LOVE TO JESUS
“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” — JOHN 21:17.
CHRIST rightly known is most surely Christ beloved. No sooner do we discern his excellencies, behold his glories, and partake of his bounties, than our heart is at once moved with love towards him. Let him but speak pardon to our guilty souls, we shall not long delay to speak words of love to his most adorable person. It is utterly impossible for a man to know himself to be complete in Christ, and to be destitute of love towards Christ Jesus. A believer may be in Christ, and yet, from a holy jealousy, he may doubt his own affection to his Lord; but love is most assuredly in his bosom, for that breast which has never heaved with I love to Jesus, is yet a stranger to the blood of sprinkling. He that loveth not, hath not seen Christ, neither known him. As the seed expands in the ‘moisture and the heat, and sends forth its green Made — so when the soul becomes affected with the mercy of the Savior, it puts forth its shoots of love to him and desire after him.
This love is no mere heat of excitement, nor does it end in a flow of rapturous words; but it causes the soul to bring forth the fruits of righteousness, to its own joy and the Lord’s glory. It is a principle, active and strong, which exercises itself unto godliness, and produces abundantly things which are lovely and of good repute. Some of these we intend to mention, earnestly desiring that all of us may exhibit them in our lives. Dr. Owen very concisely sums up the effects of true love in the two words, adherence and assimilation: the one knitting the heart to Jesus, and -the other conforming us to his image. This is an excellent summary; but as our design is to be more explicit, we shall in detail review the more usual and pleasing of the displays of the power of grace, afforded by the soul which is under the influence of love to Christ. 1. One of the earliest and most important signs of love to Jesus is the deed of solemn dedication of ourselves, with all we have and are, most unreservedly to the Lord’s service.
Dr. Doddridge has recommended a solemn covenant between the soul and God, to be signed and sealed with due deliberation and most fervent prayer. Many of the most eminent of the saints have adopted this excellent method of devoting themselves in very deed unto the Lord, and have reaped no little benefit from the re-perusal of that solemn document when they have afresh renewed the act of dedication. The writer of the present volume conceives that burial with Christ in Baptism is a far more scriptural and expressive sign of dedication; but he is not inclined to deny his brethren the liberty of confirming that act by the other, if it seem good unto them. The remarks of John Newton upon this subject are so cautious and sententious, f60a that we cannot forbear quoting them at length: — “Many judicious persons have differed in their sentiments with respect to the propriety or utility of such written engagements. They are usually entered into, if at all, in an early stage of profession, when, though the heart is warm, there has been little actual experience of its deceitfulness. In the day when the Lord turns our mourning into joy, and speaks peace, by the blood of his cross, to the conscience burdened by guilt and fear, resolutions are formed which, though honest and sincere, prove, like Peter’s promise to our Lord, too weak to withstand the force of subsequent unforeseen temptation. Such vows, made in too much dependence upon our own strength, not only occasion a farther discovery of our weakness, but frequently give the enemy advantage to terrify and distress the mind.
Therefore, some persons, of more mature experience, discountenance the practice as legal and improper. But, as a scaffold, though no part of an edifice, and designed to be taken down when the budding is finished, is yet useful for a time in carrying on the work — so many young converts have been helped by expedients which, when their judgments are more ripened, and their faith more confirmed, are no longer necessary. Every true believer, of course, ought to devote himself to the service of the Redeemer; yea, he must and will, for he is constrained by love. He will do it not. once only, but daily. And many who have done it in writing can look back upon the transaction with thankfulness to the end of life, recollecting it as a season of peculiar solemnity and impression, accompanied with emotions of heart neither to be forgotten nor recalled. And the Lord, who does not despise the day of small things, nor break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; accepts and ratifies the desire; and mercifully pardons the mistakes which they discover, as they attain to more knowledge of him and of themselves. And they are encouraged, if not warranted, to make their surrender in this manner, by the words of the prophet Isaiah : — ‘ One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand to the Lord, and surname himself By the name of Israel.’” f61a Whatever view we may take of the form of consecration, we must all agree that the deed itself is absolutely necessary as a first-fruit of the Spirit, and that where it is absent there is none of the love of which we are treating.
