« PreviousContinue »
JOHN xvii. 24.
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.
a of God; but though all be good, there is none better than this. Love the text, and love, above all, the blessed first speaker of it; and you will be the fitter to profit by what you hear spoken in his name from it.
The best of all sermons, in chap. xiv, xv, xvi. is concluded with the best of all prayers in this chap. xvii. In this prayer, properly the Lord's prayer, (for that in Matth. vi. 9. is rather the pattern given for our praying, than the Lord's prayer), there are but few petitions, but they are all great ones. He prays, 1. For himself and his own glory, ver. 1, to 6. 2. Then for his people, to the end of this chapter. This ver. 24. contains his last petition for them. And passing the compellation Father, five times used in this prayer, thrice singly, as in ver. 1, 5, and 24. twice with an addition, Holy Father, ver. 11. Righieous Father, ver. 25. I take up two things in this petition.
I. The manner of our Lord's asking, I will; a singular way of praying.
II. The matter of Christ's prayer. And in it are four things. 1. The party he prays for; they whom thou hast given me. Only Jesus Christ could pray thus for the elect, as elect.
2. The blessing he prays for to them : that they may be with me where I am. Where was Christ when he said this ? Ho was going to the garden, to his agony, to be taken that night, and to be crucified next morning, and laid in his grave the next evening. But here our Lord is praying as one in heaven. See ver. 11, 12. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name. And he prays to have his people with him in heaven. Ile loved them so well, that he came to the world where they were; he loved them so well, that he endured what they deserved : and here he expresseth his love in desiring that they way be with him where he is. Christ and his people must be together.
3. In the matter of this prayer of Christ, we have the end why Christ prays for this blessing to them; that they may beholl my glory which thou hast given me. Why would Christ liave his people with him where he is ? That they may behold his glory. Are they to receive no glory of their own? Yes, a great deal, surely; yea, they have got some already, verse 22. The glory which thou gavest me (to give), I have given them; and a great deal more they are to receive in heaven : but it stands in, and is advanced by their b holding of Christ's glory. Had they. not beheld Christ's glory before ? John i. 14. We 'beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, 2 Cor. iii. 18. We all with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord. Isaiah, chap. vi. saw his glory, and spake of him, John xii. 41. Why then doth our Lord speak of the necessity of his people's being with him where he is, that they might behold his glory, since he can manifest his glory, and they by grace can behold it, even when they are where they are, and not yet where he is? The reason is tliis, Because believers now, though by faith they can see something of Christ's glory, yet it is but a viry little they do, or can see. The light is snia!!, and their eye but weak; but in that day that our Lord prays for, the discoveries of his glory will be greater, and the seeing eye of the glorified -will be stronger, than now we can conceive.
4. In the matter of this prayer, we have the arcament on which our Lord prays for this blessing to his people : For theu lovedst me before the foundation of the world. You know, that this phrase, before the foundation of the world, is an usual scripture-word for eternity: for the foundation of the world and time began together; creatures and time began together. Time is properly the measure of the duration of a creature; but God inhabiteth eternity, Isa. lvii. 15. Creatures dwell or sojourn in time. So that this argument of our Lord's is, For thou lovedst me from eternity. And it hath a mighty force in it. If our Lord had said, “ I pray that they may be with “ me where I am, for thou dovedst them before the foundation of “ the world :” he had spoke what he had oft told them, for they were given to Christ in love. But the argument is stronger, as Christ expresseth it. For thou lovedst me.
. - I love them, “and would have them where I am; they love me, and " would be with me where I am; thou lovest them, and wilt « have them where I am." But here is one argument wore, For thicu lovedst me. Jesus Christ the Son of God, as indiuste ! with the office of a Saviour, and charged with the chosen, was, and is the object of the Father's eternal delight and love; and on this love the salvation of all the elect stands more Sim than the pillars of heaven or earth..
So much for the words of this verse. And fion this little glance I have given you of them, you may plainly perceive, that here is a rich and deep mime, better than of gold that perisheth. The Lord help us to dig and find treasure, and to be enriched by it.
