THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST
by Octavius Winslow

The Emotion of Love in Christ

    And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephes. 3:19

    and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephes. 3:19

    May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephes. 3:19

The mind has often been sensible of a feeling of awe as we have stood upon the shore, and gazed upon the vast expanse of the ocean. With a similar, yet far transcending emotion, we approach the subject which is now to engage our thoughts- the infinite ocean of Christ's love. Of all the sympathetic emotions of our Lord's humanity, the emotion of Love must be regarded as the parent source. We would have known nothing of Christ, or of His redemption, but for love. The stupendous fact that Christ loves us- loves man, sinful man- admits us to the secret of all that He has done, and is still doing, for man. There is no other solution to the marvellous mysteries of His Incarnation and Sacrificial Death but this- Christ has loved us. Love originated all, explains all, illustrates all- love is the interpreter of every Divine mystery. There is not a circumstance of our Lord's history which is not another form or manifestation of love. His incarnation, is love stooping; His sympathy, is love weeping; His compassion, is love succouring; His grace, is love acting; His teaching, is the voice of love; His silence, is the repose of love; His patience, is the restraint of love; His obedience, is the labor of love; His suffering, is the travail of love; His cross, is the altar of love; His death is the burned offering of love; His resurrection, is the triumph of love; His ascension into heaven, and His sitting down at the right hand of God, is the enthronement and the intercession of love. Such is the deep, the vast, the boundless ocean upon which our thoughts are now about to launch. The soul muses in silent awe as it gazes upon this fathomless, limitless sea. Like the eternity of God, we cannot fathom where His love begins, or where it terminates. It has neither beginning nor ending. Like the peace of God, "it passes all understanding;" like itself, "it passes all knowledge." And yet there exists not an emotion of Christ of which the saints of God have a more truly blessed experience. Christianity is the experience, as it is the embodiment, of love. A religion destitute of the love of God in the heart is a vain religion. A religion without love, is a religion without soul, without life. All real, vital, saving religion resolves itself into love- love to God in Christ, and love to man. Your religion, beloved, may be lacking in some of the more visible attributes of profound knowledge, brilliant gifts, costly offerings; yet, is there in that heart of yours the deep, silent, gentle, throbbing of a true and sincere love to Christ? Then your religion is real. You have no eloquence, perhaps, to speak for Christ, and you have no power to labor for Christ; but you have love enough to suffer for Christ, yes, if need be, to die for Christ. Enough! "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you." "Enough, my disciple," says your Lord; "go and feed my lambs." Lord! I go; Your love constrains me to the lowliest service in Your Church!
Let us now descend from the shore and dip our line of faith into the depths, and endeavor to "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of this infinite ocean of love which has flowed down to us from God through Christ- an ocean which has its shallows for the babe, and its depths for the mature man in Christ Jesus.
The love of Christ is a divine emotion. Were it the most exquisite, profound, and pure that could possibly find a home in the human heart, and yet were created, it would still be but a finite affection: and a mere finite love could not have met the requirements of God's moral government, by the perfect satisfaction and honoring of which sinful man is saved. Why is it a love that passes knowledge? Why cannot the deep line sound it- the swift wing reach it- the eagle eye pierce it- the eloquent tongue describe it? Why are there depths and heights, lengths and breadths, which distance all thought, imagination, and measurement? Because it is the love of deity. The love of Christ is the love of God. We employ no rhetorical exaggeration, we speak not in hyperbole, but the words of truth and soberness; when we declare, on the authority of revealed truth, Christ to be the eternal and essential Son of God- "God over all, blessed for evermore." Listen to the argument. "God has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son- the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person." "Unto the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." All the names, attributes, and works predicated of Deity are ascribed to Him, which, were He not God, essential, absolute God, would be the most vicious blasphemy. Hear the voice of prophecy: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Do we speak of Creation? "By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him." Do we speak of Providence? "By Him all things are held together." Do we speak of Universal Dominion? "He is Lord of all." Do we claim for the Scriptures of truth Divine Inspiration? "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." "Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures." Do we speak of Omniscience? "All the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts." Do we speak of Omnipotence? "Christ, the power of God." Do we speak of Omnipresence? "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Do we speak of Immutability? "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Is it the office and power of Judge? "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ." Is He to be loved with a love belonging only to Deity? "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema!" But enough! It is not the accumulation of Scripture proof woven around a doctrine that establishes its truth. One text of Scripture, or single declaration of God's Word taken in its connection, simple in its meaning, grammatical in its construction, and correct in its rendering, should be sufficient to command our unquestioning faith, win our deepest affection and purest homage, when so essential and vital a doctrine as the Deity of Christ is taught us in the Bible. Such should be our full belief in, and profound reverence for the revealed Word of God.
