ROMANS xiii. 10.

Love is the Fulfilling of the Law.

1 JOHN iv. 7, 8.

Beloved let us love one another: For Love is of God; and every one that loveth, is born of God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love.


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And walk in Love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an Offering and a Sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling Savour.

THAT Man is design'd for Society, ap­pears from the original Constitution of the human Nature.

WE need and desire each others As­sistance for mutual Support, Comfort and Protec­tion; and have a Disposition to communicate our Ideas to those of our own Species, as well as Acts of Kindness and Beneficence. These Desires and Dispositions being common and mutual, shew that we are born for Society.

OF this, mutual Love is the Band and Cement; which, unless it be preserv'd and express'd, Soci­ety becomes a Snare and Torment, and cannot comfortably or profitably subsist, yea, hardly sub­sist at all, for any long Duration: For Men, by the Neglect of its Exercise, and much more by its Contrary, will be tempted, against the Law of Nature, to seek a single and independent State, in order to secure their Ease and Safety.

AND as Love is agreeable to the Law of Na­ture, and the original Dispositions of the Minds of Men; so, of consequence, it cannot but agree with the Moral Law, the unalterable Rule of our Practice, and the Divine Nature, which is its Prototype, or original Copy and Exemplar. Hence [Page 4] we are inform'd by the Apostle John, that God is Love; i. e. inclin'd to vouchsafe upon his Crea­tures, Acts of Kindness and Benignity, and does not inflict Penalties, till they be as it were extort­ed by the criminal Conduct of his Creatures. Hence Judgment is represented as his strange Work; and Mercy his Delight.

NOR are we only obliged to love by the com­mon Ties of Humanity, as we are Men; but likewise by the Laws of Christianity, as we are Brethren (at least by Profession) Children of the same Father, Members of the same religious Com­munity (or Body mystical) Heirs of the same Hope, and Expectants of the same Inheritance.

BUT the most powerful Incentive to the Love of our Brethren, is the glorious Example of the Redeemer's Love to us, which the Apostle beauti­fully represents in the Words of our Text, And walk in Love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an Offering, and a Sa­crifice to God for a sweet-smelling Savour.

IN these Words we may observe an important Duty enjoin'd, Walk in Love; and a powerful Motive exciting thereto propos'd, viz. The Love of Christ to us; express'd in the Giving of himself for us, an Offering and a Sacrifice of a sweet-smelling Savour to God.

IN order to prepare this Subject for Improve­ment, it is necessary to open and explain the afore­said Particulars:

AS to the Duty enjoin'd, let us enquire what is imply'd in Walking in Love to our Neighbour? I answer, it implies our Esteem of him, for what­ever is excellent in him, either natural, acquired, or gracious. The All-wise God has dispensed his [Page 5] Gifts variously upon the Children of Men; and that with this Design, that universal Love to our Fellow-Creatures might take place. There is none whom we converse with for some Time, but we may perceive something amiable in them, which deserves our Esteem and Respect. O! if Mankind were as quick in Spying one another's Excellencies, as they are each other's Faults, how candid and noble wou'd it be? And how much wou'd it promote universal Love and Benevolence! But alas! the contrary Temper and Practice too much prevails generally. If our Neighbour has not saving Grace, which is, no doubt, the Ground of our special Respect and Complacence, perhaps he has some moral Excellency; if not, he has at least an immortal Soul, which, in respect of its Nature, may be said to bear the natural Image of God: But Love to our Brother does not only im­ply our Esteem of him, but our hearty Desire after his Honour and Benefit in the most extensive Sense; as well as our Complacence therein, and Grief for the contrary.

AND this Love will doubtless manifest itself in kind and courteous Speech; and, where Necessity requires, and Ability admits, in beneficent Action.

BUT more particularly, that special Love to pious People, which the Apostle had chiefly in View in our Text, and which is propos'd by the Apostle John, as a Mark of true Christianity, has the following Properties:

IT is sincere, chiefly for their Goodness and Holiness:—

IT is universal, extending to all that we have reason to think are pious, from their Soundness in the main Principles of Religion, their regular Be­haviour [Page 6] and Acquaintance with experimental Chri­stianity. If our Love be confin'd to those only who are of our Way of Thinking in every minute Point, it is not true Love to the Brethren, but the selfish Love of a Party or Faction.

FARTHER: Brotherly Love is proportional, suited to the different Degrees of spiritual Good we apprehend to be in others. Such as we conceive to be more holy than others, we love them more in Degree.

IT is likewise effectual; not consisting in Word, and in Tongue only, but in Deed, and in Truth.

NOW to walk in Love, implies a Course of Kind­ness to our Brethren, in Disposition, Speech and Action; as well as our taking Pains to this End. We mustn't only begin to love them, but we should make Progress therein, and continue to the End. And truly this cannot be done without Pains: For as our Faith is try'd variously, so is our Love; and indeed it is proper it should be so: For this Life is altogether a State of Trial and Probation, in order to another State after Death. Now there are three Sorts of Trials that the All­wise God is pleased sometimes to suffer to come in the Way of our Love, viz. Spiritual Deser­tion, Offences in Conduct, and Difference in Senti­ment, about the circumstantial Points of Religion.

WHEN a Child of God is long deserted, his Savour of Religion does of consequence decline. This must needs affect, in some Degree, his Con­versation, and make it more unsavoury, and less edifying: He is, in this Situation, like a Tree in Winter, which, tho' it has Life at the Root, ap­pears, because of its Want of Leaves and Verdure, as tho' it were quite dry and dead. Now, a Be­ginner [Page 7] in Christianity, who has much Joy and Comfort, and is fir'd with his first Love, not having been try'd with Storms and Tempests, and being, on that Account, comparatively unacquaint­ed with the Devices of Satan, the Depths of his own Corruption and Weakness, is apt to look upon poor deserted Creatures with some Degree of Contempt, and censure them severely; and, per­haps, to judge that they have no Good in them, because they have lost their first Love, and fallen from their first Works, in some Measure. But this is exceeding cruel and barbarous! Very dis­pleasing to God, and hurtful to Society! And such who are guilty of this Severity, if they will not, by gentle Measures, be brought to a merciful Temper and Behaviour, they must learn its Ne­cessity and Excellency by broken Bones, by their own Falls and Blunders; they must come down from their Pinacle of spiritual Pride one Way or other. O Sirs! let us be merciful, as our heaven­ly Father is merciful.

