Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A New Chapter

January 18, 2016

I write as I learn, and learn as I write. This has been my experience in the seven or so years since this blog began. The last three years have, through life’s annoying way of interrupting one’s writing schedule, been quiet on this front.

I hope the next years will be different, and as far as it lies within me, I plan to write again with the same frequency as before. However, new beginnings (including the beginning of a terminal degree) call for spring-cleaning all round. I’ll be closing this shop (though keeping it open for lurkers and learners). My hopefully more-frequent posts will now be found at Churches Without Chests, and often cross-posted to Religious Affections Ministries.

If you’ve been a subscriber here, and enjoyed the posts, feel free to join up over there. If enjoyment is the last adjective you’d use to describe encountering my writing, feel free to remain free of me. Freedom is a wonderful thing.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

 

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Where the Differences Lie

April 25, 2015

Useful debate takes place when sparring parties understand their opponent’s position, and can represent it in terms the opponent would agree with. Apart from this proper knowledge, disagreements cannot be profitably discussed, for the disagreements are not even properly understood. What follows this ignorance is usually a headache of talking past one another, flaming straw men, arguing against caricatures and stereotypes, dismissing positions out of hand – all in all, much sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In the ten years since I came to embrace conservatism, I have watched and participated in a number of sound-and-fury debates with other Christians, usually online. The debates have typically been around worship forms, music, ministry philosophies or techniques. In short, the debates have been around how Christianity is to be incarnated in modern culture.

I cannot claim that I represent ‘The Conservative Christian Position’ (how would one determine that, anyway?). I can claim that I am in sympathy with conservatives such as Richard Weaver, T.S. Eliot, Roger Scruton, and others. I can claim that I am a Christian, and I think conservatism and Christianity require one another to be consistent and healthy. I, and others like me, have tried to articulate what a conservative Christianity looks like in modern culture.

I have come to see the intensity of the debate is often because our interlocutors do not understand how deep the differences lie. They see the differences to be relatively superficial applications of ministry, and see the conservative’s vehement disagreement as incomprehensibly stubborn. If you see the differences as cosmetic, unwillingness to budge can be nothing other than pigheadedness. On the other hand, if some of my debate-opponents had known how far apart we really are, they may have questioned whether we share the same faith, or at least if we see with the same eyes. I suggest there are three areas of difference between a conservative Christian and his progressive/ pragmatic/ liberal counterpart. Each level leads to the next, where the disagreement is deeper.

On the first level, we disagree on what should be used or done in corporate worship, ministry, or Christian living because we differ over what these things mean, or signify. We differ on what certain forms of music mean, what certain cultural phenomena such as dress, or poetry, or technology mean. Because we disagree on what they mean, we disagree on their appropriateness for worship, ministry and Christian living in general. You can read men such as Ken Myers, Leonard Bernstein, or Roger Scruton to read how I’d understand the meaning of these cultural phenomena. This leads to a second level of disagreement.

On the second deeper level, we disagree as to whether what these cultural artifacts mean corresponds with something in reality. Romans 14 could end the debate for us all, unless we had a difference in whether ‘appropriateness’ is a matter of morality or preference. Here our disagreement is deeper: it is epistemological. We differ on whether there is such a thing as moral knowledge, or knowledge of beauty, and whether such things can be true. Underneath the surface of what worship forms mean, is a deeper debate about whether beauty exists in reality, and whether our cultural forms are supposed to correspond to that or not. C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man or Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences consider the ideas of moral, aesthetic or personal knowledge.

This difference as to whether there exists true aesthetic knowledge or true moral knowledge reveals the third and most severe difference. On the deepest level, we disagree about the nature of reality itself. Ours is a metaphysical difference. In my experience, I find those debating me to be people who profess the Christian faith, but are modernists in their understanding of reality. That is, they see the world very similarly to a naturalist scientist: the world exists independently of human beings, following natural laws. A chasm exists between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ realities. Objective realities, to them, refer to the concrete material world. To these, my Christian [modernist] counterpart will add to his list of objective realities God’s existence, the supernatural or unseen world, and the objective propositions of God’s Word. Subjective realities, to him, refers to perceptions of beauty, judgements of value, and personal relationships. Matters of imagination, intuition, and aesthetic judgements belong to a private world of individual preference. They are nothing more than self-contained experiences inside a human’s consciousness, which do not affect the objective world of the natural, created order.