In addition to the direct and positive evidence, there are collateral proofs of the Deity of Christ equally as strong and conclusive. Our Lord is beautifully styled "the radiance of the Father's glory." Could this be affirmed of a mere creature? Light flows from the sun. The ray that trembles in the eastern sky at day-dawn, and the light that glows in noontide effulgence, equally emanate from the majestic orb, and alike partake of its nature and reflect its beauty. Were it possible to exhaust the sun of its light, you would not merely exterminate the light, but you would inevitably destroy the source of light- the sun itself. We cannot separate Christ from the essence of the Godhead without destroying the Godhead. To destroy the Deity of Christ, we must first destroy Deity itself. Denial of the Divinity of the Son, is a denial of the Divinity of the Father. "He is an antichrist, that denies the father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father." Prostrate yourself, my soul, before this great mystery of Godliness, "God manifest in the flesh." Angels study it- seraphim and cherubim adore it- the spirits of just men made perfect magnify it-  O my soul, believe it, rest in it, entwine it with every fibre of your heart, blend it with your sweetest song, for your Savior is divine, your Redeemer is God! Nothing short of a divine love could or would have borne our sins, and the punishment of our sins. The weight of the one and the terribleness of the other would have crushed and annihilated a mere created affection. There existed no love but the love of Deity equal to the work of salvation. Who was willing, who was able, to bear that heavy load, to endure that overwhelming curse, but the eternal Son of the Father? Oh, think, beloved reader, what the love of Christ has done and suffered- the burden it bore, the sorrow it felt, the humiliation it underwent, the insults, ignominy, and privation through which it traveled; its groans, its sighs, its tears, its darkness- how inconceivably it agonized, how freely it bled, how voluntarily it died- think of the sins it has pardoned, the guilt it has cleansed, the declensions it has restored, the backslidings it has healed, the sorrows it has soothed, the patience it has exercised, the gentleness it has exhibited, and then ask, could any other but a divine affection have done all this and endured all this? Yet all this was exhibited in the love of Christ which passes knowledge. Love less divine, less strong, less gentle, could never have won Your heart, uprooted your enmity, tore you from your idols, enthroning Christ-  all of Christ, Christ only, Christ supremely, Christ forever!
"Love divine Constrains me: I am yours. Incarnate love Has seized me, and holds me in Almighty arms. Here's my salvation, my eternal hope- Amidst the wreck of worlds and dying nature, I am the Lord's, and He forever mine."
It follows from this statement that the love of Christ is eternal. There is no reasoning, no philosophy so correct as that of God's Word. Did men- theologians- employ the same rules of interpretation, or the same process of reasoning in the study of the Bible that they do in their scientific researches and inquiries, there would be less false doctrine, crude, blind, erroneous teaching in the pulpit and from the press. Why should the doctrine of Christ's eternal, electing love be thought a thins incredible? Admit His Deity, and you acknowledge His eternity. Acknowledge His eternity, and you must accept the truth of His everlasting love.
We have proved from Scripture His Deity, and, of necessity, His eternity; and yet there is so direct a declaration of this doctrine in the book of Proverbs we would place it before the reader. "The Lord formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else. I was appointed in ages past, at the very first, before the earth began. I was born before the oceans were created, before the springs bubbled forth their waters. Before the mountains and the hills were formed, I was born— before he had made the earth and fields and the first handfuls of soil. I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established the deep fountains of the earth. I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth's foundations, I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with what he created—his wide world and all the human family!" Proverbs 8:22-31. Of what could this be predicated but of a Person, and of whom but of the Eternal Son of God, even Him who is the "wisdom of God," the hidden wisdom? Such is the antiquity of the love of Christ! And what a glorious and precious truth is it to the spiritually taught soul; sweeter than the honey in the honey-comb to those who have tasted the bitterness of sin, and have felt the plague of their own heart "I have loved you with an everlasting love," is the Divine declaration which places the antiquity of Christ's love beyond a doubt. Christ is the Covenant Head of His people, the "Head over all things to the Church." In Christ we are chosen, through Christ the covenant is made with us by the Father- in Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings- in Christ we are called- and in Christ we are pardoned, justified, sanctified, and glorified. Every blessing that appertains to our salvation from first to last is interwoven with Christ- in His hand, and through His relation to the Father and to us. Well may the apostle give utterance to that ma;nificent doxology "
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." Ephes. 1:3-8. Such is the eternal ocean from where flows this river, these rivulets and springs, which, bearing on their bosom innumerable blessings of grace, glide through the Church of God, Christ's garden- clothing it with living verdure, enriching it with divine fruit, adorning it with unfading bloom, and breathing over it the fragrance of a "field which the Lord has, blest." The everlasting love of Christ! Divine source of my eternal redemption! Spring-head of my sweet refreshment in this weary land where no water is! Pledge and earnest of all which my faith believes, which my hope expects, and for which my panting Spirit longs, enthrone yourself upon my heart, and under your gentle, yet all-commanding, all-constraining power may my consecrated being, my surrendered life evince, "How much I owe, how much I love!"
