"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:16,17)
Many were the exceeding great and precious promises given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His Church and people immediately preceding His decease. The heart of His disciples was filled with sorrow and pain caused by His declaration that it was expedient for Him to go away from them; but He gave to them promise after promise that the Holy Ghost, the third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity, should come and take up His abode in the midst of them, teaching, guiding, governing, and comforting them, and His whole Church, until the end of this dispensation of grace, which commenced with His descent at Pentecost, ceasing when the last elect vessel of mercy resident upon this earth is caught up to glory.
It will be ours this morning, in humble dependence upon the guidance of God the ever-blessed Spirit, to notice the text in five or six particulars.
I.-- THE CIRCUMSTANCES under which these words were breathed in the ears of His sorrowing disciples.
II.-- THE FATHER'S GRACE--"The Father shall give."
III.-- THE SAVIOUR'S INTERCESSION--"I will pray the Father."
IV.-- THE SPIRIT'S PERSONALITY--"Another Comforter, the Spirit of truth."
V.--THE WORLD'S IGNORANCE AND ENMITY--"Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him."
VI.--THE CHURCH'S KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE--"But ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES--The Lord Jesus Christ, according to the preceding chapter, had given to His disciples and to His Church throughout all time, a lesson of true humility. He took them aside from the world, girded Himself with a towel, took a basin, washed their feet, and gave them the gracious injunction, "Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet: ye also ought to wash one another's feet." (John 13:13,14) We who have been led by the grace and indwelling of God the ever-blessed Spirit into a spiritual apprehension of the mind and will of God as revealed in the Son of His love, take not this portion in its literal or carnal meaning. We are not mere imitators or copyists like that arch-impostor at Rome and the heretics of the Greek Church, who wash the already washed feet of certain poor persons. We look at this as we do at other parts of this Gospel of John, after a spiritual and heavenly manner, according to the teaching and guidance of the Holy Ghost, who alone can lead into a true and spiritual apprehension of the words and mind of Christ. Look for instance at those two statements in John 3:5, and 6:53: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Paptists and ceremonialists dabble in water the very moment this portion sounds in their ears, while the truly-taught child of God delights in that spiritual water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14) Look at John 6:63: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." So, in the word water, we see the spirit and we behold life; not water a natural or beggarly element; not water in a baptistery or in a font; but the water of eternal life, flowing from the place of our sanctuary, JEHOVAH'S glorious high throne. It is this by which souls are born again, or, as it is rendered in the margin of John 3:3, "born from above." God's rain, God's dew, God's water descends from above, communicating life and fruitfulness wherever it comes. In John 6:53 we read: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." Is that carnally piercing with the teeth the real body and bones of our Lord Jesus Christ? Papists and others, in their delusions, may think so, but those who are led into a spiritual apprehension of God's precious truth know full well that this eating and drinking is simply receiving in a spiritual and heavenly manner the glorious truths concerning Christ's blood-shedding and death for His eternally-loved people. It is by this receiving that the family of God "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 3:18) "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they (the given ones) might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:2,3)
In this 13th chapter of John, our blessed Lord sets before His people an example of true humility. It is the blessed privilege of the followers of the lowly Jesus to bend and bow to the most menial service to do a good turn or perform a kindly act for any of those in whom the teaching and work of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ is seen. After Jesus had washed His disciples' feet, He was troubled in spirit, and said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me." These words produced doubt and fear in the minds of the disciples, when John, at the suggestion of Simon Peter, asked Him, saying, "Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. He then having received the sop went immediately out; and it was night." Ay, you may depend upon it, it was night in more than one respect. Then commenced the hour and power of darkness, when all the fury of hell was let loose upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, in view of all His impending sorrows, sufferings, agonies, and distresses, He experienced a gracious deliverance from the presence of oppression, according to the 31st verse: "Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Why did the Lord Jesus Christ thus express Himself? I will tell you. Up to that moment the company had not been all of a piece. It was not of one heart and of one mind. Judas was there--he of whom the Saviour spoke in John 6:70: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" Mark this! He does not say, one of you has a devil, or one of you is possessed of seven devils, or one of you has a legion of devils like the poor wretch among the tombs. It is a marvelous mercy when a poor child of God finds himself in blessed association with the Lord Jesus Christ, though he be possessed with devils for Him to cast out; but for the Master to declare "One of you is a devil," is a declaration of a state most awful to contemplate. You may be ready to ask, "Why the necessity for one of the disciples to be a devil?" The answer is ready. The reason is plain and palpable. The Lord Jesus chose a devil to do a devil's work. Turn to 1 John 3:9: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." Such cannot sin as Judas sinned, or those sin who are under the direction and control of the devil. Judas the devil having gone out, the Saviour looked around and saw upon every one of the eleven the mark of His Father's election, the fruit of His own redemption, and evidences of His Spirit's regenerating power. In each He sees a called one according to His Father's purpose, preserved in Himself, to be eternally glorified with Him. Therefore He said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." (John 13:31) This was as much as to say, "Satan has no standing here, the Son of man can