The Love of the Spirit
James Smith, 1864
"The love of the Spirit" Romans 15:30
The fall has stripped human nature of all that is really excellent, so that whatever is good in man, comes graciously from God.
Man has nothing good.
Man can produce nothing good.
He has become altogether filthy.
He is totally and entirely depraved.
The Law may require — but he heeds not.
The Gospel may invite — but he regards not.
Judgments and mercies are alike powerless — because he is dead in trespasses and sins.
The Holy Spirit alone can change the heart, and he does so, not by baptism — but by the direct putting forth of his power within us. The operation is secret — but it is made known by a visible change in the course and conduct. He imparts . . .
a power that will work,
a life that will appear,
a light that will shine,
a nature that will show itself.
He brings us to the Law which convinces and condemns us — and then he leads us to the Gospel which acquits and comforts us. He . . .
reveals Christ to us,
forms Christ in us, and
sets Christ before us —
and then we . . .
live upon Christ,
live for Christ, and
strive to live like Christ.
He sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, and then . . .
we love God and his adorable Son,
we love the people of God, and
have only benevolent feelings, toward the whole human race.
Love is the unquestionable proof and evidence of real religion, and this love is from the Holy Spirit, who is "the Spirit of love."
The Spirit loves all the chosen and redeemed people. His love runs in the same channel as the love of the Father and the Son — it has the same objects, and aims at the same end.
The love of the Spirit is free. He loves us without anything in us to induce him to do so — just because he will love us. His eye saw no good thing in us — and yet his heart glowed with infinite love to us. He loved us and determined to make us holy — not because he foresaw that we should be holy. All the difference that there is between us — and others; or between what we are now — and what we were once — is to be traced up to the love of the Spirit — His free and sovereign love.
The love of the Spirit is fixed. It has its specific objects, and those objects are the Lord's people — all who are chosen by the Father, and redeemed by the precious blood of the Son. The love of the Godhead is one, and the love of each of the Divine Persons is fixed upon the same objects, and aims at the same ends. As there is unity of nature, there must also be unity in the exercise of the Divine perfections, and unity in the purposes, plans, and operations of the Divine mind. The love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — is the love of one infinitely pure, perfect, and divine nature; but it is the love of three distinct persons in that nature. As the nature is one, and the persons are united — the love of each person must be the same in reference to its objects, energy, and end.
The Father loved and chose us to everlasting life,
the Son loved and died to redeem us from death, and
the Holy Spirit loved and quickened us from a death in sin to a life of righteousness.
The love of the Spirit is faithful. It never changes. It never can change. "He is in one mind — and who can turn him?" Whom he loves — he loves unto the end. There is not one in Hell today — who was ever the object of his sovereign love; nor will there be one missing among the glorified at last — whom he loved with his everlasting love. His love was free to fix upon its objects; but being fixed — it is settled forever. He engaged in covenant to save, he gave his word of promise that he would save; and his covenant will he not break, nor alter that which is gone out of his mouth. "It is impossible for God to lie." As the Son faithfully fulfilled his engagement to lay down his life for his sheep — so, the holy and ever-blessed Spirit, will faithfully fulfill his engagement to quicken, sanctify, and guide to glory, the whole Church.
The love of the Spirit is fervent. It is glowing love. There is an omnipotent power, a divine intensity in it. It is love that never cools, that never can cool. Love stronger than death, than anything out of God. Loving Spirit, shine upon my poor dark soul, strengthen my poor feeble powers, that I may take in clear, correct, and honorable views of your divine, infinite, and eternal love! He is
The love-producing Spirit. All spiritual love is from the Holy Spirit. It is a supernatural production. He . .. .
reveals God to us in the person of his Son,
exhibits him before us in his lovely attributes, perfections, and characters,
causes his love to flow into our hearts,
and thus produces love to him in return.
