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of His first discourse, not of His last : for the men to whom these words were addressed had now been constantly hearing for two or three years the words of the Incarnate Wisdom of God: they had been all this time listening to the words of the Truth Himself: not only had they heard His words, but they had had continually explained to them from His own lips the things which the multitudes understood not. He had said to them, “ To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” He had even gone further than this, for in one part of this very discourse He had said to them, “Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth, but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Very wonderful then is it that after two or three years of such teaching from such lips the Teacher should have to say to the chosen disciples, on the eve of His departure, "I have yet many things to say unto you,

but ye cannot bear them now.” Before proceeding further, let us draw two lessons from this.

First, the paramount need of something besides external teaching, if we would learn the things of Christ.

There must not only be the external teaching. There must be the removal of internal hindrances which exist in the soul itself. There must be the strengthening of the soul to grasp the things of God. There must be the enlarging of the soul, as it were, to take in the things of God. Above all, there must be the working of faith in the soul by a power above the soul-even by the power of God Who made it at the first. All these things are bound up in that internal effectual showing to the soul of the things of Christ which is immediately afterwards promised by the Saviour.

We learn also from these words of Christ that, though He went up to heaven, He did not cease to teach. He says that He had many things to say unto the disciples, but they could not then bear them; howbeit when the Spirit of truth should come He should guide them into all truth. Did not Christ then cease to teach if another taught for Him? No; for that One Who came to teach for Him was so to teach that it should yet be Christ Himself Who taught; for Christ goes on to say, “ He, the Spirit of truth, shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.” Wonderfully deep and hard are these words. They seem to restrict the Spirit's teaching, as if He were circumscribed in His action in this matter, and could only teach what another told Him. Yes; but this is written for our sakes-to assure us that all that we learn through the Spirit after Christ's Ascension we learn wholly from Christ. We learn nothing but from Christ. Christ teaches us Himself when He commissions the Spirit Who proceeds from Him to teach us by the lips of Peter, and Paul, and John, and James. How does this emphasize the blessed fact that Christ is the one great Prophet—the one great Teacher—the one great Preacher—the one great Opener of the understanding: not without His Spirit, but acting in and by His Spirit !

And now let us consider the fact that Christ had “many things” to teach the apostles which they could not then bear; and which they could only bear after His Resurrection and Ascension, when they had to be guided into all the truth respecting Him by His Spirit. It would be a great help to us if we could but realize one of these “ many things," and I think we shall have no difficulty in putting our finger upon one.

One thing which the apostles could not bear was that cardinal doctrine of Christianity, the Atonement wrought out by Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of the world.

It may be very startling to some to be told this, that Christ could not speak fully and freely to His own respecting the effects of His own Death, but such is the fact--at least it was the fact that He did not do so.

On three, or at the most four, occasions only does our Lord refer to the Reconciliation

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wrought out by His own Death: once, where He says that “He gives His life a ransom for many;" once, when He says, “I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep;" once, when just before His crucifixion He says, “ This is my blood of the New Covenant which is shed for you for the remission of sins.” To these may be added the words to Nicodemus, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish.” Again, St. John points to Him and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”

Now these are all the references to the atoning effects of the precious Death of Christ throughout the four Gospels : not one word about the Reconciliation of man to God throughout the whole of the Sermon on the Mount; not one parable about it. Contrast this with one single passage of St. Paul. “God," he says, “was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For God hath made Christ, Who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. v. 19.)

Again, consider the fulness of teaching on the Atonement of his Divine Master in two declarations of the same Apostle : “Having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself.” “And you, that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled—in the body of His flesh through death.” (1 Col. 20.)

Again, think how very full and plain the words of St. John are: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins."

How is it that the servants are on this vital point of our religion so much more full and explicit than the Master? Evidently because the Atonement wrought by that Master could not be preached in anything like fulness till the Death and Resurrection; rather, till after the Ascension of the man Christ Jesus, Who was to make the atonement for all sin. Let us ask ourselves : How is it that we believe that the Death of One, Who died by a shameful death eighteen hundred years ago, can make such an enormous difference in the Divine councils towards man—that from the time of His death repentance and remission of sin can be preached in His name to all nations as connected with and depending upon His death ?


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