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acceptance with God for his sake. We should come trusting in his sacrifice, and pleading the merit of his blood. This is indispensable in all our addresses at the throne of grace. We must not think of asking for any thing, but in His name. But if we have a becoming respect to him, we need not be straitened in our requests to God: we may
open our mouths wide, and he will fill them.” Of course, a person thus humbled with a sense of his own sinfulness, and thus exercising faith in the Lord Jesus, will desire nothing but what is agreeable to the Divine will: that limit to his prayers he himself will readily assign": he will take the promises as the legitimate standard of his petitions: and, so doing, he needs not be afraid of asking too much: the repeated declarations of Christ shall be literally fulfilled : “ Whatsoever he asks, he shall have':” yea, he shall have "exceeding abundantly above all that he can ask or think":" nothing can be so great, but it shall be granted to him; nothing so small, but he shall be heard concerning it. Of this we have repeated assurances from our Lord in the words before us: “Whatsoever ye shall ask, that will I do: if ye shall ask any thing, I will do it.")
Of the accomplishment of these promises we have the strongest pledge, when he tells us, II. For what end he will answer it
The end for which Jesus left the bosom of the Father was to do his Father's will': and during the whole time of his sojourning on earth, he invariably sought, not his own glory, but the glory of Him that sent him": and in the last prayer he offered with his Disciples, he desired only to be glorified himself, that he might thereby advance the Father's glory". This same end does he keep in view in answering the prayers that are offered in his name. .
1. The effect of his answers is, that his Father is glorified
[See what effects were produced by the miraculous powers which he bestowed on his Apostles: multitudes were converted by their ministry: the empire of sin and Satan was weakened :
8 This is twice mentioned in the text; and frequently elsewhere. See John xv. 16. and xvi. 23, 24, 26.
h 1 John v. 14.
1 Ps. xl. 7, 8. m John v. 30. and viii. 50. n John xvii. 1.
the authority of God was established over the hearts of men : and all the perfections of the Father were magnified and adored. Similar effects are produced by every communication of his grace to the souls of men ; who are thereby “turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Only trace the change that is wrought in the heart and life of any individual, when the Spirit of God works effectually in his soul, and it will instantly appear how greatly the honour of God is advanced by the answers which our Saviour gives to the prayers
--] 2. The circumstance of the prayers being answered by him tends also to the glory of God the Father
[The power of God would appear equally if the prayers were answered by the Father: but not so his other perfections : they are more eminently displayed by that office being vested in the Lord Jesus. By that the justice and holiness of the Father are exalted; inasmuch as men are thereby taught, that God cannot accept a sinner, if coming in his own name, nor reject him, if coming in the name of Jesus: the holiness of God prohibiting all access to him, except through a Mediator; and the justice of God withholding from none the blessings which have been purchased for them by the Saviour's blood. By that also the love and mercy of God are magnified; in that, when there was no possibility of salvation to our falleri race if left to themselves, God gave his only-begotten Son to obtain salvation for them, and to impart it to them. By that too are the truth and faithfulness of God displayed; because, the promises being given us only in Christ Jesus, the accomplishment of them by Christ is an evidence that “ with God there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." If it should be thought by any that the delegation of this power to Christ derogates from the honour of the Father, let him know, that God the Father accounts himself then alone honoured, when equal honour is given to his co-equal, co-eternal Son P.] Hence then we may see,
1. Whence it is that so few persons receive answers to prayer
[Many offer prayers, both in public and private; but they do not pray with that humility, or that faith, which are necessary to procure an answer from God. They do not feel that deep consciousness of their own vileness that makes a Mediator necessary: though they may notionally acknowledge Christ as their Saviour, they do not really feel the impossibility of
• 2 Cor. i. 20. Gal. iii. 17.
p Phil. i. 11. John v. 22, 23.
coming to a holy God in their own name: and consequently they do not depend so entirely on the merits of Christ as the only ground of their hopes; nor do they plead those merits for the acceptance of their prayers, as they ought: hence it is that the Father does not hear their prayers; and that the Lord Jesus does not answer them. If then we would really experience the truth contained in our text, let us seek help from God, that we may be enabled to approach him in that way which alone will prevail for our eternal good also draw nigh to him with that frequency, and delight, which a firm belief in our Saviour's veracity must produce.]
