By Henry Law
Then Moses said, "I beseech You, show me Your glory." And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My Name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." Exodus 33:18-19
Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His Name, the Lord. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord God, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished." Exodus 34:5-7
Earth owes much to supplicating lips. Abundant harvests have been reaped from a little seed of interceding grace. An instance meets us here. A tree of glorious truth rears its high head. Its wide-spread branches have been refreshing shade to multitudes of every age. But where its birth? A hearty prayer was breathed. The noble plant sprang up. Believer, in every place, and at every time drop seeds of prayer. The crop may live when your short race is run.
The suppliant here is Moses. He thirsts for clearer knowledge of his God. He had seen much, and therefore burns for more. He cries, 'I beseech You, show me Your glory.' It is a large desire. But gracious souls crave all that God can give. It is a large petition. But large petitions honor the Giver and are honored by Him.
Mark the reply. "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My Name, the Lord, in your presence." God's glory is His goodness. His goodness is His glory. His Name is the page in which these wonders shine.
Reader! have you this holy wish? Do you long to see this glory, to taste this goodness, to feast at the banquet of this knowledge? Come then in faith. Come in the lowliness of humble awe. The Lord is passing by. He speaks. Heed His proclaiming voice. "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished."
A retinue of glory issues from the courts of heaven. Each image shows some glimpse of Him, whose full display would blind our mortal sight. The foremost in the group utters the name, 'Lord' or 'Jehovah.' Oh! wondrous sound! It casts the mind back through the ages of eternity gone by; it bears it forward through eternity to come. It loudly tells that through the past, the present, and the future, One is. It pictures Him as 'I am,' before time was--'I am,' when time shall be no more. It robes Him in all the majesty and dignity and grandeur and boundlessness of changeless unity. It exhibits Him as the sole great fount of every stream of life.
O my soul, such is your Lord. Great beyond thought! vast beyond grasp! immeasurable by human line! untraceable by human search! But from this lofty throne His eye was ever fixed on you! Through all infinities, your image filled His heart. His age is immortality; He grants the same to you. Will you not adore and reverence and bless Him, and love and praise and serve Him?
Before another sound is heard, Jehovah's name is doubled. 'The Lord, the Lord.' The repetition bids us look again. It tells us that thought upon thought must search the mysteries of the great 'I am.' The soaring wing must soar still higher. Our praise must only pause, to recommence its endless work.
'The Lord, the Lord God.' The title 'God' is now co-joined. This speaks of power and strength. God is unbounded in His sovereignty! He sits indeed upon an omnipotent throne! He wields the scepter of unlimited control! His right hand is all power! He speaks, and it must be! He works, and who can hinder? Pile worlds on worlds, His mere breath can drive them into nothingness. Collect all multitudes from earth and hell, His foot can drive the mass to dust. Shall then powerless man vaunt against God? How can a rebel stand when God shall gird Himself with wrath? Sinner, be wise in time. Vengeance comes on apace. It strides resistless in its force. There is no refuge but at Calvary's cross!
Believer, this name flies down on wings of peace to you. Know the full might, which is your full support. This God is your shield. What foes can harm? He is your sword. Who can assail? He is your fortress. Are you not safe? He is the wall of fire round about you. Who can break through to wound you? He has promised life eternal as your portion. Who can prevent it? He is bearing you in His own arms to heaven. Who can pluck you from His grasp? This God is your full salvation. Therefore you shall be fully saved.
'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful.' The voice proceeds to open out Jehovah's heart. This heart is mercy. As the sun abounds in sparkling rays, the sea in drops, the sky in glittering orbs, so God is one vast treasure-house of mercy. This is the brightest jewel of His crown. It overtops the heavens. It outlives all time. It outshines all perfections. It is the riches of His riches.
But what is mercy? It is that sweet and tender love which has a tear for all distress, which grieves in grief, and sorrows in sorrow, and yearns over misery, and only lives in healing wounds, and calming anguish, and converting sighs to joy. This Mercy looked on man in his lost estate. It marked the present suffering and the future woe. It tarried not. It found a full and perfect remedy, even a God-man's life and death!
The Father is all mercy. A Savior called, a Savior sent, a Savior accepted is the proof. Jesus is all mercy! The manger, the garden, the cross, the blood, the righteousness, the never-ceasing prayer, proclaim it. The Spirit is all mercy. His striving in the heart, His light-diffusing presence, His guidance to the Savior's arms, His many visits of consoling love, His rich outpourings of renewing grace, bear witness to this truth.
Reader! whatever be your misery, come to this God, and mercy will relieve it! Paul knew the burden of tremendous guilt, but he 'obtained mercy.' The penitent pleaded, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner.' Floods of peace over-flowed. The wretched blind beggar cried, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.' Jesus stood still. The answer lingered not. 'Go your way, your faith has made you whole.' The sorrowing mother supplicated, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David,' and all relief was given.
