The Comfort of Love
James Smith, 1860
The union and communion of believers, is intended for . . .
the world's advantage,
and God's glory.
It is by the Lord's people being united together, and acting in character, that these ends are to be accomplished. Love is the cement that binds and holds the Lord's people together, therefore we are so often exhorted and commanded to love one another. Besides which, love is such a happy-making thing. It is the very element of Heaven. Therefore, when Paul would urge believers to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, he produces this as an inducement, "If there is any comfort of love." Philippians 2:1. That is, if there is any happiness in loving and being loved, then "be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." The comfort of love is a powerful motive to love, union, and like-mindedness.
THE SOURCE OF COMFORT. "Love."
To know that we are loved by God with an everlasting love — what a comfort is this.
To know that Jesus loves us — what a source of happiness is this.
To be loved by the saints of God — what a pleasure is this.
To exercise love is delightful.
To love God, because he first loved us.
To love Christ, because he laid down his life for us.
To love believers, because they are of the same family, have the same nature, and are ruled by the same principles — is divinely sweet. The more we love — the happier we are. May the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts, that we may love him, and his people, as the effect — then we shall have comfort.
The comfort that flows from love is peculiarly sweet and powerful, it is constraining and assimilating, and it is in a sense immortal, for though it may seem to die out here, it will revive and shine brighter and brighter in our Father's house above.
OUR DUTY IN REFERENCE TO LOVE. We should carefully CULTIVATE it. We should avoid whatever would dampen, or divert it — as slanders, tattlings, misrepresentations, or common reports. And we should attend to whatever will strengthen and increase it, such as . . .
prayer and meditation,
united attendance upon the means of grace;
praying for and with one another; and
conversing together upon spiritual, and experimental subjects.
We should EXHIBIT our love, by kind attentions, sincere fellowship, and taking an interest in the happiness and welfare of those we profess to love.
As love is easily cooled, and in some people it is soon quenched — we should be careful to avoid everything that has a tendency to do so; and seek to stir up one another to love, and to good works.
Would you be happy? Love is a divine fire — and comfort is the heat it communicates. Love makes individuals, families, churches, and communities happy.
Would you be miserable? You have only to be shy of your fellow Christians, to be cold toward them, and uncharitable in your spirit and dealing with them.
Would you be wretched? Then indulge in hatred, envy, and malice. Separate yourself from God's people, and you will be wretched enough.
See then . . .
the course you should take,
the spirit you should encourage,
and the end you should aim at — LOVE.
Keep the new commandment, and love the Lord's people, as Christ has loved you; be lovely and loving in your spirit, temper, and disposition; aim at the closer union of all spiritual people, and you will he happy.
See what you should avoid — everything that will cool your love to others, or their love to you; that you may walk in love, as Christ has loved you, and given himself for you.
See what you need, more of the presence, power, and operation of the Holy Spirit, who is a Spirit of love. If we were filled with the Spirit — we would be full of love, and being full of love, we would "put off all these, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy talk out of your mouth — and put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, affections of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do you."
Professor of religion, is yours a religion of love? Do you love all your fellow-creatures, with a fellow-creature's love; and all your fellow Christians, with a Christian love? Are you loving? Here is one of our grand defects — we are not lovable and loving us we should be. If all were loving and lovely, then the prevailing feature of our experience and conduct toward each other, would be LOVE.