Mount Sinai and Mount Zion
An address at the Lord’s table, before distributing the elements, at Free St. Luke’s, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 27, 1861.
Jehovah He is the God. He is a wonderful God, He is a wonder-working God. God quickens the dead, God opens the blind eyes, and unstops the deaf ears; and the quickened soul has a voice wherewith to respond to the call — “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not;” and the opened ear can hear the voice which says “Look;” and the opened eye can look.
I have been lately, and methinks I still am, at the foot of Mount Sinai; and I heard a voice, and the voice spake of wrath; the wrath of God, which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. God thundered with His voice — Who thundereth with a voice like Him? I heard the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, concerning which the Scriptures saith, “So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I exceedingly fear and quake’.”
And the Lord shewed me a biography — a biography written defectively in the memory, which at the best is ever treacherous, but written perfectly in the book of God’s remembrance. And the voice said, ‘Come and read this biography.’ I said, O Lord, how can I read it! ‘I have read it,’ said God, ‘and you must, you must.’ And when I had looked, still the voice came, “Turn thee yet again, and I will show thee greater abominations than these.”
And not a biography only — He shewed me a heart. “There are seven abominations in a man’s heart” — seven being the Scripture number for completeness. And my eye was fixed on that with horror. I speak not now of godly sorrow and repentance, but of horror; and with something that is surely worse, with shame. For it was not simply my eye fixed on the heart, but God shewing me His own eye looking on it. “See thy sin under my eye; see, my eye sees that.” God be merciful to me a sinner!
Now I heard a voice, at first distant and mysterious; but it came nearer, a still, small voice publishing peace, proclaiming salvation; a voice which came from Zion, the city of our solemnities, the city of our God; a voice publishing peace, proclaiming the salvation which came from Zion; a voice proclaiming, as salvation, so also a Saviour: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born in the city of David, a Saviour:” and not merely a Saviour, and a Saviour on earth — Immanuel, God with us, God among us, God for us — but a Saviour slain.
Methought then I stood on Calvary, and heard these words, “It is finished.” God said, Look into the heart of Christ, and behold Him in His vicarious death. Behold Him, and “know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” The greatest depth of this poverty being not in His incarnation — though that was a wondrous depth — look at it in His death.
Then methought also that God said, Come by the blood to the mercy-seat. And I heard a voice speak from the mercy-seat, from between the cherubim. And what voice was that? “This is my beloved Son (not merely with whom, but) in whom I am well pleased, hear Him!” said He from the mercy-seat, from between the cherubim. “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake,” said He from the mercy-seat, from between the cherubim. “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will not remember thy sins,” said He from the mercy-seat, from between the cherubim. “Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee,” said He from the mercy-seat, from between the cherubim. Sweet invitation to me, a departer, “Return unto me;” God assigning to the sinner the saving cause — “for I have redeemed thee.”
Then methought the Lord said, “I know heart-secrets.” And I said, Lord, shew me a heart which Thou knowest. And methought the Lord shewed me a heart. Whose it was He did not say, and I do not know; but a heart which God knows: He shewed me something of it.
It was a heart into which He had put a new song. The soul was making melody, attempting to make melody to the Lord. Where it was I do not know; but I heard it singing about the middle of its song. It had been singing other songs before this. It had been singing, “What profit is there in my blood when I go down tho the pit?” It had been singing the fifty-first Psalm; and Jehovah had put a new song into its mouth; He had done it, and it was trying to sing; and I heard it in the middle of its song. It had been reading Revelation 5., and trying to sing some of its numbers; and now it was at these words, “For thou wast slain.” And oh, how it was sobbing and breaking; how it was melting and breaking with a joyous grief, and a grievous joy! It could not get its song sung, though it would have liked it. O how it faltered when it tried to sing “and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood!”
It was the song of a soul known to God; and many such there are. It was the song of one to whom much had been forgiven, and who therefore loved much; and many such there are. But it was the song of the chief of sinners; of the one to whom most had been forgiven, and who loved most.
Yet it faltered and made wrong music; it jarred, and there was discord; and it grated on its own ear, and pained it. And God was listening to it; the omniscient God, who knows all things. But the song was presented through and by the Mediator of the new covenant; and if there was discord, it was removed by grace in atoning blood, by the sweet accents of intercession; for it came up as music in Jehovah’s ear, melody to the Lord. It was not discord in heaven.
I would know, O God, what soul that is! O God, let that soul be mine! And tell me of it. Let it be mine! Put a new song into my mouth; teach me to sing it. Teach me to sing it on earth; and to sing it when earth shall be no more.