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the apostle contradict himself here? By no means. He would with that the Ephefians should comprehend with all faints, &c. He means, he would wish that the Ephesians, who were children in the faith, should arrive to as high a pitch of knowledge, experience, and enjoyment of God's eternal love, as any other faints whatever. That ye may comprehend with all faints ; that you may fee eye to eye with the best of them. And yet he insinuates to them that, when they have arrived to the highest pitch of knowledge, they would then know but in part; for the whole of Christ's love pafseth knowledge. His plain meaning seems to be this; I would wish you to know, to your soul's establishment, as much of Christ's love as can be known: but I must tell you that the greateft part is to be known only in the bright regions of eternal day ; as it is written-For we know in part, and prophefy in part; but when that which is perfeet is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. I Cor. xiï. 6. The apostle's meaning then amounts to this; he would wish that the Ephesians should know, or comprehend, as much as other saints ever did ; and yet would intimate that their knowledge and enjoyment was nothing, when compared to that knowledge and enjoyment which the saints will have in the world to come.
Having thus briefly opened my text, I must beg leave to invert the order of it a little. The words are, That ye may be able to comprehend with all faints what is the breadth, and length, and depois and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. If I have obtained your leave to invert the order, I will now deliver my thoughts on the subject in the following manner.
First, I will treat of the love of God.
And, lastly, Conclude the whole with a word of application.
Where shall I begin in delivering my opinion on this subject? I must begin with God-for God is love. i Johniv. 8. This is clearly revealed in the scriptures of truth, that the nature of God is love. But is this divine affection fixed on all the human race, so as to save them in Christ with an everlasting salvation ? That cannot be proved; for God says that multitudes are in hell already ; as you read in the 3 ast and 32d chapters of Ezekiel-God loveth the stranger in giving him food and raiment. Deut. X. 18. But the elect are not strangers--I know my fbeep, says Christ, and I lay down my life for them, and they shall never perish. It was self-moving love in God to chuse his own elect, and is the first cause of all our happiness. His own will was his counsellor; as it is writtenHe worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. That his wisdom drew up the plan of our salvation is plain from the word of truth; the gospel is the wisdom of God in a mystery. And by his omnipotent power God performs what self-moving love fecretly purposed in himself.
This love of God to his elect cannot be traced by us from its first rise. We can only go by the light of scripture, and affirm what God's witnesses have done before; viz. that God loved his elect with an everlasting love. But the idea of eternity will drown every thought that a mortal is capable of in launching forth into that unfathomable abyss. We may trace his word and works, and conclude as Job did-Lo these are some of his ways; but how little of bim is understood !
In these profound depths of everlasting love we can find no bottom; like the dove, we must settle on the ark of the covenant, and then we shall be able to look about us.
First, then, God's love to his people is unutterable; we cannot express it, but can only furnish imperfect hints of its parts, as the scriptures do. For instance-God so loved the world, that be gave bis only beggotten Son, &c. John iii. 16. And again-Bebold what manner of love the Father batb bestowed upon us, that we pould be called the fons of God. And it doth not yet appear what we shall be. 1 John iii. 1.
The love of God to his elect is not only unutterable, but it is likewise inconceivable ; and therefore called, in the last clause of my text, a love that pafseth knowledge. It is a love chat has been en
joyed joyed by thousands, but cannot be fully described by any.
This unutterable and inconceivable love is entirely fovereign. It lay entirely in the absolute and uncontroulable will and mind of God, whether he would create creatures out of the earth or not; and whether he would raise them to heaven (out of fin, when fallen) as the objects of his eternal love, or not.
It is fovereign, because fallen angels are excluded. And many of the human race are also excluded ; as it is written-Was not Ejax Jacob's brother? yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Efau. But when did this love and hatred tåke place-after Efau had fold his birth-right? 'No,says God-For the children being not yet born, neither having donc any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Rom. ix, 11-13.
God's elect are said to be loved with an ever. lasting love. And there is a people that are to be called The border of wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord bath indignation for ever. Mal. i. 4.
As this love of God is sovereign, so it appears to be entirely free in its fountain ; as it is written, But God commended bis love towards us, in that while we were yet finners Christ died for us. Rom. v. 8. If God commended his love towards us while we were yet finners, and reconciled us
to himself when we were enemies and without strength, his love must be free and unmerited, unless we can suppose that fin, enmity, and sinful infirmities, are meritorious in the fight of God.
As this love of God appears free in its fountain, so also it appears to be free in its administration. It cannot be purchased by human merit (falsely so called). If a man would give all the substance of bis bouse for love, it would be utterly contemned. Song viii. 7. Simon Magus bid high for the Spirit of love ; but the bidder and the price were both to perish together, for thinking that the gift of God was to be bought with money. So we conclude that Simon Magus, who wanted to buy, and the Pope of Rome, who offers to sell, the gifts of God, are both in the gall of bitterness, and in tbe bonds of iniquity. If that man is condemned who offers to buy the gifts of God, and if all the substance that a man offers for this love is to be utterly contemned, this love must be free ; free in its fountain, and free also in its administrations.
This will appear ftill plainer if we consider the many work-mongers that have laboured in vain to obtain it. Some have strived for it; but none are crowned except they strive lawfully. 2 Tim. ii. g. And none can strive lawfully till that love that fulfils the law be in their hearts. Some have run for it; but the race is not to the swift. Eccl. ix. II. 'No'says the Saviour, Many that are firft fall be last. Matt. xix. 30. Others have