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CHRIST’S LOVE TO US OUR LAW OF LIFE.
“The love of Christ constraineth us.”
IN the sight of the world, that is, of its wise, refined, easy, and prudent men, the life of St. Paul was rashness and folly. His whole mind to them was strange and unintelligible. He and the world were contradictions. In all its ways, aims, and judgments, it was set against him, and he against it. He and the world had no common language, idea, or law of life.
Once he had enjoyed all its good things,—a fair name, a great reputation, high authority, distinguished trusts, a character for learning, zeal, and strictness, the tide of popularity, and the peace of home.
And of all this he had made a voluntary wreck. In one hour he had cast it from him. All that the world counts dearest he had thrown 2away; all that the world most shrinks from he had embraced. At all times and in all places he was suffering now as an apostate and a betrayer. His own people hated him; the Heathen scorned him. In Jerusalem, where he once was held in honour, men sought to kill him; in the luxury of Corinth and in the pride of Athens he was a madman and a babbler. Such was his outward life as the world saw it, and wondered. It knew not the interpretation of the mystery. What is its true solution? “Whether we be beside ourselves,” he says, “it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us.”
A power the world knew not of had fallen upon him; an attraction had fastened on his inmost will, and drew him to a world unseen. That which had drawn Peter, James, and John from their boats and from their kindred, Nathanael from his shade and solitude, Matthew from his custom and commerce, Mary Magdalene from her sins, had now, in turn, fastened upon him. As he journeyed to Damascus, breathing hatred to the name of Jesus, the love of Christ fell upon him. A light, above the brightness of the sun, encompassed him. A drop of light, a drop of the heavenly flame, fell into his soul, and set him all on fire. The love of Christ smote him to the 3ground. A revelation of the love divine, of which he was a special object; a consciousness of the eternal love withstanding him in his blind career; this expelled his old self, and awakened a new principle of life. He was lifted into a new sphere of consciousness, and his whole being now flowed in a new channel. He saw himself, for the first time, in his true deformity. All that he had believed to be light turned into darkness, and his fairest purposes, in his own sight, became unclean. He beheld himself guilty, and yet beloved. He saw the love of God in His Son to be so much the more miraculous as he thrilled with a piercing conviction that he was indeed the chief of sinners.11 1 Tim. i. 15. Therefore he counted all his worldly gains to be but loss for Christ: all that he had been, possessed, or hoped for, was gladly cast away. His eyes had opened upon the unseen world. The true Jerusalem, the city of the Son of David, the mother of Saints, the home of Patriarchs and Prophets, floated above his path. Jesus, whom he had persecuted, stood as a King at the right hand of God, as the only and true High Priest before the true and only altar. Therefore he lived and laboured for his heavenly Master in obedience and patience, in fasting and prayer, in preaching and suffering, by night and by day, in 4perils of the deep and in perils everywhere; “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” the faint imitation of the cross by which he had been redeemed; counting life too short, and himself too worthless, as an offering to his Master’s service. At the last, he laid down his life also for His name’s sake. Of all this supernatural change he here gives us the true interpretation: “The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead,”—that is, all died with Him,—“and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.”22 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
What, then, is this love of Christ of which St. Paul is speaking?
He does not here intend our love to Christ, but Christ’s love to us.
We love Him, indeed, because He first loved us. Our love is the reflection of the original light,—the heavenly ray bent back again towards its source; and where this love towards Him exists, it becomes a motive of perpetual service. But this is not St. Paul’s intention: he is here speaking of the motive of that motive. What is it that awakens our love to Him, but His love first to us? Love is the principle of obedience, 5but the principle of love is love. And of this the Apostle speaks,—the love which descends from Him to us. Let us begin at this source of all.
God is love, and love is the law of His kingdom. There is a hierarchy of love, having its beginning in the Eternal Three, descending from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to all orders of created spirits, angelic and ministering, and to all creatures in earth and heaven, binding all in one. Love is the stooping of the higher to the lower, the Creator to the creature, the parent to the child, the stronger to the weaker, the sinless to the sinful,—God stooping down to man. The penetrating, exalting consciousness that we are objects of the love of God, which has its fountains in eternity, has alone made apostles, martyrs, saints, and penitents. And this consciousness is awakened in us by a sense of the love of Christ. The love that constrains us is the love of God manifest in the flesh,—of the Eternal Word incarnate. What was it but His everlasting love as God that constrained Him to make Himself of no reputation, and take upon Him our manhood? What but His love, perfect both in His Godhead and in His manhood, constrained Him to give Himself, as God and man, to suffer a life of sorrow and a death of agony? This free, spontaneous, ineffable thirst for our salvation was the power which drew Him 6 from His throne to the cross. The zeal which devoured Him was the fire of His eternal love to sinners; and this love, intimately realised, felt, and, if I may so speak, tasted by a consciousness of His sympathy and friendship towards us, one by one, was the motive which constrained St. Paul to a life of martyrdom.
