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And the principle on which they did this was a settled, defined principle, as contained in the words of Jesus, I have overcome the world. He had set a prospect before them, brighter than the hopes and prospects of this present world, and strong enough to cast its trials and sorrows into shade: so that they were able to glory in tribulation also.; “ to look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;" knowing that their “ light affliction which is but for a moment, was working for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
But as it is not confined to apostles, in this world, to have tribulation; so neither is it confined to them to be of good cheer and have peace in tribulation. The Christian is not exempted from worldly difficulties. It happens to him, as to others, to meet with what are termed misfortunes : to be deprived of the friends which make life dear to him ; to be depressed by poverty, to be afflicted by sickness, to suffer under pain. It is not by setting him free from the common lot of human nature, from the punishment which followed the great transgression : it is not thus that God makes manifest his favour towards him. But he makes it manifest . in another way : by cheering him in his poverty, by supporting him in his sickness, by comforting him in his afflictions. As after the deluge he made a covenant with Noah, and set his bow in the sky, for a token, that though there might be clouds and storms, yet there should be a limit to them, and
the waters should no more utterly overwhelm the earth : so he treats his servants in their griefs ; he shows them the token of his covenant: the sunshine of his mercy breaks through the clouds which overhang them, and they are enabled to say, is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” Then most especially is the promise fulfilled :-“ If any man love me, he will keep my words; and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Many have experienced the truth of this; and have avowed, that the time of their heaviest earthly sorrow has been the season of their greatest spiritual comfort. God has so visited and refreshed them, so lightened the darkness of their affliction, so smoothed the pillow of their sickness, that they have forgotten their griefs, and found in his presence the fulness of joy. They have that in themselves which raises them above this world, with all its changes, and reverses, and fears, and sorrows :-even their faith. In the world they may have tribulation : but still they are of good cheer : for he whom they believe, has overcome the world.
THE LAST PRAYER OF CHRIST TO THE FATHER.
JOHN xvii. 1-3.
1. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee :
2. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
The sublime prayer recorded in this chapter is of a nature to show the greatness of that work, which too many pass over with cold indifference, and which none will ever adequately value on this side the grave.
That work was to be achieved upon the cross, where Jesus should now suffer, “ the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Here the Son would be glorified, as performing the Father's will, as receiving the Father's testimony, as effecting the redemption of the world. And here the Father would be glorified, by this wonderful exhibition of his holiness and his mercy. Father, glorify thy Son! Consummate through him the salvation of a perishing world. That thy Son also may glorify thee, by showing to sinful man that “ thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:”) and that thou so lovedst the world as to give thine only Son,
" that all that believe in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.'
Such is “ the mystery of godliness :” thus was the Son of man glorified, and thus God is glorified in him. For God had given him power over all flesh -all mankind—that he should give eternal life to as many as God had given him.
To as many as God had given him. So those are described, who shall enjoy the benefits of redemption. For as “no man can come to Christ, except it be given him of the Father,"2
except " the Father draw him ;” those who are so drawn towards him, so permitted to come to him, are given him of God. He had formerly declared, “ All that the Father giveth me, shall come to
The faith by which they apply to him, is the gift of God to themselves : and the salvation which is the result of their faith, is the gift of God to his Son ; “ the joy that was set before him," and for which he “ despised the shame :” the satisfaction for the travail of his soul."
There is in this much of mystery, which, happily, we need not endeavour to penetrate. Enough is clearly revealed to assure us, that God “ has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth :'3 that he will have all men to be saved, and come to the
1 Hab. i. 13.
? See John vi. 65, and 44. 3 Ezek. xviii. 32.
knowledge of the truth.” He will not “ break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. When the sinner is “ yet afar off,” he sees him, and invites him to be a partaker of his mercy. “Whoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out.” And he has not left us in uncertainty, as to what eternal life depends on, or to whom it belongs. Even if they stood alone, we might learn it from these the latest words of Jesus : This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
That they might know thee. Such was the purpose of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, that he might “ bring us to God.” Naturally we know him not. Left to nature, we should never know him as he ought to be known. For the real knowledge of God, is not merely such a knowledge as was attained by some of the heathen, as of the Being who framed the world; but an acquaintance with him as Lord, as Governor, as Judge. Such acquaintance as the patriarch Jacob had, when he entered into covenant to serve him : as the patriarch Joseph had, when he refused to disobey him : as the aged Eli had, when he submitted to his will : as king David had, when he set himself to consider how best he could do him honour. This knowledge men have not naturally. Nay, under every advantage, they are unwilling to acquire it. How far is it from being the natural disposition of the young to seek after God! How few come readily and willingly
4 1 Tim. ii. 4.