John 16:7
But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
Sermons
Absent in the Body, Present by the SpiritD. Young John 16:7
Christ Going AwayA. Maclaren, D. D.John 16:7
Christ in Heaven Better than Christ on EarthT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 16:7
Christ More Useful Within the VeilJohn 16:7
Christ's Ascension the Church's GainJohn Crofts.John 16:7
Christ's Departure and Paul's AbidingA. Maclaren, D. D.John 16:7
Christ's Going Away Our GainArchdeacon Manning.John 16:7
Death the InterpreterLyman Abbott, D. D.John 16:7
ExpediencyP. B. Power, M. A.John 16:7
Expediency of Christ's DepartureB. Thomas John 16:7
Expediency of the AscensionCanon Liddon.John 16:7
Expedient AbsenceT. Manton.John 16:7
Gain in the Saviour's LossA. K. H. Boyd, D. D.John 16:7
Jesus InvisibleA. Vinet, D. D.John 16:7
Of the Sending of the Holy GhostBp. Andrewes.John 16:7
Our Lord's Ascension the Church's GainCannon Liddon.John 16:7
Second Sermon for Fourth Sunday After EasterSusannah Winkworth John 16:7
Self-HelpCharles KingsleyJohn 16:7
Sermon for the Fourth Sunday After EasterSusannah Winkworth John 16:7
The Absenteeism of ChristJ. Forfar.John 16:7
The Advantages of Christ's DepartureJ.R. Thomson John 16:7
The Departed ChristH. W. Beecher.John 16:7
The Departing Christ and the Coming SpiritAlexander MaclarenJohn 16:7
The Departure of ChristH. B. Robinson.John 16:7
The Expediency of Christ's AbsenceWeekly PulpitJohn 16:7
The Gift of PentecostBp. S. Wilberforce.John 16:7
The Greatest Trials Leading to the Greatest BlessingsD. Thomas, D. D.John 16:7
The Ministry of the ComforterJ. Parker, D. D.John 16:7
The ParacleteT. Hamilton, D. D.John 16:7
The Preference Due to the Holy SpiritJ. Bennett, D. D.John 16:7
The Spirit not Striving AlwaysCharles G. Finney John 16:7
The Superlative Excellence of the Holy SpiritC. H. Spurgeon.John 16:7
The Work of the Holy SpiritG. W. Brown.John 16:7
We Need not Lament Christ's Departure into HeavenH. W. Beecher.John 16:7
The world enjoyed many benefits by reason of Christ's presence: he healed the sick, and taught the ignorant, and was a kind, wise, and faithful Friend to all men. How much more were the disciples of Jesus indebted to that presence! His intimate friends owed their all, their very selves, to him, and could not look forward to losing him without dismay.

"My Savior, can it ever be,
That I should gain by losing thee?" Yet our Lord taught that it was really for his people's good that he should leave them, and the experience of the Christian centuries has proved the wisdom of his teaching.

I. THE DISPENSATION OF PERSONAL PRESENCE WAS THUS SUCCEEDED BY THE DISPENSATION OF SPIRITUAL POWER. The ascension of Christ was the occasion of the descent of the Comforter. The Holy Spirit was indeed no stranger to our humanity even before our Lord's coming, but his influences were to be more widely diffused and more powerfully active than in the earlier ages. Why the coming of the Spirit was made, in the wise counsels of God, dependent upon the departure of Jesus, we can only partially understand. But the events of Pentecost are matter of Scripture history. The records of this dispensation reform us how the Spirit has convinced the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment. The Church has never, since our Lord's ascension, ceased to enjoy the enlightening, quickening, sanctifying influences of its Comforter.

II. THE LIFE OF SIGHT WAS THUS REPLACED BY THE HIGHER LIFE OF FAITH. It was necessary that the Son of God and the Savior of mankind should dwell upon earth, and, by the deeds of his ministry and his death of Sacrifice, reveal God to his sinful children, and furnish a basis for the spiritual life of humanity. A revealed Object of faith was thus provided. But when the manifestation was complete, it was withdrawn. The special excellence of the Christian religion lies here: it is a religion which calls for, justifies, and encourages faith - faith in an unseen, but mighty, ever-present, and ever-gracious Redeemer and Lord. "In him, though now we see him not, yet believing we rejoice."

III. CHRISTIANITY WAS THUS MADE NO LOCAL RELIGION, BUT A RELIGION FOR HUMANITY. So far as we can see, the bodily presence of Jesus upon earth could not but limit his reign; it could not well, in such case, be other than partial, local, national. But the purposes of the Eternal were comprehensive in benevolence. It was designed that "all the ends of the earth should see the salvation of our God." The going away of Jesus assured to the new humanity a Divine and heavenly Head. By his Spirit the ascended and glorified Lord is equally present in every part of his dominions. Thus all local limitations are transcended, and provision is made for the extension to all mankind of the blessings of our Savior's spiritual presence, authority, and grace.

IV. THE HOPE OF CHRISTIANS IS THUS BEHOVED FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN. If Jesus were still on earth, who would not be content to live and loath to die? What prospect would have reconciled his friends to death? But our Divine Friend has gone on before us, and we can only join him upon the condition of the taking down of this perishable tent in which we dwell. It is the prospect of going to him who has gone away from earth which lends brightness to the Christian's future. His prayer has secured that, where he is, there also his friends and disciples shall be. Accordingly an apostle could speak of removing hence as being "with Christ, which is far better." And there is no prospect so dear to the Christian's heart as that of ever being with the Lord. - T.







It is expedient for you that I go away.
1. The words must have been very startling to the apostles. They had doubtless come to consider the personal presence of Christ indispensable. He was the principle of cohesion among them, and His departure would be the signal for the dissolution of the brotherhood. He, moreover, gave them what influence they possessed in the nation; for without Him they were but a band of ignorant fishermen.

2. Now if these words were true in the case of the apostles, they are true for all time. The absenteeism of Christ is a help rather than a hindrance to the religious life.

I. It is, of course, true that THE DEATH OF ANY GOOD MAN IS SO FAR A LOSS TO THE WORLD. It is the withdrawal of a beneficent influence. How grand, then, it would have been, to have had Him, the world's greatest blessing, making one everlasting pilgrimage round the globe. But —

1. Such perpetual residence here would have limited His moral influence. No man is understood till he is dead. Absence is the condition of correct insight. Presence either blinds us to greatness, or produces flattery, or that familiarity which begets indifference. It is to be feared that, had Christ remained for ever on the earth, the blindness of the Jews who saw no beauty in Him to make Him desired, would have been repeated by each succeeding generation. We labour under an incapacity for seeing a hero in the man whose hand we can shake. The fault, no doubt, lies in us who live so much in our senses, and look only on the surface of the life. That the valet cannot see a hero in his master is more likely to be due to the valet's blindness than to the master's defects. We might have gained in physical happiness from Christ's perpetual presence, but that would have been but a poor compensation for the loss of reverence, and the inspiring lift our whole nature has received from the ascended and invisible Christ. Why, the physical boon itself would have been but parochial and temporary. And thereon would have arisen dissatisfactions and jealousies.

2. Christ's perpetual residence here would have been against the growth of the religious life. Instead of living for Christ and God in our hearts, we should have lived for them only in our senses. We should never have hungered for the hour of religious meditation, but rather have complained that He had long delayed to appear in our streets. Newspapers would have been searched to learn His whereabouts; shiploads of the stricken would have travelled the deep, and longed impatiently for the port of their destination; and the rest would have lived on in the restless hope that He would pass their way before they died. Who would have thought of submitting with obedient heart to the afflictions of Providence, of seeking out their Divine purpose when one word from Christ would remove them all at once? Would men ever think of spiritual fellowship with Christ when physical fellowship might be had? Is it not far better that, instead of being the monopoly of a favoured few, He should be ever near to all who call upon Him; that, instead of gazing on Him as a man without, we should feel Him in the background of our hearts?

3. Had Christ dwelt for ever on the earth the good and the bad would have had equal experience and perception of Him. His absence from the earth was indispensable to His manifesting Himself to His people in another way than He could unto the world.

4. Christ's perpetual residence here would have made impossible the expected distribution of His spirit in the hearts and lives of men, and through all the political, moral, and social organizations of the globe.

II. You will see the expediency of Christ's departure from the earth, if you consider that HIS CONTINUED RESIDENCE HERE WOULD HAVE SECURED US NO ADDITIONAL BLESSING, except, indeed, relief from physical ills; and, if you admit that these are productive of moral good, and work in us a recompensing glory, it is questionable if their arbitrary removal would have been an unmixed blessing. All the good Christ could do for the world might be summed up under these points: —

1. In His sacrificing Himself for sin. And here it will be obvious that the satisfactoriness of His death could in but a small measure depend upon any condition of time. As soon as the hour had struck when He would be accepted as our Substitute, it would have availed nothing to have deferred the hour of His triumphal return to God.

2. In impressing on the world's imagination an ideal of saintliness and nobleness of character that would make for righteousness and protest against evil through all generations. Into the doing of this the condition of time, in a greater measure, did enter; but when He had reached the age at which He spoke of the expediency of His departure, this end had been attained. He has left no more precious legacy behind Him than the memory of what He was.

(J. Forfar.)

This departure —

I. HAS SECURED TO THE CHURCH HIS CONSTANT PRESENCE. While dwelling here as our Saviour He was not ubiquitous. This was sometimes an apparent loss. "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." How this wail would have extended itself had He remained. Europe would have cried for Him when He was teaching the millions of Asia, &c. No Church now mourns an absent Lord. When faith looks for Him it sees Him. When love yearns for Him it feels Him near. Only when these are feeble do we seem to be forsaken and alone. We have then one friend to whose memory no tablet will ever be erected, and no tear shed; for the strong arm will never cease to hold us securely, and the loving heart will not fail to keep alive our affection with the fire of its abiding love.

II. PREVENTED, TO A GREAT EXTENT, THE GROWTH OF A SPURIOUS AFFECTION FOR HIM. "We have known Christ after the flesh." Many have an affection for His person without regard to His character and work. It is one thing to weep over Christ's sufferings, and quite another thing to weep over our sins. Blessed are they who can say, "Whom having not seen we love." Their affection is not less strong, while probably it is more spiritual than it would have been had He remained on earth.

III. ENABLES US TO UNDERSTAND HIM BETTER THAN WE COULD HAVE DONE HAD HE REMAINED. Why are we more ready to garnish the graves of dead saints than to praise the virtues of living ones? Not always because we are envious. Mainly, perhaps, because just as we may get too near a magnificent pile of architecture, and thus lose sight of the exquisite harmony of the whole. No man was more unknown than Christ. Even His attached friends misunderstood His plainest teachings. It was well that He went away. Things dimly seen before, shone with unclouded radiance after His departure.

IV. SECURED THE OUT-POURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. It is very probable that this was the chief cause of His departure. Their views of the Holy Spirit were very indistinct. Nevertheless, the language of Christ concerning Him had kindled a strong desire for His presence. Now they learn the price which must be paid for His advent. "If I go not away," &c. How essential the Spirit was to them, and to the interests of the kingdom, all their subsequent history shows. And there never has been an age in which the Church could afford to dispense with His presence. If this were the only reason for the departure of Christ, we could not murmur. We have not lost our Lord. "He takes of the things of Christ, and shows them unto us." He strengthens our faith in Him, deepens our love to Him, enlarges our desires after Him, sanctifies our communion with Him.

(H. B. Robinson.)

(text, and Philippians 1:24): — Jesus thought that His disciples would gain by losing Him, and Paul thought that his friends could not do without him. A singular contrast — reverses what might have been expected. How strange it must have seemed to them that they, poor sheep in the midst of wolves, would be better without the Shepherd! And the strangeness is brought more home to us by that word of Paul's in which we recognize the familiar tone of love that cannot face the thought of leaving a life's work half done and dear ones unhelped. The contrast rests on the absolute difference between the work of Christ and that of all other teachers, friends, and guides, and so may help us to grasp the unique relation which He and it sustain to the world. It was expedient that Christ should go away, for —

I. CHRIST'S DEATH IS HIS WORK. It was needful that Paul should abide, for Paul's death was the end of his. Paul's words show us how those speak who know that their departure will do nothing to advance the purposes to which they have given themselves. Christ's are intelligible only in the light of the great truth that He came to give His life a ransom for the many, and that His death has a substantive value all its own.

