« PreviousContinue »
no sooner does he mention the name of our divine Lord, than (after referring to some of hisglorious titles, as the Faithful Witness, the First-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth,) he breaks forth into this sublime doxology: “Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father : to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” As if referring to the love of Christ could never be out of place, but was the subject in which he took continual delight.
Let me, then, entreat your prayers for the aid of the Holy Spirit, whilst I offer you some observations upon the love that the Lord Jesus has manifested, not to Lazarus alone, when he was buried in the tomb, but to those who were in more forlorn circumstances, even “ dead in trespasses
and sins.” Oh may the Spirit of love, moving upon every heart, lead each to say, as these mourners did, “Behold how he loved him!” that, like them, they may believe on him to salvation.
But where shall I commence such a very extensive subject ? For this love is bounded neither by time nor space. It arose before the creation of the world, and it will continue “when suns shall rise to set no more." It ascends to the very highest heavens : for this is the place to which it will bring those who are favoured with it. It takes within its grasp, also, the lowest hell: for it was viewing this awful gulf that led our blessed Redeemer to say, “ Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him.”
But to be a little more particular. Rightly to apprehend this love, we must bear in mind whose love it is, and on whom it is set : for this adds an infinite weight of glory to it. This was the view that so much affected David's mind : “ When I consider the heavens the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained : what is man that thou art so mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him ?” He was lost in astonishment, that God should manifest his power, and wisdom, and good
ness in creating such a magnificent world for so humble a tenant: for a creature formed of the dust of the earth, and who by his ready yielding to Satan shewed his liability to fall into sin.
In the same spirit St. John: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” That we who are the sinful offspring of sinful parents ; we who have added to the sin of our fallen nature the sin of actual transgression, that we should be thus favoured. For it is just in the proportion that we become sensible of our utter unwor. thiness and sinfulness, that we prize the love of God.
To those who feel no need of such a Saviour, or who imagine that they stand before God as our first parents did at their creation, when conscious that they were made after the Divine image, in righteousness and true holiness, “they were naked, and were not ashamed.” They who have this high opinion of themselves, have but little ability to contemplate the love of Christ : indeed,
that which fills the minds of the redeemed who stand before the throne with adoring praise and gratitude, is by them, alas ! a truth altogether denied. As they refuse to acknowledge his eternal power and Godhead, so they set light by his atonement.
Let us, however, my beloved friends, remember, that though originally created in the Divine image, there is not, arnong all the children of Adam, “one righteous, no not one.” “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We may compare the whole human race to Lazarus. There was a time when the Saviour had come to his house at Bethany, and had conversed with him as a friend with a friend ; but at the moment that Jesus shewed his sorrow in weeping over him, his body was lying dead in the grave : so there was a season when God visited our first parents, and they walked with him in sweet communion : but when they transgressed, the Spirit departed from them : they became spiritually dead. Thus they appeared in the eye of God, when, foreseeing their fall, he planned the salvation of his people by the incarnation of his only begotten Son : "the Word that was in the beginning with God, and is God.” Here it was that the love of the Lord Jesus first manifested itself; when he consented to fulfil that plan which the infinite wisdom and ineffable mercy and goodness of God had formed. For then it was in effect he said, “ Lo, I come to do thy will, O God."
We have these primary actings of his love beautifully set forth in the eighth chapter of Proverbs, when he thus speaks as the wisdom of God: “ The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth ; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled ; before the hills was I brought forth : while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world... Then I was by him, as one brought up with him ; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him : rejoicing in