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PART SEVENTH.
UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF MAN'S REDEMPTION.



CHAPTER IX.


ON THE NATURE AND PRACTICAL EXTENT OF THE POWER OF LOVE.


The influence of love attractive rather than aggressive. — Argued, first, from the fact that pure love has an innate power of making itself loved. — Foundations of this power, namely, in its truth and beauty. — Illustration of its influence from the influence of the sun in the natural world. — The man of love is a man of power.

IN cooperating with our heavenly Father in the great work of redemption, it is an interesting inquiry, what spirit, what form of feeling, he will especially lead us to exercise, and what methods of action and effort we shall employ. It is an obvious remark, though somewhat general in its nature, that we should never lose our simplicity of heart; — but, looking to God with "a single eye," should receive all things and be all things in him alone. Leaving ourselves in the hands of God in simplicity, that we may thus become the subjects of the divine operation, he, more or less gradually, according to his infinite wisdom, infuses into the soul that divine element of holy love, which makes it like himself. God is love. The feeling, which exists in those who cooperate with him, is love. And when the world becomes holy by being the subject of holy love, and just in proportion as it becomes so, it will find its power in its love. And, accordingly, its influence over men will partake of the attractive rather than the aggressive form. This is an important idea, which we propose to illustrate.

2. In support of the view which has just been proposed, we proceed, therefore, to say, that pure or unselfish love has a power, beyond anything else, to make
itself loved. This remarkable power is as permanent as its own existence. As its attributes of universality and purity, its dispositions to love all, and to love all without selfishness, are essentIal to its nature; so, also, is the attribute of its influence, that secret but certain power of making itself beloved, which it has over all minds. It is not a power therefore, which is acquired, but inherent; not incidental, but permanent; exerting its authority by virtue of its own right, and not merely as the gift of favorable circumstances.

3. Pure love necessarily makes itself beloved, because it involves in its own nature two things, which have a power over love, namely, Truth and Beauty.

Pure love is in the truth; — that is to say, it exists in accordance with the truth. In other words, it has a true or right foundation. If God is a true or right being then pure love, which constitutes the central element of his character, is a right or true affection. Love, which seeks the good of others merely because it delights is goodness, and without any private or selfish views, is what it ought to be; — and it cannot be otherwise than it is, without a violation of the facts and order of the universe. True in its foundation, and true in all the relations it sustains it is, at the same time, truth to God and truth to nature, and truth to humanity.

4. And pure love, which is thus inscribed everywhere with the signatures of its divine verity, is as beautiful as it is true. Beauty is the daughter of truth. When things are in truth, they are where it is fitting and right, that they should be; — just in their facts, just in their relations, just in their influences; — and such things cannot be indifferent to us. They have an innate power which is real, though not always explainable. And not being indifferent, but having a natural power to excite emotions, it is not possible, with such a foundation and such relations, that they should excite any emotions but those of beauty. We regard it, therefore, as a fixed and permanent law of nature, that the true and the beautiful have an eternal relation. It is impossible to separate them. Wherever the truth is, standing out to the eye in its own free and noble lineaments, there is, and must be, beauty.

5. With such elements involved in its very existence, pure or holy love cannot fail to make itself beloved. While its nature is to go out of itself for the good of others, and its very life is to live in the happiness of others, such is the transcendent truth and beauty of its divine generosity, that, without thinking of itself, it makes itself the centre of the affections of others. In its gently pervading and attractive nature, it finds the analogy and the representation of its influence in the natural world. The sun, as the centre of the solar system, binds together the planets which revolve around it, because it has something in itself, which may be said to allure and attract their movements, rather than compel it. What the sun is to the natural world, pure love is to the moral world. It not only has life in itself, which necessarily sends out or
gives love, but has an innate power in itself, which necessarily attracts love. Receptive, at the same time that it is emanative, it stands as the moral centre, which, without violating their freedom, turns the universe of hearts to itself.

6. The man, therefore, who is inspired and moved by the sentiments of pure or holy love, is a man of
power. The maxim, that knowledge is power, is not more true than the proposition, that love is power. Limited in knowledge, and weak perhaps in social position, the man who loves is powerful by character. His mere opinions, divested as they necessarily are of the perversions of selfishness, inspire more confidence than the proofs all arguments of other men. His wish becomes a law, and has far more influence with those around him than the arts and compulsions, which a spirit less pure and generous would be likely to apply. Power is lodged in him, lives in him, moves in him, goes out from him. It costs him no effort. It is felt, almost without being exercised.

When he is smitten he turns the other cheek, and like the Saviour, forgives and loves his enemies. And, in doing so, he confers by the grandeur of his sentiments. He does good from the impulse of good, and without asking or seeking reward. And, in doing so, he places himself above the common level of humanity; disarms enmity, commands friendship, controls sensibility. The world stands abashed in his presence; and does him homage. He realizes, in the spiritual sense of its terms. which is far more important than the temporal, the fulfillment of the declaration of the Saviour, "Give, and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."

7. It may, undoubtedly, be admitted, that those who have not arrived at this high degree and purity of love nevertheless have influence. But their influence, whether we regard it as more or less considerable, is
aggressive rather than attractive. It compels, rather than draws. By arguments in support of revelation, by appeals addressed to their interest and fears, by social and prudential arrangements, they aim to bring others within the currents of religion, and coerce them, as it were, to come in. They are much at work, developing. plans and prudences of action, mining and countermining with the highest dexterity of moral and religious strategy, sometimes with considerable effect, and sometimes, like the apostle Peter and his associates, toiling all night and catching nothing.

But to the man whose heart is filled with divine love, his life is his strategy; his heart is his argument; and the Holy Ghost within him is his prudential consideration. The less his strategy, and the more his simplicity, provided his simplicity is founded on purity and faith, the greater will be his power. He can no more separate power from himself, or himself from power, than he can separate himself from existence.

