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and save them, for they are thine. What a mighty plea is this ! Surely, christians, your Intercessor is skilful in his work, your Advocate wants no eloquence or ability to plead for you.
2. The second argument, and that a powerful one, treads, as I may say, upon the very heel of the former, in the next words, " And I am glorified in them:" My glory and honor are infinitely dear to thee; I know thy heart is entirely set upon the exalting and glorifying of thy Son. Now, what glory have I in the world, but what comes from my people ? Others neither can nor will glorify me; nay, I am daily blasphemed and dishonored by them: these are they from whom my glory and praise in the world must rise. Should these then wander and perish, where shall my glory be? and from whom shall I expect it? So that here his property and glory are pleaded with the Father, to prevail for those mercies; and what is dearer, what nearer to the heart of God?
3. And yet to make all fast and sure, he adds a third argument, " And now I am no more in the world :" that is, as to his corporeal presence ; this, which had been a sweet spring of comfort to them in all their troubles, was, in a little time, to be removed. It might now hare been said to the pensive disciples, as the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, a little before Elijah's translation, "Know ye not that your Master shall be taken from your head to-day ?” This comfortable enjoyment must be taken from them. And here lies the argument; Father, consider the sadness and trouble in which I leave my poor children. Whilst I was with them, I was a sweet relief to their souls, whatever troubles they met with; in all doubts, fears, and dangers, they could repair to me; and in their straits and wants I still supplied them: they had my counsels to direct them, my reproofs to restore them, and my comforts to support them; yea, the very sight of me was an unspeakable joy and refreshment to their souls; but now the hour is come, and I must be gone. All the comfort and bene. fit they had from my presence among them is cut off: and, except thou make up all this to them another way, what will become of these children when their Father is gone? what will be the case of the poor sheep and tender lambs when the Shepherd is smitten?
4. And further, to move and engage the Father's care and love for them, he subjoins another great consideration, drawn from the danger in which he leaves them: " But these are in the world.” The world is a sinful, infecting, and unquiet place; it lies in wickedness: and a hard thing it will be for such poor, weak, imperfect creatures to escape the pollutions of it; or, if they do, yet the troubles, persecutions, and strong opposition of it they cannot escape. Seeing therefore I must leave them in the midst of a sinful, troublesome, and dangerous world, where they can neither move backward nor forward without danger of sin or ruin ; Oh, provide for them, and take special care for them all. Consider who they are, and where I leave them. They are thy children, to be left in a strange country ; thy soldiers, in the enemies' quarters ; thy sheep, in the midst of wolves ; thy precious treasure, among thieves.
5. And yet he has not done, for he adds another argument, " And I come to thee.” As his leaving them was an argument, so his coming to the Father is also a mighty argument. There is much in these words, "I come to thee.” I thy beloved Son, in whom thy soul delighteth ; I to whom thou never deniedst any thing. I am now coming to thee, my Father. I come treading every step of my way to thee in blood and unspeakable sufferings; and all this for the sake of those dear ones I now pray for; yea, the design and end of my coming to thee is for them. I am coming to heaven in the ca
pacity of an advocate, to plead with thee for them. And I come to my Father, and their Father; my God, and their God. Now then, since I come to thee through such bitter pangs; and all this on their account; since I do but now, as it were, begin that intercession-work, which I shall live for ever to perform for them in heaven; Father, hear, Father, grant what I request.
6. And, to close all, he tells the Father how careful he had been to observe and perform that trust which was committed to him; " While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” Thou didst commit them to me to be redeemed; I undertook the trust, and said, If any of them be lost, at my hand let them be required. In pursuance of which trust, I am now here on the earth, in a body of flesh. I have been faithful in every point. I have redeemed them, (for he speaks of that as finished and done, which was now ready to be done,) I have kept them hitherto; and now, Father, I commit them to thy care. Lo, here they are, not one is lost but the son of perdition, who was never given. With how great care have I cared for them! Oh let them not fail now; let not one of them perish. Thus you see what a nervous, argumentative, pleading prayer Christ poured out to the Father for them at parting.
III. The next inquiry is, why he thus prayed and plead with God for them when he was to die? And certainly it was not because the Father was unwilling to grant the mercies he desired for them ; for he tells us, " The Father himself loveth you," John, 16:27, that is, he is inclined enough of his own accord to do you good. But the reasons of this exceeding importunity we may suppose to have been,
1. He foresaw a great trial then at hand ; yea, and all the after-trials of his people as well as that. He knew how much they would be sifted and straitened in that hour and power of darkness. He knew their faith would be shaken and greatly staggered by the approaching difficulties, when they should see their Shepherd smitten, and themselves scattered, the Son of man delivered into the hands of sinners, and the Lord of life hang dead upon the cross, yea, sealed up in the grave. He foresaw into what straits his poor people would fall, between a busy tempter and an unbelieving heart; therefore he prays and pleads with such importunity for them, that they might not fail.
2. He was now entering upon his intercession-work in heaven, and he was desirous in this prayer to give us a specimen of that part of his work before he left us; that by this we might understand what he would do for us when he should be out of sight. For this being his last prayer on earth, it shows us what affections and dispositions he carried hence with him, and satisfies us, that he who was so earnest with God on our behalf, such a mighty pleader here, will not forget us, or neglect our concerns in the other world. Yet, reader, I would have thee always remember that the intercession of Christ in heaven is carried much higher than this; it is performed in a way more suitable to that stale of honor to which he is now exalted. Here he used prostrations of body, cries and tears in his prayers: there, his intercession is carried in a more majestic way, becoming an exalted Saviour. But yet in this he hath left us a special assistance, to show the temper and working of his heart now in heaven towards us.
3. And lastly, he would leave this as a standing monument of his care and love for his people to the end of the world. And for this it is conceived Christ delivered this prayer so publicly, not withdrawing from the disciples to be private with God, as he did in the garden; but in their presence. And not only was it publicly delivered, but it was also, by a singular providence, recorded at large by John, though omitted by the other evangelists; that so it might stand to all generations.
IV. If you ask how this gives evidence of Christ's tender care and love to his people? I answer, it appears in these two particulars.
1. His love and care were manifested in the choice of mercies for them. He doth not pray for health, honor, long life, riches; but for their preservation from sin, spiritual joy in God, sanctification, and eternal glory. No mercies but the very best in God's treasury does he ask for his people; the rest he is content should be dispensed promiscuously by Providence; but these he will settle as a heritage upon his children. Oh see the love of Christ ! look over all your spiritual inheritance in Christ, compare it with the richest, fairest, largest inheritance on earth; and see what poor things these are to yours. Oh the care of a dear Father! Oh the love of a tender Saviour!
2. Besides, what an evidence of his tenderness to you, and great care for you, was it, that he should so intently and so affectionately seek, and plead your concerns with God at such a time, even when a world of sorrow encompassed him on every side; a cup of wrath mixed, and ready to be put into his hand: at that very time when the clouds of wrath grew black, a storm was coming, and such as he never felt before; when one would have thought all his care, thoughts, and diligence should have been employed on his own account, his own sufferings. No, he doth, as it were, forget his own sorrows for our peace and comfort.
love unspeakable !
INFERENCE 1. Did Christ so eminently show his care and love for his people in this his parting hour; then he will keep them to the end. Do you hear how he pleads, how he fills his mouth with arguments, how he