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warn His disciples. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended; that when they take place, they may not prove a stumbling block, or a cause of offence to you, in consequence of their coming upon you unexpectedly; but that you may be prepared to meet them. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. Such was the treatment which the Apostles of Christ were to meet with from their own countrymen, in the first instance. They had witnessed the circumstance of a man who had been born blind, whom He had restored to sight, having been cast out of the synagogue, for simply declaring that He who had wrought this surprising miracle, and conferred so great a benefit upon him, was a Prophet.73 And here He warned them that their testimony concerning Him would meet with a similar reception; it would expose them to reproach, to excommunication, to death. And this the subsequent history, contained in the Acts of the Apostles, shows us actually took place. As St. Stephen asked the Jewish council, Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: So it might afterwards have been asked, Which of
73 John ix. 17, 34.
74 Acts vii. 52.
the Apostles of Christ was not persecuted and slain by the Jews or the Gentiles, to whom they went preaching peace by Jesus Christ,75 and calling them to behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world?76 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord, and against His Christ;" to root out and destroy His holy religion, and those who maintained it, from the face of the earth. James, the brother of John, who had asked to be placed at the right hand of Christ in His kingdom, was the first of the Apostles who suffered for His name's sake; and ecclesiastical history reports that all the Apostles were put to death, except John, who died the last of them, at an extreme old age; but he had suffered banishment, and other persecution. The people who put these men to death, these benefactors of mankind, of whom the world was not worthy, really imagined that they were doing God service; that they were removing out of the world wretches who were not fit to live in it.
The reason why the people of the world would treat the Apostles of Christ in this manner is next stated. These things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me. Those who acted in this manner towards the
75 Acts x. 36. 76 John i. 29. 77 Acts v. 26. 78 Hebrews xi. 38.
Apostles of Christ did so from ignorance of God. They knew Him not in His paternal character; they knew Him not as their reconciled Father. They knew not Christ as the Redeemer of mankind, or as the One Mediator between God and men,79 through whom they might draw nigh with acceptance into the presence of the Lord God Almighty.
Our Saviour gives the reason why He admonished His disciples on this subject. These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them; and may not be surprised at meeting with such treatment from an ungodly world. It is most painful to the mind of the child of God, who drinks into the spirit of his heavenly Father, to find that he is the object of reproach, and opposition, and persecution, for his attachment to the cause of Christ; and for the exertions which he makes use of to promote that cause, in order to the benefit and salvation of his fellow-creatures; from gratitude for the goodness and mercy which have been manifested to his own soul. But as the people of the world,-both the professors of religion, who exclaimed, We be Abraham's seed,80 We are Moses' disciples, We have one Father, even God,80-and the irreligious, who had not the fear of God before their eyes, with one con
79 1 Timothy ii. 5.
80 John viii. 33, 41. 81 John x. 28.
sent hated Christ without a cause; He desired His disciples to remember the word that He said unto them, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep your's also. If they had known Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory,83 and exposed themselves to His vengeance for their wickedness. And if the real characters of the children of God were known to the people of the world, instead of seeking to revile and injure them, they would rather say to them, We will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you of a truth. But He, who knew the hearts of all men, told His disciples that they were not to expect worldly honour; but would meet with the contempt, and opposition, and persecution of the world, for their attachment to Him and His cause. And this, in order that they might set their affection on things above, and not on things on the earth; that they might look for a recompense at the resurrection of the just; and not seek to have their portion in this life, in the enjoyment of the perishing things of this present evil world.
In the words of the text, our Saviour directed His disciples where to look for real happiness, and showed them where it was to be found;
82 John xv. 25, 20. 831 Cor.ii. 8. 84 Zech. viii. 23. 85 Psalm xvii. 14.
even in the testimony which the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, would bear to their consciences respecting Him; by means of which they would be enabled to rejoice in the God of heaven as their Father, reconciled to them, and at peace with them, through His beloved Son. 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. Let us consider
First, The titles here given to the Holy Ghost. Secondly, The object of His testimony to the hearts and consciences of the children of men to whom He comes; and
Thirdly, The end to be attained by means of it.
The first of these titles is, the Comforter. When our Saviour first spoke of the Holy Ghost to His disciples under this name, He called Him another Comforter.86 While He Himself was with His disciples, He was their Comforter, to whom they could resort in every time of need, and make known all their troubles; and obtain counsel from Him. The Holy Spirit was to supply His place in this respect; so that they were to seek His gracious influences to rest upon them, that thus they might enjoy consolation under all the trials which they would be
86 John xiv. 16.