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and people. 2. The first-begotten from the dead, declared to be the Son of God with power, by his glorious refurrection and triumph over the king of terrors. And, 3. The Prince of the
kings of the earth; that is, the Lord of nature, to whom every prince and potentate must be fubject, and to the ends of whofe providence, and the increase of whofe kingdom, all their schemes of policy and conquest shall at last be fubfervient. He then, with great propriety, having mentioned the name, and given a fhort view of the character of his bleffed Lord, lays hold of the opportunity to express his own and every other finner's obligation to him in this fublime afcription, Unto him that loved us, and wafbed us from our fins in his own blood.
To enter upon the confideration of the love of Chrift in its full extent, in its fource, its expreffions, and its effects, even those that are fuggefted in the text, would far exceed the bounds of a fingle difcourfe. What I propofe, therefore, at this time, in order to prepare your minds, and my own, for the folemn action before us, is only to collect into one view fome of the great and general characters of the love of Chrift, which are most proper to excite our gratitude and praise; and then to make fome practical improvement of it, for your inftruction and direction.
I. FIRST, then, let us endeavour to point out fome of the great and general characters of the love of Chrift. In this I fill take care to
confine myself to fuch views as are given of it in the holy fcriptures. And every character given of it there, we are both intitled and obliged to attend to, and improve.
1. First of all, then, you may obferve, that it is an everlasting love. It took its rife in the eternal counfels of Heaven. This is a character given of the love of God to his people, Jer. xxxi. 3. "Yea, I have loved thee with an "everlafting love: therefore with loving kind"nefs have I drawn thee." This expreffion is often ufed with a double view, to fhew, on the one hand, its early, its original fource, and on the other, its perpetual stability, and endlefs duration. Pf. ciii. 17. "But the mercy of the "Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon "them that fear him; and his righteousness un"to childrens children." If. liv. 7. 8. "For a
fmall moment have I forfaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee, for a moment; but with everlafting kindnefs will I have mercy "on thee, faith the Lord thy Redeemer." Having cited these paffages of the Old Testament, I muft juftify the application of them, by obferving, that all the covenant-mercies of God to man, in our prefent fallen state, are to be referred to the love of Chrift, as their price, their fource, and their fum. This is plain from innumerable paffages of fcripture: Eph. i. 4. 5. "According as he hath chofen us in him, be"fore the foundation of the world, that we hould be holy, and without blame before
"him in love having predeftinated us unto "the adoption of children by Jefus Chrift to "himself, according to the good pleasure of his "will." Eph. iii. 11. According to the eter"nal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jefus our Lord." For this reafon it is, amongst others, that Chrift is called, Rev. xiii. 3. "the "Lamb flain from the foundation of the "world."
I confefs, my brethren, we are but ill able to understand, or at leaft to meafure, the import of this truth, That the love of Chrift to finners, or of God in him, was from eternity. All our conceptions are fcon loft, and swallowed up, in what is infinite and boundlefs. But furely it affords matter for the deepest and humbleft adoration, as well as for the higheft gratitude and joy. Does it not afford matter for adoring wonder, that the plan for redeem. ing loft finners, and reftoring them to the obe. dience and enjoyment of God, was the object of the divine purpose from eternity? It appears to be a very confpicuous part, or rather perhaps. we are warranted to fay, from the fcripturerevelation, that it is the chief part of our creator's will, to which every other part of his providence is fubordinate and fubfervient. Accor-dingly, in the very paffage where my text lies, the Redeemer fays,. ver. 8. "Lam Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the ending, faith"the Lord, which is, and which was, and "which is to come, the Almighty." Does not this lead us to contemplate the glory of an in
finite God, as it fhines in this everlasting love? Does it not alfo afford matter of gratitude to the believing foul, while he confiders every veffel of mercy as concerned. in this eternal purpose?
I am fenfible, my brethren, there may be an abufe and perversion of the doctrine of election, if we think of it as independent of its fruits, and apply it fo as to produce either fecurity or defpair. But I despise the wisdom of thofe perfons who would conceal this truth as dangerous, which it hath pleased God diftinctly to reveal. It is the root which produceth the plant; but it is the plant which difcovers the root. It is the fountain which produceth the ftreams; but the ftreams lead us to the fountain. Muft not the finner who by faith has laid hold on a crucified Saviour, and given credit to the word of God in a preached gofpel, confider, with admiration, his name written in the book of life of the Lamb flain from the foundation of the world? What delight will it give him! What honour does it reflect upon him, at the fame time that it destroys the very foundation of arrogance and pride! This is the firft, and yet it is but one of many parts of the doctrine of falvation, which at once exalts and abases us; raises our hopes, and forbids us to glory; clothes us with infinite honour, and yet difcovers us to be less than nothing fo that we may fay with the apoftle Paul, after a view of the fame fubject, Rom. xi. 33. "O the depth of the riches both of the "wifdom and knowledge of God! how un"fearchable
"fearchable are his judgements, and his ways "past finding out!" This leads me to observe,
2: That the love of Chrift is free and unmeȚ rited love. This is a circumftance that is fcarcely ever feparated from the account given of the.. love of Chrift in fcripture.. It may be founded: even on the infinite difproportion between uncreated excellence and created weaknefs: Pf.viii. 4: "What is man, that thou art mindful "of him? and the fon of man, that thou vi-"fiteft him?" Pf. cxliv. 3. "Lord, what is "man, that throu takeft knowledge of him? <s or the son of man, that thou makeft account: "of him?" Nay, as if this were a truth of the utmost moment, we have it repeated, a third time in almost the fame words; Job vii. 17. "What is man, that thou fhouldft magnify "him? and that thou shouldft fet thine heart him?" But this is not all, nor indeed
the main thing to be attended to; for the love of Chrift hath for its object those who were in actual rebellion against God, tranfgreffors of his holy law, and liable to the ftroke of his juftice. It was not only to exalt thofe who were: low, or to fupply thofe who were needy, that Chrift came, but to deliver thofe who were appointed to death: John iii. 16. "God fo loved "the world, that he gave his only begotten's "Son, that whofoever believeth on him, fhould ! "not perish, but have everlasting life." Rom.. v. 8. "But God commendeth his love towards 66 us, in that while we were yet finners, Chrift "died for us." Eph. ii. 4. 5: "But God,, 66-whou