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~Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

      

       Reading only the title or the first line, we assume that this is a hymn extolling the love of God.  But its message is far more specific.

       Who is the “Joy of heaven, to earth come down?”  It is Jesus Christ who comes to make our hearts His humble dwelling.  The third line of the first stanza makes it clear.  Jesus is “pure, unbounded love” – the love of God made manifest – the love of God incarnate, in the flesh.  The hymn, then, is really a prayer to Christ who is Love Divine. But there are still other obscure phrases in the hymn.  What is “that second rest” that we are asking to find?

       Here it helps to know something of the doctrinal emphasis of the Wesleys and of all the early Methodists.  They believed that after conversion there is a second experience for the Christian – that when one totally consecrates himself to Christ, his heart is cleansed from all sin.  The experience is called “entire sanctification.”

       Of course, for all Christians, we must all be changed “from glory to glory” – knowing more about Christ and becoming more like Him, until we “take our place in heaven.”

—Cliff Barrows

 

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Love Divine, All Loves Excelling [1]

1           Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven, to earth come down,

Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,

All Thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesus, thou art all compassion,

Pure, unbounded love thou art;

Visit us with Thy salvation,

Enter every trembling heart.

2           Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit

Into ev’ry troubled breast;

Let us all in Thee inherit;

Let us find the promised rest;

Take away the love of sinning,

Take our load of guilt away;

End the work of Thy beginning,

Bring us to eternal day.

3           Come, almighty to deliver,

Let us all thy life receive;

Suddenly return, and never,

Never more thy temples leave.

Thee we would be alway blessing,

Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,

Pray, and praise Thee without ceasing,

Glory in Thy perfect love.

4           Finish then Thy new creation;

Pure and spotless let us be;

Let us see Thy great salvation

Perfectly restored in Thee:

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before Thee,

Lost in wonder, love and praise.

 



[1]Eckert, Paul, Steve Green’s MIDI Hymnal, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

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