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Ye might believe. I have foretold my sufferings and death'in order that, when they happen, your faith, instead of being shaken, may be confirmed. But I shall not have much opportunity to talk with you after this, because the devil will stir up wicked meu te kill me. Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. Be assured that I shall undergo the punishment of death, not because I deserve it, but that the world may know that I love the Futher. I undergo it to shew the world how much I love the Father : for in this I act according to his express commandment; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I du. Arise, let us go hence : let us, in conformity to the divine will, go away, that I may enter in my sufferings.
Having thus spoken, they finished the passover with singing a hymn, and went out to the mount of Olives. (Mat. xxvi. 30.] And when they had sang an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. The hymn which they sung was, probably, the conclusion of that which the Jews called the Hallel, or great hymn, and which consisted of the hundred and thirteenth, with the five subsequent Psalms ; part thereof being sung in the beginning, and part at the end of the solemnity. [Luke xxii. 40.] And when he was at the place, he said unto them, pray that ye enter not into temptation. When he was come to the scene of his sufferings, he desired them to fortify themselves by prayer, and forewarned them of the lamentable effects which his sufferings were to have upon them ; they would make them all stumble that very night, agreeably to Zechariah’s prophecy, ch. xiii. 7. (Mat. xxvi. 31.] Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night ; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. To strengthen their faith, therefore, he not only mentioned his resurrection, but told them where they should see him after he was risen. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilce. No sooner did Jesus mention the offence which his disciples were to take at his sufferings, than Peter recollected what had been said to him in particular before they left the house. Wherefore, being grieved afresh to find his Master still entertaining such thoughts of him, and being now armed with a sword, the vehemence of his tem per hurried him to boast a second time of his courageous and close attachment to Jesus. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. In this protestation, Peter, no doubt, was sincere. Nevertheless, he was greatly to blame for not paying a due attention to his Master's repeated predictions concerning his fall, for the preference which he gave bimself above his brethren, and for leaning to his own strength instead of begging assistance of him from whom all human sufficiency is derived. Wherefore, to make him sensible, if possible; that pride, confidence, and security, are great cnemies to virtue, his Master thought fit to forewarn him again of his danger. (Mark xiv. 30.] And Jesus saith unto him, verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, hefore the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice. (Mat. xxvi. 35.] Peter said unto him, though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thce. Likewise also said all the disciples. They all joined Peter in professing their fixed resolution of suffering death rather than they would deny their Master ; yct the event was exactly as Jesus had said : from which we niay learn how ignorant men are of themselves ; and that to be virtuous, it is not enough that we form the strongest resolutions.
Our Lord spent the remaining hours of his ministry in preaching to his disciples a lovg, but excellent sermon, recorded by John in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of his gospel. He began with the parable of the vine, taken from the vines that were growing around them on the mount of Olives. In this parable, he taught them the excellency of his religion, and the nature of the relation they stocd in to him by the profession thereof. Moreover, he explained to them the advantages which accrued to them from this relation. As the branches of the vine draw nourishment and are made fruitful by their union to the stock, and by the care of the dresser, so the disa ciples of Christ, by the belief of his religion, by the influences of the Spirit, and by the care of providence, are made fruitful in holiness. [John xv. 1.] I am ihe true vine": my gospel is the most excellent disprosation of religion that was ever given to men. My Father is the husbandman : my religion is from God, belongs to him, and, with its professors, is the peculiar object of his care. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: though by the outward profession of religion you become members of the visible church of God, you must remember that, of itself, this is not sufficient to entitle you to the favour of God, the great Master of this dispensation. You must answer the end for which it is given, by bringing forth fruit ; otherwise he will cut you off, depriving you-of all the advantages which true disciples reap froin the sincere profession and practice of the Christian religion. He told them farther, that as the husbandman prunes the bearing branches of his vines, so God, among other methods, suffers the lovers of virtue to be spoiled of the conveniences of this life, for no other reason but that their virtue may grow the stronger, and become the more fruitful. In the course of his providence, my Father sends a variety of afflictions upon every one who sincerely makes profession of my religion, and who diligently endeavours to obey its precepts, spoiling him of the temporal enjoyments which engage his affections, and render him unfruitful.
