10. ON THE IMMENSITY OF
It is from the Holy Scriptures alone, that we can attain just views of the
being, nature, and character of God. How sublime are the revelations of the
divine perfections there made known to us! Who can grasp this one thought,
"Thus says the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity!" We are astonished
when we read of the Egyptian pyramids, and the magnificent palaces of mighty
monarchs; but what sightless atoms are they, when compared with eternity,
that boundless habitation of the King of kings. "From everlasting to
everlasting, you are God." The existence of one supreme Being, who is
without beginning, is consonant with right reason; for he who made all
things, must necessarily be before all things. A creature cannot make
itself. This would imply exertion before existence, which is an absurdity.
And yet how far above our finite comprehension is the nature of the
self-existent, eternal Jehovah. Our minds are lost when we plunge into
infinity. "Who by searching can find out God? who can find out the Almighty
The volume of creation displays the wisdom, power, and goodness of God. What
wonderful contrivance, what wise adaptation of one part to another; what
power in upholding, what goodness in preserving the myriads of creatures
which fill the air, the earth, the sea, is discoverable around us.
A late eminent astronomer found, that in 41 minutes not less than 258,000
stars in that part of the heaven, called the milky way, had passed through
the field of view in his telescope! What must God be, who made, governs, and
supports so many worlds, who tells the number of the stars; and calls them
all by their names.
It is, however, from the volume of Inspiration that we derive our knowledge
of the moral attributes of the Deity; and obtain those awsome, yet sublimely
interesting views of Him with whom we have to do, which at once elevate and
purify the soul. The Holy Bible may well be called the BOOK of God; not only
because it has God for its author, but because it is filled with such
revelations of his glorious character, as surpass the powers of human reason
fully to comprehend.
How fervently did the apostle pray for his Ephesian converts; that the glory
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto them the
Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: that the eyes of
their understanding being enlightened, they might know the hope of his
calling; and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints; and
the exceeding greatness of his power towards those who believe; that being
rooted and grounded in love, they might be able to comprehend, with all
saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height; and know the
love of Christ which passes knowledge, and so be filled with all the
fullness of God. We stand upon the sea-shore, and survey with admiring
delight the wide extended ocean, whose distant waters lose themselves in the
blue horizon. But what is this great abyss of waters, compared to that ocean
of Almighty love, which is without a bottom and a shore?
"Oh! my God, when I contemplate your sovereign will, which, from eternity,
in highest wisdom, consulted my welfare, I am lost in astonishment! When I
reflect upon your omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence; upon your
infinite holiness, inviolable justice, and unerring wisdom; upon your
faithfulness, and truth; your everlasting love, your sovereign grace, your
patience and long-suffering—how am I filled with awe and dread! Yet faith
can contemplate this bright display of uncreated excellence, and rejoice in
your infinite perfections as exhibited and harmonized in Jesus, the
incarnate Word. Here I behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. Oh!
that while beholding, I may be transformed into the lovely image of the
Savior, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Who does not long to feel the purifying effect of these sacred views of God
in Christ? "Lord, make me humble, while I meditate on your humility; loving,
while I think upon your love; holy, while I dwell upon your purity; just,
while I contemplate your righteousness; merciful, while I behold your grace;
joyful, while I review your everlasting covenant. Oh! fill my heart with
gratitude, and my mouth with praise. To you, blessed Jesus, do I look.
Remove all spiritual darkness from my mind: all spiritual deadness from my
heart. Cause me to know you as my Savior; to follow you as my leader; to
love you as my friend; to trust in you as my atonement; to be found in you
as my righteousness; to feed on you as the living bread; to walk in you as
the way to the Father; and to dwell with you in heaven forever."
What comfort may every humble believer derive from the declaration of his
Lord! "Am I a God at hand and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in
secret places that I shall not see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth, says
"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the
midst of them." "Lo, I am with you aways, even unto the end of the world."
How happy must that soul be, whose refuge is always near. But to have an
enemy always near us; an enemy armed with omnipotence—an enemy, made so by
our willful transgressions; is a consideration most appalling.
Yet this is the case, as it respects every impenitent sinner. The thought of
such a God being ever near, whose eye is ever upon us, whose power can crush
us in a moment, and drive the outcast spirit into outer darkness, would, one
would think, awaken every dormant sensibility, and arouse every sleeping
sinner! Yet, alas surrounded with such peril, the soul sleeps on in dreadful
security, until either grace quickens it to repentance, or justice awakens
it in the fire that shall never be quenched. "Lord, awaken my drowsy sense.
Quicken all my powers. Draw me by the powerful, constraining influence of
your love; and cause me to rejoice in this sacred truth– that you are always
near, my help in trouble and my life in death."
When we begin to measure distances with respect to natural objects, we are
lost in astonishment. What thought can reach the boundary of creation? Many
stars have probably been sending forth their rays in quick succession from
the first moment of creation, whose light has not reached our earth. Who,
then, can measure such distances? And yet, what are millions of worlds
revolving round each other, compared with infinite space, and eternal
duration? If we cannot, by the boldest flight of imagination, conceive the
mighty stretch of creation, how shall we dare to sin against that
inconceivably glorious Being who fills heaven and earth with his
presence—who inhabits eternity!
How truly sublime are the questions of the enraptured prophet Isaiah! "Who
has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand; and meted out heaven with
a span: and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the
mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?"
