Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taste the Pleasant Fruits of God's Love

A selection from a letter by the Puritan preacher, Joseph Alleine, to his congregation from prison. He was ejected from the Church of England for nonconformity in 1662 and was imprisoned. Alleine wrote letters to his church while incarcerated. He highlights the theme of love in this letter. He writes of their love for God and says, "How little, how very little, would our love be, if he had it all… Oh that we might love him with our little all!" But he writes mainly of God's love for them. To that we now turn in this letter written October 28, 1663.

This is a love worthy of your ambition, worthy of your adoration and admiration. This is the womb that bore you from eternity, and out of which have burst forth all the mercies, spiritual and temporal, that you enjoy. This was the love that chose you; when less offenders, and those that being converted might have been a hundred-fold more serviceable to their Maker's glory, are left to perish in their sins. May your souls be filled with the sense of this love!

But it may be you will say, "How shall I know if I am an object of electing love?" Lest an unbelieving thought should damp your joy, know, in short, that if you have chosen God, he hath certainly chosen you. Have you taken him for your blessedness? And do you more highly prize, and more diligently seek after conformity to him, and the fruition of him than any, than all the goods of this world. If so, then away with doubts; for you could not have loved, and have chosen him, unless he had loved you first. Now may my beloved dwell continually in the thoughts, the views, the tastes of this love. Get you down under its shadows, and taste its pleasant fruits. Oh the provisions that love hath made for you, before the foundation of the world!

Life and Letters of Joseph Alleine, by Rev. Richard Baxter, Theodosia Alleine, and others, with a new introduction by Joel R. Beeke and Herb Samworth, Reformation Heritage Books, reprinted in 2003, pp. 168-69.

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