THE EW COMMA DME T. BY JOH BROW , D. D.

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John xin. 33-35. — " Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me : and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come ; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another ; as 1 have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." The sublime, mysterious words wliicliimraecliatelv precede the subject of our exposition, and tlie holy exultation of our Lord in uttering them, so strikingly contrasted with that trouble of spirit which so lately had overwhelmed him, must have made a deep impression on the minds of the disciples : " ow is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him." Very imperfectly understood as they must have been by them, these words, spoken by one in whose perfect truthfulness they had the most implicit confidence, were fitted to calm their apprehensions and to re-assure their hopes. They spoke of triumph, glorious triumph, glorious triumph just at hand. It was meant by their master that these words should support their sinking hearts ; but knowing how apt, with their very limited and even incorrect views of the design of his mission and the nature of his kingdom, the declaration he had made was to excite false expectations in their minds, the disappointment of which would not only pain their feelings but shake their faith, he immediately proceeds to prepare them for that temporary separation from him, which, though really most " expedient," indeed necessary, both* for him and them, they, notwithstanding the many hints he had given them — some of them to us very plain ones — never seem to have been able to realize to themselves as an event not only certain, but just at hand. " Little children," said he, regarding them with a look of the tenderest pity, — " Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me : and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come ; so now I say to you,"' The meaning of the words is, ' We must soon part : when I go — as I will straightway, in a very short time — to the Father, to be " glorified by him in himself," in consequence of my having glorified him on earth, ' John xiii. 33.

180 THE EW COMMA DME T. [EXP. XXVI. you are not to go along with me, — you are to remain for a season on the earth, deprived of that kind of intercourse with me which, since you became my disciples, you have constantly enjoyed.' This is the communication he means to make to them. To them he well knew it must be a most painful one, but he equally knew that it was a most necessary one. • He loved them too well to allow them to indulge hopes Avhich he knew must be disappointed ; but he makes the painful communication in the way least fitted to distress them. Before he speaks of his leaving them, he speaks of the glory into which he is to enter, and throws into the shade, or rather covers with a veil of glory, the intervening sufferings. He addresses them in the language of the most endearing affection. He calls them " children — little children," — his own little children ; and his look and tone, when he uttered these words, must have told their hearts that the pity which a father has for his little child, when in distress or danger, was but a faint emblem of the compassionate love with which he regarded them. And instead of saying—' We must soon part,' he says — ' I am yet to be with you for a little while ;' — in which words he refers to the period which was to elapse before his ascension to heaven. When that little while was elapsed, then he was to leave them. If they sought him on earth they would not find him ; and into the heaven of heavens, which was henceforth to be the place of his abode, they were not to be immediately admitted. Perfect happiness is not to be expected in this world. It is too full of sin to be free of sorrow. The disciples, amid many privations and trials, had yet derived much happiness from their connection with their Master. His presence and conversation had been the life of their life. But of these they were now to be deprived. His continuance with them during the whole course of their lives would not have comported with the accomplishment of the great and gracious purposes for which he had been sent into this world by his Father, and for which he had chosen them from among their countrymen. He had work to perform, and sufferings to endure, which required that the endearing intercourse, which, as a man with his friends, he had had with his disciples, should terminate; and they had work to do which could not be done till he had left them, and till* having opened a channel for the influences of the Spirit by his expiatory suffering, he from his throne in the heavens, poured these forth abundantly, to qualify them for its successful performance. The

world could not be saved but by the shedding of his blood ; the world could not be converted but by their j^reaching his Grospel ; and the Gospel could not be preached with success without his communicating and their receiving his Spirit. It was expedient for the apostles — it was expedient for mankind — that the Saviour should go away. And as it was necessary that he should leave them, so it was necessary they should be made aware of this. It was something

