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BY JAMES SMITH
" Lovest thou me more than these ?" — ^John xxi. 17. We may, we ought to love our relations, friends, and neighbours ; but Jesus requires and deserves our highest love. He should be first in our esteem, for He is most excellent ; toward Him our veneration should be directed, for He is truly divine and glorious ; and to Him we should be most firmly and devotedly attached, for He is " altogether lovely." Look at His life as recorded by the Evangelists, and see how just, punctual, prudent, kind, benevolent, and full of attention He was. In Him every virtue shone forth in its fulness and perfection, and in Him every attribute of God was to be discovered. Consider His teaching. He communicated His own ideas of divine subjects, which were just and correct ; but almost totally different from those of any other instructor. He opened the heart of God, and shewed us that it was love ; assuring us that He "so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He clearly unfolded the most important and interesting of all subjects, salvation ; shewing us its nature aud perfection, and how it may be obtained and .en-
THE QUESTIO . 217 joyed. He, in a word, revealed all that we need to know as to the mind, intent, and purposes of God ;
the state, condition, and destiny of man ; the way of escape from wrath, and of admission into the world of purity, beauty, and bliss. But His infinite merit especially demands our love. He was great enough and pure enough to speak with God, and engage for the salvation of sinners ; and He was kind enough and meek enough to speak to and provide salvation for man He can fill the space between an infinitely holy God, and depraved, polluted, and guilty man ; and by the obedience of His life, and the atonement which He offered in His death, He can bring them together on easy and honourable terms. He has reconciled the justice of God to the salvation of man, and He does reconcile the heart of man to the ways of God. He has removed every thing out of the way of our acceptance at His Father's throne, and He does remove every thing from our hearts which would prevent our approaching with pleasure there. Glorious Redeemer ! thy merit is boundless, and thy worth infinite and eternal; who would not love thee, and love thee more than all things beside ? Glance but for one moment, also, at what He bestows, and you must see at once His claim to our highest love. The very angels receive their happiness, security, and honour, from Him. His enemies, of the human family, are fed 1 y His 19
218 THE aUESTIO bounteous hand, and preserved by His Almighty power. But it is His saints, more especially, who are indebted to Him ; He gives His Spirit to instruct them, His righteousness to justify them,
His blood to cleanse them, His name to procure them acceptance at the Father's throne, His fulness to supply them, and all that the wisest head could devise or the kindest heart bestow. He gives grace and glory, with every other good thing under heaven. And yet many do not love Him ; and of those who talk of doing so, it must be said that their love is doubtful. ot to God, for He knoweth their hearts ; but to the saints who desire that ail should love Him, and love Him above all. Yea, to themselves, for they cannot say they love Him v/ith an unv/avering tongue. If they do love Him, their love is not strong, vigorous, and fruitful ; it is like a stunted shrub, which only tells of the barrenness of the soil. And many have good cause to doubt ; look at the neglected Bible, the slighted closet, the forsaken sanctuary, and the forgotten God ; they all saj^ " Thou hast left thy fiifcit love." But love to Jesus ought to be put out of doubt. " This is the love of God that we keep His commandments.'' " If ye love me, keep my commandments." By a cheerful acquiescing in His will ; and by daily observing His commands, tho who'.e of them : and even v^hen we must make
THE aUESTIO . 219 sacrifices to do so, we should put oui love to Jesus out of doubt. My Reader, do you love the Saviour? Why do you love Him? Is your love warm, cheerful, operative? Do you love Him more than all thhigs beside ? Are you in doubt about it? Rest not until all cause for doubt is entirely taken away, lest that fearful sentence
should fall like a thunderbolt upon you, " If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed when the Lord cometh." Does he not deserve to be cursed? Surely if a man does not love Jesus who is altogether lovely, and who is his constant benefactor and greatest friend, his .sin is as the sin of Sodom, flagrant and inexcusable. •' Do not I love Thee, O my Lord? Behold my heart and see ; And turn each cursed idol out That dares to rival Thee, Do not I love thee from my soul ^ Then let me nothing love ; Dead be my heart to ev'ry joy, Which thou dost not approve. Is not thy name melodious still, To mine attentive ear? Doth not each pulse with pleasure oeat, My Saviours voice to hear ? Thou know'st I love Thee, dearest Lord, But, Oh ! 1 long to soar Far from the sphere of mortal joys, That I may love Thee more.''
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