God Is Love
To The Heaven-Born Children of God
The Gospel Standard
or, Feeble Christian’s Support
Beloved of the Lord,— It is your blessedness to prove, by the divine teaching of God the Holy Ghost, that God is Love,— eternal, immutable Love. This precious truth you will not deny; but then you may often struggle under very deep depression of spirit and heart-rending groans, lest you should not be interested in this glorious Three-One God of love. It is not enough for you to hear that God is love, nor to believe it as a most blessed truth, nor to say he loved David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, &c., nor to look round you and say, concerning others, he loved them, or, he loved you, or, he loved thee. No; your heart thirsts to say, feelingly to say, he loved me. You feel that vital godliness is personal, and to you it matters but little, as it respects your own comfort, who he loved, or how greatly he loved them, if he does not love you. The vehement desire of your heart is, that the blessed Jehovah, by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, would speak this precious truth to your heart, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3).
It will not do for you to be told that you must simply “believe, do your duty, and be decidedly pious, and then God will love you: this ground you have proved to be boggy, and have been necessitated to flee from it, and cry, “Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking. upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.” (Isaiah 38:14). The Lord has given you faith to believe that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8); and that however fair a show they may make in the flesh (Galatians 6:12), it is but a show, leaving them destitute of vital godliness.
Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); for the kingdom of God is… righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17); and this kingdom must be set up in the heart (Luke 17:21), not in word merely, but in power, and that power the power of God: “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Therefore, having eyes to see the emptiness of a mere duty religion, nothing short of an enjoyment of the power of Christ’s religion in your heart can satisfy you. For this you hunger, thirst, and pant; and even when you dare not say, “The Lord is my God,” still nothing but Christ and his blood and obedience brought home to your conscience, by the power of the Holy Ghost, can give you rest; but when Christ and his complete salvation is enjoyed, with solemn pleasure you can then say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me;” and, as the glorious effect of vital union to Christ, by a living faith in him, you can, in some measure, trace the almighty love of God the Father in your election, of God the Son in your redemption, and of God the Holy Ghost in his quickening, enlightening, teaching, sanctifying, anointing, and sealing power, and with solemn joy say, “This God is my God for ever and ever, he will be my guide even unto death;” and as the blessed Spirit leads you on, you can enter a little into the nature of the undivided love of the glorious Three-One God, and see that the love of each dear Person is of the same nature and extent; so that all that the Father loved and chose in Christ (Ephesians 1:4, 5), the Son loved and redeemed from their sins: “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works:” (Titus 2:14)— and·all that the Son redeemed, the blessed Spirit loves, quickens, teaches, and sanctities: “For such were some of you; but“— O the blessedness of this precious but, when brought home to the heart—”but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11); and the whole nor any part of this is neither by works of righteousness which ye have done, nor according to your works, “but according to Jehovah’s own purpose and grace, which was given you in Christ before the world began.” ( 2 Timothy 1:9). Therefore, your salvation, in all its bearings, is of rich, free, discriminating love.
God grant that you may daily live as becomes creatures so highly favoured, showing forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Trials you may have, yea, you must have; for it is the settled purpose of God that “through much tribulation ye must enter the kingdom.” But this is all in love, and everlasting love is still sure; and this blessed God of love has engaged to succour, support, and defend you. Your light, as it respects the manifestation of it, may not always be as the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds, nor the blessed graces of the Spirit spring up in your souls like the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Clouds and darkness may surround the Lord, hiding his glory from your view, and in your feelings you may be very, very dark, and very, very barren. But your dear God of love will not forsake you; new covenant mercies are still sure, everlastingly sure (2 Samuel 23:4,5); for “unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness” ( Psalm 112:4) ; and “to this man will I look that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2).
God almighty enable you to trust in him at all times, and that he may direct your hearts into his love, and into Himself as Love, and into the patient waiting for of Christ, is the prayer of…
Yours to serve in the gospel of his grace,
A LOVER OF ZION
July 20, 1835