Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ered, but what the inspiration of his Eternal Spirit had taught them concerning the Most High.

In this prayer of Solomon, at the dedication of the teme ple, you may note the recognition of many of the attributes of God. His omnipresence,* his omniscience,f his almighty power, his infinite mercy,t his unalterable truth,|| his his eternał dominion, 1 his all-directing providence,** are not only adverted to as points well understood, but are made the foundation of the suppliant's plea, and regarded as the anchor of his and Israel's hope. Any one of these would furnish a theme more than sufficient to occupy the efforts of our hour. And to no more than one of them da we propose at this time directing your attention.

You have remarked the humble and grateful spirit with which the king of Israel recounted God's predictions to his father, and the fidelity with which they were accomplished in his own person and behalf, as witnessed by the

imposing solemnities of that hour. To David it had been | said, when it was his purpose to build a temple to the Lord

of Hosts, that he should not do it; but that one of his song should occupy his throne, and fulfill the purpose which he had so worthily framed. And now, said Solomon, “the Lord hath performed his word that he spake; and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit upon the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.” He then proceeds to frame his supplication, in the most humble and reverential terms, that God would be pleased to accept that offering of his people Israel, and occupy the house

*1 Kings viii. 27. s Ibid. 29, 39. Tbib. 42. lbid. 23. 35s libid. 20, 24. Ibid. 60. ** Ibid. passim.

which they had founded for his name. But ere he had shaped his wish into expression, he appears suddenly to check himself, and adverting to the immensity of the Being whom he addressed, “will God,” he cried, “indeed dwell on the earth! Behold the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded.” And then he goes on to supplicate that the eyes of the Lord might be continually on his temple, and that many blessings might result from his peculiar presence there.-Behold then “the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven, and in his excellency on the sky”! Behold the OMNIPRESENT God.

It was a proud distinction in behalf of Israel's God over the ten thousand fabled deities of paganism, and over the various sensible objects of their worship, that while the latter were considered as present in but one particular place, and even in dominion restricted to particular countries, or territories, or cities; the empire of Jehovah was always regarded as comprehending all things, and his eternal De. ity as limited to no place, and circumscribed by no boundary, but really, immediately, and wholly present to every point of space, and to every created object, the universe abroad." Solomon therefore invoked a present Deity, the Deity whose immensity fills heaven, earth and hell, or ra. ther, in whose immensity heaven, earth and hell have place, when he besought his special presence in that house of prayer. No place, he says, can hold the essence of the Most High, “the heavens cannot contain thee,” that amazing expanse that towers high above our heads, that stretches every where around us, and within whose a mazing limits creation wheels her fires. Nor çan “the beaven of heavens” contain thee, the wide expanse whicha

stretches interminably beyond the material frame of things: that space (if space it be) in which glorious spirits expatiate at large: or into whose recesses nothing created has ever penetrated, and where nothing but the Deity has place. Thou art there, thou art here; creation floats a. round in the bosom of thy immensity; thou art at home where never yet were stretched the golden compasses to circumscribe the paths of new created worlds, and where strong pinioned seraphs, moving rapid as the light, could never-never come. “What am I, what are we,' says the awe-struck king of Israel, 'that I should ask thy presence in this temple, built by human hands!

You will at once discern, my dear fellow mortals, that the theme which we have chosen is one which no human faculties can wield; and that were we even gifted with supernatural strength to mount to the height of such an argument, your feet could never follow us. But we come not with the aim to make you comprehend the omniprea sence of the Deity. We only come to shew you that he is the omnipresent God, and that you cannot hope to comprehend his essence. Do not however suppose that a theme too mighty for our powers to wield, or for your faculties to grasp, is of a description that for that reason ought not to be attempted. Do not, before you have heard us, begin to frame your conjectures that our subject must prove uninteresting, because it is unfathomable; and that you cannot hope to learn any thing where we leave every thing unexplained. Were a novice to be told of the vastness of God's works, and then were you to lead him forth for the purpose of occular demonstration, would he have. a right to complain of you because his eye could not take in their amazing compass? Would he be learning nothing

from you when you pointed him to objects of such prodigious extent that neither you nor he could descry their termination? Suppose him destitute of all knowledge of our world; and that after telling him of those mighty congregations of waters which separate our continents, you should propose to lead him forth, that on the ocean's beach he might test for himself the truth of your instructions. He expected perhaps that you would point out on every hand the amazing limits by whieh its waves are stayed: he expected that his eye would take measure of those abysses which, as he heard from you, are tenanted by the monsters of the deep. But he is sadly disappointed. You lead him to the beach where ocean lifts her everlasting voice, and he sees nothing of those limits, those amazing limits, which he had expected to descry. You then conduct him to some eminence, to enlarge the circle of his vision: but it is confusion worse confounded. Here,! yonder,! directly un. der his feet the billows dash and foam! Afar his eye dise cerns the surges as they sweep! But it is a world of was ters, an interminable waste; no boundary or bottom can he see. As well might such a novice complain that he had learned nothing, because you did not scoop the ocean ini the hollow of your hand, and bid his eye then trace its lim. its and penetrate its depths, às that you, or other mortals, should complain that we attempt too much when we point you to a Divinity "too high to comprehend.?"

God is omnipresent: "heaven, and the heaven of heavenscannot contain him.” If we cannot frame our speech to speak things unutterable, if we cannot by examples furnish illustrations of an object which has no parellel in all the universe of being, our text will at least serve to remove erroneous notions on this subject, and to shield you from

the mischiefs inseparable from all attempts to shadow forth an image of the Deity. God is omnipresent: he fills heaven and earth. Then, • I. We are forbidden to conceive of the Deity as exist

ing in human, or any bodily form. We are perfectly aware that to many of our hearers 'this caution may seem superfluous. You have been taught from childhood to consider that "God is a spirit,” and that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones;" and you are therefore ready to assert that no person who reads the bible, no person in fact within the bounds of Christendom, can be supposed sottish enough to indulge such gross conceptions of the Divinity. You are deceived. It is one thing to distinguish in words between a spiritual and corporeal existence, and quite another and much more rare atchievment to form distinct and correct apprehensions of spiritual being. We have every reason to believe that a great proportion of those who employ the terms spirit, essence, and such like, attach to them no other notion than that of substances, highly refined, indeed, and attenuated, but nevertheless extended, bounded by superfices, and in every respect as material as those most palpable to sense. This is by no means an unusual mode of conceiving of angelic beings, and of the immortal spirits of men. Nor is it strange that human language, founded' as it is for the most part on sensible objects, and so universaliy employed in shadowing forth by imagery our conceptions of spiritual things, should both suggest and foster these erroneous apprehensions. We habitually speak of fpirits standing before God's throne, bowing before God's throne, or winging their way from before the throne of God on some errand of judgment or mercy; and we never le so without representing them, and in some sort conceixe

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »