Owen, Of Communion With God, File 4
    (... continued from File 3)

     Chapter 3. Of the peculiar and distinct communion which 
                the saints have with the Father - Observations 
                for the clearing of the whole premised - Our 
                peculiar communion with the Father is in love 
                - 1 John 4: 7, 8; 2 Cor. 13: 14; John 16: 26, 
                27; Rom. 5: 5; John 3: 16, 14: 23; Tit. 3: 4, 
                opened to this purpose - What is required of 
                believers to hold communion with the Father in 
                love - His love received by faith - Returns of 
                love to him - God's love to us and ours to him 
                - Wherein they agree - Wherein they differ.       

        Having proved that there is such a distinct communion in
    respect of Father, Son, and Spirit, as whereof we speak, it
    remains that it be farther cleared up by an induction of
    instances, to manifest what [it is], and wherein the saints
    peculiarly hold this communion with the several persons
    respectively: which also I shall do, after the premising some
    observations, necessary to be previously considered, as was
    promised, for the clearing of what has been spoken. And they
    are these that follow: -
        1. When I assign any thing as peculiar wherein we
    distinctly hold communion with any person, I do not exclude
    the other persons from communion with the soul in the very
    same thing. Only this, I say, principally, immediately, and by
    the way of eminency, we have, in such a thing, or in such a
    way, communion with some one person; and therein with the
    others secondarily, and by the way of consequence on that
    foundation; for the person, as the person, of any one of them,
    is not the prime object of divine worship, but as it is
    identified with the nature or essence of God. Now, the works
    that outwardly are of God (called " Trinitatis ad extra"),
    which are commonly said to be common and undivided, are either
    wholly so, and in all respects, as all works of common
    providence; or else, being common in respect of their acts,
    they are distinguished in respect of that principle, or next
    and immediate rise in the manner of operation: so creation is
    appropriated to the Father, redemption to the Son. In which
    sense we speak of these things.
        2. There is a concurrence of the acting and operations of
    the whole Deity in that dispensation, wherein each person
    concurs to the work of our salvation, unto every act of our
    communion with each singular person. Look, by what act soever
    we hold communion with any person, there is an influence from
    every person to the putting forth of that act. As, suppose it
    to be the act of faith: - It is bestowed on us by the Father:
    "It is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," Eph. 2: 8.
    It is the Father that revealeth the gospel, and Christ
    therein, Matt. 11: 25. And it is purchased for us by the Son:
    "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, to believe on
    him," Phil. 1: 29. In him are we "blessed with spiritual
    blessings," Eph. 1: 3. He bestows on us, and increaseth faith
    in us, Luke 17: 5. And it is wrought in us by the Spirit; he
    administers that "exceeding greatness of his power," which he
    exerciseth towards them who believe, "according to the working
    of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he
    raised him from the dead," Eph. i 19, 20; Rom. 8: 11.
        3. When I assign any particular thing wherein we hold
    communion with any person, I do not do it exclusively unto
    other mediums of communion; but only by the way of inducing a
    special and eminent instance for the proof and manifestation
    of the former general assertion: otherwise there is no grace
    or duty wherein we have not communion with God in the way
    described. In every thing wherein we are made partakers of the
    divine nature, there is a communication and receiving between
    God and us; so near are we unto him in Christ.
        4. By asserting this distinct communion, which merely
    respects that order in the dispensation of grace which God is
    pleased to hold out in the gospel, I intend not in the least
    to shut up all communion with God under these precincts (his
    ways being exceeding broad, containing a perfection whereof
    there is no end), nor to prejudice that holy fellowship we
    have with the whole Deity, in our walking before him in
    covenant-obedience; which also, God assisting, I shall handle
        These few observations being premised, I come now to
    declare what it is wherein peculiarly and eminently the saints
    have communion with the Father; and this is love, - free,
    undeserved, and eternal love. This the Father peculiarly fixes
    upon the saints; this they are immediately to eye in him, to
    receive of him, and to make such returns thereof as he is
    delighted withal. This is the great discovery of the gospel:
    for whereas the Father, as the fountain of the Deity, is not
    known any other way but as full of wrath, anger, and
    indignation against sin, nor can the sons of men have any
    other thoughts of him (Rom. 1: 18; Isa. 33: 13,14; Hab. 1: 13;
    Ps. 5: 4-6; Eph. 2: 3), - here he is now revealed peculiarly
    as love, as full of it unto us; the manifestation whereof is
    the peculiar work of the gospel, Tit. 3: 4.
        1. 1 John 4: 8, "God is love." That the name of God is
    here taken personally, and for the person of the Father, not
    essentially, is evident from verse 9, where he is
    distinguished from his only begotten Son whom he sends into
    the world. Now, saith he, "The Father is love;" that is, not
    only of an infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and
    loving nature, according as he has proclaimed himself, Exod.
    34: 6, 7, but also one that eminently and peculiarly
    dispenseth himself unto us in free love." So the apostle sets
    it forth in the following verses: "This is love," verse 9; -
    "This is that which I would have you take notice of in him,
    that he makes out love unto you, in 'sending his only begotten
    Son into the world, that we might live through him.'" So also,
    verse 10, "He loved us, and sent his Son to be the
    propitiation for our sins." And that this is peculiarly to be
    eyed in him, the holy Ghost plainly declares, in making it
    antecedent to the sending of Christ, and all mercies and
    benefits whatever by him received. This love, I say, in
    itself, is antecedent to the purchase of Christ, although the
    whole fruit thereof be made out alone thereby, Eph. 1: 4-6.
        2. So in that distribution made by the apostle in his
    solemn parting benediction, 2 Cor. 13: 14, "The grace of the
    Lord Jesus Christ, THE LOVE OF GOD, and the fellowship of the
    Holy Ghost, be with you all." Ascribing sundry things unto the
    distinct persons, it is love that he peculiarly assigns to the
    Father. And the fellowship of the Spirit is mentioned with the
    grace of Christ and the love of God, because it is by the
    Spirit alone that we have fellowship with Christ in grace, and
    with the Father in love, although we have also peculiar
    fellowship with him; as shall be declared.
        3. John 16: 26, 27, saith our Saviour, "I say not unto
    you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father
    himself loveth you." But how is this, that our Saviour saith,
    "I say not that I will pray the Father for you," when he saith
    plainly, chap. 14: 16, "I will pray the Father for you?" The
    disciples, with all the gracious words, comfortable and
    faithful promises of their Master, with most heavenly
    discoveries of his heart unto them, were even fully convinced
    of his dear and tender affections towards them; as also of his
    continued care and kindness, that he would not forget them
    when bodily he was gone from them, as he was now upon his
    departure: but now all their thoughts are concerning the
    Father, how they should be accepted with him, what respect he
    had towards them. Saith our Saviour, "Take no care of that,
    nay, impose not that upon me, of procuring the Father's love
    for you; but know that this is his peculiar respect towards
    you, and which you are in him: 'He himself loves you.' It is
    true, indeed (and as I told you), that I will pray the Father
    to send you the Spirit, the Comforter, and with him all the
    gracious fruits of his love; but yet in the point of love
    itself, free love, eternal love, there is no need of any
    intercession for that: for eminently the Father himself loves
    you. Resolve of that, that you may hold communion with him in
    it, and be no more troubled about it. Yea, as your great
    trouble is about the Father's love, so you can no way more
    trouble or burden him, than by your unkindness in not
    believing of it." So it must needs be where sincere love is
        4. The apostle teaches the same, Rom. 5: 5, "The love of
    God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is
    given unto us." God, whose love this is, is plainly
    distinguished from the Holy Ghost, who sheds abroad that love
    of his; and, verse 8, he is also distinguished from the Son,
    for it is from that love of his that the Son is sent: and
    therefore it is the Father of whom the apostle here specially
    speaketh. And what is it that he ascribes to him? Even love;
    which also, verse 8, he commendeth to us, - sets it forth in
    such a signal and eminent expression, that we may take notice
    of it, and close with him in it. To carry this business to its
    height, there is not only most frequent peculiar mention of
    the love of God, where the Father is eminently intended, and
    of the love of the Father expressly, but he is also called
    "The God of love," 2 Cor. 13: 11, and is said to be "love:" so
    that whoever will know him, 1 John 4: 8, or dwell in him by
    fellowship or communion, verse 16, must do it as he is love."
        5. Nay, whereas there is a twofold divine love,
    beneplaciti and amicitiae, a love of good pleasure and
    destination, and a love of friendship and approbation, they
    are both peculiarly assigned to the Father in an eminent
    manner: -
        (1.) John 3: 16, "God so loved the world, that he gave,"
    etc.; that is, with the love of his purpose and good pleasure,
    his determinate will of doing good. This is distinctly
    ascribed to him, being laid down as the cause of sending his
    Son. So Rom. 9: 11, 12; Eph. 1: 4, 5; 2 These 2: 13, 14; 1
    John 4: 8, 9.
        (2.) John 14: 23, there is mention of that other kind of
    love whereof we speak. "If a man love me," saith Christ, "he
    will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will
    come unto him, and make our abode with him." The love of
    friendship and approbation is here eminently ascribed to him.
    Says Christ, "We will come," even Father and Son, "to such a
    one, and dwell with him;" that is, by the Spirit: but yet he
    would have us take notice, that, in point of love, the Father
    has a peculiar prerogative: " My Father will love him."
        6. Yea, and as this love is peculiarly to be eyed in him,
    so it is to be looked on as the fountain of all following
    gracious dispensations. Christians walk oftentimes with
    exceedingly troubled hearts, concerning the thoughts of the
    Father towards them. They are well persuaded of the Lord
    Christ and his good-will; the difficulty lies in what is their
    acceptance with the Father, - what is his heart towards them?
    "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," John 14: 8. Now,
    this ought to be so far away, that his love ought to be looked
    on as the fountain from whence all other sweetnesses flow.
    Thus the apostle sets it out, Tit. 3: 4, "After that the
    kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared." It
    is of the Father of whom he speaks; for, verse 6, he tells us
    that "he makes out unto us," or "sheds that love upon us
    abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." And this love
    he makes the hinge upon which the great alteration and
    translation of the saints does turn; for, saith he, verse 3,
    "We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient,
    deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice
    and envy, hateful, and hating one another." All naught, all
    out of order, and vile. Whence, then, is our recovery? The
    whole rise of it is from this love of God, flowing out by the
    ways there described. For when the kindness and love of God
    appeared, - that is, in the fruits of it, - then did this
    alteration ensue. To secure us hereof, there is not any thing
    that has a loving and tender nature in the world, and does act
    suitably whereunto, which God has not compared himself unto.
    Separate all weakness and imperfection which is in them, yet
    great impressions of love must abide. He is as a father, a
    mother, a shepherd, a hen over chickens, and the like, Ps.
    103: 13; Isa. 63: 16; Matt. 6: 6; Isa. 66: 13; Ps. 23: l; Isa.
    40: 11; Matt. 23: 37.
        I shall not need to add any more proofs. This is that
    which is demonstrated: - There is love in the person of the
    Father peculiarly held out unto the saints, as wherein he will
    and does hold communion with them.
        Now, to complete communion with the Father in love, two
    things are required of believers: - (1.) That they receive it
    of him. (2.) That they make suitable returns unto him.
        (1.) That they do receive it. Communion consists in giving
    and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we
    have no communion with him therein. How, then, is this love of
    the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with him?
    I answer, By faith. The receiving of it is the believing of
    it. God has so fully, so eminently revealed his love, that it
    may be received by faith. "Ye believe in God," John 14: l;
    that is, the Father. And what is to be believe in him? His
    love; for he is "love," 1 John 4: 8.
