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ON LOVE TO CHRIST.
which glow in the sacred page; you may, you should believe, that having received Christ, he has received you.
§ 11. The love of Christ claims the return of fervent love, and a most important trait in the Christian character, is love to the Lord Jesus. The Lord himself asserts, that his friends possess this love. “ The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me." He declares that, without a high degree of this love, they are not worthy of hiin. The grand inquiry that he proposed to the apostle Peter, after his fall, an inquiry thrice repeated, was, “ Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me ?"p The Scriptures pronounce a divine blessing on all who possess this love,? and denounce an awful curse on all that want it."
How vain is every hope, as to eternity, where this love is absent. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anatheina maran-atha, an accursed creature, devoted to destruction. Had it been said, if any man hate the Lord Jesus, let him be anathema, millions that now fall under this awful anathema, would have pleaded that it did not refer to them, but the words are far more comprehensive ; If ANY man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
Though his character be ever so fair, his moral virtues ever so many, his knowledge ever so correct and extensive, his profession ever so shining, yet if he love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he falls under this anathema.
That love of the Lord Jesus which is thus required from every heir of heaven, is not love which can subsist in the soul, with love to the world and sin. It is love stronger than that which a child cherishes for a parent, or a parent for a child. The Lord Jesus solemnly declares, “ He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that lov. eth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." If there be one friend or object on earth as dear to you as the Saviour, you have no proper sense of his worth; you have no interest in him.
The love the real Christian bears to Christ is love stronger than the love of life itself. The Son of God himself declares this, He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.* To take the cross is not to subject ourselves
(0) John xvi. 27. (p) John xxi. 15. .() Eph. vi. 24.
(s) Matt. x. 37, 38.
ON LOVE TO CHRIST. to a few small inconveniences or sufferings for the Saviour's sake; but it is to tread in the bleeding way, to encounter mockery, insult, and cruelty, and at last, to close the scene of sorrow by the slow tortures of a death full of shame and agony. The Christian may not actually be called to these sufferings, yet he must possess that love for Christ, which would lead him, if he were supported by his Lord, to encounter them all, and to love the Saviour more than ease and life. Our Lord speaks of this not as the honourable distinction of a few superior characters, but as that without which any one would be unworthy of him. He, whosoever he be, that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.*
The dying love of the Lord Jesus is esteemed by his disciples vast as an immeasurable and fathomless ocean. He is indeed a friend for whom they will sacrifice every other. Thus the apostle acted : I count all things loss that I may win Christ. Learning, friends, prospects for future life, ease, health, liberty, and life, all were sacrificed by him for Jesus' sake! When, expecting that he would make the last sacrifice, his friends wept around him, he calmly said, What mean you to weep and break mine heart ? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Doubtless multitudes besides have possessed a similar spirit. Many unknown, except in heaven, and others Christ, we must refer to a custom of the age in which he lived. An able writer thus describes it:
“ The evangelist informs us that they obliged our Lord to carry to the place of execution the cross, or at least the transverse beam of it, on which he was to be suspended. Lacerated, therefore, with the stripes and bruises he had received, faint with the loss of blood, his spirits exhausted by the cruel insults and blows that were given him when they invested him with robes of mock royalty, and oppressed him with the incumbent weight of his cross; in these circumstances our Saviour was urged along the road. We doubt not but in this passage to Calvary every indignity was offered him. This was usual. Slaves and malefactors, who were condemned to this death, were compelled to carry the whole or part of the fatal gibbet on which they were destined to die. This constituted a principal part of the shame and ignominy of such a death. Cross-bearer was a term of the last reproach among the Romans. The miserable wretch, covered with blood, from the scourges that had been inflicted upon him, and groaning under the weight of his cross, was, all along the road to the place of execution, loaded with every wanton cruelty. He was pushed, thrown down, stimulated with goads, and impelled forwards by every act of insolence and inhumanity that could be inflicted. There is great reason to think that our blessed Redeemer in his way to Calvary experienced every abuse of this nature, especially when he proceeded slowly along, through languor, lassitude, and faintness, and the soldiers and rabble found his strength incapable of sustaining and dragging his cross any further.". Horne.
Thus illustrated, how solemn, how expressive is the declaration, He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
(1) Acts xxi, 13.