I don’t believe that such is the world, and neither did people like Eliot, Weaver, or, in my opinion, David, Isaiah or John. Certainly, I believe in the reality of the created order, and that the world exists apart from my perception. I agree that concrete facts about the world can be objectively measured. However, I do not believe that the ‘subjective’ world is nothing more than a brain firing neurons at itself when it perceives ‘the objective world’.

Rather, subjective knowledge is the only kind we have access to. In fact, I don’t believe it is possible for humans to ever possess pure ‘objective’ knowledge as long as they remain living, perceiving, subjects. Your pupil cannot see itself from itself. Owen Barfield, Michael Polanyi, and Weaver will be helpful to get your mind around this one.

Subjective perception is in fact the God-given faculty of judgement of a meaning-saturated creation, which can either conform to the reality God wishes me to see, or skew it. That is, the world, (including us human subjects) is made by a meaning-making, moral, Person. Consequently, all that is made is invested with meaning – what God meant to signify with it. All that is made is also invested with morality – the goodness and beauty God meant it to have. My debate-partner and I don’t just disagree about whether there is such a thing as moral knowledge, we disagree about whether the universe is moral. My counterpart might agree that the Ten Commandments are moral. I think sub-atomic particles are moral.

A meaningful, moral universe does not exist independently from moral persons, the way scientific naturalism asserts. It exists by the word of a Person – God – and it exists in the form we perceive it for persons – us. (We see colour, but individual atomic particles don’t have colour.) And it is rightly perceived and understood, not when we merely examine it under a microscope or dissect it, but when we receive it reverently as meaningful, moral, and personal. We are supposed to understand that we are part of the web of the created order, and only a reverent, personal, moral relationship with the personal Creator can enable our subjective perceptions of creation to correspond to what God meant by it.

To put it simply, we can understand what is ‘out’ there, or we can misunderstand what is ‘out’ there. Here science is helpless, except to give us facts, nor can our senses independently figure it out. A right relationship with God enables us to understand the meaning of what is ‘out there’, which is the same as the truth of what’s out there – what my counterpart would like to call objective. But this truth is more than physical properties, it is beauty, goodness, and meaningful analogy. I cannot know objective truth independently; I must embrace the fact that I am a subject, and can only perceive and understand what God reveals to me. I must pursue His judgement as to what is true, good and beautiful, to rightly construe what my senses perceive. That’s not a preference; that’s submission.

This is why, for me, the questions of beauty are not questions of decoration, excellence, or good decorum. Beauty is part of the fabric of the universe. Aesthetic knowledge is fundamental to knowing God Himself. The subjective knowledge of goodness and beauty as God sees it, the subjective, personal knowledge of God is, in fact, the only way to know Truth.

That’s where the difference really lies.

“Redeeming” the F-Word

April 9, 2014

I imagine a day, in the not too distant future, in which Christians will be talking about how the F-word can be used for the glory of God. The arguments will proceed along these lines:

1) Everyone will be reminded that the F-word is just a word, a neutral utterance, beginning with the fricative f, followed by the short u, and ending with the voiceless velar k. We’ll be told that this same combination of sounds is used in other languages, such as vak in Afrikaans (meaning “subject”), proving that there is nothing inherently evil in the sound of the word.

2) We’ll then be told that times have changed. When Rhett Butler uttered his “Frankly, my dear” line in Gone With the Wind (1939), it barely slipped through the censor’s net. Today, the same word is free-floated around family sitcoms. Movies with the F-word barely get a 13 rating. The culture is no longer shocked by it, it has entered common usage. “WTF” is now a common abbreviation on the web. What’s the big deal?, we’ll be asked. Let’s move on folks, and stop getting all freaked out by what is so yesterday.

3) Along those lines, we’ll be informed that reaching a neighbour who swears will require using the F-word in conversation. Such people use the F-word as a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and as an interjection. With such a common use of the word, we won’t be able to effectively reach a man embedded in the F-word lifestyle, unless we meet him where he is. Contextualisation and missional living requires that we lay aside our preferences of not using the F-word, and begin to use it for the sake of the Gospel. After all, didn’t Jesus eat and drink with sinners? And didn’t Paul become all things to all men?

