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THE PEACE WHICH CHRIST GIVES HIS TRUE FOLLOWERS.
JOHN XIV. 27.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
THESE words are a part of a most affectionate and affecting discourse that Christ had with his disciples the same evening in which he was betrayed, knowing that he was to be crucified the next day. This discourse begins with the 31st verse of the 13th, and is continued to the end of the 16th chapter. Christ began his discourse after he partook of the passover with them, after he had instituted and administered the sacrament of the supper, and after Judas was gone out, and none were left but his true and faithful disciples; whom he now addresses as his dear children. This was the last discourse that Christ had with them before his death. As it was his parting discourse, and, as it were his dying discourse, so it is on many accounts the most remarkable we have recorded in our Bibles.
It is evident this discourse made a deep impression on the minds of the disciples; and we may suppose that it did so, in a special manner, on the mind of John the beloved disciple, whose heart was especially full of love to him, and who had just then been leaning on his bosom. In this discourse Christ had told his dear disciples that he was going away, which filled them with sorrow and heaviness. The words of the text are given to comfort them, and to relieve their sorrow. He supports them with the promise of that peace which he would leave with them, and which they would have in him and with him, when he was gone.
* Dated, August 1750.
This promise he delivers in three emphatical expressions which illustrate one another. "Peace I leave with you.' As much as to say, though I am going away, yet I will not take all comfort away with me. While I have been with you, I have been your support and comfort, and you have had peace in me in the midst of the losses you have sustained, and troubles you have met with from this evil generation. This peace I will not take from you, but leave it with you in a more full possession.
My peace I give unto you." Christ by calling it his peace, signifies two things.
1. That it was his own, that which he had to give. It was the peculiar benefit that he had to bestow on his children, now he was about to leave the world as to his human presence. Silver and gold he had none: for, while in his state of humiliation he was poor. The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests: but the Son of man had not where to lay his head: Luke ix. 58. He had no earthly estate to leave to his disciples, who were as it were his family: but he had peace to give them.
2. It was his peace that he gave them; as it was the same kind of peace which he himself enjoyed. The same excellent and divine peace which he ever had in God, and which he was about to receive in his exalted state in a vastly greater perfection and fulness: for the happiness Christ gives to his people, is a participation of his own happiness: agreeable to chapter xv. 11. "These things have I said unto you, that my joy might remain in you." And in his prayer with his disciples at the conclusion of this discourse, chapter xvii. 13. "And now come I to thee, and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." And verse 22. "And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them."
Christ here alludes to men making their wills before death. When parents are about to leave their children by death, they are wont in their last will and testament to give them their estate; that estate which they themselves were wont to possess and enjoy. So it was with Christ when he was about to leave the world, with respect to the peace which he gave his disciples; only with this difference, that earthly parents, when they die, though they leave the same estate to their children which they themselves heretofore enjoyed; yet when the children come to the full possession of it, they enjoy it no more; the parents do not enjoy it with their children. The time of the full possession of parents and children is not together. Whereas with respect to Christ's peace, he did not only possess it himself before his death, when he bequeathed it to his disciples; but also
afterwards more fully so that they were received to possess it with him.
The third and last expression is, "not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Which is as much as to say, my gifts and legacies, now I am going to leave the world. are not like those which the rich and great men of the world are wont to leave to their heirs when they die. They bequeath to their children their worldly possessions; and it may be, vast treasures of silver and gold, and sometimes an earthly kingdom. But the thing that I give you, is my peace, a vastly different thing from what they are wont to give, and which cannot be obtained by all that they can bestow, or their children inherit from them.
That peace which Christ, when he died, left as a legacy to all his true saints, is very different from all those things which the men of this world bequeath to their children, when they die.
I. Christ at his death made over the blessings of the new covenant to believers, as it werè in a will or testament.
II. A great blessing that Christ made over to believers in this his testament was his peace.
III. This legacy of Christ is exceedingly diverse from all that any of the men of this world ever leave to their children when they die.
I. Christ at his death made over the blessings of the new covenant to believers, as it were in a will or testament.
The new covenant is represented by the apostle as Christ's last will and testament. Heb. ix. 15. 16. "And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator." What men convey by their will or testament, is their own estate. So Christ in the new covenant conveys to believers his own inheritance, so far as they are capable of possessing and enjoying it. They have that eternal life given to them in their measure, which Christ himself possesses. They live in him, and with him, and by a participation of his life. Because he lives, they live also. They inherit his kingdom: the same kingdom which the Father appointed unto him. Luke xxii. 29. "And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as
my Father hath appointed unto me." They shall reign on his throne, Rev. iii. 21. They have his glory given to them. John xvii. And because all things are Christ's, so in Christ all things are the saints', 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22.
