Sincere Love to God is a constant growing love, and an everlasting love, it holds out in all times and seasons, and variety of conditions, prosperity and adversity, praise and persecution, health and sickness, plenty and poverty, liberty and bonds, yea, in death it self, and after death through all eternity; death doth not terminate this grace, but perfect it. (Anonymous)
One of the graces that demonstrate the sure, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us is Love. Where God dwells by his Spirit, there is sincere love to God and sincere love to others, for God’s sake. As the apostle John said: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Because this love is a special work of the Holy Spirit, it works for good in all things—regardless of how bad these things may be in themselves. All things work together for good in those who love God (Romans 8:28). There is always a redemptive purpose to be found in what happens to God’s people.
The person who sincerely loves God has a sure argument that they are greatly loved by God: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). But someone might ask, isn’t that love in us a special work of the Spirit of God? Surely it is. “But sincere Love to God, strongly argues special Love in God towards him that hath it, therefore sincere Love to God must needs be a special work of the Spirit of God in whomsoever it is.” The following Scriptures clearly support the claim that sincere love for others, for God’s sake, is a real testimony of the person’s union with Christ.
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:23-24)
Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)
Without sincere love, all profession of faith in religion is but a gilded hypocrisy. Where love is, God dwells. But where it is not, the devil dwells. More love means a greater likeness to God; less of it means a greater likeness to the devil. Experience shows that those individuals who have great gifts and responsibilities and little or no love, will show more of the devil’s nature than God’s—and will act more like the devil than god when they have power.
Love is the sweetest flower in all the garden of God, but it is a flower which the Devil cannot endure the smell of, because he is not capable of it, and knows that where Love dwells, he must vanish; and therefore it is his main design to destroy Love, if possible, in all sorts and sects, and to root it up and banish it from the hearts of all men; The Devil is well content, that men should pray, preach, read, hear Sermons, and make a faire shew outwardly, provided this spring not from Love, nor tendeth not to the increase of Love, to God nor man; but if he see Love be the root and fruit of mens services, then he goes cunningly, and Serpent-like to work, to make breaches in this wall, that he may get in and destroy this flower, he deviseth wayes to divide men’s judgments, to the end he may destroy this affection of Love out of their hearts; if he prevaile not this way then he will raise up jealousies to destroy Love and Charity, yea sometimes render the best of graces, the worst of vices; and as in tempting a Carnal man, he sometimes stiles lust, Love, so in tempting a spiritual man, he sometimes stiles sincere Love, lust; and by these wiles makes a breach on Charity, to the end he may get into the garden of God, and root up this sweet grace of Love.
Someone might ask how he or she can know, one way or the other, whether his or her love of God is sound and sincere. The author said they must examine themselves to see if they find a true testimony of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in them. The properties of this sincere love to God are these:
Sincere love to God is seated in the heart. It carries the whole heart and soul to God—both the inner and the outer person. What God requires and commands is in His Word, namely that we should love God with our whole heart and soul. By the whole heart is meant every faculty of the soul; the whole inner person. So there cannot be a division between God and the world, between God and sin—as the hearts of all hypocrites are.
Sincere love is carried to God and fastened upon Him. There we cleave to Him in affection; more than anything else. From a due consideration of his perfection, we account Him to be our chief happiness. We rejoice in him above all things. We fear his displeasure more than all others. We depend upon him for all things, and aim for his glory in all things.
Sincere love to God is guided by faith, not by sight. As Peter said: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him” (1 Peter 1:8). We also see this in Job, who continued to love God and obey him, as we see in Job 23:8-11. This plainly shows that his love was guided by faith and not by sight.
Sincere love to God is a strong love. It will compel a person to obey even to the death. It will constrain the person to do or suffer anything that God sees fit to impose upon them without replying “in tongue or in heart” against God. “It will make a man serve God with all his might.” It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Sincere love to God is an endearing affection. It endears Christ to the person above all things; so that they will part willingly with all others things rather than Christ, even to laying down their lives. This is illustrated for us in the parables of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:44-46) and in all the trials of the saints in Hebrews 11.
This is now the third reflection I’ve done on excerpts from Evidence for Heaven, written by an anonymous Puritan female author. Edmund Calamy was credited as the author, but he himself acknowledged it was actually written by a female member of his church. After writing the first two reflections (Evidence for Heaven and More Evidence for Heaven), I planned to stop. But then in another meditation from Day by Day with the English Puritans, I read the above quoted passage on Love as the sweetest flower in the Garden of God and again believed her thoughts needed to reach a wider audience. I’m thinking there will be more reflections to come.