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§ 269. The New Commandment. (John, xiii., 33-35.)

AFTER Christ, in taking leave of his own, had given them the symbol and pledge of continued communion, he said to them, in the familiar style of a father to his family, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you, and, as I said unto the Jews, ‘whither I go ye cannot come,’ so now I say unto you.724724   In a different sense, however, from that in which it was said to the Jews: the latter were to remain separated from him in spirit and disposition, but to the disciples he had given a pledge of continued communion—the Supper of the new covenant. He then proceeds to give them the commandment of the new covenant, the law of love, embracing all others, by which the inward and spiritual communion was to be outwardly manifested.A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.” The commandment of love is here called a new one, because it was the characteristic of the new covenant, in view of which the Lord’s Supper had just been instituted, and which he was then about to seal with his sufferings. It is true, the all-comprehending commandment, to “love God supremely, and one’s neighbour as one’s self,” was contained in the old covenant; but it became a new one, by its reference to the sacrifice of Christ, which expressed its essence: it demanded a love, willing, after His example, to sacrifice every thing for the brethren—the spirit of love, in a word, which was to be the soul of the new congregation of God, proceeding, of itself, from communion with him and intuition of his image. It was new, 392also, with respect to the earlier stages of the disciples’ association with him: it was only when his death was at hand that he could set it vividly before them in this sense.

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