But what shall be done, it will perhaps be said here, with that passage of Scripture, 1st John 4:19 [sic], which asserts, "We love God, because He first loved us." The difficulty here, as it seems to us, is easily explicable. We admit, that, in our present condition, we never should have loved God, if his love to us had not been antecedent. He formed the plan of salvation; He sent his beloved Son to make an atonement for our sins; He commissioned the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our understandings, and to enable us to contemplate his glory. In a word, he has put us into a situation, utterly unattainable by our own unaided efforts, in which we can truly estimate his character in its whole extent of glory, not only as possessed of infinite mercy, but of infinite justice. It is in view of such procedures of the divine administration, that we can truly say, " we love God, because He first loved us." And at the same time can say with equal truth, and in a still more important and essential sense, we love Him for what He is in and of himself. His previous love to us, without which we never should have exercised any love towards Him of any kind whatever, has opened the way for the exercise on our part of that pure and holy love, which alone can be truly acceptable.
— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.