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« God." To wait for Him is to desire and long for the enjoyment of His favour, image, and presence. And this surely is a proof of love; for no one desires and waits for that which hè does not esteem and love in sincerity and truth. It may
be asked whether our love to God be the meritorious cause of that preparation which God hath made for our happiness? Oh, no! for this preparation was made before we had a being, and was continued while we were “ enemies to God by wicked works.”
« Eternal “ life,” with all its necessary antecedents, “ is “ the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But love to God is the evidence of an interest in the heavenly inheritance, and an indispensable qualification for its enjoyment. It is itself one of the “ good things prepared” for us, and is an earnest and foretaste of further blessings.
On the prayer which is founded on this declaration of Divine Goodness, that “ God hath
prepared for them that love Him such good " things as pass man's understanding," we need not to be diffuse, as it is so nearly allied to the preceding preface. Therein we implore an increase of that love to God which our church supposes all her members to feel; that “ loving “ Him above all things we may obtain His pro* mises, which exceed all that we can desire, de through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The love of God in the human heart is of Divine origin, for is the carnal mind is enmity * against God.” And Almighty power is necessary to the eradication of enmity and the infusion of love. “The love of God,” therefore, is said to be “ shed abroad in our hearts “ by the Holy Ghost given unto us." He illuminates the mind, and consecrates the heart.
He testifies that “God so loved the world, that “ He gave His only begotten Son” to die for sinners, and when this is made known to us by grace,
we love Him because He first si loved us.
As the first spark of Divine love in the breast of fallen man is kindled by the Spirit of God, its increase must be effected by the same agency. Knowing this, we beseech Him to “ " our hearts the love of His name." We humbly trust that He who knoweth all things knoweth that we love Him. But we are dissatis. fied (and well we may be) with the small degree of love which we feel and manifest towards Him who hath so wonderfully loved us. And therefore we pray for an increase. We beseech Him not to distil in scanty drops, but in copious streams to pour into our hearts love towards Himself.
God must be the supreme object of our affection, if we love Him at all. This every believer knows, and he desires that God may have no rival in his heart: His language concurs with that of the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven “ but thee! and there is none upon earth that “ I desire in comparison of thee.” 6. As the " hart panteth after the water-brooks, so long“eth my soul after thee, O God. My soul “ thirsteih for God, for the living God; when “shall I come and appear before God?” “One.
thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I “ seek after, that I may dwell in the house of “ the Lord all the days of my life, to behold “ the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His s temple.” Such is the frame of soul which prevails in all the genuine members of the church, as expressed briefly in the petition of our collect.
And they agree with those which were felt by the members of the antient church; for Godliness is at all times and in all places the same thing. “ The desire of our souls," said God's faithful people under the old dispensation, “ is “ to thy name and to the remembrance of thee.” While others are crying, “ Who will shew us “ any good?” the pious soul exclaims, “ Lord, “ lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon
O let us inquire seriously if our sensibilities resemble those which we have shewn to be prevalent in the bosoms of God's people, and which are supposed to prevail in all those who adopt the language of our church. If we do not love
. God in sincerity and truth, it is hypocrisy to implore an increase of love to His name. But, alas! how few there are who can honestly join in this petition as expressing the genuine desires of their hearts! If we have not chosen God for our portion, in what does our religion consist? Will the name of a Christian, and external relation to the church, be acceptable to God, or comfort our souls on a death-bed? Reader, is God “ altogether lovely” in your estimation and have you the same kind of evidence that
love Him with a supreme regard, which the man of the world has that the world is his portion? You could easily determine, by an examination of your heart and conduct, whether you love other things, and why should it be difficult to decide whether you love God? Love is the same kind of affection, and produces the same kind of effects, whatever be its object.
This inquiry is of the highest importance, seeing that we cannot obtain the promises of
God unless we love Him above all things. For not only does the glory of God require that spiritual happiness be not communicated to a divided and idolatrous heart, but the nature of things establishes a connection between devotedness to God and the enjoyment of Him. From communion with God the happiness of man as a rational creature must arise; and that communion can only be enjoyed in proportion as the heart is estranged from the world and given up to Him. The foretaste of bliss here, and the fulness of it hereafter, consist in the “love of God shed “ abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost given “ unto us.” In this all the promises meet as their 6 central point of accomplishment.
These “promises" of God, for the fulfilment of which we pray and wait, “exceed all that we
can desire." They are “exceeding great and “precious.” A pardon bought with blood is an inestimable favour, which we could never have dared to desire, if it had not been revealed and promised. Fellowship with the Father and
with His Son Jesus Christ” is an exalted privilege, of which we could have formed no expectations, if the faithful word of God had not raised them within us. Yet these blessings are already in part bestowed on all the genuine members of Christ's holy catholic church. But what their fulness will be, we cannot yet conceive. Let the believer enlarge his desires to the utmost extent to which the imagination will reach, and he may be assured that the promised blessings of the everlasting covenant will far surpass them. It is impossible that faith should be able to explore the unsearchable riches of Christ. They are too vast for human grasp.
Is the reader, through grace, pardoned, justified, and partially sanctified ?
Does he enjoy a measure of peace with God and of communion with Him?
These are unspeakable blessings. But let him not l'est satisfied with the first fruits: let him look forward to the barvest. Let him “open his mouth
s widely, and God will fill it.” His most enlarged hopes, desires, and views, will be exceeded by the glorious reality. The believer's experience may be illustrated by a voyage made down a river, delightful indeed and wide at the point of embarkation, but gradually enlarging itself till it is lost in an ocean that has no shore.
O let us pray that our expectations of mercy may not dishonour, by their meanness and poverty, the fountain from which, and the channel in which, it flows. It proceeds from an infinite source, and rolls along in a channel, the dimensions of which are incalculable. The love of God and the merit of Christ sanction the utmost expectations which can be formed. Let us pray earnestly for a capacity of receiving more and more out of the inexhaustible riches of Divine goodness; remembering that à supreme love to God is the indispensable prerequisite, and that in proportion as this increases our happiness will increase with it. Let us not fear lest we should ask too much; for we ask all 66 THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. Amen."