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of what their relation to God is, to go down into the deep places of their hearts and test themselves by this simple inquiry: "Do I do anything to please Him? Do I try to serve Him? Is it a joy to me to be near Him? Is the thought of Him a delight, like a fountain in the desert or the cool shadow of a great rock in the blazing wilderness? Do I turn to Him as my Home, my Friend, my All? If I do not, am I not deceiving myself by fancying that I stand neutral?' There is no neutrality in a man's relation to God. It is one thing or other. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.' The friendship of the world is enmity against God.'
IV. And now, lastly, note how our Lord here touches the deep thought that this ignorance, which is sin, and is more properly named hatred, is utterly irrational and causeless.
* All this will they do that it might be fulfilled which is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause.' One hears sighing through these words the Master's meek wonder that His love should be so met, and that the requital which He receives at men's hands, for such an unexampled and lavish outpouring of it, should be such a carelessness, reposing upon a hidden basis of such a rooted alienation.
• Without a cause'; yes! that suggests the deep thought that the most mysterious and irrational thing in men's whole history and experience is the way in which they recompense God in Christ for what He has done for them. Be astonished, O ye heavens! and wonder, O ye earth!' said one of the old prophets; the mystery of mysteries, which can give no account of itself to satisfy reason, which has no apology, excuse, or vindication, is just that when God loves me I do not love Him back again; and that when Christ pours
out the whole fullness of His heart upon me, my dull and obstinate heart gives back so little to Him who has given me so much.
• Without a cause.' Think of that Cross; think, as every poor creature on earth bas a right to think, that he and she individually were in the mind and heart of the Saviour when He suffered and died, and then think of what we have brought Him for it. De we not stand ashamed at-if I might use so trivial a word, the absurdity as well as at the criminality of our requital? Causeless love on the one side, occasioned by nothing but itself, and causeless indifference on the other, occasioned by nothing but itself, are the two powers that meet in this mystery-men's rejection of the infinite love of God.
My friend, come away from the unreasonable people, come away from the men who can give no account of their attitude. Come away from those who pay benefits by carelessness, and a Love that died by an indifference that will not cast an eye upon that miracle of mercy, and let His love kindle the answering flame in your hearts. Then you will know God as only they who love Christ know Him, and in the sweetness of a mutual bond will lose the misery of self, and escape the deepening condemnation of those who see Christ on the Cross and do not care for the sight, nor learn by it to know the infinite tenderness and holiness of the Father that sent Him.
*But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.'—JOHN XV. 26, 27.
OUR Lord has been speaking of a world hostile to His followers and to Him. He proceeds, in the words which immediately follow our text, to paint that hostility as aggravated even to the pitch of religious murder. But here He lets a beam of light in upon the darkness. These forlorn Twelve, listening to Him, might well have said, Thou art about to leave us; how can we alone face this world in arms, with which Thou dost terrify us?' And here He lets them see that they will not be left alone, but have a great Champion, clad in celestial armour, who, coming straight from God, will be with them and put into their hands a weapon, with which they may conquer the world, and turn it into a friend, and with which alone they must meet the world's hate.
So, then, we have three things in th. text; the great promise of an Ally in the conflict with the world; the witness which that Ally bears, to fortify against the world; and the consequent witness with which Christians may win the world.
I. Now consider briefly the first of these points, the great promise of an Ally in the conflict with the world.
I may touch, very lightly, upon the wonderful designation of this Champion-Friend whom Christ sends, because on former occasions in this course of sermons wo have had to deal with the same thoughts, and there
will be subsequent opportunities of recurring to them. But I may just emphasise in a few sentences the points which our Lord here signalises in regard to the Champion whom He sends. There is a double designation of that Spirit, 'the Comforter' and 'the Spirit of truth.' There is a double description of His mission, as being 'sent' by Jesus, and as 'proceeding from the Father, and there is a single statement as to the position from which He comes to us. A word about each of these things.
I have already explained in former sermons that the notion of Comforter,' as it is understood in modern English, is a great deal too restricted and narrow to cover the whole ground of this great and blessed promise. The Comforter whom Christ sends is no mere drier of men's tears and gentle Consoler of human sorrows, but He is a mightier Spirit than that, and the word by which He is described in our text, which means 'one who is summoned to the side of another,'conveys the idea of a helper who is brought to the man to be helped, in order to render whatever aid and succour that man's weakness and circumstances may require. The verses before our text suggest what sort of aid and succour the disciples will need. They are to be as sheep in the midst of wolves. Their defenceless purity will need a Protector, a strong Shepherd. They stand alone amongst enemies. There must be some one beside them to fight for them, to shield and to encourage them, to be their Safety and their Peace. And that Paraclete, who is called to our side, comes for the special help which these special circumstances require, and is a strong Spirit who will be our Champion and our Ally, whatover antagonism may storm against us, and however
strong and well-armed may be the assaulting legions of the world's hate.
Then, still further, the other designation here of this strong Succourer and Friend is the Spirit of truth,' by which is designated, not so much His characteristic attribute, as rather the weapon which He wields, or the material with which He works. The truth' is His instrument; that is to say, the Spirit of God sent by Jesus Christ is the Strengthener, the Encourager, the Comforter, the Fighter for us and with us, because He wields that great body of truth, the perfect revelation of God, and man, and duty, and salvation, which is embodied in the incarnation and work of Jesus Christ our Lord. The truth is His weapon, and it is by it that He makes us strong.
Then, still further, there is a twofold description here of the mission of this divine Champion, as 'sent' by Christ, and proceeding from the Father.'
In regard to the former, I need only remind you that, in a previous part of this wonderful discourse, our Lord speaks of that divine Spirit as being sent by the Father in His name and in answer to His prayer. The representation here is by no means antagonistic to, or diverse from, that other representation, but rather the fact that the Father and the Son, accordng to the deep teaching of Scripture, are in so far one as that whatsoever the Son seeth the Father do that also the Son doeth likewise,' makes it possible to attribute to Him the work which, in another place, is ascribed to the Father. In speaking of the Persons of the Deity, let us never forget that that word is only partially applicable to that ineffable Being, and that whilst with us it implies absolute separation of individuals, it does not mean such separation in