ON LOVING GOD WITH OUR WHOLE STRENGTH
Consider first, that the great precept of divine love claims also our whole strength; ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole strength.' As then, by virtue of the commandment of loving God with our whole mind, we are bound to give him our thoughts; so, by being commanded to love him with whole strength, we are to give him also our words and actions. We ourselves are his, and that by many titles; we were made by him alone, and for him alone; and therefore, as the whole fund is his, so also ought the whole produce; as the tree is his, so ought all the fruit to grow for him; it would be a crying injustice to alienate it from him. Wherefore the love of God is not only to reside in our heart, to reign in all the powers of our soul, and to fill our mind, but ought also to show itself in our conversation, and to regulate all our words and actions, so as to give each one of them its due perfection. And this is loving God with our whole strength.
Consider 2ndly, that the true love of God is like a fire which cannot lie idle: neither does it content itself with affections only - it always proceeds to effects. It works great things when occasion and opportunity serve, and when these are wanting, it will do wonders at least by the perfection it will give even to the least and most ordinary of our actions. This constant aiming at perfection in our daily and ordinary actions is one of the most important lessons of a spiritual life, and is the true practice of loving God with our whole strength. Now, this perfection of our ordinary actions, depends upon the purity and perfection of the intention from which these actions flow. The intention is pure when it aims at God alone; it is perfect when it does all for the love of God, and for the greater glory of God. 'Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all for the glory of God,’ says the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 31. The meanest action in life is ennobled by this intention; it becomes even an act of divine love, and a new step to unite the soul to God. So that the readiest way to come to love God with all our strength is to direct the whole of our actions to him, by the pure and perfect intention of ever doing his holy will, and procuring in all things his greater glory.
Consider 3rdly, that in order to love God with all our strength by the perfection of our ordinary actions, and this purity of intention, which ought both to go before and to accompany all we do or say, we should also labour in the progress of all our actions and conversations to season them as it were, and to sanctify them by the exercise of frequent aspirations of divine love. This may be practised by often turning our souls on every occasion to our beloved, considered as innately present with us, by longing after him; offering our whole selves to him; rejoicing in his glory; begging for the advancement of the kingdom of his love, both in ourselves and in the whole world; and lamenting to see him everywhere so much offended, and his love so much slighted. Nothing contributes more to advance the soul in the love of God than a diligence in this exercise.
Conclude to season all thy actions in this manner with divine love, both by beginning them with a pure intention to promote the glory of God, and by accompanying them with frequent acts of love: thus thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole strength.