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The Savior's Demand

By James Smith

      "Do you love Me?" John 21:17

      WHO is it that makes such a demand upon me, and inquires after my love? It is Jesus, the sinner's Friend--the glorious Savior.

      Love You! Yes, Lord, you know that I love you? The great desire of my soul, and constant prayer of my heart, as you know, is, that I may love you more, and serve you better. How can I meditate on the glorious perfections of your nature--the boundless love of your heart--your deep humiliation for my welfare--glorious exaltation at the right hand of the Father, and sweet love messages to me from thence--and not love you? O yes, I do, I must, I will love you! I only want to feel your love inflaming, increasing, and settling my love upon you and your immovably.

      But why is the inquiry thrice repeated? Are you jealous of my love? O! now I see, it is my conduct! I am prone to wander, and fond of other lovers, and too much taken up with the things of time. But, Lord, I wait to hear your word--speak the command, and give me will and power to obey.

      "Do you love Me?" Then spread abroad the knowledge of my love, work, and word--use every means to circulate the glorious, glad tidings of salvation, by free grace through my meritorious blood. Tell to sinners, in every direction, that there is salvation in Jesus, and salvation nowhere else--tell them that I am ready to pardon, waiting to be gracious, exalted to show mercy, to give repentance, and the remission of sins; tell them that I receive the vilest, cast out none--but receive all who come, and receive them as they are--all guilty, polluted, and depraved; tell them there are no bounds to my merits, or limits to my mercy, or prerequisites necessary to obtain my grace. Lead them, all guilty and depraved, to the cross where I bled, and cry--

      See here an endless ocean flows
      Of never-failing grace:
      Behold a dying Savior's veins
      The sacred flood increase.

      It rises high and drowns the hills,
      Has neither shore nor bound:
      Now if you search to find your sins,
      Your sins can ne'er be found!

      "Do you love Me?" Then endeavor, by every means in your power, to lead poor sinners to me. The poor, the halt, the maimed, the blind, as many as you find, bid to the marriage; compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Depend on my promises for strength; look to my commands for direction; call daily upon the Holy Spirit for his light, energy, and presence; and employ all means to pluck brands from the burning. Look not with unconcern on sinners, on whom I looked and wept--for whom I shed my blood--to whom I send my gospel; but pity, pray for, and plead with them, that you may by all means save some.

      "Do you love Me?" Remember time is short; the season in which you may glorify me on earth will soon pass away, and be gone for ever. Work while it is called today, for the night comes, when no man can work. Evidence to all around that you are not your own--but are bought with a price, and are solemnly engaged to glorify me with your bodies and spirits which are mine. Let every talent be consecrated to, and employed for, the advancement of my kingdom, and the spread of my fame. Everything around you: pale-faced sickness, clay-cold death, the opening grave, approaching judgment, and all the changeless solemnities of eternity--call upon you, if you love me, to keep my commandments, and seek my glory.

      "Do you love Me?" Then why those reserves? Why so seldom at my throne of grace, though so repeatedly, so urgently invited? Why is my word neglected, though given by inspiration, and profitable for all things? Why are my ordinances slighted, though identified with my honor, and intended to produce your good? And what is this bleating of the sheep that I hear--are these things too good, too valuable for me? Are you afraid you can give me too much, or be a loser by me?

      If you love me, I demand your body--render it a living sacrifice; I demand your soul--surrender it cheerfully as my lawful right; I demand your time--consecrate it to me, and only use it as a loan; I demand your property--use it--but be sure you do not abuse it. I demand your all--whether, therefore, you eat or drink, or whatever you do--do all to my glory. For except a man denies himself, and takes up his cross, and follows me--he cannot be my disciple; and he who is ashamed of me and of my ways before men, although he may say he loves me, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and the holy angels.

      "Do you love Me?" Then endeavor to manifest to all around the glory, perfection, and tendency of my grace. Exhibit the graces of my Spirit. Crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts, and declare plainly that you seek a country--a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Set your affections--your minds, on things above, not on things on the earth: for if you indeed love me, you are dead, and your life is hid with me in God. Daily expect my coming; always act as under my eye; ever pursue your way, persuaded that every moment brings you nearer to my glorious presence. Let it be seen that you are Christ-like--endure the cross, despise the shame, walk as I have written in my word--and you shall shortly sit down with me on my throne.

      "Do you love Me?" Then remember you have my word that I will never leave you--that my grace is sufficient for you--that I will make all grace to abound toward you--that my strength shall be made perfect in your weakness--and that I am able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or think. Never venture out in your own strength, or attempt anything by your own wisdom--or you will fail. Look to me for wisdom, grace, courage, strength, holiness, and peace; go on trusting my faithful word, and you shall find that the way of the Lord is strength to the upright; for I will never fail you--but will accomplish in you all the good pleasure of my goodness, and the work of faith with power.

      To conclude, never think you can do too much for me, or be satisfied with what you have done, or are doing; rather ask, "What more can I do to glorify my Savior's name, to further my Redeemer's cause?" Look at my journeys, labors, Gethsemane sorrows, and dying pangs; listen to the voice of my groans, and read the language of my blood--all, all cry, "If you love me--then honor me, obey me, imitate me, and press on with vigor to be with me."

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