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Friday, February 24, 2017

Unction, the Mark of True Gospel Preaching

Unction, the Mark of True Gospel Preaching

Speak for eternity. Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear and your heart full of God's Spirit is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin. Remember that God, and not man, must have the glory! If the veil of the world's machinery were lifted off, how much we would find is done in answer to the prayers of God's children." Robert Murray McCheyne

Unction is that indefinable, indescribable something which an old, renowned Scotch preacher describes thus: "There is sometimes somewhat in preaching that cannot be ascribed either to matter or expression, and cannot be described what it is, or from whence it cometh, but with a sweet violence it pierceth into the heart and affections and comes immediately from the Word; but if there be any way to obtain such a thing, it is by the heavenly disposition of the speaker."

We call it "unction." It is this unction which makes the word of God "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." It is this unction which gives the words of the preacher such point, sharpness, and power, and which creates such friction and stir in many a dead congregation. The same truths have been told in the strictness of the letter, smooth as human oil could make them; but no signs of life, not a pulse throb; all as peaceful as the grace and as dead. The same preacher in the meanwhile receives a baptism of this unction, the divine inflatus is on him, the letter of the Word has been embellished and fired by this mysterious power, and the trobbings of life begin - life which receives or life which resists. The unction pervades and convicts the conscience and breaks the heart

This divine unction is the feature which separates and distinguishes true gospel preaching from all other methods of presenting the truth, and which creates a wide spiritual chasm between the preacher who has it and the one who has it not. It backs and impregns revealed truth with all the energy of God. Unction is simply putting God in His own word and on His own preachers. By mighty and great prayerfullness and by continual prayerfullness, it is all potential and personal to the preacher; it inspires and clarifies his intellect, gives insight and grasp and projecting power; it gives to the preacher heart power, which is greater than head power; and tenderness, purity, force flow from the heart by it. Enlargement, freedom, fullness of thought, directness and simplicity of utterance are the fruits of this unction.

Often earnestness is mistaken for this unction. He who has the divine unction will be earnest in the very spiritual nature of things, but there may be a vast deal of earnestness without the least mixture of unction.

Earnestness and unction look alike from some points of view. Earnestness may be readily and without detection substituted or mistaken for unction. It requires a spiritual eye and a spiritual taste to discriminate.

Earnestness may be sincere, serious, ardent, and persevering. It goes at a thing with good will, pursues it with perseverance,and urges it with ardor, puts force in it. But all these forces do not rise higher than the mere human. The man is in it - the whole man, with all that he has of will and heart, of brain and genius, of planning and working and talking. He has set himself to some purpose which has mastered him, and he pursues to master it. There may be none of God in it. There may be little of God in it, because there is so much of the man in it. He may present pleas in advocacy of his earnest purpose which please or touch and move or overwhelm with conviction of their importance; and in all this earnestness may move along earthly ways, being propelled by human forces only, its altar made by earthly hands and its fire kindled by earthly flames. It is said of a rather famous preacher of gifts, whose construction of Scripture was to his fancy or purpose, that he "grew very eloquent over his own exegesis." So men grow exceeding earnest over their own plans or movements. Earnestness may be selfishness simulated.

What of unction? It is the indefinable in preaching which makes it preaching. It is that which distinguishes and separates preaching from all mere human addresses. It is the divine in preaching. It makes the preaching sharp to those who need sharpness. It distills as the dew to those who need to be refreshed. It is well described as:

"a two-edged sword
Of heavenly temper keen,
And double were the wounds it made
Wherever it glanced between.
'Twas death to silt; 'twas life
To all who mourned for sin.
It kindled and it silenced strife,
Made war and peace within."

This unction comes to the preacher not in the study but in the closet. It is heaven's distillation in answer to prayer. It is the sweetest exhalation of the Holy Spirit. It impregnates,suffuses, softens, percolates,cuts, and soothes. It carries the Word like dynamite, like salt, like sugar; makes the Word a soother, an arranger, a revealer, a searcher; makes the hearer a culprit or a saint, makes him weep like a child and live like a giant; opens his heart and his purse as gently, yet as strongly as the spring opens the leaves. This unction is not the gift of genius. It is not found in the halls of learning. No eloquence can woo it. No industry can win it. No prelatical hands can confer it. It is the gift of God - the signet set to his own messengers. It is heaven's knighthood given to the chosen true and brave ones who have sought this anointed honor through many an hour of tearful, wrestling prayer.

