THE GOD OF LOVE
by Octavius Winslow, 1870.
"For this God is OUR GOD for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the
end." Psalm 48:14
It was a characteristic remark of Luther that, he loved the personal
pronouns of Scripture. This may be termed the holy egotism of the Bible; and
it recognizes and teaches an important truth- the believer's personal
appropriation to himself of the doctrines, precepts, and promises of God's
Word. If "all things are ours," then, it is the province of faith to lay its
hand upon the great charter- the sufficiency of Jehovah, the fullness of
Christ, the provisions of the covenant, the blessings of the Gospel, and the
promises of God- claiming and appropriating all as its own. The Bible is
replete with these personal pronouns. "My beloved is mine, and I am His."
"Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me." "I am Yours." "I live." "I am
not behind the very chief apostle." "By the grace of God, I am what I am."
To endeavor to raise the believer to this elevated and proper standard, in
his personal religion is the design of these pages. Losing sight of all
non-essentially religious differences and ecclesiastical distinctions, and
recognizing all who possess like precious faith, as constituting 'One Body
in Christ,' essentially and individually one, it aims to cluster all around
the Mercy Seat, sealing upon the lips of all the declaration of the sacred
Brotherhood- "This God is OUR GOD forever and ever." Should this object, in
a single case, be promoted, these pages will not have been written in vain.
To neutralize the doubts, dissipate the fears, and confirm the faith of a
single believer in Christ, thus aiding him to place his foot upon another
and higher round in heaven's ladder, is a work worthy of a life.
We but imperfectly realize the greatness of God's love to His people, their
preciousness to the heart of Jesus, and how incessantly they are the objects
of the Spirit's care and comfort. Viewed in this threefold light, may not
the writer hope that his cup of cold water, offered to the saints in name
of, and because dear to, Christ, will be acceptable to the disciple, be
approved of by the Master, and be abundant also of many thanksgivings unto
God? To the triune God shall be the praise!
THE GOD OF LOVE
"God is love." John 4:16
In commencing a series of studies designed to unfold some of the perfections
of "Our God," as they are revealed in the Bible and are embodied in Christ,
we begin with what may be regarded the central one of all- the perfection of
LOVE- around which, in the salvation of men, all the others cluster, and
with which they harmoniously and resplendently blend. If one perfection of
God shines out in redemption with greater effulgence than any other, it is
this. Love is the focus of all the rest, the golden thread which draws and
binds them all together in holy and beautiful cohesion. Love was the moving,
controlling attribute in God's great expedient of saving sinners. Justice
may have demanded it, holiness may have required it, wisdom may have planned
it, and power may have executed it, but love originated the whole, and was
the moving cause in the heart of God; so that the salvation of the sinner is
not so much a manifestation of the justice, or holiness, or wisdom, or power
of God, as it is a display of His love.
Had not God's love resolved to save man, all His other perfections must have
been employed and displayed in destroying man. Love set its heart upon man,
yearned to save man, and resolved to embark in the expedient of his
salvation; and this it did by conceiving a plan which should harmonize all
the other attributes of His nature, and engage them in the divine and
wondrous work of redeeming mercy. It is not, therefore, without reason and
design that we make the love of God the concentric truth from which we
The character of God, as the God of love, is but imperfectly apprehended,
even by those who are the especial objects of His regard. There are but few
saints of God who study His character, and read His dispensations, in the
light of this wondrous perfection of His nature. They are awed by His
greatness, impressed with His holiness, tremble at His power; but how few
are subdued and drawn to Him by His love! They do not, for the most part,
conceive that loving view of His character, and cherish those kindly
thoughts of His mercy, as would disarm their minds of the terror of the
slave, and fill their hearts with the affection of the child. And yet a
believing apprehension of God's loving and lovable character, of the great
love with which He loves His saints, lies at the root of all holy, filial,
and unreserved obedience.
As there is no such commanding, controlling, all-constraining power as that
of love, so, in proportion to the deep view we have of the love of God to us
in Christ Jesus, will be the quickened response it awakens of confiding love
in our hearts, and of obedient love in our lives. May the present unfolding
of God, as the "God of love," dissipate those cold, distrustful, and
dishonoring views and feelings of His character and government which we have
too deeply cherished; enabling us to read and understand, in a new and
clearer light, the divine and wondrous declaration upon which our meditation
is founded- "God is love."
