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series of vexations, if not of dangers; and was a period | dress the words of my text, "God is love :" of at least petty, persecution.
not merely that he possesses the quality of love and benevolence towards his creatures, but that he is essentially love itself. It is not possible for us, my brethren, fully to comprehend the infinite attributes of God, or
to understand the extent of that love "which
The peaceful administration of Nerva was followed by the accession of Trajan; but before the treatment of the Christians had undergone any change in the counsels of this emperor, Clement had breathed his last, in the third year of his reign. Thus his death appropriately marked the close of the first century of Christian suffering and of Christian glory.
GOD IS LOVE:
BY THE REV. RICHARD MORICE, M.A.
THIS Concise but emphatic sentence conveys to us a truth which the greatest exercise of human intellect, unenlightened by Divine revelation, never has, nor ever could have discovered the admixture of evil with goodof suffering with happiness-in the affairs of this life, has thrown over the subject an obscurity and perplexity which the mind of fallen man never could penetrate or unfold; "having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them." Even the Athenians, who spent their time "in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing," proclaimed their ignorance by erecting an altar "to the unknown God ;" and St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, a people almost equal to the Athenians in civilisation and intellectual attainments, asks, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching" (as the worldlywise thought it) "to save them that believe." And, my brethren, even among us, in this Christian land, who have the advantage of so clear and simple a revelation as the words of my text, how unworthy are the opinions entertained by some of the infinite and eternal Creator! Some, like the fool, are saying in their hearts, "There is no God;" living practically without God in the world, neglecting his word and worship, slighting his present mercy, despising his future judgments, and forgetting that "the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" others, degrading the purity and dignity of his holy law, are supposing, by the merit of their own works, to atone for their conscious deficiencies; while others, through want or weakness of faith, are attributing to the Giver of all good the origin of their sufferings. To all these I would ad
passeth knowledge;" but we may, by the light of God's word, discover various ways in which God has been pleased to manifest himself as a God of love.
And, first, let us contemplate the exercise of his love as exhibited in paradise before the fall-the earth spontaneously producing every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, watered with fruitful streams, and abounding in every thing that could tend to promote the happiness of his creatures. Then behold man, made after the image of God in holiness, and happiness, and heavenly affections and desires, placed in the midst of this scene of bounty and of beauty, with no restriction but such as was necessary to preserve him in this state of happiness-the abstaining from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; blessed with the frequent presence of the Author of all his happiness, and enjoying a hallowed day of rest, a holy Sabbath, in which he would rejoice to pour forth the praises of a full and grateful heart, and delight in more immediate communion with the Author of his happy being. Endeavour to realise this scene to your minds, my brethren, in which every thing was proclaimed by the unerring voice of the great and wise Creator very good, and therefore eminently productive of pure and unmixed happiness, and say, does it not prove that "God is love?" Then the pure image of a God of love was reflected from the heart of man, without a cloud of sin to obscure its brightness: but, alas, such is no longer our state; sin has brought a curse upon the earth, and extended its withering and blighting influence over the mind and heart of man (the seat of his understanding and affections), as well as over the visible works of the creation. But even yet, how many proofs do we see around us in the earth of the mercy and love of God! "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork."