We are also all of us in union upon the point that the surrender must be sincere, entire, unconditional, and deliberate; and that it must be accompanied by deep humility, from a sense of our unworthiness, simple faith in the blood of Jesus as the only medium of acceptance,, and constant reliance upon the Holy Spirit for the fulfillment of our vows. We must give ourselves to Jesus, to be his, to honor and to obey, if necessary, even unto death. We must be ready with Mary to break the alabaster box, with Abraham to offer up our Isaac, with the apostles to renounce our worldly wealth at the bidding of Christ, with Moses to despise the riches of Egypt, with Daniel to enter the lion’s den, and with the three holy children to tread the furnace. We cannot retain a portion of the price, like Ananias, nor love this present world with Demas, if we be the genuine followers of the Lamb.
We consecrate our all when we receive Christ as all.
The professing Church has many in its midst who, if they have ever given themselves to Christ, appear to be very oblivious of their solemn obligation. ‘They can scarce afford a fragment of their wealth for the Master’s cause; their time is wasted, or employed in any service but that of Jesus; their talents are absorbed in worldly pursuits and the veriest refuse of their influence is thought to be an abundant satisfaction of all the claims of heaven. Can such men be honest in their professions of attachment to the Lamb? Was their dedication a sincere one? Do they not afford us grave suspicion of hypocrisy? Could they live in such a fashion if their hearts were right with God? Can they have any just idea of the Savior’s deservings? Are their hearts really renewed? We leave them to answer for themselves; but we must entreat them also to ponder the following questions, as they shall have one day to render an account to their Judge.
Doth not God abhor the lying lip? And is it not lying against God to profess that which we do not carry out? Doth not the Savior loathe those who are neither cold nor hot? And are not those most truly in that case who serve, God with half a heart? What must be the doom of those who have insulted Heaven with empty vows? Will not a false profession entail a fearful punishment upon the soul for ever? And is he not false who serves not the Lord with all his might? Is it a little thing to be branded as a robber of God? Is it a trifle to break our vows with the Almighty? Shall a man mock his Maker, and go unpunished? And how shall be abide the day of the wrath of God?
May God make us ever careful that, by his Holy Spirit’s, aid, we may be able to live unto him as those that are alive from the dead; and since in many things we fall short of his perfect will, let us humble ourselves, and devoutly seek the molding of his hand to renew us day by day. We ought ever to desire a perfect life as the result of full consecration, even though we shall often groan that “it is not yet attained.” Our prayer should be — “Take my soul and body’s powers.
Take my memory, mind, and will; All my goods, and all my hours; All 1 know, and all I feel; All I think, or speak, or do; Take my heart — but make it new.”
F62a 2. Love to Christ will make us “coy and tender to offend. ” We shall be most careful lest the Savior should be grieved by our ill manners. When some much-loved friend is visiting our house, we are ever fearful lest he should be ill at ease; we therefore watch every movement in the family, that nothing may disturb the quiet we desire him to enjoy. How frequently do we apologize for the homeliness of our fare, our own apparent inattention, the forgetfulness of our servants, or the rudeness of our children. If we suppose him to be uncomfortable, how readily will we d range our household to give him pleasure, and how disturbed are we at the least symptom that he is not satisfied with our hospitality. We are grieved if our words appear cold towards him, or our sets unkind. We wound sooner that he should grieve us than that we should displease him. Surely we should not treat our heavenly Friend worse than our earthly acquaintance; but we should sedulously endeavor to please Him in all things who pleased not himself. Such is the influence of real devotion to our precious Redeemer, that the more the mind is pervaded with affection to him, the more watchful shall we be to give no offense in anything, and the more sorrow shall we suffer because our nature is yet no imperfect that in many things we come short of his glory. A believer, in a healthy state of mind, will be extremely sensitive; he will avoid the appearance of evil, and guard against the beginnings of sin. He will often be afraid to put one foot before another, lest he should tread upon forbidden ground; he will tremble to speak, lest his words should not be ordered aright; he ‘will be timid in the world, lest he should be surprised into transgression; and even in his holy deeds he will be watchful over his heart, lest he should mock his Lord. This feeling of fear lest we should “slip with our feet,” is a precious feature of true spiritual life. It is much to be regretted that it is so lightly prized by many, in comparison with the more martial virtues; for, despite its apparent insignificance, it is one of the choicest fruits of the Spirit, and its absence is one of the most deplorable evidences of spiritual decay. A heedless spirit is a curse to the soul; a rash, presumptuous conversation will eat as doth a canker. “Too-bold” was never Too-wise nor Too-loving. Careful walking is one of the best securities of safe and happy standing. It is solemn cause for doubting when we are indifferent in our behavior to our best Friend.
