Page images

have any better pledge of its being "good-will towards men ?" Remember that this pledge of His good-will is ratified and consecrated both by His own oath, and by the blood of the Lamb. There is, therefore, nothing equivocal or changeable about it; and there will never be any thing added to it. Upon this warrant we must venture to hope, or remain for ever unwarranted. A truce, therefore, to all and any questions we could start, about ourselves or others: there is no one to answer them. Man cannot; God will not, answer them. However, therefore, we may twist or turn, back we must come to this revealed pledge of His good-will, or live and die utterly in the dark. There certainly is some darkness around the path of His sovereignty; but there is nothing but darkness around the path of human curiosity. Accordingly, whilst millions and myriads have done well, for time and eternity, by casting themselves on the revealed promises of God, no one ever grew wiser, or better, or happier, by attempting to pry into the secret purposes of God.

To this point the subject is usually brought, and at this point it is usually left; and we are left with it, to make what use we can of it. It is, however, either carried too far, or not far enough, if we are left under the impression that the silence, or the secrets, or the sovereignty of Jehovah, resemble the reserve or the mystery of strange and eccentric men. God does not intend to embarrass, nor to puzzle, nor to surprise us, by either the majesty or the mystery of His procedure. He intends both to awe and humble us; but, not to put us on the rack of suspense, nor into the stocks of perplexity. He not only does not say one thing, and mean another; but means, by all that He says, to win confidence and inspire hope, as well as to produce humility. We must, therefore, take care not to interpret the darkness which He has left around His secret purposes, by the veil we sometimes throw around our own good will; nor by the way in which some men who feel kindly, yet speak roughly, or look coldly, at first. There

[ocr errors]

are men of great benevolence, whose aspect and manner, both before and after doing a kindness, almost repel hope and repress gratitude. They are good men; but odd men. They mean well; but they leave it so doubtful how they feel, and how they will act, that we are kept on thorns, until their conduct reveal their intentions. Now I will not say that we are inclined to think God "altogether such a one as this; but I will say, that something very like the feeling produced by such men, is felt towards God, when the current views of His sovereignty are actually and vividly present to our minds. We feel as if there were some hazard, as well as much hope; some risk, as well as encouragement. "And, is there not some uncertainty hanging over the question of success," it will be said? Certainly not; if we are seeking a holy salvation through the blood of the Lamb: for the promise is not, we may find; but that we shall find it. It is, therefore, our duty to blend as much hope as humility, in all our prayers for mercy and grace. We can neither please nor honour God by cherishing suspicions of His good will. He might, indeed, justly shut out our prayer; justly spurn us from the mercy-seat; justly leave us to our deserved doom: and we ought never to forget this, nor to soften it down: but, as it is in the face of all this, that God both invites and promises, urges and beseeches us, it must be most pleasing to Him to see us well pleased with His loving kindness. He is not-He is not, tantalizing us with peradventures, nor even dealing with us by strong probabilities, when He calls on us to flee from the wrath to come, and to commit our souls into the hands of Christ. God is incapable of any thing like this. His gospel is "not yea and nay," whatever may be the preaching of man. "God cannot lie," and, therefore, humble prayer cannot fail of success. Why, then, should His sincerity be met by surmises or sadness? Even His sovereignty has gained all its moral purposes in our case, if we stand self-condemned before Him, and are willing to be entire and eternal debtors to His good will.



The suspicions or feelings of suspense, against which these remarks are directed, are not thus assailed because they are painful, nor because they are perplexing; but because the pain and perplexity occasioned by them waste much time and spirits, that might be far better employed. O! they have much to answer for, who have left on the public mind such an idea of Divine sovereignty, as makes us afraid to believe Divine sincerity and veracity; as makes us feel as if there were some risk even at the Cross; as tempts us, at times, to look upon the use of means as a doubtful experiment, however fairly tried. The tendency of such doctrine is to weaken the hands, and even to harden the heart: for when the understanding is so far perverted, or the conscience so terrified, that a man can suspect that he may be lost, however earnestly he try to be saved, what can prevent his heart from hardening, if this suspicion be allowed to settle? It is, however, a suspicion as false as it is painful. Whoever indulges it, is, in fact, making God out to be such a one as the wicked, who promise, but break their word.

