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racter, I perceive that we all deserve to sink under his vengeance.
Carnal security destroys men. Whilst they fondly believe that they, are in the road to heaven, they do not think of seeking deliverance from that guilt which defiles them, and leads them to the second death ; but as soon as holy fear seizes them, as their conscience is awakened, and they are humbled under a sense of their sins, the Father of mercy regards them with compassion, pardons their sins, and communicates to them his grace. This is what Isaiah experiences. God, touched by his humiliation, assures him instantly of the pardon of his sins, and of the powerful succours of his grace to support him, and enable him suitably to discharge the sacred ministry committed to him
VERSES 6, 7. · Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar” of burnt-offerings by which I stood, “and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” The live coal denotes the means which God uses for our purification. We may therefore understand by it the operation of the Blessed Spirit in the soul, where it consumes sin, and kin dles a holy love to God. The Spirit is often represented in scripture under this image of fire: " He who cometh after me," said the Baptist; speaking of Jesus Christ, “shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." And it was under this emblem, that the miraculous gifts of grace were conferred on the apostles on the day of pentecost. The address of the seraphim, then, announced to the prophet two blessings which are inseparable; inward sanctifica
tion and the pardon of sin: these can never be disjoined, since there is forgiveness with God only, that he may be feared.
VERSE 8. The Jewish people deserved long since to be rejected ; but God resolves to send one more message to them. 6* Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah, filled with zeal for that God who had testified his love for him, immediately offers himself for this service. He cries with equal ardour and humility, “ Here am I, send me.” “I am ready, O my God, to expose myself to every danger for thy service; proteeted by thy power, I have nothing to fear; enlightened by thy Spirit, my weakness does not affright me. Speak, Lord, and I will fly to obey thy orders.'
Having thus explained to you at some length, the nature and circumstances of this vision, let us now,
II. Deduce from it some practical instructions.
1. The seraphim afford us a model for imitation. Jesus Christ has animated us in our Christian course, by promising that if we are faithful, we shall be made like to the angels in heaven; but if we would resemble them hereafter in glory, we must first resemble them here in temper. Let us, therefore, prepare in time to join the concert of these holy intelligences. They burn with love to God. Let us seek for the influences of that Spirit, who will consume all our unholy desires and criminal wishes; who will lift our affections above the perishable objects of time and sense, and fix them on the uncreated glories of the Great I AM.
They, notwithstanding their vast endowments, bend with reverence and humility before the throne of the Lord. Let us then cultivate this same hu
mility. If seraphs are overwhelmed when contemplating the infinite distance between them and the Lord, what deep abasement should constantly fill the souls of us, poor worms of the dust!
They fly with rapidity to execute the commandments of God. And you, unfruitful Christians, who talk much of your virtues and graces, but whose lives are not marked with any actions of piety and benevolence, remember, that you must imitate the holy alacrity and active labours of these spirits, before you can hope to enjoy their society in the future world. Holy love, deep humility, a diligent performance of the commands of God are, then, three things taught us by the consideration of the seraphim.
2. Besides these, we must feel what the seraphs cannot feel, because they are sinners, but what the prophet here experienced, and what every son of man must experience before his iniquities are pardoned; I mean, such a view of the unsullied holiness of God as will convince the once secure sinner of his guilt and just desert of punishment. Christians, you have had these humbling views; once you could reflect with self-complacency on your external morality; you could not believe yourselves those vile and guilty wretches, who deserved eternal death. . You acknowledged yourselves to be transgressors, but then your offences appeared to be comparatively triling, and to be counterbalanced by your amiable qualities. You could not believe yourselves to be thoroughly polluted, and opposed to the character and government of God. But, oh! when the Spirit has given you a view of the glorious holiness of the Lord, your proud thoughts have all vanished; you have seen the enormity of your guilt, you have ac
knowledged yourselves undeserving of mercy, and have cried out, almost in despondency, “Wo is me, for I am undone." Or with Job on a similar occasion, “ I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor my self, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Sinners, you also must feel these sentiments: happy will it be for you, if you feel them during the day of your visitation; but if you do not, you will experience them when you approach to the bar of God. When the glory that surrounds his throne shall flash upon you, you will then behold your deformity; you will no longer be able to conceal from yourselves your guilt, but, filled with terror and shame, will cry out in anguish, .Wo is me, for I am
, undone.' Ah! no seraph shall then fly to announce forgiveness to you; the time of mercy will be past, and the thunders that issue from the throne shall sink you to the gulf of despair !
3. The conduct of the angel who removed the fears of Isaiah, teaches us how such convinced souls must obtain consolation. The seraphim do not recall to the prophet his upright life, or good qualities, his honourable station as a messenger of God, or the labours which he had undergone in his prophetical office: no! such representations would have little comforted the dejected Isaiah, who saw the guilt that attended his best works: the angel concludes him under sin, but applies to his lips a coal, taken from the altar of burnt-offerings, on which were consumed the victims typical of that Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.
Mourners in Zion! seek not relief to your wounded spirits by endeavouring to palliate your offences and excuse your guilt; if you are truly abased and humbled, as was Isaiah, you can obtain a well-founded tranquillity only by faith in the Lamb of God, and by being a partaker of that regenerating grace, which will burn up your vicious affections, and kindle a pure love to the Lord. Whoever otherwise obtains peace for a troubled spirit, has abundant cause to distrust the foundation of his confidence.
4. “ By their fruits ye shall know them.” This was the criterion of piety established by the Saviour: The propriety of it is illustrated by this vision. Isaiah, hearing the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” immediately answers, “ 6 Here am I; send me.” No difficulties or dangers discouraged him; he was willing to undergo every thing in order to glorify a God, who had thus testified his love for him.
It is always thus, my brethren, when a person has obtained scriptural encouragement. Feeling his obligations to a God who has pardoned his sins, he cries out, - What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?" He is anxious to use all his influence to benefit the church of Christ, to extend the triumphs of grace. “Here am I; send me:” this is his cry. •Employ me to advance thy cause; com. mand me as thou pleasest, and I will hasten to do
5. Finally, Christians, behold your unspeakable privilege; you have as your friend, the Lord Hosts! Those myriads of powerful intelligences minister to you on the part of God! If then you are in any affliction or distress, be not discouraged, but say,
in imitation of your Saviour, · My Father could send legions of angels to deliver
if the purposes of his wisdom did not forbid it. Knowing his power, and confiding in his goodness, I will then be calm.'