When the new creature is active, it will be indignant at the very name of sin; it will condemn it as the murderer of the Redeemer, and wage as fierce a war against it as the Lord did with Amalek. Christ’s foes are our foes when we are Christ’s friends. Love of Christ and love of sin are elements too hostile to reign in the same heart. We shall hate iniquity simply because Jesus hates it. A good divine f63a writes: — “If any pretend unto an assurance of forgiveness through the merits of Jesus, without any experience of shame, sorrow, and hatred of sin, on account of its vile nature, I dare boldly pronounce such a pretension to be no other than a vain presumption, that is likely to be followed by an eternal loss of their immortal souls.”
He that is not afraid of sinning has good need to be afraid of damning.
Truth hates error, holiness abhorreth guilt, and grace cannot but detest sin.
If we do not desire to be cautious to avoid offending our Lord, we may rest confident that we have no part in him, for true love to Christ will rather, die than wound him. Hence love to Christ is “the best antidote to idolatry;” f64a for it prevents any object from occupying the rightful throne of the Savior. The believer dares not admit a rival into his heart, knowing that this would grievously offend the King. The simplest way of preventing an excessive love of the creature it to net all our affection upon the Creator. Give thy whole heart to thy Lord, and thou canst not idolize the things of earth, for thou wilt have nothing left wherewith to worship them. 3. If we love the Lord Jesus we shall be obedient to his commands. — False, vain, and boasting pretenders to friendship with Christ think it enough to talk fluently of him; but humble, sincere, and faithful lovers of the Lord are not content with words — they must be doing the will of their Master. As the affectionate wife obeys because she loves her husband, so does the redeemed soul delight in keeping the commands of Jesus, although compelled by no force but that of love. This divine principle will render every duty pleasant; yea, when the labor is in itself irksome, this heavenly grace will quicken us in its performance by reminding us that it is honorable to suffer for our Lord. It will induce an universal obedience to all known commands, and overcome that captious spirit of rebellion which takes exception to many precepts, and obeys only as far as it chooses to do so. It infuses not the mere act, but the very spirit of obedience, inclining the inmost heart to feel that its newborn nature cannot but obey. True,, bid corruption is still there; but this does but prove the hearty willingness of the soul to be faithful to the laws of its King, seeing that it is the cause of a perpetual and violent contest — the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit striving against the flesh. We are willing to serve God when we love his Son: there may be obstacles, but no unwillingness. We would be holy even as God is holy, and perfect even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. And to proceed yet further, love not only removes all unwillingness, but inspires the soul with a delight in the service of God, by making the lowest act of service to appear honorable. A heathen f65a once exclaimed, Dee servire est regnare — “to serve God is to reign:” so does the renewed heart joyfully acknowledge the high honor which it receives by obedience to its Lord. He counts it not only his reasonable, but his delightful service, to be a humble and submissive disciple of his gracious Friend. He Would be unhappy if he had no opportunity of obedience — - his love requires channels for its fullness: he would pray for work if there were none, for he includes his duties among his privileges. In the young dawn of true religion this is very observable — would that it were equally so ever after Oh! how jealous we were lest one divine ordinance should be neglected, or one rule violated. Nothing pained us more than our own too frequent wanderings, and nothing gratified us more than to be allowed to hew wood or draw water at his bidding. Why is it not so now with us all?
Why are those wings, once outstretched for speedy flight, now folded in sloth? Is’ our Redeemer less deserving? or is it not that we are less loving?
