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some time foolish and disobedient, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”ı How different such a temper, from that strong and warm affection which breathes in his epistles : and which did not express itself more in words than in actions; making him “all things to all men, any means he might save some ; and disposing him to sacrifice every interest and inclination to the welfare of his Christian disciples.
Because, though the commandment was not new, the motive to observe it was new, as well as the standard according to which it should be followed. As I have loved you : according to the same manner and degree. Here is the measure of love pointed out : here is the manner in which it will be shown. The measure, and the manner. Imitation of such love will indeed fall sadly short : but this is the pattern offered us, the pattern by which we are to work : that looking at that which is perfect, we may be satisfied with nothing less : and if we do not reach the mark, may at least advance in the line towards it. As I have loved you with a disinterested love; with an active love; with a self-denying love :-by love of this nature shall all men know that
ye are my disciples. And the commandment so enforced, has not been without effect. If we judge of the apostles themselves as we would judge of other men, we must see that their union, agreement, and mutual co-operation was as great a wonder as any other which attended the first ages of the gospel. 1 Titus iii. 3.
See 1 Cor. ix. 19-22.
And wherever their doctrines were received, love and charity followed in the train.
The general kindness and good-will which distinguished the Christian communities was an astonishment to the heathen, who used to say,
" See how these Christians love one another !” And in all ages since, the motive here expressed—that ye love one another as I have loved you-has induced those who have been actuated by it to encounter trials, submit to sacrifices, and use exertions in behalf of others, to which this principle alone could have stimulated them. It is naturally a part of love, to be kindly disposed towards all who are dearto those who are dear to ourselves. And this feeling is here called into exercise. They whom we can help or comfort, they who are in want or tribulation, are dear to him who died for us. And " if God so loved us, we ought also to love one an
The purport of our Lord in thus addressing his disciples could no longer be concealed from them, slow as they were to comprehend it.
36. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
37. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now ? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
38. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake ? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
3 See 1 John iv. 11.
How little men know themselves ! how little can it be affirmed beforehand how they will act in untried circumstances, or bear an unexpected temptation !
But that which is impossible with man, is possible with God: and the power of the Holy Spirit gives a strength which nature has not. He who within a few hours of the time when these words were spoken, wanted boldness enough to confess his Lord, even though that confession had no certain danger ; he was afterwards prepared to lay down his life for his sake, not in word only, but with foreseen and determined purpose. For thus he writes to his fellow Christians :
I must shortly put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me:"_hath showed me when he said, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now ; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
He followed him here, to a cruel death : but he has also followed him to heavenly glory : “ receiving the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul.” He was enabled to “ rejoice” in being thus called to follow him, “inasmuch as he was made partaker of Christ's sufferings: that when his glory shall be revealed, he might be glad also with exceeding joy.”+
" Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator; that “ whether we live, we may live unto the
4 1 Peter iv. 13. 5 Ibid. 19.
Lord; or whether we die, we may die unto the Lord : that whether we live or die, we may be the Lord's.” 6
JESUS COMFORTS HIS APOSTLES, DECLARING
TO THEM HIS UNION WITH THE FATHER.
JOHN xiv. 1—14.
1. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2. In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Our Lord here comforts his disciples, and strengthens them more and more, in preparation for his approaching removal. Let not your heart be troubled : ye
believe in God, believe also in me. Ye have been taught to believe in God, who “ in the beginning created all things :" believe also in me, as one with the Father; as having come from God, and now returned to God from whom I came : returned too, to fulfil the purpose for which I became flesh and have dwelt among you : believe in me, as having gone to prepare a place for you in the kingdom of God. If there might not be admittance for you in that kingdom, I would have told you. I would not have suffered you to leave all that is valuable upon earth ; I would not have suffered you to undergo persecution, and revilings, the scorn of friends and the cruelty of enemies for my sake and the gospel's, if in my Father's house there had not been many mansions, an abundant reward, an infinite extent of glory.
6 See Rom. xiv. 8.
These expressions are intended to suit the ideas of men. A parent, who was about to leave his children for a while, might cheer them in the same manner. Your heart is naturally troubled, because I am to be separated from you, and ye are left alone : but be of good cheer; I go to prepare another and a happier abode for you, where we shall always be together; and when the time is arrived and all is ready, I will come again and receive you unto myself
So we believe that it will be, according to the description given by the apostle; (1 Thess. iv. 16 :) "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."