Chapter XIV

Motives unto the Love of Christ

The motives unto this love of Christ is the last thing, on this head
of our religious respect unto him, that I shall speak unto.

When God required of the church the first and highest act of
religion, the sole foundation of all others--namely, to take him as
their God, to own, believe, and trust in him alone as such, (which is
wholly due unto him for what he is, without any other consideration
whatever,)--yet he thought meet to add a motive unto the performance
of that duty from what he had done for them, Exod. 20: 2, 3. The sense
of the first command is, that we should take him alone for our God;
for he is so, and there is no other. But in the prescription of this
duty unto the church, he minds them of the benefits which they had
received from him in bringing them out of the house of bondage.

God, in his wisdom and grace, ordereth all the causes and reasons of
our duty, so as that all the rational powers and faculties of our
souls may be exercised therein. Wherefore he does not only propose
himself unto us, nor is Christ merely proposed unto us as the proper
object of our affections, but he calls us also unto the consideration
of all those things that may satisfy our souls that it is the most
just, necessary, reasonable and advantageous course for us so to fix
our affections an him.

And these considerations are taken from all that he did for us, with
the reasons and grounds why he did it. We love him principally and
ultimately for what he is; but nextly and immediately for what he did.
What he did for us is first proposed unto us, and it is that which our
souls are first affected withal. For they are originally acted in all
things by a sense of the want which they have, and a desire of the
blessedness which they have not. This directs them unto what he has
done for sinners; but that leads immediately unto the consideration of
what he is in himself. And when our love is fixed on him or his
person, then all those things wherewith, from a sense of our own wants
and desires, we were first affected, become motives unto the
confirming and increasing of that love. This is the constant method of
the Scripture; it first proposes unto us what the Lord Christ has done
for us, especially in the discharge of his sacerdotal office, in his
oblation and intercession, with the benefits which we receive thereby.
Hereby it leads us unto his person, and presseth the consideration of
all other things to engage our love unto him. See Phil. 2: 5-11, with
chap. 3: 8-11.

Motives unto the love of Christ are so great, so many, so diffused
through the whole dispensation of God in him unto us, as that they can
by no hand be fully expressed, let it be allowed ever so much to
enlarge in the declaration of them; much less can they be represented
in that short discourse whereof but a very small part is allotted unto
their consideration--such as ours is at present. The studying, the
collection of them or so many of them as we are able, the meditation
on them and improvement of them, are among the principal duties of our
whole lives. What I shall offer is the reduction of them unto these
two heads: 1. The acts of Christ, which is the substance of them; and,
2. The spring and fountain of those acts, which is the life of them.

1. In general they are all the acts of his mediatory office, with all
the fruits of them, whereof we are made partners. There is not any
thing that he did or does, in the discharge of his mediatory office,
from the first susception of it in his incarnation in the womb of the
blessed Virgin unto his present intercession in heaven, but is an
effectual motive unto the love of him; and as such is proposed unto us
in the Scripture. Whatever he did or does with or towards us in the
name of God, as the king and prophet of the church--whatever he did or
does with God for us, as our high priest--it all speaks this language
in the hearts of them that believe: O love the Lord Jesus in

The consideration of what Christ thus did and does for us is
inseparable from that of the benefits which we receive thereby. A due
mixture of both these--of what he did for us, and what we obtain
thereby--compriseth the substance of these motives: "Who lotted me,
and gave himself for me"--"Who loved us, and washed us in his own
blood, and made us kings and priests unto God"--"For thou wast slain,
and hast bought us unto God with thy blood." And both these are of a
transcendent nature, requiring our love to be so also. Who is able to
comprehend the glory of the mediatory acting of the Son of God, in the
assumption of our nature--in what he did and suffered therein? And for
us, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor can it enter into the heart
of man to conceive, what we receive thereby. The least benefit, and
that obtained by the least expense of trouble or charge, deserveth
love, and leaveth the brand of a crime where it is not so entertained.
What, then, do the greatest deserve, and thou procured by the greatest
expense even the price of the blood of the Son of God?

