“Our subject exhorts us to seek a spirit of love, to grow in it more and more, and very much to abound in the works of love.
If love is so great a thing in Christianity, so essential and distinguishing, yea, the very sum of all Christian virtue, then surely those that profess themselves Christians should live in love, and abound in the works of love. For no works are so becoming as those of love.
If you call yourself a Christian, where are your works of love?
Have you abounded, and do you abound in them?
If this divine and holy principle is in you, and reigns in you, will it not appear in your life, in works of love?
Consider what deeds of love have you done?
Do you love God?
What have you done for Him, for His glory, for the advancement of His kingdom in the world?
And how much have you denied yourself to promote the Redeemer’s interest among men?
Do you love your fellowmen?
What have you done for them?
Consider your former defects in these respects, and how becoming it is in you as a Christian hereafter to abound more in deeds of love.
Do not make excuse that you have not opportunities to do anything for the glory of the God, for the interest of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and for the spiritual benefit of your neighbors.
If your heart is full of love, it will find vent and then you will find or make ways enough to express your love in deeds. When a fountain abounds in water, it will send forth streams.
Consider that as a principle of love is the main principle in the heart of a real Christian, so the labor of love is the main business of the Christian life. Let every Christian consider these things.
And may the Lord give you understanding in all things, and make you sensible what spirit it becomes you to be of, and dispose you to such an excellent, amiable, and benevolent life, as is answerable to such a spirit, that you may not love only in word and tongue, but in deed and truth.”
–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, in Ethical Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 8, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1749/1989), 147-148.