See next how this motive works in us: what is the effect of this love of Christ upon our life?
It “constrains;” that is, it lays a force upon us, as a strong hand draws us withersoever it will. There are in creation powers of attraction which control whole orders of nature; as the loadstone, which draws its subjects to itself, and the sun, to which all nature answers. These are the constraining forces of the natural world—a parable of the attractions of the spirit. We know this by familiar experience in our lower life. What awakens love like love? What constrains us to the presence of another but a consciousness of his love to us? What draws us from among a multitude, and binds us to one among all others, but the wakened sense of his affection? We know how the eye has power to attract. Countenance and tone of voice are in themselves nothing, except as they are channels of this attractive force. So is it with the love of Christ. It is the most powerful constraint, drawing 7our whole spiritual nature to itself. We all know how a sense of the Divine Presence works upon us; it awes, chastens, and supports us: but the consciousness of the love of Christ is something more than a sense of His presence. It adds this further perception, that He is watching us in love; that He is inviting our love to Himself; that He is ordering all our outward state for our perfect sanctification, and all our inward life for the perception of His personal love. And the sense of His love is the mightiest of all constraining motives. It embraces our whole spiritual nature, touches it in all its springs, moves it in all its affections, stirs it in all its energies. It is the one only universal motive. Hope will make men strive, and fear will make men tremble; but love alone will waken love. The bliss of heaven will kindle our desire, the anguish of hell will make us thrill with alarm; but the love of Christ alone will soften, humble, and subdue. It has a response in the whole sphere of our spiritual life, in all its higher and lower affections. It kindles love, and love kindles all beside. And as it is universal in its effect, so it is uniform in its working. Other motives rise and fall in their power to constrain; they depend much on outward circumstances; they come and go; they are fainter or stronger, as if fitful and capricious. Who does not know the truth of this? 8Who does not know how hope and fear, shame and sorrow, joy and thankfulness, devotion and resolution, intentions and perseverance, vary with our actual state; sometimes, when specially awakened, making deep impression, sometimes almost vanishing away? But love never faileth.
And still more, a consciousness of the love of Christ is, of all, the most uniform and changeless principle of life. As, in our lower friendships, the consciousness of being loved stays by us at all times, through long years, under all trials, even without sensible memorials or renewed expressions to assure us; it embraces, moulds, determines our whole heart, and constrains us to the person who loves us, making his will our will, his wish our law: so with the love of Christ. There are spiritual miracles which it alone can work. The soul in man was so created, that no other power could satisfy or sway it altogether; no other can touch its life to the very quick, and awaken all its affections. The love of Christ felt in the heart is the only principle of perfect conversion to God. It is very easy to be almost a Christian; to be religious in habits and forms, in sensations and emotions, in intellect and intention; to be half, or almost altogether converted. And it is still easier there to linger, deceiving our own hearts.
When I speak of conversion, I mean, not only 9the change which comes in after-life upon the sinful and the careless, when they begin to turn with tardy steps towards God; but also the whole life-long penetrating change of heart which must pass on every regenerate soul. Every fallen spirit needs a conversion to God; for flesh and blood cannot inherit His kingdom. And whether that change or conversion be in after-life, begun too late, and with greater obstructions, or whether it begin with our earliest consciousness, as dawn lightens into noon, it is all one. Sudden or gradual are but properties of time 3 and time is nothing. The change of the soul from sin to God is an universal law; and every baptised soul needs a perfect conversion to God. Now, the only true motive of this change is a sense of the love of Christ.