BUT another Trial of our Love to the Bre­thren, is Offences committed against us by them. We are all imperfect Creatures, and in many Things offend all; and therefore need each others For­bearance and Charity.—Grace is in the best, like Gold in the Ore, attended with Weaknesses and Defects. Now Satan, who is the Accuser of the Brethren, in Case of Offence, excites us to impute it to bad Design; which much aggravates the Matter, and so tends to inflame our Resentments, and widen the Breach. In Opposition hereto, it is a necessary, tho' difficult Duty, To hope all Things, and believe all Things that are Good of our poor Brother; to impute his Offence to inad­vertency [Page 8] or Mistake, or some violent Temptation, and not to malicious Intention. This Method has a noble Tendency to soften Offences, and to conciliate Peace. And this Treatment we expect and desire from others, and think we are wrong'd when we get it not; and therefore we should render it to others. If our Brother offends, not only seven Times, but seventy Times seven, when he repents, we should forgive him; and walk in Love, as Christ also hath loved us.

FARTHER: Another Way by which our Love to the Brethren is try'd, is Differences of Opinion in the smaller Points of Religion. This often oc­casions great Uneasiness, Heart-burnings and Di­stance, tho' very unreasonably. We should allow to another the same Liberty we take ourselves, and consider that Men can't alter their Opinions, or retain them according to their Neighbours Pleasure; but must think and believe as Things appear to them from Time to Time. Seeing that every Man has an equal Right to think for him­self; and seeing that Methods of Force can't alter the Sentiments of the Mind, it is therefore un­reasonable and unjust; yea some Degree of Per­secution to be offended with our Brother, because he doesn't think as we do in every Thing. And inasmuch as our Knowledge is imperfect, as well as our Graces; and we are bid to grow in Know­ledge, as well as in Grace; we may, by the Increase of Light, be oblig'd to change our Sentiments in some circumstantial Points, and to need others Charity and Forbearance towards us: And why then shou'd we not express it towards them? In the apostolick Times there was a Difference of O­pinion between the Jewish and Gentile Christians [Page 9] about Days and Meats; the Jewish Christians re­taining a Tincture of their Manner of Education, tho't it was still necessary, even in Gospel Times, to observe the ceremonial Sabboo [...]hs of the Jewish Church, as well as the Difference of Meats en­joined by the ceremonial Law; and were tempt­ed to look upon the Gentile Christians as lax and prophane, who made no Conscience of such Obser­vances.

ON the other Hand, the Gentile Christians, not being educated in their Way, and better un­derstanding the Extent of Christian Liberty, wou'd not be bro't into Bondage by them; but their Tempers being over-heated by Debate, toge­ther with the Temptations of the Enemy, they were inclin'd, not only to censure them as super­stitious, with an Air of Resentment, but to con­demn their State and Design; in a Word, the Ferment of Contention rose to such a Height, a­bout the aforesaid circumstantial Matters, that each Party were ready to un-church the other: Between them the Apostle Paul acts as a Modera­tor and Peace-maker, in the fourteenth Chapter of his Epistle to the Romans; and labours to as­swage the angry Flame, by proper Lenitives; he advises the strong Gentile, to receive the weak Jew to Communion, or Church-Fellowship, tho' in some circumstantial Errors; and not trou­ble and plague him with doubtful Disputations, or Debates about lesser Things, which are com­paratively doubtful. There is indeed a Promise that the Anointing which pious People receive, shall lead them into all Truth; i. e. into all Fundamental Truth; all that Truth which is of absolute Necessity to Salvation; to ex­tend [Page 10] the Promise farther, will confine the true Church of Christ to one Fold, to one Pale, and perhaps to a small Number in that, which is ve­ry unreasonable and uncharitable. There are but a very few of the Children of Men, who are in all minute Points of the same Mind; and seeing the Promise of the Spirit, does not extend abso­lutely to every Circumstantial in Religion, other­wise all that are truly Pious, wou'd be unanimous in them; which certainly is not the Case; then it will follow, that the proper Foundation of our Cer­tainty or Perswasion is not infallible; and therefore however unreasonably confident Persons are, on both Sides of the Question, as generally indeed there is too much of this; yet these Things may be truly call'd, at least comparatively, doubtful Disputa­tions. A modest Diffidence of our own Judgment, as to those Matters, so far as to entertain honour­able Sentiments of such as are otherwise minded, is an amiable Character: It is an Argument of a weak Mind, to raise a Superstructure disproporti­on'd to the Foundation; on the contrary, it is an Instance of true Wisdom to have our Persuasion suited in Degree to the Grounds on which it is built, and the Degree of our Zeal proportioned to the Weight and Importance of the Things we are zealous about: Foundation Truths should be earnestly contended for, as well as experimental and practical Religion, and Holiness: But as to Circumstantials, we should be moderate and mer­ciful, else instead of doing Good with our Zeal devoid of Temper and Knowledge, we shall do much Hurt, and imitate the pernicious Practice of the Pharisees of old, who were very warm a­bout [Page 11] tything Mint, and Annis, and Cummin, but in the mean Time neglected the weightier Matters of the Law . But to proceed,

THE Apostle Paul advises the contending Jew­ish and Gentile Christians, in the aforesaid Chap­ter, to abstain from despising of and judging one another, on Account of smaller Differences in O­pinion. To this End he observes, that Persons were equally sincere and upright on each Side of the Question; He that regardeth a Day, regard­eth it to the Lord; and he that regardeth not the Day to the Lord, he doth not regard it: He like­wise observes, That the Consideration of all be­ing to be judged by the great God at last, shou'd incline them to avoid rash judging of each o­ther.