EXP, XXVI.] THE EW COMMA DME T. 181 they were not counting on. They had hoped that he, being the Messiah, would remain for ever with them. His departure, had they not been made aware of it, would have been a shock to their faith as well as to their feelings ; and the knowledge that it was but " a little while" he was to be with them, was calculated to induce them to improve to the utmost all opportunities of advantage from intercourse with him during that short season. Many of the privileges of Christians in the present state, like the Saviour's bodily presence with the disciples, are precarious and transient ; and it is of great importance that they should be habitually aware of this, that they may escape the shock of being suddenly and unexpectedly deprived of them, and that, by a careful improvement of them while they continue, they may be saved from the pangs of fruitless regrets when they are taken from them. Communion with our Lord, in the truest, widest, best sense of that word, is a privilege of which, if we are really Christians, we never can be deprived ; but there is a kind of sensible fellowship with him, analogous to the bodily intercourse the disciples had with him, which cannot be enjoyed without interruption in the present state. Who that has ever properly entered into the spirit of Christian worship, has not occasionally experienced a sense of the nearness and excellence of the Saviour which was very delightful, and which has induced a Avish that we could be constantly engaged in such exercises, if we could but constantly realize such feelings ? But in the j^resent state it must not so be ; we must live by faith on an absent and unseen Lord. Where he is, while we tabernacle in flesh on earth, we cannot come ; but if we are really his, ere long we shall be where he is, and see his face, and dwell in his presence, — 'enjoying, without interruption and without end, an intimacy of sensible intercourse with him, and a delight in that intercourse, of which at present we can form no adequate conception.

Our Lord, in speaking of that interruption of bodily intercourse which was to be the result of his leaving his disciples and going to the Father, refers to language which he had formerly employed in speaking to the unbelieving Jews, — "As I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come ; so now I say to you." The conversations referred to are recorded in the seventh and eighth chapters of this gospel.^ The state into which our Lord was about to pass was one which would equally render it impossible for his enemies on the earth to do him personal injury, and for his friends on the earth to have the same kind of intercourse with him which the disciples had been accustomed to enjoy. This was a statement which, in any form, must have been very unpalatable to the disciples, with their confused and imperfect ideas, and which was not likely to be the more agreeable to them that it was couched in the same language as that addressed to the unbelieving Jews. There is little doubt that they thought 2 John vii. 34 ; viii. 21,

182 THE EW COMMA DME T. [EXP, XXVI. it a hard sajdng ; but it was needful for tliem to liear it, and the best form in which it could be made to them was that which was most likely to fix it deep in their minds. Their desire to live by sense, and not by faith, required a check. They needed to be taught that they were not always to "know Christ after the flesh," but to place their happiness, while here, in spiritual intercourse with him, and in the hopes of being for ever, both in bod}' and spirit, with him, and like him, in a better world. The same words may sometimes be said by Christ to believers and unbelievers — the same things may sometimes be done by him to believers and unbelievers ; but when we look a little more closely, we shall be disposed to say, ' Though there is apparent identity, there is real difference.' It is said equally to the unbelieving Jew and to the believing disciple, " Ye shall seek me, — whither I go, ye cannot come;" but to the first that means, ' You will seek to injure me, but I shall be completely beyond your reach, and to that place of perfect holy security and happiness you can never come ;' — to the second it means, ' You will earnestly desire that personal intercourse 3^ou once had with me, but that is impossible in the meantime: yet a little while, and

where I am, there shall ye be ; you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterwards.' And it is not an arbitrary arrangement that they cannot go to where he is now going. There were good and sufficient reasons for it. They were not yet fit for the " much tribulation through which they must enter the kingdom." They had not yet finished the work given them to do on the earth for the glory of God and the good of mankind. They had not yet obtained that measure of excellence which was to make them " meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." It has been justly said, 'As there "is a time for every purpose under the sun,'" so there is a time for the translation of believers to those regions which are above the sun ; and God's time for everything are the fittest times, and are to be waited for patiently by us.' There is emphasis in the word " wow." " As I said unto the Jews, — so now I say to you." When he said, " Ye shall seek me," and " whither I go ye cannot come," to the Jews, he had not said it to the disciples. He deferred a painful but necessary statement till it became seasonable. He never needlessly spoke disagreeable truth. He never caused his disciples unnecessary sorrow, nor afiiicted them with needful sorrows before the time. Much depends both on deeds and words being well timed. It is said "the wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment."* In this department of wisdom, as in every other, he whose name is " the Counsellor" has the pre-eminence ; he has " the tongue of the learned," to "speak a word in season."^ It is not impossible that the word 7iow might be intended to suggest the idea — which we know is the trutii — that though now he said, ' Ye cannot come whither I go,' he would not always say ^Eccles. iii. 1. * Eccles. viii, 5. ^ ig^. L 4

