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we are to pray, or offer any worship to the great God in the sanctuary, especially in solemn worship there, let us think of Him as thus on His throne above, and the diffusion of His glory there, of His train filling the upper Temple, and so, stoop low and fall down before Him. Holy, holy, holy. This is the main thing wherein He is glorious, and we are to know and adore Him in this view, and abhor ourselves as in His sight.
The whole earth.] So many creatures and various works and affairs, fruits and plants, and rich commodities, and so many calamities and miseries that kingdoms and people are afflicted with as by turns, and so many disorders, and such wickedness of men in public and private matters; and yet, in all these varieties and contrarieties of things, this one is the sum of all, and all is taken up in it, The whole earth is full of His glory. In framing and upholding, in ruling and ordering all, what a depth of power and wisdom.
Ver. 4. The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and
the house was filled with smoke.
How true must that be, that at His voice the earth quakes and the mountains tremble, when, at the voice of an angel crying or proclaiming His name, the very threshold of the Temple (the then holiest part of the earth) moves! This in the vision, was intended to represent the dreadfulness of His great name, which vile men dare bafflle in vain oaths, and can speak thereof without sense: but hearts that are indeed His living temples, will find this emotion ; when His name is proclaimed, or when they mention or think of it, the posts will be moved with an awful trembling
And the house was filled with smoke.] This was here a symbol of the presence and majesty of God. See Psal. xcvii. 2. Clouds and darkness are round about Him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne; not a signal of displeasure, as some take it. He dwells in light that is inac
cessible, and round about is thick darkness, shutting out the weak eyes of men, which were not able to abide the brightness of His glory. Much of our knowledge here, lies in this, to know that we know Him not: and much of our praise, to confess that we cannot praise Him,-silentium tibi laus, as they read Psal. lxv. 1.
Ver, 5. Then said I, Wo is me! for I am undone; because I am a mani
of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips ; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.
Then said I, Wo is me.] He is not lifted up with the dignity, that he should be honoured with such a vision of God; but, on the contrary, is struck with humble, holy fear: Oh, I am undone! This constitutes much of the exercise of souls admitted nearest to God, even this astonishment and admiration that such as they should be regarded and raised to that height, and holy fear in a sense of their unholiness. When the blessed Virgin heard a voice very much to her own advantage,
a (Luke i. 28, 29) instead of rising in her own conceit upon it, she was troubled, and marvelled what manner of salutation it should be, and was struck with fear, so that the Angel found it needful to say, Fear not.
Illusions and deceits of spirit of this kind, cannot be better distinguished from true manifestations of God, than by this, that they breed pride and presumption in the heart, make it vain and haughty; while true senses, and joys, and discoveries of love, in what kind soever, do most powerfully humble. Is est, qui superbire non potest, cui Deus ostendit misericordiam suam. Augustine.
For mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.] The mother and nurse of pride, is ignorance of God. A small glance of Him will make the best of men abhor themselves, and still the nearer sight of Him, the lower conceit will there be of self, and the deeper sense of impurity and vileness. This tells us, though we hear and speak of God, alas ! we know Him not.
I am a man of polluted lips.] He mentions this the rather, because he heard that song which he would have joined with, but durst not, because of polluted lips. Thus we must confess we are polluted all over, but much of our pollution breaks out by the lips, yet, commonly, we think not on it.
I am undone.) We could not indeed bear much, could not see God and live; therefore He veils Himself. But surely,
. we might see much more than we do, and live the better for it, the more humbly and holily. Our pollutions hinder and unfit us, as he implies when he says, A man of polluted lips. But oh, that we saw so much of Him as to see this pollution, which makes us so unworthy and so unfit to see Him.
He first cries, I am a man of unclean lips, and then adds, I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. This is the true method ; there can be no right sense of pollutions about us, but that which begins with a sense of those within
Few men reflect much on themselves; or if they do, they view themselves by a false light.
