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with rage, pursues them with his army; but the prophet's wand causes the billows to unite again, and the rushing waves drown the death-notes of Egypt's sons! But for the wrath of that haughty king, Egypt might never have witnessed those miracles which exhibited so conspicuously the glory of the Hebrews' God. That song of praise and triumph would never have ascended from Horeb's mount, nor echoed over the billowy sea: "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?"
See Nebuchadnezzar in his impiety erecting the golden image, and in his rage casting the Hebrew children into the "burning, fiery furnace." But lo! they walk unhurt amid the curling flames, for the Son of God hath owned his servants, and walketh with them as their Saviour. But for the wrath of this idolater, Dura's plain might never have been graced with the presence of the Son of God; the royal decree might never have been made that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is above all other gods.
See Darius at the mouth of the lion's den, calling upon Daniel. See Jehovah glorified in the punishment of those who raged against his prophet. But for the wrath of man, Assyria might not have owned him as her Lord.
Come down to later times, when the Jews triumphed in nailing the Messiah to the cross. That cross, they thought, would be in after times the emblem of the ignominious punishment of an impostor; but it is the sacred emblem of the death of Him who rose from the grave that we might live. It is this which the devoted missionary carries with him as he goes to heathen lands, to proclaim "glad tidings of great joy," and to bring "life and immortality to light." It has waved in triumph over a prostrate empire-it shall wave over a conquered world! The Jews in their wrath were but instruments in offering up
the great sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. And O! how has their wrath praised God! What countless multitudes on earth have already glorified him for the gift of his dear Son! and the day is fast approaching when all the inhabitants of earth shall sing the song of angels, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." And could we for a moment escape from these bodies, and ascend to heaven-O,. could we hear the choral song of saints and angels around the throne, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever," would not our ideas of his glory be brightened and enlarged!
The very sufferings of the lost will show forth the perfections of the Deity; they are the direct results of holy laws, and the direful effects of sin. And to the view of created beings in heaven, additional glory will gather around the Deity as his perfections are unfolded to their gaze. Holy beings will have stronger inducements to glorify him, because he executes his laws in discerning between the righteous and the wicked, and thus shows the justice of his character and the unchangeableness of his nature. Never, then, let us imagine that our praises are necessary to the glory of the Deity. O no! our weepings and our wailings will answer quite as well.
You see from this subject how small is the motive to sin. If what we have said be true, and for its truth we confidently appeal to both reason and revelation, your sins: cannot harm the Deity. Do all you can, and "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have" you "in derision." But your sins, if continued in, will ruin you eternally. If you are determined and reckless in opposition, go forward! Gather all your resources, summon all your energies, put forth all your efforts; but remember, as they fall upon "the thick bosses of Jeho
vah's buckler," they will rebound upon yourselves with redoubled fury! He has been perfectly disinterested in the great work of your redemption; he requires your obedience, "not that he may be happy, but liberal," and that his goodness may reward you. "If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?" The interest is all on your side. Hence we beg you to desist. Say, will you? We beg you in the name of Him who hath "done as much for your salvation as if his felicity were imperfect without yours." O! will you yield to our entreaties? We are not concerned for God, but we are concerned for you. Our concern, however, will soon end, for our destiny and yours will be soon fixed for ever. Blessed be God, our hearts shall not always throb thus wildly with anxiety for your welfare. But now we entreat you-" we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." For "if thou sinnest, what doest thou against him?" "He that sinneth against me," saith the Lord, "wrongeth his own soul."
IT 18 A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD.-Hebrews x, 31.
THE apostle introduces these words with great solemnity. He has been speaking of Jesus Christ as the great sacrifice once offered for the sins of the world, and has illustrated the subject by reference to those sacrifices which were offered by the Jewish priests to atone for the sins of the people. He next exhorts his brethren, in view of this subject, to approach with boldness unto God, and to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering. And then, in a comprehensive manner, he places before
them those motives to obedience which are drawn from the justice and severity of God; closing the whole with the assertion, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." In this expression every word is full of meaning, and is so arranged as to arrest and fasten our attention. Whatever may be our views of the character of God, we cannot read this passage without feeling; for there is something in it which involuntarily excites sentiments of awe. And as if to render it more impressive, the apostle has used a military phrase. It exactly expresses the condition of a man who has set himself in array against his enemy, who has fought long and hard for victory, and has had recourse to every stratagem and manoeuvre which could promise success; but who has been overpowered by his antagonist. How dreadfully expressive is this of the condition of every sinner, and how fearfully does it intimate the doom which must fall upon him when God shall win the victory! It is rendered still more solemn by the fact that the apostle transfers the scene of this catastrophe to eternity-eternity which is half veiled in darkness, and half illumined by the reflected light of revelation. So solemn, and so comprehensive is this passage of Holy Writ. No human lips are adequate to discuss it, and yet it stands intimately connected with our eternal happiness. Let us then implore the blessing of Almighty God while we venture to consider it. Let us ask his assistance while we endeavour to exhibit some of the reasons which render it fearful to fall into his hands.
I. God is infinitely holy. It is much to be feared that many do not reflect upon the character of God, and that many more do not reflect upon it in a proper manner. We are" of the earth, earthy." Conversant only with material things, we have but little conception of spiritual existences. Belonging to a depraved and sinful race, and
being sinful ourselves, we have but very faint ideas of infinite purity and holiness. But God is not like the sinful beings who dwell upon his footstool. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." God possesses the quality of holiness in an infinite degree, and he exhibits it in his works, and ways, and attributes; "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders." The prophet had a glance of the holiness of God when he saw him "sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up;" and when the seraphim over the throne "cried one unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." And it was this view which caused him, though an inspired servant of God, to cry out, "Wo 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."
Now the sinner hates holiness, and this is what will render it so fearful for him to fall into the hands of a holy God. This hatred is often exhibited on earth. The sanctuary is sometimes deserted, because there is heard the command, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." The Bible is often abused, and trodden under foot, because it condemns sin; yea, its pure and heavenly precepts are, by many, eagerly exchanged for the corrupting works of the licentious. The children of God have often been deprived of civil and religious liberty; they have been put to the torture, and burned at the stake, because they lifted up their voices against sin. Sinners vent their spite against God, by taking vengeance on his people. All this hatred to holiness has been exhibited by many men when they have possessed but very faint conceptions of the infinite degree in which this attribute exists in Jehovah. How much more then shall this be increased when they shall see with a spiritual vision; when they shall behold their