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tion, it is declared in our text, that the salvation of all who believe was the very thing that God designed in giving his Son. 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life:' it is in the free and eternal love of God, that our salvation begins. The first of God's gifts is his love: the first gift of his love is his Son; the first gift of his Son is faith ; and faith is the root of all other graces, the principle of the new life, and the key which shuts up hell, and opens the gate of heaven.
It is the love of God we are now to meditate upon. But O ! who is equal to the subject? * Can we by searching find out God—the love of God—God, who is love? Can we find out the love of God to perfection? It is as high as heaven ;—what can we do? deeper than hell;—what can we know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.' O that the love of God may now be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we may 'be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, Which passeth knowledge!' In order to this, let us consider the following things :—
I. The Love of God—God so loved the world.
II. The Evidence of it—that he gave his Son: and,
HI. The End or Design of it, that whosoever believeth, might be saved.
First, Let us consider the Love of God. Consider who it is that loves, and who are the persons beloved. He who loves is the great God, who was from everlasting infinitely happy in himself, and who needed not the aid of any creatures. He who made all things out of nothing by the word of his power. He, 'with whom the nations are as a drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance ; they are before him as nothing, yea, less than nothing, and vanity.' 'Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him!' But what is more wonderful is, that God, who is infinitely holy, and 'of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,' should ever love creatures like us, who are full of sin. He loved the world,—this world; not angels, but men; sinful men of all ages and countries. Not sinners of the Jews only, as some of them fondly dreamed. 'Christ,' saith the apostle John, 'is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only,' who are Jews, ' but for the sins of the whole world'—for all who shall hereafter believe on him, whether Jews or Gentiles, wheresoever they may be scattered throughout the whole world.
Nothing is so wonderful as the love of God to sinful man. When man was made at first, he was lower than the angels; how much lower is the sinner than the man! In some respects he is lower than the brutes; for * he has the worst qualities of the brutes, wiihout their best.' Yet, * God hath remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endureth for ever.' The love of creatures to one another, is generally founded on some real or supposed goodness or excellency; but there was nothing at all in man to excite the love of God; but, on the contrary, his hatred and wrath. 'The whole world lieth in wickedness,' or in the wicked one, the devil; under his rule and influence; full of ignorance, carnality, and enmity against God; in a state of actual rebellion against him, and without the least desire to know him, serve him, or enjoy him. Yet, hear O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! God loved this world of sinners. But, how much, no tongue can tell, —no heart conceive! The love is so matchless, so unlike any thing in human affairs, that our text makes no comparison in order to describe it; it has no parallel or similitude among men; and, therefore, it is only said, 'God so loved the world, that he gave us his Son.' In most cases, human love is expressed better by words than deeds; but the love of God is such, that it cannot be expressed at all by words; words are too weak ; it is by actions that God commends his love towards us : and above all by this one,—the gift of his Son: and this is the second thing proposed,—
II. The Evidence of God's love; * he gave us his only-begotten Son.' Many are the gracious gifts of God to this world of sinners. The powers of our minds and bodies, the food we eat, the garments we wear, the health we enjoy ; ten thousand thousand precious gifts call loudly upon us for daily praises. But great as these are, they are all lost in this one, like a drop of water in the sea. St. John, speaking of it, says, ' Herein is love, not that we loved God; but that he loved us, and sent his Son:' as if he said, This is love indeed: compared with this nothing else deserves the name; and without it, what would all other gifts have proved ?— what do they prove to wicked men, who live and die * without Christ?' This is that gift of God, promised to our first parents in the garden; and which Abraham, David, Isaiah, all the patriarchs, and all the prophets, looked and longed for. This was 'The Mercy promised to the fathers,' (Luke i. 72.): this is the mercy that never could have been expected, never desired. It would never have entered into the hearts of men or angels to have thought of such a thing, as that God should give us his Son. And certainly it never could have been deserved. Man deserves nothing but hell. The common blessings of life are all forfeited by sin: and therefore we properly call our food, raiment, and health, Mercies, for so they are; but when we consider the greatness of that gift, they disappear like the brightest stars when the sun arises. It will be a matter of astonishment to all eternity that God should so love the world as to give us his Son.
