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his, and are expressive of his superlative love to the Redeemer.
God has the highest esteem of Christ. He had so from eternity. No language can more forcibly express the complacency which God had in him, especially when he engaged to be the surety of sinners, and was a lamb slain from the foundation of the world, than the words of Christ himself, Prov. viii. 23—32, “ I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth: when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled; before the hills was I brought forth. While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth. When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him: rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men." The Father gave the highest evidence of his love to Christ in the designation of him to the great office of Mediator. Often did he express his love to him under the Old Testament. In all the typical sacrifices he had peculiar delight, as they pointed out the great atoning sacrifice to be offered up in the end of the world. With infinite
complacency he spake of him in prophecy as his servant. Isaiah xlii. 1, "Behold, my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." He also evidenced his love to the Redeemer when he sent the heavenly host to celebrate the joyful news of his birth. Luke ii. 13, 14, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." His love was equally attested at Christ's baptism, when the Spirit descended as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." The same honourable testimony was borne to him on the mount of transfiguration. God took every possible method to give the most undoubted proof of his love to the Mediator, both when he was on the cross and after it, when he raised him from the grave, and exalted him with his right hand. In every period of the church he supports his interest, takes vengeance on his enemies, and faithfully accomplishes what he stipulated in the counsel of peace, as mentioned Psalm lxxxix. 20-30. "I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set
his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven." Every believer may learn the Father's high esteem of Christ from the acceptance he meets with for his sake; and if sinners only knew how highly God esteems Christ, they would not think so lightly of him and his gospel. In one word, how can God more emphatically express his love to Christ than in the words of the text, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maran-atha."
Paul made these words his own; and such is the love of the saints to Christ, that they cordially join with the apostle. They have made deliberate choice of the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. Willing to sell all for the pearl of great price, they count every thing loss that they may win him. They deny themselves, and take up the cross, and follow him. They trust him with their most important concerns; and all their expectation is from him. His truths are precious in their esteem; and his friends, in their eyes, are the excellent ones of the earth. They say to his enemies, “ Depart from me, ye evil-doers."
2. That love to the Lord Jesus is the beginning, essence, and amount of true religion. It must, surely, be something very important in Christianity, the want of which incurs the awful sentence in the text.
Religion cannot begin without love to the Redeemer. If all proper exercise begins in knowing him, he needs only to be known that he may be loved! We do not mean that love is prior to faith, or even any other grace, in the order of nature. When faith apprehends Christ, it apprehends him as a most lovely object, and the person believes with the whole heart. Faith works by love, and purifies the heart. Love is the very amount of religion. To love the Lord with all the heart, is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love constrains to the performance of every duty, and makes the saint cheerfully undergo every hardship. All who love the Lord, hate every false way, and press after conformity to him in holiness. Loving him, they pant after communion with him, here and hereafter; and improve every opportunity and appointed mean. The Scripture lays the greatest stress on love to our neighbour, and gives it a very distinguished place in the exercises and attainments of the saints. 1 Cor. xiii. 1-4, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, but the greatest of these is love." Love to Christ is
not only of equal importance, but is the spring and source from which love to our neighbour flows; while, on the other hand, love to our brother is the surest evidence of love to the great Head. 1 John iv. 20, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?" Love to Christ is the great criterion by which we may judge, with safety, of our liveliness and spirituality in every duty, and of our attainments in religion. The great and leading question which Christ asks all who profess to follow him, and which they should ask at themselves, is that thrice put to Peter on a memorable occasion, "Lovest thou me?"
3. That the want of love to Christ subjects to the curse, as well as positive enmity with all its dreadful effects. It is not said, If any man hate Christ, but if any man love him not, let him be Anathema. We do not mean that there can be want of love without positive enmity. These are inseparable, or rather different degrees of the same thing; and there is no medium between loving and hating the Redeemer. The Holy Spirit expresses himself in this manner to warn all, and assure them, that though their opposition to Christ may not have discovered itself to others, or have been felt by themselves, yet if they have not positive love to him, they perish with his worst and most avowed enemies. Many deceive themselves by thinking that they do not hate Christ, because they never felt hatred to him boiling in their hearts, similar to that passion, which breaks out when they reckon