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Sermons on Important Subjects
By J. M. Pendleton

Those Who do not Love Christ Accursed of God

      If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha. - 1 Corinthians xvi:22.

      The first principles of Christianity are involved in love to Jesus Christ. The affections of the heart, whenever excited by evangelical causes, are placed supremely on him. Religion without love to the Savior, would be a moral anomaly - such an anomaly as the world has never seen. As truly as the magnetic needle turns to the north, does the character of the Redeemer elicit the devout, the affectionate admiration of the saint. But if the character of Christ can elicit such admiration, why do not all love him? Why is he not the object of universal affection? Why does not every man entertain reverential sentiments concerning him? These questions find an answer in the depravity of the human heart. Depraved intelligences alone are destitute of love to Christ. This class of beings includes men and devils, and surely they are the most unreasonable of all the creatures of God. Their hostility to the Lord Jesus is an irrational hostility. It originates in sin, which is an irrational thing. It is the dreadful province of moral depravity to

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create a disrelish for moral excellency, beauty, and glory. But let a majority of the human race, and all the myriads of fallen angels, indulge as dishonorable and as irreverent thoughts of Christ as they please, it is nevertheless the joy of all heaven, and the boast of all the pious on earth, that he is worthy of supreme love, and everlasting praise. In discussing the subject before us, I notice, -

      I. That Men Ought to Love the Lord Jesus Christ.
      1. It accords with every principle of reason that a lovely object should be loved. - This none will deny. Assuming this, then, as a kind of moral axiom, let us examine and test the Savior's claims to our most cordial affection. He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. All loveliness and perfection are concentrated in him. They find their brilliant focal point in his character. Jesus is divine; therefore all the glories of divinity are his. All the attributes of Deity belong to him; and those attributes, in their associated splendor, delight and enrapture saints and angels round the throne. But Jesus is human - uncontaminated, however, by sin - therefore all the excellencies of sinless humanity beautify his character. You perceive, then, that whatever is glorious in supreme divinity, and whatever is amiable in perfect humanity, distinguishes the being whom the text recognizes as worthy of our love. Perhaps the opinion

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which prevails in heaven, relative to the loveliness and worthiness of the Redeemer, may give weight to my argument. What is that opinion? It is that the Lord Jesus deserves the homage of all the diversified orders of intelligences that inhabit the universe. The redeemed in glory! What think they of Christ? Hearken to their song: "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb." The angels of light! What think they of Christ? Angelic judgment has been exercised, and a decision is given in that anthem, whose language is, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive riches, and power, and honor, and glory, and blessing."

      The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has expressed his affection for his Son: "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth," etc. "This is my beloved Sou, in whom I am well pleased." I have now attempted to establish the position that Jesus is a lovely object; that divine glory and human perfection wondrously meet in his character; and I have rendered that position irrefutable, by a reference to the exalted estimation in which he is held by the citizens of heaven, and by God his Father. Now, if a lovely object should be loved, ought not Jesus to be loved? Is it not strange that his beauty does not captivate every soul? Why is not the world vocal

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with his praise? He ought to be loved because he is lovely, infinitely lovely.

      2. Men ought to love Jesus Christ because he has died for the redemption of sinners. - He has exhibited his regard for man in the most astonishing manner. His assumption of our nature is the most stupendous instance of condescension recorded in the annals of time or eternity. He disarrayed himself of the insignia of royalty, and became a man of sorrows; he laid aside the diadem of glory for a crown of thorns; he abdicated his throne for a cross; he gave up the smiles of his Father and the hosannas of angels for the malice of devils and the insults of men. What love! Amazing! unparalleled! Who are the objects of this love? Men - guilty men. The benevolence of Jesus, in its expansive operation, embraced Adam's ruined race. It was the true philanthropy. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." The love of Christ was the love of enemies. This fact not only peculiarizes it, but contains tho germ of hope to ruined man. John says: "We love him because he first loved us." This accords with every dictate of reason; and every principle of equity suggests the propriety of reciprocating, so far as finite powers can do, the Savior's affection. We ought to love the Lord Jesus because he has died for us. This reason is sufficient were there no other. The heart that

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does not feel the moral weight of this consideration must be made of adamant. All other arguments would expend their force upon it in vain. The human being who can contemplate the transactions of Calvary, and feel no emotions of love for the illustrious Sufferer of the cross, ought to tremble in apprehension of the curse of God. Though it is so evident that men ought to love Jesus Christ, there are multitudes who do not love him. This leads me, -

      II. To Name Some Things Which Indicate a Destination of Love to Christ.
      1. A reliance on self-righteousness for salvation. - Those who love Christ, rely on his merit. So far as justification before God is concerned, they repudiate their own righteousness, fully and unreservedly. They consider Christ the only Savior, and gladly commit their souls into his hands. He is the foundation of their hope, and is made their "wisdom, righteousness, santification, and redemption, that, according as it is writen, he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord." Not so with those who are destitute of love to Christ. They do not appreciate his mediation; they do not recognize the necessity of his atonement. By relying on their own works, they virtually deny the propriety and utility of any atoning expedient. They offer an insult to the cross by affirming that it was needlessly erected; they cast contempt on the scheme of redemption, which is greatest among the works of God

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The moral man, so called, relies on his morality; the Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness, and they had no love for Christ. Morality and personal righteousness are good in their place, but they are infinitely out of place when relied on to reinstate a guilty sinner in the forfeited favor of God. Such reliance as clearly indicates a destitution of love to Christ as does theft, or drunkenness, or profanity, or idolatry. It involves a rejection of Christ as the only Savior, and those who reject him do not love him.

