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PART FOUTH.
ON THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE UNION OF GOD AND MAN IN LOVE.



CHAPTER V.


ON THE THREE FORMS OF LOVE: NAMELY: OF BENEVOLENCE, OF COMPLACENCY, AND OF UNION.


Explanations of the love of benevolence.— Benevolential love not necessarily unitive. — Illustrations. — Complacential love. — Illustrations — Unitive love. — Results of unitive love.

THE love of existence, simply because it is existence and in being existence, is susceptible of happiness, is the basis of all other love. This love is sometimes denominated in writers, in consideration of its nature rather than its object, the love of benevolence, or benevolential love. Eternal in the divine mind, operating by its own nature, being in itself and of itself a living principle, it is properly called a LIFE. And it is this immortal life, this central and eternal impulse of the divinity, which elevates and expands the Godhead from a mere infinity of power and wisdom to an infinity of moral perfection. Of the value of this love, and its indispensable nature to God and to all beings created in the likeness of God, it is difficult to form too high an estimate. First in time, it is preeminent in importance. We say everything which can well be said, when we speak of it as their LIFE.

2. It is worthy of notice, however, that this love, which is sometimes known under the denomination of love of benevolence or benevolential love, in distinction from the love of complacency or complacential love,
is not unitive. That is to say, it does not, and cannot of itself, constitute an union between him who loves and the object that is beloved. It is hardly necessary to say, that there can be no union unless there are two or more beings to be united. And it is hardly less obvious, that no union can be effected without a correspondence of feeling in those who are the subjects of such union. Love and union, therefore, are not identical, and are not, in all cases, necessarily related. The history of the Saviour, who suffered death in attempting to do good to men, has shown us that we may love where there is only distrust or hatred in return. Often is this the case. Year after year, man may entertain the kindest and most benevolent feelings towards others; he may labor for them and suffer for them; and instead of the delightful approach and unity of love, find nothing but feelings of ingratitude and deep aversion.

3. Complacential love, based upon that of benevolence, or the love of simple existence, adds to the love of the object an approbation of its character. This last circumstance constitutes, it is obvious, an important modification of the affection under consideration. We desire, for instance, the good and happiness of the just man. That is to say, we love him. And we do so, both because he is a man, and also because he is just. The love of him as a just man, which turns upon the fact of his character, is added to and increases our love of him as a man, which turns upon the fact of his being, or existence. Again, we desire the good and happiness of angels, on the ground of their existence and susceptibility of happiness, just as we desire the happiness of the worst sinners for the same reason. In other words, we love them with the love of benevolence But the purity of an angel's character furnishes a new element, or rather basis of love; — so that we heighten the love of their existence, which is the foundation, by that of their moral excellence, which may be regarded as an accessory, but beautiful superstructure. In the case of angels, as in the case of the just man, we love both existence and character. In the case of those sinners in whom we discover no good moral elements, we love their existence,
notwithstanding their character, and in opposition to its repelling influence. And in both cases, if our love exists without regard to personal reward, it is properly denominated pure love.

4. Unitive love, in implying the fact of something united, cannot exist without two or more persons, or beings, who are the subjects of it. Such love, especially when it results in the highest degree of union, implies and involves the existence of complacential love, added to that of benevolence. The parties who are the subjects of unitive love, must approve and honor, as well as love, each other, before they can enter into such union. Their approbation must be mutual; and mutual approbation can hardly be expected to exist without a similarity of character. A likeness of character is not essential to all love, but it obviously is to that proximity and oneness of heart which constitutes the modification of unitive love. And the degree of mutual likeness of character will be the measure of the degree of union or oneness. If the union is perfect, the character in both cases must have a moral or religious perfection; — that is to say, the character in both cases must be that of pure or holy love. Love and selfishness cannot mingle together. Whenever two or more existences, filled with the spirit of pure love, approach each other. so as to come within the sphere of each other's knowledge, and thus form a mutual acquaintance, they not only have feelings of complacency and approval, but at once form the most intimate association. It is not so much a matter of volition as a law of nature. They cannot stay apart if they would. By their nature they are reciprocally attractive. They are born into the same image; and in the innate consciousness of the loveliness of their individual characters, they cannot help loving that which bears the image and reflects the resemblance of themselves. Children of the same lineage, and baptized in the same pure waters, they rush into each other's embrace, as a mother, recognizing her own lineaments in a child long lost, but at last restored again, rushes into its arms, not by the movement of mere reason, but by the spontaneity of a true and permanent life.

5. These views apply to the relations between God and man, as well as to those between man and his fellowman. When the soul, divested of selfishness, is born into the state of pure love, it is then regenerated into the image of God. The two existences, the human and the divine, are alike, with the exception that one is created, the other uncreated; one is the copy, the other the original. In connection with a mutual likeness of nature, there cannot fail to be a mutual tendency to union. So that God, and the child of God are drawn towards each other, and are united and absorbed, as it were, the less in the greater, not only by the law of filiation, but by the law of attraction
involved in the fact of mutual resemblance.

6. There is nothing arbitrary or accidental in God's moral kingdom; nothing which violates responsibility and truth. Everything, in being established in the truth, is established in the wisdom of permanent law or nature; and nothing exists or is done by unreasonable will or by unmeaning chance. The love of union, which draws together and makes kindred spirits into one, has its nature. It loves existences, because it desires to make them good; it both loves them and unites with them when they are made good. It has its nature; it has its triumphs also. It is triumphant, both because it conquers by the might of its attractive power, and also because it is happy. The union of souls, under the circumstances which have been mentioned, cannot fail to constitute the highest happiness. They do not love in order to be happy; but they are happy because they love. The union of holy souls in love is the nuptials of the spirit. Their happiness is as bright and as pure as the love from which it flows. Extracted from the exhaustless mine which constitutes God's happiness, it ls indeed the pearl of great price; the gem which illustrates the walls of the New Jerusalem.

7. Thus among holy beings there is one great circle of relationship. Love alone, in its mighty power, works out the problem of universal harmony. The fact of holiness, which is but another name for pure or holy love, constitutes a bond of union; reaching all, encircling all, beautifying all. Those in the same rank of being are attracted to each other; and all are attracted to that which is higher in rank; not only loving, but united in love; and united each in his place and order, on the combined principle of extent of being and perfection of character. So that the result is —
God in all, and all in God; the Father in Christ, and Christ in those who are begotten of him; mutually bound together and living in each other; no more separated in fact, and no more capable of being separated from each other than the rays of the light are separated or capable of being separated from the natural sun.