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worthy of being esteemed wonderful; it may
well be expected, that the objects of redeeming love shall be possessed of every requisite for their complete happiness, and finally reign in life eternal.
Relative to this most delightful and interest ing subject are the following remarkable words. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Here we have a mode of expression that is very uncommon; and considering of whom the apostle speaks, it is equally admirable: God commendeth his love! He exhibits its brightest beauties; he presents to our view its most winning attractives; he displays it in the most surprising and charming point of light. As if he should say, Such is my love! So free, .so fervent, so fruitful of benefits, and so becoming my infinite excellence, that I consider the full manifestation of it as the chief glory of all my conduct, respecting the sons of men! to whom I RECOMMEND it; in a peculiar manner; as the fountain of their eternal happiness, and as the principal subject of their beatifying meditation.'
God commendeth his love toward is: Wonderful saying! That reasonable creatures ought ever to consider divine benevolence as the only source of their felicity, is plain to every thinking person; but that the Most High should speak of recommending his love, even though it were to the holy angels, would be truly amazing. How much more wondera ful, then, that he should so express himself concern
* Rom; v. 7,8.
ing Man-concerning polluted mortals, and base criminals, who deserve perdition!
But in what way does the Most Holy recommend his own philanthropy? Not by passing an act of indemnity in favour of those who lothe sin and love holiness. Not by justifying those who, by living virtuous lives, perforın qualifying conditions of acceptance with him, or by giving heaven to saints : for saints we must be, ere we can enter the regions of immortal purity. Nor does he recommend his love to men, in pardoning their offences, accepting their persons, and bestowing everlasting happiness upon them, by the mere exertion of supreme royal prerogative. No: but by sending his own Son, and giving him up to death for us, when we were yet without strength, to perform any thing truly good; while we were yet sinners, or entirely destitute of every amiable quality; and while we were ungodly, in the turn of our hearts and the course of our lives; -in other words, a detestable compound of depravity and guilt, of weakness and unworthiness.
It deserves observation, that Paul does not say, God commendeth his mercy, or his grace; but, which is yet more emphatical, delightful, and admirable, his Love... It is equally remarkable, that the same apostle represents the blessed God, as exercising his rich mercy, if the expression may be admitted, in order to gratify his great love. For thus it is written, God, who is rich in mercy, for (i. e. for the sake of) his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. It is yet further observable, that the Father's giving or sending his only begotten
* Eph. ii. 4,5.
Son, and the voluntary death of Jesus for us, are most commonly ascribed to the love of those divine Persons :* but the blessings bestowed on sinners, through the Mediator, are more generally represented as flowing from grace or mercy.
The love of God is MOST HOLY IN ITS DESIGNS, AND IN ALL THE MEANS IT EMPLOYS' FOR THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENT. This is an admirable excellence, which renders it delightful to all that revere their Maker, and ought never to be forgotten. The love of one mortal to another, when most sincere and most fervent, is frequently exercised in such a manner as to violate the laws of rectitude, and for purposes unworthy of a rational creature in such a manner as to betray, either much debility of intellect, or enormous depravity of heart. But, from the exertions of divine love, this is infinitely foreign. For in all the expedients used by it, and in all the ends it has in view, true holiness appears and shines. It maintains the strictest regard to the rights of immutable truth, to the claims of penal justice, and to the honour of Jehovah's government.
. The complete happiness of all its objects, and the glory of God, are the grand purposes of divine love: the latter supreme, the former subordinate. By the glory of God is meant, the illustrious display of his infinite attributes, and an adoring acknowledgment of them by saints and angels. This is the final cause, or the last and highest end. To this the whole economy of grace, and the vast sytem of providence, are infallibly directed by Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.' For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom bé glory for ever. Amen:'-an end this, worthy the love of God to his people ; for it must be holy.
* John ii. 16. Gal. ii. 20. Eph. v, 2, 25. 1 John iii. 16. iv. 9, 10. Rev. i. 6.
In subordination to this most illustrious result, the love of God is uniformly directed, by unerring wisdom, to the complete happiness of all its objects. This is effected by pardoning their sins and accepting their persons; by renewing their hearts and preserving them to the heavenly kingdom. These, with other blessings which cannot be here specified, being communicated by divine love, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and the sanctifying agency of the Holy Spirit, its holiness is evinced by every benefit bestowed. Nor are we permitted to expect salvation from the exercise of eternal love, in any way that does not demonstrate the purity of God, as well as his mercy.
Of this we cannot have stronger evidence than is eontained in that most wonderful of all events, the death of Christ. For though, in this most important fact, the love of God to perishing sinners appears and shines in all its fervour; yet the rights of divine justice are maintained in all their glory. Pertinent, here, is that remarkable passage, Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness—To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus."* Admirably instructive text! Justified freely—by grace; yet by paying a price of redemption! The death of Jesus is, at once, the most emphatical ex: pression of God's love to sinners, and the highest demonstration of his batred to sin. In the vicarious death of our Lord, the Most Holy displays his penal justice, and his pardoning mercy: by which procedure he maintains the character of a righteous judge, when he justifies the ungodly. What an admirable union of truth and grace, of justice and mercy, does the gospel of peace exhibit! God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and by a propitiatory sacrifice for sin condemned sin in the flesh, or person of Jesus, the infinite evil of sin is declared; the denounced curse is executed; and the chief of sinners are saved. How agreeable this, to the charming import of that concise but comprehensive character assumed by the Most High, A Just God and u Saviour! In vain does any one look for salvation from divine love, except as in strict connection with immaculate purity, truth, and justice. The love of God IS. INVIOLABLY STEADY TO ALL
* Rom. iii. 24, 25, 26,
Yes, for it is the love of Him that is unchangeable. A distinguishing excellency this, that should ever be kept in mind. The love of man to man is frequently unwise in its manifestations, unholy in its pursuits, and always uncertain with regard to those on whom it is placed. This arises, partly from weakness of understanding, and partly from corruption of heart. A thousand events may occur, and all of them unforeseen, any one of which may give a new turn to our thoughts, respecting the object of our affection. Hence the unsteadiness of human love. But as the Divine Understanding comprehends all possibilities, the