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several noted passages in the Prophets wherein the Vineyard and the Vine are made to represent the state of the Jewish Church of old. The Vineyard also is made large use of in our Lord's parables. And in that country where the sun is so powerful, and the soil so fertile, it is common to see not just a solitary vine here and there, clambering up the walls of a house, to which it is trained with constant care, but whole fields of them; vineyards common as our orchards, growing often in all the wild luxuriance of nature; huge clusters of large and luscious grapes, ripening beneath the powerful beam of an Eastern sun. This illustration therefore would in the East be better understood, and seem still simpler than with us. Christ is the true Vine, not a typical one. He is not shadow, but substance. Not as that goodly Vine, graven above the Temple gate, nor as those plants which met the eye everywhere in that fertile land, nor yet as those sweet similitudes of the Scripture, signifying good things to come; but all these and more; even the embodiment of these; the true Vine by which the prophecies and types that went before concerning Him were all fulfilled ; the very Vine. So our Lord elsewhere calls Himself “the true Bread,"3 and He is called in the beginning of this Gospel “ the true Light.”. Here are three points of comparison. Christ is the Vine, the Father is the Husbandman, believers are the branches. For this latter clause is not to be confined to those eleven to whom it was first addressed. It refers to the whole Church of Christ, to all who are by Baptism grafted into that Stock of the Second Adam. He tells us what the Father is, and what He does. The barren branches He rejects;? the fruit-bearing branches He
Ps. lxxx.; Is. v.; Jer. ii.; full.”—Abp. Trench, Synonyms of the Eze. xix. Sce also that ancient fable N. T. p. 33. in Judges ix.
5 Gerhard remarks that the Church 2 “ The verri Vine," so Wyclif in
also is sometimes called a Vine. For his version renders it.
the Church consists of Christ and His 3 St. John vi. 32, 33, 35.
members. So the mystical Body of * St. John i. 9. “ Not thereby Christ is now the Church, now Cbrist denying that Israel also was God's Himself. 1 Cor. xii. 2. vine .... but only affirming that 6 Art. xxvii. none but He realized this name, and Not all at once. St. Luke xiii. all which this uame implier, to the 6-9.
1 E. 9.,
corrects, causing them to bring forth the more fruit. “Ye are God's husbandry.”1 As long as we are in the Vineyard of this world, we must expect the constant application of the pruning-hook. For not all the branches in the Vine are profitable. Not all remain, and reward the care of the Heavenly Husbandman. In a sense they are all in the Vine, both bad and good; but not all strike their roots deep into that life-giving stock into which they have been grafted. Not all bring forth the fruit of good-living. Not every baptized person leads all the rest of his life according to that beginning. If they fail to bring forth fruit, they are dead; and if dead, they must in time drop off. Their state is described below. It is as the Prophet predicted, “When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off : the women come, and set them on fire." 3 It is as the Apostle declares, “That which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." 4
THE SAME SUBJECT —continued.
St. John xv.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine ; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. am the vine, ye are the branches : He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered ; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein
11 Cor. iii. 9; Is. v. 1.3: ; xxvii.
3 Is. xxvii, 11; Eze. xv.
* Heb. vi. 8; St. Matt. xii. 24-30, 37-42.
2 V. 6.
is 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 bad
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,” 4—50 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 siii. 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;
* V. 16 below.
5 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. 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, 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.” Where
“ fore“ beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the 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
11 St. John ii. 28.
2 St. John ix. 31 ; xiv. 13, 14 ; xvi. 23, 24; 1 St. John iii. 22 ; v. 14.
3 St. John viii. 31.
4 St. Matt. v. 16.
5 The phrase in the original of v. 10 varies somewhat from that of v. 9.
6 St. John xiv. 21, 23.
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 ? ? Death hath
terrors for any such. Thus might the Disciples share the Master's joy. Thus should they, abiding in Him, walking even as He walked,“ find His joy abidings 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
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
that · St. John xvii. 24.
3 St. John iii. 29; xvi. 24; xvii. ? "O righteous doom, that they who 13; Phil. ii. 2; 1 St. John i. 4; 2 make
St. John 12.
+ 1 St. John ii. 6. The Disciple Ordering the whole life for its sake,
echoes the Master's words. Miss that whereto they tend !
5 It is the same word in the Greek “ But they who bid stern duty lead, Content to follow, they
which is variously rendered in the Of duty only taking heed,
E. V., “abide." "continue,” “reFind pleasure by the way."-Abp.
main." Trench. 2 Tim. iv. 6-8.