You have thought of Him, perhaps, as the God of holiness, as the God of
justice, as the God of power, as the God of judgment; come now and meditate
upon Him as the God of love; and while you thus muse on this marvelous and
soul-subduing truth, may the fire of a responsive affection kindle in your
heart, and your tongue break forth into thanksgiving and praise.
God is essentially the God of love. The words which suggest our present
meditation emphatically declare this: "God is love." This is, perhaps, the
most sublime sentence of the Bible. It is a sentence which only could arise
from a divine mind. It is at once simple and grand, intelligible and
affecting. It involves a truth in which an angel's mind might expatiate, and
which a child's can grasp. It reaches to the highest, and descends to the
lowest intellect. That the abstract term love, and not the concrete term
loving, should be employed, expresses something beyond the ordinary meaning
of the word. And what is the truth thus embodied? Just the one we are now
attempting to vindicate- that God is essential love. Love is not so much an
attribute of God as it is His very essence. It is not so much a moral
perfection of His being as it is His being itself. He would not be God were
He not love. To deny that He is love would be to deny that He is God. To
unrobe Him of this essential quality of His nature would be tantamount to
the unrobing Him of His essential Godhead. He would not be God were He not
As I have remarked, this is the central perfection, around which, as
satellites, all the others revolve, and from which, as harmonized in the
salvation of man, they derive their position and luster. Thus, for example
omnipotence is the power of love; omniscience is the eye of love;
omnipresence is the atmosphere of love; holiness is the purity of love;
justice is the fire of love; and thus might we travel the circle of the
Divine perfections, and each one would be found to be but another form of
the essential perfection of love.
In the words, "God is love," we have a perfect portrait of the eternal and
incomprehensible Jehovah, drawn by His own unerring hand. "The mode of
expression here adopted differs materially from that usually employed by the
inspired writers in speaking of the Divine perfections. They say, God is
merciful, God is just, God is holy; but never do they say, God is mercy, God
is justice, God is holiness. In this instance, on the contrary, the apostle,
instead of saying, God is loving, or good, or kind, says 'God is love,' love
itself. By this expression, we must understand that God is all pure, unmixed
love, and that the other moral perfections are so many modifications of this
love. Thus, His justice, His mercy, His truth, His faithfulness, are but so
many different names of His love or goodness. As the light which proceeds
from the sun may easily be separated into many different colors, so the holy
love of God, which is the light and glory of His nature, may be separated
into a variety of moral attributes and perfections. But, though separated,
they are still love. His whole nature and essence is love. His will, His
works, His words, are love; He is nothing, and can do nothing but love."
Love is so completely the essence of God, that it shines out in every
perfection of His nature, and is exhibited in every act of His
administration. He is nothing, and can do nothing foreign to Himself;
consequently He is nothing, and can do nothing in which His love is not an
essential quality. All the streams of a fountain must partake essentially of
the source from where they rise. All the rays of light, whatever their
prismatic hues, must partake essentially, of the sun from where they flow.
And were not God's perfections thus modified and softened by love- were they
not led on by this commanding perfection of His nature, each one, and all
combined, would be terribly against us. His wisdom would baffle, His power
would crush us, His holiness would terrify us, His justice would condemn us,
and His truth would stand by, pledged to the stern and utmost fulfillment of
their terrible and righteous display.
Now, God is essential love. He is not only loving, but He is love; is not
only good, but goodness. All others are loving and good, not of themselves,
but by derivation. The essence of all creatures is good, because God made
them so, and so pronounced everything which He made; but they are not
essentially good, else they could not change their nature and become bad.
God is love, from Himself, and not from another; He is absolutely,
independently love. His love is not a quality or accident of His being,
imported into His essence– something foreign to Himself; it is His essence
itself. If we admit His eternity- and we cannot rationally deny it; we must
admit, that love is the eternal, necessary, and independent essence of His
being. Creatures are lovable and loving, but God is love. Every creature
must necessarily derive its love, and its capacity of loving, from God. But
God derives His love, and His power of loving, from no other being but
Here let us pause, in deep adoration of a truth so vast yet so intelligible,
so glorious yet so precious. In coming to a God of absolute love- that love
flowing to us through the cross of Christ- we feel we are coming to One
whose love can cover over all our sin, misery, and unworthiness, meeting our
utmost need, without diminishing a hair's breadth of its boundless
sufficiency. It is a great comfort to faith thus to deal with Him who is
essential love, no fear haunting the mind as to the sufficiency of the
supply. I may fear that the river may dry out, but not the ocean that feeds
it; that the beam may vanish, but not the sun that emits it- because their
resources are within themselves, independent, and inexhaustible. And thus,
when we come to God through Christ, as to a Father whose nature and whose
name is "love," we are assured that, whatever other sources of power and
sympathy fail, God will never disappoint us, but, accepting our draft upon
His all-sufficiency, will honor it to its utmost demand.
