Worship Follow-Up

21 06 2008

Last week’s sermon was admittedly a different approach. The goal was to look directly into the brightness of the sun, while praying that we would not be blinded in the process.

Here’s a powerful follow-up from Octavius Winslow that is well worth the read:

The Redeemer, the Revelation of the Father’s Glory

“The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:6

That God was under any obligation or necessity to reveal Himself to man, is an idea that cannot for a moment be seriously entertained. It will follow, then, that such a revelation of Himself, of His mind and will, to fallen creatures having been made, it must be regarded as astounding act of His sovereign mercy, irrespective of any claim whatever arising from the creature man. The source where it originates must be entirely within God Himself.”

The great point which now lies before us bears upon the mode of the Divine revelation; and resolves itself into the single and important inquiry- What forms the most perfect revelation of the glory of God to man? It is the design of this chapter, in humbly attempting an answer to this question, to show that the only full and perfect revelation of the glory of God is seen in the Lord Jesus; that apart from a spiritual and experimental knowledge of the Son there can be no true, adequate, and saving knowledge of the Father. To clear up this momentous matter the more thoroughly, it will be proper that we first demonstrate THE UTTER IMPOSSIBILITY OF A CORRECT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD OUTSIDE OF CHRIST; this will have prepared us for a more full consideration of our main subject.

The most palpable evidence and fearful result of man’s fall from original holiness is the deep and awful ignorance of God, of His character, perfections, and moral government, in which that apostasy has involved him. It was the glory and the happiness of Adam that, before his revolt, not a cloud rested upon his mind tending to obscure the most clear and perfect views of the Divine character which it was possible for a finite creature to possess. He knew God sufficiently for all the purposes of a life wholly conformed to His will, and supremely devoted to His glory. There was no intellectual darkness in his understanding, no moral corruption of his will, nor of his affections. The whole soul constituted as it were an orb of the most beauteous light, kindled by God Himself, and reflecting its beams of beauty on every object in nature. It is true that, regarding his knowledge of God, nature was his teacher, or rather the medium through which he was taught; that impressions and perceptions of the Divine existence and glory were received mainly through the imagery of sensible objects; that the “invisible things of God were clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” Yet this

affords no solid argument in favor of a perfect knowledge of God in nature; for let it be remembered that nature, as a mirror of the Divine glory, was framed for man as innocent, and not for man as guilty; that when by his own act this mirror was defaced and destroyed, with it was destroyed all true natural knowledge of Jehovah. Had the creature continued in his state of perfect rectitude, then no other revelation of God would have been needed; but throwing around him the pall of guilt, he necessarily threw around him the pall of ignorance. And before there can be clear and perfect light in the soul of the character and perfections of God, there must be a removal of that sin which else must eternally separate God and man. Hence the absolute necessity of just such a revelation of the Father as Jesus, the “true Light, which enlightens every man that comes into the world.”

The most difficult, perhaps, because the most humbling lesson which the world has ever had to learn, has been the nothingness of its own wisdom, and the folly of its unaided endeavors to find out God to perfection. Earnest as have been its desires, ardent as have been its aspirations, and laborious as have been its endeavors, the “unknown God” is the only inscription written upon its altars. The ancient philosophers prided themselves on their superior attainments in this study; but to what did their knowledge of God, underived from revelation, amount? What was the actual result of their profound researches, patient inquiries, acute reasonings, and subtle disputations? Let the apostle reply: “Professing themselves to be wise men, they became fools.” Even worse than this. Not only “by wisdom the world knew not God,” but the imperfect knowledge it did gather of Him in nature, so far from expanding their mental conceptions of the Divine character, and elevating their lives to a conformity to the Divine will, seemed but to lead them into the deepest and grossest idolatry! “Professing themselves to be wise men, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.” What an affecting picture! Oh that the proud eulogist of the dignity of human nature would study it! What an instructive lesson! Oh that the vain seeker of God outside of Christ would learn it! Here was the world, at an age when civilization and philosophy, poetry and the arts, flourished in a pre-eminent degree, and were exerting a softening and ameliorating influence upon society, yet utterly abandoned to superstition and idolatry. Idolatry in its darkest clouds was settling upon its moral landscape; idolatry in its gloomiest attributes was entwined with its history; idolatry in its grossest features was blended with its literature; idolatry in its most insinuating forms was advanced with the creations of its poetic genius; idolatry of the most degrading and sensual kind, was enthroned in the seats of its philosophers, was dignified by their approval, inculcated in their lectures, and sanctioned by their example. The histories of Egypt, of Greece, and of Rome, testify that “the world by its wisdom knew not God,”- that after every expedient had been adopted, and every experiment had been tried- after the triumphs of war, and the arts of peace, and the wisdom of legislation, and the lessons of philosophy, and the inculcations of religion, had done their utmost, man was still left ignorant of God, and consequently steeped in guilt, and bowed in grief, the slave of every vice, and the sport of every sorrow. Thus did God “destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to no thing the understanding of the prudent.” And thus, too, will He ever confound the wisdom and abase the pride of that man, who, towering on the Babel of his own unassisted research, would find Him out to perfection who is the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see.”

But we proceed to the main subject or this chapter, which is to set forth the Lord Jesus in His person and work as constituting the only true and perfect revelation of God to man. The great and precious truth we are now to contemplate is introduced to us in these words of the inspired Evangelist: “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared him.” Of the vast importance of a correct knowledge of God, need we speak at length? It is a truth which finds an assent in well-near every judgment. Every awakened conscience desires it; every believing mind admits it; every tried soul feels it. It lies at the basis of salvation; it forms the material of happiness; it supplies the true motive to holiness; it is the groundwork and the prelude of future and eternal glory. May the eye of faith be now so anointed by the Spirit as to behold with a clear and unclouded vision the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!”

