By Richard Owen Roberts
[Editor’s Note: The preaching of Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), grandson of Jonathan Edwards and the eighth president of Yale College, “was mightily used of the Holy Spirit in some of the deepest and most extensive College revivals in the history of American education.” In a sermon on the character of God, Dwight emphasizes how the Lord is our Creator, Preserver and Benefactor, the very source of our “life and breath and all things which we enjoy.” He also emphasizes the Lord’s infinite goodness, along with His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. He concludes the sermon by stressing how vital private prayer and worship are in invigorating our solemn apprehensions of the Lord. The following excerpt is from the closing portion of the message.]
These solemn apprehensions…are especially quickened in the [prayer] closet. From this sacred retreat the world is shut out. No earthly eye looks on. No earthly object intrudes. Here we bow before our Maker and converse with Him face to face. Our souls are naked before Him. Our lives pass in review; our sins are set in the light of His countenance as are our penitence, our faith, our love, our comforts, and our hopes. God, thus intimately seen in this private temple, is seen through the day till we revisit the same solemn retreats and again converse with our Maker. Thus a sense of the divine presence becomes the habitual and controlling state of our minds.
Thus aided, thus cultivated, the good man learns to find God in all places and in all things. This great Being becomes present to him in every enjoyment which he shares, in every affliction which he suffers, in every hope which he indulges, and in every advancement which he makes in the Christian life. To the eye of such a man, Jehovah is present and lives and acts in all the works of His hands. His smile is the beauty of the spring, His breath its fragrance. His hand pours out the riches of the summer and the bounty of the autumn. The thunder is His voice; lightnings are His arrows. He makes the clouds His chariots; He rides upon the whirlwind. The earth is His footstool; the heavens are His throne. In the sun, the brightest material image of His exaltation, immutability, and glory, He gives light and life and comfort to the unnumbered millions of animated creatures and holds out to the eye of the mind a magnificent symbol of heaven’s everlasting day. Thus, everywhere He lives, controls, and smiles in all the works of His hand.
In His Word He is seen in still more divine forms. There His goodness and mercy beam with a mild and soft, but immeasurable glory in the face of the Redeemer. There His voice is heard in the awful threatenings of His law and the delightful promises of His Gospel. There He shines, a moral sun, into the soul and awakens in it the life which shall never die. Animated, comforted, invigorated with hope and joy, the Christian draws nearer and nearer to God and beholds Him in clearer and brighter view, until his soul, entering the regions of eternal rest, opens its eyes upon the glories of heaven and is admitted to behold His face in righteousness forever and ever.
– Taken from Salvation In Full Color by Richard Owen Roberts. Used by permission.