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dark, not knowing what may be there. such a desire of life may be very reasonable; being surprised by sickness, and apprehensions of death, and sin unpardoned, they may desire a little time before they enter into eternity; for that change is not a thing to be hazarded upon a few days or hours preparation: I will not say that death-bed repentance is altogether desperate, but certainly it is very dangerous, and to be suspected; and, therefore, the desire of a little time longer, in such a case, may be very allowable.
I will not deny but it is possible, even for a believer, to be taken in such a posture, that it may be very uncomfortable to him to be carried off so, through the affrightments of death, and his dark ness as to his after-state. On the other hand, it is an argument of a good measure of spirituality and height of the love of God, to desire to depart, and be dissolved, in the midst of health, and the affluence of worldly comforts; but for men to desire and wish to be dead, when they are troubled and vexed with any thing, is but a childish folly, flowing from a discontented mind, which being over, they desire nothing less than to die. It is true there may be a patural desire of death, which at sometimes hath shined in the spirits of some natural men; and there is much reason for it, not only to be freed from the evils and troubles of this life, but even from those things which many of this foolish world account their happiness, sensual pleasures, to eat and drink, and to be hungry again; and still to round that same course, which, to souls that are raised above sensual things, are burdensome and grievous.
But there is a spiritual desire of death, which is very becoming a Christian; for Jesus Christ hath not only opened very clearly the doctrine of eternal life, but he himself hath passed through death, and lain down in the grave; he hath perfumed that passage, and warmed that bed for us; so that it is sweet and amiable for a Christian to pass through and follow hiin, and to be where he is. It is a
strange thing, that the souls of Christians have not a continual desire to go to that company which is above (finding so much discord and disagreement among the best of men that are here), to go to the spirits of just men made perfect, where there is light and love, and nothing else, to go to the company of angels, an higher rank of blessed spirits, but, most of all, to go to God, and to Jesus the Médiator of the New Testament. And, to say nothing positively of that glory, (for the truth is, we can say nothing of it), the very evils that death delivers the true Christian from, may make him long for it; for such an one may say, “I shall die, and go to a more excellent country, where I shall be happy for ever, that is, I shall die no more, I shall sorrow no more, I shall be sick no more; and, which is yet more considerable, I shall doubt no more, and shall be tempted no more; and, which is the chiefest of all, I shall sin no more.'
LECTURE I. on Ver. 1-5.
'HE division of this chapter (were that to any
great purpose) may be stated thus : 1. The prophet's vision, from ver. 1 to 3. In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.
II. The effects of it upon him, relating to his calling, from ver. 4-13. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke, &c.
In the vision, besides the circumstances of time and place specified, ver. 1. we have a glorious representation of the majesty of God, ver. 2. A suitable acclamation, a voice of praise being joined with it, ver. 3, 4.
The effects of it on the prophet towards his calling are three, viz. I. His preparation; II. His mis- . sion: III. His message. I. The preparation, in these two particulars : 1. Humiliation : 2. Purification, ver. 6, 7. a deep conviction, and then effectual removal of pollution.
II. In his mission we have three things: 1. God's
inquiry for a messenger, ver. 8. former part. 2. The prophet's offer of himself, the latter part of ver. 8. 3. God's acceptance, ver. 9. former part. III. His message, a heavy commination, from ver. 9-12, yet allayed with a gracious mitigation, ver. 13. The judgment very lasting and wasting, yet a remnant reserved.
Ver. 1. In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train
filled the temple.
I saw.] Observe the freedom of God in his choice of men to be near him and know him ; and in the measuring out the degrees of discovery unto those men differently, some had extraordinary revelations; and though prophetic visions now cease, yet there are certainly higher and clearer corruscations of God upon some souls, than many others, that yet are children of light, and partake of a measure of that light shining within them; thus we are not carvers and choosers, and therefore are not peremptorily to desire any thing in kind or measure that is singular, that were pride and folly; but above all things we are to esteem, and submissively desire still more and more knowledge of God, and humbly to wait and keep open the passage of light, not to close the windows, not to be indulgent to any known sin, or impure affection, that will soon obstruct it: into a filthy soul wisdom will not enter.
In the year that king Usziah died I saw the Lord on his throne.] There is another king named here, to denote the time by, but he was a diseased and a dying king, who lived some years a leper, and then died. Men may speak in a court style of vain wishes, O king live for ever : but this king here on the throne, is indeed the king immortal, the ever living God.
God measures and proportions all his means to their ends. When he calls men to high services, he furnishes them with suitable preparations and enablements : thus here with the prophet, he was to denounce heavy things against his own nation, a proud stubborn people, to deal boldly and freely with the highest, yea, with the king himself, and he is prepared by a vision of God. What can a man fear after that? All regal majesty and pomp looks petty and poor after that sight. Two kings together on their thrones in robes royal, (1 Kings 22.) did no whit astonish hin that had seen a greater; I saw (says Micajah) the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the hosts of heaven standing by. Much like this is the vision of Isaiah, here before us.
Eyes dazzled with the sun, see not the glittering of drops of dew on the earth, and these are quickly gone with all their faint and fading glory, to a soul taken with the contemplation of God. How meanly do they spend their days, that bestow them on counting money, or courting little earthen idols in ambition or love. From how high a stand doth he look down on those, that looks on God, and admires his greatness, wonders at what he sees, and still seeks after more; these two are therefore joined together, Beholding the beauty of the Lord, and inquiring in his temple. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
Ver. 2. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.] These glorious courtiers, flaming spirits, are light and love, whose very feet are too bright for us, as his face is too bright for them, and they cry, Holy, holy, holy, thrice holy, most holy three, one God, Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. This they cry one to another, echoing it, and returning it incessantly; they that praise him most, come nearest their life. When we are to pray, or offer any worship to the great God thus on his * Chap. vii.
b Psal. xxvii. 4.