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to the full: for of all the ransomed of the Lord it is said, “ They shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness; and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord P." Indeed, you have a promise peculiar to yourselves : for God has said, “ They that seek me early, shall find me 9."] 2. The busy
[I would not have any one neglect his proper occupation in life. We are as much bound to be “ diligent in business," as we are to be “ fervent in spirit:" in the one, as well as in the other, we may “serve the Lord.” But, in comparison, our zeal in the service of God should swallow up that which we exercise in reference to the world. Our Lord says, “ Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting lifes.” I will suppose that you succeed to the utmost extent of your wishes in this world, what satisfaction will it afford you in the eternal world, if you have not secured “ an inheritance amongst the saints in light?” There is no occupation whatever that can justify a neglect of your eternal interests. There may be other things desirable ; but this is needful, yea, “the one thing needful;" and therefore I say, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and leave it to God to " add other things to you" in the measure which in his unerring wisdom he shall see fit.] 3. Those advanced in life
[Our text has a peculiar force as it relates to you. Much of your time is gone: and what is done either by you or for you, must be done quickly. There is, indeed, no time to be lost. The work of the soul is not to be left to a dying hour. Verily, that is but an unfavourable season for such a work; and the reality of it, when commenced at that season, is always dubious. Be in earnest now. Delay not another hour. Cry mightily to God, “O satisfy me early with thy mercy!” “ Blot out my transgressions as a morning cloud :" wash them away in my Redeemer's blood. “ Bring me out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon the rock, and establish my goings; and put a new song into my mouth, even praise unto my Godu.” “ Then will I bless thee while I live:
p Jer. xxxi. 12-14. 9 Prov. viii. 17. Rom. xii. 11. s John vi. 27.
Matt. vi. 33. u Ps. xl. 2, 3.
I will lift up my hands in thy name: my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips, when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate upon thee in the night-watches *.” “ Yea, when my flesh and my heart fail, thou shalt be the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."]
» Ps. lxiii. 4.
IT is pleasing to think that in every age the Lord has many “ hidden ones:" even as in the days of Elijah, who thought himself the only worshipper of Jehovah, whilst there were in reality “ seven thousand men who had not bowed their knee to the image of Baal.” It is not every one who dies apparently under the displeasure of God, that will be visited with his judgments in the world to come. Many “ are judged of the Lord now, in order that they may not be condemned with the world hereaftera.” Amongst those who died in the wilderness for their transgressions, we know, infallibly, that some were received to mercy. We have no more doubt of the salvation of Moses and Aaron than we have of any saint from the foundation of the world. And we think that there is evidence in the psalm before us, that many repented in the wilderness, and that though “ they were delivered, as it were, to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, their spirit will be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus b.” When they found that the sentence passed against them could not be reversed, they humbled themselves before God for their iniquities; and in consequence thereof they found favour in his sight, passing their remaining days upon earth in some measure of peace, and enjoying a hope, that, though they were never to possess the earthly Canaan, they should be admitted to the enjoyment of a heavenly inheritance. Their supplications for mercy were such
a 1 Cor. xi. 32. b 1 Cor. v. 5.
as God never did, nor ever will, reject. “O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children: and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us :" that is, Let us have such tokens of thy love, and such communications of thy grace, as may carry us forward with comfort, and prepare us for thy more immediate presence.
For the further elucidation of my text, I will endeavour to shew, I. Wherein the beauty of the Lord our God consists—
But in attempting to speak on such a subject, I feel that I shall only “ darken counsel by words without knowledge:” for “ we cannot by searching find out God, we cannot find out the Almighty to perfection.” Yet, as we are able, we must declare him unto you, and set forth his perfections,
1. As existing in himself,
[We need only open our eyes and survey the visible creation, to be assured of his eternal power and godhead. In this respect the most stupid heathens, in neglecting to worship him, are without excuse. The magnitude and number of the heavenly bodies, all moving so exactly in their respective courses, and fulfilling the ends for which they were designed; and the variety and beauty of the things existing on this terraqueous globe, all so adapted for their respective offices and uses, and all subservient to one great design, the glory of their Creator ; evince that his wisdom and goodness are equal to his power. I am not aware that philosophers have any advantage over those of less intelligence in things which are known only by revelation: because those things can be known only by the teachings of God's Spirit; and the Holy Spirit can instruct one as easily as another, and does often “reveal to babes what is hid from the wise and prudent:" but in the things which are obvious to our senses they have a great advantage, because by their proficiency in different sciences they attain a comprehensive knowledge of many things, of which the generality of persons have no conception; and consequently, they can discern traces of divine wisdom, and goodness, and power, which can never come under the view of one that is illiterate and uninformed.
