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the innumerable secret wonders of the hoary, claim the name of the Lord before thee; and deep; when exrmined the precious contents will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, or the everlasting hills, when discovered and will show mercy on whom I will show the nature and properties of air and fire ? mercy."* This is the glory of God to man, Supposing the mighty task performed; sup- the riches of his grace, the glory of his goodposing the untried regions of the air, the ness, the wonders of his love. untrodden paths of the sea, the deep and the In a display of the most striking imagery, high places of the earth rendered accessible God points out to Moses what was weak, igto thy approach, laid fully open to thy view norant, and presumptuous in his petition, -and lo, the race of knowledge is but begin- and commends what is pious, dutiful, and ning. Behold another orb at hand, present- affectionate. “ And he said, Thou canst not ing a new world of wonders: an orb pos- see my face: for there shall no man see me, sessing an inconceivably greater extent than and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there our earth, containing an infinitely greater is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon variety of objects, answering a much nobler a rock. And it shall come to pass, while my end in the scale of being; and after that, glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a another; and another still, in endless succes- cleft of the rock; and I will cover thee with sion. Suppose the whole planetary system, my hand, while I pass by. And I will take in order, to have passed under review, the away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back mind rests not there: the wonders of divine parts: but my face shall not be seen."I Expower and wisdom end not then: the soul pressions plainly importing, that by creatures wings its way to other systems, lighted by such as we are, the great Jehovah can be other suns, and finds itself but entering on seen and known only from those tokens of the glorious career.
his presence which he leaves behind him. Were the whole expanse of nature ex- He comes upon us, as it were, imperceptibly, plored, the MORAL government of God over unveils his glory for a moment, in his word, all these spheres and all that they contain, in his ordinances, but his hand is upon our expands the same vast field afresh to the eyes. As he departs, he permits us to look astonished eye, and invites to a second ex- up, and to know by infallible marks, that he cursion. When that is performed, REDEEM- has been with us. Thus, Jacob's vision at ING LOVE, ALMIGHTY GRACE display the ample Bethel was over, before he was aware into theatre a third time, and lead us by the hand what glorious company he had been introthrough the “nations of them that are saved,” duced." And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and point out the successive triumphs of and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; sovereign goodness. As if it were possible and I knew it not."| Thus at Peniel he to see an end of all this glorious perfection, wrestled apparently with a man; but in descripture announces the dissolution of all parting, his divine antagonist, by a touch, these things, as a space too small for the soul convinced him who he was; and he discovers, to expatiate in, as an object too mean for its that he had seen “ the visions of the Alcontemplation; and promises a new and more mighty," after he had withdrawn. And thus, glorious system of things, suited to its endless the glorified Redeemer talked with the two duration and exalted powers, “ new heavens disciples by the way as they went to Emand a new earth wherein dwelleth righteous maus, and opened unto them the scriptures, ness." And what is it, even then, that men while their heart burned within them, but behold? The works of God, not God him- their eyes were held that they did not know self; the writing, not the hand that writes; him. At length, while he brake bread and the palace that is inhabited, not the divine blessed it, " their eyes were opened, and they inhabitant; the emanation, not the essence knew him.” Is God in this place? of his glory. Every gracious spirit, then, him not; we cannot see him and live; but will with Moses be “ following on to know by this we shall know it hereafter-Has his the Lord;” still and ever inquiring, still word been made quick and powerful to any and ever imploring, “ Lord, show me thy soul? Has the dignity and importance of glory.”
communion with him been felt? Is a man The answer of God to this request is not departing with a deeper and more humbling less remarkable than the request itself. sense of his own unworthiness and guilt; Moses prayed, saying, “Lord, show me thy and penetrated with a more lively apprehen glory.” Alas, like the disciple on the mount sion of the mercy of God through a Saviour ? of transfiguration," he knew not what he is sin rendered more odious, and holiness said.” To have been answered according to more amiable in the eyes of any one ? Is the the letter of his desire, had been fatal to him; heart glowing with desire to know more of for what created eye can behold the glory of God, to love him more, and serve him betGod and live? But a gracious God returns ter ? Is the spirit of a man pressing " toward an answer suitable to the condition of his the mark, for the prize of the high calling servant, “And he said, I will make all my
* Exodus xxxu. 19. | Exodus xxxiii. 20—23. GOODNESS pass before thee, and I will pro
