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arguments he had formerly used for the same purpose. Amongst the Gentiles, said he, they are reckoned the greatest, who have the greatest power, and have exercised it in the most absolute manner; but your greatness shall be very different from theirs; it shall not consist in being unlimited with regard to tyrannical power, even though it should be joined with an affection of titles, which denote qualities truly honourable; but whosoever desires to be great, or chief among you, let him be so by his humility, and the service he renders to the rest, in imitation of me your Master, whose greatness consists in this, that I am become the servant of you: adding as they had continued with him in this temptation, he would bestow upon them such a kingdom as his Father had appointed for them. At the same time, to check their ambition, and lead them to form a just notion of his kingdom, he told them, that he was soon to leave them, and that whither he was going, they could not at that time follow him; for which reason, instead of contending with one another, which of them should be the greatest, they would do well to be united among themselves, in the happy bond of love: for, by loving one another sincerely and fervently, they would prove themselves his disciples, to the conviction of mankind, who could not be ignorant, that the distinguishing part of his character was love.
Our Lord called this a new commandment, not because mutual love had never been enjoined on mankind before, but because it was a precept of peculiar excellency: for the word new in the Hebrew language, denotes excellency and truth: and the reason of this idiom seems to have been, that novelty oftentimes has the same effect upon the mind as excellency, rendering an object acceptable, and raising admiration: he also called this a new commandment, because they were to excrcise it under a new relation according to a new measure, and from new motives: they were to love one another in the relation of his disciples, and
in that degree of love which he had shewed to them; for they were to lay down their lives for the brethren. This excellent morality, however, did not make such an impression on Peter, as the words which JESUS had spoken concerning a place whither his disciples could not come: he therefore replied, by asking where he was going? To which JESUS answered, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me af
In order to make his disciples humble, watchful, and kindly-affectionate one towards another, he assured them, that Satan was seeking to ruin them all by his temptations: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Peter was greatly offended that his Master should have singled him out as the weakest; for so he interpreted his praying for him particularly: and supposing that he mentioned Satan's seeking to sift him, as a thing which would hinder him from following his Master, replied, Why cannot I follow thee now? Is there any road more terrible than the dark valley of the shadow of death? Yet, I am willing this moment to accompany thee through these black and gloomy
But JESUS knowing his weak, though sincere resolution, answered, art thou so very confident of thine own strength? I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. Luke xxii. 34.
Our dear Lord having finished what he had to say to Peter in particular, turned himself to his other disciples, and put them in mind, how that, when they were first sent out, he directed them to rely wholly upon the Almighty for assistance. When I sent you formerly,' said he, to preach the gospel, you may remember, I
ordered you to go without provision either for your sustenance or defence, assuring you, that though you would indeed meet with great opposition, yet Providence would dispose some men in all places to be your friends, and to furnish you with all necessaries; and accordingly, you found that you wanted for nothing, but were wonderfully supported without any care or provision of your own in the whole journey, and finished your work with success. But now the case is very different; the time of that greatest trial and distress, whereof I have often forewarned you, is just at hand; and you may now make all the provision in your power, and arm yourselves against it as much as you are able: the time, I say, of the greatest trial and distress that ever yet befel you, is now at hand; for I am just going to be betrayed into the hands of my inveterate enemies. I have finished the work for which I was sent into the world; and nothing now remains for me, but to undergo those sufferings which the prophets have foretold concerning me, and, by submitting at last to a most cruel and ignominious death, to complete this whole dispensation of Providence. The disciples thinking that their great Master meant, that they should arm themselves in a literal sense, and endeavour to oppose the assaults that would shortly be made upon them by the Jews, answered, Lord here are two swords: but the blessed JESUS, who only intended to convey an idea of their approaching distress and temptations, and to arm them against the surprise, replied, It is enough.
Our blessed Saviour having thus forewarned his disciples of the great trial that was coming upon them, and commanded them to arm themselves against it, proceeded to animate them to sustain the trial manfully, and to comfort them under the dismal apprehensions it might cause in their minds. Be not terrified and disconsolate, said the compassionate Redeemer of mankind, because I have told you that I must undergo great sufferings, and be taken away from you for a time.
You have always been taught to believe in God, who is the Almighty Preserver and Governor of all things; and to rely on him for deliverance in every.affliction and distress. Learn now, in like manner, to believe in me, who have all power committed to me, as preserver and head of my church; and trust in me to accomplish fully all things that I have promised you if you do this, and persist stedfastly in the belief of my doctrine, and in the obedience of my commands, nothing in this vale of misery, not even persecution, or death itself, shall be able to hinder you from attaining the happiness I have promised to you: for in heaven, my Father's house, there is abundant room to receive you, otherwise I would not have filled your minds with the hopes and expectations of happiness: but, as there are mansions sufficient for you in another state, you may with confidence and assurance, hope for the full accomplishment of my promises, notwithstanding all this present world may contrive to act against you. And ye ought also to bear patiently my departure from you at this time; since I only leave you to open the portals of those eternal habitations, where I shall be ever with you, and to prepare a place for your reception: after which I will return and take you to myself. Nor shall you evermore be separated from me, but continue with me to all eternity, in full participation of my eternal glory and happiness, in the blissful regions of the heavenly Ca naan. You must now surely know the way that leads to these happy seats of immortality, and whither I am going.
However, the disciples, whose minds were not yet fully weaned from the expectations of temporal power and glory, did not understand this discourse of their great and beloved Master. Accordingly, Thomas, replied, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? To which the blessed JESUS answered, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. Imitating my example, and obeying my commands, is the way to arrive at the place whither I am going; name
ly, to my Father's house, and to the enjoyment of his
You then surely have matter sufficient to comfort and support your spirits under the thoughts of my depar ture from you. Ye have abundant reason to believe, that I have power to perform all the promises I have made you, and the design of my departure is actually to perform them. When I am returned to my Father, ye shall soon receive sufficient pledges of my care and remembrance of you: ye shall be endued with power not only to perform the same works ye have seen me do, as healing diseases, giving sight to the blind, casting out devils, and the like, for the conviction of the Jews, but even to do greater things than those; to speak with all kinds of tongues, and to propagate my religion through all the nations of the earth, even amongst the Gentiles.