Earnestness is good and impressive: genius is gifted and great. Thought kindles and inspires, but it takes a diviner endowment, a more powerful energy than earnestness or genius or thought to break the chains of sin, to win estranged and depraved hearts to God, to repair the breaches and restore the Church to her old way of purity and power. Nothing but this holy unction can do this.

~E. M. Bounds~

(The End)

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Do I Still Lack?

What Do I Still Lack?

What percentage of responsibility for my spiritual maturity is the Lord's, and how much of it is mine? To say that I alone am responsible for my soul's development is conceit. To say that all the responsibility is the Lord's is impudence.

I find it humbling, inspiring an challenging to recognize that the greatest saints who ever lived did not have a bigger Bible than I have. They just knew it better! Indeed, they had far less of the divine revelation. Today we have the complete message of God to man.He has nothing more to say to us. As the old hymn says, "What more can He say to you He hath said?" God has no "P.S." to add to the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

For years the Holy Scriptures were wrapped up in tongues that only the scholars could read. "There was no open vision in those days" (1 Samuel 3:1). Then, blessed day, the whole counsel of God was released in our own tongue. With this unveiling came the glad news of the priesthood of believers - Hallelujah!

Do you wonder that Bishop Walsham  said: "How bursts into song about the Holy Word. "It is a golden casket, where gems of Truth are stored. It is the Heaven-drawn picture of Christ, the Living Word." Trees are fascinating to most of us. I like to see the burdened fruit trees showing off their labor. The English like their mighty oaks and the Americans their redwood trees. At the moment, in the area where I write, the peach trees are richly endowed with fruit; but, it does not grow already canned. No! God gave us the fruit; we do the canning. Trees do not grow furniture, even in this scientific age. We have the trees. From them we make the chairs, etc. So it is with the spiritual life. Here is a stunning truth from Second Peter, Chapter one, verse three: "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness." Paul backs up Peter in this area when he says, "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). And to top these precious words, here comes Paul again with s staggering statement: "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." Stop there? No, add the remainder: "...if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:16-17).

With all this limitless resource to inherit in this life, why then, O why, do we settle for minimum spirituality? These scriptures just quoted shatter all our excuses for carnal Christianity and explode all our feeble bumper-sticker excuses on bumper-sticker evangelism: "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven." (Some backslider must have written that.)

Sinning is not permitted to believers. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." (1 John 3:9). Not that it is impossible to sin; but it is, by the blood of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, possible not to sin. John again shouts the triumphant note, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4).

God, then, has made it possible for you and me to have victory over the world, the flesh and the devil!

Here are the Master's commandments to His own. These are not options but imperatives. With His enabling and our striving, we can explore what Lowrey called "the possibilities of Grace." We can leave the playpen in the Spiritual Nursery and "go on unto perfection." (Hebrews 6:1). Here are His commands:

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).
"Building up yourselves on you most holy faith ..." (Jude 20; Romans 10:27).
"Keep yourselves in the love of God ..." (by obedience to His Word) Jude 21.
"Put on the whole armor of God ..." (equipment for beating satan) Ephesians 6:11.
The Scripture is very clear here: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7).

Christian maturity is not a weekend operation. On the  other hand, remember there is no finality to the Christian life this side of eternity. While we are in the flesh, we "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:14).
We hear continually about "Weight Watchers." O that we watched our spiritual growth as carefully!

