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feel as the king of Israel felt, and desire to behold the beauty of the Lord, as he displays it in the assembly of his saints, who have a spiritual discerning of spiritual things. This is the plain truth suggested to our present consideration; that good men desire to see the beauty of the Lord. It is proposed,
I. To show in what the beauty of the Lord consists ;
I. Let us consider in what the beauty of the Lord consists. We call nothing beautiful but what is pleasing; and we call nothing pleasing in a moral agent, but what is morally excellent, or truly virtuous. The beauty of the Lord, therefore, must signify that, in his moral character, which is pleasing to a virtuous and benevolent heart. His beauty is the beauty of holiness. There is no moral excellence in his necessary existence, independence, omnipresence, omnipotence, or omniscience. These natural atributes, separately considered, are neither morally good, nor morally evil; and are either lovely or hateful, according to the heart that governs them. Under the influence of a malevolent heart, they would be infinitely odious and detestable; but under the influence of a benevolent heart, they are great and amiable perfections. The moral beauty and excellence of the Deity lies altogether in his heart, which is purely and perfectly benevolent. God is love; which constitutes his supreme beauty, and comprises all that is virtuous and morally excellent in his nature. Pure, disinterested, universal benevolence, forms the most beautiful and amiable character conceivable. We cannot conceive of any greater excellence in God than a heart full of perfect goodness; and such goodness, the scripture assures us, fills and governs his vast, all comprehensive mind." There is none good but one, that is God.” He is good, and doeth good. “The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." When Moses besought him to show him his glory, and be granted his petition, he did nothing more than to cause all his goodness to pass before him. All his goodness comprehends all his moral perfections. His holiness, his justice, and his mercy and grace, are only so many branches of his universal goodness. In a word, every thing that is beautiful, amiable and praise-worthy in the Supreme Being, consists in the infinitude of his goodness. I now proceed to show,
II. That good men are capable of seeing this moral beauty of the divine character.
Sinners can see every thing in God but this moral beauty. To this they are totally blind. “ The natural man receiveih not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually He says,
discerned.” The more fully and clearly the moral beauty of the Lord is displayed before the minds of sinners, the more they hate and oppose it. None, therefore, but real christians, or those who have been born again, and become partakers of the divine nature, are capable of seeing the moral beauty of that pure love, which forms the moral glory and excellence of the Deity. But all who are holy as God is holy, can discern the beauty of his holiness. The apostle speaking in the name of christians says, “ God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” When he renews the hearts of men, or sheds abroad his love in them, he gives them a spiritual discerning of spiritual things, and causes them to discern the supreme excellence of his moral character. This the apostle John declares in the most explicit terms.
6. He that loveth not knoweth not God.” But on the other hand, he asserts that “love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.” And again he says, " God is love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." These declarations are agreeable to reason, as well as to the feelings of all real christians. For seeing the beauty of any object, and loving that object, are precisely the same thing.
After the heart perceives the amiableness of any object, there is nothing more implied in loving it. So when any man perceives the divine character to be lovely, there is nothing more necessary in order to love it. Of course, all who love God do actually see his moral beauty and excellence. This will more clearly appear, if we consider it in another point of view. Those who love God, have the same kind of love that God has and exercises towards them and all holy creatures. They are holy as God is holy, and feel as God feels. Being benevolent, they discover the beauty of benevolence wherever it is displayed by the kind Parent of the universe. And as he has infinitely more benevolence than all other beings, so he appears infinitely more amiable and beautiful than any other being in the universe. They see him to be just such a being as they desire him to be. They do not desire the least alteration in one of his perfections. They are pleased to see him as holy, as just,
, as good, and as gracious as he is, and as wise and powerful as he is to do all his pleasure. They see God as he sees himself, glorious in holiness, and of consequence, glorious in all his other attributes, which are under the influence of his perfectly benevolent heart. They see supreme beauty and excellence in his power and wisdom, in his justice and sovereignty, in his mercy and grace, as they are continually exercised for the highest good of the universe. This leads me to show,
III. Why good men sincerely desire to see the beauty of the Lord. Moses besought God, with great importunity, to show him his glory. Job ardently desired to draw near to God, and to have clear views of his supreme excellence. He says," 0 that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him.” Job saw the natural perfections of God in all his works; but he did not, at this time, see the beauty and glory of his moral perfections, which had often afforded him the highest enjoyment. David had very strong desires, from time to time, to see and enjoy the supreme beauty and glory of the divine character. It was the one thing, upon which, above all others, he set his heart. Hear what he says in the fourth psalm, on this subject. “ There be many that say, Who will show us any good ? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.” And in the sixty-third psalm, he describes the longings of his heart after peculiar discoveries of the divine glory. “God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary." Such are the strong and sensible desires of good men to behold the beauty of the Lord, and enjoy the manifestations of his glory. But the question before us is, Why do good men have such peculiar desires to see the moral beauty and glory of God ? Here sev. eral satisfactory reasons may be given. And,
