This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
John xiv. 2, 3. — " In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where lam, there ye may be also."' The trouble of heart which, at the time our Lord's discourse was delivered, so painfully agitated his disciples, and which it was his purpose to soothe and assuage, had originated in the intimation he had given them, that he was about to leave them. He had said to them, " ow I go to Him tliat sent me;" and because he had said this, " sorrow had filled their hearts." There are two things which chiefly make us unwilling to part with our friends, — ^the thought that it may not be so well with them where they ' I delivered a discourse on these words some years ago, on occasion of the death of a truly venerable minister of Christ (the Rev. Dr. Peddie), which was subsequently published as a merited tribute of respect to his memory. My object in that discourse was to fix the attention on those views of heaven which the text opens to the mind — as a house, — the house of God, — the house of Christ's Father, — a house of many mansions, — a house into which he is gone to prepare a place for his people, — a house to which he is ultimately to conduct all his people, and in which they are to dwell with him for ever. My intention, in the remarks that follow, is to look at the passage in its connection, and to consider it as a part of that statement of truth by our Lord, which he calls on his disconsolate disciples to believe, in order that they might be delivered from those painful emotions of anxiety, and fear, and sorrow, which were now in so distressing a degree agitating their minds and troubling their hearts. In prosecuting this design, many of the truths stated in that discourse will necessarily be brought again before the mind ; but, viewed from a different stand-point, they Avill — most of them — be presented in a new light. It is a subject which well deserves to be looked at in all its aspects, and if a spiritual householder has his treasure moderately well furnished — however frequently he resort to it — he will bring forth from his store things new as well as old.
PART II.] WHITHER CHRIST WAS GOI G — A D WHY, 215 go — and the thought that it may not be so well with us when they arc gone. And nothing is so well fitted to reconcile us to the parting, and soothe the painful feelings such a i)rospcct naturally awakens, as the assurance, that neither party is to lose — still more,
that both parties are to gain — by the separation. The disciples were troubled at what they anticipated as about to take place in reference to their Lord. He was to leave them, to leave them by dying, and by dying in very painful circumstances. They were troubled, too, at what they anticipated as about to take place with regard to themselves — disapi)ointed hope — ^disgrace — persecution, and an endless train of ill-defined, but not on that account less dreadful or less dreaded, evils. To relieve them, our Lord, in these words, shows them that there was no sufficient ground for such extreme trouble of heart at the thought of his leaving them, either on his account or on their own ; for that ultimately- his departure would j^rove productive of far higher advantages to both, than could have resulted from his continuance with them on the earth. Whatever temporar}- sacrifices and suffering the parting might occasion, it was the necessary means of his return to his Father, and his Father's house, with vrhom and in which he was to enjoy a state of happiness and dignity, strikingly contrasted with that state of degradation and suffering in which he was now placed, infinitely superior to any situation, however blissful and exalted, to which he could be raised on earth ; and it was equally the necessary means of their being ultimately made partakers of his joys and glories, by his conducting them to the mansions which he went to prepare for them, in the house of his Father, and their Father; his God, and their God. This is the substance of the statement contained in the words before us ; and surely if the disciples believed on him who made that statement, their troubled hearts could not but be re-assured and comforted. Let us then turn our attention for a little somewhat more particularly to the result of our Lord's going away, first to himself, and then to his disciples, as these are exhibited in the text, and show how the consideration of these was fitted to comfort their hearts, and reconcile them to what, at first sight, seemed so fraught with discouragement and sorrow. "In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself ; that where I am, there ye may be also." § 1. The results of Christ s going away to himself. Let us first, then, attend to the results, in reference to himself, of our Lord's going away, as thej^ are represented in these words. His going away, so far as he was concerned, was to terminate in his arrival at the house of his Father, and his dwelling there in holy, happy fellowship with Him, and with the blessed inhabitants
of the many mansions which are to be found there. There caji
216 THE VALEDICTOEY DISCOURSE. [EXP. XXVIII. be little doubt that, by the house of our Lord's Father, we are to understand heaven ; that portion of the created universe where the Divinity has made the fullest manifestation of his excellences, and which he has appointed as the proper residence of unMlen and restored intelligent creatures — of his holy angels, and redeemed men. Heaven is sometimes spoken of in Scripture, as a world, — a country, — a city,^ Here it is termed a house, the house of Christ's Father. The image brought before the mind is that of a magnificent palace, which the Great King of the universe, "wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working," has "built for the house of his kingdom, by the might of his power, and for the honor of his majesty." I need scarcely say, the language is figurative ; He Avho fills heaven and earth with his presence, " who is a God at hand, and a God afar off," can have no special dwelling-place ; but the meaning of the figure is not difficult to be discovered. The universe is God's house, — for there is no place in it where He is not in all the fulness of his infinite perfections, — no place in which these perfections are not more or Jess clearly disi^laycd. The temple, under the Jewish economy, was God's house, for there was the symbol of his presence, and there had He commanded those religious ordinances to be observed which are the means of communion Avith Him. And heaven is his house, for there the most glorious revelation is made of his character, and there holy intelligences are admitted to most intimate and uninterrupted fellowship with Him. Heaven is his house also, for He is its builder. This house has not been " made by hands" — it is not the work of the wisdom, and power — of men or of angels. Its "builder and maker is God.'" " The Lord made the heavens." " The heavens are the work of his hand."* And, finally, it is his house too, for He is its inhabitant. " The Lord is in his holy temple ;" " in heaven is his throne ;" " the Lord has prepared his throne in the heavens."^ It is there that He is to be seen, as He is. What is seen of Him elsewhere, is only his shadow. It is there that He is to be known ; 'it is there that He is to be communed Avith. Our Lord was the Son — the only begotten Son — the well-be-
loved Son — of the Supreme Sovereign, whose palace is the heaven of heavens. He had, with his own most cordial concurrence, been sent by his Father to our earth — a remote region of His dominions — to serve ends of high importance in the administration of that kingdom of truth, and righteousness, and benignity, which ruleth over all. In working out His holy and merciful purposes, he had for more than thirty years dwelt a man among men. His condition, by his own choice and his Father's appointment, was a very humble and afflicted one. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests ; but " the Son of God, 2 Luke XX. 35. Heb. xL 10, 16. '¦> Heb. xi. 10. * Heb. i. 10. 6 Hab. ii. 20. Psal. ciii. 19.
PART II.] WHITHER CHRIST WAS GOI G A D WHY. 217 when lie became " the Son of man, had not where to lay his head." He was "despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."* " The work given him to do " on earth was now all but finished. It was to be accomplished by a still lower " stoop of majesty." The ever-blessed One must die like an accursed felon on the cross, and the Prince of life lie dead in the grave. And then, after and b}^ means of, his sufferings, he was to return to his Father's house, to his Father's throne, to his Father's bosom. He was soon to be brought from the dust of death by his Father, as "the God of peace" — the propitiated Divinity ; and yet a little longer, and the heavens were to receive him, attended by ten thousand times ten thousand of those angelic spirits who count it their highest honor to worship him : he was to pass through these visible heavens, into the heaven of heavens, and " sit down for ever on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" "for the suffering of death," he was to be '• crowned with glory and honor;" he was to be "glorified with that glory which he had with the Father before the foundation of the world ;" and the Father was to say to him, " Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool." Henceforth, his Father's house was to be his house — his Father's throne his throne ; and he was to dwell with Him in that house, sit with Him on that throne. His " glory was to be great in his Father's salvation ; honor and majesty were to be laid on him. He was to be made most blessed for ever, — made exceeding glad in the light of his Father's countenance.'"
