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THE LAW OF LOVE.
“ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a
curse for us."
Thus it is written, dear Christian friends, and well may every child of God, who in the spirit of humble confidence, can use this language as his own, rejoice “with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” that for him, Sinai's thunder no longer rolls, and its lightning fires have been quenched for ever in the blood of atonement.
But wbile released from the broken law's condemning power, let us not forget that the Redeemer having by his perfect obedience “magnified the law and made it honourable,” has “ left us an example that we should follow his steps," and has formed of the chain, which once bound bis captives in the pit of despair, a soft band of love to guide them along the green pastures and by the still waters that refresh the traveller in the way of life.
Let us therefore, dear Christian friends, consider for a little while some of the requirements of that law of love, and may the blessed Spirit of truth, as we meditate upon these precepts, bind them, in all their constraining power, in all their hallowed influence, apon our hearts.
“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do
justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
In a few short sentences, is here given to us, a brief, yet full analysis of that comprehensive law, which is a transcript of the infinite perfections of bis character, to whom it is the very object of our redemption that we should be conformed.
The command to “ do justly" contained in the first clause of this brief code of moral obligation, includes–Justice towards,
1. OUR GOD.
And first we may well enquire in accents of won. der—is justice due from worms of the dust to their Creator? Gratitude, boundless and intense, service, worship, adoration, may be offered by us, and graciously accepted by him; but justice-can the sovereigo of the universe, stoop to ask for justice from the creatures of his hand?
Yes-He whose throne is the highest heaven-before whom the seraphim bow in lowliest adoration, and who hears for evermore the full chorus of celestial harmony from myriads of unfallen spirits, who have occupied ever since they sprung from his creating band the regions of unclouded light, be condescends to bend from the heights of his holiness, and to demand, yea, to plead and reason with his intelligent creatures, that the goings forth of that principle of moral rectitude, ruined by the fall of Adam, but restored again in Christ Jesus, may, in the first instance, be towards himself.
But let us examine, what is comprised in the command to “ do justly;" and then our wonder perhaps may be, that God ever should have been constrained to ask for that which so gratefully, so spontaneously it was oor part to give.
The requirements of justice are explained in the New Testament, by our Divine Redeemer, as“ Rendering unto all their dues.” What then is due from us to God? What does the simple principle of moral rectitude, such as fallen and depraved as we are, is not wholly obliterated from the dealings of man with man, demand that we should yield to God.'
First then, He made us—and for himself. In every power of thought and reflection, every deep spring of love, or lofty flight of imagination, and in every exercise of physical strength and vigour, he has the right of property, for he called them into being, and this is a right, whose claim, however unconsciously to us, is rivetted by every hour of our being; for without the continual exercise of the life-giving power which at first bestowed upon us the rich blessing of sentient existence, how soon should we return to the nothingness from which it formed us. But the Author of our being might have created us intelligent beings, as we are endowed with powers of reason, and with deep reflections, and having placed us as he has done, in a world, where both find an ample field for exercise, he might have designed that these visible objects should engage our affections, and occupy our thoughts, and thus in so devoting our powers, we might have been fulfilling his will, and living to the end for which be formed us?
True, it might have been so. But so it is not. The Father of our spirits has deigned to claim our poor affections, and has given us a command, obedience in which, would secure to us the highest, most enduring happiness of which the nature of a created being, even in its most exalted state, is capable. “Tbou shalt love," he has said, “The Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and soul, and strength, and mind.”
Yet, ipfipite as are the perfections we are thus called upon to adore, ineffable as is the bliss of angels and archangels, while they contemplate that oncreated glory-how shall man, fallen, guilty, and polluted, behold, without dismay, the majesty of his judge? or look without the terrors of conscious guilt upon the character of him, whose very perfections require that he should punish the transgression of his law? Yes, there is a way, by which the sinner may approach his offended God, and looking up to him with the confidence of a child clasped in its father's embrace, behold in that countenance before whose frown the earth, as affrighted, shall shake, only the smile of forgiving love ; for that God who is "just,"-is yet the justifier of the ungodly, through the impated merits, the atoning sacrifice of his well-beloved Son. And oh ! herein exists the transcendant power of the requirement that we should "render unto God,” His due. To our God, a Saviour God, what have we, that we ought not gratefully, rejoicingly to yield, freely as the watered earth sends forth its cloads of dewy incense to float in the early beams of the orb of day.
All that ministers to our enjoyment, as well as all that contributes to the support of life, has been redeemed for us by this most compassionate of friends.
The physical powers wbich enable us to walk forth amidst the beauties of creation, to inhale nature's thousand odours and listen to her melodies;
and behold the lavish beauty of the robes in which she is attired-these, these were all redeemed for us, at the cost of days of toil, and nights of watching, of hunger and thirst and weariness, of agony and bloody sweat. And shall we-can we forget, while rejoicing in the exercise of our heartfelt powers, how our “life has been redeemed from destruction,” and crowned thus with loving kindness and tender mercies?
But there are joys yet nobler, and dearer to the immortal spirit than these. There are the soft tones of sympathy that fall on the weary beart like droppings of summer rain; or meet the gladness of the youthful Spirit like sunbeams sparkling on the dancing wave. And there are the kindly charities of social life, and the closer, sweeter bonds of kindred or of friendship ; and there is the bright gleam of the household hearth, and the holy quiet of the evening hour in a home, “ hallowed by the presence and blessed by the smile of a Saviour God.” And who hath purchased, who hath bestowed upon us these?
Oh! if the promise of a kinsman Redeemer bad not been given to a ruined world, and the glad message of “ Peace on earth,” had never heralded the advent of the Babe of Bethlehem, this fair world would have borne no smile for her wretched children. No ruined fragment of moral rectitude would have remained to form the basis of faith between man and man. No kindly affection could have lingered in the bower where the fire of judicial vengeance was already kindled.
No, even the temporary preservation of moral goodness in its various degrees, the blessings so rich