John XIV. 25-27.
1. In the preceding lesson of the holy Gospel, which is followed by
the one that has just been read, the Lord Jesus had said that He and the
Father would come to those who loved Them, and make Their abode with them.
But He had also already said above of the Holy Spirit, "But ye shall know
Him; for He shall dwell with you, and shall be in you" (ver. 17): by which
we understood that the divine Trinity dwelleth together in the saints as
in His own temple. But now He saith, "These things have I spoken unto you
while [still] dwelling with you." That dwelling, therefore, which He promised
in the future, is of one kind; and this, which He declares to be present,
is of another. The one is spiritual, and is realized inwardly by the mind;
the other is corporal, and is exhibited outwardly to the eye and the ear.
The one brings eternal blessedness to those who have been delivered, the
other pays its visits in time to those who await deliverance. As regards
the one, the Lord never withdraws from those who love Him; as regards the
other, He comes and goes. "These things, He says, "have I spoken unto you,
while [still] dwelling with you;" that is, in His bodily presence, wherein
He was visibly conversing with them.
2. "But the Comfort," He adds, "[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." Is it, then,
that the Son speaks, and the Holy Spirit teaches, so that we merely get
hold of the words that are uttered by the Son, and then understand them
by the teaching of the Spirit as if the Son could speak without the Holy
Spirit, or the Holy Spirit teach without the Son: or is it not rather that
the Son also teacheth and the Spirit speaketh, and, when it is God that
speaketh and teacheth anything, that the Trinity itself is speaking and
teaching? And just because it is a Trinity, its persons required to be
introduced individually, so that we might hear it in its distinct personality,
and understand its inseparable nature. Listen to the Father speaking in
the passage where thou readest, "The Lord said unto me, Thou art my Son:"
listen to Him also teaching, in that where thou readest, "Ever man that
hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." The Son, on
the other hand, thou hast just heard speaking; for He saith of Himself,
"Whatsoever I have said unto you:" and if thou wouldst also know Him as
a Teacher, bethink thyself of the Master, when He saith, "One is your Master,
even Christ." Furthermore, of the Holy Spirit, whom thou hast just been
told of as a Teacher in the words, "He shall teach you all things," listen
to Him also speaking, where thou readest in the Acts of the Apostles, that
the Holy Spirit said to the blessed Peter, "Go with them, for I have sent
them." The whole Trinity, therefore, both speaketh and teacheth: but were
it not also brought before us in its individual personality, it would certainly
altogether surpass the power of human weakness to comprehend it. For as
it is altogether inseparable in itself, it could never be known as the
Trinity, were it always spoken of inseparably; for when we speak of the
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we certainly do not pronounce
them simultaneously, and yet in themselves they cannot be else than simultaneous.
But when He added," He will bring to your remembrance," we ought also to
understand that we are commanded not to forget that these pre-eminently
salutary admonitions are part of that grace which the Holy Spirit brings
to our remembrance.
3. "Peace," He said, "I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." It
is here we read in the prophet, "Peace upon peace:" peace He leaves with
us when going away, His own peace He will give us when He cometh in the
end. Peace He leaveth with us in this world, His own peace He will give
us in the world to come. His own peace He leaveth with us, and abiding
therein we conquer the enemy. His own peace He will give us when, with
no more enemies to fight, we shall reign as kings. Peace He leaveth with
us, that here also we may love one another: His own peace will He give
us, where we shall be beyond the possibility of dissension. Peace He leaveth
with us, that we may not judge one another of what is secret to each, while
here on earth: His own peace will He give us, when He "will make manifest
the counsels of the heart; and then shall every man have praise of God."
And yet in Him and from Him it is that we have peace, whether that which
He leaveth with us when going to the Father, or that which He will give
us when we ourselves are brought by Him to the Father. And what is it He
leaveth with us, when ascending from us, save His own presence, which He
never withdraweth? For He Himself is our peace who hath made both one.
It is He, therefore, that becomes our peace, both when we believe that
He is, and when we see Him as He is. For if, so long as we are in this
corruptible body that burdens the soul, and are walking by faith, not by
sight, He forsaketh not those who are sojourning at a distance from Himself;
how much more, when we have attained to that sight, shall He fill us with
4. But why is it that, when He said, "Peace I leave with you," He did
not add, "my;" but when He said, "I give unto you," He there made use of
it? Is "my" to be understood even where it is not expressed, on the ground
that what is expressed once may have a reference to both? Or may it not
be that here also we have some underlying truth that has to be asked and
sought for, and opened up to those who knock thereat? For what, if by His
own peace He meant such to be understood as that which He possesses Himself?
whereas the peace, which He leaves us in this world, may more properly
be termed our peace than His. For He, who is altogether without sin, has
no elements of discord in Himself; while the peace we possess, meanwhile,
is such that in the midst of it we have still to be saying, "Forgive us
our debts." A certain kind of peace, accordingly, we do possess, inasmuch
as we delight in the law of God after the inward man: but it is not a full
peace, for we see another law in our members warring against the law of
our mind. In the same way we have peace in our relations with one another,
just because, in mutually loving, we have a mutual confidence in one another:
but no more is such a peace as that complete, for we see not the thoughts
of one another's hearts; and we have severally better or worse opinions
in certain respects of one another than is warranted by the reality. And
so that peace, although left us by Him, is our peace: for were it not from
Him, we should not be possessing it, such as it is; but such is not the
peace He has Himself. And if we keep what we received to the end, then
such as He has shall we have, when we shall have no elements of discord
of our own, and we shall have no secrets hid from one another in our hearts.
But I am not ignorant that these words of the Lord may be taken so as to
seem only a repetition of the same idea, "Peace I leave with you, my peace
I give unto you:" so that after saying "peace," He only repeated it in
saying "my peace;" and what He had meant in saying "I leave with you,"
He simply repeated in saying "I give unto you." Let each one understand
it as he pleases; but it is my delight, as I believe it is yours also,
my beloved brethren, to keep such hold of that peace here, where our hearts
are making common cause against the adversary, that we may be ever longing
for the peace which there will be no adversary to disturb.
5. But when the Lord proceeded to say, "Not as the world giveth, give
I unto you," what else does He mean but, Not as those give who love the
world, give I unto you? For their aim in giving themselves peace is that,
exempt from the annoyance of lawsuits and wars, they may find enjoyment,
not in God, but in the friendship of the world; and although they give the
righteous peace, in ceasing to persecute them, there can be no true peace
where there is no real harmony, because their hearts are at variance. For
as one is called a consort who unites his lot (sortem) with another, so
may he be termed concordant whose heart has entered into a similar union.
Let us, therefore, beloved, with whom Christ leaveth peace, and to whom
He giveth His own peace, not after the world's way, but in a way worthy
of Him by whom the world was made, that we should be of one heart with
Himself. having our hearts run into one, that this one heart, set on that
which is above, may escape the corruption of the earth.