JOHN xvi. 12, 13. “I have yet many things
to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when
He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all
THESE words of our Lord have a double significance.
They teach us a great truth about Christian doctrine;
they teach us one or more serious duties in the Christian
I. These words show us that our Lord’s own teaching
during His earthly sojourn did not embrace all necessary
Christian doctrine. A man who should think himself a
good Christian for keeping only to the words of Christ,
would deceive himself. The text states clearly that over
and above Christ’s actual teaching there were truths to be
taught in His name and authority which, as coming from
Him although through others, Christians were to receive
II. Our Lord’s teaching was completed by that of the
Holy Spirit. Our Lord gave the germs which the apostles,
as mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit, expanded into doc-
trines. When the Spirit of truth had come, He guided
men into all truth, and especially as to the Divine Person
of Jesus Christ.
III. The reason why our Lord’s teaching was incom-
plete, incomplete according to His own will and announce-
ment. The same motive which led Him to teach men at
all, led Him to impose these limits, restraints, and delays
upon His process of teaching. He taught men gradually,
because He loved men too well to blind them by a
sudden blaze of truth. He knew what was in man, and
did not expect them to be able to receive a full revelation
all at once. Like the sun He rose gradually amid the
mists of imperfect apprehensions as to who and what He
was, and not until He was high in the heavens did He
permit the full truth to break upon the intelligence of the
The practical lessons are—
1. That the true principle of religious and secular
education is that there should be gradual teaching.
2. Up to our last day God is teaching each of us through
the events of life. He has many things to say to us which
we cannot bear as yet; but He knows when life’s deepest
lessons will be most needed by us. We have only to
listen for His voice, and to obey it.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.