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III. ON PURE LOVE.

The Lord hath made all things for Himself (Prov. xvi. 4), says the Scripture; everything belongs to Him, and He will never release his right to anything. Free and intelligent creatures are his as much as those which are otherwise. He refers every unintelligent thing totally and absolutely to Himself, and He desires that his intelligent creatures should voluntarily make the same disposition of themselves. It is true that He desires our happiness, but that is neither the chief end of his work, nor an end to be compared with that of his glory. It is for his glory only that He wills our happiness; the latter is a subordinate consideration, which He refers to the final and essential end of his glory.

That we may enter into his designs in this respect, we must prefer God before ourselves, and endeavor to will our own happiness for his glory; in any other case, we invert the order of things. And we must not desire his glory on account of our own salvation, but, on the other hand, the desire for his glory should impel us to seek our own happiness as a thing which He has been pleased to make a part of his glory. It is true that all holy souls are not capable of exercising this explicit preference for God over themselves, but there must at least be an implicit preference; the former, which is more perfect, is reserved for those whom God has endowed with light and strength to prefer Him to themselves, to such a degree as to desire their own happiness simply because it adds to his glory.

Men have a great repugnance to this truth, and consider it to be a very hard saying, because they are lovers of self from self-interest. They understand, in a general and superficial way, that they must love God more than all his creatures, but they have no conception of loving God more than themselves, and loving themselves only for Him. They can utter these great words without difficulty, because they do not enter into their meaning, but they shudder when it is explained to them, that God and his glory are to be preferred before ourselves and everything else to such a degree that we must love his glory more than our own happiness, and must refer the latter to the former, as a subordinate means to an end.

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