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SACRED BIOGRAPHY.

LECTURE I.

REVELATIONS XX. 11, 12, 13.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead small and great stand before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life and lhe dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it: and death and hell gave up the dead which were in them : and they were judged every man according to their works.

It is a solemn thing for a man to be judged of his own conscience. How sweet is the approving testimony of that bosom monitor and witness! but more bitter than death its upbraiding and reproaches. To stand at a human tribunal, with life or reputation, death or infamy depending on the issue, can never appear a light matter to one who understands and feels the value of either. Even conscious innocence and integrity, accompanied with good hope toward God, court not the eye of public inquiry, but prefer the secret, silent feast of inward peace, and of divine applause, to the public banquet of innocence proved and proclaimed by sound of trumpet. Serious it is to reflect that your name, your words, your conduct may become matter of record, and ages to come mention them with approbation and ésteem, or with indignation and contempt. But every feeling of this sort is lost in the certain and more awful prospect of judgement to come. It is a light thing to be judged of man, who can only kill the body, and blight the reputation, and beyond that hath nothing more that he can do ; but how formidable is the judgement of Him, who knows the heart, who records in " the book of his remembrance” the actions of the life, the words that fall from the tongue, the thoughts which arise in the heart; who will bring every secret thing to light, and “ render to every man according to his works;" and who, “after he has killed, hag power to destroy body and soul in hell.”

Aided by the light which sacred history sheds on ages and generations past, we have ventured into the solemn mansions of the dead, and conversed with those silent instructers who know not either to flatter or to fear; and whom the Spirit of God has condescended to delineate in their true colours and just proportions, that they may serve to use" for doctrine, and for reproof, and for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” We have plunged into ages beyond the flood, and contemplated human nature in its original glory ; “man,” as God made him, “perfect;" and man, as he made himself, lost in the multitude of his own inventions.

The “ first man, by whom came death-the figure of Him who should come, by whom is the resurrection of the dead : Adam, in whom all die : Christ, in whom all shall be made alive.”

Vol. v.

We have attended “righteous Abel" to the altar of God, and beheld the smoke of his “ more excellent sacrifice" ascending with acceptance to heaven : and " by which, he being dead yet speaketh."

We have seen the hands of “ wicked Cain" besmeared with a brother's blood ; and the earth refusing to cover that blood, but calling to Heaven for vengeance on the murderer ; and the guilty wretch rendered a terror to bimself.

We have seen these, one after another, dropping into the grave; and in that, the triumph of sin and death. But in Enoch we behold the triumph of faith and holiness, the triumph of almighty grace over sin and death, and over him who has the power of death. Our eyes follow" the holy man who walked with God," not to the “ dreary house appointed for all living," but, through the higher regions of the air, toward the blessed abodes of immortality, till a cloud receives him out of our sight.

We sought shelter with Noah, and his little saved rempant, from that deluge which destroyed a world of ungodly men, in the ark which God commanded; which that “preacher of righteousness prepared for the saving of his house ;' and which providence conducted and preserved amidst the wild uproar of contending elements—and with him perceived the wrathsul storm spending its fury, and the dawning light of a day of mercy returning.

We have seen the renewed, restored world, again overspread with violence, ignorance, impiety and idolatry: and the hope of the human race ready to be extinguished in the person of a wandering, aged, childless man; that in the decay of exhausted, expiring nature, the world might be made to see, and to acknowledge the vigour, the infallibility, the unchangeableness of God's covenant of promise. We removed with that illustrious exile from place to place, and with joy beheld his faith crowned at length with the promised seed, “ in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed."

From that “tender plant," that “root out of a dry ground," we saw a succession of fair and fruitful branches arise, while we studied the noiseless, sequestered, contemplative life of Isaac, and the active, variegated, chequered life of Jacob, his younger son.

In the affliction of Joseph we felt ourselves afficted, in his exaltation we rejoiced, and by his virtues and piety, in every variety of human condition, we received at once instruction and reproof.

The sweet historian, who had disclosed all these wonders of antiquity to our view, opened to us all these stores of knowledge, all these sources of delight, comes forward himself at last upon the scene, and continues to minister 10 our pleasure and improvement, by a faithful and affecting detail of his own eventful story, and a candid display of his own sentiments, character and conduct. What heart so hard as not to melt at sight of yonder weeping babe, a deserted, exposed, perishing Hebrew child, floating down the stream! What lieart does not glow to see him the pride and ornament of Pharaoh's imperial court, instructed in all the learning of the Egyptians! What bosom catches not the hallowed ardour of patriotic fire from the intrepid avenger of his country's wrongs! In whatever situation or character we view him, whithersoever we follow his steps, we feel ourselves attracted, delighted, instructed.

Ile furnishes us with the history of his brother Aaron and his family, and of the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, a type of the everlasting and unchangeable priesthood of the Redeemer. We attended the venerable pair of brothers to the top of the mountain, and beheld Aaron stript of his pontifical robes, resigning his charge, closing his eyes in death; and heard Moses himself warned to prepare for his departure.

Not only by a display of worth and excellence, but by a delineation of vice, by the exhibition of a heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicks ed," has he conveyed to us the means of instruction and improvement; in presenting us with the portrait of Balaam, who “ loved the wages of unrighteousness.” In the character of that bad man, we behold the humiliating union of great talents and a corrupted heart; prophetic gifts and moral depravity ; knowledge of the truth, and wilful adherance to error; admiration of virtue, and fixed habits of vice; an earnest wish to " die the death of the righteous,” with a deliberate determination 10 live the life of the wicked ; and all this mystery of ip!quity explained in one short sentence; his heart, went out after its covetousness.

