Page images

fended at my death, which is soon to take place; it is as necessary to the diffusion of my religion and my personal honour as casting seed into the ground is to the multiplication of it.

24. Verily, verily I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, “ it abideth single;" but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

The satisfaction which our Lord here expresses, at the prospect of the reception of his gospel among Gentiles, may remind us of his manifesting like sentiments on occasion of the centurion's requesting him to heal his servant at a distance from him. He said 'to them that followed, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel; and I say unto you that iany sha come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

He had just informed his disciples that he should suffer death in the discharge of his office: he next warns them to expect no better treatment, and to prepare themselves to follow him, by making the like sa crifice.

25. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life, in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal.

That is, alarming as the prospect of my losing my life may be, if you have a prudent regard to your best interests you will act like myself; for if, from a desire of preserving your present life, you deny your Christian profession, you will lose a much more valuable life hereafter: but if you sacrifice life at present, rather than be guilty of an act of dissimulation or treachery, in disowning me or my religion, you will be rewarded with an eterpal existence hereafter. To hate life, is not to feel a real dislike to it, or to despise ity

, but to esteem it of less value than some other objecte

to regard it as nothing, when compared to the favour of God and Christ.

26. If any man serve me, that is, profess to serve me, let him follow me, and where I am there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my

Father honour. If any man profess to be my disciple, let him imitate my example, and follow me, though death should lie in the way. In doing this he may lose much; but he will receive an ample recompence in being placed where I shall be in the same regions of glory and happiness, and in being honoured by my Father.


1. The honours paid to Christ upon the present occasion by a great multitude of people going forth to welcome his approach, by their public procession and loud acclamations, afford a strong confirmation of our faith in the reality of his miracles, particularly of the last miracle; on account of which, more especially, these honours were bestowed. They show that these things were not done in a corner, but upon the public theatre of the world; that hundreds and thousands had been eye witnesses of the facts, or received them, upon the inost satisfactory evidence, from those who had been, and that therefore we are justified in giving credit to these relations at the present day, on the authority of their testimony: These miracles produced also, upon the minds of those who professed to credit them, the effects which might be naturally expected from such extraordinary events-admiration of the author, gratitude for their possession of such important benefits, and a desire to do him honour. If there were some who did not join in paying him these honours, and whose eagerness to destroy him was only

increased hereby, it was not because they denied the facts, but because they declined drawing from them the same inferences as the multitude, who concluded that he was the Messiah, and because they were alarmed at his growing popularity and influence. So that their conduct serves rather to confirm than to weaken our faith.

2. Effects in the natural world often correspond with the method of proceeding in the moral world, and hereby serve to confirm our faith in this important truth, that they have both one author. The grain of wheat, which, after falling into the ground and appearing to die, produces a plentiful harvest, is an apt similitude to represent the happy change which took place in the world from a dying Saviour. The same image may serve likewise to afford us comfort respecting the state of his religion: it has long been buried in the ground by the great mass of corruption with which it has been loaded, and appears to be nearly dead and lost, but it still retains a latent principle of life, which will make it spring up again, like the blade of corn from the dead grain, and, under the favour of Providence produce much fruit, more perhaps than ever it produced before.

3. The sacrifices which we are required to make in the service of Christ are great; property, fame, ease, liberty and even life; but the recompences are in proportion; the reward of being honoured by God 'the great Father of the universe and only judge of merit; of being in the same place of glory and happiness with our master, and of enjoying an endless life, instead of that short life which we have lost. The good which we receive then infinitely overbalances the good we have lost, and furnishes us with the most powerful arguments for engaging in his service, even on the principles of prudence and self-interest. We are bound by a regard to our own happiness to adhere to such a master, and to follow him wherever he goes, or where the principles of his religion may lead us; for if we leave him we shall gain nothing by the exchange.

John xii. 27-36.

By the similitude of the grain of wheat, verse twenty-four, which, by falling into the ground and dying, produces much fruit, Jesus had alluded to his own death, and the extensive effect which it would have in procuring proselytes to Christianity. In that event, therefore, he acquiesced, on account of its glo. rious consequences to himself as well as to mankind; and he exhorts his disciples to submit to death in like circumstances. Nevertheless, the prospect of the excruciating pain and great ignominy which he was to endure on that occasion, filled his mind with much distress, and he cannot help expressing his apprehensions.

27. Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ? Father save me from this hour?

He asks himself whether he should address such a request to God; for it was what his fears urged him to make; but he checks his inclination, by recollecting that the great object of his coming into the world, that is, of his having been sent with a divine commis. sion, was to die, in order that, by rising again, he might illustrate the doctrine of a resurrection to eternal life.

But for this purpose came I unto this hour; rather, " for this hour.

So the words ought to be rendered, in which case the latter clause must be considered as explanatory of the former. The main object of my mission was to suffer death: I shall, therefore, defeat the designs of my Father, if I am delivered from it. The only difference between his conduct on this occasion and in the garden of Gethsemane, seems to have been, that there, having death in more immediate prospect, he prayed that he might be delivered from it. “O my

Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me;" Matt. xxvi. 39, and that here he felt a wish to offer such a prayer, but suppressed the desire as soon as it arose. Those who have believed Jesus Christ to be God inhabiting a human body, have found it very difficult to explain why Christ was so much troubled at the prospect of his death: for upon their supposition death could have no terrors. Nor is the difficulty much lessened when he is supposed to be a great preexistent spirit, the maker of the world: for death would be to him a deliverance from bondage, and the recovery of his pristine glory and dignity, and therefore an object not of terror but of joy. But allowing that Jesus was a man, and that he had the same feel ings as other men, the cause of his distress is easily explained. He had a clear foresight of his death, the great object for which he was sent into the world, and of all the pain and ignominy which would attend it, from the beginning of his ministry; that is, at least twelve months before hand, and according to some three years. If the prospect of dying a violent death was painful to him, when first beheld, as it must necessarily be to one who had the feelings of a human being, every repeated view of the subject would only increase the pain, till at last, when the time of suffer, ing came, the distress had risen to the highest pitch of anguish. But, however violent his distress was, he does not seem lo think that there was any thing disgraceful in it: for he confesses it without reserve in the presence of the multitude. He probably intended something more hereby than merely giving vent to his own feelings, namely, by showing the strength of his own expectations, to prepare his disciples for an event which they were very slow to believe. He proceeds,

28. Father, glorify thy name. Adopt the method which is best calculated to make thy being and perfections owned among thy creatures, with whatever sufferings it may be attended to myself.

Then came there a voice from hea

« EelmineJätka »