But again; if we have sufficient evidence that God is love from contemplating the condition of man before the fall, how much more cause have we to acknowledge it from contemplating his condition since! If Almighty love shine forth conspicuously in the work of creation, how much more bright and especially interesting does it appear in the work of redemption! Had God left us to the consequences of sin, it would have been no more than the exercise of infinite justice, and quite
consistent with his character as a God of and love, from the hosts of the redeemed, love: but infinite mercy interposed, and de- who will ascribe, from the beginning of the vised a scheme by which reconciliation and dawn of grace in their hearts, till its perfecpeace might be effected: “God so loved the tion in glory, from first to last, "salvation to world, that he gave his only begotten Son, our God who sitteth upon the throne, and to that whosoever believeth in him should not the Lamb: blessing, and glory, and wisdom, perish, but have everlasting life." Truly in and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, This was manifested the love of God towards and might, be unto our God for ever and us, because that God sent his only-begotten ever!" May you and I, my brethren, be Son into the world, that we might live through amongst that happy number; and then shall him. And this, my brethren, is the great and we know by blessed experience "the length, important subject for us all to learn, 'not and breadth, and depth, and height of that merely as an historical fact, but to apply by love which passeth all human knowledge;" faith to our own hearts individually-- that in then shall we know that “God is love." this, especially, is manifested the love of God But not only has the love of God de. towards us, in that " while we were yet sin- vised and completed this great mystery of ners, Christ died for the ungodly." He did redemption, but it has also been made not wait until we were driven, by a sense of known to us in bis revealed word, and in our misery, to seek for reconciliation ; but the various appointed means of grace which while we were yet sinners, wandering farther he has promised to bless : the public wor. from him in the ways of sin, instead of seek ship of his house, the preached gospel, and ing to return. He did not leave us in our that much-neglected, but most strengthdarkened state of ignorance and misery, to ening and refreshing ordinance, prepared devise a way of salvation for ourselves, for for as many as are religiously and devoutthat would have been to leave us in hopelessly disposed, the most comfortable sacra. ness; but, in the counsels of infinite wisdom, ment of the body and blood of Christ. he provided a way by which God could be just, These means of grace, applied by the power and yet the justifier of the ungodly; by which of the Holy Spirit to the heart, which God his holy law might be fulfilled to the utmost, has promised to give to all who seek it in and yet mercy extended to the transgressor prayer, will produce in us an increase of of that law. He did not require of beings grace and spiritual strength, which will ensunk in sin, and alienated from him by wicked able us to resist temptation and sin, and acworks, to produce any works of such sufi- quire those heavenly graces and dispositions cient merit as might entitle them to hope for which will make us meet and fit for the inherestitution to his favour, for that would have ritance of the saints in light. The humble, been impossible ; but “when we were afar and diligent, and prayerful use of them will, off, in due time Christ died for us.”
through God's grace, enable us to realise in Surely, then, here we have abundant proof our own experience the great and precious that God is love: instead of visiting us with promises of the Gospel, by which we may the punishment due to sin, he has provided become partakers of the divine nature; and for us, in Jesus Christ, a full, perfect, and will afford abundant proof to us, that God, sufficient atonement for sin, that whosoever who has appointed them for us, and enjoined believeth in him should not perish, but have them on our observance, is love. Are there everlasting life. Herein, indeed, is love ; | any present who undervalue these means of “not that we loved God, but that he loved grace, or consider them only as forms, which us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation common consent and the customs of society for our sins.” And, my brethren, if we are require to be observed occasionally, as conbrought to love God sincerely, if our hearts venience may allow? O, be assured there is are indeed set upon heavenly things, it is not something far more important in them; do because there is in us any natural inclination not deprive yourselves of the privileges they to love God, although he is love itself, but it are calculated to afford, and increase your is " because he first loved us." This is an condemnation and guilt, by rejecting or underinexhaustible subject-one which even angels valuing the very means which, by prayer and desired to look into : the great mystery of a supply of the Spirit of Christ, are calculated man's redemption, by which the powerful to effect the gracious purposes of a God of constraining, influence of God's love in Christ love. Jesus to a perishing and sinful world works But another evidence that God is love is in the heart of man repentance of sin, faith in afforded by the character of God's law, the Lord Jesus Christ, and love towards God, which our blessed Lord has summed up as is a subject which will never be exhausted containing unreserved love to God, with all throughout eternity; but will continually be our heart, soul, mind, and strength ; and calling forth increasing praises, and devotion, the exercise of love towards our neighbour, , and even our enemies ; and St. Paul tells , whither he went. Jacob, yielding to the us, that " love is the fulfilling of the law;" fears which the weakness of his faith created, that is, to act from a principle of love to declared, " all these things are against me," others includes all that is contained in the though he lived to see that the very events law, which regulates our duties to our fel. which he so much lamented were working low-creatures. And, my brethren, do we together for bis good. And thus will it be not see in this law the image of that God who with every follower of Christ: what the Lord is love? If it were universally acted upon, doeth, he may not know or understand now, it would spread peace and happiness in our but he shall know hereafter. He knows, if families and in our neighbourhoods, and go he can but believe it, that not even a hair of far to convert the strife, and discord, and mi- his head can fall to the ground without his sery, which sin has introduced into the so- heavenly Father's knowledge ; and he is asciety of this world, into tranquillity and love. sured that " God is love," and that " he that
