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Si " ENDEAVOURING TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE Bond of Peace." ..." Jesus Christ, the same Yesterday, To-DAY, AND For Ever. WHOM TO KNOW
is LIFE ETERNAL."
I WILL APPEAR IN THE CLOUD UPON THE MERCY-SEAT.
Lev. xvi. 2. Beloved, whatever trouble you may be anticipating, or however your heart may fail you in the prospect of affliction, here is a promise which is as firm as God's eternal throne, and which as much belongs to the whole election of grace down to the remotest period of time, as it did to literal Israel. However the point may be disputed by men carried away by the enthusiasm of modern times, it is among the choice mercies of the Church to know, that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. XV. 4); and that we, upon whom the latter days are come, are as much interested in the promises of a covenant God, as was the primitive Church to whom they were more immediately addressed.
Be it then your concern, dearly beloved, since trouble is part of the legacy bequeathed by our glorious Emmanuel to his bride, the Church, in order that thereby he might stir her up-rouse her from the bed of sloth—and hear her voice in the language of entreaty; to be looking to the Lord, and pleading before him his most gracious promise, when trouble shall overtake you, I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat.”
Such a fulness-such a completeness, in our view, appears in the passage, that it seems a species of sacrilege to attempt to open up its properties. Such a weight-such an importance-attaches itself to the very opening letter, when the Lord himself deigns to draw near and
No. 16, Vol. II.-New Series.
speak in his own person, that a poor finite worm trembles at the idea of endeavouring to unfold the mysterious grace which is enwrapped therein. A feeling like that which doubtless possessed the heart of Moses, seizes his breast, when the Lord, in answer to his inquiry, said (Ex. iii
. 3), say the “I AM hath sent me.” “ Ask no farther questions, Moses, but go with the word which I command thee, and let the Egyptian monarch dare to dispute my authority.” And yet, keeping in view human frailty, “knowing our frame, remembering we are dust,” the same all-gracious Benefactor, in order to convince his servant Moses beyond words, gives him an instance of his power, “What is that in thine hand ?" (Ex. iv. 2-5).
“I will appear.” “Then if God, the almighty, the eternal Jehovah, who “taketh up the isles as a very little thing, who holdeth the waters in the hollow of his hand, and before whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers—if he appear, what have I to fear? What can injure or do me permanent harm? He has said, Nothing shall come nigh me to injure me; No man shall set on me to hurt me ; and every tongue rising against me, I, by his power, shall condemn. Blessed be his gracious name.
“Will appear." There is a certainty about it. It is the I will of a covenant God, and that is enough for faith. "Lord, thou hast said it, and wilt thou not perform? Wilt thou not do as thou hast said ? Wast thou ever known to falsify thyself, or tell a lie? Is not thy word as unalterable as thy nature ? What wilt thou do with thy great name,' if thou fail in the fulfilment of thy promise ? Are not the eyes of an opposing, an ungodly world upon thee, and the church whom thou hast redeemed ?" Appear.” This
that the Lord has been out of sight. Is not this encouragement for you, poor, dark, doubting, tempesttossed soul ? “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh (still walking, remember—yet on the way to the kingdom, though unable to trace the road) in darkness (can you find a stronger phrase ? if not, reader, it takes in your case, however dark you may be), and hath no light (mark that, no light-not a particle ; unable to tell where you are or whither you are going--all timidity and apprehension, like a poor little child whose parent has left him in a dark room, full of fear till the light again appears, and the parent returns) ; let him trust (well, I know not where I am, nor what will become of me, but I will trust and not be afraid ; I will hope in Him; I will venture upon the Lord) in the name of the Lord (his great name—his unforfeited name as the faithful, promise-keeping God), and stay upon (rest upon-wait for) his God (still his God, though unseen ; divine relationship still existing, though he is not at present permitted to realize the blessed, soul-comforting effects thereof)."
“ In the cloud.” “Then I must see the cloud first? Yes; it must come above-it must overshadow me, before my gracious God, my indulgent Father, appears.” The cloud may come with threatening, poor timid one ; it may arise but gradually, and in the distance appear not bigger than a man's hand (1 Kings, xviii. 44); you may be unsuspicious of its consequences, and affrighted when it spreads around you in
threatening aspect; others, too, upon whom it may more suddenly arise, may "fear as they enter into the cloud” (Luke, ix. 34); still the Lord is
“He maketh the clouds his chariots, and rideth upon the wings of the wind." As one lately remarked, it contains “the royal Rider,”. Comforting thought! then what have you to fear ? “ I will appear in the cloud," not before the cloud, nor outside of it, but in it. What, therefore, are you to infer? That as surely as a cloud comes, the Lord will not only come with it and in it, but, according to his promise, will appear—will unveil himself-will be seen in it; that as surely as a trouble comes the Lord will come with it—will manifest himself in it—and in and by that trouble will make himself more precious than ever. Yea, the darker the cloud the brighter the light that breaks through it ; the darker the day the more cheering the sun that illumines it ; the heavier the trial the more conclusive-the more heart-cheering the manifestation. “Thou hast known my soul in adversities.” Hence sprang the intimacy-the holy familiarity-a knowledge of the undying friendship. Do you know anything of it, reader ?
