I happen to be reading Thomas Watson on the Beatitudes today, and came across this passage on true love for Christ. Thinking for other reasons about the nature of human love, an imperfect reflection of ‘Triune God love,’ and the fact that our marriages are to image the relationship between Christ and His Church-Bride…I thought I would put the passage up on the blog.
I don’t have time to connect all the dots. Suffice it to say that our human love in our marriages ought to approach what Watson describes, if we want to ‘live the truth’…
But all pretend love to Christ. How shall we know that we have such a love to him, as will make us suffer for him?
I answer: True love is a love of friendship, which is genuine and sincere—when we love Christ for himself. There is a mercenary and spurious love, when we love divine objects for something else. A man may love the queen of truth for the jewel at her ear—because she brings preferment. A man may love Christ for his ‘head of gold’ (Canticles 5:11), because he enriches with glory. But true love is when we love Christ for his loveliness, namely, that infinite and superlative beauty which shines in him, as Augustine says, ‘We love Jesus on account of Jesus’; that is, as a man loves sweet wine for itself.
True love is a love of desire—when we desire to be united to Christ as the fountain of happiness. Love desires union. The one who sincerely loves Christ, desires death because death ushers into full union and communion with Christ. ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!’ (Philippians 1:23). Death slips one knot and ties another.
True love is a love of benevolence—when so far as we are able, we endeavor to lift up Christ’s name in the world. As the wise men brought him ‘gold and frankincense’ (Matthew 2:11), so we bring him our tribute of service and are willing that he should rise—though it is by our fall. In short, that love which is kindled from heaven makes us give Christ the pre-eminence of our affection. ‘I would give you spiced wine to drink—my sweet pomegranate wine’ (Canticles 8:2). If the spouse has a cup which is more juicy and spiced—Christ shall drink of that! Indeed we can never love Christ too much. We may love gold in excess—but not Christ. The angels do not love Christ comparable to his worth. Now when love is boiled up to this height, it will enable us to suffer. ‘Love is as strong as death’. The martyrs first burned in love—and then in fire!