You Came Down
James Smith, 1860
The presence of the Lord is the joy of his people, and the glory of his Church. This presence is promised, is to be pleaded for, and will be enjoyed. His sustaining presence is always realized — but something more than this is desirable, and the Lord is prepared to grant it, if it is sought in faith. Hence his Church of old prayed, "Oh, that you would rend the heavens, that you would come down!" And pleading for this blessing, she reminded the Lord of what he had done, saying, "You came down" Isaiah 64:3. Motion and location are not, strictly speaking, to be ascribed to the Most High God; he is everywhere present, and always present. But for our instruction, and to help our weak understandings, the Scriptures clothe him with affections, ascribe to him members, speak of his senses, and represent him as coming and going. On several interesting occasions, the Lord is represented as coming down.
When Adam had sinned, in the cool of the day — the Lord God came down, and Adam heard his voice in the garden. He convicted the criminals, awarded the punishment, and revealed his mercy. He plainly indicated, that the fall was anticipated, that a Savior was provided, that the enemy would be defeated, and that grace should reign.
When men, after the flood, indulged in unbelief, became presumptuous, and determined to build a city and a tower, the top of which should reach to heaven — God came down, confounded their language, frustrated their design, and scattered them abroad on the face of the earth.
When Israel was oppressed in Egypt, and cried in earnest prayer unto the Lord — he came down. At the back side of Horeb, when Moses kept the flock of Jethro, in the bush that burned with fire — the Lord appeared. He called Moses to his feet, gave expression to his sympathy with Israel, and sent him to demand their liberation. He brought them out with a strong arm and a mighty hand, and accurately fulfilled the promises, which he had made unto their fathers.
When Israel came to Sinai, the Lord came down on the top of the mount, and his presence was represented by flames of fire, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words. He gave them his law, accepted of a mediator, and took them into covenant with himself. When Moses was overdone with the toils of government, he selected seventy of the elders of Israel to co-operate with him; and the Lord came down, and took of the spirit that was upon Moses, and put it upon them, thus qualifying them to be judges of his people.
When Solomon had finished his magnificent temple, the type of a perfected church, the Lord came down, and the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord; so that Solomon, struck with the amazing condescension of God, exclaimed, "Will God in very deed dwell with men upon the earth! Behold, heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you, how much less this house which I have built."
When Elijah fled from Jezebel, and wandered to Horeb, the Lord came down, reproved him, gave him a new commission, and sent him back again to work.
But the most marvelous coming down of the Lord was, when in the womb of the virgin, an infant's form was constituted the shrine of God. When the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us. When godhead and humanity became one in the person of Christ. O how wonderful, that God should not only come down to us — but abide with us; that he should not only come among us — but become one of us! He came down to save us, to fit us for his presence, and to secure to us a title to everlasting life.
Then God came down in the person of the Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, first filling the house, and then the persons of the saints. Thus qualifying his people to testify for him, publish his truth, and conquer their every foe. That Spirit is still in the church — but more of the power and grace of that Spirit is needed by the church, and therefore we should still cry, "O that you would come down!"
God comes down now — and meets his people in their prayer-closets, giving them sensible manifestations of his presence, impressions of his power, and proofs of his love. He comes down into the sanctuary, and makes the place of his feet glorious. Then his word is powerful, devotion is sweet, and the communion of saints is delightful. He comes down into the heart, fills it with joy and peace, makes it his royal residence, and constitutes it the home of God. He comes down to convert souls, and without his presence, and the direct putting forth of his power, there will be no conversions. He comes down to restore the wanderers — and the coming back of every backslider, is a proof of the presence, and an achievement of the power of God. He comes down to bless his people, giving them peace, prosperity, and success in their work and warfare.
He will come down again in person soon, to raise the dead, to reward his saints, and to punish his foes. O that God would come down now and quicken our graces, qualify us for our work, and work wonders among us, and by our instrumentality.
Beloved, there is nothing we so much need — as for God to come down! To come down and exert his power, display his grace, and perform his precious promises! He can be brought down by prayer — by the hearty, united, and importunate prayers of his people. Shall we not then unite, and with all earnestness and importunity, plead with God — until he makes the coming down of his mighty arm to be known. Shall we not meet together, pray together, agonize and wrestle together — until he rends the heavens and come down; and the mountains flow down at his presence.
He invites us to plead with him. He directs us to put him to the proof. He has given us in his word — accounts of his coming down in days of old. He now waits to see if we will accept his invitation, attend to his direction, and turn the histories of his holy word to account. He is himself without variableness. He is of one mind. We have therefore every encouragement to ask him to come down — to expect him to come down — and to persevere in earnest prayer until he does come down.
O what a change the coming down of the Lord would effect! How it would rouse up and invigorate dull and sleepy saints. How it would quicken and fill with energy — drooping and discouraged believers. How it would crowd our houses of prayer. How it would fill the ordinances with life, savor, and power. How it would bring sinners to the Savior, seekers to decision, and believers into the church of God. Then Zion would lift up her head. Then men would take knowledge of us — that we have been with Jesus. Then the Church would look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. O that God would come down into my heart — and fill it with his power and love! O that God would come down into my closet — and fill it with his presence and glory! O that God would come down into the sanctuary — and make the place of his feet glorious! O that God would come down into our world — and fill it with his glory, that the earth may be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea!
Good and gracious God, I beseech you come down, come down soon, come down at once; and let us be filled with your Spirit, be used in your service, be crowned with your loving-kindness, and be made to resemble your beloved Son — in our tempers, dispositions, employments, and behavior!