I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent. This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications. In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."
Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1). The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
- "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
- "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
- "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
- "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 4, Mr. Vincent explains his fourth proposition that love is exceedingly for the Church's edification. First, he notes the four types of love: (1) Carnal and impure, (2) Natural love, natural affection, (3) Civil, and (4) A love which is spiritual (pp. 54-57). He then goes on to explain the nature of the love which is spiritual:
- "Love is a grace wrought by the God of all grace," (p. 57).
- "Love is in obedience to the divine command," (p. 57).
- "Love implies a mortification of contrary passion," (p. 58).
- "Love implies an inclination to union," (p. 58).
- "Love enlarges the heart and frees it from the bonds of selfishness, and makes us desire others' welfare as well as our own," (pp. 59-60).
- "Love is the fulfilling of the law, the doing of which is so much for our neighbor's benefit," (p. 60).
Finally, the author expounds on what it means to love your neighbor:
- "Love has a regard to the honor and authority of others," (p. 61).
- "Love has a regard to the lives of others," (p. 62).
- "Love will not violate others' chastity," (p. 62).
- "Love will not steal away the substance of another," (p. 63).
- "Love is very tender of others' names and reputations," (p. 64).
- "Love is contented with its own, and hinders us from coveting what belongs to another," (p. 65).
- "Love breeds sympathy when our fellow Christians are in misery," (p. 65).
- "Love makes us delight in the communion of the saints," (p. 66).
- "Love causes a joy in the good of others," (p. 67).
- "Love covers a multitude of sins and infirmities," (p. 67).
- "Love is projecting and designing the good of others," (p. 69).
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching," (Heb. 10:24-25).