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 Love to God (Unabridged) -Watson

Love to God (Unabridged)by Thomas Watson

(from the book "The Ten Commandments")

The rule of obedience being the moral law, comprehended in the Ten
Commandments, the next question is:

What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?

The sum of the Ten Commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our
heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and
our neighbour as ourselves.

‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy might.’ Deut 6: 5. The duty called for is love, yea,
the strength of love, ‘with all thy heart.’ God will lose none of our love.
Love is the soul of religion, and that which constitutes a real Christian.
Love is the queen of graces; it shines and sparkles in God’s eye, as the
precious stones on the breastplate of Aaron.

What is love?

It is a holy fire kindled in the affections, whereby a Christian is carried
out strongly after God as the supreme good.

What is the antecedent of love to God?

The antecedent of love is knowledge. The Spirit shines upon the
understanding, and discovers the beauties of wisdom, holiness, and mercy in
God; and these are the loadstone to entice and draw out love to God; Ignoti
nulla cupido: such as know not God cannot love him; if the sun be set in the
understanding, there must needs be night in the affections.

Wherein does the formal nature of love consist?

The nature of love consists in delighting in an object. Complacentia amantis
in amato. [The lover’s delight in his beloved] Aquinas. This is loving God,
to take delight in him. ‘Delight thyself also in the Lord’ (Psa 37: 4), as a
bride delights herself in her jewels. Grace changes a Christian’s aims and

How must our love to God be qualified?

(1) If it be a sincere love, we love God with all our heart. ‘Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’ God will have the whole heart. We
must not divide our love between him and sin. The true mother would not have
the child divided, nor will God have the heart divided; it must be the whole

(2) We must love God propter se, for himself, for his own intrinsic
excellencies. We must love him for his loveliness. Meretricius est amor plus
annulum quam sponsum amare: ‘It is a harlot’s love to love the portion more
than the person.’ Hypocrites love God because he gives them corn and wine:
we must love God for himself; for those shining perfections which are in
him. Gold is loved for itself.

(3) We must love God with all our might, in the Hebrew text, our vehemency;
we must love God, quod posse, as much as we are able. Christians should be
like seraphim, burning in holy love. We can never love God so much as he
deserves. The angels in heaven cannot love God so much as he deserves.

(4) Love to God must be active in its sphere. Love is an industrious
affection; it sets the head studying for God, hands working, feet running in
the ways of his commandments. It is called the labour of love. 1 Thess 1: 3.
Mary Magdalene loved Christ, and poured her ointments on him. We think we
never do enough for the person whom we love.

(5) Love to God must be superlative. God is the essence of beauty, a whole
paradise of delight; and he must have a priority in our love. Our love to
God must be above all things besides, as the oil swims above the water. We
must love God above estate and relations. Great is the love to relations.
There is a story in the French Academy, of a daughter, who, when her father
was condemned to die by hunger, gave him suck with her own breasts. But our
love to God must be above father and mother. Matt 10: 37. We may give the
creature the milk of our love, but God must have the cream. The spouse keeps
the juice of her pomegranates for Christ. Cant 8: 2.

(6) Our love to God must be constant, like the fire which the Vestal virgins
kept in Rome, which did not go out. Love must be like the motion of the
pulse, which beats as long as there is life. ‘Many waters cannot quench
love,’ not the waters of persecution. Cant 8: 7. ‘Rooted in love.’ Eph 3:
17. A branch withers that does not grow on a root; so love, that it may not
die, must be well rooted.

What are the visible signs of our love to God?

If we love God, our desire will be after him. ‘The desire of our soul is to
thy name.’ Isa 26: 8. He who loves God, breathes after communion with him.
‘My soul thirsteth for the living God.’ Psa 42: 2. Persons in love desire to
be often conferring together. He who loves God, desires to be much in his
presence; he loves the ordinances: they are the glass where the glory of God
is resplendent; in the ordinances we meet with him whom our souls love; we
have God’s smiles and whispers, and some foretastes of heaven. Such as have
no desire after ordinances, have no love to God.

The second visible sign is, that he who loves God cannot find contentment in
any thing without him. Give a hypocrite who pretends to love God corn and
wine, and he can be content without God; but a soul fired with love to God,
cannot be without him. Lovers faint away if they have not a sight of the
object loved. A gracious soul can do without health, but cannot do without
God, who is the health of his countenance. Psa 43: 5. If God should say to a
soul that entirely loves him, ‘Take thy ease, swim in pleasure, solace
thyself in the delights of the world; but thou shalt not enjoy my
presence:’ this would not content it. Nay, if God should say, ‘I will let
thee be taken up to heaven, but I will retire into another room, and thou
shalt not see my face;’ it would not content the soul. It is hell to be
without God. The philosopher says there can be no gold without the influence
of the sun; certainly there can be no golden joy in the soul without God’s
sweet presence and influence.

