CHRIST'S LEGACY TO HIS DISCIPLES BY REV. JOH SUMMERFIELD, A.M.

John, xiv., 27. — Peace I leave with you. The dying words of a friend are much valued. We view the soul as on the wing, and eagerly catch its last accents, It is impossible to consider the situation of the apostles of our Lord and Saviour, at the time when these words were addressed to them, without feelings of tenderest sympathy. Their Master knew that his time was drawing near, when he should be parted from them, and seemed scarcely to know how to introduce the painful relation. He had put off the subject till the very evening before the event took place, and to within a few hours of the time when he knew he should be betrayed. He had taken his leave of the world, as we see in chapter xii., from the 44th verse to end, in which he sums up the whole of that doctrine which he had been preaching during his three years' ministry. He asserts his own divinity : " He that seeth me seeth him that sent me ;"t and his atonement : " I came to save the world. "$ On these two hangs all the mystery of our salvation ; he also shows how these truths are to be operative in man, and produce in him the effect intended ; even by faith ; for that, though God has done all that he could do on his part, yet it is left to us to receive or reject the salvation he has provided ; hence he says in the 46th verse, " Whosoever believeth on me shall not abide in darkness." He then enforces the necessity of receiving him as the promised Messiah by the consideration * This was Mr. Summerfield's first sermon in Dublin, t Verse 45. % Verse 47.

120 Christ's legacy to his disciples.

of the judgment of the great day. " He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him ; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." But, on the other hand, he declares those who thus believe in him shall have " life everlasting."* The first direct intimation which the disciples seem to have had that the hour of his departure had come was after he had given that moving proof of his affection mentioned in chapter xiii., 21 : the evangelist says, " When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." After Judas had gone out, he again renewed the mournful subject. " Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me ; and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go ye cannot come ; so now I say unto you." On Peter's professed zeal to go with him anywhere, Jesus gently reproved him by assuring him that even he would that night deny him thrice. It is in this way that the chapter from which our text is taken is introduced. A solemn silence seems to pervade the little assembly ; Peter, though he abhors the idea of denying his Lord, is confounded at the prediction ; and such is the dismay and sorrow which fill their hearts in the awful suspense, that all power of utterance or reply seems taken away. The scene is opening, the tragedy is about to commence, and they now hear it announced that friends will forsake while enemies accomplish the murderous deed. Such thoughts as these seem to fill their breasts when their Master breaks the silence : " Let not your hearts be troubled ; ye believe in God, believe also in me. Ye trust in God, place the same trust in me. I go to prepare a mansion for you, and, when this is done, will come again and receive you unto myself." The bare mention of his coming again brings some consolation, and Thomas takes courage to ask, " Lord, we know not whither thou goest ; and how can we know the way ?" Jesus replies, "lam the way, the truth, and the life." He then proceeds at considerable length, with such assurances as would tend to sooth their dis-

* Verse 50.

CHRIST S LEGACY TO HIS DISCIPLES. 121 tracted minds, and promises that whatsoever they should ask the Father in his name they should receive it ; that he himself would not be long absent from them ; he would not leave them orphans ! and that the Comforter, who should come in his name, should abide with them forever. He then gives them his last will in the words of our text : " Peace I leave with you :" not gold, or silver, or titles, or wordly honours, but peace ; and that peace not such as the world could give, but my peace, says Jesus ! I. Show that by nature we are not at peace with God. II. Consider the kind of peace that Jesus leaves us. I. By nature we are not at peace with God. What more finished picture could be given of our fallen state than this, that we are enemies to God by nature ; that therefore in this state we are not at peace with him, &c. — However galling the yoke may feel to the neck of a sinner to acknowledge this, it is an assertion made in this book, and an assertion which may be proved by argument and experience. Let me, however, qualify the term. The sinner may not hate God as his Creator, but he does hate him as his Sovereign, his Lawgiver, and his Judge. As his Lawgiver, he hates that book wherein the revelation of his law or will is made ; this he cannot deny. The commandments of God are grievous to him, and his heart revolts against them. As his Sovereign, he hates his righteous sceptre, and says, " Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways." I appeal to the sinner, and ask, dost thou not wish that Sovereign was less holy than he is ; that there was in

him a mixture of impurity, to countenance thy corrupt desires and inclinations ; less true than he is, that he might not take cognizance of every little prevarication and falsehood ; less wise, that he might not be acquainted with thy hidden springs of wickedness ; less omnipresent, that he was not present at all thy outward abominations ? As his Judge, would not the sinner wish him less strict than he is, less rigid and inflexible in the judgment he will hereafter 11 Q

