Christian Love 29: Sons of God

By Hugh Binning

Is there any privilege so precious as this, to be “the sons of God?” (1st John 3:2). What are all relations, or states, or conditions, to this one, to be the children of the Highest? It was David’s question, “Should I be the king’s son in law?” Alas! what a petty and poor dignity in regard of this, to be “the sons of God,” partakers of a divine nature? All the difference of birth, all the distinction of degrees and qualities among persons, besides this one, are but such as have no being, no worth but only in the thinking and construction of them. They really are nothing, and can do nothing.  This only is a substantial and fundamental difference.  A divine birth carries along with it a divine nature, a change of principles, from the worst to the best, from darkness to light, from death to life.

Now, imagine then, what excellency is in this grace, which is made the character of a son of God, of one begotten of the Father, and passed from death to life? (1st John 3:10,14)  “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil.  Whoever does not do righteousness is not of God, neither he who doesn’t love his brother.  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren, he who doesn’t love his brother, lives in death.” (1st John 4:7)  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God.” And truly it is most natural, if it be so, that the children of our Father love each other dearly.  It is monstrous and unnatural to see it otherwise.  But besides, there is in this a great deal of resemblance of their Father, whose eminent and single property it is, to be good to all and kind even to the ungrateful, and whose incomparable glory it is to pardon iniquity, and suffer long patiently.  A Christian cannot resemble his Father more nearly than in this.

Why do we account that baseness in us which is glory to God? Are we ashamed of our birth, or how do we dare not own our Father?  Will we be ashamed to love them as brethren whom he has not been ashamed to adopt as sons, and who Christ is not ashamed to call brethren?

 

 


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Christian Love 27: Love is Real Light and Life

By Hugh Binning

 

Love is real light, light and life, light and heat both. “When your fathers did execute judgment, and relieve the oppressed, wasn’t this to know me? says the Lord,” (Jeremiah 22:15-16).  The practice of the most common things, out of the love of God, and respect to his commands, is more real and true Christianity than the most profound and abstracted speculations of knowledge.  Then only is God known, when knowledge stamps the heart with fear and reverence of his Majesty and love to his name, because then he is only known as he is a true and living God.

Love is real light and life.  Isn’t it “a pleasant thing for the eye to behold the sun?” Light is sweet, and life is precious.  These are two of the rarest jewels given to men.  “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now, and doesn’t know where he goes; because darkness has blinded his eyes, but he who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him,” (1st John 2:9-11).  “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; he who doesn’t  love his brother, abides in death,” (1st John 3:14).

The light of Jesus Christ cannot shine into the heart, but it begets love, even as intense light begets heat, and where this impression is not made on the heart, it is an evidence that the beams of that Sun of righteousness have not pierced it.  O how suitable is it for a child of light to walk in love! And for what purpose is it made day light to the soul, but that it may rise up and go forth to labor, and exercise itself in the works of the day, duties of love to God and men?

Now in such a soul there is no cause of stumbling, no scandal, no offence in its way to fall over.  When the light and knowledge of Christ possesses the heart in love, there is no stumbling block of transgression in its way.  It does not fall and stumble at the commandments of righteousness and mercy as grievous, “therefore love is the fulfilling of the law,” (Romans 13:10).  And so the way of charity is the most easy, plain, expedient, and safe way.  In this way there is light shining all along it, and there is no stumbling block in it.  For the love of God and of our brethren has polished and made it all plain, has “taken away the asperities and swellings of our affections and lusts.” Complanavit affectus. “Great peace have all they who love your law, and nothing shall offend them.” Love makes an equable and constant motion, it moves swiftly and sweetly.  It can loose many knots without difficulty, which other more violent principles cannot cut, it can melt away mountains before it, which cannot be hauled away.  Albeit there be many stumbling blocks without in the world, yet there is none in charity, or in a charitable soul.  None can enter into that soul to hinder it to possess itself in meekness and patience.  Nothing can discompose it within, or hinder it to live peaceably with others.