now breathe freely and speak to His own without reserve." I dare say many of you have experienced something like this. You have been blessed with the company of some poor pilgrims who were very dear to their Lord and yours, with whom you have held a little sweet communion and intercourse, and experienced a little of that spiritual heartburn, the enjoyment of which depends upon His presence whom you truly love; but one of Satan's brood put in an appearance. What was the effect? Why, my dear friends, it is as though a wet blanket had been thrown upon the whole affair, and away goes all enjoyment of the comforts spoken home to the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, for you are almost sure to be occupied with the interloper and not with the great and glorious Head of the Church in His communications and consolations. A stranger to grace and to God will mar the devotion and worship of any company to which he has access. As I said before, while Judas was present the company was not all of a piece. Judas departed, and oneness of heart was experienced by the whole. Notice the words at the commencement of this blessed 14th chapter of John's Gospel.
"Let not your heart be troubled." That does not sound quite grammatical. Well, our Lord Jesus Christ, the great and glorious Head of the Church, binds not Himself down to human rules and regulations. He can take a plural personal pronoun and a singular noun, and bind them together, causing them to discourse sweet Gospel music to tried and troubled souls. Here were several persons, eleven in number, with but one heart. You have the same words repeated in the 27th verse: "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The same heart-union is revealed in Luke 24:32. Two sorrowing ones wended their weary way to Emmaus. Jesus drew near, but Him they knew not. He inquired, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, and are sad?" He knew all about them, yet He would have the confession of want and sorrow from their own lips. In the ensuing conversation "He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." As they drew nigh unto the village He made as though He would have gone further. Why? To draw out their loving importunity, and to prove by facts what was in them. "They constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them." Did He tarry with them? Judging from our translation, natural reason would say so, No. For as He took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to them, "their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight." If you will consult the margin, you will read, "He ceased to be seen of them." It does not say, He departed from them, for this He never did. "He went in to tarry with them," and you may depend upon it He did so. "And they said one to another, Did not our heart"--not our hearts--"Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" They were of one heart, one mind, one accord in one place. Why was this? Because the covenant promise of Jehovah to Israel was fulfilled in them: "And they shall be My people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me for ever." (Jer. 32:38,39) Blessed oneness. Sweet communion.
We will now notice the kindly bearing and patient grace of our blessed Lord in His dealings with His weak and wavering, ignorant and short-sighted disciples. He is a kind and gentle Teacher. Nothing can exhaust His patience. Nothing can wear out His love. Thomas manifests his ignorance and says, "Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." Now look at Philip. "Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Here Philip was asking for that which would have terminated his natural existence. A sight of the Father's unclouded glory must be death to nature. A sight of the Father in the Son of His love will never suffice any of the living family of God. The Father must be known, felt, and handled by the children, and the whole covenant Three-in-One Jehovah enjoyed, ere true satisfaction can be experienced by the true-born child of God. Jesus kindly answered him, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?" As much as to say, I have revealed Myself to thee as thy Saviour, Sin-bearer, and Great High Priest, and yet thou art ignorant of Me. Yes, and He may say the same to many within these walls this morning, many who are doubting their interest in Him, and questioning His interest in them. Jesus adds, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou them Show us the Father?" All that we know of the Father is in, by, with, and through the Son. Again: "Judas saith unto Him not Iscariot." This is marvelous discrimination. "Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" This is proof positive that Judas had no Arminian notion of Christ loving and dying for everybody. He saw the line of demarcation between the elect and the reprobate, the redeemed and the unredeemed, the sheep who shall stand at the right hand of the King, and the goats who shall stand on His left. In connection with this solemn subject of separation I may say that the only time the Saviour rejoiced during His sojourn upon earth was in the declaration of this hated fact. See Luke 10:21: "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight." Judas understood something of this, but not being rooted and grounded in the truth, he asked the question, "Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words." There is no question about that. I well remember receiving a scribble from our now glorified friend J. J. West of Winchelsea, in which he said, "If Christ's words are burnt into our hearts by the fire of God's furnace, neither sin, Satan, nor all the combinations of hell can ever obliterate them." Thank God that is true. Having noticed a few of the circumstances in connection with which our Lord uttered the words of the text, we will notice,--
II. THE FATHER'S GRACE--"The Father shall give." Is it not our mercy to know that every blessing we enjoy comes to us as a free and sovereign gift from the hand of the Father? If we consider the spiritual blessings in connection with Christ's redeeming work, we see them all flowing spontaneously from His Father's heart without let or hindrance. Do obstacles or hindrances present themselves? He has devised means for the removal of them out of His pathway, and for the conveyance of the blessings to the hearts of His people, and for securing to them sweet and hallowed communion with Himself. Turn to John 3:16: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." That love cannot be fully explained; but He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for it. Now mark you, God did not give His Son to do something whereby His anger and wrath should be appeased and His love flow forth to those who would avail themselves of the provision He had made. Not that. But, "God so loved the world, that He gave." His love preceded His gift.
