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John xvi. 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."
Among the first followers of the Lord Jesus, the power of the Holy Ghost was shown forth after a two-fold manner. His blessed influence was felt, as it now is, in the heart, and through Him also divers miracles were wrought by the early disciples. These were extraordinary gifts, which are at present unknown among any description of believers. The reason of the natural order of things being put out of course is explained by our Lord himself, he says, Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe." At the beginning of the new dispensation circumstances required this double testimony, which spoke both to outward and inward sense.
impossible to convince ignorant men by argument only; nor indeed would reasoning, without the evidence of God's own authority to the facts from which they reasoned, have ever sufficed to establish the necessity of complying fully with the Apostle's doctrine. Christians also at that period were under persecution, and, hence, the first promulgators of the new covenant had not the opportunity of holding those frequent discussions with the same individuals, which must be necessary when conviction is brought about through the mind only.
It was requisite, therefore, that by some authority, plainly from Heaven, the Apostles should show that without doubt the finger of God was with them. Thus, they were able at once to convince the beholders that their words ought to be attended to, when they declared the glad tidings of the Gospel, wonderful and inexplicable as that Gospel might appear. But once these truths were established by the testimony of miraculous gifts, through the power of the Holy Ghost, there was no longer any necessity for continuing this kind of supernatural evidence.
The inspired writings inform each successive generation, who will attend to them, as to firmly assured ; and, we at this day, through the narration so handed down, are as certain of the power of the Spirit, as if we had seen Ananias expire because he lied to the Holy Ghost, or witnessed the revival of the young man whom Paul restored, when falling from the third loft he was taken up dead. However, though the extraordinary and outward gifts of the Spirit have been for ages withdrawn, his ordinary and inward influence is promised to the comfort of every sincere Christian now in the world, aye or that shall be, till the second coming of Christ to judge the quick and the dead-nor are those of former days to be considered as at all more blessed, because more gifted than the disciple of the present time. Our Saviour took care to correct such an erroneous opinion upon the very
first communication of these unusual powers. The seventy, whom during his life time he sent forth to baptize, returned rejoicing, and said, “ Lord even the evil spirits are “ subject to us through thy name,” but his answer was, “ rejoice not in this, that the “ spirits are subject to you, but rejoice rather “ that your names are written in Heaven.” 'Tis in such a point of view that indeed we have a Comforter, who may abide with us for
But let none deceive themselves; God
has promised the continuance of his aid only to those who acknowledge their need of it, and who strive after it. Ask, and ye shall “receive-seek, and ye shall find-knock, and “it shall be opened unto you,” are the words of his invitation. The blessing is not to be retained nor increased without proof of sincerity on our part, and this proof is to be given by watchfulness and prayer. Not watchfulness to gain the approbation of our fellows only, but spiritual watchfulness, “ for God is “a Spirit, and those that worship Him must
worship Him in spirit and in truth.” It is through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, that “ we all with open face beholding, “ as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are “ changed into the same image, from glory to “ glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” In the things belonging to the hidden recesses of the heart, we must look to the book, which shows men how to see more than meets the
'Tis through the help of the Holy Spirit teaching us by the Bible, the right view of things, that we become among the number of those, to whom Christ alludes,
" the world see me no more, “ but ye see me.” The help of the Holy Spirit will never be refused to any persons
when he says,
Lord's blessed words are “if ye being evil, “know how to give your children good gifts, “ how much more shall your Heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” All, therefore, who by a lively and a steady faith contemplate their Saviour, may be said to enjoy the assurance of that blessed declaration, “ because I live ye shall live also.” But the kind of belief required by our Lord, is not simply an acknowledgment that he is true, the Devils so “believe and tremble." Christ himself explains what he requires, and to what description of faith his gracious promises are made“ he that hath my command“ ments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth “ me, and he that loveth me,” (not he that only knoweth me) but " he that loveth me, “shall be loved of my Father, and I will love “ him and will manifest myself to him.” The manner in which he would manifest himself, the way in which he would make himself known to the heart, is what our Saviour likewise vouchsafed to treat of. He announces that the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father would send in his name, should teach his disciples all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatever he had said. Our Saviour certainly here spoke more particularly of the Apostles and the in