        It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon
    the Father, but by the Son. "He is the way, the truth, and the
    life: no man comes unto the Father but by him," Joh 14: 6. He
    is the merciful high priest over the house of God, by whom we
    have access to the throne of grace: by him is our manuduction
    unto the Father; by him we believe in God, l Pet. 1: 21. But
    this is that I say, - When by and through Christ we have an
    access unto the Father, we then behold his glory also, and see
    his love that he peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith
    thereon. We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to
    receive it, as in him; the issues and fruits thereof being
    made out unto us through Christ alone. Though there be no
    light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the
    sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment
    actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto
    the fountain. Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the
    Father, is but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually
    all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by him we are led to
    the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself. Would believers
    exercise themselves herein, they would find it a matter of no
    small spiritual improvement in their walking with God.
        This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing
    thoughts are apt to arise in this thing. Few can carry up
    their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest
    their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in
    the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds.
    A11 here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch
    they know not. This is the will of God, that he may always be
    eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable
    therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great
    fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits
    of love. This is that which Christ came to reveal, - God as a
    Father, John 1: 18; that name which he declares to those who
    are given him out of the world, John 17: 6. And this is that
    which he effectually leads us to by himself, as he is the only
    way of going to God as a Father, John 14: 5, 6; that is, as
    love: and by doing so, gives us the rest which he promiseth;
    for the love of the Father is the only rest of the soul. It is
    true, as was said, we do not this formally in the first
    instant of believing. We believe in God through Christ, 1 Pet.
    1: 21; faith seeks out rest for the soul. This is presented to
    it by Christ, the mediator, as the only procuring cause. Here
    it abides not, but by Christ it has an access to the Father,
    Eph. 2: 18, - into his love; finds out that he is love, as
    having a design, a purpose of love, a good pleasure towards us
    from eternity, - a delight, a complacency, a good-will in
    Christ, - all cause of anger and aversation being taken away.
    The soul being thus, by faith through Christ, and by him,
    brought into the bosom of God, into a comfortable persuasion
    and spiritual perception and sense of his love, there reposes
    and rests itself. And this is the first thing the saints do,
    in their communion with the Father; of the due improvement
    whereof, more afterward.
        (2.) For that suitable return which is required, this also
    (in a main part of it, beyond which I shall not now extend it)
    consisteth in love. God loves, that he may be beloved. When he
    comes to command the return of his received love, to complete
    communion with him, he says, "My son, give me thine heart,"
    Prov. 23: 26, - thy affections, thy love. "Thou shalt love the
    Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
    with all thy strength, and with all thy mind," Luke 10: 27;
    this is the return that he demandeth. When the soul sees God,
    in his dispensation of love, to be love, to be infinitely
    lovely and loving, rests upon and delights in him as such,
    then has it communion with him in love. This is love, that God
    loves us first, and then we love him again. I shall not now go
    forth into a description of divine love. Generally, love is an
    affection of union and nearness, with complacency therein. So
    long as the Father is looked on under any other apprehension,
    but only as acting love upon the soul, it breeds in the soul a
    dread and aversation. Hence the flying and hiding of sinners,
    in the Scriptures. But when he who is the Father is considered
    as a father, acting love on the soul, thine raises it to love
    again. This is, in faith, the ground of all acceptable
    obedience, Deut. 5: 10; Exod. 20: 6; Deut. 10: 12, 11: 1, 13,
    13: 3.
        Thus is this whole business stated by the apostle, Eph. 1:
    4, "According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation
    of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before
    him in love." It begins in the love of God, and ends in our
    love to him. That is it which the eternal love of God aims at
    in us, and works us up unto. It is true, our universal
    obedience falls within the compass of our communion with God;
    but that is with him as God, our blessed sovereign, lawgiver,
    and rewarder: as he is the Father, our Father in Christ, as
    revealed unto us to be love, above and contrary to all the
    expectations of the natural man; so it is in love that we have
    this intercourse with him. Nor do I intend only that love
    which is as the life and form of all moral obedience; but a
    peculiar delight and acquiescing in the Father, revealed
    effectually as love unto the soul.