If from the works of creation we turn our eyes to the dispensations of Providence, we shall see all the same perfections illustrated and displayed to yet greater advantage ; because they shew how entirely every created being, however unconscious, or however adverse, fulfils his will, and executes his designs--
But it is in the work of redemption that the perfections of God must be chiefly viewed; because in that are displayed his justice, his mercy, and his grace : for the exercise of which there is, in the works of creation and of providence, comparatively but little scope.
But, to discover these, we must view them,]
[The Lord Jesus Christ is called "the image of the invisible God,” because in him Jehovah, “who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen or can seed,” is rendered visible to mortal eyes; so that in him we see“ the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his persone." We know that " in his face all the glory of the Godhead shines;" and that on that account the god of this world is so anxious to blind our eyes, and to hide him from our view". See then in him, and in his cross, not some perfections only, but all, even all the perfections of the Godhead shining in their utmost splendour. Draw nigh to the garden of Gethsemane, or to Mount Calvary, and there take a view of your adorable Saviour. How awful does the justice of the Deity appear, when not one sinner in the universe could be received to mercy, nor one single transgression of God's law be pardoned, till an atonement should be offered for it, not by any creature, but by the Creator himself, whose blood alone could expiate our guilt, and whose righteousness alone could serve as a sufficient title for our acceptance before God. And how bright does mercy appear, in that, rather than man should perish after the example of the fallen angels, God vouchsafed to give his only dear Son to die for us, and to effect our reconciliation by the blood of his cross ! What wisdom too is displayed in this way of making the truth of God, which denounced death as the penalty of sin, to consist with the happiness and salvation of those who had committed it! as the Psalmist says, “ Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” To make these perfections unite in the salvation of men, and to bring to every perfection far higher glory than it could have had if it had stood alone; (for whilst each shines in its own proper glory, each has a tenfold lustre reflected on it by the opposite perfection with which it is made to harmonize ;) this required the utmost possible effort both of wisdom and grace; and to all eternity will it form the chief subject of adoration and praise amongst all the hosts of heaven. Here is God seen as “forgiving
c Col. i. 15. d 1 Tim. vi. 16. e Heb. i. 3.
iniquity, transgression, and sin, whilst he by no means clears the guilty h;" because their guilt has been expiated, and a righteousness has been wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ, so that God is “ a just God, and yet a Saviour,” and is no less just than he is merciful, in every exercise of his pardoning love, and in every blessing which he bestows on his redeemed peoplek.]
The petition offered respecting this, leads us to inquire, II. In what respects we may hope that “this beauty
shall be on us”— Had the prayer been offered by Moses alone, like that, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory!," we might have supposed, that it was a peculiar favour, which other saints had no right to expect. But the prayer was uttered by multitudes, even by the great mass of those who repented in the wilderness : and therefore it may be poured forth by all true penitents amongst ourselves, who may expect that “ the beauty of the Lord shall be upon them :" 1. By an outward manifestation of it to our minds
[To the Corinthian Church was this honour vouchsafed: for “God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness at the first Creation, shined into their hearts, to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christm." Such manifestations therefore may we also expect. The Lord Jesus Christ has expressly promised, that he will manifest himself to us, as he does not unto the world : and with such convincing evidence will he shew us his glory, that we shall differ from those around us, as Paul at his conversion differed from his attendants: they heard a voice as well as he ; but he alone was favoured with the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ himself»: so that the words which we hear or read may be heard or read by thousands; but to us only, that is, to those only who are truly penitent and believing, will he “manifest forth his glory," so as to constrain us to cry out, “ How great is his goodness! how great is his beautyo!"
It is by the public ordinances chiefly that he will make these revelations of himself to us: and hence it was that David so exceedingly delighted in the house of God, saying, “ One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold
h Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. i Isai. xlv. 21. k 1 John i. 9. 1 Exod. xxxiii. 18. m 2 Cor. iv. 6. n Acts ix. 7. 1 Cor. ix. 1. and xv. 8. o Zech, ix. 17.