II. HIS WORK GOES ON AFTER HIS DEATH, WHILE THAT OF OTHERS CEASES. When Paul dies he can no more help his brethren. True, he may leave a holy memory. The great personalities of the world may, in a certain figurative sense, be said to "rule the nations from their urns." But that reverberation from the past prolonged into the present is but a poor shadowy thing. Christ's work to-day is no mere influence flowing from activities long since terminated. It is real and continuous — a present putting forth of present power.

III. CHRIST'S PERSONAL RELATION TO US IS WHOLLY INDEPENDENT OF HIS BODILY PRESENCE. His departure aided in the apprehension of His true character and nature. Like some star, that, as long as it is low on the horizon and shrouded by mist, may be mistaken for some earthborn light, but is known for what it is as it climbs the sky, He was discerned when unseen far better than when here. When He ascended to the Father, that withdrawal from the touch of sense gave Him to the touch of faith, and these desolate disciples were nearer Him when the cloud received Him out of their sight. The true personal bond that knits men to Christ is actually helped by His absence. "Jesus Christ, whom having not seen ye love," is held in the inmost hearts of millions. That is a phenomenon in the history of human affections altogether unique, and standing in the strongest contrast to the feelings with which the most enthusiastic admirers regard the mightiest among the dead. For love, there must be, or must have been, personal intercourse. With earthly teachers and guides that is only possible whilst they live; so their abiding in the flesh is needful for us. With Jesus Christ, who died — yea, rather, who is risen again — it is possible now for us all; therefore it was our gain that He went away, "departing for a season, that we might receive Him for ever."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Our Lord here represents the complex whole of His death and ascension as being His own voluntary act. He goes. He is neither taken away by death nor rapt up to heaven in a whirlwind, but He goes into the region of the grave and thence to the throne. Contrast His ascension with that of Elijah. One needed the chariot of fire and the horses of fire to bear him up into the sphere, all foreign to his mortal and earthly manhood; the other needed no outward power to lift Him, nor any vehicle to carry Him, but slowly, serenely, upborne by His own indwelling energy, and rising as to His native home, He ascended up on high, and went where the very manner of His going proclaimed that He had been before.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Men long for Christ on earth. Christ in heaven is not only faint and dim, but they think a heavenly Being cannot have earthly love. There may be more purity, they think, in heavenly love than in earthly, but less heartiness, and heartiness is what they long for. Now, Christ returned to heaven that He might love more, not less. This was a part of the glory which He had laid aside and was to take again. On earth His soul stood but in the bud. He went to a fairer clime that He might blossom, and now the heavens and the earth are full of the fragrance of His love. Incarnation was limitation. Ascension was expansion. There was not room enough for such a heart while in the body. It came as a seed, and grew, but we saw only the sprouting and the leaves. Death ripened it back again to the golden fulness of a heavenly state.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The Saviour declared to His disciples that He must leave them. On Him their whole souls had rested. He epitomized to them everything that was sacred; they had forsaken occupation, and had suffered contumely for following this man; and now He was about to be taken from them; and everything in their knowledge, affection, understanding, rebelled against it. They could not comprehend it either in its relations to Him or to themselves. And yet He said, "It is for your own interest that I go away." That, I think, touches the universal feeling of wonder in men.

I. Is there one of you who has not pondered the question, "WHY DID CHRIST LEAVE THE WORLD? Having once come into it, and brought life and immortality to light, why did He not abide here?"

1. There are multitudes who think that if they could but once have seen Jesus, or laid their hand on His, or heard from Him the history of His life and His instructions, that it would have begotten in them a certainty, an enthusiasm, and a power which would have carried them through a thousand sloughs that otherwise must have engulphed them.

2. Then, again, men think that if once they could pour out their soul's allegiance to Christ, in His very presence, they could go on all their lives long worshipping and rejoicing in Him. They think it would lay the foundations of piety so strong, that all doubts would flee from them for evermore.

3. Then there is a large number who feel that if Christ were enthroned in Jerusalem, around that sacred Centre would be formed the Church circle in an unbroken unity, and that all the shattered particles of shining truth would be gathered together.

4. Then, again, there is the feeling of certainty which men seek for. This leads men to feel that if they could have a determiner of controversies, it would be a great and desirable thing. They say, "True, we have the Bible; but how can the Bible be a determiner of controversies, when there are a dozen different and warring sects that draw their proofs from it?" There is the vicegerent in Rome; and men say, oftentimes: "We do not believe in a great many things that are claimed in regard to the papacy; but, after all, it is a good thing to have somewhere a centre of faith — one that can determine and put an end to controversies." I cannot deny that, at the first blush, there is some justification for these fancies; but they will not bear examination. God's way is always the best.

II. SUPPOSE OUR MASTER HAD REMAINED UPON EARTH, ABIDING IN JERUSALEM —

1. How many of the race could have seen Him? The ocean may know ways of circulating its waters; the atmosphere may change and go from place to place without vehicle or expense; but there is no grand current by which the human race may be thus carried hither and thither. So the tribes of the earth would find it difficult to go to a certain place and see the Saviour if He were on earth. Moreover, the mere social and physical disturbances would be enormous. It would break up the household, destroy social intercourse, and subject men to untold perils, and toils, and wastes, and expenses, to say nothing of the destruction of vast multitudes of the human race — witness those fearful pilgrimages in the East, and their fatal results, in famines, slaughters, and the dreaded Asiatic cholera.

2. But let us rise above these considerations of man's physical circumstances, and go higher. Do you suppose that you would feel any better satisfied if you had seen Christ? When the disciples were with Christ were they more strong and more powerful than afterwards? You know they were not. The inspiration that lifted them above common humanity came by faith, and not by sight. There are realms of knowledge which cannot be reached by vision, and which must be reached by the Spirit. Therefore the Saviour says, "It is expedient," &c.

3. But, again, would there be any more certainty of unity if Christ could yet be referred to? There are men who say: "If we only had some one in Jerusalem who should be supreme over the Church throughout the world. saying: 'This is the exact way — walk ye in it,' how much better it would be!" Would it be any better? Why, we do not want mere likeness, sameness, absence of conflict. We have that — in the graveyard; and the race would be but little better than dead men if such unity were to exist, and men did not need to think, to exert themselves, or to make mistakes, which are always incident to investigation and endeavour. Some people are all the time trying to set aside the Divine providence by doing for a man what it was designed that he should do for himself. A Church formed on such principles would be like Babbage's calculating machine. All that would be necessary would be to turn a crank, the wheels being of just such a diameter, and with just such cogs, but having no volition, no life, individuality, Divinity! I cannot conceive how anybody who has an idea of how the providence of God is unfolding, and has unfolded the world, should stumble on that as the way in which he ought to unfold it. But it is thought that, at any rate, it would determine controversies to have one who could speak authoritatively. Did the disciples believe just what Christ told them? Did the most learned and educated men in the time of the Saviour believe what He taught them? Did not the mind act the same then as it does now? and was it not necessary for men to get at the truth by unfolding themselves, and by educating their inward nature to the thing taught them? And if Christ had lived two thousand years, He would down to this day have taught only those who were competent to understand, by reason of their growth. The earth would have always followed the same law that He pointed out to them then, and we should, have had to learn by stages, and rise accordingly. But we should not even then have come to unity. Even in the consideration of physical truths there is but very little absolute unity. And when you take social and moral truths, still more when you take spiritual truths, they are of such a nature that they report themselves to each individual according to his conformation.

III. CHRIST SAID that it was expedient that He should go away, and THAT IF HE DID NOT GO THE COMFORTER WOULD NOT COME. Blessed word! because if there is anything that we need in this world, it is comforting. There are gods of love, of wine, of war, of government and law, but the world needs a God to comfort it. The Holy Spirit; the One who stands over against those subtle elements in the human soul — which we call the spiritual instinct or sentiment — comes to take the place of Christ, and open the doors of the understanding through the highest intuitions, and give light and direction to our interior nature, and enable us to triumph over death, and crown us sons in the kingdom of God. And this is infinitely better than that Christ should have continued on the earth in His physical form. Now, how blessed it is to feel that the heaven is filled by one who is interpreted to our spirit by historical sympathies as he never could have been interpreted to us in Jerusalem, where He would have had to walk the streets, to eat and drink and sleep as men do. In the spiritland there is not a long day's journey between us and Him. The distance is not even so great as that which must be gone over to send a letter from the post-office in New York to the post-office in Brooklyn. No thought emerges from your soul that does not go instantly to Him. There are no distances in spirituality.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. LET US SUPPOSE THAT THE SON OF MAN HAD CONSENTED TO REMAIN UPON THE EARTH. He could not thus remain except to die daily, or to be for ever triumphant. On which of these two alternatives must we fix? You know too well.

1. Jesus Christ always equally entitled to be loved, will always be equally hated; so that were Jesus Christ to appear successively in different countries, each of them would in its turn be moistened with His blood. If it accords with piety to believe that the Son of God died once, the just for the unjust, it is impious to believe that the blessed seed of the woman was more than once to allow His heel to be bruised by the angel of darkness.

2. Let us hasten then to reject this alternative, and conceive that He has to enjoy an everlasting triumph. He has conquered; He has put infidelity completely to flight. Jesus reigns King of all the earth. He has no more enemies or rivals. Still this kingdom, glorious as it appears, is but a place of exile. The subjects of this King have an advantage over Him. The servant is more than his Master. For Jesus Christ having suffered once, what can those around Him have to suffer? A single look from Him crowns them with glory. There is no longer either difficulty to be surmounted or struggle to be maintained. It is no longer by fire that men are saved, nor by much tribulation that they enter into glory. Religion is no longer a sacrifice; the blessing of the narrow way, and the kingdom of heaven taken by violence, are henceforth only empty sounds. It only remains to ask why earth is not already transformed into heaven?

II. LET US NOW LISTEN TO JESUS CHRIST. Let us see in what this expediency consists.

1. "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come," &c. Remain with us, Lord, and we will be comforted. Such would perhaps have been our answer. Who can console better than Jesus? Jesus absent is only one misery more. Jesus might have answered, Are you consoled? does My presence suffice you? No; and yet I am in the midst of you. Thus it appears you still require the Comforter. Two consolations compose the whole new man.(1) Faith. To believe is to repose entirely on the infallibility and faithfulness of God. It is, consequently, to go forward with unflinching eye, and meet coming events as we would meet God Himself; to live in the Spirit; to renounce the domination of the senses; to prefer the invisible, which is eternal, In regard to what specially concerns Jesus Christ, it is to bless God that the Word was made flesh, but not to regard Jesus Christ, although perfect man, as an ordinary individual, whose presence is indissolubly attached to the body. Now, such was the disposition of the disciples, and such is human nature, that had Jesus Christ remained upon the earth, faith would have remained for ever in an infant state. Its case would have been that of a young bird whose parent will not permit it to try its wings. Men would have reposed on the corporeal presence of Christ; not upon His spiritual, which is His real presence. The magnificent developments of the Christian Church would thus be strangled in the birth; or, to speak more properly, there would be no Christian Church; if by the Church we mean the assembly of those who walk by faith, and live in the Spirit.(2) Love in the Spirit. To love spiritually is to love as God loves and wishes to be loved. All in love that is only nature, instinct, taste, self-complacency, disappears or is subordinate. Love, purified and made Divine, rises and attaches itself to what is invisible and immortal. Now almost all the world loves Jesus. How is it possible not to love Him! But no man of the world could have more love for Him than the son of Jonas; and do we not know that Jesus deserved to be loved otherwise? The affection of Peter was not spiritual; that of the world for Jesus is, if possible, still less so. It is a human attachment which Jesus does not count sufficient. But this attachment remained human so long as Jesus Himself remained in a human condition. The visible, corporeal, limited person, behoved to disappear, in order to make room for the idea which it represented, and at the same time concealed.