4) We’ll then be told that Christians who don’t use the F-word ought not to judge those who do. Romans 14 will be enlisted as the proof text: one man regards the F-word as unclean, another man regards it as clean, so let each man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Most importantly though, those objecting to the F-word should realise that such harsh, judgemental attitudes are more like the Pharisees than like Christ. At least the F-word Christians give liberty to the other side to not use the F-word. Why can’t the objectors exercise the same grace?

5) We’ll be informed that the F-word is a matter of vocabulary preference. Some prefer to use it, some don’t. There is no sin in it either way. The problem comes when people allow their preferences in vocabulary to get in the way of gospel-work. F-word usage is a peripheral issue, merely a style of language, and not a hill to die on.

6) F-word advocates will demand that their critics find a Scripture that forbids the F-word. When confronted with Ephesians 4:29, they’ll point out that what makes communication corrupt or filthy is its intention. If someone intends to use the F-word for sin, then it is filthy, but if it is used for the glory of God, then that neutral word is being redeemed. To the pure all things are pure, you see.

7) Then, the enormous good being done by Christians that are redeeming the F-word will be pointed to. We’ll hear testimonies of people who didn’t give the Christian message a second glance until they heard an F-word preacher or evangelist, who seemed to make it all so real and authentic. Conversion stories and accounts of great inroads into foul-mouthed communities (which will by then be a passé term) will show that God is using Christian cursers for His glory. To such evidence, those objecting will be seen as cultural outsiders, pharisees, closed-minded bigots with no heart for the lost, no ministry-zeal, and no love for people.

8) Public evangelical figures will be quick to endorse the F-word users, and while making it clear that they don’t necessarily use it themselves, they will state that they are so happy for those who do so for the glory of God. And they will make sure they distance themselves from those closed-minded bigots who judge negatively these tremendous ministries.

Behold, the time cometh, and now is.

Invitation to the Devotional Classics – On Loving God

October 23, 2013

Reading works from the Middle Ages is a strange experience. Some of their theological blind-spots seem to us to be so obvious that only willful blindness can appear explain it, we might say. Alongside these errors, we often find ardent devotion to God, written with a fervency and vehemence that would seem forced and phoney in our world of theological precision and devotional frigidity. For these reasons, we might do well to read Bernard of Clairvaux.

After all, his errors are so transparent, there is very little chance that a modern reader is in danger of being persuaded. Bernard’s rallying cry to the Crusades, his beliefs in Mary as Mediatrix, and his call for the faithful to pray to her are errors which we would quickly spot, and just as quickly oppose.

But right alongside this are works which stir us deeply with their piety. Most of us have sung English translations of Bernard’s poems in the hymns Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving HeartsJesus the Very Thought of Thee, and O Sacred Head Now Wounded. And at the top of the list of devotional works would be his treatise On Loving God.

Bernard states, “You want me to tell you why God is to be loved and how much. I answer, the reason for loving God is God Himself; and the measure of love due to Him is immeasurable love…We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable. When one asks, Why should I love God? he may mean, What is lovely in God? or What shall I gain by loving God? In either case, the same sufficient cause of love exists, namely, God Himself.”

The rest of this short work explains the theme, giving both how reasonable it is to love God (His glorious merits), and how profitable it is (the rewards, the joy, and the future hope). He describes what he sees as four degrees of love, and how we might attain it. For those who doubt that the idea of ordinate affection is found outside of the writers of this blog, read C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, Blaise Pascal, Augustine, and then Bernard. You’ll notice they’re tackling the same question: what does it mean to love God? What kind of love is the love we give God? And they write not because they believe the question is unanswerable, but because they believe the question is difficult and worth tackling carefully.

We who live in the emotionally burnt-over land of sentimentalism and modern pop culture would find a tonic in writers like Bernard. Hearing a writer from the 12th century, with no knowledge of our worship wars, taking on the question of what it means to love God, is certainly worth our time. I commend to your reading On Loving God.

Editor’s note: this book is available through Religious Affections Ministries here.

