Herein is love; that is, the clearest, the fullest, the highest expression of free and undeserved love that ever the world was acquainted with.
Observe, That the wisdom and power of God did not act to the utmost of their efficacy in the work of creation; he could have framed a more glorious world had it pleased him; but the love of God in our redemption by Christ could not be expressed, or set forth, in an higher degree: When Almighty God would give the most excellent testimony of his favour to mankind, he gave them his eternal Son, the Son of his love: And verily the giving of heaven itself, with all its joys and glory, is not so full and perfect a demonstration of the love of God, as the giving of his Son to die for us: Herein is love.
Observe next, The priority of God's love to mankind; he loved us, not we him; he loved us antecedently to our loving him, and he loved us, that we might love him, when there was nothing in us either to deserve, or to engage his love.
Observe lastly, The great intent and gracious design of God in sending his Son, namely, To be a propitiation for our sins; that is to die as a sacrifice for our sins, and thereby atone divine displeasure. Herein is love: that is, the triumph, the riches, and glory of divine love, that God gave Christ to die for us. "But is there love in nothing else but this?" Yes sure, to have a being among rational creatures, therein is love; to have our life carried so many years in the hand of providence, like a burning taper, in the midst of winds and storms, and not burnt out, this is love; to have food and raiment convenient for us, relations and friends to comfort us, in all these is love, great love; but comparatively none at all to the love expressed in giving Christ to die for us: Herein was love, the flower of love.