        That this communion with the Father in love may be made
    the more clear and evident, I shall show two things: - [1.]
    Wherein this love of God unto us and our love to him do agree,
    as to some manner of analogy and likeness. [2.] Wherein they
    differ; which will farther discover the nature of each of
        [1.] They agree in two things: -
        1st. That they' are each a love of rest and complacency.
        (1st.) The love of God is so. Zeph. 3: 17, "The LORD thy
    God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will
    rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love; he will
    joy over thee with singing." Both these things are here
    assigned unto God in his love, - REST and DELIGHT. The words
    are, "yacharish be'ahavato" - "He shall be silent because of
    his love." To rest with contentment is expressed by being
    silent; that is, without repining, without complaint. This God
    does upon the account of his own love, so full, so every way
    complete and absolute, that it will not allow him to complain
    of any thing in them whom he loves, but he is silent on the
    account thereof Or, "Rest in his love;" that is, he will not
    remove it, - he will not seek farther for another object. It
    shall make its abode upon the soul where it is once fixed, for
    ever. And COMPLACENCY or DELIGHT: "He rejoiceth with singing;"
    as one that is fully satisfied in that object he has fixed his
    love on. Here are two words used to express the delight and
    joy that God has in his love, - "yasis" and "yagil". The first
    denotes the inward affection of the mind, joy of heart; and to
    set out the intenseness hereof, it is said he shall do it
    "besimchah", - in gladness, or with joy. To have joy of heart
    in gladness, is the highest expression of delight in love. The
    latter word denotes not the inward affection, but the outwards
    demonstration of it: "agalliain" seems to be formed of it. It
    is to exult in outward demonstration of internal delight and
    joy; - " Tripudiare," to leap, as men overcome with some
    joyful surprisal. And therefore God is said to do this
    "berinnah" - with a joyful sound, or singing. To rejoice with
    gladness of heart, to exult with singing and praise, argues
    the greatest delight and complacency possible. When he would
    express the contrary of this love, he says "ouk eudokese", -
    "he was not well pleased," 1 Cor. 10: 5; he fixed not his
    delight nor rest on them. And, "If any man draw back, the
    Lord's soul has no pleasure in him," Heb. 10: 38; Jer. 22: 28;
    Hos. 8: 8; Mal. 1: 10. He takes pleasure in those that abide
    with him. He sings to his church, "A vineyard of red wine: I
    the LORD do keep it," Isa. 27: 2, 3; Ps. 147: 11, 149: 4.
    There is rest and complacency in his love. There is in the
    Hebrew but a metathesis of a letter between the word that
    signifies a love of will and desire ("'ahav" is so to love),
    and that which denotes a love of rest and acquiescence (which
    is, "'avah"); and both are applied to God. He wills good to
    us, that he may rest in that will. Some say, "agapain", "to
    love," is from "agan potestai", perfectly to acquiesce in the
    thing loved. And when God calls his Son "agapeton", "beloved,"
    Matt. 3: 17, he adds, as an exposition of it, "en hoi
    eudokesa", "in whom I rest well pleased."
        (2dly.) The return that the saints make unto him, to
    complete communion with him herein, holds some analogy with
    his love in this; for it is a love also of rest and delight.
