Andrew Fuller Friday: On the Nature of Love and Love of God

In discoursing upon the subject, we shall offer a few remarks on the nature of love, and of love to God in particular—consider the importance of it in characterizing the whole of our religion—the danger of declining from it—and the means to be used in promoting it.

I. Let us offer a few remarks on the nature of love, and of love to God in particular. That we may perceive the extent of the precept, it is necessary that we understand a few of the different ways in which love operates.

1. Observe, then, in the first place, that love operates differently according to the condition of its object. If directed to one that is miserable, it works in a way of pity and sympathy; if to one that is in necessity, it will impart to his relief; but if to one greatly our superior, as to a kind and benevolent sovereign, for instance, then it will operate in the way of honour, complacency, gratitude, and obedience. I need not say that God is not subject to either misery or want, and, therefore, that our love to him cannot operate in the way of pity towards him, or by communicating to his necessities. The ways in which love to God operates are those of honour, complacency, gratitude, and obedience.

2. Love operates differently according to the condition of the subject of it. If no offence has existed between the parties, it is peace and amity; but if otherwise, it will operate in the way of regret, repentance, and a desire of reconciliation. Man, in his original state, was admitted to commune with his Creator; and love, during his continuance in that state, operated in a way of grateful adoration. But if a spark of love be kindled in the breast of a fallen creature, it will work in a way of sorrow for sin, and a desire to return to God, as the prodigal did to his father. Moreover, in an innocent creature, love to God would operate in a way of delight and praise; but in a fallen creature, under the preaching of the gospel, it will induce him to embrace the way of salvation by Jesus Christ. Hence the want of faith in Christ is alleged in proof of the want of love to God: “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you; I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not.”

3. A complacency in the Divine character still enters into the essence of love. There may be affections where this is not; but there can be no true love to God. We may be greatly affected by an apprehension that our sins are forgiven us; and this merely from self-love; but such affections will not abide. Many who joined in singing praise to the Lord, on their deliverance at the Red Sea, soon forgot his works; for their hearts were not right with God. Genuine love to God has respect not merely to his benefits, but to his name, nature, or character, as revealed in the Scriptures. As he that hateth not sin as sin has no real hatred to it; so he that loveth not God as God has no real love to him. True love to God; for the gift of his Son and salvation through his death, does not merely respect the benefits we receive, but the holy, just, and honourable way in which those benefits are conferred. He that is affected only by the consideration of his own safety, regardless of the way in which it is obtained, cannot be said to love God. Whether God be just or unjust is, to such a person, a matter of indifference, so that he justifies him. The love of God will lead us to prize that way of salvation which, in making provision for our necessities, secures the Divine glory.

Fuller, A. G. (1988). “The Nature and Importance of Love to God,” Sermon XXI. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 304–305). Sprinkle Publications.

By |March 1st, 2024|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

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