The Perfume of Love
The Puritans get a bad rap these days, often depicted as a stern, joyless, loveless lot. By and large this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only did they take great joy in the things of God, but also in the gifts given to them in this world. One of which was love. The Puritans spilt much ink on this concern: Love God,; love your neighbor; love those in the church; love your family (with love of spouse being the subject of many a passionate letter).
Thomas Watson (c. 1620—1686), Puritan preacher and author, reminds us that we must love “cordially and fervently” in his very insightful exegesis of 1 Peter 1:22: See that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.
The Holy Scripture makes the love of the brethren the surest note of a man who shall go to heaven, 1 John 3:14. Christ and His Apostles beat much upon this string of love—as if this made the sweetest music and harmony in true religion. The consideration of this has put me upon this subject.
All the graces have their beauty—but there are some that more adorn and set off a Christian in the eye of the world, such as humility and love. These two graces, like precious diamonds, cast a sparkling luster upon religion. I have designed to speak of the last of these at this time, "See that you love one another with a pure heart fervently." Love is a grace always needful, therefore never out of season, though too much out of use. My text, like the River of Eden, parts itself into four heads:
- The command, "See that you love."
- The extent of this love, "One another."
- The manner of this love, "With a pure heart."
- The degree of this love, "Fervently."
Love purely; that is—opposed to hypocrisy. Love must be with the heart. It must not be a 'mere complement', which is like a painted fire. Pretended love is worse than hatred.
Love fervently; that is—opposed to neutrality. Love must flame forth. It must not be as the smoking flax—but as a burning lamp. The Hebrew word for love imports an ardent and zealous affection; no water must quench it.
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