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by Thomas Shepard
His Wonderful Love
Consider he makes love to thee. Not one soul that hears me this day but the Lord Jesus is a suitor unto, that now ye would be espoused to him; "He came unto his own, and they received him not." Whatever the secret purpose of Christ is, I regard not. In this evangelical dispensation of grace, he makes love to all. John 1:12. It is clear. Matt. 22:2, 3. If there be a gospel in the world, there is this love of Christ yearning toward all, especially all that have this gospel of peace sent to them. Luke 2:10. "It is tidings of great joy to all people," as law is tidings of great sorrow to all people. Luke 2:14. Angels from heaven preached this good will towards men. For if the challenge of love from men should be founded on his actual love to some, having died for some, then the offer would be particular. But it is grounded, 1. On his own worth and glory, and hence he challengeth love. 2. On this, for aught I know, he has loved me. So that thou art not so vile but the Lord Jesus' heart is toward thee, and his eye is upon thee for love. But it is not all love, but only some that overcomes. 1. Now it is real love. 2. Frequent love. 3. Constant. 4. Pure love he makes to thee.
1. It is real love. When the gospel and ministers seek for love, the Lord is real in his desires, there is no collusion or dissembling, (2 Cor. 5:20,) in Christ's stead, "He that receiveth you receiveth me;" thou thinkest the Lord cares not for thee, nor doth not desire thee, though he doth others; but,
1. Either the Lord would have thee loathe him or love him. What think you?
2. If the Lord did not make love to thee, he would not be really angry for rejecting of this love; but the Lord is really angry for rejecting it, and wroth with nothing so much as that. Ps. 2:12. Here he swears in his wrath, (Ps. 95:11,) when he opens his bosom for thee to rest in, and thou wilt not.
3. Look but upon the dealings of God with thee. 1. Hast thou not oft thought some in hell better than thee? Why, the ruin of millions of men is to win love from thee. Jer. 3:8,9,10. 2. Hath not the Lord sent many a mercy to thee, not one but was to win thee? Ps. 81:10,11,12. 3. Hath not the Lord withheld many from thee, as here in this wilderness? Jer. 3:3,4. 4. Hath not the Lord sent many sorrows, terrors, fears, cares, wearisome businesses, that thou hast wished an end of life? This is love. Hos. 2:6. 5. Hath not the Lord moved thy heart many a time toward him by persuasions, arguments which have a power to move the heart? This is love, (Hos. 11:4,) "cords of a man." 6. Hath not the Lord oft melted thy heart for mercies, as David, when he might have killed Saul? Truly, you may feel his love which is much toward you; that which keeps off thy heart from love is, the Lord intends it not to me, he is not plain with me. But he sends to thee his plain gospel, which thou art to attend unto; and he takes fittest seasons to speak to thee now in the time of thy health. And does he not oft visit thy heart when thou art alone?
2. It is fervent, vehement, earnest love. Sometimes a suitor is real, but he is not earnest. Now, thus the Lord is. 1. The Lord longs for this. Deut. 5:29. 2. Pleads for this, (Jer. 2:5,) "What iniquity," etc. 3. Thinks long for this time, (Jer. 13:27,) "Jerusalem will not be made clean; when shall it once be?" 4. Mourns when he hath not this, (Ezek. 6:9,) "Broken with their whorish heart." 5. Content to give away any thing for it, all the love of Christ is founded on this. 6. If thou comest not presently, he is content to wait that he may be gracious.
3. It is constant and continual; there is not a moment, thou dost not so oft breathe, as thou mayst see and taste love. Isa. 27:3, 65:2. 1. After all thy whorish departing from God, that if man should do so, no man would own, yet he saith, "Return to me;" thou seest never a creature but thou hast loved more than Christ; yet return. 2. When God threatens most terribly, and sets his fury on record, yet then there he minds nothing but love. Jer. 36:2,3. 3. When none else will own and pity thee, thou art so vile, yet (Ezek. 16:2,3) the Lord saith, "Live, then is a time of love." 4. Nay, when thou hast cast away thyself as a forlorn creature, yet (Hos. 14:3) "In thee the fatherless find mercy." 5. When he hath thee in his arms ready to give thee up, yet then, "How shall I give thee up, O Ephraim?" Hos. 11:8. I tell thee, if one sparkle of his eternal blasting displeasure should fall upon thee, it would be so intolerable that it would sink thee; his love is as strong as death; no water can quench it. O, it is not so with man, or great men. Once repulsed is enough; why should the Lord do so here? Many think time is past. It is not so. It is the temptation of them that have time, not of them that want it. Take heed this make thee not despise him.
4. It is a pure love. Others make love for their own ends, but the Lord hath no need of thee, or of thy love. He could raise up of stones children of praise; he could have gone to others; he could have, and can fetch, his glory out of thy ruin. He was blessed before all worlds: and by all thy sins thou dost but throw stones against the wind, or snowballs against the sun. Why doth he do it? O, it is thy good. He pities thee, as once Jerusalem, to look upon thy destruction and desolation. As it is with the elect, they have wrath before their eyes, and hence persuade others; so the Lord Jesus.
Consider it is nothing else but love the Lord looks for, or cares
for. Love looks for nothing but love, (Prov. 8:17,) and this is
the end of all election, to be holy before him in love; and, mark
it, if it be a stayed love that constrains thee to him, you can
not wrong him. As if you come and persuade one to murder his child,
he can not; so if persuaded to despise, O, bowels of heartbreaking
love. 2 Cor. 5: And surely it is admirable love. What if it were
thy goods, thy Isaac to be sacrificed, thy body to be burned,
it was nothing; but he desires only love, only thy heart, which
has forged so much villany against him. Let him never be called
upon, or professed, if not worthy of this. After all, is this
all? Yes, no portion he cares for; and when he has this, he has
all. Wonder at this, O angels!
Consider how Christ will love You
Index to Thomas Shepard
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