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endowments and celestial qualities; we may clearly perceive all these' endowments and qualities, and nevertheless the deepest enmity against him may rankle in our hearts. However cheering the light of the sun may be in itself, and however brightly its beams may shine around us, yet as long as the eye is distempered, the brightness of its beams, the clearness of its light, will afford, not pleasure, but pain, because there is not a correspondence between these two objects. In like manner, however excellent the character of the Saviour may be in itself, and however clearly this character may be revealed to us, yet as long as the soul is distempered by sin, the clearness of these views will excite enmity, not love, because there is no correspondency between it and the corrupt inclinations of the sinner's heart. If the beauties of Jesus were conformed to the taste and relish of our souls, nothing would be requisite to excite our love for them, but to make them known to us; but since they are holy beauties, and our souls naturally have a tendency to sin, it is plain that, in proportion as they are manifested,' must our enmity be roused. It is for this reason that persons under their first convictions of sin, frequently feel. dreadful heart-risings against God and the Saviour. They have a true view of the infinite holiness, the spotless purity, and the inflexible justice' of the divine character; but as yet their minds are not conformed to these attributes, and therefore the contemplation of them excites nothing but enmity. It is for this reason that the damned souls, though they have a distinct view of the character of Jesus, do nevertheless continually blaspheme and curse; because, though the character of Jesus is infinitely amiable, and their views of it clear, yet it does not 57
correspond with their vitiated propensities and sinful desires. It is evident, then, that a correspondency of heart is the third thing that is requisite to produce true love to Christ; and this correspondency can be produced only by the mighty operation of the Holy Ghost renewing our minds; giving us new tastes, relishes, and inclinations; causing us to hate what we once loved, and love what we once hated. When this change of sentiments is made, when we are thus new-born, then, and not till then, the heart will be attracted by the beauties of Immanuel, will flow out in love towards him, will accord with the lips when they exclaim, "He is the fairest among ten thousand, he is altogether lovely!"
Such is the origin of love to Christ. Let us sum up what we have said on this point in a single sentence. Love to Christ is produced by the Holy Spirit, who shows us in the scriptures the real character of Christ, who changes our hearts so that they may become conformed to this character, and thus fills our souls with admiration of the glories, with love of the excellences of the Redeemer.
Ah, my brethren! how many of you are there whom this observation should cause to tremble! How many of you who suppose that you have a sincere, spiritual affection for this Redeemer, whilst have no other love than that which is founded on nature, custom, education, or partial and unscriptural views of Christ? How many who suppose that they have always loved the Saviour; that their natural dispositions were affectionately inclined to him? Beware! you are deceiving your own soul; you are building your house upon the sand: when the floods come, and the waves beat, and the winds
blow, instead of affording you shelter, it will fall and crush you in its ruin! You are confiding in a "refuge of lies which will perish when God taketh away the soul." A true love to Christ can be founded on nothing short of a renewed mind and a changed heart. Do you doubt of this? Follow me in my investigation, and you will find that your love is radically defective. Attend whilst I pass from considering the origin, to an examination of the perties of a true love to Christ, and you will find that you do not possess this heavenly grace.
First Property of love to Christ: It is enlightened; that is to say, it knows and delights in the real character of the Saviour. There are many who form partial and unscriptural notions of Christ; who conceive of him as all mercy, without justice or holiness; who strip him in their conceptions of those attributes which are opposed to their corruptions, and retain only those to which the natural heart has no repugnance; and because they feel some affection for this phantom of their own creation, they call this affection a love for Christ. The believer, on the contrary, looks only to the sacred scriptures to find the character of Christ; his desires, his wishes, the bias of corruption, are not permitted to alter the portrait drawn by the pencil of heaven; he adds no trait, he detracts no feature, in order to lull himself to security and rest. The Christ whom he loves is not that fantastic image which sinners have formed, who connives at guilt, who permits men with impunity to trample on the authority of God, and is armed with no thunders. No, the Christ who has engaged the affection of believers is a being in whom spotless holiness is united with the tenderest compassion; who regards the honour of his Father as
well as the miseries of mortals; who has not only manifested his grace by dying when we must have died eternally without his interposition, but who will also display his justice by sentencing the impenitent to endless despair.
My brethren, it is of vast importance for you to attend to this property of love. Many souls are in hell, who doubted not that they would have entered the kingdom of joy, and who with equal surprise and terror awoke in the eternal flames. They formed to themselves an idol which they loved and worshipped. In this idol were reserved those perfections of Christ against which the enmity of the heart is not excited; those holy and pure perfections of the Redeemer which are opposed to corruption, were laid aside, and in their stead qualities were substituted which would not be inconsistent with the reign of sin. This visionary being, which has no prototype in nature, was called Christ; they indulged affection towards it, they supposed it would save them; alas! it was an idol which had no existence except in the imagination of the framer, and which perished together with him.
Second Property of love to Christ: It is ultimate ; that is to say, it terminates on this Saviour as its end, and does not regard him merely as a means to further blessedness. It is very possible for an unregenerate man to feel certain glows of affection when he sits down and considers the inestimable benefits which Christ has procured for our race; but this, instead of being a spiritual attachment, is only a disguised self-love. If I love Christ merely because he can rescue me from hell, and bring me to heaven; if I love him only because he can benefit me; it is plain that this pretended attachment to
him, is only an attachment to my own interests and happiness. Christians have a more generous love than this; they love their Redeemer, not merely because he can procure for them incalculable benefits, but because in himself, and without any consideration of his benefits, he is worthy of all their desires. If there were no heaven to hope, no hell to fear, their attachment would still continue, because those qualities of Jesus which are the foundation of it are immutable. It is true that the remembrance of the benefits which he has bestowed or promised, gives new warmth to their attachment; nevertheless, it is the giver, and not the gift, which engrosses their heart; Christ is preferred before his benefits. We do not regard him as a real friend who loves us only so far as we can subserve his interest; we do not regard her as an affectionate wife who loves only the portion, and not the person: in like manner we cannot regard that as a true love to Christ, which is founded only on a consideration of the blessings which he brings, whilst his personal excellences are forgotten. "Not thine, dear Lord, but thee." This must be the exclamation and the feeling of our soul.
Third Property of love to Christ: it is supreme, and predominates over every attachment to the objects of earth. Believers behold in him infinitely more beauty and excellence than the world can afford, and they therefore see nothing here below that can rival him in their affections. Their heart is the image of heaven, where Christ reigns supreme, and all is submissive to him. Though other af fections are indulged by them, yet it is always in subordination; earthly objects which bear the stamp of imperfection cannot dispute their heart with the adorable Son of God. Christ himself enumerates