Men in their wills or testaments most commonly give their estates to their children: so believers are in scripture represented as Christ's children. Heb. ii. 13. "Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me." Men most com. monly make their wills a little before their death: so Christ did, in a very special and solemn manner, make over and confirm to his disciples the blessings of the new covenant, on the evening before the day of his crucifixion, in that discourse of which my text is a part. The promises of the new covenant were never so particularly expressed, and so solemnly given forth by Christ in all the time that he was upon earth, as in this discourse. Christ promises them mansions in his Father's house, chapter xiv. 1, 2, 3. Here he promises them whatever blessings they should need and ask in his name. Chapter xv. 7. xvi. 23, 24. Here he more solemnly and fully than any where else, gives forth and confirms the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of the blessings of the covenant of grace. Chap. xiv. 18. xvii. 26. xv. 25. xvi. 7. Here he promises them his own and his Father's gracious presence and favour. Chapter xiv. 18. xix. 20, 21. Here he promises them peace, as in the text. Here he promises them his joy. Chapter xv. 11. Here he promises grace to bring forth holy fruits. Chapter xv. 16. And victory over the world. Chapter xvi. 33. And indeed there seems to be no where else so full and complete an edition of the covenant of grace in the whole Bible, as in this dying discourse of Christ with his eleven true disciples.
This covenant between Christ and his children is like a will or testament also in this respect, that it becomes effectual, and a way is made for putting it in execution no other way than by his death; as the apostle observes, it is with a will or testament among men. "For a testament is of force after men are dead." Heb. ix. 17. For though the covenant of grace indeed was of force before the death of Christ, yet it was of force no otherwise than by his death: so that his death then did virtually intervene; being already undertaken and engaged. As a man's heirs come by the legacies bequeathed to them no otherwise than by the death of the testator, so men come by the spiritual and eternal inheritance no otherwise than by the death of Christ. If it had not been for the death of Christ they never could have obtained it.
II. A great blessing that Christ in his testament hath bequeathed to his true followers, is his peace. Here are two
things that I would observe particularly, viz. That Christ hath bequeathed to believers true peace; and then, that the peace he has given them is his peace.
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ has bequeathed true peace and comfort to his followers. Christ is called the Prince of Peace. Isaiah ix. 6. And when he was born into the world, the angels on that joyful and wonderful occasion sang, Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace; because of that peace which he should procure for, and bestow on the children of men; peace with God, and peace one with another, and tranquillity and peace within themselves: which last is especially the benefit spoken of in the text. This Christ has procured for his followers, and laid a foundation for their enjoyment of it, in that he has procured for them the other two, viz. peace with God, and one with another. He has procured for them peace and reconciliation with God, and his favour and friendship; in that he satisfied for their sins, and laid a foundation for the perfect removal of the guilt of sin, and the forgiveness of all their trespasses, and wrought out for them a perfect and glorious righteousness, most acceptable to God, and sufficient to recommend them to God's full acceptance, to the adoption of children, and to the eternal fruits of his fatherly kindness.
By these means true saints are brought into a state of freedom from condemnation, and all the curses of the law of God. Rom. viii. 34. "Who is he that condemneth?" And by these means they are safe from that dreadful and eternal misery to which naturally they are exposed, and are set on high out of the reach of all their enemies, so that the gates of hell and powers of darkness can never destroy them; nor can wicked men, though they may persecute, ever hurt them. Rom. viii. 31. "If God be for us, who can be against us ?" Numb. xxiii. 8. "How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed." Verse 23. "There is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel." By these means they are out of the reach of death, John vi. 4. ix. 50, 51. "This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die." By these means, death with respect to them has lost its sting, and is no more worthy of the name of death. 1 Cor. xv. 55. "O death, where is thy sting?" By these means they have no need to be afraid of the day of judgment, when the heavens and earth shall be dissolved. Psalm xlvi. 1, 2. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed: and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Yea, a true saint has reason to be at rest in an assurance, that nothing can separate him from the love of God. Rom. viii. 38, 39.