(From”The Ultimate Purpose of Christ’s Love and Death” 1865)
“Christ loved the church — and gave Himself up for her!” Ephesians 5:25
Thoughts of love nestled in His heart;
words of love lingered on His lips;
deeds of love flew from His hands; and
His steps left behind them, the impress of love!
Love threw its soft halo over His cradle at Bethlehem — and it fringed with its mellow splendors, the gloom of the cloud under which He expire on Calvary.
Love gave bounds to His reproofs — and pathos to His invitations.
Love was the magnet that guided Him in all His wanderings.
Love bound Him to the cross and held Him there — and not the iron nails which pierced His hands and His feet!
Love thrilled in His bosom, and glistened in His eye!
Love prompted Him to impart miraculous aid on every opportunity. His meekness was but one of its features. It clothed itself in forgiveness toward His enemies, and its last pulsation was in a prayer for His murderers.
Love was the spiritual atmosphere in which He lived, moved, and had His being. And all this love had His own people for its central object, around whom it ever hovered with sleepless tenderness and assiduity! “Christ loved the church — and gave Himself up for her!”
But those exhibitions of love during His life — are eclipsed by the displays of it in His death! Love shines out with novel charms amidst the gloom of death, for it did not shrink from the shame and woe of the cross!
His severest anguish was that of His soul. Oh! it was not shame, persecution, or crucifixion — for these terrible sufferings could have been easily borne! It was not the rage and malice of Satan — these also could have been trampled on! But it was the endurance in Himself of the punishment due to that sin which He had taken upon Himself — which drank up His spirit, prompted the moan in Gethsemane, and the mysterious complaint on Calvary! The ‘travail of His soul’ — was induced by vicarious pangs!