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God we seek communion with him. Prayer, which is speaking to God, is our delight. The closet, where we offer our requests, and receive the quickening of his Spirit, is a loved and frequented spot; and even amid the bustle of the world, we walk with God, and commune with him in the silence of our own spirits. Thus shall we, like the apostle," continue in prayer, and watch thereunto with all perseverance and supplication, night and day, praying exceedingly."
We value the favor of those whom we love. Their displeasure cuts to the heart; but we are happy in their smile and their return of our confidence and affection. If we love God, we dread his displeasure; it grieves us to the very heart to think that we have displeased him; we are watchful not to disregard his will. But his favor is our joy.
"Let earth, with all its joys, combine;
"Thy loving kindness is better than life." The loving soul, renouncing all else, finds its blessedness in God. "Whom have Iin heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
IV. Love to God implies benevolence or goodwill. This is implied in all love; we long to do good to those whom we love. If we love God, we feel goodwill toward him. But it is impossible to bestow favors on God, because he has no need. Goodwill toward him must show itself in some other way. This is by seeking to glorify him. If he were a creature, needy and dependent, goodwill would show itself by ministering to his need. He is the Creator and Lord of all; goodwill shows itself by giving to him the glory due unto his name.
God claims to be the Sovereign of the universe; he claims the right to rule over all his creatures. Says Bellamy, "He is disposed to take state to himself, and honor, and majesty, the kingdom, the power and the glory; and he sets up himself as the Most High God, supreme Lord, and sovereign Governor of the whole world; and bids all worlds adore him, and be in most perfect subjection to him, and that with all their hearts; and esteems the wretch who does not account this his highest happiness worthy of eternal damnation. God thinks it infinitely becomes him to set himself up for a GoD, and to command all the world to adore him. He thinks himself fit to govern the world, and that the throne is his proper place, and that all love, honor, and obedience, are his due. 'I am the Lord,' says he, and beside me there is no God. I am Jehovah; that is my name; and
my glory will I not give to another. And thus shall ye do, for I am the Lord. And cursed be every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.' Now, it would be infinitely wicked for the highest angel in heaven to assume any of this honor to himself; but it infinitely becomes the Most High God thus to do." If we love God, his conduct in this will please us; it will appear to us fit and right; we shall rejoice to see him taking the throne, and surrounding himself with state, and making all creatures minister to his glory. Our first and strongest desire will be for his honor; so that when we pray we shall wish to begin with the petition which is set down for us first in the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed be thy name;" and we shall not find in our hearts to close except with the ascription there enjoined, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever." The language of our hearts will be, "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice. Be thou exalted above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Let the lofty looks of man be humbled, and the haughtiness of man be brought low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted."
This disposition will lead us, also, to desire to have all the world, in like manner, rejoice in God's supremacy, and give him the glory due unto his name. Hence it sometimes is found giving utterance to the strongest desires that all creatures would join in extolling God, calling even on sun, moon and stars, earth, air and sea, birds, beasts and fishes, mountains and all hills, the trees and the winds, to praise him. "Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength. Bless the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Let them praise the name of the Lord; for his name alone is excellent."
And because God has sent his Son into the world, and set up his cross; because he has set his heart on bringing sinners to Christ, and establishing his kingdom, good will toward God will be good-will toward his kingdom, which will concern itself with intense zeal to advance its interests and to bring men to Christ. "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come." The Church, the bride of Christ, joins with his Spirit in extending the invitations of the Gospel. And let him that heareth, say, Come." Every one who hears and accepts the invitation becomes animated by the same interest in the enlargement of Christ's kingdom, and joins with the Spirit in extending the invitations of the Gospel.
So great and so disinterested is this concern for God's honor and the advancement of his cause, that whatever is likely to dishonor God causes the most grievous anxiety, and no personal advantage can be so much as looked at as a compensation. 'Thus says God to Moses: This is a stiff-necked people; let me alone that I may destroy them in a moment; and I will make of thee a great nation.' But says Moses: What will become of
thy great name? What will the Egyptians say? What will all the nations round about say?' And he mourns and wrestles, cries and prays, begs and pleads, as if his heart would break; and says he, "If I may not be heard, but this dishonor and reproach must come upon thy name, it cannot comfort me to tell me of making me a great nation: pray, let me rather die, and be forgotten forever, and let not my name be numbered among the living; let it be blotted out of thy book.' Well, says God, 'I will hear thee. But as truly as I live, the whole world shall know what a holy and sin-hating God I am; for the carcasses of all these who have treated me thus shall fall in the wilderness, and here they shall wander till forty years are accomplished.' And now Moses is content to forego the greatness promised to himself, and to forego the entrance to the promised land, to live all his remaining days in the wilderness, and do, and suffer, and undergo anything, if God will but take care of his great name."
V. Love implies a desire to please. This thought is involved in what has been already said, but it deserves a separate. consideration.