The third visible sign is that he who loves God, hates that which would
separate between him and God, and that is sin. Sin makes God hide his face;
it is like an incendiary, which parts chief friends; therefore, the keenness
of a Christian’s hatred is set against it. ‘I hate every false way.’ Psa
119: 128. Antipathies can never be reconciled; one cannot love health but he
must hate poison; so we cannot love God but we must hate sin, which would
destroy our communion with him.

The fourth visible sign is sympathy. Friends that love, grieve for the evils
which befall each other. Homer, describing Agamemnon’s grief, when he was
forced to sacrifice his daughter, brings in all his friends weeping with
him, and accompanying him to the sacrifice, in mourning. Lovers grieve
together. If we have true love in our heart to God, we cannot but grieve for
those things which grieve him; we shall lay to heart his dishonours; the
luxury, drunkenness, contempt of God and religion. ‘Rivers of waters run
down mine eyes,’ &c. Psa 119: 136. Some speak of the sins of others, and
laugh at them; but they surely have no love to God who can laugh at that
which grieves his Spirit! Does he love his father who can laugh to hear him

The fifth visible sign is, that he who loves God, labours to render him
lovely to others. He not only admires God, but speaks in his praises, that
he may allure and draw others to be in love with him. She that is in love
will commend her lover. The lovesick spouse extols Christ, she makes a
panegyrical oration of his worth, that she might persuade others to be in
love with him. ‘His head is as the most fine gold.’ Cant 5: 11. True love to
God cannot be silent, it will be eloquent in setting forth his renown. There
is no better sign of loving God than to make him appear lovely, and to draw
proselytes to him.

The sixth visible sign is, that he who loves God, weeps bitterly for his
absence. Mary comes weeping, ‘They have taken away my Lord.’ John 20: 13.
One cries, ‘My health is gone!’ another, ‘My estate is gone!’ but he who is
a lover of God, cries out, ‘My God is gone! I cannot enjoy him whom I
love.’ What can all worldly comforts do, when once God is absent? It is like
a funeral banquet, where there is much meat, but no cheer. ‘I went mourning
without the sun.’ Job 30: 28. If Rachel mourned greatly for the loss of her
children, what vail or pencil can shadow out the sorrow of that Christian
who has lost God’s sweet presence? Such a soul pours forth floods of tears;
and while it is lamenting, seems to say thus to God, ‘Lord, thou art in
heaven, hearing the melodious songs and triumph of angels; but I sit here in
the valley of tears, weeping because thou art gone. Oh, when wilt thou come
to me, and revive me with the light of thy countenance! Or, Lord, if thou
wilt not come to me, let me come to thee, where I shall have a perpetual
smile of thy face in heaven and shall never more complain, ‘My beloved has
withdrawn himself.’”

The seventh visible sign is, that he who loves God is willing to do and
suffer for him. He subscribes to God’s commands, he submits to his will. He
subscribes to his commands. If God bids him mortify sin, love his enemies,
be crucified to the world, he obeys. It is a vain thing for a man to say he
loves God, and slight his commands. He submits to his will. If God would
have him suffer for him, he does not dispute, but obeys. ‘Love endureth all
things.’ 1 Cor 13: 7. Love made Christ suffer for us, and love will make us
suffer for him. It is true that every Christian is not a martyr but he has a
spirit of martyrdom in him; he has a disposition of mind to suffer, if God
call him to it. ‘I am ready to be offered.’ 2 Tim 4: 6. Not only the
sufferings were ready for Paul, but he was ready for the sufferings. Origin
chose rather to live despised in Alexandria, than with Plotinus to deny the
faith, and be great in the prince’s favour. Rev 12: 11. Many say they love
God, but will not suffer the loss of anything for him. If Christ should have
said to us, ‘I love you well, you are dear to me, but I cannot suffer for
you, I cannot lay down my life for you,’ we should have questioned his love
very much; and may not the Lord question ours, when we pretend love to him,
but will endure nothing for his sake?