We see its power even from the very font. What is it that draws the hearts of children to the service of Christ? Not the great white throne; not the face before which heaven and earth shall flee away; but the love of Jesus Christ revealed in His words and deeds, and believed by them as the atmosphere in which they live. This is about them everywhere, drawing them with a calm, even, steadfast motion to Himself. From earliest childhood sin is hateful to them, because it is hateful to Him; holiness lovely, because Christ loves it. To do or to leave any thing undone, it is enough for 10 them to know that so He wills. Above the love of brother, sister, or mother, is the love of Him of whom the Gospels speak, suffering and dying for love of them. There is not upon earth a purer or heavenlier sight than a child listening to the life and words, the passion and love of Jesus Christ. The life of such is a perpetual conversion, a daily, hourly turning of the whole heart to Him. The mind of the flesh dies down in them, as the mind of the spirit enlarges its power and fulness, and the darkened face of the soul is converted more and more towards Him, until it is filled with His brightness, as the moon at the full.
And this we see also in after-life. What so binds to the cross the heart of those who are entering upon the perils of life as the consciousness of the love which from the cross descends upon them? The love of Christ is the purity and safety of youth. It is their shield in temptation, their strength in obedience, their spur in lingering, their measure in devotion and service. With what resolved and confiding hearts do such renew the vows of their baptism in confirmation; with how firm a will do they answer in the words “I do!” With what ardent and intent devotion do they come to their first communion; and with what ever-increasing desire do they await every return of the holy Sacrament.
All these are true and perfect examples of conversion. 11Indeed, the life-long conversion of the regenerate is the best and most perfect form of this great spiritual law. Late conversions are imperfect imitations, as “the shooting up of the latter growth;” “the latter growth after the king’s mowings;”33 Amos vii. 1. for the bloom and the freshness are His. Nature has its tardy and scantier compensations, its after-fruits, and gleanings when the harvest is done. Such are most conversions of which the world takes note, because contrasts are objects of sense, while changes are objects of faith alone.
But let us take examples of such later and commoner conversions. What is it but the power of this constraining love which bends the will of those who, after baptism, fall, and yet repent? What is it that most deeply moves and changes the sinful, worldly, and wasted heart? What turned Saul from his career of blood, recalled Peter from his denials, drew sinners to wash His feet with tears? The tenderness, the look, the voice of love. The shame, sorrow, indignation, revenge of penitents spring from the too late awakened consciousness of the love against which they have been sinning, The greater the love, the greater their offending: the more deeply it is perceived, the more fervent their repentance.
But there is another effect of this love when it 12 is felt in the heart. It is the only source of unreserved devotion, and of perfect sacrifice of self. Many other motives draw us to partial obedience and to lesser self-denials. I need not speak of false and spurious motives, such as fanaticism, vain-glory, self-exaltation, which will lead men into great undertakings or perils under the plea of religion; much less need I speak of baser and earthlier motives. There is always a glare, a heat, and a noise about such characters, a restless, eager sharpness in their tone and way, which betrays the source of the fire from which they are kindled to be not in heaven but earth. We are now speaking of such motives as act upon sincere and religious hearts. In such persons we often see, with much of seriousness, goodness, and high aspiration, something which always keeps them down. They are at peace with the world, are esteemed by the majority, trusted by those who will not trust each other. They are esteemed prudent, discreet, and safe. Their life ruffles no one; is in keeping with the ways, hours, comfort, ease, enjoyment of society. And yet they are often charitable, earnest, and on the right side. But there is one visible defect. They want range, force, freedom, and a fearless spirit. In religious duties they take counsel of men less religious than themselves. They use the weights and measures of civilisation, of refinement, 13and of what the world calls possible. The one thing they lack is boldness to be “fools for Christ’s sake.” Such was not the spirit of those who in all ages have done or suffered great things for the kingdom of God. They knew no motive but the love of Christ. All other motives ran up into this, and were lost, as lesser forces are united in a greater. With what unreserved and generous affections did they give themselves to His service. It was not a cold conviction of truth, or a mere sentiment of its beauty, or a rule of conscience, or the encouragement of human esteem, or a passing fervour, or a fear of pains beyond the grave, or even a hope of eternal peace; none of these sufficed to set on fire those who have converted nations, planted churches, founded religious orders, kindled and moulded a spiritual lineage to tend the sick, instruct the ignorant, educate little children, reclaim sinners, redeem captives, pluck brands from the burning. For this there was needed a higher, deeper, mightier impulse, in which all hopes and fears are extinguished; a motive which breaks down the measures of self and of the world on every side, and can be meted only by a measure which is divine. The love of Christ constrained them. His love to them was the measure of their self-sacrifice for Him. Therefore they gladly forsook friends, home, and 14 all things, that they might find Him enough alone. They had received the fire which falls from heaven, and, as it kindled, their hearts pleaded with them in secret and piercing words, “He wholly gave Himself for me; shall I give less to Him? I am altogether His in body, soul, and spirit. Shall I keep back what is His own? Shall I profess to serve Him with all I am, and keep back a part of the price, my heart being privy to it? My fearful, shrinking, delicate, ungenerous spirit makes me draw back from loneliness, danger, hardship, and peril of death. Yet I desire to live for Him, and to die for Him. If He would but give me the grace and the will to die to myself, and fear nothing; the love to kindle my whole soul for Him, as He was consumed by love for me; even I should dare to say, ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’”44 Phil. i. 21.
