for the great gifts, whether for ourselves or for others, then we know that our prayers are but the experience of the central thoughts and desires of the very heart of Christ; we know that we should not offer them were it not for our union with Christ; and therefore with perfect confidence we offer them in His name, they are less ours than His. (R. W. Dale, D. D.)

Praying in Christ’s name

In the common acceptation, the phrase “in my name” means the same thing as “for my sake” or “on my account.” The common notion seems to be that if we present ourselves before the Infinite Majesty with any request and make use of this formula, our requests will be granted, no matter what they may be. The young soldier dying on the field sends by his wounded comrade a letter to his father at home, saying, “This is my friend; give him whatever he asks for, for my sake;” and although the requests of the wounded man are unreasonable and injurious, the father grants the petition, simply because of the love that he bears his son. Just so men go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with this text as their warrant. Another conception of the promise is that Christ has accumulated an infinite fund of merit by His death, and has put the Father under infinite obligations to Him. Those, therefore, who come to the Father in the name of the Son have a claim on Him which He is bound to recognize. The transaction, as thus conceived, is partly legal and partly commercial. To ask in Christ’s name is therefore substantially the same thing as to present an order at a store signed by one of the joint proprietors, or a cheque upon a bank certified by the cashier. The name, as we say, is good for the amount. It matters not to us whether the persons to whom the cheque or the order is presented are friendly or unfriendly to us; nor to them whether the thing is good for us or not; there need be no acquaintance beyond simple identification. What they impart to us is not of grace to us but of debt to the one whose name we present to them. This view needs only to be distinctly stated in order that its credulity may be perceived.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY ASKING IN CHRIST’S NAME? The name, in the New Testament, generally stands for the person. So always when miracles are wrought by the name of Christ, it is the personality and the power of Christ that are referred to. Believing in the name of Christ is believing not merely in a word but in Christ, with a glance, no doubt, at His trustworthiness. To ask for anything in the name of Christ, then, is to put ourselves in His place as nearly as we can, and to ask for the things that He would ask for, and in the spirit with which He would present His requests. Just in proportion as His mind is in us, and our lives reproduce His life, will our prayers be effectual. The same truth is put in another form in John 15:7; Joh_15:16. It isonly when the life of the Master quickens and invigorates the disciple, just as the life of the vine does that of the branches, that he can truly pray in Christ’s name, and find a certain answer to his prayers.

II. THIS INTERPRETATION LIMITS THE PROMISE IN CERTAIN DIRECTIONS. That is really no objection to the interpretation.

1. Men have brought to God many strange requests for objects unworthy and injurious to themselves, and yet have supposed that by the use of this phrase they made good their demand upon Him. Those to whom, e.g., worldly prosperity would be a curse, who have no power to use wealth wisely, and would surely be corrupted by it, sometimes ask for it, and seem to think that God is not faithful to His promise because He does not give it to them.

2. Sometimes good people have hateful whims that they wish to have gratified. One good woman whom I knew prayed, so she said, in Christ’s name all night, that her husband may be kept from joining a certain church. Thus she imagined this promise to be a weapon with which she could compel the Deity to gratify her small bigotry, her antipathy to another Christian sect.

3. Neither does the text encourage speculative or experimental praying. A proposition was made that Christians should pray for the patients in a certain ward of a hospital; and if these recovered more rapidly than those in other wards the result would be a demonstration of the power of prayer. But men who pray, just to see whether there is any use in praying or not, are not praying with the mind of Christ, no matter what phrases these may use; and there is no promise of answer to any such prayers. To ask a good man for a good gift, just to see what he would say, would be an insult; and it is not less offensive to approach God in this way.

4. Neither does this interpretation encourage the expectation that God will work miracles to relieve us of work. Some imagine that God will support them in idleness if they only pray in faith for food and raiment and shelter. We know, as well as we can know anything, that it is God’s will that we should earn our livelihood by labour, and husband our earnings with prudence.

5. The same principle applies to suffering. One who violates a physical law the existence of which he knows or ought to know, and then thinks to escape through prayer from the penalty of that law, really insults God by his prayer. No one can pray really in the name of Christ who is not careful to obey every part of the law of God, natural as well as Biblical. The very first condition of asking in Christ’s name is an entire and hearty willingness to know and to do the will of the Lord. To pray in the name or character of Christ is to remember that we are ignorant and that God is infinitely wise; and that what He chooses for us, though it may seem evil to us, is by far the best that we can only make known to Him our desires, and then leave ourselves with entire submission in His careful and powerful hands.

III. AFTER WE HAVE QUALIFIED THIS PROMISE IN ALL THESE WAYS IT IS STILL LARGE ENOUGH--So large that we shall never begin to realize all the good it offers us.

1. It does not forbid us to ask for temporal mercies, for the least of the good things that God provides, nor for the greatest of them. You may pray for health; that is a blessing that Christ gave to many while He was here. But it is a gift that He does not always give to those He loves best! and when you pray for it you must always say, “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”

2. You may pray for success in business and for prosperity if you desire them for spiritual or benevolent rather than for natural and selfish reasons. But here, too, the dominating wish will be that God’s will may be done. You may, honestly think that you could use wealth in such a way as to derive moral and spiritual benefit from it for yourself, and to confer benefits upon others; but the Omniscient One may know that you are mistaken about this, and, for your own good, as well as for His glory, He may therefore withhold what you crave.

3. There is one class of petitions, however, in which you do not need to make any of these reservations. When you ask for spiritual gifts, then if you are sincere you know that you are asking in Christ’s name. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” (Washington Gladden D. D.)

The reason for delay in the answers to prayer

“Pa said he liked us to ask him for whatever we wanted, and I asked him yesterday to get me a kite, and he has not got it for me!” said a curly-headed grumbler, on a cold foggy day in November. “Yes, and I asked him to give me a gold watch, and he has never given me one!” said a brother, two or three years older; “and I don’t see the good of asking him for things.” Six months passed away, when behold! one fine day in May, the father came in with a beautiful kite, which he gave to his little boy without saying a word. But it was eight or nine years before he called the other boy to him and said, “I suppose you have forgotten, when you were a boy in pinafores, asking me for a gold watch, haven’t you?” “Yes, that I have,” answered the now tall youth. “But I have not,” said the father. “Here’s the watch, my dear boy; you can value it and take care of it now! Ah, Christian, need I add a word? else I might say that prayers do not spoil by keeping, but are only put out at interest. (H. H. Dobney.)

If ye love Me, keep My commandments

True love for Christ

I. ITS TRUE NATURE AND CHARACTER.

1. The text suggests a contrast with something besides which, while purporting to be the love of Christ, is not the very reality. There is a love of Christ which is

(1) Affected--that of Judas but it was an illusion. How much of Christianity consists in acknowledgment of Gospel verity, respect for Christian institutions, etc.

2. The love of Christ--what is it?

(a) Piety towards God. Christ will recognize no love for Him which does not show forth the praises of His Father.

(b) Self-control and purity.

(c) Truth, love, justice to all men.

II. ITS BLESSEDNESS AND DIVINE EXCELLENCE. To love Christ is

1. To be loved of the Father and the Son (John 14:21). The Divine Son is so dear to the Father, that love for Him in a human soul makes it dear to God.

2. To receive the manifestation of the love of God is the coming to the soul of the Father and the Son (John 14:23). Human love often remains unmanifested through lack of opportunity, etc. So there was a lack of the manifestation of Divine love before the Incarnation; but Christ promises to the disciples that He and the Father will “come.” Believers shall know the love which God has for them, the Spirit Himself bearing witness of the fact.

3. To enjoy this manifestation as a permanent condition of soul: “make our abode.”

Conclusion:

1. What bewildering and entrancing views of heaven does this scripture open before us? If God so loved us here, how will He love us in the mansions above!

2. To how great a height does the Christianity of the New Testament tower above that of most of its professors.

3. Let those who name the name of Christ be careful to keep His commandments. (J. D. Geden, D. D.)

Love’s law and life

This is a chapter singularly full of certainties, and remarkably studded with “ifs.”

1. Look at John 14:2. If there had been no place for us in the glory land Jesus would have told us.

2. Notice John 14:3. If the Lord Jesus should go away (and this is a supposition no longer), then He would return again in due time. His home going pledges Him to come, and compels us to look for Him.

3. The next “if” comes at the beginning of John 14:7. If we really know Christ, we know God. In fact, there is no knowing God aright except through His

Son. If our scientific men get away from the Christ, the incarnate God, before long they drift away from God altogether.

4. The next variety of “if” is in John 14:14. Taking it for granted that we ask mercies in the name of Jesus, a glorious certainty is linked thereto--“I will do it.”

5. Again, you have “if” in John 14:23. Respect to His wisdom, and obedience to His authority, will grow out of love.

6. The chapter almost closes at John 14:28, by saying, “If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice,” etc. Where there is an intelligent love to Christ we rejoice in His gains even though we ourselves appear to be losers thereby.

I. THE “IF” IS OUR TEXT IS A VERY SERIOUS ONE. It goes to the very root of the matter. Love belongs to the heart; and every surgeon will tell you that a disease of the heart may not be trifled with. Solomon bids us keep the heart with all diligence, “for out of it are the issues of life.” If the mainspring fails, all the works of a watch refuse to act.

1. Our Saviour puts this “if” in such a way as to teach us that love must be prior to obedience. Obedience must have love for its mother, nurse, and food. The essence of obedience lies in the hearty love which prompts the deed rather than in the deed itself. A heart at enmity with God cannot be made acceptable by mere acts of piety. It is not what your hands are doing, nor even what your lips are saying; the main thing is what your heart is meaning and intending. The great flywheel which moves the whole machinery of life is fixed in the heart: hence this is the most important of all suggestions, “If ye love Me.” When the heathen killed their sacrifices in order to prophesy future events from the entrails, the worst augury they ever got was when the priest could not find a heart; or if that heart was small and shrivelled. It is so in very deed with religion and with each religious person. He that searches us searches principally our hearts.

2. Love to Jesus is put first because it is the best reason for our obedience to Him. Notice: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” Personal affection will produce personal obedience. There are some men for whom you would do anything. The Saviour may much more safely than any other be installed in such a position. This is the spring and source of all holy living--love to the Holy One.

3. It was greatly needful for our Lord thus to address His disciples. We should never have doubted one of them. We now know by the result that one of them was a traitor, but no one suspected him. Ah! if that question, “If ye love Me,” needed to be raised in the sacred college of the twelve, much more must it be allowed to sift our churches, and to test ourselves. Perhaps you have almost taken it for granted that you love Jesus; but it must not be taken for granted. It is most kind of the Saviour to give you an opportunity of examining yourself and seeing whether you are right at heart.

4. Remember, if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ he will be anathema maranatha, cursed at His coming. This applies to every man, even though he be most eminent. An apostle turned out to be a son of perdition--may not you?

5. The question is answerable. It was put to the apostles, and they could answer it. Peter spoke as all the eleven would have done when he said, “Thou knowest that I love Thee.” It is not a question concerning mysteries. A man may know whether he loves the Lord or not, and he ought to know. Do not be content with merely longing to love Jesus; or with longing to know whether you love Him. Not love Jesus I It were better for me not to live than not to love Him.

II. THE TEST WHICH IS PROPOSED IN THE TEXT IS A VERY JUDICIOUS ONE. “If ye love Me.”

1. The test indicated does not suggest a lawless liberty. Let us never enter into the counsel of those who do not believe that there are any commandments for believers to keep. Those who do away with duty do away with sin, and consequently with the Saviour. Jesus does not say, so long as you love Me in your hearts, I care nothing about your lives. He that loves Christ is the freest man out of heaven, but he is also the most under bonds. He is free, for Christ has loosed his bonds, but he is put under bonds to Christ by grateful love.

2. The text also contains no fanatical challenge. We do not read, “If ye love Me, perform some extraordinary act.” Hermits, nuns, and religious mad caps find no example or precept here. Every now and then we find members of our churches who must needs leave their trades and their callings to show their love for Jesus: children may starve and wives may pine, but their mad whims must be carried out for love of Jesus.

3. Why does the Saviour give us this as a test? Because

III. TRUE LOVE WILL ENDURE THE TEST. “If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments.” This is the Revised Version, and I hope it will be written out in capitals upon our revised lives! If you love Christ

1. Set to work to find out what His commandments are.

2. Be always true to your convictions about what Christ’s commandments are. Carry them out at all hazards, and carry them out at once.

3. Take note of every commandment as it concerns you. If there be a commandment which you do not relish, it ought to be a warning to you that there is something wrong in your heart that needs setting right. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Love and obedience

The keyword of the preceding context is “Believe!” and that word passes now into “Love.” The believing gaze upon Christ kindles love and prompts to obedience. There is another very beautiful and subtle link. Our Lord has just been saying, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name that will I do.” The Lord does as the servant asks, and the servant is to do as the Lord commands. On both sides there is love delighting to be set in motion by a message from the other side.

I. THE ALL-SUFFICIENT IDEAL OR GUIDE FOR LIFE. The authoritative tone which Christ assumes is noteworthy. He speaks as Jehovah spoke from Sinai; and quotes the very words of the old law. There are distinctly involved, in this incidental utterance, two startling things--one the assumption of the right to impose His will upon every human being, and the other that His will contains the all-sufficient directory for conduct.

1. What, then, are His commandments? Those which He spoke are plain and simple; and some people crow loud if, scratching amongst rabbinical dust heaps, they find something that looks like anything that He once said. What does that matter? Christ’s “commandments” are Christ Himself. There is the originality and uniqueness of Christ as a moral teacher, that He says, “Copy Me.”

1. Its law is to be found in His life.

2. And then, if that be so, what a change passes on the aspect of law! Everything that was hard, repellent, far-off, cold, vanishes. We have no longer tables of stone, but fleshy tables of a heart; and the Law stands before us, a Being to be loved, to be clung to, to be trusted in, and whom it is blessedness to know and perfection to be like.

3. It is enough for conduct, for character, and in all perplexities of conflicting duties that we listen to and obey the Voice that says, “Keep My commandments.”

II. THE ALL-POWERFUL MOTIVE. The Revised Version reads, “If ye love Me ye will keep,” etc., making it an assurance and not an injunction.

1. The principle that underlies these words is, that love is the foundation of obedience, and obedience is the sure outcome and result of love. We all know that love which is real delights most chiefly in knowing and conforming to the will of the beloved. And you have only to lift that which is the experience of every true heart into the higher regions, to see that Christ has invoked an omnipotent power.

2. That is exactly what lifts the morality of the Gospel above all other systems. It is not for want of knowledge that men go to the devil, but for want of power to live their knowledge. And what morality fails to do with its clearest utterances of human duty, Christ comes and does. The one is like the useless proclamations posted up in some rebellious district, where there is no army to back them. The other gets itself obeyed. Here is the road plain and straight. What matters that if there is no force to draw the cart along it. Here stand all your looms, polished and in perfect order, but there is no steam in the boilers; and so there is no motion and nothing manufactured. What we want is not law, but power. And what the gospel stands alone in giving us, is not merely the clear revelation of what we ought to be, but it is the power to become it.

3. Love does that, and love alone. The true way to cleanse the Augean stables, was to turn the river into them. It would have been endless to wheel out the filth in wheelbarrows loaded by spades. When the ark comes into the Temple, Dagon lies, a mutilated stump, upon the threshold. Christ, and He alone, entering my heart by the portals of my love, will coerce my evil and stimulate my good.

4. Here is a plain test and a double-barreled one.

III. THE ALL-SUBDUING GAZE. This is not included in the text, but it is necessary to complete the view of the forces to which Christ here entrusts the hallowing of life. Nothing will kindle a man’s love but the faithful contemplation and grasp of the Redeeming Christ.

