IX. Evidence of sincere Love to God.

If I love thee not, my blessed God, I know not what I love: If I am uncertain of this, I am uncertain of my Existence: If I love thee not, what is the Meaning of these pathetick Expressions, My God. My All! [34] thou Spring of my Life, and Fountain of my Happiness! my great Reward, and my exceeding Joy! the eternal Object of my Love, and supreme Felicity of my Nature! Does not my Heart attend my Lips in all this Language? How can this be, if my Soul does not love thee?

O my God, if I love thee not, what is the Meaning of this constant Uneasiness at thy Absence? From whence proceeds this painful Anxiety of Mind about thy Love, and all these intense, these restless Desires after thee? Why are all the Satisfactions of Life insipid without thee? Without my God what are Riches, and Honours, and Pleasures to me? I should esteem the Possession of the World but a Trifle, or rather my eternal Damage, if it must be purchased with the Loss of thy Favour. Thy Benignity is better than Life, and the Moments in which I enjoy a Sense of thy Love are the only happy Intervals of my Life. ’Tis then I live; ’tis then I am truly bless’d: ’Tis then I look down with Contempt on the little Amusements of the World, and pity them that want a Taste for these exalted Pleasures.

How calm, how peaceful in those Seasons are all the Regions of my Soul! I have [35] enough, I ask no more. Can they languish for the Stream, who drink at the overflowing Fountain? I have all the World, and more I have Heaven itself in thee: In thee I am completely and securely bless’d, and can defy the Malice of Earth and Hell to shake the Foundation of my Happiness, while thou dost whisper thy Love to my Soul. O blessed Stability of Heart! O sublime Satisfaction! Hast thou not told me that thou art mine by an inviolable Engagement, when my Soul devoted itself sincerely to thee? Does not thy word assure me, that the Mountains shall depart, and the Hills be remov’d; but thy Kindness shall not depart, nor the Covenant of thy Peace be broken?

Hast not thou terminated my Wishes, O Lord, in thyself, and fix’d my wandring Desires? Is it for Riches or Honour, for Length of Days, or Pleasure, that I follow thee with daily Importunities? Thou knowest these are not the Subject of my restless Petitions: Do I ever balance these Toys with thy Favour? Oh no: One smile of thine obscures all their Glory. When thou dost bless my retir’d Devotions with thy Presence, I can wink all created Beauty into Blackness. When I meet thee in my solitary Contemplations, with [36] what Contempt do I look back on the lessening World?

How dazzling is thy Beauty! how divine!

How dim the Lustre of the World to thine!

How dull are its Entertainments to the Pleasure of conversing with thee? Oh stay, in those happy Moments, cries my satisfy’d Soul:

Stay, my Beloved, with me here;

Stay till the Morning-star appear;

Stay till the dusky Shadows fly

Before the Day’s illustrious Eye.

Oh! stay till the gloomy Night of Life is past, and Eternity dawn on my Soul. There’s nothing in this barren Place to entertain me when thou art gone: I can relish nothing below after these celestial Banquets.

If I love thee not, what’s the meaning of this Impatience to be with thee? My Soul longeth, yea fainteth, for the Courts of the Lord; when shall I come and appear before thee? Oh! that I had the Wings of a Dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest.

Text: Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Devout Exercises of the Heart in Meditation and Soliloquy, Prayer and Praise. By the late Pious and Ingenious Mrs. Rowe. Review’d and Published at her Request by I. Watts, D. D. (London: Printed for R. Hett, at the Bible and Crown in the Poultry. M.DCC.XXXVIII [1738]), pp. 34-36.