The Glory of the Redeemer in His People
"I am glorified in them." John 17:10
Upborne on the pinion of faith, we have been soaring to the third heaven, contemplating for awhile the glory of our Emmanuel within the veil. Sweet and ravishing sight! Soon, oh! so soon to be seen without a glass; and seen but to be transformed into the same glory! The further consideration of our subject recalls us again to earth, to behold yet another manifestation of the glory of the Redeemer- even His glory in His saints. The unfolding of this truth will be found to confirm and illustrate another equally important one; namely, the perfect oneness of Christ and His Church, and the consequent reciprocity of interest and affection which exists: thus showing, that while Christ represents the Church above, the Church represents Christ below; while she is glorified with Him in heaven, He is glorified in her on earth. Holy, blessed, and indissoluble unity!
The manifested glory of Christ in His Church is clearly and emphatically stated in the sublime prayer of our dear Lord, to which we have already had occasion more than once to allude. Addressing His Father, He claims with Him- what no mere creature could do- a conjunction of interest in the Church, based upon an essential unity of nature. "All mine are Yours, and Your are mine, and I am glorified in them." What angel in heaven could adopt this language, what creature on earth could present this claim- "All Yours are mine!" It would be an act of the most daring presumption; it would be the very inspissation of blasphemy: but when our Lord asserts it- asserts it, too, in a solemn prayer, addressed on the eve of His death to His Father- what does it prove, but that a unity of property in the Church involves a unity of essence in being? There could be no perfect oneness of the Father and the Son in any single object, but as it sprang from a oneness of nature. We think this demonstratively true. Two things equal to a given thing, must be equal to each other. The axiom will apply with equal force to the truth before us. Convincing evidence of His Deity! Oh reject it not! He that lives and dies in the disbelief of the absolute Godhead of Jesus is lost forever. I assume not the office of his judge: I pronounce not the sentence of his condemnation. He who shall judge him in the last day has already foredoomed him- "If you believe not that I AM He, you shall die in your sins."
The mutual interest, then, which Christ thus claims with His Father, refers, in this instance, specifically to the Church of God. And it is delightful here to trace the perfect equality of love towards the Church as of perfect identity of interest in the Church. We are sometimes tempted to doubt the perfect sameness, as to degree, of the Father's love with the Son's love; that, because Jesus died and intercedes, the mind thus wont to familiarize itself with Him more especially, associating Him with all its comforting, soothing, hallowing views and enjoyments, we are liable to be beguiled into the belief that His love must transcend in its strength and intensity the love of the Father. But not so. The Father's love is of perfect equality in degree, as it is in nature, with the Son's love; and this may with equal truth be affirmed of the "love of the Spirit." "He that has seen me," says Jesus, "has seen the Father." Then he that has seen the melting, overpowering expressions of the Redeemer's love- he that has seen Him pouring out His deep compassion over the miseries of a suffering world; he that has seen His affectionate gentleness towards His disciples; he that has seen Him weep at the grave of Lazarus; he that has followed Him to the garden of Gethsemane, to the judgment-hall of Pilate, and from thence to the cross of Calvary, has seen in every step which He trod, and in every act which He performed, a type of the deep, deep love which the Father bears towards His people. He that has thus seen the Son's love has seen the Father's love. Oh, sweet to think, the love that travailed- the love that toiled- the love that wept- the love that bled- the love that died, is the same love, in its nature and intensity, which is deep-welled in the heart of the triune God, and is pledged to secure the everlasting salvation of the Church. "All mine are Yours, and Yours are mine, and I am glorified in them."
We are now to show IN WHAT PARTICULARS THE REDEEMER IS GLORIFIED IN HIS CHURCH.