Let us seek by greater meditation upon the work-and love of our Savior,. by the help of the Holy Spirit, to renew our love to him: otherwise our lamentation will soon be — “ How is the much fine gold become dim?
How has the glory departed?’ 4. Love to Christ will impel us to defend him against his foes — “If any touch my friend, or his good name.
It is my honor and. my love to free his blasted fame From the lent spot or thought of blame.”
F66a Good men are more tender over the reputation of Christ than over their own good name; for they are willing to lose the world’s favorable opinion rather than that Christ should be dishonored. This is no more than Jesus has a right to expect. Would not he be a sorry brother who should hear me insulted and slandered, and yet be dumb? Would not he be destitute of affection who would allow the character of his nearest relative to be trampled in the dug, without a struggle on his behalf? And is not he a poor style of Christian who would calmly submit to hear his Lord abused? We could bear to Be trampled in the very mire that He might be exalted; but to see our glorious Head dishonored, is a sight we cannot tamely behold. We would not, like Peter, smite his enemies with the sword of man; but we would use the sword of the Spirit as well as we are enabled. Oh! how has our blood boiled when the name of Jesus has been the theme of scornful jest! how have we been ready to invoke the fire of Elias upon the guilty blasphemer or when our more carnal heat has subsided, how have we wept, even to the sobbing of a child at the reproach east upon him most hallowed name! Many a time we have been ready to burst with anguish when We have been speechless before the scoffer, because the Lord had shut; us up, that we could not come forth; but at other seasons, with courage more than we had considered to be within the range of our capability, we have boldly reproved the wicked, and sent them back abashed.
It is a lovely spectacle to behold the timid and feeble defending the citadel of truth: not truth hard blows of logic, or sounding cannonade of rhetoricbut with that tearful earnestness, and implicit confidence, against which the at. tacks of revilers are utterly powerless. Overthrown in argument, they overcome by faith; covered with contempt, they think it all joy! they may but avert a solitary stain from the escutcheon of their Lord. “Call me what thou wilt,” says the believer, “but speak not ill of my Beloved. Here, plough these shoulders with your lashes, but spare yourselves the sin of cursing him! Ay, let me die: I am all too happy to be slain, if my Lord’s most glorious cause shall live!”
Ask every regenerate child of God whether he does not count it his privilege to maintain the honor of his Master’s name; and though his answer may be worded with holy caution, you will not fail to discover in it enough of that determined resolution which, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, will enable him to stand fast in the evil day. He may be careful to reply to such a question, lest he should be presumptuous; but should he stand like the three holy children before an enraged tyrant, in the very mouth of a burning fiery furnace, his answer, like theirs, would be, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve h able to deliver us out of the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king! But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
In some circles it. is Believed that in the event of another reign of persecution, there are very few in our churches who would endure the fiery trial: nothing, we think, is more unfounded. It is our own opinion that the feeblest saint in our midst would receive grace for the struggle, and come off more than a conqueror. God’s children are the same now as ever. Real piety will as well endure the fire in one century as another. There is the same love to impel the martyrdom, the same grace to sustain the sufferer, the same promises to cheer his heart, and the same crown to adorn his head. We believe that those followers of Jesus who may perhaps one day be called to the stake, will die as readily as any who have gone Before.
Love is still as strong as death, and grace is still made perfect in weakness. Sweet is the cross, above all sweets, To souls enamored with His smiles!
The keenest woe life ever meets, Love strips of all its terrors, and beguiles.” f67a This is as true today, as it was a thousand years ago. We may be weak in grace, but grace is not weak: it is still omnipotent, and able to endure the trying day.
