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of criminality in the person loved. The parent may love his child, the wife her husband, the sister her brother, the son his parent, after the loved one has lost in dru' kenness all that dignifies humanity. That love may follow its cherished object in infamy, yearn over him in prison and on the scaffold, and garner up his memory, when his name, by all the world beside, is consigned to loathing. But if the heart which thus loves is itself virtuous, that love, strong as it is, yet wants a most important element: it is love without esteem ; it is love without complacency; it is the conflict in which nature and good will draw you toward one who is bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh, and yet every exhibition of his character repels you with shuddering abhorrence. It is love, indeed-love living and activebut love that is maimed, and bleeds and groans as it goes forth to yearn over the cherished one. If your own heart is virtuous, criminality in one you love opens an impassible chasm between your soul and his. You two can never be one again, unless you sink to sympathy with his pollution, or he rises to delight in your virtue.
Precisely this deficiency exists in God's love to impenitent sinners. It is love throbbing with the pulsations of God's infinite heart, strong even unto the cross for their rescue ; outlasting in the pleadings of a divine compassion years of crime and rebellion, yet destitute of the most essential element of love-destitute of complacency-abhorring the character of the sinner with an intensity of which only God is capable.
But if this contrariety of character impairs and cripples even the love of the virtuous for the vicious, how much more the love of the vicious heart. If the father's love for the prodigal son is impaired by the son's criminality, how much more the son, while in the midst of his riot and his harlots, was void of true love to his father. If even the love of God to sinners is robbed of its most precious element by this contrariety of character, how destitute of :rue love to God is the sinner in his worldliness and dis. obedience. Complacency in God, sweet accord with his character, he has none. He is opposed to God, and God is opposed to him.
Sin, then, is a fearful chasm between the sinner and God, which can in no way be crossed, unless God lay aside his holiness, sink to delizht in sin, and told the foulest to his bosom; or unless the sinner turn from his sins, and, washed and made clean, be folded to the bosom of infinite purity and love. This is the great gulf fixell. In the world to come, impassible from either side ; in this life, the same yawning gull, separating the sinner from God, until, by repentance, he returns and bows, in faith and submission, before the holy throne.
Here you may see the application to yourselves, it may be, of those fearful words: “The carnal mind is enmiiy against God." It is difficult for the most of those whom we usually see in this
house of God-for you who, if you think of God at all, think of bim respectfully-for you who honor and support the institutions of religion-for you whose every thought of religion is kind and respectful—it is difficult for you to persuade yourselves that this fearful character belongs to you. You are ready to say : “ It must be applicable only to those blasphemers who oppose reli. gion in all its institutions, and hurl defiance at the throne of God." My hearers, I do not charge you with blasphemy or disrespect for religion ; I do not charge you, that, in your inmost thoughts, you are conscious of thinking of God with batred. But the charge is, that you have not complacency in God's character; that there is a contrariety between your disposition, your aims, your cherished plans, and God's. T'he energies of God's moral nature are concentrated in abhorrence of sin : you are careless about the fact that you are a sinner; you sometimes even acknow. ledge, “I know that I ain a sinner, but cannot feel it.” God has shown his earnestness to deliver men from sin in all the wondrous history of the incarnation and the cross: he speaks it in all the earnest warnings and entreaties of the Gospel. But you are a sinner, and are careless; you are the person described in those astonishing words-a CARELESS SINNER. The Son of God shed his blood for sin ; you shed not a tear. God is intent on establishing Christ's kingdom in the world ; you make not this the great end of your endeavors; it is not the object on which your heart is set: your object is self and the world. God lives to do good; you live to please self. God is love ; you are selfishness. Can there be a greater contrariety of aims, of interests, of feelings, of character, than between yourself and God ? And does not this make applicable, as a description of your character, the emphalic words, “Enmity against God?" Be assured, there is no irue love to God without complacency in him-complacency which implies both delight in the beauty of his holiness and a heart to praise it, and an agreement of disposition, aims, and character, with his. And he who has been separated from God by sin can begin to love him only by returning in penitence and trust, and submitting cordially to all his will.
It must be added, that this complacency in God, when it really exists, will continually be producing assimilation to him. This is a necessary effect of such love.
“Whate'er thou lovest, man, that, too, become thou must :
Because love causes delight in contemplating the beloved cha. racter, and produces sympathy and accord of tastes, aims, and desires, there must result a growing assimilation of character. A virtuous woman, however she may love a vicious son or hus. band, withholds this highest element of love-esteem and complacency; and this withholding is essential to save her from becoming like him. When she begins to lose her abhorrence
for his character, the last stay of her virtue is broken, and she sinks into the likeness of him she loves. And once implant in the heart of that wanderer a love for some virtuous one-once awaken him to feel a kindling delight in this character beaming on him from the object of his love, and his reform is already begun, and will continue, if that love continues, till he attains the likeness of that virtue, the love of which has already begun to refresh his soul.
So it is in the affairs of religion and a fearful thought it is to the worldling--to those whose hearts delight in the low and debasing. If you are saying to gold, “ Thou art my hope," and to the most fine gold, “Thou art my confidence ;" if your heart is fastened on sensual joys, or idolizes the objects of ambition“Whate'er thou lovest, man, that, too, become thou must"-slowly but inevitably, by the silent influences of that very love, must your own heart be changed into the likeness of the earthly, the sensual, the devilish. But when once you begin to delight in the beauty of God's holiness—when your heart begins to beat in unison with his going out in the same pure desires toward the same holy end, it is the beginning, however faint, of that assimilation to God which shall issue in the fulfilment of the sublimest promise ever made to man : “ Ye shall see him as he is, and shall be like him :" ye shall see him in all the glories which awaken the enraptured praises of angels, and even thus ye shall be like him.
III. Love to God implies desire for him. Delight in his characier awakens desire for his person.
We find our happiness in those whom we love. If we love God, we find our happiness in him. This was expressed by the saints of old in language such as this: "Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come near even unto his seat." "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee. As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul afier thee. My soul followeth hard after God. There be many that say, “Who will show us any good ?' Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me.”
We desire a better acquaintance with those whom we love. If we love God, we study with interest his character as revealed in his word and in his works, for the purpose of becoming better acquainted with him. So Moses prayed, “O Lord, I beseech thee, show me thy glory."
We are pained to be separated from those whom we love, and we think of them much in absence; so if we love God, we shall think of him ; we shall be able to say with the Psalmist, "I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches. When I awake, I am still with thee."
We seek the society of those whom we love; so if we love God we seek communion with him. Prayer, which is speaking to God, is our delight. The closet, where we offer our requests, and receive the quickening of his Spirit, is a loved and frequented spot; and even amid the bustle of the world, we walk with God, and commune with him in the silence of our own spirits. Thus shall we, like the apostle, "continue in prayer, and watch thereunto with all perseverance and supplication, night and day, praying exceedingly."
We value the favor of those whom we love. Their displeasure cuts to the heart; but we are happy in their smile and their return of our confidence and affection. If we love God, we dread his displeasure ; it grieves us to the very heart to think that we have displeased him ; we are watchful not to disregard his will. But his favor is our joy.
“Let earth, with all its joys, combine ;
My dearest Lord, outweighs them all.” “Thy loving kindness is better than life.” The loving soul, renouncing all else, finds its blessedness in God. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
IV. Love to God implies benevolence or goodwill. This is implied in all love; we long to do good to those whom we love. If we love God, we feel good will toward him. But it is impossible to bestow favors on God, because he has no need. Goodwill toward him must show itself in some other way. This is by seeking to glorify him. If he were a creature, needy and dependent, goodwill would show itself by ministering to his need. He is the Creator and Lord of all; goodwill shows itself by giving to him the glory due unto his name.
God claims to be the Sovereign of the universe; he claims the right to rule over all his creatures. Says Bellamy, “He is disposed to take state to himself, and honor, and majesty, the kingdom, the power and the glory; and he sets up himself as the Most High God, supreme Lord, and sovereign Governor of the whole world ; and bids all worlds adore him, and be in most perfect subjection to him, and that with all their hearts; and esteems the wretch who does not account this his highest happiness worthy of eternal damnation. God thinks it infinitely becomes him to set himself up for a God, and to command all the world to adore him. He thinks himself fit to govern the world, and that the throne is his proper place, and that all love, honor, and obedience, are his due. 'I am the Lord,' says he,' and beside me there is no God. I am Jehovah; that is
my name; and
my glory will I not give to another. And thus shall ye do, for I am the Lord. And cursed be every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.' Now, it would be infinitely wicked for the highest angel in heaven to assume any of this honor to himself; but it infinitely becomes the Most High God thus to do." If we love God, his conduct in this will please us; it will appear to us fit and right; we shall rejoice to see him taking the throne, and surrounding himself with state, and making all creatures minister to his glory. Our first and strongest desire will be for his honor; so that when we pray we shall wish to begin with the petition which is set down for us first in the Lord's Prayer, “ Hallowed be thy name ;" and we shall not find in our hearts to close except with the ascription there enjoined, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.” The language of our hearts will be, “ The Lord reigneth ; let the earth rejoice. Be thou exalted above the heavens ; let thy glory be above all the earth. Let the lofty looks of man be humbled, and the haughtiness of man be brought
and the Lord alone shall be exalted.” This disposition will lead us, also, to desire to have all the world, in like manner, rejoice in God's supremacy, and give him the glory due unto his name. Hence it sometimes is found giving utterance to the strongest desires that all creatures would join in extolling God, calling even on sun, moon and stars, earth, air and sea, birds, beasts and fishes, mountains and all hills, the trees and the winds, to praise him. “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength. Bless the Lord, all ye his hosts ; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Let them praise the name of the Lord ; for his name alone is excellent."
And because God has sent his Son into the world, and set up his cross ; because he has set his heart on bringing sinners to Christ, and establishing his kingdom, good will toward God will be good-will toward his kingdom, which will concern itself with intense zeal to advance its interests and to bring men to Christ. “ The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” The Church, the bride of Christ, joins with his Spirit in extending the invitations of the Gospel. And let him that heareth, say, Come.” Every one who hears and accepts the invitation becomes animated by the same interest in the enlargement of Christ's kingdom, and joins with the Spirit in extending the invitations of the Gospel.
So great and so disinterested is this concern for God's honor and the advancement of his cause, that whatever is likely to dishonor God causes the most grievous anxiety, and no personal advantage can be so much as looked at as a compensation. * Thus says God to Moses : This is a stiff-necked people; let me alone that I may destroy them in a moment; and I will make of thee a great nation.' But says Moses: “What will become of