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Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but be cause ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." These persons had no love to the character of Christ, but only to his benefits. He said, "they loved him for the loaves," by which he meant not merely the bread they had eaten, but all the favours, which they had received, and which they expected to receive, from his beneficent hand. He saw the selfishness of all their friendly affections, and, for that reason alone, refused to acknowledge them as his sincere followers. The plain language of this instance of his conduct is,
That he will reject sinners, while they love him merely for his favours.
Here two things are to be illustrated.
I. That sinners may love Christ merely for his fa
II. That he will reject them, while they love him from no higher motives.
I. Let us consider, that sinners may love Christ merely for his favours. Though they are entirely destitute of grace, and see no beauty or comeliness in the character of the Redeemer, yet they may love him for seeking and promoting their own personal good.
1. This appears from their conduct towards the Saviour, in the days of his humanity. They manifested a great regard to him, while he went about doing good, and dispensing his favours with peculiar liberality and compassion. They loved him for his miracles, for his public discourses, and for all the blessings which they expected he would bestow upon the nation in general. No man, perhaps, was ever more admired and beloved by the Jews, for a time, than Jesus of Nazareth. It is said in the history of his life, "The common people heard him gladly." It is said, "All
the people came early in the morning to him in the temple for to hear him." It is said, "He taught daily in the temple. And all the people were attentive to him." It is said, "Then drew near all the publicans and sinners for to hear him." It is said, "There followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan." These were really great multitudes, for they consisted sometimes of three, or four, or five thousand people. The followers of Christ were so numerous, that it was extremely difficult to approach him. At one time Zaccheus, and at another time his mother and brethren, could not make their way to him by reason of the press. And all these multitudes followed him with peculiar ardour and zeal. "It came to pass, that the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, as he stood by the lake of Gennessaret." This fond attachment to Christ continued and increased until his last entrance into Jerusalem, just before his crucifixion. Then their affections for their long-expected and long-desired Messiah kindled into a flame of enthusiasm, and brake forth into songs of joy and exultation. "A great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way, and the multitudes that went before and that followed after, cried, saying, Hosannah to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosannah in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, this is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." Such were the views and feelings of sinners in Zion in regard to the divine Redeemer. They loved, admired, and praised
him for his favours. They felt and acted just as all other sinners would in a similar situation. For,
2. It is altogether agreeable to their selfish hearts, to love their benefactors. Our Lord laid it down as a universal truth, that "sinners love those who love them." It is their nature, "to be lovers of their own selves, and to seek their own things." Hence, they as spontaneously love Christ for his benefits, as they love their own interest. They wish to be happy as long as they exist. And so far as they view Christ disposed to promote either their temporal or eternal happiness, their selfish feelings are pleased and gratified. While he actually lived among them, some loved him for giving them food, some for giving them health, hearing, and sight, and some for giving them hopes of happiness in a future state. In these days, sinners as naturally love him for his death, for his gospel, for his gracious invitations, and for every thing he has said and done and suffered, which they imagine bears a favourable aspect upon their spiritual and eternal interests. They are indeed no less disposed to love Christ for his favours, than to love themselves supremely. But,
II. Christ will reject them, so long as they love him from no higher motives. It was his uniform practice to frown upon those, who professed to love him, or proposed to follow him, from selfish views. We find several other instances besides that in the text, of his rejecting such as he knew were attached to him by mercenary motives. When one came and said, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," he gave him this forbidding reply: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Another accosted him with equal zeal and presumption: "I will follow
thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house." This Christ considered as an expression of a selfish heart; for which he excluded him from his service. He said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." And when the amiable young ruler came to him and discovered his totally selfish heart, he sent him away sorrowful. His conduct in all these instances was exactly correspondent to his plain and repeated declarations upon this subject. He declared, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it. Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Yea, he solemnly declared, that he would as final Judge at the last day, condemn even those, who had done ever so many acts of kindness to their fellow men, without a supreme and ultimate regard to himself. Both his preaching and conduct put it beyond a doubt, that he will finally reject all, who never love nor serve him, from any higher motives than his favours.
But here some may be ready to ask, Why will the gracious and compassionate Saviour exclude from his favour and kingdom all such as love him from no other than selfish considerations? The reasons are plain; and sufficient to carry conviction to every conscience.
1. It is because those who love him merely for his favours, are mortal enemies to his person. He knew Judas was his enemy and would betray him, notwithstanding all his apparent expressions of love. And he saw the same disposition in others, who loved and followed him for his favours. The evangelist tells us, "When Christ was at Jerusalem at the passover in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." It is related in the context, that Christ delivered a discourse, which offended his mercenary disciples, and it is said, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." In the eighth chapter of this evangelist we read, "As Jesus was speaking certain words, many believed on him." But after he had more fully explained himself, we are told, "Then took they up stones to cast at him, but Jesus hid himself." When he was preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, the people "admired the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." But as soon as they perceived, that he had no partial affection for them in particular, they were filled with wrath, and attempted with violence to destroy his life. Thus some who loved Christ merely for his favours, discovered their real disaffection to his true character on particular occasions. But finally they all threw off the mask, and exhibited their mortal enmity in the most open and astonishing manner. The same multitudes, who conducted him into Jerusalem with acclamations of joy and triumph, in a few days after, cried with equal zeal and ardour, Crucify him, crucify him! and at last, stood around his cross, exulting in his dying agonies.