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SERMON XV.

CHRIST LOVES HIS CHILDREN TO THE END.

SERMON I.

JOHN XIII. 1.

Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them

unto the end."

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The period with which this chapter commences, is placed, by judicious commentators, immediately before the last passover, at which our Saviour was present. The declaration made in the text is intended, as I apprehend, to refer to all the events, and to all the discourses contained in the subsequent parts of the book. By most of them it is directly illustrated, and, by the whole taken together, it is placed in the strongest light conceivable.

Having loved,” that is, having once begun to love, indicating, that placing his affection was decisive with regard to its continuance, and that it was insusceptible of decay or termination.

“ His own, which were in the world.” This phraseology teaches us that they were his property, chosen for himself, and destined to his use and service. · All things are his : for they were made by him, and for him. But these were his in a pe

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culiar manner, and are here intentionally distinguished as standing in a nearer relation to him than any thing else which this world contains. His property in them is peculiar, both in kind and degree, and his interest in them of a superior nature.

At the same time, they were still in the world, and were not numbered with those who, being his own property, had ascended to heaven. The objects of his love here specified, were not “ the spirits of just men made perfect.” They were still, in greater or less degrees, sinners. They were sanctified only in part, and were but partially attached to him. They had many errors, many follies, and many faults, still remaining, and therefore many things to be blamed and to be forgiven. Their disposition was at times alienated from his interests, and opposed to his precepts. At the best, it was imperfectly conformed to his pleasure. Even the good which they would, or wished to do, at times they did not; and the evil which they would not, they often did, because of the sin still remaining in them. He did not love them, therefore, merely on account of their personal worth, but with views of a more exalted nature. “ He loved them unto the end.” The end here

may,

without violence, be variously understood; and yet the application of the term be strictly just, as well as highly important. From the text thus briefly explained, I derive this doc

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trine :

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Christ loves his children unto the end.

This doctrine I shall illustrate from his conduct towards his apostles. Particularly,

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xv.

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I. He chose them out of the world.
“ Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,"

John
16. They were originally, like ourselves, miserable sinners.
“ In them, that is in their flesh,” as St. Paul testifies of him-
self,“ dwelt no good thing ;” nothing which rendered them
worthy and amiable in his sight; nothing on which he could

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look with approbation. On the contrary, they were enemies to his character, cross, and kingdom. They “ were in the 66 world,” in the moral or worst sense,

" the world that lieth “ in wickedness ;” but, as he informs them in the 16th chapter," he chose them out of the world."

In the same time, they were born of humble lineage, were educated in a very lowly and limited manner, and lived in obscurity and insignificance. It was therefore obvious, that they could be of no consequence to him. He could derive from them neither instruction, property, assistance, nor credit. It was of course impossible that he should have chosen them for his own benefit. Whatever they were to do for him, at any future period, it was indispensable that he should enable them to do it. Their power, their wisdom, nay, the very disposition with which they were to act, must be all derived from him. Even these, then, and the usefulness to which they gave birth, could be no original reasons why he chose them for he could have given exactly the same attributes, and furnished exactly the same usefulness to any others.

In choosing them, he covenanted with them, although they perhaps knew nothing of the fact, to supply all their wants; so far as should be necessary for his service, or their good. From this time he took their wants upon himself, and the supplies of them; their sins, and the atonement of them ; their sufferings, and the necessary relief. A series of offices, infinitely necessary to them, and infinitely benevolent on his part, he now began ; in which he displayed unlimited condescension, and in which, through an interminable progress, his love was to be more and more unfolded to them for

ever.

II. In teaching them the doctrines and precepts of his religion.

The benevolent, and, to them indispensable office of an instructor, he assumed from the beginning, and continued it until his ascension. Nay, he resumed it after this wonderful event; and, although he had finally left the world as a place of residence, he sent down his Spirit to dwell with them, to

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guide them into all the truth, and to bring all things to their minds, whatsoever he had said to them in the way of remembrance.

In his instructions he began with the plainest and most obvious precepts, and such as would least violate those which, without an abuse of language may, perhaps, be called honest prejudices. “I have many things,” he observed in chapter xvi. 12. “ to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." This rule he followed through his life ; unfolding the truth as they were able to bear it, and wearing away, imperceptibly, one of their errors after another. When the disciples of John asked him, “ Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft; but thy

disciples fast not ?" he replied, “ No man putteth a piece “ of new cloth unto an old garment ; for that which is put in 66 to fill it

up is taken from the garment, and the rent is made

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else " the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bot“ tles perish. But men put new wine into new bottles, and “ both are preserved.” He found his disciples extremely ignorant; slow of apprehension ; ready on every occasion to fall into gross mistakes, and perpetually prone to return to their former prejudices. Like their countrymen, they expected a temporal Messiah; and, like them, hoped to obtain high offices in his kingdom. No instructions could eradicate this silly expectation from their minds until the day of Pentecost. They were also slow of heart to believe what he taught, and what the prophets taught before him. Often was he obliged to reprove them for their want of faith, and their reluctant belief of his own precepts. Yet he never reproached them; he never ridiculed them; he never exhibited to them a single specimen of unkindness. On the contrary, he treated even their prejudices with tenderness; and gave them “ line upon “ line, and precept upon precept;" exhibiting himself in these respects as a glorious pattern for every succeeding instructor.

III. He bore patiently with all their faults.
These, as you well know, were numerous. They were

committed in the face of his instructions, and in the face of his miracles. They were, therefore, direct testimonies of shameful unbelief, and well merited severe reprehension. Yet, though they were often repeated, he never lost his equanimity, nor his tenderness. When there arose a reasoning among them which should be the greatest, instead of reproaching them for this foolish contemptible pride, he took a child, and set him by him, and said unto them, “ Whosoever shall receive this “ child in my name receiveth me; and whosoever receiveth

me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among

you all shall be great.” When Peter had thrice denied him, and had mightily enhanced his wickedness by cursing and swearing, how wonderfully gentle and affectionate was the reproof administered to him by the Saviour ? “ And the Lord “ turned,” says St. Luke, “and looked upon Peter; and " Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said “ unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” What an example is here furnished of patience and tenderness to us!

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IV. The same spirit was strongly discovered in the action, which St. John hath subjoined as an illustration of it, in the verses immediately following the text.

“ Jesus knowing,” says the apostle, “ that the Father had

given all things into his hands, and that he was come from “ God, and went to God, he riseth from supper, and laid aside “ his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself. After " that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the “ disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith “ he was girded.” Remember that this was the Redeemer of mankind. Remember that it was done with the consciousness that he came from God, and returned to God; and that the Father had put all things into his hand. Call to mind the humble nature of the office itself. Forget not for whom it was done. They were poor peasants, of no consideration in the country where they lived. The office was the most lowly which is customarily performed for man. He who performed it was great and glorious beyond a parallel.

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