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echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

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Love will dispose to walk humbly among men. For real and dear love will dispose men to high thoughts of [others]; and Christian love disposes men to think others better than themselves. Love will dispose men to honor one another. For we are naturally inclined to think honorably of those whom we love, and to give them honor. So that those precepts in 1 Peter 2:17 are fulfilled by love, “Honor all men.” And  Philippians 2:3, “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Love will dispose to contentment in the station in which God hath set him, without coveting anything which his neighbor possesses, or envying him any good thing which he has. Love will dispose men to meekness and gentleness in their carriage towards their neighbors, and not to treat them with passion or violence, but with moderation and calmness. Love checks and restrains a bitter spirit. For love has no bitterness in it. It is altogether a sweet disposition and affection of the soul. Love will prevent broils and quarrels, and will dispose to peaceableness. Love will dispose men to forgive injuries, which they receive from their neighbors. Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirreth up strifes; but love covereth all sins.” Love will dispose men to all acts of mercy towards our neighbor who is under any affliction or calamity. For we are naturally disposed to pity those whom we love when they are afflicted. This would dispose men to give to the poor, and bear one another’s burdens, to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice.

—Jonathan Edwards
Ethical Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 1989), 135–136.

There is nothing in which Christ was more eminent than in his love; no rancour of spirit, no boiling up of envy, but all love. The apostle propounds it to husbands: Eph. 5:25, ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church.’ Now how did Christ love his church? With a great love, so as to die for his church. The love of Christ was sincere, not for by-ends; he loved saints as saints, because of his interest in them. So should we love those in whom we see most of the image of God. It was not a blaze, but a constant abiding love; whom he loves he loves unto the end; so must we love the saints. It is true Jesus loved some above others: ‘John was the beloved disciple,’ John 21:20. There was ἐκλέκτων ἐκλεκτότεροι, the flower of the disciples, whom he loved most, but he loved them all. We should love not in word, but in deed and in truth. Oh! be filled with love to God and love to the saints, who have his image stamped upon them. You that are believers have cause to love one another. Have we not all the same Father? Are we not children begotten of the same holy seed, the word? Do we not all suck at the same breasts of the promises? Do we not all sit at the same table, at the Lord’s supper? Are we not all clothed with the same robe of Christ’s righteousness? and do we not all expect the same glory?

—Thomas Manton
The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 16:490–491.

Christ loves his church specially. There would be no parallel whatever between the husband’s love to the wife and Christ’s love to the church if there were not a speciality about it. Christ is love itself; he is full of kindness and benevolence. In that sense, he loves all mankind; but that cannot be the meaning of the text, for it would be a very strange kind of exhortation to the husband if that were the case. No, the husband’s love to his spouse is something special and particular; and it stands quite alone, and all by itself. He will be kind and benevolent and generous towards all others, but that love which he lavishes upon his wife he must give to nobody else in the world. It is certainly so with our blessed Lord. Free and rich and overflowing in lovingkindness, yet he made a special choice of his people or ever the earth was; and having chosen because of his love, he loves because of his choice, and that love is a peculiar, special, remarkable, preeminent love such as he bestows upon none else of all the human race. It must be so, or else the passage would be all but immoral; certainly, it would be manifestly incorrect.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Sermon: “Christ’s Love To His Spouse” (Eph 5:26).

Many low and carnal considerations may work men to watch their words, their lives, their actions; as hope of gain, or to please friends, or to get a name in the world, and many other such like considerations. Oh! but to watch our thoughts, to weep and lament over them, etc., this must needs be from some noble, spiritual, and internal principle, as love to God, a holy fear of God, a holy care and delight to please the Lord.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

The love of God to His saints is not only from eternity in its being, but in its foundation; i.e. the love of God to His saints has not its foundation in anything temporal.

There are some that will allow that the love of God to the saints in its being is from eternity, but not in its foundation; but hold that it has its foundation in God’s foresight of that which is temporal, as particularly in the foresight of their holiness and good works. They suppose that the saints’ faith, and repentance, and obedience is the foundation of God’s love to them, and that God loves the saints from eternity no otherwise than as he foresees that they will in time believe, and repent, and live holy lives. So that though they allow the love itself in its being to be eternal, yet assert that ’tis the foresight of something temporal that is the foundation of it. But the love of God to His saints has not its foundation in anything temporal.

The ground of the love is eternal as the love itself.

He doesn’t love them from eternity, because he foresees that they will believe, and repent, and the like. The ground of His eternal love is not to be sought for in the saints, but in God’s own heart; that God loves the saints is from Himself, and not from them. His love is a free and sovereign love, and is from His own sovereign good pleasure, as we are taught. “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [by Jesus Christ] to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4–5). The love of God towards His people is self-moved. “The Lord did not set His love  upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8).

The faith and holiness of the saints is so far from being the foundation of the eternal love of God that ’tis the fruit of it.

God has loved them from all eternity, and that is the reason that he has given them faith and holiness, and has brought them home to Himself truly to believe in, and love, and fear, and serve God; as in the verse of the text, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

—Jonathan Edwards
“The Everlasting Love of God,” Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738, 478–479.

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