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the length of their journey is marked out by him, and then they will pass beyond the boundaries of trial and sorrow to that same house, to that home of many mansions, where their blessed Master is already gone to prepare a place for them; because it is his design, that there where he is, there, at least, they shall be also. His happiness is not a solitary happiness, he will not be satisfied as to the consummation of the plan of grace till he shall see of the travail of his soul and mark the whole multitude, given to him of his Father, with thrilling hearts of gratitude and joy, ascribing in his own presence "salvation unto Him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb for ever."
a disinterested character in his attachment to his people that has filled Heaven with astonishment. "GOD So loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son ;" and that only begotten Son so loved his people, that he consented to be this gift, this sacrifice, this sin-offering.
But, my brethren, we should do well more frequently to contemplate this property of our Saviour's love, that we have no claim upon his regard, that in ourselves there not only is put forth nothing to attract that love, but every thing to repel that love. It was while we were yet sinners-while we were yet without strength-while we were utterly unable to render to him aught that could be accounted valuable to his pure regard-it was under these circumstances that he manifested his love-it is a love that has its source in his own breast. There is, perhaps, a type of this love seen in our own world: that love, perhaps, may be a type of this love wherewith a mother thinks and feels towards the helpless object she has brought forth. There is nothing of intellect-there is nothing of dignity-there is nothing of virtue
there is nothing of benevolencethere is nothing that should call forth any intense sympathy and affection in that creature, that object of her compassion; and yet GOD has selected the very emotions with which mother's heart thrills towards that helpless being, to describe that love wherewith God loves his people. The mother's love finds its source in her own breast-it is an uncontrollable instinct, and there is in GOD when he looks on his people, and sees them lying in their guilt, he says to them live, and he loves them with a disinterestedness that we cannot contemplate surely without astonishment, and surely without at the same time encouragement and delight.
passage of Scripture, seems.
But the passage of Scripture before us, describes more minutely, The properties of that love wherewith these objects of his regard are loved in this world. In the first place, the expressions before us, suggest to the mind, the disinterested nature of the love of Christ. He mentions the subject of his love in connection with his own violent departure out of this present world. The very thoughts that occupied our Saviour's mind at this moment were thoughts of agony, of that death which he was to suffer and accomplish on the cross. He was to be an atonement, a sin-offering; and in order to realize this design, he was to pass through sufferings whose aggravated nature it were difficult for us to describe. Oh, when we think of the pure mind of Christ, when we think of the perfect hatred with which he recognized evil, we may well imagine that to contemplate his departure from the world amidst the manifestation of a crime that had never known a parallel, we may behold what must have been the disinterested nature of his love that he should, at this time, connect with those sufferings the peculiar objects of his regard. There was a nobility of kindness, there was
SERMON BY THE REV. GERARD NOEL.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1832.
(The Rev. Gerard Noel's Sermon concluded.)
to tell us likewise respecting this love, wherewith Christ has loved us, that it is a holy love. Why did he connect his departure from the world with the mention of this love? Might not one reason be to mark out the holy nature of that love? He could not manifest that love to his people in any manner that should compromise the rights of GOD, the claims of moral obligation -he could not exercise a love that should lead any one of his creatures reasonably to question the purity of his government of the world; and therefore this love manifests its holy properties, the Son of GOD himself must suffer, that this love may honorably be exhibited. Mark, before the sacrifice of Christ this love was in existence; the sacrifice of Christ was not the source of this love, but it was the symptom and expression of this love. This love was in the breast of Deity from all eternity. It was GOD's so loving the world, ere this sacrifice was accomplished, that led him to yield this sacrifice. It was the everlasting love of GOD that sent forth the Mediator between GoD and man. There is, therefore, a holiness in GoD's love. It is an awful love-it is a love worthy of GOD to manifest; it is not the undue partiality of this world-it is not the fondness that often sacrifices principle, and is reckless of consequences; but it was love which had the very stamp of Deity upon it, it
bore the impression of GOD. There hath never been a love like this love.
