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different. Piety and virtue, the fear of God and the rewards of heaven, which the one value and make it their chief object to obtain, the others despise. Riches, power, fame, greatness, which men of the world wor. ship as their God, hold but an inferior and secondary place in the estimation of the Christian. He will never depart from the principles of integrity, honour and benevolence, for any or all of these objects: but these principles are little regarded by the others. The conduct of the Christian is therefore a silent reproach to the character of the worldly minded man, and he must not be surprised if he be regarded with no small degree of ill will on this account; if his virtues be undervalued, and his actions attributed to sinister motives.
More especially may they expect this kind of treatment who openly profess the pure doctrines of Christ· ianity, in opposition to its corruptions. Men of a proud and haughty spirit cannot bear to be told that they are in an error. If their opinion be discovered to be unfounded, they shall lose their consequence : on this account, every thing that threatens to overturn them is regarded with alarm, and that alarm receives additional interest if their opinions are connected with worldly emoluments. From men thus circumstanced there is no act of hatred or violence too great to be apprehended. But let not the friends of virtue and truth be discouraged hereby; they suffer nothing but what their master suffered before them; nothing but what might naturally be expected to arise from the character and employments by which they are distinguished. Let them rather rejoice in the opposition and ill treatment which they experience, as a proof that they are the genuine disciples of a crucified master, and that they do not belong to the world. Milder treatment and less opposition would afford ground to suspect that they belonged not to Christ.
2. We see that ignorance, where it is voluntary, is no excuse for the errors or vices which are the consequences of it. The Jews hated and rejected Christ, because they knew not the Father. But this was no cloak for their sin; they might have known him, from the miracles performed by him and the evidence produced before their eyes, if they had not shut them against the light. Their ignorance in such circumstance was their crime, and no light crime either : it deserved severe punishment. Let us be careful that we do not hastily reject that which advances a claim to be regarded as important truth. For such conduct we shall be tried and condemned on some future day. We shall not then be asked what we actually knew, but what we might have known with the evidence which we enjoyed; and, if our knowledge has not corresponded with our advantages, we shall be cons demned like the Jews. Let us, therefore, carefully examine for ourselves, and not trust to the representations of others; for we are answerable for our errors as well as our crimes.
John xvi. 1-15. Christ had been preparing the minds of his disciples for his departure; by suggesting to them various topics of consolation, which are recorded in the two preceding chapters. He now informs them more plainly of the violence of the persecutions to which they would be exposed, and of his having used the preceding language in order to fortify their minds, and to prevent them from apostatizing from the faith, in consequence of the severity of their sufferings.
1. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye might not be offended.
To be offended, in the language of the New Testament, signifies to apostatize from the Christian faith. Compare Mark iv. 17. with Luke viii. 13. This consequence Jesus apprehended from the sufferings to which his disciples would be exposed after his
departure, and therefore delivered the preceding considerations, to console their minds and support their faith.
2. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth God service.
To be forbidden the synagogue, was a severe punishment, because it declared the person upon whom it was inflicted unworthy of the society of virtuous and religious men. The dread of this punishment had prevented many already from declaring their faith in Jesus, and might induce the apostles themselves to abandon their Christian profession, if they were not well grounded in the faith. This punishment, how. ever, would be far from satisfying the zeal and ani. mosity of their countrymen. To kill them, would be deemed offering a religious service to God. The original words are the same as are applied to the Jewish sacrifices, and intimate that killing a Christian would be supposed as acceptable to God as offering a sacrifice. An example of the fulfilment of the latter part of this prediction you will have in Acts xxiii. 13, 14, where more than forty Jews bind themselves with a curse not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
3. And these things will they do . unto you, because they have not known the Father nor me.
The Jews were acquainted with God, so far as to know that he was the only true God; but they had not just views of his designs respecting the Messiah, nor did they acknowledge the pretensions of Jesus to that character. .
4. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come
ye may remember that I told you of them.
I have forewarned you of the treatment you are to receive, that when you experience it you may not think I have endeavoured to deceive you, by giving you false expectations, and so be induced to reject my religion.
And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you:
I said not these things to you in the beginning of my ministry, because the whole weight of the popular odium fell upon me, and you had then nothing to apprehend; but, as you are henceforth to be the sole supporters and advocates of this cause, it will own fall upon you, and it was for this reason proper that I should warn you of what awaits you.
5. But now I go my way to him that sent me.
These words ought to be joined to the preceding verse, and contain the reason why the disciples were to expect ill treatment, and why Jesus prepared them for it.
And none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
Peter had said to him, a short time before, when he talked of his departure from them, (xiii. 36.) Master, whither goest thou? and what Thomas had said, (xiv. 5.) Master, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way? amounted nearly to the same question. What Christ, therefore, means to complain of is that they did not put this question to him at this time, while he was speaking to them, but suffered themselves to be overwhelmed with grief at the prospect of his departure and their consequent
to expect contain the reabe joined to
sufferings : whereas, had they inquired whither he was going, he would have given them such an answer as would have relieved their sorrow.
6. But, because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
7. But I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you, " it is better for you,” that I go away; for if I go not away, the advocate will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him to you. ..
The apostles were filled with sorrow at the prospect of losing their master, and could not conceive how such a calamitous event could be conducive to their welfare; but Jesus solemnly assures them that it would be so, and informis them by what means. In consequence of complying with the will of God, by laying down his life, he should, when raised from the dead, and ascended on high, be honoured with the privilege of bestowing upon them the advocate, or, which is the same thing, extraordinary miraculous powers, which would be the highest honour and benefit to those upon whom they were conferred, giving them the greatest distinction among men, and enabling them to propagate his religion in the world. This would more than compensate for the absence of himself. He next mentions some of the effects which would be produced by this advocate in his personal character.
8. And when he is come, be will reprove, or, “ he will convince," the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: