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DISCOURSE IV. The Gospel for the Sunday after Ascension-Day,
St. John XV. 26. and part of Chap. xvi. When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto
you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he sball testifi of me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken untoʻyou, that ye Should not be offended, &c.
E pray in the Collect for this Day, that God mould not leave us comfortless, but send us a Comforter in
the absence of our Saviour. This Gospel for the Day shews us who this Comforter is, together with a Promise of fending him, and the Ends for which he is sent : which things are to be the Subject of the following Dif course,
When the Comforter is come : The Word here render'd a Comforter, is in the Original a Paraclete, which fignifies three things, a Comforter, an 'Advocate, and a Teacher or Remembrancer; all which Offices were necessary to the Apostles at that time, and will be so to all Christians to the end of the World. And therefore 'tis requisite that each of them be here explain'd.
But before I do that, 'twill be necessary to know who or what this Paraclete is, that we may the better fee how these Offices are discharg'd by him. Now this Paraclete, as the Beginning of this Gospel, and fundry other places of Scripture inform us, is the Spirit of Truth, or the Holy Ghost, the third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity ; who in all the foremention'd Senses is truly and properly a Paraclete, as will evidently appear by a particular View and Consideration of them. And,
ift, The word Paraclete signifies sometimes a Comforter ; fo'tis here translated, as 'tis also John 14.16, 17. where this Spirit of Truth, so call'd as being the Author of Trath, in opposition to all lying Spirits and false Prophets, is likewife call'd a Conforter, in opposition to all deceitful and uncomfortable Spirits, that create nothing but Sorrow and Sadness; whereas this - Holy Spirit administers Cordials strong enough to bear up the Spirits in all Conditions, and communicates those Joys, that are fufficient not only to keep us from fainting under, but even to make us rejoice in Tribulation. Hence we read of the Joys of the Holy Ghost, and the Consolations of the Spirit, which far ex. ceed all the miserable Comforters of this World.
Indeed; 'twas Comfort that the Disciples, wanted, when our Saviour (pake these words to them ; for Sorrow had filld their Hearts upon the news of Christ's going from then, knowing that they were to be like Orphans left destitute and friendless to the wide World, which could not but dismay and cast them down. Now in this dejected and disconsolate state, Christ tells them of one that was coming to comfort them : because Sorrow had chilld and congeal'd their Spirits, he tells them of his coming in the form of Fire, to warm and enliven them; and because the Tongue is the Instrument of Comfort, he fhould come in the shape of Tongues, to minister to them a word in due feason. And this they accordingly found, to their great comfort; for immediately upon their receiving the Holy Spirit, they were so cheard and reviv'd, that the Bystanders thought them to be full of new Wine : from Persons, exceeding fearful, they became of a sudden exceeding full of Courage and Spirit, like Men transported with Joy. Yea, when they were evil-intreated by the World, they went away not as Persons dejected, but dignify'd with a new Honour, that they should be counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ. And thus does the Holy Spirit Atill perform the Office of a Paraclete or Comforter.
2dlm The word Paraclete signifies sometimes an Advocate or Intercessor , fo 'tis render'd, 1 John 2. 1. If any Man fin PASIKAN]ay 'exorper, we have a Paraclete or Advocate with the Farber , i. e. one to speak and act for us with the Father. And this Office the Holy Ghost performs for us, partly by acting our Caufe for us with God, partly with Men, and partly, by. afting Christ's Cause against the World. It acts as an Advocate for us with God, by helping us to pray, by
forming our Petitions, and infpiring us with those holy af. fections, that render them acceptable unto God. This St. Paul tells us, Rom. 8. 26. The Spirit also helpeth our Infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit it self makerb intercession for us, with Groanings that cannot be utter'd. Again,
The Holy Spirit is our Advocate to plead our Caufe de fore Men; so our Saviour told his Disciples, Mat, 10. 19, 20. When ye are brought before Governours and Kings for my sake, take no thought how or what ye mall speak, for it Mall be given you in that same hour what ye mall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that fpeaketh in you. Furthermore,
This Holy Spirit is an Advocate or Actor of Christ's Cause against the World; fo he here told them, when he is come, he mall testify of me: and John 16.8,9, 10. He shall reprove the World of Sin, of Righteousnefs, and of Judgment : the three forts of Causes usually try'd in the Jewish Courts; for which see the Gofpel for the fourth Sunday after Eafter.'
3dly, The word Paraclete signifies a Teacher or Remenbrancer; for granâv, from whence 'tis derivd, is to exhort, admonish, and call to mind. This Office the Holy Spirit executed for the Apostles, by leading them into all Truth, by teaching and bringing all things to remembrance, which Chrift had said unto them; as we read, John 14.26 & Chap. 16. 13. And this Office he ftill does for us, by instructing us out of the Holy Scriptures, the Dictates of the fame Spirit;, and by bringing to mind all necessary Truths for our Benefit and Confolation, as Occasions shall require.
