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a bridegroom over his brided. His delight in all his people is as great as language can possibly express®. As a mother forgets her pangs when she beholds her first-born, so is our Lord satisfied with the travail of his soul, when he beholds those whom he has redeemed with his blood'. The prospect of saving them was his great support when he endured all the shame and misery of crucifixions. Now, if his Disciples should turn back from the faith, his soul can have no more pleasure in them". But he is not willing to resign this happiness, and to feel all the painful sensations which their apostasy would occasion. He wept even over his blood-thirsty enemies: how much more would his soul be filled with anguish if any of his elect were left to perish! To guard effectually against this calamity, he shewed to his Disciples, and left on record for our instruction, both the privilege and the duty of all his followers; the privilege, to “abide in him;" the duty, to "obey his commandments."
As he rejoices in his Disciples, so do they in him. It is the most distinguishing feature of true “ Christians, that they rejoice in Christ Jesus'.” Some are so highly favoured that they rejoice in him with an unspeakable and glorified joyk. Nor would Jesus wish them ever to lose that joy. He would rather that what they now possess should be perfected in heaven. But, alas ! how would it all vanish in an instant, if by any means they should be “moved from their steadfastness!" "That they might never thus “cast away the rejoicing of their hope,” but “ hold it firm unto the end,” and finally “ obtain a full reward,” he opened to them whatever might conduce to the comfort of their minds or the encouragement of their souls.]
His instructions were admirably calculated to promote this end
[What could be more encouraging to his Disciples at that time, or indeed at any time, than to know that there was a fulness of grace treasured up for them in him? What more consoling than to know that they were united to him as branches to a vine? How trivial would they think any
losses that they might sustain, or any trials they might endure, when they had such provision and security in Christ Jesus! The caution also that was given them would of necessity operate to make them watchful. Thus would they be preserved
d See the figurative representations, Luke xv. 4, 9, 24. but especially Isai. lxii. 5. e Isai. Ixv. 18, 19. Zeph. iii. 17.
f Isai. liii. 11. & Heb. xii. 2.
h Heb. x. 38. i Phil. ii. 3.
k 1 Pet. i. 8.
both from open and secret declensions, and “be to their Lord for a praise, and for an everlasting name that should not be cut offl."] INFER
1. How erroneous is the idea that religion tends to make us melancholy !
[A religious person may have a constitution that inclines to melancholy as well as any other person; or he may be rendered melancholy by mistaken views of religion. But let not the blame in either of these cases attach to religion. We are assured that the Gospel, so far from producing such an effect, is “ glad tidings of great joy to all people”– it enjoins us all to "rejoice in the Lord always;" and, where it is best understood, and most experienced, namely, in heaven, the most exalted joy abounds universally without the smallest intermission. Let then this prejudice be for ever banished; and let Christians be careful so to walk in delightful fellowship with Jesus, as to shew to the world that his yoke is easy and his burthen light.]
2. How precious ought the Scriptures to be in our eyes!
[It is in them that Jesus, being dead, yet speaketh to us; and if we will attend to his instructions, they will “ make us wise unto salvation.” The intent of every word he there utters, is, to secure us to himself, and to make us eternally happy with himself in heaven. Why then do we not love the Scriptures more? Why do we give such a decided preference to books of human composition, yea, perhaps to plays, or novels, or the common publications of the day? Let us no longer treat with such indignity that sacred volume. “ Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom m;" and let us, like the prophet, eat it, that it may be the joy and rejoicing of our heart". Especially let us regard what it speaks of our union with the living vine. Let us seek to be ingrafted into Christ; that, deriving sap and nourishment from him, we may be fitted for every good work, and bring forth fruit unto life eternal.] 1 Isai. lv. 13. m Col. iii. 16.
n Jer. xv. 16.
LOVE TO THE BRETHREN.
John xv. 12. This is my commandment, That ye love one
another, as I have loved you. THE law and the Gospel are in perfect unison with each other : the law, as a covenant, sends us to the
Gospel, that we may obtain mercy with God; and the Gospel sends us back again to the law, as a rule of life, that, by obeying its commands, we may honour and glorify our God. The loving our neighbour as ourselves was enjoined by the law, and indeed was a summary of all the duties of the second table a. Our blessed Lord, enjoining the same duty from new considerations, calls it “ a new commandment,” and emphatically his commandment; that so we may be led to examine it with stricter attention, and to regard it with deeper reverence: he says, in effect, Labour constantly to fulfil that old commandment of the law; and, that you may never want either a directory to guide, or a motive to animate you in your exertions, take my love to you as the reason and pattern of your love to each other.
