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scattered kings in her behalf, “ broke the ships of Tarshish with an east wind." This God is he whose loving-kindness made him delightfully thought of in his temple; whose “praise is unto the ends of the earth;" whose “
right hand is full of righteousness.” This God is our God whose "judgments make Zion to rejoice, and the daughters of Judah to be glad." “ Walk about Zion," cries the Psalmist, “go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever.”
Hence it is evident, that “this God, our God," is God in covenant with his people. The whole Psalm throughout, relates to a God in covenant. This expression admits of only a two-fold interpretation: one literal—the God in covenant with the Jewish church; the second prophetical, or figurative, applying to God in covenant with the Church of Christ. Both these interpretations may be comprehended in one, by explaining our text as speaking of God in covenant with his people. “This God”—the believing Jew of old, and the believing Christian now, may alike say—“ This God is our God for ever and ever."
God iu covenant with his people (for we have already arrived at that, as the meaning of our text)—God in covenant with his people is, we believe, from Scripture, the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The unity of the Godhead is beyond dispute. “ Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord," is the language of the Old Testament: “There is none other God but one," is the language of the New Testament. They who assume to themselves the name of Unitarians, more than insinuate that we deny or disbelieve the unity of God. But what is the first sentence of the first article of our religion ? « There is but one living and true God.” What is the second, the next sentence, which acknowledges the Trinity, as if to prevent that very insinuation ? “ And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons.” For what is our creed? “I believe in one God." “ The Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity." Hence we maintain, that the Socinians have no exclusive right whatever to the name of Unitarians; and it ought not to be conceded to them; as it seems to admit their unfair assumption, that they alone assert the unity of God. Let them know that this is no exclusive praise-nay, that it is no praise at all, unless they have right views of the one true God. The Jew admits the unity of God, while he denies Jesus to be the Messiab. Is he therefore right? The Mahomedan continually asserts, “ There is one God," while he as often adds, “and Mahomet is his prophet.” Is bis faith correct? The Deist professes to believe in a God—usually I believe in one God—while he denies the truth of revelation. A man may, therefore, believe in the unity of God, and yet not believe aright.
God in covenant is, we believe, a triune God; “ three persons in one God." We more than fear whether the Deist, the Mahomedan, the Jew, or the Socinian know God in covenant, the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. The Father is the Author of this covenant. He foresaw that man would fall; he foreknew all the misery that would ensue: and, therefore, he himself, out of the abundance of his own loving-kindness and grace, made a provision of mercy, a covenant of grace, for the fallen and miserable. He gave his Son: he " so loved the world,” says the Scripture, “that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever," of the guilty sons of men “ believeth on him, shall not perish.” Accordingly Christ is called “ the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” according to the intention and will of his heavenly Father. “ Blessed," cries the Apostle—“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy without blemish before him in love.” So again, “ It pleased the Father that in him (in Christ) should all fulness dwell.” Thus the covenant of grace is traced up to the Father's free love, as its great originating cause : and his right to Deity is happily undisputed. Yet they who view him as God exclusively, and deny the right of Deity to his Son, and to the Holy Spirit, must take heed, lest they shut themselves out from that covenant of grace.
