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mercies to a rebel world: “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” Matt. v. 45. And millions who love him not, who reject him for abominable idols, or who, where his truth clearly shines, will not have him to reign over them, are crowned by him with numberless blessings. Guilty and rebellious as they are, his hand supports them; for " in him we live, and move, and have our being ;" his bounty feeds them, for “he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things," Act xvii. 25, 28.
His mercy to penitents delightfully shows forth the truth that “God is love." He is " The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keep. ing mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin," Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us," Psa, ciii. 11. «Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John i. 29. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," Rom. v. 8. He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins," 1 John iv. 10. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John iii, 16.
It is related that when a missionary on one of the South Sea Islands had read this last passage to some of the natives, one of his hearers stopped him, " What words were those you read ? what sounds were those I heard? Let me hear those words again.” .The missionary read them again, and the man exclaimed, “Is this true? Can this be true? God love the world, when the world would not love him! God so love the world as to give his Son for it!- Is this true ? Can this be true ?" The missionary once more read the wonderful verse, and told him it was true. The man burst into tears, and afterwards became a disciple of Jesus.
Well might the astonished barbarian inquire, Is this true? | Can this be true? Blessed be God, all the evidence we can desire proves it to be true, and the more the wonderful fact is looked at the more glorious it appears. This love was before time began; for the salvation which the righteous enjoy is “ according to his own purpose and grace, which was given. us in Christ Jesus before the world began," 2 Tim. i. 9. In the fulness of time the Son of God appeared, and “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. v. 21. The Lord of glory became man, that ruined men might become the
GOD IS LOVE.
ascend to heavenly thrones; and wore on earth the crown of thorns, that crowns of glory might enrich them in heaven. How unequalled was this love! Truly “God is love."
The love of God is strikingly manifested in the interest he takes in his people's welfare, and the language he uses about them. It would be a high honour to describe them as subjects of a gracious sovereign, servants of a kind master; but much more tender are the expressions of his kindness and love towards them. His affection is like that of a father to his children, of a husband to his wife, of a mother to her babe-affection so much stronger, that sooner might"a woman forget her sucking child" than he forget the objects of his love, Psa. ciii. 13, Isa. liv. 5, xlix. 15. He adopts redeemed, though sinful beings, as his sons and daughters, 2 Cor. vi. 18; provides a better country for them; and delights in their happiness. Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Luke xii. 32.
But it will be when his plan of saving mercy is perfected in the world to come, that it will be most fully seen that “God is love." Then will Christ be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe. The former things will have passed away; sin, sorrow, and sighing be extinct; all good be enjoyed. They are “before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple," Rev. vii. 15. " The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God," xxi. 3. “They need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever,” xxi. 5. These happy beings are a great multitude, which no man can number," vii. 9. Their holiness is perfect, Eph. v. 27. Their bliss is endless. In God's presence is “fulness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures for evermore," Psa. xvi. 11.
A review of all the way through which they passed to this eternal bliss, will render the love of God increasingly glorious. Each saint was once a babe-a sinner—a rebel; then through the Holy Spirit's power a humbled penitent, and then a justified believer-a Christian-a pilgrim struggling with temptations, doubts, and fears; at length dying, and then a captive of the grare. How changed from all this ! Now a crowned and triumphant saint, a dweller in glory for ever! How changed from the babe, the rebel, the Christian—the struggler with fears, and doubts, and sin ! How changed from the poor mortal, toiling, wearied, suffering, pained, agonizing-dying-dead! How different now! and all through Divine grace, from the first penitent feeling of the soul, to the hour when the Judge gave the crown of life. “God is love."
“ Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Such a hope imparts much happiness. In danger this supports. A pious mariner in a violent storm, when a heavy wave struck the ship and seemed as if it would instantly sink her, looking up with a smile said, “ Blessed be God, all is right!" and began to sing while his comrades were filled with terror.
