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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 77 - John 13:16, 17 - The Abiding Comforter Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




The Abiding Comforter.


     "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Sj'irit 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."-John 14:16, 17.



     Christ expects us to love Him. He claims our love, and He deserves it all. He has done enough to win it. May He not then most reasonably ask the question, "Lovest thou me?"

     Christ expects us to "keep his commandments," that is to listen to his teachings, and to observe all his "instructions," for this is the meaning of commandments. This is the necessary result and manifestation of our love. Love and obey; love and listen; love and follow; love and keep my words.

     To those who thus love and listen He promises much. What is there that He will withhold from them? But here, it is of one thing only that He speaks,-the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He is to obtain from the Father for those who thus hear his voice; and in this Spirit is contained everything they need for life, and peace, and consolation. O gift of the Holy Ghost, what is there that thou dost not contain for us! Let us mark the things connected with this gift, of which the Lord here speaks to us.

     I. A Comforter. The word is a wide one. It means one who comforts, or who pleads, or who exhorts; one who "calls us to his side," as a father does his child when he has some special thing to say. The Holy Ghost is all this to us. How little we use Him, or trust Him, or lean on Him, or love Him, or deal with Him. And how much we suffer loss by this neglect! How much do we grieve and vex Him! We might be so much more full of peace, and light, and love, and holiness, and strength, and comfort, did we but employ this "Comforter" more constantly, more trustfully. Our desponding complaints are all of them indications of our slighting Him!  We will not allow Him to do his work nor to bestow his love.

     II. Another Comforter. This word "another" is full of meaning, and helps to link the Holy Spirit and Jesus together. His office is hot to hide but to shew Jesus; not to make us forget, but remember Him.

     (1.) Another instead of myself I am going, but He is coming. He will fill up my place; my place of fellowship, counsel, comfort, and love. He will be to you, for consolation, what I have been to you.

     (2.) Another like myself. He will be another, and yet not another; one in mind and sympathy with myself towards you. In having Him you have me.

     (3.) Another in addition to myself I am still with you, though I go away. And in addition to my presence, you shall have the presence of another like myself divine. Two Comforters instead of one; the outward and visible presence gone, but the inward and invisible presence doubled; and thus double blessing, double consolation, double strength. Surely the "love of Christ" and "the love of the Spirit" will prove sufficient for our joy, as the power of Christ and the power of the Spirit are enough for our help.

     III. A Comforter the gift of the Father. At first He was the "promise of the Father," and then He is "the gift of the Father." It is He of whom Jesus speaks (John 4:10), "If thou knewest the gift of God." He is as truly the gift of the Father, and the sent of the Father, as is Christ himself. Thus we are doubly linked to the Father. Both of these are "unspeakable gifts"; both are presented to us freely, that we may use them and be blest. "If ye, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." It is the Father's good pleasure that we should receive the Holy Ghost; that we should be baptized with the Spirit from on high. Then shall we live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, and pray in the Spirit, and be filled with the Spirit. We shall be vessels which the Father fills, and keeps for ever full.

     IV. A Comforter the fruit of Christ's intercession. "I will pray the Father, and He will give. "The word pray seems here to refer to Christ's priestly dealings, his consultation or communication with the Father, like the High Priest with Urim and Thummim, "I will pray, and He will give"! He speaks as our High Priest dealing with God for us. He specially deals with God regarding the gift of the Comforter. He did so when He ascended on high and was glorified. He does so continually still.  There is always the praying, and always the giving. He has received the Holy Spirit as the Father's gift; and with Him and in Him all other gifts; gifts the expression of the Father's love and of his own. Thus we deal with Him; and He deals with the Father for us. Him the Father heareth always, nay, to Him the Father says, "Ask of me and I will give thee" (Psalm 2:8).

     V. A Comforter who shall abide with us forever. The words are more exactly "unto the age," that is until the coming age or time of Christ's return, implying the Spirit's special presence during Christ's absence. Not as if He were to leave us on Christ's return. But his special work as Comforter is during his absence. He comes to fill up a blank made by the Lord's departure; to cheer the afflicted widow; to care for the little flock; to console and defend the orphaned family. These offices are peculiar to the interval between his first and second comings. But He himself is the Church's everlasting guest. As the Comforter He will not always be needed; but as the Holy Spirit He will be needed forever. The temple cannot be without that which is its glory; and we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. At present we receive Him specially as the Comforter; hereafter we shall know Him in other characters and offices. As He is the "eternal Spirit," so He is the Church's eternal guest; each saint's eternal indweller. "The communion of the Holy Ghost" (2 Corinthians 13:14) is that which no time, no change can affect; which neither life nor death, things present, or things to come, can dissolve.

     VI. A Comforter who is the Spirit of truth. In Him is all truth; He is the Spirit of Him who is truth; He is the Spirit who communicates the truth to the soul. In a world of falsehood and an age of error, how needful is such a Spirit. Truth is that which is congenial to Him; error that which He hates. It is in opposition to this Spirit of truth that the lie of the last days comes specially forth,-"the strong delusion" leading men to "believe the lie." It is this Spirit of truth that we are to seek fellowship with; and to do so specially by cultivating the knowledge of the word of his truth.

     VII. A Comforter rejected by the world. The world, or "seed of the serpent," or race of the ungodly, see no need for such a Spirit at all. It can do without Him. It is bondage to recognize Him. By means of science, reason, intuition, the verifying faculty, it can do without the Spirit; it can find its way to truth without surrendering its liberty! The world "cannot receive" Him; that is, repels and rejects Him; for it perceives not Him nor his doings nor his sayings; it is thoroughly ignorant of Him. It prefers to remain without the knowledge of Him at all. The world is not only the rejector of Christ, but of the Holy Ghost. Is not this the special sin of our intellectual age?

     VIII. A Comforter accepted by all Christ's disciples. "Ye know Him"! He is no stranger to you. He is your companion, teacher, advocate, friend, comforter. You cannot do without Him. He "dwelleth with you"; He is ever at your side; He is and shall be in you; filling you as his house, his temple, his holy vessels. Filled with the Spirit, is not that the description of a Christian man? "Having not the Spirit," is that not the description of a man of the world? O disciple of the Lord, prize this gift of the ascended Christ, even the Comforter. Cherish Him, and delight in his fellowship. Live in the Spirit; walk in the Spirit; pray in the Spirit. Thus shalt thou be a holy and blessed man.