There are THREE DIFFERENT MEDIUMS THROUGH WHICH GOD IS SEEN. The first, to which we have already in general terms referred, is creation. Now, while we are far from underrating any sources of evidence which the wisdom and goodness of God had given to guide our research, we must yet maintain in strong language that the knowledge of God gleaned from this source is imperfect, and meets not the cravings of our nature. It is true, that it demonstrates the fact of God’s existence, but here it stops. It tells us that God is, but it tells us not perfectly what God is. It proves to us clearly, undeniably, God’s being; but it unfolds not the relation in which that Being stands to us. It gives, so to speak, a glimpse into the essential properties of God, but it reveals nothing of His moral perfections. Creation, even in its fallen state, is a beautiful piece of workmanship, in which we see, not only that there is a God, but that He is infinite in wisdom, omnipotent in power, great in goodness; but as a fallen creature, I need more than this. And what, as a guilty creature, I pant to know of God I find not, though I go in search of it through the length and breadth, the height and depth, of this beautiful territory of God’s handy-work. Let me simply illustrate the thought. I take in my hands an exquisite piece of mechanism; I examine its various parts, ponder its exact movements, and, laying it down, admire the wisdom and applaud the skill displayed in its construction; and this is all that I can discover of the maker. For anything that I know, the moral elements which compose his character may be of the lowest order. Yes, the very individual whose workmanship has awakened my wonder and called forth my praise, may be my sworn, my deadly foe, cherishing in his bosom the elements of hatred, and ruminating in his mind the plan of my destruction! Now that we have a partial discovery of God, of His wisdom, and power, and goodness, in creation, is not enough to satisfy the mind convinced that God is holy, to quiet the conscience convicted of sin, and to soothe a heart bowed down with godly grief. The grand inquiries with such a soul are, “How can I be just with God? How can I satisfy His justice, appease His wrath, and propitiate His regard? How may I know that He is my God, my reconciled Father? How may I be assured that He loves, has pardoned and accepted me, and that I shall be with Him forever?” Traverse in imagination the extent of creation, wander over the most beautiful landscape, pluck the most fragrant flower, select the most costly gem, glide upon the surface of the fairest lake, scale the highest mountain, soar to the farthermost star, still the momentous question rushes back upon the mind, “How may I stand with acceptance before this holy Lord God?” Poor anxious searcher for peace, all nature unites in testifying, “It is not in me! It is not in me!”

The second medium through which God has seen fit to discover Himself to man is His Law. But here again are we compelled to acknowledge the defectiveness of the revelation, as far as its degree extends. The knowledge of God derived from this source must necessarily be partial and shadowy. It is true, the holiness of God is discovered in its precepts, and the justice of God is inferred from its threatenings; but the law can never be more nor less than what the Holy Spirit has declared it to be, the “ministration of condemnation.” As a fallen creature, revolving the great matter of the soul’s salvation, it can afford no satisfactory reply to the great question, “What must I do to be saved?” It breathes not a sound of mercy to a poor sinner; not one kind, soothing, saving accent falls from its lips. It speaks of death, but not of life; of condemnation, but not of salvation. It asserts the authority, reflects the holiness, and denounces the vengeance of God: but not one beam of hope springing from His mercy, His grace, or His love, does it throw upon the gloomy path of the soul passing on to judgment, bowed down beneath the “terrors of the Lord.” Reader! are you seeking salvation by the law? Alas for you! How can that save which only condemns? How can that give life which in its nature and design is but the minister of death? Mount Sinai is no refuge for your soul, poor, guilty, condemned, heart-broken sinner. All is thunder and lightning, tempest and darkness. Come down from the mount before you are consumed. Abandon as utterly futile and deceptive all your legal expectations of acceptance, and betake yourself to the one only refuge of your guilty soul- the cross of the incarnate God.

We are now conducted to the consideration of the great point. We have seen that upon an extensive scale a great and fatal experiment had been made by man to know God and happiness. That God existed, he had every demonstrative proof. The same evidence which authenticated His being, proved Him to possess great and glorious attributes; and the manner in which these attributes were displayed gave some insight into His character, “so that they are without excuse.” Wearied as the creature was with a laborious, and dispirited with a fruitless, research, God, in the depths of infinite mercy and wisdom, takes the work of salvation into His own hands. He sends His only begotten and well-beloved Son into the world, and declares Him to be the perfect revelation of Himself to man. On this important truth Jesus Himself laid great stress. Let the following declaration suffice. To a question of difficulty raised by Thomas– Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” John 14:6-11.

Let us, in a few particulars, unfold the glorious and all-important truth contained in these words. And in the first place, we find, on examination of the sacred word, that the Lord JESUS EMBODIES THE GLORY OF THE GODHEAD. In other words, we behold the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Having devoted an entire chapter of this work to a scriptural exposition of the Deity of Christ, it will not be deemed necessary that we enlarge upon the doctrine in the present connection. And yet we are here presented with a further confirmation of this cardinal truth, demanding more than a mere cursory glance. Of the spirituality of the Divine nature, we can form no just nor definite conception. All our ideas of it must necessarily be unintelligible, vague, and shadowy. Referring to this impossibility, and, in language of condescending adaptation to our sensible view of objects, Jesus says of His Father, “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.” Ignorant of this inspired truth, and yet with a quenchless thirst ever desiring such a conception of the Infinite Spirit as would afford a resting-place for the mind, an object on which faith could repose, and round which the affections could entwine, man has been beguiled into atheism and idolatry of the most debasing and fearful character. Framing his conceptions of spirit after his own low and depraved idea of matter, he has “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.”

