Chapter 1: Confession of God’s Greatness
1. “Great are you Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is your power, and your wisdom is infinite.”1
And yet we lowly creatures desire to praise you, for we are a part of your creation; we carry with us the fact that we will die as evidence of our sin and proof that you resist the proud. Still we desire to praise you, even though we are only a small part of your creation. You have stirred in us the desire to praise you, for you have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it comes to rest in you.
Grant me, O Lord, to know and understand whether first to pray to you or to praise you; whether first to know you or call upon you. But who can call upon you, if they do not know you? For a person who does not know you may call upon the wrong thing. It may be that we should call on you in order that we may come to know you. But “how then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? Or how are they to believe in him without someone preaching?”2
But, “those who seek the Lord shall praise him,” for “those who seek him shall find him,” and because they find him they shall also praise him. I will seek you, O Lord, and call upon you. I call upon you, O Lord, in my faith which you have given me, which you have breathed in me through the incarnation of your Son, and through the ministry of your preacher.
4. “For who is Lord but the Lord himself?”
“Who is God besides our God?”
The most high.
The most excellent.
The most mighty.
The most omnipotent.
The most merciful and yet the most just.
The most secret and yet most truly present.
The most beautiful and yet the strongest.
You are stable, yet not supported. You cannot change, yet you change all things. You are never new, yet never old. You make all things new, yet bring old age upon the proud without them even knowing. You are always working, yet ever at rest. You are gathering, yet you need nothing. You are sustaining, filling, and protecting. You are creating, nourishing, and developing. You are still seeking, and yet possess all things. You love, but without burning; are jealous, yet free from care; you repent without remorse; you are angry, yet remain serene. You change your ways, but leave your plans unchanged; you recover what you have never really lost. You are never in need but still you rejoice at your gains; are never greedy, yet demand dividends. People pay more than is required so that you become a debtor. Yet who can possess anything at all which is not already yours? You owe people nothing, yet pay out to them as if in debt to your creature. And when you cancel debts you lose nothing.
And yet what is this that I have said, O my God, my life, my holy Joy? What can any mere human say when he speaks of you? But woe to them that are silent about you—for however eloquently they speak on other matters, they are silent about what matters most.
5. Oh, that I might rest in you. Oh, that you would enter my heart so as to overwhelm it that I might forget the evil that I have committed and embrace you, my only Good? What are you to me? Have pity on me and instruct me how to express it. What am I to you that you should command me to love you, and if I do not, are angry and threaten me with vast misery? As if to not love you was not misery enough! Tell me, by your mercy, O Lord, my God, what you are to me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” Speak that I may hear. Behold, the ears of my heart are listening, O Lord. Open the ears of my heart and say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” I will run after that voice, and I will grasp you. Do no hide your face from me. Even if I die, let me see your face lest I die.
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