Owen - BX9315 O81

UNTO THE PERSON OF "CHRIST. 73 3. The church of mankind is the other part of the ra tional creation, whereon the image of God is renewed. Love unto the person of Christ proceeding from faith is their life, their joy, and glory. It was so unto the church under the Old Testament. The whole book of Canticles is designed to no other purpose, but variously to shadow forth, to insinuate and represent the mutual love of Christ and the church. Blessed is he who understands the sayings of that book, and bath the experience of them in his heart. The for- ty-fifth psalm, among others, is designedunto the same purpose. All the glorious descriptions which aregiven of his person in the residue of the prophets, were only meansto excite love unto him, and desires after 'him. Hence ishe called ens sn clon, Hag. ii. 7. The desire of all nations. He alone who is desirable unto, and the only beloved of the church, gathered out of all na- tions. l'he clear revelation of the person of Christ, so as to render him the direct object of our love, with the caus- es and reasons of it, is one of the most eminent privi- leges of the New Testament. And it is variously attest- ed in precepts, promises, instances, and solemn appro- bations. Wherever he supposeth or requireth this love in a- ny of his disciples, it is not only as their duty, as that which they were obliged unto by the precepts of the gos- pel, but as that, without which no other duty whatever is accepted by him. If, saith he, ye love me, keep my commandments, John xiv. 15. He so requires loveun- to himself, as not to expect or approve ofany obedience unto his commands without it. It is a great and blessed duty, to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ; yet will he not accept of it, unless it proceeds out of love unto his person: Simon son of Jonas, loves£ thou me, feed my lambs, John xxi. 15, 16, 17. Three times did he re- peat the same words to him, who had failed in his love towards him, by denying him thrice. Without this love Onto him, he requires of none to feed his sheep, :nor will accept ofwhat they pretend to do therein. It were a blessed thing, if a due apprehension hereof did always abide with them that are called unto that work. Hereunto doth he annex those blessed promises, which comprize the whole of our peace, safety, and consolation in thisworld. He (saith he) that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and T love, and no otherwise. It is not faith, but love that is the bond of this union between Christ and them; and herein no small part of their blessedness and glory in heaven doth consist. 2. That worship, adoration, service, and obedience which they yieldunto him, are all in like manner ani- mated with loveand delight. In love they cleave unto him, in love they worship and serve him. They had a command to worship himon his nativity, Heb.i. 6.; and they did it with joy, exultation, and praises, all effects'of love and delight, Luke ii. 13, 14. And as they con- tinue about the throne of God, they say with a loud voice, " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and hon- our, and glory, andblessing," ILev. v. 11, 12. Their continual ascription of gloryand praise unto him, is an effect of reverential love and delight. And from thence also is their concernment in hisgospel and grace, Eph. iii. 9, 10. 1 Pet. i. 12. Nor without this love in the high- est degree, can it be conceivedhow they should be bless- ed and happy in their continualemployment. For they areall ro ministering spirits sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation," Heb. i. 14. Were they not acted herein bytheir fervent love unto Christ, theycould have no delight in their own ministry. We have not, we cannot have in this world a full comprehension of the nature of angelical love. Our no- tions are but dark and uncertain in things whereof we can have no experience. Wherefore we cannot have here a clear intuition into the nature of the love ofspi- rits, whilst our own is mixed with what derives from the àctings of the animal spirits of our bodies also. But theblessedness of angels doth not consist in the endow- ments of theirnature, that they are great in power, light, knowledge, and wisdom. For, notwithstanding these things, many of thembecame devils. But the excellen- cy and blessedness of the angelical state consists in these two things. (1.) That they are disposed,'and able con- stantly, inseparably, universally,uninterruptedlytocleave unto God in love. And as they do so unto God, so they do unto the person of Christ, and through him as their head unto God, even the Father. (2.) Add hereunto that gracious reflex sense which they have of the glory, dignity, eternal sweetness and satisfaction which ariseth from hence, and we have the sum of angelical blessed- ness. 4