In the instances which I have adduced, we spared not his only-begotten Son, but freely may see clearly and satisfactorily, if we do gave him up for us all, will, with him, also but reflect, that “God is love," viz. in his work freely give us all things :" and with firm of creation, and still more in the great work of reliance on these promises, he should learn, redemption, and the various means by which in every thing which concerns him, by prayer he is making known and rendering effectual and supplication, with thanksgiving, to make among men this display of bis infinite love. known his request to God; and anticipate, But we may rest assured also that God is with humble confidence, the fulfilment of the love, as certainly, though perhaps not always promise, that "the peace of God, which as evidently to our present perceptions, by the passeth all understanding, shall keep his daily events of his providence ;-1 say we may beart and mind through Jesus Christ ; and rest satisfied that God is love, by the daily while in possession of that peace which our events of his providence, as certainly, though Lord bequeathed to his people, he will reflect we are not always permitted to understand or also upon the admonition which followed, trace the manner in which his love is exer- "Let not your heart be troubled.” And in cised towards us in this respect: he is pleased the firm persuasion that the very obscurity to try our faith in the clear assurances and and mystery which at present conceals the promises of his word, that "all things shall purposes of a God of love from our sight work together for good to them that love proceeds from love, we should cling more him;" "that our light afflictions, which are closely by faith to his promises and precepts ; but for a moment, are intended to work out knowing that hereafter, when we are perfor us a far more exceeding and eternal mitted to look back on all the way by which weight of glory;" that although“ no chasten. God has led us through the course of our ing for the present seemeth to be joyous, but earthly pilgrimage, we shall have occasion grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth again and again to renew our praises for the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those very events which, if possible, we them which are exercised thereby." These would have avoided, or ordained otherwise, and various similar passages are intended for and shall be permitted to see how goodness our comfort and direction under the mys- and mercy have followed us all our journey terious and often inexplicable visitations of through. The more this faith is brought God's providence; that the trial of our faith, into exercise, the more earnestly shall we being much more precious than of gold that desire, and the more fervently shall we pray, perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might that our wills may be brought into subjection be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, to the will of God; “not as I will, O Lord, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
but as thou wilt." Surely God has given us sufficiently clear And here, my brethren, we may observe, evidences that he is love, to induce us to trust how consoling and how cheering is the prein his love, though we may be required " to sent peace and tranquillity of mind of that man walk by faith, and not by sight;" and when who has this faith under trying and mysteri. ever we may be led by a dark and gloomy ous events ! " the trial of his faith worketh way, in which we are not able to discover the patience, and patience experience, and expeend to which it will lead us, let us be more rience hope:" his very trials and afflictions, anxious to ascertain that the hand of God is instead of producing despair, increase his directing us, and that we are desirous of hope ; and though all around and without be following humbly, patiently, and cheerfully, dark and gloomy, within there is light, which than of curiously inquiring why we should will shine more and more until the perfect be led by such a path, and whither it will day shall dawn upon him, which shall disclose conduct us. Abraham, at the command of the love which appointed all that has called God, obeyed, and went forth, not knowing faith and patience into exercise ; and there is
and can any
also, in the midst of all his trials, a joy with events of God's providence may be considered which a stranger intermeddleth not. "O, then, as an evidence that " God is love." my brethren, seek thus to realise to your And now, my brethren, in conclusion, what selves the truth that “ God is love," as the do we learn from this subject? If“ God is best remedy against hopelessness, and the love," it becomes us to adore, and praise, and firmest support in the hour of affliction. love God with all our hearts, to submit our,
But again; that "God is love," is evident selves with resignation to his will, to desire also from considering the effect intended to what he has promised, to love what he has be produced by those events of his providence commanded, especially to seek after a saving which at first sight might convey a contrary knowledge of God's redeeming and sanctifyimpression. When we reflect that our condi- ing love, recollecting that they only are the tion in this life is not one either of ultimate sons of God who are led by the Spirit of God. reward or punishment, but that it is one of Let us faithfully examine whether we are led probation and discipline, to fit and prepare us by a spirit of love, both towards God and for another,--we shall see an evidence of love towards our neighbour, more especially those even in the afflictions and chastisements with who are the children of God. It is a sad which we are visited; and knowing that and a fearsul thing to be living careless or “ whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, even negligent of God, slighting his infinite love, as a father the son in whom he delighteth," which sought us even when we were sinners, we shall be more anxious, in the time of and freely offered reconciliation and peace affliction, to search and try our hearts, and through Christ. You, my brethren, who are pray that the correction of a Father's love here, have heard of the love of God to you; may produce in us a beneficial effect, than
you make up your minds to that it may be removed from us.