8. Love, therefore, is the principle operating by its own divinity, and attractive in its influence rather than aggressive and compulsive, which is destined not only to control, but to renovate the world. It will conquer, it is true, on a new system, and by means of new principles; but its conquest will be none the less effectual. And it is in such doctrines as these, which imply and require the renovation of the heart in love, that the Christian is destined to find the true and mighty secret of millennial power.

9. One of the characteristics of holy love, in its developed and operative forms is, that it naturally and necessarily adapts itself to the existing state of things. Feelingly alive to every possible variety of circumstance, it assumes, at successive times, an infinity of modifications, without failing, under any of them, to maintain its own simplicity and truth. Its own nature, which harmonizes with the true good of all other natures, requires this. When it is alone, for instance, and its thoughts are
allowed to revert to God in distinction from the creatures of God, sympathizing with the divine excellence and blessedness, it naturally takes the form of adoring communion and praise. It begins to sing. "Bless the Lord,” it says with the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits!"

When it is not permitted to be in retirement, but is in company with others, it takes its character from those with whom it is. In the good and proper sense of the expressions, "it becomes all things to all men." If they are persecuted and in prison, if they are sick, or blind, or lame, or deprived of reason, or are afflicted in any other manner, then it is full of compassion. It feels all their sufferings. It sheds sincere tears. It binds up their wounds. And these kind acts, which are not more full of truth and beauty than of moral power, are not the results of artifice, but of nature. It cannot do otherwise.

If, on the contrary, those with whom it associates at a given time are in health and in joy, it naturally rejoices in their joy, just as in the other case it has sorrow in their sorrow. Love, in the form of benevolent sympathy, is the just reward and the life of innocent pleasure. It may be said to double the happiness of every smile by the reflection of sympathetic happiness from itself.

10. The results in religious things are analogous to those in natural things. It harmonizes there also, in a manner appropriate to its own nature, with the weak and the strong; rejoicing with the one, and rendering pity and aid to the other. If, for instance, it enters the church on the Sabbath, and hears a man proclaiming God’s message with sincerity, but still with evidence of want of intellectual power, it does not turn away with scorn or coldness; but deeply sympathizes with him, and prays the more earnestly that the divine power may be revealed and perfected through human weakness. Its course, as would naturally be expected, is just the opposite of that of selfishness. Its desire is not to please
itself; but, in its sympathy with God and his word, to help out, as it were, the struggling message.

And it is the same in other cases. Everywhere, freed as it is from the restrictions of a low and selfish spirit, it is seen to do the thing which is appropriate to the time and place; and always by the impulse of a spiritual nature, and never by human artifice. Accordingly, if we transfer this principle of holy love from the public assembly in the church to the smaller assembly of the private prayer-meeting, the same results are witnessed. It sees those assembled together, who, it is obvious, need to be conversed with, to be instructed, to be encouraged. Being always in sympathy with God, and knowing that its heavenly Father has called them together in order that they might be assisted, it does not set itself aside and wrap itself up in its own isolation; but feels in its own nature all the wants of those around, just as God does. It sees God in everything. It is God, who in his providence has assembled them together. It is God, who has placed itself in communication with them, and has done it with some benevolent object appropriate to their situation. It cannot be doubted, that the mighty heart of God desires their restoration; and he, who is united with God in love, desires it also. And such is the sympathy between his state of mind and the arrangements of Providence, that his thoughts and feelings and words may justly be expected to be in precise accordance with the occasion. And this feeling of benevolent sympathy, (such are the reciprocal influences of mind upon mind,) will necessarily be known, and felt, and appreciated, by those with whom he sympathizes.

11. Certainly it is not surprising that love, operating without cessation in this divine manner, should have power. Powerful in its truth and powerful in its beauty, it acquires additional power by its mode of operation. Even, therefore, when it is estimated on natural principles, and with reference to its own laws of influence, we cannot doubt its mighty efficiency; — an efficiency, which is more than equal to all possible difficulties, when it is attended, as it cannot fail to be, with the divine presence and favor.

If these remarks are correct, then it may be added, that the holy man has power with his fellow-men, on the same general principles and much in the same way, as Christ had when here on earth. Christ, considered in his human nature, may truly be described as a man. And like other holy men, he was full of the Holy Ghost; — but the divine power which was in him showed itself to others chiefly through the medium of a holy sympathy. There is, perhaps, no trait of his character more remarkable than this. It was sympathy which brought the Saviour down from heaven to earth; it was sympathy which, in early times, carried apostles and martyrs to the stake; and it is sympathy, like that of the Saviour, which, at the present day, conducts his followers to the dwellings of the poor, the sick, and the ignorant; which secures their presence and supplications in the church and the prayer-meeting; which inspires their self-denying labors for the prisoner and the criminal; and which separates them from the endearments of home, and sends them to the toils, the sufferings, and the death of heathen lands.

12. What is here said of sympathy is, at the same time, said of love. They are two names for one principle. Sympathy is only another name for love, when it is exercised in such a way as to harmonize, in the most beneficial manner, with the wants and the situation of others. We repeat, therefore, that a principle so divine as this must ultimately renovate and control the world. And it will do it in the manner which has already been mentioned, namely, by its attractive rather than its aggressive influence. Reaching in every direction, and attracting the attention of all men by its innate loveliness, it draws them gently but surely to itself. It prevails by means of its truth and beauty, and not less by that gentle touch of fellow-feeling, with which it weeps with every tear, and smiles upon every smile.

And one of its crowning glories is this. It conquers without knowing how or why it conquers; — the mighty power which is in it being hidden in its own simplicity of spirit.