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tend to justify such reasoning; I know it is groundless and unjust: but, let me alk you, Is it not often used? and may it not be expected from the greater part os mankind, who judge of things by a false appearance? If, then, you possess any ingenuity of mind, any tenderness and regard for the glory oi the Redeemer, you will study, by your conduct, to prevent this aspersion. Can you be easy under the apprehension of contributing to such reflections on the Son of God? And will you not tremble to think, that you should be the unhappy occasipn of such injuries to religion? Never, therefore, pretend to be Christians, the followers of the immaculate Lamb, while, indeed, you are impious and wicked. Let not the name of God, the honour of our dear Redeemer, and so venerable a thing as Religion, be exposed to contempt, by your inconsistent practice. But, let me beseech you, that you walk consistently •with your prosession, that you live in conformity to Christ's example; and, as you prosess to abide in him, that you walk as he also walked.
And now, to conclude: Would you show yourselves Christians' indeed; would you do honour to religion, and adorn the doctrine of Gcd your Saviour; would you retrieve the credit of the gospel, so deeply wounded in the house of its friends, and make your religion appear to the world in its native beauty; in a word, would you reap the joys of holiness yourselves, and recommend it efsectually to others: Then, be persuaded to imitate the example of ChristStudy his temper and lise, as they are represented in the gospel-history; earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to form you into a resemblance os Him; and be always Tising in a real conformity, till at last you. arrive at the stature of persect men in Christ Jesus. To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be everlasting praise. Amen
ON PERSEVERANCE IN THE LOVE O* CHRIST.
J o H N XV.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: Continue ye in my love.
THESE words are part of our Saviour's farewelsdiscourse to his disciples• in the beginning of this chapter, he represents the mystical union between himself and sincere Christians, by comparing it with the vine and its branches. As there is a natural union between the vine and the branches, so there is a spiritual union between Christ and believers; and this union is the cause of fruitsulness in the works of new obedience and a holy lise. There are some, indeed, who seem to be grasted into Christ by an outward prosession, who, because they are not vitally united to him, derive no saving influences from him, by which they might be enabled to bring forth fruit. These, he tells us, his heavenly Father will lop off, and take away, as unprositable and dead branches: "Every branch in me," says her ** that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and
** every "every branch that beareth fruit, he purgefh it, that "it may bring forth more fruit (a)." And, because all our fruitsulness depends upon our union with Christ, as the fruitsulness of the branches depends upon their union with the vine, he exhorts his disciples, in the beginning of the 4th verse, to continue or abide in him, by the constant exercise of faith and love, that he might be engaged to abide in them by the influences of his Spirit: "Abide in me," fays he, "as I in you." This exhortation he enforces i:i this and the two following verses, by representing to them, the absolute necessity of their abiding in him, in order to their fruitsulness; the extreme danger of apostasy, or not abiding in him, namely, that of final rejection, and being cast into the sire, zs a fruitless branch taken from the vine; and, lastly, the great benesit and advantage they, on the other hand, would reap, by their abiding in him, viz. the sull answer of their prayers. In the verse immediately preceding the text, he recommends to them abounding fruitsulness, as that which would redound to his heavenly Father's honour, and be a manisest proof, both to themselves and others, that they were his disciples: "Hereby," says he, "is my Father glorisied, that "ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples." And then follow the words of the text, expressive os the love of Christ to his disciples, and enforcing, from the best motive, the continuance of their attachment and regard: " As the Father hath loved "me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.'
In these words, you may observe an important duty recommended to us, " Continue ye in my love.' This may be understood, either of Christ's love to his people, or of their love to him; or, rather, both may be included, for they are inseparably connected. As if he had said, "Take peculiar. care, ye, who "are my disciples, make it your constant study to
r» John xv. 2.
'•* remain stedsast in your love to me; for this will be "the best way to maintain, and keep up, the com"fortable fense and assurance of my love to you; "this will establish you in my love, and draw forth "the tokens and manisestations of it, more and "more, to your fouls."
We may also observe the powersul argument our blessed Saviour makes use of to enforce this exhortation: "As the Father hath loved me, so: "have I loved you." An astonishing expression of the condescending grace of Christ. His Father loved him, who was insinitely worthy; and he loved his people, who were most unworthy of his love: nay, he loved them with a pure and tender affection, bearing some proportion and resemblance of his Father's love to him; a love which, as it far transcends all created understanding, can be compared with no other, but the love of the Eternal Father to his only-begotten Son. Our blessed Saviour, therefore, sets before his disciples, in the text, his astonishing love to them by this lively comparison, as an argument to engage them to continue in his love: " As the Father," says he, ** hath loved me, "so have I loved you: Continue ye in my love."
In discoursing on this subject, I shall endeavour, by Divine assistance, Firs}, Ho consider the love of Christ to his people, as it resembles his Father's love to him. Secondly, The important duty he insers from it; or, what it is to continue in his love. And then conclude with some practical improvement of what may be said.
I. Let us then consider the love of Christ to his people, as it resembles his Father's love to him, and observe the propriety and justness of the comparison.
1. The Father's love to Christ, was coeval with eternity itself. For as they are one, in being and in operation, their complacency in each other is mutual, insinite, and from everlasting. Thus, we are informed, " That the Lord possessed him in the begin"ning of his way, before his works of old."—" I "was with him," fays he, "as one brought up with ** him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always "before him («)." But, not to pry into this awsul darkness, or rather dazzling light, in which God necessarily dwells, far beyond the reach of humart thought, let us observe, that the love of Christ to his people, resembles, in this respect, his Father's love to him. For, like the fountain from which it flows, it was from everlasting. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever he had formed the earth and the world; while, as yet, there were no deeps, nor 'any fountains abounding with water; even then, he Tejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights were with the fons of men. In a word, no sinite mind can sully understand the origin of his love, or trace it back to its sirst spring. This can only be done by Him, who is himself from everlasting, and who, at one view, discerns the past, the present, and the suture. Hence, Jesus our Redeemer, loved his people from all eternity; and, as an evidence of it, he cheersully undertook to accomplith their redemption, even in the certain prospect of the deepest humiliation, and the most painsul sufferings: "Lo, I come," fays he; " in the volume of the "book it is written of me j I delight to do thy will, "O my God."
2. The Father's love to Christ, is a very dear and intimate love. Hence, he is faid in scripture to be his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased; an expression which strongly implies that dear and tender affection, which the Father bears to him. And such, likewise, is the love of Christ to his people, a most sincere, endearing, and intimate love; a love that never was, and never can be equalled. "He loved
00 Prov. viii. as.