Jeremiah 31:30
Instead, each will die for his own iniquity. If anyone eats the sour grapes, his own teeth will be set on edge.
Jehovah Visiting the Individual for His SinsD. Young Jeremiah 31:29, 30

I. THE SIN OF SOME AND THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS. This is put before us in a very striking figure. Literally, the taste of a sour grape would be an instantaneous sensation; but here we are asked to imagine the possibility of a man getting whatever other advantage there might be in the grape, whatever nourishment, whatever refreshment, and then handing on the one bad element of sourness. And truly it often seems as if there were this kind of division. The wrong doer goes on succeeding, enjoying himself, getting his full of life, and then his children come in to find that the father's wrong doing is like a millstone round their necks, destroying every chance they might otherwise have. The figure here presents from the human side that fact of experience which from the Divine side is presented as a law. "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children" (Exodus 20:5).

II. THE SIN OF SOME AND THEIR OWN SUFFERING. We need to look somewhat carefully at the point brought out in ver. 30. At first it seems as if daily experience were contradicted, for we leap to an inference that the children's tooth will not be set on edge by the sour grapes their fathers have eaten; whereas it is abundantly plain that children still suffer for the sins of their fathers. But observe that this is not at all denied. The great point insisted on is that the fathers will suffer themselves; and this is a point that needs to be insisted on, for the fallacy is continually arising that a man may, by some magic, some precaution, escape the consequences of his evil, and so he may escape from some consequences. But observe, again, the all-comprehending word here used, "he shall die," and this word has a retrospective force. There never has been any other law but that a man shall die for his own iniquity. Possibly we should take this passage as having some sort of reference to the old custom of making revenge an hereditary thing. If the doer of a wrong escaped vengeance and died peacefully in his bed, then his son stood in the father's place, and became an object of attack till the punishment due to the father was visited on him. It seems so plain to us that a man should die for his own iniquity, punishment falling on the head of him who does the wrong, that we find it hard to imagine a day when the ethical code was otherwise. Whereas it is tolerably clear that in Old Testament times and countries the feeling was that somebody must be punished; and if the real criminal escaped, why, then take his nearest blood relation. That the Christian looks on things so differently is the clearest proof that this prophecy has been fulfilled.

III. THE NEED THERE IS THAT EVERY ONE SHOULD CLASSIFY THE SUFFERINGS OF HIS LIFE. It is not enough that we seek deliverance from suffering. It is right for us to do so, and suffering, we may be sure, is not by the will of God. But as there is suffering which comes from causes within our control, so there is suffering coming from causes outside our control; and it is with the former only that we can deal. Besides, it is the worst suffering, seeing that it comes from trouble and unrest of conscience. God has so made us that the worst wounds from others are but as surface scratches compared with the wounds that in our folly we inflict on ourselves. Then we have to look, not only on the sufferings, but enjoyments. We may so live as to rise above the worst that men can do to us, and at the same time, we may be the better for whatever good man is disposed to do. If sometimes it is true that the fathers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth get set on edge, is it not also true that the fathers eat sweet grapes, yet little of the sweetness they seem to taste - it is a sweetness standing over for the children? - Y.

I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
I. OUR ONCE DESOLATE AND MISERABLE CONDITION BY NATURE. Were we not captives? yea, bond-slaves? All our happiness consisted in forgetting ourselves. Everything marked us as, in the worst sense, slaves. Some of us professed to despise the opinions of men, and yet, what were we but the slaves of men? What did we pursue? Nothing but the applause of men. What were we afraid of? Nothing but their censure. How afraid of singularity, when we first perhaps had some thoughts concerning our souls. What was this but slavery? Look at the lives we led. We lived but for ourselves. Self was our Nebuchadnezzar, who took possession of the city, our walls, and got all for himself. Self, perhaps, in some decent, moral form, but still self; the fleshy, unregenerate, corrupt, carnal self. Was not this the greatest slavery? And who was the master, the grinding tyrant of this slave? To whom had we sold ourselves for nought? Who was it that led us captive at his will? (2 Timothy 2:25, 26.)

II. THE LOVE WHICH GOD HAS TOWARDS HIS TRUE ISRAEL. And what is its peculiar character? It is Sovereign and Distinguishing.

1. It is a Love bounded by His Will. His most wise, righteous, and holy Will, (Exodus 33:19).

2. It is" personal and individual. "I have loved thee. Thee, a poor sinner, a prodigal; thee, a poor, unprofitable servant thee, a poor backslider in heart too oft; thee, too much, too frequently ungrateful; — yet have I loved thee — yes, thee, notwithstanding all; thee, singly and alone, as if there were no other; thee, as one of the innumerable family, the many sons whom I will bring to glory.

3. It is effectual and overcoming. "With lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Ah, how gently, how tenderly, how silently, sometimes mysteriously, but ever in love.

4. This love is everlasting. Time never knew its beginning, eternity shall never know its end. Closing remarks: —

1. All religion consists in individuality. Religion is a personal thing.

(1)It is so in our confessions (2 Samuel 12:13).

(2)It is so in our standing before God (Luke 18:13).

(3)So is it in the consolations of the Spirit (Galatians 2:20).

2. All the blessings of present salvation spring from God s everlasting love.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

I. GOD'S DEALINGS WITH US ARE NEVER UNDERSTOOD TILL HE HIMSELF APPEARS TO US. He must speak, or we cannot interpret His acts. Though all things in the field and the garden show what the sun doeth, yet none of these "fruits put forth by the sun" can be perceived till the sun himself reveals them. For first, man is not in a condition to perceive God till God reveals Himself to him. By nature we are blind Godward; yea, deaf, and in all ways insensible towards the great Spirit. The Lord said of Cyrus, "I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me"; and even so may He say of many an unconverted man, "I warned thee, and aroused thee, and drew thee when thou wast not aware of Me." Besides this, we are so selfish that, when God is drawing us to Himself, we are too much absorbed in our own things to notice the hand which is at work upon us. We crave the world, we sigh for human approbation, we seek for case and comfort, we desire above all things to indulge our pride with the vain notion of self-righteousness. And, therefore, we look not after God. Moreover, God must explain His dealings to us by revealing Himself to us, because those ways are in themselves frequently mysterious. He does not usually begin by giving the man light, and peace, and comfort. No, but he sorely plagues him with "darkness that might be felt." He makes sweet sin to become bitter; He pours gall into the fountains of his carnal life till the man begins to be weary of the things which once contented him. Full often the Lord fitteth the arrows of conviction to the string, and shooteth again, and again, and again, till the soul is wounded in a thousand places, and is ready to bleed to death. The Lord kills before He makes alive. But I say again, how could we expect unspiritual men to see the hand of the Lord in all this? God must reveal Himself to the man, or else he will not discover the hand of the Lord in the anguish of his spirit. This appearance of the Lord must be personal. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me." True knowledge of God is always a Divine operation, not wrought at second-hand by instrumentality, but wrought by the right hand of the Lord Himself. "No man can come to Me," saith Christ, "except the Father which hath sent Me draw him"; and no man understands those drawings except the same Father shall come unto him, and manifest Himself to him. Till we know the Lord by personal revelation, we cannot read His handwriting upon our hearts, or discern His dealings with us. This appearance needs to be repeated. The text may be read as a complaint on the part of Israel. Israel says, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me" — as much as to say, "He has not appeared to me lately." Of old He was seen by brook, and bush, and sea, and rock; when Jacob met Him at Jaddok, and Moses in the wilderness at the burning bush; but now His visits are few and far between. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me." Oh, that He would appear now! I pray at this time that those of you who are mourning after that fashion may be able to rise out of it. It is not the Lord's desire that He should be as a stranger in the land, or as a wayfaring man that tarrieth but for a night. He is willing to abide with us. His delights are with the sons of men. This appearance is ever an act of mighty grace. The text might be read, "The Lord appeared from afar to me." So He did at the first. What a great way off we were from God, but behold the Beloved came, like a roe or a young hart, leaping over the mountains, skipping upon the hills! He came to us in boundless love when we lay at death's dark door, the fast-bound slaves of hell. He can and will come again. If He came to us from far, He will surely come again now that He has made us nigh. Expect Him to come to you on a sudden. Pray for the immediate revelation of God Himself to your spirit in a way of joy and transport that shall set your soul in rapid motion towards the Lord. Should the Lord return to you in gracious manifestation, take care that you do hot, lose Him again. If the Bridegroom deigns to visit you, hold Him fast.

II. When the Lord does so appear, WE THEN PERCEIVE THAT HE HAS BEEN DEALING WITH US. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." What exceeding love the Lord showed to us before we knew Him! Let us now look back and remember the love of long-suffering, which spared us when we delighted in sin. The Lord did not cut us off in our unbelief; therein is love. The next admirable discovery is the Lord's restraining grace. We now see that the Lord held us back from plunging into the deepest abysses of sin. Blessed be God for those crooks in my lot which kept me from poisonous pleasures! So, too, we now see the preparations of grace, the ploughing of our hearts by sorrow, the sowing of them by discipline, the harrowing of them by pain, the watering of them by the rain of favour, the breaking of them up by the frosts of adversity. These were not actually grace, but they opened the door for grace. We now see how in a thousand ways the Lord was drawing us when we knew Him not. The text chiefly dwells upon drawings. I beg you to refresh your memories by recollecting the drawings of the Lord towards you while you were yet ungodly. Often these were very gentle drawings: they were not such forces as would move an ox or an ass, but such as were meant for tender spirits; yet sometimes they tugged at you very hard, and almost overcame you. Drawing supposes a kind of resistance; or, at any rate, an inertness; and, truly, we did not stir of ourselves, but needed to be persuaded and entreated. Some of you will recollect how the Holy Spirit drew you many times before you came to Him. The Lord surrounded you as a fish is surrounded with a net; and though you laboured to escape you could not, but were drawn more and more within the meshes of mercy. Do you remember when at last the Holy Spirit drew you over the line; when at last, without violating your free will, He conquered it by forces proper to the mind? Blessed day! You were made a willing captive to your Lord, led in silken fetters at His chariot-wheels, a glad prisoner to almighty love, set free from sin and Satan, made to be unto your Lord a lifelong servant.

III. WE PERCEIVE THAT LOVING-KINDNESS WAS THE DRAWING FORCE. "Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." At first we think God has dealt sternly with us, but in His light we see light, and we perceive that the drawing power, which has brought us to receive mercy, is the Divine loving-kindness. Love is the attractive force. What multitudes of persons have been drawn to the Lord first by His loving-kindness in the gift of His dear Son! The loving-kindness of God as seen in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus draws men from sin, from self, from Satan, from despair, and from the world. Next, the hope of pardon, free and full, attracts sinners to God. "Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee," makes a man run after Christ. I have known others drawn to the Lord by another view of His loving-kindness, namely, His willingness to make new creatures of us. The prayer of many has been, "Create in me a clean heart, O God"; and they have been charmed by hearing that whosoever believes in Jesus is born again, to start on a new life, ruled by a new principle, and endowed with a new nature, sustained by the Holy Spirit. Oh, the loving-kindness of the Lord! You may measure heaven; you may fathom the sea; you may plunge into the abyss, and tell its depth; but the loving-kindness of the Lord is beyond you. Here is an infinite expanse. It is immeasurable, even as God Himself is beyond conception. It is everywhere about us, behind, before, beneath, above, within, without. Every day the Lord loads us with benefits.