There is one form of this jealousy for the honor of the cross, which will ever distinguish the devout Christian: — he will tremble lest he himself, by word or deed, by omission of duty or commission of sin, should dishonor the holy religion which he has professed. He will hold perpetual controversy with “sinful self” on this account, and will loathe himself when he has inadvertently given occasion to the enemy to blaspheme. The King’s favorite will be sad if, by mistake or carelessness, he has been the abettor of traitors: he desires to be beyond reproach, that his Monarch may suffer no disgrace from his Courtier. Nothing has injured the cause of Christ more than the inconsistencies of his avowed friends. Jealousy for the honor of Christ is an admirable mark of grace. 5. A firm attachment to the person of Christ will create a constant anxiety to promote his cause. — With some it has produced that burning zeal which enabled them to endure banishment, to brave dangers, and to forsake comforts, in order to evangelize an ungrateful people, among whom they were not unwilling to suffer persecution, or even death, so that they might but enlarge the borders of Immanuel’s land. This has inspired the laborious evangelist with inexhaustible strength to proclaim the word of his Lord from place to place, amidst the slander of foes and the coldness of friends; this has moved the generous heart to devise liberal things, that the cause might not flag for lack of temporal Supplies; and this, in a thousand ways, has stirred up the host of God, with various weapons and in divers fields, to fight the battles of their Lord. There is little or no love to Jesus in that man who is indifferent concerning the progress of the truth. The man whose soul is saturated with grateful affection to his crucified Lord will weep when the enemy seems to get an advantage; he will water his couch with tears when he sees a declining church; he will lift up his voice like a trumpet to arouse the slumbering, and with his own hand will labor day and night to build up the breaches of Zion; and should his efforts be successful, with what joyous gratitude will he lift up his heart unto the King of Israel, extolling him as much — yea, more — for mercies given to the Church than for bounties conferred upon himself. How diligently and indefatigably will he labor for his Lord, humbly conceiving that he cannot do too much, or even enough, for one who gave his heart’s blood as the price of our peace.
We lament that too many among us are like Issachar, who was described as “a strong ass crouching down between two burdens,” — too lazy to perform the works of piety so imperatively demanded at our hands: but the reason of this sad condition is not that fervent love is unable to produce activity, but that such are deplorably destitute of that intense affection which grace begets in the soul.
Love to Christ smoothes the path of duty, and wings the feet to travel it: it is the bow which impels the arrow of obedience; it is the mainspring moving the wheels of duty; it is the strong arm tugging the our of diligence. Love is the marrow’ of the bones of fidelity, the blood in the veins of piety, the sinew of spiritual strength-yea, the life of sincere devotion. He that hath love can no more be motionless than the aspen in the gale, the sere leaf in the hurricane, or the spray in the tempest. As well may hearts cease to beat, as love to labor. Love is instinct with activity, it cannot be idle; it is full of energy, it cannot content itself with littles: it is the well-spring of heroism, and great deeds are the gushings of its fountain; it is a giant — it heapeth mountains upon mountains, and thinks the pile but little; it is a mighty mystery, far it changes bitter into sweet; it calls death life, and life death, and it makes pain less painful than enjoyment.
Love has a clear eye, but it can see only one thing — it is blind to every interest but that of its Lord; it seeth things in the light of his glory, and weigheth actions in the scales of his honor; it counts royalty but drudgery if it cannot reign for Christ, but it delights in servitude as much as in honor, if it can thereby advance the Master’s kingdom; its end sweetens all its means; its object lightens its toil, and removes its weariness. Love, with refreshing influence, girds up the loins of the pilgrim, so that he forgets fatigue; it casts a shadow for the wayfaring man, so that he feels not the burning heat; and it puts the bottle to the lip of think. Have not we found, it so? And, under the influence of love, are we not prepared by the Spirit’s sacred aid to do or suffer all that thought can suggest, as being likely to promote his honor?
He who desires not the good of the kingdom is no friend to the king; so he who forgets the interests of Zion can scarce be a favorite with her Prince.
We wish prosperity in estate and household to all those in whom we delight; and if we take pleasure in Jesus, we shall pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and labor for her increase.
May “the Father of lights” give unto his Church more love to her Head, then will she be zealous, valiant, and persevering, and then shall her Lord be glorified. 6. It is a notable fact that fervent love tot Jesus will enable us to endure anything he is pleased to lay upon us. — Love is the mother of resignation: we gladly receive buffering and blows from Jesus when our heart is fully occupied with his love. Even as a dearly-cherished friend does but delight us when he uses freedoms with us, or when he takes much liberty in our house — so Jesus, when we-love him heartily, will never offend us by aught that he may do.