122 Christ's legacy to his disciples. pronounce upon him ; less powerful, that he might not be able to punish him to the extent threatened and deserved ! Thus to what level would he reduce God ? To his own level ; to a sink of iniquity and corruption like himself. He would detract from all his attributes except mercy, whereas a God all mercy is a God unjust, and a God unjust is no God at all ! Thus the sinner would rob him of his omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, his justice, and dwindle him down till, if possible, he would extirpate his very being ! If, therefore, in common life, a subject of an earthly king should aim a blow at one of his prerogatives, or one of the attributes of his crown, he is counted a traitor, a rebel to his lawful sovereign, and is punished accordingly ; so the creature who would derogate from any of the essentials of the King of Kings is a rebel to that Sovereign, his very enemy, and, as such, is subject to the decree of the High Chancery of Heaven, &c. — " The soul that sinneth it shall die." I trust I have shown from Scripture, from experience, from argument, to a demonstration, that the sinner is a very enemy of God ! and, however galling the yoke and vile the opprobrium, he must bear it.

But it was the great mission of Heaven in sending Jesus to restore peace. He was the great Ambassador of God! Oh ! what condescension ! to reflect that God, who was the party injured, should make the overtures of reconciliation : he, against whom we were fighting, who was never at war with us, beseeches us to be reconciled to himself. Hence, when the angel announced the birth of Jesus, it was " Peace upon earth" — not peace in heaven — and hence also Jesus leaves us peace : " My peace I give unto you." II. Consider the kind of peace that Jesus leaves us. My peace. He himself contrasts his peace with that which the world affords its votaries, and therefore we shall endeavour to run the comparison in a few particulars. 1. The peace which the world gives, being only created by perishing objects, is liable to perish also ; hence the inspired penman tells us " they all perish in the using." And

Christ's legacy to his disciples. 123 none are so foolish as those who thus make to themselves peace. If it arise from riches, they take to themselves wings and fly away. If from honour, it is a mere bubble which hangs upon the lip of flattery, and soon drops into the ocean of forgetfulness. If from pleasure, however refined its nature, it perishes in the using. I speak not of those filthy pleasures in which thousands delight, but of such as are suitable to a more refined taste ; and how do these consume away ! The pleasing scene, the rural cot, the dashing cascade, the ivied turret, the hum« ble vale, the aspiring mount, &c, &c, all die away ! Perhaps all the peace which this world gives its votaries, or offers them, may be reduced to one or other of these heads ; and how insufficient these are to give peace to an

immortal mind you know. ot so the peace of Jesus ! It does not perish in the using. The riches which he gives are unsearchable, and, being hid in himself, are eternal and durable as himself. They do not flee from the possessor, but enrich him with the true riches in this and in the world to come ! The honour which he bestows does not depend upon the uncertain applause of a blinded rabble. It is the honour of Him with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The Christian seeks this honour from above ; and as his are the true riches, so his is the true honour. The pleasures he delights in do not fade away, but are ever unfolding new beauties to his ravished soul. His joys are joys unspeakable and full of glory. He enjoys the pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore ; the pleasure which arises from the testimony of his conscience that he pleases God. " My peace I give unto you," says Jesus ; " not as the world giveth give I unto you." 2. But even supposing that peace derived from hence were durable, that the person preserve his riches, his honours, and his pleasures, they are not solid enjoyments; the peace which they produce is not a satisfactory one ; it has been sufficiently proved by experience that these things do not make a man happy. On the contrary, how often do they produce unhappiness ; how often do they cause the

