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THE UNIVERSAL CHORUS.
with yourselves no longer. If they be truths, But if, by indulging their speculations on they are the truths of God. Upon the same the creation of the world, the causes of the authority stands the truth of that gracious pro- deluge, and siunilar subjects, their employmise that he will give his Holy Spirit to them ment has been no better than weaving spi. that ask him. Let me entreat you to make der's webs, the result of their reasoning on the experiment. This is the proper point to morals has been much worse.
Here they begin with. Instead of indulging reasonings have with industry hatched cockatrice eggs; and speculations, hunble yourselves before (Isa. lix. 5;) and their labours have been not the Lord, and pray for the light and influence only fallacious, but mischievous. Their mewhich he has said he will afford to them who taphysical researches, while they refuse the are willing to be taught. Read the scripture guidance of revelation, if pursued to their with deliberation, and do not labour to fortify just consequences, will always lead into the yourselves against conviction. Break off from labyrinths of scepticism, weaken the sense of those practices, which your own consciences moral obligation, rob the mind of the most admonish you cannot be pleasing to him who powerful motives of right conduct, and of the is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Then only consolations which can afford it solid shall you know if you will sincerely follow on support in an hour of trouble. One insuperto know the Lord, Hos. vi. 3. But if not, able difficulty which they will undertake to if you will, in a spirit of levity, presume to solve, though it does not properly lie in their decide upon points which you will not allow way, is concerning the origin of evil. That yourselves seriously to examine, should you evil is in the world, is felt and confessed uniat last perish in your obstinacy and unbelief, versally. The gospel points out an effecyour ruin will be of yourselves. You have tual method of deliverance from it; but alas, been faithfully warned, and we shall be clear the simple and infallible remedy is neglected, of your blood.
and men weary themselves with vain in-
And find no end, in wandering mazes lost.
The more they reason, the more they involve
last they make lies their reliige, and adopt, (And every creature which is in heaven, and with implicit credulity, as so many undoubted
on the earth, and under the earth, and axioms, opinions, which are equally dis such as are in the sea, and all that are in honourable to God, and contradictory to truth them, heard I, saying,) Blessing, and ho- and experience, 2 Thess. ji. 11. Thus much nour, and glory, and power, be unto him is certain, that by the occasion of evil, the that sittelh upon the throne, and unto the character of God is manifested with superior Lamb for ever and ever !—Rev. v. 13.
glory to the view of angels and men, who are
in a state of holiness and allegiance, and a Men have generally agreed to dignify their higher accent is thereby given to their presumptuous and arrogant disquisitions on praises; for now his justice and his mercy, the works and ways of God with the name of which could not have been otherwise known, wisdom, though the principles upon which are revealed in the stronzest light; and the they proceed, and the conclusions which they redemption of sinners afiords the brightest dis draw from them, are for the most part evident play of his wisdom and love. proofs of their depravity and folly. Instead The redeemed are represented as taking of admiring the effects of bis wisdom and the first part in this subline song, verses & power in the creation, they have rashly en- 10. The angels join in the chorus, verses deavoured to investigate the manner of its | 11, 12, which now becomes universal. Ali production. A variety of hypotheses have the angels, all the sujuts upon the earth, in been invented to account for the formation of the state of the dead, or hudes, whether the world, and to state the laws by which the their bodies are buried under the earth, or in frame of nature is governed; and these dif- the sea, with one heart, ajin and voice, unite ferent and inconsistent accounts have been in worship and praise. In the preceding defended with a magisterial tone of certain- verse, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and ty, and an air of demonstration, by their re- power, are ascribed unto the lab; but here spective authors, as though they hal been the ascription is unto Rim that sitteth upon bystanders and spectators when God spoke the throne, and unto the Lamb. I shall not all things into being, and produced oder out add to what I have already observed to you of confusion by the word of his power. from the words of the doxology. A few reThey have, however, been much more success- marks, which offer from this verse taken in ful in showing the absurdity of the schiernes connection with the former, will bring me to proposed by ot'iers, than in reconcilint their a conclusion of the whole subject. And on! own to the sober dictates of plain common for a coul of fire fro'o the heavenly altar to
warın your hearts and mine, that our love, Vol. II.