"Behold the nations are as the drop of a bucket, and are counted as the
small dust of the balance: behold he takes up the islands as a very little
thing." "All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him
less than nothing and vanity." "It is he that sits upon the circle of the
earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. It is he that
stretches out the heavens as a curtain; and spreads them out as a tent to
dwell in." "Have you not known, have you not heard, that the everlasting
God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is
weary?. There is no searching of his understanding. He gives power to the
faint; and to those who have no might, he increases strength. Even the
youths shall faint and be weary; and the young men shall utterly fall. But
those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and
Every doctrine of Scripture is designed to promote our growth in grace. They
are given to us, not for speculation, but for practice. From this view of
the divine immensity, we are taught humility, reverence, and circumspection.
Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, the eye of God is upon us, viewing
us, not as an indifferent spectator, but taking cognizance of every action,
of every word, yes of every thought that rises in our minds; that, from his
awesome gaze; his continued, his never to be avoided scrutiny, our eternal
condition will be fixed at the judgment day.
How plain are the declarations of Scripture: "God shall bring every work
into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be
evil:" Eccles. xii, 14. "He has appointed a day, in the which he will judge
the world in righteousness:" Acts xvii, 31. "God shall judge the secrets of
men by Jesus Christ:" Rom. ii, 16. "Every one of us shall give an account of
himself to God:" Rom. xiv, 12. "The Son of man shall come in the glory of
his Father, with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to
his works:" Matt. xvi, 27. For by actions, the sincerity of faith in Christ
is best known and evidenced. And our reward, though not of debt but of
grace, will be more or less glorious according to our works, those fruits of
faith, done for Christ in this present world. See Matt. xxv:42, 34, 40. Dan.
xii, 3. 1 Cor. xv, 41, 42.
In like manner, the punishment of unbelievers will be proportionate to their
respective degrees of wickedness, and their comparative abuse of light,
mercies, and privileges vouchsafed to them. "Woe unto you, Chorazin; Woe
unto you, Bethsaida: for if the mighty works which were done in you, had
been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth
and ashes. I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at
the day of judgment, than for you." "Every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by your words
you shall be justified, and by your words you shall condemned." Because our
words will evidence the state of our hearts; and therefore prove us either
in the faith, or unregenerate, before an assembled world.
"He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the
counsels of the heart:" I Cor. iv, 5.
How infinite is that omniscient God, who can search the deep recesses of
every heart; yes, of hundreds of millions of heart's in every age, and at
the same moment of time, without confounding in the least degree the motives
and purposes of his rational creatures; and who at the great day of account
will reveal to each his secret sins, while all shall stand speechless and
self-condemned before his awful tribunal!
"Lord, give me grace to judge myself now, that I may not be condemned in
that day. Oh, send down your blessed Spirit into my heart! Sanctify every
thought, every affection and desire. Purge me with the cleansing blood of
your dear Son. Clothe me with his spotless righteousness; that, being viewed
by you in Christ my Savior, I may be saved with an everlasting salvation;
and never be confounded, world without end."
"YOU, GOD, SEE ME." To feel the abiding impression of this solemn truth,
would be a sacred preservation from sin. When an evil thought arises in my
heart, should I like to divulge it to my nearest friend? Ah! no. Conscience,
shame, or a regard to his good opinion checks the disclosure. What! and
shall I dare to indulge such a thought, exposed to my Almighty friend, and
naked in his sight, when I would not dare to mention it to a fellow worm!
Where is the fear of God? Where is the belief of his omniscience? Where is
the awe of his omnipresence? Where is the dread of final judgment? Yes,
where is my love to Christ, who died to save me from my sins? "Does not he
see my ways, and count all my steps?" Job xxxi. 4. This method of addressing
conscience may, through grace, present a powerful barrier against the
injections of Satan, and the workings of natural corruption.
"Lord, strengthen me more and more. Give me grace never to harbor a thought
which I should be ashamed to express. May I never forget, that, as speaking
is but thinking aloud, so thinking is speaking to you, who require not, like
weak mortals, the medium of words and sounds. You hear the inward voice of
the soul, pouring out itself before you in silent yet fervent breathings of
desire; and you know the subtle workings of inbred sin. May I ever consider
myself as in your immediate presence; surrounded by your immensity. 'YOU,
GOD, SEE ME.' May this thought constrain me to act with purity, truth, and
sincerity, when no human eye can observe my actions; or, if my actions are
visible, when they cannot unveil my motives. May I do all from a principle
of love to you, and with a simple desire in all things to promote your
glory; for your eyes 'run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show
yourself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards you.'"
How consoling is this view of the divine immensity, with respect to our
distant Christian friends! Wherever they are, whether crossing tempestuous
oceans, or dwelling in distant climates; whether traversing dreary deserts,
or climbing craggy steeps; God is still near them, to protect and bless
them. Should he call them out of the body, when separated from all they love
upon earth; yet he is still near, to cheer their departing spirits, and to
conduct them in safety to their eternal home.
"Let me then rejoice, Oh Lord, in your presence. Let me be always happy in
this sweet assurance, that you are a sun and shield, and will give grace and
glory to every humble follower of the Lamb. Oh may I live daily nearer to
you by faith and prayer! Unite my heart to fear your name. Bind my
affections to your cross; and allow me not one moment to wander from you, or
lose the thought of your immensity and glory. It is in you that I live, and
move, and have my being; it is from you that I derive every spiritual and
temporal blessing; and it is through you that I humbly hope to be brought in
safety, as a monument of mercy, into your everlasting kingdom."
Oh, holy, holy, holy Lord!
Whom angel-hosts adore;
When shall I join, in raptured strains,
The bright celestial choir?
In pity, view a sinful worm,
A prisoner here below;
A pilgrim journeying through the land
Of darkness, sin, and woe.
Ten thousand voices round your throne
Unite in hymns divine;
"Salvation to the Lamb!" they cry,
As high in bliss they shine.
Sincerely would I now begin the song,
To you, my God and friend;
Then mingle with the choirs above,
In praise which never shall end.