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pitiation for our sins, or to make an atonement for sin. On this account it is said, that Christ suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; that He His ownself bare our sins in His own body on the tree; that by His stripes we were healed.29 What love to man was that which led the Father of heaven to give up His beloved Son to suffer, bleed, and die, for our salvation! What love was it which led the eternal Son of God to become the Redeemer of lost sinners! It was not caused by the discovery of any disposition in fallen man to return to God and to love Him; for it is said, When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.30 It was entirely the kindness and love of His own mind, and not any good thing seen in man, that led the Father of heaven to give His only begotten Son to be our Redeemer and Saviour. It was love perfectly voluntary and disinterested on His part. In His love and in His pity He redeemed us. And this did not arise from any desire on the part of His rebellious and ruined creatures to return to Him ; for on the contrary, All we like sheep had gone astray, we had turned every one to his own way,31 and were
291 Pet. iii. 18; ii. 24. 30 Rom. v. 6,8,10. 31 Isa. liii. 6. 32Job xxi.14.
seeking happiness in the ways of sin and death, in things earthly, sensual, and devilish; saying unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.32 What love was it then to rescue such creatures from destruction! How ought we to love Him who so greatly loved us ! and if we know any thing of His love to our souls, we should imitate His love in our conduct towards our fellow-creatures.
This the apostle presses upon our consideration. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. Those who are truly believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are all of them equally partakers of the love and mercy and compassion of their heavenly Father, and therefore they ought to manifest their gratitude for it by showing the same disposition to all around them; and thus be followers or imitators of Him as His dear or beloved children. This indeed is the only way in which we can prove our gratitude for His love to us; for, as the Psalmist observes, our goodness extendeth not to Him, but to the saints that are in the earth. If then our hearts are impressed with a sense of His loving-kindness toward us, we shall love His children who have received the same benefits from Him as ourselves. And this He influences His people, by His grace, to do. Therefore it is said, if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.
Love to the brethren is a
proof that we are under Divine influence, and that the love of God has produced in us the effect which it ought to have.
But in order that He may have the glory of His own work; and that it may not be imagined that the effect produced by the love of God is derived from the will of man, the source of all good is further stated : Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. Where God dwells, His Spirit influences the hearts and minds of His people to conformity to His word and will; and one evidence of His dwelling in us is, that we dwell in Him, or that the desires of our souls are towards Him, and the affections of our hearts are set upon Him. We seek those things that are above ; and set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth; so that our fellowship is truly with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And therefore in consequence of partaking of His gracious influences, as the apostle observes, We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. only be seen and known by any, through an experimental acquaintance with the benefits derived from the salvation of Christ, by faith, or through believing in His name. Those who have seen and known the blessedness of communion with God, and the consolation enjoyed by means of reconciliation with Him, will be desirous of
testifying to all around them their happiness, in order that others may seek to partake of the same enjoyment. The Spirit of God testifies in His holy word and to the hearts of His believing people, that it was the paternal love of God the Father, the Father of mercies, which led Him to send His Son into our world; and that Jesus Christ came into the world to be the Saviour of sinners, that the world through Him might be saved. 33 Those who by His grace are enabled to receive His testimony, and to put their trust in the salvation of Christ, are to testify or bear witness of it to others. They are to tell of His salvation, and to invite those who hear them to pray earnestly that its blessings may be communicated to their souls, by which alone they can be made truly happy. Christians may be witnesses for God in private, as well as in public situations. And it becomes every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to show to all around him that he is sensible of his obligations to the Father of mercies, for the blessings of His salvation having been made known to him. The testimony here spoken of is the testimony of the gospel, which is to be borne witness of every where, and which all mankind are called upon to believe, in order that they may be saved. As the Son of God came upon earth to be the Saviour of the world, it follows of course, that there is no other way of salvation than through Him, or by believing in His
This was indeed expressly declared by the apostles of Christ. They proclaimed, Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 34 All who are influenced by the Spirit of God put their trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for the salvation of their souls. They believe the faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.35 They rejoice that unto them the word of this salvation has been sent ;3+ and they pray earnestly for an interest in it. They look up to the God of heaven as their reconciled Father, through the merits and mediation of His beloved Son, their Redeemer ; and they seek grace to be enabled to live as the children of God, in obedience to His holy will and commandments day by day. And being taught by the Spirit, they are not ashamed openly to confess that their only hope of salvation is in Jesus Christ; or in other words, that He is the Son of God, who came down from heaven to be the Saviour of mankind.
It is said of those who make this confession, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. To confess is to believe and avow. It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the
33 John iii. 17. 34 Actsiv.12; xiii. 26. 35 1 Tim.i.15. 36 Rom. x.10.