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 7, the author identifies the vanity of excuses that are made for the want of love:
- "Some say they are bound to contend earnestly for the faith, and therefore mildness and love in this case are but urged unseasonably," (p. 89).
- "Others say they will not halt between two opinions," (p. 89).
- "Others plead that they are for a thorough reformation, and the purging of all impurities out of the Church of Christ; and they cannot endure such as do things by halves only," (p. 90-91).
- "Others say, 'What, shall we love a company of apostates, who are for returning to the onions and garlic of Egypt, and will receive the mark of the Beast itself?'" (p. 91).
- "Others say that many who pretend to religion and conscience are schismatic and rebellious, and loving and countenancing them only hardens and encourages them in their pernicious ways, to the prejudice both of Church and state," (p. 92).
Finally, the author gives five uses of love for application:
- of information -- love is the more excellent way (p. 94)
- of caution -- to what is contrary to love, to sinful self-love, to scandalizing anyone, and to the unbridled tongue (pp. 95-103)
- of exhortation -- to abound in love because God is love, Christ the Head is full of love, love is preferred before faith and hope, love is a debt, and greater love is more universal (pp. 103-105).
- of direction -- observe your own defects in love, consider how much Christ is concerned for His members, search the Scriptures for true knowledge, be humble and self-denying, and mark those who cause division and avoid them (pp. 105-106).
- of consolation -- the Church of Christ shall be upheld, the love of Christ towards His Church is unchangeable, and heaven will have no want of love (p. 107-108).
This concludes my chapter-by-chapter overview of Mr. Vincent's A Discourse Concerning Love. I pray that you find it edifying to your soul and helpful to your walk with Christ.
"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).