A man's spiritual foes are chiefly of his own natural heart. He needs a power to bind these enemies and cast them out before he can have perfect peace. This power is love, not merely the natural affection for kindred and friends, but that supernatural affection "shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit," causing our whole being to move God-ward and man-ward, because man wears the image of God.
The Holy Spirit must not be viewed as a material agent infusing a subtle, imponderable fluid into man's body. He is God's messenger through whom he communicates the good news that his anger for our sins is turned away from us, and that he now loves us because of our faith in his Son. This trust in Christ has caused a revolution in us, turning us away from our sins and bringing us into the sphere of his complacent love. This good news from God that he loves me, even me, awakens responsive love in me, a new affection averse to every impulse in me which is hostile to God. This is the philosophy of the expulsive power of love.
Do I need any such message direct from God? Can I not infer from a study of my own mental exercises, and a comparison with the description of God's friends in his written Word, that God loves me? Let us see. The same Word of God declares that he is angry with the wicked every day. My conscience testifies that I am wicked. Before I can have perfect deliverance from a sense of guilt and dread of punishment I must know, beyond a peradventure, by an assurance excluding doubt, that I have been taken out of the company on whom God frowns, and have been put into company basking in his smile. Inference is not sufficient. I must have an assurance from the mouth of God himself. This alone allays fear and opens the fountain of the purest joy. This message instantaneously communicated is in beautiful harmony with our Protestant doctrine of justification by faith, a momentary act taking place in the mind of the Moral Governor in heaven. The witness of the spirit is the link between the pardoning God and the pardoned sinner. The news of God's benefaction awakens love towards the Benefactor. Hence this love divine arises in us in perfect harmony with the structure and laws of the human mind. Love is the essence of Christianity and its central power which is moving it through the world, and which will ultimately draw all nations to God:
"Sink downs ye separating hills,
Let sin and death remove;
'Tis love that drives my chariot wheels,
And death must yield to love."
The more love the more power. Perfect love brings the maximum of spiritual power to the individual and to the church.
When churches decline in love they lose their power to attract and to convert. Then it is pitiable to see the ineffectual substitutes for the lost power. To hold the young people who belong to them by inheritance they resort to entertainments, but these do not transform and fill with divine love. They are soon disgusted, and fall away from attending those amusements, which are discovered to be only baits to draw them unwilling into the net of the church when all their inclinations are to the world and its more attractive entertainments, — the pleasures of the dance, the card-table, and the theater. This is a most woeful mistake made by many modern churches. It must be rectified or those churches will become extinct. When does a church die? When it loses its converting power, just as a family becomes extinct when its power of reproduction is lost. You will find in our great libraries A History of Burke's Extinct Baronetcies of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Some centuries hence there may be found in our libraries a History of the extinct denominations of the United States, the Quakers, Swedenborgians, the Unitarians, the Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists. They all died of one disease, — heart-failure.
— edited from Jesus Exultant Chapter 11.