And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
I. THE NEED OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH. It was by a lie that evil gained entrance into the world. Satan is both a liar and a murderer...Evil first introduced by means of a lie has been continually promulgated through the same instrumentality. Alas! the dominion of falsehood has been almost universally established! — false notions of God, of ourselves, of happiness; false estimates of good and evil; false dealings in the intercourse of life. Who is not conscious of these and other forms of it. It is amongst the most melancholy proofs of our fallen estate, that often, with children, the earliest exercise of the gift of speech is an endeavour at deceiving their parents. And as we grow up, it cannot be denied, that a rigid and unvarying adherence to truth is the most difficult of our duties. Hence the suspicion and mistrust between man and man. We admit, indeed, that a liar is held in general abhorrence. Men have naturally an admiration of courage in whatever way displayed; and therefore they despise a liar as they do the poltroon. And over and above the cowardice which is manifested by a lie, there is the injury which is done to society. Therefore, it may be little more than a consciousness that its own permanence is identified with adherence to truth, which induces society to be so vehement in its rebuke of a lie. But even if the contempt in which a liar is held might be referred to the very highest principles, whatever indignation at falsehood is excited, it exists in a degree which proves this indignation but little efficacious in destroying its empire. There is not the land where false principles are not wielding an influence which should belong only to true. There is not a family within whose circle there is no admiration for false theories in regard of duty and interest. There is not a heart so thoroughly hallowed into a sanctuary for truth that it is always closed against the intrusion of false opinions and false expectations. The whole creation groaneth for the establishment of truth.
II. HOW IN HIS RESIDENCE WITH THE CHURCH THE HOLY GHOST HAS EARNED THIS TITLE.
1. It is curious and interesting to observe how truth of every kind has advanced hand in hand with religion. Not, indeed, that it was the office of the Holy Ghost to instruct the world in natural philosophy. He came to unfold redemption, and so to strengthen the human understanding, that it might be able to bear the vast truths of the Mediatorial work. But, nevertheless, it did come to pass — that the understanding, so strengthened, found itself strengthened also to investigate creation. The Christian era has been distinguished by a rapid advance made in every branch of science; by the emancipation of mind from a thousand trammels; by the discovery of truths which seemed to lie beyond the scope of human intelligence. In the dark ages when Christianity was almost buried beneath superstition, ignorance of every kind oppressed the earth; but when better days dawned; science revived and the arts again flourished. And besides this, there is the same strict alliance between all kinds of truth as between all kinds of falsehood. And it ought not therefore to excite surprise that science and Christianity should have marched side by side. The "rushing mighty wind," which swept superstition before it, swept also much of the cloud which had rested on natural things. In clearing the moral firmament, that the "Sun of Righteousness" might be discovered, it took the mist from the material heavens.
2. But, at the same time, the great business on which the Holy Ghost came was the instructing the world in the mysteries of redemption —
(1) The Holy Ghost was "the Spirit of truth" to the apostles. We do not know that it is more amazing to hear so soon as the Spirit had descended, the twelve speaking fluently all the languages of the earth, than the preacher expounding to the multitude the blessed gospel of Christ. He made good this character by enabling them to preach the truth: and also by enabling them to write the truth. We know too well the treachery of the memory, and might reasonably say, that where the writing had been so long deferred, the narrative would be imperfect. But this is our security — the fact that it was "the Spirit of Truth" which guided the evangelists.
(2) If the Spirit were thus "the Spirit of Truth" in regard of apostles, is He not still such in regard of every real Christian? There is naturally gross darkness on the mind, and the most gifted of our race is unable to discern things so long as he is left to his unassisted powers. Mental as well as moral power has been put out of joint through apostacy; the affections strongly biassed towards evil exert a disastrous power over the will, and the will does the same with the understanding. And then the understanding will often reject the clearest evidence and fail to comprehend the simplest truth. It is the office of this Divine person to rectify the disorder of the moral and mental constitution, and thus to communicate that sort of inner light in which alone can be discerned the great truths of religion. And when a man has once submitted himself to the teaching of the Holy Ghost, "the Spirit of Truth," guides him into truth, and leads him from one stage to another of knowledge, showing him, successively, the mysteries of redemption, and never allowing him to open the Bible without finding fresh matter for thought and for thankfulness. There remains much, very much, for this Spirit to teach. But observe, our Lord says — "He shall abide with you forever." But we are now only in the infancy of being. No marvel then if we master only the rudiments of truth. And if this Spirit is to abide with us "forever," why may we not expect the completion of what is thus commenced? He has all Eternity to teach in.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;