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2 bandman. Every branch in me which bears no fruit he taketh
away* ; cuts it off in his righteous judgment : and every branch
which brings forth fruit he purges or prunes it, that it may bring 3 forth more fruit. Now ( since the traitor is gone out) ye are all 4 clean by means of the word which I have spoken to you. Con
tinue in me, and I will be in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit
of itself, unless it continue in the vine, so neither can you unless 5 ye continue in me. I am the vine, and ye are the branches. He
that abides in me and I in hiint, he bringeth forth much fruit: for 6 separate from me you can do nothing. If any one does not abide
in me, he is cast out as a fruitless branch, lopped off from the vine; and is withered; and as men gather up such dry sticks, and throw
them into the fire, and they are burnt, so will be the end of those 7 unhappy creatures. If you abide in me, and my words abide in
you, ye shall ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done for you. 8 In this is my Father glorified that you bring forth much fruit; 9 and so shall ye be my true disciples. As the Father has loved 10 me, so have I also loved you: continue in my love. If you keep
my commandinents, you will continue in my love ; even as I
have kept my Father's commandments, and continue in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy in you might
continue, and that your joy may be full.
REFLECTIONS. How desirable it is that we may learn from this discourse to regard Christ, at all times, as the spiritual Head, from whom life and vigour are to be derived to all his people! Let us by the exercise of an unfeigned faith abide in him as the true vine; as being always sensible that without him we can do nothing ; and that, if we are in him only by an external profession, we are not only in danger of being cut off, and taken away, but shall in the end be cast into the fire. May we rathe be purged and pruned, though it should be with the most painful dis. pensations of providence ; if by this means our fruitfulness may be promoted to the glory of God, and to the benefit of the world! May his word operate daily upon us, to cleanse us from remaining pollutions! and if we thus desire to be clean, let us take heed to our way, according to the tenour of that word.
We see our encouragement to pray; let us take it from Christ, and not be dismayed, nor yield to unbelieving suspicions. As the Father has loved Christ, so does he also love his people. Let us preserve and cultivate this sacred friendship; and, whatever it may cost us, let us endeavour to continue his love, and to avoid whatever would for. feit it; making it above all things our care to keep his commandments. Christ always observing those of his heavenly Father, cannot but always and invariably continue the object of his love and delight: may our conduct be such as that he may see reason to rejoice in us ; and then we shall also have the surest foundation for a sublime and solid joy.
* Perhaps our Lord might here particularly refer to the separation of Judas from him. Ed. See v. 3. and chap. xiii. 10. 11, 171.
+ Or, “ in whom I abide.” C.
· SECTION CLXXVI.
Christ renews his exhortation to mutual love, and declares the Jerus inexcu
sable in their unbelief. JOHN XV. 12, &c.
12 THIS is in a peculiar manner my commandment, That ye love 13 1 one another, even as I have loved you. No man has greater
love than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do whatsoerer I command you. I do not 15 any longer call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what
his Lord doth : But I have called you friends; for all things that I 16 have heard from my Father, I have declared to you. You have not
chosen me, but I have chosen you, and have ordained you that you should go and bear fruit in distant countries, and that your fruit should continue to the remotest generalions. I have also made you so eminently the favourites of heaven, that whatsoever you shall ask
of the Father, he may give it you. 17 These things* I again command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye have no reason to be offended or surprised, 19 for you know that it hated me before you. If you were of the
world, the world would love its own;t but because you are not of
the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, upon this ac20 count the world hateth you. Remember the word which I spake
to you before, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they
have persecuted me, they will also persecute you : if they have 21 kept my saying, they will also keep yours. But all these things
they will do to you for my name's sake, because they do not know 22 him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them they
would comparatively have had no sin ; but now they have no ex23 cuse for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If 24 I had not done among them such works as no other man ever disl,
they had not had any sin comparable to that which they are not under ; but now, as they have rejected my superior miracles which they
have seen with their own eyes, it is plain they have hated both me 25 and my Father. But this is all permitted, that the word which is
written concerning David in their law (Psal. xxxv. 19.) might be 26 fulfilled in me, “ Surely, they hated me without a cause.” But
when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the
Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, 27 he shall bear testimony to me. And you also shall, by liis power,
ful assistance bear testimony to me, because you have bcen wil me from the beginning.
* “ This I command you.” C. + A strong intimation, that even in nations which profess Christianity, if true religion fall to a very low ebb, they that exert themselves remarkably for the revival of it, must, on the very principle here laid down, expect hatred and opposition; and that the passages in scripture relating to persecution are not so peculiar to the first ages, or to Christians living in idolatrous countries, as some have supposed
REFLECTIONS. The Son of God condescends to speak under the character of a Friend ; and with what humble gratitude should we attend to his words! He lays aside the majesty of a sovereign to assume this more tender relation ; and surely our overflowing hearts must inquire, Bles, sed Jesus, what shall we do to express the friendship on our side ? Let us observe what he has here declared, Ye are my friends indeed, if ye do whatever I command you. Lord, we will run the way of these thy commandments, when on this noblest principle thou shalt enlarge our hearts! He has loved us with an unexampled affection, which has approved itself stronger than death; and, in return, he requires us to love one another. How gracious a command ! How merciful to our fellow-creatures and to ourselves, who should infallibly feel the benefit of the practice of it, both in the delight inseparable from benevolent affections, and in the circulation of kind and friendly offices, which, de. generate as human nature is, few are so abandoned as not to endea, vour to repay! Who would not imagine that the whole world should feel and obey the charm ? And yet, instead of this, behold they hate Christ, and his servants for his sake, though without a cause, and against the strongest engagements. Miserable creatures! who by a necessary consequence, whatever they may fondly imagine, hate the Father also, and stand daily and hourly exposed to all the dreadful tere rors of an almighty enemy.