Should he take ore gold, we think his hand to be a noble coffer for our wealth; Should he remove our joys, we reckon it a greater bliss to lose than gain, when his will runs in such a channel. Ay, should he smite us very sorely, we shall turn to his hand and kiss the rod. To believe that Christ has done it, is to extract the sting of an affliction. We remember to have heard a preacher at a funeral most beautifully setting forth this truth in parable.
He spoke thus: — “A certain nobleman had a spacious garden, which he left to the care of a faithful servant, whose delight it was to train the creepers along the trellis, to water the seeds in the time of drought; to support the stalks of the tender plants, and to do every work which could render the garden a Paradise of flowers. One morning he rose with joy, expecting to tend his beloved flowers, and hoping to find his favorites increased in beauty. To his surprise, he found one of his choicest beauties rent from its stem, and, looking around him, he missed from every, bed the pride of his garden, the most precious of his blooming flowers. Full of grief and anger, he hurried to his fellow-servants, and demanded who had thus robbed him of his treasures. They had not done it and he did not charge them with it; but he found no solace for his grief till one of them remarked. — ‘My lord was walking in the garden this morning, and I saw him pluck the flowers and carry them away.’ Then truly he found he had no cause for his trouble. He felt it was well that his master had been pleased to take his own, and he went away, smiling at his loss, because his lord had taken them. So,” said the preacher, turning to the mourners, “you have lost one whom you regarded with much tender affection. The bonds of endearment have not availed for her retention upon earth. I know yore’ rounded feelings when, instead of the lovely form which was the embodiment of all that is excellent and amiable, you behold nothing but ashes and corruption.
But remember, my beloved, Tab Load hath done it; He hath removed the tender mother, the affectionate wife, the inestimable friend. I say again, remember yore’ own Lord has done it; therefore do not murmur, or yield yourselves to an excess of grief.” There was much force as well as beauty in the simple allegory: it were well if all the Lord’s family had grace to practice its heavenly lesson, in all times of bereavement and affliction.
Our favorite master of quaint conceits f68a has singularly said in his poem entitled “Unkindness” — “My friend may spit upon my curious floor.” True, most true, our Beloved may do as he pleases in our house, even should he break its ornaments and store its glories. Come in, thou heavenly guest, even though each footstep on our floor should crush a thousand of our earthly joys. Thou art thyself more than sufficient recompense for all that thou canst take away. Come in, thou brother of our souls, even though thy rod come with thee. We would rather have thee, and triads with thee, than lament thine absence even though surrounded with all the wealth the universe can bestow.
The Lord’s prisoner in the dungeon of Aberdeen thus penned his belief in the love of his “sweet Lord Jesus,” and his acquiescence in his Master’s will: — “Oh, what owe I to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace, of my Lord Jesus! who hath now let me see how good the wheat of Christ is, which goeth through his mill, to be made bread for his own table. Grace tried is better than grace, and more than grace it is glory in its infancy.
