O ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD BY JOH HOWARD HI TO .
"Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, so shall good come unto thee. " Job xxii. 21. I AM not about to do battle with the atheist. ot because I have no compassion for him, nor because I am doubtful of the force of the arguments which might be adduced against him ; but I content myself, in relation to that whole controversy, with one observation. The question whetheu there is a God has never, in this world, stood in the position of a question for argument. It has, indeed, from ancient times, been made the matter of argument, and the acuteness of modern metaphysicians, whetted in some instances by the prospect of a pecuniary recompense, which serves, perhaps, chiefly to supply periodically to a controversy which might well be suffered to expire an artificial stimulus, is still largely expended upon it; the discussion, however, seems to be as far from a final settlement as ever it was, and the world, according to all appearance, may come to an end before the most primary element of human wisdom, the existence of God, shall be conclusively established by it. We attach little value to this discussion, at once endless and objectless ; and we repeat' our assertion that, whether the existence of God can be argumentatively demonstrated or not, the fact has never, in this world, stood in the position of a question for argument. According to the scriptural narrative, to our first parent God personally and directly manifested himself; with him, consequently, argument of every kind, inferential or otherwise, was simply impossible. To him the existence of God was a fact as patent and unquestionable as any other,
8 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD
and as a fact it lias come down to his posterity, taught by father to son through all generations. Whatever be the force of argument, no mau has ever been dependent upon argument for his knowledge of God's existence; every man has been taught it long before he could prove it, or even could question it. o man has either to infer it from nature, with Paley, or to reason it out & priori, with Clarke; it is handed down to him from his ancestors. All but universally mankind have accepted and appropriated the tradition. Here and there, indeed, is found a recalcitrant child of Adam, who, in words at least, denies it. On what ground 1 He does not see sufficient evidence, he tells us, that a God exists. But can he deny or disprove the fact? Without the incredible assumption of a universal tradition without a basis, he cannot; and it is nothing, even if it be time, that he is not convinced by evidence, in a case in which to evidence, however conclusive, the task of convincing him was never committed. The existence of God, then, is not a doctrine to be proved, but a fact to be accepted as an original and universal tradition. So we accept it, not as taught in the Bible (for, by a wonderful and inexplicable omission if it required such teaching, it is not taught there), but as handed down to us from the first parent of our race. o fact in the history of our kind has either a surer testimony, or a more wide and universal acceptance. The object of the course of Lectures I am now commencing is but to enlarge our acquaintance with him whom we thus know; and in the present Lecture I shall speak, first, of the IMPORTA CE of such acquaintance, and, secondly, of its SOURCES. I. I offer, in the first place, some observations on THE IMPORTA CE of acquaintance with God. Under this head I might not uunaturally suggest, that the character and attributes of God constitute, not merely a noble and elevating theme of human contemplation, but immeasurably the most noble and elevating theme to which
the mind of man can be directed. Itself a mystery, indeed, but this property it has in common with all other objects either of thought or of perception; its invaluable peculiarity is this, that it is the mystery by which all other mysteries are solved, and by the comprehensiveness of which the multitudinous mysteries of the universe, otherwise utterly in-
