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that relates to our neighbour, we must do unto him exactly as we, in a change of circumstances, should think it right for him to do unto us In all that relates to ourselves, there must be a subjugation of our own passions, a government of our tempers, and an habitual exercise of all holy and heavenly affections The whole circle of the Divine commandments must be our rule of duty; and superadded, as it were, to them must be the whole life of faith on the Son of God, and the whole life of love to him and to his people for his sake. In a word, see what were the fruits which the Vine itself, the Lord Jesus bare; and then you will see what is expected from the branches, and what will prove you to be vitally united to him. Set "Christ before you as an example, and follow his steps;" and you will need no other directory whereby to prove you are his Disciples.]
2. What encouragement have I to address myself to this laborious undertaking?
[If I were to say, that in so doing you will save your souls alive, I should speak what would be amply sufficient to encourage you. But what if I should say, that God would be glorified in you? Would you need more than that, to animate your endeavours? I do say it then, yes, and declare it most confidently, that in proportion as you are fruitful in good works, you will glorify your God. This is the uniform declaration of the inspired volumeP and on this is grounded that exhortation of our blessed Lord, "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven 9."]
P Eph. ii. 10.
q Matt. v. 16.
THE FATHER'S LOVE TO CHRIST, AND CHRIST'S TO US. John xv. 9. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
REASON could never suggest motives sufficient to counteract the passions: the law of God itself, with all its sanctions, could not change the heart. The Gospel alone can make sin odious, and holiness delightful. It effects this by revealing to us the love of Christ. Hence our Lord reminds us of his love in order to confirm our love to him.
a 2 Cor. v. 14.
I. The nature and extent of Christ's love to us
The comparison in the text denotes not equality, but resemblance". The love of Christ to us, like that of his Father to him, is,
1. Without beginning
There never was a period when the Father first began to love his Son
[He loved him before his entrance on his ministry, before his existence in the world, before Isaiah's time, from all eternity1.]
There never was a period when Christ first began to love us
[His love is first manifested when we believe in him. But our faith in him is the effect, not the cause, of his love to us. This is affirmed by the prophets, and by Christ himself".]
2. Without measure
The Father's love to Christ was unbounded
[He is one with Christ in nature, and therefore in affection. He has shewn the greatness of his love to him, in the gifts bestowed upon him, and in his constant co-operation with him1.]
Christ's love to us is also boundless
It "passess all know
[It produces most astonishing acts of kindness towards us m. Human affections fall far short of it". ledge," whether of men or angels.]
3. Without variation—
The Father's love to Christ was unchangeable— [His love seems to have been withdrawn for a season°: he seemed not to answer his prayersP: but he heard him always, and loved him always. The apparent suspensions of
f In this sense many commentators explain Prov. viii. 22, 23, 30 : and if that interpretation be admitted, the eternity of Christ's love may be confirmed by ver. 31. But, however this passage be interpreted, the fact itself stands on the most unquestionable authority. John xvii. 24.
8 Jer. xxxi. 3. Ezek. xvi. 6.
í John x. 30. k John iii. 35. Col. i. 19.
Eph. v. 25. Rev. i. 5, 6.
• Matt. xxvii. 46. P Luke xxii. 42, 44.
h John xv. 16.
1 John v. 19, 20.
n Isai. xlix. 15, 16.
q John xi. 42.
his love were the necessary means of accomplishing the purposes of his love even towards Christ himself.]
Christ's love to us also is unchangeable
[There are seasons when he seems to withdraw his love. But his chastisements are tokens of his love. He hates sin indeed, and will correct his people till they put it away: but he will not withdraw his love from themt. Wherever he fixes
his love, he rests unalterably in it".]
4. Without end
The Father's love to Christ shall endure for ever[He has given him a pledge of this in his exaltation to heaven.]
Christ's love to us shall also be everlasting
[He knows no change of mind with respect to what he has bestowed. Whomsoever he loves he continues to love. This truth is a just ground of joy and confidence.]