1. Here is a man, dead for nineteen centuries, expecting you and me to have towards Him a vivid personal affection which will influence our conduct and our character. What right has He to expect that? There is only one reasonable ground, and that is, that He died for me. And such a love towards such a Christ is the only thing which will wield power sufficient to guide, to coerce, to restrain, to constrain, and to sustain my weak, wayward, rebellious, and sluggish will.

2. Here is a unique fact in the history of the world, that not only did He make this astounding claim, but that it has been responded to, and that today there are millions of men who love Jesus Christ with a love warm, personal, deep, powerful--the spring of all their goodness and the Lord of their lives. Why do they? For one reason only. Because they believe that He died for them, and that He lives an ascended yet ever-present Helper and Lover of their souls. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Love and obedience

I. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN KEEPING THE DIVINE COMMANDS?

1. That we retain them in our memory, so as not to forget them. This is necessary to all other ways of keeping them (Deuteronomy 8:7; Deu_17:18). The heart of every Christian should be a sacred ark, containing the two tables of the law, that they may be ready for use, and secured against all hostile attempts to deprive us of them (Psalms 119:61; Psa_119:93; Heb 2 Peter 1:12-13).

2. That they have a place in our affections; we must love them, and delight in them. A thing may be lost to the memory, and yet be kept in the heart; the words of a discourse may be forgotten, and yet the savour of it be retained. But God’s commands require to be kept in both these respects. The believer loves the Divine law, on account of its Author; and the subject matter of it, on account of its own intrinsic excellence.

3. That we preserve them unadulterated, pure and entire. Nothing is more displeasing to the Lord, than to blend human inventions with His institutions (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18).

4. A decided and persevering obedience to the Divine will, regardless of the consequences (Matthew 7:24-29; Revelation 22:14).

5. That we recommend them to the attention of others.

II. HOW OUR KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS IS AN EVIDENCE OF OUR LOVE TO GOD.

1. It is a very rational evidence, for all love is active and influential. Obedience without love is in many instances found to be impracticable; with it, it is almost unavoidable.

2. It is a scriptural evidence, very frequently inculcated (John 14:21; Joh_14:23; John 14:14).

3. The evidence is simple and easy. This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous.

4. It is an obvious and convincing evidence (Matthew 7:20; 1 John 2:4-5).

5. It is such an evidence that without it no other kind of evidence would be sufficient. Reflections: The subject teaches us

1. That love is the foundation of Christian obedience.

2. To judge of our love by our obedience, and not of our obedience by our love.

3. Love and obedience will bear a proportion to each other.

4. They will at last be consummated together. (B. Beddome, M. A.)

Love and obedience

Nothing can be love which does not shape itself into obedience. We remember the anecdote of a Roman commander who forbade an engagement with the enemy, and the first transgressor against his prohibition was his own son. He accepted the challenge of the leader of the other host, met, slew, spoiled him, and then, in triumphant feeling, carried the spoils to his father’s tent. But the Roman father refused to recognize the instinct which prompted this as deserving the name of love. Disobedience contradicted it, and deserved death. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Obedience the true test of love to Christ

I. CHRIST MERITED THE HIGHEST ESTEEM OF ALL HIS PEOPLE.

1. In Himself He is the most lovely of objects.

2. From Him the disciples have received the most delightful instruction.

3. He has died to save them from the direst of evils and lives to procure for them the highest blessings.

4. His laws are the conditions upon which our well-being is secured.

II. THERE ARE IN CHRIST’S DISCIPLES SUCH THINGS AS RENDER THEIR LOVE TO CHRIST SUSPICIOUS.

1. Sad neglect of public worship.

2. Backwardness in prayer.

3. Reluctance to study the Scriptures.

4. Passion easily agitated.

5. Fear of death.

III. THE METHOD OF GETTING RID OF ALL THAT RENDERS OUR LOVE SUSPICIOUS. Obedience:

1. Universal.

2. Constant.

3. Self-denying. (R. Robinson.)

Affectionate obedience

I. THE IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE OF LOVE TO JESUS CHRIST. Consider this principle

1. As to its nature. Love to Christ implies several things.

2. In its causes. “He first loved us.”

3. Consider this love in its characteristics. What should be the features of this love?

4. In its importance (see 1 Corinthians 16:22).

II. THE EVIDENCE OF ITS POSSESSION. Obedience is the essential fruit of a renewed heart. Christ’s commandments

1. Are revealed. They are left on the pages of Holy Writ.

2. They are sometimes difficult. Hence self-denial and cross-bearing are always so.

3. They are always practicable. “I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.”

4. They are indispensable. Not to be despised or neglected. Essential to Christ’s favour, and our own comfort.

Application:

1. Right obedience to Christ is humble, universal, and hearty. It does not question, or choose, or obey reluctantly.

2. Christ’s order seems this: Hear, repent, believe, be baptized, and then do whatsoever else I command you. (Jabez Burns, D. D.)

Love the inspiration of courage to obey

Several boys were playing marbles. In the midst of their sport, the rain began to fall. Freddie S. stopped, and said, “Boys, I must go home: mother said I must not go out in the rain.” “Your mother--fudge! The rain won’t hurt you any more than it will us,” said two or three voices at once. Freddie turned upon them with a look of pity, and the courage of a hero, and replied, “I’ll not disobey my mother for any of you!”

Love the motive power of obedience

When the Bible prescribes Christian graces, it always implies love as the motive power; as when we speak of rearing harvests it is always implied that there is a soil. Without love there is no soil for any Christian grace. If there be little of it, the fruit of Christian feeling will be poor and scant. If there be much, there will be great fruit, and easily grown. All things are easy to love. It tames all passions, inspires all affections, feeds every generous sentiment, gives both softness and potency, as its needs require, to the will, makes the understanding luminous and by making the whole man like God, makes it easy for him to be godlike to his fellow men. (H. W. Beecher.)

Love liberates us for obedience

Obedience is freedom, when we have learned to love the lips that command. We are set free that we may serve. (H. W.Beecher.)

Love makes obedience delightful

Love obeys with delight. It is not a burden to pray, but a pleasure. Hard duties become easy to love and the time seems not long nor tedious; as Jacob for the love of Rachel Genesis 29:20). Seven years to love seems but as one day. One day spent in a holy duty to one who hath love, seems to pass away sooner and with more delight than one day spent in flesh displeasing duties where there is no love to take off the tediousness of it to the flesh. (Percy.)

Love makes obedience easy

Love is like wings to the bird, like sails to the ship; it carries a Christian full sail to heaven. When love cools, obedience slacks and drives heavily, because it wants the oil on it which that love used to drop. (T. Watson.)

Love better than the mere sense of duty

Men will do far more from love than we might dare to ask as a matter of duty. Napoleon’s soldiers frequently achieved exploits under the influence of fervid attachment for him, which no law could have required them to attempt. Had there been cold-blooded orders issued by some domineering officer, who said, “You shall do this, and you shall do that,” they would have mutinied against such tyranny, and yet when the favourite little corporal seizes the standard, and cries, “Come on!” they will rush even to the cannon’s mouth, out of love to the person of their gallant leader. This is the difference between the law and the gospel. The law says, “You shall, or you shall be punished;” but the gospel says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have forgiven all your trespasses; now my love shall sweetly constrain you, and the influence of inward principle shall guide you in my ways, my law shall be written, not upon stone, but upon the fleshly tablets of your hearts.” The old covenant in all that it did only provided precepts; but the gospel provides the power to keep the precept. The law drove us, but the gospel draws us. The law came behind us with its dog and stick, as our drovers do from the cattle markets; but the gospel goes before us, as the Eastern shepherd before his sheep, and we cheerfully follow where the gospel leads the way. This is the difference, then, between the old law and its inability to sanctify us, and the gospel and its wonderful power to purify. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sonship manifested in love

Outside, in the streets, a man’s companions will do him a kindness, and the action performed is friendly; but for filial acts you must look inside the house. There the child does not lend money to its father, or negotiate business, yet in his little acts there is more sonship. Who is it that comes to meet father when the day is over? and what is the action which often indicates childhood’s love? See the little child comes tottering forward with father’s slippers, and runs off with his boots as he puts them off. The service is little, but it is loving and filial, and has more of filial affection in it than the servant’s bringing in the meal, or preparing the bed, or any more essential service. It gives the little one great pleasure, and expresses his love. No one who is not my child, or who does not love me in something like the same way, would ever dream of making such a service his speciality. The littleness of the act fits it to the child’s capacity, and there is also something in it which makes it a suitable expression of a child’s affection. So also in little acts for Jesus. Oftentimes men of the world will give their money to the cause of Christ, putting down large sums for charity or for missions, but they will not weep in secret over other men’s sins, or speak a word of comfort to an afflicted saint. To visit a poor sick woman, teach a little child, reclaim a street Arab, breathe a prayer for enemies, or whisper a promise in the ear of a desponding saint, may show more of sonship than building a row of almshouses or endowing a church. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Divinity of a Christ-loving soul

I. AS LIVING A DIVINE LIFE. The life is that of keeping Divine commandments.

1. This is the effect of loving Christ. Here is a law of mind. He who really loves another is naturally desirous of acting in accord with the wishes of the object loved. We see this in families and among friends, and the professing Christian who is not obedient from love, is not obedient at all.

2. This is the evidence of loving Christ (John 14:21). There may be the most glowing songs of praise, etc., but love is only proved by practical obedience. The true Christian is an incarnation of the God of love. Worldly men only embody and work out the current notions of their age. “I will run the way of Thy commandments when Thou shalt enlarge my heart.”

II. AS POSSESSING A DIVINE HELPER (John 14:16).

1. He is the gift of the Father--free, sovereign, priceless

2. He is the messenger of reality--“the Spirit of Truth.” The world is under the dominion of falsehood and shams. False ideas of God, life, duty, happiness, and greatness prevail. The Paraclete comes to scatter delusions, and to bring souls into contact with the morally real.

3. He is exclusively for the Christ-loving--“And I will pray the Father … whom the world cannot receive,” etc. Love is the receptive and recognizing faculty (1 Corinthians 2:14). As soon may a man, who has not attained the faculty of reading, see in. “Paradise Lost” the genius of Milton as the man who has not the love of Christ, see and receive the Spirit of God.

4. He is the spiritual presence of Christ (John 14:18).

5. He instructs in the things of Christ (John 14:26).

III. AS ENJOYING DIVINE COMPANIONSHIP (John 14:20-21). Love to Christ makes the soul the residence of God. Such a soul He enters, not as a passing visitor, but a permanent guest (1 Corinthians 3:16).

IV. AS PARTICIPATING IN A DIVINE PEACE (John 14:27). Peace with our own conscience, with society and God. Not as the world giveth.

1. As to quality. The world gives inferior gifts, Christ gives the highest. The world gives non-essential gifts. Men can do without the best of the world’s gifts, but Christ’s is indispensable.

2. As to manner.


Verse 16

John 14:16

I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter

The praying Christ, the giving Father, and the abiding Spirit

The “and” shows us that these words are a consequence of some preceding steps.
The ladder that has its summit in heaven has for its rungs, first, “believe”; second, “love”; third, “obey.” And thus the context carries us from the very basis of the Christian life up into its highest reward. And there is another very striking link. There are, if I may so say, two telephones across the abyss that separates the ascended Christ and us. One is, “If ye ask anything in My name I will do it”; the other, “If ye keep My commandments I will ask.” Love on this side of the great cleft sets love on the other side of it in motion in a two-fold fashion. If we ask, He does; if we do, He asks.

I. THE PRAYING CHRIST AND THE GIVING FATHER.

1. “I Will ask and He will give” seems a strange drop from the lofty claims in the earlier verses. The voice that spake the perfect revelation of God lowers its tones into petition. Now apparently diverse views lying so close together cannot have seemed contradictory to the utterer, and there is no explanation which does justice to these two sides of Christ’s consciousness, except that He is God manifest in the flesh, who prays in His Manhood and hears prayer in His Divinity. The bare humanistic view which emphasizes such utterances as these of my text does not know what to do with the other ones.

2. His intercession is the great hope of the Christian heart. The High Priest passes within the veil, bearing in His hand the offering, and by reason of that offering, and of His powerful presence before the mercy seat, all the spiritual gifts which redeem and regenerate and sanctify humanity are forever coming forth. Note

II. THE ABIDING GIFT.

1. “Comforter” means not only One who administers sweet whispers of consolation. We have to look not merely for a vague influence, but a

Divine Person who will be by our side on condition of our faith, love, and obedience, to be our Strength in all weakness, our Peace in all trouble, our Wisdom, Guide, Comforter and Cherisher, Righteousness, the Victor over our temptations, and the Companion and Sweetener of our solitude? The metaphors with which Scripture represents this great personal Influence are full of instruction and beauty. He comes as “The Fire,” which melts, warms, cleanses, quickens; as the “rushing, mighty Wind,” which hears health upon its wings, and sometimes breathes gently as an infant’s breath, and sometimes sweeps with irresistible power; as the “Oil,” gently flowing, lubricating, making every joint supple, nourishing; as the “Water of Life,” refreshing, vitalizing, quickening all growth. He comes fluttering down as the Dove of God, the bird of peace that will brood upon our hearts. He is the Spirit of holiness, truth, wisdom, power, love, a sound mind, sonship, supplication, etc.

2. And this Strengthener and Advocate is to replace Christ and to carry on His work. “Another Comforter.” All that that handful of men found of sweetness and shelter and assured guidance, and stay for their weakness, and companionship for their solitude, and a breast on which to rest their heads, and love in which to bathe their hearts, all these this Divine Spirit will be to each of us if we will.

3. This strong continuation of Christ’s presence will be a permanent companion. He was comforting the disciples who were trembling at the thought of His departure. Here is the abiding Guest, that nothing but your own sin will ever cast out from your hearts.

4. And Christ tells us how this great Spirit will do His work. He is the “Spirit of Truth,” not as if He brought new truth. To suppose that opens the door to all manner of fanaticism, but the truth, the revelation of which is all summed and finished in the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the weapon by which the Divine Spirit works all His conquests, the staff on which He makes us lean and be strong.

III. THE BLIND WORLD. There is a tone of deep sadness in Christ’s words. A savage stares at the sunshine and sees nothing. And worldly men, who are bound by this visible diurnal round, lack the organ that enables them to see that Divine Spirit moving round about them. Whether you have put your eyes out by fleshly lusts, or by intellectual self-sufficiency and conceit, you are stone blind to all the best realities of the universe; and if you look out upon the history of the Church, or upon the present condition of Christendom, and say, “I see no Divine Spirit working there”; well, then, the only thing that is to be said to you is, “Go to an oculist, your sight is bad. Perhaps there is solid land, as some of us see it, where you see only mist.”

IV. THE RECIPIENT DISCIPLES. Observe that the order of clauses is reversed. The world cannot receive, because it does not know. The disciple knows, because He receives. Possession and knowledge reciprocally interchange places, and may be regarded as cause and effect of one another. At bottom they are one and the same thing, Knowledge is possession, and possession is the only knowledge. “He dwelleth with you now, and He shall be in you” hereafter. There is a better form of possession opening before them, which came at Pentecost, and has lasted ever since. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The gift of the Spirit and the gift of the Son compared

(text and John 3:16):--It is a much overlooked, but nevertheless true, fact that the Divine love is as much displayed in the gift of the Spirit as in the gift of the Son.

I. THE SPIRIT IS AS INTRINSICALLY GREAT AS THE SON. The same attributes, prerogatives, words belong to both.

II. THE SPIRIT IS AS ACTIVELY ENGAGED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WORLD AS THE SON. Did He not strive with the old world? Did He not inspire the prophets, etc.? Has there ever been a soul regenerated without His agency? Has there ever been a conscience that He has not touched? In every solemn thought and expression is He not working?

