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doth not consist alone in the eternal actings of bis divine person, or the divine nature in his person. Such indeed is the love of the Father, namely, his eternal purpose for the communication of grace and glory, with his acquiescency therein; but there is more in the love of Christ. For when he exercised this love, he was man also, and not God only. And in none of those eternal acts of love could the human nature of Christ have any interest or concern; yet is the love of the man Christ Jesus, celebrated in the Scripture.
10. Wherefore this love of Christ which we inquire after, is the love of his person ; that is, which he in his own person acts in and by his distinct natures according unto their distinct essensial properties. And the acts of love in these distinct natures, are infinitely distinct and different; yet are they all acts of one and the same person. So then, whether that act of love in Christ which we would at any time consider, be an eternal act of the divine nature in the person of the Son of God; or whether it be an act of the human performed in time by the gracious faculties and powers of that nature, it is still the love of one and the selfsame person, Christ Jesus.
It was an act of inexpressible love in him that he assumed our nature; Heb. ii. 14. 17. But it was an act in and of his divine nature only; for it was antecedent unto the existence of his human nature, which could not therefore concur therein. His laying down his life for us, was an act of inconceivable love, 1 John viii. 6. Yet was it only an act of the human nature wherein he offered himself and died. But both the one and the other were acts of bis divine person ; whence it is said that God laid down his life for us, and purchased the church with his own blood.
This is that love of Christ wherein he is glorious, and wherein we are by faith to behold his glory. A great part of the blessedness of the saints in heaven, and their triumph therein, consists in their beholding of this glory of Christ, in their thankful contemplation of the fruits of it. See Rev. v. 9, 10, &c.
The illustrious brightness wherewith this glory shines in heaven, the all-satisfying sweetness which the view of it gives unto the souls of the saints there possessed of glory, are not by us conceivable, nor to be expressed. Here this
love passeth knowledge, there we shall comprehend the dimensions of it. Yet even here, if we are not slothful and carnal, we may have a refreshing prospect of it; and where comprehension fails, let admiration take place.
My present business is to exhort others unto the contemplation of it, though it be but a little, a very little, a small portion of it, that I can conceive; and less than that very little, that I can express. Yet may it be my duty to excite not only myself, but others also, unto due inquiries after it; unto which end I offer the things ensuing.
1. Labour that your minds may continually be fitted and prepared for such heavenly contemplations. If they are carnal and sensual, or filled with earthly things, a due sense of this love of Christ and its glory, will not abide in them. Virtue and vice in their highest degrees are not more diametrically opposite and inconsistent in the same mind, than are an habitual course of sensual worldly thoughts, and a due contemplation of the glory of the love of Christ; yea, an earnestness of spirit, pregnant with a multitude of thoughts about the lawful occasions of life, is obstructive of all due communion with the Lord Jesus Christ herein.
Few there are whose minds are prepared in a due manner for this duty. The actions and communications of the most, evidence what is the inward frame of their souls. They rove up and down in their thoughts, which are continually led by their affections into the corners of the earth. It is in vain to call such persons unto contemplations of the glory of Christ in his love. A holy composure of mind by virtue of spiritual principles, an inclination to seek after refresh'ment in heavenly things, and to bathe the soul in the fountain of them, with constant apprehensions of the excellency of this divine glory, are required hereunto.
2. Be not satisfied with general notions concerning the love of Christ, which represent no glory into the mind, wherewith many deceive themselves. All who believe his divine person, profess a valuation of his love, and think them not Christians who are otherwise minded; but they have only general notions, and not any distinct conceptions of it, and really know not what it is. To deliver us from this snare, peculiar meditations on its principal concerns are required of us. As,
1. Whose love it is; namely, of the divine person of the Son of God. He is expressly called God, with respect unto the exercise of this love, that we may always consider whose it is, 1 John iii. 16. Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.'
2. By what ways and means this wonderful love of the Son of God doth act itself; namely, in the divine nature, by eternal acts of wisdom, goodness, and grace proper thereunto; and in the human, by temporary acts of pity or compassion, with all the fruits of them in doing and suffering for us. See Eph, iii. 19. Heb. ii. 14, 15. Rev. i. 5.
3. What is the freedom of it as unto any defect on our part; 1 John iv. 10. It was hatred, not love, that we in ourselves deserved, which is a consideration suited to fill the soul with self-abasement, the best of frames in the contemplation of the glory of Christ.