Two young ladies, when the Kent East Indiaman was on fire, displayed a most cheering confidence in God; when all hope was gone, and death seemed inevitable, calmly committing them. selves to Christ, and awaiting its approach. How beautiful the calmness of these young Christians, who knew that God is love! Truly “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble," Psa. xlvi. 1. His favour gives peace in death.
A young woman who had given up the world for the service of God, and whose holy and happy course was short, met death with sweet composure, saying, “ My heavenly Father, receive thy poor child home. O precious Saviour, into thy hands I commit my spirit;" and then departed in peace. She felt that “ God is love."
Let not these delightful truths cause us to forget that though “ God is love,” he is also a holy God, and to impenitent sinners “ a consuming fire.” He loves his children; he pities his foes, and invites them to turn to himself and find mercy; but he abhorreth all the workers of iniquity. And when it is considered that God is love, how horrible an evil sin appears; and how dreadful the ingratitude of rebellion against a God so good and gracious. No words can represent its evil, as nothing but the atoning blood of Christ can possibly wash out its stains.
Great is their sin and misery, who by neglecting salvation are without God in the world. How much they lose now, and for ever! How mad is their choice! Satan virtually preferred to God, the world to Jesus, sin to holiness, and hell to heaven!
Is this God of love your God? If so, rejoice in the Lord. If you have not sought him, oh, have pity on yourself ; pray for his quickening Spirit: “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon," Isa. Iv. 7. Then will you learn by happy experience that “GOD IS LOVE.”
THE CURSED AND THE BLESSED. There are two classes of men wholly differing from each other in their state, character, aim, and end. The Scriptures describe and contrast them under various terms; all, however, pointing to their opposite characteristics.
Here is a picture, from the word of God, of a man of the one class : “ Thus saith the Lord ; CURSED be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh ; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited,” Jer. xvii. 5, 6.
What is the special thing which marks this man? It is plainly the ground of his dependence, and this constitutes his case and character. His hope is not placed on God. God the Creator should be the object of the creature's confidence. But this man breaks the law of his creation by withdrawing his confidence from God. His “ heart departeth from the Lord.” It is his
heart—not, perhaps, his mouth; for many a man “ draweth nigh unto God” with the mouth, while “ the heart is far" from him.
But the man has a dependence; he relies on himself. Even in the things of earth, he trusts to his own wisdom, and his own skill, independently of God. But it is especially in regard to things eternal that his trust is really in himself for safety and happiness. Ask him on what ground he expects to stand at the day of judgment: it is in effect on his own righteousness. He thinks much of his good deeds, if there be any. If these be few, he can boast of what he has not done-of the crimes he never committed; the oaths he never swore, the lies he never told, end the evils he never did to others. Eternal life will surely be his reward, and God will be just in giving it.
Alas, poor man! God says of him, “ CURSED BE THE Man." Such a malediction shall “come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones." See what it is to be thus cursed. Dreary, desolate and withered, without shade or moisture, is the “heath in the desert,” inhabiting the parched places in the wilderness; and to this is the man compared “ whose heart departeth from the Lord.” Sooner or later will his condition be lonely, comfortless, and desolate. From God, while despised and rejected, there can be no spiritual refreshment-no living water. And at the day of judgment how great will be his desolation! Where are now his righteousness and good deeds? How do they look in the sight of God? The arm of flesh on which he trusted is become a broken reed. Instead of a righteous man's reward, he receives the doom of a convicted sinner. There is then no Saviour, no advocate for him. He is as the heath in the desert! He is friendless, hopeless, destitute, lost.
But the Scriptures show a man of the opposite class." BLESSED is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green ; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit,” Jer. xvii. 7, S.
Now, what is it that marks this man ? Again, it is the ground of his dependence : he is a “man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Once, perhaps, he too sought water out of “ broken cisterns ;" he leaned on “a staff of reed.” But by the grace of God he has been taught, and feels that an arm of flesh has no help in it; and as for works and merits of his own he knows too well what the God of holiness requires to talk of these. He knows that “the Lord seeth not as man seeth," and that if he justify himself, his own mouth shall condemn him. He feels himself to be a wretched sinner;