Thus we see who and what this Paraclete is, and how he executes the Offices of a Comforter, an Advocate, and Instructor in the Church of Christ ; all which are imply'd in that Word, and ought to be understood in that Latitude, as to comprehend them all. For to them that are oppress'd with Grief and Sorrow, 'tis a Comforter to chear and revive them to them that are in Error; 'tis a Spirit of Truth, to guide and direct them in the right way: to them that are assaulted with Temptations to Sin, 'tis à Spirit of Holiness, to fupport and fanctify them. In a word, 'tis a Spirit of Grace and Supplication, to help all our infirmities, and to carry us through all the Doubts and Difficulties that we meet with in this present Life.
PRACTICAL Discourses on the Now this Comforter was here promis'd to come; When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father. : which words suppose his Coning, and that suddenly too; and so it soon after came to pass, as we shall have occasion to shew in qur next. In the mean time we may observe, that Christ here promis'd to send this Spirit of Truth from the Father : and in the next words it is faid to proceed from the Father. From which the Creeds and Confeffions of the Christian Church have taught us to believe, that he proceedeth from both.
Having told them these things, he proceeds, in the next place, to let them know the End of this Comforter's Coming: which, among other things, was to bear testimony of him ; He Mall testify of me. And this he did several ways: as,
(1.) By his inward Inspirations, whereby he enlighten'd Mens Minds, and gave them a right Understanding of Christ, as the promis'd Messias and Saviour of the World which, without the Light of God's Holy Spirit, had never been so clearly known: for no Man, Speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Fesus accursed; and no Man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghoft. 1 Cor. 12. 3.
(2.) The Spirit bears witness of Christ, by inditing the Holy Scriptures, which reveal him to the World, and convey the Knowledg of him to all Nations. Hence we find our Saviour sending the Jews to the Holy Scriptures for a Testimony of him, saying, Search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of me ; John 5:39.
(3.) The Spirit bore witness of Christ, by the many Miracles and mighty Works wrought by him, for the Confirnation of Christ's Doctrine. So the Author to the Hebrews tells us, that the Word which first began to be spoken by the Lord, was after confirmd by them that heard him ; God also bearing witness by Signs and Wonders, and divers Miracles, and Gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his Will; Heb. 2. 334. And St. Peter in his Sermon to the Jews declar'd, that Jesus of Nazareth was a Man approv'd of God among them
by Miracles, Wonders, and Signs, which God did in the midst of them, as they themselves also knem ; Acts 2. 22. Which Miracles being done by the Divine Spirit for the honour of Christ, was the Testimony he is here faid to bear of him.
To which may be added, the Holy Ghoft's constituting and consecrating an Order of Men to publish Christ's Doctrine and Miracles to all the World, as a farther Instance of the witness he gave to him : which occafion'd thofe next words of Christ to his Apostles; And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning : that is, you that have been Eye and Ear-witnesses of all that I have said or done, having been with me at the first, and continu'd' with me ever since, are fittest to bear witness of me; and this must be the Employment of all that succeed in your Office to the World's end. So we read, 1 John 1. 1, 2, 3.
These things (faith our Saviour) have I spoken unto you, that
Jould not be offended : that is, I have told you of mine and your Sufferings, and likewise promis'd you sufficient Comforts and Supports under them, merely to prevent Surprize, and to keep you from being offended at the Extremity of any Affliction that may happen unto you. By being offended here is meant not barely a being displeas’d, or conceiving of some Dislike, but such a Displeasure and Dislike as carry Men on to the falling from, and utter forsaking of Christ, to the denying of him, and casting off all Profession of Faith and Hope in him : And this hath been often occasion'd by the Difficulties and Hazards that attend his Service. - The Scandal of the Cross prov'd a great Offence to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, for it made the one to deny him, and the other to forsake him: Christ crucify'd was a Stumbling-block to the Jews, and to the Greeks Foolishness; I Cor. 1.23. And many have made the Suffer. ings of Christ an Occasion of relinquishing him. The Prophet Isaiah foretold, that he should be a Stone of Stumbling, and a Rock. of Offence to the House of Israel, a Gin and a Snare to the Inhabitants of Jerusalem; and many mould stumble and fall, and be broken in pieces : Isa. 8.14,15. And good old Simeon declar'd at our Saviour's Birth, that this Child was set for the fall, as well as the rising again of many in Il rael, and for a sign that Mall be Spoken againft"; Luke 2. 34. Accordingly we read in the Gospel, that
many were offended in him ; that is, many took occasion to spurn and fall at him, and even to dash against the Rock of their Salvation : and all this by reason of the Sufferings that befel our Saviour, and that after happen'd to those that
adher'd to him; for many stick to him in the Sunshine of Prosperity, who in the sime of Temptation and Trouble fall away. So