Owen - BX9315 O81

MOTIVES UNTO THE LOVE OF CHRIST. 85 singular benefit of them ourselves. But not the least of any of these things were found in them on whom he set his love, until they were wrought in them, as effects of that love which he set upon them. Men sometimes may rise up into such an high degree and instance in love, as that they will even she for one another; but then it must be on a superlative esteem which they have of their worth and merit. It may be, saith the apostle, treating of the love of Christ, and of God in him, " that for a good man even one would dare to die," Rom. v. 7. It must be for a good man, one who is justly esteemed commune bonum, a public good to mankind; one whose benignity is ready to ex- ercise loving-kindness onall occasions, which is the e- state of a good man; peradventure some would even dare to die for such a man. This is the height of what love among men can arise unto; and if it bath been instanced in any, it hath been accompanied with an openmixture of vain glory, and desireof renown. But the Lord Christ has placed his love on us, that love from whence he died for us, when we were sinners and ungodly; that is, every thing which might render us unamiable and undeserving. Though we were as de- formed as sin could render us, and more deeply indebt- ed than the whole creation could pay or answer, yet did he fix his love uponus, to free us from that condi- tion, and to render us meet for the most intimate so- ciety with himself. Never was there love which had such effects, which cost him so dear in whom it was, and proved so advantageous unto them on whom it was placed. In the pursuit of it, he underwent every thing that is evil in his own person, andwe receive every thing that is good in the favour of God, and eternal bless- edness. On the account of these things, the apostle ascribeth aconstraining power unto the love of Christ, 2 Cor. v. 14. And if it constraineth us unto any return unto him, it cloth so unto that of love in the first place. For no suitable return can be made for love but love, at least not without it. As love cannot be purchased, for " if a man would give all the substanceof his house for love, it would utterly be contemned," Cant. viii. 7.; so if a Oman would give all the world for a requital of love, 5 without love it would be despised. To fancy that all the love of Christ unto us, consists in the precepts and promises of the gospel, and all our love unto him, in the observance of his commands, without a real love in him unto our persons, like that of a husband unto a wife, Eph. V. 25, 26. or an holy affection in our hearts and minds unto his person, is to overthrow the whole power of religion, to despoil it of its.life and soul, leav- ing nothing but the carcase of it. This love unto Christ, and unto God in him, because of his love unto us, is the principal instanceof divine love, the touchstone of its reality and sincerity. What- ever men may boast of their affectionate endearments unto the divine goodness, if it be not founded in a sense of this love of Christ, and the love of God in him, they are but empty notions they flourish withal, and their deceived hearts feed upon ashes. It is in Christ alone that God is declared to be love, without an apprehension whereof, none can love him as they ought. In him alone, that infinite goodness which is the peculiar object of divine love, is truly represented unto us, without any such deceiving phantasms, as the workings of fancy, or depravationof reason may im.. pose upon us. And on him cloth the saving communi- cation of all the effects of it depend. And an infinite condescension is it in the holy God, so to express his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, or topropose himself as the object ofour love in and through him. For con- sidering our weakness, as to an immediate comprehen- sion of the infinite excellencies of the divine nature, or to bear the rays of his resplendent glory, seeing none can see his face and live, it is the most adorable effect of divine wisdom andgrace, that we are admitted unto the contemplation of them, in the personof Jesus Christ. There is yet farther evidence to be given unto this love unto the person of Christ, from all those blessed effects of it which are declared in the scripture, and whereof believers have the experience in themselves. But something I have spoken concerning them former- lyin my discourse about Communion with God, and the nature of thepresent designwill not admit of enlarge- ment upon them. Y