I love those who love me, and those who seek me early shall find me.
I. CHRIST'S INITIATIVE LOVE. It is quite true that "we love him because he first loved us." We should first consider "the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:4, 5). All our love to Christ springs from, has its source in, his spontaneous love toward us, unexcited by our affection, flowing from his own exceeding grace.
II. HIS RESPONSIVE LOVE. This involves much,
2. His Divine favour accorded to those who have accepted him as their Lord. "I love them that love me" (see John 11:5). These are his friends and his guests (John 14:23; John 15:14, 15; Revelation 3:20).
3. Spiritual blessings which he will impart. He will dwell with us by his Spirit, and the fruits of the Spirit will abound in us. If, then, our interest in Christ, and the yielding of our hearts to him, result in his close friendship and in those highest impartations which flow therefrom, how wise must be -
III. EARLY DISCIPLESHIP TO HIM! For if we would make sure of finding him and possessing his friendship, we should seek him without delay. Delay is always dangerous. There may intervene between ourselves and him:
1. Other objects which may fascinate our souls and lead us away from him.
2. The growth of the deadly spirit of procrastination.
3. A sudden close of our present life. But early discipleship, the coming in faith to his feet, to his cross, to his kingdom, to his vineyard, means the certainty of holiness and usefulness below and the assurance of blessedness above. - C.
I love them that love Me.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF THAT LOVE WAS LAID IN ETERNITY.
II. CHRIST LOVES THOSE WHO LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE HAS DONE AND SUFFERED SO MUCH FOR THEIR SALVATION. He purchased them with His blood. From the birth to the death of His people He watches over them with unremitting attention. He forgives their sins, alleviates their sorrows, sympathises in their trials, heals their backslidings, wipes away their tears, listens to their prayers, intercedes for them with His Father, enables them to persevere, and accompanies them through the valley of the shadow of death. All this care and attention naturally tends to increase His love for them.
III. CHRIST LOVES THOSE WHO LOVE HIM BECAUSE THEY ARE UNITED TO HIM BY STRONG AND INDISSOLUBLE TIES. The union between Christ and His people is presented under various figures — bride-groom and bride, vine and branches, head and members, soul and body. The bond of this union on our part is faith, but the union itself is formed by the appointment of God.
IV. CHRIST LOVES THOSE WHO LOVE HIM BECAUSE THEY POSSESS HIS SPIRIT AND BEAR HIS IMAGE. Similarity of character always tends to produce affection, and hence every being in the universe loves his own image whenever he discovers it. Christ loves His own image in His creatures because it essentially consists in holiness, which is of all things most pleasing to His Father and Himself.
V. CHRIST LOVES THOSE WHO LOVE HIM BECAUSE THEY REJOICE IN AND RETURN HIS AFFECTION. It is the natural tendency of love to produce and increase love. Even those whom we have long loved on account either of their relation to us or of their amiable qualities become incomparably more dear to us when they begin to prize our love and return it. Improvement:
1. This subject may enable every one to answer the important question, Does Christ love me?
2. If Christ loves those who love Him, then He will love those most who are most ready to return His affection, to do all things, and to suffer all things for His sake.
3. How happy are they who love! What happiness, then, must they enjoy who love and are beloved by the infinite fountain of love, God's eternal Son!
4. These truths afford most powerful motives to induce sinners to love Christ.
(E. Payson, D. D.)
I. WISDOM LOVES SUCH AS LOVE HER.
II. WISDOM MUST BE SOUGHT FOR EARLY AND DILIGENTLY.
III. SUCH AS SEEK FOR WISDOM DILIGENTLY SHALL FIND HER.
(Francis Taylor, B. D.)
1. A high esteem of its superior excellency as the result of mature consideration.
2. That we should desire it above all things. This Solomon proposeth as a qualification and means of attaining wisdom.
3. Love naturally showeth itself in the complacency which the mind taketh in the enjoyment of, or even in meditating upon, the beloved objects.
II. HOW IT CONTRIBUTETH TO OUR OBTAINING WISDOM.
1. In ordinary human affairs we see that desire putteth men upon that labour and diligence which are the ordinary means of success.
2. The love of wisdom is a disposition highly pleasing to God, and to it He hath made gracious promises. We must conceive of the Supreme Being as a lover of virtue and goodness, of everything which is truly amiable on the account of moral excellence; and if it be so, He hath complacency in those of mankind whose affections are placed on the same thing which is His delight. We have, therefore, the greatest encouragements and advantages for attaining to wisdom, and we ought to use all diligence in humble and affectionate concurrence with Him who worketh in us.
(J. Abernethy, M. A.)I. WHAT KIND OF LOVE GOD EXERCISES TOWARDS THEM THAT LOVE HIM. There is the love of benevolence and the love of complacency. These two kinds of love are of the same nature, but distinguished by the objects upon which they terminate. The love of benevolence terminates upon percipient being, and extends to all sensitive natures, whether rational or irrational, whether they have a good, or bad, or no moral character. God desires and regards the good of all His creatures, from the highest angel to the lowest insect. The love of complacency is wholly confined to moral beings who are possessed of moral excellence. Nothing but virtue, or goodness, or real holiness is the object of God's complacence.
II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN MEN'S LOVING GOD?
1. Some true knowledge of His moral character.
2. True love to God implies esteem as well as knowledge. Esteem always arises from a conviction of moral excellence in the person or being esteemed. All men have a moral discernment of moral objects. Sinners cannot contemplate the infinite greatness and goodness of God without discerning His infinite worthiness to be loved.
3. Their loving God truly implies a supreme complacency in His moral character. In the exercise of true love to any object there is a pleasure taken in the object itself. When men truly love God they take pleasure in every part of His moral character.
III. WHY DOES GOD ONLY LOVE SUCH AS FIRST LOVE HIM? Before they first love Him they are not lovely. Their hearts are full of evil, and entirely opposed to all that is good. They are under the dominion of selfishness, which is total enmity to all holiness. But there is something in God which renders Him lovely and glorious before He loves sinners; and therefore they can love Him before He loves them. Improvement:
1. If God does not love sinners before they first love Him, then it is a point of more importance in preaching the gospel to make them sensible that He hates them than that He loves them.
2. Then the first exercise of love to Him must be before they know that He loves them.
3. Then they must love Him, while they know that He hates them, and is disposed to punish them for ever.
4. Then sinners are naturally as unwilling to embrace the gospel as to obey the law.
5. If God love those who first love Him, then He is willing to receive them into His favour upon the most gracious and condescending terms.
6. If God does not love sinners before they love Him, then they have no right to desire or pray that He would become reconciled to them while they continue to hate and oppose Him.
7. If God loves sinners as soon as they love Him, then, if they properly seek Him, they shall certainly find Him.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
1. That Christ's love is produced by ours. Its source is Himself.
2. Or that Christ's love is since ours. It is eternal.
3. Or that Christ's love is dependent on ours. Unchangeable.
4. Or that Christ's love is only for those who love Him. He gave the greatest proof of it while we were enemies.
I. THOSE WHO RETURN CHRIST'S LOVE HAVE THE EVIDENCE OF HIS LOVE TO THEM.
II. THOSE WHO RETURN CHRIST'S LOVE RECEIVE SPECIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF GRACE FROM HIM. Answered prayers, the Spirit's comfort, success in labour, joys of communion.
III. THOSE WHO RETURN CHRIST'S LOVE HAVE THE POSITION AND TITLE OF HIS LOVED ONES. Brethren, friends, sons of God.
IV. THOSE WHO RETURN CHRIST'S LOVE GIVE HIM SPECIAL GLADNESS.
(R. A. Griffin.)
And those that seek Me early shall find Me
I. EXPLAIN SEEKING WISDOM EARLY. It means this, that it has the chief room in our cares and application. That which is highest in our esteem, most earnestly desired and delighted in, will naturally engage our first concern and endeavours, while matters of an inferior consideration are justly postponed.
1. If we would seek wisdom it must be by the constant use of the proper means in order to our obtaining it.
2. Diligence, or "seeking early," importeth using the best means frequently, and with spirit and vigour.
II. SHOW THE ADVANTAGE OF IT. We have assurance of success. The text contains an express promise in the name of wisdom.
1. Diligence importeth such dispositions of mind as must please the Supreme Being.
2. Diligence in seeking wisdom or religion is really practising it. Commend the importance of seeking wisdom and religion in the beginning of every day, and in youth-time, which is the morning of life.
(J. Abernethy, M. A.)I. WHAT IT IS TO SEEK CHRIST EARLY. The expression is sometimes used for the duty of prayer, sometimes for the whole of religion. To seek Christ is to seek the true knowledge of Christ, and a saving interest in Him. It is to seek that He may be all that to us, and that we may be all that to Him, for which He is made known and proposed in the gospel. To seek early signifies carefully, earnestly, diligently.
1. We are to seek early with respect to the time of life, or in the younger part of our days. The greatest and most important, concern of all others is not to be put off to the busy time of life, that is incumbered with the cares and hurries of this world; nor to old age, that is enfeebled by decays and loaded with infirmities. It is never too soon to seek after Christ, but it may be too late.
2. We are to seek Him early with respect to the day of grace, or to our opportunities of seeking Him. Whenever God calls us by His Word or providence, we should be early and speedy in attending to those calls.
3. It is to seek Him early with respect to all other things, or above and before all thing else. This relates to the earnestness and fervour with which He is to be sought in the younger part of our days. It is to seek Him with the whole heart.
II. WHAT PECULIAR ENCOURAGEMENTS THERE ARE TO SUCH AS SEEK CHRIST EARLY.
1. Early seeking is most pleasing to Him.
2. It is the ordinary course of Divine grace to be found of early seekers.
3. Such have fewer obstructions in seeking.
4. There are peculiar promises to such.
(J. Guyse, D. D.)
I. THIS WISDOM IS A HIDDEN TREASURE. Never be led astray by that lie of the devil, that those things which can be seen are the most real and substantial. It is a delusion which is the parent of all ignoble life. The existence of God is the greatest reality of all, and yet your eye cannot see God. You cannot see your mother's love.
II. THIS WISDOM IS A SACRED TREASURE. The grail was called the holy grail because it had sacred associations. God's own wisdom is that which we are invited to share. By wisdom is not meant mere knowledge, but that heavenly yet practical wisdom which has to do with the most sacred region of our being — the conscience, the affections, the will — and which enables a man to walk through life in a right and wise direction, and in a spirit sympathetic with the mind of God. No man can be said to live wisely who is living out of harmony with God's own purpose concerning him. True wisdom enables us to make a wise use of all earthly knowledge, but it is itself a heavenly and sacred treasure.
III. THIS WISDOM IS A PRICELESS TREASURE. Wisdom may sometimes put a man in the way of obtaining wealth; but no amount of wealth can ever buy wisdom. The true wisdom will lead you into the paths of duty, honour, and integrity. No amount of wealth can by any possibility be a compensation for the lack of the priceless treasure.
IV. THIS WISDOM IS A LIFE-GIVING TREASURE.
1. It is a healing influence.
2. A nourishing influence.
3. A life-renewing influence.
V. THIS WISDOM IS A TREASURE WHICH MAY BE FOUND BY EVERY EARNEST SEEKER. In the way of —
4. Purity.I have said that man is born a seeker. It is also true that the elements of heroism lie embedded in the very constitution of our nature. There is plenty of room for Christian knighthood yet — for true chivalry of heart and life. Christ is the Divine Wisdom incarnate — the Word of God in human nature. Then seek Christ.
(T. Campbell Finlayson.)
1. There is an incalculable advantage in beginning in season a work which we know to be long and difficult.
2. Another advantage is the defence which is thus set up against the encroachments of vice. Youth is the season of warm and generous affections: the time when inexperience entices into a thousand snares; the season for active exertion. In youth, we say, the future hinges on the present. If the thoughts and feelings are pure, the soul will be bright with happiness.
3. Another advantage is the promotion of happiness in the family circle, and the beneficent influence thus exerted upon companions and friends.
4. Another advantage is the indescribable satisfaction which is afforded to parents and friends.
5. Another advantage is the ready access which it affords to the throne of grace.
6. Another is that we are thus prepared to meet with a smile the dark frowns of adversity.
7. There is every encouragement for seeking early after God, because we are thus enabled to await, with calm and holy resignation, the coming of death.
(John N. Norton.)
1. The life of the young is as uncertain as that of the old. Health and strength are no security against the speedy approaches of death. Now is the only moment of which you are sure.
2. They will have much greater difficulty in their seeking who fail to seek early. Many suppose that one time will be as fitting as another, late as early, for seeking the Lord. They think that, if they live, repentance will be as much within their power twenty or thirty years hence as it is now. But this is a supposition for which there is no warrant. An old writer says, "God has, indeed, promised that He will at all times give pardon to the penitent, but I do not find that He has promised that He will, at all times, give penitence to the sinful." By continuing in sin habits are formed which will strengthen into taskmasters, and which, when men grow old, will be well-nigh irresistible. Very small is the likelihood of producing any moral impression on those who have grown old in forgetfulness of God. We know no so unpromising a subject of moral attack as an aged sinner, always supposing him to have heard the gospel in his youth. Then give God the prime of your strength, the flower of your days, the vigour of your intellect, the ardency of your affections.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
1. Those who enjoy the singular benefit of a pious education have the greatest probability of success and perseverance in their course. Of two travellers who have the same journey to go, he is much more likely to accomplish it who, rising betimes in the morning, sets out in all the liveliness and vigour of his strength than he who drowsily sleeps till noon and in the heat and toil of the day can scarce drag his feeble feet along. Good principles and habits, early imbibed and formed, are of such power that they will scarcely permit a wide deviation from right.
2. As no good either is or can be perfected in the human mind without almighty grace, so we have the most solid assurance of that Divine assistance when, in our early days, we carefully cherish the influences of God's Holy Spirit. Our text is not only a promise, it is the most condescending call from the Lord of wisdom, inviting us to His love. Love begets love. Our love to Him shall be repaid by His love to us.
3. Hence arise many striking advantages. The first tincture is thus given to the mind, the first bias to the affections; thereby right habits and right principles get the first possession and preserve the inclination and practice from those warping and destructive customs and opinions which it is difficult to bend again and reduce to their original and necessary straightness. We all know how strong are the prepossessions and prejudices of education — ill prepossessions and unhappy prejudices — and we may be perfectly satisfied that good prepossessions and prejudices are equally prevalent and powerful. "The cask long retains the smell of the liquor with which it was first seasoned" (Horace). How difficult it is to gain the superiority over habits and customs, even in the most trifling matters, no man is ignorant; but to subdue habits which have long lived with us, and gained our approbation—habits of vice, to which sensual affections have annexed pleasure in the gratification; totally to alter our conduct, to pluck out the right eye of a darling lust, to cut off the right hand of a profitable sin — oh, how arduous, how painful! Here, then, we discern the unspeakable advantage of early good habits and principles, which, preserving us in the road of duty, secure us from this most difficult, if not, in some cases, impossible task, of correcting vicious habits, and amending corrupted customs and notions, which, through long possession, become intimate to men almost as themselves. And the early dedication of ourselves to God will be found not less comfortable than advantageous. It will teach you content in every station, will enable you to sail through life with as much ease and serenity as the unavoidable difficulties of this transitory state will permit; will give to your mind the purest pleasures and most satisfactory enjoyments; will make you a comfort to yourself, a blessing to your friends, and an ornament to society.
(W. Dodd, LL. D.)1. Men have souls and minds capable of being very good or very bad, of enjoying much and suffering much. It is important that a right direction be given early in life to man's whole nature. This can be secured in no way but by living, hearty piety.
2. Early piety will have a good effect in directing us to aright calling in life, and to a choice of suitable companions and associates.
3. Early piety alone can surely protect us from dashing on those rocks where so many have made shipwreck, both for this world and the next.
4. If we do not become pious in youth it is very uncertain whether we ever shall become so at all. When men grow old their hearts become harder, their wills more stubborn, and their sound conversion less probable. And a large number of the human race die before the period of youth has passed.
5. Should you live through youth, how can you bear the heavy burdens of middle life without the grace of God? If one comes to old age, with all its infirmities, and has not the grace of God in him, how sad his condition, how cheerless his prospects!Application:
1. Are you young? Be not wise in your own conceit. Live by faith on the Son of God.
2. Are you middle-aged? Is the burden of cares heavy? Cast it upon the Lord. Trust in the Lord and do good. Glorify Christ in your body and spirit, which are His.
3. Are you aged? Give yourself much to devotion. Set an example of sweet submission to the will of God. The nearer you draw to heaven, the more let its light and peace shine in your face, cheer your heart, and make your life a blessing to others.
(W. S. Plumer, D. D.)I. CONSIDER WHAT IT IS TO SEEK CHRIST EARLY. To seek Christ is to seek the true knowledge of Him, and a saving interest in Him. As it relates to the act of seeking Him, it is to attend upon all the means of grace with seriousness, faith, hope, love, and delight. We are to seek early. With respect to all other things, or before and above all things else. This relates to the earnestness and fervour with which He is to be sought. We are to seek Him with the whole heart.
II. CONSIDER WHAT SECULAR ENCOURAGEMENTS THERE ARE TO SUCH AS SEEK CHRIST EARLY THAT THEY SHALL FIND HIM.
1. Early seeking is most pleasing to Him.
2. It is the ordinary course of Divine grace to be found of early seekers.
3. Early seekers have fewer obstructions to their seeking and finding Christ than others have.
4. There are peculiar promises made to early seekers.
I. KEEP TWO THINGS PERPETUALLY IN VIEW — HIS TRUTH AND THE INFLUENCES OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT. Without His truth we can have no rule, and without the influences of His Holy Spirit we can have no disposition to prize the right rule: both are absolutely necessary.
