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They shall be happy in the happiness of all holy beings, and in the glory of God. In view of these things, Moses, Abraham, all the patriarchs and prophets, were influenced to the noblest exertions in the cause of God, rising in their views above this presentevil world. Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses and examples, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race set before us—looking to the recompense of reward, even. Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith ; who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Then when he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory— receive the glorious recompense of reward, that of seeing him as he is, being made like him, enjoying him, and rejoicing in his blessedness, and the blessedness of all holy beings for ever.
Unto HIM that 118, and ovarshed us from. our sins in his own blood. -
How great, how mysterious, is the love of God. to men, displayed in the work of redemption .It is. celebrated by the heavenly hosts, with unceasing songs of wonder and joy. Angels, though not the immediate subjects of it, desire to look into it, as the most glorious display of the divine perfections. It is celebrated by glorified saints, more understandingly and feelingly, than by the angels. These sing a new song—a song which none can learn, but those who are redeemed from the earth. “And they sang a new song, saying thou art worthy to take the Book; and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood.” Such is the employment of the church triumphant in the heavenly world —and shall not the church militant join the choir, and even on earth anticipate the songs of the New Jerusalem 3 Yes. All the chosen and called —every true Christian, whatever may be his difficul
ties and temptations in the world, is ready to bear a humble part, in meditating upon the wonders of redeeming love, and offering up devout ascriptions of praise, to “Him who loved them.” Whenever the love of the Father and of the Son in the work of redemption, is mention.cd in the sacred scriptures, it is represented as being great and glorious, and even passing knowledge. “God so loved the world,” said the inspired evangelist, “that He gave his only begotten Son. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, in that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might have life through Him.—Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son, to be a propitiation for our sins. Walk in love, as Christ hath loved us, and given himself for us.” It is frequently repeated, that Christ hath loved the church, and given himself for it; and so eminent and signal is this love, that it is considered as his character and name. As in Rom. viii. 37. “ Through Him that loved us;”—and in the text, “to Him that loved us,” —to Him : It is not said, who he is. There is no antecedent to the pronoun, him ; and no proper name is applied to him. Yet no Christian can be at a loss respecting the person intended. What is said is a sufficient description of him—“he that loved us.”—
LovE is his name, and LovE will for ever be his me-
morial in the church. Upon this occasion, when we are about to celebrate, in these memorials, his death, it may be proper and profitable to turn our thoughts, for a moment, to the nature and degree of this love—the manner in which it was manifested ; and the returns which we are obligated to make unto Him that has so loved us.
I. Of the nature and degree of the love of Christ.
With respect to the nature of it—it is free—it is .disinterested. The love which mankind naturally
exercise, is wholly selfish ; and great degrees of selfishness remain in the most benevolent men. We are disposed to do good to those, who can return the frvor, more readily than to those, from whom no advantage is expected. We naturally love those who love us. This is only a particular modification of selfe-love. But the love of Christ was not excited in any such way. We had not done any thing to oblige him, nor was there any thing in us to move Him, but our wretchedness. “Herein,” says the apostle “ is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” The disinterestedness of the Saviour’s love appears further in this, that we were not only destitute of love to Him, but were his enemies.— “For,” says the apostle, “when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” Again, “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And farther, “ For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, &c.”— Such is the nature of the Saviour's love, perfectly disinterested, according to the representation of scripture, which is the only criterion of judging upon this, subject. Again, how GREAT, as well as free, is the love of Christ : There is nothing to compare with it. The highest degree, to which the love of man ever rose, was for one friend to lay down his life for another. “Greater love,” says Christ, “ hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” But the God-man, has greater love—He has laid down his life for his enemies. The apostle intimates, that the love of Christ exceeds all thought and comprehension. “That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which hasseth knowledge. It is above our understanding. We cannot find it out to perfection, We know not the full dignity of his person, nor the greatness of his condescension, and therefore cannot measure his love. But, though it cannot be measured, nor comprehended, yet every real Christian, every one who is a partaker of the lose and Spirit of Christ, delights to study, and to search into it, and to know more and more of it. The saints know something of it, and desire to know more. And in proportion to their knowledge, is the strength of their desire. With the holy angels, they earnestly desire to look into these things. Their knowledge of them will constantly increase, and yet never come to an end. But the nature and the greatness of the love of Christ, will still further appear, while we proceed,
II. To mention briefly the manner and means by which it was manifested.
I. How readily did he undertake for sinners in the covenant of redemption. The wisdom of God, as law-giver and governor, insisted on an atonement for sin, in order to the salvation of sinners, that He might be just in justifying the ungodly. This was to be done, only by the Son, taking our nature and dying a victim. To this he cheerfully consented. “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire—then said I, lo I come.” Nor was he less forward to perform than to undertake for sinners. In the fulness of time, he came into our world. “ The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” He laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before the world Was. Though in the form of God, and equal with the eternal Father, yet he took on him the likeness of sinful flesh, appeared in the form of a servant, and submitted to pain, poverty, and conte mpt. What gracious condescension was this in the great. Lord of heaven and earth : “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says the apostle, “ that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor.” Yes, my