If we have any faith concerning these things, it will produce love,
as that love will obedience. Whatever we profess concerning them, it
springs from tradition and opinion, and not from faith, if it engage
not our souls into the love of him. The frame of heart which ensues on
the real faith of these things is expressed, Ps. 103: 1-5, "Bless the
LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless
the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth
all thine iniquities; who health all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy
life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and
tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy
youth is renewed like the eagle's." Let men pretend what they will,
there needs no greater, no other evidence, to prove that any one does
not really believe the things that are reported in the gospel,
concerning the mediatory acting of Christ, or that he has no
experience in his own soul and conscience of the fruits and effects of
them, than this--that his heart is not engaged by them unto the most
ardent love towards his person.

He is no Christian who lives not much in the meditation of the
mediation of Christ, and the especial acts of it. Some may more abound
in that work than others, as it is fixed, formed and regular; some may
be more able than others to dispose their thought concerning them into
method and order; some may be more diligent than others in the
observation of times for the solemn performance of this duty; some may
be able to rise to higher and clearer apprehensions of them than
others. But as for those, the bent of whose minds does not lie towards
thoughts of them--whose heath are not on all occasions retreating unto
the remembrance of them--who embrace not all opportunities to call
them over as they are able--on what grounds can they be esteemed
Christians? how do they live by the faith of the Son of God? Are the
great things of the Gospel, of the mediation of Christ, proposed unto
us, as those which we may think of when we have nothing else to do,
that we may meditate upon or neglect at our pleasure--as those wherein
our concernment is so small as that they must give place unto all
other occasions or diversions whatever? Nay; if our minds are not
filled with these things--if Christ does not dwell plentifully in our
heath by faith--if our souls are not possessed with them, and in their
whole inward frame and constitution so cut into this mould as to be
led by a natural complacency unto a converse with them--we are
strangers unto the life of faith. And if we are thus conversant about
these things, they will engage our hearts into the love of the person
of Christ. To suppose the contrary, is indeed to deny the truth and
reality of them all, and to turn the gospel into a fable.

Take one instance from among the rest--namely, his death. Has he the
heart of a Christian, who does not often meditate on the death of his
Saviour, who does not derive his life from it? Who can look into the
Gospel and not fix on those lines which either immediately and
directly, or through some other paths of divine grace and wisdom, do
lead him thereunto? And can any have believing thoughts concerning the
death of Christ, and not have his heart affected with ardent love unto
his person? Christ in the Gospel "is evidently set forth, crucified"
before us. Can any by the eye of faith look on this bleeding, dying
Redeemer, and suppose love unto his person to be nothing but the work
of fancy or imagination? They know the contrary, who "always bear
about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus," as the apostle speaks,
2 Cor. 4: 10. As his whole "name," in all that he did, is "as ointment
poured forth," for which "the virgins love him," Cant. 1: 3,--so this
precious perfume of his death is that wherewith their hearts are
ravished in a peculiar manner.

Again: as there can be no faith in Christ where there is no love unto
him on the account of his mediatory acts; so, where it is not, the
want of it casteth persons under the highest guilt of ingratitude that
our nature is liable unto. The highest aggravation of the sin of
angels was their ingratitude unto their Maker. For why, by his mere
will and pleasure, they were stated in the highest excellency, pre-
eminence, and dignity, that he thought good to communicate unto any
creatures--or, it may be, that any mere created nature is capable of
in itself--they were unthankful for what they had so received from
undeserved goodness and bounty; and so cast themselves into
everlasting ruin. But yet the sin of men, in their ingratitude towards
Christ on the account of what he has done for them, is attended with
an aggravation above that of the angels. For although the angels were
originally instated in that condition of dignity which in this world
we cannot attain unto, yet were they not redeemed and recovered from
misery as we are.

In all the crowd of evil and wicked men that the world is pestered
withal, there are none, by common consent, so stigmatised for unworthy
villainy, as those who are signally ungrateful for singular benefits.
If persons are unthankful unto them, if they have not the highest love
for them, who redeem them from ignominy and death, and instate them in
a plentiful inheritance, (if any such instances may be given,) and
that with the greatest expense of labour and charge,--mankind, without
any regret, does tacitly condemn them unto greater miseries than those
which they were delivered from. What, then, will be the condition of
them whose hearts are not so affected with the mediation of Christ and
the fruits of it, as to engage the best, the choicest of their
affections unto him! The gospel itself will be "a savour of death"
unto such ungrateful wretches.