II. Under the influence of the Divine Spirit we shall invariably SEEK GOD AS A GOD OF MERCY.
III. AS A GOD OF PEACE.
IV. AS A KING.
V. AS A GUIDE.
VI. AS A PORTION. Now let me apply my subject.
1. There are some of you who do not seek the Lord — you can live without Him perfectly well.
2. There are others who seek the Lord, and perhaps you wonder why you do not find Him. Now, examine yourselves; is there not a great deal of hypocrisy, of deceit, in you?
3. There are others who seek Him, and seek Him honestly, and who think they do not find Him, when in reality they do find Him. They do not find Him in the consolation which they seem to need; but they find Him in principle — they find Him in driving guilt from the conscience, they find Him in enabling them to triumph over the tyranny of sin.
4. There are others who rejoice in the God of their salvation, who can say, "I know that I have sought and found the Lord; my Saviour is in me the hope of glory. I cannot but rejoice in Him at the present moment." Rejoice with trembling. Remember, you have many and mighty enemies within and without.
(W. Howels.)I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN SEEKING THE LORD JESUS?
1. A decided conviction of the utter insufficiency of every other object for our happiness and salvation.
2. A decided persuasion that in Christ Jesus every blessing that the soul requires is to be found.
3. A strong desire to obtain an interest in Christ.
4. Persevering efforts in the use of all appointed means to obtain this object.
II. WHAT IT IS TO FIND CHRIST, AND THE HAPPINESS THAT RESULTS FROM IT.
1. The expression, finding Christ —(1) Is figurative, and may be considered as intimating their obtaining a saving discovery of His character.(2) May intimate also their forming a saving connection with Christ.(3) Suggests their obtaining all the blessings of salvation.
2. The happiness that finding Christ yields.(1) They that find Christ obtain deliverance from the worst evils — horror of conscience, burden of guilt, dread of Jehovah's wrath, tyranny of evil passions, thraldom of Satan.(2) They obtain the most valuable advantages. They obtain an interest in the favour of that God who has every blessing at His disposal; the graces which beautify the character, and give peace and joy to the soul in their exercise; an illumination which solves their doubts, scatters their fears, and opens before them scenes glowing with the splendour of eternal day. The heart now finds an object which can gratify its amplest wishes, and may rejoice that these advantages perish not in the using, and lie secure beyond the reach of accident.(3) They cherish the most blessed hopes with regard to the future.
III. THOSE THAT SEEK CHRIST EARLY HAVE THE STRONGEST REASON TO EXPECT SUCCESS.
1. The Redeemer takes peculiar delight in the movements of early piety. These, in an especial manner, honour His supreme excellence.
2. The young are likely to seek Him with undivided hearts, and from affectionate choice.
3. The young have peculiar reason to expect the aids of the Spirit in seeking Christ.
4. The language of the text suggests that those who do not seek the Lord Jesus in their youth have much reason to fear that they shall never find Him.Conclusion:
1. Let me beseech the young to seek the Lord while He may be found.
2. I exhort those who have sought the Saviour early to maintain their earnestness in religion.
3. Let those who are in advanced life consider their ways and be wise.
I. THOSE WHO BEGIN TO SEEK GOD EARLY HAVE LONGER TIME IN WHICH TO LEARN ABOUT HIM. People who study music after they have grown up seldom become good players or singers; nor do I believe that any one ever really masters grammar who does not begin to study it thoroughly at an early age. Begin therefore at once to learn, for you have lost already more time than you can well spare.
II. BEGIN EARLY, BECAUSE YOU WILL HAVE LESS TO UNLEARN. , a wise man, charged one of his disciples double fees because, he said, he not only had to teach him how to speak, but also how to hold his tongue. A blacksmith could never become a painter, at least not very readily, for he would have to unlearn so much. If you fill your mind with foolish ideas, a vast amount of time will be required to get rid of these follies before you can be instructed in wisdom.
III. I think, too, THAT YOU WILL BE MORE ARDENT AND EAGER IN THE PURSUIT OF WISDOM if you begin young, and you will find that history confirms the truth of my opinion. You will not be so readily discouraged, and will more easily master your difficulties than older people can. Little children-students, we are here assured, shall not seek in vain, but they will be required to take pains. Columbus somehow got the idea that America existed, and he went to find the great unknown land. Day after day he sailed on without seeing it, but he one day spied some seaweed of a kind different to that known in Europe. This encouraged him to continue his search. So you, too, will sometimes feel inclined to give up in despair, but keep on; it is worth all the trouble you can ever expend upon it to become wise. And what joy it will impart to you when at length you see what you desire!
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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