1 Gen. xxviii. 16.
of God in Christ Jesus ?"* Then of a truth | tance." And behold he carries this point God is in this place; and a day spent thus in also, and the covenant is renewed between his courts, is better than a thousand. God and Israel. Let us see that our requests
But how is the language of this conclud- be proper to be granted, and we have thein ing passage of the chapter to be reconciled already, before we make them. Let us be with that in the eleventh verse? “ The solicitous to obtain spiritual blessings in the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man first place, and the temporal good things speaketh unto his friend.” The expression, which we prized not, asked not, may perhaps " to see the face,” is evidently taken in two come unexpected, unsought. "Give thy serdifferent senses. In the 11th verse, it signi- vant,” said Solomon, “an understanding fies to be regarded with favour or approba- heart, that I may discern between good and tion, as it is in the 4th Psalm, verse 6. “ Lord, bad.” "And the speech pleased the Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance that Solomon had asked this thing. And upon us ;” that is, show thyself gracious unto God said unto him, Because thou hast asked us, for we prize thy loving kindness far above this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long every earthly blessing : but in the 20th and life, neither hast asked riches for thyself
, nor 23d verse, " to see the face of God,” imports hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast the knowledge of his nature or essence, asked for thyself understanding to discem which to a creature is impossible. Here judgment: behold, I have done according to even a Moses is in darkness, through an ex- thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and cess of light: into this angels desire to look, an understanding heart, so that there was but instantly shrink back, and shut their none like thee before thee, neither after thee trembling eyes. But “the only begotten shall any arise like unto thee. And I have Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, also given thee that which thou hast not he hath declared him;"+ and “the Word asked, both riches and honour: so that there was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and shall not be any among the kings like unto we beheld his glory, the glory as of the thee, all thy days.”+ only begotten of the Father) full of grace To enjoy this heavenly vision of all God's and truth.”| Such was the care ployed goodness, as it passed by, Moses must again by Him who knows what is in man, to pre- ascend the mount, and draw nigh unto God. vent the possibility of idolatry, and to ex- He was going up as to meet a friend; but pose the folly of it. Even Moses shall not that almighty friend must protect him from be trusted with any thing like a representa- himself, as from his most formidable enemy. tion of Deity; and what so absurd as to " While my glory passeth by, I will put thee frame a similitude of what never was, never in a cleft of the rock; and will cover thee can be seen?
with my hand, while I pass by."| An inspired “ The effectual fervent prayer of a righte- apostle tells us that “this rock was Christ."'$ ous man availeth much," says the apostle And it sheds a pleasing light on the subject. James; and what a notable instance have What afforded safety to Moses in the trewe of the truth of this in the passage be- mendous hour, when the glory of God apfore us! Moses rises in his demands, as (peared? A cleft of that rock from whence he succeeds by supplicating, and he still the living stream issued forth for the reprevails. First, he pleads that the presence freshment of God's heritage when it was of God, the light and glory of Israel, might weary, and which was the type of that wonnot be withdrawn, as was threatened, but derful “ Man," who is “a hiding place from might accompany and lead them to their the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as destined habitation. And lo! God grants rivers of water in dry places; as the shadow his request, with an assurance of peculiar of a great rock in a weary land.”ll Did regard and affection to himself, “ Thou hast Moses flee thither for shelter, did he foresee found grace in my sight, and I know thee his danger, and provide a covering for his by name."$ Upon this he presumes to ask defenceless head? No, the refuge was of some new, some special manifestation of the God's providing. “I will put thee in a cleft divine glory, for his own satisfaction and of the rock.” Not human sa gacity, but dicomfort. This too he obtains, in a promise vine mercy discovers, and prepares a retreat that the goodness of God, all his goodness for the miserable. Observe the solid foundashould be made to pass before him. Em- tion on which that man is established who boldened by this success, he cannot rest till rests on the word of God: “thou shalt stand he has obtained for the people a remission of upon a rock.” Remove the promise of him their offence. And he said, “ If now I have who is faithful, of him who is true, and we found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my immediately sink into a horrible pit, and Lord, I pray thee, go amongst us, (for it is a stick fast in the miry clay; but “Behold," stiff-necked people) and pardon our iniquity says God, " I lay in Zion for a foundation, a and our sin, and take us for thine inheri- stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone,
* Ex. xxxiv. 9. 1 Ki. iii. 10-13. Ex. xxxiii. 22. 1 John i. 14. $ Exodus xxxiii. 17.
