Psalm 8, 1. 9.—0 Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Theke is no traditional and uncommanded usage of the Jews, among the many with which they have overlaid and darkened their own scriptures, half so affecting to the imagination and religious sensibilities as that immemorial suppression of the name Jehovah, which has for ages been a kind of negative or tacit shibboleth, to mark and to perpetuate the difference between Jew and Gentile. However false in principle, however destitute of scriptural foundation and divine authority, it cannot be denied that there is something in this national and everlasting reticency as to the most solemn and significant of all the divine names, not far removed from the sublime, and that even their extreme of superstitious silence, when at all combined with feelings of elevation, is far better than the frivolous levity with which that venerable name is tossed from mouth to mouth, not only in profane discourse, but even in public offices and courts of justice, not to say in the pulpit and the private circles of Christian and religious intercourse.
The want of agreement and congruity between this singular usage and the characteristic absence of all mysteries and esoteric doctrines in the church of the Old Testament, while it affords a strong presumptive proof that the usage is one foreign from the principles and spirit of the Jews' religion in its purest days, only adds to its imaginative grandeur and effect, by bringing it out in bold relief, like a dark spot on a luminous or shining surface. The religious awe which the suppression was originally meant to indicate, and which has no doubt often since attended it, if right at all, could not have been associated with a more legitimate or worthy object, than that pregnant tetragrammaton, in the four characters of which, as in a sacramental symbol, is wrapped up the germ, or rather the quintessence, of that wonderful preparatory system which excited and sustained the expectation of a Saviour till the time of his epiphany was fully come. However difficult it may be to determine in detail the reason for the use of the two principal divine names by the sacred writers in specific cases, there is no ground for doubt, or for diversity of judgment, as to the main fact, that Jehovah is distinguished, in the Hebrew Scriptures, from all other designations of the Godhead, as the name which attested his peculiar relation to his Church or chosen people, and the clear revelation of himself and of his purposes, vouchsafed exclusively to them; so that the very sound of this word, now supposed by many to be lost through immemorial disuse, or its very sight, when that disuse had grown inveterate, suggested not the vague idea of divinity, nor even that of a personal God, viewed merely in himself and at a distance, but the warmer feeling of a God in covenant with his people, making himself known to them as he did not to the world at large; nay more, literally dwelling in the midst of them, and actually, personally, reigning over them. With such associations, this significant and pregnant name must soon have grown as different in meaning and eifect, from the generic name Elohim, which was common to the true God with all others, as the corresponding terms in modern parlance are from one another; and as all men among us are free to use the name of God, in season or out of season, blasphemously or devoutly, while the name of Lord is for the most part shunned by irreligious lips, as properly belonging to the dialect of personal religion; so the ancient Jews, although they still continued to adore God as the God of all men, under the name Elohim, with more or less of that religious reverence which the name implies, praised him and served him as their own, peculiarly revealed and covenanted God, by the distinctive name Jehovah.
This being the case, it might have been supposed that the distinctive name, thus used to designate the God of revelation and the God of Israel, if significant at all, would have been'significant of something closely connected with this singular relation between God and his peculiar people, so that when the name was heard or seen by others or themselves, its very etymology and meaning might suggest ideas of a national or local kind, and irresistibly convey to all minds the conception of a special propriety in Israel on God's part, and in God on theirs. But so far is this from being true, that there is none • of the divine names so remote from such associations, or so little suited in itself to rouse them; none so lofty, or profound, or comprehensive, as an expression of what God is in himself, without regard to the relations which he may sustain to all or any of his creatures, who are recognized in their description only as unlike Him, or contrasted with Him, whom it represents as not only the Supreme, but in a certain sense the only Being, of whom alone existence can in the highest sense be rightfully affirmed; who was when nothing else was; who is what nothing else is; without whom nothing else was, is, or can be; the source of being in all others, the self-existent, independent, and eternal essence, whose most perfect designation of himself was given in that paradoxical but grand enigma, of which the name Jehovah is but an abbreviated symbol—I shall be what I shall be, or I am what I am.
That a name suggestive of all this should be applied to the peculiar relation between God and his people, seems entirely unaccountable, except upon the supposition that it was intended to remind them, by the very name employed to designate their national and covenanted God, that he was not a God distinct from the Creator of the uerse, not an inferior and derivative divinity, not even a co-ordinate, co-equal, co-eternal being, but the one, sole, selfexistent, independent, and eternal essence, "the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen or can see; to whom be honour and power everlasting, Amen." (1 Tim. 6, 15.16.)
