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 6, the author demonstrates how love is from the Church's edification. "A Christian edifies himself and others by love," (p. 75). First, he shows how a Christian loves himself:
- "The more he loves, there is the great light in him," (p. 75).
- "The more a Christian loves, there is the more of God's image in him," (p. 75).
- "The more a Christian loves, the more firm is his evidence that he is indeed a Christian," (p. 76).
Next, Mr. Vincent shows that a Christian also loves others for the Church's edification:
- "Love makes us concerned for the whole Church of Christ, and enlarged in our supplications and intercessions for it," (p. 76).
- "Love strongly inclines us unto peaceableness, and what is for the Church's peace is for her edification," (p. 77).
- "Love makes Christians condescend and yield one to another, that hereby edification may be promoted," (p. 78).
- "Love makes Christians highly esteem the pastors and builders of the Church for their work's sake; and hereby edification is promoted," (p. 79).
- "Love will constrain the pastors and builders of the Church to mind their work to purpose," (p. 80).
Finally, he looks at 1 Cor. 13:4-7 to show how evident love is for edification:
- "Love suffers long and is kind," (p. 81).
- "Love envies not," (p. 82).
- "Love vaunteth not itself, neither is it puffed up," (p. 83).
- "Love does not behave itself unseemly," (p. 83).
- "Love seeks not her own, and consequently inclines us to edify and seek the good of others," (p. 84).
- "Love is not easily provoked," (p. 85).
- "Love thinks no evil," (p. 85).
- "Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth," (p. 86).
- "Love is for the Church's edification," (p. 87).
- "Love edifies, for it bears and endures all things," (p. 88).
Mr. Vincent concludes with the following plea to the Church:
"O Love! How much want is there of you in the Church of Christ! And how much does the Church feel for this want! It groans, it languishes, it dies daily because of your absence. Return, O Love, return! Repair breaches, restore paths to dwell in, edify the old ways and places, and raise up the foundations of many generations, for after all the most politic contrivances, you will be found the master-builder," (p. 88).
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent," (Rev. 2:4-5).