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speech. It would make us melancholy to observe in outward life, in action, and character, so little difference visible between us and the children of this world; and we should never cease to cry, “Lord, perform a miracle for thy people ; let power from on high flow around us; place us as fiery beacons in the cold and dismal night; and grant that thy church may be beautiful as the moon, or as the morning-dawn; scattering blessings like the sun, yet terrible as the lances of an host; that every one may know whose people we are, and that Thou mayest be glorified and praised by the whole world !” Certainly the prayer was heard ; and even on this side the grave, a halo of heavenly brightness casts a mild radiance over the church, dissipating the shadows which envelope it while on earth.
Hear now how the Lord answered the bold request of his servant Moses. Far from putting to shame this courageous petitioner, or damping by reproof the ardour of his soul, it seems as though he added fuel to the flame already in his heart, and poured in new oil to make it burn more brightly. “I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken,” says the Lord: and when Moses on hearing this becomes enraptured with joy, he continues, repeating word for word the old assurances of his love: “For thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.” Moses no longer knows what is happening to him; he feels as though he were transported into the third heaven; he now stands upon a height of new-testament freedom, light, and joy, such as his spirit had never before experienced; and whilst he is in the full enjoyment of the
blissfulness of Jehovah, a wish darts into his mind, such as perhaps human heart had never previously formed. He says, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory!” Most astonishing request! Moses ! Moses ! To what a fearful elevation have thy wishes ascended! One may well inquire,
“ What is this which he asks ?" It is an unheard-of thing! His desires fly on giantwings. It is as though he said, “Leave thine eternal
. habitation, thou unsearchable God! Descend in all thy splendour, thy glory, and thy power! Cast aside the veil which envelopes thee! I desire to see thee, O God !—to look upon thee as thou art in the purity of thy existence, and in the brightness of thy beauty and majesty! I will not be terrified, nor cry out with the people, 'Let not God speak with us, lest we die!' Nor yet shall I trembling say, 'Woe is me! for I am un
because I am a man of unclean lips ! For I know thee, how gracious thou art! I know Him who covers me with his right hand, intercedes with Thee for me, and makes me acceptable in thy sight, Therefore, O Lord, appear! appear! Bow thy heavens and come down ; for I thirst after thy presence !"
This is what Moses thought in his heart; and certainly his joy in the presence of Jehovah bore him upwards to a dizzy height. His was a desire which one might expect to have been formed in the soul of a John or a Paul, under the heaven of the new testament; but never to have originated amidst the thun
; ders and fiery flames of Sinai. What a wonderful thing the gospel is, when even a transient glance into the depth of its riches is sufficient to expand the nar
row heart of man so as to form such a gigantic wish ; and to raise the desires of a worm of the dust to the high point, where the light and enjoyment of the grace of God is no longer sufficient to satisfy him, and he strives to lose himself in the contemplation of the Divinity and all his stupendous majesty!
We are well aware that the bold wish of the prophet could not be entirely granted, “ for there shall no man see me and live, saith the Lord ;" and these words would have been exemplified on Moses, had Jehovah complied with his request ; for the joyful petitioner had imagined himself stronger than he actually was. No! the light of the gospel did not yet shine so brightly before his eyes, that he could bear to gaze upon the unveiled majesty of God; he had not yet looked so deeply into the mysteries of reconciliation, that if God were to appear to him he could abstain from crying out in his terror, “ Woe is me! I am undone !" For, notwithstanding all he had already seen, he had not yet beheld the Incarnate God, the God in the manger and on the cross--the Lamb laden with our iniquity, who takes our place at the bar of Divine Justice—who bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors : He had only been disclosed to him in dark images and faint shadows, but never seen by him in a bodily form, not manifested as that Righteousness which shall be imputed to them that believe. For this reason the Eternal did not unveil himself now in the presence of Moses : had he done so, notwithstanding the peace and joy with which the soul of the prophet was per
vaded, he would infallibly have died in the full blaze of the Divine glory.
We, however, to whom has been vouchsafed the unutterable privilege of being born in the noon-day light of the new covenant, stand in a very different position from that of the man on Mount Horeb. We, placed by the manger and the cross, in the midst of the perfected work of redemption, may with much more confidence utter the bold request, “Shew me thy glory!" If the all-glorious One were actually to shew himself to us as he is, with shouts of joy we should witness his majesty pass by, and cry “ Abba, Father!" If the whole splendour of the Godhead were disclosed in our presence, we should feel secure in the wounds of Christ, and sing with the most heart-felt peace and tranquillity the song of the angels, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts! the whole earth is full of his glory!” Did the lightnings of that Holy One constantly flash around us, in whose eyes even heaven itself is not pure, still we should not be alarmed; for, O miracle of miracles! that holiness has become ours in Christ Jesus; and, unveiled, that Righteousness may manifest itself unto us, before which the earth trembles. We need not tremble at the fiery law on the right hand, nor yet at the curses which accompany it. With firm glance we can regard those terrors; and, secure in the obedience of our great Pledge and Redeemer, we can say with rejoicing, “ He is near that justifieth me: who will contend with me?"
How happy are we in the full sunshine and radiance of the new covenant! how unutterably blessed in our
rights as children! We have no longer aught to fear; for that which was formerly most terrible unto us, is now transformed into grace and mercy. Every wish of our hearts we see crowned in Christ Jesus, far above our highest desires and expectations. One only remains ungratified—but, at a future time, to meet with the fullest and most rapturous satisfaction-and this is, to behold his glory!
• There shall no man see me,” saith the Lord, “and live.” We understand this sentence of Jehovah, and therefore wait patiently until the hour shall come. On the wings of blissful expectation we advance to meet it; singing meanwhile with heartfelt melody, “I rejoice without fear, because I know and believe that God the Almighty regards me with favour. The ground on which I rest is Christ and his blood, the only and eternal source of every blessing. Nothing can condemn me, no judgment terrify me, no misfortune trouble me ; because the Saviour that loveth me shelters me in the shadow of his wings !"