EXP. XXVI.] THE EW COMMA DME T. 183 SO. In a very sTiort while he said to them, in answer to Peter's question, " Ye cannot follow me now ; but ye shall follow me afterwards." " A little while, and ye shall not see me : and again a little while, and ye shall see me; because I go to the Father." "If I go" — "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also."" Instead of saying, as he does now, "Ye cannot come where I am," then he will say, " Come up hither,"

Sensible bodily intercourse between the disciples and their Master was soon to be interrupted, but that was but an additional reason why spiritual intercourse between them should be maintained ; and our Lord points out one of the best ways in which this desirable object is to be gained, — by their cherishing towards each other that affection which he cherished towards them all : " A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."^ The meaning of these words will be made more evident, by a slight transj)oaition, which the usage of the language admits, and the course of thought requires: " A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another ; that as I have loved you, ye also should love one another." The second clause is explanatory of the first. Our Lord's command is, not only that his disciples should love one another, but that they should love one another, even as — in the same way that — he had loved them all.' It is the will of Christ that all men should love all men. It is his will that his people should love all men. But it is not the love that every man owes to every man — that every Christian is bound to cherish to every man — which is here enjoined. It is the love which a Christian owes to a Christian as a Christian, because he is a Christian. It is the love of the brotherhood, as distinguished from the love of the species. It is " brotherly kindness," as distinguished from " charity."* The affection, the cultivation and expression of which our Lord here enjoins, originates in the possession of a peculiar mode of thinking and feeling, produced in the mind by the Holy Spirit, through the knowledge and belief of christian truth, which naturally leads those who are thus distinguished to a sympathy of mind and heart, of thought and affection, witli all who, under the same influence, have been led to entertain the same views, and to cherish the same dispositions. It is " love in the truth for the truth's sake,""* to those in whom the truth dwells. It includes good- will in the highest degree ; but to this it adds moral esteem, complacential delight, tender sympathy. Its end is the happiness of its object, as a christian man — his deliverance from ignorance, and error, and sin, in all their forms and degrees 6 John xiii. 36 ; xvi. 16-19; xiv. 3. " John xiii. 34. s " dycTTdre — uyaTvure. Sermo bis ponitur, primum simpliciter, deinde cum epitasi. Tale illud pacem, pacem meam. Chap. xiv. 27. Conf. Gen. xlviii. 6. Psal. xxvii. 14; xxxvii. 20; xlvii. 7 • Ixviii. 25; cxviii. 15. Ezek. vii. 2." — Bemgel. 9 2 Pet. i. 7. '» 2 John i. 2. 3 John i.

184 THE EW COMMA DME T, [EXP. XXVI. — his progressive, and ultimatel}^ his perfect, happiness, is entire conformity to the mind and will of God — ^the unclouded sense of the Divine favor — the u,ninterrupted enjoyment of the Divine fellowship — the being like the ever blessed Holy, Holy, Holy One. This love is to be cherished in the heart, and manifested in the life. It is to be shown, by choosing for our friends and associates our brethren in Christ — -joining ourselves to the disciples' — casting in our lot with them — walking with them "in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless " — sympathizing with them in their griefs and in their joys — communicating to them in their necessities — assisting them in their labors — bearing with their infirmities — ay, bearing their infirmities — admonishing them and reproving them, it may be sharply, when they are to be blamed — loving them too well to suffer sin on them — delighting in their christian attainments and triumphs, as if they were our own — never ashamed of them, however low their place in society, and however frowned on and persecuted by the world«-never ashamed to call them brethren. This is the affection our Lord enjoins when he says — " I give you a new commandment, that ye love one another." He gives us a beautiful commentary on the precept when he adds, " A commandment that, as I have loved you, ye also should love one another." The words, " as I have loved you," have often been considered as equivalent to, ^^ since I have loved you." o doubt the words will bear this interpretation, and no doubt a very strong reason why a Christian should love his brother is, because Christ loves him ; yet I cannot doubt that the words here rather describe the peculiar character than assign the reason of christian love — rather show how, than say why, a Christian should love a Christian. In everything our Lord has "left us an example, that we should follow his steps ;" in nothing more remarkably than in the love of the brethren. His love to his people was free and ready, considerate and wise, laborious and expensive, generous and self-sacrificing — looking to all their interests, but chiefly to their highest interests — not forgetting that they had bodies, but chiefly concerned about their souls. He took an interest in everything that concerned them ; he instructed, counselled, and comforted them ; he prayed with them and for them ; he viiidicated them when they were accused ; apologized