The love of Christ is condescending. We measure an act of condescension by the position, rank, or power of the individual from whom it emanates. Forming our view of Christ's love upon this principle- sounding its depth and testing its greatness and intensity by this criterion, even our profoundest conception of the self-abasement and humiliation to which it descended will be at an infinite remove from the reality. The stoop of the Son of God to our humanity- the Incarnation of Deity- was an event so unheard of, a fact so stupendous, marvellous, and transcendent, that it stands in the history of the universe like an orb in its own solitary, unapproachable grandeur, and will be the wonder, the study, and the song of all pure, holy intelligences through eternity. Such was the love of Christ! It drew Him from heaven, brought Him down to earth, to live and labor, suffer and die, robed in the humanity which He stooped so low to save. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:14-17. Not only- as if this did not suffice to demonstrate the lowliness of His love- did He consent to wear our nature, but He linked Himself in that nature with lowliness and poverty, with obscurity and privation, with toil, weariness, and need! In addition to this, He was spit upon, scourged, reviled, maligned, denied; was the "rich man's scorn, the poor man's ridicule;" bowed His dear, devoted head meekly, uncomplainingly to the storms of human insult, contempt, and derision which broke over Him. Oh! was ever love like unto this? And such, beloved, is still the condescension of Christ's love! Having stooped so low, it would seem as if there were no deeper depths to which it could not sink. Ah! perhaps, in your personal history there are circumstances of woe, of scorn, of humiliation, from which you imagine the Son of God must shrink- an abyss which He cannot fathom- physical and mental prostrations with which He has no sympathy, or to alleviate which He has no power. But judge Him not thus. His thoughts are not your thoughts. The love of Christ is prepared to entwine itself with every event and circumstance of your being and history. Having taken into union with His divinity your nature, all prostrate, and bruised, and crushed beneath the curse, do you think that there can be a position in which your fallen humanity is placed beyond the pale of His compassion, or the reach of His arm? Ah, no! Love made God willing to unite Himself with man; and love made the God-man willing to unite Himself with all the lowliness, degradation, and suffering of the human. And the same love of Christ that stooped to all this is prepared to descend with you into He valley of poverty, to enter with your trembling spirit into the cloud of adversity, to divide with you the cup of sorrow, to cheer your exile, and share the ignominy, insult, and neglect to which you may be exposed. Will Incarnate Love, which once stooped to wash the disciples' feet, shrink from any office or service with which your happiness, honor, or well-being is entwined? "Lord! You shall never wash my feet," says your resisting spirit. "Allow it to be so now," replies your condescending Lord. I am that friend that loves at all times, a Brother born for adversity. Having stooped to the vesture of your nature, do you think that I have not love, and grace, and lowliness enough to sink with that nature to its lowest condition of necessity and woe? Though others, recoiling from your position, deaf to your entreaty, and ashamed of your bruise, may pass you by on the other side, I am prepared to identify myself with your case, to rouse your sinking pulse with the wine of my love, to heal your wound with the soothing on of my compassionate sympathy; and, amid the strife and clamor of tongues, to spread around you the invincible shield of my power. Truly may we say, "For he will conceal me in his pavilion when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high, above my enemies who surround me." Psalm 27:5-6. It is the pavilion of love.
Labor is another characteristic of the love of Christ. The apostles speak of the saints' "labor of love," or loving labor. In a sense infinitely transcending this do we speak of Christ's labor of love. His first, His chief labor was not in sharing the sorrows, bearing the infirmities, or in healing the sicknesses of our humanity, but it was in the perfect obedience to the precepts of the law which His holy, fervent, toilsome life rendered. This was His highest, holiest, divinest labor of love. "If by the disobedience of one many were made sinners, by the obedience of one many are made righteous." He found His own law broken, desecrated, dishonored. He consented to be made under the law, that He might redeem those who were under the law. He could only be held responsible by the law for obedience, as He placed Himself under its power, precept, and authority. He, the Lawgiver, and the Administrator of the law, consented thus to humble Himself. There was but one Being in the universe who could magnify that law and make it honorable by a full recognition of its authority, and a perfect deference to its just and holy requirements- it was God's co-equal and eternal Son. His Godhead gave dignity, His sinlessness imparted perfection, His love clothed with voluntariness the obedience and honor which He rendered to God's moral government, from which man had plucked the diadem of glory, trailing and trampling it in the dust. And now, this obedience, thus deriving its sanction, perfection, and acceptance from the dignity and sinlessness of His nature, is the "righteousness of God," finished and imparted, which justifies the believing sinner, and which exalts and glorifies the accepted saint. "He has made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance, and in Your righteousness shall they be exalted." The life of our Lord was one continuous, unswerving, unbroken act of homage and obedience to His Father's law. He alone of all others could my, "My food and any drink is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work." The two objects He had in view in this labor of love were- the offering of such an obedience as would constitute our perfect righteousness, and thus secure our perfect and free justification; and the second was the honoring and magnifying of the law in its divine authority and holiness, thus winning back to the Father the glory He had lost by the violation of that law. With these objects before Him, and impelled onward by the irresistible force of His own love, He faltered not, swerved not, deviated not an hair's-breadth from His sublime and holy purpose. His was the true battle of life. The world sought to allure, men sought to entrap, Satan sought to tempt Him; but He passed through the fiery ordeal untouched and unscathed- observing every requirement, and keeping every precept. To what shall we ascribe this unswerving, unfaltering obedience, this pure and perfect compliance with the law's stern and righteous demands, but to His divine dignity and perfect sinlessness? And all this was the labor of love! Well knowing that the salvation of His Church was based upon the law's fulfilment, and that that salvation was confided to His hand, it was His food and His drink to entwine with every word, and thought, and deed the perfect doing of the will of God with His everlasting love to His saints- zeal for God's glory with fidelity for His people's cause. Behold the groundwork of our full justification!- justified on the basis of a repaired, restored, honored law- a law upon which, divine and glorious though it was, the obedience of the Son of God shed a new and ineffable luster. "He has magnified the law, and made it honorable." Behold the ground and channel of peace with God!- peace through faith in a righteousness which renders it illustrious in God to justify the sinner. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Is this not true, assured, and perfect peace? To know that the indictment against us is quashed, the sentence is cancelled, the condemnation is removed, and that we are reinstated in a Paradise, forfeited, but restored; lost, but regained- a Paradise amid whose sylvan bowers no tempter lurks, upon whose sunny banks no shadow reposes, whose vernal bloom no curse blights, whose perfumed air no sin taints; into which nor sickness, nor suffering, nor death, nor parting ever enter; where is neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall be any more pain- surely, "the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever."
We return to the statement that all this is ours through the obedience of the "Lord our Righteousness." Heaven, the coming paradise of the saints, is won by no creature-merit. Not a grain of human worthiness mingles with the merit that justified the sinner before God. Not a filament of creature-obedience is woven into the wedding robe that will give us a place at the "marriage supper of the Lamb"- all, all must be the worthiness, the merit, the obedience of God in our nature. Gracious soul! brought to the end of all your own duties, doings, and sacrifices- seeing all to be but as dross and chaff, no, more, but so much gilded, 'splendid sin'- bowed down to the earth beneath your load of guilt- shut up to the condemnation of the law, with not a ray of hope, trembling upon the thunder-cloud of divine wrath which enshrouds you- oh, look up! in the Lord you have righteousness and strength. The Eternal Spirit is now graciously and effectually teaching you this glorious, precious truth in the school of your own utter emptiness, vileness, and poverty. Do not be, therefore, hopeless and despairing. In Christ Jesus there is pardon, acceptance, grace, sanctification, salvation for the vilest, the most hell-deserving penitent that earth ever saw, or that heaven ever received. Oh, what a glorious gospel is ours! What a marvellous truth is this which it reveals- a justifying righteousness divinely provided, freely given, believingly received, which exchanges our filthy rags for a spotless robe, our condemnation for hope, our hell for heaven, an eternity of woe for an eternity of bliss! What divine peace should this truth impart, what fervent love should it inspire, what holy, unreserved surrender should it induce! How precious to our hearts should be this gracious Savior, how welcome His yoke, how delightsome His service, how pleasant and sweet His cross. And, oh! how will the challenge, bursting from countless tongues, awaken the deep, undying echoes of eternity- "Who is he that condemns? it is God that justifies!"
"And lest the shadow of a spot
Should on my soul be found,
He took the robe the Savior wrought
And cast it all around."
