« ZurückWeiter »
ministry, it will at this time, be illustrated and enforced. To do this aright, your attention is solicited to the following topics of discourse :
1. To the motive itself ;
II. The manner in which this motive operates upon the heart; and,
III. The effects which it produces on the life and conversation.
I. The motive itself is the love of Christ. This is either the love of Christ for believers, or their love for him. The first always produces the last. “We love him,” saith the apostle,“ because he first loved us'.
“ " He
himself for us, a sacrifice unto death
He is the great Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. Greater love than this has never been displayed. Influenced by this, he left his Father's bosom, abandoned the glories and honours of heaven for a season, became an infant of days, made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, was numbered among transgressors, and finally died the accursed death of the cross. How strong this love! how noble! how disinterested!
C1 John iv. 19.
how godlike! It has a length, and breadth, and depth, and height, which passeth knowledge. It is unparalleled in the history of the world, and cannot be adequately conceived by the greatest imagination. As to its originating cause, it is unmerited; as to its nature, it is pure, steady, free from caprice; as to its duration, it is everlasting. In the exercise of this love, Christ
be considered as a Friend, and a Master. As a Friend, he is the Son of man, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. He was made like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted, and that for their sakes. He is not ashamed to own them as brethren ; he calls them friends. As a Master, he is the God who made them, and the Lord who bought them. To him they are indebted for their existence, preservation, temporal mercies, and covenant blessings. His friendship they do not merit by their virtues, and against his authority they have rebelled. Such is the love of Christ in its simplest view, as experienced by the apostle and all believers.
II. The manner in which this motive operates upon the heart, is the next thing in order to be considered. This the apostle
unfolds, when he says, ,
• 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 them
selves, but unto him which died for them, “ and rose again.”
The love of Christ is exercised towards sinners. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Those for whom he died were dead in trespasses and sins. Human nature was once perfect, but is now corrupt. Man was once a noble temple, in which dwelt the divinity, but now that temple is in ruins, and the divinity is retired.
“ You come,” says an eloquent writer', “ amidst all this confusion,
as into the ruined palace of some great “ prince, in which you see here the fragments “ of a 'noble pillar; there the shattered
pieces of some curious imagery; and all
lying neglected and useless amongst heaps 66 of dirt.
He that invites you to take a “ view of the soul of man, gives you but “ such another prospect, and doth but
· Behold the desolation, all
c Howe's Living Temple, vol. 1. p. 156. folio ed.
things rude and waste.' So that, should “ there be any pretence to the divine pre
sence, it might be said, “ If God be here,
why is it thus ?' The faded glory, the “ darkness, the disorder, the impurity, the
decayed state, in all respects, of this temple, too plainly show the great Inhabitant
gone.” Such is the state of man as he comes into the world, confessedly ignorant of God, and an enemy to him. As such, he is exposed to his justice, and abhorrent to his holiness. To rescue him from this state, is the object of Christ's love. He offered in the councils of eternity to rebuild the ruined temple of human nature, and to make it fit for the great Inhabitant to return to it, and cheer it with his
presence. For this purpose he came into our world, and humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross.
We laid in the open valley, with none to pity or to save. Can these slain live? was a question which none could answer. Jesus alone has brought life and immortality to light. Through him the dead can live, and do live. This was his design; not that man should remain spiritually dead, but that he should be made spiritually alive; not that the temple of our nature should remain in ruin, but that it should be rebuilt, amidst the shoutings of Grace, grace unto it.
But how did he rebuild this temple ? Not by human might or power, but by his Spirit. How does he cause the dead sinner to live? By opening his eyes to see his condition; by opening his heart to receive the truth as it is in Jesus. His Spirit breathes upon the slain, and they live. Man is restored to the favour of his God; he is no longer a sinner, but a saint. His sins are pardoned, and he is accepted, for Christ's sake.
Christ did not become incarnate for himself, but for us : he did not satisfy the law for himself-he had not broken it-but for us ; we had broken it. He did not reconcile himself to God, for he was his well-beloved Son; but he reconciled us to God. If the Gospel be true, “ Christ died for our “ sins," he was our Surety, the Mediator between God and man.
This is the simple testimony of Jehovah concerning Christ. Faith accredits this testimony, and rests on it as the foundation for pardon and holiness.