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“By him they expect a continual supply of all their temporal and spiritual needs, and therefore on him they would have their eyes ever fixed—looking unto Jesus. While by faith their eyes are kept steady upon him, they will be discovering something new in this wonderful God-man, and receiving something out of his fullness, to strengthen their hopes, and to inflame their affections. He will grow more lovely in their sight, fresh beauties will discover themselves, new worlds of delight will appear: for all the glories of heaven and earth shine in their fullest lustre in his person. The believer sees them at present: for by faith he can see him that is invisible, and although he has not such a perfect vision, as they have, who standing round his throne see him face to face, yet he hopes to enjoy it soon: and he has even now this peculiar pleasure in viewing the glories of his God and Saviour, that he can truly say of him–” this is my beloved, and my friend,” here I fix, and on him I rest; I want to look no where else for any good, since it all meets and centres in one object: for it hath pleased the Father and the eternal Spirit, that all fullness should dwell in the Son of God, and he is my beloved Saviour, and my dearest friend; he is the chief among ten thousand in my affection, yea he is altogether lovely. The more I live by faith upon him, the more I love him: for I experience such tender compassion in his heart, and such a kind concern for me and my interest, that the love of Christ constrains me to love him again. He endears his person to me by continual favours. I do love him, but not so much as he deserves, I would increase, and abound more and more in love to him, as his mercies increase and abound to me but a grateful sense of them, and love to him for them, are his own gifts, for which as well as for his mercies I must be content to be indebted to him for ever and ever. Lord shed more of thy precious love abroad in my heart: enlarge it in true affection to thee, and make all that is within me bless thy holy name.”

William Romaine, Treatise Upon the Life of Faith.

When compared with the self-centered drivel which often passes for preaching (I do not believe that the pulpit was better in Romaine’s day; good preachers are rare; great preachers are “rarer than radium” (Dylan Thomas’ wonderful line)), this paragraph (among) is a gem. Here are a few brief observations. Consider the first sentence:

By him they expect a continual supply of all their temporal and spiritual needs,
and therefore
on him they would have their eyes ever fixed—
looking unto Jesus.

Romaine constructs this sentence to further concept: by him, on him, looking unto Jesus. He then moves to develop the proposition, creating emotional content (not merely emotional affects) by repetition and development (in many ways the sentences are structured like Hebrew poetry. When laid out like verse on the page, it reads like the poetic from Whitman will later exploit):

While by faith their eyes are kept steady upon him,
they will be discovering something new in this wonderful God-man,
and receiving something out of his fullness,
to strengthen their hopes,
and to inflame their affections.
He will grow more lovely in their sight,
fresh beauties will discover themselves,
new worlds of delight will appear:
for all the glories of heaven and earth shine in their fullest lustre in his person.

Romaine effortlessly moves among doctrines, the sight of faith, the ultimate sight of God, hope, joy, love, the object of faith.

He weaves pastoral application in the doctrine and rhapsody:

The more I live by faith upon him,
the more I love him:
for I experience such tender compassion in his heart,
and such a kind concern for me and my interest,
that the love of Christ constrains me to love him again.

It is good counsel to note that love and faith flow from one to the other. It is not uncommon for one to complain that he feels very little love for Christ. Perhaps the trouble flows from very little faith in Christ.

Note also the structure: (1) Proposition, based upon experience, the I exercise faith, the more I love. (2) He repeats the proposition by means of amplification. ‘Live by faith’ becomes ‘experience such tender compassion in his heart and kind concern for me and my interest.” The love of the first proposition becomes “the love of Christ constrains me to love him again.”

He not only exhorts and teaches, he stops and prays in the midst of his teaching. Nothing in his prayer sounds artificial: it is spontaneous and flows directly from his instruction and application. It comes from both conviction (I do not love Christ sufficiently) and hope (and yet God will hear my prayer);

Lord shed more of thy precious love abroad in my heart: enlarge it in true affection to thee, and make all that is within me bless thy holy name.

I deeply appreciate that he speaks of the love of Christ without becoming maudlin, trite or affectionless. He states love held and desired, but he also gives content to that love.

Another aspect is the density of information. Romaine makes the information digestible by means of elegant writing, imagery, and emotional content; but he does not waste his words. Everything moves forward toward his goal of explaining and encouraging faith.