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blessed when the Lord hath given grace to love him, because he first loved us ! But when our regenerate and redeemed souls get rid, at the separation by death, of this idol self, and with it all selfishness; then our unembodied spirits will be swallowed up in the contemplation of Jehovah in his trinity of persons, manifested in the visible Jehovah, our glorious Lord. We shall lose sight of self, and all that we have been the objects and subjects of here below; and (as it is divinely expressed in one of the Psalms, xvii. 15.)
beholding his face in righteousness; when we awake (from the sleep of death) we shall be satisfied with his likeness." Not so much satisfied with our likeness to him (though that is included in this superlative glory) but the likeness of the Lord Jesus in our nature, to the image of the invisible God. Our likeness to him will be indeed most blessed; but this would not be Christ himself, but our likeness to Christ; whereas, nothing short of Christ himself can satisfy our immortal souls, when awakened up to the glories of eternity. Oh! the rapture of those words ascribed to our Christ. When Miriam, the sister of Aaron, sung her song of thanksgiving at the Red Sea, and led out the people to the same, she had some apprehension of the glorious person of our most glorious Christ, and cried out,“ Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods ? who is like thee ; glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders ?" (Exod. xv. 11.) You and I, from our unholy and unhallowed nature by the fall, can have but little conception what holiness is, much less what the glory of holiness is; but in the upper and brighter world, when we come to enter into the joy of our Lord, that glory will in some measure be known, for it is said, “ we shall see him as he is, and know even as we are known."
I beg to call your attention to another striking particularity in this sublime portion of the word of God, namely, that this ascription of praise to the Lord is thrice done: “ Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts !” We do not find any similar ascription in the Bible to any of the other attributes; Jehovah indeed hath himself made mention of his holiness in a way of oath, but this is done but once ; .“ Once have I sworn by my holiness.” (Ps. lxxxix. 35.) And in another of the Psalms, in allusion to the Lord's sovereignty, it is said, “God spake once, and twice also have I heard the same, that power belongeth unto God.” (Ps. lxii. 11.) But the holiness of Jehovah is trebled in this hymn of praise. Perhaps (but I do not presume to speak decidedly upon a subject of so infinitely sublime a nature) it is done here in reference to the Holy Three in One constituting the Godhead; for though Christ personal was the Holy One the prophet is said to have seen in this vision, yet we know that all the persons in the GODHEAD were present, and included. We find the ascription is offered to the Lord of Hosts; an appellation which equally belongs to all. And it was the person of the Holy Ghost which spake in his own name, and in the name of the whole at verse 8. Compare this verse with Acts. xxviï. 26. where it is explained in direct application to God the Holy Ghost. These are divine and soul-satisfying Scriptures for the church of God to live upon.
I must not overlook the particular æra of the church when the Lord favoured the prophet with this vision. It is dated, as if a point of much consequence to know, as being in the year when king Uzziah died.” And by referring to the corresponding history, (2 Chron. xxvi.) you will discover how graciously the Lord timed this mercy to comfort the people ; that when the king of Judah, losing sight of Christ, invaded the priest's office, which typified
Christ, and was stricken with leprosy to the day of his death, and shut up from communion ; here the church in the person of the prophet was taught to look to Jesus. It is blessed amidst the dying and the dead of kings and princes of the earth, to be called off by the Lord himself, to him that liveth for ever and ever. And since sin hath entered into the world, and death by sin, to look beyond all the timestate around, and behold him “who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by his gospel.” (2 T'im. i. 10.)
But we must not stop here, for the Scripture doth not. In this year of Uzziah’s death (saith the prophet) “ I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. In order that we may have a true spiritual apprehension of this sublime contemplation, we must remember that it was not a bodily sight Isaiah had, but a visional. And the lifting up could not mean the essence of Jehovah, in the invisibility of his nature, for in this particular the Lord fills all space : and it is expressly said elsewhere in Scripture, “whom no man hath seen or can see.” (1 Tim. vi. 16.) But it is spoken of our most glorious Christ, who when he had finished redemption-work, and returned to glory, “ all things were put in subjection to him.” Neither is this Scripture to be interpreted as though it was heaven in which Isaiah beheld this vision ; but the church upon earth. For all the expressions connected with it correspond to this statement. It was the temple, namely his body the church, which the Lord filled with his train, that is, his graces and gifts. And when it is said, that “ the posts of the doors moved at the voice of him which spake ;" this could not mean heaven. But what a solemn thought ariseth from hence in this representation. Walls and posts may, and will, move and totter to their centre, at the
voice of the Lord; even as Sinai was convulsed and quaked greatly, when the Lord came down upon the mount, and the “smoke went up as the smoke of a furnace; (Exod. xix. 18.) but the sinner, the unawakened, unregenerated, unrenewed sinner, hears again and again the voice of the Lord, unmoved and unconcerned: he stands like another Ætna or Teneriffe, though all the combustion of smoke and fire is within him, ready to ignite in a moment at the command of God, and burn for ever!
But the principal feature in this sublime Scripture yet remains to be considered, namely, who this glorious person was the prophet saw ? It could be no other indeed but our most glorious. Lord: but had we any doubt, the Holy Ghost hath removed it by the plain Scripture of the apostle John; for speaking of the effect which should attend the personal appearance of Christ in his church, he said, “ these things said Esaias when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” (John xii. 4.) So then it was Christ personal Isaiah saw in vision : and though the whole Three persons were present, as hath been before shewn, yet it was our most glorious Jésus that here manifested himself as the visible Jehovah to the prophet.
One word more on this passage, before we proceed to the doctrine arising out of it, namely, to observe the effect, as is here stated, which took place in the mind of Isaiah. “And I said, 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 ! Such will always be the consequence of every man's mind, whom the Lord hath convinced of sin, and shewn the righteousness of Christ. So spake Job when the Lord answered his words, by a whirlwind from heaven: “ I have heard of thee (said Job) by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job xlii. 5, 6.) “As for me (cried Daniel) my comeliness was turned into corruption when I saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me.” (Dan. x. 8.) “And when I saw him (said John speaking of Christ) I fell at his feet as dead.” (Rev. i. 17.) From such illustrious examples, in those highly favoured servants of God, one of the most important truths for the church of God to be established in, is, the vast and infinite importance of a spiritual knowledge of our most glorious Christ. Depend upon it (and these striking facts prove it,) until we have a spiritual sight of Christ, we have not sufficiently known, neither deeply felt, the dreadful state of the “ reign of sin,” under which the whole race of Adam's children by nature are involved ; and consequently cannot truly value the being made subjects under " the reign of grace by Christ.” Isaiah, and Job, and Daniel, and John, were from everlasting children of the kingdom: yea, all of them had felt convictions of sin; but neither of them had such deep views of the malignity of sin, until a spiritual sight of Christ had induced those effects, as one of them expressed, and all felt. “ Woe is me! I am undone : for I am a man of unclean lips: I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.”
Here is one of the most interesting subjects, to which the regenerate church of God can have their attention directed. I cannot be supposed, in calling you to the meditation of it, to do more than merely to glance at some of the outlines of it. A few thoughts on the Almighty person of Him, according to the Scripture statement, the spiritual sight of whom produced such effects, will form the first branch of