But the expression before me suggests further, as a property of Christ's love, that it was a wise love. It is said, "now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And the supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from GOD, and went to GOD; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a girdle, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." I refer to this as, to my mind, bringing a very distinct conviction of the wisdom of Christ's love. He was now going to part with them--he was now to terminate his companionship in this present world, with these objects of his love; and he would seize this particular occasion to instruct them in a point which they most wanted to know, which was most essential to their welfare. My brethren, pride is the great sin of man; and there is nothing that he so slowly learns as genuine humi
lity. To shrink into himself, to expand his thoughts to GOD, and to hang with a complete dependance on the grace and strength of GOD, is a lesson most essential to his welfare, and a lesson which he is most slow to learn. Our Lord, therefore, seems to me, to have selected this precise moment, this moment which memory afterwards would retrace with deepest interest and emphasis, in order to give his instructions respecting humility, in a manner the most marked, and the most likely to be recalled. He took the slave's place, and washed his disciples' feet; and he not only intended by this to convey the lesson, that no man is cleansed from sin before God whom Christ's blood hath not washed-" If I wash thee not thou hast no part with me;" but also, to give them an example that they should stoop low, that God might lift them high, and that they should, henceforth, learn dependance on GOD their Saviour. His love, then, was wise. A wise instructor times seasonably the lessons he wishes most to impress, and our blessed Lord thus shows the fittest moment in which to record his deep sense of the value of that humility that was to be the element in which the affections of his people were to live, thrive, and be sanctified to GOD.
My brethren, perhaps this circumstance, the wisdom, I mean, of Christ's love, is a key to much of that providential dispensation which marks the condition of the church of Christ below. Why is the condition of the church of Christ below one of conflict and of trial? It is because the love of GOD is a wise love. There is no indulgence in the mind of GOD which was placed apart from the real welfare of the objects of that love. In this world's history partial fondness defeats its proper end-in this world's history fondness is often the occasion
of manifesting folly and guilt; but in the love of GoD there is a wisdom that designs true happiness, and, therefore, expects the moral condition and the moral discipline of the objects of that love. Why then is it, my brethren, that the people of God are a tried and afflicted people, bowed down with many sorrows, heart struck with many griefs, combating with many foes? Is it because God's love is a wise love? There are some lessons that are not to be learned in the sunny valley; they must be learned on the bleak mountain's side. There are some lessons which prosperity cannot teach, yet these lessons must be learned. The people of God are training up for a world for which now they are much unfitted; their principles are erroneous-their faith is weak-their affections are deluded and corrupt-they need the discipline of their Father's correcting love, and that love is wise. Therefore the providence of GOD is often to the world's eye, aye, and to the eye of a weak faith a stern providence, severer, perhaps, than the murmuring heart loves to receive. But this is the key to those providences. Why do men weep-why do they combat-why do they toil-why do they struggle-why are they made to feel that this world is not their resting place, nor this world their scene of final condition? It is, that they may be trained up by these varied efforts of a kind and wise Providence, and be made meet, by the lessons of dependance which they have learned, to soar, at last, with perfect safety, into the liberty of enjoyment of the sons of God above.
Oh, my brethren, do you not think that that generous Saviour, who is now withdrawn from the sight of his people, is looking forward with intense interest to that time when he can pour a full tide of bliss through his people's hearts, and they shall be
safe under the glorious pressure of that prosperity! The time is coming when his love may give full scope in the bliss it can communicate without endangering the safety of his people. It belongs to that higher world in which the body is glorified with the soul-in which no enmity can enter in which no snare can be spread-in which no interruption of duty can be felt it is in that world where the Spirit of GOD has consummated the work of redemption, and made "a people redeemed" to partake the very character and likeness of their GoD❘ and Saviour. Then it is that there is prosperity without danger, there is happiness without pride. Then will our blessed and generous master be seen in the midst of his church, spreading happiness around them, that they shall contemplate and enjoy, without one uneasy sensation, one alarm, one interruption of the perfect dependance of their souls upon the grace of the gospel, a free and full and everlasting salvation.
