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The Mighty Comforter.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."-John 14:26.
Christ's presence with his disciples was a blessed thing, and his absence would be a blank. Yet there was to be a substitute or successor; one who would comfort them in the Master's absence, and carry on his instructions; bringing the old to remembrance, yet adding new of his own.
It is of this Spirit that our text speaks; not as if He were an unknown being hitherto; but still revealing Him more fully and gloriously than heretofore; the church's birthright; seal; earnest; everything needed during her Lord's absence. To bring out this let us take up the designations here given to Him; not in the exact order in which they occur; but with a slight change in order to bring out the connection of the one with the other. He is, then,-
I. The Holy Spirit. As Christ is called "the Word," so He is called "the Spirit," intimating his nature as well as his office. The third person of the Godhead is specially "the Spirit," and "a Spirit;" the truest manifestation of the spiritual character and being of that God who is a Spirit. He is "the Holy Spirit" through whom the holiness of Godhead specially reveals itself, and is communicated to the creature. He is specially the doer of holy deeds, the speaker of holy words, the maker of holy men. As the Holy Spirit, he dwelt in the Holy One;-and dwells in the church, and in all "saints."
II. The sent of the Father. Christ gets this name also,-"he whom the Father hath sent." Both are "sent of God." But the Holy Spirit comes because of Christ ("in my name"). Christ came simply as the gift of the Father's love. Christ is the first gift, the Holy Spirit is the second. He comes to us, then, from the Father; the Father's messenger, to do the Father's will in us; the glorifier of the Son; He comes in love, in holy love, as the fruit of Christ's intercession, as the seal set to Christ's name, and the token of the honour with which God honours that name.
III. The Comforter. This is his special name in connection with the church,-the Paraclete, or Comforter. "Another Comforter." This is his special office and errand. It is his mission, and He discharges it, not simply because of the covenant or commandment, but in love. He is the Spirit of love. He comes, then, to comfort. To comfort because of what,-under what? (1.) Christ's absence. Not to make us content with it, but to cheer us under the blank. (2.) The sorrows of life. These are many,-"Many are the afflictions of the righteous," but under them there is an all-wise, almighty, all-loving Comforter. What sorrow can withstand his consolations? (3.) The delay of the kingdom. Even had there been no tribulation, the delay of the inheritance would have called for patience, and this He supplies. He sustains us under the sickness of deferred hope. Thus He is "the Comforter." He has been so; is so; and will be so until the Lord come. Have we used Him as such? Have we partaken of his fullness? Have we tasted the abundance of the everlasting consolation which He administers? Or do we try to be our own comforters? Do we seek human comforters? Do we try to forget our sorrows? Or do we take all to Him, acknowledging his name and mission, and rejoicing at all occasions and opportunities of employing Him as the Comforter? How much we lose by not going to Him as such, using him as such?
IV. The Teacher. This is another of the names which He has in common with Christ. Christ taught; Christ teaches still. But now He does this not through the living voice or visible example, but by the agency of the Spirit. He teaches as no man can, as no book can, as no school nor college can. He teaches all things; there is not anything which we need that He will not or cannot teach. He teaches truly, effectually, lovingly. He suits himself to the mental and spiritual state of every scholar. Like Christ, He has "compassion on the ignorant." Let this teacher teach you!
V. The Remembrancer. Besides teaching "all things," He is specially to recall the Lord's own words. How often the disciples must have wished for more retentive memories to keep hold of the precious words daily spoken! Here is something even better than that;-a divine memory put at their disposal;-memory perfect, complete, unerring. Is not this blessed? How seldom we think of the Spirit's work upon the memory. We speak of his enlightening the understanding, renewing the will, changing the heart; how seldom do we dwell upon his work on the memory. Yet here it is. For surely this is not meant to be confined to the disciples. Go, then, to the Holy Spirit for a memory; and He will make it as retentive as you need; not, perhaps, as you would like; that may not be good for you.
Oh, let us cultivate acquaintance with the three persons in the Godhead. Let us deal with the Spirit about Christ; and with Christ about the Spirit.
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