2. That which the Scripture principally insisteth on as the motive of
our love unto Christ, is his love unto us--which was the principle of
all his mediatory actings in our behalf.

Love is that jewel of human nature which commands a valuation
wherever it is found. Let other circumstances be what they will,
whatever distances between persons may be made by them, yet real love,
where it is evidenced so to be, is not despised by any but such as
degenerate into profligate brutality. If it be so stated as that it
can produce no outward effects advantageous unto them that are
beloved, yet it commands a respect, as it were, whether we will or no,
and some return in its own kind. Especially it does so if it be
altogether undeserved, and so evidenceth itself to proceed from a
goodness of nature, and an inclination unto the good of them on whom
it is fixed. For, whereas the essential nature of love consisteth in
willing good unto them that are beloved--where the act of the will is
real, sincere, and constantly exercised, without any defect of it on
our part, no restraints can possibly be put upon our minds from going
out in some acts of love again upon its account, unless all their
faculties are utterly depraved by habits of brutish and filthy lusts.
But when this love, which is thus undeserved, does also abound in
effects troublesome and chargeable in them in whom it is, and highly
beneficial unto them on whom it is placed--if there be any such
affection left in the nature of any man, it will prevail unto a
reciprocal love. And all these things are found in the love of Christ,
unto that degree and height as nothing parallel unto it can be found
in the whole creation. I shall briefly speak of it under two general

(1.) The sole spring of all the mediatory acting of Christ, both in
the susception of our nature and in all that he did and suffered
therein, was his own mere love and grace, working by pity and
compassion. It is true, he undertook this work principally with
respect unto the glory of God, and out of love unto him. But with
respect unto us, his only motive unto it was his abundant, overflowing
love. And this is especially remembered unto us in that instance
wherein it carried him through the greatest difficulties--namely, in
his death and the oblation of himself on our behalf, Gal. 2: 20; Eph.
5: 2, 25, 26; 1 John 3: 16; Rev. 1: 6, 6. This alone inclined the Son
of God to undertake the glorious work of our redemption, and carried
him through the death and dread which he underwent in the
accomplishment of it.

Should I engage into the consideration of this love of Christ, which
was the great means of conveying all the effects of dine wisdom and
grace unto the church,--that glass which God chose to represent
himself and all his goodness in unto believers,--that spirit of life
in the wheel of all the motions of the person of Christ in the
redemption of the church unto the eternal glory of God, his own and
that of his redeemed also,--that mirror wherein the holy angels and
blessed saints shall for ever contemplate the divine excellencies in
their suitable operations;--I must now begin a discourse much larger
than that which I have passed through. But it is not suited unto my
present design so to do. For, considering the growing apprehensions of
many about the person of Christ, which are utterly destructive of the
whole nature of that love which we ascribe unto him, do I know how
soon a more distinct explication and defence of it may be called for.
And this cause will not be forsaken.

They know nothing of the life and power of the gospel, nothing of the
reality of the grace of God, nor do they believe aright one article of
the Christian faith, whose hearts are not sensible of the love of
Christ herein; nor is he sensible of the love of Christ, whose
affections are not thereon drawn out unto him. I say, they make a
pageant of religion,--a fable for the theatre of the world, a business
of fancy and opinion,--whose hearts are not really affected with the
love of Christ, in the susception and discharge of the work of
mediation, so as to have real and spiritually sensible affections for
him. Men may babble things which they have learned by rote; they have
no real acquaintance with Christianity, who imagine that the placing
of the most intense affections of our souls on the person of Christ--
the loving him with all our hearts because of his love--our being
overcome thereby until we are sick of love--the constant motions of
our souls towards him with delight and adherence--are but fancies and
imaginations. I renounce that religion, be it whose it will, that
teacheth, insinuateth, or giveth countenance unto, such abominations.
That doctrine is as discrepant from the gospel as the Alkoran--as
contrary to the experience of believers as what is acted in and by the
devils which instructs men unto a contempt of the most fervent love
unto Christ, or casts reflections upon it. I had rather choose my
eternal lot and portion with the meanest believer, who, being
effectually sensible of the love of Christ, spends his days in
mourning that he can love him no more than he finds himself on his
utmost endeavours for the discharge of his duty to do, than with the
best of them, whose vain speculations and a false pretence of reason
puff them up unto a contempt of these things

