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The holy Jesus appears, to bring you messages of peace
and love; and to live and die, to promote your salvation. The almighty, the infinite, the all-gracious God, the God of love, is your present inheritance and possession; the ages of eternity are your happy reversion. What can you conceive to be secure and inviolable, free and independent of time and chance, fair and delightful, complete and perfect, that is not comprehended in an infinite and gracious God, and a blessed eternity? Conceive as high as you can of the infinite God, and of his infinite love, attended by infinite wisdom and almighty power, advancing from eternity in the display of his perfections by the communication of all possible happiness! Behold this earth, bearing upon it the impressions and character of this Almighty Love! See it operating through all nature, forming, animating, and conducting to its proper end the whole universe of being ; visible in the frame and attentive to the provision of a mite, as in the preservation of a kingdom, or the formation of a world. See this love painted on every object of nature, the meanest as well as the mightiest; on the most deformed and irregular, as on the most shapely, regular, and beautiful; on the horrors of winter, as on the flowery verdure of spring, and distinctly heard alike in the tempest and whirlwind, as in the still small voice or whispering breeze; in the murmuring brook, as in the great and wide ocean. See Almighty Love opening its hand, and filling all things living with plenteousness; sparing and denying occasionally, but only to make us more sensible of our blessings; afflicting only to heal, destroying with no other design but to save; and hiding his face for a moment only to make us happy for ever.
Let the whole race of creatures lie
Abas'd before the Lord !
He governs with a word.
Were into motion brought,
Stood present to his thought.
There's not a sparrow, nor a worm,
O'erlook'd in his decrees :
Or sinks with equal ease.
'Tis he provides the rays !
If darkness cloud my days.
I would not wish to know
Awaits me here below.
Whate'er my lot shall be ;
WATTS. See this almighty and infinite Love pouring itself gradually and progressively, in just proportion with respect to time, person, and place, as the subjects are able to receive it; advancing from inert matter up to rational and spiritual existence; from barbarism to polished manners, from philosophy to faith, from nature and morals to grace, from grace to glory, from time to eternity. Here stand we still, and send out the abstracted, the piercing mental eye, as far as we can into the boundless region, the undeterminable ocean, the infinite abyss, of eternal happiness; the sphere and residence of almighty Love, and the habitation prepared for the virtuous and good. Conceive if you can, form the present actual, the future possible effects of divine love; the opening faculties of the soul, the splendour of brighter and stronger light, the manifestation of clearer and sublimer truths, the fairer scenes of spiritual nature, and of angelical taste and order, the ever-blooming fruits of immortal growth; mines of beauty for ever opening; fountains of good for ever flowing; foods of glory for ever bursting; tracts of happiness for ever extending; fields of knowledge for ever enlarging; and the flame of love for ever spreading; and, after all, the conceptions of men and angels can never do justice to the perfections of the infinite God, and the riches of his eternal kingdom. But con
ceive of these in the best manner we can, as the productions of almighty love, operating in a sphere of infinite space, and in a succession of eternal duration; and let us consider what should be the temper and spirit of creatures, who can call this God their Father, and this eternal kingdom their inheritance. with the terrors of superstition, and the gloom of a melancholy devotion! The greatness of his goodness, and the perfection of his beauty, should be the constant language of every genuine and rational servant of God!
As God is the happiest and most beneficent of beings, want of joy, in his servants, betrays a want of respect to his perfections, attributes, and administration. Abject flatterers and crouching slaves best become the court and spirit of an arbitrary tyrant; but the best homage required by a bountiful and gracious prince is the gratitude and joyful acclamations of happy and delighted subjects.
What can the empires or emperors of this world bestow, compared to the riches of God, which are offered in Christ Jesus? If the wounds of the spirit are most piercing and intolerable, the joys of the spirit should be most animating and transporting; and what more powerful motives of joy can we conceive than a gracious God, and a blessed eternity? These are blessings of which no violence can rob us, which no accidents can destroy, nor time itself impair. If the effect in this case ought to be answerable to the cause, our joys should be firm and unshaken as the promises or the throne of God, inviolable as the bliss of heaven, and unbounded as the ages of eternity. If we are not yet possessed of heaven, yet we have God for our present portion, in whose presence alone, as in heaven so on earth, there is fulness of joy, and pleasures for
We have the works of God to delight and instruct us, the providence of God to guard and protect us, the promises of God to strengthen and confirin us, the peace of God to settle and compose us, the love of God to warm and cheer us, and all the Divine attributes and perfections engaged and assured
to support, to assist, and to abide with us for ever. In such a presence, and with such a protector, allgracious to give and to forgive, almighty to save and to deliver, what room is there for murmur, complaint, or despondency? or rather, what room and reason have we not for consolation, exultation, and triumph ? In what difficulties can we be involved, from which he cannot extricate us? To what solitude and distance banished, whither his presence and power does not extend? To what darkness or shadow of death can we be reduced, from which the arm of the Almighty cannot raise us!
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform ;
And rides upon the storm.
of never-failing skill,
And works his sov'reign will.
The clouds ye so much dread
In blessings on your head.
But trust him for his grace;
He hides a smiling face.
Unfolding ev'ry hour:
But sweet will be the flow'r.
And scan his work in vain :
Cowper. What can we behold in heaven and earth, which does not speak the goodness and perfection of its Maker? To what region can we carry our thoughts, that claims a void from his infinite knowledge and inspection ? Look backward to the times that are past, or forward to the ages that are yet to come; to the utmost boundaries of space, and the regions bordering upon nothing; and what, or who, shall limit the in finite and eternal Essence, or prescribe bounds to supreme or sovereign love? Secure in this divine presence, we may, we ought to rejoice evermore with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Who, or what, shall separate us from this love?
“Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors. So that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heights, nor depths, nor any other creature, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Though the love of God is immeasurable, incomprehensible, and eternal, and our affections can rise in no proportion equal to its attributes and perfections; yet these certainly, as they have a peculiar respect to our happiness, should in a peculiar manner affect our thoughts and conceptions, our passions, and the whole tenor of our conduct.
Heav'nly Father! God of love!
Full of gladness, full of thee. PARNELL. As God's love operates in every part of nature and in every instant of time, our love to him should be inaintained, kept alive, and exercised in every object that occurs, and on every occasion that presents itself. It is not enough that we feel our spirits rise, and good humour insensibly steal upon us in our day of good things, or in the flowery season and brisker pulse of life; this is rather natural instinct, than rational devotion; this last will be constant and uniform, like