RPM, Volume 11, Number 28, July 12 to July 18 2009

The God of Love

By Octavius Winslow

"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 start.

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 love!

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." (Payson)

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 Himself.

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 His hand.

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 consuming fire."

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 benevolence.

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 love.

"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 the ungodly?"

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 us.

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 its study.

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, and glorified.

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 is so.

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! Blessed Savior!

"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

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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