IV. THEN WE LEARN THAT THE GREAT MOTIVE OF THE DIVINE DRAWINGS IS EVERLASTING LOVE. Lot your spirit lie and soak in this Divine assurance: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Take it up into yourself as Gideon's fleece absorbed the dew. Notice, the Lord has done it. It is an actual fact, the Lord is loving you. Put those two pronouns together, "I" and "thee." "I," the Infinite, the inconceivably glorious — "thee," a poor, lost, undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner. See the link between the two! See the diamond rivet which joins the two together for eternity: "I have loved thee." See the antiquity of this love: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." I loved thee when I died for thee upon the Cross, yea, I loved thee long before, and therefore did I die. I loved thee when I made the heavens and the earth, with a view to thine abode therein: yea, I loved thee before I had made sea or shore. There is a beginning for the world, but there is no beginning for the love of God to His people. Nor does that exhaust the meaning of "everlasting love." There has never been a moment when the Lord has not loved His people. There has been no pause, nor ebb, nor break in the love of God to His own. That love knows no variableness, neither shadow of turning. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." You may take a leap into the future, and find that love still with you. Everlasting evidently lasts for ever. We shall come to die, and this shall be a downy pillow for our death-bed, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." When we wake up in that dread world to which we arc surely hastening, we shall find infinite felicity in "everlasting love." When the judgment is proclaimed, and the sight of the great white throne makes all hearts to tremble, and the trumpet sounds exceeding loud and long, and our poor dust wakes up from its silent grave, we shall rejoice in this Divine assurance: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Roll on, ye ages, but everlasting love abides! Die out, sun and moon, and thou, O time, be buried in eternity, we need no other heaven than this, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love"!

( C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. The object mentioned. "Thee." Most unworthy.

2. The attribute displayed. Love. What is it?

3. The person speaking. "I," whom ye have —




II. A GREATER WONDER. "With an everlasting love." Wonderful to love us at all. More wonderful to love us with such a love. This love is everlasting in its —

1. Counsels.

2. Conquests.

3. Continuance.

4. Consequence.

III. THE GREATEST WONDER. "Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee" To send food to the hungry, is gracious in the wealthy; but to bring the hungry in the kindest manner to the royal table — this is wonderful indeed. We shall see here —

1. A wonderful display. "I have drawn thee." Here is inferred our helplessness and unwillingness to come. God draws by many means.

2. A wonderful instrument. "Loving-kindness." The heavenly magnet. Kindness does not always go with love. God saves us. Here is kindness. But He does so in the best possible way. In the tenderest, most gentle manner.

3. A wonderful reason. "Therefore." God's reason is in Himself. Our salvation the fruit of everlasting love, and nothing else. Should we not love Him?

(W. J. Mayers.)

I. UNCREATED MEN ARE THE OBJECTS OF DIVINE LOVE. Men in actual existence are not everlasting; they are only creatures of a day, mere shadows passing upon the earth. But in the mind of the Infinite they are eternal.

1. Because He loved them He created them.

2. Because He loved them He created them what they are. He made them capable of enjoying every kind of happiness of which we have any conception.


1. God's love in nature has a power to draw men to Him. His love in nature appears in two forms.(1) In the form of utility. Nature ministers to man's necessities and gratifications.(2) In the form of beauty. What is beauty, but the costume of love, the pictures and statues of love, nay the voice, the winning music of love?

2. God s love in mediation has a power to draw men to Him. The incarnation of Christ is at once the effect, the channel, and the instrument of Divine love, and the Divine love that draws with a moral magnetism of the highest measure.


Homiletic Magazine.
I. THE LOVE OF GOD TOWARDS US. "From everlasting to everlasting" is the love, like the existence, of the living God. Simple, childlike faith in this grand truth is an essential element in all personal religion (1 John 4:16). The life of the newborn soul may be said to begin with the uprising of this knowledge, this faith.


1. An external revelation (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9). Open your heart to the influence of the Cross of Calvary, comprehend in some measure the sacred sorrow of Him who there took the burden of our sins upon Him that He might bear them all away, and you can never doubt the "everlasting love" wherewith the Father loves you.

2. An internal force. Even in his Divine relations man is not a being to be compelled by resistless force to move in any path chosen for him, but one who is endowed with the wondrous power of yielding in response to persuasive influence a free and willing service (Hosea 11:4). That is the noblest kind of persuasive influence which appeals not so much to our fears as our desires, which awakens not terror but love.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

I. His love for man is PERSONAL. "I have loved thee."

1. The distinguishing constitution He has given him. He has endowed him with more faculties of enjoyment than any other creature in the universe possesses. He has given him intellect, by which be can enjoy the pleasures of meditation; social affection, by which he can enjoy the blessings of friendship; religious affinities, by which he can have sympathy with the source of all life and blessedness.

2. His wonderful mercy in the mediation of His Son.

II. His love for man is ETERNAL.

1. Humanity had nothing to do with exciting it.

2. Christ had nothing to do with procuring it. Christ's mediation was the effect, not the cause of God's love for man. His mediation was no afterthought. The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.

III. His love for man is ATTRACTING.

1. How attracting it is in its nature! Kindness is always attractive; and its attracting power is always in proportion to its spontaneity, disinterestedness, and magnanimity.

2. How attracting it is in its manifestation! Look at it —

(1)In nature. The world overflows with Divine kindness.

(2)In revelation.


This startling remembrance came to Israel at a time when her sorrows were very great, and her sins were greater still. She dwelt with hope upon that Divine assurance of irrevocable favour: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." When earthly joys ebb out, it is a blessed thing if they make room for memories of heavenly visitations and gracious assurances. When you are at your lowest, it may happen that then the God of all grace comes in, and brings to your remembrance the love of your espousals, and the joy of former days, when the candle of the Lord shone round about you. At the same time, it was not merely a time of inward sorrow, but a period of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; for Jehovah was speaking in tones of sovereign grace, and pouring forth great rivers of promises, and seas of mercy. Sometimes you pour water down a dry pump, and that sets it working so that it pours forth streams of its own; and so, when our gracious God pours in His love into the soul, our own love begins to flow, and with it memory awakes, and a thousand recollections cause us to bring to mind the ancient love wherein we aforetime delighted, and we cry, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me."

I. THE MARVELLOUS APPEARING. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me." Here are two persons; hut how different in degree I Hers we have "me," a good-for-nothing creature, apt to forget my Lord, and to lira as if there were no God; yet He has not ignored or neglected me. There is the High and Holy One, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, and He has appeared unto me. Between me and the great Jehovah there have been communications; the solitary silences have been broken. "The Lord hath appeared," hath appeared "unto me." Do I hear some asking, How is this? I understand that God appeared to Israel, but how to me? Let me picture the discovery of grace as it comes to the awakening mind, when it learns to sit at the feet of Jesus, saved by faith in the great sacrifice. Touched by the Spirit of God, we find that the Lord appeared to each one of us in the promises of His Word. Every promise in God's Word is a promise to every believer, or to every character such as that to which it was first given. Furthermore, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me," in the person of His Son. God came to each believer in Christ Jesus. Say, "Yes, eighteen hundred years ago and more, the Lord in the person of His dear Son appeared unto me in Gethsemane, and on Calvary as my Lord, and my God, and yet my substitute and Saviour." Since that, the Lord has constantly appeared unto us in the power of His Holy Spirit. Do you remember when first your sin was set in order before your tearful eyes, and you trembled for fear of the justice which you had provoked? Do you remember when you heard the story of the Crucified Redeemer? when you saw the atoning sacrifice? when you looked to Jesus and were lightened? It was the Holy Spirit who was leading you out of yourself; and God by the Holy Spirit was appearing unto you. Now, we hold this appearance in precious memory: "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me." Many things are preserved in the treasure-house of memory; but this is the choicest of our jewels. How gracious, how glorious was the appearance of God in Christ Jesus to our soul! This appearance came in private assurance. To me it was as personal as it was sure. I used to hear the preacher, but then I heard my God; I used to see the congregation, but then I saw Him who is invisible. I used to feel the power of words, but now I have felt the immeasurable energy of their substance. God Himself filled and thrilled my soul. I cannot help calling your attention to the fact, that the Lord came in positive certainty. The text does not say, "I hoped so," or "I thought so"; but, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying." To me it is bliss to say, "I know whom I have believed." My soul cannot content herself with less than certainty. I desire never to take a step upon an "if," or a "peradventure." I want facts, not fancies.

II. THE MATCHLESS DECLARATION. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love."

1. Here is a word from God of amazing love. Jehovah saith, "I have loved thee." Think it over. Believe it. Stagger not at it. If the husband should say to his wife, "I have loved thee," she would believe him: it would seem only natural that he should do so. And when Jehovah says to you, a feeble woman, an unknown man, "I have loved thee," He means it.

2. Note, next, it is a declaration of unalloyed love. The Lord had been bruising, and wounding, and crushing His people, and yet He says, "I have loved thee." These cruel wounds were all in love.

3. This statement is a declaration of love in contrast with certain other things. What a difference between the false friend-ship of the world and sin, and the changeless love of God! You have provoked Him to jealousy by gods which were no gods, but He has never ceased His love. What a miracle of grace is this! How sweetly does immutability smile on us as we hear it say, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love"!

4. Thus, our text is a word of love in the past. "I have loved thee." We were rebels, and He loved us. We were dead in trespasses and in sins, and He loved us. We rejected His grace, and defied His warnings, but He loved us. The matchless declaration of the text is a voice of love in the present. The Lord loves the believer now. Whatever discomfort you are in, the Lord loves you. The text is a voice of love in the future. It means, "I will love thee for ever." God has not loved us with a love which will die out after a certain length of time: His love is like Himself, "from everlasting to everlasting." This is a declaration of love secured to us — secured in many ways. Did you observe in this chapter how the Lord secures His love to His people, first, by a covenant? Further, this love is secured by relationship. Will you dart your eye on to the ninth verse, and read the last part of it? "I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn." A man cannot get rid of fatherhood by any possible means His love is pledged again by redemption. Read the eleventh verse, "For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he." Would you see the indenture of God's covenant love? Behold it in the indented hands and feet of the Crucified Redeemer. This is a declaration of love Divinely confessed. The Lord has not sent this assurance to us by a prophet, but He has made it Himself — "The Lord hath appeared." Notice, that it is love sealed with a "yea." God would have us go no further in our ordinary speech than to say ",yea, yea"; and surely we may be content with so much from Himself. His "yea" amounts to a sacred asseveration: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love."

III. THE MANIFEST EVIDENCE. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." Here are drawings mentioned. Have you not felt them? These were drawings resulting from love. He drew us because He loved us with an everlasting love. Other drawings of Divine goodness are resisted, resisted in some cases to the bitter end, and men justly perish; but the drawings of everlasting love effect their purpose. Here are drawings mentioned: these were drawings from God. How sweetly, how omnipotently, God can draw! We yield to the drawings because they come from the Lord s own hand, and their power lies in His love. As the drawings come from God, so are they drawings to God. Blessed is he whose heart is being drawn nearer and nearer to the Most High. The Lord assures us that these are drawings of His loving-kindness. However He draws, it is in love; and whenever He draws, it is in love. These drawings are to be continuous. "With loving-kindness have I drawn thee"; and He means to do the same evermore. Such a magnificent text as ours ought to make us consider two things. The first is, Is it so? Am I drawn? If God loves you with an everlasting love, He has drawn you by His loving-kindness: is it so or not? Has He drawn you by His Holy Spirit, so that you have followed on? Are you a believer? Do you carry Christ's cross? You have been drawn to this. Then take home these gracious words: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." If you have not been so drawn, do you not wish you were? But, child of God, if you know these drawings, and if it be true that God loves you with an everlasting love, then are you resting? "I have a feeble hope," says one. What? How can you talk so? He who is loved with an everlasting love, and knows it, should swim in an ocean of joy. Not a wave of trouble should disturb the glassy sea of his delight. What is to make a man happy if this will not?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. "I HAVE LOVED THEE." The love of God differs from ours, and this in two respects

1. It is more abundant. Our love partakes of this narrowness of our nature — it can embrace but a few objects and it cannot travel far. But God is an infinite Being. He fills all space with His presence; there is no limit to His capabilities. His love is accordingly an infinite love. Our love is a taper, shining on a few objects only and on those dimly; the love of God is a sun, throwing its light wide as it is His good pleasure to throw it, pervading His universe, brightening and warming and gladdening millions on millions of objects as easily and effectually as one.

