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his face from the house of Jacob, and that he will look for him. I: Again,
“ And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee : for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us because of our iniquities.” The testimony of Ezekiel corresponds with that of Isaiah. “ According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. Yet God saith, Neither will I hide my face any more from them : for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the LORD God.”
Daniel evinceth the just estimation in which he held the light of God's countenance, when he saith, “ Now, therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the LORD's sake."
The Psalmist supplicates, “ Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine ; and we shall be saved."
The shining of God's countenance is a reviving testimony of his favour, of the favour of the Most High. We have seen what melancholy ideas filled the minds of the children of God, when the Creator hid his face from them. Thou hidest thy face and I am troubled. Thus when the face of the Lord shineth upon the children of men, he is indeed gracious unto them, and this is truly a very essential part of the blessing pronounced by the ministers of God, upon his people. The LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.
Fifthly, The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon thee.
What are we to understand by the lifting up of the countenance upon God's inheritance. We are told that when Cain was very wroth with his brother, his countenance fell. But the reverse of every thing vindictive, and every thing unpleasant, is indicated by the lifting up of the countenance. It should seem it is no more than repeating, in other words, the last division in the blessing. “ The LORD make his face to shine upon thee. For thou hast made him most blessed forever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.” The countenance of God is strikingly characterized as lending aid. “Why art thou cast down, O my
soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance."
Hope in God is cherished, who is piously styled the health of the countenance; and salvation is pertinently ascribed to the lifting up, to the light of God's countenance; for they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them : but thy right hand, and thinc arm, and the light of thy countenance because thou hadst a favour unto them. In the eighty-ninth Psalm, the privileges of those on whom God vouchsafeth to lift up the light of his countenance are expatiated upon with a kind of holy rapture.
“ Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face.
“ Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound : they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance, &c. &c.
These are some of the privileges enjoyed by those on whom the countenance of God is lifted up. The wise man informs us that in the light of the King's countenance, is life, and that his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain. The countenance of God is described as bestowing a fulness of joy. “ Thou hast made known to me the ways of life ; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance! The countenance of our Redeemer is like lightening.” Contrast this with the countenance of the hypocrites, as pourtrayed by our Saviour. “Their countenance is sad, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast."
It is written Revelations i. 16, “ And he had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword : and his countenance as the sun shineth in his strength.” The succeeding verse informs us that this was he who liveth, who was dead, and who is alive forever more. “Who is the Redeemer of the world, who hath the key of hell and death, and who says, Fear not?” But why should we not fear ? Let the lip of truth give us an answer, “ Because I, your elder Brother, your Creator, your everlasting Father, your Almighty friend, your Redeemer, your husband, bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, the head of every man. Because I am the first and the last. What though this two edged sword proceedeth out of my mouth ; what though with it I slay the nation.
“Yet will their death be no other, than that which happened to the Apostle Paul, when the commandment slew him, and he
died.” The God that killeth, can also make alive; he hath the keys of hell and death, all power is committed unto him, and we cannot be afraid of him, who died for us, and who liveth forever more, that we may never die, who liveth to protect, who commanded his ministers, Aaron and his sons to bless the people, to say unto them, “ The Lord bless thee, and keep thee : The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 1 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give the peace." Is there a blessing not included in this rich catalogue, how ample is the charter of our privileges. How vast is the debt we owe to the LORD of all worlds, and shall the liberality and for- , bearance of our august Creditor, teach us supine indifference, or worse still, criminal indulgence? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound ? God forbid. I pity the mind that is so much under the dominion of the infernal fiend, as to be able to harbour, or even to conceive such a diabolical idea. Yet if there are such human beings, we know who hath said, “ If my children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments ; If they break my statutes and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness' will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” | The last clause in the twenty-sixth verse remains to be considered, “ And give thee peace.” Should we be indulged with a future opportunity we will, with ineffable pleasure resume our subject, and, in the interim, may you be with every blessing blest.
NUMBERS, vi. 26.
Sixthly, “And give thee peace.”
Man as fallen and wicked, is not, cannot be in peace with his God. We are by nature, enmity toward God, and haters of each other. Titus, iii. 3, “For we ourselves also, were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.”
Peace is not so natural to fallen man, as war, one with another. There is no greater blessing than peace, personal, domestic, social and civil. But however great this blessing, we have no reason to expect it in the present state of things. But what are we to understand by the peace here spoken of? certainly not such a peace as the world giveth. We are told that in this world we shall have tribulation. Let us listen to our blessed Saviour, John, xvi. 33.
6 These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might hiave peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” But this
is the peace of God between him and his offending people. “We know who is our peace,” Ephesians, ii. 14, 15, “ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.”
Yet, we repeat, in the dispensation finished by the sufferings and death of the Redeemer; the Saviour came not to send peace on carth. Luke, xii. 51, “ Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth ? I tell you nay, but rather division."
Peace in this world, is not the lot of humanity. “ But in me you shall have peace.”
First, The blessing of God is peace. Peace between the offended and offending natures.
Secondly, It is found in the conscience of the blessed.
First, Between the offended and offending natures. This must be done by removing the cause of hostilities. Isaiah, lis. 2, “Your iniquities separate between you, and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” These must be put away, But are they put away? Ask the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ix. 26.
« For then must be often have suffered since the foundation of the world! but now, once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself.”
Inquire of John, the Evangelist, i. 29.
is i'he next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of he world.” And this same evangelist in his first Epistic, i. 7, informs
us, “ But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” First, sin is put away ; secondly, we are told whose sin is put away; the sin of the world; thirdly, it is confirmed; he cleariseth from all sin. But this is not all, there must be righteousness, or there can be no peace, for there is no peace to the wicked. Isaiah, xxxii 16, “ Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.” And again Ix. 21, “Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands that I may be glorified.”
Consequent on this grand consummation there is peace, and the blessing is confirmed. Ephesians, ii. 14, “ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” The countenances of my beloved hearers assure me the tidings of salvation cannot too often resound in their ears ; with ineffable delight, therefore, I proceed in this important, and very interesting investigation. In Psalms, xxix. 11, It is recorded,
“ The Lord will give strength unto his people, the LORD will bless his people with peace.” And Ixxii. 7, “ In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” Philippians, iv. 7, This peace is called the peace of God. “ And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Hence, God is called, Romans, xv. 33, “ The God of peace.” And xvi. 20, “ And the God of peace shall bruise satan under your feet shortly.” And 2 Corinthians, xiii. 11, “ Finally, brethren, farewell ; be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 1 Thessalonians, v. 23, God is styled the very God of peace. " And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” And this, because he is the author, the finisher, and the giver of this peace.
First, The author, Zechariah, vi. 13, “ Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne ; and he shall be a priest upon his throne : and the council of peace shall be between them both.”
Jeremiah, xxix. 11, “ For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, are thoughts of peace, and not of evil to give you an expected end." The covenant of God, is a Vol. III. 11