"God beheld the world undone,
Loved the world and gave His Son."
What world is this? A world within a world. God's world surrounded by the devil's world. There are many worlds mentioned in God's Word; but the world He loves is that saved by His Son. See John 3:17; 4:42. The world loved by the Father and saved by the Son is identical with that of chapter 16: "And when He is come, He will reprove (convince) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." Often we hear of the Holy Ghost convincing of a judgment to come. Nonsense. There is not an allusion here to the judgment to come; but to the judgment past. See! It is, "because the prince of this world is judged." In the sufferings and death of Christ, judgment was passed upon Satan, sin, and self, so that all the elect and redeemed world stands free from condemnation, justified, and accepted in the Beloved. Every elect and favored sinner in God's world enjoys all spiritual blessings as the free gifts of a loving Father in Christ Jesus. Look at that precious declaration in Romans 8:32: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Amongst these all things He has given that glorious and gracious Person who carries on our spiritual education, and who secures our safe conduct to eternal glory, even God the ever-blessed Spirit. This is seen in the various promises given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples. But just look at that precious declaration in 1 Cor. 2:12: "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." Ah! say some of you, that cannot be me, for I am sure I have received the spirit of the world, for I find scarcely anything else in me. Well, when did you receive it? See! "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Ps. 51:5) We brought the spirit of the world into the world with us at our birth, and we possess no other spirit independently of the gracious indwelling of God the ever-blessed Spirit. Now this spiritual receiving is intensely passive on the part of the receiver. Just as much as a child is in the reception of life, the earth in the reception of the rain which falls upon it, and the good ground in receiving the seed sown in it. Oh, what a word is that. "Freely given to us of God." What has He given to us? His Son. His Spirit. His salvation. A new heart. Precious faith. Repentance. Every gracious desire to be with Him. All heavenly associations. Every spiritual communication. Heaven. Home. Grace. Glory. All of grace. All of grace.
"What was there in me that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?
'Twas even so, Father, I ever must sing,
For so it seemed good in Thy sight."