This suggests another and a kindred view of God as the God of love. His love
is INFINITE in its degree. We have just seen that God and love are sacred
synonyms, divinely and essentially the same. His love, therefore, must
partake of the infinitude of His being. It is a serious defect in the
religion of many that their faith deals too faintly with the infinity of
God. This leads to a limiting of the Holy One of Israel. Finite beings
ourselves, all our ideas and conceptions of God's greatness are bounded by
the finite. This 'restricting of Jehovah' dwarfs our personal Christianity,
and robs Him of His divine glory. But God is infinite, and therefore His
love to us is boundless and fathomless. This view of His infinite greatness
is not to paralyze, but to strengthen our faith; not to repel, but attract
us. The very IMMENSITY of God is one of our greatest encouragements to
approach Him. If David made the greatness of his sin a plea with God for its
pardon- "For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great"
– surely we may plead the greatness of God's love when we ask anything at
And although in thus coming to His infinity, we may appear like a child
dipping its tiny shell into the depth of the ocean thinking to exhaust it,
nevertheless, small though may be the vessel with which we draw, we must
feel that nothing less than infinite love can meet the deep need and satiate
the intense yearnings of our soul. In proportion as the Holy Spirit leads us
to see the depths of our sinfulness, poverty, and nothingness, we shall
learn that nothing less than a God of infinite love, grace, and sufficiency
could meet our case.
Approach, then, this love, my reader, with the full persuasion of its
infinite measurement. It can fill the large vessel as well as the small, and
the small vessel as well as the large, to its utmost capacity. It can flood
over all the ruggedness and barrenness of your nature, its sweetly flowing
waves filling the shallows and veiling the chafings of life's daily conflict
with sin and sorrow. Let not the greatness of your transgressions appall
you; let not the deep needs of your soul discourage you; let not the
turpitude of your guilt dismay you; let not the intensity of your grief
overwhelm you. You deal with a God whose love is infinite, and can
infinitely more than reach the farthest extent of your need. Come with your
great and your minor sins; come with your deep and your shallow needs; come
to His infinite ocean of love, in which the elephant may swim, and which the
lamb may wade.
Before we reach the different illustrations of God's character as the God of
love, we may remark that, LOVE IS THE CENTRAL ELEMENT OF HIS GOVERNMENT. In
human governments it is not so, and in this exists a marked difference
between God's government and man's. God's government begins where man's
government ends- in mercy. Man works from the central attribute of justice;
God from the central attribute of love. Before He draws His hand from His
bosom, and whets His glittering sword of justice to punish, that bosom would
seem to devise all schemes of mercy, and to employ all means of kindness,
that, if possible, mercy might rejoice over judgment.
Sinner! thus has the God of love been dealing with you! Long has He dealt
with you in the way of mercy and forbearance. Judgment has lingered. There
has been the "hiding of His power." His mercy has restrained His wrath. And
but for this, hell must have been your present abode. And still you sin,
still you fight against God. Still you despise His Son, reject His grace,
scorn His salvation, and rush heedlessly, madly upon the thick bosses of His
buckler. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
But there is a limit even to Divine forbearance and infinite mercy. When
God, so to speak, has exhausted all means of kindness and love, justice
steps in and executes His righteous vengeance and wrath. Mercy gives place
to judgment, and the sinner is righteously and eternally condemned. What do
you say then, sinner, to this love? Has it interested, instructed, won you?
Presume not upon its patience and continuance. Throw down the weapons of
your rebellion, and submit to the government of God. Repent and believe.