I believe in instant purity: "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7). I do not believe in instant maturity. Faith in the finished work of Christ is one thing. To add to your faith, as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:5-7, is something else. As a tree must be pruned regularly to bring it to maturity, so we need pruning. It is easy to sing, "And pour contempt on all my pride." If I do that at all, I will do it conveniently protecting myself from and "bleeding." It is when the Lord does it - or worse still when He uses some other human being (less spiritual than I am) to do the pruning - there can I kiss the rod? This is a process in spiritual growth. Can I take it cheerfully when I am slighted, when my name is cast out as an evil thing (though I am totally innocent)? Can I joyfully help to promote another to a position that I would like and which I am more capable of handling?

I heard a preacher asking another if folks came to the altar at his last meeting. He replied, "Yes, but most of them are altar tramps." It's easier to go to the altar than to get on the Cross. There is no magic in a trip to the altar. You will not grow an inch by walking a few yards to the altar, unless there is a total repentance and a holy vow to God that you will not fall into the same hole again.

That holy hand of "Heroes of Faith" in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews staggers me. They had no Bibles, no millions of cassettes as we have, no Bible seminars, no daily radio Bible teaching, and (fortunate souls) no Gospel T. V. preachers whining about lack of funds. (When did the Lord run out of supplies?) Yet what things these folks in Hebrews 11 accomplished: subdued whole kingdoms - (O that some person rich in faith could subdue the worldwide kingdom of the drug trade) -wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. What miracles, what men, what faith!

These "pattern" folks of our faith did not get to the heights in one leap:

"They climbed the steep ascent to Heaven
Through peril, toil, and pain.
O God, may grace to us be given,
to follow in their train."

Asked why he was used of the Lord so greatly in China, Hudson Taylor replied, "God had looked long for a man weak enough, and He found me." He takes the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. Spiritual wisdom does not come with years; neither does maturity. The key to both is obedience. Whatsoever He saith unto YOU, do it!

An insatiable thirst for God will produce an unquenchable love for holiness (as He is holy), resulting in a passion for the lost.

Remember, friend, you are just as spiritual as you want to be!

~Leonard Ravenhill~

(The End)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Burning Bush

The Burning Bush

"He looked, and, behold, the Bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed" (Exodus 3:3)

Wondrous is the sight which here meets our view. It is a bush in flames, but not consumed. Destroying fire fails to destroy. Perishable wood refuses to be fuel. Reader! this surely is no new object to you. But know that it abounds in lessons which your search cannot mine! It must be so. The unsearchable riches of Jesus are in this mine! He, who is the Wonder of Wonders, is the true Wonder of the bush.

Reader! you must see Christ by faith, if ever you would see God and enter heaven. You must know Christ in heart, if ever you would know peace in conscience and hope in death. Ask then the Holy Spirit that He would make the blazing bush to be a blaze of saving light within your soul. The way to the burning bush lies through an avenue of instructive thoughts.

Moses is mercifully rescued from an early grave of waters. Pharaoh's decree dooms to death. But Pharaoh's daughter is the means of life. When God has purposes to work, He can make foes his tools! The oppressor's court becomes the refuge of the oppressed. The Hebrew child is caressed as an Egyptian prince. But the perils of the Nile are scarcely greater to the body; than the perils of the palace to the soul. Worldly pomp is very dazzling. Worldly luxury is very entrancing. Worldly pleasures are very ensnaring. But there is an ark of safety in the flood of vanities, as in the flood of waters. Moses is neither dazzled, nor entranced, nor ensnared. He looks above, and sees a splendor far more bright. He deliberately chooses scorn to be the truest honor - such affliction to be the purest joy - such loss to be the richest gain - such poverty to be the most enduring wealth.

Reader! it is an important principle, that none can tread the world beneath their feet until they see a fairer world above their heads. When the Lord is set before you, your eyes are dim to lower objects. The beauty of the all-beauteous One makes other loveliness unlovely. Moses proves the mighty energy of soul-elevating, soul-purifying faith. This stirring principle turns his whole course from ease and affluence and self, into one stream of daring activities for God. He beholds with aching heart Israel's crushed tribes. He boldly presents himself to avenge their wrongs, and to erect the standard of their freedom. But what is the welcome which awaits him? Alas! he is thrust away with a rejecting taunt, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us?"

