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jailer and Onesimus. As converting grace is never bestowed by chance, so every future communication is the effect of divine purpose and counsel. Where he designs to hold singular communion with his people, or grant increase of grace, he will always lead them out himself. However unobserved it may be in this world, in the other, where the saints are remembering all the way in which the Lord hath conducted them, as to all rich communications of grace, it will be remarked, he led us out as far as this place or that, and blessed us.
2. Their doubts and fears about themselves, and the good cause which they had espoused, were removed. Many fears about themselves perplexed their hearts; and their minds were lately filled with the most distressing doubts. They had left all to follow a Master, who was "a reproach of men, and despised of the people;" or, in the language of Isaiah, "who had no form or comeliness, and was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" and that Master had been cruelly taken from them, and "with wicked hands was crucified and slain." The disciples seemed to be orphans indeed! Even when Christ was alive, they were often exposed to the insults and rage of their enemies; and after his death they were deprived of HIM on whom alone they had all their dependance. At Bethany matters assumed a very dif ferent aspect. The gloom which sat so heavy on their minds was dissipated, and now the cheering rays of hope animated their hearts. Thus the weary mariner, tempest-tossed, looks on every surge as the imme
diate instrument of death, trembles at the dreadful darkness of the night, and longs for day: the sun arises; every cloud is dispelled; the whole sky is serene, and the storm is changed into a calm. He reflects upon the scene with pleasure and satisfaction, when the danger is wholly over. At Bethany the Sun of Righteousness, lately behind a cloud, shone with peculiar brightness; and they were absolutely certain that the clouds could never return. They saw Christ as infinitely worthy of all the trust they had placed in him, and would hear such encouraging words from his mouth as he spake to John, Rev. i. 17, 18. "Fear not; I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death." And how could they fear! He had power enough to take care of their persons and best interests; and his love was equal to his power.
Their fears would also be removed about the good cause they had espoused. Lately, they thought that it was buried with their Master, and under a gravestone. Greatly ignorant of the nature of Christ's kingdom, they apprehended it could never be restored to Israel; or, at least, that they would never witness the joyful event. They were scarcely acquainted with any other language, but that of despondency. At Bethany they saw him exalted, and put in possession of all power, and infinitely able to maintain his interest, support his people under all their sufferings, and disappoint his adversaries; and therefore they had no reason to be discouraged. If the sight which the disciples then got, tended to
encourage their hearts about the Lord's cause, there never can be reason for greater fear or discouragement at any future period. It remains an unalterable truth, infinitely calculated to fill the heart with comfort,But our God"-God in our nature" is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he pleased."
3. They received the blessing, which, while unspeakably valuable in itself, was made still more so by many additional considerations. They received the blessing. They were already united to Christ, and interested in his righteousness. Their sins were pardoned, and their persons accepted. The work of grace was begun, and the power of sin broken. When he blessed them, he recognized all these things as if Christ had said, "What I have done for you and in you, I have done-I have died for you, and wrought out a perfect righteousness; and ye shall have the benefit of it-all these past blessings I ratify on Bethany." But when the Lord blesses one of his own people, he confers new grace. His blessing makes rich by increasing the former stock. He drew down from heaven, and communicated to them from his own fulness, grace for grace. He not only discovered himself as the fountain of all grace, but he made the streams flow in richly upon their souls. They enjoyed intimate communion. Christ opened his heart as their best friend, and did not conceal from them what he was about to do; and they, when led out to that "field, gave him their loves." In this communion there was sweet enjoyment, and endearing intimacy. In fine, as a part of the blessing, he prayed for them. In a royal manner, and with au
thority, he commanded the blessing; and spake as became his present glorious condition.
While infinitely valuable in itself, many considerations tended to enhance the blessing. It would greatly affect their hearts, and increase their joy, that they were favoured with these happy attainments after such signal trials, and in the very place where they had lately witnessed and felt so great sorrow; and so soon after they had forsaken their Master, and fled. But, above all, this consideration would heighten the blessing in their esteem, that it was a solemn parting blessing when just about to bid them farewell. Before leaving them, he settled all differences, removed every ground of controversy, spake peace to their hearts, gave them the most convincing proof of the sincerity and greatness of his love, and left them without the least room for scruple or hesitation. The blessings of dying persons have been always eagerly sought, and greatly valued. Jacob and Esau strove about their father's blessing, when near his last; and the sons of Jacob, in their turn, made a similar application to him on his deathbed. Christ, the moment before he ascended to sit down on his throne, lifted up his hands and blessed his disciples. We shall only add, that they were to consider what Christ did then as equally efficacious to their latest breath.-Which leads us to another part of their attainment, which is,
4. Security and encouragement for every future period of their lives. What Christ did then may justly be compared to the powerful look, which Gideon got from Jehovah, which conveyed strength
to fit him for the arduous work before him. Judges vi. 14. "And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hands of the Midianites: have not I sent thee ?" That favourable and gracious look secured the divine presence with him; hence, verse 16, "And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man." The disciples were to see their Master no more after the flesh, and were soon to leave the happy spot where he and they parted. They were to enter on such work as would draw down the vengeance of the world. They would have outward fightings and inward fears. They were to oppose the wickedness and superstition both of Jews and Gentiles; and hell and earth would be against them. They would meet with something corresponding to what Paul says of himself. 2 Cor. xi. 23-29. “In labour abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes. save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness -besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."