2. If faith and spiritual affection are the life of the Church, it was for the advantage of the Church that Jesus should go away. This has been well proved by fact. Where was the Church before the departure of Jesus? Nowhere; not even in the bosom of that college of apostles who we have reason to believe knew Jesus far less, and loved Him less completely than a poor Christian peasant now knows and loves Him. Why had His lessons less affect on the apostles than those of the apostles themselves afterwards had on others? The facts cannot be disputed. Before the departure of Jesus there was no Church, but there is one immediately after.

3. Could we venture to maintain that it was good for the disciples that Christ should go away, and yet bad for us? The situation, and wants, are still the same, and we cannot dispense with the painful privation. No Christian, however, consents to it willingly. The resolution to do so depends on the measure of his spirituality. But nothing is more universal or more natural than regret for not having seen Jesus Christ. Many imagine that they could do all with Jesus Christ were He to become visible, that there would then be neither doubt nor fear, that they would thenceforth be all ardour for the service of their great Master. But after reflection how can they continue to use this language?(1) What is the human body? A living statue. An image of the presence of a moral being, to which through the body are addressed all the feelings which this being can inspire. This organization, however, does not constitute the man. This we all admit when we refuse to estimate a man's worth by his body, and make it wholly depend on his intellect and will. Moreover, in our attachments we rise superior to the impressions which body can produce upon body. An affection on which neither the external decay of the object loved, nor its absence, nor death, would have any power, would justly be entitled to the highest honour. If any being should be loved purely, it is undoubtedly the Son of God. If the Son of God appeared in the flesh, it was not to make us adore His corporeal presence, but to be man like us, and submit to death. He has given this as a support to our love; but our love should attach itself to that in Him which thinks, invites, and loves.(2) But let us reply to those who exclaim, "Oh how strong we would be if we could only see Jesus Christ!" Alas! how many saw Him at full leisure, and remained weak! So would it be with you were Jesus Christ to communicate the Holy Spirit, which was given to the first disciples only under the condition of His own absence. The mere aspect of a great personage, the mere report of his presence, has sometimes, on grave emergencies, exercised a decisive influence. But however great the results might be, they were human. But spiritual effects demand a spiritual cause, and the fact of Christ's corporeal presence, considered in itself, is not so. There is nothing spiritual in it. This absence of a visible Christ is regarded as a privation, a loss. But it is the flesh itself, it is the charm of the present life that makes us deem it so. Jesus Christ, though absent, is not absent. In giving us His Spirit He gives Himself.

4. "Enough of this," you say, "None of us have the idea of making Christ dwell a second time in the sad darkness of this life." But if you presume not to claim the visibility of Jesus Christ's personal presence, you wish visible signs of His invisible presence. If the signs for which you call are only those fruits of the Spirit, which constitute and manifest Christianity, assuredly you are right; and it is these signs of the presence of Jesus Christ you ought in the first instance to ask from yourselves. But there is another desire less pure, "Make us gods to walk before us." Anything which will give a tangible shape to the spiritual kingdom which Jesus Christ came to establish on the earth.(1) In the first rank are the institutions and customs which time has consecrated in the bosom of the Christian Church. These circumstances, which are wholly external and are not the Church itself, we so overvalue that we mistake them for the Church; if certain barriers, words, sounds, happen to fail, we think it is the Church herself that fails, and our heart melts within us, and we can scarcely help exclaiming, "They have taken away my Lord," &c.(2) Sometimes we consider Jesus Christ to be represented by men who are devoted to His service. Every Christian, in a certain sense, represents Jesus Christ. The error lies in making a mere man the object of feelings which are due only to our Lord, and in regarding any instrument of whatever nature as necessary. And when the righteous hand of God throws down this idol and breaks it to pieces, when this man, supposed necessary, has disappeared, all has disappeared with him.(3) The successes of Christianity are also a kind of visible Christ to us. We are willing not to believe Him absent so long as we see His religion honoured and multitudes thronging His churches. Our faith takes courage at the sight; but how readily it is shaken, when, in consequence of any great change in the condition of society, enmity grows bold. It seems as if this host of enemies had carried Jesus Christ away.

5. But Jesus Christ, who cannot permit us either to serve Him as an idol, or to put idols in His place, or to seek indubitable evidence of His presence anywhere but in ourselves, as of old, "withdraws to a mountain." By this new retreat He extinguishes the bright light which He had kindled; He obliges us to seek Him on the mountain, in other words, in our faith, and constrains us to look at Him with other eyes than those of flesh. Let us with all the strength which God has given resist the dangerous temptations of that "lust of the eye," which, from our carnal nature, we carry even into the purest of religions.

(A. Vinet, D. D.)

I. BY HIS DEPARTURE HIS LOCAL PRESENCE WAS CHANGED INTO AN UNIVERSAL PRESENCE. As God, He dwells with us through the Holy Ghost, by His essence, presence, and power. As Man He is always with us in all the truth of His Incarnation. His character — His pity, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, love, tenderness, compassion — is shed abroad throughout all His Church. The kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of the Man Christ Jesus; and the reign of His will, human as well as Divine, is His kingdom. And there are even deeper things than these. The mystery of the Incarnation is not a mere isolated fact, terminating in the personality of the Word made flesh, but the beginning and productive cause of a new creation of mankind. By the same omnipotence which wrought the union of the Godhead and the manhood in the womb of the blessed Virgin, the humanity of the Second Adam is the immediate and substantial instrument of our regeneration and renewal. The Church is Christ mystical — the presence of Christ, by the creative power of His Incarnation, produced and prolonged on earth.

II. HIS DEPARTURE CHANGED THEIR IMPERFECT KNOWLEDGE INTO THE FULL ILLUMINATION OF FAITH. While He was with them, and taught them by word of mouth, their hearts were slow of understanding. Their minds were earthly, and interpreted all things by the rules of earth and sense. But when the Comforter came all things were brought back to their remembrance. Old truths and perplexing memories received their true solution. Words they had mused upon in doubt were interpreted; sayings they had thought already clear were seen to have profounder meanings; a fountain of light sprung up within them, an illumination cast from an unseen teacher unfolded to their consciousness the deep things of God and of His Christ. Their very faculties were enlarged; they were no longer pent up by narrow senses and by the succession of time, but were lifted into a light where all things are boundless and eternal. A new power of insight was implanted in their spiritual being, and a new world rose up before it; for the Spirit of truth dwelt in them, and the world unseen was revealed.

III. HIS DEPARTURE CHANGED THE PARTIAL DISPENSATIONS OF GRACE INTO THE FULNESS OF THE REGENERATION. Our nature, which He had made sinless, deathless, and divine, from the time of His ascension into heaven was glorified. The Second Adam began to give of His own spiritual nature, to multiply the lineage of His elect, and to gather His mystical family into one universal body. The agent In this Divine work is the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. The Incarnation raised man to a higher life, and laid a higher law upon us: the coming of the Holy Ghost endowed man with power to walk in that higher and more perfect path.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

I. THERE IS A NATURAL SENSE IN WHICH LOSSES OFTEN PROVE TO BE GAIN IN THE END. We gain wisdom and knowledge and experience by losses; and we unquestionably gain a very much clearer mental and spiritual vision. And so, perhaps, in this natural and human sense it would be in one way expedient for the disciples to lose their Lord — inasmuch as the loss of Him would tend to open their eyes to a juster and truer estimate of His Person and character. On this very night Philip gave sad evidence of how little he and the others even yet understood of Him. "Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?" was the Saviour's reply to Philip's request that He would show to them the Father. To the very end of His life it was still true of the disciples that "they understood not what things they were that He sake unto them," and what He did they knew not either as yet — but should only know hereafter. Was this, then, what our Saviour meant in the text when He said "It is expedient for you that I go away:" — "You will be able, after I am gone, to balance and weigh the things that I have said and done better than you can at present, and so, by the exercise of your calmer judgment, arrive at a juster estimate of Me?" This would certainly be a consequence of His departure — but it was not this He meant by the words He used.

II. IF FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY ARE THE THREE GRACES WHICH MAKE UP THE SUM OF A CHRISTIAN CHARACTER, HOW VERY MUCH THAT CHARACTER MUST BE STRENGTHENED BY THE GREATER EXERCISE OF THESE SEVERAL GRACES. When the Lord they loved was taken away from them, then their faith would be called into action as it had never been before, for faith begins where sight ends; when they ceased to see the Lord with the natural eye then the spiritual vision — which is only another name for faith — would have to be entirely depended upon. And so, too, with their hope. No longer would they be looking for a temporal and earthly fulfilment of God's promises. The hope they had been hitherto entertaining of earthly honour for their Lord, and the restoration of an earthly kingdom to His chosen people, would henceforth give place to a wider and better and further-reaching hope. Their treasure henceforth would be in heaven, and they would surely experience in their own case the truth that they had long since heard and learnt by rote — that where a man's treasure is there will his heart be also.

III. IF I GO NOT AWAY THE COMFORTER WILL NOT COME UNTO YOU — but if I depart I will send Him unto you. Do we understand this? Is it that the Holy Spirit is kinder, more loving, more powerful than He who sends Him? Ah no, we know that the Three Persons are at the same time One God — One in power, and in holiness, and in love. The meaning has already been partly stated. It is better for the Church — it is better for each one of us its members — to walk by faith than to walk by sight. It is better, and it is the work of God the Holy Ghost to lead us on to this higher life. So long as Jesus was present upon earth there could not fail to be something earthly and carnal in the attachment of His disciples to Him; but when He was departed the Holy Ghost would teach men a more spiritual attachment.

(John Crofts.)

I. THINGS ARE NOT OF NECESSITY AS THEY APPEAR AT FIRST SIGHT. We are very short-sighted, and we judge just by what is within range of our vision. How should human sight perceive that it ever could be expedient for the well-loved Jesus to depart? Surely nothing could compensate for that; and yet He says it is for their advantage. Let this be a lesson to us, not to be too hasty in taking things" at first sight. Let us not. say, when, perhaps, we are on the very road to blessing, "all these things are against me." It is necessary that we keep our minds in a state of readiness to admit possibilities.

II. THE VALUE OF UNDERLYING AND DEFERRED BLESSINGS IS OFTEN FAR GREATER THAN THAT, OF WHAT WE HAVE LOST, OR ARE ABOUT TO LOSE. The full ear of corn is of much more value than the single grain from which it sprang, from whose death it took its life; but who would have believed as a theory, that it was only under this condition it could come. "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." God is continually sowing for us seed which we would never sow for ourselves, because we could not bear to see it die.

III. THINK OF GOD'S ACTION ON THE WHOLE MATTER. We can never deal with the whole of a matter. All human affairs are like spheres, they can be illumined only on one portion of their surface at a time. Some of them revolve so slowly, that it requires more than a lifetime for a man to see their whole surface. Events are happening to us now, which are the legitimate consequences of certain actions of our youth; or even of our parents; or of their parents; and God is engaged in the whole matter. Is it not an immense relief that we can leave God to deal with things as a whole — that we need not strain ourselves, in endeavouring to compass things beyond our grasp.

IV. CONNECT GOD DIRECTLY WITH EXPEDIENCY. Expediency implies suitability of action to circumstances, of means to accomplish an end — that end being what "seemed meet unto Him." Man recognizes the meaning of the word, and thinks he acts upon it; but being evil, he often forgets moral principles; moreover, he is so ignorant, he often chooses wrong means; he thinks it is not expedient to do such and such a thing, whereas it is the very thing he should have done; and he does the very thing, which, as it turns out, he should not have done. But with God there are no mistakes; and so, there is no miscarrying; there is absolute righteousness in Him; and so, in His dealings towards us, and others, there can be no wrong. He does the right thing, with the right motive, in the right way, at the right time. There are two considerations, which will help us very much to fall in with God's arrangements with faith and comfort.

1. The persuasion, that when He deems such and such a mode of action expedient, He sees the end from the beginning. We do not know in what a beginning will end, He does.

2. The belief that He sees the real suitability of operative causes — how certain things are calculated to bring about certain ends. We often think we see this. But all life is full of the history of sad mistakes in this respect. Unforeseen and disturbing influences have come in. The means we put in motion did not go far enough, or they went too far, or, perhaps, were beside the mark altogether. But when God is in action, all this is put far away; and if the causes which He sets in motion are in anyway trying to us, we maybe certain that they will produce the end He desires. And so, though we cannot see it at the time, our heaviest trials are for the best. They are only means to an end. They are expedient.