This precaution against such an error may at first sight seem gratuitous and inconsistent with the veryidea of a chosen people; but the whole tenor of the history of Israel shows that such a notion would be perfectly erroneous, and that the native tendency of fallen man to transmute truth into falsehood and pervert the richest blessings into curses, was never more remarkably exemplified than in the national experience of that extraordinary race, who, when they had been severed from the lest of men by a divine choice, for a temporary purpose, and for the ultimate advantage of the whole, strangely imagined that their segregation was designed to be perpetual, and sprang from some intrinsic or innate superiority, or at least had reference to their own exclusive aggrandizement as its final cause and providential purpose. Had this error terminated on themselves, and merely served to aggravate their overweening self-esteem, it would have been comparatively harmless; but alas! the transition was an easy one from false views of themselves to false views of the God whose favour they affected to monopolize as not the God of the Gentiles also; and from this the fatal step was almost unavoidable to the conclusion, that their God was not the God of nature or the uerse, but either the antagonistic principle in some monstrous scheme of dualism, or an inferior deity restricted to the Holy Land. When such views became possible, even to the least enlightened Jews, no wonder that the Greek and.Romaw learned to sneer at the provincial God of Palestine; no wonder that the modern skeptic still delights to represent Him as a local deity; no wonder that the great apostle had occasion to demand in his day: "Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles?" (Rom. 3, 29.)
How far this process of deterioration went, even among the most corrupted of the people, cannot now be ascertained; but it is certain that these false views are never prescribed among the enlightened and believing class, and that they are without the slightest countenance or shadow of authority from the experience or example of the ancient Church, as such, or of the men who were inspired to furnish it with forms and models of devotional experience, some of which are still on record, and contain the clearest exposition of the true sense of the name Jehovah, and of the divine intention, in revealing it, to hinder the indulgence of a grovelling nationality and sectarian bigotry, even under institutions in themselves so capable of breeding it; or if it could not be prevented, to condemn it and expose it by means of the perpetual contradiction between such a spirit and the very name by which they were accustomed to invoke God, as the God of their fathers, and the God in covenant with themselves. Throughout the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, the uniform tendency of revelation, and of the spirit which the ancient saints imbibed from it, is to identify the God of the Jews with the God of the Gentiles, the God of revelation with the God of nature, and the God of nature with the God of grace; to say, O Lord, our Lord, our King, our national, our covenant God! how glorious is thy name, the revelation of thy nature, not only among us, but in all the earth!
Nor was this effect suffered to depend upon the dictates of reason or of conscience; much less was it left to the discretion or caprice of the collective church or individual believers. It was forced, as it were, upon the very senses, which could not refuse to recognize the name of God inscribed upon the frame of nature, as the human architect or sculptor leaves his own indelibly impressed upon the incorruptible and almost unchangeable material upon which his skill and genius work their wonders. It is the doctrine, not of poetry or mere assthetics, but of Scripture, that the heavens are telling the glory of God, that the perpetual interchange of light and darkness furnishes a long unbroken series of witnesses for Him—day unto day poureth out speech, night unto night imparteth knowledge; that the absence of articulate expression only adds to the sublime strength of this testimony— no speech, no words, not at all is their voice heard, and yet their voice is gone out into all the world, and their words unto the end of it; that the whole frame of nature is instinct and vocal with the praises of another than itself; that throughout the majestic temple of the uerse, all of it says Glory—not its own, but God's—whose name, Jehovah, is distinctly legible all over the stupendous structure, and whose glory is placed upon and above the very heavens. The instinctive adoration of that glory is not limited to men of science and cultivation; it is felt by the most ignorant and uninformed; it is felt by the savage as he eyes the heavens from his forest or his desert; it is felt by the young children whose intelligence is still but partially developed, but whose wonderful struc
s ture and mysterious progress do not more truly Lear a passive testimony to the glory of their Maker, than their unconscious admiration actually contributes to the same end, affording a strong defence against the unbeliever who would question God's holiness or obscure his glory; so that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings he has ordained strength to silence even his most spiteful enemies.
