The Poor Man's Morning and Evening Portions
Robert Hawker (1753-1827)
"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden-censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne."—Rev. viii. 3.
My soul, behold this mighty Angel, even thy Jesus, in his priestly office. Look at him with an earnest eye of faith before thou goest this morning to the mercy-seat. See his golden censer, with his much incense, and contemplate both the fulness of merit in his own glorious Person, and the fulness of efficacy in his work and righteousness for the sure acceptance of all his redeemed. Go near, my soul, having boldness to enter now into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. Hear thy great High Priest bidding thee to take shelter under his golden censer, and behold him presenting thy person and thy poor offerings upon the golden altar, even his divine nature, before the throne. Yes, Lord! I would draw nigh in thee, and by thee, convinced that it is wholly from thee, and for thy sake, either my person or my prayers can find acceptance. For thee, and for thy sake, my sins are pardoned, my offerings are accepted, grace is bestowed, communion and fellowship is obtained; peace in this life, and glory in that which is to come, are the portion of thy people. Hail, thou glorious, gracious, all-sufficient, High Priest! To thee be glory in the church, throughout all ages. Amen.
"And they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."—Rev. iv. 8.
Make a solemn pause, my soul, over these words; and when thou hast found a fixedness of thought, that every faculty may be engaged in the contemplation, ponder well this divine perfection of Jehovah, the holiness of his nature, by which an eternal distinction is drawn between him and all his creatures. None but Jehovah can be essentially holy. Angels, who have never sinned, have indeed a holiness; but it is derived from Him, it exists not in themselves, and, in point of comparison, is but as the shadow to the substance; moreover, being in their nature mutable creatures, their holiness may be changed also: the fallen angels are proofs in point. But with Jehovah, holiness is in himself; the peculiar glory of his nature, and inseparable from his very existence. Pause over this view, for it is scriptural, and truly blessed. Go on to another observation. Thrice is the ascription of holiness given, in this sublime song of the blessed in heaven, as if to point out the personality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the Holy undivided Three, "which bear record in heaven, for these three are one," I John v. 7. When these glorious truths are suitably impressed upon thee, pause once more, and consider with what distinguishing characters the holiness of Jehovah is set forth in the word of God. The heavenly host are said to rest not day and night in proclaiming their deep sense and adoration of Jehovah in this glorious attribute. Now here is somewhat for the mind to lean upon, in contemplating Jehovah's holiness. Jehovah is eternal also, and hath commanded the church to know him as the faithful God, Deut. vii. 9. But we never read that the host of worshippers thrice repeat his eternity, or his faithfulness, in their hymns, of adoration and praise. Moreover, Jehovah himself seems to have pointed out this divine attribute as among the distinguishing excellencies he will be known by; for he singles it out to swear by: "I have sworn once by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David," Ps. lxxxix. 35. Precious thought for the poor timid believer to keep always in view! For it is as if Jehovah had said, 'I have pledged my holiness, as an attribute essential to my very nature, that what I have promised to David's Lord, even my dear Son, of the redemption of his seed, as sure as I am holy, I will most certainly perform.' Moreover, my soul, holiness is the glory of Jehovah. Hence the song of the church: "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods! who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness!" Exod. xv. 11. And hence Jehovah is said to be worshipped "in the beauties of holiness;" Ps. cx. 3. My soul! keep this also in remembrance. If the representation of an angel, or a man, were to be made, we should figure to ourselves the most beautiful countenance; and if Jehovah be represented to us, how is it done? Surely in the beauty of holiness; for God the Holy Ghost gives us "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ!" 2 Cor. iv. 6. Pause over these infinitely solemn meditations, and while thou art overawed (as, indeed, it is impossible but to be so) in the contemplation of distinguishing a perfection of the divine nature; and, moreover, as this view of God's holiness is so directly opposed to the unholiness of a poor fallen sinful creature, as thou art, look up for grace from the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and take relief in the sweet and consoling consideration, that to this glorious God thou art permitted, yea, commanded and encouraged, to draw near, in and through the holiness of thy Redeemer. Hail, blessed Jesus! upheld by the right arm of thy righteousness, and washed from all our sins in thy blood, all thy church may here draw nigh by faith, and send forth their feeble breathings in the same strain as the church in thy presence doth above, while in their hymns day and night, they shout aloud, "Holy! holy! holy! Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come!"