4. What is the efficacy of it in its fruits and effects, with sundry other considerations of the like nature. By a distinct prospect and admiration of these things, the soul may walk in this paradise of God, and gather here and there a heavenly flower, conveying unto it a sweet savour of this love of Christ. See Cant. xi. 2-4.
Moreover, be not contented to have right notions of the love of Christ in your minds, unless you can attain a gracious taste of it in your hearts; no more than you would be to see a feast or banquet richly prepared and partake of nothing of it unto your refreshment. It is of that nature that we may have a spiritual sensation of it in our minds, whence it is compared by the spouse to apples and flagons of wine. We may taste that the Lord is gracious. And if we find not a relish of it in our hearts, we shall not long retain the notion of it in our minds. Christ is the meat, the bread, the food of our souls. Nothing is in him of a higher spiritual nourishment than his love, which we should always desire.
In this love is he glorious; for it is such as no creatures, angels, or men could have the least conceptions of, before its manifestation by its effects: and after its manifestation, it is in this world absolutely incomprehensible.
The glory of Christ in the discharge of his mediatory office. As the Lord Christ was glorious in the susception of his office, so was he also in its discharge. An unseen glory accompanied him in all that he did, in all that he suffered. Unseen it was unto the eyes of the world, but not in his who alone can judge of it. Had men seen it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Yet to some of them it was made manifest. Hence they testified that in the discharge of his office, they · beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father ;' John i. 14. And that when others could see neither · form nor comeliness in him that he should be desired ;' Psal. liii. 2. And so it is at this day. I shall only make some few observations ; first, on what he did in a way of obedience, and then on what he suffered in the discharge of his office so undertaken by him.
1. What he did, what obedience he yielded unto the law of God, in the discharge of his office (with respect whereunto he said, 'Lo, I come to do thy will, O God; yea, thy law is in my heart'), it was all on his own free choice or election, and was resolved thereinto alone. It is our duty to endeavour after freedom, willingness, and cheerfulness in all our obedience. Obedience hath its formal nature from our wills. So much as there is of our wills, in what we do towards God, so much there is of obedience, and no more. Howbeit we are antecedently unto all acts of our own wills, obliged unto all that is called obedience. From the very constitution of our natures, we are necessarily subject unto the law of God. All that is left unto us, is a voluntary compliance with unavoidable commands ; with him it was not so. An act of bis own will and choice preceded all obligation as unto obedience. He obeyed because he would, before because he'ought. He said, 'Lo I come to do thy will, O God, before he was obliged to do that will. By his own choice, and that in an act of infinite condescension and love, as we have shewed, he was made of a woman,' and thereby'made under the law.' In his divine person he was Lord of the law, above it, no more obnoxious unto its commands, than its curse. Neither was he afterward in himself on his own account unobnoxious unto its curse, merely because he was innocent, but also because he was every way above the law itself, and all its force.
This was the original glory of his obedience. This wisdom, the grace, the love, the condescension that was in this choice, animated every act, every duty of his obedience rendering it amiable in the sight of God, and useful unto us. So when he went unto John to be baptized, he who knew he had no need of it on his own account, would have declined the duty of administering that ordinance unto him; but he replied, 'Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness;' Matt. iii. 15. This I have undertaken willingly of my own accord, witho
any need of it for myself, and therefore will discharge it. For him who was Lord of all universally, thus to submit himself to universal obedience, carrieth along with it an evidence of glo
2. This obedience as unto the use and end of it, was not for himself, but for us. We were obliged unto it and could not perform it; he was not obliged unto it any otherwise but by a free act of his own will, and did perform it. God gave him this honour, that he should obey for the whole church, that by his obedience we should be made righteous;' Rom. v. 19. Herein I say did God give him honour and glory, that his obedience should stand in the stead of the perfect obedience of the church as unto justification.
3. His obedience being absolutely universal, and absolutely perfect, was the great representative of the holiness of God in the law. It was represented glorious when the ten words were written by the finger of God in tables of stone; it appears yet more eminently in the spiritual transcription of it in the hearts of believers: but absolutely and perfectly it is exemplified only in the holiness and obedience of Christ, which answered it unto the utmost. And this is no small part of his glory in obedience that the holiness of God in the law was therein, and therein alone in that one instance, as unto human nature, fully represented.
4. He wrought out this obedience against all difficulties and oppositions. For although he was absolutely free from