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A Hopeful Youth falling Short of Heuren.
MARK X. 21.-Then Jesus bebolding bim, loved him.
THE FIRST PART.
If we would know the person who was favoured with the love of Jesus, and be acquainted with his character, it is necessary to read the whole narrative, as we find it delivered in this chapter, from the 17th to the 23d verse.
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18. And Jesus said unto him, why callest thou me good, there is none good save one, that is God. 19. Thou knowest the commandments; do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defruud not, honour thy father and mother. 20. And he answered, and said unto him, Master, all these hare I observed from my youth. 21. Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, one thing thou lackest, go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and gire to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come take up the cross, and follow me. 22. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions. 23. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God?
Now if we consult and compare the account which the other evangelists give us of this transaction, we shall find that the person was a young man ; Mat. xix. 20. and a ruler among the Jews ; Luke xviii. 18. He had some concern upon his mind about his future state, and came to Christ, as to a divine prophet, to enquire the way to heaven : But it is evident he had a vain conceit of his own righteousness, and at the same time he had an excessive love to money ; he would fain have been an heir of heaven, but he valued his inheritance on earth much more : He wished for the love of God, but would enjoy and love this world too; and rather than renounce the pleasant things of this life, he would quit his pretences to a life to come ; for he went away grieved and full of sadness, at the direction which our Saviour gave him, and would not venture the experiment.
He forsook Christ and heaven, having great possessions on earth.
It is necessary to our purpose, to know whether, in the following years of his life, he was brought to repentance and salvation, though it is most likely that he never was; for if he loved his estate and his money, so well in his younger years, that vice probably increased with his age. Besides, he stands in the history of the gospel, as an example of those men, who lose heaven for the love of money. But howsoever it might be afterward, this is certain, that at that time he was in the state of sin and death ; which is sufficient to my present design.
From the words of my text, set in this light, and compared with the issue of the whole conversation, between Christ and this young man, we may derive this doctrine :
Doct. Our Saviour had some love for a person that preferred this world to heaven, and neglected his salvation.
In order to improve this thought, we shall consider.
I. What is meant by the love of our Saviour to this young man, and to persons of his character.-II. What was there in him that might attract our Saviour's love.--III. What remarks may be made upon the sin and folly of a person so lovely, and 80 beloved of Christ.-IV. Make an address to three sorts of persons, taking the occasion from the character of the person in
First, What is meant by the love of our Saviour to this young man, and how far may he be said to love a person who is void of true grace, and neglects salvation.
Here, I conceive, we are not to look upon our Lord Jesus Christ as acting according to his divinity, but only in his human nature ; for it is evident that Christ considered as God, loved him not in that sense in which the love of God is usually taken ; for he had plain evidences of a worldly covetous mind, and so could not be the object of special divine complacency : Nor do we find that Christ loved him so well, as to communicate divine grace and salvation to him.
I confess there may be some sort of love attributed to God, with relation to creatures of any kind, which have any thing valuable in them : So God loves all the works of his hands; so he loves the heavens and the earth, and all the pieces of inanimate nature : that is, he approves his own workmanship, the effects of his own wisdom and power. God is also sometimes said to love those to whom he communicates temporal blessings, or makes the offer of eternal ones. So he loved the whole nation of the Jews, though he did not give all of them his saving grace. But still it is much more natural to expound the words of my text concerning Christ as man; for there were some peculiar qualities in this youth, which were suited to attract the love of human nature; such qualities as a wise and perfect man could not but love: It was some such sort of love as our Lord expressed toward the apostle John, in a way of distinction from the rest; upon which account, probably, he was called, the disciple whom Jesus loved ; John xiii. 23. Therefore I conceive Christ is here represented as exerting the innocent and kind affections of human nature towards a youth so agreeable and hopeful.
Now this love implies in it these five things :
1. A hearty approbation of those good qualities which Christ beheld in him : For he being perfect and wise, cannot but approve that which is excellent. He had a sharp eye, and great sagacity of nature : With a ready penetration he eould discern what was valuable; and must necessarily have a just esteem for every thing wherein his Father's wisdom and power did eminently appear. Whatsoever God created at first, was good; Gen. i. 31. And whatsoever remains of that good workmanship of God, Christ, the Son of God, approved still, so far as it was untainted with sin, and considered in itself, abstracted from the criminal qualities that might attend it.
2. This love of Christ to the young man, implies a complacency in his person ; a sort of human delight in a fellow-creature that had several excellent properties ; though the love of God, and powerful religion, were wanting. If I read a book that has much good sense in it, and where the reasonings are well connected, I cannot but have a delight in reading, though the subject itself may be trifling, or the theme disagreeable. If I hear an oration well composed, with many ingenious turns of thought and pathetic expressions ; and all these pronounced with the various decencies of speech and gesture, I take pleasure in the performance, and may love the orator, though he insist upon sentiments quite contrary to my own.