To all this, the very name Jehovah should have led the least enlightened of the Jews, as it did to all this lead the most enlightened, who were wont to read that sacred name not only in the volumes of their law, and on the high priest's forehead, but on every thing; so that, to their believing eyes, the very bells of the horses were, as if in anticipation of the prophecy, inscribed already, Holiness to Jehovah. As in God's palace, all says glory, all its contents and inmates, so did they among the rest. Some of the noblest of the Psalms of David, those in which even an irreligious taste can see most to admire, were written for the very purpose of identifying the Jehovah of the Scriptures with the God of Nature. Of this, the nineteenth and the twenty-ninth, besides the psalm before us, are remarkable examples. The sublime description, which has been already quoted, of the heavens as witnesses for God, is merely introductory to a description of this same God as the author of a still more glorious law; and in the other case referred to, the God whose mighty and majestic voice the Psalmist hears upon the waters, and sees crushing the cedars of Lebanon, heaving out flames of fire, shaking the wilderness, and stripping forests—the God whom he sees riding on the flood and enthroned as king forever, is not, as the infidel pretends, a faint copy of the cloud-compelling Zens or the Thunder-god of Scandinavian mythology, but a God who must be worshipped in the beauty of holiness—the Lord Jehovah, who gives strength unto his people, who blesses his people with peace.
With these views of his physical supremacy, as well as of his moral perfection, the inspired poets of the old economy, and those for whom their compositions furnished vehicles of pious sentiment, were not unwilling to look nature in the face, or afraid to look up from the ground on which they trod, at the magnificent creation overhead and all around, as if it were the devil's handy-work, or that of some inferior god, or that of fallen man, and, therefore, necessarily contaminating to the eyes and ears of saints; but in that very character of saints or holy ones, and in the exercise of those affections which determined them to be such, they looked nature in the face, not by chance, but of set purpose; not by compulsion, but spontaneously; not rarely, but often; not as an occasional indulgence, but as an habitual duty; not with a gaze ot vacant listlessness, but with a serious contemplation, they considered, they attentively considered the heavens; yet with no idolatrous and overweening reverence, as if self-made; with no atheistical indifference, as if not made at all; but with a genuine, devout, believing interest, as knowing them to be the handywork of God—not the gross product of a blind and brutal power, acting irresistibly, yet wholly without purpose, but the perfect and symmetrical result of a divine intelligence, as really designing and constructing what it brings into existence, as the mind of man directs his fingers in the nicest operations of mechanical contrivance or artistic skill; so that the psalmist, by a bold and beautiful assimilation of the finite to the infinite, describes the heavens as the work of God's fingers—a work not abandoned to its own control, or left without control, when once created, but ordained, fixed, settled, by the same creative and almighty power, each celestial body in its own allotted sphere or orbit; so that when he considered the heavens the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which he had ordained—he looked through the contrivance to the great contriver—through the building, in which all says "glory "! to the builder, by whose skill and power, and for whose everlasting praise it is and was created.
Such religious views of the material uerse must, of necessity, react on the spectator, to whom the works of God perform the office, not only of a telescope, but of a mirror, through which he sees God, in which he sees himself; and, as some celestial phenomena can only be observed by the assistance of reflectors, so in morals, man can only see himself in God, and never becomes conscious of his littleness until it is reflected from God's greatness. Hence the atheist must be proud, because his standard is so low, because he substitutes for God, in his comparison of magnitudes, not only man but self, not only an inferior species, but the individual example of that species, as to which he knows, or ought to know, most evil, while the true believer in a God employs a very different measure, and sees his own diminutive proportions constantly reflected from the glass of God's majestic works above him and around him, he can say, with David, When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou shouldst think of him, or thinking of him, shouldst remember him or bear in mind so insignificant an object—not as implying any serious doubt as to the fact; for if there is a providence at all, it must be a particular one. Nor does the difficulty of the subject turn upon the greatness or smallness of the objects comprehended in its scope, but on its being exercised at all; and if it is, as we are well assured, and if, without it, not a hair falls or a sparrow dies, how much more may man expect to share in this divine protection, the reality of which is not denied or even called in question by the Psalmist, who is not laying down a proposition or establishing a doctrine, but expressing a strong feeling, namely, that of conscious insignificance before God, under the sense of which he wonders, not whether God thinks, but that he should think of an object so diminutive; or having once thought, should remember; or remembering, should visit man, considered as a race, or any son of man in particular. Whether the reference be to figurative visitations, such as men are hourly receiving, or to those more sensible theophanies, appearances of God in human or angelic form, by which the saints of the Old Testament were sometimes honoured, when about to be called to some extraordinary duty, or distinguished by some signal mercy. What is man that God should thus remember him, or the son of man that God, in either of the
senses just explained, should visit him? This feeling of surprise, though always reasonable and becoming, never seems so natural as when it is immediately suggested by the sight of God's stupendous works, especially the heavens, which are the work of his fingers, the moon and the stars which he has ordained.