Use one. What shall we say to those who have not a drachm of love in their
hearts to God? They have their life from him, yet do not love him. He
spreads their table every day, yet they do not love him. Sinners dread God
as a judge, but do not love him as a father. All the strength in the angels
cannot make the heart love God; judgements will not do it; omnipotent grace
only can make a stony heart melt in love. How sad is it to be void of love
to God. When the body is cold, and has no heat, it is a sign of death; so he
is spiritually dead who has no heat of love in his heart to God. Shall such
live with God that do not love him? Will God lay an enemy in his bosom? They
shall be bound in chains of darkness who will not be drawn with cords of

Use two. Let us be persuaded to love God with all our heart and might. O let
us take our love off from other things, and place it upon God. Love is the
heart of religion, the fat of the offering; it is the grace which Christ
inquires most after. ‘Simon lovest thou me?’ John 21: 15. Love makes all our
services acceptable, it is the musk that perfumes them. It is not so much
duty, as love to duty, God delights in; therefore serving and loving God are
put together. Isa 56: 6. It is better to love him than to serve him;
obedience without love, is like wine without the spirit. O then, be
persuaded to love God with all your heart and might.

(1) It is nothing but your love that God desires. The Lord might have
demanded your children to be offered in sacrifice; he might have bid you cut
and lance yourselves, or lie in hell awhile; but he only desires your love,
he would only have this flower. Is it a hard request, to love God? Was ever
any debt easier paid than this? Is it any labour for the wife to love her
husband? Love is delightful. Non potest amor esse, et dulcis non esse [Love
must by definition be sweet]. Bernard. What is there in our love that God
should desire it? Why should a king desire the love of a woman that is in
debt and diseased? God does not need our love. There are angels enough in
heaven to adore and love him. What is God the better for our love? It adds
not the least cubit to his essential blessedness. He does not need our love,
and yet he seeks it. Why does he desire us to give him our heart? Prov 23:
26. Not that he needs our heart, but that he may make it better.

(2) Great will be our advantage if we love God. He does not court our love
that we should lose by it. ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, the things
which God has prepared for them that love him.’ 1 Cor 2: 9. If you will love
him, you shall have such a reward as exceeds your faith. He will betroth you
to himself in the dearest love. ‘I will betroth thee unto me for ever, in
loving kindness and in mercies.’ Hos 2: 19. ‘The Lord thy God will rest in
his love, he will joy over thee with singing.’ Zeph 3: 17. If you love God,
he will interest you in all his riches and dignities, he will give you
heaven and earth for your dowry, he will set a crown on your head. Vespasian
the emperor gave a great reward to a woman who came to him, and professed
she loved him; but God gives a crown of life to them that love him. James 1:

(3) Love is the only grace that shall live with us in heaven. In heaven we
shall need no repentance, because we shall have no sin; no faith, because we
shall see God face to face; but love to God shall abide for ever. ‘Love
never faileth.’ 1 Cor 13: 8. How should we nourish this grace which shall
outlive all the graces, and run parallel with eternity!

(4) Our love to God is a sign of his love to us. ‘We love him because he
first loved us.’ 1 John 4: 19. By nature we have no love to God; we have
hearts of stone. Ezek 36: 26. And how can any love be in hearts of stone?
Our loving him is from his loving us. If the glass burn, it is because the
sun has shone on it; so if our hearts burn in love, it is a sign the Sun of
Righteousness has shone upon us.

What shall we do in order to love God aright?

(1) Wait on the preaching of the word. As faith comes by hearing, so does
love. The word sets forth God in his incomparable excellencies; it deciphers
and pencils him out in all his glory, and a sight of his beauty inflames

(2) Beg of God that he will give you a heart to love him. When king Solomon
asked wisdom of God, it pleased the Lord. 1 Kings 3: 10. So, when thou
criest to God, Lord give me a heart to love thee, it is my grief I can love
thee no more; surely this prayer will please the Lord, and he will pour out
his Spirit upon thee. His golden oil will make the lamp of thy love burn

(3) You who have love to God, keep it flaming upon the altar of your heart.
Love, like fire, is ever ready to go out. ‘Thou hast left thy first love.’
Rev 2: 4. Through neglect of duty, or too much love of the world, our love
to God will cool. O preserve your love to him. As you would be careful to
preserve the natural heat in your body, so be careful to preserve the heat
of love to God in your soul. Love is like oil to the wheels, it quickens us
in God’s service. When you find love abate and cool, use all means to
quicken it. When the fire is going out, you throw on fuel; so when the flame
of love is going out, make use of the ordinances as sacred fuel to keep the
fire of your love burning.

 2007/9/15 14:44

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