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Treatise on the Love of God
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CHAPTER II.

OF THE CONFORMITY OF SUBMISSION WHICH PROCEEDS FROM THE LOVE OF BENEVOLENCE.

Complacency then draws into us the traits of the divine perfections according as we are capable of receiving them, as the mirror receives the sun's image, not according to the excellence and amplitude of that great and admirable luminary, but in proportion to the capacity and measure of its glass: so that we thus become conformed to God.

But besides this the love of benevolence brings us to this holy conformity by another way. The love of complacency draws God into our hearts, but the love of benevolence casts our hearts into God, and consequently all our actions and affections, most lovingly dedicating and consecrating them unto him: for benevolence desires to God all the honour, all the glory, and all the acknowledgment which it is possible to give him, as a certain exterior good which is due to his goodness.

Now this desire is practised according to the complacency which we take in God, as follows. We have had an extreme complacency in perceiving that God is sovereignly good, and therefore by the love of benevolence we desire that all the loves which we can possibly imagine be employed to love this goodness properly. We have taken delight in the sovereign excellency of God's perfection, and thereupon we desire that he be sovereignly loved, honoured and adored. We have rejoiced to consider how God is not only the first beginning but also the last end, author, preserver, and Lord of all things, for which reason we desire that all things be subject to him by a sovereign obedience. We see God's will sovereignly perfect, right, just and equitable; and upon this consideration our desire is that it be the rule and sovereign law of all things, and that it be observed, kept and obeyed by all other wills.

But note, Theotimus, that I treat not here of the obedience due unto God as he is our Lord and Master, our Father and Benefactor, for this kind of obedience belongs to the virtue of justice, not to love. No, it is not this I speak of at present, for though there were no hell to punish the rebellious, nor heaven to reward the good, and though we had no kind of obligation or duty to God (be this said by imagination of a thing impossible and scarce imaginable), yet would the love of benevolence move us to render all obedience and submission to God by election and inclination, yea by a sweet violence of love, in consideration of the sovereign goodness, justice and rectitude of his divine will.

Do not we see, Theotimus, that a maiden by a free choice, which proceeds from the love of benevolence, subjects herself to her husband, to whom otherwise she owed no duty; or that a gentleman submits himself to a foreign prince's command, or, perhaps, gives up his will into the hands of the superior of some religious order which he may join? Even so is our heart conformed to God's, when by holy benevolence we throw all our affections into the hands of the divine will, to be turned and directed as it chooses, to be moulded and formed to its good liking. And in this point consists the profoundest obedience of love, which has no need to be spurred by menaces or rewards, nor by any law or any commandment; for it foreruns all this, submitting itself to God solely for the most perfect goodness which is in God, whereby he deserves that all wills should be obedient, subject and submissive to him, conforming and uniting themselves for ever, in everything, and everywhere, to his divine intentions.

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