HEAD I. To begin with the first thing in the text, the manner of Christ's praying here, I will: a singular mannur: About it I would premise three things
1. This is a way manner of praying, that we never read the like of it used by any saint in the word. Some of chem have been very familiar with God, and the Lord hath encouraged them much by his condescendence to them ; yet nothing of this I will is to be heard or read ot in their prayers. I will is too high for a supplicant at Goa's foors:vol. Abraham was a great intimate with Cod, the first believer honoured with the noble name of the friend of God; yet this great friend, when pleading for Sodom, Gen. xvisi, with what deep humility is his confidence mixed ? Again, when pleading for Ishmael, Gen. xvii. 18. he saith, O that, Ishmael might live in thy sight! Nothing like this I will. Abraham's grandson Jacob came a little nearer to this, Gen. xxxiį. 26. Let me go, (saith the angel), for the day breaketh; Jacob answers, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me; “Give me thy blessing, and “ go when thou wilt.” When he had got the blessing, he got an halting thigh, and a humbled heart whilst he lived, as he hints in Gen. xxxii. 30. I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. Not a word or thought of this, “ I have
seen God face to face, I have wrestled with him hand to “ hand, and I have prevailed.” No; he rather wonders that he got alive out of God's hands. Right Jacobs, true Israels, in and on their greatest prevailings with God, and blessings from him, are lowly, humble believers, yea, humbled by God's advancing of them. Moses, that great wrestler with God for Israel, though he expressed a holy resolvedness, yet nothing appears like this I will. Exod. xxxii. 10. Let me alone, (saith the Lord), that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consunie them. It is strange, that one man should as it were hold the Lord's hands, that one man's faith should stop the execution of a just sentence against a sinful people. Surely you may conclude, that the Lord is easy to be entreated. Again, in Exod. xxxiii. 15. Moses said, If thy presence go not with me (or us), carry us not up hence. It is as good for us to die here, as to go any whither without thy presence. The wilderness, though waste and howling; and Canaan, though the glory of all lands, are alike to Moses without God's presence. Again, in Numb. xiv. 12. Moses hath a great offer from the Lord : I will destroy this prople, and make of thee a greater nation, and mightier than they. Moses, in his zeal to God's glory, refuseth this proffer, and pleads still, and prevails; yet never I will is in all his importunity. No believer ever did, of ought to speak so to God; they should all ask according to his will, and forget and deny their own will. Yet Christ did say, I will, and might well say so.
2. This I will is not in a promise to us, but in a prayer to his Father. When the Lord promiseth to do, or give good to his people, it is very becoming to use this style, I will do, or give, or be so and so to my people. And it is this I will in a promise that faith fixeth on; as Jacob did, Gen. xxxii. 12. Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good. But our Lord is here praying ; though I own that there is a great promise implied in it, as we shall hear.
3. There is nothing like this in all the account we have of Christ's prayers at other times, and other occasions. We find, that our blessed Saviour was much given to prayer alone. Bless him for it, and love secret prayer the better, that he used it himself, and thereby hallowed it to our use. How our Lord spent those nights in the mountain in prayer, and what he prayed for, and how, we cannot tell, except by that in Heb. v. 7. There are prayers and supplications offered up, with strong crying and tears. Believers, you, sometimes when your hearts are full, want to be far from all company, that you may pour out your complaint to the Lord. Blessed Jesus did so in the days of his flesh, and filled the silent night with his crying; and watered the cold earth with his tears, more precious than the dew of Hermon, or any moisture (next to his blood) that ever fell on God's earth since the creation. Never were such sinless and precious tears in God's bottle, Psal. lvi. 8. Let yours drop, believers, and mix in the same bottle with his; and on this account sow them in hope, and you shall reap in joy, Psal. cxxvi. 5. But for Christ's prayers recorded in the gospel, we find our Lord prayed very humbly, though confidently. When he prays in his agony, not a word of I will; but, Abba, let this cup pass from me, if thou wilt ; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. Christians, behold the amazing difference betwixt Christ's way of praying against his own hell, (so I may call it), and his praying for our heaven. When praying for himself, it is, Father, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me. And no wonder ; for every drop in that cup, was wrath, and curse, and death. One drop of it is everlasting poison to all that taste it, but to Jesus the Prince of life. This cup he drank cheerfully; John xviii. 11. The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? But when Christ is praying for his people's heaven, it is, Fa