Saturday, February 20, 2010

moved, melted, and won...

Part of my practice this Lenten season is to read daily in the Church Fathers.  Yesterday, I came across this from "The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians". "The all-merciful and beneficent Father," wrote Clement, "has bowels of compassion towards those that fear Him, and kindly and lovingly bestows His favours upon those who come to Him with a simple mind.."  Nathan Parker speaks of that compassion in this continuation of a sermon begun here.

 "What then is the designed effect of the divine goodness ?

The benevolence of God is a theme, to which the devout man ever delights to direct his thoughts. He rejoices in the divine mercy. All that he beholds of order, of power, of beauty and wisdom in the works and providence of God, is regarded by him as illustrative of his goodness ; for it has reference to the happiness of his creatures. In the joyous passages of life he rejoices in the smiles of an affectionate Parent, and regards them as the pledges, as well as the proofs of his love. When darkness gathers around him, the hand of mercy is seen. At such seasons his heart, though it may bleed, murmurs not. Deeply sensible of the imperfections of his own character, and of the necessary relation of holiness to happiness, he does not think it either strange or unkind, that he is occasionally called to endure affliction ; but while he suffers he clings more closely to the perfections of his God, rejoicing that infinite love is guarding him in his conflicts. He, therefore, improves afflictions. They are made to minister to the perfection of his character, to the fulness of his joy...

Nature and providence act in perfect harmony with the gospel of God's grace. The general expression around us is that of benevolence. God is not perpetually walking forth in the whirlwind, or sending abroad the terrors of his thunder, or desolating the earth with pestilence and famine. The general voice of nature and of providence is that of mildness and love. Judgment is a strange work. Jesus also speaks to men in accents of compassion, of kindness. He proclaims peace, not peace to the wicked, but to those who are moved, melted, and won by his love..."

1 comment:

David G. Markham said...

Dear BU:

I have always had trouble with God described as the Father metaphor who is compassionate and kind on the one hand and punitive and wrathful on the other.

This view of God seems very juvenile to me and does very little for my spirituality.

The God I believe in is the power of the universe which behaves according to natural laws. It's our job as human beings to figure this out and behave accordingly.

I don't blame God for the bad things that happen, and I don't thank God for the good things that happen. God doesn't have much to do with it other than having set the whole thing into motion.

The idea that God loves us is beside the point that we, humans, have our existence and we are called upon to make the best of it for ourself and our fellow travelers.

I continue to pray for your wife, her mother, and your family. I hope that things are being managed as best as they can be.

All the best,

David Markham