By admin | June 19, 2008
Where is your delight? Is it in your enjoyment, or in God alone?
Thomas Goodwin on the Love of God: Works 8:400. Emphasis added.
‘You believing,’ saith [Peter], ‘love.’ The apostle John speaks answerably: 1 John iv. 16, 19, ‘And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. We love him, because he first loved us.’ His meaning is, that whilst faith more clearly views all those infinite perfections, and all those infinite lovely things which are in God alone, the first infinite and the first lovely being, and sees all these things mingled and seasoned with love, whilst faith savours and discerns all God to be entirely love, and whilst the soul sees God to be such an husband who looks for no other dowry in his spouse than only a return of love for his love, and whilst the soul also knows that all those are blessed with love who thus place their love, the ingenuous soul, conquered and overpowered with love, flows into this vast ocean with a reciprocal tide of love, and pours itself wholly into it.
[2.] ‘You loving,’ says the apostle ‘rejoice with joy unspeakable.’ It is not easy to conceive, much less to speak, how much this intercourse and sweet strife of love doth delight the soul. For, First, A love that is yet single and divided, a probationary love, hath I know not what self-sufficiency in it, and applauds itself in its own bosom, is a price and reward to itself, and nourisheth itself; and to love one who yet loves not again, yields most abundant fruits, for love is the relish of all things, and doth sweeten the most bitter circumstances of life. But these considerations are very mean, and small, and only little gleanings in comparison to that harvest of joy which springs from the mutual concourse of two loves, and a fastened union of souls. It is sweet to love and to be loved again: Prov. xxvii. 9, ‘Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.’ To which answers that saying of David, mourning for the death of his Jonathan: 2 Sam. i. 26, ‘I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan, very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.’
Secondly, To all this we may moreover add, that the beginning of this love is from him who loves without beginning, and without end; without measures, and without any preceding merit, and who receives nothing from any other, but it is from himself only that he hath it, that he loves freely, and therefore he loves the more vehemently, because he hath not love in him so much as himself is love. As Bernard sweetly says, whose love we taste not only to be stronger than death (Cant. viii. 6, since Christ laid down his soul as a pledge of his love, John xv.), but better than life, as David found it to be, Ps. Ixiii. 3. As God rests satisfied in the love of himself, so the soul rests satisfied in the love of God, and so in God himself, whom therefore David calls his rest, Ps. cxvi. 7.
Thirdly, Nor is the joy of a Christian yet in its height and splendour, for the soul doth not only perceive that she is loved again by her beloved, but that she is most closely united with him, and that she enjoys her beloved, which union Christ himself makes; and as the enjoyment of him is the blessed fruit of that union, so he is the efficient of it too.
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