So I may be pleased with the learned conversation of a knowing and well-tempered man, and love him so far, though he may be my enemy, and perhaps, in his heart, an enemy to God too; for such was this young man, an idolater of gold, and therefore an enemy to God; Jam. iv. 4. concerning whom it is written, that Jesus lored him.
3. Some natural good wishes for his welfare are implied in this love. There is in every wise and good man, a hearty desire of the happiness of his fellow-creatures, he loves them all in this sense, even the foolish and the wicked. Human nature that has any goodness in it, is ready to wish well to any perso
any person, though he be an utter stranger, and unknown ; especially if he has some agreeable qualities. There may be an innocent inclination to see all men happy, though we know this shall not be brought to pass; for the word of God declares that most part of men walk in the broad-way, and shall go down to hell." You know how passionately St. Paul longed for the salvation of all liis countrymen the Jews. This is called a love of benevolence ; and it is evident by the following particulars, that the Lord expressed this good-will towards the young man in my text. .
4. A conferring of actual benefit or kindness, is implied in the love of Christ towards this youthı ; for he stood still and entertained him with friendly discourse : He endeavoured by proper methods to convince him of sin ; he gave him directious what he should do to obtain treasure in heaven ; he called hiin to be his disciple and follower ; and gave him a promise of everlasting riches, if he would have complied with his proposal. This is called a love of beneficence: And this our Lord Jesus practised abundantly, even to those whom he did not savingly enlighten and convert by his gospel ; for it was his character, that he went about doing good ; Acts x. 38.
5. This love of Christ includes in it compassion for the young man, and some degree of sorrow to think that he should miss of heaven; that he should be so hardened in self-confidence, so puft up with a conceit of his own righteousness, and so hard to be convinced of his weakness and guilt, as to stand to it boldly, that he had kept all the commandments of God: and at last, that he should be so entangled with a love to money, as to despise the treasures of heaven, and to let Christ and salvation go. Such a mournful pity did our Lord express to Jerusalem, in the days of his flesh; 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee : How often would Í have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not ! Luke xiii. 31. And he mingled the tears of love and sorrow when he came near the gates : for the same evangelist tells us, that he beheld the city and wept orer it, with this melting language, If thou hadst know, even thou, in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace ; but now they are hid from thine
from thine eyes ; Luke xix. 41, 42. When we behold a noble palace, a well-contrived garden, a piece of painting of uncommon art : “It is pity, we cry, that such a building should be reduced to ashes, such a garden overspread with desolation and disorder, or such a picture be all defaced.”. We have a sort of pity for these inanimate beauties, and we are ready to mourn their danger or ruin. And the passion is innocent and becoming : But the grief and the love rise higher still, when we see a living soul, a fellow-creature of our own rank, a man or woman dressed in agreeable accomplishments, and yet making haste to wilfuldestruction. Such love and such grief are
comely for a wise and good man, and they became our Saviour well. Blessed Saviour ! that ever thy love should lay itself out on such objects, as would awaken thy grief, and give thee so painful a compassion! But this was only in the days of his flesh : He pities mankind now under their various wretchedness and folly, yet we cannot suppose his present exaltation and blessedness does indulge real sorrow, or admit any smarting affliction; though in his humble state on earth, his human love expressed itself agreeably in such mournful compassion and tenderness.
II. We come to consider, what there was in this might attract our Saviour's love.
1. He had probably some natural qualifications which were agreeable and pleasing. His youth is expressed ; Mat. xix. 20. A young man, in the prime of his days, in the force and flower of his age, the beauty and vigour of his nature: And it is very likely, that he might be of a comely figure and ingenuous countenance; for it is said, our Saviour beholding him, loved him. He fixed his eyes, and probably saw something in him delightful in his very aspect and appearance, which might partly induce him to those various expressions of love before-mentioned, and to pity so lovely a youth, who was enslaved to riches, and bound to destruction in fetters of gold.
2. He had a courteous and obliging carriage, which appears in several instances ; viz. he kneeled before our Lord, and paid him great respect with the gesture of his body; he saluted him, good Master! which our Lord did not reprove, when he said, there is none good but God; but put him to the trial, whether he would own him to be God or no. He acknowledged Christ as his superior, though he was so inuch a stranger to him, and so much a poorer man than himself. By his whole deportment we find him a person of great civility; he knew how to pay the honours of his country well, to give titles to whom titles are due, and to do these things gracefully. A courteous, bumble, and decent behaviour, without affectation or flattery, is so far from being reproved by Christ, that not only, in this place, our Lord seems to be pleased with it, but in many places of the New Testament, it is recommended to make christianity amiable : It is pleasing to human nature, and cannot but gain love and esteem with all wise
and virtuous persons.
3. He was religiously educated even from liis childhood, and had grown up in sobriety, perhaps, from his very cradle ; for he was but a young man when he came to our Lord, and yet he says, concerning the commandments of moral duty, I have kept them all from my youth. lle sprung surely from good parents ; he had such instructions from them, and they such a jealous and