ITS IMPORTA CE A D SOURCES. 9 scrutable, are reduced to one, while itself is more easy to be admitted than any mystery besides. Believing in God you believe one mystery, but then every other mystery can be explained because all can be resolved into this, and you have thus one mystery instead of millions; while it is easier to believe in God and in all things with him, than in anything without him. To be unacquainted with God is to be, in the moral world, in a position similar to that of a Inan in the physical world who should close his eyes against the sunbeams, and wrap all things in an artificial and gratuitous darkness. My object, however, is rather practical than speculative, and I pass on, therefore, to the statement of two practical grounds on which the importance of acquaintance with God may be shown to rest. First, the importance of acquaintance with God arises out of the general nature of our relations to him. In the words of an apostle, he is a being "with whom we have to do," and this in respects far too important to allow us wisely to remain in ignorance of his character. 1. On the one hand, something must be due to him. ft cannot be that we have been brought into being by his power, and made the objects of his perpetual benignity, without coming under obligations of some amount to a corresponding and grateful return. The undutiful child is, by the universal sentiment of mankind, reckoned worthy of the severest reprehension which the heart of man can cherish; and it cannot be that the heavenly Father, " in whom we
live and move and have our being," and " who daily loadeth us with benefits," should, alone among parents, have 110 title to the reverence of his children. " Thus saith the Lord, If I, then, be a father, where is mine honour?" (Malachi i. 6.) 2. On the other hand, something may be expected from him. It is scarcely to be conceived that he has placed the human race on this globe merely as a theatre for their wilfulness or their amusement, for the gratification of their appetites, the indulgence of their passions, or the development of their active powers, and nothing more. This would argue a waste of resources, and something worse than waste, which it would seem impossible to ascribe to the Deity. The rational and moral powers with which mankind have so consciously been endowed, the vivid sense of right and wrong, the inextinguishable anticipation of retribution, and
10 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD the keen sensibility to praise and blame, concur to mark out man as the sure subject of some dispensation or dispensations of divine government, the issues of which cannot but be of the gravest kind. What is God 1 ? What do we owe him? And what will he do with us 1 ? are questions indubitably holding the very first place in the department of practical wisdom, and a satisfactory answer to them is certainly necessary to a well-founded peace. What rational tranquillity, indeed, can he enjoy, who, amidst whatever gratifications of time and sense, is uninformed of what clearly must be his weightiest obligations, and of those issues of this fleeting life which cannot be less than infinite and eternal 1 Art thou to live for ever, O man, and canst thou rest without knowing what thou owest to God, and what thou mayest expect from him? Secondly, the importance of acquaintance with God arises out of the particular nature of religion.
Man is made for religion by a kind of instinctive tendency to worship and consecration, however misguided as to the deity selected for the purpose; and religion, as consisting in the worship and service of the true God, is admitted by all who seriously hold his existence to be of weighty and solemn obligation. God being the exclusive object of the religious affections, therefore, it is plain that a knowledge of him, and a knowledge of him in some degree accurate and just, lies at the foundation of these affections, and is absolutely necessary to their exercise. Without such knowledge, religion, however sedulously cultivated as to external rites, must be either formal or false. 1. Religion without knowledge may be formal, and so utterly vain; consisting of mere bodily exercise or lip service, of which the apostle truly says that it "profiteth little," presenting nothing for the acceptance of the glorious Being to whom it is nominally rendered, and exerting no beneficial influence on the party by whom it is performed. 2. Religion without knowledge may be false, wholly or in part, and so pernicious. For the influence of religious worship depends entirely on the character of the deity to whom it is paid, the deity and the worshipper having in this respect a mutual action. Man most readily and profoundly worships the deity most like himself, and thus in return he becomes by his worship more like the deity whose resem-
ITS IMPORTA CE A D SOURCES. H blance to himself attracted it. It is thus with idolatry, which in a thousand forms allures the sensual and polluted heart, and which in every form makes the heart it inflames only the more polluted and sensual : the worship of the true God, in like manner, leads to a growing resemblance of him in his moral excellence and purity; but it can do so, of course, only in proportion as he is correctly known.
