A man must know the Lord's name before ever he can feel any real love to him. Now this is needful, this is what the Lord does for his people, he causes them to know his name. "They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest" (Jer. 31:34). "They shall all;" they shall. The Lord has declared it. They shall know me.
Now what is the name of the Lord? When God revealed himself unto Moses, did he not say, "I AM THAT I AM?" This was the way God taught Moses his name, and we may gather from it that whatever God is, that is his name. God is holy, God is just, God is merciful, God is a God of love. Now the sinner must know this. He must know that God is a pure and holy God, and at first when he is beginning to learn this lesson, he is completely astonished and appalled by it. It causes him to shrink away and hide himself from God. "How can I appear before God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity?" he cries. And so you see it brings distress into his conscience.
It is the first work of the Spirit to "convince of sin," and a sense of God's holiness is that which brings us this conviction—our sin and God's purity. How can the sinner appear before and approach to God? And while he is under the terrors of the law, he is full of distress, and at times, perhaps, wishes he had never been born, and at other times he is tempted with hard thoughts of God, reaping where he had not sown, and gathering where he had not strawed. This is how God is seen in his perverted mind. The devil is at him, and tries all he can to harden his heart against the Almighty. But the terrors of the Almighty have taken hold of him, and he tries many ways to get these arrows extracted; but all his tugging and pulling only make the wound worse. And so he goes on until he is brought to see that God is a God of mercy,—and this is revealed to him in and through the Lord Jesus. This is what clears up the mystery, when he sees Christ bleeding on the cross. Here he sees God is both a just God and a Saviour. God is pure and holy, and exacts to the utmost farthing all the enormous debt he owes, and yet to the bleeding, broken heart, he, through Christ, can and does manifest his mercy.