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defires, for a sealed and clear interest in his love this day : Tell him, it is a mercy thou valueit above life ; thy favour is better than life, Pfal. Ixii. 3. Tell him, thou art not able to live with the jealousies and suspicioos of his love; thou art but a torment to thyself, whilst thy interest in his love abides under a cloud. Beseech him to pity thy poor afflicted foul, which hath lain down and risen fo long with these fears and tremblings, and been a stranger to comfort for so many days. Tell him, how weak thy hands have been, and still are, in duties of obedience, for want of this strength and encouragement. Engage thy soul to him this day, to be more active, chearful, and fruitful, ia his service ; if it will please him now, to free thee from those fears and doubts, that have clogged thee in all thy former du. ties. O, cry unto him in the words, and with the deep sepse of the spouse in this text ; “ Set me as a seal upon thy heart, (which hath a most vehement heat,) as a seal upon thine
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire,” &c.
THE T W E L F TH
knowledge. The knowledge of Christ, and of his love, is defervedly, in
this place, fet down among the desiderata Christianorum, the most defirable enjoyments of believers in this world. This love of Christ had centered the apoftle's heart; he was swallowed up in the meditation and admiration of it, and would have all hearts inflamed and affected with it, as his was.
Some think the apostle speaks extatically in this place, and knows not how to make the parts of his discourse consistent with each other, when he puts them upon endeavours to know that love of Christ, which himself confesses to pass koowledge.
But though his heart was ravished with the love of Christ, yet there is no contradiction or inconsistency in his discourse. He doth earnestly desire for the Ephesians, that they may know the love of Chrift; i.e. that they might experimentally koow his love, which passeth knowledge : That is, as fome expound it, all other kinds of knowledge ; yea, and all knowledge of Chrilt, which is not practical and experimental. Or thos: Labour to get the clearest and fulleft apprehensive knowledge of Chrift, and his love, that is attainable in this world, though you cannot arrive to a perfect comprehensive knowledge of either. Mens humana hoc et capit, et non capit ; atque in eo capit, quod rapitur in admirationem ; as others reconcile it.
The note from it is,
knowledge of the most illuminated believers. The love of Christ is too deep for any created understandiog to fathom; it is unfcarchable love, and it is so in divers re. fpects.
1. It is up searchable, in respect of its antiquity : No understanding of man cao trace it back to its first (pring; it flows from one eternity to another. We receive the fruits and effects of it now; but, o how apcient is that root that bears them! He loved us before this world was made, and will continue fo to do, when it shall be reduced into alhes. It is said, Prov. viii. 29. 30, 31. “When he gave the sea his decree, when he appointis ed the foundations of the earth; then was I by him, as one “ brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing " always before him : rejoicing in the habitable parts of his “ earth, and my delights were with the fons of men."
2. The freeness of the love of Christ passes knowledge. No mad koows, nor can any words exprefs, how free the love of Christ to his people is : It is said, Ifa. lv. 8. My thoughts are not your thoughts. The meaning is, My grace, mercy, and love to you, is one thing, as it is in my thoughts, and quite another thing when it comes into your thoughts. lo my thoughts, it is like itself, free, rich, and unchangeable ; but in your thoughts it is limited and narrowed, pinched in within your ftrait and narrow conceprions; that it is not like itself, but altered according to the model and platform of creatures, according to which you draw it in your minds. Alas! we do but alter and spoil his love, when we thiok there is any thing io us, or done by us, that can be a motive, ioducement, or recompence to it. His love is so frce, that it pitched itself upon us, before we had any loveliness in us at all : “ When we were " in our blood, he said unto us, live;" and that was the time of love. It did not stay till we had our ornameots upon us ; but embraced, us in our blood, in our most loathfome state ; and of all seasons, that is the season of love, the chosen time of love, Ezek. xvi. 7, 8. Christ loved us, not upon the account of any foreseea excellency in us, or upon any expectation of recompence from us : Nay, he loved us not only without, but agaiolt our deserts. Nothing in nature is fóvad so free, as the love of Christ is; our thoughts therefore of this love going be- ! yond all eximples and inftances that are found amongst men, quickly lose themselves in an immense ocean of free grace, where they can find aeither bank oor bottom.
The bounty and liberality of the love of Christ to his peo. plu, passeth knowledge. Who cao number, or value the fruits of his love? They are more than the fands upon the fea More. It would weary the arm of an angel, to write down the thoufandth part of the effects of his love, which come to the share of any particular Christian in this world. Who can tell how many fios it pardons ? " The free gift is of many offences “ unto justification;" Rom. v. 10. How many dangers it preveots; or how many wants it fupplies? This, we koow, that “ of his fulaess we all receive grace for grace ;" Joha i. 16. But how full of grace Christ is, and how many mercies have flowed, and shall now to us out of that fountain of love ; this is uoknown to men, to the best, wisest, and most observant men. O if the records of the mercies of our lives were, or could be gathered and kept, what vast volumes would they fwell to! It is true, indeed, you have the 'total fum given you in Cor. iii. 22. All are yours; but it is fuch a oumber, as no mao can qumber.
