I rejoice that the Lord has often refreshed your soul with that great word (Jer. 31:3), "Yes! I have loved you with an everlasting love! therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you."
These words were spoken by the Lord to His Church and people of old, are spoken by Him unto His people now, and unto all who shall be called by grace unto the end of time. And concerning them all, even all His chosen who have been, are, or shall be gathered in to Christ from the beginning of the world to the end of it, as a collective body, and unto every one of them individually, the Lord says, "Yes! I have loved you with an everlasting love! therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you." When the Lord (verse 2) had put His people in mind of the grace which they found in the wilderness, when, though chastised they were not utterly destroyed, as their sins had deserved—the Church, taken with that wonderful grace which was displayed in the wilderness in sparing and preserving such a God-provoking people, who deserved to have been cut off utterly, and not to have had the promise fulfilled gloriously in the land of Canaan, she begins, and says (verse 3), "The Lord has appeared of old unto me," that is, in the wilderness. "Oh," as if she should say, "what miracles of grace did the Lord work for me in the wilderness!"
Upon which the Lord speaks, and leads her to the origin, source, and fountain of grace in His own heart, from whence that glorious flow sprang through His hand which so greatly took her mind—"Yes," says the Lord, "you say truly, I did appear unto you of old gloriously—but behold, my love to you was older than that date! I have loved you with an everlasting love—with a love of eternity, that had its being in my heart towards you before time commenced—and therefore it was that I drew you thus with loving-kindness in the wilderness, and have drawn you likewise into the land of rest."
"Yes," says the Lord, "look forward also unto all that future bliss which I will cause you to possess—not for a day or a time only, but through all time—and unto all eternity. And behold it all secured for you, to flow down upon you in my heart-love to you—for I have loved you with an everlasting love—with a love that will last towards you through all the successive ages of time, and to a never-ending eternity. I have loved you, and therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you—I do love you, and I will love you, and with loving-kindness will I draw you. The infinite fountain, the immense ocean of My love, shall still flow down upon you in copious streams of loving-kindness, by which I will still allure you and draw you, until I have drawn you up to and into Myself, for a full enjoyment of infinite love unto bliss unknown and ages without end—unto the heights of glory—in and to a vast eternity!"
If God's love to His people was an everlasting love as it respects eternity past, it must needs be a free love, in that it was fixed upon His chosen in Christ before they had done good or evil—yes, even before in God's eternal mind they were beheld as having any goodness in them, for there could be no goodness in any creature but what God resolved to give it from Himself—the infinite ocean of goodness. And His resolving to bestow goodness, special goodness, or special grace, upon one creature and not another, was from His sovereign love to one creature—when He passed by, or did not so love another, according to the good pleasure of His will; not because God's people were better than others, did the Lord set His love upon them and choose them, but because the Lord loved them. He loved them because He would love them, because He would be gracious unto whom He would be gracious, and show mercy on whom He would show mercy.
Oh, how silent would all flesh be before infinite Sovereignty, and how should they adore sovereign free love that are the happy objects of it! And as God's love to His people was free, so it was also distinguishing—I have loved you, says the Lord—and not others—"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," though Esau was Jacob's brother. Oh, the distinguishing nature of God's everlasting love when He chose a remnant in His dear Son unto eternal life and glory with Him—and left the rest in a state of fallen creatureship—to enjoy a perfection of natural life for a short time only in Eden's bliss, in their first father Adam; when He appointed His chosen to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ as fore-viewed sinners, and appointed the rest unto wrath righteously for their sins.
Oh, who shall reply against the sovereign Lord of all? "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" And what manner of love is this, that resolved to display the riches of its glory upon thousands of people—an innumerable company though a determinate number—in raising them to eternal glory, when all were equally sunk in the fall of Adam, and by their own sins into the desert of death, in eternal misery? Sovereign love, indeed! And as great as it was sovereign—it was great love that God loved His chosen with, even when dead in sins. And how is its greatness displayed in the great gift of His Son to death for their life, and the gift of the Spirit to them for their quickening!