(P. B. Power, M. A.)

The high priest was more useful to them within the veil than outside of it; He was doing for them out of sight what He could not accomplish in their view. I delight to think that my Lord is with the Father. Sometimes I cannot get to God, my access seems blocked by my infirmity; but He is always with God to plead for me. Let us joy and rejoice that our covenant Head is now in the bosom of the Father, at the fountain-head of love and grace, and that He is there on our behalf.

It is better for us that Christ should be in heaven than with us upon earth. A woman had rather have her husband live with her than go to the Indies; but she yieldeth to his absence when she considereth the profit of his traffic.

(T. Manton.)

Weekly Pulpit.
All departures are painful and trying, e.g., the boy to business; the girl to marriage; the friend to sea; the relation over the river of death. Glad that this is true of Christ; that He felt the going away, and needed comforting. But, in His case, that was true which is so often true still — the one who went was the Comforter. His was no ordinary going. He was more to the disciples than they realised.

I. IT WOULD PROVE TO BE A PRESENT SPIRITUAL POWER. Our Lord comforted by giving a two-fold assurance:

1. He would really be always with them.

2. He would give His Spirit to be always with them. But this is confusing, until our hearts learn to hold both these forms of truth in harmony. Our Lord, while here, was always trying to glorify His spiritual relations; and so preparing for the time when His relations should be all spiritual. Is it not infinitely comforting to be assured that temporal relations shall, by and by, give place to those which are spiritual? The comparative value of the temporal and the spiritual we learn in the progress of life. The child-Christian wants a Christ of the flesh. The matured Christian wants a Christ of the spirit. And just that Christ "gone away" has become. He was outside us; He is in us now. We hear of the scene on Olivet, and we say, "He is gone." We hear of the scene at Pentecost, and we say, "He has come again to abide with us for ever."

II. IT LOCALISES OUR CONCEPTION OF HEAVEN. The human Christ went to a place, and prepares a place. "This is enough, Jesus is there; and Jesus knows."

III. IT GIVES US GROUND FOR CHERISHING A HIGH HOPE. Resting upon the promise He has left. Our sorrow is the seeming separation; our everlasting joy shall yet be conscious union, under conditions that involve no separation. One day we "shall be ever with the Lord." We may reverently fit the influence of Christ's departed saints into Christ's own words (as in text). Few of us but have dear friends, "not lost, but gone before." And they seem to whisper in our souls, and say, "It is expedient for you that I go away." We cannot see it. We are like the women at the sepulchre. And yet those who are "gone away" —

1. Do become a present spiritual power to us. By "going" their characters get glorified, so as to be to us —

(1)Holy example;

(2)call; and

(3)impulse.They live ever in our souls. Among the very highest of the spiritual forces moving us in the godly life, we put the influence of the white-robed host, the sainted dead.

2. They localize heaven for us.

3. They keep alive in our souls a great hope. "I shall go to Him, but He shall not return to me." The hope of reunion, where they "go no more out for ever."

(Weekly Pulpit.)

The Ascension was expedient because —

I. IT SECURED AN ADEQUATE SENSE OF THE TRUE PLACE AND DIGNITY OF MAN AMONG THE CREATURES OF GOD. There are great studies, which, as they are sometimes handled, tend to create a degraded idea of man.

1. Look, says the astronomer, at the North Star, the light which falls on your eye left that star some thirty years or more ago; and yet this light travels at a rate of 200,000 miles a second. Or, look at the Milky Way, a collection of worlds more numerous than the sands on the sea-shore, separated often from each other by distances which our figures cannot express, and among these are stars whose light must have taken even thousands of centuries in order to reach us on this earth. Or, look at that Dog Star, Sirius. When it was first known that our own sun was moving round some other centre, just as our earth moves round him, it was a shock to the thought; but this giant sun, Sirius, compared with which our own sun is but a pigmy, is himself in motion around some other central orb, the size and place and distance of which exhaust the capacities of imagination. And then our friend turns our thoughts upon this little home of ours. Astronomy has told man many things, and among others, his insignificance.

2. Comparative physiology takes us into its museums, and we see ranged before us the skeletons of apes. Look at the lower types (so it is said) of the human family; at the Aztecs and the Papuans; and then say how you can trace a sharp line of demarcation between this animal and that animal.

3. Or again, we picture to ourselves a scene which takes place inevitably after a great battle; and as our thought lingers over the ghastly ruin, chemistry passes by, and it suggests that after all all is well, and that these buried and disfigured forms will presently be resolved into their constituent elements; and that the value of man may be appreciated when we have discovered what remains after a human body has been submitted to the verdict of a chemical student. Certainly most of us do not readily acquiesce in these theories of human life. Our reason tells the astronomer that there is a moral as well as a material world, and that bulk and distance are not the main tests of greatness; and it tells the comparative anatomist that no similarity of his skeletons can possibly obliterate the vast interval which parts a being with self-reflecting consciousness, and free will from a being which is governed only by instinct; and as for the chemist, whether he is in the cemetery or in the laboratory, reason protests to him that his analysis begs the tremendous question, whether the most important and vital part of man has ever been before him to be analysed at all. But the Christian falls back upon a distinct fact, which enables him to listen with interest and with sympathy to all that the astronomer, &c., may have to tell him, and withal to preserve the robust faith in the dignity of man. He believes in the ascension of our Lord into heaven. Somewhere in space he knows there is at this moment, associated with the glories of the self-existing Diety, a human body and a human soul. Ay, it is on the throne of the universe. No other creature of God shares that incomparable dignity.

II. IT MAKES ROOM FOR FAITH IS CHRIST. It is, of course, conceivable that our Lord might have willed to prolong His life upon the earth through the centuries of Christian history. Had He done so, there would have been no questions as to the seal and centre of authority in the Christian Church, or as to the true area and contents of the Christian creed; there would have been ever before the eyes of men a living example of what the Christian character was meant to be; and perhaps the conversion of the world would have been completed long ere this. But one thing is certain, that if Christ had continued to be visibly present, there would have been no room for true faith in Him. Trust in Christ there might have been; we trust our friends, our elders; but faith "is the evidence of things not seen." Think what this would have meant for Christendom. Why is it that so great a place is assigned to faith in the New Testament? Because faith is the apprehension of an object with ever-increasing clearness on the part of the whole soul, of its thought, of its heart, of its determination. And such an apprehension of a perfect object means vast moral leverage. We become, more or less, like that on which we continually fix our attention. If we look persistently downwards then we become earthly; if we look upwards then the light of heaven is reflected in o'er souls. For this there would have been no room if our Lord had not ascended; the world would only have "known Christ after the flesh," would have concerned itself with His outward and human form, rather than with His true and essential divinity, and it therefore was expedient that He should go away, as promoting the moral effect and power of faith.

III. IN THE INTERESTS OF WORSHIP. What is the idea of God which we gain from nature Courage, energy, and intelligence — nature certainly suggests these; but benevolence is in the back-ground of its suggestion respecting its author and its master. It is cold, thin, superficial; like the clear sunlight on a frosty day in January, there is no warmth, no colour, no character about it; it may provoke intellectual interest, admiration, wonder, but not passion of any kind, not devotion, not worship. But we Christians approach God not only through external, non-human nature, but through man. Man, unlike nature, has moral character. When the Old Testament would teach us the awful attributes of the self-existent, it draws upon the ordinary language of human passion and human experience, it describes a being with human feelings of anger, of pity, of jealousy, of love. The revelation through man is a higher revelation; it is one of moral character. "The Lord is long-suffering," &c. But here, of course, human nature, as we know it, if taken on the average as a guide to the true character of God, may easily mislead us. It is expedient that perfect humanity should thus be associated on the throne of heaven with the infinite and the eternal. And thus, in the worship of the Church, inspired on the one hand, by an awful sense of the inaccessible majesty of God, and, on the other, by a trustful, tender passion, which has its roots in the consciousness of a human fellowship, with its awful object, we find that which we find nowhere else on earth, and we understand the words, "It is expedient for you that I go away." And a last reason for the expediency —

IV. IN CONNECTION WITH HIS WORK OF INTERCESSION. A question which Christians ought to ask themselves more often than they do is this — "What is our Lord doing now?" At His ascension "He sat down at the right hand of God." It is the posture not merely of the enthroned Monarch of Heaven; it is the posture of the omnipotent Priest. He does not stand to plead; still less does He prostrate Himself, side by side with those highest beings who are ranged around the throne. He sits in His wounded but glorified humanity as the one permanent sacrifice which will for ever avail before the eyes of the All Holy. "Therefore, if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father," &c. This uninterrupted action of our glorified Redeemer should surely be more in our minds. What was He doing when we were born? Interceding. What will He be doing at the moment when we shall be leaving it? Interceding. How was He engaged during the long hours of last night, or when we arose from sleep this morning? What will He be doing when we again lie down to rest? What is He doing now, while I am speaking for Him, and while you are listening? The answer is ever the same. Now, this intercession is the very strength of our Christian life. We claim its power in every prayer when we say, "Through Jesus Christ our Lord." We associate our poor feeble prayers with His majestic pleading. It is the knowledge that this great work proceeds uninterruptedly, that makes hope and perseverance possible when hearts are failing, when temptation is strong, when the sky is dark and lurid. Surely it is expedient for you and me that He should go away.

(Canon Liddon.)

1. Selfishness is never less attractive than when it would leave its imprint on theology. Yet we are not unfrequently confronted by systems in which the satisfaction of the believer is made the centre of a theological panorama, while the revealed nature or economies of God are banished to its circumference. In this way the self-sustaining, infinite, Supreme Being comes to be regarded as chiefly interesting on account of the satisfaction which He yields to the subjective yearnings of a finite and created soul But the manifested glory, the vindicated honour of Jesus Christ must take rank before all other considerations in regard to the Ascension: at length that life of humiliation is over, and the Bridegroom of the Church "girds His sword upon His thigh, as becomes the Most Mighty, and according to His worship and renown."

2. This, then, is our first tribute of love and duty to the mystery of to-day, and we may now turn to that other and very different point of view which is sanctioned by our Lord in the text. No words that ever fell from the lips of Christ can have at first seemed to those faithful souls who heard them to verge more closely than these on the confines of paradox. Could it be expedient for men who are still pilgrims upon earth that their Guide should be taken from them? For pupils who are still ignorant that their great Teacher should desert them? For spiritual children, still so deficient in the Christian character, that they should be deprived of Him who taught by example even more persuasively than He taught by precept? He might have said "expedient for the spirits of the just made perfect, to whom, after overcoming the sharpness of death, He was about to open the kingdom of heaven; for the angels who had for thirty-three years been" ascending and descending upon the Son of Man," and who had now higher ministries in store for them: for Myself, who, after finishing the work that was given Me to do, am to be glorified by the Father with that glory which I had with Him before the world was. But He does say, "for you." My broken-hearted, despairing disciples, it is "expedient for yon," that I, your Teacher, Friend, Guide, Strength, should leave you. Wherein then, it may be asked, did this expediency lie?

I. THERE WAS A KIND OF NATURAL EXPEDIENCY IN THE ASCENSION, grounded on that law of the human mind which makes the appreciation of present blessings so very difficult. Most men look back with affection on the years of their childhood; and nations have always surrounded their early annals with an atmosphere of poetry. So limited are our powers, that generally speaking, observation must have ceased before reflection can begin to do its work. Had Christ continued to live visibly upon earth, the spiritual force of the Church might have been expended in an indefinitely prolonged observation. The strength even of saintly souls might have been fatally overtaxed. If Jesus is to be seen by His creatures in His relative and awful greatness, He must be withdrawn. Even on the night before the Passion, St. Philip asks a question, which proves that he does not yet know who Jesus really is. "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," was an announcement of the self-same principle. He was to be comprehended when He was gone. The life of Christ on earth had first to be brought to a close, ere it could be dropped as a seed that would spring up and bear fruit into the heart of redeemed humanity. And each teacher that has unfolded and enforced the meaning of that life, has, in adding to the illuminated thought of Christendom, attested the truth of our Master's words — "It is expedient," &c.

