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SFCT. clxxiv.

Christ represents himself as the true Vine.

313 Our Lord uttered these words in the near views of a grievous assault from the prince of this world, wbo is the prince of darkness ; but there was no corruption in him to take part with the Ver 30 enemy. Too much, alas, does he find in us to abet his temptations : let us earnestly pray that the grace of Christ may be sufficient for us; and that as his love to the Father engaged him to go through this painful conflict with the tempter, his love to us 31 may make us partakers of his victory. In his name let us set up our banners ; and the powers of hell shall Nee before us.


Christ represents himself under the emblem of a vine, and exhorts his disciples to faith and persevering obediencee. John XV. 1-11.



John XV. 1. I AM the true vine,

and my father is the SOME accident occasioning a little delay behusbandınan.

fore they left the guest-chamber, in which clxxv. they had eaten the passover, our Lord improved the precious moments in addressing his disciples xv. 1 to the following purpose a: I am, said he, the true and most excellent vine b; by its union with whom my church is nourished ; and my Father is the husbandman, who has planted this

vine, and by whom it is cultivated, that it may
% Every branch in produce delightful clusters for bis service. And 2

every branch that is in me by an external profes-
sion, which yet is found to be a barren branch,



. Some accident occasioning a little de- ly read over in a quarter of an hour, and lay, &c.] This may be gathered from the therefore might be spoken in that small conclusion of the foregoing chapter, where interval of time. our Lord had said, Arise, let us go hence : b The true and most excellent vine.] for it seems very unreasonable to imagine So the true light (John i. 9.) and the true that our Lord would address so important bread, chap. vi. 32. evidently signifies. a discourse as this to eleven persons, as (See Raphael. Annot. er Xen. p. 141.)they were walking, especially in the His having lately drank with his disciples streets of Jerusalem, at this public time ; of the fruit of the vine, and having after. much less would be pour out so solemn a wards declared that he would drink no proyer as that in chap. xvii. in such a cir more of it till he drunk it net in the kingdom cumstance : yet John xviii. 1. (sect. of God, (Mark xiv. 25. page 299.) clxxxi.; strongly implies that all that fol- might possibly occasion Christ's alluding lows between this and that happened to it: (sce Grotius, in loc.) Or perhaps before he went forth from Jerusalem. I they might now be standing near a winconclude, therefore, that all this passed dow, or in some court by the side of the before they quitted the house where the house, where the sight of a vine might passover was eaten, though they probably suggest this beautifulsimile. (Compare Psal. rose from the table as soon as those words, cxxviii. 3.) That circumstance was, no Arise, let us go hence, were spoken. A doubt, common in Judea, which abound. short delay might leave room for this ; for ed with the finest grapes. Sec Gen. xlix, any one who will make the trial will find 11, 12. Numb. xii. 23. and Deut. viii. 8. that these three chapters may be deliberate.

c That


As the cannot bear


you, to

314 No branch can bear fruit but by abiding in hin. sect, and bears no fruit, he takeih quite away ; that me that beareth not

is, he cuts it off in his righteous judgment, and fruit, he taketh away:

entirely separates it from me: but every (branch] beareth fruit, be pure John XV. 2. which brings forth fruit, he purgeth, that is, he geth it, that it may prunes and dresses it, and on the whole, exer

bring forth more fruit. cises such wise and kind discipline towards it (though that discipline may sometimes seem severe,) as may best answer the great end of its production, that it may bring forth yet more fruit, than which there can be nothing more desirable . 3.

And thus it is with you ; for now the traitor 3 Now ye are clean, is gone out I may affirm, with the exception through the word which

I have spoken unto that I made before (compare John xiii. 10, 11,

sect. clxxi.) that you are all thus purged, in such
a manner as to be clean, by means of the word

which I have spoken to you, whose sanctifving in-
4 fluence has operated on your hearts. Continue

