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weigh out his promises after this legal fashion, carefully guarding his disciples against expecting one jot too much from thein. His rule is rather to give “good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over.” And in the present instance it is manifest that he specifies their being brought before kings and rulers as a representative case. In so great an emergency as this, one to which the apostles must have looked forward with special anxiety, the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit shall not fail them. The legitimate inference is that they shall have help from him for all other emergencies. Consider for a moment the absurdity of the supposition that Christ's promises to his apostles did indeed guarantee to them all needful help when they should stand before kings and rulers; but not when they should preach his gospel verbally or in writing, and settle the constitution of his church. Which, one might ask, was the more needful, that they should be kept from error in answering the magistrate, or in deliberating on the momentous question of imposing upon the Gentiles the Mosaic law? In standing before Caesar, or in writing for the use of the churches the history of our Lord's life and teachings? In expounding before Festus and Agrippa the doctrine of the resurrection, or in unfolding for all coming ages the great doctrine of justification by faith?
But, if there could be any doubt as to the true scope of the promises which we have been considering, it must be removed by the character of those recorded in the Gospel of John, all of which are comprehensive and general in their character. It will be sufficient to adduce two of them. “ These things,” said Jesus, in his last discourse with his disciples before his crucifixion, “hare I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, le shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” ] And again : “I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all the truth;1 for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall bear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.”? In the former of these passages the special promise is that the Holy Spirit shall bring to the remembrance of the apostles, and unfold to their understanding, all Christ's personal teachings which they have enjoyed : “ He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Thus they shall have a fuller apprehension of the meaning of their Lord's words than was possible at the time when they were uttered. The second promise is introduced by the declaration that the Saviour has yet many things in reserve for his apostles, which they cannot now bear. Of course, he will not communicate them personally. They are reserved for the ministration of the Spirit, as he immediately proceeds to show : “ When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all the truth.” He shall glorify Christ; for he shall take of the things that are Christ's, and reveal them to the apostles. And what are the things which are Christ's ? The Saviour himself answers : “ All things which the Father hath are mine”; as the scripture says elsewhere that “the Father had given all things into his hands." 3 Among these “all things” are included all the Father's counsels pertaining to the way of salvation through his Son.
1 John xiv. 25, 26.
through his Son. These are given to the Son; and the Holy Spirit takes of them, and reveals to the churches, through the apostles, as much as is needful for their edification and salvation. Wonderful words are these! In them our Lord's Deity shines forth; and they contain, at the same time, a sure guarantee to the apostles
οδηγήσει υμάς εις πάσαν την αλήθειαν, he shall guide you into all the truth; that is, all that pertains to Christ's person and offices. 2 John xvi. 12–15.
8 John xiii. 3.
of all the supernatural illumination and guidance which they needed in the work committed to their hands.
The question has often been asked: Were these promises given to the apostles alone, or through them to the church at large? The answer is at hand. They were given primarily and in a special sense to the apostles; for they had reference to a special work committed to them, which required for its performance special divine illumination and guidance. They were given in a secondary sense to the church at large, inasmuch as all believers enjoy, through the apostles, the benefit of these revelations of the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that the promises in question are not made to all believers personally, but were given, once for all, through the apostles, to all believers. The gift of the Holy Spirit is, indeed, made to all believers personally, according to the measure of their necessities. They are not called, as were the apostles, to lay the foundations of the Christian faith, and have, therefore, no promise of new revelations from the Spirit or of personal elevation above all error, any more than they have of miraculous gifts.
4. We add a fourth argument, drawn from the miraculous gifts conferred on the apostles. These must, of course, be considered in strict connection with the tenor of their office. They were the divine seal of their commission. The contents of the commission must be learned from other sources, chiefly from the testimony of the apostles themselves. Here we may draw a pertinent illustration from the mission of Moses. God sent Moses to Egypt with a commission to lead forth his people from bondage ; and this commission he attested by the miracles which he empowered him to perform: “And it shall be, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they will not believe 'also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land ; and the water which thou takest
out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.” 1 Now, we have seen the tenor of the apostles' commission, which was to go into all the world, and teach all nations the things commanded them by Christ, and also to communicate to them the further revelations of the Spirit, concerning things which they were not prepared to receive from our Lord during his personal. ministry. For this work they were qualified by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and Christ himself attested their qualification by the miraculous endowments which he conferred upon them. When Peter, in the presence of the assembled multitudes, healed a man that had been lame from his birth, and then proceeded to unfold to the people the way of salvation through Christ, he both gave them the contents of his commission and showed them the divine seal impressed upon it. The only legitimate inference to be drawn from what he did in the name of Christ was, that the message which he delivered to the people in Christ's name was authentic and worthy of full credence. What man in his sober senses could believe that Peter and John wrought miracles in the name of Christ, but that when they taught the people the way of salvation through Christ their words did not have the sanction of Christ's authority ? But if they were qualified to preach, so were they also to write, with divine authority. For no other inspiration was required in the latter case than in the former. And what was spoken or written by Christ's authority must be received as truth coming from Christ himself.
Some may think that in past days the miraculous element in Christianity was made too exclusively prominent. With such we will not contend. We simply remark that now the tendency is in the opposite direction. With a certain class of writers, of whom Renan may be taken as the representative, the passion for eliminating from the history of the world all that is properly supernatural amounts to moral insanity. They give us to understand that they have seen quite through the universe, and know that such a thing as
1 Ex. iv. 8, 9.
a miracle never did, and never can, happen in it. Zophar asked, long ago : “ Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven ; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” 1 In accordance with the spirit of these questions it has been thought presumptuous to deny that supernatural interposition in certain great crises of the world's history may be a part of the divine plan, and therefore not unnatural, but in strict harmony with the constitution and office of nature, which is not itself a final end, but only God's handmaid ministering to a high moral end. But these men are confident that they have found out the Almighty unto perfection ; that miracles have no normal place in the plan of his universe; and that, consequently, the belief in them is an inadmissible violation of their " scientific conscience.” So they address themselves resolutely to the work of eliminating from Christianity its supernatural element, which, as a late writer well remarks,“ is to reject the Gospels as credible narratives, and, if we still call ourselves Christians, to be Christians in no sense known to human language or history - to be disciples of a Christ solely of our own fabrication, therefore our own disciples, not another's.”The statement is well put. The very aim of rationalism is to make us “our own disciples,” our own reason being the arbiter as to what may, and what may not, be admitted in the scriptural record. In other words, the fundamental principle of rationalism is, that God has never made an authoritative, supernatural revelation of himself to men, which, though not contrary to unperverted human reason, is yet above it, revealing things that lie beyond its sphere. The religion of rationalism needs, of course, no miracles; for it contains no proper revelations from God to be attested by them.
But if God has, in very deed, revealed himself to men, the divine authentication of the fact is needed, and thus miracles have their appropriate 1 Job xi. 7-9. ? Dr. A. P. Peabody, in the Boston Lectures for 1870, p. 187.