    "Return unto thy rest, my soul," says David, Ps. 116: 7. He
    makes God his rest; that is, he in whom his soul does rest,
    without seeking farther for a more suitable and desirable
    object. "Whom have I," saith he, "in heaven but thee and there
    is none upon earth that I desire beside thee," Ps. 73:25. Thus
    the soul gathers itself from all its wanderings, from all
    other beloveds, to rest in God alone, - to satiate and content
    itself in him; choosing the Father for his present and eternal
    rest. And this also with delight. "Thy loving-kindness," saith
    the psalmist, "is better than life; therefore will I praise
    thee," Ps. 63: 3. "Than life," "michayim", - before lives. I
    will not deny but life in a single consideration sometimes is
    so expressed, but always emphatically; so that the whole life,
    with all the concernments of it, which may render it
    considerable, are thereby intended. Austin, on this place,
    reading it "super vitas," extends it to the several courses of
    life that men engage themselves in. Life, in the whole
    continuance of it, with all its advantages whatever, is at
    least intended. Supposing himself in the jaws of death,
    rolling into the grave through innumerable troubles, yet he
    found more sweetness in God than in a long life, under its
    best and most noble considerations, attended with all
    enjoyments that make it pleasant and comfortable. From both
    these is that of the church, in Hos. 14: 3, "Asshur shall not
    save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any
    more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee
    the fatherless findeth mercy". They reject the most goodly
    appearances of rest and contentment, to make up all in God, on
    whom they cast themselves, as otherwise helpless orphans.
        2dly. The mutual love of God and the saints agrees in
    this, - that the way of communicating the issues and fruits of
    these loves is only in Christ. The Father communicates no
    issue of his love unto us but through Christ; and we make no
    return of love unto him but through Christ. He is the treasury
    wherein the Father disposeth all the riches of his grace,
    taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is
    the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we
    return unto the Father. Thence he is first, and by way of
    eminency, said to love the Son; not only as his eternal Son, -
    as he was the delight of his soul before the foundation of the
    world, Prov. 8: 30, - but also as our mediator, and the means
    of conveying his love to us, Matt. 3: 17; John 3: 35, 5: 20,
    10: 17, 15: 9, 17: 24. And we are said through him to believe
    in and to have access to God.
         (1st.) The Father loves us, and "chose us before the
    foundation of the world;" but in the pursuit of that love, he
    "blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
    in Christ," Eph. 1: 3, 4. From his love, he sheds or pours out
    the Holy Spirit richly upon us, through Jesus Christ our
    Saviour, Tit. 3: 6. In the pouring out of his love, there is
    not one drop falls besides the Lord Christ. The holy anointing
    oil was all poured on the head of Aaron, Ps. 133: 2; and
    thence went down to the skirts of his clothing. Love is first
    poured out on Christ; and from him it drops as the dew of
    Herman upon the souls of his saints. The Father will have him
    to have "in all things the pre- eminence," Col. 1: 18; "it
    pleased him that in him all fulness should dwell," verse 19;
    that "of his fulness we might receive, and grace for grace,"
    John 1: 16. Though the love of the Father's purpose and good
    pleasure have its rise and foundation in his mere grace and
    will, yet the design of its accomplishment is only in Christ.
    All the fruits of it are first given to him; and it is in him
    only that they are dispensed to us. So that though the saints
    may, nay, do, see an infinite ocean of love unto them in the
    bosom of the Father, yet they are not to look for one drop
    from him but what comes through Christ. He is the only means
    of communications. Love in the Father is like honey in the
    flower; - it must be in the comb before it be for our use.
    Christ must extract and prepare this honey for us. He draws
    this water from the fountain through union and dispensation of
    fulness; - we by faith, from the wells of salvation that are
    in him. This was in part before discovered.
        (2dly.) Our returns are all in him, and by him also. And
    well is it with us that it is so. What lame and blind
    sacrifices should we otherwise present unto God! He bears the
    iniquity of our offerings, and he adds incense unto our
    prayers. Our love is fixed on the Father; but it is conveyed
    to him through the Son of his love. He is the only way for our
    graces as well as our persons to go unto God; through him
    passeth all our desire, our delight, our complacency, our
    obedience. Of which more afterward.
        Now, in these two things there is some resemblance between
    that mutual love of the Father and the saints wherein they
    hold communion.
        [2.] There are sundry things wherein they differ: -
        1st. The love of God is a love of bounty; our love unto
    him is a love of duty.