But God has revealed Himself. He has stooped to our nature, and, in the person of His incarnate Son, has embodied the spirituality of His being with all its Divine and glorious attributes. Behold with what clearness and power this truth is set forth. “Christ, who is the image of God.” “Who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” “Who is the image of the invisible God.” Could any single point be more distinctly stated and more conclusively proved than this, that our Divine and adorable Redeemer constitutes, in His person, a perfect revelation of the essential glory of the Godhead? All that we clearly, savingly know of God, is just the measure of our acquaintance with this truth. Jesus brings God near. “You are near, O Lord.” Oh, how near! “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” The most stupendous, glorious truth which created mind ever grasped is involved in this wondrous declaration, “Emmanuel, God with us.” With what glory does it invest the Bible! what a foundation does it lay for faith! what substance does it impart to salvation! and what a good hope does it place before the believing soul! God is with us in Christ, with us in the character of our reconciled Father, with us in every step of our journey to heaven, with us to guide in perplexity, to soothe in sorrow, to comfort in bereavement, to rescue in danger, to shield in temptation, to provide in need, to support in death, and to conduct us safely to glory. My soul! fall prostrate in the dust before the majesty of this amazing, this precious truth; adore the wisdom that has revealed it, and admire the grace that makes it yours!

The great revelation of the Godhead, Jesus, is equally the revelation of all the PERFECTIONS Of the Godhead. Is “God the only wise?” Jesus is the glory of that wisdom– “Christ the wisdom of God.” He is the masterpiece of Divine wisdom; its highest manifestation; its most perfect, finished production. We trace the lesser forms of wisdom in nature; we ascend a scale higher in providence; we reach the summit in grace. Here we launch into a boundless immensity, and, overwhelmed with its greatness, can but exclaim, “Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

Behold this wisdom, as it shines in the recovery of lost and ruined man, by Christ. Here is a manifestation infinitely transcending in greatness and glory the first creation of man in holiness. In the first creation, God had nothing to undo- no dilapidated temple to take down, no occupant to dispossess, no ruin to repair, no rubbish to remove, no enemy to oppose. “He spoke, and it was done.” The materials which composed the first human temple were ready to His hands, unfallen and pure. The very dust that He took to frame it with was holy. The life He breathed into it was holy. The air with which He surrounded it was holy. The paradise in which He placed it was holy. The breezes that played upon it, the sunbeam that gilded it, the fountains that watered it, all, all were in harmony with the spotless purity of God, and His glorious creature, man.

But in the re-creation of man, how vastly different! This beautiful temple is a ruin- dilapidated and fallen. God is ejected; another and an antagonist occupant dwells in it, and enmity to its Creator is written in letters of darkness upon every part, and over every inlet. In rebuilding this structure, all things were to be created anew. “Behold,” says God, “I create a new thing in the earth.” It was a new and profounder thought of infinite wisdom, unheard, unseen before. Fallen man was to be raised- lost man was to be recovered- sin was to be pardoned- the sinner saved, and God eternally glorified. Now were the treasures of wisdom, which for ages had been hidden in Christ, brought forth. Resources that had never been drawn upon were now revealed. Infinite wisdom had never developed such vast wealth, had never appeared clothed in such glory, had never shone forth so majestic, so peerless, and Divine. Oh, how must angels and archangels have wondered, admired, and loved, as this brighter discovery of God burst in glory upon their astonished vision- as this new temple of man rose in loveliness before their view!

The first and greatest display of infinite wisdom was in the construction of the model upon which the new temple regenerated man was to be formed. This model was nothing less than the mysteriously constituted person of the Son of God. In this, its highest sense, is “Christ the wisdom of God.” “A body have You prepared me.” This was the great “tabernacle of God which was with men.” The inhabitation of Deity in that prepared temple of clay formed the masterpiece of Divine wisdom. Here it shone forth in full-orbed majesty. Gaze upon the living picture! Look at Emmanuel, God with us- God in our nature, God in our accursed nature- God in our tried nature- God in our sorrowful nature- God in our suffering nature- God in our tempted nature- yet untouched, untainted by sin. Is not this a fathomless depth of Divine wisdom? To have transcended it, would seem to have transcended Deity itself.

The next step in the unfolding of this Divine wisdom, is the spiritual restoration of man to a state corresponding in its moral lineaments to this Divine and perfect model. This is accomplished solely by “Christ crucified, the wisdom of God.” And here, again, does the glory of God’s wisdom shine in the person and work of Jesus. Every step in the development of this grand expedient establishes His character as the “only wise God,” whose “understanding is infinite;” while it augments our knowledge, and exalts our views of the Lord Jesus, as making known the Father. Here was a way of salvation for perishing sinners, harmonizing with every perfection of Jehovah, sustaining the highest honor of His government, bringing to Him the richest glory, and securing to its subjects, as the rich bequest of grace, happiness eternal and inconceivably great. It was a thought, oh how like God- a scheme, oh how worthy of Him! We can scarcely imagine Him to have gone further- that in thus fathoming the depth of infinite wisdom, a lower deep could be found. Redemption, by the obedience and death of the incarnate God, was so honoring to the Divine law, and satisfactory to Divine justice, was so harmonizing to the attributes, and so illustrative of every glorious perfection of the Divine nature, and in its results so suited to the highest ends of human happiness, that it was the interest of the Divine government without demur to accept it. Oh, how truly did God here “work all things after the counsel of His own will!” How has He “abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence!” In Jesus’ sacrificial obedience and death, we see sin fully punished, and the sinner fully saved; we see the law perfectly honored, and the transgressor completely justified; we see justice entirely satisfied, and mercy glorified to its highest extent- we see death inflicted according to the extreme tenor of the curse, and so vindicating to the utmost the truth and holiness of God, and yet life- present and eternal life- given to all whom it is the purpose and grace of the Father to save. Tell us, is not Jesus the great glory of the Divine wisdom?

Were we to survey the effects of this manifold wisdom on individual character, it would still further exalt our views of Christ as the wisdom of God. To see a man “becoming a fool that he may be wise,” -his reason bowing to revelation, his knowledge and attainments laid beneath the cross- his own righteousness surrendered- “counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord;” and as a little child receiving the kingdom of God, oh, how glorious does appear in this the wisdom of God, the light of which shines in Jesus’ face! Behold how determined is the Father, in every step of His grace, to humble the creature, and to exalt, magnify, and crown His co-equal Son, Lord of all!

One step more. We see Jesus the mediatorial Head of all wisdom and counsel to the Church. “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” “In whom,” says the same apostle, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He is the “Wonderful Counselor,” of whom it was thus prophesied: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.” Oh Divine and precious truth! unutterably precious to the soul having no resources adequate to the great purposes of knowing self, Christ, and God; of salvation, sanctification, and guidance.

