I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.…
In the warmth of the debate which took place between Job and his friends, and in the anguish of his sufferings, Job had used some impatient expressions respecting the conduct of God towards him. For these he was first reproved by Elihu, and then by God Himself, who, with unspeakable force and majesty, displays the glory of the Divine perfections. Job was deeply humbled, and acknowledges in the strongest terms his own vileness and insignificance. The impressions he now had of the majesty and glory, the wisdom and holiness, of God, were far stronger and more distinct than any he had felt before. From this passage of Scripture we learn that a clear view of the perfections of God has a powerful effect in producing repentance. But the view of the Divine perfections which has this tendency, it ought to be understood, is not a speculative knowledge of the natural attributes of the Deity, but a spiritual and affecting discovery of it is moral excellencies; of the glory of His infinite purity, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
1. It convinces us of sin, by bringing to light those evils which the deceitfulness of our own hearts is apt to hide from our view. There is a light and glory in the presence of God which exposes the works of darkness, and tends to produce a deep sense of our sinfulness. Nor is it difficult to explain how it is that a view of the Divine glory produces this effect. By applying a straight rule to a line we discover all its unevennesses. What is deformed appears more frightful when compared with what is beautiful. In the same way, a clear view of the purity of God, and of His constant presence with us, and inspection over us, tends to bring those sins to light, and to cover us with confusion on account of them, which before we contrived to justify, excuse, or conceal. This truth may be further illustrated by the different behaviour of vicious persons, when in society like themselves, and when in that of men eminent for piety.
2. A view of the glory of God serves to point out the evil of sin, with its aggravations, and to take away all excuse from the sinner. When the law of God shows us our sins, and condemns us for them, we may be ready to complain of it as severe; but when we see that law to be but a copy of the moral perfections of God, and when we contemplate those perfections, we must be convinced that all sin must be hateful to God, and must necessarily be opposed to His nature. A view of the glory of God produces such a conviction of His rights as our Creator, and of our obligations as the creatures of His hand, as constrains us to acknowledge His justice in the punishment of sin. When we reflect on the omnipresence and omniscience of God, how great appears to be the folly of thinking to veil even our most secret sins from Him! When we reflect on His power, how does it add to the guilt and madness of presumption! This is in a more especial manner the effect of a view of the glory of God as it shines forth in Jesus Christ. The unparalleled love shown to sinners in the Gospel greatly heightens their ingratitude. It may be said in general, that it is a light sense of the evil of sin which leads men to commit it; and when they have committed it, to frame excuses for it; and also to indulge a hope that the threatenings against sin will not be executed. But a discovery of the glory of God, and particularly of His infinite holiness and justice, by showing the evil of sin in its true colours, sweeps away all such delusions.
3. A proper view of the glory of God serves further to point out the danger of sin.
4. Lastly, a view of the glory of God tends to produce repentance, because, by setting before us His infinite mercy, it encourages us to turn to Him.
1. We may learn from this subject the force of those passages of Scripture in which the knowledge of God is put for the whole of religion — "Know the Lord." "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." On the other hand, the wicked are described as those "that know not God." The truth is, God is either wholly unknown to wicked men, or greatly mistaken by them.
2. From what has been said we may also learn the great danger of a state of ignorance. If repentance take its rise from a knowledge of the perfections of God, does it not follow that those who are ignorant of Him must be in a deplorable state, strangers to the power and practice of religion, and that if they die in this state they must perish everlastingly?
3. We may learn also, from what has been said, the absolute necessity of regeneration, or an inward change of heart. It is not, as has been already observed, a speculative knowledge of the nature and perfections of God that leads to repentance, but an affecting view of His excellence and amiableness. This none can have, but those who are in some measure changed into the same image. And true Christians will see, from what has been said, how closely connected the right knowledge of God — in other words, true religion — is with humility and self-abasement.
Parallel VersesKJV: I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.