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glory to GOD. "If we would fully realize the joy of GOD'S salvation and the upholding of His free spirit, so that our tongue shall sing aloud of His righteousness and shew forth His praise in gratitude and in gladness, we must often and often have realized the greatness of our sin and the depth of our degradation. The knowledge of our sin leads us to the knowledge of His infinite mercy, which no penitent can ever exhaust, and which is the theme here and in the heavenly courts of unceasing praise."
(b) The Appeal. (The Confession.)—In response to the Exhortation we make our lowly appeal, which is fuller and more penitential than that of the Kyrie. It is sin that hides the glory of GOD. We therefore acknowledge it that we may be rid of it. We have sinned in thought; and so find it difficult to appreciate the Mind of GOD; we have defiled our lips with sinful words, and so find it hard to bless GOD. "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter ?"? We have weighed down our lives by wicked actions, and so find our souls too heavy to rise into a spiritual atmosphere. The 'burden" as we think of it becomes intolerable; "the remembrance" is grievous; we entreat the "Judge of all men" to forgive
1 Magee, "Christ the Light of All Scripture," p. 102.
us all that is past, that we may henceforth " serve and please Him in newness of life.”
(c) The Answer. (The Absolution.)-To us in our helpless condition come the old words, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." What a welcome sound! What a rush of joy as the realization of pardon begins to be felt! The LORD meets our new need in a new way. It is not Wisdom Incarnate cleansing the mind with His health-giving words, but the good and wise Physician penetrating the dark mysteries of the spirit and loosing the bands of iniquity. As we receive the words from one who is commissioned to pronounce them, "the currents of grace flow into our souls; we feel and appropriate GOD's forgiving love. We have a sense of reconcilement which no unauthorized declaration can give. The floodgates of grace are opened, and the gifts of GOD's grace accompany the acts which He has appointed to be done." 1 We are freed from the burden of the past and can now praise GOD with a free heart. Our eyes are opened, our tongue is loosed, and we are able to see the glory of GOD and shew forth His righteousness.
The Vision. (The Comfortable Words.)-In the first word our LORD invites us, weary with our sins, to ascend the mount of His Holiness and there to
1 Bishop Wilberforce, "Life and Letters."
gaze upon the Love and Mercy of GOD.
second word we are shown the greatness of God's
love to the world,
broader than the measure of man's mind," for it moved Him to give His only begotten Son. This vision of the riches of GOD's love, beyond the power of our comprehension, is followed in the third word by one which makes it plain to us in an unmistakable way. We cannot tell what the gift of the Son to the world meant to the Father; it were dangerous to express our thoughts about it, for it is not revealed; but we can understand something of the sacrifice of the Son. We see Him poor, homeless, persecuted, reviled, imprisoned, crucified, and we know that all was for our sake, to deliver us from bondage. We can see the "manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." If we ask what assurance have we that the obstinacy and wickedness of the world have not exhausted that love, that it still burns with the same intensity and warmth, we find our answer in the third word of comfort, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is the propitiation of our sins." The vision of GOD's love is complete.
(d) The Offering of Praise. (The Sursum Corda and Sanctus.) We can no longer refuse our response to the trumpet tones of the Church, "Lift up your hearts." Every hard and narrow thought is
gone, and we "lift them up unto the LORD." And, as we do so, we seem to catch the harmonies of heavenly music, we feel ourselves to be encompassed by a mighty host of angels and archangels, we join in their timeless adoration of the holiness of GOD. The thrice repeated, "Holy, Holy, Holy," seems to place Him infinitely far off, and yet, though we acknowledge His transcendence above the world, in the same breath we declare not only heaven, but earth too, to be full of His glory. To the worldly mind it seems strange to assert that earth, stained as it is with its battle-fields, its dark places, its haunts of vice and misery, is the scene of GOD's glory; but to those who can use the eye of faith is revealed the great and glorious purpose of GOD which no will can thwart. Under the evil, the tumults, the sufferings, there is a great plan working out which will eventually issue in the triumphant manifestation of the love and righteousness of GOD, so that all shall acknowledge with reverence and faith His Holiness and Glory.
IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES.
I. The Offering of the Sacrifice of Christ.-Introduction. We now approach the Most Holy Place. The type suggests the greatest caution. None
but the High Priest could venture there, and that but once a year. It is true that the way is now open, but only "through His Flesh."1 For the old, a new veil is substituted, "His Flesh." And our boldness to enter is not based on any assumption that the Father's character is changed, or that His Holiness is less awful. S. John is as much awestruck by a revelation of the Presence of GOD as Isaiah. Our LORD'S atoning work arouses our love, but does not encourage any familiarity with Him who yet remains a consuming fire." So it is well for us to bear in mind all that the Holy of Holies teaches. Its very size, a perfect cube, will remind us of the "all perfect character of the Being" into whose Presence we now come; the ark containing the Law, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, suggest not only the mystery of the Being of God, but His willingness to feed His people with heavenly manna if they will but submit to the Authority and Guidance of His Church. The mercy seat covering the Law points to Him through whose merits alone we dare approach, and the Cherubim with their outstretched wings overshadowing it, emphasize the Majesty and Glory of Him whose throne they guard.
1 Heb. xi. 19.
2 Rev. i. 17.
3 Heb. xii. 28.
4 Fairbairn, "Typology," p. 379.