Reader! your eyes are open to such pitiable folly. You sigh over a serfdom, which is content to do a tyrant's bidding, rather than defy a tyrant's rage. But such may be your own case. The Gospel, like Moses, approaches men. It tells them that they grind in satan's prison-house. It calls them to arise from the dust, to lift up the head, to burst the fetters, to dare to be free. It shows them Jesus, the Captain of salvation, inviting them to the banner of His Cross. It assures those who this Leader never lost a battle - and never lost a man. It beseeches them to cast off the filthy fetters, and to stride boldly towards the sparkling crown. What answer is returned? Alas! multitudes hate the voice which would arouse them. They hug the bonds which bind them to perdition's cell. They little think how soon each link in that chain will become a deathless scorpion and a quenchless flame!

Then Moses fled at this saying. Reader! take heed. The decree may issue, he is joined to idols; let him alone. An unwelcomed Saviour may depart forever. The wings of love may fly away in judgment.

He was hidden as a stranger in the land of Midian forty years. But the God who was his shield in the crowd, was his "sun" in the desert. It is sad, that the Lord's servant must be earth's outcast. But it is sweet to see how heavenly wisdom can make the hardest usage to yield our choicest blessings. The sweetest honey is from the stony rock. There was work for Moses which required lamb-like meekness with lion-like resolve. He must be calm as the ocean when it sleeps - firm as the rock which smiles at storms. These are the lessons of tribulation's school - therefore, in tribulation he must be schooled. Metal becomes pure by long process in the furnace. The wisdom which is profitable in the busy haunts of busy men, grows in retirement's still shade. In the seclusion of Arabia, Paul drinks calmly of truth's fount. In the wilds of Midian, Moses sits at the feet of God.

At last the appointed time of rescue came. God's works are the reflection of decrees ordained of old. When His purposes were ripe, a marvel startles the shepherd-prophet. A bush blazes before him, each branch, each fiber reddened in the flame. But neither branch nor fiber received hurt. The brittle wood waved an uninjured head. Well might Moses wonder. But wonder deepened into awe, when from the bush a voice was heard, even the voice of God.

Reader! it becomes us now to ask, "What is the Gospel of the burning bush?" Jesus Himself appears in His person, suffering. and all-resisting might.

His Person - He is God, and yet He stoops to be made man. He is man, and yet He continues to be God forever. Withdraw the Godhead, and His blood cannot atone. Withdraw the manhood, and no blood remains. The union gives a Saviour able,and a Saviour fit. Look to the bush! It shows this very union. The wood denotes the poor and feeble produce of earth. It exhibits the tender plant - the "root" out of a dry ground. But it holds God as its inhabitant. The voice out of its midst proclaims, Your God is here.

His Sufferings - Fire wraps the bush. No clearer image can depict the hot assaults of wrath. The life of Jesus knew these well. It was one struggle with keen anguish. Earth was a thorny path. Hell shot its every shaft. Heaven darkened with the horrors of its frowns. All the fierce pains which infinite displeasure could inflict, made Him their prey. He wrung out all, which all the ransomed would have tasted, if hell-agonies had been their doom forever!

His all-resisting might - In vain the fire assailed the bush. It stood unharmed. So every blow recoiled from Jesus. Sustained by His indwelling Deity, He trod all foes beneath His feet. He burst the bands of death. He shivered the grave's gates. He stood victorious on the ruins of hell's empire. He mounted in triumph to the heaven of heavens.

We have next an unquestionable type of the whole family of faith. Persecutions and trials are the fire, which assails them with ceaseless fury. But still they thrive and strengthen and bud and blossom and flourish. How can it be? Deity indwells them! And where Deity resides there must be undecaying life.

The Church's story is a mirror of this truth. How often do we see it as a tiny bark tossed in engulfing waves. The powers of the mighty, the craft of the subtle, the rage of the frantic, have seized it with terrific grasp. Evil men have done their worst - evil spirits have aimed blows - evil fiends have put forth spite. Surely the fragile bush must sink in ruin! But no! It defies all foes. It stands, and will stand forever, verdant and fragrant and fruitful. But the power of resistance is not its own. The Lord is in the midst of it! He has chosen it as His abode forever. They are precious tidings. In the midst of the seven candlesticks is one like unto the Son of man.

