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SERMON XI.

OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR'S FRIENDSHIP FOR HIS

DISCIPLES.

St. John xv. 15.

Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant

knoweth not what his Lord doeth, but I have called you friends.

When the apostle tells us that our blessed Saviour has left us “ an example that we should follow in his steps ),” he does not point our attention only to his great and exalted qualities, the objects of our admiration, but which are almost beyond our imitation ; but he directs our minds also to all the domestic and social virtues, all the minor excellencies, in which, as well as in the greater, he was eminently conspicuous. Whether as a relation or a friend, whether as a son or a subject, we find him no less attentive to perform his duties, than he was ready to discharge those of his divine character, as a priest, a prophet, or a king. In the less as well as in the greater offices of life, as a man as well as God, do we find him ever consistent with himself, pure, perfect, and sufficient.

11 Pet. ii. 21.

The virtue to which we are now about to direct your attention, and which in him became more fair and beautiful, is one which has always been considered among men as the most amiable and delightful. It is that which links man to man by mutual sympathy and mutual necessity; which endears by affection those offices to each other which are required by our situation, and which makes us readily perform to others those kindnesses which they have need of, and which we may mutually expect from them, and which our duty would oblige us to do, even if our inclinations were averse from them. Of all the virtues which soften our calamities, which add to the comforts of society, which promote good will towards men, and general peace and benevolence upon earth, there is no one which has so great a tendency to effect this purpose as “ friendship.”

That “the Prince of Peace" should shew an eminent example in the practice of this peaceful perfection we may not wonder; that he should be as conspicuous in his friendship for his personal friends, as he was in his general love for mankind, may appear but a necessary accompaniment of his character. But nevertheless it may not be unprofitable to us if we examine the bearings of this part of it, and endeavour to draw to light the various particulars in which it shone. It may teach us, though, indeed, at a very great distance, to endeavour to imitate him ; and it may suggest to us, when we see with what kindness and consideration he behaved to those who were so much below him, and who were only by his benevolence exalted to the high place of honour and friendship in which he was pleased to place them, the beauty, nay, more, the obligation of lowliness of mind, and of condescension.

Our blessed Lord, upon his entrance upon his public ministry, selected from among the crowds which followed him twelve of the most zealous and most sincere, to be his more immediate companions. He called them his disciples, or pupils; he gave them the name of his apostles, or those whom he might send as his own representatives, to teach and to preach in his name, as for himself. He empowered them to work miracles of a similar nature to those which he himself had performed. Lastly, having tried them in various ways, being well convinced (with one exception) of their sincere love for him, being about to be removed from them, and seeing them cast down at the prospect of the proposed removal, that he might at once raise their hopes and their spirits, he condescended to call them by a name no less pleasing

and affectionate on his part than it was honourable to them. He called them his “ friends."

It was while he was spending his last evening with them, the night before he suffered, that he was pleased to do so. This time he past in the exercise of the most free and open communication with them. Although while he was speaking, he was aware that they did not entirely understand him, yet did he utter discourses to them which he intended that they should afterwards remember. But in the course of his unreserved language, he had much to say which severely affected and troubled them. In order, therefore, to console them, he bade them take confidence in his love for them, and repay it by a mutual love for one another. He thus began his lesson of comfort and instruction : “ This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you; greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends; ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I

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