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What then did Moses mean by the Glory of God? Now, whatever he meant, God answered his prayer by making "all his GOODNESS pass before" him. Goodness is, therefore, the real and chief glory of God. Accordingly, the vision of that paternal glory unfolded as fully as the vision of judicial glory. "The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and ahundart in goodness and truth.”
All this is so like the mild and lovely spirit of the first promise, and of the patriarchal covenants; and Moses was so pleased with this gracious manifestation of the divine. character, (for the moment he saw it, "he made haste" to acknowledge it,) that it evidently met the chief desire of his heart. And, that such a view of God as had cheered and charmed the hearts of the patriarchs, should be the chief desire of man who had just dwelt, "body, soul, and spirit," amidst all the terrors of law and justice, during forty days, is exactly what might be expected. He needed to hear "a small, still voice" of love, after listening so long to the startling and stunning thunders of a fiery law. It is, therefore, impossible to give any other consistent explanation of his prayer, or of God's answer, than that GOODNESS is the GLORY of God.
The visible glory, or radiance of the symbol of the divine presence, is proof of this fact. That Shchkinah of glory, whether burning in the bush, or blazing in the pillar, or like a conflagration on the mount, meant goodness, as much as when it came, afterward, to crown the mercyseat, to hallow the temple, to transfigure the Saviour, and to consecrate the apostles at Pentecost. For, however the forms of that visible glory varied, it was, at all times and in all places, a token for good," and a type of the paternal goodness of God. This is certain: for it was glory that always enshrined the plan of SALVATION. It always led to and illuminated "sacrifice for sin." It was never 'devouring fire," but in order to protect and perpetuate the covenant of grace. This it did on Sinai. The terrific
forms of God's visible glory on the mount, arose entirely to prove the value and vastness of his moral glory or goodness: but as it was not easy to see this clearly, whilst "clouds and darkness were round about Jehovah," Moses prayed for a clear sight of it; and God, to prove that "the law had not disannulled the promise," made all his goodness to pass before him.
Even the law itself proves that goodness is the glory of God. You do not understand the eternal law yet, if either its demands or its curse, its principles or its sanctions, make you afraid to hope in God. So far as you see no hope for yourself or others in the law itself, you understand it aright and appreciate it well. It cannot give life. "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified" in the sight of God. All justification or righteousness, says Paul, "is freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." This, however, is not all that the apostle says. He declares that the law, as well as the prophets, is a witness to the manifestation of "the righteousness of God without the law: " yes, a witness to the truth and freeness even of that righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe, Rom. iii. 21. Thus the law testifies to the grace of the gospel, as distinctly and fully as the prophets; lending all its thunders to proclaim, and all its lightnings to reveal, the way of justification by faith, just as all the prophets lend their harps to do so. Indeed, it is as much intended to send sinners to the cross for salvation, as to drive them away from itself. Hence, Paul says, the law is our "School-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." Hence also his triumphant answer to the question, "Is the law against the promises? God forbid !"
This is Paul's doctrine about the law. He saw it and showed it to be on the side of the Gospel. He himself drew from the law, reasons for believing the Gospel. Instead of plunging into despair because of its curse, or because
of its utter inability to justify him, he made both its curse and its rule, reasons for faith: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law. I, through the law, am dead to the law that I might live unto God." Now, if Paul was right, in making this use of the law in his own case, you must be wrong whilst you allow the law to keep you from believing the Gospel. Consider you are really setting it "against the promises," whenever you deem it to be against your pardon. The law has, indeed, nothing to say in your favour, nor for your pardon; but neither has it any thing to say against the extension of pardon in your case. It condemns you, but it does not forbid your acquittal by Christ. It holds you fast under its curse, and bound over to the second death, whilst you continue in sin or unbelief: but it has no interdict-in fact, nothing to say against your breaking away from its grasp, and fleeing to lay hold on Christ for eternal life. The law sanctions and approves of this step, as much as the gospel; ay, and reckons itself glorified and established by such faith: 0, think of this: for as there is not a promise in the Bible, nor an angel in heaven, nor a beauty in Christ, nor a perfection in God, which forbids you to flee from the wrath to come-as there is not a principle nor a sanction in the law, which forbids your immediate flight to the cross for refuge and life. Whilst the Gospel says, "Come," the law has no more to say against your coming, than the sun has by day, or the moon has by night.
