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idea - laboriously endeavouring to elevate our minds to thee, myriads of superior unencumbered spirits are adoring thee as the God of love, and, entirely pervaded by the sentiment of thy love, enjoy extatic, ineffable felicities! Oh, that at least one ray of that more brilliant light which enlightens them, one spark of that superior life, of that more fervent devotion which animates them, might glance into our hearts, inflame them with thy love, and enable us to know and to feel, somewhat of that which no intelligent being can understand and feel without joy and felicity, and what hereafter will be the supreme joy and everlasting felicity of us, and all mankind, of all intelligent beings! God, affection, ate parent, even now may thy love be glorified in us, strengthen our weakness, quicken our dying life, and cause us every where to perceive thee and to feel thy love! - To thee who livest and reignest for ever the God of our salvation and hope, we thy reasonable creatures, in the name of Christ, and in full reliance on his promises, ask of thee these graces, and thus further address thee: Our father, &c.
JOHN iv. 16.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.
God is love ; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.
GOD is love! Who, my dear friends, who has
ever expressed so much truth, so much sublime, all involving, heart and soul rejoicing truth, in for few words as the apostle of Jesus in our text? And.
who was more capable, as far as man is capable, of being thoroughly sensible to this truth, than he, the favourite of our Lord, the most affectionate disciple of the tenderest master; he, whose sensible, sentimental heart was continually overflowing with love, who embraced all the confeffors of Jesus with such a glowing cordiality, and eyen in his extreme old age preached love to them as the first and greatest commandment of christianity, as the purest source of virtue and of felicity? -- But who of us, my pious hearers, who of all the children of men, which of all created beings can thoroughly apprehend the idea, the grand, the glorious idea, God is love? Whose heart is so large, so pure and strong, as to be thoroughly warmed and pervaded by the sublimest of all sentiments, the sentiment that God is love, and not faint under it ? -- To us, my christian brothers and sisters, who are this day assembled to enjoy the repast of love, to us this idea cannot be foreign, this sentiment cannot be unknown. But whether this idea diffuses a light, a clear and radiant light upon our minds ; whether this sentiment is productive of life and felicity to us, is a question of high importance. Such is its proper effect, my dear friends, and this it will infallibly produce, if we open the avenues of our hearts to its genial influence. Oh then, might I be so happy as, in these moments devoted to religious instruction, to give you a full view of this first, this grandest of all truths, the truth, that God is love, render it truly
affe&ting to your hearts, and by it diffuse joy and felicity within you and about you !
But where shall I begin where break off - in attempting to demonstrate a fact, which has more proofs in its behalf, than there are stars in the firmament and sands on the sea shore ; which is proved and will be for ever proved by every living, sensitive, intelligent, improvable being in heaven and on earth ? - God is love, he intends the welfare of all his creatures, designs them to be happy, delights in their happiness, is incessantly promoting it in all possible methods, and finds in the promotion of it his own supreme felicity : this, o man, this all nature declares to thee and particularly thy own, the human nature; this is declared to thee by all religion and particularly by christianity in the supper of our lord, in a voice so distinct and clear that it cannot be mistaken.
Only open thy eyes, cast thy looks around thee in the universe of thy God, consider all the parts of its economy, all its inhabitants, all its goods, and see whether thou dost not everywhere discern the fhining traces of benevolence, of parental care and tenderness, the most glorious provisions for the happiness of all that is and lives, and particularly for thy own. — The earth that bears thee; its lovely, smiling aspect that gladdens thy heart; the air which thou breatheft; the food which nourishes and strengthens thee; the liquors that refresh thee; the garment that covers thee; the dwelling that
shelters thee ; the glory of the meads, the fields, the mountains, the waters, the forests which are displayed to thy view in every season of the year in such a different garb; the diversity, the beauty, the utility of the trees, the shrubs, the plants, the herbs; the fragrance and the artificial texture of the flowers ; the blithe warbling of the birds ; the sportive gestures of the animals attesting the sentiment of self and the exuberance of joy; the various, inexhaustible energies concentrated in all living and lifeless creatures, and unfolding and appearing in numberless ways; their general, ever-active propensity to approach and unite ; their mutual dependence and connection ; the continual preservation and propagation of the several species ; the incessant augmentation of life and action among mankind and the brute creation; the innumerable kinds of the pleasure and the satisfaction of which they are severally capable, to the gratification whereof they all know and find the proper sources and means, and which they all, more or less, in one way or another enjoy; the jovial swarms of various sensitive beings, glad of their existence, revelling in the air and on the ground, on the hills and in the dales, on the leaf of the lowliest shrub and in the summits of the loftiest trees, which thou mayst see and hear and trace in a single day of spring or summer and within the limits of a moderate field: what do all these proclaim to thee, but, God is love; he creates and preserves
and disseminates everywhere life and joy and happiness.
And then, o man, the sun, which enlightens and warms thee, and fertilizes and blesses thy fields; the moon, that with serener ray illumes and cheers the melancholy face of night; the evening that constantly fhuts in the day, and the morning that regularly restores the light; the countless host of stars that ravisa and exalt thy soul, that lifts it to the deity, and at last absorbs it in extatic transports of anticipations, hopes and prospects : what says all this to thee, but, God is love, and his love is inexhaustible in bounty ; it stretches as far as the expanse of heaven extends ; it embraces all worlds, and there is no species of joy, of pleasure, of happiness, that is not enjoyed in its immense dominion.
And if thou now proceed to consider thy nature, human nature in particular, o man, how plainly does it testify, that God is love! - Thy fight, thy hearing, thy smell, thy taste, thy touch, what artificial organs, what watchful, ever-active spies and reporters of the most varied delight, the most agreeable sensations! Canst thou open thy eyes, without beholding innumerable wonders and beauties in the universe of God? Canft thou hearken, and not hear the various sounds of truth, of wisdom, of humanity, of friendship, of joy, or of pity, and consolation? Canst thou ever provide for thy support by meat and drink, but thy taste and thy smell