If, indeed, God had not passed His word, for the welcome of all who wish to be saved from sin and hell; or, if we had nothing to guide our judgment but human conjectures, it might not be impious nor impertinent to doubt our own welcome; for we certainly deserve none. I frankly confess, not only that I durst not venture to calculate on a welcome, but also that I should deem it my duty to doubt it, if God had not promised. Had He been silent, or had He said that certain classes of sinners could not be saved, however they might wish or seek to be so, I might not, even in that case, have included myself amongst them, so as to abandon myself to utter despair; but I would have awaited in utter silence the decisions of the judgment-seat, I mean I should have deemed it wisest, safest, and most becoming, in my own case, to manifest nothing but a penitent sense of utter unworthiness; and to cherish nothing, but calm submission

and holy desire. This is the only spirit which could become a sinner, who had no divine warrant for either despair or hope. And, were that our case, God's awful silence ought to be met by utter and meek silence on our part. But God has neither been silent nor reserved. "The mighty God, the Lord, hath spoken," and spoken out, frequently and emphatically, on the subject of our warrant and welcome to hope in Christ, whatever be our guilt or unworthiness: and, therefore, not to hope, is to presume.

Well might Dr. Wardlaw say, "When God invites, and invites the chief of sinners, is it presumption to come at His bidding? Is not he rather the presumptuous sinner, who keeps back ?—who, instead of honouring God by immediate and undoubting confidence in His word, shrinks, and hesitates, and fears;-or comes, if he comes at all, with an uncertainty and jealousy on his mind, such as could only be justified by the possibility (a possibility which it is blasphemy to imagine) of the Divine Being deceiving him? When His declarations are concerned, it is doubt that is presumption. Blessed be God, there is no presumption, in either coming to Him now, or in expecting acceptance with Him in the end, on the ground of the finished work of His Son. There is, there can be, no presumption, in placing unlimited reliance on that which the God of truth has made known as a foundation laid by Himself, and therefore sure."

No. V.


WHAT is usually understood by the expression, "the Glory of God," and naturally supposed to be His glory, is something rather awful than lovely; rather dazzling VOL. II.- -4

than endearing. So much is this the leading idea suggested to us, when we think of God as infinitely glorious, that we are glad to turn from His glory to His grace; and thus to relieve the eyes of our understanding from the insufferable splendour, as we relieve our bodily eyes by turning them from the glare of the sun to the mild ether of the heavens, or to the milder verdure of the earth. Indeed, it is as natural to shrink from the glory of God, as to shut the eyes upon the brightness of the meridian sun. It may at first, therefore, seem a paradox, or a principle too profound to be useful, to say that the Glory of God is full of encouragement to the timid and the trembling. This, I am aware, will seem like saying, that the orb of the noontide sun is full of grateful and refreshing light to weak eyes.

It was not thus, however, that Moses viewed the Glory of God. He evidently expected to be comforted and soothed by the manifestation of it. Instead of shunning it, or shrinking from it, he sought to see it: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory."

Moses had seen, again and again, what we regard as the Glory of God. It was after all the visible glory of the Sheckinah was familiar to Him, in the wilderness; and after all the legislative glory of the divine presence had covered and convulsed Sinai, that he prayed for the manifestation of the divine glory: a plain proof that he did not regard the splendours of the burning bush, of the fiery pillar, or of "the mount that burned with fire," as the whole or the chief Glory of God. Indeed, he had seen enough of that kind of glory. He had said, amidst the manifestations of it, "I exceedingly fear and quake." It is, therefore, certain, that his prayer was not for brighter displays of visible splendour, nor for more majestic forms of moral legislation. Sinai itself had not shaken more, when the thunder and the trumpet pealed loudest and longest, than Moses did, when that radiance enshrined the person and pavilion of Jehovah.

« PreviousContinue »