2. It is also a free, self-moving love. It rises spontaneously in His mind, as water rises in a fountain. It requires nothing in any object, no merit or amiableness or beauty or anything else, to call it forth.

II. "I HAVE LOVED THEE WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE." There never was a period when God did not live and did not love you. He loved you before your father or mother or any one else loved you; He loved you before you were born; He loved you before the earth or the heavens were created; He loved you in the very first moment He loved at all. Would you tell how old His love to you is? You must first tell how old the Ancient of days Himself is. Would you measure His love to you? It must be with a line which can stretch to the beginning of eternity on the one hand, and reach to the end of it on the other.

III. "I HAVE DRAWN THEE," the Lord says; and this is very naturally and beautifully said here. Real love, we know, is always of a drawing nature. Its tendency ever is to bring near to us, or to lead us near to the object we love. "Give me my infant," the tender mother says. "Let me if possible have my children around me," says the affectionate father. So the Lord says here, "I have loved you, and therefore, because I have loved you, I have drawn you, drawn you to Myself." When the soul at last turns to Christ and through Christ to God, it is because God in some way is working on that soul, and attracting and drawing it.

IV. The Lord tells us in the text HOW HE DRAWS HIS PEOPLE TO HIM. "With loving-kindness have I drawn thee." "My love to thee is so strong, that it not only impels Me to draw thee to Me, but it influences Me in all My conduct while drawing thee." We may assign a twofold meaning to the words, regarding them as descriptive both of the means which the Lord employs to bring His people to Him, and of the manner in which He deals with them while bringing them. He will draw them by His loving-kindness, and He will draw them by that lovingly, most kindly and tenderly.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

I. A REVELATION HAS BEEN MADE TO US OF DIVINE TRUTH. In a strange land, when the shadows of evening come on, the traveller has sometimes the consciousness that he is passing through the fairest scenes, he instinctively feels that the darkness is hiding from him the most wonderful revelations of nature. So we sometimes feel that we are in the presence of great truths, that have yet to be revealed to us. We feel, long before we understand. Our hearts burn within us, when we listen to words, the full meaning of which we do not comprehend. How strange it is, that when we have listened to the words of truth, we sometimes feel as if visions we had dimly seen were realised, or our confused thoughts were put into shape, and expressed in words, as if this was what we had heard before, or were on the point of thinking out for ourselves. Truth seems like the language of childhood, as if we were familiar with its tones, and had lived a former life, where we had heard its voice before. The heart recognises it as Divine.

II. WE HAVE NEW REVELATIONS OF AN OLD TRUTH. With every Divine appearance came a revelation. He who appeared of old to the Church breathing words of love, hath in these last days spoken unto us. That last appearance was the most perfect expression of love, that last revelation left nothing unsaid that even Divine love could say. How much has love said in this world — how much it says to you this day. You have not found out yet the depth, the full significance of its revelations. You know something, you may know far more. The more you love, the more you will be capacitated for manifestations of love. We need new, constant assurances of the Divine love. We cannot live in the past alone. Do you ask why are new revelations necessary? Why is it not enough to be told once that God loves us? Why must we be told again and again? I answer, we should require assurances of love from a friend if we felt that our affinities with his pure nature were anything but entire, that we often pained him by our recklessness, and prevented his intercourse with us by our indifference; and surely, with all my frailties and sins, with the deep consciousness of my unworthiness, I need God to tell me that He loves me, and I want Him to repeat the assurance. There is, moreover, a peculiar sensitiveness about love; it craves for fresh utterances, for strong, unequivocal assertions, just as Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him as his own soul; so the love of God is so essential to us that we cannot live without it, we prize it above all things, and hence we long to hear, in the depths of our souls, the words, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love."

III. THE LOVE OF GOD IS EVER NEW. It is an everlasting love. God loved you long before you realised His love. You have, perhaps, sometimes thought that He loved you because you loved Him; it is quite the reverse; you love Him because He first loved you. God will still love through all changes — in sorrow, in sickness, in old age, in death. God will love us for ever. His loves is always fresh; it is the same to-day as yesterday, and to-morrow it will be as to-day.

IV. IT IS GOD'S LOVE THAT ATTRACTS MEN. This love draws. Men yield to this Divine power. This is the power of the Gospel; this subdued, this won you. What melted that heart of ice, — what, but the warm breath of love? What drew you, but the cords of love that were entwined about your heart!

(H. J. Bevis.)