It is not, however, before these material works themselves that man is called to bow with such a deep conviction of his own inferiority. Matter is no more above mind upon a large scale than a small one, in an earth than in a clod, in a sea than in a drop, in a sun than in a spark, in a world than in an atom. The least mind is superior, in itself and in the scale of existence, to all matter. Man is not bound to recognize either the heavens or the heavenly hosts as his superiors. His homage is due, not to them but to their maker. He stands in speechless admiration of them, only as stupendous proofs of God's existence and perfections. In themselves considered, they are man's inferiors; he looks down upon them, nay, he exercises a dominion over them, and that not by chance or usurpation, but express divine authority. For strange as it might seem that he who made and manages those shining worlds, in all their complicated systems, should remember man and visit him in favour, it is true, for God made man in his own image, and invested him with power as his own vicegerent, with dominion over the inferior creation, so that even sun, and moon, and stars, and elements, and seasons, should contribute to his wealth and his enjoyment, and the earth from which he was originally taken be compelled to yield her frnits for his subsistence, and the most mysterious powers of nature made to minister to his convenience; and besides this strange subjection of inanimate creation to his interest and his will, the lower animals are pressed into his service, even those whose strength is far superior to his own, and who might well seem able to shake off his yoke at any moment, and yet bear it with submission, not as a necessary consequence of reason upon his part, —for the highest animal sagacitybrings with it no such relative superiority among the brutes themselves— but as a relic and a proof of man's original formation in God's image and his original vestiture with delegated power as God's vicegerent over the material and irrational creation, in admiring retrospect of which the Psalmist says : "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ; thou didst put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, yea, and tbe beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas."
Even this honour put on man as an intelligent and spiritual being, partaking, in this cardinal respect, of God's own nature, although infinitely less, might seem sufficient of itself to justify the bold assertion, "thou has made him a little lower than the angels," or, as the words literally mean, "hast made him to lack little of divinity," so richly hast thou crowned his head with glory and honour. But the full justification of this bold description is afforded by another fact, as to the most essential and conspicuous feature of that image in which man was created—his moral similarity of nature and uniformity of will to God—■ coincidence of judgment, disposition, and affection; in a word, true holiness, the crowning excellence of God himself, without which his created image must have been a sightless mask, a lifeless statue, or a living but soulless form, but with which man was really invested, and possessing which he may, without irreverence or extravagance, be said to have been "made a little lower," not "than angels" merely, but than God himself, from whom he differed only, although infinitely, in degree.
But although Adam might have triumphed in this glorious and blessed likeness, how can we, or how could even he, who was the man after God's own heart, but who so often and so bitterly bewails his own corruption, as one conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity, whose only hope was in the mercy of the God against whom he had sinned, through what illusive medium could even he behold himself or the race of which he was a member, as still holding this sublime position, as little lower than the angels, nay, as lacking little of divinity? If he, if men in general, had lost their chief resemblance to their maker; if the image in which they were made at first had been defaced and broken, and their mutual communion turned into estrangement, and the prospect of perpetual favour bantered for a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, how could David wonder at the honour and glory with which man was crowned, instead of standing horrorstruck to see it torn from his dishonoured brow? Was it because he did not know or had forgotten this great fact in human history? Alas, his psalms are full of it. "Was it in musing recollection of a state of things now past and never to return? But such a glowing exhibition of a happiness and greatness irrevocably lost, would be unnatural, irrational, and as such, inconsistent with his character whether intellectual or moral.