4 Abide in me, and therefore in me, by the renewed exercise of I in you. humble faith and love ; and I will be in

fruit of itself, except
nourish and supply you, as from a living root, it abide in tlic vine ;
with every necessary grace : for as, in the natu- no more can ye, ex:
ral world, the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, cept ye abide in me.
but must presently wither, unless il continue in
a state of union with the vine, and be nourished
by sap from thence; so neither can you be able to
produce the fruits of genuine and acceptable
obedience, unless you continue in me, and have
the life of grace maintained within you by a

vital union with me.
5 I repeat it again, as a matter of the utmost

5 I am the vine, ye
moment, That I am the vine, and ye [are] the are the branches. He
branches, in the sense I have already explained. that abideth in me,
He therefore that abides in me by such an inti- and I inhim, the same
mare and vital union, and in whom also I abide frut: for without me
by the operations of my Holy Spirit in him, he, ye can do nothing.
and lie only, bringeth forth much fruit, to the
honour of his profession, and the comfort of his
own soul: but the glory of it is still to be re-
ferred to me ; for separate from me you can do
nothing, though you stand in the foremost rank

of my followers, and have already made some 6 considerable attainmen:s. And if any one that

6 If a man abide

not in me, he is cast calls himself my disciple does not maintain such forth as a branch, and a regard to me, as that he may be said to abide



c That it may bring forih more fruit.] more holy, and fit for farther and more This strongly suggests a very sublime and eminent service, though it should be by important thought, viž. that one of the such painsul afilictions as resemble the noblest rewards God can bestow on former pruning of a tine, acts of obedience, is to make the soul yet



The fruitless branch shall be burned in the fire. 315 is withered ; and men in med, he is rejected and cast out with disdain SECT. gather them, and cast and abhorrence, as a fruitless branch lopped off them into the fire, and they are burned.

from the vine, and by consequence is presently John
withered ; and as [men) gather up such dry XV. 6.
sticks, and throw them into the fire, and there
they are burnt, as a worthless kind of wood fit
for nothing but fuel (see Ezek. xv. 2--4), so
in like manner such will be the end of those un-
happy creatures; they shall be gathered as fit
fuel for Divine wrath, and their external rela-
tion to me will not preserve them froin everlast-

ing burnings.
7 If ye abide in me, But as for you, my faithful servants, I assure 7
and my words abide in
you, ve shall ask what you, for your encouragement, that; if you sted-
ve will

, and it shall be fastly abide in me, and take care that in consedone unto you.


of it

my words abide in you, so that you maintain a suitable regard to all iny instructions, promises, and commands, this blessed union will entitle you to such signal degrees of the Divine favour, that you shall ask in prayer whatsoerer ye will, and, if it be upon the whole sub

servient to your own happiness, and to the pub-
8 Herein is my Fa- lic good, it shall be done for you. And let it g
ther glorified, that ye therefore be your care to make the suitable re-
shall ye be my disci- turns of gratitude and obedience ; for in this is

my Father most eminently glorified, that you, my
apostles, bring forth much fruit, by exerting
yourselves to the utmost for the propagation of
my gospel in the world, and endeavouring to
enforce your instructions by the holiness of your
lives : and in this likewise you shall appear to all
to be my true disciples, and to act worthy of

your character and relation to me.
9 As the Father bath And it is surely with the highest reason I would 9
loved me, so have I
loved you: continue ye the Father has loved me, so have I also loved you,

engage you to make this your aim : because as in my love.

with the most constant and invariable atlection :
continue therefore in my love, and always be so-

licitous so to behave, as may, on your part,
10 If ye kcep my maintain the friendship inviolate. And if you 10
shall abide in any love; diligently and constantly keep my command-
even as I have kept ments, then you will assuredly continue in my
my Father's command- love ; even as I have always kept my

Father's ments

, and abide in his commandments, and so continue in his love ; for love.

this is the most solid evidence of it, which I I give
to my Father, and require from you.


d If any one does not abide in me.] It (ver. 2) so plainly signifies making an eris strange that any should think this text ternal profession of Christianity, whetler vain a conclusive argument against the doctrine or sincere. of perseverance; when to be in Christ



SECT. clxxv.

rity of

316 Chist again commands his disciples to love one another.

These things I have spoken to you, not to grieve 11 These things have you

by any intimation that I suspect the since I spoken unto you, Jobn

your regards to me ; but that you may main in you, and that xv. 11. be so fortified and animated against the tempta- your joy might be full.

tions of life, that my joy and complacency'in
you, as my faithtul friends, might still continue;
and [that] your joy in me may be maintained in
its full height, and may greatly increase ; as it
certainly will, in proportion to the advance-
ment of your resolution and zeal in my service,