II. From these obvious remarks demonstrating the necessity of acquaintance with God, I proceed without further enlargement to the consideration of its SOURCES. o question can be more important for us nor is it without its difficulty than that which now arises ; namely, from what sources may a just and adequate knowledge of God be derived? T say, a knowledge of God just and adequate not perfect, for I know that " none can find out God unto perfection;" but just so far as it extends, and adequate to the practical demands of human life neither false nor feeble. Whence shall we derive it ? Five sources of divine knowledge have been indicated: i, personal insight; 2, tradition; 3, manifestation; 4, analogy; and, 5, revelation. I shall notice these in the order in which I have named them. i. A claim has been set up by a modern writer to know God by personal insight, or by direct intuition. It needs nothing, he assures us, but to think closely, in order to see directly into the mind of God, and to know what he is with as much precision and certainty as attends our knowledge of other subjects. This is a scheme which I .cannot pretend here fully to discuss, but on which I make in passing the following remarks. (i). I remark, then, that, even if this were so, and for the sake of argument admitting what is so confidently asserted, it would be of no use in a world in which so many persons are not willing, and so many more are not able, to think closely. Such a doctrine might possibly serve for the few whose minds have had the benefit of enlarged and early culture, and whose powers of speculative thought have, by long training, acquired both accuracy and vigour ; but to the majority of the human race its application would appear to be simply impracticable. What, for example, is to be said of children and young persons, not too young for religious obligations and responsibilities, but far too young for a trust-
12 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD worthy insight into God ? What is to be said for the untutored population of even Christian lands, immersed in a darkness "which may be felt'"? Or what, finally, for the crowds who lie buried amidst the shadows of a multiform paganism, and who are assuredly as incapable of a direct insight into God as they are of mastering Kant's philosophy, or ewton's Principia 1 Yet the whole value of this scheme consists in its being universally applicable, and capable of being used by every man for himself; since those who cannot make a personal iise of it are not only excluded from its benefit, but constitute an exception which vitiates the entire project. (2). Again, still for the sake of argument admitting the scheme propounded, we may ask, of what use can a method be which is variable in its results 1 If, indeed, there were any considerable number of persons professing to have a direct insight into God telling us that they had each seen the same thing, and portraying the same character as presented to their penetrating vision, there might be some attention due to so wonderful a fact, especially if these modern seers had arisen in different countries, and grown up under the influence of different systems. But neither this, nor anything like it, is the fact. As yet the pretenders to such vision are very few, and we do not know that any two of them have had the same view of God, while we do know that some of them materially differ. And what could the I'esult be if the millions of the earth's population, or the inhabitants of a single country, were to make experiments with this new instrument of speculation, but that they should see, not the brightness and glory of one common sun, but the kaleidoscopic varieties of his refracted light? A small contribution, certainly, to the illumination of the world. (3). In truth, it may be laid down as a principle not to be
overthrown, that God, in his essential nature and attributes, is not subject to direct contemplation. There are other beings besides himself, and far inferior to him in glory, who are not so. Human beings are not so. We can defy the shrewdest philosopher that ever lived to acquire any direct insight into the nature of our faculties or character. Of the former he may judge from analogy by his own consciousness, and the latter he may infer from its outward expression, but
ITS IMPORTA CE A D SOURCES. 13 no more; the interior is a holy place into which no human eye can penetrate. And if it be so with man, how much more so with God ! Assuredly, of him we can know with confidence only what we are, in some manner, told of him. (4). or is it difficult to understand what those do see who fancy that they have a direct insight into God. While imagining that they are looking into the divine nature, they are in reality but looking into their own, and what they see is not God, but themselves. How should it be otherwise, since there is absolutely nothing else for them to see ? The inquiry they are prosecuting is not what God is, but what, according to their best notions of God, they may expect him to be ; which best notions, accordingly, when carefully formed, they group together into an imaginary being whom they call God, and fancy they have seen him. It is thus that, upon this system, we should have more gods than ever filled the temples, or were named in the fables, of paganism as many, in a word, as there are persons in the world, and nowhere among them all the God that made the earth and the heavens. 2. The pretence of personal insight failing, we ask whether God can be satisfactorily known by tradition? It is by tradition, certainly, that our acquaintance with God actually comes to us. As a parent naturally teaches to
