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told he me his name." Some days thereafter she sits alone in the field; and, as she is ruminating, perhaps, on an event that had deeply impressed her mind, suddenly the same form appears. She hastens homeward; tells her husband; returns with him; and Manoah, less timid than the woman, solves the mystery by bluntly asking, What is thy name? Why askest thou thus after my name, was the significant reply, seeing it is secret? That answer revealed at once, to his great surprise and awe, that he stood in the august presence of God; nor could any doubt of that remain, when this Being of incommunicable name, calling fire from the rock to consume their sacrifice, leaped upon the altar, and ascended to heaven in its flames. The first to recover speech, so soon as his tongue was unbound, Manoah- turns to his wife, and, pale with terror, exclaims—"We shall surely die, because we have seen God."
From many cases of the same character, let me select another, where, as I have seen, a dull leaden cloud suddenly changed by a flood of sunbeams into living gold, the divine glory shines with such bright effulgence, that the scene wears an aspect of heaven more than of earth. Within the holy temple Isaiah beholds one sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up. His train fills the house. Not white-robed priests, but shining seraphim are his attendants. Incense that never dropped from earthly trees, but such as you might fancy that angel hands gathered from the trees that dip their branches in the river of life, diffuses celestial odors; voices, such as they hear in heaven, and shepherds heard in the skies of Bethlehem, fill the courts with praise, singing, in anticipation of gospel days, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Nature herself acknowledges the presence of God—the earth trembles, the door-posts shake, the fire of the altar burns dim through a cloud of smoke, and Isaiah, overpowered by the awful glory of the scene, falls prostrate to the ground, crying—Woe 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. By such visible manifestations of himself, a gracious God, from time to time, thus comforted and encouraged his people in the days of old.
But on turning to another page of the Bible, what do we find? We find it averred that "no man hath seen God at any time." How are we to reconcile that positive statement with these plain facts? There is but one way of doing so-—namely, by regarding those appearances as manifestations of him "who is the image of the invisible God." That it was Christ who appeared to Abraham, Christ who wrestled with Jacob, Christ who led Israel out of Egypt, and, by the hands of Moses and Aaron, conducted the people to the promised land; that it was he, who, before he came in the flesh, appeared in these early ages of the church as her guardian and her God, is a conclusion which Scripture warrants. Paul distinctly charges the host in the desert with having tempted Christ. Neither, says he, let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
This idea is in perfect harmony with other passages in the history of redemption. We know for certain that the fruit of our Lord's incarnation was anticipated. The benefits of his death were enjoyed before he died; the legacies of the will were paid before the demise of the testator; for the saints, who lived in the days that preceded his advent, were received to glory, if I may so speak, upon his bond, his promise to pay. And if the fruit of his incarnation was thus anticipated, why not the fact of it? Viewed in this light, how do these Old Testament stories acquire a deeper and more enduring interest to us? In the guide of Abraham's pilgrimage I see the guide of my own. Jacob's success in wrestling imparts vigor to my prayers. To think that the same arm which rolled back the gates of the sea, and stopped the wheels of the sun, for us hung in feeble infancy around a mother's neck; that the same voice which spake in Sinai's rolling thunders, for us wailed feebly on Mary's bosom, and cried on the cross, I thirst; that the same august being who delivered the law amid the majesty of heaven, for us died to fulfil it amid the deepest ignominies of earth; that he before whom Moses did exceedingly fear and quake, and Joshua fell, and the holy prophet fainted, was that very same Jesus whose gentle manners won the confidence of childhood, and whose kind eye beamed forgiveness on a poor, frail, fallen woman, as she stooped to wash his feet with tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head, these things should exalt Jesus higher in our esteem, and endear him more and more to our hearts, What a combination of grandest majesty, and most gentle mercy shines in this visible "Image of the invisible God!" Surely he is worthy of your acceptance, and reverence, and love!
In turning your attention now to the person and work of him who is " the image of the invisible God," let me introduce the subject by remarking,
III. That the greatness of the worker corresponds to the greatness of the work.
It is not always so in the providence of Him who saves by many or by few. Sometimes God accomplishes the mightiest ends by the feeblest instruments. He hath made the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and out of the mouth of babes and sucklings ordained strength.
For example, many of the lovely islands of the Pacific are formed entirely of coral, while others are protected from the violence of the waves by a circular rampart of the same material. Founded in the depths of ocean, this coral wall rises to the surface, where it indicates its presence by a long white line of breakers. The giant rollers that come in from the sea, and threaten with their foaming crests to sweep that island from its base, spend their strength and dash their waters into snowy foam against this protection wall. And thus, as within a charmed circle, while all without is a tumbling ocean, the narrow strip of water that lies between this bulwark and the shore is calm as peace, reflecting, as a liquid mirror, the boats that sleep upon its surface, and the stately palms that fringe the beach. These stupendous breakwaters, that so greatly surpass in stability and strength any which our art and science have erected, are the work of what? That God who employed the hornet to drive the Amorite out of Canaan, has constructed them by means as insignificant. They are the masonry of an insect—an insect so small that the human eye can hardly detect it, and Bo feeble that an infant's finger could crush it. They are built by the coral worm, and I have been told by those who have seen these emerald isles, set within their silver border, like gems on the ocean's bosom, that the contrast is most surprising between the greatness of the work and the littleness of the worker.
Turning from the Book of Nature, let me now take an illustration from the Book of Revelation. Look upon this picture of desolation wrought on the land of Israel: "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains; a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. The earth shall quake before them, the heavens shall tremble, the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: and the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great."
In answer to the cry of innocent blood, and to crush a horrible rebellion, we covered the sea with sails, and, summoning our soldiers from distant colonies, with great preparations and after gigantic efforts, we poured them from crowded ships on the shores of a revolted land. But whence did God bring that mighty army described by the prophet in such vivid colors? Came