Page images
PDF
EPUB

joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing ?". Does the Psalmist say, "The Lord shall rejoice in his works ?'* and may we not safely conclude, that the God of all grace, who, by his own direction, bears the name of LOVE, will for ever take divine delight in every exercise, display, and fruit, of his eternal, immutable, infinite love, respecting each of its innumerable objects? But of this we cannot conceive, unless that love ultimately obtain its noblest end.

So various and so admirable are the excellencies of divine philanthropy, as displayed in the gospel of our salvation, that we have no reason to wonder at Paul expressing himself with superlative confidence, when reasoning on the love of the Father and of the Son, respecting the inviolable safety of all those who are interested in it. In the boldest assertions, and the strongest conclusions; in challenging every enemy, and in defying every danger; he speaks in the following unparalleled manner, • If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all

* Zeph. iii. 17. Psalm civ. 31.

these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'-Surely, if any language be capable of expressing the certainty of every one whom the Father loved, and for whom he gave bis own Son-of every one whom Jesus loved, and for whom he died, being finally happy: here we have it!

Such being the admirable excellencies of divine love, it is manifestly adapted to encourage hope, and to promote holiness. It has every property which is necessary to encourage hope in the guilty breast. Being perfectly free, an interest in it must not be considered as the result of performing conditions, as the reward of merit, or as indicating the possession of amiable qualities; but as the fruit of sovereign pleasure, and as bestowed*_remarkable term, in this connection !

-Yes, as bestowed upon the unworthy. No mortal, therefore, has the least reason for despondency, on account of his enormous transgressions, his great depravity, or his complicated baseness of character.

Having an invariable regard, in its exercise, to the mediation of Jesus Christ, and being absolutely holy in all its designs, none have any ground of apprehension, that the grant of those blessings which proceed from it, and are necessary to their happiness, would interfere with the honour of God, or the rights of his government. Interfere !--so far from it, that he will to eternity receive the highest revenue of glory and praise from holy creatures, for the bestowment of those blessings in that way.

* 1 John iii, 1.

Being completely wise in its exercise, uniformly steady to its objects, and sure of obtaining its ultimate end; those who have real evidence of interest in it, are ascertained of eternal felicity. For, be their own weakness ever so great, their spiritual enemies ever so powerful, or their difficulties ever so many, they shall finally prevail, and be more than conquerors through Him that loves them.

It is equally adapted to promote holiness. For who that knows by experience this divine love, can forbear to admire it, or not have his affections engaged by it? Being revealed in the gospel, and shed abroad in the heart, it must have a sacred, sanctifying influence upon the whole soul: on the conscience, to make it peaceful; on the affections, to render them spiritual; and on the life, to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour. · We love God, because he first loved us, is an apostolic maxim; is confirmed by all christian 'experience; and worthy of the highest regard. He, however, that loveth not his neighbour, his brother, and his divine Lord, knoweth not the true character of God: for God is love. . Whereas he who cultivates benevolence toward his neighbours, an unfeigned love to the disciples of Jesus Christ, and an adoring affection for God; is virtuous, is holy, is heavenlyminded. He rejoices in the gospel, as the word of grace; and he reveres the law, as his rule of moral duty. From the former, he derives his hope ; by the latter, he directs his conduct. Divine love, manifested in the glad tidings, excites him to love

4

God, as required by the law. He feels his imperfection, but he does not allow himself in sin. Over numerous defects attending his love to God and man, he daily mourns; but mercy manifested in the atonement forbids despondency.—Thus fruitful of peace and of purity is the knowledge of divine love. The Lord direct our hearts into the love of God; and may the love of God be shed abroad in our 'hearts. Then shall our hope be lively, and holiness blossom as the rose.

ESSAY II.

ON A CONDUCT AND CHARACTER FORMED UNDER

THE INFLUENCE ON EVANGELICAL TRUTH.

As the beauty and utility of every one's conduct consist in acting suitably to the character he bears, to the relation in which he stands, and to the profession he makes, provided these be lawful; so his profession, his character, and his relations, being well understood, must snggest a general rule of duty, and motives to the performance of it. In this way the members of domestic, and of civil society, may be furnished with outlines of their mutual obligations.

Thus it is with regard to profession, to character, and to relation, of a religious or spiritual nature. For as those who have received what is emphatically called the truth, are converted to Jesus Christ, enter into a new state, are invested with new characters, and stand in various new relations; it is evident, that the import of those particulars being known, they cannot be much at a loss for general rules of behaviour agreeable to their new state; nor yet for motives to act becomingly.

On this principle the apostle proceeds, when he says, Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ. The persons to whom that precept was given, considered themselves, and were considered by Paul, as believing and loving the glorious gospel of the blessed God. They publicly avowed their

« PreviousContinue »