$ 1 Cor. x. 4
| Isaiah xxxii. 2.
* Phil. iii. 14.
† John i. 18.
a sure foundation; he that believeth shall If we can conceive a situation more aw not make haste."*
fully solemn than another, it was that of Moses is now directed to make all needful Moses on this occasion. Consider the stillpreparation for this important visit. In his ness of the morning, the elevation of the haste he had thrown the two tables which mountain, the pleasing gloom of solitude, contained the law, on the ground, and had the expected display of a glory which he broken them in pieces under the mount: but could not behold but as it departed. Every no act of man can disannul the law of God. circumstance is great and affecting, but altoThe loss, though great, was not irreparable. gether suitable to the glory that followed : But God will not entirely repair it, that for “the Lord descended in the cloud, and Moses may have somewhat to regret in the stood with him there, and proclaimed the effects of his impatience. The former two name of the Lord."* At the inauguration tables were wholly of God—the substance, of kings, it is customary to proclaim their the forin, the writing, the subject; but the names and titles, and to bid defiance to last must partake of human ignorance and every challenger or usurper of their rights. imperfection. The choice of the stone, and This is the mere pride of state, the mere inthe hewing it into form, are of Moses: the solence of possession. But the names of writing and the words are still of God. And God are his nature, peculiar to himself, inthese were the tables which were laid up in applicable, incommunicable to any other. the ark of the testimony for preservation, And mark how the tide of mercy flows and and were transmitted to posterity. And it is swells till it has overcome every barrier; thus that the precious things of God are still from the soles of the feet to the ancles, from conveyed to men. The casket is human, the ancles to the knees, till it becomes a the jewel which it contains is divine. “We river, wherein a man may swim;" and from have this treasure in earthen vessels, that an overflowing river converted into a boundthe excellency of the power may be of God, less ocean, without bottom, without shore. and not of us."| And thus, though a merci- “ The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and ful God express not displeasure at vur rash- gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in ness and folly, they become in the end their goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thouown punishment.
sands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, Moses is commanded to be ready in the and sin."While justice is confined in one morning. The operations of human state steady, deep, awful stream, threatening deloiter and linger, and seek to acquire im- struction only to the impenitent and unbeportance from expectation and delay; but the lieving; expressed in these awful words, movements of Deity prevent the dawning, “ and that will by no means clear the and derive all their importance from them- guilty." selves. Unless prayer be followed out by This was the commencement of an intervigour and exertion, men pray in vain. One view “which lasted forty days and forty hour lost in slumber rendered ten thousand nights,” and which contained a repetition of petitions fruitless and ineffectual; but Moses, the instructions formerly given respecting like a man in earnest, like a man who knew the tabernacle and its service. But this the value of what he had so ardently desired, merits a separate and distinct consideration: is ready betimes; he is at the appointed place as likewise does the alteration of the exterat the appointed hour; with the tablets pre- nal appearance of Moses, on coming down pared to receive the impress of God. He from the mount; of which we mean to discarried them with him, a dead, vacant, use-course next Lord's day. “ Moses wist not less lump of stone; he brings them back that the skin of his face shone, while he turned into spirit and kife, clothed with mean- talked with him. And when Aaron and all ing, speaking to the eye, to the heart, to the the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the conscience; for if God breathe on dry bones, skin of his face shone, and they were afraid they instantly live, and stand up a great to come nigh him.”[ army.
| Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7. 1 2 Cor. iv. 7.
1 Exodus xxxiv. 29, 30
* Exodus xxxiv. 5.
* Isaiah xxviii. 16.
HISTORY OF MOSES.
LECTURE L X.
