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my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Our Lord now turns to His Disciples,' and applies to them what He had spoken generally of all; urging on them the duties, showing forth the blessings, which spring from such an union. He had put them into a state of salvation, and He bids them abide therein. He repeats what He had pronounced before when He had washed their feet. Can we fail in all this to see allusion to that great Gospel ordinance and Sacrament of initiation into Christ's Church; who also "gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word?"3 And as they whom He thus pronounced clean were to "abide” in Him, and to "go and bring forth fruit,"-so should we, who are baptized, continually mortify all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceed in all virtue, and godliness of living. But let us bear in mind that every act of wilful sin tends to weaken this union, and unrepented sin finally dissolves it; while every earnest prayer, each act of loving obedience, tends to root us more firmly in Christ our Lord. In this exhortation, "Abide in me," urged no fewer than five times in this place, we may see allusion to that case of apostasy which had already occurred. The Lord too may have had in view the temptations coming upon the Church to fall away from grace given; to think apart from Him to bring forth fruit, and regenerate a corrupt world. Therefore He adds, "Without me," that is, severed from me," "ye can do nothing." To think to bring forth fruit, acceptable to God, independently of Christ, careless of being united to Him,-what is it but like children to plant the ground with severed shoots and plucked-off flowers? But withered
In the original there is a connection to be noted between the words rendered "taketh away," "beareth," and "clean."
2 St. John xiii. 10.
3 Compare Augustine's famous saying (in S. Jo. Tr. lxxxi. 3): "Take away the Word, and what is the water but water? Add the Word to the
Element, and it becomes a Sacrament; the Word as it were made visible." See The Christian Year (Holy Baptism): "What sparkles in that lucid flood, &c." 4 V. 16 below.
The Ministration of Public Baptism of Infants. St. John xvii. 17. Hos. xiv. 8; Phil. i. 11.
leaves, or dry and decaying wood, is all they find on the morrow.1 The Lord mentions one direct result of this abiding in Him,-their prayers should be answered abundantly. And He adds the final cause of their fruitfulness, the glory of the Father. How constantly the Divine Son, when He became man, set this object before Him! If we be His Disciples indeed,3 we shall do likewise."
THE FRIENDS OF CHRIST.
St. John xv. 9-11.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
The Son's love to His own is like the Father's love to Him; in degree at least, if not in kind. It is divine, and so perfect; infinite, everlasting. Constant in our love to Him, we cannot but continue in His love. The branches must abide in the Vine; the Christian abide in Christ. Loving Him, or, which is in effect the same thing, keeping His commandments,-this is to abide in Him. Disobedience, neglect of His commandments, in the end severs us from the Vine, separates us from Christ. "But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." "I love them," saith the Divine Wisdom, "that love me." Wherefore" beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the
11 St. John ii. 28.
2 St. John ix. 31; xiv. 13, 14; xvi. 23, 24; 1 St. John iii. 22; v. 14.
St. John viii. 31.
St. Matt. v. 16.
The phrase in the original of v. 10 varies somewhat from that of v. 9. • St. John xiv. 21, 23.
love of God." Here is a comparison of the measure of Christ's love to us ;-it is like the Father's love to Him. And here too is a comparison of the measure of our obedience to Christ; it is to be like His obedience to the Father. Though loved with an everlasting love,' yet by His obedience He won the Kingdom for Himself, and opened it to us. He speaks too of joy when they were in the very midst of sorrow. For what joy is comparable to the consciousness of fidelity; the feeling that we have fulfilled our mission; when a man can say, with the testimony of a good conscience, Thank God, I have done my duty?2 Death hath no terrors for any such. Thus might the Disciples share the Master's joy.3 Thus should they, abiding in Him, walking even as He walked, find His joy abiding in them. Thus should their cup of joy be gradually filled.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xv. 12-17.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go
1 St. John xvii. 24.
2 "O righteous doom, that they who
Pleasure their only end,
Of duty only taking heed,
Find pleasure by the way."-Abp.
3 St. John iii. 29; xvi. 24; xvii. 13; Phil. ii. 2; 1 St. John i. 4; 2 St. John 12.
1 St. John ii. 6. The Disciple echoes the Master's words.
"It is the same word in the Greek which is variously rendered in the E. V., "abide," "continue," "remain."
and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.
The Lord repeats1 once more His new commandment. He calls it "My commandment," because He it was who brought it out of obscurity into prominence, and illustrated it by His own example. This is the great commandment, which suggests and comprehends all the rest. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law." If we love not, can we be true disciples of the Lord of love? 2 Glancing now at its highest exhibition, the Lord here intimates the approaching sacrifice of Himself! Here too we are taught who are the Friends of Christ. In that country and in those times, when the institution of slavery, which is doomed to fall before the spread of Christianity, was universal,-the Lord's words and illustration here would have a special significance. No longer should they be in any sense as slaves, but be promoted to the position of friends. The Lord had been revealing to them "the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven." He had been treating them as no master was wont to treat a slave. And lest they should be puffed up with pride, so as to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, He reminds them that this position of privilege is owing, not to themselves, but to Him. And reverting to the Allegory going before, He reminds them of the end wherefore all this was done. They were planted in the Church, and advanced to that
1 St. John xiii. 43.
2 St. John xiii. 35; Eph. v. 2; 1 St. John iii. 16, 23; iv. 11.
3 "A difficulty has been unnecessarily found in this verse, because St. Paul cites it as a nobler instance of love, that Christ died for us when we were enemies. But manifestly here the example is from common life, in which if a man did lay down his life, it would naturally be for his friends; and would be, and is cited as, the greatest example of love .. Our Lord does not assert of Himself that
He laid down His life only for his friends. . . but puts forward this side of His love as a great and a practical example for his followers."-Alford. Lampe recites the classic instances, Alcestis for Admetus, Pylades for Orestes, Pythias for Damon, Gracchus for his wife, Terence for Brutus, Codrus for the Athenians, Menaceus for the Thebans; Curtius, Mutius, and the two Decii, for the Romans.
The original word means, “I have placed, or appointed." Compare 1 Cor. xiv. 28.
foremost place in it, that they might go and bring forth fruit; fruit, which like lasting work, might abide1 in the day of declaration. Here seems also reference to their mission, the conversion of the world. Connected with this is that privilege of prayer, to which, in connection with their abiding in Him, He has already adverted. He had chosen and called them to the task of converting a world, and to the privilege of asking boundless blessings from above.* And again He returns to love. This is the circle in which He moves; the centre in which all the lines of grace and duty and blessing meet. Above He had said, "This is my commandment: "5 here he says, " These things I command you, that ye love one another." There it was one thing: here it seems many things. But it is in truth all one and the same thing. The commandment is manifold. Love is one thing, yet how many things are included in it!" For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." "
THE WORLD'S HATE.
St. John xv. 18, 19.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
From the Kingdom of Heaven, the Lord turns to the kingdom of the prince of this world; from heavenly virtue to earthly, even to hell-born, tempers; from love to hate. He had spoken to His Disciples of the love He bare to them,