But there is still one more effect of this divine motive. It is the only principle of an enduring perseverance. We know how any personal affection grows upon us, and becomes a part of our very life. All our consciousness is so pervaded by it, that we cannot distinguish it from a direct instinct of the soul. It grows stronger as it acts: by acting it is made perfect. Long trials of Christ’s love in joy and sorrow, in storm and sunshine, 15reveal its divine tenderness and depth. And this quickens the activity of our own hearts with a living, thirsting desire to love Him with a greater love again. All the powers of our spiritual life are drawn to this point. They meet as in a focus, and kindle each other by uniting. Steadfast love is perseverance; it supports through all weariness and disappointment, all allurement and alarm. A true love to Christ moves in its path year by year, from strength to strength, without haste but without tarrying, calm, bright, and onward as the light of heaven. Take any example you will. Out of this one motive arise all motives. See what solace it has for every trial. Sometimes it brings persevering obedience, sometimes persevering patience. In a burdened life of worldly cares, what support it is to know, “This is His appointment; He gives it me because He loves me. Shall I not bear this for Him who bore all for me?” Or if it be weariness in the religious life, as of communicants who at the altar find no sweetness, only emptiness and reluctance, let them say, “How long did He love me much, and I loved Him little! How long did He wait for my love, and I would not! Now I must wait for Him; justly chastened by His love; slighted but not estranged.” Take, again, those on whom the cloud of sorrow has fallen. Their happiness was stately 16 and full, spreading abroad as the cedar. In one hour it withered away. Why? He loved you too well to lose you. In His love He smote you. He breathed upon your aspiring happiness, and it dried up from the very root. He cleared all away between Himself and you, that you might be conscious of His personal love, and choose it as your portion for ever.
Or perhaps you have been reaching out for a happiness you have never attained: the hope of your heart was dashed upon the threshold. When it seemed all your own, a sudden change came, and it was not. And why? Because the love of Christ had some better thing in store for you. Can you not trust Him? Is He not wise as loving? Are not your treasures in His hand? Do you love them as He loves? Are they not safer with Him than with you?
Or it may be that you have to bear long lingering sickness, with memories of sorrow and pain. The cross lay early upon you, and has never departed from your soul. Be sure that the love of Christ has in store for you some greater things hereafter. It may be the right hand or the left in His kingdom. God knoweth; but if so, the cup and the baptism must come first. And the cup which His love hath given you, shall you not drink it?17
And as in patience, so in hard and enduring service. What but the consciousness of this love could uphold a pastor’s heart, wearied out by contradictions, wasted away with toiling for “souls that will not be redeemed?” It is His work, and that is enough. He will not disown it. Though men believe not, He abideth faithful. Let me labour alone and without fruit unto the last, so He love me still. Let me please Him and faint not; let me offend all the world, so I be accepted as His servant.
Above all, what other spring, and what other stay of perseverance is there to His hardier and bolder servants, who, choosing for their portion the full burden of His cross, go out into far lands, without father, without mother, without home or kindred, alone with Him Who is their love, to gather souls into His kingdom? What is there to sustain the craving and weakness of humanity, in the weariness of solitude, and under the burden of their own isolated hearts? There is but the love of Christ beneath them and around. The outer hardships of sky and shore, rude natures and savage wills, are nothing to the lonely world within. But their Master’s love is enough. They know by intuitions of the heart, and by perceptions of their whole inward life, that He loves them, and gave Himself for them. They 18 have but faintly done the like: for love they have given themselves in behalf of His elect. He loves them, and they love Him again. Who shall unloose this knot? Who shall unravel the strength of this heavenly bond? Who shall separate them from the love of Christ? When memories of home, fond faces, beloved images, rise thick and crowd upon them; when what they have lost seems a paradise, and their present life a desolation; when the human heart, for a passing moment, is too strong, and love and sorrow turn towards earth again; when failures, miscalculations, hasty steps, hopeless efforts, unforeseen reverses, beginnings abandoned, and aims missed at the very stroke, come back upon them, then it may be they grow weak, and ask, “Have I not acted in a false excitement, and bound myself to one life-long mistake? When I was in my own land, was it not well with me? Might I not have served Him truly, as others before and now, in the midst of peace and home, doing good work among my own people and by my father’s house? Why have I come hither, exiled and cut off, bound by an irrevocable word?”