joy, and gratitude may be awakened into ping assemblies; and, perhaps, always so prelively exercise, and that the close of our me- sent, that they could discover themselves to us ditations on the Messiah may leave us deeply in a moment, were it consistent with the rul impressed with desires and well-grounded of the divine government established in this hopes of meeting ere long before the throne, lower world, suited to the state of those who to join with the angels and the redeemed in are to walk by faith, not by sight. Thus far singing the praise of God and the Lamb! however differing in other respects, the angels
1. The Lord Jesus is not only the Head of and the redeemed are united and related in the church redeemed from among inen, but one common head, and have fellowship in of the whole intelligent creation that is in worship and service. When sinners are enwilling subjection to God. It belonged to abled by grace to renounce this world, they his great design to gather together in one, are admitted to an honourable alliance with a (to reduce under one head, as the Greek ex- better. pression is,) even in himself, all things that II. From hence we may form some judgare in heaven and upon earth, Eph. i. 10. He ment of the true nature and high honour of is the Lord and the life both of angels and of that spiritual worship, which is the privilege men. Mutability and dependence are essen- and glory of the church of God under the tial to the state of creatures, however exalted; gospel-dispensation. When we meet in the and the angels in glory owe their preservation name of Jesus, as his people, and with a due and confirmation in holiness and happiness to observance of his institutions, we come to the him. Hence they are styled the elect angels innumerable company of angels, and to the (1 Tim. v. 21,) in distinction from those who general assembly and church of the first born, left their first habitation, and sunk into sin (Heb. xii. 22, 23,) the first-born ones (for the and misery. Angels therefore constitute a expression is plural.) We draw nigh by faith branch of that great family which is named of to the very gate of heaven, to the holiest of him in heaven and earth. And having made all
. Men unacquainted with spirituality, are peace by the blood of his cross, he has effected soon weary even of the form of worship, una reconciliation, not only between God and less their minds are amused by a splendid sinners, but also between angels and men. ceremonial. The first rise and subsequent inHow those inhabitants of light are disposed crease of that pomp and pageantry, which in to sinful men, considered as sinful, we may some countries has quite obscured the simplilearn from many passages of scripture. They city and beauty of gospel-worship, is to be asare devoted to God, filled with zeal for his cribed to this indisposition of the human mind. honour, and wait but for his command to exe- Our thoughts, while we are in a natural state, cute vengeance upon his enemies. When are too weak and wavering, and too gross to Herod, infatuated by his pride, and by the be pleased with a worship, in which there is flattery of the multitude, received their idola- nothing suited to affect the imagination by trous compliment with complacence, an angel sensible objects. And therefore, when men of the Lord smote him, because he gave not think themselves wise, and profess to despise God the glory, Acts xii. 23. The pestilence the pageantry which captivates the vulgar, which destroyed the people towards the end their wisdom affords them no real advantage of David's reign, was under the direction of if they have nothing better to substitute in the an angel (2 Sam. xxiv. 16, 17,) and David room of what they reject as insignificant. The saw him with his arm stretched out against very appearance of devotion will languish, Jerusalem. And in this prophecy angels are they will grow remiss, and neglect the sabbath spoken of as employed in pouring forth the and public assemblies, for want of something vials of wrath upon the earth. And still they to keep up their attention. We have abun. are ready, we may believe, to avenge their dant proof of this in our own land, and at Maker's cause upon the wicked when they are this time. Protestants pride themselves in commissioned. And if the history of modern not being Papists; but, when the Protestant times was written by an inspired pen, and religion is understood to mean no more than events, as in the scriptures, were assigned to a renunciation of the superstitious ceremonies their proper causes, perhaps the death of many of the church of Rome, it is, with respect to a haughty worm would be recorded in words individuals, little, if at all, better than Popery to this effect—"And an angel of the Lord itself. Among us enlightened Protestants, no smote him, because he gave not God the expedient but preaching the gospel of Christ glory.” But, viewing sinners as the subjects will be found sufficient to retain people in a of redemption, the angels copy from their stated observance of the Lord's day. But Lord. They regard them with benevolence, true believers, who understand and love the and rejoice over every one that repenteth, Heb. gospel, do indeed draw nigh to God; and i. 14. They willingly attend on them, and they account a day in his courts better than assist them, in ways beyond our conception. a thousand, (Ps. Ixxxiv. 10,) because they They esteem believers in Jesus as their fellow- can take a part in the songs of heaven, and servants, Rev. xxii. 9. We have reason to in spirit and in truth, worship him that sitthink that they are present in our worship-teth upon the throne, and the Lamb who re