II. THE LIFE OF THE SOULS OF THE APOSTLES JUST HAVE BEEN QUICKENED BY THE DEPARTURE OF THEIR LORD. Faith, hope, and charity are the threefold cord that links the living spirit with its God. These graces were dwarfed in the apostles. Their belief did not materially differ from the creed of the devout Jew. Their hopes were centred on an earthly throne. Their charity was discoloured by the presence of a subtle element of sense, which dimmed its spiritual lustre. Christ left them, and behold, they find springing up within themselves a new and vigorous life. By leaving them our Lord has made room for the full play and power of faith. (1 Peter 1:8). Hope, too, rivals in its growth the growth of faith. It reaches forth into an eternal future. And when Christ was seated at the right hand of God, love, as a matter of course, would seek simply and constantly those things that are above, and not the things upon the earth.

III. But if the apostles had been altogether left to their own resources, could they have formed so true an estimate of His life, as by their writings to rule the thought and kindle the enthusiasm of all ages? Were faith, hope, love, thrown out, as plants of native growth, from the rich soil of their natural hearts? Are the Epistles of St. Paul, or is the character of St. John to be explained by their natural gifts, educational antecedents, contact with the Redeemer, the circumstances and directions of their lives? Surely not. Even though the Pentecostal miracle had not been recorded, some supernatural interference must have been assumed, in order to account for the apostolic character, and the apostolic writings. Of itself the departure of our risen Lord would neither have permanently illuminated the reflections of the Church, nor yet have quickened the graces of its separate members. WE MUST WAIT UNTIL PENTECOST IF WE WOULD ENTER INTO THE FULL EXPEDIENCY OF THE ASCENSION. Pass the eye over that last great discourse, and mark how it bears with repeated effort and significance upon the statement of the text (chap. John 14:3, 12, 16, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7, 10, 13). While Christ tarried here, His apostles who saw and conversed with Him were further, immeasurably further, from Him than we may be, if we will. To them He was still an external example — voice, force. Christ in us is the hope of glory. Our ascended Lord has sent down upon us that promised and gracious Friend, whose office it is to unite us to Himself. Therefore, united to Christ, man is no longer an isolated unit; he is a member of that spiritual organization which is Christ's Body. If we feel the expediency of the Ascension, we are men of prayer. "In heart and mind" we "ascend thither" where prayer is not an effort but an atmosphere. It is the instinctive breathing of an informing spirit, the voice of children, who, without doubt or questioning, throw themselves into their Father's arms. Can we realize, each one for himself, what is involved in this expediency of our Lord's ascension? Not if we forget the sharp distinction which exists, and which will exist for ever, between the very highest, noblest, purest, truest efforts of nature, and the heavenly action of the Spirit of grace. We shall never understand the expediency of the Ascension, if we forget that we are the subjects of a spiritual dispensation, in which forces more extraordinary are at work, and results more wonderful are produced than any which fall under the cognizance of sense (1 Corinthians 2:7-9). The Ascension reminds us of a life which is higher than this world. So much higher, so much more blessed and glorious is the life of grace, that One who loved us men with the truest and purest affection, yet withdrew Himself, as on this day, from our sight in order to enable us, if we will, to live it.

(Cannon Liddon.)

1. The parting of friends is always a sad thing; for many things may come to prevent a meeting again. But partings sometimes are among the very saddest things: parting of those who are very dear: of the playmates of childhood: of those who hitherto have kept close together in the race and the warfare of life, but who are now to be severed by long years. And why is it then, that emigrants, e.g., are yet content to part? Because they feel it is better so; that they are leaving a country which will not yield bread, for another where there is work and bread for all. And the friends who remained behind knew all that too.

2. The thing to which people most naturally have recourse to blunt the pang of parting is some such thought as is suggested in the text. The dying wife tries to persuade the husband that it is far better as it is. The reckless and graceless young man, reclaimed by a kindness and a wisdom that were half angelic, as he feels life ebbing away, says: "Perhaps it is as well I should go home pretty soon." And just with that simple and natural thought did the blessed Redeemer seek to console His disciples.

3. Now we often say and hear such words as these, when they express rather what is wished than what is felt and believed; when we could give no sufficient reason, save that one sheet-anchor of the weary and disappointed heart, the wise and kind decree of God. But it is not merely in this general view, and merely by way of saying a kind word that might cheer up somewhat in a trying hour, that Jesus said this. His departure was the condition of another's coming, who would more than make up for His loss. Precious indeed, then, must that other be!

4. Now we must all feel that although it is our privilege to love each of the three Persons in the Trinity; still the Saviour we cannot choose but single out for special love. And we should hardly be able to persuade ourselves that even the coming of the Comforter could make up for His absence. But all that He declared was, that for believers so situated as the disciples He was addressing, it was advantageous that the Comforter should be present with them, even at the price of His own departure.

5. But the thought naturally suggests itself, Why might the Church not have had both? Now, we must just take Christ's word for it, that this cannot be. For some good reason we cannot have both together. Note two or three considerations —

I. THE CHOICE LAY BETWEEN CHRIST AS HE THEN WAS, A PERSON DWELLING IN A HUMAN BODY, AND A DIVINE SPIRIT CAPABLE OF BEING UNIVERSALLY PRESENT AT THE SAME TIME. Christ, dwelling in flesh, could be only in one place at a time; while the Comforter, unbound by fleshly trammels, could be in a thousand places, working on a million hearts all at once. And for the grand end of carrying on the government of a Church that is to overspread the world, it was better to have one Divine Being, equally present, working with equal energy everywhere, than even to have Christ Himself dwelling in visible form in some favoured spot, and by the very fact of His being visible there, making those disciples in distant countries who saw Him not, feel as though they were so far overlooked. It is the fancy of Popery, but it is not the purpose of the Redeemer, to have one fixed, localized, visible centre of the Christian Church. If sacred places can even yet warm the Christian's heart, it is not that Christ is nearer us there than here. And when we call it to mind, how the cares and duties of life tie most of us to one little spot of this world; when we think how vainly most of us might wish to make a pilgrimage of thousands of miles, even though that pilgrimage should bring us into the visible presence of our God, shall we Rot be thankful for the presence here of a Sanctifier and Comforter, who can make our very soul His home.

II. Each Person in the Trinity has His own share in the great task of preparing man for heaven; and A CERTAIN WORK HAS BEEN APPOINTED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. Now, when we think of the things which it is the Spirit's occupation to do, we see that this world is the place where they must be done. The Spirit's work lies mainly with a suffering, struggling, sinful, tempted, imperfect Church. Placed and tried as we are, it is just the Holy Spirit we need; and so it is just the Holy Spirit that we get. We shall need Him less, with reverence be it said, when we shall have entered upon the immediate presence of our God. It is by the working of the Blessed Spirit that we are born again, sanctified, comforted, taught to pray. There is not a point in the soul's better life, there is not an emergency in the Christian's earthly pilgrimage, at which the Blessed Spirit does not come in, the very thing we need.

(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)

Christ in heaven instead of on earth means —

I. CHRIST'S PERSON NEARER.

II. CHRIST'S CHARACTER CLEARER. One is apt to think the men of Christ's day were much more advantageously situated for judging of Christ's Divinity than we are. Yet what were the facts of the case? Now if Christ had never gone away —

1. We should want the highest proof, which we now have, of His divinity: viz., His resurrection and ascension.

2. We should feel, and that too increasingly, the difficulty of the Jews. They were acquainted with His parentage, with His upbringing, and with His daily life. Would we have round it easy to believe? The abundance of Christ's miracles would make them cease to be miracles; the gracious words becoming so common would lose their power; the very character of Jesus would come to be regarded as a product of the earth. What were helps to the men of Christ's day would become no inconsiderable hindrances to us.

3. Having Christ in our midst, we should have the difficulty, which is felt by every age, of judging of its great men's characters while they are yet alive. Great men are better appreciated by after generations than by their contemporaries. Sometimes, too, those who die beneath a cloud of shame have their names vindicated by posterity. Many examples might be given, but none more illustrious than that of Christ, who eighteen centuries ago was executed as a malefactor, but now is worshipped throughout the world as God.

III. CHRIST'S WORK SURER. Of course Christ came to reveal the Father; to fulfil the law; to destroy the works of the devil; to bring life and immortality to light; to open heaven for believers. But while these are essential parts of the work of Christ, Scripture invariably assigns the central position to the Cross. All the others are rightly seen only when beheld as radiating from it; as thus — Christ's sacrificial death upon the cross was the highest revelation of the Father (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16); the perfect pattern of duty (1 John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:21); the absolute destruction of death (Hebrews 2:14, 15); the certain opening of heaven to believers (Hebrews 9:12). And all these because it was all expiation of the guilt of men (Ephesians 5:2, &c.). Yet, of this work the surest evidence would have been wanting had Christ continued on the earth. Had He postponed His dying we should certainly have had the promise of the Father as our guarantee that the work would be accomplished: had He died and risen, but remained on earth, we should have had the double witness of His own word and of the testimony of those who had seen Him. But that evidence would have gradually become obscure by the passing years. His visible presence would always be felt to be a difficulty in assenting to the truth of His decease. But now, Christ having gone away to His Father's throne, we have, so to speak, been supplied with a sublime public certificate that His great redeeming work has been accomplished.

IV. CHRIST'S CHURCH RICHER; that is, by the presence of the Holy Spirit. In Christ's view the dispensation of the Spirit was a higher gift than the mission of the Son; higher relatively, as being an onward step in the development of redemption and the enjoyment of salvation. What the materials of a building are to the building and the architect; what the light is to the vision which we have by means of the light; what the wisdom in a book is to the same wisdom when apprehended by the mind; what the external revelation of nature is to the intelligent appreciation of it; what the Mosaic economy, with its code of precepts and system of sacrifice, was to the spiritual interpretations and applications thereof, which were given by the prophets; that was the work of Christ to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes of the things that are Christ's and shows them to the soul. Christ revealed the Father to men; the Spirit reveals the Father in men. Christ gave to men a pattern of life; the Holy Ghost enables men to imitate as well as understand. Christ gave Himself to be a sacrifice for human sin; the Spirit helps men to believe in, and rest upon, that sacrifice. See also ver. 8.

V. CHRIST'S HEAVEN DEARER. To bring to light the reality of a future life was one of the specific objects of Christ's mission. He came to speak of it in His teachings; to purchase it by His sufferings; to reveal it by His resurrection; to open it and take possession of it for His people by His triumphant ascension. Obviously, then, Christ's departure into heaven has given the world the surest proof that a heaven exists, and invested it with the strongest and sweetest charm for His people. Christ would not be long absent from the sorrowing disciples before they would come to feel in this respect the benefit of His departure. It would humanize heaven for them. It would no longer seem to them a strange place. Those who have Christian friends there know how that blessed home is all the dearer on that account. How much, then, should heaven be enhanced by the presence of Christ. Conclusion: What should be the soul's attitude towards this absent Saviour? "Whom having not seen we love," &c. Faith. Love. Joy.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. THE GREATEST TRIAL MAY PROVE THE GREATEST BLESSING.

1. The departure of Christ was felt to be a most grievous trial. "Sorrow hath filled your heart." The Sun of their souls was sinking beneath the horizon and their world left in darkness and desolation.

2. The advent of His Spirit would be the greatest blessing. He was the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, &c. He would enter the inner temple of their nature, reproduce all the impressions that Christ had made, and abide with them for ever. Thus it is and ever will be with the good. "Our light affliction," &c.

II. THE GREATEST TRIAL MAY BE NECESSARY TO THE GREATEST BLESSING. It seemed expedient in order —

1. To give a more real meaning to the life of Christ. Never does the life of a loved friend come with such meaning and might as when death has removed him. He then assumes lovelier forms, and wields a more potent influence. So with Christ. When He ceased to be seen without, He became formed within them the "Hope of Glory."

2. To dissipate all their material and local perceptions of Him. His departure tended at once to spiritualize and universalize their conceptions of Him.

