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the Scriptures tell us that those whom they addressed were sore afraid, and fell to the ground, overpowered by the awful dignity of holiness. It was the impression of their immeasurable moral superiority—the august and venerable presence of unspotted purity, that made sinful men to shrink abashed, and hide their faces in the dust. And thus, when, in former ages, Jehovah came down in visible manifestations of himself to men, the sense of his holiness flashed conviction to the very heart. Thus Job declared, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." The same result was produced by the exbibition of the Divine glory to Isaiah. “ Woe is me,” he exclaims,
for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips !” What was it, that thus, all at once, overwhelmed the prophet with a sense of his own and his people's vileness? It was because he had just seen the glory of the Lord, high and lifted up, and his train” that "filled the temple.” So, whenever God comes near to men's consciences, by any outward providence or inward impression, he makes himself to be seen as the antagonist of sin. Hence, to know the Lord—to have the true conception of the REAL GOD-is the most perfect law which a man can have before his conscience. What is the moral law itself, but God's character--a catalogue of his perfections, written out in the form of precepts ? The soul that knows what God is, sces intuitively what itself ought to be. He has only, then, to present himself, as he is, for ever before the mental view, in order to keep men under perpetual admonition of right and wrong. This is one cause why heaven is such a holy place. And the reason why all systems of heathenism, and all schemes of merely human philosophy are unable to produce goodness in men, is that they present distorted or defective views of the Divine character. Think of the Jupiter of the Romans, and the Vishnu of the Hindoos; contrast their moral attributes with the Jehovah of the Bible, and you are at no loss to account for the degradation of their votaries. You see at once why Paganism is a system of wretchedness, even for the life that now is ; and why Christianity restrains and blesses even those whom it does not convert, by cons tinually holding up before them at least some dim portraiture of the true God. The power of the Divine character and example, as a persuasive to virtue and preventive of sin, is immeasurably great. Such a conception as that of a perfect, Almighty Being—the upholder and governor of all things-is the grandest of which the mind is capable. The idea of a present God—a real, living, all-knowing, all-perrading Spirit-having an infinite aversion to sin and love of goodness—is a thought that bows down the soul in utter abasement, and sways over it an infinite authority, In proportion to the clearness with which this idea is apprehended by men, are they brought under the control of moral motives. The Pagan, for example, has only the feeblest conceptions of God's character ; hence his feelings are wrong, and his worship unacceptable and debasing. He changes the glory of the incorruptible God into a lie, and therefore feels from it no impulses towards a life of holiness. The sinner in a christian land comes somewhat nearer the truth; he drops the notion of a material God, so that he does not bow down to stocks and stones. Still, God, as a holy God, he does not like to retain in his knowledge. He turns away from the thought of him—he says in his heart, “ No God! no God!"-he buries himself in the world-he drugs his conscience with every opiate
- he drowns the voice of truth in the din of business or the shout of mirth—he shuts his eyes against that which may be known of God, lest the light of the knowledge of the Divine glory should shine into his heart.
It is therefore with a most beautiful propriety that the Scriptures use the phrase, “ knowledge of the Lord," as a comprehensive term for all truth and goodness. To know him, is to know his character, his government, his rights, his claims on us, and our duties to him. It is to know his plan of mercy, his Son, and his Spirit—his pardoning and sanctifying grace. And when the world is full of this knowledge, then God will be seen by every man standing right before him, and the beauty of his character will have such infinite authority over the conscience, that all souls will form themselves, and all their operations, according to this model ever present before them. Well, then, is it written,“ Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches ; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord.”
II. Let us now ask, secondly, By what methods and agency is this
grand instrument to be applied to the renovation of the world ? How is this kingdom of the Lord to be spread all over the earth, and to be brought in contact with every human heart ?
In reply to this deeply interesting inquiry, we remark, that the Holy Scriptures, all along throughout the whole line of promise and prophecy, speak in such a way as to imply two different and distinct eras under the new dispensation; and they very plainly teach, that the truth will be spread in a different manner in each of these eras. One of these is spoken of as coming after a certain state of things. Thus is the text : " After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts,” &c. When the period thus indicated shall arrive, we are taught to expect a larger measure of the Divine influence-a measure quite above and beyond that which now accompanies the preaching of the Gospel. This special influence will probably differ in degree rather than in kind from that which is ordinarily enjoyed. It will act more directly and more efficiently on the hearts of men. It will not be independent of all use of means, but there will be in it so much of God—the effects will be so speedy and so great, that means will be comparativly unobservable. Thus, in the text, this great moral revolution is ascribed to an immediate agency of God himself. Saith the Lord, "I will PUT MY LAW in their inward parts, and WRITE IT in their hearts." Other expressions, denoting sovereign acts of the Deity, are also employed; such as “pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh.” “He shall come down," says the Psalmist, “like rain on the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth.” “Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousnes shall look down from heaven." Nothing can exceed the richness of the promises respecting the majesty and prosperity of God's kingdom in that day. The Lord declares that he will “say to the north, give up, and to the south, keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” All obstacles will be removed. “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain ; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” “The Lord will come with a strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him.” “The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion, with
and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sighing and sorrow shall flee away.” “The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains and all nations shall flow unto it.” There shall no longer be occasion for men to teach every one his neighbour and his brother, saying, “Know the Lord, for all shall know him, from the least of them to the greatest of them."
Such, then, is the way in which the knowledge of the Lord will be diffused in the latter day. God will by his providence and Spirit, with amazing rapidity and grandeur, accomplish the renovation of the world. We know not how soon this happy period shall arrive, but come it surely will. The day is on the wing when the empire of sin in this world shall be overthrown, and the crash of its fall shall reverberate afar through the dominions of God.
But ere that time arrive, there is another era--an era in which the truth is to be spread mainly through the instrumentality of the church. It is in this period that we are placed. The time has not yet come in which God will specially interpose for the immediate triumph of holiness. He observes, and requires his people to observe, an established connection between means and ends. For all the good he will bestow," he will be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.” They shall reap only as they sow. If they desire bis kingdom to come, they must deny themselves and labor for that object. If they wish men to be saved, they must place truth before them, and press its claims upon the conscience. The language of the text teaches this: “In that day, saith the Lord, they shall teach no longer every man his brother,” &c. Observe, it shall then be no longer needful—implying that till then it is needful to teach men, individually, to know the Lord. Here, then, we have the mode in which God wills that the great instrumentality for converting the world shall now be applied; it is by the direct efforts of his people to spread the truth. He might, indeed, take the work out of our hands : he could, by a sovereign and immediate process, cause the glorious result to spring forth at once, perfect and complete. But he has great and gracious reasons for the delay. He has, by a most beautiful and blessed arrangement, linked our agency into the chain of causes which he employs, on purpose to educate us in holiness. By throwing upon his people the responsibility to care, and labor, and pray, be brings out their love, their self-denial, their confidence in himself. Did he not admit our co-operation, but, by a direct influence, bimself perform this work, how shall we ever exercise some of the choicest graces of the christian character ? How could we sympathize with the Redeemer in his tears and sufferings for å dying world ? What occasion would there be for our sacrifices and self denial ? Where would be the faith that now trusts in him, even in the dark—that bopes against hope, and labors on amid circumstances the most adverse ? What demand would there be for submission, where there were no trials; for courage, where there were no foes; for perseverance, where there were no obstacles ? Besides, the character of God is to be illustrated by a long series of developements. His great mind is not in haste, as are the minds of men, to leap to the end of his work. He can afford to wait for the slowly revolving course of ages to disclose his plans, and establish all their destined results. And when this is done, then shall the end come. When successive dispensations shall have fully brought out, one by one, his matchless attributes, and written in living light on the scroll of heaven each great principle of his government, then the lingering years of delay shall cease. Then God will no longer hold back his mighty hand from fulfilling the desires of his mighty love. He will come forth from his pavilion, where he has for ages hidden his power; he will make bare his arm, and apply the energies of his omnipotence to the work of making all things new.
But for the present, the command of God leaves this great work in the hands of his people. “Go teach all nations ; “Go preach the Gospel ;” “How shall they hear without a preacher, and how shall they preach except they be sent ? ” In this stage of the church's history, at least, it is evidently the Divine arrangement, that men shall be themselves the instruments of saving their own race.
And here we notice the great hindrance to the world's conversion. While men hold the right theory as to the church's agency in saving