1. Because the goodness of God, which forms his supreme excellence, spreads a glory over all the other perfections of his nature. Saints as well as others can see no excellence in the greatness and majesty of God, separately from his perfect holiness and benevolence. David beheld God and was troubled, when he saw him without a view of his moral beauty. Good men can take no satisfaction in contemplating upon the mere existence, immensity, majesty and supremacy of the Creator and Governor of all things, while they do not realize his pure, perfect, universal goodness. But when they view him as the God of love, and see the beauty of his benevolence, they take complacency in his eternity, immutability, almighty power and absolute sovereignty. His goodness spreads a glory over the greatness of his wisdom, the greatness of his knowledge, the greatness of his power, and of his material and intellectual kingdom. His goodness, which is pure and perfect benevolence, renders his wisdom a benevolent wisdom, his knowledge a benevolent knowledge, his power a benevolent power, and
his universal supremacy a benevolent supremacy. Those who have seen and tasted that the Lord is good, view all his great and adorable perfections as adorned with the beauty of holiness; and can say to him as David did, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” And as they know that a view of the beauty of the Lord, will put them into the sensible enjoyment of all his perfections, so they ardently desire to see his moral beauty and excellence. Nothing short of this can afford them complete satisfaction. David did not expect to enjoy perfect blessedness, until he should have clear and constant views of the beauty of the Lord in the kingdom of glory, which he joysully anticipated. “ As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
2. Good men desire to see the beauty of the Lord, because it spreads a beauty over bis works, as well as character. It is his ultimate end in creation, that gives a glory to every thing he has made. If his goodness be not seen in creating the heavens and the earth, in forming angels and men, and in giving existence to every sensitive nature, there is no moral beauty perceived in any of ihe works of his hands. It is only when saints see the earth to be full of the goodness of the Lord, that they discern the moral beauty of the works of creation. While his moral excellence is out of their sight, they view the world just as other men view it; but when they spiritually discern the beauty of his holy and benevolent heart, the heavens appear to declare his glory, and the firmament to show his handy work. They see his glory in the forests, in the fields, in the fruits of the earth, and in every rational, animate and inanimate object. God's good design in every thing he has made, spreads a divine glory over the whole face of nature, which gives a peculiar pleasure to every pious heart. David often felt and expressed such a pleasure in such a view of the works of God. At one time he cries out in raptures, “O that men would praise the Lord, for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the chil. dren of men!" And at another time he prays, “ Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.” That is, let God display his goodness, and make his people see it. Whenever any of mankind behold the beauty of God's good. ness, they immediately discover a divine glory spread over all his works. How often do those who are called out of darkness into marvellous light, stand and admire the works of creation, on account of the moral beauty they then see in them, but never saw before. A clear view of the beauty of the Lord never fails to put good men into the sensible enjoyment of the world. Viewing it as his world, and as full of his goodness, it gives them as much satisfaction as if it were all actually put into their hands. Hence they ardently desire to see the beauty of the Lord, that the world which often gives them so much trouble, might become a source of the purest pleasure and enjoyment.
3. Saints desire to see the beauty of the Lord, because this spreads a beauty and glory over all the conduct of God. The ways of providence are often dark and mysterious, and beyond the comprehension of finite, short sighted creatures. The world is governed in a manner which is extremely different from that which mankind are ready to imagine would be wisest and best. And even good men have been greatly perplexed with the strange and unaccountable things which often take place in the world. Job and David were unable to account for the prosperity of the wicked, and the adversity of the righteous. Jacob was involved in great darkness, under the evils which fell upon him. And all the children of God have experienced similar trials. But when, like David, they go into the sanctuary, and behold the beauty of the Lord, the clouds vanish, and in his light they see light. While they behold the perfect goodness of God, and realize that in all events he is seeking the best interest of his whole family in heaven and earth, they see a beauty in all the dispensations of his providence. In perceiving the beauty of his goodness, they perceive a beauty in all his ways, as well as in all his works. The Psalmist, after contemplating the wonders of his divine providence in the earth and in the ocean, makes a very pertinent and instructive remark. “ Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.” The perfect goodness of God in ordering all events, spreads a glory over all his dark and mysterious dispensations, which causes the wise and good to rejoice in his universal government. Hence they ardently desire, while they are passing through the dark and trying scenes of this present evil world, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to discern his loving kindness in all the dispensations of providence. This is the only thing that can give them that peace which the world cannot give, nor take away. I may add,
4. Good men ardently desire to behold the beauty of the Lord, because it spreads a light and beauty over his word. The Bible is full of darkness to those who have not a spiritual discerning of spiritual things. Unholy men often complain that they cannot understand the scriptures, and reconcile the dark and inconsistent things contained in them. And the very imperfect discernment which good men have of the beauty of the Lord, often subjects them to great difficulties in understanding his word. The history of his conduct towards angels, towards