ANOTHER Argument that the Apostle uses to excite them to Peace and mutual Love, is this, That the Substance or Life of Religion, did not consist in those Things about which they contend­ed; The Kingdom of God, saith he, is not Meat and Drink, but Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost; he that in these Things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of Men. Almighty God, for wise Purposes, suffers his Peo­ple to be of different Sentiments about smaller Points in Religion; and particularly for this, that the Truth of their Love may be brought to the Test. To have regard to those only that are of our Way of thinking in Circumstantials, while more valu­able Persons, who agree with us in the Main, are slighted, because they differ in lesser Things; it is an Argument of a party, factious, selfish Love: [Page 12] But true Love to the Brethren, extends to all those that we have Reason to hope, from their Sound­ness in Foundation-Principles, Acquaintance with experimental Religion and practical Holiness, bear the moral Image of God, whether they be of our Denomination or not: We shou'd bear with one another's supposed or real Weaknesses in Prin­ciple, as well as Practice, and, notwithstanding, love one another; Mens different Capacities, dif­ferent Ways of Education, the different Books they read, the different Company they keep, lead them to different Ways of thinking: Add to this, that sometimes Credit and Interest give a secret and insensible Byas to the Mind.

IT is a singular Mercy and great Comfort, when Persons are agreed in the most important Points; Whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same Rule; let us mind the same Thing; and if in any Thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 'Tis easy and natural to love those that are of our Way of Thinking in every Thing, and that do not offend us: But when the contrary of these happens, then it is difficult. Hence it may safely be asserted, as a general and just Maxim, that the more Tryals our Love meets with, and yet it stands them, and proves Victori­ous, the more Evidence it has of its being of a Divine Original; of its being that Love of the Brethren, which ascertains our Translation from Death to Life.

BUT I proceed to speak of the MOTIVE excit­ing to the Duty aforesaid, viz. The LOVE of CHRIST to his People; As Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us.

[Page 13]HERE let me speak of the Nature, Properties and Manifestations, of CHRIST'S LOVE to his Peo­ple.

AS to the general Nature of Love, I think it is commonly represented to be, Affectus Unionis; a Desire of Union with, or Nearness to the belo­ved Object; and it is Two-fold, namely, of Bene­volence and Complacency. The former signifies God's kind Intention of conferring spiritual and special Benefits upon his People in Time. In this Sense, no doubt, the Lord Jesus lov'd them before the Foundations of the Earth were laid; but the latter signifies the Delight he takes in his own Image conferr'd actually on those that fear him, in Time, and the Application of his Righteous­ness to them thro' Faith. Hence are these Ex­pressions in the Song of Solomon, Thou art all fair, my Love, there is no Spot in thee; thou hast ravished my Heart, my Sister, my Spouse, with one Chain of thy Neck. These Expressions seem to represent the Agreeableness of the Divine Image in his People, to the Divine Nature and Will; as well as the Necessity of a Change in Mens State and Frame in order to Salvation.

WE should carefully observe, that such a Love as is in us, must not be ascrib'd to Christ, as he is God; for ours is passionate and imperfect, causing a Commotion in our Blood and Spirits; whereas his Love, as God, is a most pure and eternal Act of his Will, whereby he wills Good to us: Yet a human Love may be properly ascrib'd to him, as Man, but with great Pre-eminence to ours: As Man, he has a Soul and Body, Will and Affections, Blood and animal Spirits, as we, but perfectly pure; [Page 14] his Love is without Excess in its Tendencies, and without Tumult in its Effects; the Motions of his Will are entirely regular and calm, agreeable to right Reason.

NOW the Love of Christ has the following Pro­perties, viz.

IT is Everlasting; He has loved us with an everlasting Love, and therefore with loving Kind­ness has he drawn us. The Reason why any are powerfully enclin'd and enabled to believe, in Time, is, because they were loved before it, with a Love of kind Intention. The Lord Jesus, the Wisdom of the Father, is represented in the Proverbs of Solomon, as pleas'd with his Designs of Mercy to­wards the Children of Men.

THE Love of Christ is free and unexcited: Our dear Lord lov'd us, when there was nothing lovely in us! When we lay in our Blood, polluted and exposed, he spread the Skirt of his Affection over us, and said to us, live! Yea, when we were Ene­mies, he died for us!

THE Love of Christ is immutable: Whom he loves, he loves to the End. He gives his Sheep eter­nal Life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his Hand.

THE Love of Christ, my Brethren, is incom­prehensible, it passes Knowledge. Hence are these memorable Words of the Apostle, And may be able to comprehend with all Saints, what is the Breadth, and Length, and Depth, and Height, and to know the Love of Christ, which passeth Know­ledge. There was a great Love between David and Jonathan; Jonathan lov'd him as his own Soul! The Mother's Love to her sucking Child is [Page 15] yet greater! And the conjugal Love is doubtless stronger than these! Am not I better to thee, said Elkanah to his Consort, than ten Sons? But the noblest Instance of human Love is that of Paul to the Israelites, who was willing to be accursed from Christ for them. Yet these Affections glow'd in human Bosoms, and so do not transcend human Knowledge; but the Love of Christ passes Know­ledge, and therefore has no Parallel in this lower Globe, but resembles the Love which the Father has to him; As the Father hath loved me, saith Christ, even so have I loved you: But how this is, we can neither conceive or express.

BUT I proceed to speak of the Manifestations of Christ's Love.

NOW the Love of Christ manifests itself, by ma­ny Thoughts about them, and by high Thoughts of them; hence they are said to be graven on the Palms of his Hands, and set as a Seal upon his Heart; and we are further told, that tho' the Mother may forget her sucking Child, the Son of her Womb, yet he will not forget them; and what is still more amazing! is the high Thoughts he has of his People; in which respect they are call'd his Jewels, his Treasure, his Diadem, his Joy, his Glory!

