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LOVE TO CHRIST
JOHN XIV. 21.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
THESE words are not more important in themselves than they are interesting in their connection. The Lord Jesus was about to leave the world. Sorrow filled the hearts of his disciples at the thought of his departure. He said much to alleviate their grief: he gave them "exceeding great and precious promises." How kind were his words! "I will not leave you comfortless," friendless and destitute as orphans; "I will come to you." He did so, by the Holy Spirit, through whom he dwells in his people, and abides with them for ever. "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me." By faith, Christ is always with his disciples: they are conscious of his presence, and of his distinguishing regard. "Because I live, ye shall live also." See how the life of a Christian is involved in the life
of Christ! It flows from him, it is secured in him, it runs parallel with his eternal existence. "At that day," when I fulfil the promise of the gift of the Spirit to you, ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." These mysterious truths shall then be more clearly explained. The union of Christ with the Father, of believers with their covenant Head, and how it is that he dwells in them, are subjects more distinctly understood by the Spirit's teaching, than in any other way. But what evidence is there of union with Christ, without love to him? This love is both its evidence, and its principal effect.
Hence the text: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me-."
On this subject, the Christian's love to Christ, we shall take some notice of its REASONS-its PROPERTIES-its TEST-and its REWARD.
I. The REASONS which justify its exercise.
If we love an object, it is because we see, or think we see, something amiable in that object. Excellency is the great attractive of love.
And is there not real excellency in the Lord Jesus Christ;-" the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person?" Who can speak his worth, whom angels worship; who made all things, and by whom all things consist; in whom is moral beauty in its highest perfection? Divinity beams forth in his character in its most engaging lustre. "He is fairer than the sons of men: he is the chief among ten thousand; yea, he is altogether lovely!"
And is he not nearly related to us? Supreme as his dignity is, and perfect as his excellencies are, in the
assumption of human nature he became "bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh." In all the condescension of his grace, he calls himself our brother : "For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren *." When he asked, "Who is my mother; and who are my brethren ?" he himself gave the answer: "He stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother t." Here, then, is Divinity in kindred with ourselves. The Apostles "beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth ‡."
More than this; is he not our Friend, our kindest and best Benefactor? Truly he hath done for us what none else could do; he hath suffered for us what none else could suffer. Deeply sunk in debt, this generous Friend appeared to make the payment good: "he gave his life a ransom." Transgressors against God, the prisoners of his justice, and obnoxious to Almighty wrath, this compassionate Saviour became our Surety, stood as our Substitute, and "once suffered for sins, the Just instead of the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Languishing under the disease of sin, and ready to perish, this kind Benefactor is the great Physician, the infallible Healer of the most fatal distempers of the soul. Surely some of us can bear testimony to the sovereign efficacy of his grace; and shall we not love him? Is there not the justest reason why we should do so? Has not the Lord Jesus Christ the clearest, the strongest, claim to the warmest affection of our hearts?
* Heb. ii. 11. + Matt. xii. 48-50. † Johu i. 14.
All this may be allowed, and yet it may be said, "He is absent: how can we rationally love an invisible object?" Invisible indeed he is to sense, but not to faith. Though unseen, he is present;-present in all the tenderness of his love and care. Believers, you are assured of this! He enters into all your concerns; he sympathizes in all your sorrows; he relieves and supports you in all your trials. Is he not present? Beside-Are there no objects of affection, but what are objects of sense? You have an earthly friend; "Is it only the outward form of your friend that you love? Is it only the hand that confers the benefit, or the fect that move to serve you? Is it not rather the soul, the heart, of your friend that engages your love? Even that kindness which never fails, that sincerity on which you can at all times depend, that sympathy which makes your griefs and joys his own! Do you cease to love your friend after his body is laid in the dust? None who ever knew a friend will say so." You love him after he is dead; your heart feels attachment, and follows him with many a tender emotion, which words cannot express. You perceive the application of this; Christ is your best Friend; your Friend whom you never saw, and yet whom, on every principle of reason, you are constrained to love! What What says the Apostle to the primitive Christians? "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeak able and full of glory *."
II. The PROPERTIES by which love to Christ is distinguished.
⚫ 1 Pet. i. 8.
1. It must be sincere.-If there is propriety in that precept as it regards our fellow-Christians, much more in its regard to Christ; "Let love be without dissimulation *." A man of mere pretence, what is he? He is but "as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal." He may deceive himself; he may impose on others; but he cannot delude the Searcher of hearts, who sees every thing as it really is, and knows all characters as they really are! It was an artful question put by Delilah to Sampson, but it is instructive to us, "How canst thou say I love thee, when thine heart is not with me t?" Professors of religion, where are your hearts? Never strive to gain credit for what you do not possess. Love to Christ is nothing unless it be decided and sincere.
2. It must be supreme.-Love to any object should rise according to its degree of worth and excellency now, if Christ be the most excellent, the most worthy object, it is evident that to Him the warmest affection is due. O that you and I saw more of his beauty, and knew more of his worth, then should we give him our hearts without reserve! It is our ignorance of Christ that leaves us so cold and indifferent towards him. And when we consider that this Being of matchless perfection and glory took on him our nature, suffered and died in our stead, can we be insensible of our obligations! They rise to him as they do to none beside. "We love him because he first loved us ;" and as the love wherewith he loved us is so great, our affection to him ought surely to glow with an ardent and steady flame. Alas! our hearts are strangely unaffected. We remain unmoved by what should touch every spring of
† Judges xvi. 15.
* Rom. xii. 9.