Polluted lips.] This he says in regard of the voice he heard. And with regard to the much irreverence with which we mention God, both ministers and people, as much of all our heart pollutions have their vent this way, so, the promise of sanctifying His people runs much on this. Zeph. iii. 9. They of a pure lip shall offer. All are of the holy order, a royal priesthood, and through sanctified lips, as the censor, still they
, offer incense of prayer and praise. He is a perfect man that offends not in word. Jam. iii. 2. Commonly, by much speaking there is much pollution : In many words there wants not sin. Prov. x. 19. Therefore, let your speech be always sea
. soned with salt. Col. iv. 6. Now, many speeches need much salt, otherwise some part will be rotten, at least unsavoury. Much of the sin of the land consists in this : there are few companies where God is not dishonoured and provoked by your communication ; and till this be laid to heart, judgments will multiply and grow instead of decreasing. Few, even of those who who fear the Lord, speak often one to another, in
a strain that God delights, not only to hearken to, but to write down and register for their good.
And I dwell amidst a people of unclean lips.] We infect each other when we meet. There is little converse that a man returns the better by, yea, by the most he is the worse: he brings back often more pollution, more folly and vanity by most companies and discourses. But we see here, that impurity humbly acknowledged, is graciously removed.
Ver. 6. Then flew one of the Seraphims unto me, having a live coal in
his hand, which he had taken with tongs off the altar.
IMPURITY well discovered to a man, is half cured. Whensoever God graciously shews a man his own unsanctifiedness, there He goes on to cleanse and sanctify him : the light that discovers, is followed by a burning coal that purges away.
The Holy Spirit is that purifying fire: a touch of it cleanseth the hearts, and lips, and all, and kindles that affection in the soul which cannot die out, which not many, which no waters can quench again. In doth this to all that are sanctified, but eminently it doth it, (or, at least, they desire it may) to those who are to be the instruments of enlightening, purifying, and kindling others. So, in the resemblance of fiery tongues came down this Spirit on the Apostles; and thence they themselves were as burning coals scattered through the nations, blessed incendiaries of the world, setting it on fire with the love of Christ: tanquam ligna ardentia dispersa, says Augustine.
Ver. 7. And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched
thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged.
Thine iniquity is taken away,-how impure soever before. This free grace is wonderful, to make some who have been VOL. II.
notoriously unclean, by the change wrought by this fire, the touch of a coal, to become eminently gracious, and messengers of grace to others, carrying this and spreading it. They, though originally of dark clay, are by this fire made transparent glass, through which the light of the Gospel shines into the Church.
This coal taken from the altar, may denote the deriving of the Spirit from Jesus Christ, our Priest, Altar, Sacrifice, and all, by which we are purified and made fit for His service. He is the fountain of light, and life, and purity, and all grace to His messengers, and all His followers. His grace is indeed a live coal, where heavenly heat is mixed with earth, the fulness of the Godhead with our nature in human flesh. Thereby we draw near; and especially they who bear His name to men, under a sense of their own impurity, entreat His touch, as devout Bernard, who, in a holy hyperbole, exclaims, “ Had the Prophet need of a coal! Oh then, grant for me a whole globe of fire, to purge away my filthiness, and make me a fit messenger to this people !"
Thy sin is purged.] The children of God are a wonder to themselves, when that Spirit comes in, who conquers and purges so suddenly and easily what they before groan under and wrestle with, very long to little or no purpose. It is a change of the right hand of the Most High, as the Vulgate reads that word in Psal. lxxvii. 10. I said, This is my infirmity, but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High-mutatio dextræ Excelsi. A touch of that will cleanse and heal: the all-purifying virtue of His Spirit, whereof this baptism of the Prophet's lips was a symbol, takes away the dross which by other means than that fire cannot be purged. So in metals, much pains may be taken, and strength of hand used with little effect; that at most does but scratch the superficies, makes the outside a little bright and shining, but severs not the dross from within : that cannot be done without fire. Have we not found how vainly we attempt while God withholds His hand? Yea, while a man fancies self-pureness, he is