What is love? Is it not delight in an object, and is it not desire to promote the well-being of an object? The love of God answers to these definitions. Some resolve love into self-love. We delight in what we love, therefore, say some, we love for the delight. But this is a serious error which may be refuted by a thousand facts. Just think of the facts by which you may refute this error. And let me here make two remarks concerning love generally, — First, its existence is universal, except as sin reigns and checks it; and, secondly, its work and its service are multiform and extensive. Men love, angels love, and God is love, We feel, and observe, and mark its existence on earth; we hear of it in heaven; and we know that there is but one place tenanted by beings capable of love who do not love, and that place is hell; and we also know that there is but one class of human beings from which it has departed, namely, souls that are lost. Love! It gushes forth from the throne of God, flows round the universe, and rises again to the level of its source. Like an inverted tree, it roots in heaven, and yet drops its fruit upon this wide world, and upon beings in the lowest terrestrial estate. Nor is love, to drop our figure, inactive or useless among the children of men even in their low estate. It unites, as in conjugal life, two streams of being and makes them one, — it causes the mother to forget her anguish and to make her bosom the refuge and the strength of helpless infancy — it makes parents ministering angels, and children bright morning stars in the household firmament — it creates all that is meant by home — it impoverishes itself to enrich others, and exposes itself to danger to protect and otherwise to serve others — it feeds the hungry; clothes the naked; shelters the homeless; takes charge of the orphan; attends at the sick-bed in the face of contagion; visits the captive in prison; weeps at the grave; builds hospitals; erects almshouses, asylums, and places of worship — it instructs, warns, entreats, reproves, consoles, and in ton thousand forms ministers to the creature while it worships the Creator — it renders benefits to the sinner and serves the Saviour; it intercedes on earth and it offers praise in heaven; it weeps here, it rejoices in the world above. Thus love, sanctified and directed by the Saviour of man and by the Spirit of all grace, makes God dwell in the man, and it causes the man to dwell in God. Such, speaking generally, is love. And love is everlasting. It is eternal — it ever will be, as it always hath been. As a principle it is eternal. It will never die. It will never die from the human heart. In all redeemed human spirits love will live an eternal life. Some emotions will pass away as the clouds; others will abide as the blue firmament itself; and among these love in redeemed humanity will have the pre-eminence. Now, connect these ideas of love with the everlasting love of God. Jehovah here says, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Only the love of God is from everlasting. The love of unfallen angels and of redeemed men hath immortality — it is to everlasting, but not from everlasting. God's love alone hath eternity — eternity embracing past, present, and future. There are four things which we would notice here concerning the everlasting love of God.

1. It is not derived, or imparted, or excited by us in the sense of being awakened by us. We are the occasion in part of its being aroused and expressed, but it is not a derived or imparted love. Ours is a love that is as a spark from the great fire that burns in God's heart, fire of love that is underfeed, self-existent, independent.

2. It is perfect, it is impossible to add anything to it, nor could anything be taken from it without rendering it imperfect, it is as complete as love can be found.

3. Instead of being divorced from the other attributes and affections of God, it is allied with them all — love and self-existence, love and independence, love and omnipotence, love and boundless wisdom, love and unspotted purity, love and undeviating righteousness.

4. In all respects is the love of God, Godlike — equal with God. Verily, that man is loved whom God loves. What though no creature may care for him, if God loves him he is loved for ever, and infinitely loved; he is loved with all the strength of the Divine affection; on the other hand, he knows not what it is to be loved in perfection, who does not know and believe the love of God for us.Just look further, at the love of God when embracing sinful men, and notice three things about it.

1. It is personal in its objects. He loves you individually; and His loving a large number is by His loving each one in that number.

2. Although embracing sinners, the love of God is discriminating, and pure, and righteous love. It delights where it can delight, and seeks the good of its object in every form, and in the highest degree.

3. The love of God follows those whom it embraces. It was prolonged to the seed of Abraham beyond numerous apostasies and spiritual adulteries; it is prolonged to us beyond seasons of declension and of backsliding. The love of God goes after us. It follows us into every new relationship, into every new duty, into every new trial, into every new temptation, into fresh provocation, and claims upon God's forbearance; it follows us through life into death, and through death into immortality.

(S. Martin.)

I. DIVINE LOVE IS A FACT; there can be no doubt of the teaching of Scripture on this subject. The God of the Bible is a God of love, He is a Father in heaven, He cares for men, watches over them, guides them, saves them. What more beautiful symbols of Divine love and watchfulness can there be than that of the Good Shepherd in search of those who have wandered away from Him — of the lost sheep; and when He finds the lost one He lays it on His shoulder rejoicing. This attitude of Divine love is the very core of the Gospel; and it is surely a blessed truth for us, although it is sometimes hard for us to realise it.

1. It may seem strange, yet it is true, that there are hearts who can more readily feel that God is angry with them than that God really loves them. The instinct of conscious guilt is fear, and when the sense of sin is strongly awakened, we are apt to turn away from God and to feel as if God must hate us.

2. We feel, as it were, in other moments that the human heart is strangely inconsistent. We feel as if the powers of nature were strong in us, and the sense of sin dies down; we feel as if God would overlook our sins, and that we are not so sinful after all; we feel as if we might trust to His goodness, as if it were, so to speak, good nature. But this is equally inconsistent with true spiritual experience. To all that is evil in human life and human history, whether in Gentile or in Jew, God is a consuming fire.

II. GOD LOVES US EVERLASTINGLY. The fact of Divine love is not only sure in itself, it is never uncertain in incidence. Whatever appearances there may seem to the contrary, it is still there. No cloud can extinguish it, however it may obscure it; no misery, born of the depths of human despair, no tragedy of human agony or of human crime, can make that love doubtful; it is still there, it is around us, it is with us; its everlasting arms are holding us even when we cannot feel it, and grasping us in its soft embrace although our feet may be bleeding and sore with the hardness of the road along which we travel. All sorrow is a gift, and every trouble that the heart of man has, an opportunity. You may not know this now, you may never know it, and yet it is true. God's love knows no relenting. "My will for you is a will of. good without variableness or shadow of turning." "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Just a few words only as to the last point — "I have loved thee; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."

III. THE LOVE OF GOD IS INDIVIDUAL; it is personal; it is the love of one loving heart to another; it is no mere impersonal conception of supreme benevolence; it is the love of a father to a child, the love of a mother to a daughter; it would not be love otherwise, for it is a distinguishing idea of love that it discriminates its object. How personal always was the ministry of our Lord! "Come unto Me." "Take up My cross." "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?"

(Principal Tulloch.)

