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fought for it in heavy persecutions ; but the battle is not to the strong. Eccl. ix. 11. The victory of faith is no where promised to the strength of 'free-will or the power of the human arm. Noe Let the weak fay, I am strong. Joel iii. 10. Here I did many things, but never got the gifts of God for his labour. The Pharisees fasted often; eey made many prayers, and long ones too, and honoured God with their lips, and yet were rewarded with the greater damnation for their pains. Matt. xxiii. 14. The young man in the gospel told the Saviour that he had kept the law from his youch up, and was sent away with the sorrow of the world (that worketh death) in his heart. Efau wept for it; but got it not, though he fought it carefully with tears. Thus it appears then not to be of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, nor of him that fighteth, nor of him that worketh, nor of him that striveth, nor of him that weepeth, nor of him that buys, nor of him that sells—but of God that beweth mercy. I will heal their backslidings, I will love them freely. Hosea xiv. 4. This will appear ftill plainer if we confider what those had to recommend them who obtained it.
Let us see what God's elect have done to merit this love of God. Pray what merit was there in Mary Magdalen? How had the improved her supposed talent, will, power, or light within, or stock in hand, or by whatever other name you are pleased to call this phantom? The scriptures say
The was possessed with seven devils; but her being a habitation for devils could not recommend her to the love and favour of God; nor could that possibly merit it at his hands. And, as for her body, that was a hacknied vehicle for every son of Belial who chose to hire it. Yet this woman received the gift of gospel repentance, the forgiveness of all her fins; and she loved much, because she was much beloved; as it is written-We love him because be first loved us. Simon the Pharisee disdained this humble suppliant, and censured the Saviour as not being of God, because he supposed him ignorant of Mary's character; however, the Lord stopt his mouth by bringing him in debtor fifty pence, without a farthing to pay his debts with. But Mary received her full discharge first, though she owed five hundred. Thus the harlot got the start of the Pharisee; as it is written - Publicans and barloes enter the kingdom of God before the Pharisees.
If we turn to Nicodemus, he is the most likely of any to merit it at the hands of Christ ; for he took his part among the council, and complimented the Lord when he came to visit him. But the Lord doth not commend him for these things ; and we know he had no other merit to plead, unless we allow that the fear of men, and ignorance of real religion, can be accounted meritorious.
First, there is no merit in the carnal fear of man; for the fear of man bringech a snare. And, as to ignorance, it is never supposed to merit any
thing either at the hand of God or man. It mes rits nothing at the hand of God, because the law allows a sacrifice for the sin of ignorance, which presupposes that ignorance is sin instead of merit. Numb. xv. 25.
Pray what did the harlot Rahab do to merit this love of God? “Why,' says the workmonger, 'the received the spies with peace.” Yea, but she was a daughter of peace before she received them; as it is written— And into whatscever boufe you enter, fay, Peace be to this house; and, if the son of peace be there (mark that), if the son of peace be there, your peace shall come upon it. But suppose there be not a person ordained for peace in that house! Why then peace has nothing to do there; for, if the son of peace be not there, it shall return to you again (Luke x. 5, 6.), and you shall carry it to its right owner. Thus, then, her receiving the spies was only the blessed effect of an eternal cause, which is the eternal council of the Trinity ordaining peace for us in Chrift; for thus faith the Holy Ghost to the prophet-Christ shall be a priest upon his throne ; and the counsel of peace shall be between tbem both (Zech. vi. 13.); that is, between the Father and the Son; and thus Christ is our peace. And that Rahab had no merit to boast of but her receiving the spies, is plain ; for her very name Rahab is one given by Isaiah to the devil, and to Egypt; and applicable enough, for it signifies furious pride. This woman was an heathen by na
tion, a harlot by trade, and a devil by name; and yet she tumbled into the bosom of everlasting love. Thus the love of God appears to be sovereign, discriminating, and free, in its fountain Jehovah; and it is likewise sovereign, discriminating, and free, in its administrations under the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. But I pass on to my second general head, which is to treat of the length of this love.
On this subject I must be permitted to make an extended, or even improper, use of words.
The dimensions of this love that I am to treat of are fourfold :- It is height in a superlative, and depth in an infinite degree ; its two axes or poles may be compared to two eternities; and thus we must measure, if I may be allowed the expression, the length. Immensity seems to be its circumference; but our business is with the diameter, which the apostle calls the breadth i
However, Paul allows that it passeth knowledge; ard indeed it is better felt and enjoyed than described ; for this pleasing theme has employed, more or less, the tongues and pens of all God's eminent servants for many ages past, and I hope our tongues will never be silent on the subject.
You know, my dear friends, that. I am called an enterprizing man; I will therefore venture to say what I find warranted by the word of God, notwithstanding our utter inabilities to find it out
to perfection ; only let me observe the golden rule, and I will proceed. First, then, let it be noticed that G I is love. This love shines from pole to pole, and is from everlaiting to everlasting; as says the Psalmist, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God. Psal. xc. 2. We will begin with that everlasting which is behind us, and which has the word from added to it; from everlasting ; and so travel on till we come to the other eternal pole, which has the preposition to prefixed. Do not be startled at my adventurous Aight, for we are most surely concerned in these two eternities. Let us begin where the scriptures declare God has begun. His glorious footsteps of mercy and love towards his elect are dated from everlasting; as it is written-But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him. Psal. ciii. 17. And the Redeemer's going forth in covenant undertakings for the elect bear the same date-whole goings forth have been froin' of old, froin everlasting. Micah v. 2.
But to proceed: The first step that the Father took, in the path of love to his elect, was in treating with Christ in their behalf, and appointing him to be their head, their husband, their surety, their mediator, their father, and their brother. But when was this living head, surety, husband, mediator, father, and brother, elected, ordained, and appointed ? Why, it is dated from everlasting; as the Saviour declares-The Lord popelled me