        (1st.) The love of the Father is a love of bounty, - a
    descending love; such a love as carries him out to do good
    things to us, great things for us. His love lies at the bottom
    of all dispensations towards us; and we scarce anywhere find
    any mention of it, but it is held out as the cause and
    fountain of some free gift flowing from it. He loves us, and
    sends his Son to die for us; - he loves us, and blesseth us
    with all spiritual blessings. Loving is choosing, Rom. 9: 11,
    12. He loves us and chastiseth us. [It is] a love like that of
    the heavens to the earth, when, being full of rain, they pour
    forth showers to make it fruitful; as the sea communicates its
    waters to the rivers by the way of bounty, out of its own
    fulness, - they return unto it only what they receive from it.
    It is the love of a spring, of a fountain, - always
    communicating; - a love from whence proceeds every thing that
    is lovely in its object. It infuseth into, and creates
    goodness in, the persons beloved. And this answers the
    description of love given by the philosopher. "To love," saith
    he, "esti boulestai tini ha oietai agata, kai kata dunamin
    praktikon einai touton." He that loves works out good to them
    he loveth, as he is able. God's power and will are
    commensurate; - what he willeth he worketh.
        (2dly.) Our love unto God is a love of duty, the love of a
    child. His love descends upon us in bounty and fruitfulness;
    our love ascends unto him in duty and thankfulness. He adds to
    us by his love; we nothing to him by ours. Our goodness
    extends not unto him. Though our love be fixed on him
    immediately, yet no fruit of our love reacheth him
    immediately; though he requires our love, he is not benefited
    by it, Job 35: 5-8, Rom. 11: 35, Job 22: 2, 3. It is indeed
    made up of these four things: - 1. Rest; 2. Delight; 3.
    Reverence; 4. Obedience. By these do we hold communion with
    the Father in his love. Hence God calls that love which is due
    to him as a father, "honour," Mal. 1: 6, "If I be a father,
    where is mine honour?" It is a deserved act of duty.
        2dly. They differ in this: - The love of the Father unto
    us is an antecedent love; our love unto him is a consequent
        (1st.) The love of the Father unto us is an antecedent
    love, and that in two respects: -
        [1st.] It is antecedent in respect of our love, 1 John 4:
    10, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved
    us." His love goes before ours. The father loves the child,
    when the child knows not the father, much less loves him. Yea,
    we are by nature "Teostugeis", Rom. 1: 30, - haters of God. He
    is in his own nature "filantropos", - a lover of men; and
    surely all mutual love between him and us must begin on his
        [2dly.] In respect of all other causes of love whatever.
    It goes not only before our love, but also any thing in us
    that is lovely. Rom. 5: 8, "God commendeth his love towards
    us, in that whilst we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
    Not only his love, but the eminent fruit thereof, is made out
    towards us as sinners. Sin holds out all of unloveliness and
    undesirableness that can be in a creature. The very mention of
    that removes all causes, all moving occasions of love
    whatever. Yet, as such, have we the commendation of the
    Father's love unto us, by a most signal testimony. Not only
    when we have done no good, but when we are in our blood, does
    he love us; - not because we are better than others, but
    because himself is infinitely good. His kindness appears when
    we are foolish and disobedient. Hence he is said to "love the
    world;" that is, those who have nothing but what is in and of
    the world, whose whole [portion] lies in evil.
        (2dly.) Our love is consequential in both these regards: -
        [1st.] In respect of the love of God. Never did creature
    turn his affections towards God, if the heart of God were not
    first set upon him.
        [2dly.] In respect of sufficient causes of love. God must
    be revealed unto us as lovely and desirable, as a fit and
    suitable object unto the soul to set up its rest upon, before
    we can bear any love unto him. The saints (in this sense) do
    not love God for nothing, but for that excellency, loveliness,
    and desirableness that is in him. As the psalmist says, in one
    particular, Ps. 116: 1, "I love the LORD, BECAUSE!" so may we
    in general; we love the Lord, BECAUSE! Or, as David in another
    case, "What have I now done? is there not a cause?" If any man
    inquire about our love to God, we may say, "What have we now
    done? is there not a cause?"
