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On the other hand, let us seriously reflect what it will be to be owned by Christ before the assembled world; and to hear him saying with a sweet smile, and with a voice of harmony and love, Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. How infinite is the love that prepared that kingdom for us before we had a being ! how rich the blood that purchased it! how overflowing the grace that bestows it on such mean, such undeserving creatures! Bless the Lord, O our souls, in the prospect of it! Let men curse, O Lord, if thou wilt thus bless. (Psalm cix. 28.) Let them load our names with infamy if thou wilt adorn them with such glory: let all the kingdoms of the earth, and all the pomp of them, be despised and trampled under foot, when offered as an equivalent for this infinitely more glorious kingdom.
Let us attentively observe the character of those who are to receive it. They are the useful and benevolent souls: such as have loved the Lord Jesus Christ, not only in his name, and ordinances, and promises, but have loved him in his laws, and in his people too; and have known him in those humble forms in which he has been pleased, as it were by proxy, to appear among us. I was hungry, and ye fed me; thirsty, and ye gave me drink, &c.; for in as much as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me. Amazing words! that the meanest saint should be owned by the King of glory as one of his brethren! Irresistible argument to those that do indeed believe these words, to stir them up to abound in every good word and work! Under this impression, methinks, instead of hiding ourselves from those who should be to us as our own flesh by virtue of our common union to him, we should not only hearken to their entreaties, but even search them out in those corners to which modest want may sometimes retire, and cast about in our thoughts how we may secure any happy opportunity of relieving some poor saint, for their sakes, and for their Master's, and even for our own. What if Christ came to us in person as a poor helpless stranger? What if we saw him destitute of food and raiment, or in want of any other necessaries of life? Should we not contend for it as an honour, which of us should receive him into our houses, which of us should entertain him at our table, which of us should even strip ourselves of our clothing to give it to him? And yet he tells us that he is in effect with us in his poor members; and we invent a thousand cold excuses for neglecting to assist him, and send our compassionate Saviour away empty. Is this the temper of a Christian? Is this the temper in which we should wish to be found at the judgment. day?
But we know not Christ in this disguise. Neither did these unhappy creatures on the left-hand know him: they are surprised to be told of such a thing; and yet are represented as perishing for it. Away therefore with all those religious hopes (vainly so called) which leave the heart hardened, and the hand contracted from good works! If we shut up the bowels of compassion from our brethren, how dwelleth the love of God in us? (1 John iii. 17.) Or to what doth the love of Christ constrain us, if it be not to the exercise of gratitude to him, and the offices of cheerful and active friendship to those whom he now owns as his brethren, and whom he will not be ashamed to call so in the midst of his highest triumph? Blessed Jesus, how munificent art thou! and what a fund of charity didst thou lay up in the very words which are now before us! In all ages since they were spoken, how many hungry hast thou fed, how many naked hast thou clothed, how many calamitous creatures hast thou relieved by them! May they be written deep in our hearts, that the joy with which we shall finally meet thee may be increased by the happy effect of this day's meditation!
MARK XIV. 1, 2, 10, 11. LUKE XXI. 37, 38. XXII. 1-6.
MATT. XXVI. 1-4, 14-16.
AND it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the Scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted and sought how they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an uproar among the people; for they feared the people.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve; and he went his way unto the chief priests and captains, and communed with them how he might betray him unto them and when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he said unto them,
What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver: And he promised, and from that time he sought opportunity how he might conveniently betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.
LUKE XXI. 37, 38.
And in the day-time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.
We see with what unremitting vigour the great Author and Finisher of our faith pressed forward towards the mark, and how he quickened his pace, as he saw the day approaching ; spending in devotion the greatest part of the night, which succeeded to his most laborious days, and resuming his work early in the morning! How much happier were his disciples in these early lectures than the slumbers of the morning could have made them on their beds! Let us not scruple to deny ourselves the indulgence of unnecessary sleep, that we may come morning after morning to place ourselves at his feet, and lose no opportunity of receiving the instructions of his word, and seeking those of his Spirit.
But while his gracious heart was thus intent on doing good, the chief priests and rulers of the people were no less intent on mischief and murder. They took counsel together how they might put him to death: They set upon his head the price of a slave, and find an apostle base enough to accept it. Blush, O ye heavens, to have been witness to this; and be ashamed, O earth, to have supported so infamous a creature! Yet this was the man who but a few days before was the foremost to appear as an advocate for the poor, and to censure the pious zeal of Mary, which our Lord vindicated and applauded. (John xii. 4-8). Let the fatal fruits of his covetous disposition, instigated by Satan, be marked with abhorrence and terror; and if we see this base principle harboured in the breasts of those who call themselves the disciples and ministers of Christ, let us not wonder if by God's righteous judgment they are given up to those excesses of it which bring upon them lasting infamy and endless perdition.
MATT. XXVI. 17-20. MARK XIV. 12-17.
Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed, the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare for thee that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, Peter and John, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in; and wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the good man of the house: the Master saith unto thee, My time is at hand, I will keep the passover at thy house; where is the guest-chamber where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them and they did as he had appointed them, and they made ready the passover.
MATT. XXVI. 20. MARK XIV. 17. LUKE XXII. 14--18.
And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And when the hour was come he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
We may well assure ourselves, that the same Divine penetration and prophetic discernment which enabled the blessed Jesus thus circumstantially to foretel to his disciples those
most contingent occurrences which were to determine the place where they should prepare the passover, would also open to him a prospect of all that was to follow. All the scenes that were to be passed through on this fatal night, and the suc ceeding black and bloody day, were, no doubt, attentively viewed: the agony of the garden, the traiterous kiss of Judas, the cowardly flight of all the other apostles, the insults of his seemingly victorious and successful enemies, the clamorous accusations, the insolent buffetings, the scourges, the thorns, the nails, the cross, and all that he was to endure upon it from the hand of God and men. Yet behold, with all these in his view, he goes on with a holy alacrity, and this sun of righteousness, rejoiceth as a champion to run his race! (Psalm xix. 5.) Yea, when he is sitting down to the paschal supper, (though therein was exhibited, in a most lively emblem, the bitterness of his own sufferings,) he utters these gracious and emphatical words, With desire J have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.
JOHN XIII. 1-17.
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciple's feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord,