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promifed," And he faid, 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 fhew mercy on whom I will fhew "mercy."
My dear brethren, it is our diftinguished 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 exprefs promifes of the divine prefence, in New Teftament worship. But what caufe have we to be afhamed, that we are fo exceeding prone to ftop fhort in the therefhold, to content ourselves with the mere form, inftead of earnestly breathing after real, inward, and fenfible communion with God? I have therefore chofen this fubject, in the view of that folemn ordinance, The Lord's Supper, where we have a fenfible representation of Chrift crucified, the great mean of our accefs to God, that we may serve him on that occafion particularly, and the remaining part of our lives habitually, in spirit and in truth. And, Oh, that we may have daily more experience of the fweetness and benefit of his fervice on earth! and may daily long more for that time, when we fhall ferve him in a manner infinitely more perfect and joyful in his temple above!
In difcourfing on this fubject, I propofe, in dependance on divine ftrength.
I. To explain what is the object of a faint's defire, when he faith in the words of Mofes, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
II. To improve the fubject-particularly by pointing out what is the most proper preparation for fuch a difcovery.
I. Then, I am to explain what is the object of a faint's defire, when he faith, in the words of Mofes, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. It is very probable, from the paffage following the text, which I have read, that Mofes had fome regard to the fenfible appearance, which, in that dispensation, did often accompany or notify the immediate prefence of the angel of the covenant. He defired,
probably, to be strengthened for beholding ftedfafily 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 fovereignty of the Lord Jehovah. But this, furely, was not all; for this, in itself, was only a fubfidiary mean which ferved 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 gofpel particularly opens to us, and what believers are enabled, by faith, to apprehend.
When Chriftians, then, defire to fee the glory of God, it feems chiefly to imply the following things: 1. They defire to fee the glory of an eternal independent God; they defire to fee the only living and true God in his own inherent excellence and infinite perfection. God is the fource and fum of all excellence; or, in the language of the Pfalmift," 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 higheft efteem, and moft profound veneration, of every reasonable creature. The vifion and fruition of God conftitute the employment and happiness of heaven and even here, while they are in preparation for the higher houfe, the faints defire fuch 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 boundlefs and unfearchable: the immenfity of his being, who fills heaven and earth with his prefence, who feeth in fecret, and from whom the thickeft darknefs cannot cover us; his irresistible power, "who fpake, and it was done, who "commanded, and it ftood faft;"-who called this great univerfe 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 ftand "in his prefence; who looketh to the moon, and it fhineth "not, to the ftars, and they are not pure in his fight :" his infinite wifdom, "who worketh all things according
"to his will, who bringeth the counfel 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 ftreams to all the creatures of his power.
But, perhaps, fome are faying, what is there extraordinary or peculiar in all this? is it not clearly revealed in the word of God? can any Chriftian be ignorant of it? If Mofes, in that early difpenfation, defired a difcovery of the divine perfections, nothing of that kind is wanting to us, who, fince the fulness of time, have fo complete a revelation in the New Teftament. But, my brethren, I must beg of you to obferve these two things:
I. That there is in the fulnefs of the Godhead an infinite and endless variety even for the employment of our intellectual powers. Well might Zophar, in the book of Job, fay, Job xi. 7, 8, 9, "Canft thou, by fearching, find "out God? canft thou find out the Almighty unto perfec"tion? It is as high as heaven, what canft thou do? deeper than hell, what canft thou know? the measure "thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the "fea."
2. That the real and proper knowledge of the glory of God is by inward and fpiritual illumination. The holy Scriptures themselves, however clear a difcovery they contain of the nature of God, are no better than a fealed book. to many even of the greatest comprehenfion of mind. It is one thing to think, and speak, and reafon on the perfections of God, as an object of fcience, and another to glorify him as Cod, or to have a deep and awful impreffion 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 number. Sometimes one word fpoken of the Eternal, the Almighty, the Holy One, will be carried home upon the confcience and heart with fuch irrefiftible force, as to fhew them more of God than ever they had feen before. O what a difference is there between
the way in which we ufe the fame words in prayer or praise, at one time, and at another! None but downright atheifts will deny the omnifcience and omniprefence of God; but how far is this general acknowledgment from that overwhelming fenfe of his prefence which believers have fometimes in his worship in public or in fecret. What a new sense of God's prefence 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 faid, how dreadful is this place? this is none other "but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" What a fenfe of God's prefence had Hagar, Gen. xvi. 13, when "fhe called the name of the Lord that fpake unto "her, thou, God feest me; for, she said, have I also here "looked after him that feeth me?" or Job when he expreffes himself thus, Job xlii. 5, 6, "I have heard of thee "by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye feeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in duft and afhes?" I fhall only further obferve, that it plainly appears that this discovery of the glory of God, belongs only to his own people. Wicked men are faid, in fcripture, to be fuch as know not God. They are alfo 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 fenfe of his prefence, 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 fuch veneration by any, as by those who are fenfible of their obligations to ferve him. But above all, the glory of his infinite holinefs and juftice can never be seen, but by those who defire to submit to it; nor the glory of his infinite mercy, but by thofe who fee themselves indebted to it. This leads me to obferve,
2. That the believer defires to fee 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 luftre of his other perfections is too
strong for us to behold. The power, wifdom, holiness and juftice of God, feparated from his mercy, fpeak nothing but unmixed terror to the guilty. It is very probable, that there was fomething in the defire of Mofes, in the text, according to his own view, ignorant and unadvised; but God granted his request only in fuch a way as could be ufeful to him. When he fays, I beseech thee shew me thy glory, the answer is in the following terms, "I will make all my goodness pafs 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 fhew mercy on "whom I will fhew mercy." And again, it is faid in the following chapter, 6, 7, verfes, " And the Lord paffed by "before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, "merciful and gracious, long-fuffering and abundant in goodnefs and truth. Keeping mercy for thoufands, forgiving iniquity, and tranfgreffion, and fin: and that "will by no means clear the guilty, vifiting the iniquity of "the fathers upon the children, and upon the childrens "children, unto the third and fourth generation."
We may alfo fee, that in the whole difpenfation 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 truft in him as their God. Every hearer must be fenfible, how effential this is to a believer's defire, of feeing the glory of God. He cannot confider him as God over-all, without, at the fame time, remembering, that he is one with whom he hath to do. There is also a neceffity here peculiar to ourselves. The holy angels confider him as their Maker and their happinefs but the children of Adam muft confider, not only his goodness to the innocent, but his mercy to the guilty. This glory of God fhines brightly, and shines only in the face of Jefus Chrift. God we are told, “ dwelleth in light “which no man can approach unto. No man hath feen "God at any tinie; but the only begotten of the Father, "he hath declared him." In this wonderful difpenfation, indeed, all the perfections of God are found united; but above all, "Grace and mercy fhine and reign through righteoufnefs, by Jefus Chrift our Lord.