FARTHER, the Love of Christ manifests itself by Love-Expressions, with what surprizing Fami­liarity, and humble Condescension does the dear Redeemer address his worthless Bride, in the Song of Solomon! Open unto me my Love, my Dove, my Fair One, for my Head is wet with the Dew, and my Locks with the Drops of the Night! who is she [Page 16] that looketh forth as the Morning, fair as the Moon, clear as the Sun.

AND doesn't our dear Lord Jesus manifest his Love by beneficent Actions, by what he has done for us, and given us? For us he assumed the hu­man Nature, in the most humble Circumstances of Distress and Abasement! For us he fulfilled the divine Law, in all its Strictness and Rigour! And to us he gives not only all needful temporal Mer­cies, but spiritual and eternal also! He admits his poor People to a Marriage-union with his ado­rable Majesty; their Redeemer is their Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his Name; and in Conse­quence of this dear and valuable Relation, he makes them honourable, powerful, amiable; they are call'd not Servants only, but the Friends of God! And to which of the Angels is this Title gi­ven? God is our Father, Christ our elder Bro­ther, the holy Spirit our Guide, the blessed Angels our Guard, this Earth our Inn, and Heaven our everlasting Home!

THIS dear Lord does likewise make us comely thro' his Comeliness, which he puts upon us: He makes his People all glorious within, he sheds a Lustre on our Souls, that out-shines the Face of Moses, when the Israelites cou'd not behold him; that out-shines the Sun, in his unclouded Bright­ness, and Meridian Glory.

AND are not the Sheep of Christ, made by their dearest Lord powerful? Yes, through him they have a Kind of Omnipotence! Thro' him they can do all Things; for whatever they ask in his Name, he will do it for them; all Things are theirs, whe­ther Apollo, or Cephas, Life or Death. O the [Page 17] stupendous Prodigy of the Goodness and Kindness of Jesus! Wonder, O Heavens, and be astonished, O Earth, at this?

BUT Sirs, that which crowns all the divine Do­nations is, that the Love of Jesus gives his People an Interest in the Persons of the sacred Trinity.

GOD the Father is ours in all his Attributes— his Purposes—his Operations—his Promises and Providences!

GOD the Son is ours, he has given himself to us, his Person—his Purchase—his Offices, and Relati­ons!

GOD the Holy Ghost is ours, in all his Influences and Graces!—I will pray the Father, says Jesus to his Disciples, and he shall give you another Com­sorter, that he may abide with you forever! O the unsearchable, inexpressible, unparallel'd, and amazing Love of our Lord Jesus Christ! Can Men, Can Angels fully represent it? No! It is too big, too vast, for human Language to express! Too bright, too glorious, for a human Mind to comprehend! Yea; the Thoughts of the sublimest Seraphs, are swallowed up and lost, in this im­mense, and unfathomable Ocean!

AGAIN, my dear Brethren, the blessed, the adorable Lord Jesus, has manifested his Love to his poor People, by the most painful Passions for them! He has loved us, and given himself for us. Here, Sirs, let us pause a little, and enquire who it was that gave himself, to what, for whom, and how.

WHO? a God of glorious Majesty, a God of trans­cendant Excellency, a God of unrival'd Beauty and Perfection! Fairer than the Children of Men! [Page 18] Fairer than the Sons of God, the blessed Angels! Who? a Being of almighty Power! who by a Word, and in a Moment, has produced the vast Bo­dies of the Heavens, the Earth and Sea out of no­thing, and preserves them in their present Order and Existence! A Being of independant Sove­reignty! who is absolute Lord of the Universe, upon whose Power all Nature hangs and is depen­dant, and to whose providential Government, the whole System of Beings within the capacious Circuit of the vast Creation, must yield a speedy and silent Subjection! Who? A Being that ex­sisted from the Days of Eternity, Whose Goings forth, have been forever of old, even from Ever­lasting. One who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending; nor has Succession in Duration! A Being of absolute Self-sufficiency, and All-sufficiency; who has enough of Beauty and of Good, within the Verge of his own glori­ous Essence, to compleat forever his own and his People's Happiness! Nor can his essential Glory and Blessedness admit of any Accession or Decay! A Being of infinite Knowledge, who perfectly fore-knew all the present Unworthiness, and future Swervings of his People from his Statutes: For to him the Depth of the Night is as the Dawn of the Morning; to him the End is known, from the Beginning.

BUT to what did this great, this glorious Lord give himself? Why, to Shame, to Misery, to Death! and that of the most ignominious, and formidable Kind! He humbled himself to Death, even to the Death of the Cross! O! the severe Chastisement of our Peace, was laid upon him, [Page 19] that thro' his Stripes we might be healed! Such was the unutterable Grace and Goodness of the dearest, dearest Lord Jesus, that tho' he was re­alty, and incomprehensibly rich, in the Possession of all his Father's Excellencies, yet he became voluntarily, and, to Appearance, poor, that we thro' his Poverty might be rich! The Brightness and unapproachable Blaze of his divine Glory, was veil'd with the humble Mantle of Humanity! He who counted it not Robbery to be equal to God, assumed the Form of a Servant, that we might be made the Sons of the highest! He who is the un­failing Spring of Sweetness and Consolation, be­came a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with Grief! that we might drink of the River of Pleasures, that flows from the Throne of God and the Lamb! He, who is the Center of Rest and Motion, became weary, that he might give to the Weary Rest! He, who is All-fullness, be­came hungry, that he might feed the Hungry with the Bread of Life, the Apples of Salvation! He, who is Health itself, was wounded, that we might be healed with the Balm of Gilead! He who is the Resurrection and the Life, died that we might live, and that forever. O Miracle of Mer­cy! O inexpressible Prodigy of divine Love!

