The Love of Jesus--What It Is--None But His Loved Ones Know
To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge by contemplation is very high—but there is a higher stage than this. There are times when I almost fear to speak of these things, but there are some here, surely, who will understand me, some here who have passed through the same state, and will not think that I am dreaming. There are times when the soul has long contemplated Christ, and there are some who know not only to contemplate but to enjoy. Even on earth, faith sometimes gives place to a present and conscious enjoyment.
I shall quote but one or two, and I hope there are some here who have known them in their own experience. In the life of Mr. Flavel, who was one of the most temperate of the Puritans, and one not at all given to anything like fanaticism, there is an event mentioned which once occurred to him. He said that being once on a journey alone on horseback, the thought of the love of Christ came upon him with great power. And as he rode gently along the road, the thought seemed to increase in force and strength, till at last he forgot all about earth, and even where he was. Somehow or other his horse stood still but he did not notice it. And when he came to himself, through some passerby observing him, he found that he had bled very copiously during the time. Getting off his horse he washed his face at the brook and he said, "I did verily think as I stood there, that if I was not in Heaven, I could hardly hope to be more blessed in Heaven than I was then." He mounted his horse and rode on to a place of lodging where he was to pass the night. Supper was brought in but left untasted on the table. He sat all night long without sleep, enjoying the presence of Christ, and he says, "I was more rested that night than with any sleep I ever had, and I heard and saw in my soul, by faith, such things as I had never known before." The like occurred to Mr. Tennant, who was a man who spent many hours in private, and sometimes, when it was time to preach, he was quite unable to stand unless first carried into his pulpit. Then he would put his hands out and lean there and say such glorious things of Christ, that those who looked upon him verily thought that they looked upon the face of an angel.
Rutherford, too, is another specimen. When he preached about Christ, he preached so wonderfully, that on any other subject he was not at all like himself. And the Duke of Argyle was once so warmed when Rutherford got upon that subject, that he cried out in Church—"Now, Man, you are on the right strain! Keep to it." And he did keep to it, and the little man's thin voice seemed to swell with supernatural grandeur when he began to talk of his precious, precious Lord Jesus, and to extol and exalt Him who was the Bridegroom of his soul, his Brother and his blessed Companion.
"Oh, these are flights of the imagination," you say. Yes, they may be, indeed, Beloved. But if you could get them some times, you would come back to the world's cares and troubles like giants refreshed with new wine, caring nothing for anything that might happen. Christ would be so sweetly and blessedly within you, that you could bear the burden and think nothing of it. And though the grasshopper was a burden before, you could now carry it right readily.
Well, I have taken you up to where not many go in these times, but I hope there are some who will yet ascend there till they shall even embrace Christ, and who will sit down at His table till they shall know Ralph Erskine's blessed sickness of love and, in the conscious enjoyment of a precious Savior, shall say in the words of the spouse, "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head and His right hand does embrace me."
To know Christ sympathetically, is a yet higher stage than any to which we have attained before. What do I mean by this? I will show you, first of all, what I do not mean. We will suppose ourselves standing on the brow of the hill with Jerusalem in the alley below. Jerusalem is to be destroyed by the Romans. The decree has gone forth that its sin must be punished. Now, here is a Brother who holds very high doctrines in his head, but who has not much sympathy in his heart. Come up here, Brother. Do you see that city there? That is all to be destroyed! Do you see its streets? They are all to be crimsoned with blood! Do you see its temple? Not one stone of it is to be left upon another! What do you think of it? "Well," he says, "if they are to be saved, they will be saved. If it is in the purpose and the decree it will be so. I am sure I am very sorry if they should not be, but I do not see that it is any particular business of mine. The Lord will have His own and it will all be well."
Get down, Sir! What do you know about the love of Christ? Nothing! Give such a man as you that text, "He beheld the city and wept over it," and you would not know how to preach from it, for you do not know the Savior's heart, and have not known His love.
If you say are not your Brother's keeper, rest assured that you are a Cain, and that you will be your Brother's murderer—for we either do good or hate. It is impossible for us to be devoid of influence.
If he serves his Master, he is scattering mercy abroad. But let him, if it were possible for him to do so, let him cease to serve the Lord, and become idle, and then he scatters plague and death. Oh, do we know the love of Christ by feeling it in our own hearts?
May He help you to weep like Christ, to work like Christ—yes, and to be ready to die like Christ—if it were necessary by such means to bring sinners to their Savior and their Lord. O that we could get here!
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible