April 16 PDF Print E-mail
"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." — John 14:18.

These tender words are part of our Saviour's farewell address to his disciples, immediately after the Holy Supper.

We see in them his kindness. These disciples had shown many defects, and had very little improved any of their advantages; but loving his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. They were now going to prove themselves very unworthy and he foresaw, and foretold, what, according to their present views and feelings, seemed perfectly incredible to themselves, that they would all forsake him in the hour of trial, notwithstanding their obligations, and professions. They were going to leave him comfortless, as far as it depended upon them and to induce him to complain, "I looked for some to take pity, and there was none, and for comforters, and I found none." But, much as they deserved it, "I will not," says he, "leave you comfortless." "I will" — not to punish, or upbraid, but to relieve, and encourage — "I will come to you."

Here, also, we perceive his greatness. When we are going away from our connexions to some distant place, we may speak of our return, but it must be conditionally. We are not sure of the event; it does not depend upon us. and we ought always to say, "If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." But when we die, we know our return is impossible, and our friends know it, and weep most of all that they will see our faces no more. The dying pastor cannot say to his anxious flock, I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you, and again feed you with the Bread of Life. The dying father cannot say to his family, mourning around his bed, I will come again and provide for you. One of the most touching circumstances in the beautiful lines of Cowper, on his mother's picture, is the delusion employed to comfort him:

"Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of thy quick return;
What ardently I wish'd, I long believed;
And, disappointed still, was still deceived.
By disappointment every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child —
Thus many a sad to-morrow came, and went,
'Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learn'd, at last, submission to my lot;
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot."

And the same lesson we must all learn, with regard to every dear delight we here enjoy. The departing Joseph said unto his brethren, "I die; and God will surely visit you." He does not say, I will visit you; he knew he was going the way whence he could not return. But Divinity here speaks, as well as friendship: "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." This is the language, not only of fore-knowledge, but of sovereign dominion; the language of one who had the keys of hell, and of death; of one who said, No man taketh my life from me; I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. Even death would not interrupt his goodness. His entering another world would not affect his intercourse with his people in this. His presence with them was not confined to his bodily residence. While on earth, he said, "The Son of man who is in heaven." And now, though in heaven, he is no less on earth. "Lo," said he, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

And can we help perceiving, here, how indispensable he is to the happiness of his people? The disciples were comfortless in the view of his absence; and it is easy to account for this, both from their attachment to him, and from the pleasure and profit they had derived from him. We feel, and tremble, and groan, at parting with a friend, or relation. What must the feelings of the disciples have been, at the thought of losing him? They would be left in the world, like sheep without their shepherd; like travellers in a wilderness, without their guide; like orphans, bereaved of the father's care, and the mother's bosom. And what could comfort them, but the promise of himself again? Had he said, I will not leave you comfortless, I will send you riches, and honours; princes shall be your friends, and angels your servants; what would all this have been, without the assurance, "I will come to you?" But this is sufficient. Here is a resource equal to the exigency, a consolation adequate to all the distress.

The good found in creatures is always finite, and very limited. It is also much dispersed, so that we must apply to many, to contribute their part to make up one comfort. The happiness we derive from creatures is like a beggar's garment; it is made up of pieces, and patches, and is worth very little after all. But the blessedness we derive from the Saviour is single, and complete. In him all fulness dwells. He is coeval* with every period. He is answerable to every condition. He is a physician, to heal; a counsellor, to plead; a king, to govern; a friend, to sympathise; a father, to provide. He is a foundation, to sustain; a root, to enliven; a fountain, to refresh. He is the shadow from the heat, the bread of life; the morning star; the sun of righteousness — all, and in all. No creature can be a substitute for him, but he can supply the place of every creature. He is all my salvation, and all my desire. My hope, my peace, my life, my glory, and joy.

Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. I cannot be exposed; I cannot be friendless; I cannot be poor; I cannot be fearful; I cannot be sorrowful with Thee.

"If Thou, my Jesus, still art nigh,
Cheerful I live, and cheerful die;
Secure, when mortal comforts flee,
To find ten thousand worlds in Thee."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

* of the same or equal age, antiquity, or duration — Ed.

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