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the account of our Saviour's pre-existent state--“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God”I — and sets him before us in the most lovely and interesting points of view, such as “the beloved disciple” would be most likely to select, and most disposed to enlarge upon; and omitting some of the more notable circumstances on which the other evangelists had dwelt, he carries us to his more private and confidential intercourse in the last awful and affecting scenes of his life.
It would be difficult perhaps to point out any thing more impressive and instructive than some of those scenes; and, as at this season we are more particularly led to them, our attention may be directed during the Sundays of Lent to some of the last chapters in St. John's Gospel, in which these events are set forth with such singular feeling and force.
I know not of any thing that might be of greater service; if the plain method of explaining them does not instruct, the subjects themselves at least may--they may lead some to the reading of those chapters, and even this may,
1 John i. 1.
under the direction of the Divine Spirit, have a good effect upon their hearts, if they are desirous of establishing their religious faith, or not quite indifferent to the great importance of Christian doctrines and duties.
Now it is to some of the more retired and domestic incidents of our Saviour's life that these refer; and it is in such that the real character, as well as the real influence of Christ's religion on the heart is chiefly shewn. He had already taught and fed the multitude; he had healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, and displayed those miracles of mercy and of power which were to convert and to convince the world. His last hours were spent, as every one perhaps might wish his own to be, with those whom individually he loved.
- Now before the feast of the Passover (before that day when he was publicly to be led to Mount Calvary as a lamb to the slaughter) when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which
were in the world, he loved them unto the end ;" with these he was now assembled and was eating the
Friendship, if it is founded in Religion, does not change with circumstances; it is seen most strongly in those seasons of adversity, when others are suffering under it, or when we know of some calamity impending over them which at present they may not, but which will soon require all their fortitude to bear. And what greater instance of it, of real Christian love, than that of the great Redeemer of mankind (asserting indeed his inconceivable dignity, but veiling the glory of it), knowing all that should happen unto Him and foreseeing it in all its circumstances of horror, yet calmly conversing with his disciples
-thinking of them, and not Himself-knowing the thoughts of one that should “betray,” and of another that should "deny" Him, yet bearing with them-neither reproving nor condemning them--giving them a signal proof of that humility on which he always laid so great a stress, and an instance of that love which he had ever shewn,“and supper being ended, the devil having now
put it iuto the heart of Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come out from God and went to God, he riseth from supper and laid aside his garment, and took a towel and girded Himself, after that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples' feet.” It was an act of condescension which they little understood, though it excited their surprise; and when the eager apostle exclaimed, “ Lord, dost thou wash my feet ?” Jesus answered him, in that necessary and reasonable reproof of all our reasonings upon the ways of God, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” Thou understandest not, perhaps, vain man, why thou hast need to be washed from sin, even when thou art upon the point of committing it; seest not why it was necessary for thy Saviour to submit to all his acts of humiliation, nor why he hath appointed the water of baptism, nor the wine of his sacramentbut know that if I wash not thy soul from the pollutions of sin,“ if I wash thee not, thou hast no
2 Verses 3, 4, 5.
part with me”-it is my grace alone which can be sufficient for thee, it is my word which can make thee clean, it is my blood which alone can “cleanse from all sin”—and though he, that is by my sanctifying grace once cleansed and renewed in his mind, needeth not that deep and universal change which your eagerness implies,
feet only but also my hands and my head,” even the best of men must not omit those sanctifying rites which I prescribe “he needeth not save to wash his feet, and is clean; and ye are clean, but not all.”3
To this meaning the apostles themselves did afterwards bear witness, though at the time they were instructed to derive from it a more evident one, in-"ye call me, (saith our Saviour) Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am,” 4_if I, then, who was “glorified with the Father before the world was,” can stoop to the lowest offices--if I have, for your sakes, “made myself of no reputation,” and thus take upon myself “ the form” (and ministry) of “ servant”—“the servant is not greater than his
3 Verse 10.