Thus, whilst there was much on Sinai that, at first sight, was calculated to make majesty, rather than mercy, seem the glory of God, the New Testament both proves and illustrates the fact, that the law is proof that goodness is the glory of God. Indeed, the spirit of the law, as well as its place in the hands of the Mediator, confirms this fact: for the spirit of all its requirements is love, which they would not make the chief thing, if God were not love. O,
when will this be understood and believed by all who possess the revelation of it! Do you not see, yea feel, that if God did not delight in mercy, or if goodness were not His glory, He would not have given, amidst altars and sacrifices, a law of love? In hell, where there is no hope, there is no such law.
It will surely occur to you now, that hitherto you have mistaken the real glory of God. You have understood by it, majesty or justice, not mercy nor goodness. I am not inclined to blame or upbraid you for this mistake. I, myself, fell into it early, and laboured under it long. I had heard men say that God had glorified Himself in the final doom of fallen angels, and that He would glorify Himself in the final condemnation of sinners: and as sin deserves the wrath and curse of God, I readily assented to these assertions. Indeed, I durst not withhold my assent, even when some men ventured to say that God would be as much glorified by the shrieks of the damned, as by the songs of the redeemed. I saw and felt that these shrieks would not impeach His justice; and, therefore, I took for granted that, in one sense, they would manifest His glory. For years, I never thought of asking myself, or them who said so, where and when GOD had said so? I had nothing to say against my own condemnation; and, therefore, did not suspect any fallacy or extravagance in the sentiment. And I feel still that my condemnation would be an act of deserved and perfect justice on the part of God, to which all the universe ought to say, Amen; and at which my own conscience could not wonder, however my soul might weep. Nothing so much convinced me of the truth of this, as the revealed fact, that the lost will receive their sentence in silence, and "go away into everlasting punishment," without resistance or remonstrance. But it never occurred to me that this silence would be compelled by an overwhelming sense of the justice of their doom, and in nowise influenced by any regard to the glory of their judge.
I speak thus freely and fully of myself, that you may see and
feel that slight reasons could not have changed my views of the glory of God. I had facts before me and feelings within me which penetrated my soul with the conviction that, through eternity, I could never call in question the justice of a condemning sentence. I feel all this still, and in an equal degree; but I now see that God does not call nor regard acts of retributive justice, as His glory. Every act of justice will be glorious and worthy of Himself, so far as their reasons and results are concerned, and none of them will or can be unworthy of Himself; but still they are not the acts which he reckons his glory or his pleasure. Accordingly, God says (whatever men think) that judgment is His strange work;" that He "hateth putting away;" and that He hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner." That, therefore, cannot be His glory-which He hates, which He has no pleasure in, which is so foreign to His will, as to be "strange work" to Him, even when all the universe, and the very victims of the curse, must accede to its justice. He will punish the impenitent, and not spare; but punishment will never be pleasant to God. He will never say of retributive justice, what He says of pardoning mercy, that it is "His delight." It is, therefore, an utter misapprehension of God, to imagine or suspect that He wills or wishes to glorify Himself in our condemnation. The very opposite is the revealed fact.
Do these unusual forms of this familiar truth surprise you? for, in other forms, it is familiar. Well, search the Scriptures, and see if these things be so. Bring them to the law and to the testimony before you believe or doubt them. In the meantime, let me tell you beforehand what you will find there on this subject. Now you will find not only that sin is a coming "short of His glory;" but also that He reckons himself glorified "in the highest," by the atonement of Christ for sin. Nor is this all: He reckons strong faith in Christ for salvation to be, in fact “giving glory unto God." If, therefore, we would either glorify or please God, we must believe in Christ for the remission of our sins. It