        3dly. They differ in this also: - The love of God is like
    himself, - equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or
    diminution; our love is like ourselves, - unequal, increasing,
    waning, growing, declining. His, like the sun, always the same
    in its light, though a cloud may sometimes interpose; ours, as
    the moon, has its enlargements and straitenings.
        (1st.) The love of the Father is equal, etc.; whom he
    loves, he loves unto the end, and he loves them always alike.
    "The Strength of Israel is not a man, that he should repent."
    On whom he fixes his love, it is immutable; it does not grow
    to eternity, it is not diminished at any time. It is an
    eternal love, that had no beginning, that shall have no
    ending; that cannot be heightened by any act of ours, that
    cannot be lessened by any thing in us. I say, in itself it is
    thus; otherwise, in a twofold regard, it may admit of change:
        [1st.] In respect of its fruits. It is, as I said, a
    fruitful love, a love of bounty. In reference unto those
    fruits, it may sometimes be greater, sometimes less; its
    communications are various. Who among the saints finds it not
    [so]? What life, what light, what strength, sometimes! and
    again, how dead, how dark, how weak! as God is pleased to let
    out or to restrain the fruits of his love. All the graces of
    the Spirit in us, all sanctified enjoyments whatever, are
    fruits of his love. How variously these are dispensed, how
    differently at sundry seasons to the same persons, experience
    will abundantly testify.
        [2dly.] In respect of its discoveries and manifestations.
    He "sheds abroad his love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost,"
    Rom. 5: 5, - gives us a sense of it, manifests it unto us.
    Now, this is various and changeable, sometimes more, sometimes
    less; now he shines, anon hides his face, as it may be for our
    profit. Our Father will not always chide, lest we be cast
    down; he does not always smile, lest we be full and neglect
    him: but yet, still his love in itself is the same. When for a
    little moment he hides his face, yet he gathers us with
    everlasting kindness.
        Objection. But you will say, "This comes nigh to that
    blasphemy, that God loves his people in their sinning as well
    as in their strictest obedience; and, if so, who will care to
    serve him more, or to walk with him unto well-pleasing?"
        Answer. There are few truths of Christ which, from some or
    other, have not received like entertainment with this. Terms
    and appellations are at the will of every imposer; things are
    not at all varied by them. The love of God in itself is the
    eternal purpose and act of his will. This is no more
    changeable than God himself: if it were, no flesh could be
    saved; but its changeth not, and we are not consumed. What
    then? loves he his people in their sinning? Yes; his people, -
    not their sinning. Alters he not his love towards them? Not
    the purpose of his will, but the dispensations of his grace.
    He rebukes them, he chastens them, he hides his face from
    them, he smites them, he fills them with a sense of [his]
    indignation; but woe, woe would it be to us, should he change
    in his love, or take away his kindness from us! Those very
    things which seem to be demonstrations of the change of his
    affections towards his, do as clearly proceed from love as
    those which seem to be the most genuine issues thereof. "But
    will not this encourage to sin?" He never tasted of the love
    of God that can serious]y make this objection. The doctrine of
    grace may be turned into wantonness; the principle cannot. I
    shall not wrong the saints by giving another answer to this
    objection: Detestation of sin in any may well consist with the
    acceptation of their persons, and their designation to life
        But now our love to God is ebbing and flowing, waning and
    increasing. We lose our first love, and we grow again in love;
    - scarce a day at a stand. What poor creatures are we! How
    unlike the Lord and his love! "Unstable as water, we cannot
    excel." Now it is, "Though all men forsake thee, I will not;"
    anon, "I know not the man." One day, "I shall never be moved,
    my hill is so strong;" the next, "All men are liars, I shall
    perish." When ever was the time, where ever was the place,
    that our love was one day equal towards God?
        And thus, these agreements and discrepancies do farther
    describe that mutual love of the Father and the saints,
    wherein they hold communion. Other instances as to the person
    of the Father I shall not give, but endeavour to make some
    improvement of this in the next chapter.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 5...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-04.txt