Nor are these unworthy suppositions needed to explain his language, which receives its full solution from the fact that he contemplates man, both in the future and the past, as fallen and raised again, as cast off and restored, as lost in Adam and as saved in Christ, not only reinstated, but exalted higher; for the first Adam was indeed a living soul, but the last Adam is a quickening spirit; the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven. Yet as the offence, so also is the free gift, for if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Without this link the chain is broken; without this simultaneous view of man as he was and is to be, of the first and second Adam, there is something wanting in the Psalm itself, a flaw, an incongruity, a contradiction between revelation and experience, which can only be removed by looking down as well as up the stream of time, forward to Christ as well as backwards to Adam. It is therefore no fanciful accommodation, but a true and necessary exposition of the Psalmist's meaning, when the apostle, after quoting these words, speaks of Jesus as made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death that he by the grace of God might taste death for every man, and thereby reinstate us in our pristine Vol. Ii.—15*
exaltation, renewed in the spirit of our minds and clothed upon with that new man, which is created after the likeness of God, in knowledge, and righteousness, and true holiness. (Ephesians 4, 24; Colossians 3, 10.)
Not only as a model or example does the second Adam thus restore the race of which he has become the head by his assumption of its nature, so that in him as their representative they see themselves again exalted, but by actual union with him, they experience a real and substantial exaltation from the depths of sin and misery to a state of justification through his righteousness and sanctification by the power of his Spirit, and a consequent participation in the elevating and ennobling process by which he has raised humanity from being almost lower than the brutes, to be again a little lower than the angels, than divinity, than God himself. How much of all this David clearly saw, we can no more determine than we can look back at noon and tell how much of what we then see bathed in light was visible at sunrise or at daybreak ; but we do know that the Saviour whom he saw and whom we see, however great the difference of clearness, is the same, just as we know that the skies which are now telling the glory of God, and the starry firmament which now shows forth his handy-work, are literally and truly the same objects of which David said, " When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou shouldst remember him, or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him and make him lack but little of divinity, and crown him with glory and honour, and make him have dominion over the works of thy hands, and put all things under his feet." In Christ as the Head, and in his people as the Body, this is gloriously fulfilled, "for he hath put all things under his feet," (1 Cor. 15, 27,) and given him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1, 22. 23.) In prophetic foresight of the Saviour the inspired king could say, and in believing recollection of him we can say, of man not only as he was before the fall, but as he is, already fallen, yet susceptible of restoration to God's image and to the dignity inseparable from it, thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and hast crowned him with glory and honour. The train of thought which we have been pursuing, is not only in accordance with the general tenor of the word of God, but identical with that which runs through the psalm before us, as expounded and applied in the New Testament, and may be profitably used by us for the correction of some common and pernicious errors. It may serve, for example, as a corrective of that spurious and vitiated taste which many cherish for the beauties of nature, and which sometimes verges towards the worst form of idolatry. It is true, the views which we have taken are equally adverse to the opposite extreme of sanctimonious indifference or fanatical contempt for the material works of God; to both these forms of error they afford the only safe and efficacious antidote, by teaching us to "consider the heavens" as "the work of God's fingers," "the moon and the stars" as things which he has "ordained," and to derive from the view of his perfections thus suggested, new impressions of ourown insignificance andhisbenignantcondescension in originally placing man above this glorious creation and again restoring him when he had fallen. A habitual contemplation of this aspect of God's works would be the best corrective, both of the spurious religion which ignores them, and of the atheism which beautifies or the pantheism which deifies external nature.
Nor would this corrective influence be limited to the domain of sentiment or taste; it might extend to science, and restore a healthful circulation in the otherwise inanimate and soulless frame of mere material wisdom, from astronomy, whose chosen work it is to " consider the heavens the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which he has ordained;" to zoology, which pries into the habits and the constitution of the animal creation; "all sheep and oxen, yea, and beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea."
But why should I speak of this ameliorating process as one merely possible, when it is really a matter of experience; when the cases of eminent investigators and discoverers who believe in God and Christ, and who apply to the connection between physical and moral truth the maxim, what God hath joined together let not man put asunder, are no longer rare exceptions to the general rule of sneering skepticism or dogmatizing unbelief, but bid fair, in our own day and country, to reverse the old relation between faith and infidelity in scientific studies, by affording in their own example the most striking and conclusive proof that ignorance of God or hatred to him is by no means a prerequisite to thorough knowledge, and correct appreciation of his works. When the change, thus auspiciously begun, shall be completed, we may hope to see it followed by another in the feelings and the dialect of common life, as to the dignity of human nature, a cessation of that strong delusion which leads men to shut their eyes upon the most notorious fact in human history, the fact of man's apostasy from God, and with impotent energy try to struggle back to their original position by their own unaided strength, speaking and acting just as if the fall and its effects were a mere phantasma and a hideous dream, from which the world was now awaking, when in fact the dream and the illusion are all the other way, and whoever is awakened from them, must awake to the discovery, however humbling and unwelcome, that man, though once exalted, is now fallen, and can only be restored by sovereign mercy, as offered and exercised through Jesus Christ. The soul, once roused from its protracted stupor, may distinctly read this truth by looking inwards at the ruins and remains of man's original condition, at his present degradation and pollution, and at the aspirations after something better which disturb him even in his deepest slumbers and his worst excesses.