But, my brethren, there is another quality of our Saviour's love, connected with those I have mentioned, which is, the constancy of his love. "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Constancy is a property of our Saviour's love. We are familiar,in this world, with the term inconstancy; there is nothing lasting, nothing on which we can depend. Woe be to him who trusts on any broken reed of this world. There is no stability on anything here; it is rocking like the waves of ocean; but in GOD our Saviour's love there is a constancy and fixedness of purpose never to be unfixed. “Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end." There was much to harrass his mind in those objects of his love-much to throw a cloud over his countenance much perverseness-much irresolu
tion-much imperfection; but as he found the source of love within his own breast, as he had taken the full dimensions not only of human misery, but human ingratitude and depravity, he was prepared to love through all these obstacles-he was prepared to love to the end. The Scriptures portray the love of God, by referring to those images of strength and fixedness which nature furnishes. "The mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee."
Oh, my brethren, it is because there is constancy in Christ that the happiness of his people is secured. Could the mind of Christ waver aught, could inconstancy belong to Christ, where were human hopes? There were no anchorage for man's hopes then; but man must drift through a stormy sea and never know a harbour; he must perish in the profound abyss of misery. But the purpose of GoD in Christ standeth sure; the Lord knows them that are his, and in order that they may have strong consolation, in fleeing for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them, he hath confirmed that promise, that word, which was itself the anchor of the universe, in order to meet the infirmities of his people, though it needed no other declaration than "Thus saith the Lord;" yet in pity to the infirmity of man, who knows the sanctity of an oath, Jehovah himself vouchsafed such condescension as to guard that immutable word by an oath; and this was his direct design, that they might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to that hope, and that hope has proved now the anchor of the soul to escape. Oh, my brethren, the love of Christ is an eternal love! It is not like the
summer torrent from the mountains, which may run with violence and depth for a moment; but it is the settled current of the deep flowing river, yea, the unfathomable depths of the ocean! "Oh, that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments, then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."
My Christian friends, let those to whom Christ is precious-let those to whom the love of Christ is a theme of unspeakable joy, often remember the constancy of Christ; and let them contrast that constancy with their own inconstancy, and the oftener they make the contrast the more will their inconstancy be detected the more will their love become settled and firm the more will they cling to the promise of him whose promise purifies the heart and settles it on the basis of conscience. Oh, it is a sense of the love of Christ that nerves the mind for active obedience. It is when the purposes of GOD are not foreseen -it is when hazard and accident seem to mingle with our notions of Christianity it is then that the heart staggers, that the purpose is irresolute it is then that the hands hang down and the knees are feeble. But let the honest soul, to whom Christ is dear, preserve and cherish the perception that it is the design of GOD to give him eternal life and endless joy-that it is the design of GoD to make him like himself in holiness and to communicate all the properties that are communicable from God to his creature, man, through the union of the man Christ Jesus with his Godhead, oh, let this but be perceived-let a man but live in the atmosphere of GOD's love-let him spread out before him the varied promises of the Gospel, and his soul shall gather fresh courage, and his heart shall assume a nobler and a firmer attitude; he shall address
himself to God's work and his daily duties with a fixedness of design, and with a courage of expectation which shall enable him to burst through many shackle, which has, hitherto, kept him back in the ways of GOD; he shall be enabled to know the nature of that holy victory which the Spirit of GOD can effect for his soul on this side the grave. "Open thy mouth wide and GOD will fill it." You are not straightened in GOD your Saviour, you are only straightened in your character of GOD; " for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways higher than your ways, and his thoughts than your thoughts."
Now, I would address a few words to those who may be here assembled, and to whom the love of Christ has never yet been a theme that they have contemplated with real interest and delight. They come, perhaps, on the Sabbath day to the house of GOD, partly by curiosity, partly by habit, partly by a sense of shame, or partly by the goadings of conscience, but they have never yet taken their station at the foot of their Saviour's crossthey have never considered the nature of their relation to that Saviour—they have never contemplated their condition in this world, that they are sinners under the curse of GOD's broken law, and that if there be truth in God there must be misery for those who reject his authority and despise his goodness. Oh, if there be any such here present, I would, with earnestness, present to their minds this picture of the love of Christ; and I would ask, whether there is any object that they can fix their thoughts upon in this world's enjoyments that can compare with this enjoyment, to be the object of the Saviour's disinterested, holy, wise, and eternal love! Oh, my fellow sinners, what will be your condition if you draw nigh to death ignorant of this Saviour's love, with no heart to sym