III. THE SPIRIT HAS BEEN AS WICKEDLY TREATED BY THE WORLD AS THE SON. The people of Judaea alone personally ill-treated Christ; the population of the whole world “do always resist the Spirit.” About thirty-three years measured the period of the Saviour’s personal ill-treatment, but that of the Spirit extends over well-nigh twice that number of centuries.

IV. THE SPIRIT IS AS NECESSARY TO MANKIND AS THE SON. Two things are necessary to man’s salvation: deliverance from the guilt, and from the power of sin. Christ was necessary for the first, the Spirit for the second. It is said that man wants nothing but sufficient evidence and the free use of his faculties to believe.

1. But there are circumstances antagonistic to faith which need to be removed. There is

2. All this being true, the Spirit is necessary, in a sense, apart from truth, and apart from His dwelling in the truth. He is a personal power, using the truth and making it effective in the minds and hearts of men. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The parting promise

Among the many sources of trouble which disquieted the disciples we can distinguish four. And for each of these our Lord provides an adequate consolation.

1. The pang of separation from a beloved Master. For this His consolation is, that such separation shall not be forever (John 14:2-3).

2. The fear lest, in proclaiming their message, they should not be able to appeal to those “mighty signs and wonders” with which our Lord Himself had demonstrated the Divine origin of His mission. For this He gives them the assurance that they should even perform greater wonders (John 14:12).

3. That they should not have their Divine Master to fly to when they might require protection and provision. The answer to this was that our Lord would secure to them a perpetual access to God in prayer (John 14:13).

4. The painful consciousness that they should no longer have the wisdom of their Master to guide them in their proclamation of the gospel. For this our Lord provided in the text. Consider this blessing

I. IN ITS SOURCE: as it arises from the mediation of Christ Himself. “I will pray the Father.” This does not mean that the Father is unwilling to bestow, but that in the order of the eternal counsels Christ must “ascend up on high” to “receive gifts for men.” Large and blessed as were the results of our Lord’s personal ministry, yet all the blessings which attend the promulgation of the gospel spring directly from the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, the result of Christ’s intercession.

II. IN ITS EFFICACY: as able to impart a consolation equal to that of Christ Himself. Large and dreary must have been the void created by Christ’s departure. But He would not go away until He had provided “another Comforter.” “I will send One to you, who shall achieve for you mightier, more abundant, more lasting benefits. I will send that blessed Spirit, whose office shall be to seal and to hind upon your souls all those comforting promises which you have heard from Me; who shall recall all My discourses to you, and enable you to pour out your prayers to God by reason of His ‘groanings which cannot be uttered.’”

III. IN HIS PARTICULAR OFFICE OF SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION we are to have “the Spirit of Truth”

1. To instruct us in all points of doctrine. It is the office of the Spirit to take of the things of Christ and to show them to the soul; to reveal the mysteries of redemption. Thus we see that this office of the Spirit must be a great comfort to those destitute of human learning. Having One to “guide into all truth,” the poor and the wayfaring have the assurance that the whole mind of God shall be made plain to them, as much as to the greatest genius that ever tenanted the soul of man.

2. To direct us in all the practical concerns of life. “He shall teach you all things.”

IV. IN ITS EXCLUSIVENESS: as applying to all true believers. Christ does not say, “Whom the Lord will not give”; but, “Whom the world cannot receive.” Why cannot the world receive Him? “Because it seeth Him not.” Why does not the world see the Spirit? Is it from deficiency of evidence? No, but because they will not see. They close the shutter, and complain of darkness. Every worldly man is permitted to witness the daily operations of God’s Spirit in the world. Let him look abroad and see the transforming power of religion, the revivals in many Christian Churches, the changed habits of many families, and of many souls, brought under the power of God’s Spirit. Seeth it not!--might he not as well say that he seeth not the wind? He sees the ocean roused into tempest, etc.; will he tell us he cannot see the wind?

V. IN ITS PERMANENCE. He is not a stranger to visit; He is not a traveller, to sojourn for a season; but He is a friend, to abide and dwell. (D. Moore, M. A.)

The Paraclete

The etymological meaning of the word is, “One called to be beside another.” The word is used in classical Greek, and a word of similar etymology, from which our word “advocate” is derived, is used in classical Latin to denote a person who patronises another in a judicial cause, and who appears in support of him. It was the custom, before the ancient tribunals, for the parties to appear in court, attended by one or more of their most powerful and influential friends, who were called “paracletes”--the Greek--or “advocates”--the Latin term. They were not advocates in our sense of the term--feed counsel; they were persons who, prompted by affection, were disposed to stand by their friend; and persons in whose knowledge, wisdom, and truth the individual having the cause had confidence. These paracletes, or advocates, gave their friends--“prospelates,” or “clients,” as they were called--the advantages of their character and station in society, and the aid of their counsel. They stood by them in the court, giving them advice, and speaking in their behalf when it was necessary. Jesus had been the Paraclete of His disciples while He was with them. He had made their cause His own. He had taught them how to manage their cause with God. He had taught them to pray; and He had prayed for them. He had taught them how to manage their cause with the wicked one; bidding them watch and pray, lest they should enter into temptation; and He had prayed for them, that their faith should not fail. When the scribes and Pharisees attacked them, He was ever ready to defend them. In the great cause which was at once His and theirs He was their great helper. He instructed them what to say, and how to act. He gave them miraculous powers, and taught them how to use them. Thus He had been their patron--their paraclete. And He was not to cease to be so; He was, in His Father’s house of many mansions, “ever living to interpose in their behalf” (1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25). But He was to cease to be their Paraclete on earth; and therefore, knowing how much they needed such a patron and adviser, and monitor and helper, He says, “I will pray to the Father, and He will send you another Paraclete.” “Instead of losing, you are to gain by My removal.” They had, in becoming His disciples, identified themselves with His cause. They stood pledged to establish the right which their Master’s principles had to be universally embraced and submitted to. And all the resources of Judaism and Paganism, all the subtlety of philosophy, all the seductions of idolatry, all the power of kingdoms and empires, all the craft, and activity, and energy of hell, were against them. And what were they? poor, unlearned, obscure men? Truly, they needed a powerful patron, a wise adviser. And such a paraclete was He whom the Saviour promises. He cannot want power, through whose plastic influence the world was formed; He cannot want wisdom, who “searches all things, even the deep things of God”; and we know how He guided them, and enabled them to bring to a triumphant issue their mighty litigation. He filled their minds with the pure light of Divine truth, and their hearts with the holy fire of Divine love, and He poured grace and power into their lips; and when brought before counsels and synagogues, and governors, and kings, He gave them a force of reason and a power of eloquence that could not be withstood. “They spake with tongues, as He gave them utterance,” and proclaimed the mysteries of the kingdom, “not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Ghost.” (J. Brown, D. D.)

The Paraclete

It means one who calls us to his side, as a father does his child when he has some special thing to say. (H. Bonar, D. D.)

The Paraclete

I. HOW THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS THE PARACLETE.

1. The Holy Spirit is to be to us all that Jesus was to His disciples. What a valiant leader is to an army, the shepherd to the sheep, Jesus Christ was to His people. As the Orientals say of the palm tree, that every fragment of it is of use, and there is scarcely any domestic arrangement into which the palm tree in some form or other does not enter, even so Jesus Christ is good for everything to His people, and there is nothing that they have to do or feel or know but Jesus Christ enters into it. What would that little company have been without their Lord? Now, all that Jesus was, the Spirit of God is now. If there be any power in the Church, any light in her instruction, life in her ministry, glory gotten to God, good wrought among men, it is entirely because the Holy Spirit is still with her. And we shall do well to treat the Holy Spirit as we would have treated Christ. Our Lord’s disciples told Him their troubles; we must trust the Comforter with ours. Whenever they felt baffled by the adversary, they fell back upon their Leader’s power; so must we call in the aid of the Holy Spirit. When they needed guidance, they sought direction from Jesus; we also must seek and abide by the Spirit’s leadings. When, knowing what to do, they felt themselves weak, they waited upon their Master for strength; and so must we upon the Spirit of all grace.

2. The Holy Spirit comforts by His presence and indwelling (John 14:17).

3. He comforts us by His teaching (John 14:26). We can, so far as the letter goes, learn from the Scriptures the words of Jesus for ourselves; but to understand them is the gift of the Spirit of God. What comfort is there equal to the words of Jesus, “the consolation of Israel,” when they are really understood?

4. Through the Holy Spirit we obtain peace (John 14:27). He who is taught of God naturally enjoys peace, for if I be taught that my sins were laid on Jesus, and the chastisement of my peace was upon Him, how can I help having peace?

5. The Holy Spirit, according to John 16:13, guides us into all truth, which is more than teaching us all truth. There are caverns full of sparkling stalactites. Now, it is a good thing, when you are travelling, to be taught where each of these caverns is--that is teaching you truth; but it is a better thing when the guide, with his flaming torch, conducts you down into the great subterranean chambers, while ten thousand crystals, like stars, vicing in colour with the rainbow, flash their beams upon you. So the Spirit of God will convince you that such and such a teaching is truth, and that is very much to know; but when he leads you into it, so that you experimentally know it, taste it, and feel it, oh, then you are admitted to the innermost cave of jewels, where “the diamond lights up the secret mine.” A great many Christians never get into the truth. They sit on the outside of it, but do not enter in.

6. The Spirit (John 16:14) glorifies Christ by “taking of the things of Christ and showing them to us.” Could infinite wisdom select a sweeter topic for a disconsolate heart than “the things of Christ”? You may bring me the things of Moses and of David, of Solomon and of Daniel, but what are they to me compared with the things of Christ?

II. THE NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT’S COMFORT.

1. He never dissociates His comfort from character (see verse 15). The Spirit of God never comforts a man in his sin. See what sin it is that makes you sorrow--obey, and ye shall be comforted.

2. He does not aim at working mere comfort by itself and alone. He does not comfort us as a fond mother who does not teach the child anything, nor cleanse its body or purify its heart in order to comfort it, but who neglects these to please the little one; but the Holy Spirit never acts so unwisely.

When a man is feeling pain he is very desirous that the surgeon should administer some drug which will stop the unpleasant sensation immediately; yet the surgeon refuses to do anything of the kind, but endeavours to remove the cause of the evil, which lies far lower than the pain. Do not expect to get comfort by merely running to sweet texts or listening to pleasing preachers, but expect to find comfort through the holy, reproving, humbling, strengthening, sanctifying processes which are the operation of the Divine Paraclete.

3. His comfort is not founded upon concealment. Some have obtained consolation by conveniently forgetting troublesome truth. Now, the Holy Spirit lays the whole truth open before us; therefore our consolation is not of fools, but of wise men; peace, which age and experience will not invalidate, but which both these will deepen, causing it to grow with our growth and strengthen with our strength.

4. It is a comfort always in connection with Jesus.

5. It is comfort which is always available. It does not depend upon health, strength, wealth, position, or friendship; the Holy Spirit comforts us through the truth, and the truth does not change; through Jesus, and He is “yea and amen”; therefore our comforts may be quite as lively when we are dying as when we are in vigorous health, when the purse is empty, and the cruse of oil low, as when all worldly store and cheer abound to us.

III. SOME OBSERVATIONS UPON THE WHOLE SUBJECT.

1. To the believer

2. Never impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him.

3. In all your learning ask Him to teach you, in all your suffering ask Him to sustain you, in all your teaching ask Him to give you the right words, in all your witness-bearing ask Him to give you constant wisdom, and in all service depend upon Him for His help. Believingly reckon upon the Holy Spirit.

4. To the unconverted--if thou art ever to be saved, the Holy Spirit is essential to thee. Except thou be born again from above, thou canst never see the kingdom of God, much less enter it. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Another Comforter

I. “THERE IS A COMFORTER.”

1. So our high festival of the Holy Ghost comes round, and meets the wants which the year has been accumulating. Just as Good Friday came and met another year’s guilt, Whit-Sunday comes to meet another year’s grief. Some have wept alone, and have had no earthly solace. Some have had comforters; but their well-intentioned comfortings mocked you. Or, the human comforting was very precious and very true, and you know what that word “comforter” means; but here is that which exceeds it all, as the fountain exceeds one of its own smallest drops--“a Comforter.”

2. Christ said, “Another Comforter.” Who is it? The Father? Yes; for He is “the God of all comfort.” The Son? Yes; “I will not leave you comfortless.” Then, a Trinity of Comforters. Is that the way we travel to “God is love”? Through a Comforter I ask a Comforter to send a Comforter. Or more truly, two Comforters, of themselves, send a Comforter. You are a deep mourner. But see how you are encircled. And can any sorrow outreach that comforting?

II. THE MODE OF HIS COMING.

1. It is the comforting of a Spirit. Therefore He mingles with our spirit. He does not need that there should pass any actual words. Every one who has ever passed through very deep sorrow will appreciate this. There are times when all language is poor and rude. How often have we longed that our minds could throw themselves into another’s mind without speaking. The Holy Ghost does that.

2. And what power there is in that thought, that He is the Holy Ghost! It wants holiness to deal with a wounded mind. Nothing but what is very holy ought ever to come near sorrow.

3. Still, the Spirit uses instruments, and almost always the Word. It is not always a promise. Sometimes it is a doctrine, whose grandeur fills, and raises, and assures the Spirit. Sometimes it is a command, and the comfort is the sense of duty. The Comforter never forgets that He is the Sanctifier, and the Sanctifier never forgets that He is the Comforter. Therefore, if you would be comforted, obey the impulse of the Spirit, and go and be much with your Bible, and be jealous that the first thing you seek is holiness.

4. He does not make you forget, but He draws happiness out of the unhappiness; He makes the subject of your tears the element of your smile; He does not take away the cloud, but He makes a rainbow of the shower; the pain does not go, but gradually the pain has so much of Christ in it that you scarcely wish to part with it.

5. He always displays Christ--makes you find what you want, not in man, but in Christ. If the thought which is presented to your mind does not draw you nearer to Christ--if you are not led to do something for Christ’s sake--it is not the true Comforter who has been speaking to you. Jesus is thebalm of life, and the comfort of the Spirit is the revealing of Christ. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Another Comforter

The Divine Spirit is

I. A HOLY COMFORTER. There can be no comfort apart from goodness. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” His name indicates His work. By Him the soul is regenerated. Christians are “elect through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience.”

II. AN INSTRUCTIVE COMFORTER. By His inspiration all Holy Scripture was given for our learning. Not by methods opposed to or ignoring our intellectual nature; not by mere excitement of the emotions; but by conveying truth to the mind, and enabling us to understand and feel it, the Holy Spirit acts as “another Comforter.” By His help we believe, and then, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” and enjoy that “peace which passeth all understanding.”

III. A PERSUASIVE COMFORTER. By revealing Jesus to the soul the Holy Spirit produces that love which is the strongest motive to holiness, and which is the fulfilling of the law. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” And “the love of Christ constraineth us to live not to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rose again.” The Comforter, as a faithful guide, in places of difficulty takes the traveller by the hand, and in addition to words of counsel, restrains him when he would step into danger, and kindly compels him to proceed when through fear or thoughtlessness he hesitates and may be overtaken by storm or darkness.

IV. A STRENGTHENING COMFORTER. He “helpeth our infirmities.” He comes to our succour when we are too heavily burdened, and lightens the weight or gives us strength to bear it. We are “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.” The result of such strengthening is Christ “dwelling in our hearts by faith,” the being “rooted and grounded in love,” “knowing the love of Christ which passeth knowledge,” and being “filled with all the fulness of God.” And what consolation can surpass that which must result from such strengthening! Especially are we taught to expect this help in prayer (Romans 8:26). He helps us to obtain comfort by teaching us what to pray for, by enabling us to pray aright, by overcoming the doubts which hinder us in the exercise, by creating within us earnest longings after God, by exciting in us desires which we may be unable to express in words, but which bring down the refreshing showers upon the mown grass, and cause us to say, “I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplication,”

V. AN ASSURING COMFORTER. What consolation can be greater than to know that Jesus is our Saviour and that we are His friends, and that through Him we can look upward and with confidence say, “My God! my Father!” (Romans 8:14-16).

VI. A HOPE-INSPIRING COMFORTER. We “abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 8:17-19). Practical lessons:

1. Let us regard the Holy Spirit, not with dread, but with loving confidence.

2. Let our actions respond to His methods of help. Does He comfort by teaching? let us be diligent learners; by persuasion? let us yield to His influence; by guiding? let us follow; by promoting our holiness? let us strive against sin; by helping us to know our high vocation? let us “give diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.”

3. Let all be encouraged to seek His help, for “If ye, being evil,” etc. (Newman Hall, LL. B.)

Another Comforter

I. THE BEING SPOKEN OF.

1. Spiritual (John 14:17).

2. Personal. Not a mere influence or energy, as according to the Monarchians, Patripassians, Unitarians, but a Person as truly as Christ was. That Christ taught this is apparent from

3. Divine. Christ could not be represented by or commit the interests of His Church to a creature.

4. Distinct, as against Sabellians and Swedenborgians. “Another.”

II. THE RELATION IN WHICH HE STANDS

1. To the Father.

2. To the Son.

3. To the Truth. Spirit of Truth may signify the Spirit whose essence is the Truth, whose operations concern the Truth, whose office it is to testify of Him who is the Truth (John 15:26), and to guide into all the Truth John 16:13).

4. To the disciples. A presence

5. To the world (John 16:17; John 16:8).

III. THE CONDITIONS OF RECEIVING HIM.

1. Loving obedience to Christ (John 16:15).

2. Believing recognition of the Spirit (John 16:17). The world had closed its eyes and steeled its heart against Him.

Learn

1. That all a saint obtains on earth he owes to the Saviour’s intercession Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

2. That the highest gift a human spirit can receive is the Holy Ghost as a Divine Being, an all-sufficient Helper, a heavenly Teacher, an unchanging Friend.

3. That the world’s unbelief of the Spirit is no proof that He does not exist. (T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Another Comforter

I. THE WORK OF CHRIST AS IMPLIED IN THE ALLUSION TO HIMSELF. Christ is a Comforter.

1. In the needs He came to meet. To have had no mission for the sorrowful would have been to neglect the most evident of the world’s wants.

2. In the predictions concerning Him--“He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted,” etc.

3. In the nature of His words and works. To alleviate pain, to console bereavement, to meet doubt, to lighten death, He set Himself with all the absorbing interest of a master passion.

II. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT RESEMBLES THAT OF CHRIST. The life of Jesus is an index of the work of “the Comforter.”

1. What we read of Jesus doing as a consoler, we read also of the Holy Spirit doing.

2. What men saw Jesus doing in Judaea, we may see and feel is being done by the Spirit now. As Christ led, inspired, soothed, and elevated human hearts, so the Spirit will ever do.

III. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT TRANSCENDS THE SIMILAR WORK OF CHRIST.

1. In its permanence. Jesus Christ “went away.” His stay was only for “a little while.” But the Spirit abides “forever.”

2. In its universality. Jesus was only known to the comparative few who were around Him. But on every shore, and under every sky, the Spirit dwells with men.

3. In its nearness. Those who came nearest to Christ but kissed His feet or lay in His bosom. This is distant in comparison with the Spirit’s indwelling. (V. R. Thomas.)

The Comforter

I. OUR NEED OF A COMFORTER. We live in a world of sorrow and suffering.

II. IS THERE A REMEDY? God is love; and it is impossible that He should intend His creatures to sink under such a burden.

1. Shall we seek for it in the influences of nature?

2. Shall we seek for it in our fellow men? Many seem to think so.

3. It may be said, indeed, that there is no need, even if we feel that all these earthly stays and solaces are insufficient, to think of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter. We have “consolation in Christ,” and we need no other. We need a present Comforter to make them efficacious.

III. HOW, THEN, DOES THE HOLY GHOST COMFORT US? When we first approach the consideration of the work of the Comforter, we meet with certain views of that work which seem to be the reverse of comforting. How can He who convinces us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, be a Comforter to us who are sinners? The friend who is found to be the truest and most trustworthy comforter is not he who whispers merely pleasant things in our ears; but he who tells us the truth, who, by telling us the truth, prepares us to understand what is wrong with us and to seek for a remedy. And how does He administer to the necessities which He thus makes apparent?

1. By revealing the fulness and sufficiency of Christ for all our spiritual wants. We say the work of comfort must begin here; for it is plain that, unless there be a supply for those deepest wants of our nature, we can have no real comfort or happiness. How, for instance, can a man be happy, or what kind of comfort can he enjoy, while he is laden with the burden of unforgiven sin?

2. By giving grace and strength in temptation.

3. And as it is in our spiritual trials, so also He comforts us in the ordinary troubles of life. (W. R. Clark.)

Another Comforter

Christ Himself was a Comforter, a true Barnabas, a brother born for adversity. His disciples found Him such.

I. The Spirit is an INDWELLING Comforter. “Dwelleth with … shall be in you.” Most of our comforts are external, outside of us. Our souls are empty, weak, unsatisfied; and we need to look outward for strength and consolation. Even Christ’s bodily presence was without, and sometimes He and His disciples were separated from each other. But the Holy Ghost is in you; He goes where you go; He dwells with you; He makes your bodies temples of the Holy Ghost; He makes your souls wells of living water; He is the glory in the midst, in the heart, of each of you.

II. The Spirit is an ABIDING Comforter (John 14:16). Change is written upon all things here. Health and strength fail, friends die, riches fly away. Even Christ, as to His bodily presence, was only a sojourner on earth. But the Spirit abides; He will never leave the soul of which He has taken saving possession.

III. The Spirit is an UNWORLDLY Comforter (John 14:17). He is spirit, and so the world cannot see Him, cannot handle Him. Even if He could become visible and tangible, the world would neither know Him nor receive Him. The world can have no sympathy with Him, for He does not speak of earthly things; it is not with them that He seeks to comfort sorrowful, longing souls. If He spoke of earthly things, He could not be a Comforter to God’s poor, humbled, broken, wearied ones. The true believer has left all for Christ, has sold all to get the treasure, and now nothing but Christ can satisfy him. And so the Holy Ghost, when He wishes to comfort, speaks of Christ (chap. 15:26; 16:14).

IV. The Spirit is an EFFECTUAL Teacher (John 14:26). Christ was a Teacher; He was always at work, in public and private. (John Milne.)

The Comforter

I. THE OFFICE OF THE SPIRIT. This term signifies to call to one’s self. A person is in distress on account of ignorance, and he calls to him a learned person; a person ignorant in the law, who wants to appear in a court of justice, calls a person learned in the law; a person who is in distress on account of any disease calls a physician.. So the Holy Spirit. In the season of distress He comes to us at our call. The Holy Spirit performs this office

1. By the attestation of pardon.

2. By the production of a new and holy nature.

3. By maturing the Christian character.

4. By the assistance He affords in devotional exercises.

5. By fortifying the mind against the fear of death.

II. THE PERIOD OF HIS CONTINUANCE. His continued residence

1. Constitutes the great distinction and difference between the

Church and the world (John 14:17).

2. Gives efficiency and success to the means of grace.

3. Is an assurance of the ultimate triumph of the Church.

III. THE MODE OF HIS ATTAINING THIS OFFICE. We are indebted to Jesus Christ for the gift of the Holy Ghost, because

1. It is the reward of His sufferings.

2. The reward of His intercession, Therefore

3. We have a pledge and an assurance that Christ will pray the

Father. (T. Lessey.)

Comfort by the support of the indwelling Spirit

If you thoroughly exhaust a vessel of the air it contains, the pressure of the air outside will break that vessel into perhaps millions of pieces, because there is not a sufficiency of air within to resist and counteract the weight of the atmosphere from without. A person who is exercised by severe affliction, and who does not experience the Divine comforts and supports in his soul, resembles the exhausted receiver above described; and it is no wonder if he yields, and is broken to shivers, under the weight of God’s providential hand. But affliction to one who is sustained by the inward presence of the Holy Ghost resembles the aerial pressure on the outer surface of an unexhausted vessel. There is that within which supports it and preserves it from being destroyed by the incumbent pressure from without. (T. H.Leary, D. C. L.)

The two paracletes

Their mutual and distinctive relation to the work of redemption, to the life of believers, and to the service of the Church.

I. WHAT DOES THE WORD “PARACLETE” MEAN? Nearly all the ancient interpreters render it comforter or consoler. This accords with one use of it and its related words in both the Old Testament and the New. It does not cover the whole ground, since the Holy Ghost not only comforts, but does a great deal more than that. In some cases the word is equivalent to master, teacher, interpreter. In other cases it means a pleader or advocate--one engaged to take up a cause and to carry it through. Hence the word comes to mean--one by whose grace and love the entire case and cause of men are undertaken: who will soothe, comfort, advocate, plead, teach, interpret--yea, who will stand by us and render any needed aid whatever! For thisreason the word “advocate” is, like the word “comforter,” too restricted. We want a word of wider significance than either. The word helper is the best that we can find.

1. A helper--a large and beautiful word, which, in the fulness of its meaning as here used, nought but the experience of God’s love can unfold to us.

2. A Divine Helper. And we have two Divine Helpers, both working together to make the help complete. But who are they who have causes in hand that need such help? Manifold and complex is our need. We want help in every form. As sinners, we want such help as One can give who has a right to say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” As penitents, we want One who can grant us access to the Father. As learners, we want One who can take of the things of God and show them to us. As suppliants, we want One who can receive and answer our requests. As believers, we want One who can lead, sustain, and inspire. As confessors of Christ and ambassadors for Him, we need One who can convict men of sin, and who can speed our words directly to their hearts. Strong, constant, varied help do we want.

II. Then let us look at our TWO HELPERS AND SEE HOW THEY COMPLETE EACH OTHER’S WORK.

1. One Helper is in heaven, is a link joining on heaven to earth; the other Helper is on earth, as a link uniting earth to heaven. Hence one Helper remains for us above; the other remains in us below.

2. The help of the Son is by the appointment of the Father; the help of the Spirit is through the ministration of the Son.

3. By the help of the one Helper we have a great sacrifice for sin; by the work of the other Helper men are convicted of sin.

4. Hence another and not less striking correspondence appears. The Lord Jesus Christ presents Himself to us as the object of faith; the Holy Ghost, working within us, enters into the region of an inward experience, and enables us by the power of a spiritual intuition to verify what we believe.

5. Further: In every detail of Christian truth and life these two Divine Helpers supplement and complete each other’s work. Christ reveals the Father to us; the Holy Ghost creates the spirit of adoption in us, so that we cry, Abba, Father. Christ gives us, when we believe, the right of being sons of God; the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that such we are. Christ is in Himself the truth; the Holy Ghost gives us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Christ is the object in whom we rejoice, but the joy itself is imparted by the Holy Ghost.

6. One Helper intercedes with the Father; the other Helper intercedes in the children. In one case the scriptural expressions are, “We have an Advocate with the Father”; “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” In the other case, “The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

7. But we must not omit to give distinctness to the thought of the advocacy of our two Helpers. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Advocate, Pleader, and Defender of our cause above; the Holy Ghost is the Advocate, Pleader, and Defender of our cause below. Christ above, that sin may not bar us from the throne; the Spirit below, that the world may not put us to shame.

8. One Helper is graciously preparing a place for us; the other Helper is engaged in preparing us for the place.

III. In view of the combined work of these two Divine Helpers, we can see THE COMPLETENESS OF REDEMPTION’S PLAN. Had our Redeemer wrought alone, His work had been unappreciated by man; but let another Helper come, creating men anew, convicting, regenerating, enlightening, educating, and training, then we see the Divine completeness of the Redeemer’s mighty work, and learn how surely the Redeemer will see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. On recognizing and laying hold of both these Helpers will depend our completeness as Christians. Our own piety and power in Christ are a prime condition of power for Christ. The degree to which the Spirit of God works by us surely depends on the measure in which He works in us. So also the efficiency of Church life depends on realizing and utilizing this double help. Not merely has soundness in faith to be guarded, but vigour of life has to be carefully watched. On this double help depends the efficiency of private members. It is also, and only, in the full use of this double help that the Christian ambassador is completely equipped. While we hold up Christ as the Light of the world, let us also equally extol the Holy Ghost as the Power of the Church. (C. Clemance, D. D.)

Even the Spirit of Truth

The Spirit of truth

I. THE NEED OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH. It was by a lie that evil gained entrance into the world. Satan is both a liar and a murderer … Evil first introduced by means of a lie has been continually promulgated through the same instrumentality. Alas! the dominion of falsehood has been almost universally established!--false notions of God, of ourselves, of happiness; false estimates of good and evil; false dealings in the intercourse of life. Who is not conscious of these and other forms of it. It is amongst the most melancholy proofs of our fallen estate, that often, with children, the earliest exercise of the gift of speech is an endeavour at deceiving their parents. And as we grow up, it cannot be denied, that a rigid and unvarying adherence to truth is the most difficult of our duties. Hence the suspicion and mistrust between man and man. We admit, indeed, that a liar is held in general abhorrence. Men have naturally an admiration of courage in whatever way displayed; and therefore they despise a liar as they do the poltroon. And over and above the cowardice which is manifested by a lie, there is the injury which is done to society. Therefore, it may be little more than a consciousness that its own permanence is identified with adherence to truth, which induces society to be so vehement in its rebuke of a lie. But even if the contempt in which a liar is held might be referred to the very highest principles, whatever indignation at falsehood is excited, it exists in a degree which proves this indignation but little efficacious in destroying its empire. There is not the land where false principles are not wielding an influence which should belong only to true. There is not a family within whose circle there is no admiration for false theories in regard of duty and interest. There is not a heart so thoroughly hallowed into a sanctuary for truth that it is always closed against the intrusion of false opinions and false expectations. The whole creation groaneth for the establishment of truth.

II. HOW IN HIS RESIDENCE WITH THE CHURCH THE HOLY GHOST HAS EARNED THIS TITLE.

1. It is curious and interesting to observe how truth of every kind has advanced hand in hand with religion. Not, indeed, that it was the office of the Holy Ghost to instruct the world in natural philosophy. He came to unfold redemption, and so to strengthen the human understanding, that it might be able to bear the vast truths of the Mediatorial work. But, nevertheless, it did come to pass--that the understanding, so strengthened, found itself strengthened also to investigate creation. The Christian era has been distinguished by a rapid advance made in every branch of science; by the emancipation of mind from a thousand trammels; by the discovery of truths which seemed to lie beyond the scope of human intelligence. In the dark ages when Christianity was almost buried beneath superstition, ignorance of every kind oppressed the earth; but when better days dawned; science revived and the arts again flourished. And besides this, there is the same strict alliance between all kinds of truth as between all kinds of falsehood. And it ought not therefore to excite surprise that science and Christianity should have marched side by side. The “rushing mighty wind,” which swept superstition before it, swept also much of the cloud which had rested on natural things. In clearing the moral firmament, that the “Sun of Righteousness” might be discovered, it took the mist from the material heavens.