3. To stimulate them to study the eternal principles of duty. So long as our teacher is with us we are contented to have our duty pointed out to us. Like children, we shall be controlled by verbal rulers and voices from without. But when he is gone there is a sphere and stimulus for the use of our faculties. How inferior is the mind moving by prescriptive rules to one ruled by universal principles.

4. To throw the soul upon the help of its own faculties. Man only grows as he works his own faculties and becomes self-reliant. Up to a certain point parental watchfulness is indispensable; beyond that it becomes an evil. It is a kind law, though painful, which requires the child to withdraw from the parental roof, and rely upon himself. So with the disciples. What a marked change occurred in them after the Ascension. The principle before us admits of a wide application. It may be necessary for a man to lose friends, property, health, liberty to prepare him for eternal life.

III. THE GREATEST TRIALS AND THE GREATEST BLESSINGS ARE ALIKE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF CHRIST.

1. The greatest trial. "I go away." No compulsion; Christ was free. "I have power to lay down My life."

2. The greatest blessing. "I will send," &c. "Him," not "It" — a Person, not an influence. Our destiny is in the hands of Christ. Let us trust in Him. The whole of our life is made up of loss and gain; but if we are His, He takes away a good thing to give a better.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. THE EXPEDIENCY OF CHRIST'S DEPARTURE. How could they, poor sheep, be better off in the midst of wolves without a shepherd? A few things remembered may make it a little clearer.

1. The Master has a work to do for us in heaven. His work was not all done on Calvary. His intercession is the sequel and continuation of redemption.

2. His departure prepared the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

3. Be could not be with them in the fullest sense unless He left them.

4. His departure raised and spiritualized their conceptions.

5. His departure made them better men. Even after three years with Jesus they were but children in understanding and power. We have their portraits before and after His departure, and so changed are they that one could hardly believe them the same men.

II. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. This is twofold.

1. Upon the world (vers. 8-11). The Master mentions three distinct points as to which the Spirit will reprove or convict the world: "sin," "righteousness," "judgment." Then, resuming each point separately, He shows more particularly what the Spirit will do. The first work of the Holy Spirit is to convince of sin — of all sins, but chiefly of the sin of rejecting Christ. All sin has its root in unbelief, and the most aggravating form of unbelief is the rejection of Jesus Christ. This is the one great, comprehensive, all-inclusive sin of ungodly men. He next convinces the world of the righteousness of God's whole dispensation, but especially of Christ's personal righteousness. The world accounted Jesus guilty. It would also be the special function of the Spirit to keep alive the idea of judgment. He teaches the world moral and spiritual discernment, and vivifies their views of the final judgment.

2. The mission of the Holy Spirit among believers. As He turns to His disciples Jesus says: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." But they are told of a Guide who shall lead them into all truth.

(G. W. Brown.)

The advantage to a great cause in the death of its great leader. This is a paradox, but there are many paradoxes that are true.

1. In the first place we never come to know any man while he is with us. The world's best judgments of men are formed after their death. Christ Himself was not known while He lived. His twelve disciples, while they were in fellowship and companionship with Him and walking by His side, resting even on His bosom, never realized that He was the Son of God. You know that the mother always loves best the child that is dead. It is not because the child that is dead was better than all the children that are living, but because death brings the loved ones nearer to us than life ever brings them. You will never know your wife till she has gone from you. We never realize the meaning of Good-morning until we have said Good-bye.

2. The great truths are never apprehended while the great teachers of those truths are living to expound them. The death of a great teacher deepens and disseminates the knowledge of the truth. It was so with the death of Christ. It has been so with the death of every great teacher since Christ died. And the death of a great leader not only deepens the knowledge of the truth, it disseminates that knowledge. The Reformation is a great deal broader than Luther; and Calvinism is a great deal larger than John Calvin; Methodism is immeasurably more than Wesley; and, in a true sense, Christianity is more than Jesus of Nazareth — not more than Christ, but more than Jesus of Nazareth. There are some persons who look forward with hope to a second coming, in fleshly and visible presence, of Christ. They want to see Jesus of Nazareth descend again to earth, enthroned and crowned, sitting at Jerusalem. This would limit Christianity instead of broadening it, weaken instead of strengthening it, decrease instead of adding to its power. No great truth can be fully made manifest in a single narrow life; and every individual life is narrow. So long as the great leader lives the truth is caged; when the cage is destroyed has the bird liberty to fly out to carry its song everywhither?

3. But, yet more than that, as truth is greater than the teacher, so life and spirit is greater than any manifestation of that life and spirit. Life is more than truth. It is truth vitalized. The life of piety is more than any man's piety. The life of love is more than any one love. Mother-love? It is infinitely more than the love of any one mother. Patriotism? It is immeasurably broader than the service of any one patriot. The history of the Christian Church is the history of the unfoldings of successive developments of Christian truth, Christian experience, in and through Christian lives.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

I. THE GREAT DOCTRINE WE COMMEMORATE. The disciples, as yet, knew only the foundation truth of the unity of the Godhead. Doubtless the All-wise, who has evermore proportioned His revelations to the needs and capacity of His creatures, knew that this great truth was all that they as yet were fitted profitably to receive. For this master-truth, when man's corruptions had multiplied false gods, the Jewish Church was to enshrine and to transmit; and it may be that the full knowledge of the Trinity might have weakened their special witness for the indivisible Unity of God. Now to men trained up to view this as the key-stone of their whole religious system, the trial of faith required to receive the doctrine of the Trinity must have been so great, that nothing but the direct illumination of the Holy One could make them able to receive it. They had indeed been accustomed to hear of the Spirit of God (Genesis 1:2; Exodus 31:3; Numbers 24:2; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:20; 2 Chronicles 15:1). And yet they were amongst those who "did not so much as know whether there were any Holy Ghost." They doubtless thought of God's Spirit as of His inward being, or as the breath of His mouth; it was with them but another name for His essence, power, or influence. But the truth, as it was revealed by the Spirit, was —

1. That in the Unity of the indivisible Godhead there were not only the Persons of the Father and the Son, but also that of the Holy Ghost.

2. That though the Holy Ghost is One God with the Father and the Son, yet is He not either the Father or the Son.

3. That this was no mere revelation to man of the one Godhead under a threefold aspect, but that it was an eternal and necessary condition of the Godhead itself.

4. That whilst as touching time there was neither before nor after in relation to the three blessed Persons, there was between themselves a priority of order; in that the everlasting Father was the fountain of being; for that the Son was from the Father, whilst the Father was not from the Son; and that the Holy Ghost was from the Father and the Son.

5. His special office in the work of man's salvation. They now learned —(1) That whilst every Person in the Godhead contributed to that salvation, yet that the Father is the Creator; the Son the Redeemer, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Comforter, is the Sanctifier of all the elect.(2) That although the work of the Redeemer, so far as it depended upon His personal presence upon earth, was perfectly accomplished, yet that still He had much to do for those whom He had died to save. For He had to ascend into the highest heaven, that there He might plead the sacrifice He had once for all offered, and administer from the Father's right hand the rule of the mediatorial kingdom.(3) That as the first-fruits of that rule, there was poured out upon the Church on earth the gift of the Holy Ghost.

II. THIS GREAT DOCTRINE IS FULL OF PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES.

1. It is this which makes the Church of Christ to be what it is. All the attributes, powers, and blessings of the Church are the consequence of this presence of the Holy Ghost. It is through this that Christ the Lord is ever with it; that it has gifts of light, and understanding, and power, and holiness; that its members are a true living unity; that its prayers mount up acceptably to God; that the Sacraments and means of grace are made real. It is of the utmost moment that again and again we remind ourselves of these great truths, for everything around us tends to rob us of their reality.(1) The world, though it bears the Christian name, has no real belief in any special presence of the Holy Ghost; and we cannot mix with it without being tempted to take up even unawares its tone of unbelieving thought.(2) Even within the Church itself this temptation re-appears in the most subtle forms. Formality creeps over us even as we worship, and then we rest in the outward and visible as if it had some virtue of its own. Nor is the reaction from this less common or less dangerous. We meet daily with those who seek to get rid of formalism by decrying the forms through which God the Holy Ghost acts. Hence it happens that even whilst seeking for spirituality, men come to deny the reality of that spiritual Presence which alone can make them spiritual.

2. Its light colours the whole of those lives which each one of us is leading in the Church of the redeemed. It is in this presence and under these influences that our lives are being spent. And see how it must affect them.(1) What a character does it give to our sins ! How deadly is the defilement which keeps men unclean though surrounded by such a cleansing power! Think what your life has been, and remember that in all its innumerable incidents you have been acting under the very pressure of the hand of the Holy Ghost. Through all those hours of youth and tenderness, by all the hallowing agencies of Christian homes, the Sanctifier has co-operated for your salvation. By all the secret avenues of your soul have His blessed influences acted on you. By hopes and fears, by aspirations and depressions, in sorrow and in joy, in the hour of pain and in the bounding glow of health, He who for Christ's sake is in Christ's Church present with us, has been dealing with your inmost spirit. What are you, and what ought you to be? All has been done for you which could be done without destroying that mysterious power of will with which the Almighty has endowed you. What must allowed impurity, malignity, envy, harshness, evil imaginings, evil speakings, be in us with whom the Paraclete is present! Yea, and what must mere earthliness, coldness in devotion, the unbelieving eye, the careless touch of heavenly mysteries, the absence of contrition, the lack of faith, dulness of soul beneath the Saviour's Cross, dulness of heart and affection in the sight of Bethlehem, Gethsemane, and Calvary, — what must these things be in those who even here are in God's very temple, and under the hand of the Eternal Spirit.(2) But further, whilst Whitsuntide is so eminently a humbling time, yet what season is fuller of thoughts of hope and comfort. For though here, if anywhere, we see the true evil of an earthly life, yet we see also how we may escape from it. Only let us strive to realize His special presence who is the Lord and Giver of life; only, using humbly, faithfully, and simply the instruments of His presence.

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)

Just as we have sometimes seen the setting sun, surrounded by dark and gloomy clouds, and about to plunge into still darker and gloomier, break out for a moment and pour a final flood of light over mountain and sea, so this Sun of the World, about to set amid sombre clouds, sheds upon His Church a glorious beam of light to enlighten and comfort for ever. Notice —

I. THE DESCRIPTION HERE GIVEN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. "Comforter" is a word peculiar to St. John (John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7; 1 John 2:1), and means one called to be beside another. In Greek and Roman courts of law it was the custom for an accused person to be accompanied by influential friends. These were not advocates in our sense of the term, paid professionals, but men who out of friendship came to stand by their friend in his time of need, to help him by encouragements and suggestions, and if necessary to take his place. Jesus had hitherto been all this. Now He was going away in order that another Paraclete might take His place, and —

1. As the paraclete stood by his friend in the hour of trial, so does the Spirit by us. We are not left alone to face our difficulties and afflictions. "I will not leave your orphans." The Church is not left alone to face her trials and dangers. The Lord "will help her, and that right early."

2. As the paraclete suggested to his friend what was best for his defence, so does the Holy Spirit to us. "Take no thought what ye shall speak," &c. So these fishermen went everywhere, standing before kings, meeting the defenders of deeply-rooted religions and overthrowing them. So also with ourselves. We are not left to go a warfare at our own charges. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One."

3. As the paraclete pleaded for his friend, so does the Holy Spirit for us. Christ pleads for us in heaven; the Spirit pleads in our hearts (Romans 8.).

II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE DEPARTURE OF JESUS AND THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. It is the atonement of Christ that gives His Church a right to the Spirit's presence and the Spirit's grace. The atonement was not completed till Christ had gone away. In accordance with this we read (John 7:39) that the Spirit was not given because Jesus was not glorified. Not, however, that the Spirit was entirely absent from the Old Testament Church. He strove before the flood, inspired the prophets, &c.; but in His plenitude and power, He did not come till Jesus had gone. Conclusion: Let us —

1. Be encouraged by this word of the Master.

2. Realize the blessedness here conveyed.

(T. Hamilton, D. D.)

