Henry Cotterill.

Revealed religion expounded by its relations to the moral being of God online

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God. And since love is the character of God,
it must also be the spiritual character of those
who are in fellowship with God. The old law
indeed taught this same truth in its own form ;
for the sum of all the commandments was, (our
Lord reminds us,) that we should love the Lord
our God with all our heart, and our neighbor as
ourselves. But the Gospel teaches the true ra-
tionale of this, and supplies the motive spiritual
power. The redemption of Christ being the
manifestation of love as the character of God,
by believing and confessing the love dius mani-
fested, we know and have spiritual fellowship
with divine love itself in its source and fount-
ain-head. St. John's argument, therefore, is in
the strictest sense logical ; it is a complete sum-
mary of the science of Christian theology in all
its main features. The very purpose of his


argument is to exhibit and prove in a rational
way the consistency of the whole scheme of
Christian faith and doctrine as a manifestation.
of the love of God. But to make for ourselves,
under the guidance of this spiritual teaching,
further use of this central principle of revelation,
and to enable us distinctly to exhibit Christianity
as not merely consistent with this truth as to the
Being of God, but as logically and indeed neces-
sarily related to it, so that we cannot conceive
the one without accepting the other, we must
first examine carefully what is the particular
meaning and force of this apparently simple, yet
most profound and most comprehensive truth,
that God Is Love.

1 1 . It has been often noticed, as providen-
tially ordered, that the Greek language, the lan-
guage of the New Testament, and (we may
say) of the civilized world at that period of its
history, is, above all other languages that have
ever existed, the one in which scientific and phil-
osophical distinctions might be most accurately
expressed. And It was the better suited for
Christian philosophy, because it was the only
language into which the Hebrew Scriptures had
been translated ; so that it formed a link not
only between the revelation of Christ and Gen-


tile literature on the one hand, but also between
the theology of the New Testament and the
teaching of the Old on the other. In no other
language could the truth implied in those words,
(0 0£o? ayanri iarivy have been expressed
with the same distinctness and exactness.
Neither of the Hebrew words used in the Old
Testament for ''love" could have been used
without some ambiguity. The history of the
Greek word aydnr/ is very instructive. The
classical words for ''love " had become (as Trench
observes ") " so steeped in earthly passion and
carried such an atmosphere of unholiness about
them, that the truth of God abstained from the
defiling contact with them, — yea, devised a new
word for itself rather than betake itself to one
of these. For it should never be forgotten that
ayocTtj] is a word born within the bosom of re-
vealed religion ; it occurs in the Septuagint,
but there is no example of its use in any heathen
writer whatever." It must, however, be ob-
served, that even in the Septuagint, in which
ayani] and ^ikia are used almost promiscu-
ously, '^ the former has none of that distinctive

" " New Testament Synonyms,"

" ^, ^. in Prov. X. 12, "love covereth sins," the word 0iXia
is used in the Septuagint : in the parallel passages in I Cor. XIII. 7,
and I Peter IV. 8, both apostles use ayaTtJ], On the other hand, in
II Samuel XIII. 6, ayaJtrj is used in a totally different sense.


force and meaning that it has obtained in the
New Testament. There, in the writings of
apostles and evangelists, especially those of St.
Paul and St. John, the word stands out with a
holy meaning altogether its own ; distinct from
all earthly feeling and carnal passion, sanctified
and consecrated to God and His service and
His truth, and yet, as the Spirit of God speaks
to us in the language of the children of men, we
must refer to Greek literature, in order to com-
prehend the true force of the word, and why it
is selected as the term most suitable to express
the moral character and being of God. For al-
though the noun ayajtr/, which was adopted by
New-Testament writers to express an idea
specially and, indeed, exclusively Christian, does
not appear in heathen literature, the cognate
verb {ayaTtacD) and the adjective {ayaTtrjroi) oc-
cur frequently with a distinctive meaning, which
sufhciendy explains the use of the noun itself in
Christian teaching. The root of the word,'^ in-
stead of indicating mere affection as its primary
idea, points rather to those of regard and satis-
faction^^', to a love founded on the consciousness
of the excellence and preciousness of its object.

^* Which is the same as that of ayrj and ayaj^iai.
'^ Liddell and Scott on ayaTzdcj.


In the adjective form {ayanriroi) this idea is
brought out both in classical literature and in
the Septuagint, so as to illustrate in a very re-
markable manner the truth which St. John
teaches. Both Homer and Hesiod and later
Greek writers use the adjective as specially ap-
plicable to an " only child," so that it is taken by
the grammarians as synonymous with jxovoy^vi]^
**only begotten." In the Septuagint the He-
brew word for an '' only son " is generally ren-
dered by oLya7tr}T6

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Online LibraryHenry CotterillRevealed religion expounded by its relations to the moral being of God → online text (page 2 of 7)