I. A DECLARATION OF GOD'S LOVE. God is love; that is His nature — love in the abstract; not simply loving, kind, tender, benevolent, good, but love. This love displays itself in Christ. The fatherhood of God is nowhere seen in its royalty, but it is in its exhibition in Jesus Christ. This love He declares has this peculiarity — that it is everlasting.

1. It had no birthday. Go back through a past eternity, still you find no date for its commencement. Find out a day when the Lord Jesus was not loved by the Father, and you have the day when the Church was not loved by Him; you will arrive at the time when His love first began to the Church, for He says, "Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved me, and Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world. It foresaw all the rebellion, backslidings, frailties, sins, infirmities — everything that would characterise the individual upon whom that love rested; and yet the Lord loved you, because He would love you; and that is the only reason that love itself can assign, because He would keep the covenant which He made with His own Son for you.

2. As it had no birthday, so it has no changing day. Like its Author, it is immutable, unvarying. There is nothing that can occur in reference to the objects on whom God s love is fixed that He did not foresee, and there is no change that can occur in the Divine mind as to any improvement in His plan and order of government, or manifestation of mercy to man.(1) This love bestowed upon you the greatest blessings before conversion. Strange to say, and yet it is a great and solemn truth, that while you were an enemy it gave you Christ-gave you the Spirit to regenerate you. Love, ere you were born, was manifested towards you — made the covenant, formed the plan of mercy by which you might be saved.(2) This love changes its dispensations, not its nature. Who questions a father's love when he corrects a rebellious son? Who doubts the teacher's love when he compels his pupil to apply his mind to the subject of instruction? So God acts. If it be necessary to make you diligent in His service, to overcome temptation, to draw you away from the world and its vanities and its corruptions, He may deprive you of property, He may remove an idol, He may stain your pride, He may bereave you of one who is as your own soul, He may prostrate your honour in the dust, He may suffer your own family to rise against you; and the very spring of all this is love.

3. It has no dying day. Love is a golden chain, one end of which is fixed to God s throne in eternity past, and the other end to His throne in eternity to come. This love of God is a bond not to be dissolved, a union never to be broken, a depth which cannot be fathomed, a height which can never be scaled, a length which can never be traversed, a breadth which cannot be measured, a science that passeth all knowledge, a fire which many waters cannot quench, a flame which the floods cannot drown, a sovereign stronger than death, a constrainer which cannot be overcome, a breastplate which cannot be pierced, a safeguard which casts out all fear, an inhabitant that can never be removed, a preventive to every evil, a catholicon for all woe. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life," &c.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS LOVE IS DISPLAYED, or the evidences by which we may ascertain that we possess it.

1. See how with loving-kindness He has drawn you in the paths of providential arrangement! Begin with the earliest dawn of. memory: why were you drawn to such a school? Why did you form such friendships? Did not that love draw you to a situation, a locality as foreign co your thoughts as can well be, give you prosperity, make you influential, happy and blessed, and a blessing to others? What a constraint, often inexplicable, has it put upon your inclinations to accomplish an object which, had it been granted, you afterwards saw would have been your ruin! But the cord stayed you, the love was thrown around you to keep you back. Afflictions, too, have been some of the most beneficial cords of love that have visited you — cords which confined your aspirations and checked your vanity, taught you to pray, taught you to sympathise with others, taught you to love.

2. In the progress of regeneration this is wondrously manifested.

3. In the experimental enjoyment of His favour we see this Divine discovery. Your life has consisted of so many steps from one manifestation of Divine love to another.

4. Practical remarks.(1) Every soul who hears me may be interested in this love.(2) How humbling the contrast of our love to God! How inconstant, how feeble, how spiritless is our level(3) Let us imitate God in His dealings with us. If we would prevail with others, we shall find that the cords of love are better than the rod of Moses. Neither ministers nor private Christians can scare men into the ways of godliness; no threats will frighten a man to be holy.

(J. Sherman.)

I. THE GREAT SOURCE OF REDEMPTION — "everlasting love" — love without beginning, love without change, and love without end.

1. Everlasting love is love without a beginning. The eternity of Divine love is a subject which we cannot fathom, but we may look at it in relation to our own being. Go back behind creation, before the Divine will had generated a single atom of matter, and in that very we discover ourselves in a perfect, living, actual conception, subjective being was embraced, nourished, and delighted in by "everlasting love." The love of God is not an emotion of delight created by the appearance of comeliness, but delight itself; not an emotion excited by beauty, but beauty itself. There is a tendency in the human mind to thrust itself behind the birthday of time, and fall — where? Into the arms of "everlasting love."

2. "Everlasting love" is love without change. Man, in relation to the eternity of God, must be regarded as a whole. "Everlasting love" embraces that whole. Our first impulse is to regard it as encircling the pure and the innocent, but turning aside from the disobedient and simple. It is not so, for the Word says, "God so loved the world." Sin has transformed a paradise into a wilderness, a heaven into a hell, but sin cannot change "everlasting love." That explains it all.

3. "Everlasting love" is love without end. On every Mohammedan tombstone the inscription begins, "He remains," i.e., God. To-day we will write on every gravestone, The love of God remains. Ah, there are many gravestones besides those in the churchyard. You may imagine inscriptions like these: "To the memory of friendship"; "To the memory of parental and filial affection"; "To the memory of marriage sacredness and devotion." But those fires, which once burnt brightly, have gone out for want of fuel, or for something that is worse. Should there be an aching void or bitter disappointment because former sources of affection have dried up, let us not turn to the devil to supply their places, but let us turn to the "everlasting love" of God.

II. THE METHOD OF REDEMPTION. "Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." We sometimes think that our Heavenly Father deals with us harshly, or unkindly. Yes, why the cross and not the crown? You see the child running in from the garden full of tears, and saying, "Something has hurt me." On examination it is found that a thorn is in one of the fingers. Then the gentlest of hands will endeavour to extract it. When she is doing so, the child will cry out, "Oh, mother, you hurt me." Ah, it is not the mother that hurts, but the thorn. When God takes out the thorn, we think that He hurts us. Not so, it is the thorn. Even God cannot take sin out of the heart but that it will give pain.