III. THE SAVIOUR'S INTERCESSION--"I will pray the Father." That is precious. Do you think you will hear such grace, or anything approaching to it, in many pulpits now-a-days? I know you will not. The fashionable mode is to set poor dead sinners prating and dictating terms to the great and glorious God of heaven and earth, those who are enemies to God to talk of heaven and earth, those who are enemies to God to talk of His love, and those who possess neither love nor light to beg of God to give them those things they never felt their need of. The world in the wicked one does not want the Holy Ghost, does not want God's Christ, yet such is the foolishness of the preaching of the present day that sinners are set seeking that which they can only hate. But when we look at God's most Holy Word with a single eye to His glory, we see something gracious in those portions which Satan and his brood misquote. You know that in the so-called sermon on the Mount: (Luke 11:13) "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" Ah! say some, you see He must be asked to give the Spirit. But who must ask Him? Who was the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to? To His disciples. He said unto them, "If ye then, being evil." What! Does He speak to those in union with Himself, and call them evil? Yes. And those who feel their need of the Spirit's teaching, indwelling, and power will ask, and beg, and sigh, and groan for the experience of the same; but, blessed be God, they know that their asking is not a condition of their receiving. God binds Himself not to their asking, but oftentimes He comes to them in His gracious power, blesses them with His humbling and exalting grace, cheers them with the sweet assurance that they are His children and He is their God, before they have the opportunity to ask. "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." (Isa. 65:24)
But why am I speaking thus? I will tell you. It is because I am anxious for you all to see that our blessed Lord and Master did not deal out His promises clogged and burdened with conditions. He knew the weakness, the ignorance, the forgetfulness, and short-sightedness of His disciples. He knew well how they would often forget Him and the gracious lessons He had taught them. He knew that shortly He would say to three of them, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation;" (Matt. 26:41) and that when the Father's presence would be denied Him, He would seek their company, but find them fast asleep. That is like me. Ay, and it is like every one here who knows anything at all of spiritual communion and fellowship with the "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." The heart of the suffering disciple knows its own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddles not with his joy. What is his joy? That is the point. It is his joy to know that when he cannot pray as he ought, there is a great, glorious, and all-prevailing Intercessor praying for him. When he knows not how to pour out his heart before the God of all mercies, it is his joy to know there is an all-prevalent Advocate for him before the throne of God. Turn to Isaiah 53:12: "He made intercession for the transgressors." It does not say He made intercession for those who were strong in faith, deeply repentant, or fervent in prayer, but for those who are transgressors in respect to every one of these matters. In Aaron the high priest, as seen in Exodus 28, bearing upon his breast-plate of judgment the names of the tribes of Israel, and upon his priestly crown the iniquities of Israel's holy things, we have a lively type of our blessed Lord. O what a marvelous truth for me and for every God-sent minister to know that the iniquity of the pulpit, the iniquity of the closet, the iniquity of my believing, the iniquity of my repentings; ay, the iniquity of the sweetest hours of spiritual enjoyment is borne by our great High Priest.
"I will pray the Father." Look at the model of His intercession given in John 17:9: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me: for they are Thine." Notice that. He does not pray for everybody, but for the given ones. Look at verse 11: "Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one as we are." Look at verse 15: "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." Turn to verse 20: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word. That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." See! He prays. He demands. He commands. "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." On what ground does He pray? On that of the Father's purpose and promises, and of His own performances. He pleads His death and blood-shedding, His forfeited life, His perfect righteousness. Look at Romans 8:34: "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." For who? For those who are loved of God and hated by the devil. For those who are ofttimes feelingly out of the way, and encompassed with infirmity. For those of us who know not what to pray for as we ought, and who experience groanings which cannot be uttered. These are the characters for whom the Lord Jesus Christ makes all-powerful and all-prevalent intercession. Look at that precious declaration in Hebrews 7:25: "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." To the uttermost of their sinning. To the uttermost of all their doubting. To the uttermost of all their ingratitude and forgetfulness.
Now look at 1 John 2:1: "My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin."--That just suits me. It is not "if any man believe." There are many hours in the day when I do not believe, and you may rest assured that I can never believe except the faith of the great and glorious Head is communicated to me by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is not "if any man repent," for sometimes we go whole days with hearts very hard, very cold, very indifferent. I think I hear some one saying, Are you so highly favored as that? No, my dear friend, I am not. I have to spend whole weeks and sometimes longer in the cold, and it is only when I am brought into the pulpit that I am blessed with a little warmth and bubbling up within. But mark. It is not "if any may pray." No, no. It is this: "If any man sin." Where does he sin? Some people talk of sin as though it is only to be found in the beer-shop, the gin-palace, or the theater. If you wish to know where sin is, you must go to the pew where sits a broken-hearted sinner, or to a pulpit where a Spirit-taught preacher stands. These persons see sin where others see beauty and obedience. Those who are taught of God, can see and feel in those things which are virtues according to the world's estimation, so many vices deserving God's eternal wrath. It is to such He manifests Himself as the God of all grace. To such John by the Holy Ghost says, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous." What do you think of such a glorious One as this? He knows that ofttimes you desire to open up your heart to the Father when deadness and barrenness are experienced. He says, "I will pray the Father" for you. It is a precious privilege to know that, at this very moment, the gift of the Father, His own dear Son, who descended to our doom, death, and damnation, bore it all away, made an end of sin, abolished death, entered heaven's highest glory, appears in the presence of God for all the given ones, and according to Proverbs 31:8, "Opens His mouth for the dumb, in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction." Are there any poor, dumb children here? There is One opening His mouth for you up yonder. He says here, "I will pray the Father." How does He pray? According to that precious 17th of John. Vastly different to the way in which we pray: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done." Jesus says, "I have" done everything that I held Myself responsible to do for My people, and now "I will that they be with Me where I am."