He is glorified in being the covenant Head of all blessing to His people. How distinctly has the Holy Spirit declared this precious truth- "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (things) in Christ." Here is our true Joseph with all the treasures which a Father's love can bestow, or which the covenant of grace provides, placed in His hands and at His disposal. It has "pleased the Father" to constitute Him the Head of the Church, and that in Him, as such, "all fulness should dwell." Here, too, is our true spiritual Eliakim, of whom it is sweetly prophesied, "And they shall hang upon Him all the glory of His Father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups even to all the vessels of flagons." Isa. xxii. 24. Who sustains, as 'a nail fastened in a sure place,' all the glory of the Church, but Jesus? In Christ the Church is chosen. In Christ it is preserved. In Christ it lives. In Christ it is pardoned. In Christ it is justified. In Christ it is sanctified. In Christ it will be glorified. Thus does all the glory of the spiritual house hang on Christ- He is its foundation, He is its corner-stone; in Him; "fitly framed together, it grows up a holy temple in the Lord;" and He will be the top-stone, which shall be brought forth on the day of its completion, amid the shoutings of "Grace, grace unto it!"
On Him, too, hang all the 'vessels' of the house, the 'vessels of cups and the vessels of flagons;' the small and the great, the young and the old, the feeble and the strong, all the saints hang on Jesus, and Jesus supports and supplies all. See, how the 'vessels of cups, the vessels of small quantity,' hang upon Him, and how He supplies them. "And, behold, there came a leper, and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." "And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto You my son, who has a dumb spirit . . . . and ofttimes it has cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if You can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, You dumb and deaf spirit, I charge you come out of him, and enter no more into him." "And, behold, a woman, who was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: for she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment I shall be whole. But Jesus turned Him about; and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; your faith has made you whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour." "And He said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with me in Paradise." "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But He answered her not a word. . . . . Then came she and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, help me. But He answered and said, It is not fit to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is your faith: be it unto you even as you will."
Behold, how these 'vessels of small quantity' hang on
Jesus; and behold, how He sustains and fills them. They are but as 'vessels
of cups'- their knowledge is defective, their grace is limited, their
experience but shallow, their faith but small, and they themselves but
little- oh! how little, who can tell?- in their own eyes; yet, coming thus
to Jesus' grace, exclaiming-
"Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on You,"
He receives them, He welcomes them, He bears them up, He supplies them, He fills them; He rejoices in their feeble grace, He despises not their little strength, He crowns their weak faith, He grants them the utmost desires of their hearts. Oh, what a Jesus is our Jesus! Were ever such gentleness, tenderness, and skill manifested towards the "bruised reed and the smoking flax? "
Dear reader, are you a 'vessel of small quantity?' It may be that, through the infirmities that encompass you, the trials that oppress you, the temptations that assail you, the clouds that surround you, you can receive Christ's fulness but in a limited degree; truth is understood but partially, there being doctrines, perhaps, hard to be understood, and precepts still harder to be obeyed. Light beams in upon the mind but faintly, the Scripture statement of the heart's deep subtlety and desperate wickedness is but slowly, cautiously, doubtingly received; the daily cross imposed by Christian discipleship, sometimes taken up, as often laid down; the rough way wounding the feet, the strait way causing them to stumble. Christ's grand atonement, His one, perfect obedience, His great and finished work, the sprinkling of His blood upon the conscience, the completeness of a believing soul in His righteousness, and the consequent "peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," but little known. These, it may be, are some of the features that mark your case. Yet, feeling your own vileness, and Christ's sufficiency and preciousness, and constrained to hang on Him solely and exclusively, as all your salvation and all your desire; though you can receive but a 'small quantity' of knowledge, of grace, and of love, you are yet a 'vessel of gold' in His house, and Jesus bears you on His heart, sets you as a seal upon His arm, and presents you each moment before God complete in Himself.
