And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
I. THIS REPRESENTATION MUST BE JUSTIFIED, THIS LOFTY NOTICE MUST BE WARRANTED AND CONFIRMED.
1. The love of Christ is the love of Deity. It follows that, as all Divine perfections confirm "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," this low is consequently absolute.
2. This love, then, must be eternal. It knew no antecedent act, no previous event. As we infer the Father's eternal love to Christ, so we may infer Christ's eternal love to us. "For Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
3. Infinite intelligence must have directed this love. "This cometh forth (said the prophet) from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." "God hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence."
4. But this love, being the love of the Deity, must be perfectly consistent with immutable holiness. Jesus is the "Holy One." He is the Righteous One, and He loveth righteousness.
5. This love, then, must be efficient. 'Tis the love of omnipotence, and cannot be effeminate. Our Redeemer is the "Mighty One"; He travelled in the greatness of His strength: He has shown Himself strong on our behalf. There were no obstacles to Him! His love was stronger than death!
6. This love, then, must be immutable. Jesus is "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother"; in Him "there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
7. It is, therefore, infinitely ample; "the grace of our Lord is exceeding abundant." This love, then, rests in the Infinite. It is never to be fathomed or explored. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." "The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea."
II. This love will further be found by us to deserve and justify all this loftiness and sublimity of metaphor, WHEN WE REMEMBER THE OBJECTS WHICH IT EMBRACED. There is a repellent power in sin.
III. But there seems to be a great peculiarity in this case, because THIS LOVE WAS AS LITTLE SOUGHT AS IT WAS DESERVED. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, then, was as unmerited as it was unsolicited. There is, so to speak, another peculiarity in this love: it seems to elect the chief of sinners. It has a grandeur of provision in it. It goes after that which has most widely spread until it brings it home. It prefers the sinful woman's tears to the Pharisee's prayers. It acquits as with greater pleasure the debtor of five hundred pence than of fifty. Now, if we would perceive that this love exceeds all estimate, we must bear two ideas in mind. The first is the demerit of sin; the second the elevation and estrangement of the Saviour's mind from it. There is a demerit in sin on its own account. God only knows the desperate wickedness of the human heart.
IV. It is time that we should justify this high representation BY A REFERENCE TO THOSE MEANS BY WHICH SUCH LOVE WAS MANIFESTED TOWARDS US. The Incarnation is a proof that His love passeth knowledge. "My God! My God! why forsakest Thou Me." "He was cut off, but not for Himself." "He bore our iniquity." Now the following questions arise.
1. May this be considered as a personal act? As the mighty God manifested in the flesh He has alone "bore our sins in His own body on the tree."
2. Did this dissimilarity of natures relieve or aggravate His sufferings?
3. The blessings which it secures.
V. Bear with me while I briefly endeavour to show THE PERCEPTION WHICH MAY BE ACQUIRED OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST, NOTWITHSTANDING ITS IMMENSE, ITS INFINITE GREATNESS. Now, in what follows, we may be said to know the love of Christ. Most rapidly will we glance over this.
1. We know the love of Christ to be the great principle of all that is most stupendous and mysterious in our religion.
2. We know the love of Christ as it is the great element of all pious sentiment and feeling.
3. This love is known by us if it become the great model of our Christian zeal and benevolence. What He was, we are to be in the world.
VI. SEVERAL REFLECTIONS PRESS THEMSELVES UPON OUR MINDS, WHICH SHALL BE NOTICED BRIEFLY.
1. We must expect a transcendent character in Christianity.
2. The best test for Christianity is the character and views which it forms concerning Christ, and the nature of the affection it embraces. The whole genius of Christianity is to sublimate our views of, and our affections to, the Saviour.
3. How much of implicit as well as declaratory evidence there is of the Saviour's Godhead!
4. The necessity of habitually yielding ourselves to the influence of the love of Christ. The Saviour asks a return.
(R. W. Hamilton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.