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in compliance with what we have heard, may not be altogether unfeafonable or unuseful.
Our business and duty is to fet forth the sufferings and death of our Lord Jefus Chrift, and therein principally to call to mind his love What you have heard may very well occafion us to think of that paffage of the apoftle, wherein he earnestly prays for them.
EPH. iii. 29.
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
THIS is a peculiar kind of expreffion; the meaning is, that we may know that experimentally, which we cannot know comprehenfively; that we know that in its power and effects, which we cannot comprehend in its nature and depths. A weary perfon may receive refreshment from a fpring, who cannot fathom the depths of the ocean from whence it doth proceed. And if we would have our hearts in this ordinance, and at other times, affected with the love of Chrift, which is the thing we are to aim at, (to know his love, and to experience the power of it), it is of great advantage to us to confider, that it is fuch a love as paffes knowledge, that our faith concerning it must issue in admiration, not comprehenfion.
I fhall name two or three things, that may give a little fense of this love as it paffes knowledge.
1. The love of Chrift is the fountain and fpring of all the glory that is in heaven, or shall be there unto all eternity. God's eternal glory is eternally the fame "from everlasting to everlasting thou art God;" but all the created glory that is in heaven, or ever fhall be there, fprings out of the love of Christ. It is true, the angels were not redeemed by him, but they were confirmed by him. They were not recovered out of a loft eftate by him, but they were continued in their firft eftate by him. Hence it is, that God "gathered all things in heaven and earth unto an head in him, "Eph. i. 10. And there is a great deal to the fame purpose in that expreffion of the apostle, when he had
mentioned "principalities and powers," Col. i. 7. "In him all things confift," they have their confiftence in him. All would diffolve and fall to nothing, if they had not their confiftence in Jefus Chrift. Certainly this is a love that paffes knowledge, that is the fountain and fpring of all the glory that is in heaven. If God help us by faith to look within the vail, and to take a view of all thofe glories wherewith the Holy God is encompaffed, we fhall fee that this love is the fountain and fpring of them; the interpofition of Chrift faved the creation, and brought in that everlasting glory that shall dwell in heaven. God knows this love, God underftands the way of it; but as to us it paffes knowledge.
Again, 2. This love of Chrift paffes the comprehenfion and knowledge of angels; and therefore Peter tells us, Pet i. 12. fpeaking of the fufferings of Chrift, and the glory that followed, "Which things, (fays he), the angels defire to bow down, and look into." The angels in heaven live in an admiration of the love of Chrift unto finners, that is, that love he expreffed in fuffering, and in the glory that did enfue. And O! what thoughts ought we to have of this love, who have all the benefits of it? The angels had no benefit by the fufferings of Chrift, but their benefit and advantage enfued on the affumption of the human nature to bring the creation into a confiftence, and his interpofition between God, and all his creatures. They admire and adore it. What ought fuch poor creatures as we are to do? It may well be faid to pafs our knowledge, for it paffes the knowledge of all the angels in heaven.
3. It paffes knowledge, in that the effects of it in Christ himself pafs all our knowledge and comprehenfion. To give but two inftances.
(1.) His condefcenfion to affume our human nature paffes all our comprehenfion. No man can fully underftand the mystery of the affumption of our nature into the perfonal fubfiftence of the Son of God. Some difpute, whether we shall understand the mystery of the incarnation in heaven; here we believe it. It is love which paffes knowledge, that the eternal Son of God fhould take our nature into perfonal union with himself; it is that we may admire and ought to admire; and God
help us, we are fuch poor earthly creatures, that we cannot admire it as we ought; though it be much in our nature to admire what we cannot comprehend.
(2.) We cannot fully understand his paffion and fufferings. God alone knows what is in the curfe of the law; we do not know it. God alone knows what is the true defert of fin; it cannot be fully understood by any but himself. They who undergo it, muft fuffer to eternity; there is no end; they never see, never know what fin deserved. How do we know then what Chrift fuffered, when the punishment due to our fin, when all our iniquities met upon him, with the curfe of the law? God only knows what is in these things; the fruits and effects of this love in himself, in his incarnation and paffion, are paft our knowledge, therefore the love itself furpaffes our knowledge.
4. Give me leave to fay, the very fruits of it in ourfelves do pals knowledge. No man that lives knows what there is in these three general heads of the fruits of Chrift's love, in juftification and pardon of fin, in the renovation and fanctification of our natures, and in the inhabitation and confolations of the Holy Spirit. No man living can find out these things to perfection. None of us fully underftands and comprehends what it is to be justified in the fight of God, to have fin pardoned, to have our natures renewed, and transformed into the likeness of God, and to have the Holy Ghost dwell in us. The love of Christ therefore paffes all knowledge, for the very fruits of it in ourselves are beyond what we can comprehend; there is a greatnefs in them we cannot reach unto. Why then, my brethren, let us labour to have our hearts affected with this love. If God would be pleased to give unto every one of us fome fenfe and impreffion of the greatness of this love of Christ, glance it into our hearts, beam it upon us in this ordinance, we fhould have cause to bless him all the days of our lives. The faith and light of it iffue in admiration; the light of glory will bring us to comprehenfion. Let us have fuch a fenfe as may caufe us to admire what we cannot now comprehend.
(1.) I could fpeak fomething, but I will not now, to the actings of faith in admiration; it being the proper
nature of faith to iffue itself in the admiration of that which is infinite. If we can get our fouls up to an holy admiration of this love, we have fome gracious fenfe of it upon our hearts, if we can go no farther.
(2.) Let us learn to run up all the mercies we are partakers of, whatsoever it be we value, to the proper fpring, "Who loved me, and gave himself for me." If we have any relief, or fupply, or refreshment of foul, in a sense of pardon of fin, in spiritual light or confolation, pray let us exercife ourselves to run up all these things to the fountain: it is all from the love of Chrift, that unspeakable love which paffes knowledge.
(3.) In this let us be afhamed, feeing the love of Chrift to us is fuch as paffes our knowledge, our love to him is fo weak, that fometimes we know not whether we have any or not. For this let us be greatly humbled. This is not the way to answer that love which paffes knowledge, to know not whether we love Chrift again or not. Let us be ashamed for our want of love, i And lafly, Let us abound in praife and thanksgiving for his love, and all the fruits of it.
For my part I do not know, whether that vifion in Rev. v. 9. does exprefs the rejoicing of the church above, or the duty of the church below; but both, I am fure, are of so near affinity, that apply it to which you will, you do not mifs it. And what do they there? why, it is faid," They fung a new fong, faying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the feals of it : for thou waft flain, and has redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation; and haft made us unto our God kings and priests," c. And it is faid again, And it is faid again, "Worthy is the Lamb that was flain, to receive power, and riches, and wifdom, and ftrength, and honour, and glory, and blef. fing;" and again he repeats it in ver. 13. 1 fay, I. know not whether this be a reprefentation of the rejoicing of the church above, or a repréfentation of the duty of the church below; but I can conclude from it, that the enjoyment of the one and the duty of the other, confifts greatly in continual giving praife and thankfgiving to Chrift, for his unfpeakable love in our redemption.
February 18. 1676.
E are met here to remember the death of Chrift in the way and by the means that he himself hath appointed; and in remembering the death of Chrift, we are principally to remember the love of Chrift, "who loved us, and washed us from our fins in his own blood ;" and that which on our part is required herein, is faith in Christ who died for us, and love to Chrift, who loved us fo, as to give himself an offering and a facrifice to God
1. That which I would now observe is this, (to make way for the ftirring up of our love) that the person of Chrift is the adequate complete object of the love of "God, and of the whole creation that bears the image of God, I mean, the church of God above, the angels and faints; and the church of God below in believers, which are the creation that has the image of God upon it.
The perfon of Chrift is the first complete object of the love of God the Father. A great part (if I may fo fpeak, and I must so speak) of the effential bieffedness of the holy Trinity, confifts in the mutual love of the Father and the Son, by the Holy Ghoft, which is the love of them both. *
That which I would now take notice of, I fay, as the foundation of all, is this, that the divine nature in the perfon of the Son, is the only full, refting complete object of the love of God the Father. I will give you a place or two of fcripture for it, and fo go on to another inftance. Prov. viii. 30. "Then (faith he, that is, from everlafling,) I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him,” that is, as the fpecial object of his love; as among you men one that is brought up with you, as your child is. The delight of the Father from all eternity was in the Son. The ineffable love and mutual delight of the Father and