Why is it impossible for self-love to be the foundation of genuine Evangelical spirituality?
4a. For Edwards there is no room for self-love in the believer as foundational. John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” God is the mover the first initiator to regenerate a man and therefore once a man sees the awesomeness, majesty, beauty, and holiness of God he should be captivated by it apart from its personal benefits. To see God as He really is should produce holy fear and humiliation in a believer’s heart thus seeing himself as he really is compared to the glories of God. Edwards, referring to John 4:19 gives three points to its support. (1) The saints’ love to God, is the fruit of God’s love to them; as it is the gift of that love. God gave them a spirit of love to him, because he loved them from eternity. (2) The exercises and discoveries that God has made of his wonderful love to sinful men, by Jesus Christ, in the work of redemption, is one of the chief manifestations, which God has made of the glory of his moral perfection, to both angels and men. (3) God’s love to a particular elect person, discovered by his conversion, is a great manifestation of God’s moral perfection and glory to him, and a proper occasion of the excitation of the love of holy gratitude… arising primarily form the excellency of divine things, as they are in themselves, and not from any conceived relation they bear to their interest.”
Is Edwards refusing to allow any place for self-love in our love to God?
4b. Edwards does allow a place for self-love but it is not anywhere as foundational to man’s authentic affection for God’s glory and beauty. This reality is touched by man’s self-love as explained in Psalm 116:1, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication.” God first loves man and by this love man is changed and now loves God for who He is and because of this has godly gratitude for the personal benefits he receives from this great divine love.