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nifested his love (though there is no difference between his professions and practices, as there too often is among men) he has evinced his love by the most valuable gifts, by the most generous and benevolent actions,
1. God, in his infinite love, has given us his Son, his own, his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God in a peculiar sense, in a much higher sense than any other being. Angels are called Sons of God-Adam was the son of God:-believers are also the sons of God; but Christ, in an infinitely higher sense, is the Son of God. He is called his only-begotten Son, which surely implies that he is partaker of the same divine nature with his Father. Jesus Christ had a being before he made his appearance in this world. God is therefore said to send his son into the world. And the acknowledgment of this was reckoned by St. John an important branch of the true Christian faith, for, says he (1 John iv. 2), "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; this is that spirit of Anti-Christ-(that is, against Christ) which is already in the world. If we compare this expression, Christ's coming in the flesh, with the first chapter of St. John's gospel (verses 1st and 14th) we shall find that it affords a proof of the divinity of our Saviour; for the apostle there says, "In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God;" he also says (ver. 14th) "The WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Christ, then, the Son of God, who came in the flesh, and was made flesh, or became man, is a divine Person, "the WORD, who was with God (the Father), and was God;" and being now man also, is God the Son"Immanuel-God with us."
Here, then, is the most astonishing display of divine love!" herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the pro
pitiation for our sins." 1 John iv. 10. Well might St. Paul exclaim, "Thanks be to God, for his unspeakable gift!"
The degraded state of man, on whom this gift was bestowed, wonderfully enhances the love which bestowed it; for "when we were yet sinners, Christ” was born-lived, and "died for us." How deplorably is man fallen! what a horrible mixture of the brute and the fiend is exhibited in many of the children of Adam! Look at the frightful, but faithful picture, drawn by St. Paul in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans-a picture which too nearly resembles thousands still. Behold a rebel universeour species up in arms against their God! See how men are "haters of God"-their carnal minds full of enmity against him; they reject his authority; they trample on his laws; they devote themselves to brutal lusts, depraved appetites, drunkenness, lewdness, unnatural vices, cruelty, oppression, murder,—and yet, hear it, O heavens! give ear and be astonished, O earth! for such, even for such vile and sinful rebels, God gave his only-begotten Son!
The love of God, in this gift, appears to be still more wonderful, when we consider the deep humiliation to which he was subjected. To have united the divine nature with humanity in any form, in the highest form, or under any circumstances, even the most glorious, would have displayed a condescension which can have no name, no parallel; but for the Son of God to submit to abject poverty; to live a life of constant self-denial; to endure the contradiction of sinners against himself; to bear with the vilest indignities and insults, and those in return for innumerable acts of kindness, and, to complete the scene, to be tried as a malefactor, to be unjustly condemned, to be barbarously mangled by cruel scourges, to be nailed like a criminal slave to the cross, there to agonize and to die,—and all this for guilty rebels-O it is astonishing! no words of mortals can describe, no hearts of mortals can duly
conceive of that divine love which is the source of all this.
"Let all the world fall down and know,
2. Another method by which the love of God is ma❤ nifested, is in the gift of his Word, his Gospel, by. which we come to know his love; for without this, even the gift of his Son would have been of little avail.
He was pleased to dart into the minds of his prophets and apostles a ray of supernatural light. At sundry times and in divers manners he spake unto the fathers by the prophets; and to Jesus Christ they all bare witness; they testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; and, when all that they predicted had been accomplished, he inspired holy men to write the history of his birth, teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection, in what we call the Gospels. Others were equally inspired to write epistles to the first Christians, explaining at large the nature of that salvation which he had procured; the faith by which it becomes ours; the hope that we are warranted to indulge, and the holy temper and conduct which all believers must discover. "To us is the word of this salvation sent!" Let us prize it, according to its inestimable value; let us bind it to our hearts; let it be our meditation day and night; let it be sweeter to our taste than honey and the honeycomb, and more valuable than the gold. of Ophir. It is the gift of divine love!
3. Nor is the gift of the Holy Spirit less necessary than the gift of the Saviour himself, for without his enlightening, and renewing influences, we cannot savingly know or receive him. His office is "to glorify Jesus;" for which purpose" he takes the things of Christ and sheweth them to us ;" and God is said to give us his spirit, "that we may know the things which he hath freely given us.' So necessary are his influences, that without them no man can say in
faith and in sincerity, "Jesus is the Lord." So necessary was it for the Spirit to descend on the church, that Christ said, "It is expedient for me to go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you; "and when he is come, he will guide you into all truth." Yea, so necessary is this gift, and the reception of it, that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
4. The love of God is further displayed in the forgiveness of sins.
Among men, an enemy usually resents a great offence, aggravates its evil, and meditates revenge; but love is rather grieved, than angry, when an injury is committed; is disposed to pardon, and, perhaps, seeks an occasion to be reconciled to the offender. Such, and infinitely more, is the condescending love of our offended God. He who could, at any time, and by any means, take the deserved vengeance, stoops to send his messengers to assure us of his friendly disposition towards us; warns us of the danger of persisting in our rebellion; and "in Christ's stead they beseech us to be reconciled to him." This readiness to forgive, he has been pleased most pathetically to display in the charming parable of the Prodigal Son. There, the father of the once licentious youth, is represented as beholding with compassion his forlorn, his penitent, and returning son, while yet a great way off, and running, with eager haste, to receive and embrace him! Affecting emblem of divine love! Such is the readiness with which the Father of mercies will still receive all who forsake their sins, and return to him by Jesus Christ. "Verily, there is joy in Heaven over every sinner that repenteth," over every sinner that is pardoned; and in every such instance the love of God is glorified.
5. God commendeth his love to us still more, in making the most abundant provision for our comfort and happiness in the present world.
As parents are strongly attached to their children, and with pleasure provide them with food, and raiment, and education, and portions, so our heavenly Father kindly receives pardoned sinners into his family, and puts them amongst his children. "Behold!" saith St. John (observe it with the highest admiration), "what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God!" Behold what provision he hath made for our souls! He gives us his holy Sabbaths, his blessed bible, his faithful ministers, his sacred ordinances, his precious promises. He holds intercourse with our spirits, admits us to communion with himself, allows us to tell him all our fears and all our desires, and assures us that he will withhold from us no good thing. He bids us dismiss all anxious concern, for he himself "careth for us ;" he will be our guide; he will be our shield; he will make all things work together for our good, and will never, never leave nor forsake us! O what manner of love is this!
And if he doth so much for us in the prison, what will he do for us in the palace!" We are yet minors. But "if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ." Even now, believers are immensely rich. Read the unparalleled inventory of their wealth (1 Cor. iii. 21) :"All things are yours"-the world is the first article-as much of the world as their Father sees good to bestow, and, indeed, all the world in a sense, for all things lead their minds to God; "they are steps by which they ascend to their Creator, for in them all, they view as in a bright mirror, his adorable perfections, and in that mediation exult.-Above all, they perceive in them the love of God towards them. When they view the sun, moon, and stars, they rejoice that their heavenly Father has lighted up so many tapers for them, at which they may work what becomes the sons of God: nor do they less admire these, than if every one of them had his