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. “ Son, which is in the bofom of the Father, he hath dę. " clared him."* It is he who makes our peace with God, whom we had offended by our transgressions; for “being « justified by faith, we have peace with God through our “ Lord Jesus Christ.”+ And it is he who reconcileth our minds to God, by discovering his mercy to us; fo that he might well say of himself, “ I am the way, and the truth, " and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by “ me."I
I might easily shew, that the love of God is the source, the sum, and the perfection of holiness. All other duties naturally flow from it; nay, all other duties are nothing elle but the necessary expressions of it. But instead of en. tering into a particular detail, suffer me only to observe these two things; First, that a believer is under the conftant influence of gratitude to God; and, secondly, That this includes in it, and will certainly produce, the most fincere and fervent love to all his fellow-creatures.
1. A believer is under the constant influence of grati. tude to God, and that not of a common kind. It is not merely thankfulness to a bountiful and liberal benefactor, for mercies which have not been deserved, but a deep sense of obligation to a Saviour, who loved him, and wash. ed him in his own blood from the guilt he had contracted; who saved him by his own death from the dreadful penal. ty which he had incurred. What the influence of this must be, we may gather from the words of the apostle Paul, “For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we " thus judge, That if one died for all, then were all dead; “ and that he died for all, that they which live should not " henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which “ died for them, and rose again.
I cannot immediately drop this subject, but intreat the reader to observe how deeply a sense of redeeming love must be engraven on the heart of every believer. On how many circumstances will he ex patiate, which serve to magnify the grace of God, and point out the force of his own abligations ? The infinite greatness and glory of
John xiv. 6.
• John i. 18. VOL. I.
Rom. v. 1.
God, independent and all-sufficient, that he should have compassion on the guilty sinner, and say, “Deliver him “ from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom." O, how piercing those rays of love, which could reach from the Godhead to man! To this he will never fail to add his own unworthiness, his numerous, aggravated, repeated provocations. He never lofes fight of those fins which first compelled him to fly for refuge “to the hope “ set before him." His own interest obliged him to remember them before, as exposing him to condemnation, and he is now willing to confess and record them, as ferv. ing to illustrate the divine mercy.
And let us never forget the unspeakable gift of God, " that he spared not his own son, but delivered him up for "s us all.” How shall we sufficiently wonder at the boundless mercy of the Father, and the infinite condescension of the Son, when we reflect upon his incarnation, and on the astonishing end of his appearance in our nature, that he might “ bear our sins in his own body on the tree.” Did he overcome all his enemies in his last conflict, and “ make a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in “ his cross?” And shall he not also, by the fame means, reign in his people's hearts, and be the sovereign Lord of all their affections ?
To all this, I shall only add that glorious inheritance, which is provided for every “vessel of mercy,” after he hath passed his preparatory trials. How well may we join with the apostle Peter in this solemn form of thanksgiving, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Chrilt, “ which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten “ us again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the " dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and " that fadeth not away."* Now, when all these circumstances are considered by the believer, together with such as may be peculiar to himself and his own paft conduct, must he not be ready to cry out, “Lord, what wilt thou " have me to do! O that I knew how I might repay fome “ finall part of my infinite obligations! O that I knew by
* 1 Pet. i. 3, 4.
66 what means, or at what expence I might magnify and “ do thee honor! Write thy laws in my heart, and put “ them in my inward parts, and enable me in every por“ fible way to shew that I love thee, because thou hait firit • loved me.”
2. This plainly includes in it, and will certainly produce the most sincere and fervent love to his fellow.crea. tures. As love to God is the first, so love to man is the second cominandment of the moral law. » We have our Lord's own authority for saying it is “like” unto the first; and that love which “ worketh no ill to his neighbour” is the “ fulfilling of the law.” Every one is ready to acknowledge, that love to man is an important branch of practical religion. But many great pleaders for this duty do not sufficiently attend to its inseparable connexion with the love of God, and in particular, with a sense of redeeming love, or the love of God in Christ: Yet is there no such principle of universal love any where to be found?
