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But he has a new creed; new from first to last. The man soon discovers that all he knew before was ignorance, and that his creed was unsound from first to last.
It is not a mere excited state of feeling-a mere tenderness. Fine music will teach us this; beautiful architecture can have a great effect, wooden crosses can have a mighty influence, and all the tricks that Papists make use of, to produce a spurious devotion. A man may have it all, and know nothing of the love of Christ; he may be wrought upon to tears, and fall down in a fit, and yet know nothing of the love of Christ; he may have tender and fine feelings, and yet be a stranger to all that is holy. Oh! these are days when these strings will be touched. We shall hear it. It is not a mere alteration of conduct. Herod "did many things;" he "heard John gladly," and yet kept his Herodias. Much may be done from mere natural feelings and principles. There may be much alteration in outward conduct, and yet not one atom of Christian love.
My dear hearers, the love of Christ is quite another principle. It springs from an enlightened conscience; it has to do with an enlight ened judgment; and it purifies the heart. And saints have indeed cause to love Christ. Did He not stand forward on their behalf, engaging Himself in an everlasting covenant that He would save them? Did He not undertake to become man for them, and to be despised, scorned and rejected of men? Did he not, as man, "bear their sins in His own body on the tree?" And did He not bring in and work out an everlasting righteousness for them? Oh! He has given costly proof of His love. Did He not engage to seek them out in the cloudy and dark day?" And has He not actually sought out many of you that hear me, and "placed you upon His shoulder rejoicing?" Who can declare His love-the love that bears with all your infirmities, sympathises with all your sorrows, rectifies all your mistakes, teaches you wisdom in the development of your own folly, and sanctifies your souls in the midst of all the entanglements of sin and corruption? Who can set forth that love, which comforts, and at the same time rebukes; that weighs a man down, and at the same time lifts him up; impoverishes him, and yet gives him "the true riches?" Who can declare the love of the Holy Spirit, that never loses His grasp of your hearts, and makes you lose your grasp of the creature? How wondrous is that love, that is always educating you—training
you up for heaven, winning you from earth, giving you the first fruits of glory, and preparing you for it! Have you not cause to love Him, who lived for you, who died for you, who now lives for you, who intercedes for you, who pleads on your behalf at a throne of grace, who watches over you more than a miser watches over his gold, and more than a mother watches over her child? Who can set forth that love which is engaged to bring you to heaven, and will bring you there, that really love Him? If this be not love, where is love ever to be found? He deserves all our love.
But this is not all the argument; because it maintains that all true disciples do love Him.
My dear hearers, when we consider our wondrous imperfections, short comings, failures and misdoings; when we consider what we really are in secret (and remember, as a man is in secret, so he really is); when we turn over fairly the page of conscience,'and think of our love towards Him; who shall wonder that the question often rushes into the spirit
"Do I love the Lord or not ?"
And yet, beloved, try it by all the tests that will bear upon all the affairs of life, and I would say, the weakest believer "loves the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." If, for instance, you test your love to Christ by the same proofs, that you test your love to any dear friend, you will find clear, manifest and distinct proof of it. Do you object to this sort of proof, and say it is below the subject? Our Lord reasons thus: " If f ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him ?" Just so His servant reasons: "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness." Do not let us be afraid of that argument. Test your love to Christ by the love you have to some dear friend, and you will find the proofs of it -if ye "love Him in sincerity."
If a man be very dear to me, I love to be with him. It is not enough, that I behold the window where he sometimes appears; I want to see him. What are ordinances but the lattices-the windows
through which Christ makes himself known, and is seen by His saints and disciples? You read the Word of God; it is God's appointed way of finding Him. You hear the Word of God; it is God's appointed medium for seeing Him. You bend the knee in prayer; it is God's appointed medium for meeting him. You often call upon the Lord in secret, perhaps in the midst of the occupations of life; it is one of God's choicest means whereby He developes His presence in the Son of His love. You see Him at the table of the Lord; it is one of His choicest mercies-would that it were more appreciated by the saints of God! But ye do not see him; ye cannot find the perfection of His work; ye cannot find the atoning blood sprinkled on your conscience-does the open window satisfy you? Ye love Christ too well to be satisfied with it. Then I would say, you "love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," because nothing short of Himself will ever satisfy your souls.
