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ever, and he will be my guide even unto death." I love him, and he loves me ; I am the object of his choice, and he of mine; he stands in the most endearing relations to me, and will fill up every relation to his own honour, my present comfort, and everlasting joy. No less than heaven itself is contained in those two words, “ My God." Those that can truly use them need not mourn for any loss, and may rest secure of every blessing. In other things we always find less than we expected; in God, more.
II. Thus to reveal the Father is the work of Christ; and this he did personally when upon earth, and now does in the use of means, and by the agency of his Spirit.
1. He did it personally when upon earth. In the person and ministry of Christ there was a glorious representation of all the attributes and excellences of Deity. “We beheld bis glory," says the Evangelist, “ as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." With respect to his divine nature, he was the essential, with respect to his human nature, the representative image of God. In this doctrine he manifested the will, in his miracles the power, and in his whole life the purity and truth, of his divine Father; so that, by copying his example, we live to God here, and are fitted for the enjoyment of him hereafter. the Evangelist, “ hath seen God at any time; the onlybegotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him."
2. He does this now in the use of means, and by the instrumentality of his Spirit. Various are the means to be adopted for this purpose, such as prayer, reading, hearing, meditation, and christian conversation. These are all rendered effectual by the Spirit; he rouses us to inquiry, removes our prejudices, and enlightens our minds. These operations harmonize with those of the Father and of the Son. The Father witnesses to the Son, and the Son to the Father, and the Spirit to both, who is therefore said to “search all things, even the deep things of God," not for his
- No man,” says
and infirmity; and whereas others teach ministerially, he does it powerfully and effectually. I proceed,
III. To shew that the knowledge of the Father which Christ communicated personally when he was upon earth, and now imparts by his Spirit, is of a very satisfactory nature. To be the greatest favourite in the Persian court was not enough for Haman; nor a kingdom for Ahab, without Naboth's vineyard ; nor a whole world for Alexander the Great. But the language of the gracious soul is, “Shew me the Father, and it sufficeth me; I want no more, I desire no more." Here we may observe
1. The real comfort and satisfaction of the soul consists in seeing and enjoying God. “ As for me,” says David,—"as for me," may every christian say, “ I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” In God's presence is not only joy, but fulness of joy. There is nothing will content that man who is not contented with an experimental knowledge of God.
2. It is only a sight of God, afforded by and in the Lord Jesus Christ, that is thus satisfying and contenting. To know God out of Christ is to know him as an inexorable judge, an implacable enemy, or, as the Apostle expresses it, “a consuming fire.” It is neither sanctifying nor saving knowledge; it drives from him instead of leading to him, and excites terror instead of producing comfort. We may have some general notions of God, but we never know him aright till we know him in Christ. This will induce trust, enkindle desire, satisfy our thirst for knowledge, and fill us with peace and joy; nay, it seems as if from Christ the angels have their clearest knowledge of God. God is in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; and till we can thus view him, he will be the object not of delight, but of dread.
O let us all then join in this request! Some want to see strange places, great curiosities, absent friends ; St. Austin wished to see Christ in the flesh, Paul preaching, and Rome in its glory. Let us say with Philip, “Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" and let us say it to Christ. It is he alone
that can reveal Him, and to do this is a part of his prophetical office, an office too little regarded ; and yet without it his other offices would be of no service to us. He is the Dayspring from on high that hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Can you be contented, my brethren, without the grace and knowledge of God? Is your language like that of the giddy multitude,—" Who will shew us any good ?" If so, you are in a woeful state indeed; for as it is life eternal to know, so is it death eternal to be ignorant of, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent; and him whom you will not know to your comfort here, you will know to your everlasting confusion hereafter. On the contrary, that acquaintance which is begun upon earth will be completed in heaven, which is therefore called the “beatific vision," because its happiness chiefly consists in the knowledge of God.
ON THE LOVE OF GOD.
JOHN XVI. 27.
For the Father himself loveth you,
have loved me. The persons addressed in my text were those who had followed Christ in all his tribulations, cleaved to him when others forsook him, and parted with all for his sake; and yet, how great was their blessedness ! “ The Father himself," says their blessed Master, “loveth you because ye have loved me.”
These words present to us, Ist, an amiable character, and, 2d, a distinguished privilege.
I. An amiable character-lovers of Christ.—Divines have, in various ways, set forth and recommended this love, sometimes in reference to the essential character, as consisting in complacency and esteem, benevolence and desire, and delight: “ Who rejoice in Christ Jesus,” says the Apostle, “ and have no confidence in the flesh.” Sometimes they speak of its peculiar properties,--sincere, spontaneous, supreme, active, constant, and persevering. I shall now take a different method, and hold it forth to you in the following points of view:
1. It is the love of a debtor to his surety, or of a criminal to the person by whose means his pardon has been obtained. We are all indebted, infinitely indebted, to the law and justice of God, and have nothing to pay! Now Christ became a surety for insolvent sinners, saying to the Father, under the character of a creditor or judge, as Paul
to Philemon concerning Onesimus, “ If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put it to my account, and I will repay it.” Such suretyships are represented in Scripture as dangerous : “ He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it.” Christ became such a surety, and he smarted for it. It cost him his life-his heart's blood! The original threatening, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” in its full weight fell upon him; the debt contracted was demanded of him, and he paid it; the wrath deserved was inflicted upon him, and he bore it: thus restoring honour to God, and bringing peace, comfort, and happiness to man. The process against the criminal is now staid; and instead of being cast into the prison of hell, he is reinstated in the favour of his Sovereign, and raised to a state of the highest dignity and glory. And shall we not love such a surety, such a Saviour, who "poured out his soul unto death” in our stead; who suffered, as the Apostle expresses it, “ the just for the unjust, to bring us to God?" Surely such a love is rational, and built upon a solid foundation; so, surely, it ought to be fervent. Penitent sinners should love much, because they have had much forgiven. We should love other things with moderation; but he that hath so loved us as to give himself for us, should be the object of an unrivalled and unbounded affection.
2. It is like the love of one friend to another. The bonds of friendship are oftentimes closer and stronger than those of nature. “There is a friend,” says Solomon, " that sticketh closer than a brother.” Such a friend was Jonathan to David. His brethren insulted and abused him; but “ the heart of Jonathan was knit to him as his own soul;" and such a friend is Christ. He is our first friend in point of time, dignity, and claims; and he is a fast friend. Dr. Young says,
“ 'Tis highly prudent to make one sure friend,
And that thou canst not do this side the skies."