or was this all. In his Father's house were " many mansions "* — many secure abiding dwelling-places, — and those mansions were not tenantless. It is probable that there is an allusion here to the numerous chambers in the sacred precincts at Jerusalem, for the ministering priests and Levites. x\ll in the holy house above are priests — ministering priests, — and there is accommodation for them all. There, were dwelling the countless host of those holy angels, "who kept their first estate, and left s Matt. viii. 20. Isa. liii. 3. .'' ?^^^^- "• ^\ ^^^^- ^^- } } ^^'- }'^^ aKT]val aluvLoi. Luke xvi. 9. " on dicit totzol tto/J-oI, non olklcu 7roX'/.al, non OKTihai TzoAlnl, sed fioval, raansiones." — Eras. Schmid. " Multos, quae et angelos, et vestros fide antecessores, et vo3, et quarn plurimos capiaat. Ipso plurali numero videtur etiatn varietas mansionuin innui, nam non dicit mansio magna, sed mansiones multw." — Bengel. " Coelum voeat domum Patris sui : forsan allusione ad templum quod voeabatur Domns Jehovae. Cum vero in templo Hierosolymitano varia essent conclavia, liiiic est quodetiam in templo coelorum, varia coneiavia, et multce quasi mrrp nobis reprffisententur. Vel allusione ad sedes regias et Domum ipsius Davidis et Solomonis, in qua varias contignationes, innumeneque camerfe ad usum et voluptatem regis et aulicorum. Sic coelum veluti Regis et Dei palatiuni, ab illo solo non tantum occupandum, sed ab angelis et fidelibus, ad quorum usum varito camer£e et quasi mansiones etiam bic a Domino nostro commemorantur." — Le Moyne. A learned and ingenious friend suggests a doubt whetber our Lord refers to beaven bere, wbicb is nowhere else in Scripture called God's house, or does not rather intimate that, thou be and bis disciples were to be visibly parted from each other, they were still to be, as it were, under the same roof— it being but one family in beaven and in earth, though living in ditferent mansions.
218 THE VALEDICTORY DISCOURSE. [EXP. XXVIII. not their own habitation ;'" and there, too, were dwelling all the redeemed from among men, from the parent pair, who trusted in the woman's seed for deliverance from the effects of their fatal transgression and the malignity of the old serpent, down to the last who had left the earth, looking for the salvation of Israel. There, dwelt Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and Elijah, and Isaiah, and multitudes more, in the kingdom of their Father. In the house of Grod, in the midst of these — "the elders," and "the innumerable company of angels" — he was to dwell, the object of their most aftectionate love — most reverent adoration ; and, while the inner circle — redeemed men,
"nearest the throne and first in song" — raise their hallelujah, " Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood," and the wondering angels surrounding them join in the chorus, " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."'" He was to dwell with God in the midst of these holy happy beings, "the Lamb being the light"" of that blessed region — the immediate author of all their happiness. All this is implied in our Lord's going to the house of his Father — that house in which were many mansions. This was " the joy v/hich Avas set before him," and for which " he endured the cross, and despised the shame."'° Our Lord's words could be but imperfectly understood by the disciples at this time ; but, if they had but believed them, what they could comprehend was well fitted to relieve them of that oppressive trouble of heart under which they labored. Their Master was soon to be placed beyond the reach of his enemies, and |)ut in possession of blessings and honors far above the highest conception they could form of happiness or of glory. True, the cross and the grave lay between ; but heaven — ^the heaven of heavens — closed the prospect, and their Lord there sitting on the right hand of the throne of God. Surely our Lord might well say to them, "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father : for my Father is greater than I.'"^ Such, is the view which our text gives us of the results of our Lord's going away, so far as he himself was concerned, and such the influence Avhich it was fitted to have in lessening his disciples' trouble of heart. § 2. The results of Christ's going atvay, to his disciples. But there is reason to think that that trouble of heart proceeded, at least as much from a consideration of the manner in which their own interests were to be affected by their Lord's departure, as from the anticipations of what might befall him ; and, accordingly, we find our Lord's statement directly and fully meeting their anxieties and fears with regard to themselves. 9 ohirjTi'jpLa. Jude 6. '" Rev. v. 9-14. " Rev. xxi. 23. 12 Heb. sii. 2. '3 joim xiv. 28.