But there are also in this house "vessels of flagons," the larger vessels- saints of a deep grace, of gigantic faith, of profound knowledge. Hear one of them exclaim, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Oh how abundantly did this beloved apostle drink of "the river of God!" How deeply did he sink into the ocean of Christ's fulness! How high did he soar into the beatific presence of God, until sweeping the heavens with his expanded pinions, all the treasures that sparkle there seemed gathered into his soul. Yet, a large vessel though it was, in himself he was poor, vile, and empty; counting himself as the "chief of sinners," esteeming himself "less than the least of all saints," and ascribing all that he was as a renewed man to "the grace of God." In this his poverty, vileness, and emptiness, he hung with the small vessel, solely, entirely on Christ. The thief saved at the last moment, and Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, side by side hung on Jesus. "Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." Both were pardoned with the same blood, both were justified by the same righteousness, both were filled from the same source, and both are now in glory, chanting the same song, and together casting their crowns before the throne. Thus is Jesus made the "Head over all things to His Church;" and His Church becomes in all its members, be they small or great, "the fulness of Him that fills all in all." Thus is Christ glorified in them. And oh, what infinite mind can compute the revenue of glory thus accruing to the Redeemer through His saints?
In the conversion of His people- their translation from nature to grace, the Redeemer is glorified. This is the first step to a manifest glorifying of Christ in His called saints. Conversion is the commencement of an endless revenue of glory to Christ. To behold a poor sinner living a life of practical enmity to God, hatred to Jesus, rebellion against the Divine government, and wilful and determined hostiliy to the one glorious plan of salvation; perhaps a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious; now changed, now conquered, now sitting at the feet of Jesus, "clothed and in his right mind," oh, is there no glory thus brought to the grace of Christ Jesus? To see him translated out of darkness into God's marvellous light; emancipated from the power of sin and Satan, and made the Lord's free man; the rebellious will conquered, the hard heart subdued, the proud spirit humbled, the hatred turned into love, and the long roving mind now finding its center of rest and fountain of happiness in the reconciled God, oh! is there no crown of glory placed on the head of Jesus in all this? Say, you angelic spirits, bending over the mercy-seat in deep contemplation of its awful mysteries of incarnate grace and dying love- whose eyes glisten and whose bosoms expand with new effulgence and joy over one sinner that repents, do you see no glory deepening around the Son of God, as each vessel of mercy is called in, emptied of self, and filled with Jesus? Yet not to angels, but to saints themselves, we appeal. Hear the testimony of one- "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, that he who persecuted us in times past, now preached the faith which one he destroyed. And they glorified God in me." Oh, how are the power, the wisdom, the grace, the love of the Redeemer glorified, and God through Him, by every new accession thus made to the number of the redeemed! Aim to be instrumental in bringing one soul to receive the Lord Jesus as all its salvation, and you bring more glory to His name than were a thousand worlds like this to start into being at your fiat. "Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever."
But how is He glorified in God's acceptance of His people through Him! Who can entertain a doubt of this, that has any experimental knowledge of the great work of the Lord Jesus? Look at this for one moment. God's justification of the believing sinner through the righteousness of His Son, is His seal to the perfection, and efficacy, and worth of Christ's obedience and death. What glory, suppose you, would encircle the form of Gabriel, were it possible for Jehovah to accept a poor sinner in his righteousness! How high would this act advance him in dignity, and honor, and praise above all celestial intelligences! But oh! we stand, beloved, in a better and a diviner righteousness than that of angel or archangel; we stand in the righteousness of the incarnate God! and that God, the holy Lord God, should accept a poor sinner in the righteousness of His Son, places that Son in the ascendant of all creatures, "dwelling in light," the full effulgence of which "no man has seen, nor can see." This truth, unfolded to his soul by the Holy Spirit, constrained an eminent saint of God to exclaim, "Had I all the faith of the patriarchs, all the zeal of the prophets, all the good works of the apostles, all the holy suffering of the martyrs, and all the glowing devotion of the seraphs; I would disclaim the whole, in point of dependence, and count all but dross and dung when compared with the infinitely precious death and the infinitely meritorious righteousness of Jesus Christ my Lord." But one yet more eminent for his deep experience of this truth, has thus recorded his testimony: "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." Who can compute the glory brought to Jesus by God's full justification of the poor believing sinner through the righteousness of His beloved Son?