It is true that Jesus, as God, holds all space within His hand. His center is everywhere. His circumference is nowhere. But still the Church is the chosen home of His unbounded love. Here His all-protecting might, His all-preserving care, His full delights, repose. He received it from His Father as His spouse - His jewels - His peculiar treasure - His portion - the fullness of His body - the completeness of His mediatorial glory. He is engaged to seat it, as an undiminished family, before the throne. If one member be injured, Christ is marred; if one be absent, Christ is maimed. Hence He is ever with it - all heart to love - all eye to watch - all hand to help - all wisdom to direct - all power to beat back foes. Let then, the fire rage! It must be mightier than Almightiness before the bush can droop to nothingness.

Do these lines meet the eye of one who plots and strives against Zion's (the church's) welfare? Vain man, forbear! The promise ever lives, "Lo, I am with you always." Can you tear the sun from its high seat? Can you beat back ocean with a feather? Can you bind the lightning with a straw? Such task would be easier than to pluck Jesus from the bush. Because He lives there, His people shall live also!

Here, to, another mystery is solved. Grace seems but a tender plant in the believer's heart. It has to contend with nipping frosts and desolating storms. satan's rage burns hot against it. The world brings fuel upon fuel to consume it. The flesh blows fiercely to fan the flame. But grace still thrives! Its roots spread. Its branches rise. Its fruit ripens. Why? Christ walks within His garden - a guardian-God. His hand sowed each seed. The dew of His favor nourishes it. The smile of His love matures it. Hence it overtops all fiery foes, and lifts its head towards heaven.

Believer, think much of the goodwill of Him who dwelt in the bush! Fears then will flee away. If you stood alone, it would be presumption to hope. Because you are not alone, it is offence to tremble.

Look back. Many conflicts are behind, and yet you live. How is it? You reply with Paul, "The Lord stood with me and strengthened me." The bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Your present fight is hot. But you hear a much-loved voice, "Do not fear, for I am with you." The bush burns with fire, and the bush is not consumed.

You look forward. The horizon is dark with clouds of tribulation. But the same voice cheers, "Do not fear, for I am with you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned." The captive youths, a cloud of witnesses, an army of blessed martyrs, wave you forward. They tell that persecuting flames may be divested of all their sting. Rejoice then. The bush shall burn with fire, but it shall not be consumed!

Reader! pause here, and search your conscience. Is your body a temple of Jesus Christ, through the Spirit? Is Christ dwelling in your heart by faith? Is Christ in you, the hope of glory? It it is not so, touch not the comfort of the burning bush. Remember, there are thorns and briers, "whose end is to be burned." No Saviour saves them.Tares must be bound in bundles for wrath's full-heated furnace. A terrible voice wails from the region of the lost, "I am tormented in this flame." The day comes that shall burn as an oven and all the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble. The smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever.

Reader! here are words by which, through grace, you may be saved. Turn not away to everlasting burnings. If you are so mad, this warning will lie, as a hot coal, upon your soul forever!

~Henry Law~

(The End)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Christ's Love For Us # 2

Christ's Love For Us # 2

Had I ten heads, said Henry Voes, they should all be cut off for Christ. If every hair of my head, said John Ardley, martyr, were a man, they should all suffer for the faith of Christ. Let fire, racks, pulleys, said Ignatius, and all the torments of hell come upon me, so I may win Christ. Love made Jerome to say, "O my Saviour, did you die for love of me? - a love sadder than death; but tome a death more lovely than love itself. I cannot live, love you, and be longer from you." George Carpenter, being asked whether he did not love his wife and children, which stood weeping before him, answered, "My wife and children! my wife and children! are dearer to me than all Bavaria; yet, for the love of Christ, I know them not." That blessed virgin being condemned for Christianity to the fire, and having her estate and life offered her if she would worship idols, cried out, "Let money perish, and life vanish, Christ is better than all!" Sufferings for Christ are saints greatest glory; they are those things wherein they have most gloried Your cruelty is our glory,says Tertullian. It is reported of Babylas, that when he was to die for Christ, he desired this favor, that his chains might be buried with him, as the ensigns of his honor. Thus you see with what a superlative love, with what an overtopping love, former saints have loved our Lord Jesus; and can you, Christians, who are cold and low in your love to Christ, read over these instances, and not blush?