Let us not wonder if the world hate us; nor greatly regard if it in. jure us. We are not of the world, nor is the servant greater than his Lord : but surely the opposition which the gospel brings along with it is nothing when compared with those blessings which it entails on all who faithfully embrace it. Were the sufferings and difficulties a thousand times greater than they are, we ought to esteem the Pearl of price, the most happy purchase at any rate ; and to be daily returning our most thankful acknowledgments, that Christ sent forth his apos, tles, qualified with such a knowledge of himself, and assisted by such power from his Spirit, appointing them to go and bring forth fruii, even fruit which should remain to the remotest ages. Through his guardian care it still remains in the world: Oh may it flourish more abundantly among us! and may its efficacy on our hearts and lives be more apparent! And may divine grace convince those who now reject and oppose it, that in the midst of such various evidence of his having come and spoken to them, they have no cloak for their sin ! but, with whatever fond excuses they may amuse themselves and others, it will quickly appear, that ihe bed is too short to stretch themselves on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap themselves in,
Christ, to reconcile his disciples to their sufferings, and to his remove, men
tions his sending the Spirit, which would be a great support to them and their cause. John xvi. 1–15.
THESE things ( said Jesus) I have spoken to you that, when the 2 storm arises, you may not be offended. They shall indeed
cast you out of the synagogues, or excommunicate you; yea, the hour
is coming that whosoever killeth you shall think he offers an ac3 ceptable service* to God. And these things they will do unto you 4. because they have not known either the Father or me. But I have
spoken these things to you, and forewarned you of them, that when the season comes, ye may remember that I told you of theni for the further confirmation of your faith. And I did not indeed say these things to you from the beginning because I was then with
you, and could easily give you profiir insiructions and consolarions as 5 new difficulties arose ; But now I speak them because I am going
away to him that sent me. And yet none of you asketh me, Whi6 ther dost thou go? But because I have spoken these things unto
you, and talked of leaving you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7 But I tell you the truth in saying, It is advantageous to you that
I should go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not 8 come to you ; but when I go I will send him to you. And when
he comes he will, by your ministry, convince the world of sin, and 9 of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they do not
believe in me, to whom his operations will bear unanswerable testimo10 ny: of righteousness and innocency, because I go to my Father, and
ye see me no more ; the descent of the Spiritt being a proof that I }l am accepted of him, and received into glory. And of judgment, be
cause the prince of this world is judged: The world shall be convinced of my power to execute judgment, because Satan the great head of the apostacy is condemned already i and shall then be triumphed over, when his oracles are silenced, his power restrained, and the gos
pel firopagated through the world. 12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you are not able to 13 bear them now.ll. But when he, even the Spirit of truth, is come,
he will lead you into all truth; for he will not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that will he speak, and he will shew
* The word doelgeley signifies an oblation or sacrifice ; so that, as Archbishop Leighton observes, “the servants of Christ should be considered “ not only as sheep for the slaughter, but for the altar too." + Compare Acts ii. 33. and Rom. i. 4.
Compare John xii. 31. § 148. 11 These other things to which our Lord refers might probably relate to the abrogation of the ceremonial law, to the doctrine of justification by faith, the rejection of the Jews, the calling of the Gentiles, and the like; which might have given some offence to the disciples, till their remaining prejudices were removed. The prudence of Christ in this respect is an excellent pattern for ininisters; and we had need to pray that we may neither forget nor abuse it.
14 you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he will take of 15 mine ; of my doctrines and benefits, and will shew it to you. All
things indeed whatsoever the Father hath are mine; therefore I said that he will take of mine and will shew it to you.
REFLECTIONS. How great is the ignorance and folly of them that persecute their brethren in the name of the Lord, and kill his dear children under the pretence of offering him an acceptable sacrifice! Thus were the apostles treated by those that knew not God for whom they professed all this burning zeal. Let us bless God that we are providentially sheltered from those effects of it which might otherwise bear so hard upon us : and lct us diligently watch over our hearts, that no irregular affections may work there, and no uncharitable sentiments be harboured. When, like the apostles, our hearts are filled with sorrow, let us be cautious that they may not be stupified by it, so that any call of duty should pass unheard, or any opportunity of religious advancement unimproved : and let us not be indolent in our enquiries into the meaning of those dispensations which we do not understand ; but seriously consider whether we are not sorrowful for that which is indeed designed for our advantage, and in the issue will be matter of rejoicing to us.
We hear to what purposes the Comforter was sent. His coming. was designed in a peculiar manner for the advantage of the apostles: and was of greater service to them than the continuance of Christ's. presence with them in the body would have been, not only to supa port and comfort them under all their trials, but to acquaint them with all necessary truth, and fully to instruct them in the mysteries, of godliness, And he came also for the conviction of an apostate, world; for the important errand he was sent upon was to awaken men's minds, and to convince them of their own guilt, and of Christ's righteousness, and of that awful judgment which should be executed on the most inveterate of his enemies. Let us often think of the force of the Spirit's testimony to the truth of Christianity, and endeavour to understand it in all its extent. Let us bless God that the gospel, and the character of his Son, were thus vindicated ; and rejoice in the views of that complete conquest, to which Satan is already adjudged. In the mean time let us earnestly pray that the influences of the Holy Spirit may be communicated to us in such a manner that Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him; and that the things of Christ may be taken, anıl shewn to us by, that Spirit; for it can only be done by means of his influence and operations.