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Book: The Spirit of Love by William Law

The Spirit of Love William Law



FRAGMENT

The Spirit of Love
Part the First
In a Letter to a Friend
by William Law, A.M.
My Dear Friend,

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[Love-1-1] You had no occasion to make any apology for the manner of your letter to me, for though you very well know that I have as utter an aversion to waste my time and thoughts in matters of theological debate as in any contentions merely of a worldly nature, as knowing that the former are generally as much, if not more, hurtful to the heart of man than the latter; yet as your objections rather tend to stir up the powers of love than the wrangle of a rational debate, so I consider them only as motives and occasions of edifying both you and myself with the truth, the power and divine blessedness of the spirit of love.
[Love-1-2] You say there is nothing in all my writings that has more affected you than that spirit of love that breathes in them, and that you wish for nothing so much as to have a living sensibility of the
power, life, and religion of love. But you have these two objections often rising in your mind: First, that this doctrine of pure and universal love may be too refined and imaginary, because you find that
however you like it, yet you cannot attain to it, or overcome all that in your nature which is contrary to it, do what you can; and so are only able to be an admirer of that love which you cannot lay hold of.
Secondly, because you find so much said in scripture of a righteousness and justice, a wrath and vengeance of God that must be atoned and satisfied, etc., that though you are in love with that description of the Deity which I have given, as a being that is all love, yet you have
some doubt whether the scripture will allow of it.
[Love-1-3] Thus stand your objections, which will fall into nothing as soon as you look at them from a right point of view, which will then be, as soon as you have found the true ground of the nature, power, and necessity of the blessed spirit of love.
[Love-1-4] Now the spirit of love has this original. God, as considered in himself in his holy being, before anything is brought forth by him or out of him, is only an eternal will to all goodness. This is the one eternal immutab le God, that from eternity to eternity changeth not, that can be neither more nor less nor anything else but an eternal will to all the goodness that is in himself, and can come from him. The creation of ever so many worlds or systems of creatures adds nothing to, nor takes anything from this immutable God. He always was and always will be the same immutable will to all goodness. So that as certainly as he is the creator, so certainly is he the blesser of every created thing, and can give nothing but blessing, goodness, and happiness from himself because he has in himself nothing else to give. It is much more possible for the sun to give forth darkness than for God to do, or be,
or give forth anything but blessing and goodness. Now this is the ground and original of the spirit of love in the creature; it is and must be a will to all goodness, and you have not the spirit of love till
you have this will to all goodness at all times and on all occasions.
You may indeed do many works of love and delight in them, especially at such times as they are not inconvenient to you, or contradictory to your state or temper or occurrences in life. But the spirit of love is not in you till it is the spirit of your life, till you live freely, willingly, and universally according to it. For every spirit acts withfreedom and universality according to what it is. It needs no command
to live its own life, or be what it is, no more than you need bid wrath be wrathful. And therefore when love is the spirit of your life, it will have the freedom and universality of a spirit; it will always live
and work in love, not because of this or that, here or there, but because the spirit of love can only love, wherever it is or goes or whatever is done to it. As the sparks know no motion but that of flying
upwards, whether it be in the darkness of night or in the light of day, so the spirit of love is always in the same course; it knows no difference of time, place, or persons, but whether it gives or forgives,
bears or forbears, it is equally doing its own delightful work, equally blessed from itself. For the spirit of love, wherever it is, is its own blessing and happiness because it is the truth and reality of God in the
soul, and therefore is in the same joy of life and is the same good to itself, everywhere and on every occasion.
[Love-1-5] Oh sir! Would you know the blessing of all blessings? It is this God of love dwelling in your soul and killing every root of bitterness which is the pain and torment of every earthly, selfish love.
For all wants are satisfied, all disorders of nature are removed, no life is any longer a burden, every day is a day of peace, everything you meet becomes a help to you because everything you see or do is all done in the sweet, gentle element of love. For as love has no by-ends, wills nothing but its own increase, so everything is as oil to its flame. It must have that which it wills and cannot be disappointed, because everything naturally helps it to live in its own way and to bring forth its own work. The spirit of love does not want to be rewarded, honored, or esteemed. Its only desire is to propagate itself and become the blessing and happiness of everything that wants it. And therefore it meets wrath and evil and hatred and opposition with the same one will as the light meets the darkness, only to overcome it with all its blessings. Did you want to avoid the wrath and ill will or to gain the favor of any persons, you might easily miss of your ends; but if you have no will but to all goodness, everything you meet, be it what it will, must be forced to be assistant to you. For the wrath of an enemy,
the treachery of a friend, and every other evil only helps the spirit of love to be more triumphant, to live its own life and find all its own blessings in a higher degree. Whether therefore you con sider perfec tion or happiness, it is all included in the spirit of love and must be so for this reason, because the infinitely perfect and happy God is mere love, an unchangeable will to all goodness; and therefore every creature must be corrupt and unhappy, so far as it is led by any other will than the one will to all goodness. Thus you see the ground, the nature, and perfection of the spirit of love. Let me now in a word or two show you the necessity of it. Now the necessity is absolute and unchangeable.
No creature can be a child of God but because the goodness of God is in it; nor can it have any union or communion with the goodness of the  Deity till its life is a spirit of love. This is the one only band of
union betwixt God and the creature. All besides this, or that is not this, call it by what name you will, is only so much error, fiction, impurity, and corruption got into the creature, and must of all necessity be entirely separated from it before it can have that purity and holiness which alone can see God or find the divine life. For as God is an immutable will to all goodness, so the divine will can unite or work with no creaturely will but that which willeth with him only that whi ch is good. Here the necessity is absolute; nothing will do instead of this will; all contrivances of holin ess, all forms of religious piety, signify nothing without this will to all goodness. For as the will to all goodness is the whole nature of God, so it must be the whole nature of every service or religion that can be acceptable to him. For nothing serves God or worships and adores him but that which wills and worketh with him. For God can delight in nothing but his own will and his own Spirit, because all goodness is included in it and can
be nowhere else. And therefore everything that followeth an own will or an own spirit forsaketh the one will to all goodness, and whilst it doth so hath no capacity for the light and Spirit of God. The necessity
therefore of the spirit of love is what God himself cannot dispense with in the creature, no more than he can deny himself or act contrary to his own holy being. But as it was his will to all goodness that brought forth angels and the spirits of men, so he can will nothing in their existence but that they should live and work and manifest that same spirit of love and goodness which brought them into being. Everything therefore but the will and life of goodness is an apostasy in the creature and is rebellion against the whole nature of God


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