Have you spent ten, twenty, thirty years in the wilderness, and can you look back upon the waymarks—the Bethel visits-scattered here and there along the road? You who may now be in extreme darkness, upon whom the cloud has arisen with terror and dismay, the dear Remembrancer be pleased to bring to your recollection Him who guided you in that perplexity, when you knew not which way to take ; who prevented you at such a season from taking steps which would have led to ruin and despair. You who are now concluding God hath done nothing for you-how is it that numbers on the right hand and on the left, who started with high promises, great pretensions, and who bade fair to outstrip you-how is it they have turned aside, drawn back, come to nought temporally and spiritually ; while you, poor, timid, insignificant one, bave still held on your way, have been holpen with a little help, and gradually become stronger and stronger (in the Lord, mind, not in yourself) till the present moment ? Is not this doing something
you to a good purpose indeed ? And you who are now full of fears --nay, who seem to yourself to be composed of nothing else but disquietude~who seemingly have no faith, no confidence, no God-honouring trust; who cannot trust him (as one said) for a groat; the Lord enable you, too, to look back. What! no Ebenezer to raise ? No strength granted, no support afforded ? Nothing done for you either ? Then how is it that you are got forty, fifty, sixty, ay, seventy years on your way? within a few miles of home; only another year or two to spend in the wilderness? And then, ah! and what then ? Why, just to cross the river, and enter the promised land--the heavenly Canaan ; the place the Lord has promised his people, and in the prospect of which he has cheered them all the way across the wilderness.—Wilt thou disappoint them, Lord? Wilt thou prove unfaithful ?. They are fearing
as they enter into this cloud; they dread the consequences; they are inquiring, “ How will it be with me in the swellings of Jordan ?”' Wilt thou not, according to thy word, appear in this cloud? Yes, blessed be thy name, thou wilt; and though they may have no confidence, not even so much as they had in the younger, the
untried days of their pilgrimage, yet thou wilt prove faithful. Thou hast promised large things to thy people, Lord ; not merely grace, but glory; and, vile and worthless as they are, on the ground of thy faithfulness and dear covenant relationship to the person of their dear Emmanuel, they are expecting, looking for the accomplishment in glory everlasting of what thou hast here begun in grace.
Thou hast warranted them to expect great things, and great things they do expect; for thou hast said, “Eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for those that love him” (1 Cor. ii. 9).
And there are some of the family only about midway on the journey, with many cares, much anxiety, considerable fear.—Lord, greater is he that is for them than all they that are against them. Wilt thou give such to discover that their best seasons have stood in intimate connexion with their darkest, their most cloudy days.
“When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
Thy loving-kindness O how good.” It has been in the sharpest trials, the most painful conflicts, thou hast appeared in strengthening grace, and then broke forth in comforting manifestation. The Lord the eternal Spirit throw light upon his sacred word, and give his timid ones to take encouragement from his dealings with his servant Elijah (1 Kings, xix. 9-13). Though a great and strong wind of trial or temptation may shake
every mount of confidence which thy people, Lord, like the Psalmist, thought would never be moved ; and though the earth beneath may seem to quake as if about to swallow them up, as in the case of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and though this may be succeeded by a fire within a fire in their bones as if already in hell-a lustful fire, a rebellious fire, a blasphemous fire, threatening every moment to break out against thy sacred Majesty ; & jealous fire, against the persons of thy dear family in more established peace and comfortable circumstances; a hellish fire, as if the adversary had sent forth an embassy from the bottomless pit utterly to consume them with terrors, or to take them headlong down to destruction; Lord, with such-thine own trembling ones--though at present utterly at a loss to make judgment of their state-let thy still small voice be heard afresh, speaking pardon and peace, saying, -* 'Tis I, be not afraid." “ Look unto me and be ye saved.” “I-I am thy salvation.”
Upon the mercy-seat." Ah! beloved, here is the secret. do we so often lose sight of our covenant Father? Why are we tossed to and fro without a settled establishment ? Because we lose sight of the mercy-seat-not the mere type or shadow by which the ancient church were led to approach in prospect of the promised Messiahbut the Antetype Christ Jesus. Here is our mercy-seat. and here alone, is our medium of approach; and, though we know this full well in our judgment, yet (if our experience bears blance to that of the family) we feel ourselves ever prone to approach the Father without the Son. When we do make mention of the Son, it is frequently in name only; it is not with the heart as we could