C. Our last two conversations, on the moral character of God and the free agency of man, have, I hope, been of use to me. I have been thinking since of the great rule of God’s government—the moral law, as being the image of his moral character.
G. Your idea is just; God is love. All his moral attributes are but the different modifications of love, or love operating in different ways. Vindictive justice itself is the love of order, and is exercised for the welfare of beings in general; and the moral law, the sum of which is love, expresses the very heart of him that framed it.
C. I have been thinking of love as the band which unites all holy intelligences to God and one another; as that in the moral system which the law of attraction is in the system of nature.
G. Very good: while the planets revolve round the sun as their central point, and are supremely attracted by it, they each have a subordinate influence upon the other: all attract and are attracted by others in their respective orbits. yet no one of these subordinate attractions interferes with the grand attractive influence of the sun, but acts rather in perfect concurrence with it. Under some such idea we may conceive of supreme love to God and subordinate love to creatures.
C. Among the planets, if I mistake not, the attractive power of each body corresponds with the quantity of matter it possesses, and its proximity to the others.
G. True: and though in general we are required to love our neighbour as ourselves, yet there are some persons, on account of their superior value in the scale of being, and others on account of their more immediate connexion with us, whom we are allowed and even obliged to love more than the rest.
C. If we could suppose the planets endued with intelligence, and any one of them, weary of revolving round the sun, should desert its orbit, assume a distinct centreship of its own, and draw others off with it, what would be the consequence?
G. Anarchy and confusion, no doubt, with regard to the system; and cold, and darkness, and misery, with regard to those which had deserted it.
C. And is not this a near resemblance to the condition of apostate angels and men?
G. Doubtless it is; and your similitude serves to illustrate the evil of sin, as it affects the harmony of the Divine government in general, and the happiness of each individual in particular.
C. Is there not a general notion in the minds of men that the moral law is too strict and rigid for man in his fallen state?
G. There is; and some, who ought to know better, have compared its requirements to those of an Egyptian task-master, who demanded bricks without straw; and have recommended the gospel as being at variance with it. Many, who would be thought the greatest if not the only friends of Christ, have made no scruple of professing their hatred to Moses, as they term the moral law.
C. But does not the precept of the moral law require what is beyond our strength?
G. If, by strength, you mean to include inclination, I grant it does; but if, by strength, you mean what is literally and properly so called, it requires us even now but to love God with all our strength. It is not in the want of strength, literally and strictly speaking, that our insufficiency to keep the Divine law consists, but in the want of a holy temper of mind; and this, instead of being any excuse, or requiring an abatement of the law, is the very essence of that wherein blame consists.
C. I have thought it might serve to show the goodness of the Divine law if we were to suppose it reversed. Suppose, instead of loving, God should require us to hate him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbour likewise?
G. This would require us to be both wicked and miserable; and the idea is sufficient to shock any person of common sense.
C. But suppose God were to require us to love him and one another, only in a less degree?
G. That would be the same as requiring a part of our affection, and allowing us to be of a divided heart. Our powers cannot be indifferent. If they are not applied to the love of God and man, they will be applied to something opposite, even the love of the world. But as the love of the world is enmity to God, if this were allowed, it were the same as allowing men, in a degree, to be at enmity with him and each other; that is, to be wicked and miserable.
C. I have several more questions to ask you on this important subject, but shall defer them to another opportunity.
G. Farewell then, Crispus; God grant that this Divine law may be found written upon each of our hearts!
Excerpt from: Dialogues and Letters between Crispus and Gaius.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 658–660). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.