When Christ blesses his own crosses with a tongue, they breathe out Christ’s love, wisdom, kindness, and care of us. Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows upon my soul? 1 know that He is no idle husbandman; He purposeth a crop. Oh, that this white, withered lea-ground were maple fertile to bear a crop for him, by whom it is so painfully dressed, and that this fallow-ground were broken up! Why was! (a fools) grieved that He put his garland and his rose upon my head — the glory and honor of his faithful witnesses? I desire now to make no more pleas with Christ. Verily, He hath not put me to a loss by what I suffered; he oweth me nothing; for in my bonds how. sweet and comfortable have the thoughts of Him been to me, wherein I find a sufficient recompense of reward!” 7. To avoid tiring the reader with a longer list of “the precious fruits put forth by the Sun” of love, we will sum up all in the last remark — that the gracious soul will labor after an entire annihilation of selfishness, and a complete absorption into Christ of its aims, joys, desires, and hope. The highest conceivable state of spirituality is produced by a concentration of all the powers and passions of the soul upon the person of Christ. We have asked a great thing when we have begged to be wholly surrendered to be crucified. It is the highest stage of manhood to have no wish, no thought, no desire, but Christ — to feel that to die were bliss, if it were for Christ — that to live in penury, and woe, and scorn, and contempt, and misery, were sweet for Christ — to feel that it matters nothing what becomes of one’s self, so that our. Master is but exalted — to feel that though like a scar leaf, we are blown in the blast, we are quite careless whither we are going, so long as we feel that the Master’s hand is guiding us according to his will; or, rather, to feel that though like the diamond, we must be exercised with sharp tools, yet we care not how sharply we may be cut, so that we may be made fit brilliants to adorn h/s crown. If ally of US have attained to this sweet feeling of self-annihilation, we shall look up to Christ as if He were the sun, and we shall say within ourselves, “O Lord, I see thy beams; I feel myself to be — not a beam from thee — but darkness, swallowed up in thy light. The most I ask is, that thou wouldst live in me, — that the life I live in the flesh may not be my life, but thy life in me; that I may say with emphasis, as Paul did, “For me to live is Christ.”
A man who has attained this high position has indeed “entered into rest.”
To him the praise or the censure of men is alike contemptible, for he has learned to look upon the one as unworthy of his pursuit, and the other as beneath his regard, lie is no longer vulnerable, since he has in himself no separate sensitiveness, but has united his whole being with the cause and person of the Redeemer. As long as there is a particle of selfishness remaining in us, it will mar our sweet enjoyment of Christ; and until we get a complete riddance of it, our joy will never be unmixed with grief. We must dig at the roots of our selfishness to find the worm which eats our happiness. The soul of the believer will always pant for this serene condition of passive surrender, and will not content itself until it has thoroughly plunged itself into the sea of divine love. Its normal condition is that of complete dedication, and it esteems every deviation from such a state as a plague-mark and a breaking forth of disease. Here, in the lowest valley of self-renunciation, the believer walks upon a very pinnacle of exaltation; bowing himself, he knows that he is rising immeasurably high when he is sinking into nothing, and, falling fiat upon his face, he feels that he is thus mounting to the highest elevation of mental grandeur.
It is the ambition of most men to absorb others into their own life, that they may shine the more Brightly By the stolen rays of other lights; But it is the Christian’s highest aspiration to be absorbed into another, and lose himself in the glories of his sovereign and Savior. Proud men hope that the names of others shall but be remembered as single words in their own long titles of honor; But loving children of God long for nothing more than to see their own names used as letters in the Bright records of the doings of the Wonderful, the Councilor.
Heaven is a state of entire acquiescence in the win of God, and perfect sympathy with his purposes; it is, therefore, easy to discern that the desires we have just been describing are true earnests of the inheritance, and sure signs of preparation for it.
And now, how is it with the reader? Is he a lover of Jesus in verity and truth? or does he confess that these signs are not seen in him? If he be indeed without love to Jesus, he has good need to humble himself and turn unto the Lord, for his soul is in as evil a condition as it eau be this side hell; and, alas! will soon be, unless grace prevent, in a plight so pitiable, that eternity will scarce be long enough for its regrets.
It is more than probable that some of our readers are troubled with doubts concerning the truth of their affection for Jesus, although they are indeed his faithful friends. Permit us to address such with a word of consolation.
You have some of the marks of true piety about you, — at least, you can join in some of the feelings to which we have been giving expression, — but still you fear that you are not right in heart towards Christ. What is then your reason for such a suspicion? You reply that your excess of attachment towards your friends and relatives is proof that you are now sincere, for if you loved Jesus truly, you would love him more than these.
You word your complaint thus: — “I fear I love the creature more than Christ, and if so my love is hypocritical. I frequently feel more vehement and more ardent motions of my heart to my beloved relatives than I do towards heavenly objects, and I therefore believe that I am still carnal, and the love of God doth not inhabit my heart.”
