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Chapter XXV.

Sundry Signs By Which We May Ascertain Whether We Truly Love Christ.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.—1 John 2:15.

The first mark that the love of Christ is in us, is the avoiding of the love of the world. When thou considerest Christ in his holy poverty, how he was so entirely empty of love to temporal things, his love will also actuate thee to learn that thou art to put off the love of the world and to despise it; so that thou wilt desire nothing here but thy Lord Jesus Christ, and wilt not put thy confidence in any creature, or earthly assistance.

2. Secondly, thou wilt willingly bear reproach and contempt from the world, for the sake of Christ's holy reproach; nay, with St. Paul, thou wilt account it thy glory, and rejoice in it. Eph. 3:13. Nor wilt thou be much troubled when the world makes no great account of thee; for such was thy Lord's and Redeemer's life in this world. This shall be thy full satisfaction, that Christ is thy honor, renown, glory, light, strength, power, and victory, wisdom, and skill. For to follow Christ is the highest wisdom.

3. Thirdly, seeing that Christ in his holy body and soul has suffered pain and sorrow unto death, thou also, for his love's sake, wilt not only with patience, but even with joy, suffer sorrow, persecution, distress, and affliction, nay, torment and pain unto death.

4. And, fourthly, as Christ had comfort and joy in no man nor in any creature, but only in God, according to what is said in Psalm 22, so thou also wilt bear it patiently when all worldly comfort leaves thee. For thou knowest that at last God will make thee joyful with his everlasting comfort, of which St. Paul gives us an admirable account (2 Cor. 6:4, etc.): “Let us approve ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

5. Fifthly, thou shalt esteem the cross of Christ as the highest good, beyond all the treasures of the world. If it were not so, Christ would not have taught thee so, and put it before thine eyes with his own life and example. Thou mayest easily believe that the Son of God would not mislead thee by his example, but conduct thee to the highest wisdom, and to the highest heavenly joys, although the way is strait and narrow. But thou seest that he himself walked in this narrow path. And because there are few that follow him, he 250 says, “Few there be that find it.” Matt. 7:14. For it is not an easy thing to conquer self, to deny self, to die unto self, and to renounce the world and all that we have. This is the narrow way, and few there be that find it.

6. The sixth mark of the love of Christ is, never to have the beloved Jesus out of our thoughts; but to set him always before us by faith, and to consider the works of his love.

7. As for instance: I. His incarnation, in which, as in a Book of Life, we see chiefly a twofold benefit: 1. That he thereby fills us with his love. And, 2. That he makes us sure of our eternal salvation and happiness. O what inexpressible love is this, that God was made man and like man, that he might make men like unto God! O the greatness of love! He took upon him the form of a servant (Phil. 2:6-8) that he might make us kings, and adorn us with royal crowns. O the greatness of love, that God, incomprehensible and invisible, should be made palpable and visible! Who is able to fathom the deep abyss of this love! O what great, unutterable wisdom, that out of the great evil of sin, thou, O Lord, hast brought forth such an infinite good, discovering thereby the deep abyss of thy love! O the great comfort it is to me to know that thy human birth is my divine birth, and a fountain of salvation against the deep well of sin!

8. II. His holy doctrine, wherein are found eternal wisdom, truth, light, life and salvation; and his holy life, whereby he has shown us the manner, and the way, how to live a truly Christian and godly life. For the pattern of his holy life is the most wonderful light, which will not let us walk in darkness.

9. III. The mystery of the innocent death of Christ, in which there are seven particulars to be considered. 1. The fulfilling of the justice of God, and of the divine sentence. 2. The satisfaction for all our sins. 3. Our reconciliation with God; for we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Rom. 5:10. 4. The manifestation of the superabundant love of God through the death of our Redeemer. 5. The eternal truth of God, that he has given us his Son, and thereby testified himself to be truly our Father. 6. The victory over all enemies. 7. The acquiring and purchase of eternal salvation and life.

10. IV. His resurrection, which gives us a firm assurance of the resurrection of our bodies, and also of that spiritual resurrection, wherein, through the grace of God, and the power of the life of Christ, we, having been spiritually dead, become spiritually alive in Christ. Rom. 6:4.

11. V. His ascension, which is a consummation of our eternal redemption, righteousness, and salvation.

12. These five works of the love of Christ are the true Christian school wherein we are to study, never letting them depart from our thoughts.

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