Certainly the more Christ has suffered for us, the more dear Christ should be unto us; the more bitter his sufferings have been for us, the more sweet His love should be to us,  and the more eminent should be our love to him. Oh, let a suffering Christ lie nearest your hearts; let Him be your manna, your tree of life, your morning star. It is better to part with all than with this pearl of price. Christ is that golden pipe through which the golden oil of salvation runs; and oh, how should this inflame our love to Christ! Oh that our hearts were more affected with the sufferings of Christ! Who can tread upon these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love to Christ, and cry out with Ignatius, "Christ my love is crucified?" If a friend should die for us, how would our hearts be affected with his kindness! and shall the God of glory lay down His life for us, and shall we not be affected with His goodness. Shall Saul be affected with David's kindness in sparing his life, and shall not we be affected with Christ's kindness, who, to save our life, lost His own? Oh, the infinite love of Christ, that He should leave His Father's bosom, and come down from heaven, that He might carry you up to heaven; that He that was a Son should take upon Him the form of a servant; that you of slaves should be made sons, of enemies should be made friends, heirs of wrath should be made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; that to save us from everlasting ruin, Christ should stick at nothing, but be willing to be made flesh, to lie in a manger, to be tempted, deserted, persecuted, and to die upon a Cross!

Oh, what flames of love should these things kindle in all our hearts to Christ! Love is compared to fire; in heaping love upon our enemy, we heap coals of fire upon his head. Now the property of fire is to turn all it meets with into its own nature: fire makes all things fire; the coal makes burning coals; and is it not a wonder then that Christ, having heaped abundance of the fiery coals of His love upon our heads, we should yet be as cold as corpses in our love to Him. Ah! what sad metal we are made of, that Christ's fiery love cannot inflame our love to Christ! Moses wondered why the bush consumed not, when he sees it all on fire; but if you please but to look into your own hearts, you shall see a greater wonder; for you shall see that, though you walk like those three children in the fiery furnace, even in the midst of Christ's fiery love flaming round about you; yet there is but little, very little, true smell of that sweet fire of love to be felt or found upon you or in you. Oh, when shall the sufferings of a dear and tender-hearted Saviour kindle such a flame of love in all our hearts, as shall still be a breaking forth in our lips and lives, in our words and ways, to the praise and glory of free grace? Oh that the sufferings of a loving Jesus might at last make us all sick of love! Oh, let Him forever lie between our breasts, who has left His Father's bosom for a time, that He might be embosomed by us forever!

~Thomas Brooks~

(The End)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Christ's Love for Us # 1

Christ's Love For Us

Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract,and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden, vessels, and make us vessels of glory, Oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils, and the admiration of angels and saints.

The apostle, being in a holy admiration of Christ's love, affirms it to pass knowledge, Ephesians 3:18, 19; that God, who is the eternal Being, should love man when he had scarce a being, Proverbs 8:30, 31, that he should be enamored with deformity, that he should love us when in our blood, Ezekiel 16, that he should pity us when no eye pitied us, no, not our own. Oh, such was Christ's transcendent love, that man's extreme misery could not abate it. The deploredness of man's condition did but heighten the holy flame of Christ's love. It is as high as heaven, who can reach it? It is as low as hell, who can understand it? Heaven, through its glory, could not contain Him, man being miserable, nor hell's torments make him refrain, such was His perfect matchless love to fallen man. That Christ's love should extend to the ungodly, to sinners, to enemies that were in arms of rebellion against Him, Romans v. 6, 8, 10; yes, not only so, but that he should hug them in His arms, lodge them in His bosom, dandle them upon His knees, and lay them to His breasts, that they may be satisfied, is the highest improvement of love, Isaiah 66:11-13.

