Christmas Day 1765


1 John 4:9,10
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4 astonishing
There is no truth more confirmed by universal experience and observation, than that maxim of our Lord, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [1] It is a safe rule to try yourselves by—What is the subject you love to talk of, when you are most free and in best spirits? According to this is your disposition and your state. Too many need not be asked—their throats are an open sepulchre and give upon the slightest acquaintance a sad intimation of what they are within. But it holds in all. The man who is buried in worldly things, has little will or skill to speak of anything but his own idols. And those who are blinded by a more refined folly, who are wise in that wisdom which knows not God, are fond to display it upon every occasion. In short whatever is not according to the pleasing dictate and ruling affection of the mind is treated with indifference and heard with disgust. This makes the Gospel such a poor story in many people’s ears; they have something else to think and talk of—this makes believers appear so dull and mopish—they cannot strike in with the general strain nor admire that Diana whom all the world worships. [2] They have their favourite subject too and can pity those who scorn and deride them. If you read this epistle you will see what was uppermost in Johns’ heart: Love —the love of God to sinners—the breathings of love to him—love to the brethren, and a compassionate love to all mankind. His heart was full of love, and out of that abundance his mouth freely spoke. All true believers resemble him according to the measure of their attainment; they assent, they follow though they cannot reach him. And sensible of their defect, they sink down in shame, and give over their unfeeling hearts that they can love no more. Is this your disposition? Happy soul! If you have but tasted the Lord is gracious, you shall be led on to fuller draughts. May the God of love enable us to contemplate his love tonight, till we feel the sacred flame kindling and spreading from heart to heart. You that have often stood it out against the terrors of the law, will you not for once attend to this love? Alas, is this does not touch you nothing will.
If a man loves those of his own house it is no more than we expect, but to fix his love on a stranger or enemy is more noticed. Again, love is measured by the benefit. A cup of cold water may be of service, but will do more if it can. Farther, love is judged of by the means, if promises and fair words would do we might say there is much love in the world, but if any will serve a friend with their best, with their all, this is allowed to be a proof of great love. Lastly, love is more distinguished when it acts in a way of great condescension, as if a king should take a beggar from the dunghill, and rank him among his children.
My text would lead us to notice all these characters in the love the Apostle commends to us. It is the love of God—the love of God to sinners—a love communicating the most invaluable blessings, pardon and eternal—a love which moved him, not to withhold his own Son, his only Son, but to send him into the world, to give him up to shame and death that we might live through him.
1. The love of God—the All-sufficient, who needs not creatures, or if he pleased could form millions with a word. He left the angels that sinned, in their lost estate. Yet:
2. A love to the unworthy. Not that we [not that we loved him], no desert, nothing amiable in us, this is the softest way of expressing our depravity and misery. For not to love God is the height of wickedness, madness and wretchedness—the source of every other sin, and an inlet to every torment. Such were we. We love him not by nature, yea we hate him, are enemies. I know this is as a hard saying; it were well, if it was hard to prove it. If not converted you are enemies:
  2.1 to his government
  2.2 to his grace, however fair you may speak of him in other respects
3. For such sinners, the best blessings:
  3.1 a propitiation for their sins, that everything might be removed, which prevented their full communion with God.
  3.2 eternal life—for those who live through Christ, shall live as and while he lives—John 14:19. [3]
4. The means are astonishing—for this purpose God spared not his own Son [4] but:
  4.1 sent him into the world—in the form of a servant
  4.2 made him a propitiation
  Now sin is pardoned, the Spirit is given, to produce faith—faith unites to Jesus—then the state of the nature is changed—those who were far off are brought nigh—and children of wrath, made the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Then the sinner is embraced by the everlasting arms, and secured by walls of salvation, guided by the Lord’s counsel here, and afterwards received to glory.
1. Believers:
  1.1 admire—Herein is love
  1.2 trust—Good grounds
  1.3 obey—You are not your own
2. Mourners:
Believe. Here and here alone is your remedy. You can work no comfort out of yourselves, but look to Jesus. He came to seek and to save those which were lost.
3. Sinners:
Take notice once more, what love, and whose love, you are despising. Now is your time. Now call upon the Lord. This Gospel has been his power unto the salvation of many. May it be so to you.

[1] Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
[2] Acts 19:27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
[3] John 14:19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
[4] Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? [Newton had preached two sermons on this text a couple of months earlier at the Thursday night lectures.]

Cowper & Newton Museum, 713(20), N44

Marylynn Rouse, 15/12/2020