In order to take a short view of this, it will be proper to distinguish our brethren of mankind into the two gene. ral classes of bad men and good. As to bad men, the fame love to God, the same concern for his glory, which fills the Christian with grief and indignation at their most da. ring offences, inspires the most ardent desire for their recovery and salvation. This is the only love to them which is either acceptable to God or profitable to themselves. It will shew itself in all the offices of kindness and huma.. nity ; in instructing them where there is ability, admonishing them where there is opportunity, and in pleading for them at the throne of grace, to which there is always undisturbed access. The believer, knowing the danger of sin, and having a prospect of approaching eternity, is moved with compassion for blind and inconsiderate fin. ners. Their conduct leads him to reflect upon the de. pravity of his own nature, and earnestly to pray, that they may be partakers of divine grace.
He that loveth God is under little temptation to hate his brother; or rather, in so far as he loveth God fincerely, he is under none at all. Hatred commonly ariseth from envy and rival pursuits. But a Christian, more than
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fatisfied with his own portion, hath no occasion to envy others, either what they possess or prosecute. In what a contemptible light does he look upon the honors, riches and pleasures, about which there is so violent a firuggle among worldly men? It is impossible, therefore, that he fhould hate those who do not interfere with him, though in many cases he is disposed heartily to pity their folly and delusion.
Nay, the matter does not even reft here, for the Christi. an is laid under the most express command to “ love his" personal “ enemies, to bless them that curse him, to pray " for them who despitefully use him and perfecute him." This is the glory of the gospel, which gives the doctrine of Christ a lustre far superior to the most admired fyftems of human virtue. And however hard a saying it may appear at first view, when we congder the character and hopes of a penitent finner, and the example of his expi. ring Saviour, it hath nothing strange or incredible in it at all : That he, who expects, from the free grace of God, pardon for his innumerable and aggravated offences, should be ready to forgive the far flighter trefpasses of his brethren against himself. Or rather, that he should take the highest pleasure, and think it his honor to do so, when he remem. bers his Redeemer's dying words, “ Father, forgive them, " for they know not what they do.”
As to good men, there is no manner of difficulty : they are united together by the tenderest and the strongest ties, and love one another with a pure heart fervently. It was no wonder, that when Christianity was in a perfecuted state, the heathens should make the reniark, “Behold how " these Christians love one another !” They had a common character, a common Saviour, common fufferings, and common hopes. And must it not be the fame ftill? for "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer per. “ secution.” If they are not persecuted with the swords, they shall be persecuted with the tongues of men. They have the strongest motives to love one another, and nothing to divide them, for there can be no rivalship or jea. Jonly between those who possess or court the “ true richbes." There is enough in an all-sufficient God to satisfy the desires of all his faints; and they being intimately united to the one only living and true God, must of con. sequence be united to one another. This is the tenor of their Saviour's intercessory prayer: “ That they all may “ be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that “ they also may be one in us: that the world may believe " that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest “ me, I have given them: that they may be one, even " as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they “ may be made perfect in one, and that the world may "know that thou haft fent me, and halt loved them as " thou haft loved me."*
T SHALL now close this discourse with some practical 1 improvement of these important truths. Several re. flections have, indeed, already been interwoven with the particular branches of the subject, and the light which they throw on other parts of religion pointed out. I shali, therefore, at this time, only make a few observations upon the whole, and proceed to a serious address to all my readers on this most interesting subject. And,
ist, From the various truths above established, and the order in which they have been opened, we may see the indissoluble connexion between salvation by the grace of God, and holiness in heart and conversation. We may see their equal importance and their influence upon one another. There are many who attempt to divide those things which God hath infeparably joined. Many inlist only on the duties of the law of God and our natural obligations to obedience; and are hardly brought to any mention of the righteousness of Christ, as the ground of a finner's acceptance before God. Nay, fome scruple not to affirm that the doctrine of justification by free grace, or
John xvii. 21, 22, 23.