That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of of His Father, to a region of sorrow and death, John 1:18; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature, Isaiah 63:4; that He that was clothed with glory, should be wrapped with rags of flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16; that He that filled heaven, should be cradled in a manger, John 17:5; that the God of Israel should fly into Egypt, Matthew 2:14; that the God of strength should be weary; that the judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the God of life should be put to death, John 19:41; that He that is one with His Father, should cry out of misery, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" Matthew 26:39: that He that had the keys of hell and death, Revelation 1:18, should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having, in His lifetime, nowhere to lay His head; nor after death, to lay His body, John 19:41, 42; and all this for man, for fallen man, for miserable man, for worthless man, is beyond the thoughts of created natures. The sharp, the universal and continual sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the Cross, does above all other things speak out the transcendent love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners. That wrath, that infinite wrath, that matchless wrath of an angry God, that was so terribly impressed upon the soul of Christ, quickly spent His natural strength, and turned His moisture into the drought of summer, Psalms 32:4; and yet all this wrath He patiently underwent, that sinners might be saved, and that "he might bring many sons unto glory," Hebrews 2:10.

Oh, wonder of love! Love enables Jesus to suffer. It was love that made our dear Lord Jesus lay down His life, to save us from hell and to bring us to heaven. As the pelican, out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again; so when we were bitten by the old serpent, and our wound incurable, and we in danger of eternal death, then did our dear Lord Jesus, that he might recover us and heal us, feed us with His own blood, Genesis 3:15; John 6:53-56. Oh love unspeakable! This made Bernard cry out, "Lord, you have loved me more than yourself; for you have laid down your life for me."

It was only the golden link of love that fastened Christ to the Cross. John 10:17, and that made Him die freely for us, and that made Him willing "to be numbered among transgressors," Isaiah 53:12, that we might be numbered among the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, Hebrews 12:23.

Christ's love is like His name, and that is Wonderful, Isaiah 9:6; yes, it is so wonderful, that it is above all creatures, beyond all measure, contrary to all nature. It is above all creatures, for it is above the angels, and therefore above all others. It is beyond all measure, for time did not begin it, and time shall never end it; place does not bound it, sin does not exceed it, no estate, no age, no sex is denied it, tongues cannot express it, understandings cannot conceive it: and it is contrary to all nature; for what nature can love where it is hated? What nature can forgive where it is provoked? What nature can offer reconciliation where it receives wrong? What nature can heap up kindness upon contempt, favor upon ingratitude, mercy upon sin? And yet Christ's love has led Him to all this; so that well may we spend all our days in admiring and adoring of this wonderful love, and be always ravished with the thoughts of it.

See that you love the Lord Jesus Christ with a superlative love, with an overtopping love. There are none have suffered so much for you as Christ; there are none that can suffer so much for you as Christ. The least measure of that wrath that Christ has sustained for you, would have broke the hearts, necks, and backs of all created beings.

O my friends! There is no love but a superlative love that is any ways suitable to the transcendent sufferings of dear Jesus. Oh, love Him above your lusts, love Him above your relations, love Him above the world, love Him above all your outward contentments and enjoyments; yes, love Him above your very lives; for thus the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, saints, primitive Christians, and the martyrs of old, have loved our Lord Jesus Christ with an overtopping love: Revelation 12:11, "They loved not their lives unto the death; "that is, they slighted, contemned, yes, despised their lives, exposing them to hazard and loss, out of love to the Lamb, "who had washed them in His blood." I have read of one Dutch schoolmaster, who being asked whether he did not love his wife and children, answered, "Were all the world a lump of gold, and in my hands to dispose of, I would leave it at my enemies feet to live with them in a prison; but my soul and my Saviour are dearer to me than all. If my father should stand before me, and my mother hang upon, and my brethren should press about me, I would break through my brethren, throw down my father, and tread underfoot my mother, to cleave to Jesus Christ!"

~Thomas Brooks~

(continued with # 2)