Cast yourself in contrition at His feet, and embrace in faith the scepter of
His grace, extended in the Person and work of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
That scepter will not always be outstretched, neither will it always be the
scepter of grace. God is a God of justice as well as of love; a God that
takes vengeance; as well as a God that shows mercy. Listen to His awful
words: "When I sharpen my flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I
will bring vengeance on my enemies and repay those who hate me." Oh! "it is
a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" "Our God is a
Do not make light of eternal punishment. Do not think it a small thing to
fall under the vengeance of a holy, just, and gracious God. Mercy is fearful
when it turns to wrath! love is consuming when it turns to anger! There is
no wrath like "the wrath of the Lamb!" With hell flashing in your face- with
the "wrath to come,"- wrath, forever and ever to come- preparing for its
dread and endless outpouring- with the certain prospect before you of the
undying worm of conscience, and the unquenchable flame of bodily and soul
suffering- why, oh! why will you die? Is sin so sweet, the world so
attractive, the creature so satisfying, that for it you are willing to
imperil your everlasting happiness, to barter your soul? Conceive, oh!
conceive, if possible, what it is to dwell in everlasting burning, to lie
down in eternal fire! Spirit of the living God! awaken the sleeping sinner,
quicken the dead soul! Cause men everywhere to realize, in some degree, what
a fearful, what an appalling, indescribable thing it is to be lost forever!
Oh, what a mercy that you are not already in hell, and that there is a door
open to you into heaven! That door is Christ. "I Am the Door." Cease
striving to enter heaven by the door of your good works and religious
duties; by the merits and intercessions of men, of saints, or angels. There
is but one door into heaven- faith in the Savior, who died for sinners on
the cross, and whose blood and righteousness supply all the merit God
requires, or man can bring. Jesus came to save sinners- saves them now,
saves them to the uttermost, saves there freely and forever. Why not you?
The remaining pages of this chapter will be devoted to THE DIFFERENT MODES
BY WHICH GOD HAS MANIFESTED AND REVEALED HIS LOVE TO MAN.
All NATURE is a tracing of the God of love; dim, it is true, marred by the
fall, and tainted by sin, yet sufficiently vivid and palpable to indicate,
if not that God is love, yet that God does love. He must be an atheist of
the deepest dye who can gaze upon the worlds above and the earth beneath,
and see no trace of Divine goodness, no evidence of the fact that God loves
man. If creation demonstrates the being of God- if the things that are made
clearly evidence His eternal power and Godhead, so that men are left without
excuse who deny His being- then every star that glows, and every flower that
blooms, and every gem that sparkles, and every spring that murmurs, is an
evidence that He who made all for man, loves man with the love of infinite
It is true, nature reveals not the moral character of God, nor answers the
great question, "What must I do to be saved?" Yet it testifies that God is,
and that God is good; and from the hyssop on the wall, to the lofty cedar in
Lebanon; from the atom dancing in the sunbeam, to the Alp piercing the
clouds; it summons man to fall down and worship Him whose goodness is
reflected in all His works.
PROVIDENCE, too, is an unfolding of the God of love. What is providence but
the Divine goodness molding and tinting, shaping and directing, all the
affairs of the children of men? And that man's life must needs be a blank in
which no trace of God's love is found- nothing in his creation,
preservation, and all the blessings of this life- nothing in the changes
through which he has past, of prosperity and adversity, of sunshine and
shade- nothing in the hand which so strangely guided his steps, mapped his
path, overruling and directing all the events and affairs of daily life,
educing good from evil, transmuting misfortunes into blessings, extracting
sweet from the bitter, which tells that God is good, that God is love.
Truly in all this the goodness of God is visible. My reader, look only into
the book of providence- that providence as it is seen in your personal and
daily history- and see if there exists no trace of the God of love in it
all. Thus all nature, and all providence, whether it is the sunbeam that
smiles, or the tempest which darkens, testifies that God is, and that God is
"There's nothing bright above; below,
From flowers that bloom, to stars that glow,
But in its light my soul can see
Some feature of Your Deity.
"There's nothing dark below, above,
But in its gloom I trace Your love;
And meekly wait the moment when
Your touch shall turn all bright again,"
But not in creation nor in providence do we find so clear and emphatic a
manifestation of the God of love, as in the "GLORIOUS GOSPEL of the blessed
God." The Gospel is all that man, as a sinner on his way to eternity, needs.
