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ESSENTIAL NATURE OF GOD'S LOVE.
had been burning to him, beyond all doubt, from a past Eternity !
Hence, we conclude, from this great fact, as well as from the harmonious testimony of the entire Word of God—that no expression of the wrathful aspects of Law and Justice to sinners in this life, however dreadful some of these may be-in order to awaken them from deadly sleep-and however fearfully they shall at length be verified in the endless perdition of the unbeliever, who continues to reject the plan of salvation—in any degree militates against the wondrous tidings of God's compassionate love to them all—and his infinite desire that all should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. ii. 4; 2 Peter iii. 9.)
But this blissful argument will be exceedingly strengthened—if we consider the true nature of God's revealed compassionate love to man. Too many who read of the Divine love to sinners altogether misunderstand it, by confounding it with the complacent love of man to his friend or fellow man. But the love of God to the world is as far removed above this love of man to man, both in nature and degree, as Heaven is high above the earth.
ESSENTIAL NATURE OF GOD'S LOVE.
Now, apart from the natural affection between parents and children, let it be demanded —when is it, that any man, not under the grace of God-loves another? Never, till he first discerns in that other, some excellence or quality--real or imaginary-which he regards as worthy-as deserving of his love; or till he first perceives in that individual the dawnings of love to himself. But, surely this is no representation of the nature of God's love to sinners ? For, where does the man exist—whose natural character deserves any other than the infinite abhorrence of the Divine mind? If such, then, were the nature of God's love,—that he could not bestow it on any one, till he first saw in him--some attracting excellence ;—then it might be demonstrated, both from the Scripture account of man, and from mournful fact, that God loves no human being. For, apart from the free bestowment of the grace of God—(which is doubtless the expression of Sovereign love) no creature has been found, since the fall of man, possessing one element of vital holiness. But, not only is every man naturally destitute of attracting excellence - he is, also described in Scripture, as being at enmity
EARTHLY AFFECTION NOT GOD'S LOVE.
with God. For, “ the carnal mind is enmity against God." How, then, could this enmity awaken or draw forth God's boundless love?
There is, thus, a wide chasm between the nature of the love of God to us—and that existing in all earthly friendships,—that iswhere the affection is drawn forth by some previous attraction in its object. Hence the glowing language of the Apostle, “Herein is love,” [compared with which no other love is entitled to the name] “not that we loved God,” [for we were his enemies] “but that God loved us' [even in that dreadful state] " and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
And hence, again, his emphatic expression “ behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us
that we” (the natural heirs of wrath-formerly children of the devil] “should be called the sons OF GOD.”
In this fervent burst of grateful emotion, we are taught to distinguish between the love of God, and all other love. This is specifically pointed out by the expression
of love"--denoting a rich peculiarity-not merely of degree, but of kind. For, it manifestiy, though indirectly, draws a line between the unmerited love of God-and that kind of it
GOD'S LOVE-TRULY SOVEREIGN,
which is drawn forth amongst men by the previous perception of intrinsic excellence or affection.
But, again, before God fixed his amazing love on the world—a world consisting of “ sinners"_“ enemies"_" ungodly"-or, before he manifested that love to them in the gift of His Son,—did His omniscience first perceive in the distant future some spiritual change in any of them for the better, not previously produced by His free grace? Did it descry some degree of meritorious excellence, however limited, to attract that love, or draw it forth ? No-far from it. His love was truly SOVEREIGN. It was not attracted either by present goodness, or anticipated future merit. Its source was the infinite depths of His own gracious disposition. And yet how many are there, who refuse to believe in the compassionate love of God to themselves, because they have not yet seen enough in their hearts or minds to deserve it! They dream that when they become first conscious of some degree of goodness implanted in their heartsthey can then be persuaded of the love of God to themselves! Mournful delusion !
Now, on the contrary, we are most dis
GOD'S LOVE-TRULY SOVEREIGN.
tinctly taught, from beginning to end of Scripture, that Jehovah — having essentially the disposition to love and to communicate happiness—determined from eternity-of his own Sovereign will—to reveal to the human race -through the gift of his beloved Son-the greatness of his love—to manifest its height and depth-length and breadth to them,and that, not only without the perception of any good thing in any one of them to enkindle it-but, as we have seen-in the very face of every thing adapted to quench it for
For, apart from the first free manifestation of that love personally to any sinner —what could exist in them previously, but increasing wickedness and depravity? Every man by nature, is, in the sight of God, A DEPRAVED BEING ;-and, though it is true that some have sunk deeper in the mire of corruption than others—yet in regard to positive native goodness,-every man is alike destitute of it ;-being continually regulated-(whether in a gross or more refined manner) — by a heart “ deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
There is one passage of Scripture (amongst many others which might be cited on this