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which we conform to his instructions. He is not ambitious of personal honours; he does not wish to see men rejoice at his birth, or mourn at the anniversary of his death; for he sought not his own glory; but he is principally desirous that men should obey his precepts, by practising those rules of justice, piety and benevolence which he has given them; for hereby his father is honoured, by whose authority they were delivered, as well as himself; and hereby the happiness of the individual is secured. Every other method of doing honour to Christ is useless parade or solemn mockery. It is professing respect for the master whose commands we despise : for such friends he can have no regard; but to those who show their respect to him by complying with his directions, he will show his love in like manner; not by vain parade, but by substantial acts of kindness. The Father also will love them, and in the favour of both they will enjoy advantages and privileges which it is not easy to calculate; in few words, all the blessings of Providence and redemption, of this life and of the next.
2. The language of Christ upon this occasion affords us consolation in the prospect of death. The events which are daily taking place around us show but too plainly that we must soon die, and be laid in the grave; but, blessed be God, we need not be afraid of this change: because Christ lives, we shall live also. As certainly as our master rose from the dead, so certainly shall all his faithful followers rise likewise; his resurrection is an example and pledge of theirs. The grave will cause but a short interruption to our exist. ence and enjoyments, to be soon followed by a new and endless lifc.
3. The same language which was intended for the consolation of the apostles in the absence of their master, is calculated to console us under the loss of our pious friends; they are gone to the Father, as well as he; not exactly, indeed, in the same way; for in this respect he was privileged above most of his Vol. 2.]
brethren of mankind; but they are committed to the care of the Father; and, safe in his hands, they rest in hope and sleep in Jesus; nay, in that all comprehensive mind, to which the future is like the present, they are already alive; for all live to him. If we loved them, therefore, with true and enlightened affection, we. should rejoice rather than mourn at their removal.
John xv. 1-17. In the last chapter we find Jesus proposing to his disciples to depart from the place where they were, saying, Arise, let us go hence; but, as the evangelist does not mention any removal, it is probable either that he changed his mind, or that something occurred to occasion delay. During this interval he continued his discourse to his disciples, as it is recorded in this and the following chapter.. The dangers with which the apostles were soon to be surrounded would expose them to strong temptations to desert their master and renounce the profession of his religion. To guard them against this apostacy, he represents the advantages which they would derive from their connection with him, by comparing himself to a vine and his dis ciples to the branches.
1. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
I am a vine of the right kind, productive and fruitful, and not a wild vine or a barren one. In like manner he calls himself the true light, the true bread and the good shepherd. “My Father is the husbandman.” He is the proprietor of the vine, who cultivates it in the best manner.
2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.
In the infancy of my religion the insincere professors of it, who join themselves to the body of my dis
ciples, but produce no good fruit, shall be separated from them by my Father, by being exposed to such temptations as they shall not be able to resist, like the traitor Judas; or to such persecutions as they shall not be willing to encounter, which will be the case with many more.
And every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, rather, "pruneth it,” that it may bring forth more fruit.
Those who already bear fruit he will improve by this treatment, in the same manner as the vine dresser renders a productive branch more fruitful by pruning.
3. Ye are now clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
The term clean, as applied to fruit trees, must signify clear from superfluous wood, and the meaning of Christ is the same as if he had said, You are already like pruned branches; that is, through the attention which you have paid to the doctrine that I have taught you, you are ready to produce fruit. He next informs them what it was necessary for them to do, in order to continue fruitful.
4. Abide in me and I in you; continue to profess my religion, and let my doctrine remain in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
A branch cut off from a vine produces no fruit, neither can your virtues flourish, unless you continue connected with me. Christ cannot mean to say that his disciples by forsaking him would become destitute of every virtue, as a branch cut off from a tree is destitute of all fruit; but only that their virtues would not be so flourishing and vigorous in the one case as in
the other, as indeed he explains his meaning in the next verse.
5. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in bim, In whom I dwell by my doctrine, and who professes my religion, the same bringeth forth much fruit ;. for without me, rather, 66 but separated from me,” ye can do nothing; i. e. never bear much fruit.
That these happy effects of an union with Christ are to be attributed to his doctrine, and not to any personal influence exercised over the minds of his disciples, whether ordinary or extraordinary, is evident from what he says, verse the third, Ye are now clean; through the word I have spoken unto you, where the effect is described as produced by his doctrine.
6. If a man abide not in me he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, or, agreeably to the conjecture of Bishop Pearce, " which is withered," and men gather it and cast it into the fire, and it is burnt.
If a man abide not in me he is cast forth as a branch; he is thrown away as a withered branch; that is, he will be treated with the same contempt with which men treat withered branches, which they gather together and burn in the fire. This is generally, I believe, understood to refer to the punishment of the wicked in another life, which is usually represented by fire; but, as the rest of this discourse refers to the present lise, perhaps Christ, by this language, only ineant to express the useless and contemptible situation to which the apostles would be reduced, in the apprehension of the Divine Being, by deserting their Christian profession; agreeably to what he says of them under a different figure, Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savour, it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. Matt. v. 13. On the authority of this verse the Papists have founded the cruel practice of burning heretics, rather than putting them to death in any other way.
7. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask * what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
If you continue to acknowledge me as your master, and if my doctrine be carefully observed by you, your prayers for miraculous powers shall be granted. This promise seems to be the same as that which is made in the fourteenth verse of the last chapter, and must be understood with the like limitation: every request for miraculous powers was to be gratified, so far as complying with it might contribute to the glory of God.
8. Herein is my Father glorified, rather, “ This is the will of my Father t,” that ye bear much fruit and be my disciples.
Jesus had hitherto recommended to his disciples a steady adherence to his gospel, from a regard to their personal interest; assuring them that it was necessary to their being enabled to work miracles, and to the excellence and stability of their virtue: he has now recourse to a motive of a superior order, to a regard to God, whose will it was that they should continue his disciples and bear much fruit, and whose favour they would obtain thereby. He next appeals to their re. gard for himself, and informs them that they cannot expect to enjoy his affection, if they do not practise what he recommends.
See Griesbach. † Sce Wakefield and Schleusner.