It meets all the inquiries and yearnings of His soul. It supplies an answer
to the most momentous inquiry that human lips ever asked– "How shall man be
just with God?" And it supplies a solution to the most solemn and profound
problem of God's moral government- "How shall God be just, and yet justify
Where, then, but in the "Gospel of the grace of God " can the sin-burdened
soul find an answer to its earnest, anxious inquiry- "What must I do to be
saved?" Oh! what a marvelous unfolding of the love of God to man is the
proclamation which the Gospel makes of the pardon of sin- of the
justification of the sinner- of the adoption into God's family of him who
was an enemy- all founded upon the one atonement, the perfect sacrifice, the
finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the great catalogue of blessings a God of love has given you, place at
the very beginning His glorious Gospel. Truly, it is a joyful sound, good
news, glad tidings. Not with a melody so entrancing, nor with announcements
so thrilling did the trump of jubilee in the fiftieth year echo through the
camp of Israel, proclaiming its glorious amnesty, as does the good news
which the Gospel brings of sin forgiven, of the great debt paid, of
deliverance from the captivity of sin and Satan, of an inheritance lost but
regained, of peace with God through Christ that passes all understanding,
and all by free grace and through simply believing. Oh! thank God for the
Gospel! Prize it above your choicest blessing.
Pitch your earthly tent close by its ever-flowing, life-giving,
life-sustaining streams. Devote your substance, consecrate your powers, and
employ your time and influence in maintaining and propagating this joyful
sound of a full, free, and present salvation to poor, lost, self destroyed
souls. "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound." Seek to be
enrolled among their number. Whatever else you seek to know, seek, above
all, to know and understand the Gospel of the grace of God. Become its lowly
student, its earnest inquirer, its humble believer, its devout and holy
liver. Count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus the Lord. In the solemn, the tremendous hour of death- that
hour of hours when all other knowledge will prove of no avail- the Gospel of
Christ will stand by you, and with the salvation which it will then unfold,
the consolation it will then impart, the love of God it will then reveal,
and the hopes it will then inspire, will invest the closing scene of life
with dignity and repose; and light up the valley down which you pass with a
radiance that shall deepen in its effulgence until lost amid the splendor
and the purity of eternal day!
But the great manifestation of the love of God yet remains to be considered-
Gods love as embodied and expressed in THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE LORD JESUS
CHRIST. How emphatic are the terms in which this great truth is recorded.
Listen to Jesus Himself– "For God so loved the world that he gave his one
and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal
life." Listen to His apostle; "God showed how much he loved us by sending
his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and
sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."
How corrective these declarations are of an erroneous view of God's love
which some have entertained- that is, that the coming of Jesus as the Savior
was to procure, rather than to manifest; to inspire, rather than to reveal;
God's love to man. In other words, that Christ died to redeem us, and
therefore God loves us- that He originated rather than expressed the love
that filled the bosom of Jehovah. What a dishonoring misapprehension is
this! What a libel on the character of God as the God of love!
But take the converse of this idea and you have the correct interpretation
of God's love- that is, Christ died for us, because God loved us; in other
words, the atonement of Christ was not the cause, but the consequence; not
the origin, but the manifestation; of the great love with which God loved
Who can ever fully spell that marvelous monosyllable, "so"? "God so loved
us." Who can fathom the immensity of the love compressed within its
wondrous, boundless meaning? Our ennobled and perfected faculties will be
the only suitable instrument- heaven the scene- and eternity the limit of
Behold how great and resplendent the love of God appears AS MANIFESTED IN
JESUS! It would have been impossible- reverently we speak it- to have
transcended this manifestation of love. He then must have eclipsed Himself.
It is no ideal and exaggerated expression. His love was so divine, He alone
could know it; so hidden, He alone could reveal it; so vast, He alone could
express it; and so precious, no costlier gift could embody it than His own
co-equal, co-eternal, and beloved Son. Herein is love, and only here! In all
other things, as we have remarked, we infer that God does love, here, in the
person and work of Jesus, we learn that God is love. All other
manifestations of His love are shadows. Christ is the full-orbed Sun,
pouring down in subdued and softened rays an infinite tide of light, life,
and beauty around a sinful and rebellious empire.