Mercy still reigns in heaven. Bring then your sins, they shall be pardoned! Bring your tears, they shall be wiped away! Bring your conscience-wounds, they shall be healed! Bring your sighs, they shall be lulled to rest! Bring your need, it shall be all supplied! Bring your difficulties, they shall be smoothed.
'Merciful and gracious.' The view is changed. Another facet courts the eye. Grace shows its beauteous form. As mercy pities misery, so grace is helpful to unworthiness. Mercy brings balm for wretchedness. Grace hastens to demerit's aid. Mercy finds tender motive in man's woe. Grace has no impulse but from God. The world presents a hateful front. The wide-spread field is rank with mad rebellion's weeds. There is no shame, no penitence, no downcast look, no weeping eye, no sobbing breast, no wringing hand, no prayer for pardon, and no cry for pity. Sin follows sin as wave on wave. But grace springs forth, free as God's freeness, vast as God's vastness. It says, 'I love because I love. I will save because I will save. I will redeem from hell because I will redeem.'
It has no cradle but God's own heart. It has no spring but God's own purpose. But it is a worthy offspring of that worthy source. It girds itself to wondrous work. It draws Salvation's plan. It leads forth Salvation's captain. It chooses Salvation's heirs. It consummates Salvation's scheme. It lays the first stone. It adds the top-stone. It cannot rest, until the shout be heard, Grace to it, Grace to it, forever!
Reader! merit is as far from you as east from west. Your only possession is sin. But you may shine in glory, because God is grace. Oh! hasten to Him. Take pardon as a free-grace gift. Seek heaven as a free-grace prize. But if your pride rejects free grace, your own deserts will be the undying worm.
"Merciful and gracious, long-suffering (slow to anger)." The citizens of Zion sometimes quake, lest grievous guilt should drain all mercy and exhaust all grace. A ray next shines to dissipate these clouds. Behold Me, says the Lord, I am long-suffering. Here is a plank, on which the wave-tossed soul may rest. What! though the annals of the heart are but a sin-vile tale. What! though each day, each hour, is but the hot-bed of provoking evil. What! though the holiest prayers are often solemn mockery, the holiest works but incense to self-love. Still, vengeance stops its hand, and blessings pour their blessing-showers down.
If angels' patience ruled for one hour, would it be so? No! Man's whole race would be a shattered ruin. But He who reigns is a patient God. Hence, where offence abounds, His patience rises higher. We live because our God forbears. But the day comes when boundless patience finds its bounds. Sinner, when God's patience can no more bear, then your long sufferings will no more cease.
'Merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.' But while patience still is patient, may not the stores of goodness fail? It cannot be. God's goodness is Himself. While He has life, it is His life to scatter goodness round. Believer, come to this tree. Its boughs forever bend, and all its fruits are goodness. Drink of these waters. They ever flow, and all the stream is goodness.
Truth is the handmaid which provides and scatters far these never-failing gifts. A covenant oath is pledged, "I will certainly bless you richly." Hebrews 6:14. Truth then must die before the hand of goodness can hang down. Abundant truth secures abundant goodness.
'Keeping mercy for thousands.' O my soul, hearken to the melody of this sweet note. The thought may sometimes rise, that mercy visits but a favored few, that the rare gift enriches but rare souls. No! mercy's arms are very wide. Mercy's heart is very large. Mercy's mansions are very many. It has brought saving joy to countless multitudes. It has saving joy for countless yet. The doors stand open. Thousands have found. But there are stores for thousands yet.
Will any hesitate? Will any sigh, 'There cannot be this hope for me?' Why this fear? Is the reply, 'My iniquity forbids it'? This Name sweeps down such obstacle. It cries, The Lord is a God, 'forgiving iniquity.' Is it added, 'But my transgressions are so vile'? The Name still speaks, The Lord is a God forgiving iniquity and transgression. Is it further said, 'But my sins appear in countless multitudes'? The Name continues, Our Lord is a God forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
If all the sins of all the lost, if all the filth of all the fiends in hell, were piled on your one conscience, flee to the cross, plead this sure word, and as our God is true, He will be found forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
But if you fail to cast yourself on Christ, there is no other refuge. This word of richest comfort is stern condemnation to all who stand in their own guilt. "He will by no means clear the guilty." No sinner can take unpardoned sins to heaven. No soul unwashed can enter there. Evil must have what evil earns. Christ our Surety appeared bearing our sins. He was not spared. Wrath seized Him. Vengeance took its due. In Him, all who are His are cleared, because His death is theirs. Out of Him, all who have sin must die, because their sins are theirs.
"The Lord, the Lord God, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished." Reader! such is God's saving Name. Oh! hear it now, and with the ear of faith. It is not heard in hell.