The greatness of his love appears in the greatness of the gift; in the glory and excellency of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is here called his only-begotten Son. The angels are the sons of God by creation; and believers are sons of God by adoption ; but Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God. This is a name that we cannot fully explain; but it certainly signifies, that Jesus partakes of the same divine nature with his Father. 'That holy thing' which was born of the virgin, was called ' the Son of God.' Because we, whom he came to save, 'were partakers of flesh and blood, he likewise himself partook of the same nature.' He was truly man, ' flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone.' But he was also as truly God, God and man in one person; 'in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.' He is thebrightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person.' 'The Word, who was made flesh and dwelt among us, was with God, and was God.' And, indeed, this is ' the great mystery of godliness, that God was manifested in the flesh.' 'Immancel—God with us.' 'The Lord our righteousness.' And although the Son of God veiled his glory when on earth, and 'made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant,' yet his true followers 'beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.' 'His birth, though humble, was celebrated by a multitude of the heavenly host: he had a poor lodging ; but a star lighted visitants to it from a far country. He had not such attendants as other kings have ; but he was attended with far better —crowds of patients getting health of body and soul. He made the dumb to sing his praises, and the lame to leap for joy; the deaf to hear his wonders, aud the blind to see his glory. And though he submitted to the shameful death of the cross, heaven and earth became mourners on the occasion; the sun was clad in black; and if men were unmoved, the earth trembled; there were few to rend their garments ; but the rocks were not so insensible,—they rent their bowels. Death and the grave submitted to his power; the king of terrors lost his sting, and the Prince of Life triumphed over him.' This is the great and glorious person whom the Father freely gave from his bosom. 'God's own Son,' 'God's dear Son;' * God's well-beloved Son ;' and surely this was the greatest possible proof of his love. When God tried Abraham, he said to him, 'Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him up for a burnt-offering.' Was ever command so difficult, so trying? Every word is like a dagger to a parent's heart; but he obeys. He consults not with flesh and blood. He takes his son to the mountain; the altar is built; the wood laid in order; the youth is bound; the fatal knife uplifted: but it is enough. The design is answered. Abraham's faith is proved, 'even the faith that works by love.' 'Now 1 know,' saith the Lord, ' that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.' And may we not say, Now we know and are sure ; we cannot admit a doubt of it; that God loves sinful man; seeinghe withheld not his Son, his only-begotten Son, from us: he ' spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.' Verily, ' God is love!'
Abraham's was a rare instance. What he did was at God's command; and it was done in faith, that God would raise him again from the dead rather than the promise should fail. But what would induce a fond
'parent to part with a child, even for the sake of a friend, much less of an enemy? History tells, that during a dreadful famine in Germany, a poor family consisting of a man, his wife, and four children, were reduced to the last extremity, and on the very point of being starved to death. Knowing no other method of relief, the husband proposed, that one of the children should be sold, so that they might procure bread for themselves and the rest. To this painful proposal, the wife at last reluctantly consents. It was now necessary to consider which of the four should be sold. The eldest was first mentioned; but neither of the parents could think of that; the dear child was their first-born,—they could not possibly part with him. The second child was then
'produced; but the poor mother objected. The fine boy was the very picture of his father, she could not spare him. The third, a charming girl, came next in turn; but the father made a similar objection : the dear child bore so strong a resemblance of her mother, she must not go. Well, only one remained. The youngest appears—but here both at once unite to say, 'We cannot part with him, this is our Benjamin, the darling child of our old age. No, we will rather perish altogether, than part with any one of our dear children.' Let this little story illustrate, in some feeble degree, the wondrous love of God. God so loved the world, that he gave his on/y-begotten Son, his dearly-beloved Son, to be our Saviour.
The greatness of this gift will still farther appear, if we consider to what, and for what, he was given. • If he had taken our nature in its highest and best form—if he had become a Prince or an Emperor, it had been much. But how much more was it for him to come into our world in the lowest circumstances—to be born in a stable—to be laid in a manger—to be persecuted almost as soon as born—to be a poor man—so poor, that