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promised, “ And he said, I will make all my goodness pass " before thee ; and I will proclaim the name of the Lord “ before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be “ gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”
My dear brethren, it is our distinguished privilege, that we have daily unmolested access to the house and ordinances of God. We ought to rejoice, that we have so many clear and express promises of the divine presence, in New Testament worship. But what cause have we to be ashamed, that we are so exceeding prone to stop short in the therefhold, to content ourselves with the mere form, instead of earnestly breathing after real, inward, and sensible communion with God? I have therefore chosen this fub. ject, in the view of that folemn ordinance, The Lord's Supper, where we have a sensible representation of Christ crucified, the great mean of our access to God, that we may serve him on that occasion particularly, and the re. maining part of our lives habitually, in spirit and in truth. And, Oh, that we may have daily more experience of the sweetness and benefit of his service on earth! and may claily long more for that time, when we shall serve him in a manner infinitely more perfect and joyful in his temple above!
In discoursing on this subject, I propose, in dependance on divine strength.
1. To explain what is the object of a saint's desire, when he faith in the words of Moses, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
II. To improve the subject-particularly by pointing out what is the most proper preparation for such a disco. very:
1. Then, I am to explain what is the object of a saint's defire, when he faith, in the words of Moses, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. It is very probable, from the passage following the text, which I have read, that Moses had some regard to the sensible appearance, which, in that dispensation, did osten accompany or notify the immediate presence of the angel of the covenant. He desired,
probably, to be strengthened for beholding stedfastly the Shechinach, or bright and luminous cloud which fome. times appeared over the tabernacle, and, by its glorious lustre, tended to affect the mind with a sense of the power and sovereignty of the Lord Jehovah. But this, surely, was not all; for this, in itself, was only a subsidiary mean which served to carry their views to the real and spiritual glory of God. To the last therefore, we shall confine our attention, as to what the gospel particularly opens to us, and what believers are enabled, by faith, to apprehend.
When Christians, then, desire to see the glory of God, it seems chiefly to imply the following things: 1. They defire to see the glory of an eternal independent God; they desire to see the only living and true God in his own inherent excellence and infinite perfection. God is the fource and sum of all excellence; or, in the language of the Pfalmiit, “ the perfection of beauty.” Every thing noble or beautiful in the creature, is only a faint ray from the fulness of the Creator's glory. Therefore he is the proper object of the highest esteem, and most profound veneration, of every reasonable creature. The vision and fruition of God constitute the employment and happiness of heaven: and even here, while they are in preparation for the higher house, the saints desire such a discovery of the divine glory as their condition will admit of, and take pleasure in contemplating his nature, as revealed to them both in his word and in his works. They dwell with adoring wonder, on all his attributes, which are boundless and unsearchable: the immensity of his being, who fills heaven and earth with his presence, who seeth in secret, and from whom the thickest darkness cannot cover us; his irresistible power, “ who spake, and it was done, who “ commanded, and it stood faft;"—who called this great universe out of nothing into being, “ who doth in the army " of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth what“ ever feems good unto him :" his infinite holiness and purity,“ with whom evil cannot dwell, nor finners stand * in his presence; who looketh to the moon, and it shineth
not, to the stars, and they are not pure in his fight :' his infinite wisdom, “ who worketh all things according
" to his will, who bringeth the counsel of the heathen to “ nought, and makes the devices of the people of none “ effect :” his boundless goodness, which fills the earth, and flows in plenteous streams to all the creatures of his power.
But, perhaps, some are saying, what is there extraordi. nary or peculiar in all this? is it not clearly revealed in the word of God ? can any Christian be ignorant of it? If Moses, in that early dispensation, desired a discovery of the divine perfections, nothing of that kind is wanting to us, who, since the fulness of time, have so complete a revelation in the New Testament. But, my brethren, I must beg of you to observe these two things:
I. That there is in the fulness of the Godhead an infinite and endless variety even for the employment of our intellectual powers. Well might Zophar, in the book of Job, say, Job xi. 7, 8, 9, “ Canst thou, by searching, find
out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfec“tion ? It is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? “ deeper than hell, what canst thou know? the measure “ thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the 6 fea."