The constancy of Christ's love to his people palleth know ledge : No length of time, no distance of place; no change of condition, either with him or us, can possibly make any
alteration of his affections towards us; “ He is the same yesterday, “ to-day, and for ever," Heb. xiii. 8. It is noted also by the evangelist, Joho xiii. 1. " That having loved his own whichi
were in the world, he loved them to the end." It is true, his condition is altered; he is no more in this world converfiog with his people, as he did once in the days of his flesb: He is now at the right-hand of God, in the highest glory; but yet his heart is the same that ever it was, for love and tenderness to his people. Our conditions also are often altered in this world; but his love suffers no alteration. Yea, which is much more admirable, we do many things daily, that grieve him, and of fend him ; yet he takes pot away bis loving-kindness from us, nos fuffers his faithfulness to fail. We pour out so much cold water of unkindness and provocation, as is enough to cool and quench any love in the world, except his love, but notwithing all, he contioues unchangeable in love to us. This Peter fouod, notwithstaoding that great offence of his : No fooner was the Lord tiles from the dead, but he greets him is the
file of his former love and antient respect; Go tell the disciples, and tell Peter.
Se then the love of Christ is a love transcending all creature: love, and human undertanding. We read. in Rom. v. 7, 8. that “peradventure for a good man, fome would even dare to * die;" but we never find where any, beside Jesus Chrilt, would lay down his life for coemies. It is recorded as an upparalleled instance of love in Damon and Pythias, the two Sieiliaä philolophers, that each had courage enough to die for his friend One of them being coödemoed to die by the tyrant ; and defiring to give the last farewel to his family; his friend went into prison for him, as his furety to dic for him, if he returned dot at the appointed time : But he did not die ; yea, he had such a confidence in his friend, that he would not fuffer him by default to die for him; and if he had, yet he had died for his friend. But such was the love of Christ, that it did Dot only pät him into danger of death, but put him actually un to death, yea, the worst of deaths, and that for his enemies. O what manner of love is this ! We read of the love that Jacob had for Rachel, and how he endured both the cold of winter, and heat of fummer, for her fake. But whát is this to the love of Jesus, who for us endured the heat of God's wrath? Beside, she was beautiful, but we onlovely. David wihed for Ablulom his fon, Would God I had died for thee! But it was but a wish; and had it come to the proof, David would have fhrinked from death, for all the affection he bare his beautiful fon. But Christ actually gave his life for us, and did not volý wishi he had done it. O love, transcending the love of creatures ; yea, and surmounting all creature-knowledge !
The uses follow.
1. That ever it pitched at first on thee.
upon thee ; for are there not millions in the world, of sweeter fempers, and better constitutions than thyself, whom it hath passed by, and yet embraced thee? “ Lord, (faid the disci« ples) how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself into us, and
pot unto the world ?” John xiv, 22. Surely he did not fee his love' upon thee, nor chuse thee, because ihou wast better than others, but because he loved thee.
2. It is admirable, that his love to thee is not extinguished by so many fios, as thou hast committed against him. Lay thy hand, Christian, this day upon thy heart; and bethink thyself, how many have been the provocations, wrongs, and difhonours thou haft been guilty of against thy God, and that since he called thee by his grace, and fet his love upon thee. What, and yet love thee ftill! Yea, potwithstanding all, he is still thy God, and loves thee with 30 unchangeable love. O, with how maoy potwithstandings is his love continued to thy soul ! All this is just matter of admiration and wonder for ever.
3. Is the love of Christ past koowledge, an upsearchable love? Then learn, whence and why it is, that the fouls of believers dever are, nor can be tired, in beholding and enjoying Jefus Christ. We use to say, one thing is tirefome ; and it is very true, if it be an earthly thing, it will be fo, how sweet or excellent soever it seems, at first: And the reason is, becaule the best creature-enjoyment is but a shallow thing, and a few thoughts will found it to the bottom; and there being oo supply of new matter, to feed the hungry foul upon, it is quickly fated and cloyed with the repetition of the same thing over and over. But it is far otherwise in Chrift: For though he be but one, yet in that oue thiog all thiogs are virtually and eminently contained ; fo that every day he seems a new Christ for sweetness, aod yet is the same Christ Nill. And io heaven the redeemed fhall view him with as much wonder, and love him with as much ardour, after millions of years, as they did at their first sight of him. O, there is no bottom in the love of Christ; it passeth knowledge.
4. In a word ; Beltow your best and chiefeft love upon Christ, whose love to you passeth all knowledge. Let no creature be loved equally with Chrift; but as his love to you paffeth all creature-love, so let yours to him be a matchless love.
Believer ; Christ loves thee with an upsearchable love; he loves thee more than the dearest friend, that is as thine own foul, loves thee. He loves thee more than thou loveft thy child, or the wife of thy bofom; more than thy foul loves thy body, with which it is so iatimately united : And wilt thou CCDIERE