"God so loved the world"- with a love of benevolence, and so loved the
Church with a love of redemption, that He gave His only- begotten Son. By
the love of benevolence, the world is kept from instant destruction; and by
the love of redemption, His elect Church is taken out of the world, saved,
Now, it is just in this light God would have His people study His character
and read His heart as the God of love. This is the only mirror which truly
and perfectly reflects, as with focal and resplendent power, the marvelous
truth that, "God is love." It is only in Christ we read His sin-forgiving
love. "Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins of the survivors
among his people? You cannot stay angry with your people forever, because
you delight in showing mercy."
It is love, O believer! that has forgiven you all your great debt, has
blotted out your transgressions as a thick cloud, that has cast all your
sins behind His back, and will remember them no more forever, because He is
love. My soul! measure this great love by the greatness, the number, and the
enormity of your sins, and then exclaim, "Oh! the depth and immensity of
that love, that could flood over and bury forever sins red as crimson,
transgressions countless as the sands!"
God's love is a SOUL JUSTIFYING love. It throws a robe of righteousness
around the believing soul, which presents it before Him, the holy Lord God,
unblemished, and unreproveable in His sight. Oh! wondrous love, that
provides, imputes, and invests the soul with a righteousness so divine, as
discharges it from the court of divine justice, the indictment quashed, the
conviction reversed, the sinner fully and forever delivered from
condemnation, and all through the "righteousness of God, which is by faith
in Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all those who believe." "There is
therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ , Jesus, who walk
not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
The love of God is ADOPTING love. It makes us His children, who once were
rebels; His friends, who once were foes. By an imminent act of His electing
and sovereign grace, it has taken us into His family, makes us heirs of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ, teaching us to approach Him in prayer, crying,
Abba, Father! "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God." What more shall we say? It is a
love that will not cease- nor ceasing then- until it has brought its home to
Himself in heaven, having enabled us to glorify Him here, permitting us to
enjoy Him fully, and forever, hereafter.
We have yet to trace the love of God IN HIS DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE. The
path along which our heavenly Father is conducting us homeward, is a
chequered and a varied path. It is paved with stones- precious stones- of
many shapes and hues. But faith reads it all, and gratitude accepts it all,
as resolved into God's eternal and unchangeable love. There can be nothing
but love in the conduct of Him- mysterious and painful though that conduct
may be- who laid our sins, and curse, and condemnation on His beloved Son,
wounding, bruising, and putting Him to grief and to death for us. In this
light, then, we are to read all His dealings with us, whether they be of
judgment or of mercy. Is it judgment? Is the discipline of God with you a
discipline of trial, of sorrow, of suffering? Still is He the God of love,
and from His love all this discipline of trial springs; and love will
control the furnace, and temper the flames, and conduct the whole to so
salutary and holy a result as will cause the desert to ring, and heaven to
resound with the music of your thanksgiving and praise. "Those whom the Lord
loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." "As many as I
love, I rebuke and chasten."
In the holy light, then, of His love, read and interpret every cloud that
shades you, every dispensation that afflicts you, every sorrow that wrings
your heart with anguish. Is your song of mercy? Then love has dropped the
veil it wore, and stands before you in its own undisguised and unmingled
tenderness and power, challenging your warmest acknowledgment and your
loftiest praise. Thus God's love shapes and guides the whole scene. It
traces all, and blends with all His doings. It sweetens the bitter
dispensation, and makes the sweet one sweeter. It brightens the dark cloud,
and makes the bright one brighter. It may be a hard lesson for faith to
learn, a bold acknowledgment for grace to make, a startling inference for
love to draw that, all God's trying, wounding, disappointing dispensations
towards His people, is the result of His everlasting love; nevertheless, it
He is the God of love, and He cannot change. He who smiles today, and who
frowns tomorrow- who kisses now, and smites us then- is the same tender,
faithful Father, whose love knows no change, and whose faithfulness never
fails. And when the sorrow is past, and the storm subsides, and in calmer
moments we review all the way that He has led us, to what conclusion can we
come but that, through it all, true to His nature and faithful to His
promises, He was the God of love?
And now we see that love planted that thorn-hedge; that love crushed that
fond hope; that love stirred up that soft nest; that love blighted that
sweet flower; and that love alone permitted you to take that step which
involved you in such perplexity, and plunged you into such grief. Thus, out
of the ravenous eater comes food, and from the fiery furnace, silver so pure
and gold so refined.