2. That the real and proper knowledge of the glory of God is by inward and spiritual illumination. The holy Scriptures themselves, however clear a discovery they con. tain of the nature of God, are no better than a fealed book to many even of the greatest comprehension of mind. It is one thing to think, and speak, and reason on the perfec. tions of God, as an object of science, and another to glorify him as Cod, or to have a deep and awful impression of him upon our hearts. Real believers will know this by experience. A discovery of the glory of God, is not to inform them of a truth which they never heard before, but to give lively penetrating views of the meaning and im. portance of those truths of which they had, perhaps, heard and spoken times without number. Sometimes one word spoken of the Eternal, the Almighty, the Holy One, will be carried home upon the conscience and heart with such irresistible force, as to fhew them more of God than ever they had seen before. O what a difference is there between
the way in which we use the same words in prayer or praise, at one time, and at another ! None but downright atheists will deny the omniscience and omnipresence of God; but how far is this general acknowledgment from that overwhelining sense of his presence which believers have fometimes in his worship in public or in secret. What a new sense of God's presence had Jacob at Bethel, when he faid, Gen. xxviii. 16, 17, “ Surely the Lord is " in this place, and I knew it not: and he was afraid, " and said, how dreadful is this place ? this is none other “ but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven !" What a sense of God's presence had Hagar, Gen. xvi. 13, when “ she called the name of the Lord that spake unto “ her, thou, God feest me; for, she said, have I also here “ looked after him that seeth me?" or Job when he expresses himself thus, Job xlii. 5, 6, “ I have heard of thee “ by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye ieeth thee. " Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes?”
I shall only further observe, that it plainly appears that this discovery of the glory of God, belongs only to his own people. Wicked men are faid, in scripture, to be fuch as know not God. They are also described a little differently, as not having God in all their thoughts; not but that wicked men may have a general or customary belief, in the being and perfections of God, but because they have not that intimate sense of his presence, that discovery of the glory and amiableness of his perfections, which is peculiar to his own children. Even the natural perfections of God, his power and wisdom, cannot be beheld with such veneration by any, as by those who are sensible of their obligations to serve him. But above all, the glory of his infinite holiness and justice can never be seen, but by those who desire to submit to it; nor the glory of his infinite mercy, but by those who see themselves indebted to it. This leads me to observe,
2. That the believer desires to see the glory of a gracious and reconciled God, not only infinitely glorious in himself, but infinitely merciful to him. This view ought never to be separated from the former. Take away the divine mercy, and the lustre of his other perfections is too strong for us to behold. The power, wisdom, holiness and justice of God, separated from his mercy, speak nothing but unmixed terror to the guilty. It is very probable, that there was something in the desire of Mofes, in the text, according to his own view, ignorant and unadvised; but God granted his request only in such a way as could be useful to him. When he says, I beseech thee shew me thy glory, the answer is in the following terms, “I will make all
my goodness pass before thee; and I will proclaim the “ name of the Lord before thee. And I will be gracious “ to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on “ whom I will flew mercy.” And again, it is faid in the following chapter, 6, 7, verses, “ And the Lord passed by “ before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, “ merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in “ goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and fin: and that “ will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of “ the fathers upon the children, and upon the childrens
children, unto the third and fourth generation.”
We may also see, that in the whole dispensation of divine grace to men, God is represented as coming under a peculiar relation to them ; and they are called not only to ferve him as God, but to trust in him as their God. Every hearer must be sensible, how essential this is to a be. liever's desire, of seeing the glory of God. He cannot consider him as God over-all, without, at the same time, remembering, that he is one with whom he hath to do. There is also a necessity here peculiar to ourselves. The holy angels consider him as their Maker and their happiness : but the children of Adam must consider, not only his goodness to the innocent, but his mercy to the guilty. This glory of God shines brightly, and shines only in the face of Jesus Christ. God we are told, “ dwelleth in light “ which no man can approach unto. No man hath seen “ God at any tinie; but the only begotten of the Father, " he hath declared him.” In this wonderful dispensation, indeed, all the perfections of God are found united ; but above all, “ Grace and mercy shine and reign through • righteousness, by Jesus Christ our Lord.