John Donne and Julian of Norwich couldn't be more different in temperament, spirituality, lifestyle and life circumstance. But every time I read this sentence from Donne, I hear clear echoes of Julian's confident assurance in the eternal constancy of God's love: “whom God loves, he loves to the end and not to their end and their death, but to His end, and His end is that He might love them more”.
Cheap paperbacks aren't made to last, and I confess I don't have many of those glue-split, spine-peeling, brown-edged, once-read books that weren't supposed to stay important after that first read. But sometimes in a bundle of other people's discards one turns up that your haven't read. Like a Fount paperback on preaching by Colin Morris, Raising the Dead. And on page 55 is a paragraph that is really a theological expansion of Donne's pun, that in turn echoes Julian's theological optimism:
Of course Donne was playing with the word "end" - God's end is also God's purpose, which is equally constant since grounded in eternal love. I mention all this because of what Morris goes on to say about the preacher and such doctrines as the love of God and the resurrection of Jesus:
"Those who have known the love of God last as long as his love lasts. For whatever we make of Jesus, its fair to say he died to show us that whoever we are, we matter to God. And since by definition, God must be perfectly consistent, there can never be a time when we cease to matter to him. Therefore we must be the objects of his love eternally. If God loves us, he must love us till the end, not our end but his end, and since God has no end, in the sense of ceasing to be, he must love us eternally."
Now for the preacher to be diffident about such doctrines in a time of despair and confusion is much more serious than false modesty; it is a dereliction of duty.
To reiterate yesterday's blog - quite so!