PART II.] WHITHER CHRIST WAS GOI G A D WHY. 219
When tlieir Lord left tLis world, and went to tlie Father, he was not about to forget them. By his going to the Father, lie was to secure for them a place in his Father's house ; and, when he had made everything ready, he was to return again, and take them to hunself, that where he was, there they might be also. Such are the declarations he makes ; and he appeals to themselves if they had not had abundant evidence to demand the unhesitating belief that, if these things had not been so, he never would have encouraged them to cherish such hopes. "I go." says he, "to prepare a place for you." "In my Father's house are many mansions." ' There is room enough for you as well as for me. There are many there already, but there is room for many more. But that is not enough. Mansions must be prepared for you — and j^ou must be prepared for these mansions ; and my purpose in going away, and in going away in the manner in which I am going — "going as it Avas written" — " going as it was determined" — is to secure both these purposes.' " I go to prepare a place for you.'"* We are not to understand these words exclusively, or perhaps even chiefly, of what our Lord was to do after he had arrived at his Father's house in heaven. They refer fully as much to what he did in going, as to what he is doing, now that he is there. But for his going, and going in the way in which he went — through death and the grave — they never could have come to the Father in heaven ; and many as are the mansions in his house, none of his people would have ever been prepared for a place in these mansions. It may be asked. But was not the kingdom — which is but another name for a place in Christ's Father's house (for none are there but the children, and all the children are "kings" as well as "priests to God, even the Father") — Was not "the kingdom prepared for them from before the foundation of the world" V^ So far as the Divine purpose was concerned, it was so. But the Divine purpose can only find ftdfilment in accordance with the principles of the Divine government. Preparation must be made to make the admission of such persons, as all men — the elect as well as others — are, consistent with the character and law of God as the moral governor of the universe. Had sin never entered our world, so far as admission to heaven is concerned, all things would at all times have been ready for the innocent holy children of men. Their Father's house would always have been ready for them, and the}^ ready for their Father's house. But all — the elect as well as the rest of men — • have sinned, and have been condemned. That sentence of con-
demnation must be removed, in order to their admission to heaven ; and forgiveness and justification can proceed onl}'- on the ground of an atonement being made and accepted. There is — there can be — no place in heaven for men laboring under unexpiated guilt, unforgiven transgression. '• " iocMs ipse paratus est: vohis parabitur. Prseparatio alia absoluta, alia reBpectiva." — Bengel. 'j jigv. i. 6. Matt. xxv. 34.
220 THE VALEDICTORY DISCOURSE. [EXP. XXVIII. or is this all. Heaven must not only be opened to men, but men must be made fit for heaven. God's justice refuses admission into heaven to the guilt}^ — God's sanctity to the unholy. The preparation of a place for his people in heaven implies, I apprehend, the doing all that is necessary to secure them a welcome, a suitable, a permanent place there. ow, this was the design of our Lord's going to heaven, and going to heaven in the way he did. This was the design of what he did, to open up for himself, as the representative of his people — "our forerunner'"" — a way into heaven ; and is the design of what he is doing there, whether at the altar of incense as a high priest, or on the throne as a king. His sufferings, his death, his burial, were all penal, vicarious, expiatory — not only for our benefit, but in our room. That we might be delivered from the curse, and from death and the grave, which otherwise would cer tainly have prevented us from ever having had a place in the house of God — in the heavenly Jerusalem, " Christ once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."" We could not have been brought to God otherwise : "It became Htm, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.'"* It would not have become Him to have admitted them to his house otherwise ; and we may rest assured He never would have done anything unbecoming himself. " He cannot deny himself." That man's hope of heaven is "like the giving up the ghost," that rests on the expectation that God will violate his word, or dishonor his law. And as the sacrifice of Christ was necessary to open heaven to man, so it was sufficient : " Christ being come an high priest of good things to come," "not by the blood of goats and of calves, but by his own blood, entered into the holy place, having ob-
tained eternal redemption for us." " And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first testament, they which are called might receive the j)romised eternal inheritance." "It was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified" by animal sacrifices; "but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these."'' Our Lord's going to his Father's house in the way he went — the way of expiation and atonement — was equally necessary to secure the transforming influence of the Holy Spirit, which, again, was indispensably requisite to prepare his people for the place secured for them. When Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse in our room, it was not only "that the blessing of Abraham," — a free, and full justification, making it a just thing that we should be admitted to heaven, — " should come on us," but also " that we should receive the promised Spirit IS Heb. vi. 20 '^ i Pgt. iii. 18. ^ Heb. ii. 10, " Heb. ix. 11-15, 23.