1. In dealing with the attractions of "everlasting love," we must bear in mind the fact that we can only be saved by attraction. Grace begins its work by transforming the heart into the image of the Son of God. One grain of the Saviour's love in that heart will leaven the whole. The sinner must be made willing to part with his sin. The power to effect this comes from God, but it can only be applied when the willing cry rends his heart, "Lord, save, or I perish."

2. Consider the particular form which God's loving-kindness has assumed in order to attract man to virtue. Under what aspects has mercy appeared unto men? We look back, and see an altar, and a victim, and a priest. But we soon learn that these are only types, yet, God's mercy pursued man in times of yore, and does now, and everywhere. To-day, it is not altar, victim, or priest; but the Son of God, in a body like our own, and bearing up under the vicissitudes of life. In Christ Jesus we have the picture of loving-kindness. Sometimes that picture is in words of sympathy, of love, of encouragement, and inspiration. "Never man spake like this Man." At other times the picture is in deeds, — the most gracious and marvellous. The sick are healed. The blind see. The deaf hear. The dead live. Is the picture overdrawn?

(T. Davies, M. A.)

According to the Catechism of the Westminster Assembly, "God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth" A very comprehensive and noble definition, no doubt I yet did it never strike you as strange that there is no mention of love here? This appears a very remarkable omission, as remarkable as if an orator, who undertook to describe the firmament, left out the sun, or an artist in painting the human face, made it sightless, and gave no place on the canvas to those beaming eyes which impart to the countenance its life and expression. Why did an assembly, for piety, learning, and talents, the greatest perhaps that ever met in England, or anywhere else, in that catalogue of Divine attributes, assign no place to love? Unless we are to understand the term "goodness" as comprehending love, the omission may be thus explained and illustrated. Take a globe, and observing their natural order, lay upon its surface the different hues of the rainbow; give it a rapid motion around its axis, and now the colours vanish. As if by magic the whirling sphere instantly changes into purest white, presenting to our eyes a visible and to our understanding a palpable proof that the sunbeam is not a simple but a compound body, thread spun of various rays which, when blended into one form light; so all the attributes acting together make love, and that because God is just, powerful, holy, good, and true, of necessity, therefore, "God is love."

( T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Is it not an unheard-of wonder that so strong a stream of infinite love should run underground for so many years, and that so many rebellions all that while should not dam it up, but that it should hold on its course uninterrupted, and work out all that had obstructed the current of it, and at last bubble up at a time designed, and save, and wash, and purify the wretched, defiled creature?

( T. Goodwin.)

They tell us that the sun is fed by impact, from objects from without, and that the day will come when its furnace flames shall be quenched into grey ashes. But Christ's love is fed by no contributions from without, and will outlast the burnt-out sun, and gladden the ages of ages for ever.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Would that we might understand the meaning of the expression, "The love of God." It is hinted at in this world. Passing along the streets, one hears the words of a song or catches the strains of a piece of music being played, and he says, "That is from Beethoven or Mozart, I recognise the movement." So in this life, we catch strains of the love of God. We behold it in the mother's disinterested, self-denying love; we see it in the lover's glow and in the little child's innocent affection; but these things are only hints.

What a delightful thing it is to be drawn. Scarcely anybody likes to be driven, but there are very few who don't in their hearts enjoy the drawing process. Cast round about the heart those mysterious cords of love, as soft as silk, and yet as strong as steel; ah! they can't be resisted, and the wonder of it is that there is any desire to resist them. Love has conquered us. These cords have been let down from heaven to encircle us and lift us up out of the pit, just as was done to Jeremiah when he was in the pit; they let ropes down, and presently he was drawn up to life and liberty again. Ah, yes, it was the Cross that drew most of us. What a magnet is the story of the Cross! The power of the atonement has been felt by all of us who have believed, so that we were made willing to enter into the blessing of God. Some of us scarcely know how, but we found ourselves beneath the blood-stained tree. We turned our back upon it for many a year, but it turned us round at last. Blessed be the name of our loving Saviour! these cords are still drawing men to Jesus. I wonder how any one can resist the love of God in Jesus Christ! I saw some little children in a Brixton street the other day playing with a magnet. It was evidently a new toy, and they found much pleasure in this little instrument. What amused me was, that one child ran and brought a stone, another a piece of glass, to see if the magnet influenced them. You know, of course, the result; but the children did not know — they were experimenting. It seems as if we ministers are too much like those dear little ones. We have a magnet, but oh, how few there are who yield to the attracting power! The fault is not with the instrument, for Christ has said, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." Your hearts need changing; there is not as yet in you anything that responds to the call; nothing that answers to the message of His love. Oh! I pray you, ere you rest to-night, fall on your knees and implore God to touch your heart till the story of the Cross moves it and Jesus wins it.

(Thomas Spurgeon.)

A new teacher came to the little school district, who was the beginning of a new order of things to others as well as Dwight L. Moody. She opened the exercises the first morning with prayer, and that made s great impression upon the boys. But they were still more astonished when she told them that she intended to have good order, and yet have it without whipping any one. Ere long, Dwight had broken one of the rules, and was asked to remain after school. He supposed she had decided to whip him in private, and expected the usual punishment. To his surprise, as soon as they were alone, the teacher began to talk in the kindest way to him, telling him how it grieved her to have him disobey. This was harder on Dwight than a whipping. Finally she said, I have made up my mind that if I cannot rule the school by love, I will give it up. I will have no punishment. If you love me, try and keep the rules, and help me in the school" This was too much for Dwight, and he surrendered at once. "You will never have any more trouble with me," he answered, "and I will whack the first boy that makes you any trouble!" And "whack" him he did, the very next day, to the surprise of his companions and the consternation of the teacher.

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