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THE HOLY GHOST A COMFORTER.
JOHN xiv. 16.
I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.
The words present to us in a little compass, what it is the design of the Scripture to describe at large; namely, the sacred Three united in the work of man's redemption. Here is the Son interceding, the Father granting, and the Spirit coming, as upon this day, to form the church, and ever after to preserve and sanctify it : “ I will pray the Fa
ther, and he shall give you another Comforter, " that he may abide with you for ever.”
It is impossible to cast the subject into a better method than that offered by the words themselves, as they stand in the text. They direct us to consider,
1. The prayer of Christ: “ I will pray the “ Father.”
When we read of the Son praying, we may be induced to think that the person praying must necessarily be inferior to the person to whom the
prayer is made.
is made. We shall reason, as the apostle elsewhere does, “ Without all doubt the greater is “ entreated by the less.” It is God who is entreated; it is a man who entreats; “ there is one “ God, and one mediator between God and man, “ who is a man." He is so; but it is “ the man “ Christ Jesus;" it is a man, very differently circumstanced from all men that ever were born, and far above them all : it is a man to whom God was pleased to be united; God was in Christ; in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; God manifest in the flesh, the divine WORD made flesh, and dwelling among us; as to prefigure the great event in old time,Jehovah came down from heaven, and filled the holy temple built for his reception.
Destroy this temple,” says Christ, speaking of his body, “and I” (as God-for God only could do so) “ will raise it again in three days.
The truth is, they who differ from us and oppose us upon this great point, affirm Christ to be man, which we never deny; but they cannot, while allowing the Scripture, disprove his being likewise God, which is what we affirm. “ God and man are
one Christ,” as our church teaches us rightly to confess.
While therefore, it is a man who mediates, intercedes, and prays, it is this circumstance of his being a man in whom God dwells, and to whom God is in an especial manner united, which gives to his mediation, his intercession, his prayer, that virtue and effect, that force and power, which otherwise they could not have; for what, I beseech you, is the
prayer of a man, a mere man, however upright
that it should prevail for the pardon of all other men being sinners, and obtain for them from the Father the gift of the Holy Spirit ?—And for this reason it is, that they who deny the doctrine of our Lord's divinity, have been forced to deny also that of his priesthood and intercession.
If we look forward to the fifteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, ver. 26, we find the same person who says, in the words of the text, “I will “ Father, and he shall send a Comforter”-we find him uttering these words “The Comforter whom “ I will send from the Father.” He therefore who in one capacity, prays that the Comforter may be sent, in another is the person who sends him, being joined in authority and power with the Father: “ He and the Father are one.” Many are the passages of this kind, which can be explained and reconciled on no other principle but that adopted and maintained by the church, concerning the twofold nature of Christ. The Spirit is called in some places,“ the Spirit of the Father *;" in others,“ the “Spirit of the Sont:" he proceedeth from both.
How pleasing, how comfortable a consideration is it that we have an Intercessor on high ; through whose prayer to the Father, not only the good things of this world, redeemed from the curse by him who first created them, and made again salutary and holy, are granted to us anew; but we receive also the great, the supreme, the unspeakable gift, the gift of the divine Spirit, one with the Father and the Son, blessed and glorified for evermore! * Mat. x. 20.
+ Gal. iv. 6.
II. From the Son praying, let us therefore turn our thoughts to the Father granting : “ I will pray “ the Father, and he shall give you."—When a son asks, a father can give; the one is gracious to prevail, the other easy to be entreated. The request was not preferred in a cold and languid manner. “ He made application," as the apostle speaks, “ with strong crying and tears.” And still louder was the voice of his blood from the earth,“ speak“ ing better things than that of Abel;" the one crying for mercy, as the other did for vengeance.
III. The gift thus requested and obtained was that of a Comforter : “ I will pray the Father, and “ he shall give you a Comforter."
With respect to the apostles, this was a gift eminently in season. Various, as we know, are the powers and favours of the Spirit, suited to the various wants of mankind. To those who are ignorant, he is the Spirit of knowledge; to those who are perplexed with doubts and difficulties, he is the Spirit of truth; to those polluted by sin, he is the Spirit of holiness. But the apostles, at the time when our Lord spoke these words, were in a state of melancholy: sorrow had filled their hearts ; comfort was that of which they stood in need : comfort was promised ; and, as upon this day, a Comforter was sent. Grief chills the heart, and congeals the spirits, he descended therefore in fire, to warm and expand: he descended in the form of tongues, bringing the word of consolation, that good word, which maketh glad the heart of man. The effect appeared accordingly; for in such a manner was the sorrow of the apostles turned into jäy, that when they preached the Gospel to the people assembled from different countries, their adversaries said, “ These
men are full of new wine.” But it was not the juice of the grape; in that age, and in that country, none being accustomed, as St. Peter observed, to drink wine in the morning. “These men are not
drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third “ hour of the day," or nine o'clock, for they began their reckoning from six. It was therefore wine (to use our Lord's expression) which they had “ drank new in the kingdom of God;" they were filled with the Holy Ghost, with spiritual comfort, spiritual joy and exultation. Instead of fearing and flying from their enemies, as before, at the apprehension and crucifixion of their Master, they now boldly faced them, prepared to stand before rulers, to “speak of God's testimonies even before
kings, without being ashamed.” They were no longer grieved or offended at the thought of suffering for the truth; they rejoiced in tribulation of that sort, and conceived themselves to have acquired a new dignity, when “counted worthy " so to suffer.” Such was the mighty change wrought in their minds, through the power of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
A change is wrought in the minds of Christians, through every age, by the power of the same divine Spirit.
On the ministers of the Gospel he does not indeed confer, immediately and by miracle, the gift of divers languages; but it is he who inclines them to learn languages for the purpose of understanding the Scriptures; to apply themselves carefully