The same thing, if he looks out of himself, is legible not only in the word, but in the works of God, or rather in the word and works of God together, in his works as expounded by his word and Spirit. However blank or dark the uerse may seem till tlma illuminated, when the light does shine upon it, the reawakened soul can no longer "consider the heavens the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which he has ordained," without inquiring, "what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou shouldst visit him, and make him want but little of angelic, nay, of godlike exaltation, crowned with glory and honour, and invested with dominion over the irrational creation!"
This conception of man's pristine elevation sometimes rises before the mind's eye, as a beautiful and splendid image of unfallen humanity, standing like a statue upon some triumphal arch or commemorative column, or suspended in mid-air like some celestial visitant surveying with compassion this inferior world. But as we gaze upon it, and indulge the fond imagination that the relative position of the race and of the individual man is still enchanted, the light of revelation and experience grows brighter, and as it reaches its extreme degree, the image vanishes away, as if absorbed in the intense light, and the lofty place so proudly occupied by man, is seen to be a blank, a vacuum, an empty space, through and beyond which may be seen the pure effulgence of the divine perfections, "unobscured, unsullied by a cloud or spot, though man is fallen, fallen from his high estate." And as the eye of the spectator shrinks from this unveiled, dazzling brightness, it is suddenly relieved by an intervening object, at first undefined and dubious, like a radiant cloud or mist, which by degrees assumes a shape and a distinguishable outline, till at length it can no longer be mistaken, as a human form, a man, the Son of man, but, oh, how changed, how transfigured before us! his face shines as the sun! his raiment is white as the light! and from the bright cloud overshadowing him, a voice comes forth out of the excellent glory, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." It is indeed the Son of God, it is indeed the Son of man, the type of our humanity restored and glorified. Oh if this blessed sight could be associated, even in imagination, with our daily contemplations of the face of nature; if we could not look upon the heavens the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which he has ordained, without remembering what man once was, what he now is, and above all what he yet may be; we might find not only pleasure in prosperity, but solace under sorrow, in contemplating the works of God, not as poets, or artists, or philosophers, or atheists, but as Christians, whose perspicacious faith cannot rest in what is visible, but pierces through the thin material veil in search of hope and consolation, just as Stephen, on the very verge of martyrdom, and from the very midst of his judicial murderers, "looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of the Father." Yes, there is a sense in which even we might have a right to say as he did, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." And though the blinded world around us might cry out with a loud voice, and stop their ears, and run upon us with one accord, even they might be compelled to take knowledge of us as having been with Jesus, even they, if they looked steadfastly upon us, might see the face of every one among us beaming with unearthly radiance, as if it were the face of an angel.
Having reached this point in our experience, having thus learned to associate the material works of God with the profoundest views of spiritual truth, we should need no further remedy for that grovelling nationality or party spirit, which is apt to spring up even in renewed hearts and enlightened minds, not only in spite, but in consequence of those very privileges which ought to have forbidden its existence, just as the Jews learned to associate their most narrow and iincharitable prejudices with that very name of God— which ought to have reminded them, at every moment, that Jehovah, though in covenant with them, was not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also. If we would shun the kindred, but more odious error of degrading the God whom we worship, and the Christ in whom we trust, to the level of a local chief or party leader, let us here learn to identify the object of our faith and adoration with the God of creation and of providence; let us not only read the name of God our king, and God our Saviour, traced in characters of light upon the whole material uerse, but strive to make it legible to others also, till the book of nature and the book of revelation are enveloped in one vast illumination, in the blaze of which all lesser lights are lost, and in the midst of which all human tongues of man shall be heard in harmony or unison, responding to the loud but speechless testimony of the heavens , " Oh Lord, our Lord, how glorious is thy name in all the earth!"