« PreviousContinue »
they from heaven? Were its portals flung open, that troops of embattled angels might rush forth to avenge his cause? Or did he summon the Assyrian, the Egyptian, the Persian, the Greek, the Roman, to pour their armed hosts on a doomed, devoted, guilty land ? No. The earth quaked, but not beneath the tread of armies. The sun, moon, and stars were darkened, but not by a cloud of angel wings. God summoned only the locust from its native marshes, and bade the brood of worms carry desolation into the land. It was summer yesterday. The fields waved with corn, the orchards were white with almond blossoms, the clustering vines, embraced the hills, and the forests were clad in a broad mantle of living green. The locust comes, and it is winter. The flowers are gone, and fields are bare, and leafless trees, as if imploring pity, lift their naked arms to heaven; and, bearing on it the wail of famine, the wind, that yesterday breathed perfumes, and danced in joy over the corn, and played and sung among the. leaves, now sweeps in howling blast over utter devastation. The locust has executed its commission. It has done God's work, and in that work of divine judgment, we see again a remarkable contrast between the greatness of the action and the littleness of the agent.
In his providence and the government of his people, how often has God produced great effects by most inadequate means ? He seems to do it for the very purpose of showing that, whatever be the instrument, the work, of goodness or of judgment, is his own. He is a jealous God, and will not give his glory unto another, In Moses, for example, we see one sprung of the en: slaved race. Nor does he crouch before their tyrant with awe in his look, and in his hand a humble peti
tion ; but stands erect in Pharaoh's hall, and, stamping his foot, demands that his brethren be free. In David we see a beardless lad, attired in a shepherd's peaceful garb, who carries some rustic provision to his brothers in the camp, and gazes around him with the keen curiosity of a peasant on all the circumstance, and pomp, and pride of war. Next day, where is he?
What a change! Amid beating hearts, a breathless suspense, eyes dim with anxiety, that gentle boy, his mother's love, his old father's care, is doing brave battle with a giant in the presence of two great armies, and plucking the laurels from Goliah's brow.
Not, perhaps, in outward aspect, but in fact and truth, how marked the contrast between these scenes and that which salvation presents! Redemption is a great work, a most glorious work; one, amid God's other works and through all past ages, without a parallel.
Do not despise it, or reject it, no, nor neglect it; for how shall you escape if you neglect this great salvation? It is of all God's works the greatest; it is his “strange” work. That cross on Calvary, which meroy raised for you, cost more love, and labor, and wisdom, and skill, than all yon starry universe. With the earth its emerald floor, its roof the sapphire firmament, the sun and stars its pendent lamps, its incense a thousand fragrant odors, its music of many sounds and instruments the song of groves, the murmur of the streams, the voices of winged winds, the pealing thunder, and the everlasting roar of ocean, Nature's is a glorious temple! Yet that is a nobler temple, which, with blood-redeemed saints for its living stones, and God and the Lamb for its uncreated lights, stands aloft on the Rock of Ages--the admiration of angels and the glory of the universe, Earth wears on her bosom no
blossoms so white, and pure, and sweet of fragrance, as the flowers of a garland on a Saviour's brow! Is Magdalene, is Manasseh, is Saul, are a thousand and a thousand others in glory yonder, a wonder to angels, and an astonishment to themselves? But great as is the work begun on earth and consummated in heaven, how much greater is the worker ? Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength ? He comes ; hell flies his presence. He
He appears; all the angels of God worship him. He speaks ; the tempestuous sea is calm. He commands; the grave gives up its dead. He stands on this sin-smitten world, “in praises, doing wonders ;" the visible image of an invisible God. Angels celebrate his advent and attend his departure-hovering alike over the manger of Bethlehem and the crest of Olivet; and when he has left the grave to ascend the throne, hark to the cry at the gate of heaven, Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be
up, ye everlast ing doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Within, they ask, Who is this King of Glory? The gate rolls open, and, greeted with shout and song, the procession enters, as his escort answer, The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of Glory. With such honors and gladness may he be received into our hearts ! Holy Spirit, throw open their gates! Jesus ascend their throne! that, holding Thee whom heaven holds, we may have a heaven within' us ; and, washed in thy blood and renewed by thy Spirit, may present in ourselves—what sin has forfeited but grace restores—a visible image of the invisible God.
The Ymage of God.
Who is the image of the invisible God.—COLOSSIANS i. 15.
to see any
DESCRIBING a tribe of pagan Africans, Dr. Livingstone says, Like most others, they listen with respect and attention, but when we kneel down and worship an unseen Being, the act and position appear to them so ridiculous, that they cannot refrain from bursting into uncontrollable laughter. Accustomed from our earliest childhood to worship the unseen, we wonder at these merry savages ; and yet, by nature like them, we are all creatures of sight and sense. Ilence our desire remarkable person ;
hence the pleasure we take in the portrait that embellishes the biography of a great or good man, or in the statue which preserves his features and adorns his tomb. Some may call the publican's a childish curiosity. But we sympathise with Zaccheus, when, having heard that Jesus was passing, he left the receipt of custom to join the throng; but, lost there, shot a-head of the multitude, and climbed a friendly sycamore, to catch a passing glance at the wonder-working man. We esteem it not the least of the blessings which shall be enjoyed in heaven, that shall see Jesus there; see him as he is; gaze with fond, adoring love on the very face and form which our faith has so often tried to fancy, and painters of the greatest genius have utterly failed to exproes.
A sense of guilt makes man afraid of God. Conscience makes cowards of us all ; so that, as Adam fled from his presence to the bushes of the garden, many fly even from the thought of him, in whom, but for sin, they would have lovingly confided. But for the fears of guilt, the contemplation of God's works would kindle a devout curiosity to see the hand they sprung from. And when, so rapt in admiration as for the time to forget that we are sinners, we gaze on the spangled firmament, or look out on the blue rolling ocean, or, from the peak of some lofty mountain, look over a tumbling sea of hills, or down on the glorious landscape, as in the mingled beauty of dark greenwood, and golden fields, and silver streams, and castle-crowned sammits, and scattered villages, and busy towns, it stretches away to the distant shore, the soul has some longing for a view of God more palpable than it gets. We almost wish that he were not invisible, and enter, in some measure, into the feelings of Moses on Mount Sinai. The everlasting thunderings were grand, vividly the lightning flashed and flickered, awfully sublime were the dark cloud and voices of the mount, but they were not God. The heart craved for some view of himself. And so, highest example of perfect love casting out fear, with the lightnings playing around him, and the earth shaking beneath his feet, bold man! he bowed his head and bent his knee, and said, Show me thy glory.
Being, as we have already shown, so much creatures of sight and sense, this incident leads me to remark
I. That God, as revealed visibly in Jesus Christ, meets and satisfies one of our strongest wants.
Our Lord's dis 'nity, which is to some like his death,