All these have passed in review before us; and their existence, in succession to one another, occupies a space of two thousand five hundred years. But the text collects them, and us, and all succeeding generations of men, into one great coexistent assembly, to undergo a judgement infinitely more solemn than ever was pronounced from human tribunal! a judgement infallible, final, irreversible; which shall bring to trial, and condemn all hasty, rash, erroneous judgements of men, clear injured innocence, bring to light and reward hidden worth, abase insolence and pride, detect and expose hypocrisy. Let the prospect of it direct all our inquiries, animate all our exertions, dictate all our decisions on the character and conduct of other men, and influence, form and govern 'our own. Thus the review of preceding personages and events, and the prospect of those to come shall be animated, improved, sanctified ; thus shall we feel our interest in, and connexion with the church of God universal, of every age, and converse with Moses and the prophets as our contemporaries, countrymen and friends, whom we shall shortly join, and be united to them in bonds of pure and everlasting love. Recollecting times past, anticipating ages to come, let us draw near and consider this great sight, and may God grant us to feel and improve its influence.

The imagery of the scene is sublime and striking. “I saw a great white throne.” “A throne,” royal state, established empire, acknowledged sway, the right and power of judgement united, universal, everlasting, uncontrollable dominion. A“ great" throne. The seat of kings is raised a little above the people ; that of Solomon had six steps ; ivory and gold lent their combined aid to enrich and adorn it. But what is the glory of Solomon ? his throne, once the seat of wisdom, to whose oracular voice foreign potentates and their nations listened with admiration and respect, was at length dishonoured, degraded, defiled by the impurities of idolatry, and by the imprudence and apostasy of him who sat upon it, and thus deprived of one of its firmest supporters, it shook under him, and he at length dropped from it, a monument of the nothingness and vanity of human grandeur, wealth and wisdom. Ten of its twelve props slipt from beneath it, through the imprudence of his son ; and, after a few convulsive struggles, it sunk at length into the dust, a poor, precarious, subordinate throne, subject to the lordly state of an Assyrian prince. What is the glory of angels that excel in strength ? Delegated power, derived splendour, imparted wisdom, dignity under authority. But, behold on yonder radiant throne, one “ made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." “ He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever ; a sceptre of righteousness, is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” “Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Behold “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” surrounded with the seraphim, crying continually unto one another, and saying, “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his goodness."

"-A great white throne,” the emblem of purity, truth and righteousness; itself unsullied, and purifying all tbat approach it. “Righteousness and

judgement are the habitation of his throne ; mercy and truth go before his face.” “Shall not the Judge of the whole earth do right?” With the purest intention, with the highest degree of human sagacity, with the most extensive knowledge of the law, and the most determined resolution faithfully to apply it, earthly tribunals are not secure from error: craft may overreach wisdom ; hypocrisy may disguise the truth, or cover falsehood ; the stream of justice may be diverted or forced out of its channel, and the pellucid tide undergo a temporary poliution. The princes of this world must see with the eyes and hear with the ears of other men ; the worthy and the wise may, of course, be kept at a distance, while demerit, wickedness and folly bask in the sunshine of royal favour. But yonder radiant throne applies an infallible test to all that approch it : hypocrisy drops the mask, the windings of deceit and cunning stand exposed, the brazen, imposing forehead of impudence is covered with a blush, and the stony, un feeling, unrelenting heart is dissolved into water--modest worth rears its drooping head, conscious integrity expands its glowing bosom, and purity seeks the source from which it sprang.

Observe the difference; mark the changes which these undergo, as they draw nigh; see the hardened sinner, cased in sevenfold adamant, advancing with intrepid step, striving to make assurance pass for innocence. But, lo, the rays of that white throne have fallen upon him; the spots begin to appear, they grow blacker and blacker, he gradually becomes abominable and more abominable ; odious to the beholder, a terror to himself, he shrinks from inquiry, darkness is diffused around from the brightness of that light; he calls upon the mountains to fall upon him, and upon the hills to cover him.

Not so the bumble follower of the Lamb. His countenance becomes more and more serene, his confidence increases, every blemish disappears, “ the glory of the Lord is risen upon him," his lustre brightens as he proceeds, at length he is united to, he is lost in the fountain of joy.

"_I saw him that sat on it.” “No man hath seen God at any time." Remove that cloud, that vapour, and I am unable steadfastly to behold the face of the sun ; how much more, the face of Him who arrays the sun in all his effulgence! If he raise his voice a little louder in the whirlwind, or in the thunder, I am overwhelmed and lost.

Ah! it is conscious guilt that appals me, that clothes the face of God with terror, that roars in the tempest, that raises the voice of the mighty thunder : but, “ reconciled unto God," “ justified by faith,” I “have peace with God," I see as I am seen, I know as I am known; “ beholding with open face as in a glass the glory of the Lord," lo, the believer is gradually “ changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” “ The only begotten who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

Did the pomp and wisdom of an earthly potentate dazzle and delight the eyes of a sovereign like himself, and constrain one ioured to scenes of magnificence to cry out, " It was a true report that I heard in mine own land, howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it : and behold the half was not told me !" What then will it be to see, with the beloved disciple, " a great white throne, and him who sits upon it," with the myriads of the heavenly host bending before it, rejoicing without trembling.

Grant me, gracious God, now to see thee in these thy lower works, in the wonders of thy providence, in the exceeding riches of thy grace, in the face of thy Son Christ Jesus, and thereby prepare me for seeing thee as thou art and for being made like unto thee! Place me with thy servant Moses upon a rock, put me in a clift of the rock, cover me with thy hand while thou passest by, remove thy hand, that I may trace thy presence in the blessings thou hast left behind thee, that I may be strengthened to meet the direct rays of thy

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