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"us," fays the apostle, " and gave himself for us nay, " he loved us and washed us from our sins in "his own blood." 'What stronger proof, what more asfecting instance could he possibly have given of the greatness of his love? Had he ranfomed us by the blood of all the animal creation; had he even given the whole angelic host to die for us, supposing their death could have procured our lise -, it would have fallen insinitely short of the tender expression of his love, in his giving himself for us, and shedding his own most precious blood for our redemption. Never was there an expression of affection and regard equal to this. Let the Redeemed1 of the Lord fay fo, whom he hath faved from the hand of the enemy. And, now that he is passed into the heavens, and far exalted above every name, he is as mindsul of the interests of his people, and as tenderly concerned for them, as when he was nailed to the cross, and poured out his foul an offering for their sins. _ In all their afflictions he fympathises with them. He guides them by his counsel; he comforts them by his Spirit; and, at last, he will put them in possession of heaven itself, when the review of his love will constitute part of their happiness, and be the subject of their fong to everlasting ages.
3. The- Father's love to Christ, is an incomparable love; a love, that insinitely transcends our highest conception; and such alfo is the love of Christ to his people. There is a height, a depth, a breadth, and a length in it, that passeth all understanding. There have been instances of love among men, truly great and extraordinary. Some of the ancient Heathens laid down their lives for their friends and country. But, what were all these in comparifon os the love of Christ? Only as the faint glimmering of a taper, compared with the resplendent light of the sun. "Greater love hath no man," fays our Saviour him*self, than that a man lay down his lise for his
** friends "friends (r)."—" But God commendeth his love to** wards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ "died for us." There must be fome real or imaginary persection, fome similarity of disposition, or fome favour conserred, to excite the love of man to man. In all these respects, the love of Christ insinitely transcends the greatest example of human love. There was nothing in human nature worthy of his regard; there was no similarity of disposition to excite his afsection ; and he could never have been benesited by the highest exertions of mankind. In purity, in the disinterested nature of his interposition, and in the. compassion of his nature, nothing in this world can be compared to the character of Jesus Christ. Hence, the apostle Paul can sind nothing in language to express his seeling, and admiration of his love; and hence the redeemed of the Lord will never cease to celebrate His praise, who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his blood.
4. and lastly, The Father's love to Christ, is constant, invariable, and everlasting; and such alfo is the love of Christ to his people. Their love to him, in* deed, is often inconstant; alas, too often a sudden •sit and fally of affection, which burns for a little, and then vanishes away. But his love is constant and invariable; the fame to-day, yesterday, and for ever. It is true, indeed, he may seem to forfake them for a seafon, and to hide his face, as it were, for a moment; he may withhold the sensible manisestations of his love, and, because of their sins, chastise them with the rod of affliction: but still his love is sixed and unchangeable, the fame when he frowns, as when he smiles. In what endearing language does he address them by the prophet Ifaiah? "For a small moment," fays he, " have I forfaken ** thee, but. with great mercies will I gather thee. w In a little wrath have I hid my face from thee
(/) John xv. 13.' •
"for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will u I have mercy on thee, faith the Lord, thy Redeem"er. For the mountains shall depart, and the hilU "be removed ; but my kindness shall not depart front "thee, nor the covenant of my peace be removed, "faith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Hence, Jesus loves his people with an everlasting love; a. love that has made the most ample provision for their immortal fouls; and in the happy fruits of which, the redeemed of the Lord will rejoice and triumph for ever.
II. I now proceed to explain the duty in the text, of (hew you what it is to continue in the love of Christ: "As the Father," fays he,. " hath loved me, fo "have I loved you: Continue ye in my love."
1. It is to continue in the lively and vigorous exercise of love to Christ. It is indeed true, that the habit and principle of love, when formed in the foul, can never be wholly eradicated; for it is a divine seed, Which the Almighty hand of the Spirit has planted, and therefore it will never die away or be rooted up: "Whofoever is born of God," fays the apostle John, "doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in "him («)•" But, at the fame time, let every sincere lover of Christ remember, that though this divine principle can never be wholly extinguished, it may yet languish and decay. The Christian, like the church of Ephesus, may fall from his sirst love; and therefore, we should take particular care to cherish and maintain this heavenly seed, this divine spark of love kindled in the foul. In a word, we should guard against whatever may have a tendency to cool, or abate our love to Christ; and endeavour, by frequent meditation and prayer, to preserve alive the vigorous exercise of it in our fouls.
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2. To continue in the love of Christ, is cheersully to embrace, and diligently improve, all opportunities of testifying our. love to Him. For this is the way to maintain our interest in his love, and establish our own hearts in love to him. We should testify our love to Christ,
(1.) By shewing forth the honour of his name, and celebrating his praise-: " I will bless the Lord, "at all times," fays the Pfalmist; " his praise shall ** be continually in my mouth." And, in the Song of Solomon, you may observe how much the Church is engaged in this delightsul exercise. She has her beloved ever in her mouth, and is still celebrating his praise. In the 5th chapter, for example, where, after many affectionate descriptions of his character, sinding his praises to exceed her powers of utterance, she exclaims with admiration, " Yea, He is ako** gether lovely! This is my beloved; this is my ** friend, O daughters of Jerufalem!"
(2.) We should endeavour, as far as our power and influence can reach, to promote the interest of his Jcingdom in the world. - For though he himself has ascended into heaven, he has still a cause and interest on earth, which he has very much at heart. H© 'wants to have sinners faved, his church enlarged and purisied, and truth, charity, and holiness propagated among men. We should therefore testify our love to Christ, by a zealous concern to advance this his interest and kingdom. In a word, we should reckon Jiis cause our own, and be diligent in using all proper means to gain subjects to his kingdom, and converts to his gospel.
(3.) We should testify our love-to Christ, by expressing a just indignation, and discovering our concern and forrow for the injuries that are done to his honour: "I beheld my transgression," fays the Pfalmist, ** and was grieved. Rivers of water ran down mine
eyes, because the wicked keep not thy law." It
should should grieve us, and awaken in our breasts a just indignation, to see our blessed Saviour despised and dishonoured by sinners; his precious blood and righteousness undervalued; and himself crucisied, as it were, asresh, by the profane and scandalous lives of those \?ho prosess to be his disciples: " Many walk," fays the apostle, "of whom I have told you- often, and "now tell you, even weeping, that they are the "enemies of the cross of Christ (a)."
(4.) By shewing kindness to his friends and disciples for his fake. He himself is now, indeed, above the reach of .our services. Our goodness cannot extend to him in his \ resent exalted state; but he has friends and relations in our world, who are capable of receiving'benesit from our friendship and benesicence. We should, therefore, manisest our love to Christ, by shewing kindness to them, for his fake j and this, indeed, is one of the most sensible and endearing expressions of our love to him; a facrisice, with which he has declared himself well-pleased. Nay, he expressly tells us, that what we do to them, for his fake, though even the meanest ofsice of kindness, the giving them but a cup of cold water in distress, he will account as done to himself: "In as much," fays he, ** as ye have done it unto one of the least of these "my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
I shall only add, that we should testify our love to Christ, by a tender and circumspect, a cheersul and univerfal, obedience. And this, indeed, is the best/and most substantial evidence of love to him. Accordingly, we sind, that he mentions it again and again, as the distinguishing test of our love, and the principal way in which he expects we are to express it: " If "ye leve me," fays he, "keep my commandments -y "ye are my friends, if ye do whatfoever I command "you." And thus we should labour, in a special manner, to secure our interest in his love, and mainX 2 tain (*) Phil. iii. r».