Page images

feature of Christianity is, that it requires a resolute adherence and an inviolable attachment to Jesus ChristThough it includes both morality and a regard to God, it does not stop there; but leads us to Jesus Christ as the only mediator through whom divine blessings can flow down to us, or our services go up with acceptance before God- Whatever difference may exist between Christians with respect to other points, all are agreed in love to Christ-St. Paul did not hesitate to denounce the severest curse against all who should be wanting in this most essential point-He had finished this Epistle by the hand of an amanuensis, and was going, as his manner was in every Epistle, to write his benediction with his own hand; but deeply solicitous for the welfare of the church, as well as for the glory of his divine Master, he inserted between his salutation and his benediction these ever memorable words;—“ If any man,” &c.These are in the form of a judicial sentence, which we shall I. Explain

The solemnity with which this sentence is delivered surely bespeaks our most candid attention-But how shall we, in drawing the line between nominal and real Christians, speak with such precision, as neither to discourage the weak, nor to confirm hypocrites or formalists in their delusions?-Let us explain 1. What it is to love the Lord Jesus Christ

[Love, whatever be its object, implies such an esteem of that object, such a desire after it, and such a delight in it, as the object itself deserves-What would be an idolatrous fondness when placed on one object, would fall very far short of the affection that might be justly claimed by another-Now Christ being incomparably more worthy of our love than any created being, our love to him ought to be unrivalled and supreme-To compliment him with honourable titles, while we feel no real regard for him in cur sculs, is no better than an impious mockery-We must entertain high and exalted thoughts of him as the Saviour of the world; and have learned with Paul to “ count all tirings but dross and dung in comparison of him”. -We must also fee such need of him in his mediatorial office and character, as to say with David, "My soul longeth for thee even as the bart panteth for the water-brooks;" " Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there


is none upon earth that I desire besides thee”---Our fellowship with him, moreover, must be sweet: nor must we find less pleasure in doing his will than in enjoying his pre

-This is the criterion whereby he himself has taught us to judge of our love to him.a]

2. What is the judgment denounced against those who are destitute of this love?

[" Anathema" is a term often used to signify only an ecclesiastical censure, or an excommunication from the church; but the addition of the word “Maran-atha” necessitates us to understand it in reference to the judgment at the last dayUnder the Jewish law there were many crimes that were to be punished with death; and, when a person was couvicted of one of these, he was executed according to the divine command: but when the Jews were brought into subjection to the Romans, they lost the power of life and death:b' when therefore a person committed any crime, that would have been punished with death by the Jewish law, the Jews excommunicated the offender, and expected that God would visit him in some signal manner; or at least inflict an adequate punishment upon him at the last day—In reference to this, it should seem, the apostle used the word “ Maran-atha," which in the Syriac language means, “The Lord cometh” --The import therefore of the denunciation in the text is, That, as they, who did not love the Lord Jesus Christ'in sincerity, deserved to be bloited out of the list of true Christians, and to be punished with everlasting destruction, so there was no doubt but that, although man could not take cognizance of that offence, God would; and execute signal vengeance on all those who should live and die under the guilt of it-]

Severe as this sentence is, it is such as we may undertake to II. Vindicate

It may not be improper first to vindicate the apostle himself

[To consign to everlasting destruction those who are free from any gross sin, and who perhaps abound in the form of religion, while they are only destitute of its power,” may seem harsh—But we shall in vain attempt to put any milder interpretation on the words of the text—Shall we then censure the apostle as uncharitable, and severe? If we do, we must involve all the other inspired writers and Christ himself in the same censure-Moses, by God's command, denounced similar vengeance on persons of various descriptions, and required the people to confirm his word by an express declaration of their own consent and approbation–Jeremiah and Malachi repeatedly spake to the same effect-Nor was this peculiar to those who lived under the legal dispensation: St. Paul repeatedly denounced a curse even against any angel from heraven that should presume to publish any other gospel than that which he had preachede-Yea, the meek and compassionate Jesus declared, that God would be a Father to none who did not love him;f and that he himself would in the last day summon before him all that had refused his yoke, and order them to be slain without mercy-Such examples as these may well screen the apostle from any imputation of needless severity-]

a John xiv. 21. avd xv. 14.

b John xviii. SI.

Next we will vindicate the sentence he denounced

Awful as it is, it will appear both just and reasonable, if we only consider the exceeding sinfulness of not loving the Lord Jesus—This sin inplies 1. Rebellion against the highest authority

(God has by an audible voice from heaven commanded us to“ hear" his Son, that is, to regard him with attention, love and obedience-He has enjoined all the great and noble of the earth to 6iss the son" in token of their affection and homagel-He has required all men to honour the Son even as they honour the Fatheri-And are we at liberty to set at nought this authority!- Do we feel indignant, if our child or our servant refuse obedience to our just commands, and shall not the most high God express his indignation against us for resisting and despising the most reasonable command that could possibly be given us?-If man forbear to notice this iniquity, shall God also? shall he give us reason for that atheistical reflection, “ Thou God wilt not regard it?"-] 2. A contempt of the highest excellency

[In the Lord Jesus Christ is every possible excellency combined - Whether we view him in his divine, his human, or his mediatorial character, he is “ altogether lovely”—There is nothing wanting in him which can in any way conduce to the glory of God or the good of men- -What shall we say then of those who love not such a glorious being? Surely they pour contempt upon him—This is the construction which God himself puts upon their conduct; “ Him that honoureth me, I will honour; but he that despiseth me shall be lightly esteemed"}-And is not this a sin of the deepest die? to despise him who is the fountain of all excellency! to despise him whom all the angels adore! What must not such iniquity as this deserve?--Surely to be despised and abhorred of him is the least that such offenders can expect-) 3. Ingratitude towards the greatest Benefactor

e Deut. xxvii. 15—26, twelve times.
d Jer. xi. 3. and xvii. 5. and xlviii. 10. Mal. i. 14.
e Gal. i. 8, 9.

f John viii. 42. & Luke xix. 27. h Ps. ii. 12.

i John v. 23.

[Can we reflect a moment on what Christ has done and suffered for us, and not stand amazed that there should be a creature upon earth that does not love him?-Can we contemplate his mysterious incarnation, his laborious life, his painful death, his continual intercession, and all the other wonders of his love, and feel no emotions of gratitude towards him?-Or shall ingratitude to earthly benefactors be deemed the greatest possible aggravation of a fault, and shall such horrid ingratitude of ours be thought light and venial?No; it stamps an inexpressible baseness on our character; nor can any punishment short of that denounced in the text, be adequate to such impiety-] APPLICATION

(Let us seriously examine into the evidences of our love to Christ; that if he should ask us, as he did Peter, “Lovest thou me:" we may be able to reply with him, “Lord, thou kno'vest all things, thou knowest that I love thee"-Let us • tremble at the thought of subjecting ourselves to the judg

ments here, denounced-And instead of presuming to speak against them as too severe, let us make it our constant endeavour to escape thein-So shall death and judgment he divested of all their terrors; and Christ, whom we love, be the eternal portion of our souls-]

k Sam. ii. 30.



John xv. 23. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also.

MEN arc ever disposed to palliate their sins, and, by representing them under some specious name, to conceal their real enormity-But God calls every sin by its proper name, and speaks of it with just abhorrence - Coveteousness in his eyes is not prudence, but idolatry:* a disregard of his presence is not mere inadvertence, but a denial of his most essential attributes:" and a contempt of his gospel is not a venial ignorance or inattention, but an absolute hatred both of Christ and of the Father-To confirm this truth we will endeavour to shew I. Who they are that hate Christ

It may be thought that none but Jews can be guilty of hating Christ, and that the bearing of his name is a sufficient testimony of our regard for him—But there are too many who, notwithstanding they have been baptized into his name, are yet “ enemies to him in their minds”-Certainly we must number among his enemies 1. Those who disregard his gospel

[The gospel of Christ ought to be universally received as “glad tidings of great joy”—But the greater part of mankind feel an aversion to it-Some dislike its fundainental doctrine of salvation by faith, and represent it as injurious to the interests of morality_Others hate the duties it enjoins, and traduce it as requiring a state of mind totally incompatible with the discharge of our offices in social and civil life-Many even of those who approve of the gospel in their judgment, are yet very far from experiencing its power in their soulsThey enjoy not its promises, they fulfil not its precepts, they know not its renovating, sanctifying effects-It may be asked, Are all these persons haters of Christ? Let Christ himself answer that question-He states, that a practical renunciation of his authority is a proof, that they are enemies to him in their hearts, and will cause them to be treated as his enemies in the day that he shall judge the world—] 2. Those who neglect his ordinances

(Our Lord has promised his peculiar presence to us while we seek him in the ordinances of his own appointmentShould not then the hope of enjoying his presence endear the ordinances to us, and make us regard them as our most inestimable privilege?-But how are they regarded by the generality amongst us?-Does not worldly business or pleasure often detain us needlessly from the house of God? And when we are assembled for worship, do not our thoughts rove to the very ends of the earth, so that, though we “ draw nigh to God with our lips, our hearts are far from him?"-Are not almost all persons cold and remiss in secret prayer?--And is

a Eph. v. 5. Vol. H.

b Ps. Well, 13.


c Luke xix. 14, 27.

« PreviousContinue »