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they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the “ fame. By the blaft of God they perish, and by the “breath of his nostrils are they consumed.” In oppolition to this, Job asserts and maintains his integrity in general, and withal, affirms their opinion to be falle, for that God, in his just and fovereign providence, brings affiction both on the righteous and the wicked. That this is the proposition which he all along endeavors to support, is plain, as from many other passages, so particularly from chap. ix. 22. “ This is one thing, therefore I faid it, he " destroyeth the perfect, and the wicked.”
Thus ftood the matter, in dispute, between Job and his friends, in which, though that good man had supported the truth, on the subject of divine Providence; yet, in the heat of the debate, and the anguilh of his own sufferings, he had let fall fome expressions, not only of impatience, but of disrespect to the conduct of the Lord his Maker. For these he was first reproved by Elihu, and afterwards, with unspeakable force and majeliy, by God himself, who asserts the sovereignty of his power, and the righteousness of his providence. On this discovery of the glory of di. vine perfection, the sufferer was deeply humbled, and expresses a sense of his own vileness and folly, in the 4th and 5th verses of the fortieth chapter : " Behold, I am
vile, what thall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand “ upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not "answer ; yea, twice, but I will proceed no further.” And, again, in the beginning of the forty-second chapter, concluding with the words of the text.
It is not improbable, from the beginning of the thirtyeighth chapter, that it pleased God to give Job some visible representation of his glory and omnipotence. This was not unusual, in ancient times, before the canon of the scripture was closed. But, no doubt, the discovery which chiefly affected him was inward and spiritual, carrying home, with irresistible force, the great truths which we still find recorded in a manuer inimitably noble and sublime. I bave heard of thee, says he, by the bearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeib ihee. This implies, that, as seeing gives a more distinct, full, and satisfying knowledge of any thing, than hearing of it only by the report of others, the impressions which he then had of the majesty and glory of God, were far stronger than any he had ever felt before. -Therefore, says he, I abhor myself. It filled him with self-lothing and abhorrence.—And I repent in dust and asbes. This is either, in general, a strong expression of deep penitence and forrow, of which dust and ashes were anciently the signs; or, perhaps, it has a particular reference to his present miserable and afflicted state, described in chapter ii. 8. “And he took him a potsherd to scrape “ himfelf withal; and he sat down among the ashes.” As if he had said, Lord, I am deeply sensible of the evil of every rash word, of every rebellious thought. I confefs, that thou hast allicted me in truth and faithfulness; and that, in this low and defolate condition, it becomes me to lay my hand upon my mouth, and to repent of that guilt which would have fully justified thy providence in a ftill heavier stroke.
The words thus explained, present to us this general and most important truth, that a discovery of the perfec. tion, glory, and majesty of God, lias a powerful influence in leading us to repentance; and that the clearer this difcovery si, the more fincere will be our repentance, and the deeper our humiliation. In discoursing further on this subject, at present, I propose, only, through Divine affiftance,
1. To make some observations, at once to illustrate and confirm the proposition above laid down, as to the effect of a discovery of the glory of God. And, in the
II. And last place, to make some practical improvement of what shall be said.
1. Then, I am to make some observations, at once to explain and confirm the proposition just now laid down, as to the effect of a discovery of the glory of God. But, before we enter on what is principally intended, I must intreat your attention to the following preliminary re. marks :
1. That this truth will hold equally certain in whate. ver way the discovery is made. It may please God to manifest himself to his people in very different ways. Sometimes it may be in a way wholly, or in part, miracu: lous, as in the case of Job, Isaiah, and some others men. tioned in fcripture; fometimes by affecting dispensations of Providence; sometimes by his ordinances, or in. ftituted worship, accompanied with the operation of his Spirit; and sometimes by this last alone, without the help or accellion of any outward mean.