PAKT II.] WHITHER CHRIST WAS GOI G — A D WHY, 221 in believing," whose sanctifjiDg work on our hearts can alone make it a tit thing that we should be admitted into heaven : *' For their sakes I sanetifv myself that they also may be sanctified through the truth." In order to present them, as tlie church whom he loves, to his Father, "a perfect church, witliout spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," he must " sanctify them, by the washing of water, through the Avord," attended by the Spirit ; and for this purpose " he must give himself for them."'''' But securing a lit place for his people in heaven, is the design not only of what our Lord did in his going to the Father, but also of all that he is doing now that he is at the right hand of God, ever living to make intercession for them. Pie prays the Father, and he sends forth the Holy Spirit to produce faith, that they may be justified, and to continue and strengthen their faith, that they may be sanctified. If he had not gone away, the Comforter could not have come ; but, having gone to the Father, he sends him. He has received " all power in heaven and earth," and that power is put forth, both in the exertion of inward influence, and the production of external event, "to give eternal life to all whom the Father has given him." When he entered, he
entered as '• our forerunner ;" when he had overcome the sharpness of death — when he had by himself purged our sins — he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. " By the entrance of his flesh "" — his bodily entrance through the veil — he opened up a new and living way, by which his people shall also bodily pass through the veil into the immediate presence of God : " Christ hath entered into the holy places not made with hands," — of which the holy place in the tabernacle and temple was a figure, — " there to appear in the presence of God for us ; and he is able to save tlicm to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."" And we know that the admission of his people to the mansions that are thus prepared for them, forms a leadmg subject of that intercession which the Father heareth always : " Father," says he, "I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before tiie foundation of the world."" Our Lord's going away to the house of his Father, in the way in which he did go, and his doing there what he could do only there, were necessary to mansions being prepared for his people there ; and as they were necessary, they were at the same time suited and adequate to the purpose m view. All that we have stated is naturally suggested to us by our Lord's words. Till the Holy Ghost was given, the disciples could, however, only partially understand tliem. But as, in the former case — respecting the statement as to the effect of our Lord's going away in reference to himselt^ — this saying of our Lord, impertectly as they must have understood it, must have 20 Gal. iii. 13, 14. John xvii. 19. Eph. v. 25-27. 21 Ttjv iGodov — 'Iriaov — tovtc^c, t7/( aapKog avTov, 22 Heb. ix. 24. 23 John xvii. 24i
222 THE VALEDICTORY DISCOURSE, [EXP. XXVIII. had its effect in calming their troubled thoughts, had they only firmly believed in him. It is as if he had said, ' Your highest interest will be secured by that event which j^ou anticipate with such fearful forbodings ; and it could not be secured in any other way.' The question naturally enough suggests itself, When our
Lord speaks of preparing a place in his Father's house for his disciples, does he refer to the place which he secures for their separate spirits among the spirits of the just made perfect, as they in their turn " put off their earthly tabernacle, as their Lord has told them," and, by absence from the body, obtain presence with the Lord? or, Does it refer to the many mansions which he is preparing for the whole holy family at the great gathering together at his coming and appearing, when, with bodies fashioned like unto his glorious body, they sliall together be made perfect, and brought into the palace of the King, where they are to abide for ever, no more to go out ? There can be no doubt that it is the atonement, intercession, and Spirit — the power and the grace — of Christ which secure both ; but from what follows, it seems probable that it is the latter of these, which indeed supposes the former, that our Lord has directly in view. Still farther to comfort his disconsolate disciples, our Lord assures them that "if," or "since," or "when,"" "he goes away, and prepares a place for them, he will come again, and take them to himself; tliat where he is, there they may be also." It has been a question among interpreters, What are we to understand by this coming again of our Lord, and this receiving his disciples to himself? Some suppose that it refers to the death of Christians individually, and their being, in consequence of this, admitted into the presence of their Lord — their obtaining presence with the Lord by absence from the body. We have no doubt that the death of every Christian is the result of the will and agency of him who has " the keys of hell and of death," nor that the Christian's spirit immediately on death is with Christ, beholding and sharing his glory ; but the language before us does not naturally describe these events. It would appear a more scriptural representation, to say that at death he sends his angels to conduct the parted spirit to paradise, where he welcomes it to a participation in his joy, than that he comes himself for this purpose : that they go to him, rather than that he conies to them. The " coming," especially the "coming again," is an expression that naturally intimates that the coming should be of the same kind as the departure — bodily, visible; and the statement seems to be made with respect to his disciples as a body. The reference here, I have no doubt, is to that coming so often mentioned in the ew Testament — "the coming tiie second time without sin, for the salvation of all those who are looking for a " idv lenis particula pro orav." — Bekqel.
