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tues. Memory grows treacherous. "Our fathers, where are they? the prophets, do they live for ever?" When some great man dies in church or state, he falls like a mass loosened from the mountain crag, which, bounding into the quiet lake, produces a great commotion, echoing among the silent hills, and surging its waves up along the troubled shore; but how soon all is quiet again! He goes down, like a stately ship, with colors flying and sails all set; and for a time society is widely affected. The event produces a great impression; the public mind is agitated to its lowest depths; and, as he sinks into the grave, he draws men's thoughts after him as that ship sucks in all that floats nigh the whirlpool which she forms in her descent. But it is with him as with her. Once buried beneath its waters, how soon the sea is still again, and returns to its former calmness! The grave closes over the mighty dead; and new events and new persons, though they may be much inferior, engross the public attention, just as the interest of men comes to be fixed more on the little boat that floats its living crew on the placid waters, than on the gallant ship that, with all her guns and brave men, lies buried in the depths below.
And so it is in religious things, in those matters which affect our eternal well-being. What is out of sight is very apt to be out of mind. Let this teach you to take all the more heed to live by faith in the invisible. Consider how, with all their glare and show, things seen are paltry, passing, the least of things; and that grandeur and endurance belong to the unseen. The soul is unseen; precious jewel of immortality, it lies concealed within its fragile fleshly casket. Hell and heaven are unseen; the first sinks beneath our sight, the second rises high above it. The eternal world is unseen; a veil impenetrable hangs before its mysteries, hiding them from the keenest eye. Death is unseen; he strikes his blow in the dark. The devil is unseen—stealing on us often unsuspected, and always invisible. And as is our deadliest foe, so is our best and trustiest, our heavenly Friend. Jesus is an invisible Saviour; Jehovah is an invisible God.
"No man hath seen God at any time;" yet why should that be turned into a temptation to sin? I think it should rather minister to constant watchfulness and holy care. How solemn the thought, that an invisible being is ever at our side, and, watching us, recording with rapid pen each deed and word, every desire that rises, though it be to burst like an air-bell, every thought that passes, though on an eagle's wing. We cannot shake off the presence of God; and when doors are shut, and curtains drawn, and all is still, and darkest night fills our chamber, and we are left alone to the companionship of our thoughts, it might keep them pure and holy to say, as if we saw two shining eyes looking on us out of the darkness, " Thou, God, seest me." The world called him mad who imagined that he saw God's eye looking on him out of every star of the sky, and every flower of the earth, and every leaf of the forest, from the ground he trod upon, from the walls of his lonely chamber, and out of the gloomy depths of night. Mad! It was a blessed and holy fancy. May God help you to feel yourselves at all times more in his presence than you are at any time in that of your fellow-men! How promptly then would every bad thought be banished; what unholy deeds be crushed in the desire, nipped in the bud, strangled in the birth; what crimes remain uncommitted; how feeble would the strongest temptations prove; what a purity, nobility, loftiness, holiness, heavenliness, would be imparted to your whole bearing and conversation! There would be a dignity in the humblest Christian's mien and looks, such as rank never wore, and courtly training never bred; and we should guard our hearts with such a door as stands at the threshold of heaven, this written above it in the blood of Calvary, Here "there shall in no wise enter anything that defileth."
II. The visible revelations of the Invisible, which are recorded in Old Testament history, were most probably manifestations of the Son of God.
Out of a number of cases where God is said to have been seen, let me select a few.
To-morrow Esau and Jacob are to meet. There was a quarrel of long standing between them, which had all the bitterness of a domestic feud. Jacob had foully deceived and deeply injured his brother. He had not seen Esau for many years, and, dreading his vengeance, he now heard of his approach at the head of four hundred men, with fear and trembling. Greatly alarmed, he cried, God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother; for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, the mother with the children. Pattern to us when temptation threatens, or dark misfortunes lower, Jacob, having done all that man's wisdom could devise, or his power could do in the circumstances, flies for help to God. He will prepare for to-morrow's trial by a night of prayer. Sending off his wives and children across Jabbok's stream, to place them as far as possible out of danger, and leave these innocent ones to forget it in sleep's sweet oblivion, he seeks himself a solitary spot. With deepest silence all around him, and the bright stars above his head, he is on his knees alone with God. Suddenly, as if he had approached with the stealth of a creeping savage, or had sprung from out the ground, some one grasps him. Folded in his arms, Jacob cannot cast him off. Now it becomes a struggle for the mastery. Locked together, they wrestle in the dark; they bend; they try each to throw the other; and, in some mysterious commingling of bodily and spiritual wrestling, the night passes, and the conflict lasts till break of day. Let me go, said the other, whose eye had caught the gleam of morning, for the day breaketh. Jacob but held him faster. He had found out the other wrestler; danger gave him boldness; faith gave him confidence; and, clinging to God with the grasp of a drowning man, he replied, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And when he had prevailed, and got the blessing, "Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
Again, Joshua and the host are lying before Jericho, about to commence the siege. To enjoy an hour of quiet devotion, undisturbed by the din and distraction of the camp, or, perhaps, like a wary general, under cover of the night, to reconnoitre the position of the enemy, and find where he might attack their defences with most success, Joshua goes forth alone. And as, advancing with bold yet cautious steps, he turns some corner of the road, some angle of the wall, he starts, finding himself face to face with an armed man. His bravery is not ruffled. He thinks not of retreat; but drawing, advancing, and, perhaps, pointing his sword to the breast of the unknown, he challenges with the question, Art thou for us or for our adversaries? He was promptly answered. Nor could the sword of the other, gleaming in the moonbeam and descending to cleave his helmet and fell him to the ground, have brought Joshua more suddenly to his knees than that answer. Nay; was the reply, but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. Captain of the host of the Lord! No man; no, nor angel, this! God himself commands in the battle. The order, first issued from amidst the flames of the burning bush, and now repeated, Put thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground, reveals God's own presence. Joshua worships; and rises— with what heart, and hopes, and holy confidence! And yet not higher than believers may venture to cherish in their daily fight with the devil, the world, and the flesh. The Captain of your salvation mingles in that conflict; he is on your side; and, as Joshua might have said on his return to the host, you can say, Our God shall fight for us.
Again, as God assumed a visible form to foretell the fall of Jericho, he did the same to foretell the rise of Samson—suiting his appearance, as he still does his grace, to the varied circumstances of his people. He, who met Joshua as a mailed warrior, presents himself to Manoah's wife under a peaceful aspect; yet mingling strangely—as they were united in our Lord— the characters of the human and divine, his form belonged to earth, but his face shone with a heavenly glory. A man of God came unto me, she said to her husband, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible. His tidings were strange enough to rouse a woman's curiosity, yet awe struck her dumb, Dor left her a word to say or a question to ask; "I asked him not whence he was, neither