20 NOVEMBER (PREACHED 1770)
Above the clouds
‘While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.’ Luke 9:34
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Revelation 4:1–11
The ordinances and means by which the Lord converses with his people are answerable to this cloud. They are bright compared with the dark things of this world, but they are dark and cloudy with respect to that full knowledge and view of his glory which shall shine upon his people when they are permitted to see his face. While in one sense they reveal him to us, in another they hide him from us. They are suited to our present state of weakness and imperfection, but we shall not be quite happy, the desires he has given us will not be perfectly satisfied, till we get above them all. In the meantime we have cause to be thankful:
(i) for the superior light and liberty we enjoy by the gospel above what was vouchsafed to the servants of God under the Old Testament dispensation. They saw our privileges afar off, and would have rejoiced to share in them (Matthew 13:17).
(ii) for the assurances we have that the best we now enjoy is exceedingly short of that full portion reserved for us hereafter. It doth not yet appear what we shall be [1 John 3:2]. There is not so much difference between a believer’s darkest and brightest hours here, as between his sweetest enjoyments now and the glory that awaits him hereafter.
FOR MEDITATION: Mr Cowper was afflicted with what is called a nervous complaint to such a degree as might justly be called insanity. I have had hopes the Lord would remove his malady a little time before his death, but it continued. The last twelve hours of his life … he lay in a state of apparent insensibility. But I seem to think that while the curtains were taking[being taken] down in the tabernacle [of his body that was] removing, glory broke in upon his soul. The Lord had set his seal upon him and though he had not seen him he had grace to love him. He was one of those who came out of great tribulation. He suffered much here for twenty-seven years, but eternity is long enough to make amends for all. For what is all he endured in this life, when compared with that rest which remaineth for the children of God?312
John Newton’s Funeral Sermon for William Cowper, May 1800
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 8 [3/5], LUKE 9:34