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a piercing sting in our hearts and be unhappy people, devoid of grace and joy.
As we have said, this feet-washing is a bitter task for our old Adam. He desires the services of others, but will make no similar returns. He is also much offended if he finds no thanks for his favors. But we must continue the feet-washing, the well-doing toward others, though they prove ungrateful. To do this we need not only perseverance, but chiefly patience and humility, divine gifts which we must seek in earnest prayer.
From this we learn what this feet-washing means; it teaches an humble, friendly and Christ-like spirit, which Christians should, under all circumstances, manifest in their intercourse with each other. The Lord desires to direct our thoughts to the necessity of humility and condescension ; therefore He performed this ceremony of feet-washing shortly before His death. No matter what our ability may be, we dare not boast on account of our great endowments, but must reason thus: By giving us greater gifts than others, God meant that we should employ them in the service of others, and that we should cultivate so much the more a spirit of lowliness, and thrust the devil aside with his promptings to pride and arrogance. If we yield to him and become filled with self-esteem, we are lost; we are then no longer disciples of Jesus, but of Judas, as is the Pope and his crowd.
The Lord, however, wishes to teach us, just here, another and more important lesson in regard to His person. When Peter refuses to be washed, Jesus answers him: “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” In these words Christ refers not to
the external washing of the feet, but to the washing from sin by His blood shed upon the cross, which washing still is efficacious among the believers in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Such washing is no example; for we can cleanse neither ourselves nor others from sin. The Son of God, the Lamb of God, who bore the sins of the world, can do it, and He alone. They who are washed of Christ confess that God in mercy, through His Son, pardoned and forgave their sins, and therefore they are ready to forgive the wrong which others may have done unto them, as Christ teaches Matt. 18, and as we pray in the Lord's Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.'
It is therefore evident that we should practice this feet-washing during our whole life. Christ set us the example shortly before His death, and He did it through love of us, for He knew how we must dwell in an unclean world. May God grant us His Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus His Son, that we may ever bear in mind this admonition, and may fashion our life accordingly. Amen.
SERMONS ON THE PASSION OF CHRIST,
INTRODUCTORY MEDITATIONS. n this season of the year it is customary for the
Church, both in her hymns and sermons, to dwell especially upon the passion of Christ. We also will follow this custom. Indeed, we consider it very appropriate that the narrative of the sufferings of our Lord should, at a certain fixed period of the year, be read in the churches to the people, word for word, from beginning to end, and that it be fully explained to them, so that they may understand its use, and derive from it much consolation. It is sadly evident with what effect the devil resists the Gospel, though it be preached daily, and how the hearts grow cold towards it, so that they do not amend, but rather grow worse from year to year. This distressing fact ought surely to prompt us to continue in the preaching of the Word, and especially of that part of it which tells of the suffering and death of Christ. We must endeavor to have the people know and appreciate this part of the Gospel ; nor dare we be derelict in the performiance of this duty. If we would neglect to preach on this subject one, two or three years, the people would surely forget it. Even we, who continually busy ourselves with the Word, experience a decrease of interest in it if we neglect the perusal of it for a day or two; how great then would be the injury to the people at large, if they should miss the preaching of
these truths for a year or two? They would become as wild as beasts; therefore it is so urgent that we preach and teach the Word in season and out of season. The devil is ever active in resisting the efficacy of the Word, else there would be many believers, and people would be converted; for surely it is now preached often and clearly.
For the Papists this week is one of torture; they sing and read and preach exceedingly much concerning the passion of Christ. But what does it avail them? It is true, they speak of Christ's sufferings ; but in their heart there is no thought of them, or else they would not prize so highly their own selfinflicted penances and their own works. But it is not much better with us, who have the pure Gospel abundantly preached to us; our lives and deeds indicate that we also have disregarded it. The effects of the preaching of the Word are therefore not the same with all, inasmuch as not all are disposed to receive it. If we were to relate to the people some idle tales and stories, they would remember them at once; whereas now, thousands upon thousands hear repeatedly the preaching of the Gospel without retaining it, and without profiting by its instructions. They come back from church just as they went there. They hear the Word, but disregard it as something common and unimportant.
There are some, on the other hand, who hear it gladly when they are told Christ rendered satisfaction for us, and that by our own merits and works we cannot obtain salvation, but that Christ alone has purchased it for us by His sufferings and death; but as soon as they are told that to enjoy the bene
fits of this atonement they must avoid avarice, worldly-mindedness, gluttony, self-esteem, &c., they are displeased and become enraged. They are unwilling to be rebuked on account of their sins, or to be regarded as Gentiles. Here, also, it is the devil who labors to make the Word of no effect, and we cannot expect any thing else but such aversion to the application of the truth. It behooves us so much the more, to continue steadfast in the Word, to the glory of God and to our own souls' salvation, that some may learn to love it, although many are indifferent, and that thus the sacrifice of the Son of God in our behalf may be known and remembered.
The preaching of this truth began in Paradise, when it was said to Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman should crush the head of the serpent. The Church has retained the proclamation of this Gospel, and will retain it until the end of time. Nor can we perform any better service than to proclaim everywhere, in the church, from the pulpit and at home, this fact of the sacrifice of God for the redemption of all mankind.
As Israel was heavily burdened with the ceremonial law, and was compelled to sacrifice calves, heifers, &c., thus the papacy still conducts its divine worship. If we had to observe all those ceremonies and defray all the expenses incident to them, I fear there would be many complaints of insufferable burdens. But not much is required of us : only this pleasing service, that we should remember His boundless mercy, manifested in the sacrifice of His Son for our sins, and that we should preach this and teach it to our children. Let us thank God it