If ye love Me, keep My commandments, And I shall pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.
They are Christ's words to His Apostles; they touch the coming of the Holy Ghost. Of Whose coming this text is a promise; a promise of a prayer to procure 'the Comforter' sent then. Which 'Comforter,' Who it is, told us, verse the twenty-sixth, 'the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost.' Let this be said to the honour of it. An angel served to annunciate Christ's coming; no angel would serve for this annunciation; Christ Himself did it; thought not himself too good to do it. A special high benefit therefore it is, we may be sure. And this 'Comforter, the Holy Ghost,' was by the Father sent, and by them received; and so the prayer heard, and the promise performed, all as this day. Which day we yearly hold in thankful remembrance of the Holy Ghost promised to be sent, and sent.
The Holy Ghost is the Alpha and Omega of all our [145/146] solemnities. In His coming down all the feasts begin; at His annunciation when He descended on the Blessed Virgin, whereby the Son of God did take our nature, the nature of man. And in the Holy Gost's coming they end, even in His descending this day upon the son of men, whereby they actually become 'partakers,' qeaj qÚsewj, 'of His nature, the nature of God.' Of which His last and great coming, in this text is the promise, and at this time the performance; that as promise and performance, so the text and time agree.
Every promise is glad tidings, but every promise is not gospel; nor is it good to make a text of it while it is in suspense. But when it is dixit et factum est; 'so said and so done,' then it is a gospel, and may be preached on. Being then made good this day, the Church hath made it the Gospel of this day; it being festum solutionis, 'the feast whereon it was to be, and whereon it was paid.'
This promise grew thus. They were to be deprived of Christ's presence; He is to be gone. They were troubled with it, troubled at the very heart. In that state they needed comfort. A 'Comforter' He promiseth them. His promise is in manner of a deed; not absolute, but as it were with articles on both parts, per modum syngraphæ. A covenant on His part, a condition on theirs. He covenants two things; the one supposed, love 'If ye love me.' The other imposed--then 'keep my commandments.' These two on their part well and truly performed and kept, He stands bound to pray, and praying to procure them a 'Comforter,' another in His stead. And that they might not be every other while to seek for a new, one that should not leave them as He did, but 'abide with them for ever.'
Many are the benefits that come to us by the Holy Spirit, and so His titles are many. He is here expressed in the title of 'Comforter.' Comfort never comes amiss, but it is most welcome to men in their estate here, troubled in mind. It may be, our estate is not yet as theirs was, and we have our terrenas consolatiunculas, which yet serve our turn well enough. But there is none of us but the day will come, when we shall need Him and His comfort. It will be good to look after Him; and the sooner the better. He came here, we see, before [146/147] 'the third hour of the day,' that is, nine in the morning; let us not put Him off till nine at night. It will be too late to seek for our oil when the bridegroom is coming.
Those Articles were here drawn for them; but he that liketh the same conditions, may have title to the same covenant to the world's end. For to the world's end this covenant holdeth; and the Holy Ghost offered to be sent--though not in a visible manner as this day; it was meet it should be with some solemnity at His first coming, for the more credit, yet--sensibly to them that receive Him. No day excepted; yet this day pleadeth a special interest.
It will then not be amiss if we take instructions what is required on both parts, so many as are desirous to be partakers of His Heavenly comfort, which I trust is the desire of us all, that so with comfort we may celebrate this festum Paracleti, 'this feast of the Comforter.'
Thus they will rise to be treated of. I. The condition first: 1. Their love; 2. Their looking to His commandments' keeping. II. Then the covenant: 3. Christ's intercession; 4. His Father's giving; 5. Giving 'the Comforter;' 6. 'Another Comforter.' Where both will come to be touched; but His diversity. 7. At last His perpetuity, or abode with them for ever.
The condition stand first, as first commended to our care. For of our part we had need have care; on His, we need not. And let me say this of it: No condition could have been devised more proper and fit for this feast--both parts of it. First, 'if ye love me'- love; and this is festum charitatis, 'the feast of love,' and He whose the feast is, the Holy Spirit, love itself, the essential love and love-knot of the two Persons of the Godhead, Father and Son. The same, love-knot between God and man, and yet more specially between Christ and His Church. Properly, as faith referreth to Christ the Word, so doth love to the Spirit, and comfort to love. It is the Apostle; si quod solatium charitatis, 'If there be any comfort, it is in love.' What condition could be more fit?
