« PreviousContinue »
fall serve him in a manner infinitely more perfect and joyful in his temple above!
In discoursing on this subject, I propose, in dependence on divine strength,
I To explain what is the object of a saint's defire, when he faith, in the words of Moses, I beseech thee, few me thy glory.
II. To improve the subject-particularly by pointing out what is the most proper preparation for such a discovery.
1. Then, I am to explain what is the object of a saint's desire, when he faith, in the words of Mofes, I beseech thee, fbew 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 often 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 fometimes appeared over the tabernacle, and, by its glorious luftre, 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 it felf, was on. ly 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 desire to fee 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 Pfalmist, the per• fection 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 reafonable 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 desne 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 prefence, who seeth in fecret, and from whom the thickeft darkness cannot cover us; his irresistible power, 'who fpake, and it • was done, who commanded, and it ftood fast; who called this great universe out of nothing into being, who doth in the army of heaven, and aamong
the inhabitants of the earth whatever seems • good unto him:' his infinite holiness and purity, • with whom evil cannot dwell, nor sippers stand in
his presence; who looketh to the moon, and it shin. eth not, to the stars, and they are not pure in his • fight:' his infinite wisdom, who worketh all things accordiog to his will, who bringeth the counsel of • the heathen to nought, and makes the devices of
the people of pone effect :' his boundless goodnefs, which fills the earth, and flows in plenteous streams to all the creatures of his power.
But, perhaps, some are saying, what is there extraordinary 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 muft beg of you to obferve these two things:
"1. That there is in the fulness of the Godhead an infinite and endless variety even for the employ. ment of our intellectual powers. Well might Zo. phar, in the book of Job, fay, Job xi. 7,8,9. Canft • thou, by searching, find out God? canst thou find • out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high
as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canft thou know the meafure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the fea.
2. That the real and proper kaowledge of the glory of God is by inward and spiritual illomination. The holy scriptures themselves, however clcar a difcovery they contain of the nature of God, are no better than a sealed book to many even of the greatest comprehension of mind. It is one thing to think, and speak, and reason on the perfections of God, as an object of science, and another to glorify him as God, 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 importance of those truths of which they had, perhaps, heard and spoken times without Qumber. Sometimes one word spoken of the Eterpal, the Almighty, the Holy One, will be carried home upon the conscience and heart with such irre. fistible force, as to thew them more of God than ever they had seen before. O what a difference is there between the way in which we use the fame. words in prayer or praise, at one time, and at another! None but down-right atheists will deny the omniscience and omnipresence of God; but how far is this general acknowledgment from that overwhelming sense of his presence which believers have sometimes in his worship in publick or in secret. What a new fenfe of God's presence had Jacob at Bethel, when he said, Gen. xxviii. 16, 17. 'Surely the Lord • is in this place, and I knew it rot: and he was a• fraid, 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 ' the called the name • of the Lord that spake unto her, thou, God, feest me; • for, she faid, 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 seeth thee. Where• fore I abhor myself, and repent in duft and alhes?' 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 fcriptore, to be such as know not God. They are also defcribed 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 amiablenets 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 ferve him. But above all, the glory of his infinite to iness and justice can never be feen, but by thole 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, feparated from his mercy, speak nothing but unmixed terror to the guilty. It is very probable, that there was something in the desire of Moses, 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 show me thy g'ory, the answer is in the