2. I hope it will not be thought inproper, that, in reasoning on the influence of a discovery of the glory of God, I sometimes bring in view the additional manifestations given us in the gospel, of the divine glory. This, to be sure, could not be supposed to make a part of what was discovered to Job, to whom that mystery, hid from ages and generations, and only opened in the fulness of time, was very obscurely, if at all known. But the example, afforded us in the text, leads us to a general truth ; in the illustration and application of which, we may make use of all that is known to us of the nature and government of God. The
3. And principal remark is, that, when I speak of the influence of a discovery of the glory of God, I mean an internal and spiritual discovery, and not such a knowledge as is merely speculative, and rests in the understanding, without descending into the heart. There is a common distinction to be met with in almost every practical writer, between knowledge merely speculative, that swims in the head, and practical or saving knowledge, that dwells in and governs the heart. That there is such a distinction in fact, experience obliges every man to confess : but it is extremely difficult to speak in a clear and precise manner upon it ; to tell wherein it consists ; or to show how these two forts of knowledge differ otherwise, than by their effects. Yet even to point out their radical difference, seems necessary to me, who propose to show the happy influence and powerful efficacy of this knowledge, when it is of the right kind. Vol. II.
For this purpose, my brethren, be pleased to observe, that a barren speculative knowledge of God, is that which fixes chiefly on his natural perfections; or, if it be lupposed to take in such as are moral, it is only to reason upon them as an object of science; but the true knowledge of God, is an inward and spiritual discovery of the amiable. ness and excellence of his moral perfections; or, to speak more in the scripture style, to perceive that he is indeed “ glorious in his holiness. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord “ of hosts.” This is the language of celestial adoration, of those who " see him as he is, and know even as they “ are known." The fame, in some measure, is the view given to every real child of God on earth, and, alone, serves to distinguish his children of every rank, and every degree of capacity, from others of an opposite character. Let me suppose a poor Christian, weak in understanding, and unassisted by education, who is witness to any extraordinary act of divine power : for example, a thunder storm, seeming to rend the heavens asunder, and either laying some ancient and venerable pile in ashes, or, perhaps, striking some persons to death, in a manner swister than thought; he is immediately affected with a sense of the sovereignty of the Lord of nature, the holiness of every part of his will, the duty of absolute subjection in the creature, and the finfulness of every rebellious thought. But, above all, he is struck with a sense of the malignity of sin, which has introduced so many natural evils, and, as it were, armed the incensed elements in their Maker's cause. Such a person, though he can express his thoughts but very poorly, nay, though he can hardly speak to others with coherence or consistency, fees much more of God, than he who can reason on the planetary system ; who can trace the beauty, variety, and extent of the Creator's works, and thence infer the necessity of a self-existent, almighty, and intelligent first cause. The one may expatiate on the wonderful works, or the wise purposes, of the Author of nature; the other feels and confefles him to be God. Alas ! my brethren, we fee too often, that knowledge and holiness in us, do not bear proportion one to another. We see every day examples of the greatest intellectual abilities, the noblest natural talents, being abused to the worst of purpofes; for such I must always reckon, their serving no higher end than to adorn and set off the possessor, or burn incense to human vanity.-By a discovery, then, of the perfections, majesty, and glory of God, I understand the glory of his infinite holiness; that holiness which is inseparable from his nature, which shines in all his works, and in all his ways.
These observations being premised, let us now confider what influence a discovery of the glory of God hath in producing repentance, and increasing humility. And, in the
ist Place, It hath this effect, as it tends to convince us of fin, and particularly, to bring to light these innumerable evils, which a, deceitful heart often, in a great meafure, hides from its own view. There is, if I may speak fo, a light and glory in the presence of God which discovers and exposes the works of darkness. That a view of the divine Majesty has a strong tendency to give us a deep fense of our own sinfulness, is plain from many scripture examples. That of Job, in our text, is one directly in point. Another you have in Isaiah, ch. vi. 5. where the reflection of the prophet, on a view of the divine glory, is, “Wo is me! for I am undone ; because I am a man " of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of “ unclean lips : for mine eyes have seen the King, the " Lord of hosts.” Another instance you may see in the apostle John, who upon a view of the Redeemer in his glory, was, in a manner, deprived of life, through excessive fear. Rev. i. 17. “And when I saw him, I fell at “ his feet as dead.” The only other instance I mention is of the apostle Peter, who, on the unexpected appearance, or rather from a view of the power of Christ, manifested in a miracle, was immediately struck with a sense of guilt, Luke v. 8. “ When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at
Jesus' knees, saying, depart from me, for I am finful " man, O Lord.''
It is not difficult to explain how a view of the divine holiness tends to discover and to affect us with a sense of our sinfulness. Nothing makes any quality appear so