And the second is like to it, as fit every way: 'keep my commandments.' For ye shall read in Exodus, that at this feast of Pentecost the commandments were given. The very [147/148] Feast itself instituted in remembrance of the Law then given: then very meet they be remembered of them at this Feast. And the Holy Spirit sent, inter alia, that they may be written not in stone, but in their hearts; not with the letter, but with the Spirit; and the spirit not of fear, but love, as by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. Which love is the fulfilling of the Commandments, and they all abridged in this one word diliges.
So, whether we regard the Feast, or the Person, or the office of Him to Whom we hold the Feast, the condition is well chosen.
To begin then with the first; 'If ye love Me.' 'Love' is not so fit here, as 'if'' is unfitting. For 'if' is as if there were some if, some doubt in the matter; whereof, God forbid there should be any. It would be without 'if.' Thus rather: 'forasmuch as you love Me,' keep My, &c. That they and we love Him, I trust, shall not need to be put inhypothesi--Et erat dignus amari; 'seeing He is so well worthy our love,' that we to blame, if we endure any 'if,' any question to be made of it.
It grieveth me to stand long on this condition, to make an if of it at Pentecost. Take the feasts all along, and see if by every one of them it be not put past 'if.' Christmas-day: for us, and for our love, He 'became flesh,' that we might love Him, because like us He took our nature on Him. New Year's day: 'knowing no sin, He was made sin for us,' sealed the bond with the first drops of His blood, wherewith the debt of our sin light upon Him. Candlemas-day: He was presented in the temple, offered as a live oblation for us, that so obedience of His whole life might be ours. Good Friday: made a slain sacrifice on the cross, that we might be redeemed by the benefit of His death. Easter day: opened us the gate of life, 'as the first fruits of them' who rise again. Ascension-day: opened us the gate of heaven; thither, as 'our forerunner entered,' to prepare a place for us. And this day seals up all by giving us seisin of all He hath done for us, by His Spirit sent down upon earth. And after all this, come ye in with 'If ye love me?' Shall we not with si, strike out 'if,' and make the condition absolute? Shall we not to St. Paul's 'if,' 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be anathema maranatha,' all say, let him be so?
[148/149] 'If we love them that love us, what singular thing do we, since the very Publicans do the like?' That if our love be but as the Publican's there would be no 'if' made of it, for He loved us.
And not because we love Him, but He loved us first. Et nulla major as amorem provacatio, quam prævenire amando; nimis enim durus est, qui amorem esti nolebat impendere, nolit rependere. 'No more kindly attractive of love, than in loving to prevent; for too hard metal is he of, that though he like not to love first, will not requite it and love again, either first or second.'
Specially, since His love was not little, but such as St. John makes an Ecce quantum charitatem, of, 'see how great love!' How great? So, as none greater. 'For greater love hath no man than this, to give his life for his friends.' To give His life, is but to die any sort of death; but morte crucis, to die as He died, that is more. And for such as were His friends is much; but, cum inimici essemus, is a great deal more. And yet is it 'If?' Put it to the Prophet's question, quid debuit facer? And add to it, if ye will, quid debuit pati? What should He have done, and what suffered? If He did it not, if He suffered not, make an 'if' of His love; but if He did both, out with it.
But the Publican will be the Publican, and the world the world, their love is mercenary sale ware; si nihil attuleris, no profit, no love. To take away that 'if,' even thither He will follow us, and apply Himself to that. And if we will make port-sale of our love, and let it go by Who gives more? He will outbid all. All, by the last word, in æternum. For whatsoever we may have here, if it were a kingdom, it is not for ever. But this 'Comforter' That 'shall abide with us,' is but a pledge of that bliss and kingdom of His wherein we shall abide with Him eternally. Let any offer more for our love and carry it.
[149/150] Verily, Bonum, si non amatur, non cognoscitur, said the Heathen. But more true of Christ, if we love Him not, we know Him not. If we did but know what He is in Himself, what to us; what He hath already done, what He is ready to do for us still, we would take it evil a case should be put, and yield to it without more ado.