He is glorified in the progressive holiness of His people. "The kingdom of God is within you," says Christ. The increase of this kingdom is just the measure and extent of the believer's advance in sanctification. This is that internal righteousness, the work of God the Holy Spirit, which consists in the subjugation of the mind, the will, the affections, the desires, yes, the whole soul, to the government and supremacy of Jesus, "bringing into captivity," says the apostle, "every thought to the obedience of Christ." Oh, you who are "striving against sin," longing to be "conformed to the image of God's Son," panting to be more "pure in heart," "hungering and thirsting for righteousness," think that in every step which you take in the path of holiness, in every corruption subdued, in every besetting sin laid aside, in every holy desire begotten, Christ is glorified in you! But you perhaps reply, "the more I strive for the mastery, the more I seem to be conquered. The more strongly I oppose my sins, the stronger my sins seem to be." But what does this prove? it proves that "God is working in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure," -that the kingdom of God is invading the kingdom of Satan- that the Spirit dwelling in the heart is warring with the flesh. It is truly remarked by Owen, that "if a believer lets his sins alone, his sins will let him alone." But let him search them as with candles, let him bring them to the light, oppose, mortify, and crucify them, they will to the last, struggle for the victory. And this inward warfare, so graphically and touchingly described in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, undeniably marks the inhabitation of God the Holy Spirit in the soul.
But to see one advancing in holiness, thirsting for God, the heart fixed in its solemn purpose of entire surrender; cultivating higher views, and aiming for a loftier standard; to behold him, perhaps, carving his way to the throne through mighty opposition, "fightings without; fears within; "striving for the mastery of some besetting sin, sometimes foiling, and sometimes foiled, sometimes with the shout of victory on the lip, and sometimes with painful consciousness of defeat bowing the heart; yet still onward- the needle of the soul, with slow and tremulous, but true and certain, movement, still pointing to its glorious attraction, God- faith that can never fail, and hope that can never die, and love that can never be quenched; hanging amid their warfare and in all their weakness upon the "nail fastened in a sure place." How is Christ, our sanctification, glorified in such a saint!
Oh to be like Jesus! meek, and lowly, and gentle, and kind, and forgiving; without craftiness, without deceit, without malice, without revenge; without one temper, or thought, or feeling, or look, that is unlike Him! Beloved, mistake not the nature and the evidence of growth in sanctification. In all your self-denial in this great work, be cautious of grace-denial. You will need much holy wisdom here, lest you overlook the work of the Spirit within you. You have thought, it may be, of the glory that Christ receives from brilliant genius, and profound talent, and splendid gifts, and glowing zeal, and costly sacrifices, and even extensive usefulness. But have you ever thought of the glory, the far greater, richer glory, that flows to Him from the contrite spirit, the broken heart, the lowly mind, the humble walk; from the tear of godly repentance that falls when seen by no human eye, and the sigh of godly sorrow that is breathed when heard by no human ear; and the sin abhorrence, and self loathing, and deep sense of vileness, and poverty, and infirmity that takes you to Jesus with the prayer- "Lord, here I am; I have brought to You my rebellious will, my wandering heart, my worldly affections, my peculiar infirmity, my besetting and constantly overpowering sin. Receive ,me graciously, put forth the mighty power of Your grace in my soul, and subdue all, and rule all, and subjugate all to Yourself! Will it not be for Your glory, the glory of Your great name, if this strong corruption were subdued by Your grace, if this powerful sin were nailed to Your cross, if this temper so sensitive, and this heart so impure, and these affections so truant, and this mind so dark, and these desires so earthly, and these pursuits so carnal, and these aims so selfish, were all entirely renewed by Your Spirit, sanctified by Your grace, and made each to reflect Your image? Yes, Lord, it would be for Your glory, through time and through eternity."