 

 


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Christian Love 24: Loving Our Brothers and Sisters

by Hugh Binning

 

Consider to who this affection should be extended.  More generally to all men, as fellow like creations of God,  but particularly and especially to all who are born of God, as fellow Christians. “And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God love his brother also. Who ever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and every one who loves him who begat, loves him also that is begotten of him,” (1st John 4:21-5:1) “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith,” (Galatians 6:10)

“O my soul, you have said to the Lord, You are my Lord, my goodness does not extend to you: but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight,” (Psalm 16:2-3). This consideration the Holy Spirit has given to make us maintain love and unity.

Love towards these family members runs in a purer channel—“You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to the unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever,” (1st Peter 1:22-23)

We are begotten of one Father, and that by a divine birth, we have such a high descent and royal generation! There are so many other bonds of unity between us, it is absurd that this one more should not join all. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body, one spirit, called to one hope, one God and Father of all,” (Ephesians 4:2-6)  All these being one, it is strange if we are not one in love. If this family relationship does bring a strong and warm affection, we are worse than infidels, as the apostle speaks,  “If a man care not for his own house, his worldly interests, he is worse than an unbeliever,” (1st Timothy 5:8) for he has a natural affection.

Certainly then this more excellent nature, a divine nature we are partakers of, cannot be lacking of affection suitable to its nature. Christianity is a fraternity, a brotherhood, that should overpower all relations, bring down him of high degree, and exalt him of low degree; it should level all ranks, in this one respect, to the rule of charity and love.

 

 


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Christian Love 20: Right View of Self Leads to Graciousness with Others

By Hugh Binning

If a Christian will take an impartial view of himself, he cannot but this way reason himself to a meek, composed, and affectionate temper towards other brethren.  What is it in another that offends me, when I search within, I will not also find the same, or worse, or as evil in myself? Is there a mote in my brother’s eye? Perhaps there may be a beam in my own; and why then should I look to the mote that is in my brother’s eye? ←Matthew 7:3.  When I look inwardly, I find a desperately wicked heart, which lodges all that iniquity I saw in others.  And if I am not so sensible of it, it is because it is also deceitful above all things, and would flatter me in my own eyes,←Jeremiah 17:9.

If my brother offends me in some things, how these things are caused to vanish out of sight in the view of my own guiltiness before God, and the abominations of my own heart, known to his holiness and my conscience? Surely I cannot see so much evil in my brother as I find in my own heart; and whenever I withdraw back within this, I find the sea of corruption so great, that I wonder not at the streams which break forth in others.  But all my wonder is that God has set bounds to it in me or in any.

Whenever I find my spirit rising against the infirmities of others, and my mind swelling over them, I restrain myself with this thought, “I myself also am a man,” as Peter said to Cornelius when he would have worshipped him.  As he restrained another’s idolizing of him, I may cure my own self-idolizing heart.  Is it anything strange that weak men fail, and sinful men fall? Is not all flesh grass, and all the perfection and goodliness of it as the flower of the field? ←Isaiah 40:6. —Is not every man at his best state altogether vanity? ←Psalm:39:5. Is not man’s breath in his nostrils?←Isaiah 2:22. —And am I not myself a man?  Therefore I will not be high minded but fear, ←Romans 11:20. — I will not be moved to indignation but provoked to compassion, knowing that I myself am compassed with infirmities, ← Hebrews 5:2.

 

 

 

 


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R.C. Chapman’s S.O.S. 1:16

By R.C. Chapman

“Behold, You are fair my beloved; yes, pleasant: also our bed is green.” Song of Solomon 1:16


It moves my joy, sobered with sadness and grief for sin, to hear You, My Lord, commending what You see in me.  Your work and Your resemblance within me, I know, is lovely.  Oh give me wisdom to hear Your word of praise! Let me test my way with Yours, and I will be yet more depraved in my own sight, and yet more sweetly occupied with You!

You, Lord Jesus! Do fix Your eyes on me, that mine may ever be set on You, who gave Yourself for me, and also to me, and are my light and my salvation, my portion and my joy.  You see Yourself in me.  If You were not Jehovah my Righteousness, justifying and washing me in Your blood, I would have for ever dwelt in the shadow of death, and loved my filthiness:  therefore there is only one reason You should call me fair and pleasant, since in me You see Your own image.

You are my assurance; I was crucified with you, and made to sit together with my Lord in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6) This earth was your field to labor; in heaven you rest, having finished the work the Father gave you to do. Having suffered first You have entered into Your glory, which is ever new, and cannot fade—Your bed of green!  You are full of joy with the Father’s countenance, and at His right hand are pleasures for evermore.