2. But, at the same time, the great business on which the Holy Ghost came was the instructing the world in the mysteries of redemption

The Spirit of Truth

The Holy Ghost is the living, personal, Divine unity of complete revelation, and, as such, the Spirit of Truth. He is the Spirit of Truth inasmuch as He makes objective truth subjective in believers, in order to a knowledge of the truth. (J. P. Lange, D. D.)

The function of the Spirit of Truth in relation to revealed truth

When a telescope is directed to some distant landscape, it enables us to see what we could not otherwise have seen; but it does not enable us to see anything which has not a real existence in the prospect before us. The natural eye saw nothing but blue land stretching along the distant horizon. By the aid of the glass, there bursts upon it a charming variety of fields, and woods, and spires, and villages. And so of the Spirit. He does not add a single truth or character to the book of Revelation. He enables the spiritual man to see what the natural man cannot see; but the spectacle which he lays open is uniform and immutable. It is the Word of God which is ever the same; and he whom the Spirit of Truth has enabled to look to the Bible with a clear and affecting discernment, sees no phantom passing before him; but amid all the visionary extravagance with which he is charged, can for every article of his faith, and every duty of his practice, makes his triumphal appeal to the law and to the testimony. (T. Chalmers, D. D.)

Willingness to know the truth a condition of the reception of the truth

A celebrated French beauty was smitten with smallpox, and as she became convalescent, her friends, fearing the consequences, would not tell her of her disfigurement. But one day, not getting an answer to her questions, she called for a mirror, and when she saw the calamitous fact that her beauty was gone, in a fit of passion, smashed the glass. It had told her the truth about herself. So the Spirit of Truth tells us about ourselves; and some people, rather than believe His witness, deny His existence. Whom the world cannot receive.

The world--that is, worldly men, minds full of worldliness--cannot receive, cannot see or know the Spirit, because He is wholly heavenly. As a mirror which is unclean cannot reflect clearly the image which is before it, so the heart that is impure, and which clings to the things of earth, cannot see with the eye of faith the Spirit of Truth, and so cannot receive Him. Worldliness receives Him not

But ye know Him

The saint and the Spirit

The Holy Spirit, although the most active, potent, and real worker in the world, is not discerned by the mass of mankind, who are affected only by what they see, or hear, or feel. The vital distinction between the man of God and the man of the world is this: the man of God knows the Holy Spirit, for He is with him and dwelleth in him; but the man of the world knows not the Holy Ghost.

I. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS KNOWN TO BELIEVERS THROUGH HIS OPERATIONS IN THEM AND UPON THEM.

1. We have seen the operations of the Holy Spirit in the Church at large

2. The works of the Holy Spirit within a regenerate man find an illustration in the work of the Holy Spirit upon the person of our Lord, our Covenant Head and Representative.

3. If we know the Spirit of God at all, we shall know Him as having convinced us of sin. No one ever came to Christ until he felt his need of Him.

4. If you know the Holy Spirit, you will also know Him as the great revealer of Christ.

5. Since that, have we not often known the Spirit as our helper in prayer?

6. Then, when we rose from our knees, we opened the Scriptures, the Spirit of Truth acted as interpreter. He wrote the book, and therefore He understands it meaning.

7. You know not the Spirit unless you have often recognized Him as the great calmer and quieter of His people’s minds when under distractions.

8. More especially is the Spirit known to believers as their sanctifier.

II. THEY KNOW HIM BY HIS PERSONAL INDWELLING IN THEIR SOULS. The Holy Spirit gives us His operations and His influences for which we should be very grateful, but the greatest gift is Himself, which “dwelleth with you and shall be in you.” This is

1. Wondrously condescending;

2. Singularly effective. There is no way of doing work well, except doing it yourself; and when the Master comes and gives personal attendance, it is sure to be done.

3. Delightfully encouraging, “If God actually dwells in me, then what may I not expect?”

4. Potently sanctifying. If God dwell in us, let us not defile these bodies. When Ignatius stood before the judges, they said, “You are called the God bearer, Theophorus; what mean you by this? He said, “God dwells in me.” When the persecutor looked at him and said he blasphemed, he replied that the Holy Spirit dwelt in him. Ah! but Ignatius proved it. If you and I dare to say God dwells in us, we must prove it too; perhaps not by a cruel death, but by what is far more difficult--a holy life.

III. WE SHALL KNOW HIM BETTER SOON. We shall be more instructed; and the instructed disciple knows the Master better than he who is in the A B C class. We shall be more fully sanctified, and the more pure we become, the more clearly shall we see the great Purifier. I do not know what we may be even here. We become warped and crippled by our small conceptions of the possible in grace. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you

The office of the Spirit

I. THE ASSURANCE OF A NEARER RELATION TO THE DIVINE BEING CONVEYED BY THIS PROMISE. The indwelling of the Spirit is declared to be a mere metaphor, as when we say of a philosopher, there is in him the soul of science; or of a poet, that he has the spirit of song. The disciples at this time needed comfort, they were about to lose the support of their Master’s personal presence. What mockery to have been told that they should be so inspirited with truth as to compensate them abundantly for all their loss. A literal indwelling, then, being contended for, notice some of the included blessings.

1. It is a standing pledge of the Divine presence and protection. The Divine Spirit dwelling in us is God Himself coming back to that temple. He had dwelt in it once before; but this once living temple lost its purity, and in that same hour lost the presence of God. The rebuilding of this temple, the preparatory step for bringing back God to His forsaken sanctuary, was the awful mystery of the Incarnation. By this one act the human nature became an honoured and noble thing. Through the power of the Spirit it had enshrined Godhead. The indwelling of the Spirit is an abiding pledge of restored and continuing confidence between God and man.

2. It is the vital principle of union betwixt Christ and His people. Our being made one in Christ is one of the great junction facts of the Gospel system. It connects the sinner with his hope, the elect with the covenant, and both originates and effects that vital relation to God which brings the faithful within the reach of the mediatorial designs and purposes. The Spirit initiates that union, for “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” He assures us of the union remaining unbroken, “Thereby we know that Christ abideth in us by the Spirit which He hath given us” (Romans 8:11). “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”

II. THE PERMANENT INFLUENCE PROMISED AS IT BEARS UPON OUR HAPPINESS AND ADVANCEMENT IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. It assures to us a constant supply of enlightening and directing influences. “He will guide you into all truth.” He enlarges the range of our spiritual knowledge, and reveals, as if by a new spiritual sense, the great mystery of godliness.

2. It influences the moral affections also. This imparted life makes the heart to burn, while it opens the understanding.

3. It gives to all our services a filial and loving character--“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage,” etc. There is a service which is not happy. It may be sincere, and earnest, and costly, and self-denying; but it is the service not of a son, but of a bondsman. The Spirit in us changes constraint into cheerfulness and duty into happiness, and the restless activities of a self-devised worship into a calm repose and a commanded and accepted sacrifice. (D. Moore, M. A.)

The Spirit with you and in you

I. A MAN MAY HAVE THE DIVINE SPIRIT WITH HIM, BUT NOT IN HIM. The Divine Spirit was with the disciples in the person of Christ. Every man has the Spirit with him.

1. In the operations of nature.

2. In the revelations of the Bible.

3. In the events of history.

4. In the lives of all good men.

II. IT IS A GREAT PRIVILEGE FOR A MAN TO HAVE THE SPIRIT OF GOD WITH HIM. We have one who is ready to

1. Guide;

2. Protect;

3. Strengthen;

4. Perfect us.

III. IT IS A GREATER PRIVILEGE FOR A MAN TO HAVE THE DIVINE SPIRIT IN HIM. Christ had unfolded to His disciples an infinite system of truth, but it lay cold and dead in their memories. He deposited precious seed in the soil; but the soil lacked the warmth and sunshine that the Spirit of God alone could give. Compare the difference between the disciples before and after Pentecost. When the Spirit of God is in you you have spiritual

1. Life.

2. Satisfaction.

3. Power. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The indwelling of the Spirit

God is said to dwell in heaven; among the children of men; in Zion; among His people; in believers. The Spirit is said to dwell in His Church which is thus a temple of God, and in believers individually, who are severally His temple. It follows, then, that where the Spirit dwells His presence is indicated by certain specific effects.

I. KNOWLEDGE. This is one of the chief ends for which He was promised. This knowledge includes correct intellectual convictions and spiritual discernment. To this are due orthodoxy, love of truth and adherence to it under all circumstances. To this source, also, we are indebted for the unity as well as the preservation of the faith. This is a ground of conviction beyond the reach of scepticism, and unassailable by infidelity.

II. HOLINESS in all its forms.

1. Faith, confidence in God, in His word, promises, favours, etc.

2. Love

3. Temperance.

4. Meekness.

5. Long suffering.

III. HOPE, JOY, AND PEACE. The consolations of the Spirit which sustain the soul under all sorrow; whether from conviction of sin or from affliction.

IV. ACTIVITY IN RESISTING SIN AND IN DOING GOOD. He is the source not only of inward spiritual life, but of outward acts of devotion and obedience to God.

V. GUIDANCE.

1. By the Word.

2. By inward operation on the mind, guiding its thoughts, shaping its conclusions and exciting right feelings; not by impulse or any magic methods.

Duties flowing from this doctrine

1. To cherish the conviction that we in a special sense belong to

God.

2. To reverence and obey the admonitions of the indwelling Spirit.

3. To preserve our soul and body pure as the temple of the Holy Ghost.

4. A grateful sense of this unspeakable blessing and dignity. (C. Hodge, D. D.)

God in us

I. ALL THE CONDITIONS OF THE DIVINE LIFE IN MAN BASE THEMSELVES ULTIMATELY ON THE NECESSARY AND ETERNAL RELATIONS OF THE EVERBLESSED GODHEAD, OF THE TRINITY IN UNITY. The gradualness of God’s revelation of Himself enables us to trace out something of this mystery.

1. For many generations the revelation of the everlasting Father covered the canvas, and that form of awful majesty was shrouded everywhere in clouds and darkness. The utterance was, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”

2. To this succeeded the revelation of the co-eternal Son. At first, wrapped, up in the types and figures of the old law: then struggling like the sun through the mists of the morning, as by the chant of Psalms, and the voice of prophecy, the ever-brightening form was declared to the waiting soul of humanity; until the fulness of the time was come, and the eternal Son stood incarnate upon the earth. Humanity had now reached altogether a new stags; God was manifest in the flesh; yet still God was external to man. The brightness of the uncreated glory shone before his eyes, but his eyes were not quickened to receive it.

3. One mighty further step was yet to be reached, and it is with the promise of this that the Lord here upholds their hearts. The Paraclete “shall be in you.” The external revelation was to be replaced by the internal. Accordingly, when the coming of the Holy Ghost was perfectly accomplished, all additions to the external revelation ceased. Miracles were but visible attestations of the outward kingdom passing into the inward, and one by one they expired as the inward kingdom was established. Even the external revelation of the heavenly mysteries soon ceased. The canon was closed.

II. FROM THIS FOLLOWS THE PECULIAR CHARACTER OF OUR PROBATION. For though the Spirit of God works as a most free agent, quickening whom He will; yet does He work on humanity according to the law under which God has created it; not destroying its free agency, but, in the mystery of man’s freedom, working with his spirit, and not by external force, overpowering its proper action. The energy of the Spirit’s working is enlarged or restrained as man yields himself to it, or resists it. In the first preaching of the gospel this great distinction of the new dispensation was emphatically declared. “Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, ‘that the times of refreshing may come, from the presence of the Lord, and He shall send Jesus.’” This is

1. A promise to the whole Church. The stirring of the indwelling power was openly manifested, and through all times since the same law may be traced as pervading the Church’s history. It does not set before us one equally prolific age, but times of utter coldness and weariness alternating with blessed seasons of refreshing. Ease, success, quietness, has often bred a deadly lethargy in the Church, and the Spirit seems to have left her; but when danger, or persecution, has brought her back to repentance, at once the Spirit stirred within her, and the times of refreshing were restored. This has been, all along its history, the distinctive criterion of the Church. No dead empire has ever lived again; no exhausted school of philosophy has ever revived; no sect has ever recovered again its early strength after falling into decrepitude. The Church of Christ alone has thus renewed her strength, and mounted up from her decay with wings as eagles, because in her only is this hidden presence of God the Holy Ghost, and therefore for her only these times of refreshing are possible.

2. The law of the life of separate souls. With what energy does it awake when the heart turns really to God. Who has not known hearts, which seemed dead, the mere slaves of selfishness, burnt out,--like exhausted volcanoes buried in their ashy scoriae,--which have suddenly revived, under the breathing of the Spirit, and put forth again, like the earth in the blessed spring-time, the manifested glories of an irrepressible life?

III. FROM THIS GREAT MYSTERY THERE FOLLOW SOME PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES.

1. As this is the characteristic of the dispensation of the Spirit, how do they lose the glory and the blessedness of life who do not know it in its fulness? What earthly joy can be compared with these Divine refreshings? How different a life is this from the cold, doubting, questioning, colourless life which the greater number of those who call themselves Christians are leading. What know they, alas! in life or in death, of this word of promise, “He shall be in you?”

2. This indwelling of God must, with all its unspeakable blessedness, be accompanied by correlative perils. So the word of God distinctly teaches us when it speaks of sin against the Holy Ghost as marked with such a peculiar malignity of charity, and leading to so terrible and hopeless an end.


Verse 18-19

John 14:18-19

I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you

Not left comfortless

The word “comfortless” means “bereft.
” We have adopted the Greek word, and have gradually limited it to the severest kind of bereavement--orphanhood. But the promise, starting from one kind of bereavement, enlarges itself, and takes in all who from any cause want comfort. God does not say that you shall never be comfortless, but on the contrary, He implies that you shall be so. Nobody, however saintly, could say he was never comfortless, but he can say, “I was not left comfortless.” And the length of the comfortless period depends upon the faith we have in Christ’s coming to us.

I. Let us confine our view to one kind of sorrow--BEREAVEMENT, This has in it

1. Change. One you loved, and with whom you were almost hourly in converse, has passed away. Everything is changed; nothing looks to us as it used to look in the sunshine, which seems as if it never would come back again. It is wonderful how one face gone, one voice silent, alters the whole world.

2. Separation. Then a gulf opens, which, however persons may talk about it, is then very wide. The grave is a wall of adamant to you--they may be conscious of no distance, but to you, oh, how very far off!

3. Loneliness. No wonder that the silence is oppressive. No matter how many you may have around you, or how kind, you are thrown hack into your own thoughts which circle about one, and that one is gone, and it is a perfect solitude.

4. Fear: a painful apprehension of what the future is going to be. “How shall I live on? What shall I do without that love, that counsel?”

II. FOR THESE FOUR WRETCHEDNESSES, CHRIST IS THE ONLY ANTIDOTE--“I will come to you.” And mark, it is His presence, not His work, His Cross, His final Advent, but His living presence now.

1. With Him there is no shadow of a turning. It is the same voice which faith hears, and the same face which faith sees now, which you heard and saw in years long gone by. “I will never leave you.” And the awful change which has passed over everything else only makes it stand out more comfortingly--His impossibility of change.

2. And with that felt, present, unchangeable Christ, both worlds are one. The Church in heaven and the Church on earth are the members, and all meet in that one Head, and in Him they are here. Where then is loneliness? He is a Brother by me, to whom I can tell everything, and He will answer me. I seem speaking to them because they are holding the very same converse within the veil.

3. The solitude of the soul, where He is, becomes peopled with the whole host of heaven. There is no sense of being alone when we realize that we are alone with Jesus.

4. And so the fear flies away. For what Christ is now, He will be always. And that presence is the pledge of a reunion. A little while, and it will be He, and they, and I, and we shall be together forever.

