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JESUS, rising from supper, and laying aside his garments, took a towel and girded himself; and he at whose name every creature in lieaven and earth was commanded to bow*, condescended to take upon himself the office of a menial servant; by washing his disciples feet, and wiping them with the towel, wherewith he was girded.
Well night the apostles be surprised and astonished at such a wonderful instance of humiliating condescension, that their Lord and Master should perform an office to them, which they might have considered an honour to be permitted to discharge towards him. With silent confusion therefore did they subunit to this, as they thought, degrading act of coudescension: All but l'eter, for he declined it, urging that the office was fitter for him to discharge to his Lord, than his LORD to him. JEsus promising that he should hereafter know the design of this act, Peter, with his usual impetuosity, declared, that Jesus should never wash his feet : but at length, when Jesus told him, that he could have no part with him, if he washed him not, he consented, and with an eagerness natural to his warmth
* Is. xlv. 23.
of temper, exclaimed, LORD, Wash not my feet only, but also my hands and my head : which earnest prayer our LORD by no means discouraged, but informed him, that he who is washed needed not save to wash his feet, but is clean etery whit: that is, as a person thoroughly clean might easily wipe off a little casual dirt, which he might receive in travelling; so a person well grounded in his religion, would have only the common infirmities of nature to contend with*.
And now, had any of these apostles been so wicked, as to have entertained a design against so gracious a Master, would any one think that after this humble office, he would have been so abandoned, as not immediately to lay aside his design. But no such effect was produced on the mind of Judas, who appears settled in his purpose. His treacherous intention, however, although it might be concealed from the notice of his companions, was not hidden from his LORD. Hypocrisy may deceive man, but not GOD. JESUS accordingly took occasion from the passing scene, to intimate his acquaintance with the foulness of his apostate disciple. Ye are clean, said he, but not all, He knew who should betray him, (as the evangelist remarks) therefore he said, Ye are not all clean.
Jesus having concluded this astonishing act of condescension, in washing and wiping his disciples feet, calmly resumed his garments, and sitting down again, began to converse with them concerning the design of what he had done to them, as well as to represent to them the impropriety of that fondness of superiority which they had so lately manifested. Know ye, said he, what I have done to you? I have by this act set you an example of humility, and have in my own person exemplified to you the great necessity that lies upon you of condescending to perform, even the meanest offices one for another. That strife which you have just exhibited among you, “ which should be accounted the greatest,” was indeed very unseasonable, and such as I cannot but condemn. There is a great difference between my kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. The kings of the Gentiles exercise.lordship and unbounded authority over those who are subject to them, and call themselves benefactors. This indeed is more suitable to the character
of these earthly princes, than to you who i are my disciples. fiuinility, and a desire
to show yourselves friends of the world, rather by serving than by governing, must be your distinguishing character. You do well to call me Lord and Master, for so I am: let therefore the example which I, as such, have set you, be a constant pattern for your imitation : for verily I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord: neither he that is sent, greater than he that sent him : and remember that your happiness depends not on your knowledge, but on your practice, of these things : if ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them.
But the blessed JESUS did not only correct the errors, and reprove the faults of his apostles; but also, while they were eating the Paschal Lamb, he commended them for their faithfulness to him, assuring them that, although they were to undergo great trials and sufferings, they should hereafter be rewarded with exalted honours, incomparably beyond those about which they now seemed so solicitous.
But alas ! who can conceive the feelings of these apostles, -of those, I mean, who were faithful among them, when he concluded his affectionate discourse with the following words? I speak, not of you all. I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath lift up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he, even the true MESSIAH, and that it may more strongly confirm your faith in me. And be assured, that notwithstanding the total defection of one from me, and the success which my enemies will have against me, I will support your interest as my own*.
When he had said this, and so affectionately encouraged his apostles to maintain his cause, he was troubled in spirit at the ingratitude, which he foresaw would be basely practised against him by one of his chosen associates, and said to them in plain terms, Verily, rerily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Astonished, as they must be, at such a declaration from the mouth of him, who, they were sensible, knew their hearts, they became exceeding sorrowful. Anxious, no doubt, to know on whom such guilt would lie, and hoping to clear up their innocence, they began to demand with great eagerness, Lord is it I ? Peter also made a sign to