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"Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter said 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.

"Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, not my feet only; but also my hands and my head.

"Jesus said 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.

"For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean." (John xiii. 6—11.)


THE astonishment of Peter was so great, in beholding the Lord of life and glory condescending to so. wonderful an act of humiliation, and unable to account for it on any principle whatever, that when he saw Christ approaching towards him, to perform the same menial service, he exclaimed, "Lord, dost thou wash my feet?" We shall better enter into the apostle's feelings on this occasion, if we consider what had taken place before this event, which was among some of the last in Christ's ministry. Peter had been admitted to behold the glory of Christ, in the mount of Transfiguration. And Peter had been taught by the Father who Christ was, when, among the people of Jerusalem, various were the opinions concerning him. (Matt. xvi. 13-19.) Hence in the impulse of the moment, he thus expressed his surprise; conscious of the Lord's glory, and conscious of his own vileness, and as he had said before on another occasion, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Luke v. 8.)

I beseech the reader not to overlook the importance of Christ's answer. It was intended not only to


overrule Peter's objection, but to be of everlasting usefulness in the church of Christ, and among all the mysterious exercises of the Lord's people, from generation to generation. Jesus speaks to his tried ones, upon every occasion, when their way is dark, and his providences seem thwarting: "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Matters may appear discouraging. The promises, as if impossible to be accomplished. But these are as in our view. Clouds only intervene to obscure the face of the sun. But these effects are below that great luminary of the day. All is bright, and in one continued serenity above. And the promise is absolute; "at evening time, it shall be light." The Lord's time is always the best time; and the Lord's people upon every exercise would do well to have in rememberance these words of the Lord: "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.

And I beg the reader on another account, to observe with great attention those words of Christ; for they prove that somewhat more than the mere cleansing of the feet was veiled under this condescending act of Christ, but was symbolical of some greater mystery. And when Peter still persisted in refusing to receive this attention of the Lord Jesus Christ, saying, "Thou shalt never wash my feet;" then the Lord's reply opened in part somewhat in a way of explanation: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." And it appears by the apostle's answer, that he himself discovered it; for he instantly said; "Lord! not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." You observe how changed the apostle's words are. Before, he had totally declined the Lord's intention; and in a way of great positiveness, had declared that it should never be done. But now, convinced by our Lord's expressions, and by the manner

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in which Jesus spake, that a matter of infinite moment was in it, he begged that not his feet only, but his hands and his head might be partakers of the blessing. And the Lord added, that the being washed by him included every needful ablution; for it made the receiver" clean every whit." And what is not the smallest consideration, in reference to the doctrine contained in this washing of the feet; the Lord, in allusion to Judas, who was still present, drew the line of distinction between his faithful disciples and the traitor, by saying: "And ye are clean, but not all: for he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, ye are not all clean."

It will be time now humbly to inquire on Scriptural ground, what might be supposed among the mysterious events included in this humiliation of Christ; and which, under divine teaching, may be in some measure understood from those several expressions of our most glorious Lord.

And first: In relation to the act itself of washing. This was among the services of the Jewish church. We find the Lord giving commandment by Moses to Aaron; for "Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet in water, in a laver of brass, when they went into the tabernacle of the congregation, that they died not." (Exod. xxx. 17-21.) And hence in after ages, we hear the prophet, under the Holy Ghost, calling upon the ministers of the sanctuary, to "touch no unclean thing;-Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." (Isa. lii. 11.) And hence we read in the description of the gospel church which John saw in vision, that there was a "sea of glass, like unto crystal, before the throne." (Rev. iv. 6.) Now these were all figurative expressions of the being washed by Christ. Hence the exhortation; "Having an High Priest over the house of God: let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having


our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. x. 21, 22.) And all the redeemed and regenerated church of our most glorious Christ, are said to have been made partakers of those divine ablutions; when by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, we are saved from the ruins of our fallen nature. "And such were some of you; but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. vi. 11.)

But secondly: The advantage of the washings under the Old Testament dispensation, and all the ordinances under the New, depended not upon the outward administration of them, but the inward and spiritual effect. It is the great hinge on which the mysterious part of this divine service wrought by Christ himself hangs; that it was not the simple act of the outward washing, on which the Lord laid the stress of the blessing; but the inward and divine operation he himself communicated them with." If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." As if the Lord had said; By this outward ministration, I mean to shew you the necessity of my church in every individual member of my mystical body being washed in my blood. And whosoever is not washed in my blood hath no part with me. The outward ministry, without the inward blessing, had nothing but the mere symbol. It was like any other act of Christ's outward ministry while upon earth; such as his preaching. Hence we read, that some will pretend to avail themselves of this argument at that day: and say, "We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say; I tell you, I know you not whence ye are ; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity." Such was Judas now, among the number, who had in common with the rest, enjoyed the out

ward means, but no inward effect. And such there are, and will be, in every age of the church, who mingle with the Lord's people, but are not of the Lord's people; unto whom the Lord hath spoken, and doth now speak in words like those of the prophet: "When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seven month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?" (Zech. vii. 5.) As if the Lord had said: What spiritual knowledge had had you of me in those bodily ordinances? What communion passed from me to you by my Spirit, saith the Lord? Thirdly: If the reader will look a little more closely to our Lord's words, as delivered personally to Peter, and the Spirit of illumination shines on the Lord's words; and at the same time if this reflection from the words shines into the reader's heart, he will perceive that the words of Christ are, If I wash thee not; that is thy person, not thy feet; not in the elementary water, but in my blood; not by the outward cleansing, but by the inward grace. Here an everlasting distinction is drawn between all the means, however many, or however good in themselves; which after all, are but means, and not the end; and the divine operations of the Father's love, the Son's grace, and the Spirit's fellowship. In the participation of these, as the whole sum and substance in the covenant of grace, all the efficacy of salvation depends; and without these, the words of Christ, as delivered to Peter, hold with equal strength of application from age to age: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

And lastly, to add no more: The highly favoured objects of this saving grace, need no more than the personal love of the Holy Three in One, to each individual member of Christ's mystical body, as they are in Christ, by this divine manifestation of the Lord to their hearts; for as the Lord said to Peter, by that

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