Edward Payson Archive

Selected Thoughts

Duty of Loving God

We ought to love God because he has given us the power to love. He might have formed us gloomy, morose, misanthropic beings, destitute of all tile social affections; without the power of loving any object, and strangers to the happiness of being beloved. Should God withdraw into himself, not only all the amiable qualities which excite love, but the very power of loving, would vanish from the world, and we should not only, like the evil spirits, become perfectly hateful, but should, like them, hate one another.

Every object which can be presented to us has a claim on our affections corresponding to its character. If any object be admirable, it possesses a natural and inherent claim to our admiration; if it be venerable, it has a claim to our reverence; if it be terrible, it demands our fear; if it be beautiful and amiable, it claims and deserves our love. But God is perfectly and infinitely lovely; nay, he is excellence and loveliness itself. If you doubt this, ask those who can tell you. Ask Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father, and he will tell you that God is infinitely lovely. Ask the holy angels, who dwell in his immediate presence, and they will tell you that he is lovely beyond all that even angelic minds can conceive. Ask good men in all ages, and they will lament that they cannot tell you how amiable and excellent Jehovah is. Ask everything beautiful and amiable in the universe, and it will tell you that all its beauty is but a faint reflection of his. If all this does not satisfy you, ask the spirits of disobedience; and they, though filled with malice and rage against him, will tell, if you can constrain them to speak, that the Being they hate is lovely, and that it constitutes the essence of their misery that they can find no blemish in his character. But if God be thus infinitely lovely, we are under infinite obligations to love him; obligations from which he himself cannot release us but by altering his character, and ceasing to be lovely.

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