« IndietroContinua »
Jonx xvi. 26, 27.
Ai thal duy ye shall ask in my name : And I say not unto
you, that I will pray the Father for you ; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
HESE words spake Jesus, to support the drooping spirits of bis disciples. We are told, in the 6th verse, “that sorrow had filled their hearts." Although they did not fully understand the intimations he had given them of his approaching sufferings and death, although their warm affection for him made them slow to believe an event so contrary to their expectations and desires; yet the manner in which he had been speaking to them for some time past, and the unusual tenderness which had of late appeared in his discourses to them, left them no room to doubt, that some sore and heavy trial was at hand. Jesus perceiving their grief, begins to tell them more plainly of his departure from them ; but at the same time gives them such good reasons for it, as could not fail to quiet their minds, and to convince them that his leaving them, instead of being a disaster, was every way necessary for their best interests and happiness. “ It is expedient for you,” says he, in the 7th verse, “ that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but it I depart, I will send him unto you.' As if he had said, The work given me to do is not yet fi
nished: I must yet suffer more, before I can reign ; but after my exaltation, to which my death is a previous and necessary step, I will send forth the Comforter, who shall fully supply my place, and make up to you for my bodily absence. What though you shall no more hear instruction from these lips, you shall have a teacher within you, even the Spirit of truth, who shall guide you into all truth. Whilst I am yet with you, you have indeed ready access to me, for counsel and direction, in every case of hazard and perplexity; and perhaps you fear that when I am taken from you, you shall want a friend to apply to; but know and rejoice, that I go to my Father who is greater than I, to him you shall have free access for my sake ; and whatever ye shall ask in my name, he shall give it unto you. If I have befriended you so much in my present humble condition, what may you not expect from me, when I am exalted at my Father's right hand.
It is this last ground of comfort which our Saviour en, larges upon in the verses now under consideration; and the design of them is, to confirm his disciples in the behief of this, that whatever suitable prayer they shall offer up to the Father in his name, they may assuredly expect a gracious answer. The argument he uses for this purpose is very conclusive, and is no where else in Scripture, that I know of, expressed with the same degree of enerand force. “I say not unto you, that I will
the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you.” That is, My Father is so fully satisfied with my undertaking for the redemption of the world, and my sufferings and obedience are so meritorious and acceptable in his sight, that even though I were to conceal from you that I am to be your constant intercessor and advocate in heaven, all of you who love me, and believe in me, have abundant reason to expect a favourable hearing from the Father himself: " for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came
out from God.” And if the Father is already so much disposed to hear our prayers, how great must their encouragement be, and how strong their consolation, who know besides that their Redeemer liveth to enforce their requests; that he maketh intercession for them, according to the will of God; that his mediation must be always effectual; and that him the Father heareth always. These are joyful tidings indeed, and must make a strong impression on every one whose conscience testifies that he loves the Redeemer, and believes that he came out from God. The Father is fully reconciled to him, the Son constantly prays for him at the throne of heaven, and what may he not then expect from the fulness of Him who filleth all in all. But that we may have a more complete view of the comfort which this text presents to us, I shall separately consider,
1. The love of the Father,
III. The security which believers derive from them both, as inseparably united together.
I. then, Let us take a view of the love of God separately from the intercession of our blessed Redeemer. And, for our better conceiving of this, let us consider that remarkable declaration which we have, John iii. 16, 17. “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life : for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” It was the Father who laid the plan of our redemption. It was he who sent his Son into the world, not in anger, but in love, that his poor lost creatures might be recovered and saved from that dreadful gulf of misery into which they had plunged themselves. Many look upon the Father as an austere and rigid Being, who has no compassion, who delights in punishing, and even suffers a sort of violence in admitting Christ to be surety for sinners. But it appears from the fore-cited passage, that this is by no means the light in which the Scriptures represent him to us. No; goodness and mercy are the attributes in which he glories. “ God is love," saith the Apostle. He is not only represented as accepting the offer when made by the Redeemer, but as being the first mover and spring. How does he rejoice that he has found out a ransom! what special delight does he express towards the Son, when employed in this favoured undertaking! “ This,” says he, by an audible voice, " is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He sent forth his angels from heaven to proclaim the news of good will to men, to minister to the tempted Saviour, to strengthen him under his agony in the garden, and at last to conduct him in triumph to his own right hand. All these are unquestionable proofs of the Father's love. And if God so loved mankind, whilst they were enemies, how much more must he love them, when they become friends, when they comply with the terms which he has graciously established for their recovery, by loving and believing in him whom he hath sent? With what delight and complacency must he look upon them? He views us now as ransomed by the blood of his own equal. He looks upon us in the face of his Anointed; and whilst he does so, how warm and affectionate inust his regard be! And O what comfort arises to us from this! If our hearts do not condemn us, what confidence must we have towards such a God! When the sight of our distress, worthless and wicked as we were, moved him to find a Redeemer, will he now reject us when we cry to him, and plead the merit of his own gift? No: “ ble that spared not his own Son, but gave him up to the death for us all, will certainly with him likewise freely give us all things." Thus the love of God, considered singly by itself, gives us the greatest ground of expectation froin liim, even though the intercession of Christ were less certainly revealed to us than it is. Let us now, in the
II. place, Take under our consideration the intercession of Christ, than which there is nothing more clearly held forth to us in sacred Scripture. lle himself says to his disciples, in the 16th verse of the 14th chapter of this gospel, “ I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.” This is a special part of his office, as our great High-priest, to intercede for his people, and his saving ability is particularly concluded from this, " that he ever liveth to make intercession for us,” Heb. vii. 25. Indeed, we have both an example and proof of his intercession in the chapter following, which is wholly employed in prayers for his people. Let us now make the supposition that the Father's love was more doubtful; yea, that there were even some ground to suspect that his affection was quite alienated from the children of men, yet, unless we were to suppose that he had likewise thrown aside all regard to his only begotten Son, we have still ground enough to conclude, that for his sake he will be: stow whatever he asks upon those who love him and believe on him. When he presents that body in which he suffered so much-when he pleads the merit and sufficiency of that sacrifice which he offered up—when he urges the memory of the shame, the pain, and the cursed death he underwent, to satis y the justice of God, and to magnify his law, how prevalent must his suit be! Can the Father turn a deaf ear to his beloved Son, whilst he enforces his plea with such powerful reasonings? Can he behold the prints of that bloody punishment which himself inflicted upon him, and be insensible of their merit ?-Now that the most rigorous demands of stern justice are answered, will not merey be awakened at the intreaty of such a suitor? It were absurd to think so. No; the Father's love to our Redeemer, nay, impartial justice itself, secures the success of the Saviour's intercession, thougli