2. How this gift of Christ was the highest, and fullest manifestation of the love of God, that ever the world saw: and this will be evidenced by the following particulars:
(1.) If you consider how near and dear Jesus Christ was to the Father; he was his Son, “his only Son,” says the text; the Son of his love, the darling of his Soul: His other Self, yes, one with himself; the express image of his person; the brightness of his Father’s Glory: In parting with him, he parted with his own heart, with his very affections, as I may say. “Yet to us a Son is given,” Isa. 9:6, and such a Son as he calls “his dear Son,” Col. 1:13. A late writer tells us, that he has been informed, that in the famine in Germany, a poor family being ready to perish with famine, the husband made a motion to the wife, to sell one of the children for bread, to relieve themselves and the rest: The wife at last consents it should be so; but then they began to think which of the four should be sold; and when the eldest was named, they both refused to part with that, being their first born, and the beginning of their strength. Well, then they came to the second, but could not yield that he should be sold, being the very picture and lively image of his father. The third was named, but that also was a child that best resembled the mother. And when the youngest was thought on, that was the Benjamin, the child of their old age; and so were content rather to perish altogether in the famine, than to part with a child for relief. And you know how tenderly Jacob took it, when his Joseph and Benjamin were rent from him. What is a child, but a piece of the parent enrapt up in another skin? And yet our dearest children are but as strangers to us, in comparison of the unspeakable dearness that was between the Father and Christ. Now, that he should ever be content to part with a Son, and such an only One, is such a manifestation of love, as will be admired to all eternity. And then,
(2.) Let it be considered, To what he gave him, even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of men; to the most unparalleled sufferings that ever were inflicted or borne by any. It melts our affections, it breaks our heart, to behold our children striving in the pangs of death: but the Lord beheld his Son struggling under agonies that never any felt before him. He saw him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning himself to his Father, and, with a heart rending cry, beseeching him, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass,” Luke 22:42. To wrath, to the wrath, of an infinite God without mixture; to the very torments of hell was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of his own Father. Sure then that love must needs want a name, which made the Father of mercies deliver his only Son to such miseries for us.
(3.) It is a special consideration to enhance the love of God in giving Christ, that in giving him he gave the richest jewel in his cabinet; a mercy of the greatest worth, and most inestimable value, Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is: He is the better half of heaven; and so the saints account him, Psalm. 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” Ten thousand thousand worlds, says one, as many worlds as angels can number, and then as a new world of angels can multiply, would not all be the bulk of a balance, to weigh Christ’s excellency, love, and sweetness. O what a fair One! what an only One! what an excellent, lovely, ravishing One, is Christ! Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness in one; O what a fair and excellent thing would that be? And yet it should be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths. Christ is heaven’s wonder, and earths wonder.
Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as his Son was, yet not to account him too good to bestow upon us, what manner of love is this!
(4.) Once more, let it be considered on whom the Lord bestowed his Son: upon angels? No, but upon men. Upon man his friend? No, but upon his enemies. This is love; and on this consideration the apostle lays a mighty weight, in Rom. 5:8, 9, 10. “But God (says he) commends his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, – When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” Who would part with a son for the sake of his dearest friends? but God gave him to, and delivered him for enemies: O love unspeakable!
(5.) Lastly, Let us consider how freely this gift came from him: It was not wrested out of his hand by our importunity; for we as little desired as deserved it: It was surprising, preventing, eternal love, that delivered him to us: “Not that we loved him, but he first loved us,” 1 John 4:19. Thus as when you weigh a thing, you cast in weight after weight, until the scales break; so does God, one consideration upon another, to overcome our hearts, and make us admiringly to cry, what manner of love is this! And thus I have showed you what God’s giving of Christ is, and what matchless love is manifested in that incomparable gift.