Friday, 24 October 2014


The Excellency of Christ, Love

“God and Christ appear in the gospel revelation, as being clothed in love; as sitting as it were on a throne of mercy and grace, a seat of love, encompassed about with the sweet beams of love. Love is the light and glory that is round about the throne on which God is seated. This seems to be intended in the vision the apostle John, that loving and loved disciple, had of God in the isle of Patmos (Rev. iv. 3)—“And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald;” that is, round about the throne on which God was sitting. So that God appeared to him, as he sat on his throne, as encompassed with a circle of sweet and pleasant light, like the beautiful colours of the rainbow, and like an emerald, which is a precious stone of exceeding pleasant and beautiful colour—thus representing that the light and glory with which God appears surrounded in the gospel, is especially the glory of his love and covenant-grace, for the rainbow was given to Noah as a token of both of these. Therefore, it is plain that this spirit, even a spirit of love, is the spirit that the gospel revelation does especially hold forth motives and inducements to; and this is especially and eminently the Christian spirit—the right spirit of the gospel.

Second, If it is indeed so, that all that is saving and distinguishing in a true Christian, is summarily comprehended in love, then professors of Christianity may in this be taught as to their experiences, whether they are real Christian experiences or not. If they are so, then love is the sum and substance of them. If persons have the true light of heaven let into their souls, it is not a light without heat. Divine knowledge and divine love go together. A spiritual view of divine things always excites love in the soul, and draws forth the heart in love to every proper object. True discoveries of the divine character dispose us to love God as the supreme good; they unite the heart in love to Christ; they incline the soul to flow out in love to God’s people, and to all mankind. When persons have a true discovery of the excellency and sufficiency of Christ, this is the effect. When they experience a right belief of the truth of the gospel, such a belief is accompanied by love. They love him whom they believe to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. When the truth of the glorious doctrines and promises of the gospel is seen, these doctrines and promises are like so many cords which take hold of the heart, and draw it out in love to God and Christ. When persons experience a true trust and reliance on Christ, they rely on him with love, and so do it with delight and sweet acquiescence of soul. The spouse sat under Christ’s shadow with great delight, and rested sweetly under his protection, because she loved him (Cant. ii. 2). When persons experience true comfort and spiritual joy, their joy is the joy of faith and love. They do not rejoice in themselves, but it is God who is their exceeding joy.
Third, This doctrine shews the amiableness of a Christian spirit. A spirit of love is an amiable spirit. It is the spirit of Jesus Christ—it is the spirit of heaven.
Fourth, This doctrine shews the pleasantness of a Christian life. A life of love is a pleasant life. Reason and the Scriptures alike teach us, that “happy is the man that findeth wisdom,” and that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are paths of peace” (Prov. iii. 13, 17).

Fifth, Hence we may learn the reason why contention tends so much to the ruin of religion. The Scriptures tell us that it has this tendency—“Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James iii. 16). And so we find it by experience. When contention comes into a place, it seems to prevent all good. And if religion has been flourishing before, it presently seems to chill and deaden it; and everything that is bad begins to flourish. And in the light of our doctrine, we may plainly see the reason of all this; for contention is directly against that which is the very sum of all that is essential and distinguishing in true Christianity, even a spirit of love and peace. No wonder, therefore, that Christianity cannot flourish in a time of strife and contention among its professors. No wonder that religion and contention cannot live together.”

-From CHARITY AND ITS FRUITS, Christian love as manifested in the heart and life, by Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth Trust, London; first published 1852; first Banner of Truth Trust Edition 1969; Reprinted by photolithography by Billing & Sons Limited, Guildford and London); Pages 20-23.

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