Reader, are you earnestly desiring the “wisdom that is profitable to direct” you at this moment? Acquaint now yourself with Jesus, in whom all the treasures of this wisdom are hidden. What is His language to you? The same which Moses, the great legislator, spoke to the people of Israel: “The cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.” What a cheering invitation is this! A greater than Moses speaks it; and speaks it to you. You find your case baffling to human wisdom, too difficult for the acutest skill of man- take it, then, to Jesus. How sweetly He speaks- “bring it unto me!” One simple exercise of faith upon His word, will remove all that is difficult, make simple all that is complex, and lucid all that is dark in your case. With Him nothing is impossible. To Him all is transparent. Knowing the end from the beginning, there can be nothing unforeseen in it to His mind, by His prescience all is known, and by His wisdom all is provided for. His precious promise is, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not: I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Thus is Jesus “made of God unto us wisdom,” that all our perplexities may be guided, and all our doubts may be solved, and all our steps may be directed, by one on whom the anointing of the “spirit of wisdom and understanding” rests “without measure;” and who, from experience, is able to lead, having trodden every step before us. “And when He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him.” “If any man lack wisdom let him ask it from God, who gives liberally:” let him repair to Christ, whom God has set up from everlasting, “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.”

In the person and work of Christ, the HOLINESS Of God is revealed with equal power and luster. It is only through this medium that we possess the most clear and perfect demonstration of this Divine and awful perfection. From nature and from providence the evidence of its existence, and the illustration of its nature, come to us more in the form of inference than of positive declaration. Sin has obliterated all traces of holiness which once existed; not a foot of this vast domain, not a shrub, nor flower, nor creature remains, to tell what the “beauties of holiness” once were. Not a link binds the present with the world’s primeval history. Sin has severed the chain, has created a vast and fearful chasm, engulfing all that was ever holy and beautiful in this now fallen and defaced creation. And yet, even from its present condition, we form some faint idea of what it once was. The near approximation to a perfect state which we find in some departments of nature, the constant ascending towards that state which we find in others, together with the retributions of Divine justice which sometimes appal the mind in the providential dealings of God with men, afford sufficient data from which to infer that God is holy.

In the study of the Divine law, we ascend a step higher in a more clear discovery of this great truth. Here we have God’s own solemn asseveration that He is holy. The evidence is not inferential, but positive; nothing is left to conjecture, nothing to foster doubt. Jehovah declares that He is of “purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” The law which was given to man as the rule of his obedience, which, after his fall, was more permanently renewed upon tables of stone, superadded to the ceremonial law, to which were appended numerous sacrifices importing God’s holy indignation against sin, and the necessity of a more perfect sacrifice for its expiation, must have produced upon the mind deep and solemn convictions of God’s spotless purity.

But the truth of His essential holiness needed a more clear and impressive discovery and illustration; and God has given it. Where was there ever such a demonstration of God’s infinite hatred of sin, and His fixed and solemn determination to punish it, as is seen in the cross of Christ? Put your shoes from off your feet; draw near and contemplate this “great sight.” Who was the sufferer? God’s only begotten and well-beloved Son! His own Son! In addition to the infinitely tender love of the Father, there was the clear knowledge of the truth, that He who was enduring the severest inflictions of His wrath was innocent, guiltless, righteous- that He, Himself, had never broken His law, had never opposed His authority, had never run counter to His will; but had always done those things which pleased Him. At whose hands did He suffer? From demons, from men? They were but the agents; the moving cause was God Himself. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him: He has put Him to grief.” His own Father unsheathed the sword: He inflicted the blow: He kindled the fierce flame: He prepared the bitter cup. “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, says the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd.” “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” And what were the nature and degree of His sufferings? Imagine, if we can, what must have been the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the whole Church for all the sins of that Church through eternity! Can you compute the amount of her transgressions? Can you conceive the degree of her punishment? Can you measure the duration of her woe? Impossible! Then, who can tell what Jesus endured, when standing in the place and as the Surety of His Church, in the solemn hour of atonement, and in the day of God’s fierce anger? Never had God so manifested before, and never will He so manifest again, His essential holiness- His spotless purity- the inconceivable heinousness of sin- His utter hatred of it, and His solemn purpose to punish it with the severest inflictions of His wrath. Never did this glorious perfection of His being blaze out in such overwhelming glory, as on that dark day, and in the cross of the incarnate God. Had He emptied the full vials of His wrath upon the world, sweeping it before the fury of His anger, and consigning it to woeful and eternal punishment, it would not have presented to the universe so vivid, so impressive, and so awful a demonstration of the nature and glory of His holiness, of His infinite abhorrence of sin, and the necessity why He should punish it, as He has presented in the humiliation, sufferings, and death of His beloved Son. What new and ineffably transcendent views of infinite purity must have sprung up in the pure minds even of the spirits in glory, as bending from their thrones they fixed their astonished gaze upon the cross of the suffering Son of God!

