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THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVE TO CHRIST.
1 COR. XVI. 22.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be
Can you repeat the text after me? Can you all repeat it, and can you repeat it boldly, and without hesitation !--.“ Undoubtedly we can ; why should we not? If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be"-Ah! no, I thought you durst not go through it. Conscience stopped you, by whispering that you were imprecating a curse upon yourselves. If I had only asked, “ Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?” you would have made no scruple to answer me, “ Yes :" but when it comes to wishing damnation upon your souls, if you do not love him, that is a serious matter, which you dare not venture upon; and you are forced to confess, that you know not any thing of Christ. You have heard his name;. but you are unacquainted with his person, and had never any interview with him. So you are as indifferent to him as a stranger. Indifferent, did I say? No, my friends, you cannot be indifferent to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you love him not, you hate him. You start at that assertion, and say, “Is thy servant a
dog, that I should hate any one, especially the Lord Jesus Christ? This I deny: whatever other sins I may be guilty of, hatred to Christ is certainly not one." Do not speak with so much confidence. We will examine a little into the matter, and see how
you are really affected towards the blessed Saviour. Suppose that he were now to say to you, “Come, follow me;" “ Yes, Lord,” you would readily reply, “ we will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.' (says Christ,) foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. If any man will come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross. If he hate not his father, and mother, and brother, and sister, and houses, and lands, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. So, likewise, whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” “ What, Lord, all that we have? There is such a thing, which is the chief comfort of our lives; and there is another, which is very profitable to us. Only in this thing pardon thy servants: Allow us this, and we will give up the rest.” “ No, (says Christ;), if any man keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
Now tell me what you feel on this occasion. Do not your hearts swell with pride and resentment, to be so refused; and did you not secretly - mutter, " These are hard sayings, who can possibly bear them? It is as bad as an Egyptian taskmaster, to be so strict in his requirements, and so severe in his punishments. We will not have this man to reign ever us." What is this then, bụt hating (at least I
am sure that it is not loving) the Lord Jesus Christ? “ But suppose (perhaps you say) that we had repeated the whole of the text? “ If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Marana. tha." These are hard words, that we do not well understand. Their meaning may not be so bad as we have been taught; or, at worst, it was possibly nothing more than a passionate imprecation, thrown out by the Apostle, without any warrant. For who can believe that God Almighty would ever pronounce such a dreadful curse upon his poor creatures, only because they may not happen to love his Son quite so well as perhaps he may deserve ?” Perhaps he may deserve! God forgive the blasphemy. He merits infinitely more regard than ever you can discover. He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; and therefore not to love him, yea not to love him entirely and intensely, argues the greatest stupidity and depravity ; and will expose the guilty wretches to all the misery contained in these awful words, " Anathema Maranatha.”.
Anathema means separation, execration, and destruction. Maranatha signifies, the Lord cometh, So that those who love not the Lord Jesus Christ, are liable to a dreadful separation from him, and a total destruction at his coming. The best paraphrase is that in the 25th chapter of Matthew. “ Then shall the king say to them on his left hand, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" It is indeed as sad and dreadful a curse, as any that we read in the whole book of God: and yet this harshly-sounding text may be useful, to rekindle our feeble love to the Lord Jesus
Christ, or to excite us to avoid the doom of his ene. mies. Thus shall we have nothing to fear when it is said, “ If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let hiin be Anathema Maranatha."
From which words we shall remark, that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly and eminently lovely; that there are some, notwithstanding, who do not love him ; and that all such are. chargeable with aggravated guilt, and are exposed to singular vengeance.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is truly and eminently lovely.
When I say that Christ is the object of a Christian's love, I mean it not exclusively of the Father and the Holy Ghost : for as they are equally partakers of the divine nature and glory, so they should each of them be loved with a supreme regard. However, our love may be fixed on Christ more immediately; for as there is no such expression of regard to us as his death on the cross, nothing can be so engaging and constraining as this; and therefore our love inclines naturally and principally towards him. If you were to desire me to give you an account of the nature and actings of this grace, I should say in general, that it is that sweet and sovereign affection, by which we delightfully accommodate ourselves to him, in all his interests, concerns, and dispensations. For example,
jf Christ be considered as able to do that for us, and communicate that to us, which we want, love is evinced by desire.
The believer cannot be satisfied without him. " Tell me not of the world,” says he; “it is Christ that I want. One smile from him would be more to me than thousands of gold and silver. I want to have my sins blotted out, my nature renewed, and God my friend: and mines or mountains of gold would not purchase these unspeakable blessings. From Christ I must obtain them, if ever I have them. 0! that I knew where I might find him: my soul thirsteth for him. Gracious Saviour, when wilt thou come unto me?"
If he be considered as having already manifested bimself to the soul, then love exerts itself in a way of delight.
“ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The refreshments which the soul derives from viewing and enjoying Christ, are beyond the power of description. “Now, (cries the transported believer,) now I am happy. There is the rich man, with his purple and fine linen, and plentiful table; there is the sensualist in his circle of earthly pleasure; there is the monarch with his crown, and the peculiar treasure of kings: they think no one happy but themselves: but I envy none of them, while I can rejoice in the friendship of Jesus. The world, indeed !---Let who will take it for
In Christ I have that which a thousand such worlds as this could not procure. I have had more pleasure in his company in an hour, than the whole earth could give me in an age.
Further, as Christ has an interest to be carried on in the world, love displays itself in zeal for his honour.
If ye love me,” says Christ, ' keep my commandments.' “So I will,” says the believer: “ for his