Why so we do; take it evil an if is made; yield to it, we love Him all. Yet great reason there was, we shall see, Christ should so put it, being to infer the second. For at that there will be some sticking, which would not be if we were not defective in this former, of love. If our love were not light, His commandments would not be heavy. If love were as it should be, nothing is heavy to it. Amor erubescit nomen difficultatis, 'love endures not the name of difficulty,' but shames to confess anything too hard for it. De internis affirmare tutum, saith the Heathen; 'it is safe affirming of any thing within us,' where no man can convince us, for none is privy to it but ourselves. How many shall we hear say, I have every affected, wished you well, borne you goodwill, and never a word true. Forasmuch then as there be two loves, saith St. John, one in word and tongue, and that is feigned; and another in deed and truth, and that is right; and that Christ conditions not, if you say you love Me, but if you love Me indeed; we must come to St. James' assay, ostende mihi, 'shew me thy faith;' and as well, shew me thy love by some ostensive sign. So did Christ to us. Ecce quantam charitatem ostendit! 'Behold how great love'--not, He verbally protested, but really 'shewed!' and so they to do the like, to shew it.
Why thus they shew it. He is going away, and they be very sad for it; which sheweth they love Him, and would keep Him still. But that may be a sign they love themselves, in that they are to have some good by His stay with them.
That may deceive you. But, will you have a sign infallible? Take this: His commandments, His Word. He that keeps it, loves Him:--true in the affirmative. He that keeps it not, loves Him not:--true in the negative. This then is the second condition: If ye love Me (not, keep Me still; but) 'Keep My Commandments.' Let your heart be troubled not, if you keep not Me, but if you keep not them. Not, if not Me; Me, that is, My flesh: but, not Me; Me, that is, My word, whereof the commandments are an abstract. pp.150/151 The word is the better part of Me, better than My flesh; strive to keep that, be troubles for not keeping that, and the your love is past 'if'' true indeed.
And is this the other part of the condition? This somewhat troubleth us; for who can do this, keep the Commandments? as good condition with us, to fly or walk on the sea. We are even as well able to do the one as the other. So, upon the matter, all this promise falls out to prove nothing; the conditionn cannot be kept, and so the covenant void. No Holy Ghost or Comforter to be hoped for or had; we are but deluded.
Deluded? God forbid! Christ loves us too well to delude us; He will never do it. A melius inquirendum would be hard, to look a little better into it, and not so lightly lose our interest in such a gift as the Holy Ghost. It stand us so in hand to get the condition made good: else we forfeit our estate in the promise.
If we be to be relieved, it is by the word Mea, that they be His. And some alteration there is plainly in them, by him and His coming. It is not said for nought, and that by way of opposition, that 'the law came by Moses, but grace came by Him,' 'and grace for grace;' that is, not only grace active which we receive, which relieves us in the keeping them, but grace passive too which we find with Him, which relieves in abating the rigour, when we are called to an account about them. You shall find an alteration in this very point. The Apostles would not press the Gentiles to be circumcised: being circumcised, St. Paul testifieth they become 'debtors to the whole Law;' 'a yoke, saith St. Peter, that neither they,' the Apostles, 'nor their fathers were able to bear,' it was so heavy. This, as they came by Moses. But after Christ with His grace came, and His grace with Him, when they came to be His, mandata Ejus, saith St. John, gravia non sunt, 'they are not heavy.' And Himself That best knew the price of it, saith plainly of His 'yoke,' that it 'is easy,' and it were hard to gainsay Him.
This qualifying then groweth two ways. 1. One, that the Law, at the very giving it by angels, was, saith St. Paul, ordinata in manu Mediatoris, 'ordained to be in the Mediator's hand,' that is, Christ, Whose hands are not so heavy as Moses' [151/152] were. 2. The other that Pater omne judicium dedit Filio, saith Himself, 'His Father hath made Him Judge of the keeping or not keeping them.' All judicial power and proceeding concerning them is committed over to Him.
