How much ought we therefore love him who first loved us so much? He loved us when we did not yet exist, for it was by divine love that we were born into this world. He loved us when we were enemies, for it was out of divine mercy and love that he sent his Son as the Redeemer. He loved us when we had fallen away into sin, for it is out of divine love that he does not continually hand us over to death when we fail, but rather waits for our conversion. It is out of divine love that beyond our merits, yes rather against our merits, he leads us to heavenly palaces. Apart from the love of God, you would never come to the knowledge of his salvation. Apart from the love of God, all knowledge is useless; indeed, it is by all means a crime.
Johann Gerhard, Sacred Meditations, IX, p. 47, Magdeburg Press