IV. THE SPIRIT'S PERSONALITY--"Another Comforter--the Spirit of truth." In connection with a vast amount of preaching in the present day, the question may be asked, Is there such a person as the Holy Ghost? In His person and work He is ignored on every hand. But the Lord Jesus Christ positively declared, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter." This Comforter is God the ever-blessed Spirit who was one with the Father and the Son before all worlds. He appeared in the work of creation according to Genesis 1:2: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Look at Psalm 33:6: "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made." That is God's Christ. "And all the host of them by the Breath of His mouth." That is the Holy Ghost. Turn to Isaiah 48:16. Here the Christ of God is speaking: "And now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent Me;" or, as it might be correctly rendered: "And now the Lord God hath sent Me and His Spirit." The Son was sent, and having accomplished the work the Father gave Him to do, He returned to His Father to render an account of the work done. See Psalm 68:18: "Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." The first gift bestowed was that of the Comforter at Pentecost. Christ, according to ancient prophecy, had comforted sad hearts in Zion. When He was about to be taken away, and the hearts of His disciples were filled with sorrow, He said, "I will send you another Comforter." Another Paraclete. Another Teacher. Another Guide. Another Conductor to eternal glory. Why did the Lord Jesus Christ send another Comforter? Because He knew how short-sighted and forgetful His people would be. Read verse 26: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." All things. What! do you know all things? Yes, all things necessary for me to know up to this moment of time. It is the blessed privilege of every child of God that the Holy Ghost, as the Witness of the covenant, holds Himself responsible to communicate to the waiting people of God all things necessary to their salvation, spiritual education, and safe conduct to glory. He is not only the Teacher, but the Remembrancer. That will do for some of us who have bad memories. Ofttimes we have heard the voice of the Beloved, and have been blessed with sweet instruction from His lips, so that our hearts have melted under a sweet sense of His love and kindness; but where are we now? Forgetful, and like leaky vessels. In purest love and sympathy with you, Jesus says: "He shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." The blessed Spirit will see to it that not a gracious word committed by the Father into the hands of Christ for His people before the worlds were framed, shall be void. Look again: (John 16:13) "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come."
With so blessed a revelation and apprehension of the personality and power of the Holy Ghost our hearts must of necessity be filled with joy. See Acts 9:31: "Then had the Churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." What is this comfort? Romans 5:5: "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Tell me, ye who know anything of the shedding abroad of this love in your hearts, has it not filled you with comfort unspeakable and consolations which you could never communicate to another? Turn to Romans 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Led in the footsteps of the suffering and glorified Head. See Matt. 4:1: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Have you been led there? Then after the temptation returning by the power of the same Spirit to declare what God has done graciously in you? What think you of verse 26?--"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Is it not a comfort for me to know that all acceptable prayer to the Father is by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost who creates desires for those blessings which God in covenant fore-designed to give. Read Galatians 4:6: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Who cries? Not you, but the Spirit of God's Son in you. Blessed Spirit, do Thou take of the things of Christ and with them comfort our hearts.
V. THE WORLD'S IGNORANCE AND ENMITY--"Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him." The world's enmity to the Spirit is manifest everywhere. In the old dispensation the world said of the Father: "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways." (Job 21:14) When Jesus came in the flesh, the world said of Him: "We will not have this Man to reign over us." In the dispensation of grace, the world and the professing Church ignore the Spirit. Christ came unto His own and His own received Him not; but seized Him, crucified Him, and shew Him. So now, the religious and irreligious world would crucify the Holy Ghost. Jesus conveyed this fact to His sorrowing disciples. "The world will seize upon Me and tear Me from you, but I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter whom the world cannot seize upon nor tear away from you." Why not? "Because it seeth Him not." He is a Spirit. "Neither knoweth Him." The time is gone, and I can only glance at--
VI. THE CHURCH'S KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE--"But ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." In you as your Counselor and Comforter, according to that precious verse--
"And Thou, eternal Spirit vast,
What love can Thine transcend?
Since Thou Thy lot with me hath cast,
Indwelling God and Friend."
God the Holy Ghost in the Church and with the Church. How long? For ever. Through grace to glory. In life directing. In death consoling. Throughout a long eternity.
May He add His blessing for Christ's sake. Amen.