BUT who were these for whom the blessed Je­sus endured such intolerable Agonies? Were they Angels, or perfect Creatures? No, They were Sinners, Rebels, Enemies; such as had transgressed his righteous Laws; such as had re­volted from the Allegiance due to his equitable Government, and such as were possessed of a deadly Enmity against his Person and Rule; such [Page 20] as were utterly unworthy of his Love, and neither sought it, nor were able to requite it; such who, even after Conversion, are in a Degree ungrateful, jealous, disloyal, make not suitable Returns for Benefits received, suspect his Kindness, and are disposed to spiritual Whoredom!

BUT how did the dearest Lord Jesus give him­self? I answer; Most freely. In the Volume of thy Book, saith he, it is written of me, lo I come to do thy Will, O God, and thy Law is within my Heart! All Manner of Miseries he endured most patiently. He was led like a Lamb to the Slaugh­ter, so he opened not his Mouth: Yea he was streight'ned till his Sufferings for our Sakes were accomplished. O astonishing Love!

AND tho' the Persons whom the blessed Lord Jesus set his Love upon, were such as have been described, yet he loved them more than the best of Men love one another; Greater Love hath no Man, than that a Man lay down his Life for his Friend; but Christ hath laid down his Life for his Enemies.

YEA, the holy Jesus loves Man more then he loves himself. The unregenerate Man loves not his Soul, the noblest Part of himself; nor does he love his Body in Reference to Eternity—And the Love of the regenerate Man is imperfect, but the Love of Christ was without Defect.

I MAY add, my Brethren, That the dear Re­deemer loves Men more than Heaven and Earth; for he left the one, and rejected the Offers of the other for his sake.

AND didn't the Lord Jesus love Men more than the Angels? For he took not upon him their Na­ture; [Page 21] nor is there any Offer of Mercy made thro' him, to those that fell from their original State.

YEA we may say that the adorable Redeemer lov'd his People, in some Respects, more than himself! He pray'd for them more than himself; and that when he was just entering upon the last Scene of his awful Sufferings! He expressed more Joy at their Welfare, than his own, as Man: With what Keenness and Pungency did he re­prove the Apostle Peter, when he advised him to spare himself? Get thee behind me, Satan! When the Disciples inform'd him of the Success of their Ministry, tho' he was a Man of Sorrows, yet he rejoyced on that Occasion!

ADD to this, that he willingly suffered the Sword of Justice to pierce his Heart, rather than Men should suffer eternally! He gave himself a Sacrifice to avenging Wrath! A Prey to Murde­rers, and to all Manner of Miseries! This Offer­ing of Christ was, as our Text asserts, Of a sweet-smelling Savour to God! i. e. Propitiatory, and satisfactory for the Sins of Men.

AND indeed the Love of Jesus is such, as in­clin'd him, not only to give himself to suffer for us, all the Miseries our Sins deserved, if not alto­gether in Kind, yet in Weight; but likewise to suffer by us, and with us. O! his Love incites him to bear many Affronts from us, tho' we make him to serve by our Sins, and he is as it were pres­sed under them, as a Cart under Sheaves: Yet af­ter all our Backslidings, which are, in some Re­spects, more heinous then the Sins of others; be­cause committed against greater Light and Mer­cy. He invites us to return, and graciously pro­mises [Page 22] upon our doing so, To heal our Backslidings▪ and love us freely! And doesn't his Love dispose him to simpathize with us, in all our Sorrows! In all our Afflictions he is afflicted! We have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our Infirmities, but was in all Things tempted as we are, yet without Sin.

I proceed to the Improvement of this Subject.

METHINKS what has been said, should excite us to enquire, whether Christ loves us with a special complacential Love? If so, we have been made to see and feel our absolute Need of his Righ­teousness, so as to be shut up thereto, as the only Door of Hope: If so, Christ has manifested him­self to us by his Gospel, in Regard of his All-suf­ficiency and Willingness to save poor Sinners! So that we have hereby been induced to venture our Souls upon the alone Foundation of his Merit, for our Acceptance with God; and have hereupon received such Communications of his Love, as have inclin'd us to love him habitually, supremely, ingenuously; We love him (says the Apostle John) because he has loved us first: And does our Love to Christ constrain us, to endeavour a universal, willing, and persevering Obedience to his Pre­cepts? Then are ye my Friends, says Christ, if ye do whatever I command you.

FARTHER, my Brethren, we should enquire, whether we walk in Love, so as has been before hinted? If so, it is a blessed Evidence of our being Translated from Death to Life: Such as upon Enquiry, find the aforesaid Characters in them­selves, may safely conclude, that they are in a State of Favour with God; And if God is for [Page 23] them, who shall be against them? They have great Reason to rejoyce in Christ Jesus, and again to re­joyce, however difficult and distressing their out­ward Circumstances may be! For all that they meet with in Time, shall be turn'd to their Ad­vantage in the Issue; They shall work together for their Good: Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or Life, or Death, all is theirs, and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's! Remember, dear Brethren, That your Sufferings in this Life, which are but for a Moment, are not worthy to be compa­red with the exceeding great and eternal Weight of Glory, which shall be, in a little Time, reveal­ed to you, and you made Possessors thereof.

BUT such as are destitute of the aforesaid Cha­racters, have great Reason to mourn and lament! For their prent State is unspeakably dangerous, and extreamly miserable! Without Christ there is no true Safety, nor solid Comfort: He is the on­ly Hiding-place, that can effectually screen us from the Storms of divine Wrath! The only Fountain of Consolation, that can effectually sweeten our Sorrows, satisfy our Desires, and sup­port our Hopes!

YE should therefore be entreated, Sirs, to seek an Interest in the Love of Christ, and the E­vidence of it; the former makes your State safe, the latter comfortable. The sensible Knowledge of Christ's Love to us, is a Heaven upon Earth! This makes us bold in Danger, and patient in Adversity; this asswages every Grief, and is as Oyl to the Wheels of Devotion; this gives a fresh Spring to our animal Spirits, a new Relish to our outward Comforts, and is the very Life of Life! [Page 24] This makes the Mind calm and serene, when the Surges of Difficulty swell, and the Tempest roars; it is enough if Christ be ours; of whom then, or of what should we be afraid?