THE CHRISTIAN'S VALUE FOR CHRIST.
Did these form too high an estimate of the Saviour's worth ?
(v) Luke xiv. 26, 27.
SELF-EXAMINATION ON LOVE TO CHRIST URGED. 55 not, till he sacrifices his all at the foot of the cross, be my disciple.
Is such your value for the Saviour ? Can you for his sake endure the frown of friends, the ridicule of former companions, the contempt of the great mass of mankind, and perhaps decided opposition or persecution in some of its many forms? Can you endure to become the drunkard's song, to deny yourself your wisdom, your companions, your pleasures, your profits, your ease, your character, your liberty, your life, and to sacrifice all that is dearest to your heart, for Jesus' sake? If he esteems you wise, care you not who deems you foolish ? if he smiles, care you not who frowns? if he approves, is it to you a little matter who condemns ? if he bless, is it to you comparatively a trifle, though all around you curse ? It will be so, if you are counting all things loss for Jesus ; if you are in heart forsaking all for his sake; if you have indeed that value for the Saviour which his love and your wants require. Can you exclaim, Give me but a Saviour, great God, I ask no more? Let me but win Jesus, and all I need is mine.
Were the adorable Saviour to propose the question to you, that he proposed thrice to Peter, could you give a similar reply? were he to say, Lovest thou me? lovest thou me more than these ? more than all the pursuits of life? more than parents or than children? more than life itself? Couldst thou reply, “ Blessed Lord, thou knowest all things ; I cannot deceive thee. I trust, Searcher of hearts ! thou knowest that I love thee. I trust thou knowest, that though in myself the unworthiest of the most unworthy, yet that thy cross is my boast; thy heaven my hope; thy approbation my reward; thy love my ambition; thy will my rule. I trust thou knowest that I love thee more than these; if not with more of the fire of my passions, yet with a stronger and more steady attachment, an attachment stronger than my love of life. But, Lord, thou seest I would love thee more; for cold and weak is my love to thee, compared with the infinite extent of thy dying love to me." The Christian may find unspeakable comfort, when conscious of being able to make such an appeal to him who searcheth the heart, Thou knowest that I love thee. Amidst all my doubts and fears, my discouragements and perplexities, my unworthiness and corruption, amidst all
56 MOST STRANGERS TO LOVE TO CHRIST. I mourn, and all I pray deliverance from, still thou knowest that I love thee.
Is your religion a religion of this description ? or is it that common delusive thing which makes few or no sacrifices for Christ, which trembles at the frown of a friend or the laugh of a scoffer, which adapts itself to the fashions of the age, which sins against God and duty if an ungodly employer command that sin which lives in the sunshine but dies in the storm? If this be the case, even now your hope and religion are but delusion; but let me hope better things of you. Yet of millions we cannot hope better. Look at that aged man; he reads his Bible, he goes to church or to meeting, no atrocious vices stain his life, but he is vain, impenitent, worldly; he stands on the brink of the grave, and yet, with all the eagerness of youth, is grasping a departed world. He thinks he is a Christian : but does he prefer the Saviour to all beside ? See that aged woman; the world is her portion; she grows fonder and fonder of it, more and more careful about it; as vain, as trifling as in her youngest years. Does she count all things loss for Christ? Behold that young man beginning life ; moral and amiable, but putting off the concerns of the soul to future years. He enters the busy scenes of time with eagerness, but is careless of eternal scenes. His time is devoted to the shop, the counting-house, the study, or the farm. His conscience sleeps, because no flagrant guilt alarms it. He assumes the Christian name, and goes on the sabbath to the house of prayer ; but does he count all things loss for Christ ? Observe that young woman. Her deluded friends think her innocent and safe. She spends more time at her glass than with her God. She is more careful of the fashion of her dress, than of the conversion and salvation of her soul. Does she part with all for Christ? Alas! what myriads are there of such, perhaps amiable and inoffensive persons, who, after all, are so far from being Christians, that instead of sacrificing every thing for Christ, they part with nothing, and never denied themselves one vain delight, or resisted one temptation, from regard to him.
$ 12. Observe how this heavenly grace was exercised by that great and blessed man, the apostle Paul. He expressed it as his prayer, that Christ should be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death, and added, For to me to live