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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