      2. An indifference to the prosperity of his cause. - Christ has a cause in the world; those love it who love him; their love to him originates in their love to his cause; nothing delights them more than its success; for their dearest hopes, the world's best interests, and the promotion of the divine glory, are involved in its prosperity. But those who are destitute of love to Christ, are not concerned whether or not the interests of his kingdom flourish. It affords them no pleasure to hear that Zion is advancing. They do nothing to "lengthen her cords, or strengthen her stakes." But they do much which results in her injury. Their criminal indifference to the prosperity of the Redeemer's cause indicates a total destitution of love to him.

      3. A non-observance of his commands. - He himself has established this criterian by which we may determine whether we love him or not. - namely, keeping his commandments. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it

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is that loveth me. Again he says. "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings." Can any thing be plainer than that love to the Savior prompts to an observance of his commands, and that a destitution of love is shown by a disregard of these commands? Do you obey the commands of Christ? He says, "Repent and believe the gospel." Have you repented? Have you believed? He says to the believer, "Be baptized." Have you been baptized? He says to his disciples, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together." Do you esteem it a privilege to meet for his worship, to sing his praise, to present your prayers in his name, to hear his word, to commemorate his death, etc.? He says, "Deny yourselves of all ungodliness and worldly lusts." Do you know experimentally what self-denial means? He says "Render good for evil." Do you not often render evil for evil?

      What multitudes there are who have no love for Christ! They love themselves, they love their friends - they love the world, its honors, riches, pleasures - they love sin - but for the Savior they do not feel an emotion of love! Infinite excellency has no attractions for them. Infinite loveliness has no charms. Infinite beauty excites no admiration. Yet Jesus is worthy of the warmest love. There could not be extravagant affection for him even should the heart glow with more than seraphic ardor. Should the faculty of love exhaust all its strength upon him there would be a delightful consciousness that

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never was strength of affection so worthily exhausted. There is that in Jesus Christ which justifies for him a more fervent love than finite creatures know, or can ever know. His excellencies are infinite, and how can the finite adequately appreciate the infinite? It can not be. And hence in heaven our love to Christ will be eternally disproportionate to his worthiness. Our love will be ever increasing, and we shall be ever perceiving new exhibitions of the Redeemer's loveliness. And while every new exhibition will inflame our love, we shall be delightfully oppressed or enraptured - I know not which - with the conciousness that Jesus is worthy of affection more ardent than we can bestow.

      How deserving is the Savior of universal love! How many have no love for him! What have they to expect? Let us notice, -

      III. That They Must be Accursed of God.
      If any man - Jew or Gentile - bond or free - love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha. We hear much said in these days against a revision of the English Scriptures. Lives there a man who will say that these words from the Greek and Syriac ought not to be translated? Many an impenitent sinner has read and heard them without any adequate idea of the fearful consequence of not loving the Savior. Anathema means "accursed," "devoted to destruction." The text therefore teaches that every man who does not love Jesus Christ will be

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accursed. This will be right. Justice will require it. Notice the words, any man, etc. The monarch, the philosopher, the peasant, the rich man the poor man, the aristocrat, the democrat, the man of the world, and the member of the church - all, all who do not love Christ will he, must be, and ought to be accursed. The Redeemer's claims to the love of men are so well sustained, and so unquestionably valid, that it is no little matter to set them at naught. The crime of so doing is so aggravated, so enormous, that it can not be adequately punished unless those guilty of it are accursed. The penalty inflicted will involve such wrath as eternity will be required to exhaust. Millions, millions of ages after the sound of the last trumpet shall have died away it will still be "wrath to come."

      To anathema, maranatha is added, which means, the Lord cometh. And this indicates that the Lord, when he comes to judgment, will take into his own hands the infliction of the curse on the enemies of Jesus Christ. The Lord will come and devote to eternal destruction those who do not love the Redeemer. He will not commit the work of destruction to creatures - not to angels who excel in strength - he will do it himself. It will be his strange work to curse rather than bless, but it will be done. The best interests of the universe require that it be done. The Lord comes! This denotes also the certainty of the infliction of the curse. It is as certain as the coming of the Lord. And when the curse

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falls with its crushing weight on those who do not love Jesus Christ the impression will pervade the universe in a moment that their damnation is just. Every angel will recognize its justice - every saint - every fallen spirit and every one on whom the curse falls. Alas, those who do not love Christ will feel that they deserve to suffer what they will be under the awful necessity of suffering forever! Injustice will not be done them in hell. No anguish will arbitrarily torture their spirits. No sorrow will gratuitously break their hearts. No tears will be wantonly drawn from their eyes. No sighs will be capriciously wrung from their bosoms. A just God, in all the majesty of infinite rectitude, will preside over the dreadful scene, and deal out justice - nothing more, nothing less, to those who love not the Lord Jesus Christ. And what justice! Justice, uttering a voice louder than "mighty thunderings," saying, let those who love not the Lord Jesus Christ be accursed. Let them learn what is meant by damnation! O what unavailing lamentations will lost sinners eternally indulge over their refusal to love Christ, and their rejection of his salvation! How will they bewail their folly and wickedness when it will be too late! TOO LATE! TOO LATE! Impenitent sinners! you who read this short sermon, will you not love Jesus Christ, and escape the curse when the Lord comes? God grant that you may. Amen.

[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via ILL through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

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