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in ours, and the saints that are gone, in their respective generations, have reaped the fruit of this prayer. How else comes it to pass, that our souls are preserved amidst such a world of temptations, and these assisted by our own corruptions? How else is it, that our persons are not ruined and destroyed amidst such multitudes of potent and malicious enemies, that " are set on fire of hell ?" The preservation of the burning bush, of the three children amidst the flames, and of Daniel in the den of lions, are scarcely greater wonders than these which our eyes daily behold. As the fire would have certainly consumed, and the lions, without doubt, have rended and devoured, had not God, by the interposition of his own hand, stopped and hindered the effect; so would the sin in us, and the malice in others, quickly ruin our souls and bodies, were it not that the same hand guards and keeps us every moment. To that hand, into which this prayer of Christ delivered you,
you owe all your mercies and salvation, both temporal and spiritual.
2. Another mercy he prays for is the blessing of union among themselves. This he joins immediately with the first mercy of preservation, and prays for it in the same breath, "That they may
be one, as we are." Ver. 11. And well might he join them; for this union is not only a choice mercy in itself, but a special means of that preservation he had prayed for before : their union with one another is a special means to preserve them all.
3. A third mercy that Christ earnestly prayed for, was that his "joy might be fulfilled in them.” Ver. 13. He would provide for their joy, even when the hour of his greatest sorrow was at hand; yea, he would not only obtain joy for them, but a full joy : " that my joy might be fulfilled in them.” It is as if he had said, Oh my Father, I am to leave these dear ones in a world
of trouble and perplexities; I know their hearts will be subject to despond; Oh let me obtain divine joy for them before I go: I would not only have them live, but live joyfully.
4. And as a continued spring to maintain all these mercies, he prays that they all may be sanctified through the truth,” ver. 17, that is, more abundantly sanctified than yet they were, by a deeper implanting of gracious habits and principles in their heart. This is a singular mercy, to have holiness spreading itself over and through their souls, as the light of the morning. Nothing is in itself more desirable. And it is also a great help to their perseverance, union, and spiritual joy, for which he had prayed, and which are all advanced by their increasing sanctification.
5. And as the completion and perfection of all mer. cies, he prays " that they may be with him, where he is, to behold his glory.” Ver. 24. This is the best and highest privilege of which they were capable. The end of his coming down from heaven, and returning thither again, was to bring many sons and daughters unto glory. You see Christ asks no small thing for his people; no mercies but the best that both worlds afford will suffice him on their behalf.
II. Let us see how he urges his requests, and with what arguments he pleads with the Father for these things.
1. The first argument is drawn from the joint interest that himself and his Father have in those for whom he prays, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine.” Verse 10. As if he had said, Father, behold and consider the persons I pray for, they are thy children as well as mine; the very same whom thou hast embraced in thy eternal love, and in that love hast given them to me; so that they are both thine and mine; great is our interest in them. Oh therefore keep, comfort, sanctify, and save them, for they are thine. What a mighty plea is this ! Surely, christians, your Intercessor is skilful in his work, your Advocate wants no eloquence or ability to plead for you.
2. The second argument, and that a powerful one, treads, as I may say, upon the very heel of the former, in the next words, And I am glorified in them :" My glory and honor are infinitely dear to thee ; I know thy heart is entirely set upon the exalting and glorifying of thy Son. Now, what glory have I in the world, but what comes from my people ? Others neither can nor will glorify me; nay, I am daily blasphemed and dishonored by them: these are they from whom my glory and praise in the world must rise. Should these then wander and perish, where shall my glory be? and from whom shall I expect it? So that here his property and glory are pleaded with the Father, to prevail for those mercies; and what is dearer, what nearer to the heart of God?
3. And yet to make all fast and sure, he adds a third argument,
And I am no more in the world :" that is. as to his corporeal presence ; this, which had been a sweet spring of comfort to them in all their troubles, was, in a little time, to be removed. It might now have been said to the pensive disciples, as the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, a little before Elijah's translation, "Know ye not that your Master shall be taken from your head to-day ?" This comfortable enjoyment must be taken from them. And here lies the argument; Father, consider the sadness and trouble in which I leave my poor
children. Whilst I was with them, I was a sweet relief to their souls, whatever troubles they met with ; in all doubts, fears, and dangers, they could repair to me; and in their straits and wants I still supplied them: they had my counsels to direct them, my reproofs to restore them, and my comforts to support
them; yea, the very sight of me was an unspeakable joy and refreshment to their souls; but now the hour is come, and I must be gone. All the comfort and benefit they had from my presence among them is cut off : and, except thou make up all this to them another way, what will become of these children when their Father is gone? what will be the case of the poor sheep and tender lambs when the Shepherd is smitten?
4. And further, to move and engage the Father's care and love for them, he subjoins another great consideration, drawn from the danger in which he leaves them : " But these are in the world.” The world is a sinful, infecting, and unquiet place; it lies in wickedness : and a hard thing it will be for such poor, weak, imperfect creatures to escape the pollutions of it ; or, if they do, yet the troubles, persecutions, and strong opposition of it they cannot escape. Seeing therefore I must leave them in the midst of a sinful, troublesome, and dangerous world, where they can neither move backward nor forward without danger of sin or ruin; Oh, provide for them, and take special care for them all. Con. sider who they are, and where I leave them. They are thy children, to be left in a strange country; thy soldiers, in the enemies' quarters; thy sheep, in the midst of wolves; thy precious treasure, among thieves.
5. And yet he has not done, for he adds another argument, " And I come to thee.” As his leaving them was an argument, so his coming to the Father is also a mighty argument. There is much in these words, "I come to thee.” I thy beloved Son, in whom thy soul delighteth ; I to whom thou never deniedst any thing. I am now coming to thee, my Father. I come treading every step of my way to thee in blood and unspeakable sufferings; and all this for the sake of those dear ones I now pray for ; yea, the design and end of my coming to thee is for them. I am coming to heaven in the ca.
pacity of an advocate, to plead with thee for them. And I come to my Father, and their Father ; my God, and their God. Now then, since I come to thee through such bitter pangs; and all this on their account; since I do but now, as it were, begin that intercession-work, which I shall live for ever to perform for them in heaven; Father, hear, Father, grant what I request.
6. And, to close all, he tells the Father how careful he had been to observe and perform that trust which was committed to him; " While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.' Thou didst commit them to me to be re.deemed; I undertook the trust, and said, If any of them be lost, at my hand let them be required. In pursuance of which trust, I am now here on the earth, in a body of flesh. I have been faithful in every point. deemed them, (for he speaks of that as finished and done, which was now ready to be done,) I have kept them hitherto ; and now, Father, I commit them to thy care. Lo, here they are, not one is lost but the son of perdition, who was never given. With how great care have I cared for them! Oh let them not fail now; let not one of them perish. Thus you see what a nervous, argumentative, pleading prayer Christ poured out to the Father for them at parting.
III. The next inquiry is, why he thus prayed and plead with God for them when he was to die? And certainly it was not because the Father was unwilling to grant the mercies he desired for them; for he tells us, The Father himself loveth you,” John, 16:27, that is, he is inclined enough of his own accord to do you good. But the reasons of this exceeding importunity we may suppose to have been,
1. He foresaw a great trial then at hand ; yea, and all the after-trials of his people as well as that. He