resist his love, to go away and think no more desire that it may produce in us a greater of your own danger as sinners against God, conformity to the mind which was in Christ, and of God's love in giving his Son to redeem more decided separation from the evil that you from sin ? O, recollect that, although I am is in the world, its pleasures, its vanities and now privileged to proclaim to you, and you follies, and more zeal and devotion to the are permitted to hear, that “ God is love," cause of God. And, my Christian brethren, that “ God in Christ is reconciling the world you who, by God's grace, are, as living unto himself;" yet remember, that God out branches, bringing forth fruit to the glory of of Christ is “a consuming fire," that shall God, may expect the pruning-knife of afflic destroy the ungodly. Now is the accepted tion to purge and cleanse you; for our Lord, time; but, brethren, " the time is short." comparing himself to the vine, and his people Come while you are assured of admittance, to the branches, declares, "Every branch that lest the door of mercy be closed, and your beareth fruit, my Father purgeth it, that it day of grace passed away for ever. may bring forth more fruit." The most emi. But another lesson which the apostle nent and distinguished servants of God are teaches us from this subject is," Beloved, those who have been called to endure a great if God so loved us, we ought also to love fight of afflictions ; but they have ever found one another." Surely we ought to love the grace of God sufficient for them. And those whom a God of infinite purity and those who are described in the Apocalypse as holiness has condescended to love; and the nearest to the throne of glory, "clothed with best way we can shew our love to them, is white robes, and having palms in their hands, to use all the means in our power, with are those who came out of great tribulation." prayer to God, to make them partakers of Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, the blessings of salvation, which, through the beloved, which hath great recompense of unmerited love of God, we have ourselves reward ; for “ye have need of patience, that received. If we did but more justly appreafter ye have done the will of God, ye might ciate the value of the soul, how much more receive the promise." When we reflect, zealous should we be in seeking the salvation therefore, on the purpose for which afflic- of the souls of others! But towards those who tions are sent, to correct, chasten, and purify reflect the image of a God of love in their the heart of the source from which they hearts, it becomes us more especially to culproceed, from that God who is love, who doth tivate those holy affections which should ever not willingly afflict his people--and of the unite those who are influenced by one and end which they are intended to accomplish in the same Spirit, ransomed by one and the us, to prepare us for a far more exceeding same Saviour, adopted into the same family, and eternal weight of glory-and also the and, through the grace of God, are fellow. gracious promises of Divine support, assured heirs of the same glory. To you, beloved to those who cast their burden on the Lord,- brethren, I would say, let the love of Christ we may safely affirm, that even the afflictive constrain you; let it bear you down its full tide. Strive to loosen your souls from the at the perambulation; and those that withdraw and ties which bind you down to earthly things ;
sever themselves from it, he mislikes, and reproves as and let the current of holy love bear you on
uncharitable and unneighbourly."
And of Hooker, so celebrated for his learning ward in your course towards heaven. Soon
and piety, it is observed, that he was remarkable will it leave darkness and sorrow behind; on these occasions for the benevolence and devo
th which and, having burst the opposing gates of death, tion, mingled with decorous cheerfulness, shall beyond them swell into a sea of holy, and old. And in the Book of Homilies, an address
he at once edified and pleased his parishioners, young heavenly joy, which shall never ebb; when
to be read to the parishioners when walking their " You shall bathe your weary soul
boundaries was published by authority; and we conIn seas of leavenly rest,
clude this article with an extract, which will shew the And not a wave of trouble roll
devout spirit in which it was composed. And here, Across the peaceful breast."
in this, as well as in most of his acts, public and pri
vate, the Christian can bring into exercise the social PERAMBULATIONS; OR, WALKING OVER
principle of his religion, cherish piety and brotherly
love, and feel his relation to both God and man. THE PARISH BOUNDARIES..