By the first, that they are ordained to be in His hand, He may take them into His hands when He will; and having them in His hands, order them and ease them as pleases Him. Lex in manu Mediatoris is it we must hold by. If the flax smoke and flames not out, he would quench it straight. So will not He; His hand will not break the one, nor His foot tread on the other. To Mary Magdalene He ordained, that fecit quod potuit should serve, and He would require no more. Credo, Domine, adjuva incredulitatem meam, 'I believe, Lord, help my unbelief:'--a belief mixed with unbelief, would never have endured Moses' assay, in manu Mediatoris it did well enough. Thus He ordained, he that neither doth them, nor prepareth himself, non fecit, neque præparavit, he shall be punished; but if he prepare, stir up himself, have a care, a respect unto them, that it seemeth, in manu Mediatoris, will be taken. That if there be, saith the Apostle, prompta voluntas, 'a ready will,' a man 'will be accepted according to that he has, and not according to that he has not.' For the Mediator is man, and has had experience of man's infirmities; He knows our metal and our mould, and what our condition will bear; He knows there is that conflict in us, 'we cannot do what we would.' And indeed, why should concupiscence to evil be reputed sin on the worst part, and a like desire, concupivi desiderare mandata Tua, not to be as well reckoned for as much on the better part, though it be not full out 'according to the purification of the Sanctuary?' Thus, as in His hands ordained.
Then again, as in His court, to be judged. For the court may alter the matter much, as with us here it doth. Sedens in solio justitiæ, as to some, 'in His tribunal seat of strict justice,' there sitting, sentence will proceed otherwise than si adeamus thronum gratiæ, if we have access to Him in His 'throne of grace,' where we may 'obtain mercy and find grace.' And St. James brings us good tidings, that super-exaltat, &c the throne of grace is the higher court; and so appeal lieth thither, to whom He will admit. 'To cruel men, saith He, there shall be judgment without mercy;' which sheweth, judgment with mercy shall be to some other to whom He will vouchsafe it.
[152/153] And thus it must stand upon Mea, and manu Mediatoris, and the throne of grace, or else even those here, the Apostles, it will go wrong with them, they will hardly be relieved in their claim of a 'Comforter.' For within twenty-four hours and less, it came indeed to an 'if,' their love. They loved Him not so well, but they loved their own safety better; fell away, and fled away, and denied Him; even he who said he loved Him best.
And what, kept they His commandments? Sinned they not? In multis omnes, saith St. James, 'in many things all;' and 'if they should say otherwise,' saith St. John, 'that they had no sin'--not, they were somewhat proud, and there were no humility, but 'they were very liars, and there were no truth in them.' So that keeping the commandments and having of sin must stand together, or else they them not.
But this they kept, and so may we too; they were troubled, their hearts were troubled for not keeping them; and at the throne of grace that was accepted; and the not keeping not reckoned a breach of the Commandment, if we be troubled for it.
But this they kept, and so may we too: they were troubled, their hearts were troubled for not keeping them; and at the throne of grace that was accepted; and the not keeping not reckoned a breach of the Commandment, if we be troubled for it.
Again, as well saith St. Augustine, amongst His commandments this is one, which we must not fail duly to keep; and that is the commandment of daily praying, dimitte nobis, forgive us our not keeping, which helps all the rest. We keep, Lord, help our not keeping, as well as 'I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.' A true endeavour with a humble repentance, for so he resolves, and then omnia mandata facta deputantur, quando quod non sit ignoscitur; 'all are accounted as kept, when what is not is pardoned out of His mercy;' and so the rest rewarded out of His bounty that alloweth a day's wages for an hour's work, as to them that came at the eleventh hour to the vineyard, that is, at five of the clock after noon. Thus will it be with us in hope; thus was it with them. For the covenant held, and the prayer went forward, and the Comforter came notwithstanding.
Now to Christ's part Rogabo patrem et dabit; that Christ will pray and His Father give. And there is nothing more effectually sheweth [153/154] they were short in their condition than these two words, 1. Rogabo, and 2. dabit. The Father will give. It is His free gift, not due debt, upon desert of the former. And dabit roganti, gives it to Christ's prayer, rather for Rogation week's sake with Him, than for any work of superrogation with them. But it cometh from God's bounty, and Christ's entreaty, without which our love and commandment-keeping would not carry it; they are not sufficient to weigh it down pondere meriti; it must come rogatu Christi, or not at all. Then, not to lean on them; Christ it is, and His intercession, we take to. Not, you will love, and keep my commandments, and then my Father will be bound; but, and then Christ will pray, and the Father will give if Christ pray, and not otherwise.
