« PoprzedniaDalej »
mouth confession is made unto salvation. In the early ages of Christianity, this confession was not made without cost. It exposed the person who made it to danger, to persecution, to death. And therefore there was no temptation for any to make it, who did not with the heart believe it to be the truth of God. This confession therefore, under such circumstances, was a mark of the indwelling and influence of the Spirit of God over the persons who made it. It was an open avowal of attachment to Christ and His cause, a renouncing of every other hope, and a reliance on the cross of Christ as the only ground of confidence for pardon and reconciliation with God and eternal life. In the hearts of those who thus avowed Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of their souls, the God of heaven had, it was evident, taken up His abode; they were made the habitation of God through the Spirit; and they enjoyed communion and fellowship with Him in the spirit of their minds. And in consequence of the intercourse which they maintained with the Lord their God, they could say, We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. They were persuaded that the gift of Christ to be the Saviour of mankind, proceeded from the love of God to man. When we consider this, it ought to excite our love to Him in return. Let us meditate upon His wonderful love, that we
ay be led to love Him above all things.
The apostle repeats the sentiment which He had before expressed, God is love; and he adds, He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Whenever we contemplate God in Christ, we are to regard Him as the God of love. And if the great love wherewith He hath loved us impress our hearts as it ought to do, we may be assured that our love to Him proceeds from His grace vouchsafed to our souls. If we love Him, we shall seek for communion with Him in the spirit of our minds; and when we seek it earnestly, He will graciously manifest His presence to us, as He does not unto the world. The Spirit of God raises the hearts and affections of the children of God to Divine and heavenly things, so that the desires of their souls are to His name, and to the remembrance of Him. And this is an evidence of His sacred influence being vouchsafed to them, or that He dwelleth in them.
By this mutual intercourse of the children of God and their heavenly Father, their love to Him is promoted, and carried on to maturity; as the apostle observes, Herein is our love made perfect; that is, the effect of it is manifested. And He who thus loves God is enabled to behold the Judge of all the earth, not as the Avenger of sin, but as his Friend and his Saviour, who, when He shall come to judge the world in righteousness, 37 will own and bless His believing people. It is thus alone that we can have boldness in the day of judgment. None but those in whose hearts the love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them, will be able to stand in the judgment. All others will be ashamed before Him at His coming. 38 But those who are without blame before Him in love, 39 will then be blessed by Him, because as He is, so are they in this world. It is by conformity to the image of God, that evidence is given of being His children.
The reason why those who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ will have confidence in the great and terrible day of the Lord is this, that there is no fear in love ; but perfect love casteth out fear. As they love the Lord Jesus Christ, they are enabled to regard their Judge as their Friend and their Saviour; and therefore His coming will not be a cause of terror, but of rejoicing to them. The fears which many entertain, who it is hoped may be the children of God, do not proceed from love to Him, but from the spirit of bondage under which they are held, in consequence of not being fully persuaded of His love in Christ Jesus to all them that believe in His name. This spirit of bondage to fear is very distressing, because fear hath torment. How many persons are there who are harassed by these tormenting fears. Sometimes this fear arises from a sense of indwelling sin, and a consciousness of repeated transgressions against light and knowledge. These all the children of God have reason to acknowledge and lament; for there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.40 But since the gospel of Christ proclaims full and free pardon to the penitent sinner, whenever he humbly confesses his transgressions unto the Lord, and looks by faith to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world; if this gospel be truly believed, and embraced with all the heart, it will produce love to Him who has had mercy upon us.
37 Acts xvii. 31.
38 1 John ii. 28.
39 Eph. i. 4.
And where love to God prevails, tormenting fear will be dismissed. There is indeed another kind of fear, which is a distinguishing characteristic of the child of God. It is said respecting this fear, Happy is the man that feareth alway.41 To fear to offend and displease God by breaking His commandments, is the fear of a child, which is not only consistent with love, but actually proceeds from it. On the other hand, a fear of condemnation from the Judge of all the earth, while it disquiets and harasses the mind, proves that he that feareth is not made perfect in love. truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, this fear will be cast out; for we shall be assured that He, whom through His grace we are enabled to love, will own us as His children in that day.
40 Eccles. vii. 20.
41 Prov. xxviii. 14.
The apostle therefore shows us how this fear may be dismissed, by saying, We love Him because He first loved us. By this consideration we are led to look off from ourselves, and to behold the wonderful love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, as the source of every blessing we enjoy or hope for. It is this which attracts our hearts to Him, and fills us with joy and peace in believing. 42 Let us contemplate this love, that we may love Him in return, and may be enabled to look for His promised blessings to be vouchsafed to us; not for our merits, but for His mercies' sake. He said to His people of old, I have loved thee with an everlasting love ; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.43 Let us beseech Him to draw our hearts to Himself by His loving-kindness, that we may love Him above all things, and trusting in His mercy, may rejoice in His salvation, realising its blessings in some measure here on earth, and looking forward with a good hope of partaking of its glories in the life to come.
The apostle again reverts to the subject with which he had set out, for the purpose of pressing it home upon
the minds of believers in Christ. He asserts, If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? This is stated in order to prevent
42 Rom. xy. 13.
43 Jer. xxxi. 3.