These things Jesus said to reconcile his disciples to the persecutions that were coming on them ; perhaps, also, he had in his view the other methods which God makes use of for purifying his people; for in the following verse, he represents his disciples as cleansed through the word he had spoken unto them. The doctrine I have preached to you by the blessing of God, has cleansed you from many evil affections, has inspired you with holy desires, and invigorated you with good resolutions ; so that, like the pruned branches of the vine, ye are fitted to bring forth fruit. Yet there is still need to caution you against backsliding. Continue stedfast in the belief and profession of my religion, and be diligent in the practice of its precepts; for this is the method to derive from me all needful supplies, particularly the influences of my Spirit, the comfort of my presence, the direction of my word, and the protection of my providence. Your continuing in the belief, profession, and practice, of my religion, is as necessary to your performing good works, as the continuing of the branches in the vine is to their fruitfulness. To make you sensible of this, was what I proposed when I told you that I am the true vine, and you the branches. I must therefore repeat it again, that sincerity in the belief, stedfastness in the profession, and diligence in the practice, of my religion, followed, as they always are, with my blessing and assistance, are the only means of making a man remarkably fruitful in holiness. He that abideth in nie, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit : for without me, separated from me, in allusion to the vine and his branches, ye can do nothing. If you apostatize from me, and are deprived of my influences, you can do nothing for your own sanctification and salvation. To shew you further the necessity of abiding stedfastly in the belief and profession of my religion, I would propose to your consideration the dreadful effects and punishments of apostacy. By apostacy you separate yourselves from me, and deprive yourselves of all the advantages which accompany the sincere belief, sted fast profession, and diligent practice, of my religion, particularly the influences of my Spirit, the direction of my word, and the protection of my providence ; also the pardon of your sins, and the enjoyment of heaven. Nor is this all : you shall be punished as apostates; for you shall be cast out of the
presence of God, and gathered into hell, where you shall be burned as withered branches, persons fit for the flames. Grotius thinks that in this verse Jesus points out to the apostles, in an obscure manner, the crime and punishment of Judas, one of their own number, as an example and warning to theni.
Our Lord, having thus exhorted the twelve as disciples and private Christians, proceeds to give them directions as apostles or preachers, commissioned by him to teach his religion to the rest of mankind. [John xv.7.] If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, yc shall ask what ye will, and it shali be done unto you. abide in me in the sincere profession and practice of my religion, and my words abide in you ; if ye faithfully teach mankind my doctrines and precepts, notwithstanding the difficulties you meet with in this work ; you may ask any miracle you please in confirmation of your authority, and it shall be granted unto you. But though this be the primary meaning of the passage, it may, in a lunited sense, be understood also of the pious prayer of all good Christians, aš Dr. Clarke observes. As the end for which my Father has given the gospel dispensation to men is to make them fruitful in holiness, you, my apostles, by spreading the true knowledge thereof through the world, and by reforming yourselves and others will do honour unto God's wisdom and goodness in bestowing this dispensation upon you. Moreover, by your diligence in preaching and practising my gospel, you shall shew yourselves to be real disciples to me, who am the author of the gospel, and who have chosen you to be my assistants in spreading the knowledge of it through the world. The friendship which I have shewed you, and the honour which I have conferred on you of preaching the gospel, is of the same kind with the friendship and honour conferred on me by the Father. Continue ye in my love: beware of doing any thing inconsistent with your character as my apostles, or which will diminish my love towards you. If you carefully perform all the things which I have enjoined you, both as my apostles and private Christians, you shall ever be the objects of my love; even as I have exactly performed all the duties of my mission, all the things which my Father enjoined me for the salvation of the world, and on that account am the eternal object of his warmest love.