If God would have all men to “ honour the Son, even as they honour the Father"-for so the Scripture says —then he will not thank the man, who, affecting a jealousy for the Father's glory, while he professes to give to him the full honour of Deity, denies all such honour to his Son. Is this to “ honour the Son even as we honour the Father ?" The Father very and eternal God—the Son no God at all, a mere man! On the contrary, most of the Father's essential glory is to be acknowledged as the Father of such a Son ; " by whom he made the worlds ;" who is “ the fellow of the Lord of Hosts"_“ the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person." These terms suit not a mere man. To deny Deity to Christ, is to rob God the Father of his glory: it is to bar up from one's-self every door of access unto the Father's covenant of grace. For the Son of God is “the messenger of that covenant;" the “ door of entrance," the “one Mediator between God and man." “ He being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; yet he made himself of no reputation; took upon him the form of a servant; was made in the likeness of man; 'and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
By this, his incarnation as man, he lost not his original dignity as God. It is a shame and a sin that this, his wondrous love, in becoming man, should sometimes be so ill-requited by the denial that he ever was God: whereas, in reality, his original dignity as God not only continued when he became man, but stamped its whole divine worth on the whole of his humiliation. Thus the very same verse of prophecy which announced his birth as an innocent child, asserted his glory as God: “ Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel"—which is, being interpreted, “ God with us.” So again, how close and remarkable this connexion between the weakness of childhood and the omnipotence of Deity: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given : and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God.” Throughout his life, we see frequent proofs of Deity in personal union with humanity, with man's nature. One moment we behold him wearied and asleep as man; the next we hear him, in all the majesty o. Deity, rebuking the winds and the waves. We see him surrounded, as any other man might be, with insidious foes; we perceive him knowing all their thoughts, as only God could know. Behold the man where he groans with sympathy, when he sees Martha and Mary weeping for their brother: behold the God, where he stands at the dead man's sepulchre, and like the Lord of death and Hades, cries, “ Lazarus, come forth,” and he that was dead came
forth. But, lo, he dies ! Deity cannot die ; and he is crucified through weak
But, behold, at the same time the sun is shrouded in darkness, the veil of the temple is rent; the earth quakes; the rocks are rent; the graves are opened ; even a heathen is reported to have exclaimed, “ Either the God of nature is suffering, or the world's machinery is in the act of dissolution.” Thus nature itself attested the intimate connexion—we believe, we might say, the mysterious union--between that crucified man and the ever-living God.
“ And this God," we learn to say, as we gaze on his cross, “ This God is our God." His sacrifice as man derives infinite worth from his Deity. There is an atonement equal to the claims of God upon us. Here is our reconciled Father's love flowing down to us in that stream of his incarnate Son's blood. This « blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin." This is our atonement; we put the hand of faith on this victim's head, and, confessing over him our sins, admit that we deserve to die that death; and declare that we know no name but his given among men, whereby we must be saved.
But, lo, he rises from the dead! This also is as man allied to Deity. In one place of Scripture, he is said to have been raised by the Father; in another to have been quickened by the Spirit ; and in a third to have raised himself. But this required Deity. As soon might a stone, by its own inert force, raise itself from a cave and mount into the air, as a dead man could raise himself from the grave by any power of his own.
After a while he ascended into heaven; he sits at the right hand of God the post of honour and of equality. He is said to send the Spirit whom the Father also sends; he has power given to him which only God could wield. He, like the Father, is the object of faith: in his name, equally with the Father's, we are baptized : he is worshipped in heaven by angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect; and on earth he has been worshipped by apostles, martyrs, and poor sinners, crying, “Lord, remember me !"
It is, my brethren, when we thus come to God as our Father, through Christ as our Mediator, that we say, with a meaning never known to us before, * This God is our God."
But when do we thus come? Not when, led only by the pride of reason, that stumbles at the very threshold, we say, “My sin is not so sinful: I need no such sacrifice : I can be my own saviour : I understand not that mystery: I refuse to be thus saved." Neither do we thus come at all till led, persuaded, drawn, by the Holy Spirit. He also, we believe, is God; not to the disparagement or exclusion of the Father and of the Son, but in union with them both, proceeding from them both; though distinct in person, yet one in essence ; distinrt in office, yet having that office as a necessary part of the covenant of grace. It is his to convince men of sin; to take of the things of Jesus, and shew them, unto them: to bless the word of faith to the production of a true faith ; by that faith to unite them to Jesus, and then to give them a peaceful knowledge of his forgiving mercy: to “shed abroad the love of God in his heart," as is said in one place; and to “constrain" by “ the love of Christ," as is said in another: to make us “ temples of God," as one Scripture declares
—“ temples of the Holy Ghost," as another Scripture responds: to cause men to be born of the Spirit,” as one text asserts—“ born of God,” as another testifies. Thus there is the divine Spirit to apply the divine covenant; to enter the mind, the conscience, the heart of sinners : to bring you, who were sinners, to Jesus as your Saviour, and through him to his Father as your Father, to his God as your God; and enable you to say, “ This God is our God."
Thus, my brethren, we have the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity before us in the simplest practical way. And you will find this doctrine always so proposed in holy Scripture ; nowhere in what may be called a scholastic or scientific manner. Nothing is said in Scripture to gratify curiosity or to nourish speculation ; but it is always there presented in close connexion with man's practical duties as a sinner, a penitent, a believer. Great injury has been done to the cause of truth by abstract speculation for and against this Scriptural doctrine. It ought always to be viewed in a practical way—in connexion with man's practical duties. “ If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." “ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." “ The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things which are revealed belong to us and our children, to do them."
