MA -LOVI G, THE ROAD TO GOD-LOVI G.

BY HE RY WARD BEECHER

Lesson : John xiii. 1-17. " ow, 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 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 Grod [standing in the consciousness of his grandeur and divinity, in regard to his ulterior nature, his full self, knowing that all things had been put into his hands, that he was come from God, and that he went to 'God— in that state of mind] he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." It would seem as though the first disciples that he went to, very patiently and ignorantly let him do as he had a mind to ; but, "Then cometh he to Simon Peter; and Peter saith 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." Then, taking it very literally, and feeling that if he was to have a part, he would like to have a pretty full one, Peter said, " Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and my head." He looked upon it entirely from the outside. "Jesus saith unto him, He that is washed needeth not save to

wash his feet, but is clean every whit; and ye are clean, but not all." The Saviour was here speaking in an enigmatical way, as he was very apt to do.

228 MA -LOVI G, THE BOAD TO GOD-LOVI G. " For he knew who should betray him ; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, " Know ye what I have done unto you ? Ye call me Master and Lord ; and ye say well, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord ; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." We ought to bear in mind that this is a part of the very same general history which is celebrated in the Lord's Supper ; it belongs to that institution ; and I do not know any reason that makes it obligatory and a duty to. celebrate the Lord's Supper which does not make it obligatory and a duty to celebrate also the washing of the disciples' feet. If I thought that we were bound by an absolute command to celebrate the Lord's Supper, and that the external form of it was obligatory, I should feel bound also to practice at the same time and always the washing of the feet, as the Christian sect that call themselves 8andemanians do ; but both of them are mere external forms, and their celebration consists of the carrying out of the principle which the one and the other indicate. The second part of the law is, '^Love thy neighbor as thyself ;" and the first part is, *^Thou shalt love the Lord thy G-od with all thy heart." That symbolical action of Christ, the breaking of the bread, signified the breaking of his body, thus revealing Grod to them as a great sacrifice — that is, revealing the fact that Grod gives his time, his thought, his feeling, his love, for men, in rearing them

to honor and glory, in that we are lifted up in our affection and reverence toward Cod ; and in the other service — that of the washing of the feet — we are taught how to humble ourselves to the lowest offices of kindness ; how to make ourselves less than the least, if in so doing we can help them ; and I think it is a great deal harder to practice this injunction than the other. It is very easy for men to reverence G-od, but it is not so easy for them to recognize their neighbor, and to love him as themselves, and to fulfill all the duties which love implies, undergoing self-sacrifice, and doing things that are abasing and are repugnant to our natural

MA -LOVI G, THE ROAD TO GOD-LOVI G. 229 pride and to our feelings. That, however, is the disclosure of the law of God. John asks, If we hate our brother, whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen ? The way to right experience toward God lies through the full disclosure of love-service toward our fellow-men. It is not a substitute for the love of God ; it is the avenue through which we come to the higher life; and in proportion as we practice toward our fellow-men aU gentleness and sweetness and helpfulness, and sacrifice ourselves for their sakes, in that proportion we shall know how God first sacrificed himself for us, and how he is at once a Legislator and Judge and a Father, and how all these can move together in the great sphere of divine love.

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