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Christ's Valedictory Address to his Disciplos.
JOHN xiv. 1.
Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God;
believe also in me.
IV. THE fourth and last great end which our blessed Lord bad in view, in addressing this farewell discourse to his disciples, was to furnish them with supplies of consolation under the sorrow which bis absence was going to excite in them. This sorrow is one of those dispositions of the soul which no powers of language are capable of expressing. The apostles tenderly loved their Master. Though the history of their life had not conveyed to us this idea of them; though the gospel had not traced, for our information, certain particular traits of their affection; had nothing been mentioned of the tenderness of the disciple whom Jesus loved, nothing of the vehemence of St. Peter, always ready to kindle into a flame when the glory and the life of his Master were concerned, the very nature of the thing would be sufficient to give us the assurance of it. Who could have known Jesus Christ without loving him? Is it possible to conceive the idea of a character more amiable ? Have you found in the history of those excellent ones, who were the delight of mankind; or even in the productions of those who have communicated to us imaginary ideas of excellency and perfection, have you found in these higher instances of delicacy, of magnanimity, of cordial affection ? If it be impossible for you to apply your thoughts to this great object without being transported, what must have been the feelings of the disciples ? Continual hearers of the gracious words which fell from the lips of the blessed Jesus, the constant witnesses of his virtues, the spectators of his wonderful works, admitted to the most intimate familiarity with him, and honoured with the most unbounded confidence, what must have been the love to him which inflamed their hearts ? Now this is the gracious Master, this the delicious intercourse, this the tender hearted Friend whom they are going to lose.
What charm can the world possess aster we have had the infelicity of surviving certain persons who were dear to us ? No, neither the mourning of Joseph, when he accompanied with tearsto the threshingfloor of Atad the coffin of Jacob his father, Gen. i. 10.; no, nor the loud lainentation of David, when he exclaimed, in an agony of woe, “O my son Absalom; my son, my son Absalom, would God I had died for thee: 0 Absalom, my son, my son !” 2 Sam. xviii. 33. ; no, nor the anguish of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted because they are not, Matt. ii. 18.: No, nothing is capable of conveying an idea of the condition to which the disciples were going to be reduced on beholding their Master expire. One must have survived Jesus Christ in order to be sensible what it is to survive Jesus Christ. This fatal stroke was to become to them an inexhaustible fountain of tears. This death appeared to them the utter annihilation of all things : it seemed as if the whole universe were dying together with him. “Now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou ? but because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts,” ch. xvi. 5, 6. “A little while and ye shall not see me," ver. 16.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful," ver. 20.
There can be no room to doubt that Jesus Christ, who himself loves with so much delicacy of affection, and who was animated with such a predilection in behalf of bis disciples, tenderly participated in their sorrow. As the loss, which they were about to sustain, was the deepest wound in their soul, he pours into it the most powerful balın of divine consolation. And here, my dearly beloved brethren, here it is that I stand in need of, not all the attention of
your intellectual powers, but of all the sensibility of which your heart is susceptible, that while you partake in the sorrow of the apostles, you may likewise partake with them in the consolation which their Lord and ours was pleased to administer.
I shall sometimes turn aside from those holy men, my dear hearers, to address myself to you, and to supply you with abundant consolation, under the
most oppressive ills which you may be called to endure on the earth; I mean under the loss of those who were most dear to you in life. I could wish to convince you, that the christian religion is profitable for all things : that it will serve us as a bulwark and a refuge in our greatest sorrows, if we have but the wisdom to resort to it. Only take care to apply, every one to his own particular situation, the truths which I am going to propose to you. Derive your consolations from the same sources which Jesus Christ opened to his disciples, and to a participation of which we now, after his example, cordially invite you: prayer, the mission of the Comforter, the place to which your Redeemer is gone, the foretastes of the glory which he is there preparing for you, his spiritual presence in the midst of you, and the certainty and nearness of his return.
1. In all your distresses have recourse to prayer. « Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full," ch. xvi. 23, 24. This ought to be adopted as a new forın of prayer in the Christian world. Scarcely do we find any trace of it in the devotions of the faithful of ancient times. They indeed sometimes introduced the names of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; but no where, except in the prophecy of Daniel, do we find a prayer put up in the name of the Messiah. This at least is the sense which may be assigned to those words of that prophet: “Now, therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplication, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, that is desolate, for the Lord's sake,” Dan. ix. 17.
But this unexampled form, or of which there is at most so few examples in the ancient church, was to be henceforward adopted by all Christians: it is the first source of consolation which Christ opened to his disciples, and it is likewise the first which we, after him, would propose to you. Perhaps there may be many among us to whom Jesus might still say, as formerly to his disciples, hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name. To pray, and to
in the name of Christ, is the Christian's grand resource. Resort to it in all your tribulations. Have you reason to apprehend that some stroke from the hand of God is going to fall heavy upon you? Do you believe yourself on the eve of hearing some melancholy tidings ? Are you called to undergo some painful and dangerous operation on your person? And, to say every thing in one word, are you threatened with the loss of the most valuable, the most generous, the most tender friend that heaven could bestow ? Have recourse to prayer: God still subsists when all things else have become dead to thee. God continueth to hear thee, when death has reduced to a state of insensibility all that was dear to thee. Retire to thy closet; prostrate thyself at the footstool of the throne of the Father of mercies. Pour out your heart into his bosom: say to him, “O Lord, my strength, teach my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” Ps. cxliv. 1. Lord, take pity on thy creature; Lord, proportion my trials to the strength thou shall