But a doubt ariseth: may we love Christ, or keep His commandments, before we have the Holy Spirit, without Whom first had it certain we can do neither? How shall we love Christ or keep His commandments, that we may receive the Holy Spirit, when unless we first receive we can neither love Him nor keep them, no, not so much as say, 'Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit?' Nay, not so much as think that, or any other thought that is good? How says He then? Keep and I shall give, when He must give or we cannot keep.
This scruple will soon be removed by habenti dabitur. A promise may be made, tam habenti quam non habenti, 'as well to him that has a thing already, as to him who has it not at all.' To him who has it already in a lower or less, may be promised, to have it in a more ample measure or more high degree, than yet he has; or to him who has it one kind, that he may have it in some other. To all, save Christ, the Spirit is given in measure. Where there is measure, there are degrees: where there be degrees of more and less, the more may well be promised to him who has the less. To him who has it in the degree of warm breath, it may well be promised in tongues of fire. To him who has it as the first fruits, which is but a handful, it may well be promised as in the whole sheaf, which fills the bosom. But that which is more agreeable to this text here, we consider the Spirit, as [154/155] St. Peter, multiformem; the Spirit in His graces, or the graces of the Spirit, 'as of many kinds.' 'Of many kinds,' for our wants and defects are many. Not to go out of the chapter: in the very next words, He is called 'the Spirit of truth,' and that is one kind of grace, to cure us of error. In the twenty-sixth verse after, 'the Spirit of holiness,' which is His common name which serveth to reduce us from a moral honest life to a holy, and wherein the power of religion doth appear. And here He is termed 'the Comforter,' and that is against heaviness and trouble of mind. To him that hath Him as 'the Spirit of truth,' which is one grace, He may be promised as 'the Spirit of holiness,' or comfort, which is another. It is well known, many partake Him as 'the Spirit of truth' in knowledge, which may well be promised them, for sure yet they have Him not as the sanctifying Spirit. And both these ways may He be had of some who yet are subject to the Apostle's disease here, heavy and cast down, and no cheerful spirit within them. So they were not clean destitute of the Spirit at this promise making, but had Him; and so well might love Him, and in some sort keep His commandments, and yet remain capable of the promise of a Comforter for all that. So that Christ may proceed to His prayer, that His Father would send them the Comforter.
Where we begin with matter of faith. For we have here the article offered to us, and set down in the three Persons, 1. Ego, 2. Ille, and 3. Alium; 1. 'I' 2. 'He,' and 3. 'Another.' 1. 'I will pray the Father,' that is, Christ is the Son. 2. 'And He shall give' it, that is, the Father--His Person is named. 3. Alium, 'another' third Person besides, that is Paracletum, the Holy Ghost. 1. One praying; 2. the other prayed to; 3. the third prayed for. 1. Filius orans; 2. Pater donans; 3. Spiritus consolans. 'The Son praying; the Father granting; the Spirit comforting;'--a plain distinction.
And Christ's prayer sets us to seek His other nature. For here He entreats as inferior to His Father, in state of man; here He entreats as inferior to His Father, in state of man; but in the twenty-sixth verse as equal to His Father, in the nature of God, joins in giving with like authority. Rogabo, as man, Dabo, as God.
Finding the Father giving here, and the Son giving there, we have the proceeding of the Holy Ghost from both; Quem mittet Pater, [155/156] 'Whom the Father shall send,' in the twenty-sixth of this; Quem Ego mittam,' Whom I will send,' in the twenty-sixth of the next. Called therefore 'the Spirit of the Father,' and again called 'the Spirit of the Son,' and the Spirit of both, as sent and proceeding from both.
And last, the quality of the Holy Ghost. For sending and procuring, He must send and procure them one equal to Himself, as good every way, or else they had changed for the worse, and so pray Him to let His prayer alone; they were better as they were, they shall be at a loss.
