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Chapter XXXII.

Love To God, The Source Of All That Is Good; Self-Love, The Source Of All Evil.

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.Hos. 13:9.

Love is the efficient cause of all things; and as there are two sorts of love, the love of God and the love of ourselves, and as these are directly opposite to each other, it follows, that the one must be extremely good, and the other extremely evil. But forasmuch as it is plain that the preference is to be given to divine love, it follows, that this alone is good. For the love of God is a divine seed in us, from which no evil, but all good things proceed. This love unites itself to its object, which is God, its chief, its only Good, in whom it rests, triumphs, and rejoices, even as God does in it. For joy and pleasure arise from love, as we learn in Psalm 18:1, 2. This spreads itself over all the world, and, like God, its author and object, communicates and bestows itself upon every worthy receiver. And truly, as love finds all things in God, and is happy in the enjoyment of him, it stands in need of no creature.

2. But as from divine love proceeds nothing but good, so from self-love proceeds nothing but evil. This is the root of all the iniquity, sin, blindness, ignorance, and misery, of which human nature is capable. By this a man makes his own will his god; and, as the true God is the fountain of all good, so this false god, this vain idol, our self-will, is the fountain of all evil. Moreover, as the creatures which we are so fond of, are made out of nothing, and are so weak and uncertain that they are always tending to their original state, and, in the meantime, are nothing but poverty, misery, and sorrow; it follows, that as man is changed into the nature of the thing which he loves, he must likewise partake of their inconstancy, their poverty, and misery, and can have no rest in the enjoyment of them. If the creature is vanity and sorrow, the heart that cleaves to the creature enters into its vanity, and must be partaker of its sorrow.

3. Thus self-love, when it rules and is uppermost in men, makes them enemies to God, fills them with all iniquity, and brings them into subjection to the creatures. As the love of God dilates and enlarges the soul, so the love of ourselves contracts and straitens it, making it unjust, corrupt, proud, and covetous. As the love of God makes us quiet, easy, peaceable, and benevolent; so the love of ourselves makes us unquiet, turbulent, and ill-natured. As the love of God reinstates us in the liberty of the sons of God; so self-love makes us slaves to the creatures. The one gives us firmness and constancy of mind and will; the other makes us inconstant and changeable. The one makes a man courteous, courageous, generous, and obliging; the other makes him sour, timorous, mean, and an enemy to everybody but himself.

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