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constant gaze upon Him in His Providence, in His Word, and in His Sacraments, secretly working in you a resemblance to His purity, as it is said that the wild animals who live in very high latitudes become white by constantly looking on the waste of snow which lies around them? These are the questions by which to determine our love of the Saviour, and therefore our love of God, whose image He is. And this love is the very criterion of Christian character. For as on the one hand it is said, "Grace be with all those who love Our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity;" so on the other are we warned that the lack of this love entails a curse on the disciple who lacks it; "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha."




"We love Him, because He first loved us.”-1 JOHN iv. 19.


was pointed out in a former Chapter that one main form which the love of God assumes is the form of gratitude. The love of gratitude (or as it might be termed, of reciprocity) will form the subject of the present Chapter.

to us.

The love of gratitude is a sense (poured forth into the heart, and filling every corner of it) of God's Love Observe the terms of the definition. A sense of God's Love-not a feeling awakened by God's Love. The two expressions may seem to signify the same thing; but when we come to examine them, we shall find that the first goes far beyond the second.

Gratitude, as it is felt by man towards man, is generally no more than a feeling (or sentiment) awakened by kindness. If a man does me a kindness at a considerable sacrifice to himself, this kindness produces in my mind a movement towards him, a disposition to

think well of him, to like him, and (if I can) to requite him. If I have been heretofore cold towards him, his kindness makes me thaw; if I have hitherto taken no interest in him, his kindness quickens in me such an interest. So the sun, by its action upon the face of Nature, thaws the crust of ice which had formed over the water, and quickens the seed which lay dead and dormant in the bowels of the earth.

But gratitude, as felt towards God, consists merely in a sense of His Love. The sense of His Love is not only the cause, but the essence, of ours. It does not resemble the thawing of the ice and the quickening of the seed by the sun's rays, so much as the reflection of his light by the moon and planets. Consider the two images, and you will see the difference of the things illustrated. The thawing of the ice, and the quickening of the seed, are effects in Nature produced by the sun's rays-influences of the sun felt in Nature, and showing themselves in certain changes there. But what is moonlight? Moonlight is something more than an operation produced by the sun,-it is actually sunlight reflected by the moon. It is called moonlight, not because it proceeds from the moon (which is an opaque body, having no light in itself), but because the moon (as also the planets do) intercepts it and gives it back. Similarly, the love of man towards God is not merely a sentiment engendered in the human heart by the Love of God towards man. It is actually "God's" own "love" (to use the Apostle's expression), "shed

forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;" it is not man's love at all, if you trace it up to its source; but God's Love, intercepted and returned upon Him from a heart which has the capacity of reciprocating it. It does not take its rise in our own bosoms; we have no other property in it than that of simply reflecting and giving it back.

Now we shall view the subject for a few moments under this image, because it conveys many profitable lessons.

1. If our love to God be only His Love to us reflected from our hearts, it must be quite clear that the more we expose our hearts to His Love, the more truly shall we love Him.

It is sometimes apprehended that by a too full and free exhibition of the Divine Love we may encourage sinners in their evil courses, and make them careless and licentious. But what shall we say to such reasoning, if the very essence of man's love to God stands in the apprehension of God's Love to him? Can we ever effectually sap sin's power over the implanting there sincere love to God?

heart, without

And if sincere

love to God be nothing else than God's Love shed forth into and reflected by the heart, are we likely to implant it by hiding God's Love in a corner, and shutting up the heart of man from the apprehension of it? What would be thought of a man, who, being possessed of some jewel, and desiring to exhibit its beauty, and to make it flash and sparkle, should carefully enclose it in its

casket, and exclude it from the light of the sun? The light in which it must flash and sparkle is not its own light; and therefore such a course would effectually defeat the end. And if the dull spirit of man is to be made to burn and shine with love to God, it must be brought out into the full blaze of God's Love-the fuller the blaze, the stronger will be the reflected light. And for those who possess the love of God, the great method of making any solid advance in it must be surely a continual opening of the heart towards God's Love, with a yearning desire to know more of it, to be profoundly indoctrinated into its freedom and fulness. If we are conscious of having sinned, it will do nothing for our restoration, rather it will throw us back to a greater distance than that to which the sin has already removed us, to doubt God's Love in respect of that particular sin. To regard Him as our tender Father, yearning over us after and notwithstanding our fall, watching with deep solicitude for the earliest symptom of a better mind, nay, as already having given us forgiveness through the Blood and Righteousness of His Son, this is the only method of restoration. And the longer we delay the contact of the heart with the pardoning Love of God, the more time we waste, and the longer we obstruct our own recovery.

2. It must, I suppose, strike every one that, if our love to God be nothing more than God's Love to us, shed forth into our hearts and reflected back thence, there can be no sort of merit or desert in it. Of this grace of love

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