Because the love of Christ constrained them, therefore they are alone with Him in the wilderness. They have chosen well, and nobly followed out their choice. They shall never fail, nor be forsaken; 19never faint, nor weary. Though for a moment flesh and blood may make its pleading heard, yet the consciousness of their Master’s love shall arise again to put all questioning down. It, shall bear them unto the end. As the ark went upon the face of the waters, so shall they be upheld by the everlasting love, sustaining and wafting them to the eternal shore.
Such are the powers of this constraining love. It is the motive and solace of every faithful soul—the mightiest, purest, most inflexible law of a devout and persevering faith.
Do we so find it working in us? If not, why not? Because, before it can thus work in us conversion, devotion, or perseverance, we must feel this love, and, if I may so say, taste it by the spiritual perception of our hearts.
Perhaps we are conscious, as the chief fact of our spiritual life, that we have no such perception. We can, indeed, feel the love of kindred and of friends. This wakens and stirs us to live for them and in them. But His love falls coldly and without power upon us. We know it as a theory of faith, but we have no sense of it in our heart. Why is this? Why is it that some walk in the noonday sun, but are never kindled by its warmth? The coldness is in themselves: they carry it in their life-blood. So it is with the soul. There 20 is some inward resistance, some palsying chill, some failure of vital power; something which deadens their sense and clouds their perception. Though the love of Christ has encompassed them from childhood, they have been unmoved and senseless.
Now, there are two things which chiefly hinder our perception of the love of Christ. The one is sin, wilfully committed; the other is a spirit at variance with His, consciously indulged. If, then, you are conscious of insensibility, examine yourself for the cause.
1. First ask yourself this question: Am I wilfully indulging in my conscience any sin which He hates? So long as we wilfully harbour any conscious evil, we must be cold and dead towards Him. I am speaking, not of the guilt of sin, but of its effect upon our inward state. Every grosser sin, as sensuality, excess in meat or drink, deadens the soul, and makes it as the body, drowsy and heavy. It becomes unfit for the perception of the love of Christ. So also all spiritual sins, such as anger, envy, pride, a double mind, and an evil tongue; or again, sloth, which is a sin both of the body and of the spirit, full of baseness and dishonour to our Lord and to ourselves. And besides these, there is one sin very common to Christians, and most provoking in His sight—the sin of inconstancy, the irresolute wavering between 21hot and cold, the lukewarm indifference which turns away from a religious life after a beginning has been made, as if all were known and despised as tasteless, sapless, and unpalatable.
These sins deaden the heart, and raise grave doubts within, whether it be possible that He can love such as we are. And doubts bring on fears, and fears estrangements. We shrink with a consciousness that we are unworthy of His love; and that shrinking estranges us the more, and hinders the first emotions of love to Him. Can you detect any such in yourselves, be it only in thought, memory, imagination? for spiritual sins deaden spiritual perceptions. Our hearts must first be cleansed, and their senses made quick and apprehensive. How can love constrain us, so long as we do not feel it? and how can we feel it, so long as our hearts are dead? But perhaps you will say, I am not conscious of indulging any sin which He hates, even in thought.
