"LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING": AN EXPOSITION OF CHARLES WESLEY'S HYMN-Part the Third-Stanza 3
Part the Third Stanza 3
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all thy life receive,
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve thee as thy host above,
Pray, and praise thee without ceasing,
Glory in thy perfect love.
The focus of stanza 3 is a “desire never to be separated from the presence of God, either in time or eternity.” In his continued plea, Wesley invoked an Old Testament name for God, “Almighty,” but here he applied it to the second-coming Christ. He prayed for deliverance. Wesley longed for the Almighty’s sudden return; the appeal is that He will “never, never more thy temples leave.” In the New Testament, we understand the true temples to be the bodies of believers (1 Cor. 6:19); in this sense, Wesley was following the petition of stanza 1, to “enter ev’ry trembling heart,” and stanza 2, to “ breathe thy loving Spirit into every troubled breast,” then never remove His physical presence from believers.
There is a marked shift in the second half of the stanza: when the Almighty does return, the scene changes from deliverance to worship. God will always be with His people, both as their deliverer and as their object of worship. Images from Revelation are in view, especially Revelation 21:3, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (KJV). Rehearse Wesley’s words as he describes the Church’s eternal worship: “Thee we would be always blessing, serve thee as thy hosts above, pray and praise thee without ceasing, glory in thy perfect love.” Wesley’s hymn echoes the cry of John the Revelator, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).