"My soul, your gold is true, but full of dross;
Your Savior's breath refines you with some loss;
His gentle furnace makes you pure as true;
You must be melted before you are cast anew."
One more view of this subject; and this shall be a practical and sanctifying
one. God so loves us, as to make love the great controlling motive power of
our religious life. "love is the fulfillment of the law." "If you love Me,
keep My commandments." Such is the teaching of His Word. The religion we
receive from Christ is the religion of love, and the religious life to which
it is to give birth in us is to be a life of love to God, securing our
obedience, enlisting our service, and constraining us, by the mercies of
God, to yield our bodies living sacrifices; thus teaching and strengthening
us to "deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live godly,
righteously, and soberly in this present evil world."
In proportion to our EXPERIENCE of the love of God in our souls, it will
become a motive power in our lives. The outward holy life of a believer is
the result of an inward principle of love to God. "The love of Christ
constrains us." For this cause the apostle breathed that precious prayer in
behalf of the Thessalonian saints: "The Lord direct your hearts into the
love of God." Standing as upon the shore of this boundless, fathomless
ocean, he prays that the Lord, the Spirit, might lead their hearts into its
infinite depths. What a needed and holy prayer! What a vast and precious
blessing! Their hearts were sinful, and sad, and weary; guilt tainted them,
bereavement shaded them, conflict and service exhausted them; and now, just
as their heart was, the apostle prays that it might be led into the
sanctifying, soothing, life-refreshing love of God.
Into this ocean of divine love, my reader, let your heart, just as it is,
plunge. Repair, with all its sin, and sorrow, and weariness, to no other
purifying, comforting source, but to the shoreless, soundless sea of the
love of God in Christ Jesus. Oh descend, in simple, child-like faith, into
its depths, and lose yourself amid its boundless infinitude! The love of God
thus filling and overflowing your heart, all will be well. Winter will bloom
into spring, and spring will blush into summer, and summer will ripen into
the golden fruit of autumn. Oh, how the love of God changes the aspect of
everything! Afflictions are then seen to be 'disguised blessings'; trials,
proofs of Divine faithfulness; clouds, chariots paved with love, and
penciled with light, in which the Savior comes to us.
God, revealing His glory and His grace in Christ Jesus to your soul, will
bring you into the sweetest acquiescence with all His will, and cause you to
go forth, and by the sacred, all-powerful influence of a holy life- silent,
luminous, and penetrating as light- proclaim to every object, rational and
irrational, that "God is love," that God loves You, and that you love God!
"I'd carve Your passion on the bark;
And every wounded tree
Shall droop, and bear some mystic mark
That Jesus died for me."
"The suitors shall wonder when they read,
Inscribed on all the grove,
That Heaven itself came down and bled,
To win a mortal's love."
Go forth and BE LOVING, even as your Father in heaven is loving. Let your
heart be as large in its creature capacity as God's heart is in its divine.
If He has a large heart for you, beware of a small heart for your fellows.
If His heart is open, see that your heart is not closed. And since He
departs at no sinfulness or ingratitude, at no injury or unworthiness on the
part of the recipient of His goodness, be an imitator of God. "Do not be
overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." God has so dealt with you,
overcoming and winning your evil heart with the goodness and love of His
own. Go and do likewise towards all who have injured you, wounded you, and
despitefully used you, and so shall you be perfect, even as your Father in
heaven is perfect. Live for God, and act towards others as one who, in a
little while, will flee from a world of sin, infirmity, and strife- from all
its taintings, woundings, and misunderstandings, and find yourself playing
upon the surface, and plunging into the depths of the ocean of love which
flows and sparkles beneath and around the throne of God and the Lamb.
O Lord Jesus Christ, if a little taste of Your love here below, as it flows
through the channels of Your sacred word and ordinances, is so sweet, what
will the full draught be above!
When shall this happy day of rescue be!
When I shall make a near approach to Thee,
Be lost in love, and wrapped in ecstasy?
Oh, when shall I behold You, all serene,
Without this envious, cloudy veil between?
'Tis true, the sacred elements impart
Your virtual presence to my faithful heart,
But to my sense still unrevealed You art.
This, though a great, is an imperfect bliss;
To see a shadow for the God I wish.
My soul a more exalted pitch would fly,
And view You in the heights of majesty."
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while
we were still sinners." Romans 5:8