Conclusion:

1. Read a particular emphasis on the “I,” that great word which God is so fond of. Whatever it be to you now, this gay world will leave you utterly “comfortless.” Those whom today you are most fondly cherishing, and the thought of whose death you dare not admit to your own heart--if you have none but them, and no Christ in them, you will wake up some morning to such a cold vacancy, for that one will have gone, and will have left you “comfortless.” Friends will come with their emptinesses, and they will go, and you will be as comfortless as when they came. Only He who could say, “I will come to you” as none other comes, as He came to Martha and Mary at Bethany; only He can say, “I will not leave you comfortless.”

2. Read another emphasis on that “you.” “I,” Jesus seems to say, “I was left comfortless, but I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

3. Of all the bereaved in the whole world, there is none so bereft as that man of whatever happy circle he may be, who cannot look up to heaven, and say, “My Father.” That man is an orphan indeed.

4. There is another. He has known what it is to feel God His Father, but it is gone Do you say, “It is I?” Then I am sure that at this moment Jesus is saying it to you--“I will not leave you an orphan,” etc. For if there be a thing on the whole earth which Jesus will not have it is an orphaned heart. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Our Comforter

I. MAN NEEDS A COMFORTER. I do not now speak of men in the bulk, but in units. Wars, pestilences, strikes, and social evils trouble men, but besides these, each man in himself has trouble which none but God can soothe. Perhaps friendless poverty is the sorest trouble of existence. Returning along the road from Warrington, I heard a groan which made my heart shudder. Stooping to the hedge, I saw a woman and a little child in great distress. She was from Liverpool; her husband had come to Manchester seeking for work and had written saying he had been taken ill, and that as he could send no money, she must trust in God. Without a penny in her pocket, love for her husband gave her strength to walk to Manchester with her child in her arms. She inquired at his lodgings, but found he had been taken to the hospital. She then by asking at every corner arrived at the Manchester workhouse, and found that her husband was dead, and his remains had been placed in the grave the day before. Footsore, hungry, and friendless, she was sent away, and pawned her shawl to keep from dying in the street. Then she dragged herself to the road near Irlam and lay down under a hedge to groan and to die. But in the cottage of a poor farm labourer she found help and sympathy which caused her to live. Did God not hear, and hearing, did He not provide comfort?

II. MEN VERY OFTEN SEEK ARTIFICIAL COMFORTERS. After the great deluge, men built the tower of Babel, hoping by that means to receive comfort in any similar calamity. And in these days men are building towers which they hope will save them from the deluge of trouble. Many people think that if they build up a tower of riches they will be happy. But the rich man is no happier than the poor one. I was once asked to visit a man who was said to be dying. Standing at his bedside and holding his hand in mine, I said, “Have you the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven?” The man looked and replied, “Joy! joy! joy!” Taking his hand from mine he pushed it under the pillow and bringing out a bottle of brandy he held it with his trembling hand, saying, “This is my joy.” Poor, miserable, drunkard! Most people before they become drunkards have had some sickness of mind or body preying upon them; but do not fly from your great trouble to drink.

III. OUR FATHER HAS PROVIDED A COMFORTER FOR EVERY MAN. If you seek in the history of the past, what man would you select to be your comforter? I ask the philosophers if they would ask for Socrates above all others? I ask the deists if they would ask for Thomas Paine or Voltaire? Or would you ask for John Bunyan, or for Wesley or Whitefield? If you knew none better you might. Take the worst man in the world, or an unbeliever, and ask him, “If you were to select out of all men one who should be your bosom friend until you die, upon whom would you fix?” If he told his heart’s truth, he would reply, “Jesus.”

1. Jesus our Comforter is with us. My mother died in giving me life, and, of course, I have not the slightest remembrance of her. The only relic I had was a little piece of her silk dress, and this I preserved as my dearest treasure. Tossed about, and yearning for a love which was not to be had, I used to sit alone for hours, and long for, and pray to my mother. You may call it an insane fancy, but to me it was real and powerful and comforting. And I owe the success of my boyhood to the consciousness of her beloved presence. In the same way, Jesus communes with us. Jesus in Spirit is with you.

2. He comforts

Soul orphanhood

I. CONSISTS IN MORAL SEPARATION FROM GOD.

1. Not local, for God is everywhere, and no spirit can flee from His presence.

2. Not physical; for in God we live and move, etc.

3. But, morally, the unregenerate are ever distant from Him--alienated in sympathy, purpose and pursuit: “without God.” The ungodly world is a world of orphans, without a father’s fellowship and guidance.

II. IS AN EVIL OF STUPENDOUS MAGNITUDE.

1. Orphanism, so far as human parentage is concerned, is a calamity, but this is a crime. The soul has broken away from its Father, not its Father from it.

2. Orphanism in the one case may have its loss supplied, but not in the other. Thank God, society in this age has loving hearts, and good homes for orphans. But nothing on earth can take the place of God in relation to a soul: such a soul is benighted, perishing, lost.

III. IS REMOVED BY THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST. He brings the soul into a loving, blessed fellowship with God. The deep cry of humanity is the cry of an orphan for the Father. The response is the advent of Christ. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The absent present Christ

I. THE ABSENT CHRIST IS THE PRESENT CHRIST. “Orphans” is rather an unusual form in which to represent the relation between our Lord and His disciples. And so, possibly, our versions are accurate in giving the general idea of desolation. But, still, it is to be remembered that this whole conservation begins with “Little children”; and they would be like fatherless and motherless children in a cold world. And what is to hinder that? One thing only. “I come to you.” Now, what is this “coming”? Our Lord says, not “I will,” as a future, but “I come,” or, “I am coming,” as an immediately impending, or present, thing. There can be no reference to the final coming, because it would follow, that, until that period, all that love Him here are to wander about as orphans; and that can never be.

1. We have here a coming which is but the reverse side of His bodily absence. This is the heart of the consolation that, howsoever the “foolish senses” may have to speak of an absent Christ, we may rejoice in the certainty that He is with all those that love Him, and all the more because of the withdrawal of the earthly manifestation Which has served its purpose. Note the manifest implication of absolute Divinity. “I come.” “I am present with every single heart.” That is equivalent to Omnipresence. I cannot but think that the average Christian life of this day woefully fails in the realization of this great truth, that we are never alone, but have Jesus Christ with each of us more closely, and with more Omnipotence of influence than they had who were nearest Him upon earth. If we really believed this, how all burdens and cares would be lightened, how all perplexities would begin to smooth themselves out, and how sorrows and joys and everything would be changed in their aspect. A present Christ is the Strength, the Righteousness, the Peace, the Joy, the Life of every Christian soul.

2. This coming of our Lord is identified with that of His Divine Spirit. He has been speaking of sending that “other Comforter,” who is no gift wafted to us as from the other side of a gulf; but by reason of the unity of the Godhead, Christ and the Spirit whom He sends are, though separate, so indissolubly united that where the Spirit is, there is Christ, and where Christ is, there is the Spirit. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”

3. This present Christ is the only Remedy for the orphanhood of the world. We can understand how forlorn and terrified the disciples were, when they looked forward to the things that must come to them, without His presence. Therefore He cheers them with this assurance.

Pentecost is aflame with the consciousness of a present Christ working amongst His people.

II. THE UNSEEN CHRIST IS A SEEN CHRIST.

1. That “yet a little while” covers the whole space up to His ascension: and if there be any reference to the forty clays, during which, literally, the world “saw Him no more,” but “the apostles saw Him,” that reference is only secondary. These transitory appearances are not sufficient to bear the weight of so great a promise as this. The vision, which is the consequence of the coming, is as continuous and permanent as the coming. It is clear, too, that the word “see” is employed in two different senses. In the former it refers only to bodily, in the latter to spiritual perception. For a few short hours still, the ungodly mass of men were to have that outward vision which they had used so badly, that “they seeing saw not.” It was to cease, and they who loved Him would not miss it when it did. They, too, had but dimly seen Him while He stood by them; they would gaze on Him with truer insight when He was present though absent. So this is what every Christian life may and should be--the continual sight of a continually present Christ.

2. Faith is the sight of the soul, and it is far better than the sight of the senses.

III. THE PRESENT AND SEEN CHRIST IS LIFE AND LIFE GIVING. Because He comes, His life passes into the hearts of the men to whom He comes, and who gaze upon Him.

1. Mark the majestic “I live”--the timeless present tense, which expresses unbroken, undying and Divine life. It is all but a quotation of the name “Jehovah.” The depth and sweep of its meaning are given to us by this Apostle, “the living One,” who lived whilst He died, and having died “is alive for evermore.”

2. And this Christ is Lifegiver to all that love Him and trust Him.

Christians not forgotten by Christ

A tragic story comes from Senegal. Four natives who had been sent to guard the French flag on a newly acquired barren island in that region were left without provisions, and died of starvation. They had a supply of food to last three months, but the governor had entirely forgotten to send relief to the guardians of the standard on the lonely rock. (Christian World.)

Christ in heaven helps His disciples

Suppose a king’s son should get out of a besieged prison and leave his wife and children behind, whom he loves as his own soul; would the prince, when arrived at his father’s palace, please and delight himself with the splendour of the court, and forget his family in distress; No; but having their cries and groans always in his ears, he should come post to his father, and entreat him, as ever he loved him, that he would send all the forces of his kingdom and raise the siege, and save his dear relations from perishing; nor will Christ, though gone up from the world and ascended into His glory, forget His children for a moment that are left behind Him. (J. Gurnall.)

Comfort for the bereaved

On every Mohammedan tombstone the inscription begins with the words, He remains. This applies to God, and gives sweet comfort to the bereaved. Friends may die, fortune fly away, but God endures. He remains.

Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more, but ye see Me

Seeing the living Christ

Came in the flesh--that is the outward, material fact. He is here in the Spirit--that is the inward, spiritual reality.

I. CHRIST’S LITTLE WHILE.

1. His visible appearance on earth was only for a “little while.” Yet how much has been crowded into it. Example; teaching; miracle; suffering. All this helps us to understand His mission, and especially to realize to ourselves His abiding spiritual presence. He is still with us, the very Christ that He was.

2. When Jesus spoke these words there was but a very “little while” left. Only the death scene, and the forty days in the Resurrection body. But these also help us to realize the spiritual presence of Christ, as we can know it; especially do we get suggestions from the Resurrection time.

II. THE WORLD’S BLINDNESS. What report can the “world” give of Christ? “He was a good Man, an original Teacher, But He offended the religion and society leaders of His day, and they secured His crucifixion.” The world testifies that He was dead and buried; but the world resists the bare ideas of His Resurrection or spiritual life. How little the world knows, or can conceive, of the “coming, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.” So Christ is lost as an actual power in life.

III. THE DISCIPLES’ VISION. “Ye see Me.” That is, “Ye do constantly see Me.” If they had seen Christ truly while He was here on earth, then they would find they never lost the sight of Him. Because, during His earthly life, His real presence with the disciples had been presence to heart, not to eye.

1. Christ never goes out of disciples’ thought or heart.

2. Christ never ceases to be the disciple’s Ruler and Referee.

3. The honour of Christ never ceases to be the disciple’s sole aim.

4. The strength of Christ never ceases to be the soul’s victory. The joy of Christian life depends on the clearness of our vision of this ever-present Christ. (Weekly Pulpit.)

Because I live, ye shall live also

The Lord of Life

This saying is only to be fully understood in the light of the Resurrection and Ascension. Christ has taken the measure of death; death was to be no real interruption of His ever-continuing life. Already He sees the Resurrection beyond. He treats Death as an already vanquished enemy. Observe:

I. WHAT OUR LORD’S WORDS DO NOT MEAN. They do not mean that the immortality of the soul of man is dependent upon the work or life of Christ. Man is an immortal being, just as he is a thinking and feeling being by the original terms of his nature. Any of us may see who will consider how generally unlike the spirit or soul of man is to any merely material creature.

1. The soul of man knows itself to be capable of continuous development. However vigorous a tree or an animal may be, it soon reaches a point at which it can grow no longer. Its vital force is exhausted; it can do no more. With the soul, whether as a thinking or feeling power, we can never say that it has exhausted itself. When a man of science has made a great discovery, or a man of letters has written a great book, or a statesman has carried a series of great measures we cannot say--“He has done his all.” Undoubtedly, as the body moves towards decay it inflicts something of its weakness upon its spiritual companion. But the soul constantly resists, asserting its own separate and vigorous existence. The mind knows that each new effort, instead of exhausting its powers, enlarges them, and that if only the physical conditions necessary to continued exertion are not withdrawn, it will go on continuously making larger and nobler acquirements. So too with the heart, the conscience, the sense of duty. One noble act suggests another: one great sacrifice for truth or duty prompts another. “Be not weary in well-doing” is the language of the Eternal Wisdom to the human will.

2. The spirit is conscious of and values its own existence. This is not the case with any material living forms, however lofty or beautiful. The most magnificent tree only gives enjoyment to other beings; it never understands that itself exists; it is not conscious of losing anything when it is cut down. An animal feels pleasure and pain, but it feels each sensation as it comes; it never puts them together, or takes the measure of its own life, and looks on it as a whole. The animal lives wholly in the present, practically it has no past, nor does it look forward. How different with the conscious, self-measuring spirit of man! Man’s spirit lives more in the past and in the future than in the present, exactly in the degree in which it makes the most of itself. And the more the spirit makes of its powers and resources, the more earnestly does it desire prolonged existence. Thus, the best of the heathens longed to exist after death, that they might continue to make progress in all such good as they had begun in this life, in high thoughts and in excellent resolves. And with these longings they believed that they would then exist after all when this life was over. The longing was itself a sort of proof that its object was real; for how was its existence to be explained if all enterprise was to be abruptly broken off by the shock of death?

3. Unless a spiritual being is immortal, such a being counts for less in the universe than mere inert matter. For matter has a kind of immortality. Within the range of our experience, no matter ceases to exist; it only takes new shapes, first in one being, and then in another. It is possible that the destruction of the world at the Last Day will be only a re-arrangement of the sum total of matter which now makes up the visible universe. If man’s spirit naturally perishes, the higher part of his nature therefore is much worse off than the chemical ingredients of his body. For man’s spirit cannot be resolved like his body, into form and material; the former perishing while the latter survives. Man’s spirit either exists in its completeness, or it ceases to exist. Each man is himself: he can become no other. His memory, his affections, his way of thinking and feeling, are all his own: they are not transferable. If they perish, they perish altogether. And therefore it is a reasonable and very strong presumption that spirit is not, in fact, placed at such disadvantage, and that, if matter survives the dissolution of organic forms, much more must spirit survive the dissolution of the material forms with which it has been associated. These are the kind of considerations by which thoughtful men, living without the light of revelation, might be led to see the reasonableness, the very high probability of a future life. This teaching of nature is presupposed by Christianity, and it is no true service to our Master to make light of it. At the same time, it is true that, outside the Jewish revelation, immortality was not treated by any large number of men as anything like a certainty. Jesus Christ assumed it as certain in all that He said with reference to the future life. And it is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ--which has in this, as in so many other ways, opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. What has been may be. And thus the Christian faith has brought “immortality to light.” And what a solemn fact is this immortality of ours! A hundred years hence no one of us will be still in the body: we shall have passed to another sphere of being. But if the imagination can take in these vast tracts of time, ten millions years hence we shall still exist, each one with his memory, will, and conscious contact, separate from all other beings in our eternal resting place.