Christ will pray; and if He pray, great likelihood there is He will speed. He that is sued to, is easy to entreat, He is a Father; and He that doth sue is gracious to prevail, He is a Son. Pater a Filio rogatus, great odds the suit is half obtained ere begun. Specially, His suit being not faint or cold, but earnest and instant, as it was. He sued by word, and it was clamore valido, 'with strong crying' in a high key; et lachrymis, and He added 'tears,' saith the Apostle, and they have their voice. And yet stayed not there, by His blood speaks too; cries higher and 'speaks better things than the blood of Abel'' And the effect of His prayer was, not only Pater condona, 'Father forgive them,' but Pater dona, 'Father give them' the Holy Spirit to teach, 'sanctify' and comfort them. This was His prayer, and His prayer prevailed; as good as His word He was. His Father should send, He said; and His Father did send, and the Holy Spirit came;--witness this day.
And came in that sort He undertook; even in that kind whereof they had most need;--most welcome to them, as their case then stood--under the term of Paracletus, 'Comforter.' If we ask, why under that term? To shew the peculiar end for which He was sent, agreeable to the want of their private estate to who He was sent.
If they had been perplexed, He would have prayed for 'the Spirit of truth.' If in any pollution of sin, for the 'sanctifying Spirit.' But they were as orphans, cast down and comfortless, tristia implevit co eorum 'their hearts full of heaviness;' no time to teach them now, or frame their manners, they were now to be put in heart. 'The Spirit of truth' or holiness would have done them small pleasure. It was comfort they wanted, a 'Comforter' to them was worth all.
[156/157] Many good blessings come to us by the Holy Spirit coming, and the Spirit in any form of truth or holiness, or what we will, by all means worthy to be received, even all His gifts; but a gift in season goes beyond all, carrieth away the name from all the rest. Every gift in his time. When troubled with erroneous opinions, then 'the Spirit of truth,' when assaulted with temptations, then, 'the Spirit of holiness;' but when oppressed with fear or sorrow, then is the time of 'the Holy Spirit the Comforter.' Sorrow doth chill, and make the spirits congeal; therefore He appeareth in fire, to give them warmth; and in a tongue, the instrument of comfort, by ministering a word in due season; and cloven, that it might meet with dismays of all sorts, and comfort them against all.
And so did it, and that apparently. For immediately upon the receiving it, they were thought to be 'full of new wine.' That was but an error, but so comforted they were as, before being exceeding fearful, they grew exceeding full of courage and spirit; so as even when they grew exceeding full of courage and spirit; so as even when they were scourged piteously, ibant gaudentes, 'they went' away--not patiently enduring, but even sensibly 'rejoicing,' not as men evil entreated, but as persons dignified, having got a new dignity, 'to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ's Name.'
A 'Comforter' then; and two things are added: 1. Alium, and 2. Qui manebit in æternum. 1. 'Another Comforter,' and 2. 'That shall abide with them for ever.' Both which are verified of Him, even in regard of Christ; but much more in regard of other earthly, fleshly, worldly comforts, and comforters whatsoever. 'Another;' which word presupposes one besides, so that two there be. 3. One they have already; and now another they shall have, which is no evil news. For thus instead of a single, they find a double comfort. But both they needed.
This sets us on work to find the first, and we shall not needs to seek far for Him. Speak to them of a 'Comforter,' and they understood it not but of Christ, all their comfort in him; lose Him, and lose all. Indeed, Christ was one; was, and is still. And the very term of Paracletus is given Him by St. john; and though it there be turned 'an Advocate,' upon good reason, yet the word is the same in both. Christ had been their 'Comforter' while He was their 'Bridegroom,' [157/158] and they 'the children of the Bride-chamber.' But expedient it was He should go, for expedient it was they had one in heaven, and expedient withal, they had one in earth, and so another in His stead.
For the first: even now absent, He is our 'Comforter' still that way we named right now; that is, our 'Advocate,' to appear for us before God, there to answer the slanderous allegations of him that 'is the accuser' of us and 'our brethren.' And a comfort it is, and a great comfort, to have a good 'Advocate' there in our absence; for then we be sure our cause shall take no harm.