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford

July 19, 2013

It is strange what comfort can be gained from reading other people’s letters! Certainly this is true of many books of the Bible, and it is also true of much correspondence from one Christian to another.

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford are justly celebrated as a rich devotional feast. Much of their value comes from the suffering circumstances which Rutherford endured, and in which many of the letters were penned.

Rutherford was a Scottish Presbyterian minister who lived through the tumultuous period of the abolition of the British Monarchy, the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, the Westminster Assembly, and finally the restoration of the monarchy. He was banished to Aberdeen and forbidden to preach in 1636, and restored in 1638. When Charles II was restored, Rutherford was charged with treason, but died before his trial.

A typical collection of his letters includes a variety of persons addressed: parishioners, fellow ministers, nobles, countesses and a few unknowns. His letters sing of the sufficiency of Christ, and of the need to seek Him and adore him. Themes of assurance, suffering, pastoral concern, prayer, experiential knowledge of Christ, holiness and deep repentance are found throughout.

What makes these letters more than the average Puritan fare, is the ardent tone with which Rutherford speaks of Christ. He longs for Christ when he seems absent, and seems to sing of Christ’s sweetness in others. The letters are instructive, pastoral, and sometimes even painfully corrective. Yet they seldom fail to be acts of adoration for Christ. For this reason, Rutherford’s Letters have come to be considered gems of devotion.

Doing Our Own Thing

May 31, 2013

Winner of “Best Book Subtitle of the Last Decade” must surely go to John McWhorter’s Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Music and Language And Why We Should, Like, Care. McWhorter is witty, disarming, and generally enjoyable (if, unfortunately, lewd in places) while arguing a serious and convincing thesis. He is no grammar-maven, writing another jeremiad about a general decline in proper grammar, or bemoaning folks (like us) who mix up their whos with their whoms. McWhorter’s point is more interesting than that.Doing our own thing

Doing Our Own Thing points out what the grammar-police often miss: there has always been a difference between conversational language and that used in formal oratory or written prose. Just about every culture has a colloquial, spoken form, and a ‘dressed-up’, eloquent form, seen in its diction, precision, and overall style. Everyday conversation includes a lot of hedging (“like”, “sort of” “kind of like” “y’know”), repetition, and colloquialisms. McWhorter has no complaint about this, and documents historical examples of how the language on the street and the language on the page or behind the lectern are, and have always been, very different animals. Having made this point, McWhorter’s book gets interesting.

He shows, using examples of speeches and letters, that the tone of formal oratory and prose has been tending towards the conversational and colloquial since the 60s. Speeches by senators in the 40s, and in the early 2000s are markedly different. Articles from the 1920s read very differently from those 90 years later. McWhorter suggests that the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s enshrined informality, and turned the wider culture against any form of artifice. Language that is carefully written, artfully constructed, and poetic in quality, has come to be viewed as inauthentic, staged, and one more attempt by some intellectual-types to lord it over the common man. Sincerity, authenticity, keeping it real, is represented by an off-the-cuff, everyday style in  speaking and writing. Once again, McWhorter is not raging against the conversational language we all use.  He is asking why those domains where language used to put on its Sunday best now prefer that it  be in beach-clothes.

One cannot blame populism or the triumph of mass culture. These were present in the 50s, when the general public still expected speeches, letters and journalistic prose to contain English used with beauty, finery, and elegance. McWhorter homes in on the oratory of UC Berkeley activist Mario Savio in the 1960s, whose semi-refined, colloquial hybrid speeches set matters in motion for the counter-culture rejection of stylized form in oratory and writing. McWhorter’s thesis may be correct. Since then, the culture in general tends to be suspicious of form, suspecting some kind of chicanery, manipulation or power-play by The Establishment Elites when any artifice is detected. Only what seems to ooze out of us spontaneously is real, and anyone writing or speaking in a formal tone must be a snob, trying to strut his intellectual prowess before us all.

This has profound implications for preachers. Is preaching the same as teaching?  It seems to me that the teaching and admonishing of one another commanded in Colossians 3:16 can take place in all kinds of situations, which would surely use the everyday, conversational style of speaking. However, is the act of preaching the same or different from these contexts? Paul’s sermon in Athens (at least what Luke redacted into written form) appears to follow a rhetorical form that is elegant, artfully constructed and formalised. It certainly doesn’t seem like the language he would use while reasoning with people in the marketplace. Peter’s sermons seem likewise elevated in form and tone.

