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There are, I might say, three measures of our love to Him. The first, when we know what He has done for us as Saviour; second, when we know what He is doing for us as Priest ; and, thirdly, when we know union with Him as our Head. His love for each of us existed in the whole three before we knew the first, consequently it is only when we know the three that we truly know the love that led Him to do the first to die for us. He “loved me, and gave himself for me embraces everything; He loved the church and gave himself for it: yet our love is always measured by the measure we know of His love.
When I know Him as my Saviour, as the One who bore the judgment for me, who was delivered for my offences and raised again for my justification, then the love of God is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost which is given to me. I begin to be without fear, for as His love is known, fear departs. It is when we are relieved from the fear of judgment by His work that we have the first sense of love to Him. The freedom from fear assured to our hearts by Himself (as when He said to Peter “Fear not') makes Him dearer to us than anything else ; and as "they brought their ships to land and followed Him," so does every one who has tasted this measure of His love. Like Jonathan to David, when He saw that by the hand of David, Goliath, the terror of his soul, had been completely removed, his head in David's hand, “ the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul .... And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.” (1 Sam. xviii. 4.)
It is very interesting to note the effect of this measure. The heart has learned that through a Man--the Lord Jesus Christ--it is relieved of all fear in the presence of God. Where the fear existed, there it has been removed; and the consequence is, that the heart clings to this Person, and delights to surrender for His sake. The woman in Luke vii. 36 going into the Pharisee's house, a place she would naturally shrink from, in order to express her love to Jesus as her Saviour, sets forth in pattern, ono who has reached this measure.
We all know how striking and effective it is when we see one now and again so attracted to Him, that there is an open and public surrender of property or natural advantages in order to make much of Him. The One from heaven is more to the heart than any property here. Love likes to exalt its object at its own loss.
The next measure of His love made known to us is the way He is “able to sympathise with our infirmities.” We grow in a deeper sense of the first measure as we advance in the knowledge of His love. It is like the growth of a tree, every advance in the tree increases the first growth, so that the bottom of the tree is ever the greatest part of it. In the first measure all the question of sin has been settled, and by the Spirit, in the freedom of His life, we are, though encompassed with infirmity, moving onward and upward. Then we learn that He never leaves us nor forsakes us; but as we are near Him, He sympathises with us, as He Himself had felt in a similar trial or difficulty. He cannot sympathise with wilfulness; He does with infirmities.
He took our infirmities on Him and bare our sicknesses. The One who perfectly knows us, perfectly loves us, and is perfectly able to feel with us; He, in divine power, is ever in the aspect suited to cheer and support us; and we find Him thus when our faith is simple. In the storm He is asleep; that is the aspect His sympathy takes. Unbelief is occupied with the storm ; faith learns how He is a very present help in the time of trouble.
Mary of Bethany knew Him in this measure ; she knew His sympathy, while Martha, who suffered from the same sorrow, was too unsubdued to know it. The knowledge of this
measure is very effective.
It is not so much the thought of giving to Him in any open way as with Jonathan, but now nothing can satisfy but His company; we cannot do without Him. The more we use Him in our daily difficulties, and learn how He would act in them, (and thus His own grace is imparted to us,) the less can we bear to be here without Him. The most valued thing as belonging to this scene is freely buried with Him; and this is properly the difference between the alabaster box of John xii. and Luke vii.
It is a most wonderful history. How happy to remember all the way that He has led us! Surely if Elisha could feel that Elijah was so indispensable to him that nothing but a double portion of his spirit could make up for his absence, how much more with us who know anything of the company of our blessed Lord, so infinitely beyond that of Elijah !
One is now like Ruth to Naomi. A Person commands our whole being. It is not now surrender of property in