II. WHAT CHRIST’S WORDS DO MEAN. Clearly something is meant by “Life” which is higher than mere existence; not merely beyond animal existence, but beyond the mere existence of a spiritual being. We English use “life” in the sense of an existence which has a purpose and makes the most of itself. And the Greeks had an especial word to describe the true life of man, his highest spiritual energy. This is the word employed by our Lord and by St. Paul. This enrichment and elevation of being is derived from our Lord. He is the Author of our new life, just as our first parent is the source of our first and natural existence. On this account St. Paul calls Him the Second Adam. And, in point of fact, He is the parent of a race of spiritual men who push human life to its highest capacities of excellence. When our Lord was upon earth He communicated His Life to men, by coming in contact with them. Men felt the contagion of a presence, the influence of which they could not measure, a presence from which there radiated a subtle, mysterious energy, which was gradually taking possession of them they knew not exactly how, and making them begin to live a new and higher life. What that result was upon four men of very different types of character we may gather from the reports of the Life of Christ which are given us by the evangelists. But at last He died, and arose and disappeared from sight. And it is of this after time that He says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” How does He communicate His life when the creative stimulus of His visible Presence has been withdrawn?

1. By His Spirit. That Divine and Personal force, whereby the mind and nature of the unseen Saviour is poured into the hearts and minds and characters of men, was to be the Lord and Giver of this life to the end of John 16:14; Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

2. By the Christian sacraments, the guaranteed points of contact with our unseen Saviour; for in them we may certainly meet Him and be invigorated by Him as we toil along the road of our pilgrimage.

Conclusion:

1. It is this new life which makes it a blessing to have the prospect before us that we shall individually exist forever.

2. Our immortality is certain. But what sort of immortality is it to be? (Canon Liddon.)

Life in Christ

I. LIFE. We must not confound this with existence. Before the disciples believed in Jesus they existed, and altogether apart from Him as their spiritual life their existence would have been continued. Life, what is it? We cannot tell in words. We know it, however, to be a mystery of different degrees. There is the life of the vegetable. There is a considerable advance when we come to animal life. Sensation, appetite, instinct, are things to which plants are dead. Then there is mental life, which introduces us into quite another realm. To judge, to foresee, to imagine, to invent, to perform moral acts, are not these functions which the ox hath not? Now, far above this there is another form of life of which the mere carnal man can form no more idea than the plant can of the animal, or the animal of the poet. Education cannot raise man into it, neither can refinement reach it; for at its best, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and to all must the humbling truth be spoken, “Ye must be born again.” It is to be remarked concerning our life in Christ, that it is

1. The removal of the penalty which fell upon our race for Adam’s sin.

2. Spiritual life. Christ works in us through His Holy Spirit, who dwelleth in us evermore.

3. A life in union with God (Romans 8:6-8). Death as to the body consists in its separation from the soul; the death of the soul lies mainly in the soul’s being separated from its God.

4. This life bears fruit on earth in righteousness and true holiness, and it is made perfect in the presence of God in heaven.

II. LIFE PRESERVED. “Ye shall live also.” Concerning this sentence, note

1. Its fulness. Whatever is meant by living shall be ours. All the degree of life which is secured in the covenant of grace, believers shall have. All your new nature shall thoroughly, eternally live. Not even, in part, shall the new man die. “I am come,” saith Christ, “that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly.”

2. Its continuance. During our abode in this body we shall live. And when the natural death comes, which indeed to us is no longer death, our inner life shall suffer no hurt whatever; it will not even be suspended for a moment. And in the awful future, when the judgment comes, the begotten of God shall live. Onward through eternity, whatever may be the changes which yet are to be disclosed, nothing shall affect our God-given life.

3. Its universality. Every child of God shall live. The Lord bestows security upon the least of His people as well as upon the greatest. If it had been said, “Because your faith is strong, ye shall live,” then weak faith would have perished; but when it is written, “Because I live,” the argument is as powerful in the one case as in the other.

4. Its breadth. See how it overturns all the hopes of the adversary. You shall not be decoyed by fair temptation, nor be cowed by fierce persecution: mightier is he that is in you than he which is in the world. Satan will attack you, and his weapons are deadly, but you shall foil him at all points. If God should allow you to be sorely tried your spirit shall still maintain its holy life, and you shall prove it so by blessing and magnifying God, notwithstanding all. We little dream what may be reserved for us; we may have to climb steeps of prosperity, slippery and dangerous, but we shall live; we may be called to sink in the dark waters of adversity, but we shall live. If old age shall be our portion, and our crown shall be delayed till we have fought a long and weary battle, yet nevertheless we shall live; or if sudden death should cut short the time of our trail here, yet we shall have lived in the fulness of that word.

III. THE REASON FOR THE SECURITY OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE. “Because I live.”

1. This is the sole reason. When I first come to Christ, I know I must find all in Him, for I feel I have nothing of my own; but all my life long I am to acknowledge the same absolute dependence. Does not the Christian’s life depend upon his prayerfulness? The Christian’s spiritual health depends upon his prayerfulness, but that prayerfulness depends on something else. The reason why the hands of the clock move may be found first in a certain wheel which operates upon them, but if you go to the primary cause of all, you reach the mainspring, or the weight, which is the source of all the motion. “But are not good works essential to the maintenance of the spiritual life?” Certainly, if there be no good works, we have no evidence of spiritual life. To the tree the fruit is not the cause of life, but the result of it, and to the life of the Christian, good works bear the same relationship, they are its outgrowth, not its root.

2. It is a sufficient reason, for

3. An abiding reason--which has as much force at one time as another. From causes variable the effects are variable; but remaining causes produce permanent effects. Now Jesus always lives.

4. A most instructive reason. It instructs us to admire

Fellowship in Christ’s life

These words strikingly resemble the declaration of our Lord to John in Patmos (Revelation 1:17-18).

I. THE LIFE OF CHRIST. “I live.”

1. Our Lord, as a Divine Person, is possessed of independent, infinite, immutable, eternal life; that is, capacity of action and enjoyment. In Him--was, is, and ever will be, “the fountain of life” (John 1:4; 1Jn Psalms 36:9).

2. It is not, however, to this life that reference is made. That is a life in which none can participate beyond the sacred circle of Deity. The life is the life which belongs to the Son, as God-man, Mediator; and it refers to this life in its state of full development, after His resurrection.

3. He had lived the life of a man in union with God while He was on the earth--of the God-man, commissioned to give life--and many and striking were the demonstrations that He gave of His possession of this life. But, till sin was expiated, this life could not be fully developed nor displayed. That death in the flesh, which was the bearing away of the sins of men, was the procuring cause of that “quickening in the Spirit” which followed.

4. It is, however, to the new development of life which accompanied and followed the resurrection that our Lord refers. “I am alive again,” “I have the keys of hell and of death.” His life is royal life--the life of “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (Psalms 21:1-7; Isaiah 53:10).

II. THE LIFE OF CHRIST’S PEOPLE. “Ye shall live also.”

1. Christ rose as “the first fruits of them that sleep in Him,” the first born of the chosen family, their representative and forerunner.

2. Christians are, by faith, so identified with Jesus Christ as to be partakers with Him of that life on which He entered, when, being raised from the dead, He sat down forever on the right hand of the Majesty on high. They “reign in life with Him”--in Him (Romans 5:17; Rom_6:8-11; Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 3:1-4; Galatians 2:19-20). This life is

Resurrection. “We shall be like Him.”

III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO. “Because”

1. His life proves that He has done all that is necessary in order to secure life for them. Had He not succeeded in doing this He Himself would not thus have lived. His resurrection and celestial life are undoubted proofs that the sentence adjudging us to death was repealed, and the influence that was necessary to make us live was sent forth. So were we not to live, the great end for which He died and rose would be frustrated.

2. His life shows that He possesses all that is necessary to bestow life on His people. “The Father hath given to Him to have life in Himself; so that He quickeneth whom He will.” “It has pleased the Father, that in Him all fulness should dwell,” that out of His fulness His people may receive, and grace for grace.

Conclusion:

1. This truth is calculated to sustain and comfort Christians amid all the sufferings, and anxieties, and sorrows of life and death. He can “give power to the faint, and to them that have no power He increaseth strength.” He can “strengthen the things that remain, and are ready to die.”

2. When our nearest and dearest are taken from us, how consoling to think the great God our Saviour lives! He is still their life, still our life. “Because He died, we live; because He lives, we live; because He lives”--because He is the living One--“we shall live also!” Happy, surely, are the living disciples of the living Saviour! Happy in prosperity--happy in adversity--happy in life--happy in death--happy forever!

3. But the Saviour’s unending life is full of terror to His enemies because He ever lives. “Because I live, you must perish forever.” They would not come to Him that they might have life.

4. He is still proclaiming, “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” “I will that they would turn--I will that they would live.” (J. Brown, D. D.)

The Christian’s life force

Christ is the basis of

I. PHYSICAL LIFE. He is the Creator, and the life of Adam and Eve after the fall depended entirely on the promise of the Redeemer. His advent postulated the continuance of the race. The birth of the first child was a prelude to the gospel. It may be that Eve saw in the birth of Cain the fulfilment of the promise, for she said, “I have borne the seed, a man, the Lord.”

II. THE RENEWED LIFE. The plan of redemption depends upon His incarnation and atonement. There is no spiritual life on earth apart from Him. The fact that there are millions of Christians who live by faith in Him under the dispensation of the Spirit, proves the reality of His life, of its continuance and power. Because He lives, we live, and our life is hid with Christ in God.

III. THE RISEN LIFE in glory, to all eternity. Because He continues to live, His disciples shall continue to live also. “When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Reflections:

The believer’s life

“Because I live, ye shall live also.” What life is it that Christ speaks of when He here says, “I live?” It is the life which He now has in heaven, and which began at the Resurrection. It is different from all other life, higher and better than any life with which we are acquainted. It is everlasting life; He has done with death. It is a life of liberty; He has done with servile work, and now reigns on high. It is a life of glory; He has done with shame, and has a name that is above every name. It is a life of favour; He is now very near and very dear to God forever. He never slumbers nor sleeps; He has all power in heaven and on earth; He is Head over all things to the Church. But what is the believer’s life of which Christ speaks, when He says, “Ye shall live also.” It is the same as Christ’s own life, of which we have been speaking. It springs out of His life, and is fed and maintained by it. True, the believer’s natural life is like that of all other men: one of sin, misery, without God, without hope under wrath, on the way to everlasting woe. It is not worthy of the name of life; it is properly death. But this natural life loses its power and dominion when we believe on Christ. It received its death-blow on the cross. Hence the apostle says, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;” and the believer answers, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.” At present this higher life is only in its infancy. It is hindered by its connection with the old life, by the circumstances in which it is placed by its absence from Christ its Fountain. The life of the believer is the same in nature as Christ’s; the same in duration. It is the same in the reason for which it is bestowed. Christ got it, because He wrought out the perfect, everlasting righteousness; we get it, because by faith we have received that righteousness. It is the same in its origin. It began in Christ, when God wrought in Him by His mighty power, to raise Him from the dead. It begins in us by the working of the same mighty power. But what assurance have we that this life of Christ will always continue to be imparted to His people? This springs from the relation which He holds to them. He is their Surety, Representative, Covenant Head. (John Milne.)

The continued life of Christ the ground of our hope

Christ lives

I. IN ALL THE STRENGTH AND TENDERNESS OF HIS AFFECTIONS. A heart which bore the agony, shame, desertion of His disciples must be always warm towards those whose salvation He seeks.

II. IS HIS ABILITY TO HELP TO THE UTMOST. “All power is given unto Me” Ephesians 1:20-22). “He ever liveth to make intercession.”

III. IN A SPECIAL MANNER WITH THE BELIEVER. “I am the Bread of Life;” “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” The Church is His bride. How can we famish or die?

IV. TO DESTROY ALL POWER THAT IS OPPOSED TO MAN’S REDEMPTION. (Ray Palmer, D. D.)

The living Church

1. The life of the Church of Christ is its most distinctive and glorious characteristic. It has changed its forms, varied its circumstances, altered its doctrines, but has maintained in every period of its history its inward life. If justification is the article of a standing or a falling Church, regeneration, or life by the Holy Spirit, is the article of a living or a dead Church.

2. This life is communicated, not by anything that is outward, but entirely by the Holy Spirit of God. The patronage of princes may make a rich or a renowned Church. Eloquence and orthodoxy may make a convinced or an enlightened, but they cannot make a living Church.

I. THE EVIDENCES OF THIS LIFE. It is easy to ascertain if a man be dead or living physically; and it is not difficult to ascertain if a man be living or dead spiritually.

1. Life is an internal principle originating outward and visible characteristics. We know not what life is. All that we know is, that there is some principle within that looks through the eye, that hears through the ear, that feels through the touch, that enables me to walk, to speak, and to hold converse with society around me. Now it is so with spiritual life.

2. Life has the power of assimilation. H a man eats a piece of bread, that bread is so assimilated that it is turned into the energy of his physical system. And this spiritual life lays hold upon all the elements of nutriment, as these are laid up in Christ, found in the oracles of truth, and at the communion table.

3. Life is sensible of pain. A dead man does not feel. What pain is to the body, sin is to the spiritual life; and just as our nervous system shrinks from the very touch or contact of pain, so the soul that is in unison with God shrinks from sin as its greatest evil, and the immediate source of all misery.

4. Wherever there is life, we find it has within itself the power of adaptation to varied temperature. Man lives at the Pole, as he lives below the Line. And if there be life in man’s soul, that life will adjust itself; will not be conquered by, but will conquer its circumstances. Place the Christian in the palace with Pharaoh, or in the dungeon with Joseph, and he can breathe the atmosphere of the one just as he can the other.

5. Life is progressive, and Spiritual life grows in likeness to Christ. Its progress is illimitable, because the principle itself is infinite.

6. Life is communicative. The proof that a man is no Christian is, that he is no missionary. Monopoly is a word banished from the religion of heaven. The Christian cannot see pain he does not wish to alleviate; ignorance he does not wish to enlighten; death in trespasses and sins to which he would not communicate a portion of his own spiritual life.

II. THERE ARE CERTAIN POINTS TO WHICH THIS LIFE SPECIALLY REFERS. A Christian is alive

1. To the presence of God. “Thou God seest me” is the constant feeling of the Christian.

2. To the favour of God. “Who will show us any good?” is the question with the worldling; but the Christian says, “Lift Thou upon us the light of Thy countenance.”

3. To the glory of God. We are prone to think that Christianity is a thing for the Bible, for the Sunday, for the Church merely. But it is meant to be like the great principle of gravitation which controls the planet and the pebble. When you transact business you are bound to do it to the glory of God. In your homes, whether your tables be covered with all the luxuries, or merely with the necessaries of life, “ye are to do all to the glory of God.”

III. THIS LIFE HAS CERTAIN SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS. It is

1. A holy life. If there be God’s life in man’s heart, there must be God’s holiness in man’s conduct.

2. A happy life. Joy is one of the fruits it bears.

3. A royal life. “He has made us kings and priests unto God.” We are “a royal priesthood.”

4. An immortal life. All systems, hierarchies, and empires shall be dissolved; but the man that has the life of God in his heart has the immortality of God as his prerogative. Conclusion: The history of the Church that has possessed this vital principle has been throughout a very painful but a very triumphant one. That vitality must be a reality since nothing has been ever able to extinguish or destroy it. Systems that chime in with the fallen propensities of man have sunk before rival systems; but Christianity, which rebukes man’s pride, which bridles man’s lusts, which rebukes man’s sins, has outlived all persecution, survived all curse, and seems to commence in the nineteenth century, a career that shall be bounded only by the limits of the population of the globe itself. Is not this evidence of a Divine presence--of a Divine power? Let me make one or two inferences.

This life is

1. The true secret and source of ministerial success.

2. The source of all missionary effort.

3. The true distinction between the Church and the world.

4. The true safety of the Church.

5. The great want of the Church today. (J. Cumming, D. D.)

Immortality as taught by the Christ

1. Science may throw no barrier in the way of belief in immortality; nature and the heart of man may suggest clear intimations of a future life; human society may demand another life to complete the suggestions and fill up the lacks of this; but, for some reason, all such proof fails to satisfy us. It holds the mind, but does not minister to the heart.