But secondly, if as an 'Advocate,' He cannot defend us, because the accusation often falls out to be true, if 'Moses accuse us' too; yet a second comfort there is, that as 'a High Priest for ever,' He is entered into the holy places 'made without hands,' there by His intercession to make atonement for them as sinners, whose innocency as an Advocate He cannot defend.
And to both these, He addeth a third at the beginning of the this chapter, that His leaving them is but to take up a place for them, to be seized of it in their names whom He will certainly come again and receive to it, there to be for ever with Him.
And in the meantime He will take order we shall have supply of 'Another;' in absence of His body, the supply of His Spirit. That if we look up, we have a Comforter in heaven, even Himself; and if we look down, we have a Comforter on earth, His Spirit; and so are at an anchor in both.
For as He doth in heaven for us, so does the Spirit on earth in us, frame our petitions and 'make intercessions for us, with sighs that cannot be expressed.' And as Christ is our witness in heaven, so is the Spirit here on earth, 'witnessing with our spirits that we' pertain to the adoption, and 'are the children of God.' Evermore, `in the midst of the sorrows that are in our hearts, with His comforts refreshing our souls.' Yet not filling them with false comforts, but as Christ's Advocate here on earth, soliciting us daily and calling upon us to look to His commandments, and keep them, wherein stands much of our comfort, even in 'the testimony of a good conscience.' And thus these two--this one, and this other; this second, and that first, yield plentiful supply to all our wants.
[158/159] A second note of difference is in the tenure they shall have of this other, that He shall stay with them still, which of Christ they had not. For this is the grief, when we have one that is our comfort, that we cannot hold Him; and this their fear, that when they have another, still they will be changing, and never at any certainty. Christ, as man, they could not keep, given He was by the Father, but given for term of years, that term expired, He was to return. Therefore His abode is expressed by the word esk»uwse, the setting up of a tent or tabernacle, to be taken down again and removed within a short time; no dwelling of continuance. But 'the Holy Ghost' will continue with us still, and therefore He is allowed 'a Temple,' which is permanent and never to be taken down. We have in Him a state of perpetuity, to our comfort.
Howbeit, it may well be thought, alium and manebit in æternum are not put so much for Christ, to make a difference from Him, as for these same other terrenæ consolatiunculæ, 'petty poor comforts and solaces of the world,' which God hath given us and we may use; but we must look after Paracletum alium, 'another' and another manner 'Comforter,' when all is done. For of these it may be, we shall feel some comfort, while we be in health and meetly good estate, and in case not much to need it. But less us come into their cases here, the heart troubled, the mind oppressed, the spirit wounded; and then, what earthly thing will there be can minister any sound comfort to us? It will not be; we must needs seek for this Paracletum alium here at any hand. What speak I of the mind? If but ache come into a joint, we know, we have tried them and found them, they are not able to drive away the least pain from the least part. And how then when sickness comes, and sorrow, and the pangs of death. what comfort in these? Comfort? Nay, shall we not find discomfort in the bitter remembrance of our intemperate using them, and little regard of the true Comforter? Shall we not find them, as Job found his friends, like winter-brooks, full of rain in winter, when no need of it, when it rains continually; but in summer, when need is, not a drop in them? So when our state of body and mind is, that we can sustain ourselves [159/160] without it, then perhaps some they yield; but when sorrow seizeth on the heart, then none at all. In the end, we shall say to them as he did, 'Miserable comforters are ye all.' Wherefore 'another Comforter' we are to seek, That may give us ease in our disease of the mind, and in the midst of all our sorrows and sufferings make us ire gaudentes, 'go away rejoicing.' No other will do it but this; that, when we have Him, we need look no further.
The other is likewise a difference; of staying with us 'for ever.' 'For ever?' The weak poor comfort we have by the creatures here, such as it is, we have no hold of it; it stays not 'for ever,' nay, not for any long time. There be two degrees in it: 1. Non in æternum, that is too plain; 2. Nay, not manet nobiscum, they stay not with us; fugiunt a nobis, 'they fly from us' many times in a moment, as Solomon's fire of thorns, a blaze and out straight.
