1 John 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.…
The point which I wish to illustrate is that all the love in the universe is the gift of God. This proposition involves consequences of the most responsible character. Let us first unfold the principle, and then ascertain some of its resulting consequences. When the apostle tells us that "God is love" he wishes to convey to us the idea that love is the great motive power of the Divine Being. Love is that which shapes and guides all His attributes, so that each is manifested under the working of love, and each directed to the securing of love. But when the apostle says "Love is of God" he looks at love from another standpoint. He marks it in its human manifestations; and beholding it not so much as a great and original attribute of the Most High, but as seen in daily life, ramifying through all the grades and conditions of society, he traces the affection to its source, and says, "Love is of God."
1. Take the first love which one human being ever felt for another — conjugal love — and mark how that is of God. In making the woman out of the rib of man — in uniting them, by the act of God Himself, in holy wedlock; in inspiring prophets and apostles to urge men to love their wives as their own bodies; and in likening the union of husband and wife to the mystical union which exists between Christ and the Church — God has indicated, by the most direct and authoritative way, that He was the author and giver of conjugal affection.
2. Take the second love which grew up on earth — parental love — and see how this is of God. We say, in common parlance, that it is natural for a man to love his child. But what constitutes the naturalness of this love, other than the fact that God implanted it in parents' hearts, as a part of their moral constitution?
3. Take the third kind of affection, which, in the order of time, rises in the human breast — the love of children for parents — and we shall find the same truth holds here also. What would a household be, devoid of children's love? What would a parent's heart be if its outgoings of affection found no response in prattling boys and gentle girls? And how much of the sunlight of home would become darkness if filial love were blotted out from mind and memory and heart? Filial love constitutes a large part of human happiness, and pervades every class and condition of our race, and as it could never, by its very nature, create itself, because it is begotten before reason and judgment begin their workings, it must be Divine.
4. The same line of remark applies also to that love of kindred which Constitutes a part of man's moral being. He it is "who setteth the solitary in families," who groups men into social circles, and, bestowing upon His creatures affections, calls out these affections in the various forms of social and domestic life.
5. Once more, look at love in the form of philanthropy. Here we behold it breaking over the dikes and channels of conjugal, family, or social affection, and spreading away like the Nile in its overflow, until it covers the entire lowlands of our race. This earth-encompassing and man-elevating love is of God. It is because the Bible tells us that we have one common Father, one common Saviour, one common Comforter, one common salvation, and one common earthly destiny. Now, what would earth be without these various kinds of love? What without philanthropy? It would be a mass of conglomerate selfishness, a world of war, of social discord, and of domestic misery. What would earth be without this love of kindred? The interlacing bonds of family with family would be sundered; society would be disintegrated, save only when force or interest made a union of what was else repulsive and undesired. What would the world be without filial or parental love? A family where there was parental authority without parental love, and where filial obedience was required without filial affection rendered, would not be a home but a prison. And above all, what would earth be without conjugal love — if there was no heart union between man and wife; no love to cheer, soften, and irradiate the lot of woman; no responsive affection to nerve and lift up and make happy the soul of man; if the marriage tie was only a bond of interest or of lust — a bond galling as the manacle of the convict? It would be as if some angel of the pit should pass through this world and turn its green fields into sand wastes, its forest-crowned and picturesque hills into bald rock, its floral kingdom into bramble land, its dancing, leaping, silvery waters into asphaltic streams, its exquisitely tinged clouds and its brilliant sunsets into Cimmerian gloom, its thousand bird melodies into discordant screams. Seeing, then, that with all man's sins and ill-doings, with all God's punishments and curses, He has continued to us this love, the question arises, Have you ever seriously thought how much you ought to love God, who has given you the inestimable boon of human affection? Can you sum up your debt to Him for this one gift? Yet, when man rebelled against God, and cast off His sway, and virtually said to Him, "We desire not a knowledge of Thy ways," God might most justly have stripped him of love and left him to the curse of the loveless and the unloved. It was His love to us which caused Him to continue love in us, There is no love in hell. There is one other aspect of the subject which I must touch upon. Wondrous as is the fact that, notwithstanding our sins, God still continued to us human love, and highly exalting as that fact is of His grace and mercy, it is not so great a display of His love as that manifested in providing for man's redemption.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.