2. It is noticeable also that the faith of natural evidence awakens no joyful enthusiasm in masses of mankind. Plato and Cicero discourse of immortality with a certain degree of warmth, but their countrymen get little comfort from it. The reason is evident. The mere fact that I shall live tomorrow does not sensibly move me. Something must be joined with existence before it gets power.

3. We will now consider the way in which Christ treated the subject.

I. HE ASSUMED THE RECEIVED DOCTRINE AND BUILT UPON IT. When He entered on His ministry He found certain imperfect or germinal truths existing in Jewish theology. He found a doctrine of God, partial in conception; He perfected it by revealing the Divine Fatherhood. He found a doctrine of sin and righteousness turning upon external conduct; He transferred it to the heart and spirit. He found a doctrine of immortality, held as mere future existence. His treatment of this doctrine was not so much corrective as accretive. Hence He never uses any word corresponding to immortality (which is a mere negation--unmortal), but always speaks of life. He never makes a straight assertion of it except once, when the Sadducees pressed Him with a quibbling argument against the resurrection. Elsewhere He simply assumes it. But an assumption is often the strongest kind of argument. It implies such conviction in the mind of the speaker that there is no need of proof.

II. IN HIS MIND THE INTENSE AND ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS OF GOD CARRIES WITH IT IMMORTALITY, AS IT DOES THE WHOLE BODY OF HIS TRUTH. Within this universe, at its centre, is world around which all others revolve, the sun of suns, the centre of all systems, whose potency reaches to the uttermost verge, holding them steady to their courses. It is not otherwise in morals. Given the fact of God, and all other truth takes its place without question. Hence, when there is an overpowering, all-possessing sense of God as there was in Christ, truth takes on absolute forms; hence it was that He spoke with authority. It was Christ’s realization of the living God that rendered His conviction of eternal life so absolute. We can but notice how grandly Christ reposed upon this fact of immortal life. He feels no need of examining the evidences or balancing proofs. He stands steadily upon life, life endless by its own Divine nature. Death was no leap in the dark to Him; it was simply a door leading into another mansion of God’s great house. It is proper to ask here, “Is it probable that Christ was mistaken? That His faith in immortality was but an intense form of a prevailing superstition?” If we could find any weakness elsewhere in His teachings, there would be ground for such questions. But as a moral teacher He stands at the head, unimpeachable in the minutest particular. Is it probable that, true in all else, He was in fault in this one respect? That a body of truth all interwoven and suffused with life is based upon an illusion of life? If one tells me ninety-nine truths, I will trust him in the hundredth, especially if it is involved in those before. Build me a column perfect in base and body, and I will know if the capital is true. When the clearest eyes that ever looked on this world and into the heavens, and the keenest judgment that ever weighed human life, and the purest heart that ever throbbed with human sympathy, tells me that man is immortal, I repose on His teaching in perfect trust. It is reason to see with the wise, and to feel with the good. Still another distinction must be made; we do not accept immortality because Jesus, the wise young Jew, wove it into His precepts, but because the Christ, the Son of God and of man--Humanity revealing Deity--makes it a part of that order of human history best named as the reconciliation of the world to God.

III. HE DOES NOT THINK OF IT AS A FUTURE, BUT AS A PRESENT FACT. As time in the Divine mind is an eternal now, so it seems to have been with Christ. If the cup of life is full, there is little sense of past or future; the present is enough. When Christ speaks of eternal life, He does not mean future endless existence; but fullness or perfection of life. That it will go on forever is a matter of course, but it is not the important feature of the truth.

IV. And thus we are brought to the fundamental fact that HE CONNECTED LIFE OR IMMORTALITY WITH CHARACTER. Life, as mere continuance of being, is not worth thinking about. Of what value is the mere adding of days to days if they are full of sin? Practically such life is death, and so He names it. There can be no real and abiding faith in immortality until it becomes wedded to the spiritual nature. When life begins to be true, it announces itself as an eternal thing to the mind; as a caged bird when let loose into the sky might say, “Now I know that my wings are made to beat the air in flight;” and no logic could ever persuade the bird that it was not designed to fly; but when caged, it might have doubted at times, as it beat the bars of its prison with unavailing stroke, if its wings were made for flight. So it is not until a man begins to use his soul aright that he knows for what it is made. When he puts his life into harmony with God’s laws; when he begins to pray; when he clothes himself with the graces of Christian faith and conduct, when he begins to live unto his spiritual nature, he begins to realize what life is--a reality that death and time cannot touch. But when his life is made up of the world, it is not strange that it should seem to himself as liable to perish with the world. Those who believe have everlasting life. Others may exist, but existence is not life. Others may continue to exist, but continuance is not immortality. To lift men out of existence into life was Christ’s mission.

V. He not only gave us the true law, BUT WAS HIMSELF A PERFECT ILLUSTRATION OF IMMORTALITY, and even named Himself by it--the Life. It is a great thing for us that this truth has been put into actual fact. Human nature is crowded with hints and omens of it, but prophecy does not convince till it is fulfilled. And from the Divine side also we get assurances of endless life; but in so hard a matter we are like Thomas, who needed the sight and touch to assure him. And in Christ we have both--the human omen and the Divine promise turned into fact. In some of the cathedrals of Europe, on Christmas eve, two small lights, typifying the Divine and human nature, are gradually made to approach one another until they meet and blend, forming a bright flame. Thus, in Christ, we have the light of two worlds thrown upon human destiny. The whole bearing of Christ towards death, and His treatment of it, was as one superior to it, and as having no lot nor part in it. He will indeed bow his head in obedience to the physical laws of the humanity He shares, but already He enters the gates of Paradise, not alone but leading a penitent child of humanity by the hand. And in order that we may know He simply changed worlds, He comes back and shows Himself alive; for He is not here in the world simply to assert truth, but to enact it. And still further to show us how phantasmal death is, He finally departs in all the fullness of life, simply drawing about Himself the thin drapery of a cloud. Conclusion: A true and satisfying sense of immortality cannot be taken second hand. We cannot read it in the pages of a book, whether of nature or inspiration. We cannot even look upon the man Jesus issuing from the tomb, and draw from thence a faith that yields peace. There must be fellowship with the Christ of the Resurrection before we can feel its power; in other words, we must get over upon the Divine side of life before we can be assured of eternal life. “Join thyself,” says Augustine, “to the eternal God, and thou wilt be eternal.” (T. T. Munger.)

Living because Christ lives

When Luther was in his worst troubles a friend came in to see him, and he noticed that he had written upon the wall in big letters the word “Vivit!” He inquired of Luther what he meant by “vivit?” Luther answered, “Jesus lives; and if He did not live I would not care to live an hour.” Yes, our life is bound up with that of Jesus. We are called upon to live of ourselves, that would be death; but we have life and all things in union with Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 20

John 14:20

At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you

Christ’s legacy

I.
THE LEGACY ITSELF: Knowledge. “Ye shall know.” God delivered the Jews to some extent from ignorance by the law, which was their schoolmaster. But in the gospel we are graduates, and know as a matter of history and experience what was only previously known in prophecy and type, in the manifestation of Christ, and the presence of the Spirit. Consider this knowledge as opposed to

1. Ignorance. As there is a profitable ignorance which is a reverent abstinence from searching into God’s secrets, so there is an unprofitable ignorant knowledge which puffs us up. And one strange effect of this ignorance is that every man murmurs that someone else has more land or money than he, yet every man thinks that he has more knowledge than all the world beside. Wherefore the prophet (Jeremiah 10:14) calls this confident believer in his own wisdom a fool, as the greatest reproach that can be fastened upon him. Now, this foolishness is not narrowness of understanding, nor inability to acquire knowledge, for many good men are unlettered and dull. The fool is he who trusteth in his own heart; and against this Christ has left us this legacy of knowledge.

2. Inconsideration. God takes it worse to be neglected than to be injured. Dares an officer who receives instruction from his prince on nonperformance say, “I never thought of it?” Dares a subject, a servant, or a son? God shows the inconsiderate man

3. Concealment. It must be published for the benefit of others. Virtue that is never produced into action is not worthy of the name (Philemon 1:6).

II. THE TIME WHEN THIS LEGACY ACCRUES TO US. “At that day.”

1. The word itself affords cheerfulness. When God inflicted the greatest plague on Egypt it was at midnight; and when He would intimate both deaths at once He says, “Thou fool, this night,” etc. Against all supply of knowledge He calls him fool; against all sense of comfort in the day He threatens night.

2. It was a certain day: “That”--and soon. For after Christ had made His will at this supper, and given strength to His will by His death, and proved His will by His resurrection, and left the Church possessed of His estate by His ascension, within ten days after that He poured out this legacy of knowledge.

3. On that day the Holy Ghost came as a wind to note a powerful working; filled them, to note the abundance; and gave them utterance, to infer the communication of their knowledge to others. But He was poured forth for the benefit of all. The prophets, high as their calling was, saw nothing without the Spirit; with the Spirit simple man understands the prophets.

III. OUR PORTION IN THIS LEGACY--the measure of the knowledge of those mysteries which we are to receive. When Felix the Manichaean would prove to Augustine that Manes was the Holy Spirit who should teach all truth, because Manes taught many things of which men were ignorant concerning the frame and nature of the heavens, Augustine answered, “The Holy Ghost makes us Christians, not mathematicians.” This knowledge is to know the end and the way--heaven and Christ. Now, in all our journeys, a moderate pace brings a man most surely to his journey’s end, and so does a sober knowledge in the mysteries of religion. Therefore, the Holy Ghost did not give the apostles all kind of knowledge, but knowledge enough for their present work, and so with us. The points of knowledge necessary for our salvation are three.

1. The mystery of the Trinity. “I am in My Father.” Origin tells us that the principal use of knowledge is to know the Trinity. For to know that there is one God, natural reason serves our turn. But to know that the Son is in the Father I need the Scriptures, and the light of the Holy Spirit on the Scriptures, for Jews and Arians have the Bible too. But consider that Christ says, “ye shall know,” not “ye shall know how.” It is enough for a happy subject to enjoy the sweetness of a peaceable government, though he knows not the ways by which his prince governs, so it is enough for a Christian to enjoy the working of God’s grace, though he inquire not into

God’s unrevealed decrees. When the Church asked how the body of Christ was in the sacrament we see what an inconvenient answer it fell upon. Make much of that knowledge with which the Spirit hath trusted you, and believe the rest. No man knows how his soul came into him, yet no man doubts that he has a soul.

2. The mystery of the Incarnation--“Ye in Me.” For since the devil has taken manhood in one lump in Adam, Christ to deliver us as entirely took all mankind upon Him. So that the same pretence that the devil hath against us, “You are mine, for you sinned in Adam,” we have also for our discharge, we are delivered, for we paid our debt in Christ.

3. The assurance of this grows from the third part of our knowledge the mystery of our redemption, in our sanctification. “I in you.” This last is the best. To know that Christ is in the Father may serve me to convince another who denies the Trinity; to know we are in Christ may show that we are more honoured than angels. But what worth is this if I know not that Christ is in me. How then is this? Here the question is lawful, for it has been revealed. It is by our obedience to His inspiration, and by our reverent use of His sacrament, when the Spirit visits us with effectual grace, and Christ marries Himself to our souls. (J. Donne, D. D.)

The experimental knowledge of the Christian mysteries

Our Lord had just been exhorting His disciples to believe that He was in the Father and the Father in Him; and had been gently wondering at the slowness of their faith. Now He tells them that, when He is gone, they shall know the thing which, with Him by their side, they found it so hard to believe.

I. The principle that underlies these wonderful words is that CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER OF FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIAN TRUTH. Observe with what decision our Lord carries that principle into regions where we might suppose at first sight that it was altogether inapplicable.

1. “Ye shall know that I am in My Father.” How can such a thing as the relation between Christ and God ever be a matter of consciousness? Must it not always be a matter that we must take on trust? Not so; remember what has gone before. If I have these things I know that it is Jesus Christ that gives them, and I know that He could not give them if He did not dwell in God and were not Divine. These new influences, this revolution in my being, this healing touch, these new hopes, these reversed desires, all these things bear upon their very front the signature that they are wrought by a Divine hand, and as sure as I am of my own Christian consciousness, so sure am I that all its experiences proclaim their author, and that Christ who does them is in God. On the subject of Christ’s Divinity, many profound and learned arguments have been urged by theologians, and these are all well and needful in their places, but the true way to be sure of it is to have Him dwelling with us and working on us.

2. In like manner, the other elements of this knowledge flow necessarily from Christian experiences. “That ye are in Me, and I in you.” If a Christian man carries the consciousness of Christ’s presence, and has Him as a Sun in his darkness, and as a Life source feeding his deadness with life, then he knows with a consciousness which is irrefragable that Jesus Christ is in him.

3. So, let us learn what the Christian man’s experience ought to be, and to do for him. It should make all the fundamentals of the gospel vitally and vividly true; and, certified by what had passed within your own spirits, you should be able to say, “we have the witness in ourselves.” And though there will remain much in Christian doctrine which is not capable of that plain and all-sufficing verification; much about which we must still depend on the teaching of others, the central facts which make the gospel may all become elements of our very consciousness which stand undeniable to us, whosoever denies them.

II. SUCH A DIRECT WAY TO KNOWLEDGE IS REASONABLE.

1. It is in plain analogy with the manner by which we attain to the knowledge of everything except the mere external facts. How do you know anything about love? You may read poems and tragedies to the end of time, and you will not understand it until you come under its spell for yourself; and then all the things that men said about it cease to be mere words, because you yourself have experienced the emotion. And the only way to be sure, with a vital certitude, of Christ, is to take Christ for your very own, and then He comes into your very being, and dwells there unchanged, the Sun and the Life.

2. Though such certitude is not available for other people, the fact that so many millions of men allege that they possess this certitude is available for other people. And there is nothing to be said by the unbeliever to this. “Whether this man be a sinner or no, I know not.” You may jangle as much as you like about the controversial points that surround the Christian revelation. “One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.” And we may push the war into the enemy’s quarters, and say, “Why! herein is a marvellous thing, that you that know everything do not know whence this Man is. And yet He has opened mine eyes.” You want facts; there are some. You want verification; we have verified by experiment, and we set to our seals that God is true.

3. But, you say, that is not a fair account of the way in which Christian men and women generally feel about this matter. Well, so much the worse for the so-called Christian men and women. And if they are Christians, and do not know by this inward experience that Christ is Divine and their Saviour, then either their experience is wretchedly superficial and fragmentary; or, having the facts, they have failed to make their own by reflection the certitudes which are their own. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The Father, Christ, and His people one

1. The importance of a definite knowledge and firm belief of the more recondite doctrines of Christianity is greatly underrated. By the infidel they are considered as mystical dreams, scholastic abstractions, characterized by self-contradiction and absurdity. The rationalistic Christian for the same reason explains away the passages that teach them. But there are also men--loud in proclaiming their belief of all these doctrines--whose belief ofthem is little more than a belief that the propositions in which they are stated, and who plainly consider them as having little connection with the formation of character and guidance of conduct. But I do not worship the Christian God if I do not worship God in Christ; and as Christian worship is rational worship, I cannot worship God in Christ, without knowing what is meant by God being in Christ, and believing it. All Christian motive and comfort flow from Christian doctrine understood and believed.

2. The phrase, “that day,” does not seem here to refer to some short fixed period--as the time when our Lord returned to the disciples after His resurrection--or, the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,--or, the time of the second coming; but to the whole period from our Lord’s comin