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66 It is
the chastening visitation, and able to say with the Shunammite of old,5 well,” cannot yet discern that it was love which held the rod ; to you, my afflicted brethren, your gracious Redeemer at this day, speaks, as he here spoke, to Peter, 6. What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”
if you are a child of God, you will look back not only with contentment, but even with gratitude, upon those dark and trying dispensations ; in many instances it will, I doubt not, be vouchsafed to you even here to distinguish that God has done all things wisely and mercifully, and that some of your most painful trials have been among your choicest blessings. But should this not be given to you, should you be doomed to pass not only through this pilgrimage state, but even out of it, in utter ignorance of the motive of many. of your severest chastenings, rest your
5 2 Kings iv. 26.
hearts, in their most troubled hours upon this gracious declaration of your Lord, 66 THOU SHALT KNOW HEREAFTER. His intentions will not be for ever thus hidden from his children. In infancy the child takes much from his father upon trust; as he grows up, it is the parent's delight to explain to him every act and every word. So will your heavenly Father also deal with you. All shall one day be made plain to you, and you shall see that He who “never willingly afflicts or grieves the children of men,” has not laid upon you one cross, has not inflicted one pang, which he could with safety to your best interests, or to his own glory, have ventured to withhold. Surely it will bring an increase, even to the joys at God's right hand, to trace out the paths by which he carried you thither, although you may behold them covered with thorns, and moistened with your tears.
But we must return to the incident
before us. Peter, unconvinced and unsatisfied by our Lord's explanation, suffered the natural impetuosity of his temper to render him even more peremptory than before.
" He saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Here is at once the key to the mystery before us : Jesus literally washes the disciples' feet, to signify to them most impressively that they need him, spiritually to wash and purify their hearts.
My brethren, a more important declaration was never made by the Saviour of the world than that with which he here addresses you.
"If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” You may be the members of the visible church of Christ, you may bear the name of Christ, you may be baptized with a Christian baptism, and attend upon Christian ordinances; but if, in the sense here alluded to, you have not been
washed by Christ, that is, cleansed from the guilt of your sins by his blood, and
, purified from the power of them by his Spirit, you have no part in his atoning sacrifice now, you will have no place in his kingdom hereafter. Most solemnly would I urge this consideration upon your consciences, as one of the most deeply important that can engage them. Thousands are living in grievous error upon this point, and I dare not hope, that none of you are among the number. If there be but one, then let me obtain his serious attention while I thus address him. You believe that you are safe, because you are externally a member of a truly scriptural church, and a regular attendant upon her valuable services. As the handmaid of Christ your church is invaluable, and she is well able, under the divine blessing, instrumentally, to guide your path, and to support your footsteps, from the time when she first receives
into her fold, “a child of God and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven," until the hour when she speaks her parting benediction, and returns her 'hearty thanks
to him in whom you have believed, that he has taken you to himself. But if you put her in the place of your Redeemer, if you are seeking that at the hands of the servant which the Master, and the Master only, can supply, you will find too late, that although like “the mixed multitude," who went up with the true Israel of God out of the land of their captivity, you may
have swelled the ranks and echoed the prayers of God's people, you have neither part, nor lot, in the purchased inheritance.
“If I wash thee not,”are the words of our Lord. 6 The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin :"7 be assured that he has not“washed you from your sins in his own blood,” unless
you with a truly penitent heart, humbly con
6 Exod. xii. 38. 71 John i. 7. 8 Rev. i. 5.
have gone to
gone to Him