2. Then there is another question we must ask: Am I striving to be all that He loves? How long we are in learning that holiness is not a negative but a positive endowment. It does not consist only in not sinning, but in actual sanctity. We may be clear from gross sin, and yet have no love for Him. We may not be living for this world, and yet not be living for the next. Our mind may 22 not be “earthly, sensual, devilish,” and yet have no likeness to the mind of Christ. There is a worldliness which is pure, a hardness of heart which is refined, and a selfishness which is decent and dissembled. These never offend by gross or startling sins, but they are far from the fellowship of Christ and of God. How can hearts stunned by the world, or doating upon its material goods, perceive the love of Christ? Their faculties, their very organisation, are too gross and earthly. When, then, St. Paul speaks of holiness, “without which no man shall see the Lord,” he means a positive endowment of the soul. Just as the intellect is developed and trained by the discipline of science, so as to awaken new faculties, powers, and perceptions, and to bring a new range of objects within its sphere of intelligence and of fruition, so is it with holiness, without which no man shall see God. Sanctity is a state and discipline of the soul, awakened, unfolded, and empowered by the Spirit of God, to know, love, and delight in Him. It implants spiritual faculties, senses, affections; it creates a spiritual consciousness, whereby we dwell in God, and God in us. This is the wedding-garment, for lack of which the guest at the marriage-supper was cast out; “the white raiment,” clean and white, “the righteousness of Saints;” “the mind of Christ;” the heavenly endowment of which the Apostle 23speaks when he says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a positive spiritual state, to be attained only by God’s gift through prayer, and a will united to His will. Where this union exists, the grace of the Spirit of God and the perfections of the mind of Christ descend into the heart. From this source alone we receive gentleness, lowliness, purity, self-denial, self-forgetfulness, and all the heavenly beatitudes. And as we are made like to Him, we are drawn to Him, and by nearness perceive His love to us, and learn to delight in Him, dwelling in the consciousness of His love. Have you attained this state? Are you striving for it?
But you will perhaps say, All this I have striven to do, and yet I feel cold and insensible. I have known the love of Christ from my childhood, but never felt it. It has been a conviction of my reason, but not a perception of my heart. Do what I will, I remain still unmoved and hard, as if there were no love descending with the fulness of God upon me.
3. There remains, then, one thing still to do. Pray Him to make you feel His love. St. Paul felt nothing till it fell from heaven upon him. We cannot awaken this sense in ourselves, any more than we can open eyes that are blind. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and 24 cometh down from the Father of lights.” There is One alone who can make “the sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and send His rain upon the just and upon the unjust.” Pray Him to lift up the light of His love upon you; to reveal to you the mystical cross, the book of His love which passeth knowledge, and to give you grace with all saints to read it in its length, breadth, depth, and height. It is by no mechanical work of ours that we can come to a perception of the Heart of Jesus Christ. He alone can open it to us, and open our heart to see its meaning.
Let this, then, be your prayer, for prayer is the uniting of our consciousness with His Presence. Let it also be your meditation, for meditation is the gazing of the spiritual eye upon His love revealed in Himself. Let this be your desire in holy communion, for what is it but the union of His Spirit with our spirit, His heart with our heart, His love with our love? In the sacrament of His Body and Blood His divine love kindles our faint affections; and through the mystery of His incarnation and His crucifixion, by the wounds in His “hands and His side,” He reveals His miraculous compassion. Let our prayer be, “Thou knowest that I love Thee;” yet not so that I dare say it of myself. Forgive my lack of love. I would love Thee, if I could, above kindred, friends, home, and 25life itself. I would fain love Thee so as to desire to depart and be with Thee; so as that life may be to me sweet only for Thee, and death without fear, because it shall bring me to Thee.
Let this be your aspiration at the altar, year by year, day by day, again and again, always persevering, in every prayer, in every communion. Hold Him fast by your supplications, and let Him not go till He bless you with this consciousness of love.
What drew Him down to us but love? what but love can lift us up to Him? What but the love of Christ dwelling in His elect is the life of His Church on earth; the rest of His Saints unseen? With St. Peter, they follow Him in faith; with the beloved disciple, they lie upon His bosom and are blest.
What a gathering shall that be when He shall have fulfilled His promise, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me;” when, by the bands of love and the attractions of His pity and of His passion, He shall have drawn all His elect from all ages and from all lands, from all kindreds and from all homes, from all sins and from all crosses, from all toils and solitude, from all partings and exile, from tears and waiting, from doubts and fears, strivings and failings, strivings and masteries, to the foot of the Eternal Throne! What a meeting, 26 when we shall see Him who hath so loved us eternally; when all Saints, from the first unto the last, from the least unto the greatest,—all whom He hath loved unto the end, shall stand before Him for Whose love’s sake they have lived and died, each one in perfect personal identity, in perfect mutual recognition,—changed, and yet the same; the same in all that we have loved, but changed into more of love and bliss than we have ever desired or dreamed—there to serve Him for ever before the throne of God our Father!27
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