If preaching is meant to be a kind of authoritative declaration, with language employed to delight, convict, and disturb in ways not possible for conversational speaking, we are faced with a cultural dilemma. The average man is suspicious of artifice, and might be quick to believe that it represents more hypocrisy and religious snake-oil. He wants his preacher to be real, which to him means conversational, colloquial, and possibly, (here and there, at least) profane. The church needs to reach that man. How shall we go about it?

To answer that question, we will have to answer several others. Does Paul’s ‘plainness’ (or ‘boldness’) of speech (2 Cor 3:12) correspond to colloquialisms and conversational language? Does God’s providential use of koine Greek for the New Testament suggest that the high tones of oratory have little place in the church? Is formalized oratory the mere ‘wisdom of men’ (1 Cor 2:4-5)? Even if not, does its perceived pretentiousness call us to embrace a more conversational tone for the sake of ‘contextualisation’? Does the nature of the message, and the nature of the occasion of preaching call for a specific tone not found in other settings? Can the conversational tone fail to command responses that a more elegant tone can? Does our current cultural situation call for artful rhetoric all the more, or do the demands of reaching the lost call us to adapt our approach to what men are familiar with? How shall we limit our own freedoms, rights, and preferences to reach men (1 Cor 9:19-22), without peddling the Gospel (2 Cor 2:17)?

The Power and Place of Ridicule

April 9, 2013

A post like this may seem to some like those who call evil good and good evil. Can there be anything edifying in ridicule? Is ridicule ever an exercise in saying what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous and praiseworthy?

Our aversion to ridicule may not be because we side so strongly with principles of biblical communication. It may be that we have not sufficiently loved what God loves, so as to hate what God hates. Perhaps our dismissal of ridicule as a lawful form of expression for a Christian represents a concession to our culture’s apathy and indifference to right and wrong, and deference to a kind of social equanimity, so visibly manifested in what is called “Minnesota Nice” in that cheerful and chilly State. Courtesy, aversion to argumentativeness or conflict, quiet and modest disagreement, and a generous opinion of all others is seen as ‘niceness’, and of course, Christians are supposed to lead the pack in niceness.

No doubt we could quickly proof-text the importance of being peace-makers, of the courtesy and benevolence contained in love, and of being winsome witnesses to Christ. Who would deny these? No Christian I know of. However, what is often denied is the plain fact that Scripture contains plenty of ridicule, some of it from the lips of the godliest men in Scripture, whose examples we are to imitate.

Elijah is doing nothing less than ridiculing the prophets of Baal when he asks if their God is on a journey or otherwise indisposed. God, through the mouth of Isaiah, mocks the man who uses one end of a piece of wood to bake his bread, and the other end to become his god. Jeremiah does the same, adding that Israel reminds one of camels and donkeys in heat. God ridicules Job’s impertinence in demanding answers from the Almighty by asking him what would be elementary on a Grade One Creator exam. Solomon mocks the sluggard as a squeaky door on its hinges, the lustful youth as a dumb animal to the slaughter, the complaining wife as an incessant dripping on a rainy day, and the fool as a vomit-lapping dog. It’s hard not to see Paul’s descriptions of the Cretans as ridicule, and what else shall we call our Lord’s descriptions of the Pharisees, when He called them blind leaders of the blind, or pictured them praying with themselves thanking God that they were not as other men?

It is the quick-and-easy response of the Niceness Police to point out that these expressions came either from God Himself or from apostles and prophets, and we have no business trying to mimic them. To which I respond, how do you know? On what basis do you place the scorn and ridicule of the Bible as off-limits to God’s people today? Did Scripture teach you that? Do Scriptures such as Ephesians 5:4 or Philippians 4:8 actually indict the verbal behaviour of the prophets and the Lord Himself? It would seem we need to find a place for Scripture’s use of ridicule and scorn, not bowlderise it. We need to harmonise ridicule with principles of godly communication, not embalm it as a historical curiosity.