NOW to obtain an Interest in your Redeemer's Love,

LABOUR to know your Need of him, as well as his Ability and Readiness to relieve all that take their Flight to him.

BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ.

THINK much on the Riches of his Love, con­tain'd in the precious Promises.

TRY to be like him in Heart and in Life; such as say they have Fellowship with him and walk in Darkness, do lie, and know not the Truth.

AND such who have an Interest in Christ's Love, but want the Evidence of it,

LET them endeavour to know, and do the Will of God: He that hath my Commandments, and keepeth them, saith Christ, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.

CONVERSE much with Christ, by serious and delightful Study.

BEWARE of Unbelief, and unkind Returns for Mercies received; When he speaks Peace, do not return to Folly.

CRY for Assurance to a gracious God, for Christ's sake, with Hopes of obtaining it.—

WALK IN LOVE, as Christ also has loved us; live in Love, let this be your Element!

LOVE as Christ did, let your Thoughts be kind; For Charity thinks no Evil, but hopes all Things, and believes all Things that are good of our Bro­ther, [Page 25] as far as there is any Reason for it. Let your Speeches be courteous, Put on, as the Elect of God, Bowels of Mercy, Kindness, and Humble­ness of Mind; be pitiful, be courteous, and O let your Actions be beneficent: Say not to the Hungry, be fed, and to the Naked, be clothed, when it is in the Power of your Hand to give: If so, How dwells the Love of God in you? The Love of Christ is a long-suffering, sympathizing, forgiving, and enduring Love; and so shou'd ours be: In case of Offences, and different Sentiments in Reli­gion, bear, forbear, forgive; In Meekness and Long-suffering, says the Apostle, forbearing and forgiving one another, even as God has, for Christ's sake, forgiven you.

MOREOVER, Sirs, ye shou'd walk in Love to­wards your Brethren, because Christ has loved you: He has forgiven much to you, and will not you forgive a little to your poor Brother? He has graciously cancell'd your Debt of a Thousand Ta­lents, and will you take your Brother by the Throat for a few Pence? Christ bears with innu­merable Weaknesses in you, and won't you bear with a few in your Brother? No more powerful Argument can be offered to the Sons of Men, to invite their Love, than the Love of Christ. Dear Sirs! by walking in Love to your Brethren, you fulfil the second Table of the Law, and evi­dence to your selves, as well as others, your gra­cious State: This is truly amiable, the right Way to promote the Glory of God, and the Good of So­ciety. O! How amiable is it for Brethren to dwell together in Unity?

IS it not, dear Sirs! one great Design of the Ordinance in view, to promote Brotherly Love? [Page 26] by setting before us, sensible Representations of the dying Love of Christ? And hence 'tis call'd a Love-Feast.

THIS leads me to say, That another excellent Mean of obtaining Assurance, is, to attend with Humility, Sincerity, and Hope, upon the blessed Ordinance of the Lord's-Supper, by which we shew forth his Death till he come again. This is de­sign'd not only as a Sign to represent the Strength of the Redeemer's Affection, but as a Seal to con­firm our Interest in it. O then! while the King comes to his Table, let our Spikenard send forth the Smell thereof: Who is this that comes from Bozra, with Garments died red, travelling in the Great­ness of his Strength? O how amiable is our Lord in his bloody Robes! Quot vulnera tot ora; As many Wounds as he received for us, so many Mouths are open to plead for our Love to him.

SUFFER me here, my Brethren, to enlarge a little upon this solemn sacramental Occasion! Let us, dear Sirs! take a transient Survey of our Lord's ABASURE and SUFFERINGS, by which he express'd the Strength of his Love to us!

IT is strange indeed! that the great GOD shou'd stoop so low, as to make himself of no Reputation for our sakes, and appear in the Fashion of a Man! Strange! That the Antient of Days, whose Goings forth are of old, from Everlasting, should be born in Bethlehem, an Infant of a Minute old! Strange! That He, whose Immensity fills Heaven and Earth, and infinitely extends beyond the Bounds of the Creation, shou'd be confin'd in a Virgin's Womb! Shou'd be wrapt in Swadling Cloths! and laid in a Manger, a Stable! Strange! That the immortal impassible Creator, and Lord [Page 27] of all, shou'd assume, for our sakes, the inocent Infirmities and Passions of his poor Creatures! and so come in the Likeness of sinful Flesh! That he shou'd begin to live and grow, shou'd hunger and thirst, shou'd bleed and die!

WHAT a Wonder is this to Men and Angels? to behold Heaven and Earth, GOD and Man, u­nited in one Person! To see Immensity confin'd in a narrow Compass! and to behold at once, a Virgin-Mother, and an Infant-God!

STRANGE! That the Beauty of Heaven, whom all the Angels worship, shou'd appear with­out Form and Comeliness upon the Earth! Should be despis'd and rejected! Should be deemed the Reproach of Men, and Out-cast of the People! Shou'd be oppressed, and afflicted! taken from Prison, and from Judgment, and cut off at last from the Land of the Living! Good God! What a Scene is this? What Love, what matchless Love is here? O! Can we believe it, and not be fir'd with the Thought, to love God and Man, And walk in Love!

SIRS, The venerable Name of our dear Lord! which is as fragrant Ointment poured forth, and aromatick Spices broken! was covered with a Cloud of unjust Scandal and Reproach! He was call'd A Friend of Publicans and Sinners, a glu­tonous Person, a Wine-bibber, and one whom by Inchantment cast out Devils! O! what sweet Support may this yield to those that endure unjust Invectives for his sake! i. e. For their firm and inviolable Adherence to the Truths he has reveal­ed, and the Duties he has prescribed!