When little Velma was about to go to church one morning, her father asked her if it did not tire her to sit still so long. She said it did." Then," said he, "it will be better for you to stay at home with me." "No," she answered; "I shall go. Cousin says God wants to have us; and it is not much to do it, if he wants us to." This is most childlike and artless, and yet it is the expression of love, foregoing personal comfort with the simple motive of pleasing the one we love-of doing what "he wants us to." Childlike as it is, it is the most powerful motive of the Gospel. It is peculiar to the Gospel to reveal God in Christ as a personal friend, to be loved at once with a childlike artlessness and an overpowering devotedness. It is the yearning of love to do something for its object; but God is so great, what present, what token of love, can we bring him? What can we do for him? The Gospel brings him near to us in Christ, as a personal friend, and gives us the privilege of doing something for him--of acting with the simple desire to please him. Religion presents itself often with the sanctions and insignia of authority; it appeals to the sense of duty; it comes with the majesty of sublime principle. But in the heart renewed under the Gospel, it wells up as the outgushing of a simple, childlike love-simple, yet mighty; and under its power, the disciple rejoices in toil and suffering, to please the Redeemer, whom, not having seen, he loves. Christ comes and says, "Do this for my sake;" and this is the peculiar and the conquering motive of the Gospel. "The love of Christ constraineth us." We labor for his sake. There would be more simplicity, power, and blessedness in our religion,
if, joined with the sternness of duty and the majesty of principle, there were more of this artless, devoted love to the person of Christ; if oftener, under the toils of life, we listened to his voice, saying, "Do this for my sake," and were animated by the thought that we please him by our endeavors.
It is the nature of love to enthrone its object. The requests of those whom we love come with the force of commands; and their authority is proportioned to the degree of our love. Whatever we love best must therefore be enthroned the absolute monarch of our hearts. If love even to our fellow-creatures has a power to enthrone them, and make their slightest wishes law, how much more must all true love to the great God enthrone him in the heart, and give authority to even the least of his commands. we love God, we shall be bent on keeping his commandments, and that not by constraint, but with the eagerness of love, which sacredly regards his slightest wish as law-which accepts his commands, not as fetters, but as ornaments of grace to the head, as bracelets on the hands, and a chain of gold about the neck.
God is the only being worthy of supreme affection, and the only being whom it is safe thus to love, and by loving to enthrone. Because love, in proportion to its strength, enthrones the beloved object, and binds the loving heart in willing servitude, there is something terrific in the very thought of supreme love for what is sinful and unworthy--of giving the mastery of the soul, the control of all hidden springs of action, to base men or to ignoble objects. If it be gold that is thus loved, or sensual pleasures, or the hollow echoes of human applause-alas, that a soul should love, and, by loving, should enthrone such objects, and abase itself in willing slavery to be their drudge and pander. God is the only being worthy of supreme love; the only being whom it is safe thus to love, and, by loving, to enthrone the absolute monarch of the heart.
Such are the characteristics of true love to God. Whether you exercise this love or not, it is not for me to decide. I leave the question to the scrutiny and decision of your own consciences, and of God, who judgeth the heart. But this I must say— without such love, you are without hope and without God in the world. There is no holiness in heaven-no, not in the highest angel-except what springs from true love to God. There is no religion on earth, no preparation for heaven, except in love to God. Without it, you are alienated from your Maker, and the subject of his wrath; you are fitting yourself for everlasting banishment from the bosom of his holiness and the heaven of his glory. O, creatures of God, can you see nothing in his character which awakens your heart to love? Is there nothing in the majesty of his throne-nothing in the beauty of his holiness--nothing in the
tenderness of the cross, which awakens one throb of emotion, one breath of praise, one aspiration to be like him? In all that is glorious in God, can you see nothing to love? Oh, that, as you gaze on his excellence, it were the language of your hearts,
"This is the God whom we do love;
In him we trust; to him we live:
"This God is our God for ever and ever. even until death."
He shall be our guide
A FATHER'S INFLUENCE.
It must exert a vast influence upon a parent to reflect how perfectly God has subjected the minds of his children to his forming hand. His authority is absolute. His authority is absolute. In this respect he cannot possibly have any higher advantage. As a ruler, no one questions his right to entire obedience. There is no thought of displacing him by election. There are no tendencies to revolution in his little empire. His subjects are so manifestly inferior and dependent, that there is no necessity for tumults within, nor is there any considerable danger of interferences from without. He has the power of completely controlling their instruction. Furnished with the richest stores of knowledge in the Divine Word, he employs the same truths in the same divine connections which God employs in the conversion and sanctification of men. He makes the authority of God himself subserve his purpose. He has the pre-occupancy of the mind and the promised aid of the Holy Spirit. It is, perhaps, impossible for us to appreciate the advantage of an access to the mind in precedence of all others, and the value of the opportunity of introducing the doctrines of the Gospel before depravity has had sufficient time, and acquired skill enough, to bar up the avenues of truth. It is obvious, that Christianity, though in every other respect the same, would have been placed under peculiar disadvantages if the human family had been all created, as we suppose angels were, in the maturity of their powers. We know not that the Gospel could be propagated at all in a world full of mature beings, involved in a common rebellion. The power of God, it is true, is not to be limited; but we do know, at least, that his power and wisdom are both magnified by spreading the triumphs of his religion, through the influence of instruction introduced in the happy, favored period of childhood.