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Love God the Way a Child Loves His Father

This excerpt is an updated version of a portion of Edwards' sermon "Love the Sum of All Virtue." It is the first sermon in the series on Charity and Its Fruits. Below the edited version, Edwards' original wording is copied for easy comparison. Read the entire sermon at the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University.


If a person sincerely loves God, then this love will lead him to show the proper respect and honor that God deserves. Love is all that’s needed to motivate people to show proper respect. Furthermore, love has the power to incline a person to worship and adore God and to heartily acknowledge the greatness, glory, and dominion of God. Similarly, love moves God’s people to obedience, preparing them to obey their Lord in all that he requires. If a servant loves his master or a subject his prince, then his love will lead him into proper subjection and obedience.

When a person loves God with the kind of love that the Holy Spirit infuses into the heart, he is moved to love God the way a child loves his father. When a child faces severe difficulties, he turns to his father for help and puts his trust in him. When hurting and facing the trials of life, to whom do people turn for help? Naturally, they seek pity and help from those they love. Likewise, people who genuinely love God put their confidence and trust in him, giving him credit for his work.

When people have firm friendships with each other, they don’t usually doubt each other; instead, there is a bond of trust between them. It is the same way with the Lord. Love for him situates a person’s heart in such a way that he will praise God for pouring out his mercies. People have a strong tendency to show gratitude for any act of kindness that is done for them by those who love them.

Furthermore, love for God moves people to submit to his will. Reason shows us that when a person truly loves someone, what the beloved wants becomes more important than one’s own desires. In other words, loving someone means desiring for them what they want, what is agreeable to them, and what pleases them. This is the natural flow of true love. Thus loving God truly inclines the heart to acknowledge God’s right to rule and govern all things. This heart will also recognize that God alone is worthy to rule in this way, and it will always be ready to submit to his will.


Edwards' Original Version

If a man sincerely loves God it will dispose him to give him all proper respect. Men need no other incitement to show all proper respect but love. Love to God will dispose a man to give honor to God. Love will dispose to worship and adore him, heartily to acknowledge his greatness and glory and dominion. So love will dispose to all acts of obedience to God. The servant who loves his master, and the subject who loves his prince, will be disposed to proper subjection and obedience. Love will dispose a person to behave towards God as a child to a father. Under difficulties, to resort to God for help and to put their trust in him. It is natural for persons in cases of need or affliction to go to those whom they love for pity and help. They who love God will be disposed to give credit to his work and to put confidence in him. Men are not apt to suspect the veracity of those for whom they have entire friendship. So love will dispose men to praise God for the mercies they receive from him. Men are disposed to gratitude for any kindnesses they receive from those they love. Love will dispose the heart to submission to the will of God. Persons are more willing that the will of those whom they love should be done than that of others. They naturally desire that those whom they love should be pleased, and things should be agreeable to them. A true love and esteem of God will dispose the heart to acknowledge God's right to govern, and that he is worthy of it; and so will dispose it to submit.

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