for them when their conduct required and admitted of apology ; reproved them when they deserved it, yet in love bore with their infirmities ; made much of what was good in them ; and publicly owned them to be dearer to him than a brother, or sister, or mother. He loved them with a spontaneous, disinterested, holy, steady, and unfailing love ; he loved them to the end. Thus did he love his chosen ones, and thus should thej^ love one another. He so loved them as to lay down his life for them; and they ought so to love the brethren, as, if called on, to lay down their life for them. We never can equal his love — we never can come

EXP. XXVI.] THE EW COMMA DME T. 185 near it — ^but we are expressly required to take it as our model. or must we ever think ourselves perfect in love, till our brotherly-kindness bear a resemblance to that love — stronger than death — which burned in the heart of 'the Eedeemer, with a flame which nothing could extinguish, or even abate. Such, then, is the love which the Saviour enjoins on his disciples — love to one another — and such love to one another, as he has shown — is showing — to all. The commandment in Avhich our Lord enjoins this love, is called by him " a new commandment." The import of this appellation has been variously explained. Some consider the word "new" as equivalent to ' other ' or 'additional.' They suppose there is a reference to the command in the 14th and subsequent verseS' — " that they should do to one another as he had done to them " — q. d., ' I have another — an additional — a new commandment, to give': not only to act to one another as I have acted, but feel towards one another as I do. Others consider "new" as a synonyme of * excellent.' either of these modes of interpretation is satisfactory. The newness of the command is not, I apprehend, to be sought in the general duty enjoined, — love ; but in the peculiarities of its objects — ^love to Christians as Christians ; and of its measure or rule — love as Christ has loved his j)eople. This is a "new commandment;" and it could not be given till there were disciples of Christ, and till he had shown how he loved them, and expected them to love one another. Therefore does our Lord claim this command as peculiarly his : " This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." And the apostle Paul calls it " the law of Christ."" This commandment is called by John no " new commandment, but an old commandment, which those to whom he wrote had

heard from the beginning." The new commandment had then become old ; yet he adds " Again, a new commandment" — referring plainly to the same injunction — " I write to you, which thing is true in him and in you" — q. cl, ' Though the commandment to love one another cannot now be called a new one, as if just issued forth — for from the beginning of the Gospel it was announced as the distinctive command of our one Lawgiver — ^}xt it may well be called new, so far as he is concerned — for no one gave it till he did it — and so far as you are concerned, for it was a law to which you were strangers, till you assumed his easy yoke and light burden.'" Obedience to this new commandment is, by our Lord, declared to be the criterion and badge of true discipleship : "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."" These words imply three statements : all my disciples shall be distinguished by this mutual affection ; none but my disciples shall be so distinguished ; and this mutual affection shall be so visible in its effects, that my disciples shall be readily recognized by it. " John XV. 12. Gal. vi. 2. '2 1 John ii. 1, 8. '3 John xiiL 35.

186 THE EW COMMA DME T. [EXP. XXVI. All Christ's disciples are distinguislied bj this mutual affection. It must be so. This is, by way of eminence, his commandment ; and can they be his disciples who disobey ? They only are his disciples indeed, who "continue in this word."" Besides, it is impossible to have that common faith, and common feeling, which are necessarily implied in being disciples of Christ, without having this mutual affection. It is obvious that the man who is destitute of this peculiar affection to Christians as Christians, is not — cannot be — ^himself a Christian. The second principle implied in our Lord's words — ^that none but Christ's disciples are possessed of this affection — is no less obviously true. A worldly man, an unbeliever, may respect a genuine Christian — he may be constrained to do so ; he may even love him on account of his naturally amiable qualities, or of the natural relation in which he stands to him, or of the advantages he derives from him ; but he does not, he cannot, love him as a Christian. What is peculiarly christian in his character is not, (iannot be, to him an object of affection. He loves him, not for, but notwithstanding, his Christianity. It is only those who are

