« PreviousContinue »
and we the members. Yea, we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Does not this express a near and intimate relation ? Now it is one so near to us, so joined to us, who asks, Lovest thou me ?"
Have our friends, whom we are so conscious of loving, done more for us than Christ, or made greater sacrifices for us? Are we under greater personal obligations to them?
" Which of all our friends, to save us,
Could or would have shed his blood?
Reconciled, in him, to God.”
And yet we know we love those friends, but this friend! we know not whether we love him or notwe only hope we do!
Do other beings find such difficulty in loving Christ ? and are they at such a loss to know when they do love him? O no. His Father testifies, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And he is called also his well-beloved, his dear Son. All the angels of God love and worship him, and delight to ascribe infinite worthiness to him. It is only men who find any difficulty in loving Christ. It is only the human heart that hesitates and hangs back. Is there any reason for this—any reason why men should be the last to love Christ, and why they should love him least of all who behold his loveli. ness? I see none, but I think I see reasons many. and strong, and tender, why we should be first, and most forward, and warmest in our affection to him. How many worlds he passed to alight on this ! How many created natures he rejected, when from all of them he chose the human to be united to divinity! Others have sinned, yet not their sins bare he, but ours. It may be said of other creatures, “ He loved them;" but of men only can it be added, “and gave himself for them.” And yet who is so backward to love him as redeemed man? Not tardy merely. O how parsimonious of his love-loving him so little, that often he cannot ascertain if he loves at all! Shame, where is thy blush; and sorrow, where thy tear?
O how different Christ's love to us from ours to him! We have not to ask him if he loves us. If any one should ever ask that question of Jesus, he would say, Behold
feet.” He bears on his very body the marks of his love to us. But what have we to point to as proofs of our love to him ? What has it done for him? What suffered? O, the contrast! His love, so strong! Ours, so weak! His, 80 ardent! Ours, so cold! His, so constant! Ours, so fickle! His, so active! Ours, so indolent! So high, 80 deep, so long, so broad his love, its dimensions cannot be comprehended, it passeth knowledge; while ours is so limited, and so minute, it eludes research!
* Dear Lord! and shall we ever live
" At this poor dying rate ?
" And thine to us so great ?"
41. The Light of the World.
How are we to know whether, being nominally Christians, we are also really Christians ? It is important to know if we possess the thing signified by Christianity. The mere name and fame of the thing will be of little use to us.
Now the Bible tells us what Christians are. If then, we are what the book
are, we are Christians. Every body admits this—that a scriptural Christian is without doubt a real one. But some seem to hesitate about admitting the converse of the proposition, that if we are not what the Bible says Christians are, we are not Christians. The reason they hesitate can only be that they perceive or fear the latter conclusion makes against themselves; for the one is as clearly and certainly true as the other. What use could there be in statements declaring what Christians are, if individuals may be Christians without being what Christians are thus declared to be? Indeed, what truth would there be in such statements? That is no character
istic of a class, which does not belong to all the individuals of the class. The declaration, “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature," is neither useful nor true, if some are in Christ who are not new creatures. The same may be said of the assertion, “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” if a solitary individual is pardoned and freed from condemnation who still walks after the flesh. There is neither sense nor sincerity in it; nor in this other passage, “ They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts," if some are Christ's who have never put the flesh and its lusts to that kind of death.
It must be admitted that if we are not what the Bible says Christians are, we are not Christians in fact. We may as well admit it first as last. Christ says we are to be judged by his word; not by any favorite author of ours, Blair or Paley, or whoever he may be; not by any sermon we may have heard from this or that minister; not by the standard that may have been set up in some conversation with an eminent divine; not by the opinion entertained in the circle in which we move; nor by what seems to stand to our reason. There will be no spreading out of these, when the Judge shall sit. The Bible will be the only book of law and authority opened then.
I know very well there is nothing new in what I
am saying. Any body can say it, and say it as well. Every body knows it already. But it is one of the old things that we need to be often reminded of. I know nothing we are more prone to forget than these common-place truths. It is what we know best, and most firmly believe, that we fail most to consider and lay to heart. The most familiar truths have always been the truths by men most disregarded. But let us hear what the Bible
says Christians are, for I did not intend so long an introduction. Well, the Bible says, among other things, that they are the light of the world. The blessed Jesus himself is the speaker, and he is addressing his disciples, and he says to them YE ARE the light of the world.” Observe, he does not say, “ Ye may be, if you are careful to live up to your privileges;" or “Ye ought to be—it is your duty;” or “ Ye shall be by and by, when you have have made greater progress in religion;" but he speaks of it as a present matter of fact, “ Ye are the light of the world."
-So it seems that Christians shine. We talk of a shining Christian, meaning to distinguish such a one from Christians in general. But there is no Christian who is not a shining one. Every ChrisLian ernits light. Paul testifies of the Christians of Philippi that they shone as lights in the world. They were what Christ said his disciples were. And must not Christians of our cities and villages be the same ? 18