his child what he himself knows or believes, so above all things he teaches to his child what he knows or believes of God; and this knowledge is imbibed during the period and with the simplicity of infancy, at once without suspicion and without inquiry. It is in this way that is, by instruction delivered down from father to son that we all acquire our first conceptions of God. If we trace this traditional instruction back to its fountain, we shall undoubtedly find it pure and authentic. God himself is its oiigin : and, had there been found means of securing it from admixture or corruption, it might have served for all generations of men the purpose it so well served for the first. Proofs are but too abundant, however, that man's traditional knowledge of God has awfully degenerated. The corruption of man's heart speedily affected his conceptions of the Deity, and caused him to turn in aversion from holy and spiritual to gross and polluted ideas. He required, in fact, a god like himself, and after his own heart he made to himself "lords many and
14 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD gods many." "Professing themselves to be wise," says the apostle, men "became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to fourfooted beasts, and creeping things" (Romans i. 22, 23). And more than this, they made their gods vicious that they might have vindicators and patrons of their vices; and, "as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, he gave them over to a reprobate mind" (verse 28). Thus fearfully corrupted, tradition is, of course, useless as an introduction to acquaintance with God. Of the existence of God it still supplies a pi-oof, since there is no accounting for a tradition so universal but on the supposition of its truth ; but it teaches with correctness no more. The true aspect of the Deity it has lost, and it presents us in its stead with only caricature, distortion, and falsehood. 3. God, however, has effected a manifestation of himself
by his works, and from these, perhaps, his character may be satisfactorily learned. ow we cannot question for a moment either the fact or the value of such manifestation. That something may thus be learned of God, and something both just and important, is indubitable. Hear, for example, an apostle: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clezfrly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead" (Romans i. 20). Hear the first master of ancient song : " The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament showeth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard ; Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world." Psalm xix. 1-4. Hear, also, a gifted seer of the olden time : " Lift up your eyes on high, Behold, who hath created these things, That bringeth out their host by number : He calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, For that he is strong in power not one faileth." Isaiah xl. 26. Hear, finally, the sweet singer of Israel, as he casts his eye over God's providential administration :
ITS IMPORTA CE A D SOURCES. 15 " Lord, how manifold are thy works !
In wisdom hast thou made them all : The earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, Wherein are creeping things innumerable, Both small and great beasts. There go the ships ; There is that leviathan whom thou hast made to play therein. These all wait upon thee, That thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather : Thou openest thine hand and they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face and they are troubled; Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, and they are created : Thou renewest the face of the earth." Psalm civ. 24-30. But the instruction conveyed by the works and the providence of God, although of great value, and undoubtedly correct as far as it goes, does not go far enough to answer man's need, if justly appreciated. There are, indeed, persons who, in a kind of sentimentalism which they mistake for religion, profess to think it enough, and pretend at once to satisfy themselves with what can be seen of God in the verdant fields and the starry sky, and to think that he will be satisfied with a dreamy worship rendered to him in this temple of nature. We have no sympathy with this idle romance. To us, at least, and to our guidance and satisfaction, more is necessary; and this for two reasons. (i). The knowledge imparted by God's works of nature and providence is too limited. We want to know more than either or both of these instructors can teach us, and this, not for the gratification of a speculative curiosity, but for purposes most practical and immediate. What are the nature and conditions of God's moral government 1 ? What are the position and prospects of those who have violated his law,
and incurred its penalties'? Is there hope of mercy, and what is the method of its exercise 1 ? These are questions which man's anxious heart and guilty conscience propound with a vehemence not to be repressed; but they are questions to which neither nature nor providence afford an answer. Can these mute oracles, dumb when they should speak the loudest, be adequate instructors for man ? (2). Again, the indications supplied by the works and ways of God are too conflicting. For the aspects of nature
I 6 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD and providence are not uniform, nor do they deliver a testimony one and simple. or are they only variable and equivocal, they are in some cases contradictory. The fertilizing shower and the refreshing breeze tell of divine benignity ; but what message is borne by the destructive deluge and the fierce tornado 1 The endless forms of animal life are lovely expressions of the delight in happiness felt by their Author; but what, then, is indicated by death, which is demonstrated to have existed long anterior to sin, and by the internecine strife rendered inevitable in the animal world by the formation of creatures of prey ? Is it divine benevolence that directs the course of the eagle, the shark, or the tiger, when in pursuit respectively of their victims ? Or, to turn from nature to providence, do the lovely features of an assumed benevolent Deity suffer no distortion when we attempt to trace them in a world so full, through successive ages, of physical and moral evil ] Are the woes and the crimes of men, with all the malignity of the one and all the bitterness of the other, fitting streams to issue from a fountain of love? If we assign the introduction of sin as accounting for these fearful phenomena, what is to account for the introduction of sin itself, as permitted by a benevolent being, with a foresight of the desolation and ruin it woitid entail 1 ?