deemed them to God by his blood. They proudly reject it, and yet admit the Bibl know by happy experience, that his promise, be a divine revelation, are involved in diff to be in the midst of those who assemble in ties from which all their sagacity and learning bis name, is truth. Their worship is not a cannot free them. In vain they labour by mere bodily service, a lifeless form, a round singular interpretations, by the minutiæ of of observances, which neither warm the criticism, and by an appeal to various readings heart, nor influence the conduct; but they and ancient versions, which, in a few passages, are instructed, comforted, and strengthened, differ from the copies more generally received by waiting upon God. Their spiritual senses -in vain they endeavour by these refinements are exercised; they behold his glory in the to relieve themselves, when pressed by the obglass of the gospel, they hear his voice, they vious and natural sense of a thousand texts, feel an impression of his power and presence, which confirm the faith and hope of plain they taste his goodness, and the virtue of christians. The gospel is designed for the that name, which is as ointment poured poor. But the poor and unlearned would be forth, perfumes their tempers and conversa- at a great disadvantage, if the scripture could tion.
not be rightly understood without the assistIII. Though the Lamb is worthy of all ance of such learning and such criticism as blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, we often see pressed into the service. But there is a distinct ascription of praise to Him the Holy Spirit graciously leads those who that sitteth upon the throne.
pray for his teaching, into such views of this The scripture, which alone can teach us to high subject as are sufficient to comfort their form right conceptions of God, and to worship hearts, and to animate their obedience. The him acceptubly, guides us in a medium, be- faith of those who are taught of God, is extween opposite errors and mistakes. Too ercised in their approaches to him under two many persons, ignorant of their own state as different modifications. Both are scriptural, sinners, and of the awful majesty and holiness and therefore both are safe, and witnessed to of the Most High, presume to think of him, by his gracious acceptance and blessing. to speak of him, and in their way, to speak to 1. They come to God by Christ. They him, without being aware of the necessity of have access through him, Eph. ii. 18. Una Mediator. But they who are without Christ, worthy to speak for themselves, they bow their who is the only door and way to the Father, knees in his name, Phil. ii. 10. Christians are without God, atheists in the world, Eph. are sufficiently distinguished and described by ii. 12. There is a mistake likewise on the saying, They coine to God by bim, Heb. vii. other hand, when, though the Deity of the 25. They come to God, they cannot live Saviour be acknowledged, yet what we are without him in the world, as they once did. taught of the ineffable distinction in the God. They are now conscious of wants and desires, head is not duly attended to. It is written, which only God can satisfy; but they are con"In the beginning,—the Word was God,” scious likewise that they are sinners, and thereJohn i. 1. It is likewise written, “The Word fore they durst not approach him, if they had was with God." This latter expression un- not the invitation of his promise, and an asdoubtedly has a meaning which though per- surance of an Advocate with the Father, 1 fectly consistent, is not coincident with the John ji. 2. former. The truth contained in it is propos 2. They come to God in Christ. He is ed, not to our curiosity as a subject of specu- the great Temple, in whom all fulness dwells lation, but to our faith. I do not attempt to (Col. i. 19; ii. 9;) and they are not afraid explain it. But, what God expressly declares, of idolatry, when they worship and honour we are bound, upon the principles of right the Son even as the Father. This distinct reason, to believe. For he is Truth, and can application to God, in the person of the Son not deceive us. “ There are three that bear of his love, perhaps becomes more frequent record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and and familiar as they advance in the