Especially is the Lord Jesus glorified in the life of faith which His saints live upon Him. The experience of every believer is, in a limited degree, the experience of the great apostle of the Gentiles, the tip of whose soaring wing, we, who so much skim the earth's surface, can scarcely touch- "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." "Like precious faith" with his, dwells in the hearts of all the regenerate. Along this royal highway it is ordained by God that all His people should travel. It is the way their Lord traveled before them; it is the way they are to follow after Him. The first step they take out of the path of 'sense', is into the path of 'faith'. And what a mighty grace do they
find it, as they journey on! Do they live? it is by faith. Do they stand? it is by faith. Do they walk? it is by faith. Do they fight? it is by faith. Do they overcome? it is by faith. Do they see what is invisible? it is by faith. Do they receive what is incredible? it is by faith. Do they achieve what is impossible? it is by faith. Glorious achievements of faith!
And, oh, how eminently is Jesus thus glorified in His saints! Was it no glory to Joseph that, having the riches of Egypt in His hands, all the people were made, as it were, to live daily and hourly upon Him? Was no fresh accession of dignity brought to His exaltation, by every fresh acknowledgment of His authority, and every renewed application to His wealth? And is not Jesus glorified in His exaltation, and in His fulness, and in His love, and in His grace, by that faith, in the exercise of which, "a poor and an afflicted people," the needy and the tried Church, are made to travel to, and live upon, Him each moment? Ah, yes! every corruption taken to His sanctifying grace; every burden taken to His omnipotent arm; every sorrow taken to His sympathizing heart; every need taken to His overflowing fulness; every wound taken to His healing hand; every sin taken to His cleansing blood; and every deformity taken to His all-covering righteousness, swells the revenue of glory, which each second of time ascends to our adorable Redeemer from His Church.
You may have imagined- for I will now suppose myself as addressing the seeking soul- that Christ has been more glorified by your hanging back from Him- doubting the efficacy of His blood to cancel your guilt, and the power of His grace to mortify your corruption, and the sufficiency of His fulness to supply your need, and the sympathy of His nature to soothe your grief, and the loving willingness of heart to receive and welcome you as you are, empty, vile, and worthless; little thinking, on the contrary, how much He has been grieved, and wounded, and dishonored, and robbed of His glory, by this doubting of His love, and this distrusting of His grace, after all the melting exhibitions of the one, and all that convincing evidence of the other.
But, is it the desire of your inmost soul that Christ should be glorified by you? then do not forget the grand, luminous truth of the Bible, that He is the Savior of sinners, and of sinners as sinners- that in the great matter of the soul's salvation, He recognizes nothing of worthiness in the creature; and that whatever human merit is brought to Him with a view of commending the case to His notice- whatever- be it even the incipient work of His own Spirit in the heart- is appended to His finished work, as a ground of acceptance with God, is so much detraction from His glory as a Redeemer- than which, of nothing He is more jealous- and, consequently, places the soul at a great remove from His grace. But like Bartimeus, casting the garment from you- be that garment what it may- pride of merit- pride of intellect- pride of learning- pride of family- pride of place- yes, whatever hinders your entering the narrow way, and prevents your receiving the kingdom of God "as a little child," and coming to Jesus to be saved by Him alone, brings more real glory to Him, than imagination can conceive, or words can describe.
If, then, Jesus is especially glorified in the faith of His people, let yours be a life of faith in all its minute detail. Live upon Him for spiritual supplies; live upon Him for temporal supplies. Go to Him in dark providences, that you may be kept from sinking: go to Him in bright providences, that you may be kept from falling. Go to Him when the path is rough, that you may walk in it contentedly: go to Him when the path is smooth, that you may walk in it surely. Let your daily history be a traveling to Jesus empty, and a coming from Jesus filled. Keep the truth constantly and prominently before your eye, "The just shall live by faith." If this be so, do not expect that God will ever permit you to live by sight. Bend your whole soul submissively to Him in this matter. Let His will and yours be one. If, in the course of your wilderness journeyings, He has brought you into a great strait, yes, to the very margin of the sea, still at His bidding, 'go forward,' though it be into that sea. Trust Him to cleave asunder its waters, making a dry passage for your feet, and causing those very waves that threatened to engulf you, now to prove as a cloud canopying you above, and as walls of strength, fencing you in on every side. Remember, too, that it is one peculiar exercise and precious privilege of faith, to "wait patiently for the Lord." The Divine exhortation is, "Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He will bring it to pass." "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." This patience of the soul is the rest of faith, on the faithful God; it is a 'standing still, to see His salvation.' And the Divine encouragement is, that in this posture will be found the secret of your real power. "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." "Their strength is to sit still." Be watchful against everything that would mar the simplicity of your faith, and so dim the glory of Jesus. Especially guard against the adoption of unlawful or doubtful measures, with a view to disentanglement from present difficulties. Endure the pressure, submit to the wrong, bear the suffering, rather than sin against God, by seeking to forestall His mind, or to antedate His purpose, or by transferring your interests from His hands to your own.
"Beware of desperate steps: the darkest day,
Wait but tomorrow, will have passed away."
Oh, the glory that is brought to Jesus by a life of faith! Who can fully estimate it? Taking to Him the corruption, as it is discovered- the guilt, as it rises- the grief, as it is felt- the cross, as it is experienced- the wound, as it is received; yes, simply following the example of John's disciples, who, when their master was slain, took up his headless body, and buried it, and then went and poured their mournful intelligence into the ear of Jesus, and laid their deep sorrow on His heart; this is to glorify Christ! Truly is this "precious faith," and truly is the "trial of our faith precious," for it renders more precious to the heart "His precious blood," who, in His person, is unutterably "precious to those who believe."
By a patient endurance of suffering for His sake, the Redeemer is greatly glorified in His saints. The apostle- and few drank of the bitter cup more deeply than He- presents suffering for Christ, in the soothing light of a Christian privilege. "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to safer for His sake." And how touchingly did the experience of the disciples correspond with this: "They departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." Has it pleased the Lord, dear reader, to place you in a somewhat similar position? Ah! is it no suffering to stand up in the midst of one's beloved family, surrounded by irreligion, and worldliness, and a total disregard of the fear of God, a lone and a despised witness for Jesus? Ah! is it no suffering to thread the intricate and narrow way, or to run with you the Christian race, in the domestic circle- no eye beaming with holy love, no voice responding in cheering accent, no hand to guide, no arm to lean upon, no bosom to weep upon, no kindred spirit, no second self; to see one's God denied, one's Savior rejected, one's religion scoffed, one's principles trampled under foot, and one's privileges curtailed; to have one's name cast out as evil, to be counted a fool, an enthusiast, or mad; to endure the loss of temporal interest, and domestic happiness, and earthly prospects, and in a sense to "forsake house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for Christ's sake;" -is this no path of trial and suffering? "But if you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you," for thereby is Christ glorified in you. He is glorified in your patient endurance of suffering, in your meek submission to reproach, in your overcoming evil with good, your return of prayer for cursing, of blessing for railing, and of love for hatred. Believer, suffering for Christ! rejoice, yes, rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His sake! What distinction is awarded you! What honor is put upon you! What a favored opportunity have you now of bringing glory to His name! -for illustrating His sustaining grace, and upholding strength, and almighty power, and infinite wisdom, and comforting love! By the firm, yet mild maintenance of your principles, by the dignified, yet gentle spirit of forbearance, by the uncompromising, yet kind resistance to allurement, let the Redeemer be glorified in you! In all your persecution for righteousness' sake, let your eye be immovably fixed on Jesus. In Him, and in this peculiar path, you have a bright example. "Consider Him that endured such contradiction from sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your mind." Remember how, for your redemption, He "endured the cross, despising the shame;" and for your continual support, "is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees," "for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."