"We love him — because he first loved us." And we never love him, until we realize that he has loved us. The love that rises from our hearts to him — is the effect of the love that flows from his heart to us.
He reveals Jesus to us in his glorious person, finished work, and tender sympathy. He shows us how he has loved us, and whispers, "He loves you now!" This inflames our hearts with love to him. We see him living for us, dying for us, interceding for us, coming in glory to receive us to himself — and we cannot but love him.
He reveals to us the true excellency, dignity, and privileges of the saints. He sets them before us as . . .
the excellent of the earth,
the objects of the Father's love,
the purchase of the Son's blood,
and the appointed heirs of Heaven.
And then we feel love rising up in our hearts to them — we love them for Christ's sake, and for what we perceive to be excellent and lovely in them. Thus we come to "know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."
He shows us the miserable, dangerous, and pitiable state of lost sinners. He reminds us that they are our brethren by nature, and that we were once involved in the same misery, and exposed to the same condemnation. And then pity, compassion, and love arises in our hearts toward them, and we long to do them good, endeavor to bring them to the Gospel, or send the Gospel to them — that they may taste, see, and enjoy the privileges that we do ourselves. Thus, what is presented to the sanctified and enlightened understanding — affects the heart; the affections become influenced and changed; we who were once "hateful and hating one another," are filled with love to all, and are concerned to do them good.
By humbling views of ourselves,
by realizing views of the cross of Christ,
of the throne of glory, and
of the horrors of Hell as our desert —
love is excited, strengthened, and drawn forth; and we love God supremely, his people with a love of delight, and lost sinners with a love of pity and compassion.
See then, how true Christians are known:
not by correct views of doctrine,
not by mere moral behavior,
not by the observance of certain religious rituals
— but by love.
Have what we may — without love we are nothing. Lack what we may, with this holy principle ruling and reigning in our hearts and lives, we "are manifestly declared to be the epistles of Christ."
See what the Church, what we all need — the Spirit of love — the love-producing Spirit. We have gifts, we have wealth, we have learning, we have members — but we lack love. Pure, spiritual, holy love; such as the early Christians possessed, which caused their heathen persecutors to exclaim, "See how these Christians love one another!"
There is a mighty power in love — a convincing, a silencing, a winning power in love. Love conquers, when nothing else will. It is mighty to conquer others — but is unconquerable itself.
See what it is that we should daily pray for, "The love of the Spirit" — that the Holy Comforter would come down and . . .
fill every Christian's heart,
regulate every professor's life, and
make us all remarkable for love.
Let but this blessing be granted, and . . .
our strifes would cease,
our breaches would be healed, and
our divisions would come to an end!
Then we would be but . . .
Then each would not only be prepared — but anxious to help another; and if necessary we would be ready to "lay down our lives for the brethren."
See, how we may know that we have received the Holy Spirit. If love to God, love to Jesus, love to saints, and love to the souls of sinners — rules in our hearts — then there is the Holy Spirit. No one but a Divine Agent could produce such a change — and the Divine Agent that does this, is the Holy Spirit. Thus our regeneration is proved, our election is unquestionable — and our doubts and fears would die. We would have no slavish fear of God, for such "perfect love" would "cast out fear."
The peace of God would rule in our hearts,
the cross would lie easy on our shoulders,
the prospect of glory would brighten before our eyes,
and solid happiness would be our portion!
If therefore we would honor God,
if we would obey the Savior,
if we would silence gainsayers,
if we would elevate the Church of God in the world,
if we would constrain the world to believe that our religion is divine
— then let us with one heart, with one voice, as one man, unite to plead with God, that he would pour out his Holy Spirit upon us as "the Spirit of love."
Holy and ever-blessed Spirit, let it please you to fill the writer's heart, with your own sweet love; and fill each reader's heart with it, fill the heart of every member of the One Church with the same — so that . . .
Jesus may be glorified,
the adversaries of the cross confounded,
and paradise be restored to earth!