The reception of Christ's obedience as our justification by faith, is a kindred and equally essential and precious truth. Oh, it is a wondrous fact that God has made our salvation entirely independent of ourselves, in making it to rest upon our believing, and not our doing! "It is of faith, that it might be by grace." By grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." It is not our penitence, nor our love, nor our knowledge that looks to the cross and lives- it is our faith. It was not the hand, nor the foot, nor the tongue, nor the ear which availed to the poor bitten Israelite, stung with the fiery flying serpent- it was the eye. He traveled not, He spoke not, He handled not, but simply raised himself, or, perchance too feeble, was uplifted in the arms of another, and rested his eye upon the serpent of brass, looked, and was healed! How much more facile an effort was this! It was easier, more simple, and effectual to look, than to perform a tedious task with the hands, or to utter long sentences with the tongue, or to take a wearisome pilgrimage with the feet. Thus single and easy is the divine instrument God has appointed for your salvation! Faith beholds the Lamb of God; faith looks upon Him whom our sins have pierced; faith sees Jesus, and the simple "looking unto Jesus" crucified heals the wounded conscience, unbinds our burden of guilt, and the Sun of Righteousness arises in the soul with healing in His wings. But while thus we insist upon faith as the instrument of your justification, and consequent peace with God, as earnestly would we remind you that faith is but an instrument. It is not the object that is to engage your thought, awaken your interest, or arrest and fix your gaze. That object is Christ, and Christ alone! And now we would have you for a moment forget all that we have said upon faith, and think of Jesus, and of Jesus only. It was not the eye that healed the bitten Israelite- it was the eye in contact with its distant, and, perhaps, dim and obscure object, reposing upon which, in obedience to the Divine command, instantaneous life was the consequence. Suppose the dying man had argued, "I cannot see by reason of my wound. The shadow of death is upon me. The film of death is on my eyes- darkness dims my sight, and I cannot see." Still, the command was- "Look to the uplifted serpent;" and, looking, the dying lived! No objection lay against the feebleness and dimness of the sight. His refusal to raise and open that eye, dim and dizzy though it was, and rest it upon the pole, was death. Oh, I beseech you, deal less with faith, and more with Christ, the object of faith. Your weak faith, your little faith, your obscure faith, your tried faith, your sinking faith, is no reason why you should not look to, cleave to, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, knowing of a truth that your sins are forgiven, and that your person is accepted in the Beloved. One believing 'blink on Christ', as the holy Rutherford expresses it, and you are saved. Or, to quote the lively picture of faith presented by another worthy, one of the early Reformers of Scotland (John Welsh)- "It is not the quantity of faith that shall save you. A drop of water is as true water as the whole ocean. So a little faith is as true faith as the greatest. A child eight days old is as really a person, as one of sixty years; a spark of fire is as true fire as a great flame; a sickly man is as truly living as a well man. So it is not the measure of your faith that saves you; it is the blood that it grips to, that saves you. As the weak hand of a child that leads the spoon to the mouth will feed as well as the strongest arm of a man- for it is not the hand that feeds you, albeit it puts the food into your mouth, but it is the food carried into the stomach that feeds you- so if you can grip Christ ever so weakly, He will not let you perish. All that looked to the brazen serpent, be they ever so far off- they were healed of the sting of the fiery serpent; yet all saw not alike clearly, for some were near at hand, and some were far off. Those that were near at hand might see more clearly than those that were far off; nevertheless, those that were far off were as soon healed of the sting when they looked to the serpent as those that were near at hand; for it was not their look that made them whole, but He whom the serpent did represent. So if you can look to Christ ever so dimly, He can take away the sting of your conscience if you believe. The weakest hand can take a gift as well as the strongest. Now Christ is the gift, and weak faith may grip Him as well as strong faith; and Christ is as truly yours when you have weak faith, as when you have come to these triumphant joys through the strength of faith."
The same reasoning will conduct us to a like conclusion respecting faith's dealing with the promises of God. If our faith can lay hold of but one divine promise of the gospel, then all the promises are ours. It is not our faith that gives us a warrant to receive the promise, or upon which the efficacy of the promise depends; it is the word, power, and faithfulness of the Divine Promiser. If, then, beloved reader, your faith can rest in any one of these promises, "Him that comes unto me I will in no wise cast out;" "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; " "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will answer you and deliver you;"- then you may put in your claim to every precious promise in the Bible, and say, "It is mine." "The promises can be no more divided than Christ can be divided, or than heaven can be divided; the promises are not like loose pearls, but as pearls made into one entire chain. He that can lay his hand upon that promise in Matt. v. 6, 'Blessed are they who do thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled,' and truly say, This promise is mine, may safely lay his hand upon that promise, ver. 8, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,' and say, This promise is mine; and the same He may say of the rest of the precious promises of that chapter. He that can lay his hand upon any one promise that God has made for those who love Him, and truly say, This promise is mine, may safely lay his hand upon every promise that God has made to those who love him, and say, These are mine. He that can lay his hand upon any one promise that God has made to those who fear Him, and truly say, This promise is mine, may assuredly lay his hand upon every promise that God has made to those who fear Him, and say, These are all mine. He that can lay his hand upon any one promise that God has made to faith in Christ, to believing in Christ, and truly say, This promise is mine, may safely lay his hand upon every promise that God has made to faith in Christ, to believing in Christ, and say, All these promises are mine. He that can lay his hand upon any one promise that God has made to the returning sinner, and truly say, This promise is mine, may securely lay his hand upon every promise that God has made to the returning sinner, and say, All these are mine. He that can lay his hand upon any one promise that God has made to the waiting soul, and truly say, This promise is mine, may without peradventure lay his hand upon every promise that God has made to the waiting soul, and say, All these are mine. Prove but your right in one, and you may safely infer your right to all." (Brookes)
But Christ's love possesses yet another and more touching feature, one that has never failed to dissolve and win the heart wherever it has effected a believing entrance, and will be as potent to the end of time- the suffering, dying love of Jesus. It traveled its wearisome, law-fulfilling path until it confronted the cross. Could it pass the instrument of torture and of death? Must it be crucified, bleed, and die? Ah, yes! what significance, unmeant by His enemies, in the taunt which they cast at His dying agonies, "He saved others, Himself He cannot save!" Yes; He saved others, and He could have saved Himself. It was voluntary on His part to die, or not to die. As easily could He have descended from the cross as He ascended from the grave. But the same love to poor sinners which emancipated Him from the one, kept Him impaled upon the other. Love could not regard its mission accomplished, its purpose fulfilled, until it had sacrificed itself; it must be baptized in suffering; be clothed in a vesture dipped in blood- its own blood. And why this suffering, sacrifice, and death? The answer shall be in the words of the Holy Spirit: "Christ has loved us, and has given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor." We can find no proper solution to the mystery of Christ's sufferings and death but that supplied by this fact, that He died as a sacrifice for our sins, to offer an atonement to the justice of God for our transgressions. "An offering and a sacrifice"- a sin-offering, an expiatory sacrifice, a justice-satisfying oblation. How sacred and precious are the sufferings of His love, viewed in this light! What love they inspire, what joy they create, what comfort they impart, what hope they shed upon the dark, the solemn future! Christ has died, thereby condemning sin in the flesh. Christ has died, thereby freeing us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Christ has died, thereby washing out and effacing all our guilt- His own most precious blood cleansing us from all sin. Christ has died, therefore the believing sinner that accepts that death as his one and only sacrifice, his sole and complete salvation, shall never die. Such is the love of Christ! Was it ever equaled? Where shall we find its parallel? To have accepted the mission of our salvation upon such terms- a stoop so low, a humiliation so profound, a labor so immense, mental anguish so acute, bodily suffering so agonizing, a death so ignominious- was ever love like this? There was nothing coercive or compulsory, ignorant or blind, in the marvellous step. Christ well understood the work He was to accomplish, and had counted well the price He was to pay. He knew the nature of the burden He was to bear, the ingredients of the cup He was to drink, the terribleness of the death He was to die. Never was love so intelligent and far-seeing as His. The grim, dread instrument of torture and of death was vivid to His mind; and yet He was willing to endure it all. Two wills consented to the issue- the will of the Divine, and the will of the human nature of our Lord. And although, like streams from opposite sources, these two wills met, they yet met in perfect harmony and conjunction, forming one confluent tide of love, which bore Him onward upon its bosom, until He reached the cross, and expired. Blessed Jesus! Your love, like Your agonies, is an unknown and unfathomable depth- it passes knowledge. Let it rise and expand before me, until it fill the entire scope of my soul's vision, occupy every niche of my heart, and bear me onward by its all- commanding, all- constraining influence in the path of a holy loving obedience and surrender.
But there are some CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST which bring it more home to our bosoms, FORMING A PERFECT AND HOLY MODEL FOR OUR IMITATION.
The believing mind delights to dwell upon the filial element of our Lord's love. Both the Divine and natural Sonship of Christ are mysteries; and yet the mind accepts, and faith believes them. As the Son of God and the Son of man, His love was the most perfectly filial that ever existed. His love to God the Father was the affection of a reverential, obedient son. He could say, "I do always those things which please Him." It was this filial love which made Him willing to uphold the honor of His Father's name, the glory of His Father's government, at the costly expense of the sacrifice of Himself. "Know you not that I must be about my fathers business?" Then glance at His filial love to His earthly parents. It is said that, "He was subject into them,"that is, He reverenced their parental authority, manifested towards them all dutiful respect, yielded an unquestioning and cheerful obedience to their wishes and commands, lived with them, labored for them, and clung to them until He reached the period of manhood. Nor did His filial love terminate here. He bore it with Him to the death- breathed it in touching expressions from the cross. In that hour of woe, when the throes and throbs of agony were upon Him, and His soul was travailing in sorrow beneath the weight of His people's sins and the inflictions of Divine wrath, He beheld His mother! Forgetful of Himself, He thought only of her; and bending upon her a look of filial affection, He commended her to the care of the disciple whom He loved, who from that hour adopted her as his own. How holy and touching this example of filial love! What an illustrious and impressive enforcement of the Divine precept- "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother." Would you be Christ-like? Then cherish the deepest affection for your parents, the profoundest reverence for their authority, and regard for their wishes. And when bereavement and sorrow, age and infirmity, poverty and sickness overtake them, cherish them as the most costly and precious of earth's treasures. Rock the cradle of their old age as gently and watchfully as they rocked yours in infancy, through the silent vigils of many sleepless, weary hours by day and by night.
The love of Christ is also fraternal. It is the love of a brother. He calls us brethren, and Himself our Elder Brother. Listen to His words "whoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother;" " Go to any brethren." And oh, what a tender, loving, faithful Brother is He! Truly and emphatically is He a "Brother born for adversity." Oh, never forget that the love of Christ to you is the love of- Joseph! Go to Him in need, go to Him in difficulty, go to Him in sorrow- take to Him the empty vessel; and, though to test your sincerity, to try your faith, to prove your love, and make His own all the more precious and resplendent, He may speak roughly to you in His dealings, yet a Joseph's heart, a Brother's love beats deeply and warmly beneath it all; and, before long, He will throw off the disguise, and exclaim, in tones of melting tenderness, "I am Christ your brother."
Let your love to the brethren assimilate to this fraternal love of Christ Jesus. Love them because they are brethren in Christ Jesus, irrespective of national, ecclesiastical, or social distinctions. Love them for the Father's sake- love them for the Elder Brother's sake- love them for their own sake; not because their creed chimes with yours, or that you kneel at the same altar with them in the outward rites of worship, but because they are Christ's brethren, and your brethren in Christ Jesus. Act towards them the part of a loving, sympathizing, helping brother, and so you will please and resemble Him who, when He acknowledges it at the last day, will say, "Inasmuch as you have done it Unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."
The love of Christ is the love of a Friend. How touchingly and pointedly did He delight to speak of this: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; . . . . but I have called you friends." God has created in the human heart the desire for friendship. The sunflower turns not more instinctively to its orb, drinking in the golden beams of light and warmth, and returning its grateful smile, than turns the human heart to the friend it loves. The religion of Jesus is not indifferent to any noble sentiment of our humanity, but teaches us to cultivate that sentiment to its highest degree of development, and of consecration to God. Thus, so far from ignoring or trampling upon the fine sensibilities and affections of our nature, the gospel of Christ recognizes them, and instructs us in the holy art of their sacred culture and supreme dedication to the Divine glory. The disciple of the Lord pretends not, therefore, to look coldly upon those noble, generous specimens of affection which adorn our humanity, or to be insensible to the touching beauty with which some pens have portrayed the love of an ardent and sacred friendship. Among the most glowing is, perhaps, that of one of our own poets:
"I had a friend that loved me;
I was his soul: He lived not but in me.
We were so closed within each other's breast,
The rivets were not forged that joined us first,
That do not reach us yet: we were so mixed,
As meeting streams; both to ourselves were lost
We were one mass; we could not give or take
But from the same; for he was I, I he.
Return, my better half, and give me all myself,
For you are all!
If I have any joy when you are absent,
I grudge it to myself: methinks I rob
You of your part." (Dryden)
But the renewed heart, vivified with spiritual life, glowing with Divine love, and breathing with heavenly aspirations, yearns for a diviner, purer, and more lasting friendship than this lovely picture portrays- such as earth yields not- such as heaven only can give. Jesus meets this holy yearning of our renewed nature; He reveals Himself as our Friend- the Friend who loved us from eternity, who shed His blood for us, sacrificed His life for us, paid our great debt, delivered us from captivity, and has enfranchised us with the title, freedom, and wealth of a heavenly citizenship, henceforth calling us friends. Oh, what a Friend is Jesus! Truly may we say of Him,
"He loved me well; so well He could but die
 To show He loved me better than His life:
He lost it for me."
Cultivate Christ's friendship- love Him as your Friend- confide in Him as your Friend- confess Him as your Friend- consult Him as your Friend- be faithful to Him as your Friend- ever repair to Him as your Friend. Your love delights Him, your faith honors Him, your service glorifies Him; and every need and trial, every sin and infirmity, that brings you to Him, but tests His friendship, and endears Him to
your heart, and makes you better acquainted with your best, your only Friend. You may be called to learn this precious truth- the friendship of Christ- by a painful discipline- amid the fading of earthly friendships- by the rupture of ties once so close, sacred, and endeared- distance separating you, misunderstanding alienating you, death sundering you from the friend your heart enshrined as God's most precious earthly gift. Be it so, if this the result- your closer intimacy with Jesus, the "frieind who loves at all times," and who, in all the changeful, chequered scenes and circumstances of life, will "show Himself friendly."
Seek to mold your earthly friendships like unto Christ's. Let His friends be your friends, and your friends the most spiritual, unworldly, and Christ-like.
But this chapter, which has grown with its subject, must close with one or two EXHORTATIONS. Seek to know this love of Christ, though it is so vast that it "passes knowledge." Infinite though it is, you may experience its reality, taste its sweetness, and be influenced by its all- commanding, all-constraining power. "The love of Christ constrains us." Let it constrain you to a loving, unreserved obedience, to a cheerful bearing of His cross, to a manly vindication of His truth, to a close imitation of His spirit, and to "deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously; godly, and soberly in this present evil world."
Confide in the unchangeableness of Christ's love. Nothing shall take it from you, or separate you from it. It does not ebb with the ebbing of your feelings; it does not chill with the chill of your affections; it does not change with the changing scenes and circumstances of your life. A love that "passes knowledge" must have depths we cannot sound, heights we cannot explore, an infinite fulness and freeness tiding over all the sins, infirmities, and sorrows of its blessed and favored objects.
"Nothing for us remains
Nothing but love;
Love that no tongue can teach,
Love that no thought can reach,
No love like His.
"God is its blessed source,
Death never can stop its course,
Nothing can stay its force,
Matchless it is."
Do not limit your heart-experience of Christ's love, for it is infinite in its nature and boundless in its extent. The prayer of the apostle for the Eplhesian saints was, that they might "know the love of Christ which passes knowledge." As yet, how many of us stand but upon the shore of this ocean! How little do we know, experimentally, of the love of Christ in our souls, disloding slavish fear, a bondage spirit, unbelieving doubt, and so enlarging our hearts that we may run the way of the Lord's commandments. Bring your heart with its profoundest emptiness, its most startling discovery of sin, its lowest frame, its deepest sorrow, and sink it into the depths of the Savior's love. That infinite sea will flow over all, erase all, absorb all, and your soul shall swim and sport amid its gentle waves, exclaiming in your joy and transport, "Oh, the depths!" The Lord direct your heart into the love of God! Just as it is, hard, cold, fickle, sinful, sad and sorrowful. Christ's love touching your hard heart, will dissolve it!  Christ's love touching your cold heart will warm it!  Christ's love touching your sinful heart will purify it!  Christ's love touching your sorrowful heart will soothe it!  Christ's love touching your wandering heart will draw it back to Jesus. Only bring your heart to Christ's love. Believe in its existence, its reality, its fulness, and its freeness. Believe that He loves you, and just as love begets love, so the simple belief in the love of Jesus will inspire you with a reflected, responsive affection; and your soul, like the chrysalis, will burst from its captivity and bloom, and, soaring in life, liberty, and beauty, will float in the sunbeams of Gods full, free, and eternal love, and, in a little while, will find itself in heaven- where all is love!
"Love divine! 'neath human feature
You Your glory have concealed.
Love! to me, a fallen creature,
You Your fulness have revealed.
Love! I give myself to You,
Yours to be eternally.
"Love! before my soul's creation,
You my ransom did decree.
Love! to purchase my salvation,
You became a man like me.
Love! I give myself to You,
Yours to be eternally.
"Love! the shameful cross enduring,
You Yourself to death did give
Love! eternal bliss securing,
You do bid the sinner live.
Love! I give myself to You,
Yours to be eternally.
"Love! at once both strength and being,
Word and Spirit, truth and light;
Love! since I, for refuge fleeing,
Find deliverance through Your might;
Love! I give myself to You,
Yours to be eternally.
"Love! your easy yoke upon me,
All my powers shall cheerful own;
Love! the sovereign grace which won me,
Reigneth in my heart alone.
Love! I give myself to You,
Yours to be eternally.
"Love! which changeless, ever-living,
Step by step, me onwards leads;
Love! which peace unbroken giving,
Prevalently intercedes.
Love! I give myself to You,
Yours to be eternally.

"God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them."