I rejoice because all things the Father has are Yours, and I am joint heir with You. Therefore You say “Our” bed; the glory given You, You have given me!  I follow on to know the power of your resurrection and the fellowship of Your sufferings.  In you and with You my soul rests, ceasing from my own works; and dead to the law, I live; yet not I, but my Lord lives in me; so then to die daily is my work.

In this I exercise myself, knowing that sin uses that old husband, which held me in bonds; and I could bring no fruit forth except only the wild grape and dead works of the flesh, unless I had been dead to the law by the body of my Lord.

Oh teach me, then, to watch, and stand fast in You! Sprinkle me with Your blood! Let me ever abide at Your cross and triumph in the power of Your resurrection, sitting down and resting with You in heavenly places! So I will set foot on the neck of all enemies; so I will keep myself pleasant to You, and that wicked one will not touch me. I will be for my Lord—my Beloved—and nothing will divide my heart with Him!

 


[Language modernized in places by this site.]


 

 

Christian Love 19: Forgiving and Being Forgiven

By Hugh Binning

If God has forgiven me so many grievous offences, if he has pardoned so heinous and innumerable injuries, that amount to a kind of infiniteness in number and quality, O how much more am I bound to forgive my brethren a few light and trivial offences? Col. 3:13—”Forbearing one another, if any man has a quarrel against any, so also you do.” Eph. 4:32—”And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even a God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” With what face can I pray, “Lord, forgive me my sins,” when I may meet with such a retort, you cannot forgive your brethren’s sins, infinitely less both in number and degree?  Matt. 6:15—”But if your do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.”  What unparalleled ingratitude were it, what monstrous wickedness, that after he has forgiven all our debt, because we desired him yet we should have no compassion on our fellow servants even as he had pity on us!

O! what a dreadful sound will that be in the ears of many Christians, “O you wicked servant, I forgave you all your debt, because you desired me! Shouldn’t you also have had compassion on your servants, even as I has pity on you?  And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to him.  So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you from your hearts do not forgive every one his brother their trespasses,” —Matt.18:32-35. 

When we cannot dispense with one penny, how should he dispense with his talents?  And when we cannot pardon ten, how should he forgive ten thousand? When he has forgiven my brother all his iniquity, may not I pardon one?  Should I impute that which God will not impute, or discover that which God has covered? How should I expect he should be merciful to me, when I cannot show mercy to my brother?  Ps. 18:25—”With the merciful you will show yourself merciful.”  Should I, for one or few offences, hate, bite, and devour him for whom Christ died, and loved not his life to save him? —Rom.14:15 and 1st Cor. 8:11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Christian Love 18: His Love and Our Love?

That Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, who was the Father’s delight, yet, not withstanding, could rejoice in the habitable places of the earth, and so love poor, bad and miserable men, yet enemies, that he gave himself for them, that God so loved that he gave his Son, and Christ so loved that he gave himself a sacrifice for sin, both for me and others, O! who should not or will not be compelled, in beholding this mirror of incomparable and spotless love to love others?

1st John 4:9-11


“In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”  


 

Ephesians  5:2


“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor,”


 

especially when he seems to require no other thing, and imposes no more grievous command upon us for recompense of all his labor of love.

John 8:34-35


“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”


If all that was in me did not alienate his love from me, how should any thing in others estrange our love to them? If God be so kind to his enemies, and Christ so loving that he gives his life for his enemies to make them friends, what should we do our enemies, what to our friends? This one example may make all created love to blush and be ashamed.  How narrow, how limited, how selfish is it?

 

 

 


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Christian Love 16: Love Never Fails

By Hugh Binning

“Love never fails.”  This is the last note of commendation.  Things have their excellency from their use and from their continuance; both are here.  Nothing so useful, no such friend of human or Christian society as love, the benefits of it reaches all things.  And then, it is most permanent and durable.  When all will go, it will remain.  When ordinances, and knowledge attained by means of ordinances, vanish, love will abide, and then receive its completion.  Faith of things not evident and obscure will be drowned in the vision of seeing God’s face clearly.  Hope of things to come will be exhausted in the possession and fruition of them.  But love only remains in its own nature and notion, only it is perfected by the addition of so many degrees as may suit that blessed state.