(2.) This love of Christ unto the church is singular in all those
qualifications which render love obliging unto reciprocal affections.
It is so in its reality. There can be no love amongst men, but will
derive something from that disorder which is in their affections in
their highest acting. But the love of Christ is pure and absolutely
free from any alloy. There cannot be the least suspicion of anything
of self in it. And it is absolutely undeserved. Nothing can be found
amongst men that can represent or exemplify its freedom from any
desert on our part. The most candid and ingenuous love amongst us is,
when we love another for his worth, excellency, and usefulness, though
we have no singular benefit of them ourselves; but not the least of
any of these things were found in them on whom he set his love, until
they were wrought in them, as effects of that love which he set upon

Men sometimes may rise up unto such a high degree and instance in
love, as that they will even die for one another; but then it must be
on a superlative esteem which they have of their worth and merit. It
may be, saith the apostle, treating of the love of Christ, and of God
in him, that "for a good man some would even dare to die," Rom. 5: 7.
It must be for a good man--one who is justly esteemed "commune bonum,"
a public good to mankind--one whose benignity is ready to exercise
loving-kindness on all occasions, which is the estate of a good man;--
peradventure some would even dare to die for such a man. This is the
height of what love among men can rise unto; and if it has been
instanced in any, it has been accompanied with an open mixture of
vain-glory and desire of renown. But the Lord Christ placed his love
on us, that love from whence he died for us, when we were sinners and
ungodly; that is, every thing which might render us unamiable and
undeserving. Though we were as deformed as sin could render us, and
more deeply indebted than the whole creation could pay or answer, yet
did he fix his love upon us, to free us from that condition, and to
render us meet for the most intimate society with himself. Never was
there love which had such effects--which cost him so dear in whom it
was, and proved so advantageous unto them on whom it was placed. In
the pursuit of it he underwent everything that is evil in his own
person, and we receive everything that is good in the favour of God
and eternal blessedness.

On the account of these things, the apostle ascribes a constraining
power unto the love of Christ, 2 Cor. 5: 14. And if it constrains us
unto any return unto him, it does so unto that of love in the first
place. For no suitable return can be made for love but love, at least
not without it. As love cannot be purchased--"For if a man would give
all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be
condemned," Cant. 8: 7,--so if a man would give all the world for a
requital of love, without love it would be despised. To fancy that all
the love of Christ unto us consists in the precepts and promises of
the gospel, and all our love unto him in the observance of his
commands, without a real love in him unto our persons, like that of a
"husband unto a wife," Eph 5: 25, 26, or a holy affection in our
hearts and minds unto his person, is to overthrow the whole power of
religions to despoil it of its life and soul, leaving nothing but the
carcass of it.

This love unto Christ, and unto God in him, because of his love unto
us, is the principal instance of divine love, the touchstone of its
reality and sincerity. Whatever men may boast of their affectionate
endearments unto the divine goodness, if it be not founded in a sense
of this love of Christ, and the love of God in him, they are but empty
notions they nourish withal, and their deceived hearts feed upon
ashes. It is in Christ alone that God is declared to be love; without
an apprehension whereof none can love him as they ought. In him alone
that infinite goodness, which is the peculiar object of divine love,
is truly represented unto us, without any such deceiving phantasm as
the workings of fancy or depravation of reason may impose upon us. And
on him does the saving communication of all the effects of it depend.
And an infinite condescension is it in the holy God, so to express his
"glory in the face of Jesus Christ," or to propose himself as the
object of our love in and through him. For considering our weakness as
to an immediate comprehension of the infinite excellencies of the
divine nature, or to bear the rays of his resplendent glory, seeing
none can see his face and live, it is the most adorable effect of
divine wisdom and grace, that we are admitted unto the contemplation
of them in the person of Jesus Christ.

There is yet farther evidence to be given of this love unto the
person of Christ, from all those blessed effects of it which are
declared in the Scripture, and whereof believers have the experience
in themselves. But something I have spoken concerning them formerly,
in my discourse about communion with God; and the nature of the
present design will not admit of enlargement upon them.

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