We do not say these things to cast even a momentary doubt on the goodness of the Creator, which we believe to be unquestionable; but to show that the evidence supplied by the natural and providential world is conflicting, and therefore unsatisfactory, itself requiring an interpreter, as does the greater mystery to which it relates. We know that various efforts have been made to solve the difficulty which thus presents itself, from the ancient philosophical speculation of a twofold divinity, the one malevolent and the other benign, to the simpler supposition that, on the whole, good overbalances evil; but these efforts have been attended with only partial success. To every reflective observer the difficulty still remains ; not irremovable, it is true, by light from another quarter, but and this is all we affirm requiring light from another quarter in order to remove it. 4. From whence, then, may this further light be derived? May we look from the limited and conflicting testimony of nature and providence to the intellectual and rational being
ITS IMPORTA CE A D SOURCES. 17 whom God has placed in this world, as supplying an analogy by which we may form a judgment of himself? That there is an analogy between the human nature and the divine cannot be doubted. God is emphatically said to have created man in his own likeness; and it is clear that, to whatever extent man is in the likeness of God, to the same extent also God must be in the likeness of man. Such a resemblance, indeed, is implied in the current language respecting God employed by the sacred writers, whose whole style may be said to be based on this idea. Thus God is said to see, to hear, to speak 5 to know, to choose, to love, to hate; to be wise, to be just, to be righteous, to be merciful: all which terms, and many others of the same class, are primarily applicable to ourselves, and are from ourselves transferred to the Divine Being, a sufficient analogy being
supposed. Did no such analogy exist, it can scarcely be believed that inspired men would have been led to employ a phraseology in that case so much adapted to mislead. Further, the existence of an analogy of some extent between God and man is absolutely necessary to our acquiring any knowledge of God at all, since without it there is no possibility of knowing him. or, indeed, is it possible but by help of analogy to know any other being than ourselves. The creatm-es around us are more or less like ourselves, and in as far as they are so we readily become acquainted with them ; but where this resemblance ceases our knowledge also ceases, and if inquiry is made as to the reason why its progress is arrested, it is enough to say that we have arrived at something to which we find in ourselves no analogy. The same link which thus connects us with the lower, doubtless connects us also with the higher order of beings, and ultimately with the highest and origin of all. The analogy between God and man, however, the existence of which is undoubted, and which may safely be regarded as adapted to impart to us some just ideas of our Maker, has appropriate, and, indeed, narrow, limits, which require to be carefully observed. We should grievously err, for example, if we should be led by it to ascribe to the Divine Being bodily members, senses, and appetites. We should err no less if we were to ascribe to him the instincts which characterize animal life ; such as the instinct of self-defence, for instance, known in the human race under the name of resentment. c
1 8 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD or should we allow ourselves to conceive of God as the subject of intellectual processes or mental affections exactly like pur own, or as experiencing either the emotional excitement of the one, or the cerebral activity of the other. In fine, we should exclude from our notions of him the idiosyn-
crasies which lie at the basis of constitutional differences among men, and contribute so much to give to every one a character peculiarly his own. And to all these limitations must be added, of course, the repudiation of eveiy thing which possesses the nature of either physical or moral defect. Thus guarded, and jealously guarded, analogy may teach us something of God; but only something still, and this with little authority, and with constant liability to error. It is, in truth, to no small extent that by the influence of analogy some of our most important conceptions of God and his ways are modified. To take only a single example. Some persons have a constitutional sense of justice so strong, that it evidently facilitates their accepting the most awful views of the future punishment of the ungodly; while others have so warm a sentiment of benevolence, that they more tenaciously cling to the belief of the final extinction of evil, both physical and moral It is evident, therefore, that, as man is no absolute model of God, so he is ill-fitted to judge positively of the degree in which his Maker is like himself. 5. It is needful, then, that we appeal to the only remaining source from which a satisfactory knowledge of God can be derived revelation. God himself must tell us what he is, if ever we are to know it truly; in his voice all will recognize a wisdom in which they may confide, and an authority to which they must submit. That such a process is " possible with God " cannot for a moment be doubted ; it may also be deemed in the highest degree probable, since, in the defectiveness of all other sources of this important and indispensable knowledge, it is most necessary ; and we are thankful to know that it is actually realized in the blessed book which now lies before us. Let us reverently listen to its instructions. The revelation of God's character may assume three forms. First, the historical. Such, for example, is the Old Testament; an exhibition, in a series of facts constituting a portion of the divine administration of the world, of the character of the Ruler. There we behold what, more directly or