1. The teaching of Christ respecting the ministry of the Holy Ghost is so peculiar as to raise the inquiry, Where was the Holy Ghost during the earthly ministry of the Son of Man? Throughout the Old Testament there are the clearest testimonies as to His personal service, and yet Christ speaks of the descent of the Spirit as a new and special gift. Was His ministry suspended? It may be suggested that the fulness of the Spirit had not been realized in the ancient church, which is undoubtedly true; yet it is sufficient to account for the treatment of His descent as a new visitation. The answer would seem rather to be, that the Holy Ghost was in Jesus Christ himself, and could not be given to the Church as a distinctively Christian gift until the first period of the Incarnation had been consummated in the Ascension — "if I depart I will send Him unto you."

2. Christ gives a specific definition of the work of the Holy Ghost. That His work admitted of definition is itself significant; and that the Son of Mary should have presumed to define it is a marvellous instance of His spiritual dominion, if it be not a covert yet daring blasphemy. Let us now see with what simplicity and decisiveness Christ defines and limits the functions of the Holy Ghost.

I. "HE SHALL NOT SPEAK OF HIMSELF." Why not? Because He would be speaking an unknown tongue. We cannot understand the purely spiritual. Whatever we know of it must come through mediums which lie nearer our own nature. The whole ministry of God is an accommodation to human weakness. When He would teach truth He must needs set it in the form of fact: when He would show Himself, it must be through the tabernacle of our own flesh; when He would reveal heaven, He must illustrate His meaning by the fragments of light and beauty which are scattered on the higher side of our own inferior world. The Holy Ghost does not speak of Himself, because there must be a common ground upon which He can invite the attention of mankind.

II. "HE SHALL GLORIFY ME." The common ground is the work of the Man Christ Jesus.

1. What is meant by glorifying Christ? We know what is meant by the sun glorifying the earth. The sun does not create the landscape. Yet how wonderful is its work! Everything was there before, yet how transfigured by the ministry of light! In this respect, what light is to the earth, the Holy Ghost is to Christ. The work of the Spirit is revelation, not creation. He does not make Christ, He explains Him. The sun in doing all his wonderful work does not speak of himself; he will not, indeed, allow us to look at him. The Holy Ghost, in like manner, does not speak of himself. He will not answer all our inquiries respecting His personality. We cannot venture with impunity beyond a well-defined line. Yet whilst He Himself is the eternal secret, His work is open and glorious. His text is Christ. From that He never strays. The Christian student sees a Christ which he did not see twenty years ago. This increasing revelation is the work of the Holy Ghost, and is the fulfilment of Jesus Christ's own promise. This is an incidental contribution towards the completeness and harmony of the mystery that is embodied in Christ Jesus. The beginning and the end are the same — equal in mystery, in condescension, in solemn grandeur. Thus: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" — this is the beginning; "He shall not speak of Himself, He shall glorify Me;" — this is the end. The incarnation of the Son of God was the work of the Holy Ghost: how natural that the explanation of the Son of God should be the work of the same minister! As He was before the visible Christ, so He was to be after Him, and thus the whole mystery never passed from His own control.

2. The life of the Son of Man, as written in the Gospels, needs to be glorified! He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: He made Himself of no reputation: upon all this chasm we need a light above the brightness of the sun. When that light comes, the root out of a dry ground will be as the flower of Jesse and the plant of renown, and the face marred more than any man's will be the fairest among ten thousand and altogether lovely. Such is the wizardry of light!

3. This claim to be glorified by the Holy Ghost is without precedent in human history. That is a fact which ought to have some value attached to it. It is the kind of claim which an imposter would have avoided. Besides, for such a man, or for any man indeed, to have had such an idea is most marvellous. Had He merely committed His case to the care of time and the judgment of posterity, He would have taken the course of ordinary sagacity; but instead of that He expressly stated that the Holy Ghost would glorify His person, and complete His meditation on the earth. The work of the Holy Ghost was to be infinitely more than a work of mere explanation: it was to move "forward to the very point of glory, even the glory which the Son of Man had with His Father before the world began. Having spoken of the ministry of the Holy Ghost in relation to Himself, our Lord proceeds to speak of it in relation to His disciples.

III. "HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH."

1. Not "He will add to the number of miracles which you have seen at My hands," but "I am the Truth; He will glorify Me, He will show you all My riches." Our Lord Himself did not guide His disciples into all truth, nor have men even yet been so far guided. Truth is an infinite quantity. At first it may seem to be compassable, but it recedes as it is approached; yet it throws the warm rays of promise upon every honest and loving pilgrim to its shrine. Our Lord's expression is comprehensive, — not only into truth that is distinctively theological, but into all truth, — scientific, political, social, religious. Is truth not larger than the formal church? Our Lord does not open one department of truth and refuse the key of others. It is not to be supposed that any one man is to be guided into all truth. Some possessions are put into the custody of the whole race. No single star holds all the light. No single flower is endowed with all the beauty. What man is there who knows all things? Every honest student has some portion of truth that is in a sense his own, and every eye sees at least a tint which no other vision has seen so clearly as itself. Men make up man, churches make up the Church, truths makes up Truth, and it is only by a complete combination of the parts that the majesty and lustre of the whole can be secured.

2. "The Spirit of Truth" as such is to "guide into all truth." The quantity is unlimited; the method assumes consent and co-operation on the part of man. A reference to Old Testament history will show how grave is the error which limits it to thinking and service which are supposed to be purely theological. It may indeed show that "theology" is the all-inclusive term, holding within its meaning all the highest aspects and suggestions both of speculative and practical science. Can anything be farther from theology, as popularly understood, than stone-cutting or wood-carving? Can any two spheres be much more widely sundered than those of the preacher of the gospel and the artificer in iron and brass? Apparently not. But the biblical testimony sets the inquiry at rest (Exodus 31:2-5). Bezaleel was an inspired theologian. More than this, and apparently still farther away from the theological line: "I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire," &c. Then, intermediately at least, may stand the agriculturalist, of whose treatment of the earth is said: "This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." The rulers and soldiers of Israel were qualified for their work by the Spirit of the Lord. The ministration of the Spirit is various: by it Moses was made wise, Bezaleel was made skilful, and Samson was made strong (1 Corinthians 12:11).

3. Upon the Church itself this promise of guidance into all truth should exert a healthful influence, especially in the direction of enlarging and refining its charity. The danger is that the Church should be content with a limited range of dogma and purpose when it is invited to the mastery and enjoyment of a kingdom that cannot be measured. Men of the most inquisitive mind should be encouraged by the Church to lead the van of inquiry, and subject every doctrine and every spirit to a cross-examination which to minds of an opposite type may become wearisome and even vexatious. The Church should extend to its adventurous sons who go out to shores far away and to lands unmapped and unclaimed, the most ardent and loving recognition. Even when they return with hopes unfulfilled and with banners torn by angry winds, proving the abortiveness of their chivalry, or the mistake of their method, they should be hailed with a still tenderer love. To such men the promise of being guided into all truth becomes a personal torture. They yearn for its fulfilment: they are straitened until it be accomplished.

IV. "HE WILL SHOW YOU THINGS TO COME." Such a promise would seem to imply that secret communications about the future will be made to the Church; yet this construction must be admitted with extreme caution, for men would in some cases mistake prejudices and frenzies for inspiration, and in others they would inflict needless trouble upon themselves and upon society at large. Limited to the immediate hearers of our Lord, of course the promise is exhausted and the results are to some extent recorded in apostolic history; but it cannot be so limited. Merely to "show things to come" in the sense of prevision is a blessing greater in appearance than in reality; but to prepare the mind for things to come — to show the mind how to deal with new and perplexing circumstances — is an advantage which cannot be expressed in human terms. Whatever the premised "announcement" may include, it must involve this supernatural preparedness of mind and heart, or it will merely excite and bewilder the Church. Whatever may come, and with what violence soever its coming may be attended, the Church will be prepared to withstand every shock and surmount every difficulty. Out of this assurance comes rest; the future is no longer a trouble; the clouds that lie upon the remote horizon will be scattered by the brightness of the image of God.

V. "HE SHALL BRING ALL THINGS TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE, WHATSOEVER I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU." There is an inspiration of memory. Readers of the Gospels must have been surprised by the minuteness of recollection which is shown in their pages. Conversations are reported; little turns of dialogue, which seem to be merely artistic, are not omitted; records of occasions on which the disciples were actually not present, and of which they could only have heard from the lips of the Lord Himself, are presented with much particularity and vividness: how, then, was this done, and especially done by men who certainly were not conspicuous for the kind of learning which is needful for the making of literary statements? The explanation of this artless art, and this tenacious memory, is in this promise.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. He did go, and He did send, and on this day, so between the text and our feast there is the reciprocation that is between "the promise of the sending" and the "sending of the promise."

2. There seems to be a question here, whether best the Comforter come or not come? This question grew out of whether Christ best go or not. But Christ resolves this: if they were against the Ascension they were also against a feast which they might not miss out of their calendar, and persuades them to accept the Ascension in hope of Whitsun-tide: one to make amends for the other. This is usual. After Christmas, the poor estate of Christ's birth, there comes Epiphany with a star and great men's oblations as by way of compensation; after Good Friday Easter, &c.

3. But Ascension Day, though to Christ a day of glory, could not but be a day of sorrow for the disciples. For —(1) To part with any friend is a grief — even though he be a Demas.(2) And if any friend, how much more such a one as Christ!(3) And if such a friend at any time, much more now (ver. 2)!

4. Men often grieve, however, at what is for their good. Therefore Christ says, "I tell you the truth." Your hearts are full of sorrow because your heads are full of error. Your loss will be your gain.

I. THE INCONVENIENCE OF THE SPIRIT NOT COMING.

1. The absolute necessity for His advent. In both the main works of the Deity all three Persons co-operate. As in creation not only the Word of God was required, but the motion of the Spirit to give life; and as in the genesis so in the palingenesis. It was necessary not only that the Word should take flesh, but flesh also receive the Spirit to give the life of grace to the new creature. So we baptize into all Three.

2. Most expedient is it that the work of our salvation should be brought to full perfection. If the Holy Ghost came not, Christ's coming can do us no good. Christ said "It is finished," but only in respect of the work itself. In regard of us and making it ours it is not finished if the Spirit come not too. For —(1) A word is of no force, though written, (i.e., a deed) till the seal be added: that makes it authentic. Christ is the Word, the Spirit, the Seal.(2) The will of the testator even when sealed is still in suspense till administration be granted. Christ is the Testator of the New Testament; "the administration is the Spirit."(3) The purchase is made, the price paid, yet is not the state perfect unless there be investiture. Christ has purchased, but the investiture is by the Spirit.

3. As nothing is done for us, so nothing is done by us if He come not. The means avail nothing.(1) Not baptism; no "laver of regeneration," without renewing of the Holy Ghost.(2) No preaching neither; for that is but a letter that killeth, "except the Spirit come and quicken it."(3) No Lord's Supper; for "the flesh profiteth nothing," if the Lord and Giver of Life be away.(4) No prayer; for unless the Spirit helps our infirmity and make intercession within us, we neither know how nor what to pray.

II. THE NECESSITY OF CHRIST'S GOING. But why not Christ stay and the Holy Spirit come? Or if He go, come again with Him. Surely He and Christ are not incompatible. Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost. At His baptism the Spirit rested upon Him. We shall enjoy both together by and by: Why not now? It was necessary that Christ should go.

1. On the Holy Ghost's part. Otherwise He could not come as He should. The stay of Christ would have been a hindrance of the manifestation of His Godhead. His signs and wonders would not well have been distinguished from Christ's, and would probably have been ascribed to Christ.

2. On Christ's part. Otherwise it had been an impeachment to Christ's equality with the Father. For He not going to send Him, but staying here, the sending of the Spirit would have. been ascribed to the Father alone.

