For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest,…
I. I am to show THAT IT IS A VERY AWFUL, THOUGH A COMFORTABLE, THING TO CONVERSE WITH GOD THE JUDGE OF ALL.
1. The majesty and glory of the great God makes it awful conversing with Him.
2. God's omniscience is another thing which makes it solemn conversing with God as Judge of all (Hebrews 4:13).
3. The purity and holiness of God make it a solemn thing for polluted sinners to have any converse with Him.
4. The strictness of God's law, which is the rule of judgment, makes it a solemn thing to converse with this great and glorious Judge. God judges of all my thoughts and actions by the same law now that sentence is to be passed by in the great day of accounts.Use: 1. Is it so solemn a thing for believers in Christ to come to God the Judge of all; how or "where then must the sinner and the ungodly appear"?
2. Is it so solemn a thing to converse with God the Judge of all? Then, believer, how seldom art thou in a right frame for duty. You know with what solemnity and preparation they of old attended on God when giving the law. The people were sanctified to-day and to-morrow, and washed their clothes to be in readiness against the third day (Exodus 19:10). Is there less call for preparation and solemnity under the gospel? are trifling frames and a worldly spirit any part of that liberty we have in Christ? Dare we go to holy ordinances drowned in the cares of this life, reeking in the filth of some unsubdued lust?
3. Learn from what has been said, the only way to think of future judgment with pleasure and comfort. It is by coming to God the Judge of all, now.
4. What a blessed gospel is that which reveals the only righteousness wherein a poor guilty sinner may appear before God with comfort!
II. How Is IT THAT SUCH A CONVERSE IS BEGUN BETWEEN A HOLY GOD AND POOR SINNERS?
1. It is begun in the conviction or sensibleness a soul has that he is a guilty lost sinner.
2. In order to a poor sinner's comfortably conversing with God the Judge of all, there must be a free confession of all sin and a subscribing to the rights of His justice. This is called an accepting of the punishment of one's iniquity (Leviticus 26:41) and a clearing and justifying God when we are judged (Psalm 51:4).
3. In order to a poor sinner's comfortable converse with God the Judge of all, there must be an absolute renouncing all righteousness of his own.
4. The way to have comfortable converse with God the Judge of all is to come before Him in the Mediator's righteousness and to plead it with Him as thy justifying righteousness.Use: 1. If there be no coming to God as Judge of all with comfort but by confessing sin, their state must be sad who seek comfort by hiding or lessening sin.
2. Must a soul be brought to submit to the rights of God's justice in order to a comfortable converse with Him as Judge of all? then woe to all such as quarrel with God's judgment.
3. Must all self-righteousness be renounced in order to a comfortable converse with God the Judge of all? How contrary is that doctrine which sets up the creature's sincere obedience as a part of our gospel-righteousness!
III. IN WHAT INSTANCES AND BY WHAT METHODS THIS CONVERSE WHICH BELIEVERS HAVE WITH GOD THE JUDGE OF ALL IS MAINTAINED AND CARRIED ON.
1. I am to give some instances wherein believers have comfortable converse with God the Judge of all, through the whole of their gospel profession and walk. The apostle speaks of it as a privilege attending their state, not a blessing peculiar to some extraordinary frames. It is a believer's settled mercy and daily duty to converse with God the Judge of all.
(1) A great part of this comfortable converse with God lies in those high and honourable thoughts which believers have of His righteousness as Judge of all.
(2) Another instance wherein believers have comfortable converse with God lies in their pleading justification before God upon the footing of righteousness.
(3) Another instance wherein believers have comfortable converse with God the Judge of all lies in their referring themselves to His righteous judgment with respect to their state, their frames, and all their actions.
(4) Another instance wherein believers have comfortably conversed with God the Judge of all lies in a hearty approval of all providential dispensations to themselves and others.
(5) Another instance of this comfortable converse which believers have with God the Judge of all is in a way of anticipating, or antedating as it were, that sentence of absolution which shall be openly pronounced upon them at the last day.
2. How or by what special methods this comfortable converse with God is promoted and maintained.
(1) By looking often to the everlasting settlements and grace of the covenant; what God does in time is by virtue of covenant-agreement with His Christ and our Surety in eternity (Psalm 98:3).
(2) This comfortable converse with God is promoted and maintained by the soul's daily faith on the person of Christ as God-man.
(3) This comfortable converse with God is promoted and maintained by earnest endeavours after conformity to God in righteousness and true holiness (1 Peter 1:16).
(4) A believer's converse with God the Judge of all is promoted and maintained by his coming often to the blood of sprinkling.
(5) This comfortable converse with God as Judge of all is promoted by the believer's application to God as a Father in Christ (Ephesians 2:18).
(6) This comfortable converse with God as Judge of all is promoted and maintained by direct acts of faith on the promises of the covenant.
(7) A daily application to the Spirit as the glorifier of the Father and of Christ. All the glory of the Father's provision for lost sinners in the person and blood of Christ, and in the grace of the covenant, depends upon the Spirit's revelation of it to and in the soul (Galatians 1:15, 16). It is His work as well to convince of sin as of righteousness (John 16:8),
3. By what means this comfortable converse with God as Judge of all is prevented and interrupted?
(1) This comfortable converse with God is greatly obstructed when it is apprehended that only the benefits and effects of Christ's righteousness are communicated to believers, and not the very righteousness itself.
(2) This comfortable converse is interrupted by supposing that the great God has put all His creatures, believers as well as others, into a state of probation or trial, and that a man cannot be fully persuaded of the safety of his state till the day of his death.
(3) Believers' comfortable converse with God is further prevented or interrupted by a changing or shifting the foundation of our faith and hope. Some that have begun in the spirit think to be made perfect by the flesh (Galatians 3:3).Use: 1. Surely a believer's converse with God must be very precious when Satan finds out so many ways to prevent and interrupt it. Were it not a great privilege, it would be less envied, less obstructed.
2. How needful is a doctrinal clearness in the business of a sinner's justification in the sight of God! Confusion in the mind and judgment makes confusion in the soul's comfort.
3. To show what a blessed privilege such a comfortable converse is in the whole of believers' course heavenwards. Wherein the privilege of such a converse does consist.
(1) This blessed converse makes all other comforts blessings.
(2) This comfortable converse which believers have with God sweetens all their afflictions and crosses. No trial befals thee but it was put into the covenant. It comes from the hand of God as a reconciled Father for thy profit and purging; not from His hand as a sin-revenging Judge for thy punishment.
(3) This comfortable converse with God makes duties and ordinances sweet; why should there be terror and fear where there is no enmity, no distance?
(4) This comfortable converse with God makes all reproaches we receive from men sit easy upon us (Psalm 31:14, 15).
(5) This comfortable converse with God secures against the threats, the wiles, and hellish designs of Satan.
(6) This comfortable converse with God makes death and judgment without terror. Doth the law acquit thee now? it will never condemn thee then. A serpent without a sting may affright, but it cannot injure.
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,