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- Song of Solomon
by Joseph Parker
Almighty God, we know thee as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the God of plagues and judgments. If we have shut our eyes to thy providence, we have not thereby dethroned and dismissed the Living One: thou art still working; the rod is still in thy hand, the blessing is still in thy heart. Clouds and darkness are round about thee; righteousness and judgment are the habitations of thy throne. Our song shall be of mercy and judgment. We will remember the goodness and the severity of the Lord, and our song shall be lifted up with fearlessness, as they sing who love, and they praise whose hearts are aflame with thankfulness. We will bless the Lord at all times: yea, his praise shall be continually in our mouth. We will say of the Lord, he is good; he is a Shepherd, a Father, a Redeemer, a strong tower to which we may continually resort. We will speak boldly of thee, with great, broad confidence, as those who know what they affirm, and who have lived the doctrine which they express. We bring to thee no broken song, no half praise, no reluctant homage and adoration; but a whole heart full of love, a memory charged with gratitude, and a soul which, having tasted the bitterness of sin and the pain of hell, would go out of the Father's house no more for ever. Thou dost bring the shadows of dying time around us; yea, every day time dies in the sunset, and eternity seems to open in the immeasurable darkness. Every day is a parable of duration; every day is a hint of thy method of working: thou dost make us young in the morning, strong and valiant men in the noonday, and then so gently dost thou bring in the calm eventide that we hardly know when the sun goes and the first star of silver gleams in the sky; then the great darkness, the unconscious sleep, the death for a moment, to be followed by resurrection; and so dost thou conduct us through undulating and ever-varying time, so that we might learn every day what we are, whither we are bent, of what we are capable, and feel upon us, now the warmth and stimulus of morning, and now the calm and solemnity of judgment. The years come and go, but thou abidest for ever, thy throne is the same; heavens grow old and earth sinks through very age, and the planet wheels take fire because of continued friction, and the whole upbuilding of the starry places falls into ruin; but thou art the same, thy years fail not, thou changest not, thy covenant is an unbroken bond, thy love an eternal oath. So we stand not in things that can be seen and measured, and that must perish, but in the love of God, in the covenant of the Most High, in the Cross of Christ, in the intercession of the one Melchisedek. We bless thee for all the comfort we have enjoyed in the past, for all hints of thy grace, for all sudden gleamings of thy presence, and for the broad, calm, general providence which has often been mistaken for monotony. "We mourn our sins, we cannot sponge out one of them, but the blood of Jesus Christ thy Son cleanseth from all sin, is cleansing sin out of the universe, and will cleanse it until the end cometh, when the universe shall be pure as heaven, and all men shall be anxious only to sing the songs of God. The Lord keep us the few remaining days of this little life. Save us from the folly of anxiety, from the atheism of despair; and though we have but a little while to live, and may all the time be rocked by the storm, yet may we measure nothing by time and so mismeasure it, but measure all things by eternity, and let all time things fall into their proper littleness. Amen.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18