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§ 277. Promise of the Holy Ghost.—Concluding Words of Comfort to the Disciples. (John, xvi., 7-33.

But he further promises743743   Cf. p. 396, 397. that in all their conflicts they shall have the Holy Ghost for a helper.744744   Cf. p. 117, on the two-fold relation of the disciples, (1.) As individual witnesses of Christ’s ministry; (2.) As organs of the spirit, like believers in general. The Holy Ghost was to accomplish, through them, all things necessary for the spread of the Divine kingdom. The 401process he states as follows: The Holy Ghost will convince the world of sin, and show that unbelief is the ground of sin; and further, will convince the world that Christ did not die as a sinner, but, as the Holy One, ascended to his Father in heaven, most perfectly manifesting His righteousness in his death, and in the exaltation to God which followed it; indeed, all that are convinced of sin will recognize him as the Holy One, and the source of all holiness in men. So he will gradually convince the world of judgment; that Satan, so long ruler of the world, has been judged; that evil has lost its sway, and therefore can cause no fear to such as hold communion with Christ. These, then, are the three great elements of the process: the consciousness of sin; of the righteousness of Christ, the Redeemer from sin; of the impotency of evil (judgment) in opposition to the kingdom of God. And to be conscious of sin; to know Christ as the Holy Redeemer; and the kingdom of God as the conqueror of evil, which shall finally subdue all things to itself: this is the whole essence of Christianity.

Christ had many things to say of his doctrine which the disciples were not then in a condition to understand. But he was just about to leave them; and therefore he pointed them to the Spirit of Truth, which was to unfold all the truth he had proclaimed. It was not to announce any new doctrine; but to open the truth of his doctrine; to glorify Him (v. 14) in them, by developing the full sense of what He had taught them. Again he passes from the giving of the Holy Ghost to his own communion with them; repeating what he had before said: “A little while, and ye shall not see me, and again a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father” (inasmuch as his “going to the Father” was to be the ground of the new spiritual communion).745745   But the promise certainly contains an allusion to his resurrection, inasmuch as his reappearance was to the disciples the point of transition to the state of new spiritual communion. And, again, some of them expressed the surprise of their contracted minds at his words (v. 17). Jesus, seeing their uncertainty, developed the thought still further. He told them they should be sorrowful for a season, but their sorrow would be turned into permanent joy. Their transient pains, like those of a woman in travail, would be the birth-throes of a new creation within them. “And ye now, therefore, have sorrow; but 1 will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing;” they would no more need his sensible presence to ask of him as they had been wont. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name (in conscious communion through Christ’s mediation), he will give it you.” (The Father would reveal all things needful to them through Christ’s mediation; clearing up all obscurities, and supplying the place of his corporeal presence.) 402Up to that time (v. 24), not having yet obtained confidence of communion with the Father through Christ, they had asked nothing of Him; but then they should ask, and receive, that their joy might be full. Then, too, would Christ no more speak unto them in figures or parables, but would openly unveil all he had to say to them of the Father. “But,” says he, “I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you;” in their conscious communion with Him they would be sure of the Father’s love, and in His name would address them selves directly to the Father.

At last a ray of light beamed into the souls of the disciples. They felt the impression of the high things which Christ, in confident Divinity, had just announced to them. Yet, as their language shows746746   It appears clear from v. 29, 30 that they understood the phrase, “Ye shall ask me nothing,” in a sense different from that which he intended. It may readily be imagined that John’s subsequent better comprehension of Christ’s meaning caused this misapprehension to appear remarkable, and served to impress it the more upon his memory. that they did not fully understand him, it was rather a feeling than a clearly developed consciousness. Christ cautioned them against trusting it too far; that the hour was at hand when a faith of this kind would give way to a powerful impression of another nature; that they should be scattered, and leave him alone: “Yet not alone,” said he, “because the Father is with me.”

The aim of the whole discourse had been to impart to the minds of the disciples a spring of Divine comfort amid their struggles with a hostile world for the advancement of the kingdom of God. He closed it with a few words of farewell, embracing its whole scope: “These things have I spoken to you, that in (communion with) me ye might have peace.747747   Inward peace; Divine calmness amid the struggle with the world. In the world ye shall have tribulations; be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”748748   The relation is two-fold: (1) The inward life in communion with Christ, who has over come the Power of Evil, and gives his own to share in his victory; (2) The outward life in contact with the world, possibly harming, indeed, the outward man, but incapable of subduing, or disturbing the peace of, the inner man, rooted in Christ’s fellowship.

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