صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Those who loved him here on earth for his favours, knew the motives of their love. Some knew they loved him merely for affording them food. Some knew they loved him merely for restoring their sight. Some knew they loved him merely for enabling them to hear and speak. Some knew they loved him merely for raising them from sickness, weakness, and lameness, to health, strength, and activity. And some knew they loved him merely for coming, as they supposed, to save their nation from the calamities, which they had long endured from the power and oppression of their enemies. These were all selfish motives for loving Christ, which those who felt them and acted from them, might have certainly known and distinguished from that pure disinterested love, which he so plainly taught and inculcated. It was entirely their own fault, if they mistook their selfish, mercenary love to Christ for a truly holy and pious affection. He gave them no occasion to deceive themselves upon this interesting point, but favoured them with abundant means of knowing their character and condition. The same is true of all who now enjoy the gospel which contains the marks he has given of true and false religion. Every man may know, if he loves Christ merely for his favours, that he has no true religion. And, on the other hand, every man may know, if he loves Christ for his divine excellence and glory, that he is a real christian. No man under the light of the gospel can entertain a false hope of salvation, unless he chooses to deceive himself. Of this there is great danger, but no necessity. Men are however, extremely apt to hold themselves in doubt, and to plead in excuse, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?". This is a perversion of the words of the Prophet, who does not mean to say,

that men cannot know their own hearts, but only the hearts of others. There is an essential difference between selfishness, in every form and degree of it, and that disinterested charity which seeketh not her own, and is the bond of perfection. This difference every man is capable of distinguishing, by only attending to the real motives of his love or hatred towards God, or towards Christ, or towards himself and fellow creatures. Peter knew how to distinguish his true love from every false affection towards his divine Master. When he forsook and denied him, he knew he felt and acted wrong; but when he repented and returned to him, he knew his love was pure and disinterested. This enabled him to answer promptly the trying question which Christ put to him. "Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?" He replied, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." He would not say, as he once did too presumptuously, that he loved Christ more than the other disciples; but he would say what he knew to be true, that he loved him sincerely. If any who are the true friends of Christ are ignorant of their true character and happy state, it is because they deceive themselves. And if any imagine they are real christians, whilst they are under the entire dominion of a selfish heart, it is because they choose to live in quiet under a fatal delusion. Let all hearken to the solemn exhortation of the apostle upon this deeply and universally interesting subject. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your ownselves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates."

4. If sinners love Christ merely for his favours, then nothing can induce them to love him for any thing else. No motives of temporal or spiritual good have the least tendency to alter the nature of their love, but only

to increase it. This was clearly manifested by their conduct towards Christ whilst he dwelt amongst them. When he fed them, or healed them, or relieved them from any natural evil, they loved him for doing them good, but not for his own divine excellence and glory. And when he offered them all the blessings of his kingdom, if they would give up their own interests for his and the gospel's, they would not accept the gracious proposal. He assured the rich young man, if he would sell all that he had, and come and follow him, he should have treasure in heaven; but he rejectted the offer, and went away sorrowful. He promised sinners in general, if they would renounce their houses or lands, or friends, for his sake, they should have an hundred fold more good in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. But these great and alluring motives, which he exhibited before them, had no influence to change their hearts, or to induce them to love him and his cause supremely. Many preachers of the gospel seem to imagine, that the hard selfish hearts of sinners may be melted into true love and contrition, by displaying before them the beauties of holiness, the loveliness of Christ, and the joys of heaven; but though these motives may awaken their selfish love and gratitude and penitence, yet they will not excite a spark of holy love, or joy, or godly sorrow. There is nothing in God, nor Christ, nor heaven, that sinners will love more than themselves. They lie beyond the reach of all objective light, or external motives. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, without making any saving impressions upon their hearts. Though their love and joy may be raised ever so high by mercenary motives, still their hearts will remain totally selfish and impenitent. This is the very character which the prophet ascribes to the sinner. "Let

[ocr errors]

favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness.

5. If sinners love Christ merely for his favours, then it is easy to discover the only thing, which lies in the way of their salvation. They often complain of their inability to embrace the offers of mercy, and think it very hard to be required to accept the terms of life, upon pain of eternal destruction. They say they wish, they desire, and earnestly strive to enter into the kingdom of God, but find themselves unable. This is true. But why are they unable? what difficulty lies in their way of accepting the terms of salvation? Are they not as low and condescending as possible? Christ says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Again they are told, "all things are ready. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." What can hinder sinners from accepting these kind and gracious invitations? Can they not desire and love and choose other objects? Can they not even love Christ himself for his favours? What is the difficulty then? This subject clearly shows them what it is. It is nothing but their total selfishness. They love themselves supremely, which, as long as it continues, utterly prevents their loving Christ, or the gospel, or any other object, with a truly holy or benevolent affection, Self love can never rise above self; and so long as this love possesses the hearts of sinners, it is morally impossible for them to love Christ sincerely and come to him for a holy salvation. Hence Christ plainly tells them. "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life," While sinners love selfishness, they cannot love benev,

olence. While they love sin, they cannot love holiness. While they love Christ for his favours, they cannot love him for his truly holy and amiable character. But there is no difficulty in their turning about, and exercising benevolence instead of selfishness. They are altogether as capable of exercising supreme affection to Christ, as to themselves. Their impotency is moral, and lies wholly in their free, voluntary exereises. Upon this ground, God commands them to love him with all the heart, and to make them a new heart and new spirit. Upon this ground, he not only commands but expostulates with them. "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die? Are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal?" And upon this ground, he threatens to destroy them. "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but he have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you: then shall ye call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices." This sentence is so perfectly just, that when it is executed, evey impenitent sinner's mouth must be stopped, and every holy being must say, "Let him be anathema, maranatha." Let him perish forever.

« السابقةمتابعة »