taught of God that can love the brethren as the Master requires them to be loved, even as he himself loved them — with a cordial regard to the image of God appearing in them — with a selfdenj'ing,- self-sacrificing love. Herod respected John ; but, had he loved him for his holiness, he would have abandoned his paramour, instead of shutting up his faithful reprover in i^rison. It is a certain proof that a man has passed from death to life, if he really loves the brethren. This distinctive affection towards genuine Christians is something that ought not 'to be concealed, — something, indeed, that cannot be concealed. Love is an active principle ; and love to the brethren shows itself in acts of kindness to the brethren. True Christians associate together, in a vv^ay in which they do not associate with the men of the world. When duty calls, they associate with worldly men ; but when they are " let go, they seek their own company ;" and, while they " do good to all men, as they have opportunity," they especially abound in offices of kindness to those " Avho are of the household of faith.'"' It is the will of their Lord that it should be so. He by no means wishes them "to do their good works before men, to be seen of them;" but he does wish their light, in doing good to the brethren, "so to shine before men, as that they, seeing their good works, may glorify their Father who is in heaven."" In the earliest and best age of Christianity, the words of our Lord were very remarkably verified. It was then a common expression among the heathen, " See how these Christians love one another, and how ready they are to die for each other !" The profane Lucian scoffingly says of the Christians of his time, "Their Lawgiver has persuaded them that they are all brethren ;" and another heathen remarks, " John viii 31. >5 Acts iv. 23. Gal. vi. 10. '« Matt, vi. 1 ; v. 16.

EXP. XXVI.] THE EW COMMA DME T, 187 that " Christians love one another before thej are acquainted, if they but know that they are Christians." We have great cause to lament that the love of Christians is by no means so -ardent, and therefore by no means so visible, as it was in the primitive age. It has waxed cold ; and, in the church losing its great ornament, the world is deprived of one principal means of its conversion. The infidelity of the world is chargeable, to a considerable degi'ee, on professed believers failing to exhibit the true character of the religion of Christ as the re-

ligion of love. When the true followers of Jesus Christ are visibly of one mind and one heart, the world will be constrained to believe that the Father hath sent the Son. Alas ! how do many of us give the lie to our profession, and shut up reflecting worldly men to one or other of the conclusions, either that we are not Christians, or, if we are, that there is no such power in the doctrine and law of Christ as their author ascribes to them. An important question, of a practical kind, naturally rises out of these illustrations. Are we obeying the new commandment of our Lord ? Are we giving this proof of our discipleship to ourselves, to the church, to the world ? Do we love the brethren — do we love Christians as Christians? Do we love them because of their relation and likeness to God our Father, and Jesus Christ, their elder brother ? Do we cordially esteem them ? Do we jiflfectionately love them ? Do we do them good as we have opportunity ? Do we seek opportunity to do them good ? Happy are those who can intelligently, honestl}^, reply to these questions in the affirmative. They have " passed from death to life." This love of the brethren is the evidence that " we are in the light," for " he that hateth" — ay, he that loveth not — " his brother, abideth in darkness, even until now." Let those who love one another, as Christ has loved them all, seek to make it more and more evident that they " love not in word and in tongue only, but in deed and in truth." Let them "Avalk in all lowliness, esteeming each other better than themselves; forbearing one another in love ; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ; putting away all bitterness, and anger, and Avrath, and clamor, and evil -speaking, being kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven them ;" walking in love, even as Christ walked in love. Let them "do good and communicate;" and, "if a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, let tliem not say, Depart in peace ; be ye fed, be ye clothed ; but give them the things that are needfiil to the body." And, that we may thus obey the new commandment of our Lord, let us seek, by the faith of the truth, to " abide in him," that he may, by his Spirit, abide in us, that thus we may bring forth much fruit to his praise and glory." "Eph. iv. 31, 32; v. 2. Col. iii. 12, 13. John xv. 4, 6.

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