In Jesus shines the awful glory of Divine JUSTICE. Justice is but another term for holiness. It is holiness in strict and awful exercise; and yet it is a distinct perfection of Jehovah, in the revelation and acknowledgment of which He will be glorified. The basis of the atonement is righteousness, or justice. So the apostle argues: “Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins.” Previous to the apostasy of man, the only revelation of God’s justice was the threatening annexed to the law: “In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” Subsequently to the fall, the appointment of a bloody ritual- the institution of expiatory sacrifices, not only recognized the existence, but illustrated the nature of this awful attribute. There are those who madly dream of acceptance with the holy God, at the expense of this perfection of His nature. In vain do they acknowledge Him in some of His perfections if they deny Him in others, trampling them with indifference beneath their feet. Such was Cain in the offering which he presented to the Lord; there was an acknowledgment of His dominion and goodness, but no distinct recognition of His holiness, no solemn apprehension of His justice, no acknowledgment of guilt, no confession of sin. The claims of God’s moral government were entirely set aside, and by consequence, the necessity of a mediator totally denied. Not so Abel; his offering honored God in that in which He most delights to be honored, that is, in His spotless purity, His inflexible justice, and His infinite grace in the appointment of the Savior for the pardon of iniquity, transgression, and sin. Therefore it is recorded, and we do well deeply to ponder it, that “he offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” But this was only the pre-figurement of God’s justice -the mere type and shadow. The great antitype and embodiment are seen in Jesus offering Himself up a whole burned-offering to God amid the fearful blaze which was beheld ascending from the summit of Mount Calvary. Then did this perfection appear in its most fearful form- Jesus bearing sin- Jesus enduring the curse of the law- Jesus sustaining the wrath of His Father- Jesus surrendering His holy soul a sacrifice for man’s transgressions. Oh, never, never did Divine justice so imperatively assert its claims and so loudly demand its rights- never did it so strictly exact its penalty, and so fearfully grapple with its victim, as now; and never before nor since had such a sacrifice been bound to its altar- never did Jehovah appear so just, as at the moment the fire descended and consumed His only-begotten and well-beloved Son!

The glory of God’s TRUTH is reflected with equal luster in the person and work of Christ. It is the perfection of a perfect being that He does not, yes, that He cannot change. God is the perfect being. It is His perfection that He is true, essentially and immutably true. He can as soon cease to be, as cease to be true. His truth is the golden thread which unites all His perfections; it is the glory and perfection of all, that all are based upon and held together in perfect and eternal harmony by truth. “It is impossible for God to lie;” “He cannot deny Himself,” are among the strongest assertions which the Holy Spirit has made of His veracity. To deviate the shadow of a shade from His word- from His oath- from His promise- from His covenant- would be to undeify Himself. Now as God cannot cease to be- that being an impossibility- it is equally impossible that He should deny Himself. Consider, too, what the converse of this proposition would be in its consequences to the child of God. How disastrous to all the blessed and glorious hopes of the believer! For, what repose could the soul find in His love, what confidence in His power, if truth, the basis and the security of all, were lacking? What a cloud would overshadow every perfection of His being, and how soon would He cease to be what He is so beautifully declared to be, “a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He!”

Of the glory of this Divine perfection, the Lord Jesus is the grand revelation. Nowhere does it shine forth with such unveiled majesty as in Jesus. Nowhere does God appear so true, so gloriously true, as in Christ. “I am,” says He, “the truth;” not merely true, but the truth. “The law was given by Moses, but grace acid truth came by Jesus Christ.” The same inspired evangelist represents Him as dwelling among us in the flesh, “full of grace and truth.”

It pleased the gracious and sin-pardoning God to meet our guilty and conscience-stricken parents, immediately after the fall, with the comforting and gracious promise that “the seed of the woman” -His eternal Son, the everlasting Mediator- should “bruise the serpent’s head.” On this Divine assurance of recovering and saving mercy they rested. Believing in this, as they doubtless did, they were saved, “the first-fruits unto God and the Lamb.” They rested, let it be emphatically spoken, not upon the bare letter of the promise, but upon its substance; not merely upon the grace promised, but upon the truth of God in the promise. The bare letter of a promise is no resting-place for a believing soul; it can convey no solid consolation and support. Thus far, and no farther, did the Jews get, to whom pertained the promises. This is all that they saw in the types and promises, which set forth “God’s unspeakable gift.” They rested in the mere letter. They saw not Christ in them; and seeing not Christ to be their substance and glory, to them “the promises of God were made of none effect.” Now God has fulfilled His ancient promise. The word He spoke to Adam, He has made good to the letter to us his posterity. It is true, the vision of grace and glory seemed for a while to tarry, but it tarried only for its appointed time. It is true, the vista was long and dreary, through which patriarchs, seers, and prophets beheld it. The star of hope was often scarcely seen in the dim distance, and frequently seemed for a moment entirely quenched in darkness. Time rolled heavily along- a period of four thousand years elapsed- but true to His word, faithful to His promise, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Oh how gloriously did the truth of Jehovah shine in the person of the babe of Bethlehem! How did it gather brightness as the holy child Jesus increased in stature and in favor with God and man! And to what meridian splendor did it blaze forth, when on Calvary it united with holiness and justice, in finishing the great work of the Church’s redemption! Then was it that “mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other.”

Jesus is the grand evidence that God is true. Faith needs, faith asks no more. Here as on a stable foundation it rests. Its eye ever “looking unto Jesus,” it can thread its way- often sunless and starless- through a dreary and an intricate wilderness. It can travel through trials, endure temptations, bow meekly to disappointments, bear up under cross providences, and sustain the shock of fearful conflicts, trusting in the God of the covenant, resting on His promise and oath, and implicitly believing His word, because it sees in Jesus the ever-living witness that God is true.

O you of doubting and fearful heart! looking at the waves rolling at your feet, and well-near sinking beneath their swellings, exclaiming, “Will the Lord cast off forever? and will He be favorable no more? Is His mercy clean gone forever? does His promise fail for evermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” behold the glory of God’s truth beaming in the face of Jesus Christ, and doubt no more! So long as Jesus lives- lives as your Advocate, as your High Priest, as your Representative in the court of heaven, all is yours which the covenant promises, and which His mediation secures. The “promises of God are all yes and amen in Christ Jesus.” Never will He break His oath, nor falsify His word, nor alter the thing that has gone out of His mouth. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” God says it, and let faith believe it, because He says it. So essential is it to your comfort, that I would repeat the caution- in all your dealings with the Divine promises, avoid a Jewish faith. Do not so much look at the grace of the promise, or at the thing promised- precious as both are, -as at God in the promise. The promise is the heart of your Father speaking; it is the faithfulness of your Father performing. Rest, then, not in the blessing promised, but in the veracity of Him who promises it, and then shall your faith have confidence towards God.