Now can my hearers all say, “God in covenant with his people—this God is our God? Can they say individually, “ this God is my God ?" Perhaps you say, “ Yes; we are his by baptism ; we remember that we were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that baptism is a covenant with God; he engaging thereby to be our God—the Father to love, the Son to redeem, the Holy Spirit to sanctify—and we engaging to be his people."
This is a good account, and I am glad to find you well taught thus far : but we must come more closely still to the point. Have you accepted God to be your God—the Father to love, the Son to redeem, the Holy Ghost to sanctify? and have you consented to be his people ? Has there been a covenant engagement made, as by your own act and deed ? or is the name of baptism to stand in the place of personal repentance and faith? Is that the doctrine of our church, or of any sound church in the world ? Had not Simon Magus been baptized? And yet he had no part nor lot, an apostle told him, in the matter of salvation. Are there not, think you, among the lost, who once were among the baptized ?
My hearers, there must be a time in the life of every saved man, when he enters with intelligence and faith into the meaning of our text, “ This God is our God." That time, with many first coming over from heathenism, is often closely connected with their baptism. With what joy may a converted heathen, casting away his idols to the moles and to the bats—coming to Christian baptism with a good understanding of its meaning, with a true faith in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost-say,
66 This God is our God. O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over me; but by thee henceforth will I make mention of thy name only."
In a Christian land like this, this period of personally covenanting with God is often closely connected with confirmation and the first coming to the Lord's supper. We therein receive the sign of the covenant. And heartily do I congratulate many young Christians here present, on the Scriptural joy and satisfaction with which God, our covenant God, allows them to think and to say this day, “ This God is our God." If you are coming with intelligence, faith, and love, to your first communion, it must also be with lively gratitude
and praise. You may have known many happy days in your lives, you have Enown none so happy as this may be. What blessedness to belong to Christ, and what joy to receive the appointed pledges of his dying love! What comfort to be led by the Holy Spirit! “ Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!"
And you, my brethren, who could years ago say, “ This God is our God," has the experience of years added nothing to the comfort and the peace expressed in those words? If the young Christian feels a lively joy in knowing God in his covenant of grace, is there not a joy of a deeper, sweeter, and more solid kind to him whom our God has for years been blessing with a Father's love, a Saviour's grace, and the consolations of his Spirit? If the racer, just starting in his course, may feel his heart beat high with expectation, ought he to despond who can almost say, “ I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course ; I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of glory, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day; and not unto me only, but unto all them who love his appearing ?"
Some of you cannot say, “ This God is our God :" you know that you cannot. Your baptism has been left alone, as though it were something with which infancy alone had any thing to do : it has never been thought of in childhood, youth, manhood, advancing life. Where is your personal repentance, and where your faith? When was the day, when the hour of your personally covenanting with God? Looking at Scripture with God in covenant-looking at the covenant offices of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you know you cannot without a presumption of which I hope you are incapable, say as yet, “ This God is our God." Not as yet! And when shall it be? Shall it be ever? Is the thing so indifferent? Remember this, God is willing to be your God. his covenant offers are made to you; all your wants are met by the ample provision of that gracious covenant. Your sins are met with the offer of a full atonement through the precious blood of Christ. Your weakness, insufficiency, inability, are met with the offered strength of God's Holy Spirit. Your guilt and misery are met with the kindest offers of your Heavenly Father's love. And, sinner, make not this God your foe when he offers to be your friend. “ Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled, yea, but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
But it is time to leave our first part, and consider, in the second place, when we can truly say, “ This God is our God,” WHAT MAY WE, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, EXPECT FROM HIM. You may expect this: he will fulfil his covenant relations to you.
" This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death."
“ This God is our God.” So God himself says: “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people ;" speaking of those who enter into covenant with him in his appointed way. In promising to be a God to his people, he promises all that they can need or even desire. God has infinite power, wisdom, goodness, and grace. All this, in promising to be a God to his people, he promises to employ and exercise in their behalf; his power to preserve, his wisdom to direct, his goodness to bless, his grace to crown with a full salvation.