knowledge the Holy Ghost,” 1 John v. 7. These three of their Lord and Saviour, 2 Peter iii. 18. are frequently spoken of in the scripture—to They who seek to him for deliverance from each of them a distinct part in the economy of sin and misery, at first, I believe, chiefly consalvation is ascribed ; to each of them the per. sider him as the Advocate and High Priest, fections and honours of Deity are attributed. who, by the virtue of his atonement, and the Yet there are not three Gods, but one. Con prevalence of his intercession, is able to save sequently these three are one God. This to the uttermost. But when the apostle disdoctrine may be above our comprehension, tributes Christians, according to their growth but cannot be contrary to our reason, if it be in grace, into the state of babes, young men, contained in a revelation from God. If it be and fathers (1 John ii. 4,) he speaks of a more simply received upon the authority of the re- distinct and appropriate knowledge of him vealer, it approves itself to be true, for it is who is from the beginning, as the peculiar found to be a key to the whole scripture, privilege and distinguishing attainment of which renders the general sense and scope the fathers. He speaks of him who is from everywhere consistent and plain. They whol the beginning, so often that we can be at no
loss to determine whom he intends by the ministration and government over them will expression. He applies it to him who was in be changed. They will then have no more the beginning with God (John i. 1,) and whom sins to confess; there will be no more danne and the other apostles had heard, had seen gers requiring the care and tenderness of a with their eyes, and touched with their hands, Shepherd, no enemies to be controlled, and 1 John i. 1-3. An eminent divine* points the ordinances and means of grace, accommo out soine special seasons in the Christian dated to their wants and weakness, while ir life, in which he thinks the peculiar pres- this world, will be no longer necessary. But sures of the soul may obtain the most sensible Messiah, the Lamb that was slain, will ever be and immediate relief, by direct application to the head and Lord of the creation, the methe Saviour. But there are some believers dium of communication of the light and love who find themselves almost continually in of God to his people, and God in him, the ob one or other of the situations which he marks ject of their eternal adoration and praise. as occasional. However this may be, I am Then the grand, ultimate, final cause of ready to take it for granted, that they who all the manifestations of God will be comreally and cordially believe the Deity of pletely obtained. The glory of the great Christ, do at least at some seasons, and upon Creator and Lawgiver, the splendour of all some occasions, expressly direct their prayers his perfections will for ever shine, without a to him. If precedents be required to war- vail or cloud, and with a brightness which rant this practice, the New Testament will could noi have been known by creatures, had furnish them in abundance. I shall select not the entrance of evil given occasion for a but a few. The apostle Paul bowed his display of his wisdom and love, in over-ruling knees to the God and Father of our Lord Je- it to the praise of his glorious grace. Bus; but he often prayed to the Lord Jesus; He prayed to him in the temple (Acts xxii. Thus, according to the measure of my abi17—21.) and when he obtained that answer, lity and experience, I have endeavoured to • My grace is sufficient for thee,” 2 Cor. xii. point out to you the meaning and importance 9. To him the prayer of the apostles and of the well chosen series of scriptural pas disciples was addressed previous to the lot sages, which are set to music in the Oratorio which was to determine a successor to Judas, of the Messiah. Great is the Lord Messiah, Acts i. 21. And to him Stephen committed and greatly to be praised! I have attempted his departing spirit (Acts vii. 59,) an act of to set before you a sketch of what the scrip trust and worship of the highest kind, and at ture teaches us concerning his person, underthe most solemn season. In short, it is a takings, and success,—the misery of those strange inconsistence, if any, who acknow- whom he came to save, the happiness to which ledge his Deity, question the propriety of he raises them, and the wonderful plan and praying to him. What is it, more or less, progress of redeeming love. But who is ihan to question the propriety of praying to sufficient for these things? Alas! how small God?
a portion of his ways are we able to trace! IV. This solemn worship and praise is re- But I would be thankful, that the desire of ferred ultimately to him who sitteth upon the attempting this great subject was put into throne—to the great and glorious God, thus my heart, and that having obtained help of known and manifested in, and by, and with God, I have been preserved and enabled to the Lamb that was slain.