What does ridicule do? By making sport of the object, we laugh. When we laugh, we know that the object is not to be taken seriously. We are not to lend credibility to Baal worship, or Pharisaism. Such beliefs and behaviours are contemptuous and should be scorned. By encouraging and provoking contempt for what God hates, we may create a simultaneous piety toward what God loves.

Why should we choose ridicule over a less edgy form of expression? In the nature of things, not every opinion needs to be treated seriously, because not every opinion has been seriously considered or seriously articulated. Not every act deserves serious consideration, for not every act has been seriously contemplated for its meaning, or seriously performed. If the speakers and doers were not serious to begin with, do they merit being taken seriously? Should we unjustly lend them treatment they do not deserve? Should I listen to a nonsense rhyme with the scrutiny I give to Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion? If someone is acting like a duffer and a goofball, the perfectly appropriate response is to point out that he is acting like a goofball and a duffer.

Great danger looms here, however. Scripture warns us against the reckless scoffer and the careless mocker. Ridicule is a tool like fire. The trained fireman actually knows a constructive use for fire. He knows the importance of destroying for the sake of conservation: creating fire-breaks to prevent further damage, razing a condemned structure to prevent further injury or death, allowing fires to burn themselves out, lest they persist and spread. The eight-year-old boy is simply thrilled to see something burn. Scorn and contempt in the hands of a youth or a novice usually does little but harm.

Before we take up the flame-thrower of ridicule, we must be deeply committed to conserving the faith. We would not want to destroy anything true, good and beautiful while torching something else. We should demonstrate our deep love for what God loves, and display how much we cherish, the true, the pure, the just, the noble, the lovely, and the virtuous. Let those careful communicators who know what is to be kept, and what is to be incinerated, use the flame of ridicule to create love for what God loves.

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April 3, 2013

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Topics I’d Like To See At a Conference (But Probably Never Will)

January 22, 2013

1. “Ridding Your Church of Entertainment”
2. “Training Your Future Pastors When They’re Still Children”
3. “Music Education in the Church: A Priority”
4. “Replacing Youth Groups With Effective Discipleship of the Young”
5. “Meaning and Morality – Teaching Christians Discernment for All of Life”
6. “Preaching and Classical Rhetoric”
7. “Thinking Christianly: The Real Objective of a Christian School”
8. “Returning Four-Part Hymn Singing to Your Congregation”
9. “Less is More: Supporting Less Missionaries With More for Sustainable Indigenous Ministry”
10. “Why It Takes Ten Years (Or More) To Get a Church Planted”
11. “Equipping the Saints: The Pastor As Coach, Not Performer”
12. “Architecture and Reverence: Designing Meeting Places Meant for Worship”
13. “Membership and Covenanting: The Lost Art of Mutual Oaths”
14. “Pragmatic Ministry & Why It Doesn’t Work”
15. “Body-Life: Teaching a Church Community to Behave Like One”
16. “Contextualization: An Excuse For Anything-Goes Evangelism?”
17. “The Lost Art of Public Prayers”
18. “Evangelism in an Apostate Culture: Redefining ‘the Lost’”
19. “Table Manners – Approaching the Lord’s Supper As More Than A Tag-On”
20.

Feel free to add to the list.

Raise Thee, My Soul

November 2, 2012

Raise thee, my soul, fly up, and run
Through every heav’nly street,
And say, there’s naught below the sun
That’s worthy of thy feet.

Thus will we mount on sacred wings,
And tread the courts above;
Nor earth, nor all her mightiest things,
Shall tempt our meanest love.

There on a high majestic throne
Th’ Almighty Father reigns,
And sheds his glorious goodness down
On all the blissful plains.

Bright like a sun the Saviour sits,
And spreads eternal noon;
No evenings there, nor gloomy nights,
To want the feeble moon.

Amidst those ever-shining skies,
Behold the sacred Dove!
While banished sin and sorrow flies
From all the realms of love.

The glorious tenants of the place
Stand bending round the throne;
And saints and seraphs sing and praise
The infinite Three One.

But O! what beams of heav’nly grace
Transport them all the while
Ten thousand smiles from Jesus’ face,
And love in every smile!

Jesus! and when shall that dear day,
That joyful hour, appear,
When I shall leave this house of clay,
To dwell amongst them there?

– Isaac Watts