124 sorrowful exclamation, " Vanity of vanities, all is vanity !" And all this is inevitable : the soul is of nobler birth ; such company as these is too low, too mean for it. It is the offspring of an immortal ; and, though lying in this ruined, debased state, yet, the moment that it sees its lost and undone condition, its language is that of the jailer at Philippi : " What shall I do to be saved ?" The soul, if left to itself, is ever restless after that true enjoyment : hence the pleasure-

taker runs from scene to scene ; the debauchee from one haunt of vice to another : hence the card-table succeeds the dance ; the play the card-table ; the ball after the theatre ; those souls which were made for nobler pleasures are running as if out of breath from one object to another, thirsting still, and still unsatisfied. But when awakened it acknowledges its original, and asks how it shall arrive at its own abode. The soul can be satisfied with nothing but God ; if it feed upon anything else, it is like one eating husks ; it feels a disappointment, a gnawing, a vacuum : when enjoying the beauties of creation — the pleasures of ever so refined an imagination — it is the secret language of the heart, " But these are not my God." There is nothing savoury in them to the palate. # * # # # But the peace of Jesus is like himself : it is a peace which passes all understanding; it is a peace which the world knows nothing of; a peace which the world can neither give nor take away. — My peace I give unto you, &c, &c. " Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee." 3. Again, the peace of this world is not only perishing in its own nature, but it is liable to perish from another cause. The peace it gave its votary is often taken away by the very hand that gave it, and that which yesterday was the cause of all his peace and joy, is to-day the source of all sorrow. (See the parent and the child.) Man is so fickle, that we cannot depend a moment on the peace which arises from him. How often have we seen fortune as if emptying her lap into the bosom of her slave to-day, and leaving him the next, shorn and undone. How have we known a proud Haman to be exalted to the pinnacle of human greatness

Christ's legacy to his disciples. 125 one day, and the next hanged upon a gibbet by the very man by whom he had been so caressed. How have we

known a Menzikoff in our day the dread of Russia ; this day fawned upon by high and low, rich and poor, supreme power seeming to sit upon his brow, and nod her commands, which none dare disobey ; the next day an outcast and a slave, banished into Siberia by the very man who had thus elevated him. How have we not seen, with regard to our Lord and Master, the rabble one day crying out Hosanna to the Son of David, and the next day, with louder strains, " Crucify him, crucify him !" But not so the peace of Jesus ! o time, no place can take this from us. " For I am persuaded that neither life nor death, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus our Lord." My peace, says Jesus, I give unto you. 4. But even supposing that this should not be the case ; supposing the stream of your peace should not be diverted from its channel, yet the spring may run dry ; the inability of that friend upon whom you rely may overcome his inclina* tions ; or death may rob you of that treasure, and you thus lose the staff upon which you leaned and depended. But you need not fear this with regard to Jesus ; he is the King eternal as well as unchangeable ; the source can never run dry. My peace, says Jesus, I give unto you. 5. But what peace can the world give in the hour of adversity ? Jesus particularly contrasted his peace with that of the world at this juncture — the disciples were then filled with sorrow ; what peace could the world give them ? How often is the worldling left to himself in this extremity ? To such he would say, " Miserable comforters are you all." See Voltaire dying. See a parent's heart bleeding from the loss of a child. But the peace of Jesus will be the sweetener of life, the solace of death, and the cordial which will support you when

passing through the dark valley ; " in all time of our tribu-

126 lation, in all time of our prosperity, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment." Application. 1. To penitent sinners ; he gives this peace freely ! 2. To believers ; he leaves it with you ! And what is the peace of the wicked ? Isaiah says, " It is as the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt!" Jude says, "Foaming out his own shame !" and if this be the peace he has, what is his tumult! When the diabolical principles which rage within begin to rise ; when the steel of passion which has been so often hardened in the fire of hell is applied to his flinty heart ; when struck by diabolical agency, how do the sparks fly around from every member of his miserable body : see his eyes, the windows ! the flames of hell are already kindled within — his whole frame is convulsed. — Or, when the smallest breath of anger, disappointment, envy, or malice blows upon his soul, how is the filth which lies at the bottom of his heart excited and the whole sea of passion in a tumult ! " There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked !" But what is the peace which Jesus gives ? Oh ! what a change when His peace pervades the soul ! when, being justified by faith, we have, after all this turmoil, " peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." " There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Jesus has spoken peace ! the waves have ceased ; the heart has vibrated to the sound : peace, peace from every string : the sweetest unison now prevails ! " My peace I give unto you ; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart

be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

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