Again, as God's love is an everlasting love with respect to eternity to come—it appears in this to be an unchangeable love. What is eternal must, with respect to that infinite duration, be unchangeable. And through the whole unbounded space, from eternity through time and to eternity—God's love to His people is immutable according to its own infinity and undiminishable glory—from the immutability of His nature whose name is, I AM THAT I AM!—who is the Lord that changes not.
Oh, dear Sir, God's everlasting love is a free, sovereign, distinguishing, great, and unchangeable love!
It is an inseparable love. The happy objects of it can never, never be separated from it! Neither death nor life, heights nor depths, things present nor things to come, shall ever be able to separate those it fixed upon from the love of God! The love of God to His people is a bottomless, boundless, endless ocean, that swallows up their innumerable and mountainous sins in its infinite depths—that overflows all their great provocations, their vilest ingratitude, their utmost unworthiness—and that ever flows in its triumphant strength, and according to its infinite riches, to the full supply of all their necessities, until it has loved its beloved objects into its own image according to their creature-measure; until it has loved all sin out of them, and all grace into them; until it has freed from all death and misery, and raised them into itself as the element of their life; and then it will be to them, as vessels of mercy, an infinite ocean of joy and glory, where they shall live, and bathe, and dive to the praise of the glory of infinite love to the endless ages of a blessed eternity!
But oh, neither the tongues of men nor angels can express, much less the lispings of a babe set forth, the half—the thousandth part—of the infinite glories of God's everlasting love! Happy, thrice happy, for time and for eternity, are those blessed souls who are savingly interested in this everlasting love of God; who do and shall enjoy it to their ineffable and endless bliss, although a thousandth part of the glories of infinite love can never be expressed.
But who, O! who are those who are the OBJECTS of God's love—the darlings of God's heart, whom He has loved and will delight to love, and to love as God from henceforth and forever? They are all those who are enabled to believe in Jesus— who look, who come, who bow to Christ as the anointed Savior for their own salvation; who desire Christ above all things for their portion, and to give up themselves to the Lord, to be saved in Him with an everlasting salvation, to the praise of the glory of His grace forever. For this everlasting love of God, this free, distinguishing, great, unchangeable and inseparable love of God is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him it was fixed upon the happy objects of it, and in Him it is and shall be enjoyed by them. Not a single one, who is in Christ by faith, who runs in Him, the city of refuge, for its deliverance from the wrath to come—but is an object of God's love, but has an entire and eternal saving interest in God's everlasting love, and shall have the present and everlasting enjoyment thereof, to his present spiritual life in grace, and to his eternal life in glory.
And are you, brother, one of them that believe in Jesus? Are you one of those who desire Him above all things for your portion? Do you run into Christ for refuge from the wrath to come? And do you desire to be saved in the Lord to His present and eternal praise? It is you, you individually, who is an object of God's love. It is you as really as if He had loved none but you! It is you who has an entire and eternal interest in God's everlasting love! Would you give a thousand worlds if you had them, to be assured of your interest in God's unchangeable love? Are you thus athirst for that river, that fountain, that ocean of the water of life? Though you have not a thousand worlds, no, nor one mite of worthiness to give for the manifestation of God's love—Christ Jesus the Lord will give you of this fountain of the water of life freely. Oh, freely! though you may see yourself to be the most unworthy—though your sins and fears are innumerable—though you have done as evil things as you could against the Lord—and though you have dealt treacherously, and are bent to backsliding from Him daily—the Lord, your infinite Lover, will give you His love freely! He will satisfy your soul abundantly in this life with joy—and then—eternal glory! You who are athirst for the love of God, you shall not die for lack of it. No, brother, your soul is formed for love, and made thirsty in order to be filled, and with all the fullness of God, in love, shall you be delighted and eternally satisfied!
In love, then, to the God of love, doubt His love no more. Believe His love, and give up yourself to Him in love, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.