Far be it from us to plead the cause of sin, or extenuate the undoubted fault which you thus commit; but at the same time it would be even further from our design to blot out at once the whole of the names of the living family of God. For if our love is to be measured by its temporary violence, we fear there is not one among the saints who has not at some time or other had an excessive love to the creature, and who has not, therefore, upon such reasoning, proved himself to be a hypocrite. Let it be remembered, therefore, that the strength of affection is rather to be measured by the hold it has upon the heart, than by the heat it displays at casual times and seasons. Flavel very wisely observes, “As rooted malice argues a stronger hatred than a sudden though more violent passion, so we must measure our love, not by a violent motion of it, now and then, but by the depth of the root and the constancy of its acting. Because David was so passionately moved for Absalom, Joab concludes that if he had lived, and all the people died, it would have pleased him well; but that was argued more like a soldier than a logician.”
If your love be constant in its abidings, faithful in its actings, and honest in its char you need not distrust it on account of certain more burning heats, which temporarily and wickedly inflame the mind. Avoid these as sinful, but do not therefore doubt the truthfulness of your attachment to your Master. True grace may be in the soul without being apparent, for, as Baxter truly observes, “grace is never apparent and sensible to the soul but while it is in action.” Fire may be in the flint, and yet be unseen except when occasion shall bring it out. As Dr. Sibbs observes in his Soul ’s Conflict, “There is sometimes grief for sin in us, when we think there is none;” so may it be with love. which may be there, but not discoverable till, some circumstance shall lead to its discovery. The eminent Puritan pertinently remarks: — “You may go seeking for the hare or partridge many hours, and never find them while they lie dose and stir not; but when once the hare betakes himself to his legs, and the bird to her wings, then you see them presently. So long as a Christian hath his in lively action, so long, for the most part, he is assured of them. How can you doubt whether you love God in the act of loving? Or whether you believe in the very act of believing If, therefore, you would be toured whether this sacred fire be kindled in your hearts, blow it up, get it into a/lame, and then you will know; believe till you feel that you do believe; and love till you feel that you love.” Seek to keep your graces in action by living near to the author of them. Live very near to Jesus, and think much of his love to you: thus will your love to him become more deep and fervent.
We pause here, and pray the most gracious Father of all good to accept our love, as he has already accepted us, in the Beloved; and we humbly crave the benign influence of his Holy Spirit, that we may be made perfect in love, and may glorify him to whom we now pre-went ourselves as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.
Jesus, thy boundless love to me no thought can reach, no tongue declare; O knit my thankful heart to thee, And reign without a rival there:
Thine wholly, thine alone, I am; Be thou alone my constant flame!
O grant that nothing in my soul May dwell, but thy pure love alone:
O may thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure, and my crown; Strange flames far from my heart remove My every act word, thought be love!”
TO THE UNCONVERTED READER.
Again we turn to thee; and art thou still where we left thee? still without hope, still unforgiven? Surely, then, thou hast been condemning thyself while reading these signs of grace in others. Such experience is too high for thee, thou canst no more attain unto it than a stone to sensibility; but, remember, it is not too high for the Lord. He can renew thee, and make thee know the highest enjoyment of the saints. He alone can do it, therefore despair of thine own strength; but He can accomplish it, therefore hope in omnipotent grace. Thou art in a wrong state, and thou knowest it: how fearful will it be if thou shouldst remain the same until death! Yet most assuredly thou wilt unless Divine love shall change thee.
See, then, how absolutely thou art in the hands of God. Labor to feel this.
Seek to know the power of this dread but certain fact — that thou liest entirely at his pleasure; and there is nothing more likely to humble and subdue thee than the thoughts which it will beget within thee.
Know and tremble, hear and be afraid. Bow thyself before the Most High, and confess his justice should He destroy thee, and admire his grace which proclaims pardon to thee. Think not that the works of believers are their salvation; but seek first the root of their graces, which lies in Christ, not in themselves. This thou canst get nowhere but at the footstool of mercy from the hand of Jesus. Thou art shut up to one door of life, and that door is Christ crucified. Receive him as God’s free gift and thine undeserved boon.
Renounce every other refuge, and embrace the Lord Jesus as thine only hope. Venture thy soul in his hands. Sink or swim, let Him be thine only support, and he will never fail thee. BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST,AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED.