Christian Love 17: If God so Loved Us

By Hugh Binning

I may briefly reduce the chief persuading motive to this so needed an so yearned for grace into three or four heads.  All things within and without persuade to it, but especially the right consideration of the love of God in Christ, the wise and the impartial reflection on ourselves, the consideration of our brethren whom we are commanded to love, and the thorough inspection into the nature and use of the grace itself.

In consideration of the first, as soul might argue itself into a complacency with it and thus persuade itself, “He who doesn’t love, doesn’t know God, for God is love,” 1st John 4:8.  And since he who has known and believed the love that God has for us, must certainly dwell in love, since these two have such a strait unbreakable connection, then, as I would not declare to all my atheism and my ignorance of God, I will study to love my brethren.  And that I may love them, I will give myself to the search of God’s love, which is the place, locus inventionis, then I may find out the strongest and most effective way to persuade my mind, and to compel my heart to Christian affection.

First then, when I consider that so glorious and great a Majesty, so high and holy an One, self sufficient and all sufficient, who needs not go abroad to seek delight, because all happiness and delight is enclosed within his own bosom, can yet love a creature, yes and even be reconciled to so sinful a creature, which he might crush as easily as speak a word, that he can place his delight on so unworthy and base an object, O! how much more should I a poor and very bad creature, love my fellow creature, often times better than myself, and for the most part, not much worse?

There is an infinite distance and disproportion between God and man, yet he came over all to love man.  What difficulty should I have then to place my affection on my equal at worst, and often better?  There cannot be any proportional distance between the highest and lowest, between the richest and poorest, between the most wise and the most ignorant, between the most gracious and the most ungodly, as there is between the infinite God and a finite angel.  Should the mutual infirmities and failings of Christians, be an insuperable and impassable gulf, as between heaven and hell, that none can pass over by a bridge of love to either? “If God so loved us,” should not we love one another?  1st John 4:11.  And besides, when I consider that God has not loved me only, but my brethren who were worthy of hatred, with an everlasting love, and passed over all that was in them, and has spread his robe over their nakedness, and made it a time of love, which was a time of hating, how can I withhold my affection where God has bestowed his?  Are they not infinitely more unworthy of his than mine?  That my love come together with God’s on the same persons, is it not enough?

 


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Christian Love 16: Love Never Fails

By Hugh Binning

“Love never fails.”  This is the last note of commendation.  Things have their excellency from their use and from their continuance; both are here.  Nothing so useful, no such friend of human or Christian society as love, the benefits of it reaches all things.  And then, it is most permanent and durable.  When all will go, it will remain.  When ordinances, and knowledge attained by means of ordinances, vanish, love will abide, and then receive its completion.  Faith of things not evident and obscure will be drowned in the vision of seeing God’s face clearly.  Hope of things to come will be exhausted in the possession and fruition of them.  But love only remains in its own nature and notion, only it is perfected by the addition of so many degrees as may suit that blessed state.

Therefore I think it should be the study of all saints who believe immortality, and hope for eternal life, to put on that garment of charity, which is the clothing of all the inhabitants above.  We might have heaven on earth as far as it is possible if we dwelt in love, and love dwelt in and possessed our hearts.  What an unsuitable thing might a believer think it, to hate him in this world whom he must love eternally, and to contend and strive with these, even over small matters, with bitterness and rigidity, with whom he shall have an eternal, uninterrupted unity and fellowship?  Should we not be testing here how that glorious garment suits us?  And truly there is nothing that makes a man so heaven-like or God like as this, much love and charity.

Now there is one consideration that might persuade us more to it, that here we know but darkly in part, and therefore our knowledge, at best, is but obscure and not evident, often subject to many mistake and misunderstandings of truth, according as means of communication present them.  And therefore there must be some latitude of love allowed one to another in this state of imperfection, else it is impossible to keep unity, and we must conflict often with our own shadows, and bite and devour one another for some deceiving appearances.

The imperfection and obscurity of knowledge should make all men suspicious of themselves, especially in matters of a doubtful nature, and not so clearly determined by scripture.  Because our knowledge is weak, shall our love be so?  No, rather let charity grow stronger, and aspire to perfection, because knowledge is imperfect.  What is wanting in knowledge let us make up in affection, and let the gap of difference in judgment be swallowed up with the bowels of mercies and love, and humbleness of mind.  And then we shall have hid our weakness of understanding as much as may be.  Thus we may go hand in hand together to our Father’s house, where, at length, we must be together.

 


This common domain work has been modernized in few places.

 

This is the End of Christian Love, chapter 2.

 

Christian Love 15: Love Bears and Believes All Things

By Hugh Binning

Love “bears all things.” By nature we are undaunted heifers, cannot bear anything patiently.  But love is accustomed to the yoke, —to the yoke of reproaches and injuries from others, to a burden of other men’s infirmities and failings.  We would all be borne upon others’ shoulders, but we cannot put our own shoulders under other men’s burden, according to that royal law of Christ, Romans 15:1—“We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” and Galatians 6:2—“ Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  That is the law of love, without question.

Love “believes all things.” Our nature is malignant and wicked, and therefore most suspicious and jealous, and apt to take all in the worst way. But love has much openness, honesty and humanity in it, and can believe well of every man, and believe all things as far as truth will permit.  It knows that grace can be beside man’s sins.  It knows that itself is subject to similar infirmities.  Therefore it is not a rigid and censorious judger; it allows as much latitude to others as it would desire of others.

It is true it is not blind and ignorant.  It is judicious, and has eyes that can discern between colors. Credit omnia credenda, sperat omnia speranda.-“It believes all things that are believable, and hopes all things that are hopeful.” If love doesn’t have sufficient evidences, yet she believes if there be some probabilities to the contrary, as well as for it.  The weight of love inclines to the better part, and so casts the balance of hope and persuasion; yet being sometimes deceived, she has reason to be watchful and wise, for “the simple believe every word.”  If love cannot have ground of believing any good, yet it hopes still. Qui non est hodie, cras magis aptus erit, says love, and therefore it is patient and gentle, waiting on all, if perhaps God may “give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,”—2nd Timothy 2:25. 

Love would account it both atheism and blasphemy, to say such a man cannot, will not find mercy.  But to pronounce of such as have often been accepted in the conscience of all, and sealed into many hearts, that they will never find mercy, that they have no grace, because of some failings in practice and differences from us, it wasn’t pronounced in sobriety but madness.  It is certainly love and indulgence to ourselves, that make us aggravate other men’s faults to such a height.   Self love looks on other men’s failings through a multiplying or magnifying glass, but she put her own faults behind her back. Non videtquod in mantica qua a tergo est. Therefore she can suffer much in herself but nothing in others, and certainly much self forbearance and indulgence can spare little for others.

But love is just contrary. She is most rigid on her own self, will her not pardon herself easily, knows no revenge but what is spoken of in 2nd Corinthians 7:11, self revenge, and has no indignation but against herself.  Thus she can spare much openness, honesty, and forbearance for others, and has little or nothing of indignation left behind to consume on others.

 


This common domain work modernized in few places by this site.