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not follow me now: but thou wilt follow me afterwards.
By this answer to the question of Peter, Jesus sea cretly intimates that he had not courage to follow him at present, by exposing himself to death, but that he should acquire courage sufficient hereafter. Peter, however, did not understand this hint, or could not persuade himself that it was well founded.
37. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
So he imagined himself willing to do; but Jesus was better acquainted with his timidity and want of courage.
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,
This is usually understood of the crowing of a fowl : but another interpretation has been suggested, which is much more probable. Jerusalem was a military station, and a guard of Roman soldiers kept watch during the whole night, but was relieved every three hours; at nine o'clock at night, at twelve, at three in the morning and at six. At each of these watches a trumpet was sounded, and that which was sounded at three o'clock in the morning, when the cock usually begins to crow, was called the cock-crowing, and that which was sounded at six in the morning, the sea cond cock. When Christ, therefore, foretold that before the cock crew Peter should have thrice denied him, he meant to say that before three o'clock that morning he should be three times guilty of that crime. Considered in this light, it must be regarded as a very
remarkable prophecy, the fulfilment of which must greatly strengthen the faith of Peter and the other apostles *
1. Let Christians ever keep in mind this new commandment of their dying master, to love one another as he has loved them; and let them endeavour to comply with it. For this purpose let them recollect what the conduct of Jesus has been towards his disciples : his love to them did not consist merely in an internal affection or in words; in calling them by affectionate names, his brethren, his friends and his little children; but was manifested by substantial acts of beneficence, by his undertaking the dangerous office of teaching a new religion for the benefit of mankind, by his instructing his disciples with indefatigable industry, and by persevering in his work in the midst of much oppo. sition and the greatest discouragements, not only with the hazard of his life, but with the prospect before him of certain death, and that in the most painful and ignominious form. Such was the love of Jesus lowards his disciples, and then only are we worthy of being called his disciples, when we are prepared to perform the like services, and are ready to make the same sacrifices, for the good of our brethren. As the circumstances of Christians vary with different ages of the world, or with their condition in it in the same age, we inay not be called to exactly the same duties. Sometimes men need to be instructed in truths which they are averse from receiving; sometimes to be cons firmed in those which they have already embraced. Sometimes the wants of the body are most urgent; at other times, those of the mind. The ability to do good likewise varies according to the natural or ac
• See Theological Repository, Vol. vi. p. 104, &c.
quired endowments of men, and the portion of worldly good with which they are furnished; so that some are able to do more and others less : but whatever be the talents with which the disciple of Jesus is furnished, he will zealously exert them in doing good to his brethren, according to his own ability and their wants; whether the naked are to be clothed, or the hungry to be fed; whether those at variance are to be reconciled, the sick and pained to be assisted and accommodated, or the afflicted to be comforted. He who refuses to do good in any of these ways, and confines his regards wholly to himself, is not a disciple of Christ; he is destitute of one quality which is essential to that character-Christian benevolence.
2. Judging by this rule, how great a proportion, alas, of the professed disciples of Jesus will be una christianized! How many are there who attend Christian ordinances, who bear the Christian name, who yet manifest nothing of the spirit of Christ; who are so far from lovin genuine disciples of Jesus, that they hate and injure them; who not only decline to give them assistance, when in want or distress, but refuse to comply with their legal claims. But let such men know that, however they may assume the honourable name of Christians, they do not belong to the body. The great founder of our religion disowns any relation to them; they are of another family, and beá long to another master.
3. Let the confidence of Peter teach us to distrust our best formed resolutions. This confidence led him to make the rash declaration which is here recorded, and afterwards to smite with the sword one of those who came to apprehend his master, and to attend him to the palace of the high priest, where the fear of being himself apprehended and put to death caused him to be guilty of the crime which Jesus had foretold. A prudent distrust of himself would have kept him from all these situations, and saved him from the consequent disgrace and remorse. From his fall let us learn that our truest wisdom lies in caution, in avoiding danger, rather than in exposing ourselves to it. While we pray, Lord keep us from temptation, it becomes us to be careful that we do not rashly run into danger,
John xiv. 1-14. Our Lord having informed his disciples, in the pres ceding chapter, that he should soon be removed from them, their minds were oppressed with dejection at the prospect, although they did not probably understand him to speak of his death. To alleviate their sorrow, he suggests various topics of consolation to them, in this and the following chapters to the end of the seventeenth
1. Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.
The design of these words is to exhort them to rely upon the power of God and the fidelity of Jesus, for the fulfilinent of the promise which he is going to make in the following words.
2. In my Father's house are many mansions.
The idea which the scriptures give us of heaven is sometimes that of a house, and sometimes that of a city above the sky, in which God resides, and where he is surrounded, like a great prince, by the ministers of his court. It is the former of these images that Christ here uses: for he supposes God to occupy a palace, and assures his disciples that there are various aparta ments in it, and therefore places for them as well as himself. Although persuaded that their master, when he departed from the world, would go to God, a consa ciousness of their own inferiority to him might lead them to doubt whether they should follow him to the same place; but if there are various habitations, suited to the different degrees of proficiency which men have made in goodness, as they are here taught to believe, the sincere but imperfect follower of Jesus would have ground for hope, and those who had distinguished themselves by their services might look for a distinguished place.
Behold, I tell you I am going to prepare a place for you, for such I conceive to be the true reading of the passage, being supported by an ancient version *, and the connection of the words : not, as we have it, “ If it were not so I would have told you."
This was an important promise, to which, after his usual manner, he calls their attention, “Behold, I tell you”; and his intention is to assure his disciples that they need not mourn for his absence: for as, in a company of travellers, some one went before to the lodging-place, to prepare it for their reception, so he was going before them, to prepare for their use those mansions of which he had been speaking. In what this preparation will consist he has not told us, and therefore any thing we can suggest must be mere conjecture.
3. And, when I have been and prepared a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also.
Christ here refers to the general resurrection of the dead, and informs his disciples, who were dejected at the prospect of his departure from them, that at some future period he should return, to put them in possession of those mansions which he was now going to prepare, by which means they would be placed near
* See Wakefield's Note. Vol. 2.]