Almighty God, truly thou dost remember thy children, and with infinite mindfulness dost thou watch thine own, in all the way that they take, in all the sufferings they undergo, and in all the purposes which form the inspiration of their life. We rejoice that there is an eye evermore looking upon us which never slumbers and never sleeps; it is our joy to believe that the arms of everlasting strength are round about us, and that the defenses of omnipotence protect us from all injury. This is our confidence in God; this creates the music of our life and the hope of our gladdest expectation. We rejoice and are exceeding glad because the covenant of the Lord is written in righteousness and is signed with his own best name of love. Though the righteous stumble, he shall not utterly fall, though he be cast down, he shall not be utterly destroyed; the Lord’s hand is round about him, behold his defense is greater than fire.
We have tested thy word; all thy promises have been renewed and redeemed in our own experience; we are the living to bless thee; we are the living to magnify thy name. Truly, each of us can say, “This poor man cried unto the Lord and he heard him, and delivered him out of his distresses.” Thou didst find us in the deep clay and in the horrible mire, and thou hast set our feet upon a rock and lifted up our face towards the sun; thou hast hidden thy word in our hearts—it has been meat to us in the time of keen hunger, and water from heaven in the hour of distressing thirst. Thou hast made thine angels our ministering servants, and thy comforts have delighted and strengthened our souls. What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward us? We would give him our whole life, we would spare nothing of our energy, we do but render thee thine own, for we are bought with a price, and our body and our soul are God’s. We remember the price thou dost pay for our redemption; we are not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ; we are the purchase of his sacrifice; we are the trophies of his redeeming strength. He is our Priest, our Sacrifice, our Reconciliation, he is our all and in all; we would see no man in our redemption but Jesus only, and lying low before his cross, hiding our mouth in the dust, by reason of infinite shame, we would hope to receive the offer and the gift of thy pardon because Jesus died for us.
We thank thee for this glorious gospel; it turns our weakness into strength, it sows the very stars of light upon the field of infinite darkness, and it brings us hope when reason brings us nothing but despair. Our trust is in Christ, our daily confidence is in his blessed cross; we flee to him for succour, for pardon, for hope; we find all we need in thy Son, our Saviour—his riches are unsearchable.
We give thee praises for all thy kindness to us during the time that has elapsed since we met together in holy fellowship at the altar. Thou hast kept our eyes from tears, our feet from falling, and our soul from death; thou hast renewed our youth, thou hast rekindled the lamp of our hope, our table thou hast spread, our chamber thou hast watched, our house has been surrounded by thy protecting angels. We therefore take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord, and bless him with all our love, and trust him with our whole heart. Thou hast brought some of us up from long solitude, wherein we have seen the darkness of afflicting providences; thou hast chastened us sore, thou hast reduced our strength so that it has been turned into the weakness of water; thou hast given us to feel how frail we are and how little before thee. Yet hast thou nourished us with secret comfort and enlightened us with glory from heaven, and now that we have returned to thy house having exchanged the chamber of affliction and solitude for the open church of enjoyment and high Christian fellowship and rapture, we thank thee for all thy mercies, we bless thee for thy gentle care. Others of us thou hast been with on land and on sea, at home and in distant places; thou hast brought us from our wanderings to our accustomed associations. The Lord’s mercy be magnified and praised in daily hymn for all this wondrous care. Thou dost number the hairs of our head, thou dost watch our steps, thou dost keep our feet from falling, thou art mindful of thine own, thy patience is long-suffering, thy love what man can measure? We therefore praise thee, yea we bless thee, yea we magnify thee, yea with all music would we elevate thy name, and call upon our soul and all that is within us to give honour unto God, to whom we owe our life and our hope.
Let the study of thy word be useful to us today—may we eat of thy word as men who are hungered eat of bread, may we drink of thy word as those who are dying of thirst long for living streams. Destroy all prejudice that would hinder a right conception of thy sacred messages, release us from the anxieties and reflections and tormenting fears of this world, and give us such sympathy with light, divinity, and all things spiritual and truly beautiful, as shall enable us to regard this service as a banquet spread by the king’s own hand, and may we hear his welcome and enjoy his hospitality.
The Lord’s blessing, like the light of the sun, run everywhere and carry with it morning and hope and summer, and all the joy of life. The Lord visit the sick-chamber, the prison where the penitent lies, the land where the prodigal mourns his folly and curses his sin. Be with the broken-hearted, the spirit suffering in silence that dare not utter itself in mortal speech, be with the widow and the fatherless in their affliction and dumb hopelessness; be with the man who utters today his first prayer, with the pilgrim who is just going home, with the little child, opening like a bud in the summer morning—yea, be with every one of us, exclude none from thy blessing, that the appeal of thy love may be the beginning of our redemption. Amen