صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

does it much signify in which sense we understand it, for it soon comes to the same point. His love to us cannot constrain us, but by exciting our love to him. And if our love to him be sincere, we must needs be exceedingly affected with his love to us. You would be ashamed to own that you loved an earthly friend solely for what you gained by' him; and I dare not say, that Christ is to be loved merely for his benefits; much less, that we must first be sure we are interested in them, before we can be bound to love him, or can actually esteem and value him. But if we are not absolutely dead in trespasses and sins, we must admire his philanthropy, his disinterested benevolenee, to such lost, ruined, guilty creatures as we are; we must love him for encouraging us to apply to him; and if we have applied to him, we must love him for inclining us so to do; and as he sends no real beggar empty away, (none but the rich in their own estimation, the self-righteous,) we must love him for all he has imparted, all he has promised, and all he has prepared for them that love him. Can you believe that he is what he is, and not love him ? that he has done, suffered, said, promised what he has, and not love him?

Who is he? The right answer to this enquiry, will authorize us to love him supremely, and enhance his love to us infinitely. A good man deserves love; but if Christ be no more than man, I am almost sorry that ever he was born, or that he was quite so good; and I should think he must be

But if I am mistaken in considering him as more than man, I may lay much of the blame on Paul, on the manner in which he speaks of Christ's love to us, and our obligations to love him. What could be said more of the love of God? Eph. iii. 19. 1 Cor. xvi. 22. If he be an idol, and I am an idolater, my sin be upon thee, O Paul, for calling him God over all; and for saying, that all the angels of God were commanded to worship him.

My sin be on Luke thy companion, for telling me that Stephen worshipped him! And on the beloved John, for telling me that Thomas called him, my Lord and my God! But wouldst thou, O Father Almighty, have stiled him thine only-begotten Son, if he had only been a son by adoption ? Wouldst

sorry too.

thou have committed all judgment to the Son, if thou hadst not intended that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father? And after he was put to death for claiming equality with God, wouldst thou have raised him up, and given him glory, and a name above every name? O Jesus! I believe thou art the Word, the true God and eternal life. · Thou didst not blaspheme when thou saidst, All things that the Father hath are mine. He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. I am present where two or three meet together in my name. And now, my Saviour, my kinsman, my brother, I love thee for becoming incarnate, for assuming human nature, and for such a purpose! I love thee for all thy condescension. Being rich, thou becamest poor for our sakes, that we through thy poverty might become rich. Yes, his love who came to seek and save the lost, and give himself a ransom for many, constrains us.

Meanwhile, we love him for loving God, delighting to do his will, magnifying his law, satisfying justice, securing his honor, and glorifying all his perfections. We love him for what he has done for others, for thousands and millions in like circumstances with ourselves. We love him for what he has done for us individually; for his invitations, his promises, his gifts, his faithfulness, his patience, his intercession, his admirable management of all our concerns. And for what we know he will do at the last day. Well may his love constrain us.

But, SECONDLY, What will the love of Christ constrain us to do?

To love him, to trust him, to rely upon him, to coincide with his whole plan of redemption : to rest with complacency in a method of salvation so honorable to God, so safe for

To receive him in all his offices, sit down at his feet, and imbibe his instructions; to abjure all self-righteousness, and depend on his mediation ; to renounce other Lords, and be subject to his authority. To be humble; for if one died for all the saved, then were they all dead ; inexcuseably vile, justly condemned. Let us therefore repent, and abhor ourselves in dust and ashes. To hate all sin, the evil of which is so strikingly displayed in the sufferings of

man.

Christ; to revenge his death, by crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof; to oppose all that opposes him; never, never to rest satisfied till sin is utterly destroyed. And remember, our hatred of sin must be not only general, but particular, and pointed especially against those evils which had once the greatest predominance, or which now most easily beset us; all irregular appetites, bitter passions, and evil tempers. If you have not love enough to constrain you to say much for him, show that you have enough to restrain your lips from all corrupt conversation, idle talk, mischievous discourse, and speaking guile. If really felt, it will constrain us to depart from all iniquity; to live not to ourselves, but to him that died and rose again; to do whatever he has commanded us; to devote ourselves to his service; to seek inward conformity to him; and to show it by external compliance with his revealed will, instituted worship, and moral duties. It will constrain us to the practice of relative duties.