3. On the apostles' part.(1) For His bodily presence. It is often good for some that their meat be taken, and yet meat is the stay of their life; or for their blood to be taken, yet blood is nature's treasure and holds us in life; or for light to be taken, in some disease of the eyes, yet light is the comfort of life. The loving mother withdraws herself from her child when the child grows foolishly fond of her. For the same reason Christ withdrew. So strangely fond the disciples grew of Him that nothing but His carnal presence would quiet them (John 11:21). And "a tabernacle" they must needs build Him to keep Him on earth still; and ever and anon they dreamed of a temporal kingdom and chief seats there. These feelings were by no means to be cherished. They were not to continue children but to grow to man's estate, and so they had to be weaned from the presence of Christ's flesh, and to say, "If we have known Christ after the flesh," &c. (2 Corinthians 5:16).(2) For His spiritual presence. This is expedient —(a) When men grow faint in seeking, and careless in keeping Him (Song of Solomon 3:1). It was meet that Christ should go to teach them to rise and seek, to watch and keep Him better.(b) When men grow conceited and overweening of themselves and their own strength, and say with David, "I shall never be moved," as if they had Christ pinned to them; and with Peter (Matthew 26:33). Christ goes to teach them to see and know themselves better, that we may be humble, and being humble receive the Holy Ghost who comes to give grace to none but the humble

(Bp. Andrewes.)

I. THE BODILY PRESENCE OF CHRIST MUST HAVE BEEN EXCEEDINGLY PRECIOUS. How precious those alone can tell who love Christ much. Love always desires to be in the company of the thing beloved, and absence causes grief. Have we not some of us been looking for years for the personal advent of Christ. Think of the advantage it would be in the instruction of His people. No mystery need puzzle us if we could refer all to Him. There would be no discouragement to the Church henceforth in her work of faith and labour of love. Christ would take the personal supervision of His universal Church. He would create unity. Schism would cease to be, and heresy would be rooted out. But I question whether the pleasure of this thought may not have had a leaven of carnality in it, and whether the Church is yet prepared to enjoy the corporeal presence of her Saviour, without falling into the error of knowing Him after the flesh. It may be it shall need centuries of education before the Church is fit to see Him.

II. THE PRESENCE OF THE COMFORTER IS VERY MUCH BETTER THAN THE BODILY PRESENCE OF CHRIST.

1. The bodily presence of Christ would involve many inconveniences which are avoided by His presence through the Holy Spirit.(1) Christ, being most truly man, must inhabit a certain place; but the Holy Spirit is everywhere, and through that Holy Spirit Christ keeps His promise, "Where two or three are met together in My name," &c.(2) Access to Christ, if He were here in His corporeal personality, would not be very easy to all believers. Even at the present moment there are some millions of true saints upon earth — what could one man do, even though that one man were incarnate Deity, in our day for the comfort of all of these? Why, we could scarcely expect to have our turn once in the year. But we can now see Jesus every hour and every moment of every hour.(3) Christ's presence in the flesh would involve another difficulty. Busy scribes would be always taking down Christ's words; and, if in the short course of three years our Saviour managed to do and to say so much that if all had been written the world itself could not have contained the books which would have been written, I ask you to imagine what a mass of literature the Christian Church would have acquired if she had preserved the words of Christ throughout these 1800 years. But now we have a book which is finished within a narrow compass, and the poorest man in England believing in Christ, who is present through His Spirit may, in a short time, understand with all saints what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.

2. If Christ were still present in the flesh, the life of faith would not have such room for its display as it now has. The least faith the most show. The Romish Church, which has little enough of true faith, provides everything to work upon the senses. The presence of Christ Jesus here would be the bringing back of the saints to a life of sight, and in a measure spoil the simplicity of naked trust. Happy day will it be for us when faith enjoys the full fruition of her hopes in the triumphant advent of her Lord; but His absence alone can train and educate her to the needed point of spiritual refinement.

3. The presence of Christ would materially affect the character of God's great battle against error and sin. Suppose that all men who would oppose Christ were suddenly devoured, why then it would be rather a battle between physical greatness and moral evil, than a warfare in which only spiritual force is employed on the side of right. But now that Christ has gone the fight is all between spirit and spirit; between the Holy Spirit and Satan; between truth and error; between the earnestness of believing men and the infatuation of unbelieving men. Now the fight is fair. Physical force is left to our enemies, we ask it not. Why? Because by the Divine working we can vanquish error without it.

4. Christ must be here in one of two ways — suffering, or not suffering. If He be a suffering Christ, then we should suspect that He had not finished His work; and, if He be an unsuffering Christ, then it would look as if He were not a faithful High Priest made like unto His brethren.

III. THE PRESENCE OF THE COMFORTER IS SUPERLATIVELY VALUABLE.

1. We may gather this first from the effects which were seen upon the day of Pentecost. Here was an omen of what the Spirit of God is to be to the Church.(1) When He comes like the wind, it is to purge the moral atmosphere, and to quicken the pulse of all who spiritually breathe.(2) Then the Spirit came as fire. The Church wants fire to quicken her ministers, to give zeal and energy to all her members. Having this fire she burns her way to success.(3) Then there came from the fire-shower a descent of tongues. Though we can no longer speak with every man in his own tongue, yet we have the keys of the whole world swinging at our girdle if we have the Spirit of God with us. There is no reason in the nature of the gospel, or the power of the Spirit, why a whole congregation should not be converted under one sermon. There is no reason in God's nature why a nation should not be born in a day. The great prophetic event occurred on the day of Pentecost. The success given was only the first fruits — Pentecost is not the harvest. You must expect and pray for greater things.

2. Without the Holy Spirit no good thing ever did or ever can come into any of your hearts — no sigh of penitence — no cry of faith — no glance of love — no tear of hallowed sorrow.

3. No good thing can come out of you apart from the Spirit. Do you desire to preach? — how can you unless the Holy Ghost teaches your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas! what dull work it is unless the Spirit maketh intercession for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? — you cannot without the Spirit! Conclusion: If these things be sol. Let us, who are believers in Christ, so reverence the Spirit as not to grieve Him or provoke Him. You who are unconverted — never despise Him. Remember, there is a special honour put upon Him in Scripture — "All manner of sin and of blasphemy," &c.

2. Let us, viewing the might of the Spirit, take courage to-day. Our fathers bore their testimony in the stocks and in the prison, but they feared not for the good old cause, because they knew that the Spirit of God is mighty and will prevail.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE RELATION BETWEEN CHRIST'S BODILY PRESENCE AND THE SPIRIT'S INFLUENCE WITH THE CHURCH.

1. Before Christ came the Spirit was little known. In all ages it is true that while Christ is the only foundation, the Spirit is the only architect of religion. But if before the Incarnation Christ was dimly seen, can we wonder that the Spirit was not clearly known? Yet as many received salvation by a Messiah whom they scarcely descried in the distance, they received Him by the grace of that Spirit whose operations they felt rather than understood.

2. While Christ was on the earth the Spirit was better known, but known as resting on the Head rather than descending on the body of the Church. Nothing, in all the preceding ages, could be compared with this for clearness. How natural, after the manifestation of the Spirit at Christ's baptism, was it for Christ to begin His ministry by selecting this text — "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," &c. The very name, Messiah — Christ — is derived from the sacred unction which Christ here claims to Himself. What a display of the Spirit's influence was given in the person and ministry of Christ! Still, this was in the Head rather than in the body of the Church, "for the Spirit was not yet received, because Jesus was not yet glorified," For what do we see of the work of the Spirit on man in general during the ministry of Christ on earth? It is true that we read of above five hundred brethren. But what are a few hundreds, or even thousands, as the fruit of such a ministry as that of Jesus Christ? But, alas t we read of no grand effusions of the Spirit accompanying the preaching of our Saviour. Though Christ spake as never man spake, His audience never cried — "What shall we do to be saved?" And when the unbelieving multitude vociferated, "Away with Him, crucify Him!" there was no counter-cry from an opposing mass who had received life at His lips. No; it was necessary first to show what the Spirit does in the Person of Him from whom the grace descends to us; that the anointing should flow from the Head to the members.

3. But when Christ departed to heaven, then the Spirit descended on the whole Church. For there were sufficient reasons why the Spirit of grace should not descend before.(1) It was not fit that the choicest blessing which heaven can shed on men should be granted while the guilt of their sins remained unatoned for. But now "He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,... that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."(2) It was fit that Christ should go away to heaven, and from thence should bestow this best of blessings. As our kings date their highest royal acts, and issue their proclamations of grace, from "our royal palace at St. James's," it behoved the King of grace to "ascend up on high," in order to give from His heavenly throne "gifts to the rebellious."(3) While Christ was as our king, it should be remembered that He was to be a "priest on His throne," and from His throne Christ, our priest and king, has shed forth that influence which has shown the fulfilment of this promise.

II. THE PREFERENCE DUE TO THE SPIRIT'S INFLUENCE

1. The value of Christ's bodily presence is implied when it is said to be expedient for us that He should go away. While He was on earth He was its treasure and its joy. Christ Himself said, "Blessed are your eyes that they see," &c. The hope of seeing Christ after death makes even that bitter thing sweet. Can we wonder, then, that the disciples who saw Him on earth were reluctant to part with this grateful sight? Nor do we wonder that the hope of His speedy re-appearance should prove a fascinating lure to many who are as much mistaken as the disciples were.

2. The superior value of the Spirit's presence.(1) The bodily presence of Christ was confined to one spot — the presence of the Spirit is universal.(2) The bodily presence of Christ belongs to the order of means that strike the senses, but the presence of the Spirit is that of an agent who affects the heart and attains the end. If Christ were to appear on earth, He must either come in His glory or lay it aside. Were He to come in His glory could we endure it? Paul "could not see for the glory of that Light," and John fell at His feet as dead. Must He, then, lay aside His glory and become again of no reputation? What! has He not had enough of this? But on any supposition Christ's bodily presence might act on our bodies, whereas His Spirit operates upon our spirits. Many, therefore, saw Christ while on earth, only to their more aggravated condemnation. Even those who repented because they saw Christ were told not to glory but to blush. Had Christ continued on earth our imperfect religion would regard Him with a mixture of debasing carnal emotions from which we are, by His absence, kept free, saying, "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh," &c. Now we are no longer in danger of intruding upon Him with unseemly familiarity, nor are we exposed to the repulse, "Touch me not;" but by the Spirit's pure and heavenly influences we are elevated towards the Saviour's throne by a flight altogether spiritual and Divine.(3) It is more honourable, both to Christ and to His Spirit, that the Son should depart and send His Spirit down. If this can be shown, it will follow that it is expedient for us.(a) The Head cannot be glorified without shedding lustre on the members; nor can the members see the Head exalted, without feeling a sense of exaltation and delight. While Christ dwelt here He was the Father's servant. So much humiliation and infirmity entered into His sojourn here, that He might well chide His friends for wishing to detain Him in it, saying, "If ye loved Me ye would rejoice," &c. But now He has prayed, and has been heard, "Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self," &c. When He quitted earth for heaven, He exchanged the condition of a servant for that of a king. From the seat of glory He sent down His Spirit as His advocate, as well to glorify Christ as to call and sanctify us. The "Paraclete" should be regarded as conveying the idea of a patron and counsellor, to vindicate Christ's rights, and display His glory, and animate the spirits of men to rise to lofty and delightful ideas of the Saviour.(b) This is more honourable to the Spirit too. Would not the splendour of the glorified Redeemer take off men's attention from the operations of the Spirit of grace? But should the Spirit be robbed of his honours? Is it not, then, fit that He should work by means less splendid and fascinating — by the ordinary preaching of the Word — by those who have the treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be seen to be of God, and not of man?

III. THE NECESSITY OF ENFORCING THE PREFERENCE DUE TO THE DIVINE SPIRIT.

1. We are exceedingly prone to dote on that which strikes the senses in preference to that which affects the heart. Has not the fatal apostasy of Rome originated in this infirmity of our nature? Perhaps there is scarcely one unconverted person here that does not fancy he would behove if he saw Christ in the flesh. Even the infidel says, "If I saw Jesus Christ as you represent Him, I would hail Him as my Saviour." But did that sight convert the Jews?

2. We as much undervalue the Spirit's influence. You have something better than that which you so fondly fancy would vanquish all your love of sin, and triumph over your unbelief. There are more mighty resources provided for us than if the Son of God were to come down. For the Holy Ghost is now sent to be an advocate to plead His cause with the world, and convince it of Christ's righteousness, and grace, and dominion, and saving power. Conclusion:

1. Beware, lest having lost Christ's presence, you live without the Spirit's influence.

2. Aspire to join the spirits of just men made perfect, who, enjoying both these blessings, are at the summit of bliss.

(J. Bennett, D. D.)

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