I have spoken these things, hoping they will influence you to keep my commandments, whereby you shall be the objects of my love ; and, in the consciousness thercof, shall be filled with the same kind of joy which I feel from obeying my Father's commandments, and from the consciousness of his love. I have spoken these things likewise, that your eternal joy may be full in heaven, where you shall shine as stars, because you have turned many to righteousness. Others translate the passage in the following manner ; I have spoken these things, hoping that, by your diligence in obeying them, I shall always have cause to rejoice in my friendslip, in the honour I have conferred on you, and in the eternal possession of heaven. This is my coinmandment ; that ye love one another as I have loved you ; as I told you before, (John xii. 34.] the chief of all the commandments which I enjoined you, whether as a postles or private Christians, is, that ye love one another : I do not mean after the hypocritical manner of the world, who often love in word and in tongue, whilst nothing is more remote from their heart; but in the sincere, tender, constant manner of my
He was thus earnest in pressing them to mutual love, not only because the great design of his gospel is to promote mutual love, but because this virtue, exercised by the apostles among themselves and towards all mankind, was one great means of making their preaching successful, just as Christ's immense love to men will always have a great influence in drawing us to him. Greater love huir no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends ; my love to you is stronger than death; for I will lay down my life for you. A greater degree of love than this
love to you.
never existed in the world. This is the love I bear towards you, and which I recommend as the pattern of your love to one another. Yc are my friends if ye do whatsoever I comand you. Jesus had commanded them to love one another as he loved them ; [John xv. 13.] he insinuated that he loved them so as to lay down his life for them. Wherefore, in this verse, he tells them he would reckon them his friends if they laid down their lives for que another; that being the thing he commanded them, by enjoining them to love one another after the pattern of his love to tbem. The plain proposition of this precept might have terrified the apostles; but to insinuate it in the beautiful manner our Lord has done, was altogether necessary for the direction of men, who, by preaching the gospel, were to put their lives in jeopardy every hour, and who at last were to lose their lives in that cause for tlie benefit of the world. Henceforth I call you not servants ; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord đoth. Though the distance that is betwixt you and me, and your obligations to obey me, might have warranted me to treat you as servants, and particularly to conceal from you my counsels and designs, I have not in that manner acted towards you. But I have treated you as friends ought to be treated : I have admitted you into all the familiarities of friendship; for I have all along communicated to you the most important of those gracious counsels which my Father, as the expression of his friendship, imparted unto me; nay, I have commissioned you to reveal them to the world, and have made you, not only my friends, but my assistants, in the great work of saving the world. From this consideration, therefore, as well as out of gratitude to me, you ought to lay down your lives in the cause. Accordingly, it is added, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain. You have not, as principals in this affair, adopted me your associate ; but I, the great author of the gospel, have adopted you as my associates, to share with me in the vast honour of giving a new religion to the world. For I have ordained you my a pustles, that you should go out into the world fraught with the doctrines of salvation, by the preaching of which you shall produce a general reformation both in the opinion and manners of the heathens, greatly to the honour of God; inasmuch as the Christian religion, thus planted by you, shall endure to all ages :-—that whatsoever ye shell ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. I have clothed you with the dignity of my apostles, that whatsoever miracle you shall ask of God, for the confirmation of your doctrine, or for the success of it, the consideration of your character, and the end for which you ask it, may induce him to grant it, especially is, in your prayers, you plead the relation you stand in to me as my apostles.
These things I command you, that ye love one another. I have explained to you the high nature and vast importance of your office as my apostles, and I have put you in mind of my loving you so as to die for you, that I may inspire you with ardent love to one another. You will need the help of this principle much in the execution of your office. It will animate you to be diligent, it will inspire you with fortitude, it will enable you to lay down your life in the cause : for that you will meet witli opposition and persecution while you preach the gospel is certain ; only it needs not surprise you, when you consider how I, your Master, have been hated and persecuted by the Jews. If the generality of men in all countries shall oppose and persecute you, as most certainly they will, you must encourage yourselves under these dificulties, by remembering that I, your Lord and Master, bave suffered the same things from the Jews. Moreover, ynu should consider that [John xv. 19.] If ye were of the world, the world would love his own. If your dispositions and actions were like those of the bulk of mankind : if you flattered men in their vices, and framed your doctrines into a consietency with their passions and interests, no doubt you would