To elucidate his words, we shall shew, 1. How Christ has loved us
We must, of course, content ourselves with a few hints only of a subject, which has a height and depth, and length and breadth that can never be comprehended, never explored. Consider then the love of Christ to us : 1. How free!
[Who ever did any thing to procure it? It exerted itself towards us long before we had any existence in the world. Who can do any thing now to merit it? We deserve to forfeit it every day and hour; but to earn an interest in it is beyond the power
We have nothing of our own but sin; and that would be a strange price to pay for the love of Christ. Indeed, if we deny the freeness of his grace, we rob him of the brightest jewel in his crown.] 2. How tender!
[There is not one of his people, however weak and afflicted, whom he does not watch over with more than parental tenderness, carrying the lambs in his bosom, and gently leading them that are with young.” Yes; we have not an Highpriest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;” “ in all our afflictions He is afflicted :" if we are stricken by the hand of persecution, He feels the blowb: “ Whoso
a Compare Lev. xix. 18. with Rom. xiii. 8–10. and Gal. v. 14. b Acts ix. 4.
toucheth us, toucheth the apple of his eye." In every possible state he sympathizes with us, as a head with the members; and never fails to succour us with “grace sufficient for us.”] 3. How abundant !
[If we regarded only the temporal blessings we receive at his hands, we must confess his love to us to be very abundant. But who can contemplate his unwearied intercessions at the right hand of his Father, or the incessant communications of his Spirit to their souls, and not stand amazed at the exceeding riches of his grace and love? And besides all this, he is “ preparing mansions for us in his Father's house," and training us up daily, that we may be counted worthy to inhabit them for ever and ever. Well is his love represented as “passing knowledge" !"] 4. How costly!
[Free as his love was to us, it was not exercised by him but at an expense that exceeds all calculation. Before it could operate for our advantage, he must leave his heavenly glory, assume our fallen nature, endure the scoffs and insults of his own creatures, and " pour out his soul unto death” as a sacrifice for sin. And would he pay this amazing price, in order to redeem our souls from death and hell ? Yes, he undertook and executed the mighty work; and never drew back till he could say, “It is finished.")
From contemplating this stupendous mystery, let us proceed to inquire, II. In what respects his love to us is a pattern for
our love to each otherThe love which the saints should bear to each other is of a sublime nature, very different from that which they owe to the world around them". To resemble that of Christ to us, it should be, 1. Disinterested
[Our love to the saints should not be confined to those of the same Church or party, nor should it have respect to any pleasure or advantage that we expect to derive from them; for this is only a refined species of self-love: it should respect them only as children of our heavenly Father, as members of Christ our living Head, and as joint-heirs of the same eternal
c Eph. iii. 19.
The two are carefully distinguished from each other. Gal. vi. 10. 1 Pet. ii. 17.
e Matt. v. 46, 47.
glory. It should be proportioned to their piety, rather than to any other endowments; and be occupied in advancing their happiness, not only as much as our own, but oftentimes in preference to our own. It was thus that the love of Christ operated towards us; and it is proposed for our imitation more especially in this point of view; “ Mind not every one his own things, but every one also the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus'."] 2. Sympathizing
[We are all passing through a vale of tears, " born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Hence we need each other's care and assistance through the whole of our lives. The kindness of friendship is a remedy which God has put within our reach, to enhance our joys and to alleviate our sorrows: we should therefore enter into the concerns of others, and feel them as our own; “weeping with them that weep, and rejoicing with them that rejoice." By this we are told, we shall more especially comply with the injunction in the text; “ Bear ye one another's burthens," says the Apostle, "and so fulfil the law of Christ 6."] 3. Beneficent
[Love must not interest merely the feelings of the mind : it must exert itself in acts correspondent to the occasions on which it is exercised. Is our neighbour distressed ? we must relieve him. Is he ignorant ? we must instruct him. Is he weak? we must strengthen him. Is he fallen? we must raise
Has he shewn some infirmities? we must bear with him.
Has he offended us? we must forgive him. Are there any opportunities whatever of doing him good ? we must gladly and speedily embrace them. It is in this way also that the Apostle urges us to imitate our Lord and Saviour: “Put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so also do yeh."] 4. Self-denying
[That love which will exert itself only in things that are easy and pleasing to oneself, is not worthy the name of love. A truly Christian affection will lead one to“ condescend to men of low estate;" to visit the chambers of the sick; to enter into the dungeon of the prisoner; to cut off some of one's superfluities, in order to supply the necessities of others; to do good in return for evil; to expose oneself to the derision of a thought
Phil. ii. 4, 5.
8 Gal. vi. 2.
h Col. iii, 12, 13.