2. What they should attend to who have received answers to prayers
[That which is Christ's end in answering prayer, ought to be our end when an answer has been obtained; we should seek to glorify our heavenly Father. Do we ask, “ How can we glorify him?" I answer, " In bringing forth much fruita.” Holy tempers, and a life devoted to the service of God, are the proper fruits of grace received. As a seal stamps its own image on the wax, so does the sealing of the Spirit impress the Divine image on the soul. By this we must judge of answers to prayer. It is not by vain conceits, or transient impressions, that we can judge, but by the practical results. " If we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, we must walk in him, rooted and built up in him ;” or, in other words, "we must walk as he walked.” Where such fruits of prayer are wanting, God is grievously dishonoured: it is only by a conformity to Christ in all his dispositions and actions that we can approve ourselves his Disciples. Beware then how you substitute the reveries of enthusiasm for the holiness of the Gospel: “ He that doeth righteousness, (as every Disciple of Christ must,) is righteous, even as he is righteous.”]
9 John xv. 8.
THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO
John xiv. 15--17. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And
I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth : whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
IT has pleased God to unite man's happiness with his duty, and to ordain, that the paths of righteousness alone should be paths of pleasantness and peace. Hence our Lord, in his last discourse, wherein he laboured more abundantly to comfort his Disciples, insisted on obedience to his commandments as the best proof of their attachment to him, and the best means of securing blessings from above: yea, when he was informing them how richly the loss of his bodily presence should be overbalanced by the indwelling of the Spirit in their hearts, he first reminds them, that this benefit was inseparably connected with holiness of heart and life.
In discoursing on his words, we shall consider, I. The promise made by Christ to his obedient
DisciplesOur Lord requires all his followers to “ commandments"
[The believer is said to be" dead to the law;" but though dead to it as a covenant, he is as much alive to it as ever as a rule of life. The marriage connexion which once subsisted between him and it, is dissolved: but it is only dissolved, " that he may be married to another, even to the Lord Jesus Christ, and through him may, in the quality of his Spouse, be enabled to “ bring forth fruit unto Goda.” The obeying of Christ's commandments is the only satisfactory evidence that he can give of his love to Christ. In fact, to his latest hour he must try himself by this test. All the professions in the world will be regarded as hypocrisy, if destitute of this evidence and this support. Obedience and love are inseparable from each other. Love without obedience is no better than dissimulation, as obedience without love is mere servile drudgery. The command therefore here given to the Disciples, must be considered as given to all the followers of Christ in all ages.]
To those who follow this injunction he gives the most encouraging of all promises
[His Disciples were now about to lose his presence by reason of his removal to the worlds above. But he promised, that, " if they would obey his commandments, he would pray the Father for them, and that the Father would send them another Comforter to abide with them for ever." And here let me observe, that the Holy Spirit is represented by him, not as a quality, or operation, but as a distinct Person : not as a Comfort, but a Comforter; who should come from the Father, in answer to the intercessions of the Son, and abide in the bosoms of God's obedient people. Yes, as in the days of old, God, by the bright cloud, the Shechinah, the symbol of his presence, abode first in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, so will the Spirit of God now descend and dwell in the hearts of Christ's obedient followers, displaying before them his glory, and imparting to them his blessings to the full extent of all their diversified necessities. They, like the Apostles, are subjected to trials, and called both to act and suffer for their Lord: but the Holy Spirit shall give to them all needful succour and support, and make them more than conquerors over all their oppressors. Never for one moment will he leave them, till he has accomplished in them all that God of his unbounded love and mercy has ordained for them.]
a Rom. vii. 4.
Enlarging on this promise, our Lord shews his Disciples, II. What a distinguished blessing they are privileged
to enjoyThis divine Comforter is known to none but Christ's obedient followers
[" The world knows him not, nor can, in fact, receive him." As “the Spirit of truth” he spake in all the prophets : but the ungodly world cast his word behind their backs. In the days of our Lord they did the same. The same also they did when he spake by the Apostles. And the same they do at this day. For want of a spiritual discernment, " they see him not:” for want of an enlightened understanding, “ they know him not:" and for want of holy dispositions, they neither do, “nor can receive him.” Their hearts are closed against him: and are so full of corrupt affections, that he could not endure to make his abode with them. If for a moment he enter as a Spirit of conviction, he cannot possibly abide there as a Spirit of consolation. But to the obedient followers of Christ he comes with all his glorious manifestations and endearments. In their hearts he “sheds abroad the love of God :" to them he “ witnesses their adoption into God's family:" and he is in them “an earnest of their eternal inheritance."]
In all this the distinction between them and the ungodly world is incalculably great
[Mark the contrast as it is here drawn by our Lord himself, between the obedient and the disobedient Christian. The