« PreviousContinue »
LOOKING UNTO JESUS. It is the special nature, province, and power of faith to realise to the mind the objects of its devout and holy thoughts, and to render substantial and certain to us the facts on which our eternal salvation depends; for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Heb. xi. 1. Others may imagine that they can make these things clearer and more manifest by outward signs and tokens of the things, as by a carved or molten image, in wood, stone, or metal, of Christ crucified ; by pictures, and other things that meet the eye, and serve for the devotee to gaze upon, and bow to, and cross him, self before; but the true believer closes his eyes, and retires into himself, and there, by faith, enjoys the most glorious views and assurances of those blessed things which, though “ eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive," yet “God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit," 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10. In this act of faith consists the true looking unto Jesus : He being the great object of that faith in the twofold aspect of Christ crucified and Christ glorified, exhibited by the apostle Paul in the words, “ It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us," .
“It is CHRIST THAT DIED.” Paul, in rebuking the Galatians for their perversion of the gospel, reminds them thạt “ before their eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, crucified among them." Yet Jesus was crucified at Jerusalem, a city far distant from Galatia. How then could this be said ? Because Paul knew that the truth and facts of the crucifixion had been made as manifest to the Galatians as if they had themselves witnessed them. And so ought we to apprehend him and his finished work on the cross in the same manner, in order that we also may be apprehended by him. Let us come, then, to Calvary, and there behold his death, and reflect upon his sufferings, and the occasion of them. For no offence of his own is he lifted up, for “ he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth," 1 Pet. ii. 22; he was “the Holy One of God," Mark i. 24; “ the Holy One and the Just," Acts iii. 14; “ holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners," Heb. vii. 26. How did it happen, then, that one so good and righteous could be subjected to so cruel and ignominious a death as we see him enduring? for there he hangs--his hands and feet pierced with nails, and bleeding, his body agonized with the pangs of his outstretched limbs, his drooping head testifying to the dreadful woes which he endures. Why is all this, and why is it that he, the innocent, the spotless one, the meek, compassionate, and loving one, should have to bear all this? Listen to the apostle proclaiming the truth, and hear the gracious message he was privileged to bear:-“God hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. V. 21. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isa. liii. 4–6. This, then, is the work that he is engaged in. He is doing, as throughout his life, so now in his death, “his Father's business," Luke ii. 49. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," 2 Pet. iii. 9. God "will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth," 1 Tim. ii. 4. This, the Father's gracious will concerning us sinners, the Son is engaged to accomplish; and, in looking to Jesus, we behold “God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,” 2 Cor. 8. 19. This is truly to see Christ and him crucified; this is to have him evidently set forth, crucified among us. Thus to apprehend him, and to rely on his atonement, is to believe unto JUSTIFICATION; and thus by faith beholding his finished work,
LOOKING UNTO JESUS.
“if Christ died for all, then were all dead"—and our safety, we attain to that real faith which makes him to us “ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
But, besides this view of Christ crucified, by which we look unto Jesus as purchasing our redemption for us by his humiliation and death, there is a more glorious view to be taken of him; and so the apostle, after having said, “It is Christ that died," adds with a note of triumph and of joy, “ YEA RATHER, THAT IS RISEN AGAIN, WHO IS EVEN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, WHO ALSO MAKETH INTERCESSION FOR US.” Now this is indeed a far more glorious way of looking unto Jesus; for this is to see by faith the effect, the accomplishment, the triumph, the fulfilment of what he did but begin, and yet, beginning, did in its way render complete on earth. His work below was indeed a “finished work,” but the effect of it, which is “ peace, and quietness, and assurance for ever,” Isa. xxxii. 17, will only be complete in heaven above. There, then, are we to LOOK TO HIM, and behold him in his glory, looking up, as it were, stedfastly into heaven, and seeing the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, with the clear, tranquil, and blissful gaze of faith, and having him in glory revealed as he is. And what doth he there? Why stands he at the right hand of God ? “ He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them," Heb. vii. 25. He is waiting to receive us. Gladly will he hail and welcome us, joyful and glorious shall be our acceptance there; and therefore should we, according to the words of the psalmist, thus “set the Lord always before us." But if we can thus look unto Jesus, and see in him the salvation of our souls, the entrance of our spirits into heaven, so that “where he is, there shall we be also;" then let us remember that where our treasure is, there should our heart be also, and that if we are looking unto him “in heaven itself, where he appears in the presence of God for us," Heb. ix. 24, then ought "our conversation to be in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body,
that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according : to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself,” Phil. iii. 20, 21.
Let the believer learn to look upward into heaven, to see by faith Christ his Saviour at the right hand of God, and to hear him saying from thence, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matt. xi. 28. “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” John vi. 37. “In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you.— I will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” John xiv. 2, 3.
What is that precious faith by which a man makes the righteousness of Christ his own ? If men ever be accounted righteous in God's view, it must be by a righteousness not their own. The righteousness of Christ must be pleaded before God, and by this alone can they be accepted at last. But still the question recurs, how shall we obtain it ? To the distressed, burdened, repenting sinner, who would gladly possess this righteousness, and who cannot rest without the assured knowledge of it, to such an one; a very ample direction is given by the apostle. “Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring down Christ: or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.") Give not way to such distrustful thoughts: there needs not anything new to be done by Christ for you: he has come down from heaven; he has gone through the work of performing a righteousness for you, finished by his resurrection. “ The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed,” Rom. x. 8–11.
This, then, is the answer to the question, “ What is this precious faith?” It is the receiving of this gift of righteousness in Christ. “They which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness.” Faith itself no more will justify a man than works. It justifies only as it receives Christ's justifying righteousness. Well, then, may it be called PRECIOUS. It is the closing act of the soul, by which she receives Christ, becomes one with him, and partakes of all his saving benefits, besides this of his righteousness. For he who has one benefit of redemption, has them all in right and title. Inestimably great as all this salvation of the gospel is, wonderfully joyful as its tidings are, Jesus can do no mighty works where unbelief prevails. According to men's faith, so it is unto them. Believe, that is, receive Christ heartily, (men will not do so till they see and feel themselves perfectly helpless and miserable without him,) and Christ with his righteousness and eternal life, is yours.—Rev. J. Milner.
WHAT SHALL I CARRY WITH ME INTO
ETERNITY? The apostle declares, “ We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out," 1 Tim. vi. 7. And this is true, We feel the truth of it. But let us consider for a moment what the apostle Paul says about our entrance into this world, and our departure from it.
“We brought nothing into this world.” A few years ago, we were not-we had no existence. The sun shone, but not upon us. The streets of our cities, towns, and villages, were trodden, but not by us. There were merchants and tradesmen, farniers and labourers, mechanics and operatives—but where were vie ? Where ?-not in existence. But now we are in being; we live; we are numbered with the living; a record has been made of us as living creatures in the book of God's remembrance; angels and devils know that we are alive. We came into the world at different times and under different circumstances: some