« PreviousContinue »
ceiving of the word, in its sanctifying effects and influences, into your hearts, and your perseverance in the profession and practice of it to the end : "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” Verse 17. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will." John, 15:7. Blessed and happy is that soul upon which these blessed characters appear, which our Lord Jesus has laid so close together, within the compass of a few verses, in the 17th chapter of John. These are the persons the Father delivered unto Christ, and Christ accepted from the Father, in this blessed covenant.
THE ADMIRABLE LOVE OF GOD IN GIVING HIS OWN SON FOR US.
“ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son.” John, 3 : 16.
In these words are to be considered,
1. The original spring or fountain of our best mercies—The love of God.
2. The mercy flowing out of this fountain, and that is Christ, The Mercy, as he is emphatically called, Luke, 1:72; the marrow, kernel, and substance of all other mercies. "He gave his only begotten Son.”
3. The objects of this love, or the persons for whom the eternal Lord delivered Christ, namely," the world.” This must respect the elect of God in the world; such as do, or shall actually believe, as it is exegetically expressed in the next words, " That whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” Those whom he calls the world in that, he styles believers in this expression ; these are the objects of this love. It is not angels, but men, that were so loved.
4. The manner in which this never-enough celebrated mercy flows to us, from the fountain of Divine love, and that is most freely and spontaneously. "He gave,” not he sold, or barely parted with, but gave. Nor yet doth the Father's giving. imply Christ to be merely passive; for as the Father is here said to give him, so the apostle tells us, that he gave himself: "Who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2: 20. The Father gave him out of good will to men, and he as willingly bestowed himself on that service. Hence we learn, that The gift of Christ is the highest and fullest manifestation
of the love of God to sinners, ever made from eternity.
How is this gift of God to sinners signalized in that sentence of the apostle, "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins!” 1 John, 4: 10. Why doth the apostle so magnify this gift in saying, "Herein is love," as if there were love in nothing else ? May we not say, that to have a being, a being among rational creatures, therein is love? To have our life carried so many years, like a taper in the hand of Providence, through so many dangers, and not yet put out in obscurity, therein is love? To have food and raiment convenient for us, beds to lie on, relations to comfort us, in all these is love? Yea; but in all these there is no love, in comparison with the love in sending or giving Christ for us: these are great mercies in themselves; but compared to this mercy, they are all swal. lowed up, as the light of candles when brought out to
No, no, herein is love, that God gave Christ for us. When the apostle would show, Rom. 5: 8, what is the noblest fruit, that most commends to men the root of Divine love that bears it, he shows us this very fruit of it, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us :" this is the very essence of that love.
In expounding this precious point, we will show,
1. How Jesus Christ was given by the Father, and what is implied therein.
1. His designation and appointment unto death for us ; for you read that it was done "according to the determinate counsel of God.” Acts, 2 : 23. As the lamb under the law was separated from the flock, and set apart for a sacrifice; and though still living, was intentionally and preparatively given, and consecrated to the Lord; so Jesus Christ was, by the counsel and purpose of God, thus chosen, and set apart for his service: and therefore, in Isa. 42:1, God calls him his Elect, or chosen One.
2. His giving Christ, implies a parting with him, or setting him (as the French version hath it) at some distance from himself for a time. There was a kind of parting between the Father and the Son, when he came to tabernacle in our flesh: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world ; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” John, 16 : 28. This distance, occasioned by his incarnation and humiliation, was properly as to his humanity, which was really distant from the glory into which it is now taken up;
and in withholding the manifestation of delight and love, the Lord seemed to treat him as one at a distance from him. Oh! this was it that so deeply pierced and wounded his soul, as is evident from that complaint, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not,” &c. Psa. 22:1, 2.
3. God's giving of Christ, implies his delivering him into the hands of justice ; even as condemned persons
are, by sentence of law, given or delivered into the hands of executioners. So Acts, 2:23, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain ;” and so he is said to deliver him up to death for us all.” Rom. 8: 32.
4. God's giving of Christ, implies his application of him, with all the purchase of his blood, and settling all this upon us as an inheritance and portion.
My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” John, 6: 32, 33. God hath given him as bread to poor starving creatures, that by faith they might eat and live. And so he told the Samaritan woman, " If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” John, 4 : 10. Bread and water are the two necessaries for the support of natural life; God hath given Christ, you see, to be all that, and more, to the spiritual life.
II. This gift of Christ was the highest and fullest manifestation of the love of God that ever the world saw.
1. Consider how near and dear Jesus Christ was to the Father : he was his Son, "his only Son;" the Son of his love, yea, one with himself; the express image of his person; the brightness of his Father's glory: "Unto us a Son is given," Isa. 9 : 6, and such a Son as he calls "his dear Son." Col. 1: 13. A late writer tells us, that in the famine in Germany, a poor family being ready to perish, the husband proposed to the wife to sell one of the children for bread to relieve themselves and the rest. The wife at last consented it should be so; but then they began to think which of the four should be sold; and when the eldest was named, they both refused to part with that, being their first-born, and the begin.
ning of their strength. Well, then they came to the second, but could not yield that he should be sold, being the very picture and lively image of his father. The third was named, but that also was a child that best resembled the mother. And when the youngest was thought of, that was the Benjamin, the child of their old age; and so they determined rather to perish in the famine than part with a child for relief. And you know how Jacob mourned when his Joseph and Benjamin were rent from him. What is a child but a piece of the parent wrapt up in another skin ? And yet our dearest children are but as strangers to us in comparison of the unspeakable dearness betwixt the Father and Christ. Now that he should ever thus part with his Son, his only Son, is such a manifestation of love as will be ad. mired to all eternity. And then,
2. Let it be considered to what he gave him, even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of men ; to the most unparalleled sufferings that ever were inflicted or borne by any. It breaks our heart to behold our children struggling in the pangs of death ; but the Lord beheld his Son struggling under agonies that never any felt before him. He saw him falling to the ground, grovelling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning himself to his father, and, with a heart-rending cry, beseeching him, " Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass.” Luke, 22 : 42. To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God, was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of his own Father. Sure, then, that love must needs want a name, which made the Father of mercies deliver his only Son to such miseries
3. It is a special consideration to enhance the love of God in giving Christ, that in giving him he gave the richest jewel in his cabinet, a mercy of the greatest