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of the expected Messiah, of whom all the prophets bore witness, and of whose coming the Temple itself was a standing and visible pledge. That it was the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the most indubitable evidence in the Gospel according to John. In the twelfth chapter of that Gospel, a part of the record of Isaiah's vision is quoted, to which the inspired narrator adds: "These things said Esaias when he saw His glory, and spake of Him." So it was the glory of Christ, sitting on his mediatorial throne, which filled the vision and awed the heart of the prophet. It was fitting that he, whose especial office was to portray the character of Christ and the nature of his kingdom to the Jewish mind, should be inducted into his public ministry by a revelation of the divine majesty and princely glory of the expected Messiah. The prophecies uttered subsequent to this vision, contain such close and accurate descriptions of the person of Christ, of his birth, miracles, suffering, and death, that they may be taken for history. Not even in the evangelists do we discover more truthful delineations of the suffering Saviour, than we find on the prophetic pages of Isaiah. But the Hebrew prophet saw not only the man wounded for our transgressions-he beheld also the God of his nation. Yea, the God of all the earth, whose temple was in Jerusalem, was none other than that Jesus, whom he styles Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
III. And where was his throne? Not on earth, for heaven is his throne, and earth is his footstool. In his vision he was raised afar above the thrones and dominions of this world. The thrones of earth all crumble. The Pharaohs, whose monumental pyramids tower in the desert, are no more. Their kingdom is gone, their power broken. The kings of Assyria once lorded it over half the world, but their throne and empire faded and perished. The emperors of old Rome once issued their edicts to the east and the west. Africa trembled at their frown, Asia drank the cup of their wrath, the barbarous hordes of Gaul and Germany fled before their eagles; but the throne of the Cæsars has gone to dust. And so will it be as it has been. Every throne on which earthly power sits will totter and fall. Truth will smite them, time will rot them, Heaven will blast them. As knowledge spreads, and Christianity raises up man from the oppression and ignorance and misrule under which he has travelled through a long and weary night, the thrones of tyranny will decay. Every age heralds the advent of the hour when the right divine of kings will be scouted as an exploded folly, and all men will rejoice in the authority of that truth, which governs man by purifying his heart, quickening his conscience, and making him feel his responsibility to the Judge of all.
There is a spirit working in our race
Like to a silent, subterranean fire,
And ever and anon, some monarch hurl'd from off his place,
Attests its silent ire.
It is the spirit of truth and eternal right which issues from the throne of God and the Lamb. But the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ will never feel the shocks of time. To Him the Father said, Thy throne is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is thy sceptre. From eternity all power in heaven and in earth were committed to Him. Yet we see not yet all things subdued to his authority. Nevertheless, every day witnesses the spread of his empire. Not, it is true, with observation; not with the swell of the rolling drum; not with the battle shock of murderous legions; not with the pomp of earthly conquerors, does the throne of the Mediator extend its conquests. No; with none of these; but, as the sun shineth out from the heavens, and warms the frozen earth; as the dew distils into the flower, and moistens it like a mother's tear upon the infant's cheek; as the rain cometh down from heaven, and accomplishes that whereunto it is sent; as the leaven spreads itself until the whole lump is leavened; as the mustard seed grows into a tree, whose branches welcome the birds of heaven; so the kingdom of Christ, and the power of his throne, extend and extend, until at last "all kings shall fall down before him all nations shall serve him.". "For he shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." Then, with the morning sun, will begin the praises of our Immanuel. The millions of India will prolong the welcome strain-the followers of the false Prophet, enlightened by the Gospel, will prostrate themselves at the name of Jesus-the Fire Worshippers of Persia will turn to the sun of Righteousness to catch his healing beams-the wandering Arab will pause in the desert to drink from the water of that Rock which is Christold Egypt, once the place of exile for the Babe of Bethlehem, will hear, through her far-stretching valley, a sweeter strain than angels sung when Christ was born-Ethiopia will stretch forth her hands, and the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts acceptable . to God-the dark superstition of Papal Rome will sink to its native hell; and instead of masses and penances, croziers, prayerbooks, fastings and idolatries, her converted votaries will exclaim in chorus," God forbid that we should glory save in the Cross of Christ Jesus our Lord"-all the false philosophies of time will do homage to Him, who is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation-and then, when the sun has finished its daily circuit, and looked upon every land, it will shine out the eternal truth, that the throne of Christ is supreme over every kindred and people and tongue. The labors of a thousand generations will then have been consummated; the blood of countless martyrs will have secured its reward; the agonies of Calvary will have proved enough to ransom the world. Then every knee shall bow,
and every tongue shall confess to the glory of that Lord whom Isaiah saw upon his throne, high and lifted up. Yea, the Redeemer himself shall "see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied."
IV. Around, or over against the throne, stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. This part of the vision corresponds with the visions of Ezekiel and John when they beheld the glory of the divine throne. Ezekiel calls the living creatures around the throne cherubim, and John simply styles them living creatures. Yet in Ezekiel, John, and Isaiah the substantial truth is the same, in that there is a host of exalted angels that surround or wait upon the throne of Infinite power. We have no time now to enter into an inquiry respecting the nature and employment of cherubim or seraphim. Indeed we know, at the most, but very little concerning them. In Scripture they are represented as doing God's will. They are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation. What fixed the attention of Isaiah was the attitude and occupation of the seraphim whom he saw. "There is much symbolical force and propriety in the attitude in which the seraphim are described as standing: while two of their wings were kept ready for instant flight in the service of God, with two others they hid their face, to express their unworthiness to look upon the Divine Majesty, and with two others they covered their feet, or the whole of the lower part of their bodies a practice which still prevails in the East when persons appear in a mon. arch's presence."
This representation of the reverence and eager obedience of the holy seraphs around the throne is complete. Their outspread wings denote that they are swift to do the will of God; their unceasing acclaim of Holy, Holy, Holy, denotes the character of Him whom they worship; and their veiled faces show with what humility the creature should approach into the sacred presence of the Divine Majesty. Here we see the pattern of the true worship which all intelligent beings should render to the Holy One of Israel. All true and acceptable worship consists of these three parts-humility, adoration, and obedience. Our worship is false, and our prayers little else than insulting mockeries, unless we stand ready to move on the wings of faith, to do the will of our Father who is in heaven.
There is oftentimes a wide descrepancy between the seeming fervor of our adoration and the actual feebleness of our efforts to do the will of God. Like the seraphim, we may cry, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; but unless we are willing to run in the pathway of His commandments, our worship is either hypocritical or false.
What a spectacle of activity would the church present if only a majority of its members would imitate the angelic humility and
tireless zeal of the bright hosts that wait before the throne. Then it would be indeed a living body, with its every member in motion for the good of man and the glory of God. The sluggard would shake off his sloth; the iron heart of selfishness would melt under a constraining love. The excuses which the idle make in extenuation of their infidelity to Christ, would be made no more. At every call of duty would be heard the prompt response, "Here am I, send me." But, before the Church evinces this, its highest form of consecration, other parts of this vision must be accomplished upon it. Of the effect which the vision produced upon the mind of the Prophet, we will now speak :
It overwhelmed him with a sense of his own personal unworthiness and defilement. "Woe is me," he exclaimed, "for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."
Truth oftentimes shines the clearer by contrast. The lamp that lightens the gilded apartments of ostentatious luxury, may be deemed by its owner exceedingly brilliant, but when contrasted with the stars of night, or the sun in his meridian glory, it fades into darkness. The quartz, beside the diamond, becomes vulgar dirt. Contrasts of intellectual qualities oftentimes disclose emptiness where pride had been least willing to suspect it. The prodigy of the village, when removed to a metropolis where mind spreads in its stateliest proportions, becomes a selfreproving dunce. And thus it is through all intellectual lifeself-importance vanishes as we discover how much more others know than we-how much more remains to be known than will ever be learned. The ignorant, the shallow-minded, the selfconceited only, are bold, over-confident and arrogant. In the domain of morals, men are ever drawing contrasts, but they search only for those examples of depravity which are confessedly below them. They cover their own defects and deformities of heart and life, by first magnifying the faults of others, and then extract, from the rottenness of their leprosy, a salve for their own consciences. This is uniformly and universally the habit of the deceitful heart. And this soul-damning delusion of self-righteousness is never dissipated, until we contrast ourselves with the divine law, and compare our sins with the holiness of God. Then the sinner, who had trusted most in his boasted morality, so soon as he sees himself in the light of divine perfection, is ready to exclaim, "Unclean, unclean! Lord have mercy upon me. So it was with Isaiah; so it was with Naaman the Leper; so it was with Paul. Before his knowledge of Christ, he was, in his own eyes, blameless; but so soon as he was converted, he felt that he was the chief of sinners. Now it is just here that the vision of the prophet embraces the very core and marrow of the method of salvation. It shows how a view of the holiness of God, as revealed in Christ, is necessary to make man acquainted with himself. Suppose you, my hearer, who have the
least sense of sin or personal defilement, could be confronted, face to face, with the Lord Jesus. Suppose you should contrast your selfishness, with His benevolence-your pride, with His humility— your ingratitude, with His goodness-your unbelief, with His patience your folly, with His wisdom-your earthly aims, with His lofty purpose-your indifference to eternal death, with His solicitude to save you from it-your Godless life, with His sublime devotion to His Father's will. Would not His meek eye reprove you, and His spirit, radiant with holiness, show you to be corrupt, unholy, and in need of spiritual regeneration. The first glance of Isaiah's eye upon the glory of Christ, begot the spontaneous exclamation, "Woe is me."
But, blessed be God, so soon as man is made conscious of his ruin, he is put in possession of the means of restoration. Prostrate with fear and dismay, the prophet sunk beneath the sight of the vision of holiness that broke down upon him. But at the instant of his need came the remedy for his sadness. What is his testimony? "One of the seraphims flew unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken from off the altar, 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 temple had two altars one, the altar of incense: the other, the altar of sacrifice. The latter, viz., the altar of sacrifice, was kept perpetually fresh and burning-like the sleepless justice of Divinity-it remained ever living and bright. On that altar were offered the spotless lambs, whose blood prefigured the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Its holy fire was the symbol of that eternal vengeance against sin, which, in after ages, "consumed the humanity of Christ, and expired only when it touched His Divinity." The seraphim bearing the live coal from the sacrificial altar, denotes the operation of the Divine Spirit, who applies to man's soul the virtue of that sacrifice which Christ offered once for all, in his body on the cross. The purifying touch of Christ can make the sinner live, and when he feels himself lost-when the holiness of the Divine character seems so terrible that he is forced to exclaim, "Woe is me!" then the Holy Spirit touches, with a Divine energy, the drooping soul, and at once life, and hope, and peace, and joy are all found in the atoning efficacy of Christ.
Then the iniquity of the penitent is taken away and his sin purged. Henceforth he rejoices in the abundance of a hope which rests not upon his poor merits, but upon the infinite righteousness of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.
And now, having seen the meaning of this vision, let us rapidly sum up a few of the most obvious truths which it establishes.
First, we see from it, that Christianity is the same in all ages. It is older than Moses--older than Abraham or Noah. In the still primeval morn of time, while yet the angelic oratorio of the creation was vibrating upon the air, and man was lingering in