finish my design. Imperfect as my execuThe mediatorial kingdom of Christ will tion of it has been, I cannot doubt that the have a period. He will reign as Mediator, various topics I have been led to insist onare till he has subdued all enemies under his feet, the great truths of God. For what is proand pertected his whole work. Then his perly my own, the defects and weaknesses kingdom in this sense will cease; he will de- which mix with my best services, I entreat liver it up to the Father, that God may be all his forgiveness, and request your candour. in all, 1 Cor. xv. 28. This passage is diffi- But I do not hesitate to say, that the subcult, that is, the subject is too great for our stance of what I have advanced deserves and faculties in their present state of imperfec- demands your most serious attention. tion fully to comprehend; for the difficulties It is probable, that those of my hearers who we meet with in scripture are more properly admire this Oratorio, and are often present to be ascribed to our ignorance. The Son, as when it is performed, may think me harsh man, is even now subject to ihe Father: and and singular in my opinion, that of all our God is undoubtedly all in all, at present, and musical compositions this is the most impro from everlasting to everlasting. But his king- per for a public entertainment. But while dom here is to be taken figuratively for the it continues to be equally acceptable whether subjects of his kingdom, his people, whom he performed in a church or in the theatre, and received as a trust and a treasure. These while the greater part of the performers and he will deliver up, and the form of his ad- of the audience are the same at both places
I can rate it no higher than as one of the * Dr. Owen, in his Christologia.
many fashionable amusements which mark
the character of this age of dissipation. ¡ you are truly willing to enter, none shall be Though the subject be serious and solemn in able to shut it. the highest sense, yea, for that very reason, But may I not fear, that I am still speakand though the music is, in a striking manner, ing to others, who, to this hour, have no coradapted to the subject, yet, if the far greater dial admiring thoughts of the great Saviour? part of the people who frequent the Oratorio, Alas! should you die in your present frame are evidently unaffected by the Redeemer's of mind ! let me, once more, entreat you to love, and uninfluenced by his commands, I consider what your situation and employment am afraid it is no better than a profanation of will be, when all his redeemed people, and the name and truths of God, a crucifying the all his holy angels, shall join in worshipping Son of God afresh. You must judge for and praising him, in the great day of his apyourselves. If you think differently from me, pearance. you will act accordingly.--Yet permit me to Unless you repent, lay down your arms, hope and to pray, that the next time you hear and submit to his golden sceptre, your doom che Messiah, God may bring something that is already pronounced. Awful are the words you have heard in the course of these ser- of the Lord, by the prophet, and very applimons, nearly connected with the peace and cable to your case, if (which may his mercy welfare of your souls, effectually to your re- prevent!) you should die in your sins. membrance.
Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, beI would humbly hope, that some persons, hold my servants shall cat, but ye shall be who were strangers to the power and grace hungry: behold my servants shall drink, but of Messiah, when I entered upon this service, ye shall be thirsty ; behold my servants shall are now desirous of seeking him with their rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: behold my whole hearts. Yes, I trust I have not la- servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye boured wholly in vain. The gospel is the rod shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl of his strength, (Psal. cx. 2,) which, when ac- for vexation of spirit,” Isa. Ixv. 13, 14. If companied by the power of his Spirit, pro- the scribes and Pharisees were filled with duces greater effects than the wonder-work- envy and grief when the children in the teming rod of Moses. It causes the blind to see, ple sung Hosanna to the Son of David, (Matt the deaf to hear, and the dead to live. A xxi. 15,) what must be their anguish and re faithful minister will account a single instance morse, their rage and despair, when the of success a rich recompense for the labour of whole creation shall join in his praise? If a life. May this joy be mine! May the Lord your thoughts of him now are like theirs, encourage you to go on seeking him! Then tremble at your danger; for unless you rehe will surely be found of you. An open pent, your lot must be with them hereafter. door is set before you, (Rev. iij. 8,) and if