Andrew Fuller Friday: On the Love of God

More particularly, The love of God is a spiritual exercise; for it has the promise of spiritual blessings. “All things work together for good to them that love God.” “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” But the love of God is required of men without distinction. The people of Israel, like all other people, were composed of good and bad men; but they were all required to “love” Jehovah, and to “cleave” to him, and that “with all their heart, and soul, and mind, and strength,” Deut. 6:5; 30:20. The moral part of those precepts which God gave to them on tables of stone was binding on all mankind. Even those who had no other means of knowing God than were afforded by the works of nature, with, perhaps, a portion of tradition, were required to glorify him as God, and to be thankful, Rom. 1:21.

The love of God, as is here intimated, is either a holy thankfulness for the innumerable instances of his goodness, or a cordial approbation of his glorious character. It is true there are favours for which the regenerate are obliged to love him, which are not common to the unregenerate: but every one has shared a sufficient portion of his bounty to have incurred a debt of gratitude. It is generally allowed, indeed, by our opponents, that God ought to be loved as our Creator and Benefactor; but this, they suppose, is not a spiritual exercise. There is a kind of gratitude, it is granted, which is not spiritual, but merely the effect of natural self-love, and in which God is no otherwise regarded than as subservient to our happiness. But this does not always respect the bestowing of temporal mercies; the same feelings which possessed the carnal Israelites, when they felt themselves delivered from Pharaoh’s yoke, and saw their oppressors sinking in the sea, are still the feelings of many professors of religion, under a groundless persuasion of their being elected of God, and having their sins forgiven them. Gratitude of this sort has nothing spiritual in it; but then neither is it any part of duty. God no where requires it, either of saints or sinners. That which God requires is a spiritual exercise; whether it be on account of temporal or spiritual mercies is immaterial; the object makes no difference as to the nature of the act; that thanksgiving with which the common mercies of life are received by the godly, and by which they are sanctified to them, (1 Tim. 4:3–5,) is no less of a spiritual nature, and is no less connected with eternal life, than gratitude for the forgiveness of sin. This thankful spirit, instead of being an operation of self-love, or regarding God merely in subserviency to our own happiness, greatly consists in self-abasement, or in a sense of our own unworthiness. Its language is, “Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits?” This is holy gratitude; and to be destitute of it is to be “unthankful, unholy.”

With respect to a cordial approbation of the Divine character, or glorifying God as God, and which enters into the essence of holy love, there can be no reasonable doubt whether it be obligatory on sinners. Such is the glory of God’s name, that nothing but the most inexcusable and deep-rooted depravity could render any intelligent creature insensible to it. Those parts of Scripture which describe the devout feelings of godly men, particularly the Psalms of David, abound in expressions of affection to the name of the Lord. “How excellent is thy name in all the earth!” “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.” “O magnify the Lord with me; and let us exalt his name together.” “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name; let them that love thy name say continually, The Lord be magnified.” “Blessed be his glorious name for ever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and Amen.”

This affection to the name of the Lord, as it is revealed in his word and works, and particularly in the work of redemption, lies at the foundation of all true desire after an interest in his mercy. If we seek mercy of any one whose character we disesteem, it is merely for our own sakes; and if he be acquainted with our motives, we cannot hope to succeed. This it is that leads us to mourn for sin as sin, and not merely for the inconvenience to which it exposes us. This it is which renders salvation through the atonement of Christ so acceptable. He that loves only himself, provided he might be saved, would care little or nothing for the honour of the Divine character; but he that loves God will be concerned for his glory. Heaven itself would be no enjoyment to him if his admission must be at the expense of righteousness.

Excerpt from: “Other Spiritual Exercises which Sustain an Inseparable Connexion with Faith In Christ, are Represented as the Duty of Men in General,” Proposition V, in Part II of The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.

Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 361–362). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.

By |October 1st, 2021|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

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