Ver. How desirable it is that we may learn from this discourse to

I regard Christ, at all times, as the spiritual Head, from whom life and vigour are to be derived to all bis people ! Let us by the

exercise of an unfeigned faith abide in him as the true vine; as 4, 5 being always sensible that without him we can do nothing ; and

that, if we are in him only by an external profession, we are not 6 only in danger of being cut off, and taken away, but sball in the 2 end be cast into the fire. May we rather be purged and pruned,

though it should be with the most painful dispensations of provi8 dence; if by this means our fruitfulness may be promoted to the

glory of God and to the benefit of the world! May his word ope-
3 rate daily upon us, to cleanse us from remaining pollutions ! and
if we thus desire to be clean, let us take heed to our way, accord-
ing to the tenor of that word. (Psal. cxix. 9.)

We see our encouragement to pray; let us take it from Christ, and not be dismayed, nor yield to unbelieving suspicions. As 9 the Father has loved Christ, so does he also love his people. Let

us preserve and cultivate this sacred friendship ; and, whatever it may cost us, let us endeavour to continue in his love, and to

avoid whatever would forfeit it; making it above all things our 10 care to keep his commandments. Christ always observing those of

his heavenly Father, cannot but always and invariably continue the object of his love and delight : may our conduct be such as that he may see reason to rejoice in us; and then we shall also have the surest foundation for a sublime and solid joy.


Christ renews his exhortation to mutual love, and declares the Jews

inexcusable in their unbelief. John XV. 12, to the end.

SECT. clxxvi.

JOHN XV. 12.

JOHN XV. 12. -----OUR Lord, in order to impress the principles This is

mandmentye John

of mutual friendship and benevolence on the XV. 12.




He did not deal with them as servants but as friends. 317 love one another, as I minds of his disciples in the most powerful manhave loved you.

clxxvi. ner, recommended it to them at large on this tender occasion, and proceeded in his discourse

John to the following purpose: This is in a peculiar xv. 12. manner my commandment to you, which, by all the obligations you are under to me, I charge and conjure you to observe, That ye all do most cordially and constantly love one another ; even, if it be possible, with as great an ardour as that with which I have loved you ; so as to be ready to sacrifice your lives for each other, as I expose and

resign mine for you. (Compare John xiii. 34 ; 15 Greater love hath and 1 John iii. 16.) And surely I can give no 13 no man than this, that

more solid and important evidence of my af-
a man lay down his
life for his friends. fection to you; for no man has ever manifested,

or can indeed imagine, greater and more disina
terested love than this, that a man should be willa
ing not only on some sudden alarm to hazard,
but on the coolest deliberation to submit to lay

down his life for the preservation and happiness

my of his friends. Now as I am about to give 14 friends, if ye do whatsocver I command you. you this grand demonstration of my love, so I

that you are, and shall be acknowledged as my friends, and shall certainly share in the blessings of my death and life, if you practically acknowledge my authority, and are so

influenced by my love as to do whatsoever I com15 Henceforth I call mand you. I do not any longer call you servants, 15 you pot servants; for though I have sometimes used the phrase, and not what his lord doth: formerly have seen it necessary in some points to but I have called you treat you with reserve ; for the servant is not let friends; for all things into the secrets of his master, and knoweth not that I have heard of my Father I have made particularly what his lord dotha : but I have not known into you. only in words called you my friends (Luke xii.

4, sect. cxi.), but on the whole have treated you
as such ; for all things that I have heard, and
received in charge from my Father, I have, so
far as was convenient, declared to you be in the
most condescending and endearing manner, as
you very well know.




assure you,

a I do not any longer call you servants: scheme of redemption undertaken by him; for the servant knowelh not, &c.) Mr. but the apostles nol being yet able bear Locke in his Reasonableness of Christie many things(compare chap. xvi. 12, sect. anily, p. 105) refers this to the caution clxxvii.), especially relating to the calling with which our Lord had spoken of his of the Gentiles and the abolition of the being the Messiah; some instances of Mosaic law, he wisely deferred the diswhich have been already pointed out. Seecovery of them : so that these words must notes on John iv. 26, Vol. VI. p. 166. be taken with the limitation mentioned in

b All ihings that I have heard from my the paraphrase, and signify that he had Father I have declared to you.] Our Lord done it so far as was convenient. bad, no doubt, the fullest view of the Rr2

e That

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