July 20, 2009

"Not so much an attribute as it is His very essence."

"God is love." John 4:16

You have thought of Him, perhaps, as the God of holiness, as the God of justice, as the God of power, as the God of judgment; come now and meditate upon Him as the God of love; and while you thus muse on this marvelous and soul-subduing truth, may the fire of a responsive affection kindle in your heart, and your tongue break forth into thanksgiving and praise.God is essentially the God of love.

The words which suggest our present meditation emphatically declare this: "God is love." This is, perhaps, the most sublime sentence of the Bible. It is a sentence which only could arise from a divine mind. It is at once simple and grand, intelligible and affecting. It involves a truth in which an angel's mind might expatiate, and which a child's can grasp. It reaches to the highest, and descends to the lowest intellect. That the abstract term love, and not the concrete term loving, should be employed, expresses something beyond the ordinary meaning of the word. And what is the truth thus embodied? Just the one we are now attempting to vindicate- that God is essential love. Love is not so much an attribute of God as it is His very essence. It is not so much a moral perfection of His being as it is His being itself. He would not be God were He not love. To deny that He is love would be to deny that He is God. To unrobe Him of this essential quality of His nature would be tantamount to the unrobing Him of His essential Godhead. He would not be God were He not love! As I have remarked, this is the central perfection, around which, as satellites, all the others revolve, and from which, as harmonized in the salvation of man, they derive their position and luster. Thus, for example omnipotence is the power of love; omniscience is the eye of love; omnipresence is the atmosphere of love; holiness is the purity of love; justice is the fire of love; and thus might we travel the circle of the Divine perfections, and each one would be found to be but another form of the essential perfection of love

In the words, "God is love," we have a perfect portrait of the eternal and incomprehensible Jehovah, drawn by His own unerring hand.

Octavious Winslow

"The mode of expression here adopted differs materially from that usually employed by the inspired writers in speaking of the Divine perfections. They say, God is merciful, God is just, God is holy; but never do they say, God is mercy, God is justice, God is holiness. In this instance, on the contrary, the apostle, instead of saying, God is loving, or good, or kind, says 'God is love,' love itself.

By this expression, we must understand that God is all pure, unmixed love, and that the other moral perfections are so many modifications of this love. Thus, His justice, His mercy, His truth, His faithfulness, are but so many different names of His love or goodness. As the light which proceeds from the sun may easily be separated into many different colors, so the holy love of God, which is the light and glory of His nature, may be separated into a variety of moral attributes and perfections. But, though separated, they are still love. His whole nature and essence is love. His will, His works, His words, are love; He is nothing, and can do nothing but love." (Payson)

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