“If now, therefore, ye will have your prayers heard “ That every man might keep his own possessions,
before Almighty God, for the increase of your corn and Our fathers us'd, in reverend processions,
cattle, and for the defence thereof from unseasonable (With zealous prayers and with praisefull cheere,) To walk their parish-limits once a-year,
mists and blasts, from hail and other such tempests ; And well-knowne markes (which sacrilegious hands
love equity and righteousness, ensue mercy and chaNow cut or breake) so bord'red out their lands,
rity, which God most requireth at our hands. Which That ev'ry one distinctly knew his owne,
Almighty God respecteth chiefly in making his civil And many brawles, now rife, were then unknowne." Wither's Emblems (1635).
laws for his people the Israelites, in charging the
owners not to gather up their corn too nigh at harvest This formerly was done every year, and, generally, on season, nor the grapes and olives in gathering-time, one of the three first days of rogation-week. It is but to leave behind some ears of corn for the poor now no: performed so regularly as it was in old time, gleaners. (Levit. xix. 9, 10; Deut. xxiv. 19.) By nor with the same solemnities. But in many places this hie meant to induce them to pity the poor, to reit is still kept, and commonly on ascension-day. In
lieve the needy, to shew mercy and kindness. It candeed, it is much to be regretted that it should not be not be lost, which for his sake is distributed to the more constantly and carefully attended to, as a great poor. For he which ministereth seed to the sower, deal of wrong, and many lawsuits and quarrels were and bread to the hungry (2 Cor. ix. 10), which sendeth thereby prevented; as the poet has quaintly stated in down the early and the latter rain upon your fields, so the lines with which we have headed this article. But to fill up the barns with corn, and the wine-presses especially may we deplore, that the religious charac- with wine and oil (Joel, ii. 22); he, I say, who reter of this practice sbould have been altogether aban- compenseth all kinds of benefits in the resurrection of doned. The custom of processions, at this season, is the just, he will assuredly recompense all merciful of very remote antiquity, and by some is considered to deeds shewed to the needy, howsoever unable the poor have taken its rise from imitating, or perhaps from is upon whom it is bestowed. "0,' saith Solomon, a desire to present to the converts a better substitute Jet not mercy and truth forsake thee. Bind them for those processions which the heathens used, at the about thy neck,' saith he, and write them on the same season, in honour of their idolatrous deity Ter- table of thy heart; so shalt thou find favour at God's minus, whom they considered as the “guardian of hands' (Prov. iii. 3). Thus honour thou the Lord fields and landmarks, and the keeper up of friendship with thy riches, and with the first-fruits of thine inand peace among men. The primitive custom used by
crease ; so shall thy barns be filled with abundance, the Christians on this occasion, was to accompany the and thy presses shall burst with new wine : nay, God bishop, or some of the clergy, into the fields, where hath promised to open the windows of heaven upon litanies (or supplications) were made, and the mercy the liberal, righteous man, that he shall want nothing, of God implored, that he would avert the evils of He will repress the devouring caterpillar, which would plague and pestilence, and give them, in due season, devour your fruits. He will give you peace and quiet the fruits of the earth.”+ The litanies, or rogations, to gather in your provision ; that ye may sit every then used gave the name of rogation-week to this
man under his own vine quietly, without fear of the time. After the Reformation these holy purposes foreign enemies to invade you. He will give you not were not lost sight of. Queen Elizabeth directed that only food to feed on, but stomachs and good appetites “the Church, at certain times and convenient places, to take comfort of your fruits, whereby in all things should admonish the people to give thanks unto God, ye may have sufficiency. Finally, he will bless you on the beholding of God's benefits, for the increase with all manner of abundance in this transitory life, and abundance of his fruits, saying the 103d Psalm," and endue you with all manner of benediction in the &c. It was also among the inquiries of the archdea- next world, in the kingdom of heaven, through the cons, whether the practice was duly observed in the merits of our Lord and Saviour: to whom, with the several parishes; and Herbert, in his “ Country Par- Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour everlasting. son," mentions the pious and sociable uses of this Amen." custom.
“The country parson," he says, "loves procession, and maintains it, because there are contained therein TIIE PREACHING OF THE CROSS. four manifest advantages. First, a blessing of God, for the fruits of the field; secondly, justice in the On mere human computation, the preaching of the preservation of bounds; thirdly, charity in loving, cross is, of all engines, the least likely to effect a walking, and neighbourly accompanying one another, moral revolution amongst men.
It would have been with reconciling of differences at that time, if there be
easy for Nahomet to predict, that by the processes any; fourthly, mercy in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution and largess, which at that time is or ought
which should be employed for the promulgation of his to be used. Wherefore he exacts of all to be present • From a Sermon by the Rev. H. Melvill, preached at the • From the “ Penny Sunday Reader."
anniversary of the Newfoundland and British North America + Brand, Popular Antiquities.