But we must not close this imperfect glance at some of the more prominent perfections of God as revealed in Christ, without for a moment including in the classification that glorious one of LOVE. It is a self-evident truth, that as God only knows, so He only can reveal His own love. It is a hidden love, veiled deep within the recesses of His infinite heart, yes, it seems to compose His very essence, for “God is love,” -not more lovely and loving, but love itself, essential love. Who, then, can reveal it but Himself? How dim are the brightest views, and how low the loftiest conceptions of the love of God, as possessed by men of mere natural and speculative knowledge of Divine things! They read God’s goodness, even in nature, with a half-closed eye, and spell it in providence with a stammering tongue. Of His essential love- His redeeming love, of His great and glorious manifestation of His love in Jesus, they know nothing. The eyes of their understanding have not been opened; and “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,” has not yet “shined into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

But God has declared His own love. Jesus is its glorious revelation. “God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Oh what an infinite sea of love now broke upon our guilty and rebellious world, wafting in upon its rolling tide God’s only begotten Son! That must have been great love, love infinite, love unsearchable, love surpassing all thought- which could constrain the Father to give Jesus to die for us, “while we were yet sinners.” It is the great loss of the believer, that faith eyes with so dim a vision this amazing love of God in the gift of Jesus. I marvel not that, dealing so little with the Father’s love in the greater gift, faith should stagger at His promise of the less. We have transactions so seldom and so unbelievingly with the cross, that we have need perpetually to recur to the apostle’s cheering words, written as it kindly and condescendingly to meet this infirmity of our faith, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

But, behold God’s love! See how He has inscribed this glorious perfection of His nature in letters of blood drawn from the heart of Jesus. His love was so great, that nothing short of the surrender to the death of His beloved Son could give an adequate expression of its immensity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Here was the greatest miracle of love. Here was its most stupendous achievement- here its most brilliant victory- and here its most costly and precious offering. Seeing us fallen, obnoxious to the curse of the law, exposed to its dreadful penalty, guilty of innumerable sins, and deserving of as many deaths, yet how did it yearn to save us! How did it heave, and pant, and strive, and pause not, until it revealed a way infinitely safe for God and man; securing glory to every Divine attribute in the highest degree, and happiness to the creature, immense, unspeakable, and eternal. “Herein is love!” as though John would say, “and nowhere else but here.” That God should punish the innocent for the guilty- that He should exact the blood of His Son to cancel the guilt of His rebels- that He should lay an infinite weight of wrath on His soul, in order to lay an infinite weight of love on ours- that He should sacrifice His life of priceless value for ours, worthless, forfeited, and doomed- that He should not only give His Son, but should bruise Him, put Him to grief, afflict Him, should make His soul an offering for sin- that the Lord of glory should become a man of sorrows- the Lord of life should die- and the Heir of all things should be as he that serves.” Oh depth of love unfathomable! Oh height of love unsearchable! Oh length and breadth of love unmeasurable! Oh love of God which surpasses knowledge!

And how shall we set forth the love of the Redeemer- the deep and precious love of Christ? We can only say, it is equal in its eternity, its immensity, its freeness, and its unchangeableness, with the Father’s love. Persuasion did not induce Him to undertake redemption. Compulsion did not bring Him to the cross. His own love constrained Him. Love for His Church, His bride, bore Him on its soft wings, from the highest throne in glory to the deepest abasement on earth. How forcibly and touchingly was His love depicted in His attitude, when on the eve of suffering- “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth.” He not only knew that death awaited Him, but with equal prescience He knew all the circumstances of ignominy with which that death would be attended. The storm, the outskirts of which had already touched Him, was now thickening and darkening, each moment concentrating its elements of destruction, and preparing for the tremendous outburst. Yet He went forth, as if eager to meet it’s woeful horrors, not with the fame-panting spirit of Achilles, when he hastened to the Trojan war, knowing that he should fall there, but with the irresistible power and constraint of His own love, which would have nerved Him for a thousand deaths, had His Father’s law demanded, and the salvation of His Church required it. “Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savor.”

And now, beloved, with this ocean of mercy rolling its swelling waves at your feet, each billow as it breaks murmuring in the sweetest cadence, “God is love,” can you for a moment question the wise, gracious, tender conduct towards you, of that Father from whose heart this ocean flows? Look at the cross; behold His precious Gift transfixed to it, and that by His own hand, and for your sins; then look at your present circumstances, survey your needs, your trials, your chastisements, your bereavements, your heart-sickening, heart-breaking tribulations, and know that God still is love. If He had love strong enough, deep enough, to give you Jesus, to release Him from His bosom, and to permit Him to be affixed to yonder accursed tree for your iniquities, has He not love enough to bow His ear to your cry, and His heart to your sorrow? Will He not rescue you from this difficulty, deliver you out of this trouble, shield you in this temptation, supply this need, and support and comfort you in this grief? O yes, He will! doubt it not! The cross of Calvary is a standing pledge- standing until sin and guilt, need and woe, shall be known no more- that God, who “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will with Him freely give us all things ” necessary to our good, and promotive of His glory.

In conducting the chapter to a close, we remark, first, how defective and fallacious is all knowledge of God outside of Christ. Examine closely, and in the light of the revealed word, the source and character of your professed acquaintance with the nature, character, and perfections of God. Ponder seriously this solemn declaration of Christ Himself, “No man knows the Son, but the Father; nor knows any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” Has your knowledge of God overwhelmed you with a sense of your sinfulness? Have you caught such a view of the spotless purity, the immaculate holiness of His nature, as to compel you to exclaim, “Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Has your study of his law forced upon your mind the deep and solemn conviction that you are a fallen, ruined, lost, guilty, condemned sinner, at this moment lying under the wrath of God, and exposed to future and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power? Has it laid you beneath the cross of Christ? Has it brought you to His blood and righteousness for pardon and acceptance? Has it led you utterly to renounce all self-trust, self-confidence, self-boasting, and to accept of Jesus as “made of God unto you wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption?” If it has not wrought this for you, your knowledge of God is but as “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” “This,” says Christ, “is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” If you know not the Son, you know not the Father. “No man knows the Father, but he to whom the Son shall reveal Him,” Jesus, Himself, has declared.

Consider well the mercy of having transactions with such a God in such a Christ. A God so holy and just, so good and wise, in a Christ so truly human, so spotless, so near, so dear, and precious! God in Christ! Oh the immensity of the truth! Oh the glory of the revelation! That God reconciled, one with the believer; all His feelings love, all His thoughts peace, and all His dealings parental; each perfection harmonizing in the most perfect agreement with all the others, to secure the highest amount of good here, and of happiness unspeakable and eternal hereafter.

“To know the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, is both a fruitful and a comfortable knowledge. We know the pattern we must walk by; we know the life we must live by; we know the treasure we must be supplied by; we know whom we have believed; we know whom we may be bold with, in all straits and distresses; we know God in Christ, full of love, full of compassion, full of ears to hear us, full of eyes to watch over us, full of hands to fight for us, full of tongues to commune with us, full of power to preserve us, full of grace to transform us, full of fidelity to keep covenant with us, full of wisdom to conduct us, full of redemption to save us, and full of glory to reward us.”

How precious to us should the Gospel be which reveals this great truth! These are days in which it behooves the true saints to set a high value on the Gospel. More precious should it be to them than their dearest earthly interest; nothing can compensate for its loss. And that there is a danger of its waning glory, if not of its being entirely lost to this country, who does not see? The prediction of John Owen seems fast hastening to its fulfilment. “The time will come,” says that holy and eminent divine of a former century, “when a faithful minister of the Gospel will be more scarce and precious than a bar of gold.” Already has this famine of the true word of God commenced! How few there are who preach the undiluted Gospel, who set forth the full Christ- who proclaim the finished and free salvation! How few, forming their ministry upon the apostolic model, can affirm with Paul, “My speech and my preaching are not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power!” How few, disdaining artificial embellishment, and scorning the applause of men won by a vain show of intellect and eloquence, preach that simple truth of which Jesus is the Author, the Substance, the Glory, the Power, and the End- purely, boldly, faithfully, affectionately, uncompromisingly! How sadly, how painfully, is the Lord Jesus Christ kept in the background! How is His glory obscured, His beauty veiled, His honor withheld! And yet there are those- (honored men! would that your number were greater!) -who honestly and heartily desire to lift up their Lord and Master, themselves lost behind the glory of His person and the splendors of His cross. Do we rejoice in this? Can we with the apostle say, “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yes, and will rejoice?” By whomsoever He is exalted- in whatever sanctuary His Gospel is proclaimed, however feeble the talent, and limited the attainment, and defective the announcement, and humble the manner in which Jesus is set forth, do our hearts rejoice that glory is thus brought to Him?

Dear reader, if the image of Christ is admired by you, you will recognize it when you see it. If His name is fragrant to you, you will rejoice wherever it is poured forth. If His Gospel is prized by you, you will be glad by whomsoever it is preached. If His person is precious to you, you will love Him most who most fully exhibits Christ’s glory, and who most successfully draws souls to adore and worship at His feet. Oh, let us, as before God, search and try our hearts, touching this matter!

But the Gospel is greatly assailed. Never, perhaps, was it more resolutely opposed on every hand; never did there seem to be a stronger combination formed to neutralize its power, and sap its very foundation, than at the present moment. Infidelity, popery, and semi-popery, in close and powerful alliance, are confederate against the Divine word of God. Low views of inspiration; the exalting of tradition above Scripture, of reason above revelation, of human talent above the teaching of the Spirit, of forms and ceremonies above the vital power of godliness; are significant and fearful signs of our times. We need, then, every view of the Gospel, tending to illustrate its value and endear its preciousness. Here is truth calculated to produce this holy effect. Nature does not teach it; the law does not reveal it; philosophy does not inculcate it; tradition does not contain it; the Gospel only makes it known. How God is revealed in Jesus Christ; how that “two should become one, and yet remain two still, as God and man do in Christ; that He who makes should be one with the thing which Himself has made; that He who is above all should humble Himself; that He who fills all should empty Himself; that He who blesses all should be Himself a curse; that He who rules all should be Himself a servant; that He who was the Prince of Life, and by whom all things in the world do consist, should Himself be dissolved and die; that mercy and justice should meet together, and kiss each other; that the debt should be paid, and yet pardoned; that the fault should be punished, and yet remitted; that death, like Samson’s lion, should have life and sweetness in it, and be used as an instrument to destroy itself, -are evangelical truths and mysteries revealed alone in the “glorious Gospel of the blessed God.” “In nature we see Him the God of power, in providence the God of wisdom, in the law the God of vengeance, but in the Gospel the God full of compassion, of overflowing love, ready to pardon; humbling Himself that He might be merciful unto His enemies- that He might Himself bear the punishment of those injuries which had been done unto Himself; that He might beseech His own prisoners to be pardoned and reconciled again. In the creature He is the God above us; in the law He is the God against us; but in the Gospel He is Immanuel, the God with us, the God like us, the God for us.”

What strong encouragement does this subject afford to every truly humbled, sin-burdened, Christ-seeking soul! God in Christ is no longer a “consuming fire,” but a God of love, of peace; a reconciled God.

God in Christ holds out His hand all the day long to poor sinners. He receives all, He welcomes all; He rejects, He refuses, He casts out none. It is His glory to pardon a sinner. It is the glory of His power, it is the glory of His love, it is the glory of His wisdom, it is the glory of His grace, to take the prey from the mighty, to deliver the lawful captive, to pluck the brand from the burning, to lower the golden chain of His mercy to the greatest depth of human wretchedness and guilt, and lift the needy and place him among the princes. Behold Christ upon the cross! Every pang that He endures, every stroke that He receives, every groan that He utters, every drop of blood that He sheds, proclaims that God is love, and that He stands pledged and is ready to pardon the vilest of the vile. JUSTICE, sheathing its sword, and retiring satisfied from the scene, leaves MERCY gloriously triumphant. And “God delights in mercy.” Having at such an infinite cost opened a channel- even through the smitten heart of His beloved Son- through which His mercy may flow boundless and free, venture near, nothing doubting. No feature of your case is discouraging, nor can possibly arrest the pardon. Your age, your protracted rebellion against God, your long life of indifference to the concerns of your soul, the turpitude and number of your sins, your need of deep convictions or of stronger faith, or of worth or worthiness to recommend you to His favor, are no true impediments to your approach, are no pleas wherefore you should not draw near and touch the outstretched scepter, bathe in the opened fountain, put on the spotless robe, welcome the gracious pardon, and press it with gratitude and transport to your adoring heart!

