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Of communion with the Holy Ghost.
The foundation of our communion with the Holy Ghost, John xvi. 1–7.
opened at large. Iapák ntos, a comforter; who he is. The Holy Ghost, his own will in his coming to us ; sent also by Christ. The Spirit sent as a sanctifier, and as a comforter. The adjuncts of his mission considered. The foundation of his mission ; John xv. 26. His procession from the Father, twofold; as to personality, or to office. Thing's considerable in his procession as to office. The manner of his collation. He is given freely ; sent authoritatively. The sin against the Holy Ghost, whence unpardonable. How we ask the Spirit of the Father. To grieve the Spirit, what. Poured out. How the Holy Ghost is received ; by faith. Faith's actings in receiving the Holy Ghost. His abode with us, how declared. How we may lose our comfort, whilst the Comforter abides with us.
The foundation of all our communion with the Holy Ghost, consisting in his mission, or sending to be our Comforter by Jesus Christ; the whole matter of that economy or dispensation is firstly to be proposed and considered, that so we may have a right understanding of the truth inquired after, Now the main promise hereof, and the chief considerations of it, with the good received, and evil prevented thereby, being given and declared in the beginning of the sixteenth chapter of John, I shall take a view of the state of it, as there proposed.
Our blessed Saviour being to leave the world, having acquainted his disciples, among other things, what entertainment in general they were like to find in it, and meet withal, gives the reason why he now gave them the doleful tidings of it, considering how sad and dispirited they were upon the mention of his departure from them; ver. 1. · These things have I said unto you, that you should not be offended.' I have, saith he, given you an acquaintance with these things (that is, the things which will come upon you, which you are to suffer) beforehand, lest you who (poor souls) have entertained expectations of another state of affairs, should be
'surprised, so as to be offended at me, and my doctrine, and fall away from me. You are now forewarned, and know what you have to look for. Yea, saith he, ver. 2. having acquainted you in general, that you shall be persecuted, I tell you plainly, that there shall be a combination of all men against you, and all sorts of men will put forth their power for your ruin. “They shall cast you out of the synagogue, and the time shall come, that whosoever kills you, will think that he doth God good service. The ecclesiastical power shall excommunicate you, they shall put you out of their synagogues; and that you may not expect relief from the power of the magistrate against their perversity, they will kill you; and that you may know that they will do it to the purpose, without check or control, they will think that in killing you, they do God good service, which will cause them to act rigorously, and to the utmost.
But this is a shaking trial, might they reply: is our condition such, that men in killing us, will think to approve their consciences to God? Yea, they will, saith our Saviour; but yet, that you be not mistaken, nor trouble your consciences about their confidences, know that their blind and desperate ignorance is the cause of their fury and persuasion ; ver. 3. “These things will they do unto you, be. cause they have not known the Father, nor me.'
This then was to be the state with the disciples; but why did our Saviour tell it them at this season, to add fear and perplexities to their grief and sorrow? what advantage should they obtain thereby ? Saith their blessed Master, ver. 4. there are weighty reasons why I should tell you these things; chiefly, that as you may be provided for them, so when they do befal' you, you may be supported with the con-sideration of my Deity and omniscience, who told you all these things before they came to pass; ver. 4.' But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, you may remember I told you of them.' But if they be so necessary, whence is it that thou hast not acquainted us with it all this while ? why not in the beginning, at our first calling ? Even, saith our Saviour, because there was no need of any such thing ; for, whilst I was with you, you had protection and direction at hand. “And these things I said not at the beginning, because I was present with you:' but now the state
of things is altered; “I must leave you ;' ver. 5. And for your parts, so are you astonished with sorrow, that you do not ask me 'whither I go,' the consideration whereof would certainly relieve you, seeing I go to take possession of my glory, and to carry on the work of your salvation ; but your hearts are filled with sorrow and fears, and you do not so much as inquire after relief; ver. 5, 6. whereupon he adjoins that wonderful assertion, ver. 7. • Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you.' • This verse then, being the peculiar foundation of what shall afterward be declared, must particularly be considered as to the words of it, and their interpretation; and that both with respect to the preface of them, and the asseveration in them, with the reason annexed thereunto.
1. The preface to them. . (1.) The first word åldà is an adversative, not excepting to any thing of what himself had spoken before, but to their apprehension ; I know you have sad thoughts of these things, but yet, nevertheless,
(2.) ’Eyw tnv ånbelav léyw ýmīv. ' I tell you the truth.' The words are exceeding emphatical, and denote some great thing to be ushered in by thèm. First, šyw. I'tell it you, this that shall now be spoken; I who love you, who take care of you, who am now about to lay down my life for you ; they are my dying words, that you may believe me; I who am truth itself, I tell you. And, i · Eyù triv ålý felav déyw. ? I tell you the truth :' you have in your sad misgiving hearts, many misapprehensions of things; you think, if I would abide with you, all these evils might be prevented; but, alas! you know not what is good for you, nor what is expedient; • I tell you the truth ;' this is truth itself, and quiet your hearts in it. There is need of a great deal of evidence of truth, to comfort their souls that are dejected and disconsolate under an apprehension of the absence of Christ from them, be the apprehension true or false.
And this is the first part of the words of our Saviour, the preface to what he was to deliver to them, by way of a weighty
convincing asseveration, to disentangle thereby the thoughts of his disciples from prejudice, and to prepare them for the receiving of that great truth which he was to deliver. 2. The assertion itself follows; ovupépsi juiv, Iva èyè âtréAśw. “it is expedient for you, that I go away.” There are two things in the words; Christ's departure, and the usefulness of it to his disciples. (1) For his departure, it is known what is intended by it. The withdrawing his bodily presence from the earth after his resurrection, the “heavens being to receive him, until the time of the restitution of all things;’ Acts ii. 21. For in respect of his Deity, and the exercise of love and care towards them, he promised to be with them to the end of the world; Matt. xxviii. 20. Of this saith he avupépet juiv, it conduceth to your good; it is profitable for you, it is for your advantage, it will answer the end that you aim at; that is the sense of the word, which we have translated ‘ expedient: it is for your profit and advantage. This then is that which our Saviour asserts; and that with the earnestness before-mentioned, desiring to convince his sorrowful followers of the truth of it; namely, that his departure, which they so much feared, and were troubled to think of, would turn to their profit and advantage. (2.) Now although it might be expected that they should acquiesce in this asseveration of truth itself, yet because they were generally concerned in the ground of the truth of it, he acquaints them with that also; and that we may confess it to be a great matter, that gives certainty and evidence to that proposition, he expresses it negatively and positively; “if I go not away he will not come, but if I depart I will send him.’ Concerning the going away of Christ, I have spoken before: of the Comforter, his coming and sending, I shall now treat, as being the thing aimed at. . 'O tapák\mróc, the word being of sundry significations, many translations have thought fit not to restrain it, but do retain the original word “paracletus; so the Syriac also; and as some think, it was a word before in use among the Jews; whence the Chaldee paraphrast makes use of it, Job. xvi. 20. and amongst them it signifies one that so taught others, as to delight them also in his teaching; that is, to be their comforter. In Scripture it hath two eminent significations; an 'advocate' and a' comforter;' in the first sense our Saviour is called Tapakintos, 1 John ii. 2. whether it be better rendered here an advocate or a comforter, may be doubted.
Look into the foregoing occasion of the words which is the disciples' sorrow and trouble, and it seems to require the comforter; sorrow hath filled your hearts, but I will send you the Comforter ; look into the next words following, which contain his peculiar work for which he is now promised to be sent, and they require he should be an advocate to plead the cause of Christ against the world, ver. 8. I shall choose rather to interpret the promise by the occasion of it, which was the sorrow of his disciples, and to retain the name of the Comforter.
Who this Comforter is, our blessed Saviour had before declared ; chap. xv. 26. he is a veŪua rñs åln Jelas, the Spirit of truth,' that is, the Holy Ghost, who revealeth all truth to the sons of men. Now of this Comforter two things are affirmed :
[1.] That he shall come. [2.] That Christ shall send him.
[1.] That he shall come; the affirmative of his coming, on the performance of that condition of it, of Christ going away, is included in the negation of his coming, without its accomplishment; 'If I go not away, he will not come ;' if I do go, Révoetal' he will come,' so that there is not only the mission of Christ, but the will of the Spirit, in his coming; he will come,' his own will is in his work.
[2.] IIéuyw aútov, 'I will send him.' The mystery of his sending the Spirit, our Saviour instructs his disciples in by degrees ; chap. xiv. 16. he saith, “I will pray the Father, he shall send you another Comforter.' In the progress of his discourse he gets one step more upon their faith; ver. 26. ‘But the Comforter,which is the Holy Ghost,whom the Father will send in my name:' but chap. xv. 26. he saith, “I will send him from the Father ;' and here, absolutely, 'I will send him.' The business of sending the Holy Ghost by Christ, which argues his personal procession also from him, the Son, was a deep mystery which at once they could not bear; and therefore he thus instructs them in it by degrees.
This is the sum; the presence of the Holy Ghost with believers as a comforter, sent by Christ for those ends and purposes for which he is promised, is better and more profitable for believers than any corporeal presence of Christ