[Page 28]THE blessed Jesus had no worldly Substance but his Clothes, and these they at last bereaved him of; They parted his Raiment amongst them, and cast Lets upon his Vesture! O! Methinks! the voluntary Poverty of the Son of God, may serve to reconcile the Poor to their humble Circumstan­ces; especially when they consider that the Son of God, who made the Universe, and all the Be­ings it contains, Had no where to lay his blessed Head upon! No Horse! No House of his own, but liv'd upon the Charity of others; for are they not hereby conform'd to him?

AFTER a Life of Labour and of Grief, behold the dear Redeemer drawing near the Period of this weary Scene! See he is betrayed by one of his own Disciples, and deserted by the rest in his Ex­tremity! O the Unkindness of Friends is exceed­ingly distressing *! See Goodness itself unjustly ac­cus'd, and cruelly condemn'd! See how a Heed of Russians hurry my dearest Lord, from Court to Court, and treat the glorious Majesty of Heaven with the utmost Rudeness and Contempt! See how they treat the Fountain of Kindness, yea, Love it­self, with Cruelty and Hate! See how they wound his sacred Body with severe Scourges, so that he was all over of a bloody Gore, and his Raiment bespatter'd with Blood! See how the in­human Monsters smite our Lord with the Palms of their Hands, and in Contempt, spit upon his Face, the Seat of Majesty and Beauty! O horrid Indigni­ty! O barbarous Villainy! Look how they beat with a Reed the contemptuous thorny Crown into [Page 29] his sacred Temples, and salute him in Disdain, Hail King of the Jews! Look how they drive Nails into those blessed Feet, that were incessant­ly employed in unwearied Travels, to diffuse Be­nignity and Good among the Miserable; to dif­fuse Light to the Blind, Health to the Sick, and Life to the Dead! See how they bind with Cords, and wound with Nails those Hands that were fre­quently lifted up to Heaven, in humble Supplica­tions for them, and in communicating Blessings to them!

THE Kind of Death that our Lord endured, viz. by Crucifixion, was very dishonourable, none but Slaves were subject to it; moreover he was put to Death between Malefactors of the most scandalous Kind! and hung between the Heavens and the Earth! as if he that had made both, was fit to be entertain'd by neither!

FARTHER, the aforesaid Kind of Death, was exceeding painful, the whole Weight of his Bo­dy being hung upon some sinewy nervous Parts, and the fatal Cross being put into the Ground, by a sudden Jog, when it was rais'd up, after our Lord was nail'd to it, must needs cause the ac­cutest Pains*!

IN this Extremity of Anguish and Misery, they derided with ungenerous Sneers and Sar­casms, our Lord, our Love! They reviled him, wagging their Heads, and saying. Thou that de­stroyest the Temple, and buildest it in three Days, save thyself: If thou be the Son of God, come down [Page 30] from the Cross. This was an Instance of horrid Inhumanity!

THEN was his Heart pierced with a cruel Spear, Whence came Blood and Water, for the healing of the Nations; a Stream that waters the Garden of God!

BUT the Sufferings our Lord endured in his Soul, were infinitely greater than those he suf­fered in his Body.

IN the Garden of Gethsemany, his Soul was sorrowful even unto Death! There he prostra­ted himself upon the cold Ground! and thro' inward Anguish and Agony, Sweat great Drops of Blood, shed thro' all his Pores a crimson Shower! It is doubtless chiefly in regard of the Sufferings of his Soul, that he is said to Drink the bitter Cup, and tread the Wine-press of his Father's Wrath, as well as conflict with the Pow­ers of Darkness! In his Soul he endured a Degree of Pain, equal to the Demerit of the Sins of those he represented; and hence he is said to make his Soul an Offering for Sin, and this Offering is said to be, as a sweet-smelling Savour to God? that is, pleasing and satisfactory!

HIS Father's deserting him, and causing the Sword of his Justice to awake against him, bro't his Sufferings to the highest Crisis of Extremity! This, O this! made the Lamb of God lament and cry to his Father, in the most dolorous and piteous Accents, Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? O Cry! Enough to rend the Heavens!

THE Sun, that glorious Orb of Light, and Pa­rent of the Day, justly refused to behold so terri­ble [Page 31] a Tragedy, and therefore wrapt himself in Darkness! Then was the Vail of the Temple rent in twain! the hard Rocks burst in Pieces! the Earth shook at its Foundations, and trembled on its Axis! the Dead themselves awoke out of their Iron Slumbers, and hast'ned out of their dark and silent Retreats, to compleat the Train of Mourn­ers, and bewail the Funeral of a GOD!

O DEAR Brethren! let us behold these Suffer­ings of our Lord with Sorrow for our Sins, the de­serving Causes of them, as well as with Love to him, and in Consequence thereof, with Love to Man­kind in general, and to those that are pious in parti­cular.

O BRETHREN! If these Things do not affect us, we are blinder than Moles! and more hard­hearted than Rocks, than Adamants! For those relented, as it were, when their Creator expired! If our Hearts are not fired with this Subject, we are colder than Ice and Snow!

IF we are not mov'd with Gratitude for such Love, we are more sordid than the Beasts that perish! for these express a Kind of Gratitude to their Benefactors! The Ox knows his Owner, and the Ass his Master's Crib!

IF we will not accept of, and improve this in­expressible Love of our Lord Jesus, we are more inexcusable than the impenitent Jews; seeing we enjoy, thro' divine Goodness, a brighter Dispen­sation than they; the ceremonial, typical Vail is rent, and Light and Day is pour'd upon the World, with a more liberal and extensive Effusion, since the Messiah's Incarnation; now the Jewish Night is banished; The Day-spring from on high has visited us, and the Sun of Righteousness has a­risen, [Page 32] with Healing in his Wings, and shone with unclouded Lustre, so that we may with open Face behold the Glory of God in the Face of Christ! i. e. The harmonious Concurrence, and beauteous Ma­nifestation of the divine Attributes, in the Way of Man's Redemption and Salvation by Jesus Christ!