In the light of this truth cultivate loving and kindly views of God. Ever view Him, ever approach Him, and ever transact your soul’s affairs with Him, in and through Jesus. He is the one Mediator between God and your soul. God your Father may now be leading you through deep and dark waters. His voice may sound roughly to you. His dim outline is, perhaps, all that you can see of Him. His face seems veiled and averted; yet deal with Him now in Christ, and all your hard thoughts, and trembling fears, and unbelieving doubts shall vanish. In Jesus every perfection dissolves into grace and love. With your eye upon the cross, and looking at God through that cross, all the dark letters of His providence will in a moment become radiant with light and glory. That God who has so revealed Himself in Jesus must be love, all love, and nothing but love, even in the most dark, painful, and afflictive dealings with His beloved people.

Especially in the matter of prayer, cultivate and cherish this kindly, soothing view of God in Christ. Without it, in this most solemn and holy of all transactions, your mental conceptions of His nature will be vague, your attempts to concentrate your thoughts on this one object will be baffled, and the spiritual character of the engagement will lessen in tone and vigor. But meeting God in Christ, with every perfection of His nature revealed and blended, you may venture near, and in this posture, and through this medium; may negotiate with Him the most momentous matters. You may reason, may adduce your strong arguments, and throwing wide open the door of the most hidden chamber of your heart, may confess its deepest iniquity; you may place your “secret sins in the light of His countenance;” God still can meet you in the mildest luster of His love. Drawing near, placing your tremulous hand of faith on the head of the atoning sacrifice, there is no sin that you may not confess, no need that you may not make known, no mercy that you may not ask, no blessing that you may not crave, for yourself, for others, for the whole Church. See! the atoning Lord is upon your mercy-seat, the golden censer waves, the fragrant cloud of the much incense ascends, and with it are “offered the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne.” Jesus is in the midst, “Looks like a lamb that has been slain, And wears His priesthood still.”

“Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near.” Open all your heart to God through Christ, who has opened all His heart to you in Christ. Remember that to bring Himself in a position to converse with you, as no angel could, in the matter that now burdens and depresses you, He assumed your nature on earth, with that very sorrow and infirmity affixed to it; took it back to glory, and at this moment appears in it before the throne, your Advocate with the Father. Then hesitate not, whatever be the nature of your petition, whatever the character of your need, to make known your requests unto God. Coming by simple faith in the name of Jesus, it cannot be that He should refuse you. With His eye of justice ever on the blood, and His eye of complacency ever on His Son, Himself loving you, too, with a love ineffably great, it would seem impossible that you should meet with a denial. Yield your ear to the sweet harmony of the Redeemer’s voice, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.” “Whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

The subject is in the highest degree soothing, comforting, and encouraging. It seems to introduce us into the very pavilion of God’s heart. There, curtained and shut in, we may repose in perfect peace. Not a single perfection can a believing mind view in Christ but it smiles upon him. Oh! to see holiness and justice, truth and love, bending their glance of sweetest and softest benignity upon a poor, trembling soul, approaching to hide itself beneath the shadow of the cross! What a truth is this! All is sunshine here. The clouds are scattered, the darkness is gone, the tempest is hushed, the sea is calm. Justice has lost its sting, the law its terror, and sin its power, the heart of God is open, the bosom of Jesus bleeds, the Holy Spirit draws, the Gospel invites, and now the “weary and the heavily laden” may draw near and rush into the bosom of God reconciled in Christ. Oh, were ever words sweeter than these- “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” “Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood.” “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him”?

God in Christ is the covenant God of His people. He is their God; their tender, loving, condescending Father. They may lose for a while the sight and the enjoyment of this truth, but this does not negate it; it still remains the same, unchangeable, precious, and glorious. Nothing can rob them of it. In the tempest, let it be the anchorage of your faith; in darkness, the pole-star of your hope. Let every circumstance- the prosperity that ensnares and the adversity that depresses, the temptation that assails and the slight that wounds, endear to your believing soul this precious thought- God reconciled, God at peace, God our Father in Christ, is my God forever and ever, and He will be my guide even unto death.”

If to view God in Christ is a comforting truth, it is also a sanctifying truth. Why has God revealed Himself in Jesus? To evince the exceeding hatefulness of sin, and to show that nothing short of such a stupendous sacrifice could remove it consistently with the glory of the Divine nature, and the honor of the Divine government. Each sin, then, is a blow struck at this transcendent truth. The eye averted from it, sin appears a trifle; it can be looked at without indignation, tampered with without fear, committed without hesitation, persisted in without remorse, gloried in without shame, confessed without sorrow. But when Divine justice is seen drinking the very heart’s blood of God’s only Son in order to quench its infinite thirst for satisfaction; when God in Christ is seen in His humiliation, suffering, and death, all with the design of pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin, how fearful a thing does it seem to sin against this holy Lord God! How base, how ungrateful, appears our sin in view of love so amazing, of grace so rich, and of glory so great! Cultivate a constant, an ardent thirst for holiness. Do not be discouraged, if the more intensely the desire for sanctification rises, the deeper and darker the revelation of the heart’s hidden evil. The one is often a consequent of the other; but persevere. The struggle may be painful, the battle may be strong, but the result is certain, and will be a glorious victory, VICTORY, through the blood of the Lamb!

“Thanks be unto God for His Unspeakable Gift!”

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