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Last of all, Let those who have got this invaluable mercy, improve it for those purposes for which it was bestowed. " I will run the way
of thy commandments," said the Psalmist, “ when thou hast enlarged my heart.” Make swift progress in the way of duty, if you desire the continuance of this comfortable privilege. Let it appear to all that your conversation is in heaven. Live above this world, and be daily adding to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity:"-And then shall an entrance be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Preached at the Celebration of the Lord's Supper.
1 John iv. 9.
In this was manifested the love of God towards us,
because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
THE value of different truths, like that of all other objects, is to be estimated by the different degrees of their usefulness and importance. Judging by this rule, there are none which better deserve our attention, than those which relate to the character of the Supreme Being. If our ideas of him be different from what he really is, it is impossible that we can love him truly, or serve him with acceptance. There may be qualities in the imaginary being which we adore, utterly repugnant with the perfections of the true God; and the mode of worship by which we strive to please him, may of consequence be as absurd as the ideas which we entertain of his character.
Various are the means which God hath provided for guiding us to the true knowledge of himself. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament sheweth his handy-works. The invisible things of him, even his eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen, being perceived by the things which he hath made. His moral perfections may be learned from his general administration of the world, and especially from his conduct towards his rational creatures. Had we capacities sufficient to take a comprehensive view of all his works and ways, such a review would result in a full conviction, that righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne, and that mercy and truth continually go before him. But as we see only a small part of the great system which he is carrying on, and of consequence are liable to mistaken and partial conceptions, he hath been graciously pleased to rest his character on one great fact, which it is impossible to misunderstand. This fact the apostle places in our view in the passage before us.
He is engaged in an argument for his favourite doctrine of universal benevolence. To enforce this doctrine, he reminds his readers of the love and benevolence of God, and of this he can find no other way to express bis strong conceptions, than by denominating him love and goodness itself. “ Beloved," saith he, at the 7th verse, “ let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of
God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.” To prove this, he enters into no refined disquisitions, or abstract reasonings, on the divine nature. These, he knew, were but little adapted to the general apprehensions of mankind. He thinks it suffi. eient to appeal for a proof of it to that wonderful expedient which God devised for saving lost sinners.
“ In this,” says he, “was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” These words then imply,
1. That the redemption of mankind was an act of the freest and most unmerited grace.
II. That it is a fulí demonstration of the unbounded love and goodness of God.
As these are truths of the greatest importance, and very properly suited to our meditation at this time, I will lay the evidence of them before you in as clear a manner as I can, and then conelude with an application of the subject.
I. then, The text implies, that the redemption of mankind was an act of the freest and most un. merited grace. God was under no obligation to provide a Saviour for his fallen creatures. Without any imputation on his justice, he might have left them to eat the fruit of their own doings, and to be filled with their own devices. He stood in
no need of our services, nor could he be injured by our rebellion. Our perdition would have made no blank in his works, which his power could not have supplied in one moment. Man was indeed miserable enough to excite compassion; but he was deservedly so, and therefore compassion might have been restrained, and justice have had its
He had left the station in which he was placed, insolently thrown off his dependence on his Maker, questioned his veracity, and dared his power. Nothing therefore but sovereign mercy could have interposed for his relief. But to make this point perfectly clear, let it be observed,
1st, That God's designs of mercy could not arise from his thinking the constitution he had made with Adam, as the head and representative of his posterity, severe and unrighteous. It is certain, on the contrary, that had it not been holy, just, and good, God could never have been the author of it; and if it was once righteous, no failure on the part of his creatures could alter its pature. There is no insinuation that God changed his opinion of that transaction, or that he hath ceased to consider man as justly condemned by the first covenant. In fact, the method of our recovery through Jesus Christ, contains a virtual ratification of the sentence by which we were condemned; for it hath appointed the second Adam to be the head of an elect world, that through the merit of his sufferings and death, mercy might be