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“than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend ?." But our Lord's love was vastly greater, that he laid down his life even for his enemies. -When we were enemies, we were re“conciled to God by the death of his Son m.” “ The just suf“ fered for the unjust,” as St. Peter observes"; which is such an instance of generous love, as no history can parallel, nor any human thought or imagination reach up to.
4. But there is a further consideration, which enhances the value of it, and still more abundantly endears it to us; which is, the end and design of it, and the happy consequences which it is directed to, and aims at. It is not barely to rescue mankind from punishment and from eternal misery, but it is to exalt them to the highest and most desirable privileges; and to confer upon them everlasting life, glory, and happiness. “In this was manifested the “ love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten " Son into the world, that we might live through himo.” But in another place, St. John is yet more expressive and emphatical, in these words; “God so loved the world, that hegave his only begot“ ten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but “ have everlasting lifep.” So then every way, and in every light, the love of Christ towards us is very apparent, and is beyond all parallel. The eternal Son of God, equal with God, vouchsafed to humble himself, to suffer, bleed, and die for sinners, in order to purchase for them, not pardon only, but rewards,
great and everlasting rewards in the highest heavens. Having thus endeavoured, however imperfectly, to set forth the exceeding great love of Christ in dying for us, I now pass on to the second article contained also in the text;
II. The good Apostle's ardent zeal and desire, to die in like manner, and after Christ's example, for the salvation of his brethren, " I could wish that myself were accursed from (or after) Christ;" that is, as Christ was before me, “ for my brethren,” &c. We are not to suppose, that the Apostle had a thought of coming up, in any perfect measure, to the great example set by our blessed Lord: but he was willing and desirous to copy after him, in such measure and degree as he was capable of, and to follow his pattern as far as he was able, by an humble and awful imitation of him. He very well knew, that one great use, among others, of our Lord's sufferings was, to instruct and stir us up to follow the example. This is the use which St. Paul points to, where he says, “ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ “Jesus ; who being in the form of God," and so on. St. John, the beloved disciple, is very express and particular, in setting forth the love of Christ, as an example and pattern for our imitation. “ Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his “ life for us: and we (in conformity) ought to lay down our lives “ for the brethren.” Observe, it is not here said, for enemies, for persecutors, but for the brethren. I know not whether St. Paul's example, in the text, did not go beyond what St John here mentions as the bounden duty of every common Christian. It should seem, by the emphatical manner of expression which St. Paul made use of, that he himself thought it nu ordinary degree of affection, no common protestation, “ I could wish that “ myself were accursed,” and so on. And indeed the very nature of the thing shews that it was not. For the persons for whose sake he was so very willing to die the death were not his particular friends, no, nor so much as Christian brethren: his brethren they had been, and they were now hardened and obstinate Jews, whom he had deserted, and whom God had abandoned, and who were St. Paul's bitterest enemies, and as great enemies to the Gospel ; yet such was his affection even for them, such his friendly disposition towards them, that he could have been content, yea glad, to have been made a curse, that is, to have suffered any the most painful and ignominious death, to do them service; to avert their misery, and to promote their true happiness. This was noble and generous, as well as charitable; was an instance of heroic love, much resembling our blessed Saviour's, being almost above human, and coming as near to Divine, as flesh and blood was capable of doing. There is one more instance of like kind in holy scripture, and but one, that belonged to mere man: it was of a very great prophet, lawgiver, and saint; I mean Moses, the meekest man then upon earth. When the Israelites had grievously affronted him, and offended God as much, by making the golden calf, yet then (as it were forgiving and forgetting all their rudeness towards him) he begged to be himself blotted out of the book of life rather than the people should suffer extremities : “ Yet now, if “ thou wilt (says he, in his prayer to God) forgive their sin ; or 9 Phil. ii. 5, 6.
m Rom. v. 10.
0 1 John iv. 9. p John üi, 16.
John xv. 13
“ if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast “ writtens.” Blotting out of God's book is of the same importance with “ blotting out one's name from under heaven;" which is an expression signifying temporal death and destruction. Accordingly, Moses desired to die, or to be destroyed himself, from off the land of the living, rather than live to see his nation perish, his people suffer, however justly they had deserved it. That instance of Moses, though very like this of St. Paul, yet does not fully come up to it; because Moses was more nearly related to the Israelites of that time, and had a closer interest and concern with them, than St. Paul could have with the Jews of his time, whose religion and party he had left for the Christian church. However, both those instances are very admirable, and come the nearest to the Divine pattern set by our Lord of any we shall meet with. The use which we are to make of all these instances, or examples, is to learn to put on tenderness and compassion towards all men ; and even towards those who are not of our society, profession, religion, or party; those who have no respect for us, or are even prejudiced against us. There is a degree of pity and regard due even to very ill men, to ungodly, and sinners; not to be shewn by caressing them, and smiling upon them, but by earnest and ardent endeavours to reclaim them. It is afflicting to a good man to observe how sinners run headlong on to their own ruin : and though it may be said, that they deserve the less pity because it is their own fault, and they choose to do so; yet there is something really pitiable in that depravity of will and blindness of heart which drives them on to make such ill choices. There is not a more forlorn and miserable wretch under heaven than an overgrown sinner, become mad, desperate, and incurable in his sins. For, though such persons regard neither God nor man, nor have any mercy or tenderness for friend or brother, but would go any lengths in mischief, and set the world on fire, (if it lay in their power ;) yet we very well know, all the while, that they are weak and impotent, are under bridle and restraint, and must wait for God's leave before they can do any thing. The utmost they can do is only to afflict and torment good men for a time here, while they themselves lie exposed to eternal vengeance, to torments everlasting hereafter. This consideration may sometimes move a good man's pity and tender compassion, as was St. Paul's case in the text, while he lamented over the hardened Jews, his adversaries and persecutors, and would have wished even himself to die a thousand deaths for them, so he might but reform and save them. This affectionate temper of mind, this benevolent disposition towards all men, is what the text recommends to us in two examples, one of our blessed Lord himself, and the other of our Lord's Apostle. Learn we from both to be kind, friendly, and compassionate one towards another, and to have a true value and concern both for the bodies and the souls of men. We shall find matter enough for our exercise and improvement in this heavenly disposition, and shall have occasions, more than one would wish, to excite us to it; for sin and wickedness abound daily. “Evil men and “seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived"." But let it be our care, in the first place, to continue steadfast in the things that we have learned, knowing of whom we have learned them: and in the next place, to do our best to convince and reclaim sinners from their evil ways, to save their souls from death, and thereby to bring glory to Almighty God, and to make joy in heaven over every sinner so repenting.
• Exod. xxxii. 32.
t Deut. ix. 14.
A sinless Perfection and Security of Salvation no
Prerogative of a regenerate State.
i John iii. 9, 10.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remain
eth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
to note something of the occasion and design of them, so far as may be probably learned from Church history. The Apostle had said but two verses before, “ Little children, let no
man deceive you : he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even “ as he (that is, Christ is righteous." It seems, there were some, at that time of day, who presumed to think themselves righteous, and born of God, without the practice of holiness ; and they had endeavoured to seduce others into that strange and absurd, or rather wicked, persuasion. Therefore said the Apostle to his own converts or followers, “ Little children, let no " man deceive you;" that is to say, by fair speeches, plausible insinuations, or false colourings. Those deceivers, probably, were some disciples of Simon Magus; for that impostor had taught, that men are saved by grace only, without any regard to