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and will do for me-Oh! then, all the storm without may rage, and it will not trouble me.
If you take an empty vessel and bring pressure to bear upon it, in go the sides. Fill it, and they will resist the pressure. So with growing knowledge of Christ, and growing personal experience of His sweetness in our souls, we shall be able, untouched and undinted, to throw off the pressure which would otherwise have crushed us.
Therefore, dear friends, here is the true secret of tranquillity, in an age of questioning and doubt. Let me have that divine Voice speaking in my heart, as I may have, and no matter what questions may be doubtful, this is sure-We know in whom we have believed'; and we can say, 'Settle all your controversies any way you like: one thing I know, and that divine Voice is ever saying it to me in my deepest consciousness—the Son of God is come and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true.' Labour for more of this inward, personal conviction of the preciousness of Jesus Christ to strengthen you against a hostile world.
And remember that there are conditions under which this Voice speaks in our souls. One is that we attend to the instrument which the Spirit of God uses, and that is the truth.' If Christians will not read their Bibles, they need not expect to have the words of these Bibles interpreted and made real to them by any inward experience. If you want to have a faith which is vindicated and warranted by your daily experience, there is only one way to get it, and that is, to use the truth which the Spirit uses, and to bring yourself into contact, continual and reverent and intelligent, with the great body of divine truth that is
conveyed in these authoritative words of the Spirit of God speaking through the first witnesses.
And there must be moral discipline too. Laziness, worldliness, the absorption of attention with other things, self-conceit, prejudice, and, I was going to say, almost above all, the taking of our religion and religious opinions at secondhand from men and teachers and books-all these stand in the way of our hearing the Spirit of God when He speaks. Come away from the babble and go by yourself, and take your Bibles with you, and read them, and meditate upon them, and get near the Master of whom they speak, and the Spirit which uses the truth will use it to fortify you.
III. And, lastly, note the consequent witness with which the Christian may win the world.
· And ye also shall bear witness of Me, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.' That also' has, of course, direct reference to the Apostles' witness to the facts of our Lord's historical appearance, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension; and therefore their qualification was simply the companionship with Him which enabled them to say, "We saw what we tell you; we were witnesses from the beginning.'
But then, again, I say that there is no word here that belongs only to the Apostles; it belongs to us all, and so here is the task of the Christian Church in all its members. They receive the witness of the Spirit, and they are Christ's witnesses in the world.
Note what we have to do—to bear witness; not to argue, not to adorn, but simply to attest. Note what we have to attest-the fact, not of the historical life of Jesus Christ, because we are not in a position to be witnesses of that, but the fact of His preciousness and power, and the fact of our own experience of what He
has done for us. Note, that that is by far the most powerful agency for winning the world.
You can never make men angry by saying to them, We have found the Messias.' You cannot irritate people, or provoke them into a controversial opposition when you say, 'Brother, let me tell you my experience. I was dark, sad, sinful, weak, solitary, miserable; and I got light, gladness, pardon, strength, companionship, and a joyful hope. I was blind-you remember me when my eyes were dark, and I sat begging outside the Temple; I was blind, now I see-look at my eyeballs.' We can all say that. This is the witness that needs no eloquence, no genius, no anything except honesty and experience; and whosoever has tasted and felt and handled of the Word of Life may surely go to a brother and say, "Brother, I have eaten and am satisfied. Will you not help yourselves ?' We can all do it, and we ought to do it. The Christian privilege of being witnessed to by the Spirit of God in our hearts brings with it the Christian duty of being witnesses in our turn to the world. That is our only weapon against the hostility which godless humanity bears to ourselves and to our Master. We may win men by that; we can win them by nothing else. “Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and My servants whom I have chosen. Christian friend, listen to the Master, who says, 'Him that confesseth Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father in heaven.'
WHY CHRIST SPEAKS
These things bave I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues : yea, the time cometb, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But these things have I told you, that, when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.'-JOHN xvi. 1-6.
The unbroken flow of thought, and the many subtle links of connection between the parts, of these inexhaustible last words of our Lord make any attempt at grouping them into sections more or less unsatisfactory and artificial. But I have ventured to throw these, perhaps too many, verses together for our consideration now, because a phrase of frequent recurrence in them manifestly affords a key to their main subject. Notice how our Lord four times repeats the expression, "These things have I spoken unto you.' He is not so much adding anything new to His words, as rather contemplating the reasons for His speech now, the reasons for His silence before, and the imperfect apprehension of the things spoken which His disciples had, and which led to their making His announcement, thus imperfectly understood, an occasion for sorrow rather than for joy. There is a kind of landing-place or pause here in the ascending staircase. Our Lord meditates for Himself, and invites us to meditate with Him, rather upon His past utterances than upon anything additional to them. So, then, whilst it is true that we have in two of these verses a repetition, in a somewhat more intense and detailed form, of the previous warnings of the hostility of the world, in the main the subject of
the present section is that which I have indicated. And I take the fourfold recurrence of that clause to which I have pointed as marking out for us the leading ideas that we are to gather from these words.
I. There is, first, our Lord's loving reason for His speech.
This is given in a double form. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.' And, again, “These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. These two statements substantially coalesce and point to the same idea.
They are separated, as I have said, by a reiteration, in more emphatic form, of the dark prospect which He has been holding out to His disciples. He tells them that the world which hates them is to be fully identified with the apostate Jewish Church. The synagogue' is for them the world. There is a solemn lesson in that. The organised body that calls itself God's Church and House may become the most rampant enemy of Christ's people, and be the truest embodiment on the face of the earth of all that He means by 'the world.' A formal church is the true world always; and to-day as then. And such a body will do the cruellest things and believe that it is offering up Christ's witnesses as sacrifices to God. That is partly an aggravation and partly an alleviation of the sin. It is possible that the inquisitor and the man in the San Benito, whom he ties to the stake, may shake hands yet at His side up yonder. But a church which has become the world will do its persecution and think that it is worship, and call the burning of God's people an auto-da-fe (act of faith); and the bottom of it all is that, in the blaze of light, and calling themselves God's, 'they uu not