[I could not find a good way to break this into two smaller writings. -P.M.]
By Hugh Binning
Then, what is comparable to communion with God, and dwelling in him? Shall God indeed dwell with men, said Solomon? That exalts the soul to a royalty, and elevates it above mortality. Quam contempta res est homo si supra humana se non exerat! “How low and contemptible a thing is man, except he lift up his head above human things to heavenly and divine!” Then the soul is truly magnified while it is ascending to its own true element, a divine nature. What is more gracious than this, for a soul to dwell in God? And what is more glorious than this, God to dwell in the soul? Charitas te domum Domini facit, et Dominum domum tibi. Felix artifex charitas quæ conditori suo domum fabricare potest! “Love makes the soul a house for the Lord, and makes the Lord a house to the soul. Happy builder that can build a house for its master!” Love brings him, who is the chief among ten thousand, into the chambers of the heart. It lays him all night between its breasts; and is still emptying itself of all excess of indecency, and purging out all vanity and uncleanness, that there may be more room for his Majesty.
Then love dwells in God, in his love and grace, in his goodness and greatness. The secret of his presence it delights in. Now this mutual inhabitation, in which it is hard to say whether the Majesty of God does most descend, or the soul most ascend, whether he be more humbled or it exalted, this brotherly love, I say, is the evidence and assurance of it. “If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him,”. (1st John 4:12, 16) For the love of the image of God in his children, is indeed the love of God whose image it is, and then is the love of God perfected, when it reaches and extends from God to all that is God’s, to all that has an interest in God—his commandments, (1st John 5:3) “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous,” (1st John 4:21)“This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous,” (1st John 4:21), “And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God loves his brother also,”) his children, (1 John 5:1) “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and every one who loves him who begat, loves him that is begotten of him,” his creatures, “Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?” (Malachi: 2:10), The love of God being the formal, the special motive of love to our brethren, it elevates the nature of it, and makes it divine love.
He who has true Christian love, does not only love and have compassion on his brother, either because of his own inclination towards him, or his misery and necessity, or his goodness and excellency. These motives and grounds do not rise above mere morality, and so cannot beget a love which is the symptom of Christianity. If there be no other motives than these, we do not love so much for God as for ourselves; for compassion interesting itself with another man’s misery, finds a kind of relief in relieving it.
Therefore the will and good pleasure of God must be the rule of this motion, and the love of God must begin in it and continue it. And truly charity is nothing else but divine love in a state of coming down to us, or the love of a soul to God manifested in the flesh. It is that love moving in a circle from God towards his creatures, and back to God again, as his love to the created t begins in himself and ends in himself, (1st John 3:17) Isn’t a high thing to know God rightly? “This is life eternal to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who you have sent,”. (John 17:3) That is a high note of excellency put on it, this makes the face of the soul to shine, now brotherly love reveals this, that we know God, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love, does not know God, for God is love,”(1st John 4:7-8).
Modernized in places by this site.