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there was no act of self-abasement to which he would not willingly submit. But wherefore was this ? why did he allow his sacred Head to be crowned with thorns? why suffer his hands and feet to be nailed to the cross, and his side to be pierced with a spear? Wherefore was all this? It was his love. This made him willing to have that thistly crown, the emblem of the curse, bound about his head, that our heads-be astonished, O ye heavens !—might be arrayed with
O a crown of unfading glory. This also made him willing to suffer the accursed death of the cross, that he might be made a curse for us. Closely as the nails appeared to fix his hands and feet to the tree, His love bound them far closer ; this made him submit to the piercing of his side, that the streams of love, which have since flowed from this fountain, might “ be opened for sin and uncleanness.”
It is recorded by St. Matthew, when he relates the events connected with the crucifixion, that when the sun was darkened, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent,
and the graves were opened, and Jesus cried with a loud voice,“ Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit,” that the Centurion who was present with his band of soldiers, struck with awe at these prodigies, bore this striking testimony to our Lord : “ Truly this was the Son of God.” Appropriate as this testimony was, he might have added the words of the text, “ Behold how he loved him!” for surely herein was love, that he laid down his life for us.
My dear friends, it is delightful to the heart thus to meditate upon the love of Christ. Convincing, however, as are the proofs which we have already given of its extent, from that glorious season when His eternal Father gave him his commission, till the solemn hour when upon the cross he cried, “ It is finished,” “ and he bowed his head and gave up the Ghost” —we have but partially traced the actings of his love.
We must come to his resurrection from the
grave-to that memorable season when he gave that gracious command to his disciples, that “repentance and remission of sins should
be preached among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” He had before shewn his compassion to his countrymen, as we mentioned this morning, by weeping over that city. This however did not suffice. As if to shew that their dreadful sin, in crucifying the Lord of glory, though it would bring upon them many judgments, “ could not quench his love,” at the very time their transgression was ascending to heaven with a far, far worse odour than even the dead body of Lazarus, the disciples who received this command, or the evangelist who has recorded it, might still have used the language of our text, and said, “Behold how he loved him !"
“ Jerusalem sinners came so near to his heart, that instead of excepting them from this proclamation of mercy, they are the only persons mentioned by name, when He directs his Gospel to be preached—and this before it was offered to any other people : BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM! This love, which he manifested after his resurrection, he carried with him when he ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high; for it was upon those who were assembled in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit was first poured out. His very crucifiers, pricked to the heart by bis convictions, were brought by his grace to confess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My beloved friends, this subject is so large, that, like the river mentioned in Ezekiel, it widens and deepens at almost every step: so that before we can finish a short discourse, it becomes a river that no one can
a pass over. Who, for instance, can reach the boundary of that full flow of love which has been manifested by our blessed Lord to his people, since the first out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, in the innumerable multitudes who have, in answer to his intercession, “ been brought out of darkness into his marvellous light;" and who, from the day they were thus called, to the very moment of their deaths, have been guided, protected, preserved, strengthened, and comforted by His grace, until he has in effect offered for each of them his memorable prayer, “Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me,
be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory:" thus removing their spirits from this troubled scene to that delightful land where sorrow never enters. There is not one of the spirits of these just men made perfect, but of whom the words of my text might be used, 6. Behold how he loved him!” But, as I said, the subject is boundless; we are only now upon the threshold, only arrived at the entrance of that blessed abode where our Saviour “ sits expecting, till all his enemies be made his footstool.” Then having conquered the last enemy, which is death, he shall complete his glorious work, by presenting his redeemed people as trophies of his love before the throne—then, indeed, the word will be sung through the realms of bliss, « Behold how he loved him !"
But into this part of the subject I forbear to enter. I would now only briefly inquire if this love of Christ has yet ever really affected your heart ?
I recollect a very interesting season, when a female who was under sentence of death in