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S. The conduct of Christ, in overcoming the world, may well encourage our endeavours to overcome it, as well as those of the apostles. In him we behold one in our own nature, with the same feelings and passions as ourselves, assailed with every temptation to desert his duty which fear, interest or ambition could produce, yet bravely withstanding them all; and what should prevent us from obtaining a like triumph? Have we not the same promises to rely on? The same God to assist us? The same heaven to reward our integrity? Is not his victory a sure pledge of ours? With such assistance then, and with such an example of success before our eyes, let us go forth to the conflict without dismay.
John' xvii. 1-12,
Jesus, having in the preceding discourse said every thing which he thought proper to console and encoufage bis disciples under the painful prospect of his removal, and knowing that the moment of his apprehension was very near, turns to God, and addresses him in a solemn prayer, which occupies the whole of the next chapter. In the first part of it he prays for himself, afterwards for his apostles, and lastly, for all future believers,
1. These words spake Jesus, and lift up his
eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may
Son also may glorify thee.
The glory which Christ here desires from his Father is no doubt the same as that of which he had spoken in the preceding discourse, which, as was there shown, consisted in the success of his gospel, or the spreading of his religion in the world. For when the Greeks, who were Gentiles, expressed a wish to
see him, he observed, The hour is come that the son of man should be glorified; that is, as the connection shows, by the spread of his religion among heathens. It is to the spread of his religion, and to the extraordinary events which were necessary for that purpose, such as his resurrection from the dead, his exaltation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that he now refers, when he prays that the Father would glorify the Son. The motive which induced him to make the request, and by which he supports it, is that God may be glorified; and it is as if he had said, The hour of my death is come; inflict upon me, O Father, thy favourite messenger and Son, such sufferings as thou seest to be requisite to promote my glory and thy own by the advancement of the gospel.
2. As thou hast given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him;
The request is here supported by an additional motive: complying with it was necessary for completing a scheme which had been already begun, and in part accomplished. As God had authorized him to promise that he should bestow eternal life upon all who became his disciples, his death and removal from the present state were necessary to the accomplishment of that promise.
3. And this is life eternal, the means of obtaining it, that they might know thee to be the only true God, and Jesus whom thou hast sent, to be the Christ: for so the passage may be rendered.
Nothing is necessary to obtaining this eternal life, but just ideas of thee as the only living God, and the acknowledgment of me as the Messiah, accompanjed with the practice consequent thereon.
4. I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.
God was glorified by the miracles which Christ performed, and by the supernatural knowledge which he discovered, which evidently appeared to come from the Divine Being, and gave the people exalted ideas of his power and wisdom. The work which he had to do was to preach the gospel to the Jews in general, and so to establish the faith of his disciples in his divine mission, and to give them such just views of the nature of his kingdom, as would qualify them for propagating his religion after he was removed from the world. This trust he could now appeal to God that he bad discharged with fidelity and integrity.
5. . And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Whatever be the nature of this glory, it is evident that it could not be any original dignity, possessed by Christ before he came into the world, and to which he wishes to be restored; for he prays for it as the reward of his services, and a reward must be something new. or additional: what men enjoyed before does not deserve that name.
I conceive, therefore, that the glory here referred to can be no other than that mentioned before, arising from the miracles which accompanied the death of Christ and his resurrection from the dead, his exaltation to a happy life in the immediate presence of God, and particularly, from the success of the gospel in the world. He prays that this glory may now be bestowed upon him, agreeably to the intentions of the Divine Being from the earliest periods :
he is, indeed, said to have had it already with God before the world was. But this language can occasion no difficulty to those who recollect that God is said to have chosen us, that is, to have elected us to the privileges of Christians, and to have given us his grace, before the foundation of the world, and before the world began, 2 Tim. i. 9. Eph. i. 4. For if Christians are said to receive grace, and to be elected to privileges, before they are actually conferred, because these things are designed for them in the divine mind, Christ may, agreeably to the same language, be said to have glory with God before the world was, although not yet given. That it was a glory promised, and not actually given, to which he here reters, is evident from what he says to his disciples in this same prayer, verse the twenty-second." The glory which thou gavest me I have given them,” meaning his disciples; but the glory of spreading the gospel was not given, but only promised to them at this time, and therefore the glory of Christ was of a like nature.
If any should inquire why Christ should use such figurative language, in a solemn prayer addressed to God just before his death, it may be answered that it was probably familiar to the Jews, and that to speak of what is promised as already bestowed, expresses greater confidence in the faithfulness of God. As this prayer was pronounced in the presence of his disciples, it was out of regard to the impression which it might make upon their minds that he spoke thus. Having prayed for himself, he prays next for his disciples, that God would give thein success in their work; declaring at the same time how well qualified they were for it, and how necessary their success was to his own glory.
6. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.
The name of God is the same as God himself, and Christ's meaning is, “ I have made known thy perfections and counsels to these men, whom thou hast inclined to be my disciples and apostles.
Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word.
They were sincere believers in thee, according to the dispensation of Moses, and thou hast inclined them to become believers in me; and it is not in vain that they have been instructed by me in thy nature and counsels; for they have kept thy commandments. Here was ground for gratitude to God on the part of Jesus, and for expecting the continuance of his favour to his disciples; for they appeared to deserve it. He now mentions other reasons for affording them the divine protection.
7. Now they have known that all things, whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee:
They know that all my doctrines and miracles proceed from thee, and are therefore worthy of thy favour. This declaration he explains more fully in the next verse.
8. For I have given unto them the words, “ the doctrines,” which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me.
They believe for certain that I came from thee and have a divine commission, and therefore have received, as coming from thee, whatever I have taught them. The reason why Jesus thus mentions the qualifications of his disciples, is to show that they were fit for receiving the divine protection and favour in propa