Let those that are in the lowest situations show all good fidelity to their employers : thus shall they serve the Lord Christ in serving their masters; not only the good but the froward. Let the enemies of religion despair of finding any thing against you, save in the matters of your God. Be not slothful in business. Cut off occasion from them that seek occasion. If slandered, render not evil for evil, but blessing for cursing; do good to your very enemies. that are in superior stations, let the love of Christ constrain you to use all your influence for God, to recommend Christ to your dependants, to all with whom you have any intercourse, but especially to your children and relations. And should not the love of Christ constrain you to honor him with your substance? It must be weak if it cannot conquer the love of idle expense, or of sordid hoarding. Will not the love of Christ constrain you to die to the world ; to disregard the opinion of men, wherein that is opposed to the teaching of Christ; to be content to be despised, and have your name cast out as evil, being crucified to the world ? Will it not constrain you to endure persecution, or to bear common affliction, for his name's sake? Will it not constrain you to

And you

love all saints, and unite your heart to all who are one with him ? Will you not long for the salvation of souls ; for Christ to be known, loved, and honored ? Will you not long to be with him, to behold his glory? Think much of his love to you. Pray for more love to him.

CVII. THE EXPANSIVE TENDENCY OF TRUE RELIGION.

2 Cor. vi. 13. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

“How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, how complicate, how wonderful is man!” When we consider the vast extent of the universe, and the limited period of our existence, how little and insignificant a creature does man appear to be! It seems as if the whole solar system might be annihilated, and yet be no more missed than the extinction of one of the stars. Yet in this system, there have been long known three primary planets less than our earth, (besides four still smaller, discovered during the present century,) and there are three others much larger. The sun itself is computed to be above a million times larger; the Herschell, eighty times ; Saturn, one thousand times; Jupiter, fourteen hundred times as large. The earth is ninety-five millions of miles from the sun ; Jupiter five times farther; the Herschell above nineteen times farther. Can you wonder that the Psalmist should exclaim, “When I consider thy heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man, that thou art mindful of him ; or the Son of man, that thou shouldst visit him ?Yet he also adds, “ Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels; thou hast crowned him with glory and honor; thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”

FIRST: Let us consider the extensive capacity of man.

Many creatures in this world are larger and stronger than he is; yet some of these are made for his service; and he is

more than a match for the most ferocious, and can defend himself from their attacks, by the formation of his hands, the construction of weapons, the use of metals, and fire-arms; but especially by his rational powers.

Other creatures have sagacity to know and procure their food ; but man alone can contemplate all nature, and enjoy what is not directly necessary for his sustenance. He can behold the beauties of creation, and make a far more extensive use of it for his pleasure and benefit. He can examine the works of God, all the vegetables, animals, and metals dug out of the earth. He can contemplate the most distant heavenly bodies, admire their beauty, calculate their distance, measure their size, and ascertain their periods of revolution.

He has a more enlarged knowledge of himself, the wonders of his own frame; he can receive and communicate ideas; can inquire whence he came, what is the end of his creation, what. is his duty, and his future destiny? He can acquire the knowledge of past events; be interested in the history of his own species, in the most distant climes, and in former ages. He can traverse the globe, convey himself across the seas, and derive gratification from innumerable branches of knowledge. Other creatures care only for their immediate offspring, or immediate parents, or associates; but man can learn the state of man all over the globe; interest himself in their welfare; be affected with their past history; and be deeply concerned for their, future condition, and often forward its improvement. He can even look beyond death, to a future state of rewards and punishments. He can forebode endless misery, or anticipate eternal happiness; he naturally pants after immortality and everlasting blessedness. Man can form an idea of a Creator and moral Governor; can conceive of God as a judge, a punisher, a rewarder ; can receive intimations of his will, and intentionally obey or

oppose him.

SecondLY: Let us consider the tendency of the gospel to enlarge the capacities, views, and affections of the human mind.

Sin tends to debase the mind, and contract the heart. It causes many to prefer the indulgence of the body to the

« السابقةمتابعة »