What returns can we ever make to Christ for such amazing love?
II. The duty resulting from it—
This part of the text requires APPLICATION rather than discussion
It sets before us, not merely our privilege (which is, to continue in a sense of Christ's love to us) but our duty;
1. To love Christ
[This would have been our duty, though he had not so loved us. But the obligation to it is greatly increased by his love. Let him then be exceeding precious to us. despise every thing in comparison of him.]
2. To continue in love to him
[We are too apt to decline in our love. But declensions, however secret, are very offensive. They will, if continued in, disqualify us for heaven: they will reduce us to a worse situation than ever. Let us therefore cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart'.]
Heb. ii. 10.
z Rom. viii. 35, 38,
s Heb. xii. 6. x Rom. xi. 29. 39.
c Rev. ii. 4.
f Acts xi. 23.
t Ps. lxxxix. 31-33.
y John xiii. 1.
a Phil. iii. 8.
d Luke ix. 62.
3. To abound in all acts and offices of love to him
[In secret, let us contemplate, admire, and adore his excellencies in public, let us confess, honour, and obey him".]
It commends to us that duty as resulting from the declaration that precedes it
[The love of Christ towards us is the strongest of all motives to the love of him. Was Christ's love to us so unmerited, unbounded, invariable, and lasting? and shall ours to him be weak and transient? Let it operate then suitably on all our hearts. Let us not rest satisfied with what we have attained. Let us meditate on his love as the means of increasing ours1.]
g Matt. x. 32. John xiv. 21.
i Eph. iii. 18, 19.
h Phil. iii. 12, 13.
CHRISTIANITY INTENDED TO PROMOTE OUR HAPPINESS.
John xv. 11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
THOUGH every possible perfection was exhibited in its brightest colours in the person of our Lord, yet the most striking feature of his character was benevolence. Like the sun in its course, he diffused blessings wherever he went, and laboured with indefatigable zeal to promote the good of mankind. By his discourses as well as by his miracles he sought to advance the happiness of his followers. In the passage before us he assures his Disciples that this was the one end of the instructions he had given them. That we may improve this gracious declaration, let us inquire,
I. What things he had spoken to them—
We do not apprehend that he refers to his discourses in general, but to the things which he had been just uttering
The doctrinal part of what he had spoken related to their union with him
[He illustrates their union with him by the similitude of a vine and its branches; and informs them that their fruitfulness in good works depended entirely upon their receiving of grace from him. This is the most sublime, and the most important doctrine of our holy religion. It is, alas! too commonly overlooked, even by those who think themselves well versed in the truths of Christianity. It does not so much as enter into the mind of Christians in general. They have no idea what is meant by an union with the Lord Jesus Christ. They have some general notion that we are to be saved by him; but, in what manner, they know not. But this doctrine cannot be too attentively considered, seeing that it is the very corner-stone of our religion — the one means of procuring us an interest in Christ and the only method by which
we can derive any blessings from him
The preceptive part directed them how to secure the full advantages of that union
[Some might possibly infer from the foregoing representation, that the Disciples of Christ were secure by virtue of their union with him, even though they should not exert themselves at all in the way of duty. He therefore cautions his Disciples against any such mistake. He bids them to "abide" in him by the continual exercise of faith, and to approve themselves to him by a diligent observance of his commandments. These injunctions mark the duty of all his followers. If on the one hand we must not depend on ourselves, but receive continual supplies of grace out of his fulness; so neither on the other hand are we to be supine as though we had nothing to do. We must go to him in fervent prayer - rely upon him with unshaken affiance
our whole hearts
and labour to serve him with
After having delivered these instructions our Lord condescended to declare,
II. For what end he spake them
The slightest alteration in our translation of the text will both remove an appearance of tautology, and suggest some very important reflections
Our Lord desired to confirm the joy that he and his Disciples mutually communicated and received[Our Lord rejoiced exceedingly in his Disciples, even as
c Construe ἐν ὑμῖν with ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ — “ My joy in you.”