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knowing, that he was now, forthwith, to suffer death upon the
for which he came from God, and for the execution of which he only waited before he returned to him ; considering, withal, the immense benefit, which was to accrue to mankind from his voluntary devotion of himself to this death, and that the eternal Father, for the sake of it, had given all things into his hands, had given him the power
to redeem all the sons of Adam from the vassalage of sin and death, by virtue of that BLOOD which he was now to pour
upon the cross, as a propitiation for them ; Jesus, I say, foreseeing and considering all this, chose this critical season, when his hour was now come, to signify by the ceremony of washing
, his disciples feet a, the efficacy and value of his own precious blood, by which alone they, and all mankind, were to have all their sins purged and washed away for ever.
This was apparently the momentous instruetion, which it was our Lord's purpose to con
a If it be asked, why their feet ? the answer is, that it was customary in the east for one to wash the feet of another. And this practice gave an easy introduction to the present enigmatical washing ; which was equally expressive of the information designed, when performed on this part of the body, as on any other.
in this transaction. He would, first, shew that we were to be washed in his blood; and then, subordinately, that we were to follow his example in a readiness to do as he had done ; that is, not only to wash each other, but, emblematically still, to lay down our lives and pour out our blood, if need be, for the sake of the brethren. All circumstances concur to assure us, that such was the real secret intent of this mysterious washing; and thus, at length, we understand the full purport of those words -If I wash thee not, thou hast ng part with If it be still said, that Jesus explains his own purpose differently, it is enough to reply, that these emblematic actions were generally significative of more things, than one; and that the manner of Jesus was, on other occasions, to enforce that instruction, which was not the primary one in his intention c: the reason of which conduct was founded in this rule, so constantly observed by him, of conveying information to his disciples, only, as they were
b Grotius-saw the necessity of looking beyond the literal meaning of those words -- If I wash thee not. “Mos Christi, says he, est a rebus, quæ adspiciuntur, ad sensum
sublimiorem ascendere." His comment then follows. 1.6 Nisi te larero, id est, nisi et sermone et spiritu eluero c: qnod in te restat minus puri,” &c. Considering how near
Jesus was to his crucifixion, when he said this, one a little wonders how the great commentator, when he was to assign the mystical sense of these words, should overlook that which lay before him. Surely his gloss should have been, Nisi sanguine meo te eluero, &c.-Let me just add, that the force of these words, as addressed to Peter, will be perfectly understood, if we reflect that he, who said to Jesus - Thou shalt never wash my feet — said on a former occasion to him, when he spoke, without a figure, of his death (though not, then, under the idea of a propi
. tiatory sacrifice, or ablution) - Be it far from thee, Lord ; this shall not be unto thee. Matt. xvi. 22. So little did Peter see the necessity of being washed by the blood of Christ! And so important was the information now given him in this mystical washing-If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
, able to bear itd. In a word, he gave them many instructions, and this, among the rest, darkly and imperfectly, because they could not then bear a stronger light; but yet with such clearness as might, afterwards, let them into his purpose ; leaving it to the Holy Ghost (whose peculiar province it was) to illuminate their minds, in due time; to reveal all that had been obscurely intimated ; and to open the full meaning of his discourses and actions, as well as to bring them all to their remembrance
c A remarkable instance will be given, in the Discourse referred to above, at the close of the next volume.
d Mark iv. 33. John xvi, 12. e John xiv. 26.
From this memorable part of the Gospelhistory, thus opened and explained, we may draw some important conclusions.
1. First, we learn, if the comment here given be a just one,. That the blood of Christ (so an Apostle hath expressed himself) cleanseth us from all sinf : I mean, that the death of Christ was a true, proper, and real propitiation for our sins; and not a mere figure, or tropical form of speech; as too many, who call themselves Christians, conceive of it. For the pertinence and propriety of the representative action, performed by our Lord, is founded in this supposition, “ That the blood of Christ was necessary to our purification, and that, but for our being washed in his blood, we should be yet in our sins.” Jesus himself, in explaining this transaction, so far as he thought fit to explain it, confines us to this idea. For in this sense, only, is it true -- that we, who are washed, are clean every whit-and, that unless we are washed by Christ, we have no part with him.
Such, then, is the information given us in this ceremony of washing the disciples feet; and not in this, only: For, besides the present emblematic act, performed by our Lord, for the special benefit of his disciples, the two Sacraments, it is to be observed, were purposely instituted, for the general use of his church, to hold forth to us an image of his efficacious blood, poured out for us : the sacrament of BAPTISM, by the reference it had (like this act) to the typical washings of the Law; and the sacrament of the LORD'S SUPPER, as referring, in like manner, to the typical sacrifices of that dispensation. Of such moment, in the view of our Lord himself, was this doctrine of propitiation! And so careful, or rather anxious, was he, that this consolatory idea of redemption through his BLOOD b (suggested in so many ways, and in so striking a manner) should be always present to us!
f 1 John i.7.
c Rev. i. 5.