If by any unkindness to a dear friend we have caused him to with. draw from us, so that we see his face no more for a time, we search after him, and we cannot rest till we have found him. My dear hearers, see the Church of God, as discovered in the fifth chapter of that precious book-the Song of Solomon. "I opened to my Beloved; but my Beloved had withdrawn Himself, and was gone: my soul failed when He spake; I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer." But she went on seeking Him till she found him. She did not give over her search, till she was enabled to say, in the third verse of the next chapter-"My Beloved is mine: He feedeth among the lilies." True love cannot rest till it has found. We go to our family devotions, we seek the Lord in secret prayer, we mingle with the saints of God, but we cannot find rest till we have found Him. We have His friends, we have those who love Him, and we have His blessed Word; but we want Himself. They will not do. It is the case with some of the giddy crowd, that go out to see our queen. They see the splendour of the court, they see the lords, they see the outward display of majesty, but what they want is the queen. So with those who know Christ. They cannot be satisfied with this one or that one; it is the Lord Jesus they want to see. Ah! beloved, those who know what Christ is and who Christ is, know what it is to hear the Word without Him, and you that preach know what it is to preach without
Him; but the finding of Christ makes the soul thirst after that, which none but Himself can give.
Observe again: if I have a dear and beloved friend, I love his likeness. Although it may be but a very poor and feeble likeness, with many failures in it, yet there may be something about it which reminds me of him; and I love it because I love him. So do 1 love the saints of God. It is but a poor likeness—a faint resemblance; yet I see Christ in it. I see something of His meekness, tenderness, and love in it; and though it be but a poor picture, it reminds me of Him; and I love it for His sake. It is the true principle of brotherly
I am conscious of this principle too; that if I have a dear and beloved friend, I am concerned that others shall love him, and speak and think well of him; and that their hearts should be drawn out towards him. And so it is with the children of God. Observe in the first of John, that no sooner had Andrew heard the mighty call, than he searched after Simon; and no sooner had Philip heard it, than he searched after Nathanael. It marks out a principle, and exhibits the truth of what I am now speaking of. Ye parents that hear me, could ye but see in your dear child the breaking down of its proud heart, the humiliation of spirit, and withdrawment to prayer; could ye but see that beloved friend bow before God, it would be more to you than a thousand worlds. How many parents that hear me can say, 'I would give more than a thousand worlds to see that child love Christ; could I see the mighty power of God bringing that soul to Christ!' Why is it? Because we love Him, we love that others may love Him.
I might pursue the resemblance to a much greater extent; but I must not do so, because the subject would be too wide. I would merely content myself with saying this; that if you and I love Christ "in sincerity," we love to please Him. There are numbers who profess to be Christians in these days, (and we shall have a mighty increase of them,) but do not love Christ. They have no pretensions to love Christ. Some look to Him as a helper, but know nothing of Him as a Saviour; some look to Him as a prophet, but know nothing of Him as a priest; some speak well of Him as a prophet and a priest, but not as a king. Do they love precept, as well as doctrine? Do they love sanctification, as well as justification? Do
"Ye are My friends, if ye do Ah! it is the test of all tests.
they want to do His will? It is the test by which our Lord tests every one; and it is the test of tests-" He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me." "If a man love Me, he keepeth My words." whatsoever things I command you." Behold, then, the marks of love to Jesus Christ "in sincerity :" imperfection in all things, and yet, sincerity in all! How many there are, of those that hear me, that dare not say but that they love the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet their hearts often sink, as they look to that love and think how poor and how weak and how infirm it is!
11. But now observe, secondly, the benediction that is here spoken of, and uttered by this beloved apostle upon all such: "Grace be with all them, that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity."
our Lord gave as
If you read the
not find a word
We are not to understand by this, that the apostle wished there might be more grace in the heart of God toward them. It is one of the wonders of wonders, that any man can deliberately kneel down and ask God to love him more; there is not a saint upon earth, that has any warrant for it. If you read the prayer, which a form of prayer, you will not find a word about it. seventeenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, you will about it. Why? It is quite manifest that such a prayer would deny that infinite love had been shown. The love that has been from eternity, has been boundless-without a limit; and that which is infinite cannot be added to, or taken from. My dear hearers, when God gave His Son for your souls, He gave you an infinite proof of infinite love. "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And is not that the reasoning of the apostle? "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall