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ON THE LOVE OF GOD IN REDEMPTION.
ROMANS V. 8.
God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The contemplation of the divine goodness, is an exercise pleasing and delightful to the human mind. It has employed the thoughts of the devout in every age and country; and disposed the soul for the love and admiration of God. There is no subject, accordingly, so much insisted upon by the inspired writers,no perfection of the divine nature so frequently celebrated in Scripture, as the goodness of the Lord. It is a truth written as it were with a sun-beam on all his works and ways. But the most striking manifestations of the divine goodness appear in the work of our redemption by Jesus Christ. Here it is displayed in its most winning and attractive charms. This was the burden of the angels' song at the birth of the Redeemer :
Glory to God in the highest ; on “ earth peace and good will towards 66 men.' Before this time, angels had celebrated the glories of creation ; for when the foundations of the earth were laid, “ the morning stars sang together, “ and the sons of God shouted for joy." But the work of redemption, exhibiting a still brighter display of the divine goodness, is celebrated in more rapturous strains.“ God commendeth his love 66 towards us, that while we were yet sin
ners, Christ died for us." There is more goodness expressed in this one verse than in the whole volume of creation. There is implied a degree of love which all the angels in heaven cannot analyze, and the full meaning of which eternity itself will not be sufficient to disclose. The Scriptures, in speaking of the love of God in redemption, never attempt to explain or describe its dimensions. They always represent it as a love, the breadth, and depth, and length, and height of which passeth knowledge. Let not this, however, discourage us in attempting to illustrate a subject, which, though it cannot be sufficiently understood or exhausted, is in itself so pleasant and profitable, which even “ angels desire to look into,” and which, we trust, will form to ourselves a noble source of adoration and praise, when time with regard to us shall be no more.
The love of God in redemption will appear, if we attend,
1. To the character of those who are its objects.
“ Greater love hath no man than this, " that a man lay down his life for his “ friends.” But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, in a state of enmity and guilt, Christ died for us. There was nothing in any of the sons or daughters of Adam to excite the ever-blessed God to such unparalleled condescension as to visit them with his grace, or to plan and
provide a way by which they might be delivered from the misery which they had brought upon themselves, and be raised to everlasting happiness. He was under no obligation to pity their misery, or to repair the ruins of their apostacy. On the contrary, every thing in their situation had a tendency to provoke his righteous displeasure. Instead of having any good qualities to recommend them to his favour, or entitle them to the smallest share in his regard, they were hateful to him in character, enemies to God by wicked works, in actual rebellion against their Sovereign Lawgiver, and liable to the awful threatening denounced against man as the wages of transgression, possessing neither inclination nor ability to extricate themselves, far less able to pay any thing which could ever make him any suitable return for the love wherewith he loved them. Alas, my friends, “ our goodness reacheth not “ unto God.” Infinitely blessed and glorious in himself, he stood in need of nothing in this world that might add to his essential happiness and glory. Had the world and all its inhabitants perished for
ever, his blessednesswould not have been diminished or impaired. Instead of projecting a way of saving this guilty, this rebellious, this apostate world, he might with one almighty word have created a thousand worlds superior to it in every respect, surpassing it in beauty and excellence, and free from every taint and possibility of evil. But " when the Lord “ looked down from heaven, the habita“ tion of his holiness, upon the children 6 of men, to see if there were any that did “ understand and seek after God, they
gone aside; they were alto“ gether become filthy; there was none “ that did good, no, not one.” Herein indeed is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son into our world to seek and to save that which was lost, and to open a door of reconciliation for rebels against his laws and government.
It was no foreseen goodness in the creature, no excellency in man, above any other order of created beings, that excited the divine compassion, but the pure unmerited love and goodness of the Godhead exerted in our behalf. Nay, it was