Therefore I think it should be the study of all saints who believe immortality, and hope for eternal life, to put on that garment of charity, which is the clothing of all the inhabitants above.  We might have heaven on earth as far as it is possible if we dwelt in love, and love dwelt in and possessed our hearts.  What an unsuitable thing might a believer think it, to hate him in this world whom he must love eternally, and to contend and strive with these, even over small matters, with bitterness and rigidity, with whom he shall have an eternal, uninterrupted unity and fellowship?  Should we not be testing here how that glorious garment suits us?  And truly there is nothing that makes a man so heaven-like or God like as this, much love and charity.

Now there is one consideration that might persuade us more to it, that here we know but darkly in part, and therefore our knowledge, at best, is but obscure and not evident, often subject to many mistake and misunderstandings of truth, according as means of communication present them.  And therefore there must be some latitude of love allowed one to another in this state of imperfection, else it is impossible to keep unity, and we must conflict often with our own shadows, and bite and devour one another for some deceiving appearances.

The imperfection and obscurity of knowledge should make all men suspicious of themselves, especially in matters of a doubtful nature, and not so clearly determined by scripture.  Because our knowledge is weak, shall our love be so?  No, rather let charity grow stronger, and aspire to perfection, because knowledge is imperfect.  What is wanting in knowledge let us make up in affection, and let the gap of difference in judgment be swallowed up with the bowels of mercies and love, and humbleness of mind.  And then we shall have hid our weakness of understanding as much as may be.  Thus we may go hand in hand together to our Father’s house, where, at length, we must be together.

 


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This is the End of Christian Love, chapter 2.

 

Christian Love 15: Love Bears and Believes All Things

By Hugh Binning

Love “bears all things.” By nature we are undaunted heifers, cannot bear anything patiently.  But love is accustomed to the yoke, —to the yoke of reproaches and injuries from others, to a burden of other men’s infirmities and failings.  We would all be borne upon others’ shoulders, but we cannot put our own shoulders under other men’s burden, according to that royal law of Christ, Romans 15:1—“We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” and Galatians 6:2—“ Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  That is the law of love, without question.

Love “believes all things.” Our nature is malignant and wicked, and therefore most suspicious and jealous, and apt to take all in the worst way. But love has much openness, honesty and humanity in it, and can believe well of every man, and believe all things as far as truth will permit.  It knows that grace can be beside man’s sins.  It knows that itself is subject to similar infirmities.  Therefore it is not a rigid and censorious judger; it allows as much latitude to others as it would desire of others.

It is true it is not blind and ignorant.  It is judicious, and has eyes that can discern between colors. Credit omnia credenda, sperat omnia speranda.-“It believes all things that are believable, and hopes all things that are hopeful.” If love doesn’t have sufficient evidences, yet she believes if there be some probabilities to the contrary, as well as for it.  The weight of love inclines to the better part, and so casts the balance of hope and persuasion; yet being sometimes deceived, she has reason to be watchful and wise, for “the simple believe every word.”  If love cannot have ground of believing any good, yet it hopes still. Qui non est hodie, cras magis aptus erit, says love, and therefore it is patient and gentle, waiting on all, if perhaps God may “give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,”—2nd Timothy 2:25. 

Love would account it both atheism and blasphemy, to say such a man cannot, will not find mercy.  But to pronounce of such as have often been accepted in the conscience of all, and sealed into many hearts, that they will never find mercy, that they have no grace, because of some failings in practice and differences from us, it wasn’t pronounced in sobriety but madness.  It is certainly love and indulgence to ourselves, that make us aggravate other men’s faults to such a height.   Self love looks on other men’s failings through a multiplying or magnifying glass, but she put her own faults behind her back. Non videtquod in mantica qua a tergo est. Therefore she can suffer much in herself but nothing in others, and certainly much self forbearance and indulgence can spare little for others.

But love is just contrary. She is most rigid on her own self, will her not pardon herself easily, knows no revenge but what is spoken of in 2nd Corinthians 7:11, self revenge, and has no indignation but against herself.  Thus she can spare much openness, honesty, and forbearance for others, and has little or nothing of indignation left behind to consume on others.

 


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