And it came to pass when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony in Mo
ses's hand, when he came down from the mount) that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone, while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him.—ExoDUS Xxxiv. 29, 30.
The sun, the great light of the natural, with whom we frequently converse, and world, communicates to all bodies a portion whom we dearly love. “He who walketh of his own splendour, and thereby confers up with wise men shall become wise; but the on them whatever lustre they possess. In companion of fools shall be destroyed.” At his absence, all things assume the same dis- the social friendly banquet, the eye sparkles mal sable hue. The verdure of the meadow; with delight, the heart expands, the brow is the varied glory of the garden; the bright- smoothed, the tongue is inspired by the law ness of the moon's resplendent orb; the of kindness; every look is the reception or sweet attractions of “the human face di- communication of pleasure. In the house of vine,” pronounce in so many different forms mourning, we speedily feel ourselves in uniof expression, “ The light of yonder celes-son with the afflicted; our eyes stand cortial globe has risen upon me: if I have any rected, our words are few, our heads droop. beauty or loveliness, with him it comes, and in the cell of melancholy, the blood runs cold, with him it departs.” The whole order and the features relax, our powers of thought and system of nature is designed to be a constant reflection are suspended, with those of the witness to the God of grace—“the true light moping wretches whose misery we deplore. which enlighteneth every man that cometh What wonder then if Moses, descending from into the world.” If there be in angels any the mount, after forty days' familiar interbeauty of holiness, any fervour of love, any course with “the Lord God, merciful and elevation of wisdom, any excellency of gracious,” had not the appearance of an ordistrength; if there be in man any bowels of nary man; that he had acquired a lustre not mercies, any kindness of affection, any gen- his own! "He was there with the Lord forty tleness of spirit, any endearment of charity, days and forty nights; he did neither eat any humbleness of mind, any meekness, pa- bread nor drink water." tience, long-suffering, it is a glory reflected What a sublime idea does this suggest of from the Father of lights.” It neither ex- communion with God! What created enjoyists nor can be seen, but as it is supplied and ment has not lost its relish in a much shorter discovered by the eternal Source of light and space! What powers of unassisted nature joy. Say to that tulip, at the gloomy solstice could have so long sustained the want of aliof the year, or at the dusky midnight hour, ment! No one thing in a more humiliating “ Array thyself in all those beautiful tints of manner teaches us our frailty and dependthine wherewith thou charmest the eye of ence, than the constant necessity of recurevery beholder;" it hears thee not, it exhi- ring to the grosser elements for support. bits no colour but one. But with the return of Man, the lord of this lower world, must, with the vernal breeze, and the genial influence the subject tribes, and in a much greater proof the sun, and the moment the dawning has portion than many of them, pass a very conarisen upon it, unbidden, unobserved, it puts siderable portion of his existence in a state of on its beautiful garments, and stands instant- unconsciousness and insensibility during the ly clothed in all the freshness of the spring. hours of sleep: he must purchase with the Why is that face clouded with sorrow, why suspension of his reason, during a third part grovels that spirit in the dust, why lacks that of his being, the exercise of it durir the heart the glow of benevolence, the meltings other two. The happiness of an immortal beof sympathy? The genial current of the soul ing is, oftener than once in a day, subjected is frozen up, it is the dreary winter season of to a little bread that perisheth; the spirit, grace. The sun, the Sun of righteousness however willing, quickly feels the oppressive has withdrawn; but lo, after a little while, weight of a body frail and infirm. "But bethe winter is past, cheerful spring returns, hold the triumph of the spirit over the flesh: the voice of joy and gladness is heard, “ Arise, or rather, the power and grace of God, which shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of vouchsafing in general to employ means, the Lord is risen upon thee."*
call upon us diligently to use them; but We naturally assume the tone of those which, sometimes neglecting these, and con
veying immediate supplies and support, lead assembly and church of the first-born written us at once to Him who worketh all things af- in heaven,” is not composed of men that ter the counsel of his own will."
never “left their first estate,” but of " just Moses descends, not with impaired, but men made perfect;” not of creatures like with recruited strength; strength, which, to Adam, in a state of innocence, but of creathe end of life, never more abated: not with tures redeemed by the blood of the Son of a sunk, darkened, extinguished eye: but an God; “justified by the redemption that is in eye, which, having seen God, never after- Christ Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of wards became dim: not with a visage pale the living God.” Let us not, then, regret the and emaciated from a fast of forty days; but | loss of an earthly paradise, nor the destruction with a countenance that dazzled the eyes of of the image of a changeable, though perfect every beholder. What a glorious creature creature, while, through grace, we may reis the friend of God; “ Lo, O Lord, they that gain the paradise of God, and be fashioned are far from thee shall perish, but it is good in body and in spirit like unto our glorious for me to draw nigh unto God.” When Mo- Redeemer. ses descended before, he was clothed in just Moses has acquired a glory on the mount resentment and displeasure; he came a mi- which he is not conscious of. “ He wist not nister of vengeance, and all Israel trembled that the skin of his face shone, while he as he frowned; he now returns with the talked with him.” The choicest of God's covenant renewed, the tables of the law res- gifts, and humility is one of the most pretored, a messenger of peace, and yet the lus- cious, come not with observation, announce tre of his appearance is intolerable. What not their approach, are not first visible to the must the great JEHOVAH be in his own possessor. But it is impossible to converse glory, when reflected, imparted glory-glory much with God, without appearing more communicated to a creature, thus intimidates glorious in the eyes of men. Has a man and astonishes! How dreadful the glory of been in the mount with God ? He needeth wrath and fiery indignation, when the glory not to sound a trumpet before him, to proof infinite goodness we are not able stead- claim from whence he has come; he has but fastly to behold!
to show himself, and the evidence of it will Moses descended the first time, with the appear. The man has been in the mount tables in their original state, altogether of with God. What are the signs of it? Is he God; and in his haste he effaced and des- ostentatious, self-sufficient. Is he eager to troyed them: but we read of no attempt to talk of his attainments, to exhibit the shining collect the scattered fragments
, and to re- of his face, to abash and confound a less unite them. Superstition might have made favoured brother? He is not like Moses, he an improper use of what could not be dis- has not been with the God of Moses, his pretinctly read, and of consequence, but partial- tensions are vain. That man has been in the ly understood ; and true piety will seek some mount with God. How does it appear? Is surer rule of faith and conduct, some more he gloomy and snllen, harsh and uncharitable? powerful assistant in devotion, than the scat- Is his tongue filled with anathemas ? Flashes tered shivers of even a sapphire from the his eye destruction on mankind ? He is a liar throne of God. It has been wofully demon- and an impostor, believe him not; he is not strated to be an easy matter to mar the work come down from the God of the law, from of God. Adam defaced the divine image in the God of the gospel, froin the relenting his own person, by one wilful transgression. Father of Israel, from the compassionate Moses cancelled the hand writing of or- Father of the human race: No, he has been dinances in one rash moment: and every conversing with, he has ascended from the thoughtless transgressor is pulling down, in malignant enemy of God and man: by his his own person, à fabric of God's rearing spirit you may know who he is. But all the powers of nature united, are in Pretenders are at as much pains to display capable of rebuilding that temple, of renew- the lustre of their outside, as Moses was to ing that writing, of restoring that image. conceal his. By this then you shall try and He who in the beginning “commanded light know yourselves
, and form your judgment of to shine out of darkness," alone can relumine others. Does a man issue forth from his the extinguished life of God in the soul. closet, return from the temple, retire from The hand which at first created man out of the Lord's table, with his temper sweetened, "dust of the ground,” alone can form of the his heart enlarged, with the law of kinddead in trespasses and sins, “ a new creature ness on his tongue, with the tear of compasin Christ Jesus unto good works.” And what sion, or the lustre of benevolence in his eye?' was afterwards laid up in the holy place, and Is he, like Moses, more attentive to the conpreserved while the tabernacle remained ? dition, necessities, and instruction of others, Not that which came pure and perfect from than earnest to blaze abroad his own excelthe hands of the Creator, but that which God, lencies, in order to obtain reputation for by an act of grace and the intervention of a himself? How gloriously does such an one Mediator, recovered. Thus “the general
* Exodus xxxiv, 29.