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tion was often interrupted by the perverseness and the timidity of his disciples; there all listen in rapture, or join in adoration. It is in his love that their hearts burn, and in his reverence do they adore. Such was our Lord's farewell at this ordinance. When he took his leave of the daughters of Jerusalem, he intimated to them, that they should meet with him again in the judgments which should desolate their land and consume their city. When addressing, for the last time, the high priest and the council, he said to them,-Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven; see him as their judge who shall cast them into outer darkness; but in taking leave of the disciples he tells them, that they shall meet in the purest blessedness in the kingdom of God.
II. Let us now consider the intimation our Lord gives of a reunion.
There are two considerations which stamp a peculiar beauty on this assurance, The termination of his intercourse with them was to be closed in a manner no way creditable to their attachment or their courage. Three of them were to slumber during his agony, in spite of his repeated injunctions to them to watch with him; and all of them, in the moment of his being apprehended, were to forsake him and flee; yet with them he anticipated a reunion. His generous heart could forgive their weakness and cowardice, and friends and foes were the objects of a charity which was stronger than death. I may add, that this
promise of reunion, following so immediately the notice of his separation, shows, in a most affecting manner, how unwilling he is that his people should mourn in hopeless grief, and how ready he is to solace and to encourage.
It has been much disputed to what place or scene our Lord refers as that of reunion with his disciples. Some have supposed that it refers to his renewed intercourse with them after his resurrection; and in this view it intimated to them, that the death of their Master, to which they looked forward with so much terror, would only be a temporary subjection to the last enemy. It intimated also, that he would rise in heart unchanged, with the same delight in their society and the same solicitude for their welfare as ever. That such was the case is plain from the evangelical history, where we are told of various meetings which he had with them, of the language of kindness which he addressed to them, of the commission with which he intrusted them, and of the promise of his presence with them in all their labours to the end. But, as it appears to me that our Lord meant to suggest the fullest consolation, it seems better not to limit the passage to an intercourse with them on earth, which was to lie in a few meetings during the space of forty days, but to consider it as pointing to the communion of the world of glory. We have no evidence that Christ observed this ordinance with them after he rose from the dead, or that he ever administered it but at this time; and the language of the text seems most accordant with heavenly scenes and enjoyments. 1. Considering it as referring to the heavenly state, I
remark, in the first place, that this promise suggests that the reunion of the disciples with their Lord is certain. The promise is made by him who hath the keys of death and of the invisible world, who was made perfect through sufferings to bring many sons to glory, who was going away to heaven as their forerunner, who cannot alter the word which hath gone out of his mouth, and who hath all power to fulfil every purpose of his heart. Their Lord had thus spoken to console them :-"I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am there ye may be also."* On such an assurance they might confidently rely; his veracity and his heart were pledged to its accomplishment; and he is pleased to consider the final salvation of his people as forming a part of his destined reward, and will be glorified in their honour, and blessed in their happi
The enemies, by whom their present separation was to be brought about, could have no power to prevent their reunion. He was to triumph over them even on his cross; in his ascension he should lead captivity captive, and in his glory he should permit none to pluck them out of his hand. Their reunion should be as dear to his Father as to himself; I say not that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you. To Him he should address the claim, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast be with me; that they may behold my
given me may
# John xiv. 3.
glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me from the foundation of the world."* And the Holy Spirit he should pour down on them as the Spirit of glory, and he should be their conductor to the world above.
Of his faithfulness and power they had already very ample experience. They had gone forth to labour in scenes where success seemed most unlikely, but, as their Master had assured them, he had made their way prosperous; they had been exposed to danger, but the protection he had promised they had fully enjoyed; and when they went out without either staff or scrip, relying on his declaration that he would provide for them, they lacked nothing. And if, while here in the form of a servant, and in a state of poverty and abasement, he could put forth such power and maintain such fidelity, what could he not do as the Lord of glory?
Men have often spoken of meeting with their friends in heaven when they were parting with them in death; but they speak of a place whose gates they have no power to open, whose bliss they have no power to allot. It is in many cases the language of ignorance and presumption, which reason will not sanction, and which conscience condemns; but the Speaker in the text is the way, the truth, and the life. Every heart is in his hands, every lot is in his sentence, every region is in his power, and all futurity is in his eye.
2. It intimates, that this reunion should be in the
John xvii. 36.
most glorious place, even in the kingdom of his Father. This representation is here given of the heavenly state, because, at the consummation of all things, Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and because it was from his Father he was soon to receive the promised reward. It was to him he about this time addressed that prayer,→→ "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with that glory which I had with thee before the world was."* He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and as from his hands his most painful sufferings had proceeded, so his voice should pronounce his welcome, his hand fix his crown, and his countenance make him blessed for ever. But whatever idea may be attached to this expression, we are certain that it is so far from suggesting aught unfavourable to their reunion, that it intimates that it will have the highest sanction of the Father. He will rejoice in it as the blessed consummation of his thoughts of peace, and as the intercourse of creatures for whom he hath done more than for any other class of beings with his own Son. That this reunion should be marked by his Father's approbation, as the fulfilment of his purpose, the glory of his love, and the end of Christ's entering within the veil as our forerunner, is obvious from his words,
"Tell my brethren, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." It will take place in a scene where nought can occur either to imbitter or to terminate it. When they met after
* John xvii. 5.