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throne above, and the diffusion of his glory there, in the sanctuary, especially in solemn worship there, let us think 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.
Ver. 3. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy,
holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.
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 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 ihe 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, that vile men dare baffle in vain oaths, and can speak thereof without sense : but hearts that are indeed his living temples, will find this resentment, when his name is proclaimed, or when they mention or think of it, the post 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', Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne, not a signal of displeasure as some take it. He dwells in light that is inaccessible, and round about is thick darkness, shutting out the weak eyes of men, that 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 “.
Ver. 5. Then said I, Wo is me! for I am undone ; because
I am a man 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
with the dignation, that he should be honoured with such a vision of God; but, on the contrary, struck with humble holy fear, Oh, I am undone! This is 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 advantages, (And the angel came in unto her, and said, hail, thou art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee : blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be), 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 differenced from true manifestations of God, than by this, that they may breed pride and
• Psal. xcvii. 2. d Psal. Ixv. 1. • Luke i. 28, 29.
presumption in the heart, make it vain and haughty, but 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. Aug.
Then said I, Wo is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.] 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, not see God and live; therefore he vails himself; but sure 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, that makes us so unworthy and so unfit to see him.
He first cries, I am a man of polluted 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 us.
Few men reflect mnch 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 also much of all our heart pollutions, have their vent this way; so the promise of sanctiVol. II.
fying his people runs much on this'. They of a pure lip shall offer; all are of the holy order, a royal priesthood, and through sanctified lips, as the censer, still they offer incense of prayer and praise. He is a perfect man that offends not in words. Commonly by much speaking there is much pollution; in many words there wants not sin", therefore, let your speech be always seasoned with salt'. 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, judgment will multiply, and grow instead of decreasing Few, even of these that
fear the Lord, speak often one to another, in a strain that God delights, not only hearken to, but to write down, and register for their good.
And dwell amidst a people of unclean lips.] We infect each other when we meet; little converse that a man returns the better by, yea, by the most 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.
On Ver. 6-8.
Ver. 6. Then flew one of the Seraphims unto me, having a
live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar.
IMPURITY well discovered to a man is half curel; whensoever God graciously shews a man his own unsanctifiedness, there he goes on to cleanse, and sanctify him; the light that discovers is followed , with a burning coal that purges away. Zeph. iii. 3. and 12. & James iii. 2.
de Prov. 4. 19. Col. iv. 6.
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 that cannot die out, that many, that no waters can quench again. It doth this to all that are sanctified, but eminently (it doth it, or at least they desire it may) to these that are to be the instruments of enlightening, purging 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, blest incendiaries of the world, setting it on fire with the love of Christ, tanquam ligna ardentia dispersa. Aug.
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 that have been 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 purged 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: thence we draw near, and especially they that bear his name to men, in a sense of their own impurity, intreat his touch, as devout Bernard, and in a holy hyperbole, “Had the prophet need of a coal; Oh then grant for me a whole globe of fire, to purge