Nay, if they would tarry with us, would they not tire us? Even manna itself, did it not grow loathsome? Do we not find that when we are ready to starve for hunger, and have meat to drive it away; if we use it any while, the meat is a irksome as the hunger was, and we are hungry for hunger as ever we were for the meat? That we may not be cloyed, we change them; and even those we change them for, within a while cloy us as fast. What we do? where shall we find comfort aright? Ever, per quod fastidio occurritur, fastidium incurritur; so that if they would tarry, we must put them away; the not tarrying of them with us, that is, the change of them is it that makes us able to endure them.
Well then, comfort us they cannot when we need it, we must pray for alium. If they could, they cannot stay; not for any space, much less for ever. If they could, their very stay would prove fastidious, and yield us but discomfort. Seeing then we cannot entreat them to stay with us, and if we could, 'in the evil day' they could not stead us, but then fail us soonest when our need is greatest; let us seek for 'another,' that through sickness, age and death, may abide with us to all eternity, and make us abide with Him in endless joy and comfort.
Such is this here which Christ promised, and His Father sent this day; and which He will send, if Christ will ask; [160/161] and Christ will ask if, now we know the covenant and see the condition, we shall seal to the deed.
To a covenant there is nothing more requisite, than to put the seal. And we know the Sacrament is the seal of the new covenant, as it was of the old. Thus, by undertaking the duty He requires, we are entitled to the comfort which here He promises. And 'do this' He would have us, as is plain by His hoc facite.
And sure, of all the times in our life, when we settle ourselves to prepare thitherwards, we are in best terms of disposition to covenant with Him. For if ever we be in a state of love towards Him, or towards one another, then it is. If ever troubled in spirit, that we have not kept His commandments better, then it is. If ever in a vowed purpose and preparation better to look to it, then it is. Then therefore of all times most likely to gain interest in the promise, when we are best in case, and come nearest to be able to plead the condition.
Besides, it was one special end why the Sacrament itself was ordained, our comfort; the Church so telleth us, we so hear it read every time to us: 'He hath ordained these mysteries of His love and favour, to our great and endless comfort.' 'The Father will give you the Comforter.' Why He gives Him, we see; how He gives Him, we see not. The means for which He gives Him, is Christ--His entreaty by His word in prayer; by His flesh and blood in sacrifice, for His blood speaks, not His voice only. These means for which; and the very same, the means by which He gives the Comforter: by Christ the Word, and by Christ's body and blood, both. In tongues it came, but the tongue is not the instrument of speech only but of taste, we all know. And even that note hath not escaped the ancient Divines; to shew there is not only comfort by hearing the word, but we may also 'taste of His goodness, how gracious He is,' and be 'made drink of the Spirit.' That not only by the letter we read, and the word we hear, but by the flesh we eat, and the blood we drink at His table, we be made partakers of His Spirit, and of the comfort of it. By no more kindly way passes His Spirit, than by His flesh and blood, which are vehicula Spiritus, 'the proper carriages [161/162] to convey it.' Christ fitted our body to Him, that He might fit His Spirit to us. For so is the Spirit best fitted, made remeable, and best exhibited to us who consist of both.
This is sure: where His flesh and blood are, they are not 'spiritless,' they are not or without life, His Spirit is with them. Therefore was it ordained in those very elements, which have both of them a comfortable operation in the heart of man. One of them, bread, serving to strengthen it, or make it strong; and comfort comes of comfortare, which is 'to make strong'' And the other wine, to make it cheerful or 'glad;' and is therefore willed to be ministered to them who mourn, and are oppressed with grief. And all this to show that the same effect is wrought in the inward man by the holy mysteries, that is in the outward by the elements; that there the heart is 'established by grace,' and our soul endued with strength, and our conscience made light and cheerful, that it faint not, but evermore rejoice in His holy comfort.
To conclude: where shall we find it if not here, where under one we find 'Christ our Passover offered for us,' and the Spirit our Pentecost thus offered to us? Nothing remains but the Father Himself, and of Him we are sure too. Filium in pretium dedit, Spiritum in solatium, Se servat in præmium; His Son He gave to be our price, His Spirit to be our comfort, Himself he keeps to be our everlasting reward. Of which reward there, and comfort here, this day and ever may we be partakers, for Him Who was the price of both, Jesus Christ!