Wonders of Redeeming Love

From Horae Homileticae (1828)

National mercies ought not to be overlooked by us. It was to them in a peculiar manner that the ordinance before us had respect. The Jews were required not only to look back to the deliverance of their nation from Egypt, but to trace back their origin to Jacob their father, whose mother was a Syrian, who himself married two Syrian women, and himself lived in Syria for twenty years; whose children also, with the exception of Benjamin, were all born in Syria, and were the heads and progenitors of all the Jewish tribes. He on many occasions was near perishing: when he fled from the face of Esau, when he was followed by Laban his father-in-law, and when he was met again by Esau at the head of four hundred men, he was in danger of being destroyed: in which case his children would either never have existed, or would all have been destroyed with him. But God had preserved him from every danger, and brought his posterity to Canaan agreeably to his promise: and they in grateful remembrance of this were to profess it openly from year to year; “A Syrian ready to perish was our father.”

The ceremonial law is considered in general as a system of burdensome rites, that had in themselves no intrinsic value, and were useful only as prefiguring the mysteries of the Gospel. But though this view of it is in a measure just, yet we may disparage that law too much; because there was in many of its ordinances a proper tendency to generate divine affections.

In the law before us, certain professions were required to be made at the same time that the first-fruits were presented: and the words that were put into the mouths of those making offering reminded them of the obligations which they owed to God, and, consequently, were suited to excite, as well as to express, their gratitude to God. Respecting the deliverance of that people from Egypt, there is no further occasion for the law…

Perhaps it rarely occurs to our minds that we have quite as much reason for gratitude on a national account as even the Jews themselves: but, if we call to mind the state of our forefathers, who were ignorant of God… and remember that we ourselves should have been bowing down to stocks and stones just like them, if the light of the Gospel had not been sent to dispel our darkness, we shall see that we may well adopt the language of our text and say, “A Syrian ready to perish was our father.”

But we should be careful also to review our personal mercies. Let us look back to the weakness of infancy, the thoughtlessness of childhood, the folly of youth, and see now marvelously God has preserved us to the present hour, while millions have been cut off by a premature death, or left to protract a miserable existence in pain, or infamy, or want. The means by which we have been rescued from danger, and even the minutest occurrences that have contributed to our deliverance, are worthy of our most attentive survey, and must be distinctly viewed, if ever we would “understand aright the loving-kindness of the Lord.”

We must not however dwell solely, or even chiefly, on temporal mercies, but must raise our thoughts to those which are spiritual. What matter for reflection will these afford! If we consider the former blindness and ignorance of our minds, the hardness and depravity of our hearts, the indifference which we manifested towards the concerns of eternity, and the awful danger in which we stood, what reason have we to bless our God that he did not take us away in such a state! And, if we can say, as in our text, that “we are come unto the country which the Lord swore unto our fathers for to give us,” and are “partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus,” then have we indeed cause for thankfulness, even such cause, as we may well reflect upon to the latest hour of our lives…

If our minds be duly impressed with a sense of God’s goodness to us, we shall not be satisfied with allotting one particular period to the contemplation of it, but shall be glad to think and speak of it every day we live.

In the passage before us it is associated with joy. And indeed, what is such a service but a foretaste of heaven itself? Did anyone ever engage in it and not find his soul elevated by it to a joy which nothing else could afford? Let anyone ruminate on earthly things, and his meditations will only augment his cares, or at best inspire him with a very transient joy. Let him dwell upon his own corruptions, and, though they are a proper subject of occasional meditation, they will only weigh down his spirits, and perhaps lead him to desponding fears. But let the goodness of God and the wonders of redeeming love be contemplated by him, and he will soon have his mind raised above earthly things, and fired with a holy ambition to honor and to resemble God.

Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an English cleric, the most prominent evangelical Anglican leader of his time. He served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 43 years, converting thousands of students, and inspiring many to ordained ministry, especially in the mission field.  He helped to organize the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. His great work was the Horae Homileticae, a sermonical commentary on the whole Bible. He is commemorated on November 12 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.



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