FARTHER in the Case aforesaid, we are more inexcusable than Pagans, who have never had our Advantages, in respect of outward Priviledge, but sit in Darkness, and in the Region and Shadow of Death!

NAY we are, if we continue impenitent, in some Respect, more inexcusable than Devils; for, so far as we know, they never had an Offer of Mercy, after their Apostacy! How then shall we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation? A Sal­vation purchased by the Blood of God; a Salvati­on freely offered, and that to the very worst of Men, who will repent of their Sins and believe in Jesus! A Salvation that has every Thing that is great and good, and valuable in it, and that fore­ver!

CAN we escape by Policy? No! Men may be impos'd upon by false Pretexts, but God is all Eye, yea, Wisdom and Knowledge itself, There is no Darkness or Shadow of Death, where the Workers of Iniquity can hide themselves; No! To him the Darkness is as the Light, and Midnight as Noon­day!

CAN we by Power? No! Jehovah is almighty in Strength; when he speaks, the Pillars of Heaven tremble, the Earth's Foundations shake, the Devils roar, and all the Tribes of inanimate Creatures unreluctant obey his Word: Dare we, whose [Page 33] Habitation is in the Dust, whose Breath is in our Nostrils, and who are crushed before the Moth, rush upon Jehovah's Buckler? Have we an Arm like God, and can we thunder with a Voice like him? He is wise in Heart, and mighty in Strength; who has ever hardned himself against God, and prospered?

CAN we escape by Flight? No! He is every where present; Should we take the Morning's Wings, and fly to the uttermost Parts of the Earth, or Sea, even there God's Hand would lead us, and his Right-hand hold us. If I ascend to Heaven, says the Psalmist, thou art there; if I make my Bed in Hell, behold thou art there! Should we mount Carmel's Heights, or dive the Ocean's Depths! Should we seek the obscurest Recess in the wide Circle of the Creation, we cou'dn't pos­sibly escape the Notice of his all-penetrating Eye, or the Reach of his Almighty Arm!

O! It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha, in the Day of the Lord, than for any of us, that continue impenitent; This is the Con­demnation, that Light is come into the World, and we love Darkness rather than Light, because our Deeds are Evil. Surely the blessed Jesus will be revealed from Heaven in flaming Fire, to take Vengeance on those that know not God, who shall be punished with everlasting Destruction, from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power!

BUT let me speak a few Words to the Commu­nicants, and then conclude; Come my dear Bre­thren, to this Solemnity, with a Reverence of God's Majesty upon your Spirits; How awful is [Page 34] this Place? Surely it is no other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven; come with vehement Hunger and Thirsting after the Bread and Waters of Life; come with a humble Sense of your Unworthiness of the Priviledge of coming to the Table of the King of Kings!

COME with a firm Resolution, To live to him, that died for you!

COME with a deep Sorrow for your Offences, that have been the meritorious Causes of Christ's Sufferings!

CAN ye, dear Sirs! behold in this Sacramental Memorial, the Symbols of those Sufferings of the Son of God, which were before hinted, and not be affected? If so, it is lamentable indeed! Sure­ly a View of them, may justly strike the Springs of your Grief.

BEHOLD the Tears of Humanity, Compassion and Love, which Jesus shed at the Grave of La­zarus, and over the impenitent City of Jerusa­lem! when he address'd it as follows: If thou, or as some render the Words, O that thou hadst known in this thy Day, the Things that belong to thy Peace, but now they are hid from thine Eyes! See his Sorrows, his Wounds, his Blood, his Death!

HARK and listen to his Sighs, his Groans, his dolorous Out-cry on the Cross, Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani; My God, my God, why hast thou for­saken me.

See his compassionate Arms open'd on the cru­el Tree, open'd to embrace in tender Mercy, e­very returning Prodigal, how many and how great soever his Transgressions have been notwith­standing.

[Page 35]BEHOLD with humble Astonishment, Innocen­cy condemned, Beauty stained, and Love it self despised, in all its Riches and Charms! See Sal­vation suffering, Strength languishing, and Life expiring! The Angels wonder at the Tragedy! the Earth quivers for Fear! the visible Heaven shuts its radiant Eye by a dark Eclipse, and refused to behold so sad a Spectacle! so sorrowful a Scene! The Rocks themselves express'd a Sympathy with their suffering Creator, to the perpetual Re­proach of Sinners, that are harder than they! And universal Nature mourn'd!

BEHOLD, my dear Brethren! the blessed Bridegroom cometh, clothed with Majesty, as with a Robe; with Light, as with a Garment; with Zeal, as with a Cloak: See he is girt with a golden Girdle, his Head and Hairs are white as Snow, and his Eyes are as a Flame of Fire, his Feet like unto fine Brass, as if they burned in a Furnace, and his Voice as the Sound of many Wa­ters! See the unrivall'd Beauty of his Person, and the inexpressible Riches of his Love!

OUR adorable Jesus, Is white and ruddy, the chiefest among Ten thousand! He is white in Re­gard of his unsullied Innocence, and red in Re­gard of his severe Sufferings for us! See he comes from Bozra and Edom, with his Garments died red! his Vesture is discoloured, or rather adorn­ed with his Heart's-Blood; O amazing Sight! See those Wounds, Believer, he patiently and wil­lingly bore for thee! Wounds which are Scars of Honour, Signatures of Victory, and Arguments of Love and Endearment!

[Page 36]SURELY his Garments smell of Myrrh, Aloes and Cassia, out of the Ivory Palaces. Now let the everlasting Doors of your Souls open to embrace your Lord; now let your Bowels move for him; now let your Hands drop with Myrrh, with sweet-smelling Myrrh, upon the Handles of the Lock! While the King sits at his Table, let your Spike­nard send forth the Smell thereof; seeing the Marriage of the Lamb is come, O let the Spouse make herself ready to embrace him. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus. Amen. Amen.


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