PART II.] WHITHER CHRIST WAS GOI G — A D WHY. 223 liim," — announced by the angels to tlie disciples, immediately after tbey had witnessed his departure to the Father," "This same Jesus, Avhich is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." When he shall have prepared a place for them, he will " come again ;" — that is, when he shall have linisbed all the arrangements which are necessary for the final " redemption of the purchased possession," he shall return to our world ; and, having collected into one body the whole of his redeemed ones — having raised the dead, and changed the living, so that not onl}' are they conformed to him in spirit, but their " vile bodies are fashioned like unto his glorious body," — 'he shall conduct them all to those regions of perfect rest and holy enjoyment which he has prepared for them. " They which are alive and remain" till his coming "shall not prevent," or get the advantage of, " them which have been asleep" in the state of the dead. " The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first : then they Avhich are alive and remain," having been "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," so that bodies, like those of their raised brethren, shall have become spiritual, incorruptible, immortal, glorious, — "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet their Lord in the air : and so shall they ever be Avith the Lord."" Thus shall they be received to their Lord,^° — cordially welcomed home to the house of many mansions, where they shall forever be with him where he is. Having made his house ready, he will then admit them into it as his ransomed bride, now fitly adorned for her husband. As the beloved disciple did to the honored mother of his Lord, when from the cross He had set the seal on his filial love and friendship b}^ commending his mother to the care of his friend, he will " take them to his own home."" Our Lord's words deserve close attention. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself" His object would not be gained if they did not occupy the place he had prepared for them ; and they might rest assured that he would not leave his work half done. Till the place be prepared, till all things be ready, he will not come ; but when the place is prepared, when all things are ready, he will not tarry. He himself will come. To bring his redeemed ones home, is a work at once too great in itself, and too grateful to him, to
be done by substitute. He himself will conduct his collected brethren to the house he has prepared for them. Like Joseph, he himself will place his brethren, and give them a possession in the best of the land of the blessed.'* Is it not meet, then, that they should gratefully acquiesce in the arrangement, and say, *' Thou shalt guide us by thy counsel, and thou shalt afterward 25 1 Thess. iv 16-18. ^s npog E/xavTov. Majestatis plena locutio. Patris domus, Filii domus." — Bengkl. ^'^ John xix. 27. ^ Gen. xlvii. 11.
