Posts Tagged ‘William Cunningham’
Here is an excerpt from a sermon by William Cunningham concerning the surpassing excellence of the Lord Jesus, seeking to stir the hearts of his people – indeed, of all people – to faith and adoration:
Christ, however, has all the properties of the Godhead and as God, He has an undoubted right to the first place in our affections, while He is possessed of such glorious perfections and stands m such a relation to us, that supreme love to Him should be the natural and proper result of any view which we take of Him, and of any attempt which we make to realize Him. No man hath seen God at any time; but the only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him. And one purpose for which God sent His Son into the world was, that He might manifest Himself to us in such a way as might more than ever constrain us to love Him. The apostle tells us, 1 John iv.9: ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him;’ and one use we ought to make of the information which we have received concerning Christ is, to constrain us to obey the first and great commandment. But in endeavouring to use the record God has given concerning His Son, for impressing the Divine character and perfections upon our minds, and shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts, let us never forget that Christ is Himself God over all,—that He is Himself the object whom in the first great commandment we are required to love with all our hearts,—that He is possessed of all those perfections which render that commandment a reasonable one,—and that the giving Him all the honour and respect to which He is entitled, is guarded by an express reference to the day of judgment, and the decision there to be pronounced with respect to our eternal condition. Surely, then, though you have never seen Christ, yet when you know well and believe firmly that He has been from eternity, and is still, possessed of every perfection and excellence,—that He has always been, and still is, the author of every good and perfect gift,—surely you must be constrained to love Him, and to love Him far more than you have ever yet done. . . .
In short, the more carefully you examine the life of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, the more clearly will you see how all His thoughts, and words, and actions, were regulated by consummate wisdom,—by unspotted moral excellence,—by the most amiable and affectionate dispositions;—and when you thus, in realizing His character as exhibited in His life, contemplate Him as a pattern of all moral excellence,—as possessed of every quality fitted to command esteem and to call forth affection,—you will feel a holy exultation, that the same nature which you wear once appeared in such a form and aspect,—that One—who was a partaker of flesh and blood like yourselves—should have exhibited such a faultless pattern of everything that is excellent and beautiful;—and by all these views, and upon all these grounds, you will feel constrained to ‘love’ Him.
You know that Christ was God, possessed of all the perfections of Divinity;—and you know likewise that He was a most beautiful and perfect specimen of Humanity,—exhibiting His excellences amid perpetual and painful sufferings. You are to contemplate Him in these lights, that you may be constrained to love Him.
William Cunningham, Sermons, 162-164
William Cunningham’s advice to theology students (and, by implication, pastors) is sound. It has the same tone as B. B. Warfield’s penetrating little volume on the religious life of students of theology. Cunningham says:
Your professional studies may rightly occupy the principal share of your time and attention for six days in the week, just like the ordinary lawful secular business of other men; but on the Lord’s Day you ought to be chiefly influenced by the consideration, not so much that you are students of theology preparing for the work of the ministry, that you may be made instrumental in promoting the salvation of others, but rather that you are, in common with many of the poorest, humblest and most illiterate of the human race, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, who are bound to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, and to become progressively more meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Theological Lectures, (1878, reprinted 1990), 95.
HT: Iain D. Campbell.