ITS IMPORTA CE A D SOURCES. 19 indirectly, he has done, and we may with ease and certainty gather from it what he is. Secondly, with the historical revelation of God is combined the doctrinal. In this form direct instruction in the knowledge of God is given to us in magnificent passages of Holy Writ almost innumerable, of which a few instances may be presented to you. Listen to an ancient bard : " Lord my God, thou art very great, Thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Thou coverest thyself with light as with a garment, Thou stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. He layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters, He maketh the clouds his chariot, He walketh upon the wings of the wind. He maketh his angels spirits, His ministers a naming lire." Psalm civ. 1-4. Let the voice of the Lord himself instruct you, while he proclaims himself to his servant Moses: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus xxxiv. 6). Similar, but more explicit, is the evangelical testimony : " God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John iii. 16). You will all recollect of how great number, variety, and beauty, are passages of this kind in the Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and the ew Testaments. It is impossible
to overrate their value, or with too much reverence to study them. Together, they constitute a portrait of unequalled and unapproachable excellence, and one which could have been delineated only by the finger of God himself. Thirdly, a personal revelation of God is added to the historical and the doctrinal. We have this in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture presents him to us as God incarnate, and his name is called Immanuel, " which is, being interpreted, God with us." In this respect our blessed Lord occupies a position of the greatest importance, and supplies what might otherwise have proved a painful deficiency. " o man hath seen God at any time," but "the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John i. 18). " The brightness of the Father's glory,
20 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. and the express image " of the divine person (Hebrews i. 3) is he, and his life affords us an exhibition of the divine character at once incomparably vivid, and absolutely just. "He that hath seen me," said our Lord, "hath seen the Father" (John xiv. 9). An unspeakable facility for advancing our acquaintance with God is thus supplied to us. The divine is presented to us in the human, and a being who is perfectly like ourselves becomes to us the interpreter of one who is imperfectly so. The actual likeness of God to ourselves, indeed, is thus assured to us: for, if there were no kindred between the human and the divine, they could not thus harmoniously have been blended into a single human person; but the likeness is here not marred either by sin, by infirmity, or by constitutional peculiarity. The countenance, the language, and the life are man's, but they exhibit a portrait of undefaced divinity. The pure, the gentle, the wise, the true, are here in their unsullied beauty, and their infinite perfection. Such is the discovery which this holy volume unfolds to
us. Here we become acquainted with God, and here alone. How unspeakable is its value ! How indispensable ! How satisfactory ! Of the character of God as revealed in the Bible I shall, of course, say nothing now, as we are about to enter at large on the successive illustration of its principal aspects. May wisdom be given us for the profitable pursuit of so important and so interesting a study, that "so good may come unto us." I observe only, in conclusion, that, with all its fulness, God is only partially revealed, even in the Bible. As seen in his ways he is wrapped in mystery. As the subject of dogmatical instruction he is but an ideal being to be realized by a heart which responds to the idea. As seen in his Son he shines through a veil of flesh, the deadening effect of which was necessary to mitigate the ardour of too intense a brightness. It awaits us in a still higher sense to "see God." At present our knowledge is imperfect. And the imperfection of our knowledge reminds us that it is intended, not for the gratification of the intellect, but for the guidance of reason, the culture of the heart, and the direction of the life. For this the knowledge given us is enough : vain if, half enlightened, it leaves us quarrelling with the mysteries which the light, perhaps, has only rendered more awful ; but adequate and invaluable if we will be guided by it to the mildly -radiant footstool of his mercy, in preparation for our access to the refulgent splendours of his throne.
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