224 THE VALEDICTORY DISCOURSE. [EXP. XXVIII. receive ns to glorj." He does not say, ' I will come and stay with you on earth ;' but, " I will come and receive you unto myself." He does not come to live with them, but to take them to live with him. It is not 'that I maybe where you are,' but 'tliat you may be where I am.' There are some good Christians who very fondly cherish the thought, that the Saviour, when he comes, will stay with them on earth ; but we rather think they will be agreeably disappointed. He will be better to them than they hope, — he will take them to heaven. To have Christ with us on earth would be good, but to be with Christ in heaven is far better. We think it safer, as more scriptural, while it is also more pleasant, to look for him from heaven, not to remain with us on earth, but to take us to heaven. We would " set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth ;" we would " seek the things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God."" He does not say, ' I will come and visit you, but return without 3'ou ;' he says, " I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."^° Much of what ive know to be included in our Lord's promise oould not be known to the disciples ; but the general statement, that his departure was necessar}^ for their welfare, and that in due time he should return, and take them to be for ever with him in a state of blessedness, was Avell fitted to relieve them from that excessive trouble of spirit which now oppressed them. It was true here, as it is in many other cases, the narrowness of their minds, and their mistaken apprehensions, were the great cause of their sorrows. The coming event which so alarmed them, . whether looked at in reference to its ultimate results to their Master or to themselves, was a fitter cause of satisfaction than of perplexity, of joy than of sorrow. If they loved him, they
would have rejoiced because he was going to the Father; if they loved themselves, they would have rejoiced, for he was going to prepare a place for them. In illustrating these two principles, I have explained every part of the passage before us except what looks like a parenthetical statement, "If it had not been so, I would have told you." The construction and meaning of the original words are somewhat doubtful. Some connect these words with what follows, and explain them in various ways. Some, 'If there were not many mansions in my Father's house — room enough for your reception — I would say to you, I go to prepare mansions for you. I have too great a regard for you not to take care that you shall be well accommodated ; but I need not say this, for the accommodation is ready, — there are many mansions prepared.' Others,^^ reading it interrogatively, ' If it were not so, would I say — what I am just about to say, and in effect have said to you already — would I say, M Col. iii. 1, 2. 30 Horton. 3' This is Bengel's interpretation. Semler gives the words a somewhat different turn — "Si vero res sic non haberet, — si hac in terra expectanda csset Messiae politia humaua, jamdiu vos ista in sententia et spe confii-massem."
PART II.] WHITHER CHRIST WAS GOI G — A D WHY. 225 I go to prepare a place for you ?' Others, ' Besides — moreover — I say to you, I go to prepare a place for you.' We prefer, upon the whole, the rendering of our translators, and the sense it brings out : ' If there had not been many mansions in my Father's house, and mansions for you,'— ^¦. e., '*If provision had not been made ibr your complete and eternal happiness, — I would have told you that it was so : I would never have encouraged you, as I have done, to entertain so high hopes. I knew that you expected eternal happiness from me in a future world, as well as high places in the kingdom you expected me to establish in this world ; and I encouraged the one hope as much as I discountenanced the other. I never would have done this, had there not been an absolute certainty that that hope would never make you ashamed.' Viewed in this light, its import has been beautifully brought out by an accomplished writer: — "He was not the person to mock them with vain hopes, to cheat them with empty and fallacious promises. He~ had never scrupled to tell them forcibly how grievously they were deluded by the phantoms- and day-dreams with which they suffered their imaginations to be dazzled in connec-
tion with his anticipated reign. Their fond visions of earthly pomp, power, and pleasures, he had unsparingly exposed and dissipated, and thus had given them the most convincing pledge, that if these anticipations of the ' inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,' had been equally unfounded and illusory, he would not have spared to tear from their bosoms the dear deceit, the beautiful delusion, — he would not have invited them to sacrifice all that they esteemed most precious in this world, in order to obtain an unreal shade, in order to purchase an eternal disappointment."^^ How replete Avith instruction and consolation to the disciples of Christ in every country and age is the passage of Scripture we have thus attempted to illustrate I How well-fitted to sustain, and invigorate, and comfort, amid the labors, and anxieties, and sorrows of life — while mourning over the graves of our friends, and looking forward to our own dissolution ! Are not the heaviest of our own afflictions light — are not the long-lived sorrows but for a moment — when compared with that exceeding and eternal weight of glory which is here held out to us ? With such a home before us, who would grudge though the road to it were rough and thorny, long and devious ? And how do the reflected glories of that region where "they have no need of the sun and moon to enlighten them, for the Lord and the Lamb are the light thereof," not only shed a heavenly radiance over the darkest scenes of this dark world, but cast so deeply into the shade all mere earthly enjoyments, as to make us feel that it is madness to seek our portion in them, and that to depart to that land where there are no shadows is indeed far better !
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.