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not disturbed nor frightened if this dethroned potentate and god of the world scowls, and gnashes his teeth, and champs, and threatens like a fiend; he is as impotent in his rage as a dog that furiously barks and dashes his chains to the right and to the left, eagerly intent to thrust his fangs into the limbs of the passer-by, who easily avoids the rush by stepping to one side of the mad but fettered beast. Just so the devil barks and rages against the Christians, but he is chained and cannot injure them if they have faith in Christ and are constant in prayer. But if we forget this and become careless, we are in danger of injury, or, at least, of great consternation by this hellhound, who, though in chains and unable to bite, can yet greatly terrify those who heedlessly approach him; for cross dogs do not always bark, but are also quiet at times, with evil intent.
They who have the office to preach the Word, and in the name of the Holy Ghost to reprove the world of sin and of righteousness, ought to cling firmly to this assurance, that the prince of this world is judged. The world cannot at all endure to be reproved of sin; people become enraged when told that they are sinners and devoid of righteous
If then we come with our reproof, as it is our duty, the world begins to rage and howl in a perfect fit of frenzy. Were it not for the testimony of the Holy Ghost concerning the judgment of “the prince of this world,” we preachers would often be frightened by such manifestations of the devil and would hold our peace. The term “Paracletus," which means a comforter, a helper, belongs therefore of right to the Holy Ghost. He cheers the
hearts in tribulations and danger, and makes them strong to hear and heed the fact that “the prince of this world is judged."
This then we consider to be the office of the Holy Ghost on earth, and the import of His preaching and instruction. Nor is there any doubt that he who refuses to accept this preaching and instruction as the best and most valuable treasure on earth, and would not give up his own life rather than to lose this boon, is no Christian. Life and property are temporal gifts, but this treasure is everlasting; it conveys to us eternal life. St. Paul says: “The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” We cught therefore greatly to rejoice at the going of Christ to the Father, of which He speaks in the text, and give thanks unto God continually, with the earnest prayer that He may mercifully retain in us this knowledge and increase it day by day, so that we may be freed from sin and be made partakers of eternal righteousness, and, finally, that we may be comforted in the assurance that the prince of this world is judged.
After having concluded His statement in reg:crd to the office of the Comforter, Christ continues: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them' now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.”
You are aware, my hearers, how the Papists perve:t this expression when they pretend to prove by it their innovations and institutions, saying that the Holy Ghost was their author, and that Christ in this passage prophesied of such work. This is all a most glaring falsehood.
On the contrary, Christ would say in this passage: You, my disciples, have now heard of the office and functions of the Holy Ghost. Concerning this I have yet much to say unto you, but you are unable to comprehend it now; you must learn. it by experience. For the Holy Spirit will also guide you into all truth and protect you from false and damnable doctrine. Without such guidance of the Holy Spirit it easily happens that we depart from the truth, that we neglect the Word and suddenly fall into grievous error.
Arius picked out one or two passages and made them the basis of his heresy, while he, on the other hand, disregarded the many plain and convincing testimonies concerning Christ. The Anabaptists take as proof for their doctrine the command of Christ: “Go, teach and baptize all nations.” They say that if instruction should precede baptism, as this passage implies, then of course infant baptism is wrong, for it does not admit of instruction preceding baptism. It is however evident that the command to teach prior to baptism has reference only to adults. A similar perversion of the text occurred in regard to the Lord's Supper. The plain words of Christ were set aside, while certain confused and dubious expressions of the fathers were highly esteemed as decisive. Surely, error is speedily upon us if the Holy Ghost does not guide us into all truth.
Christ also says: “The Comforter will show you things to come." This prophesying is another function of the Holy Spirit, and we have many examples of its application in the Acts of the Apostles. But the Holy Ghost "shall also glorify me,”
continues Christ. With this declaration the Lord assures the disciples, and all believers, that their hearts shall be filled with a knowledge of God, whereby they will be strengthened to undergo all sufferings and joyfully to brave every danger for llis sake. Such is the work of the Holy Ghost, which incleed cannot be fully understood if experience in faith is wanting. Christ therefore tells the disciples that for the present it suffices them to be encouraged in tribulation and to rejoice at His going to the Father; for then would come the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to reprove the world of sin, to bring true righteousness and an assurance of eternal life.
These lessons we learn from the Gospel for this Sunday. May God, our Father, through Christ Jesus, send the Holy Spirit into our hearts, there to begin and to complete the work of salvation ! Amen.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
(RoGATE.) John 16, 23–30. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name : ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs : but the time corneth, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye st.all ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto Him, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee : by this we believe that Tbou camest forth from God.
n the Gospel to-day we have, as you, my be
loved, have just heard, an exhortation to prayer. To pray is a part of Christian worship, secondary only to the preaching of the Word. This exhortation to prayer was made by the Lord at the supper of the same evening on which He told His disciples, while sitting with them at the table, as we saw in the sermon of two weeks ago, that He would depart from them, that they would be sad, but that in a little while He would see them again and that then their sorrow would be turned into joy. With this promise the Lord combines the admonition to prayer, as it is contained in our text; and indeed the connection of the two is very obvious; for the Christian has no other resort or comfort in sorrow and tribulation than to pray earnestly and constantly to his heavenly Father for help.