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in heart.” “ Put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind.” “ In honour preferring one another.” “ Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.” “ Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Be clothed with humility.” “In love serve one another.”
Our Lord had often seen what was the weak side of his disciples : he had seen it this very evening: each one of them desired to be chief. Therefore, by his own example, Jesus gives a check to all self-seeking, self-preference, and self-exaltation. Some are proud of their birth: some of their abilities : some of their supposed, superior merit: others of their wealth, or their comeliness, or their repute among men. Disciples who yield to this spirit of self-importance, grow unsociable, unfriendly, distant; and even morose, peevish, and overbearing. They greatly dishonour the Gospel; and become not merely useless, but sometimes even pernicious members of the visible Church. Let us pray then for the Spirit of Christ. Let us cultivate the retiring and unostentatious fruits of the Spirit: such as goodness, gentleness, meekness and peaceableness. When it can be done without impropriety, let us aim at taking the lowest place. And if superiority in any thing be our ambition, let us strive to excel in all serviceable, considerate, and kind attentions to the wants of others; especially by succouring the pious Poor, by being friendly to strangers, and by relieving the persecuted and afflicted, for Christ's sake.
KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE.
John xiii. 17. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. This short sentence of our Lord should lead us to inquire-What do we know; and, How far do we carry our knowledge into practice ?
When Jesus says, “ These things,” he probably referred to the lesson on humility, which he had just taught his disciples. Humility is the first step in religion: it is the ground on which all other Christian graces must be built. Christ begins his Beatitudes with it: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
1. Have we understood these things? Have we felt how wretched and miserable, how poor and blind we are as sinners? And have we come by faith to Jesus, for pardon and remission of sins past; for the renewal of our hearts in holiness; and for the transformation of our souls into the image of God ? Have we been taught what it is to walk by faith ; what it is to walk “not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;" what it is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to walk in love as He hath loved us?
2. If we know these things, are we happy doers of them? For what is knowledge without practice ? A faith without works is no better than the faith of devils. Following Christ, without imitating him, is only self-deception and hypocrisy. It was the sin
of Judas. It can only end in Christ's saying, “I know you not: depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.” Suppose we understood all mysteries, and all knowledge; yet if we were without charity, it would profit us nothing. It would only turn to our greater condemnation at the last.
Oh, that this were deeply felt in the Church, and by each individual member of the Church of Christ; especially by his Ministers; to whom (as of old to his disciples) the Lord still says, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them!” We are frequently prone to neglect those virtues and graces, which are a genuine imitation of Christ, and which thrive best in the shade; while we admire those gaudy and glittering gifts and talents, which will prove of little worth in a dying hour.
To “do these things,” which Christ by his teaching and example recommends to us, we must first of all give our hearts and wills to him. “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.” For this end, there must be much prayer: we must pray, not now and then, but constantly; that the bent of our hearts may be, to love and keep God's holy commandments. And as we daily learn how we ought to walk and to please God, so should our obedience abound more and more. We should increasingly delight in his will. The life of Christ should be our daily example: his temper, his mind, his Spirit, should be daily wrought into our inner man. To promote the glory of our heavenly Father and the good of others, should be our ruling
motive: a motive, to work secretly, and to bring bring forth fruit openly.
The happiness of this state consists, principally, in that freedom of communion, which a sincere soul enjoys with the Lord. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Even now, they in some measure behold his glory, and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory. This happiness a hypocrite cannot know: and a selfdeceiver, an inconsistent, careless professor, if he fancy himself to have it, will nevertheless find his confidences fail him in the hour of trial. But a sound-hearted believer can assure his heart before God: for God himself gave his faithful servant that soundness of heart.
Another point of his happiness consists in this; that he has confidence and boldness in dealing with - men. He can speak to them with affectionate plainness; and they, in return, trust him. This quality is peculiarly needed by a Christian Minister. Consistency of character gives strength and authority to all his exhortations and labours.
Thus a faithful believer has power with God, and with man. He has indeed nothing to boast : far from it! But in Jesus and in his words, he has all he needs, for present and everlasting happiness.
THE REJECTION OF JUDAS ISCARIOT.
John xiii. 18—30. · I speak not of you all : I know whom I have chosen : but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. There is a certain point, beyond which God will no longer show forbearance towards wicked men ! Sinners unhappily despise and abuse his patience;