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sometimes be impatient, may think that thy coming is too long delayed, may wish to exchange faith for sight, and hope for enjoyment. I may say indeed, Come, Lord Jesus; for such are the words of thy church, the bride, and of thy Spirit, which teaches the church what to wish and to pray for. But if thou still lingerest, let me wait in patience thy time, and occupy myself the while steadily in thy service. There is enough for
me, and for every one of thy true servants, to do upon earth: do thou guide us, and strengthen us, and give us an undying zeal for the work. There are wants to be relieved, bodily and spiritual; ignorance to be enlightened ; falsehood and wickedness to be reproved; truth to be upheld, defended, and declared. Grant that every year of life there may be some such blessed fruit of our labour: yet grant, also, that we do not magnify ourselves in our own works; that we rejoice, not because the devils are subject to us, but because thou hast loved us, and hast written our names in heaven, and wilt bring us through thy grace to thy own eternal mansion with the Father.”
JOHN XIII. 10.
He that is washed, needeth not, save to wash his feet, but is clean
every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
HARDLY, since the very earliest days of the Gospel, could these words have been repeated with exactly the same truth to any assembly of Christians. In saying to his disciples, “ Ye are clean, but not all,” our Lord declared, that the clean were by far the greater number amongst them, although there was one single person who was an exception. Eleven of those who heard him were pronounced to be clean, while one only was found wanting. What a state of almost heavenly blessedness should we think it now, if, when looking round upon any number of persons assembled in any Christian place of worship, we could persuade ourselves that eleven out of every twelve were such as Christ would pronounce to be clean !—not indeed free from sin, and far less removed above the reach of temptation; but yet so sound in principle, so sincere in their love of Christ, that they would need only to wash the feet,—to cleanse themselves from the common and almost necessary stains which daily life brings with it; and would then be accounted by Christ to be “ clean every whit.” Surely, when we look around on what men are, we should think that our lot was thrown in a most happy ground, if not eleven out of every twelve, but even one half of those whom we met in the house of God, could be thought such as Christ would call “clean."
The words of the text were spoken by our Lord just before he was beginning the season of his sufferings, and only a few hours before he was crucified. His disciples were all around him, and one of them said, that he was ready to go with his Master into prison and to death. The words were spoken in entire sincerity, and, therefore, Christ declared, that he who spoke them was clean, although he knew that when the trial came they would not be fulfilled in practice. Even so we are here assembled at the beginning of the week in which we celebrate the memory
of our Lord's sufferings, and only a few days before the time when we shall be invited to partake of his most blessed body and blood, in the sacrament of the holy communion. May we suppose Christ speaking to us as he did to his Apostles; could we hope that he would say to us, ““ Ye are clean, but not all;" although some few of you may be lost, yet by far the greater number are my true disciples, and will follow me whithersoever I go? Or would he rather speak to us in the language which he himself foretold would be most fitting for the latter days, “ When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith upon the earth ?” Our own consciences will be able best to tell us; if we examine a little what it was in our Lord's Apostles which made him say of them, that, with one exception, they were all clean.
We have said already, that it certainly was not because they were free from sin altogether. The Gospels contain many instances of faults, even amongst the most eminent of their number, which prove quite clearly that they were far from perfect. There are marks of ambition, of violence, of worldly-mindedness in their characters, which on different occasions drew forth our Lord's reproof. But
yet he calls them “clean,” because, as he said to them, that very same evening, they who have continued with me in my temptations.” They were men, who, when many others had gone back and walked no more with him, and when they themselves did not understand aright those words of their Lord which had given so much offence, yet replied to him, when he asked them, “ Will ye also go away?” “Lord, to whom shall we go?—thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” He calls them“ clean," therefore, because
" their faith in him had not failed; but they had continued with him in all his temptations, and loved him better than any other service.
If this is the case, then, we may think, at first sight, that we too are all clean, because our faith in Christ has never failed us, and we have continued in his service ever since we were born.
And so, indeed, we might think justly, if our notions of faith were the same as those of the Scripture. True it is, that none of us, perhaps, have ever doubted the fact of our Lord's resurrection; but it is, I fear, no less true, that many of us have, in