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all he uttered! How did benevolence pour her choicest stores in all his actions! Ye rulers of Israel, did ever compassion look so amiably soft, as in those melting tears which swelled his eyes, and poured down his cheeks, to soften your hard and stony hearts? Was it possible for patience to assume a form so lovely, as that sweetly winning conduct, that endured the contradiction of sinners; which besought the guilty not to die, and entreated the obstinate to be reconciled.
The apostate Judas was thus bargaining with the chief priests and elders to betray his Master, while the benevolent JEsus was preparing to celebrate the passover before he suffered with his disciples, He was now going to finish the mighty work for which he came into the world; and therefore, would not neglect to fulfil the smallest part of the law of Moses. He therefore, sent two of his disciples into the city, to prepare a lamp, and make it ready for eating the passover; telling them that they should meet a man, bearing a pitcher of water, who would conduct them to his house, and shew them a large upper room furnished, where they were to make ready for him. He was willing, in this last transaction, to convince his disciples, that he knew every thing which should befal him, that his sufferings were all premeditated by the Almighty; and that they were all submitted unto voluntarily on his OWn account. ... • *
As soon as night approached, JEsus left Bethany; and every thing being ready for him, at the time he entered into the city, he sat down at the appointed hour. But knowing that his sufferings was now near, he told his disciples in the most affectionate manner, that he had greatly longed to eat the passover with them before he suffered, in order to shew them the strongest proofs of his love. These proofs were to give them a pattern of humility and charity, by washing their feet: instructing them in the nature of his death, as a propia- . tory sacrifice; instituting the sacrament in commemo.
ration of his sufferings; comforting them by the tender discourses recorded in John xiv, xv, xvi. in which he gave them a variety of excellent directions, together with many gracious promises, and recommending them to the kind protection of his heavenly Father: With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Luke xxii. 15, 16.
After our Lord had thus spoken, he arose from the table, laid aside his garments like a servant, and, with all the circumstances of an humble minister, washed the feet of his disciples without distinction, though one of them, Judas Iscariot, was a monster of impiety, that they might at once behold a conjunction of charity and humility, of self-denial and indifference, represented by a person glorious beyond expression, in their great Lord and Master. He chose to wash their feet rather than their head, that he might have an opportunity of displaying a more humble posture, and a more striking instance of his charity. . The omnipotent Son of the Father lays every thing aside, that he may serve his followers; heaven stoops to earth, one abyss calls upon another; and the miseries of man, which were almost infinite, are exceeded by a mercy equal to the immensity of the Almighty. He deferred this ceremony, which was a customary civility paid to honourable strangers, at the beginning of their feasts, that it might be preparatory to the second, which he intended should be a feast to the whole world, when all the fol. lowers of the blessed Jesus should have an opportunity of feeding on his flesh, and drinking his blood in a spiritual manner.
Peter modestly declined it when our blessed Saviour came unto him; but his Master told him, that if he refused to submit implicitly to all his orders, he could have no part with him. On which Peter cried out, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
But Jesus told him, that the person who had bathed himself, had no reason to wash any part of his body except his feet, which he might have dirtied by walking from the bath. In order to teach us, that persons converted do not stand in need of a total change of mind, but only to cleanse themselves from the particular sins they constantly commit through infirmity; for it is abundantly evident that our blessed Saviour spake of a spiritual washing, because he added, ye are clean, but not all. Ye are men of virtuous and holy dispositions; but not all: I well know that one of you will betray Tll C.
After our blessed Saviour had finished this menial service, he asked his disciples if they knew the meaning of what he had done, as the action was purely em. blematical ? You truly, added he, style me Master and Lord, for I am the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world: but if I, your Master and your Lord, have condescended to wash your feet, you surely ought to perform, with the utmost pleasure, the humblest of fices of charity to one another. I have set you a pattern of humility, and I recommend it to you.
Certainly nothing can more effectually shew us the necessity of this heavenly temper of mind, than its being recommended to us by so great an example: a recommendation, which, in the present circumstances, was particularly seasonable; for the disciples having heard their great Master declare, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, their minds were filled with ambitious thoughts. Upon which our blessed Saviour added, ‘Ye need not be ashamed to follow my example in this particular; for no servant can think it beneath him, to condescend to perform those actions his Lord has done before him: and therefore, if he knows his duty, he will be happy if he practises it.’ Our blessed Saviour added, that though he had called them to the apostleship, and well knew the secret dispositions of every heart, before he chose them, they need not be
surprised that any one among them should prove a traitor, as it was done, that the scripture might be ful
filled: He that eateth bread with me, hath listed up his
heel against me. John xiii. 18.
Our dear Lord being now to be but a short time with his disciples, thought proper to take his farewel of them which he did in the most affectionate manner, These melancholy tidings greatly troubled them. They were very unwilling to part with so kind a friend, so dear a master, so wise a guide, and so profitable a teacher; especially as they thought they should be left in a forlorn condition, a poor and helpless prey to the rage and hatred of a blind and malicious generation. They seemed willing to die with their Lord, if that might be accepted; J/hy cannot I follow thee & I will lay down my life for thy sake, was the language of one, and even all of them : but the thoughts of a disconsolate separation they could not support.
Their dear Lord and Master seeing them thus dejected, endeavoured to cheer their drooping spirits; Let not your hearts be troubled. Listen attentively to what I am going to deliver for your consolation: I go to prepare a place for you...And if I go and prepare a place jor you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also. A reviving admonition They were one day to meet again their dear, their affectionate Master, in a place where they should live together to all eternity. But death makes so vast a distance between friends, and the disciples then knew so little of a future state, that they seemed to doubt whether they should ever after parting, meet their great Redeemer. They neither knew the place where he was going, nor the way that lead to his kingdom. Lord, said they, we know not whither thou goest? and how can we know the way # In answer to this question, he told them, that he was the way, the truth, and the life as if he had said, the only way of following me to the regions of happiness, is by duly observing
my doctrines and precepts which I have delivered to you from the Almighty. He added, that by his removing to heaven, he would there intercede for them with his heavenly Father, and send the Holy Ghost to comfort them from thence.
However, lest all these arguments should not be suf. ficient to quiet their minds, he had still another, which could not fail of success: If ye loved me says he, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; intimating that he would consider it as a proof of their love to him, if they ceased to mourn. They doubtless thought, that by grieving for his death, they expressed their love for their Master; and it should seem strange, that our Saviour should put so contrary an interpretation on their friendly sorrow, or require so unnatural a thing of them, as to rejoice at his departure. What! (might they think) shall we rejoice at so amiable a friend’s removal from us; cr can we be glad that he retires and leaves us in this vale of misery 2 No, it is impossible? the human heart, on so melancholy an occasion, has no disposition to rejoice. Our blessed Saviour, therefore, adds this reason to solve the seeming paradox, because he was going to the Father; that is, he was going to ascend to the right hand of infinite power, from whence he would send them all the assistance they could desire. It must not, however, be supposed, that our Saviour meant by these words, that his disciples should not be concerned at his death, or that that they could not love him unless they expressed a visible joy on this occasion: that would, indeed, have been a hard interpretation of their grief; he well knew their grief flowed from love, and that if their love had not been strong, their sorrow had been much less. Indeed, their Master was fully convinced that love was the occasion of their sorrow; and, for that reason, he used these arguments to mitigate it.
Our Lord did not intend to initmate, that all sorrow for so worthy a friend, was unlawful, or an unbecoming