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tain the comfortable sense and experience of it in our fouls. This, our Lord himself tells us, in the verse immediately following the text; "If ye keep my "commandments, ye shall abide in my love." In a word, it is in this manner we may taste and see that the Lord is gracious, and have it to fay with the apostle John, "'We have known and believed the love * that God hath to us. God is love; and he that "dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in "him (£}." But what this is, a privilege how comfortable and enriching, they only know, who are fo happy as to enjoy it.
2. To continue in the love of Christ, is to be stedfast and persevering in it to the very end of lise. Our love to Christ must not be merely an occasional, b»t a settled and constant affection of the mind. We arc to love him at all times, and in every circumstance of lise; in prosperity and adversity; when he frowns, as well as when he smiles. I acknowledge, indeed, there may be many interruptions and abatements in the experience and seeling of our asfection toward him. The Christian's love may be interrupted in its growth by the neighbourhood of many noxious weeds; and it may fometimes wax cold through the prevalence of iniquity: yet still, the settled convicv tion of the believing foul is, that Christ is altogether lovely, and that nothing must come in competition with him. If we become careless and remiss in our love to Christ, an intermission in the exercise of this grace will quickly follow; and therefore, we are under the greatest obligation, to be always upon our guard, and to be frequent and servent in prayer at the throne of grace, that our hearts may be sixed and established in love^ In a word, we. must cleave to the Lord with sull purpose of heart, walking and dwelling in love, and fo rooted and grounded in it, that we may never draw back; but be stedfast and
(*) t John iv. i4.
immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as we know that our labour of love shall not be in vain in the Lord.
I am now to direct your attention to a practicalimprovement -of this subject.
What reafon have we to admire the love of Christ to his people, as it is compared to the Father's love' to him? It is a proof of ignorance and weakness* to admire those things which are common and mean; but it is no less an evidence of stupidity, not to be affected with things that are noble and exalted. Now, the love of Christ to his people, is the greatest, the; most unexampled love, that ever was; an instance of affection, indeed, fo noble and exalted, that, in contemplating, we cannot but admire it. Nay, the more we employ our thoughts on this love, the more astonishing it will appear. Is it not a subject for eternal admiration, that the Son os God, the brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his perfon, should love any of Adam's guilty and rebellious' race, as his heavenly Father loved him? Justly maywe adopt the apollle's words to express our admiration; "O the height, and depth, and breadth, andt "length of the love of Christ! it passeth knowK ledge." In proportion as we esteem a favour, our' asfection should be exerted towards the perfon who procured it. Now, in consequence of Christ's love,we are preserved from every thing we would most anxioufly shun, and we receive every thing we moll fondly hope for. We are restored to the favour of God j we receive the forgiveness of our sins; we enjoy the riches of his grace, the assistance of his Spirit, and the prospect of happiness which shall never endAre not those blessings calculated to preserve in our .minds, a constant and prevailing desire to continue in* his love?
If your country, or yourselves, were preserved by** X 3 th© the interposition of a brave man, in the hour of danger; or, even though you were not concerned, yet the relation of an honourable deed, would_ inspire you with fome sentiments of delight, in the contemplation of a disinterested character: How then should your hearts burn within you, when you know, that this perfon is your best friend, that his love was stronger than death, and that he procured the best blessings which God can give, or man receive ?j
But I shall now address myself to you, who have no love to Christ, and consequently cannot continue in his love.
Consider, I intreat you, the particular nature and consequences- of your.conduct. In not loving that excellent and glorious Perfon, whom we endeavour to recommend to your esteem and affection, you in fact declare, that you have no regard to his mercy, that you despise the riches of his grace, and hate his holiness and purity, his justice, his government and laws. You are averse, in the inmost temper os your fouls, to the Author of your being and happiness, to that gracious Redeemer, who has done and suffered fo much for you, and is still making you the most bountisuhoffers of his insinite love.
But, is this conduct wise, or ingenuous, or fase? Will God never arise, in the sierceness of his anger, to consume the workers of iniquity? Is their no threatening in the facred scriptures, if not sufficient to reach conviction to your hearts, yet calculated to make you tremble when you look forward to the Judge of all? If you continue not in his love, on what circumstance do you lay the foundation of your suture and everlasting peace. "If any man" fays the apostle, "love "not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema "maranatha," i.e. accursed unto the coming of Christ. And without all doubt, if you continue without love to him, when he comes to judge the world, he will not take off this curse, but seal it upon you to all eternity, nity, by that awsul and decisive sentence,' " Depart "from me, ye cursed, into everlasting sire, prepared "for the Devil and his angels." O, then, as you love yourselves, and would escape everlasting misery, think serioufly on these things'; bewail the base ingratitude and haidness of your hearts; and earnestly beg of God, that he would take away their emnity, and dispose them to love the Redeemer.
But, Secondly, I (hall now address myself to those, who, though they cannot deny that they love our Lord Jesus Christ, are yet complaining that their love to him is fallen under a fad decay, with respect to the degree and exercise of it. Be not discouraged; your anxiety and concern for the coldness and decay of your love to Christ, is an infallible proof that you love him in sincerity. But, on the other hand, beware of floth and negligence.—You ought,
1. To search into the cause whence the decay of your love to Christ proceeds. It may be, you have been too much attached to the world, to self, or fome other beloved idol, which hath drawn away your heart from Christ, and possessed the place he formerly had there. It may be, you have given way tounbelief, to harsh and distrustsul thoughts of Christ; and this has had a tendency to cool and abate your love to him. Whatever be the cause, endeavour to sind it out; mourn over it before the Lord, and be folicitous above all things to get it removed.
2. Be much employed in serious meditation, particularly on the love of Christ, in reading his word, and spiritual conserence; for these are excellent means for recovering your wonted love to him. But, especially, be servent and frequent in the duty of prayer. Plead with God for the quickening influence os the Spirit, that fo your heart may burn within you, and. you may be able to triumph with the Church, "This "is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters "of Jerufalem I"
But, 3. Let every real believer, without distinction, every sincere lover of Christ, continue in his love. Be caresul to maintain your love to him, by a lively and vigorous exercise; diligently improve every opportunity that may be afforded you of testifying your love, and be stedsast and persevering in it to the very end of lise.
This is your unquestionable duty. Your divine Lord and Master has expressly commanded you to do so. Nay, you have bound yourselves in a solemn manner at his table, to be constant in your afsection to him, and saithsul even unto death. So .that you are under the most sacred obligations to continue in his love.
This is what you are obliged to, also, in point of gratitude. Tor, is not the love which Christ has expressed for you, wondersul beyond all conception? It bears the nearest and most persect resemblance to the Father's love for him; a love which insinitely transcends the most enlarged comprehension of the highest seraph. Sure, then, if you have any sense of gratitude, you ought to continue in his love. Do you love them who have promoted your interest in this world? Do you retain a gratesul remembrance of their kindness? Are you ready to express your gratitude, and shall you not much more continue in His love, who has done and suffered such amazing things for your redemption?
This also is your best and truest interest-. For it will be a powersul incentive to every duty, and make you stedsast and cheersul in a course of religious obedience. It will preserve you, when exposed to temptations, from making sinsul compliances to the dishonour of God, and the wounding os your own consciences. In a word, this is the best way you can take to maintain the comfortable sense of his love to you, and to have it more and more shed abroad in your hearts.. x