The glory of the Lord is his presence in the soul, for that is represented by the cloud, as it was when his glory filled the house of God, which Solomon built. Now this glory of the Lord in the cloud and smoke by day, and in the shining of a flaming fire by night, is to be a defence, both upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion and upon her assemblies. A defence against what? Chiefly against four things.
1. First, it is a defence against error. No person can embrace error who knows anything of the presence and power of God in his soul, or has ever seen anything of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; for all error is opposed not only to God's truth, as revealed in the word, but to God's presence, as revealed in the heart. And this is true both as regards individuals and churches. God will never sanction error as held by either. He will never bless with his manifested presence any erroneous man, be he minister or private individual, for he never honours or blesses anything but his own truth, and those only who believe and hold it. "Them that honour me I will honour."
This is a very important point, for you will often hear erroneous men speak as if they knew spiritual things by divine teaching and by divine testimony, and will often boast confidently of their comforts and enjoyments, as if they had got their views from God himself, though they turn the truth of God into a lie. But be not deceived by these men or their false pretensions. They have only kindled a fire to compass themselves about with sparks, that they may walk in the light of their fire, and in the sparks which they have kindled. They Spirit of truth guides into all truth, and cannot and will not countenance or bless error. The Lord's own prayer to his heavenly Father for his disciples was, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." The soul never was divinely sanctified by a lie, nor the heart truly comforted by error.
2. But this glory will also be a defence against all evil; for nothing makes sin so to be seen and abhorred as sin as the presence of the Lord. He is known and felt at such moments to be infinitely pure and holy, and a holy God must needs hate sin. If, then, his presence be felt in the soul as a cloud in which he manifests his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, it will be a defence against all the sins in which you might be entangled, when there is no such sensible presence to make you revere and adore his great and glorious Majesty.
3. It is, therefore, also a defence against all temptations, which would lead us into anything contrary to God and godliness.
4. And it will be a defence too against all enemies. You may have many enemies, both without and within; but all their attempts to injure you will be unsuccessful if you have the cloud of the Lord's presence in your soul, and his glory in your midst. No enemy can hurt you if the Lord be your defence. He will watch very jealously over what he himself has communicated by his Spirit and grace to your heart, and his presence will be your best defence against every foe and against every fear.