For the last time at present, I greet you in the name of the Lord, wishing you all the comfort and fortitude and joy which Christ intended his disciples to receive from his loving and sympathising words at l the table before he left them; and which they would always impart to us, if our minds were capable of continuous and lively remembrance.
THE REALITY OF DIVINE LOVE KNOWN AND LOVED OF GOD, AND DEARLY BE LOVED BY CHRIST,
It is one of the many evils of our present situation that the endearments of the truth seem empty phrases. As it is with the name of God's family the elect so it is with the love that belongs to them; it is talked of only to seem a mockery or a thing that strong men are ashamed of. But it is none the less a precious reality. It may seem as absent and dead as the flowers of summer in the depth of winter, but it exists as actually as the roots and seeds under the snow, and will come forth in beauty and fragrance in due season.
Paul speaks of "the comfort of love."
Love is comforting. We all feel the comfort of it, whether we are the subject or the object of it. It is the most beneficent mental activity in the universe. It blesses giver and receiver alike.
It is the highest phase of the Eternal Power, from which all things have sprung: God is love. He is truly many things besides: but love inspires and directs them all.
You do not experience much of love upon earth at present.* You are, in fact, languishing for want of it. A mother's love sweetened the early years of your life: the love of companions and friends continued the sweetness for a time: but as life rolled on and experience of human weakness increased in yourselves and others, the sweetness had gradually disappeared with the inrush of the bitter waters of a more accurate knowledge of all human things.
And now you find yourselves in a desert in the midst of many people, you are alone, and where love is mainly a thing of memory or of painful desire. And you groan within yourselves and pine for love, both to receive and bestow.
Now, there is an antidote to the unutterable sadness of this position, if we can but open the mind to its application. It lies in the fact that the elect, in the midst of their afflictions, are "known and loved of God and dearly beloved by Christ." You have only to believe the fact to feel the comfort of it. You cannot feel it by looking into your own heart. The fact does not lie in your feelings, but quite outside of them, just as any friend's love is a fact outside of your own feelings. To feel the comfort of your friend's love, you look at its indications his acts, his words, his looks. These inspire you with the confidence of his love, and the confidence brings comfort. If you trusted to your own sensations apart from the tokens of love, you could not feel either the confidence or the comfort.
It is much more so with the love of God. If you trust to your feelings, you will never know it, for there is no point of contact between human feeling and divine thoughts. God's thoughts are outside of us, and as much higher than our thoughts as heaven is higher than the earth, as God says (Isa. 55:12).
What you must do is to look at its tokens. These are of a somewhat different order from the tokens of human love, yet it will be found upon reflection that they are not less tangible or convincing. There are words and acts (historically reflected) there are looks. The difference is that they are not personal to ourselves. Doubtless, this is a great difference as regards our ability to appropriate the comfort; still it does not affect the essence of the thing: the tokens have only to be looked at steadily to bring the conviction that will produce the comfort.
* That is, outside the Body of Christ. Even inside the Brother hood, love is sometimes lacking, and we feel a desire for the warm assurance of understanding affection based on the common acceptance of the Truth, and a mutual co-operation in its activities and ideals. When this is lacking, we can always turn to the Father through prayer and bask in the warmth of His love, recognising that "God is love," and if He be for us, who can successfully oppose us.