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Ministers of Christ above all others need this Book, and the help of the Spirit in their use of it, both for their own sanctification, and also to qualify them to become teachers of the world at large. Thus will they give no opening for Satan to deceive them, or for the enemies of the truth to gainsay or resist. He is the genuine imitator of the Apostles, who sets the Sacred Volume constantly before him; desiring to have his mind, heart, life and doctrine visibly inscribed with these words, HOLINESS TO THE LORD!
CHRIST SANCTIFYING HIMSELF, FOR THE SAKE
OF HIS DISCIPLES.
John xvii. 18, 19. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Jesus, being shortly about to suffer, introduces here an allusion to his death. He had just spoken of the sanctification of his disciples. He had prayed the Father to confirm them in holiness. He now adopts the word, “ Sanctify," in another sense; as denoting the solemn Consecration of a person to some high duty. “I sanctify myself”— that is, I devote myself to the death, which I have to suffer for the sins of the world. And this he did (as he declares,) for the sake of his disciples, who
were so dear to him. He performed the entire work committed to him on earth, completing it by his Crucifixion. And all this he did, that he might become to his disciples and to all his followers, both a Pattern and a Surety.
1. First, Christ was a Pattern to his disciples : and consequently a marked similarity subsisted between Him and them. He was sent by the Father; they, by Him. He was set apart, separated, and sanctified for his mediatorial work: sent forth from the happy place of his abode, the bosom of his Father; into a benighted, malignant, and ungrateful world. So were these eleven separated from their brethren, their families, their home and customary pursuits; to enter upon a totally new undertaking, for which they had had no training, previously to their being called by Christ: and they were to teach, correct, and contend with the same world, which had first rejected their Master. Christ at his baptism was anointed to his work by the power of the Holy Ghost, descending like a Dove, and resting upon him: the Disciples too were to be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. Their commission from Christ, after the resurrection, is thus described by this Evangelist : “ As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Christ wrought many miracles : so did they. Christ suffered many things, both from his own people, and from the Jews : so did the disciples. Christ finished
the work, which his · Father gave him to do, by dying on the Cross: the Apostles also were preserved faithful unto death. Jesus sat down triumphant, at the right hand of the Majesty on high: to them in like manner he declared, “ I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.”—Thus were the Disciples made a true copy of their divine Pattern, Christ Jesus.
2. But in this part of his prayer, our Lord speaks of himself in another most interesting character; namely, as consecrated to be Surety for his disciples. “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” And this is applicable not to the disciples alone; but to all mankind. Christ is set, not only for our example: He is also our sacrifice for sin. He is both High Priest and victim. He hath opened a new and living way for our justification, as well as our sanctification. He is “ of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”
Possibly the Apostles, on hearing this part of Christ's prayer, would catch the force of it more readily than we do; because they were familiar with the idea of priests, who offered up sacrifice daily. They would remember also the solemn annual sacrifice made by the High Priest, who offered first for his own sins, and then for the people's. We, however, have one advantage over the disciples; inasmuch as we behold these types actually verified by our Saviour. We now can speak of it,
as a fact accomplished, “ Christ, our Passover, is slain for us.” “ Through the eternal Spirit he hath offered himself without spot to God.” As the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, he is “ consecrated for evermore.” “We are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
What an intimate union is effected, by faith, between Christ and all his genuine disciples ! His character is infused into them; and his merit is imputed unto them. Thus “both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Blessed Jesus, what condescension, what sympathy is thine! To the feeblest believers, no less than to these renowned Apostles, thou dost say, “ Behold, my brethren !”
In the next part of this prayer, we shall find our Saviour pouring forth (as it were) abundant incense : interceding for all believers in every age of the Church. Ere we proceed, let us pause a moment to reflect on the efficacy of his prayer, in its primary and immediate reference to the eleven Apostles.-By the power of his intercession, and by that alone, they enjoyed their standing and their continuance in grace. As they affectionately pressed on their Master, virtue went forth from him, and strengthened them all. Without this, which of them could have remained steadfast ?
Not one! Peter's character must have shrunk into hopeless timidity: James and John would never have been honoured to be baptized with their Master's baptism, or to drink of his cup: Matthew would have gone back to his worldly gains : and even Nathanael must have lost his guileless simplicity! But Christ prayed for them, and taught them how to pray for themselves in his Name. He consecrated himself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. He migbtily upheld them; and they fainted not.
OUR LORD INTERCEDES FOR BELIEVERS OF
DISCIPLES MAY BE ONE.
John xvii. 20—23. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast nved them as thou hast loved me. Thus far Jesus had named only his disciples : but how far his intercession was designed to reach, he now shows by words of very comprehensive import.
The doctrine of Christ Crucified, was to be preached from generation to generation : and the