Great, too, is the glory brought to our incarnate God by the sanctified afflictions of His saints. How deep these often are, let many testify; and yet the deeper the affliction, the deeper the glory. Behold the glory brought to God by Daniel in the den of lions; by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the fiery furnace; and by Paul and Silas in the prison. And what is their history, but a type of all the afflicted members of God's family? The Lord will be glorified in His people- therefore does He afflict, and try, and chasten them. "The Lord tries the righteous." He has His den, His prison, His furnace. He has His own mode, His appointed way of proving His work in their hearts; and whether by the lions' den, or the prison, or the furnace, He is glorified in them. To see how Christ can shut the mouth of the lion, and can temper the devouring flame, and can unbar the doors of the prison-house, how glorious thus appears His power! To mark the resigned will, the subdued spirit, the mute submission, the cheerful acquiescence in the deepest affliction, how glorious thus appears His grace! To behold the daily strength imparted, the precious promises applied, the soothing consolation experienced, how glorious thus appears His love! To see the chaff scattered, and the dross consumed, and the mind brought into perfect harmony with God's will, to say with David, "My soul is even as a weaned child," how glorious thus appears His wisdom! Oh, if these are the blessings which blossom upon the rod, then welcome the rod! If this is the glory brought to the name of Jesus by a process of sanctified affliction, then welcome the affliction! Only see that He is truly glorified in you by it. See that He is glorified while you are in the furnace, by your passive graces; see that He is glorified when you have come forth from the furnace, by your active graces. "Wherefore glorify you the Lord in the fires, even the name of the Lord God of Israel." "When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Nor must we overlook that path walking in which the Redeemer is so manifestly glorified in His saints- even the way of a holy and cheerful obedience to His commands. Were we to select a single word from the Bible which we would desire to be distinctly, prominently, and constantly before the eye of the believer, it would be- obedience. The stress which the Holy Spirit has laid upon the duty is great, and the blessing and honor which the Lord has attached to its observance, is immense and encouraging. It involves every covenant mercy, and it is the great secret of all holiness, and therefore of all happiness.
What the Lord once spoke to His ancient people, He speaks at the present to all His spiritual Israel, "Now, therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine. And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." And who does not trace the blessing which the Lord has attached to obedience in the history of Abraham, when, at God's command, be bound his son as a sacrifice upon the altar- "And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." And see how the Lord confirmed the fact of his obedient walk, and fulfilled the promise of blessing to his son Isaac, to whom He said, "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I aware unto Abraham your father . . . because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Rich, too, is the blessing annexed to the promise, "If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land." And solemn and searching the word addressed by the holy prophet to the temporizing king, "Has the Lord as great delight in burned offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
As King in Zion, our adorable Lord Jesus delights to reign over a loving and an obedient people. Thus He has made their obedience to His commands a test of their love to His person- "If you love me, keep my commandments." "Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you," was the last charge given to His disciples. Now it is this keeping of His commandments, this observance of what He has enjoined, that glorifies Him in His saints. Coming to Him in our ignorance, glorifies Him as our Prophet; coming to Him with our guilt, glorifies him as our Priest; and walking obediently to His precepts, glorifies Him as our King. It places the crown upon the head of His sovereignty, it recognizes the spiritual nature of His kingdom, and it upholds the purity, majesty, and authority of His laws. It becomes, then, the solemn and imperative duty of every believer to search the will and testament of his dying, risen, and exalted Lord, to ascertain all that He has enjoined upon his obedience in the way of precept and command. For how can he be a good and an obedient subject, if be understands not the laws of Christ's kingdom? Then, when the precept is clearly revealed, and the command is distinctly made known, immediate, self-denying, and cheerful obedience is to follow, as that path which, while it insures the sweetest peace to the soul, brings the highest glory to Christ. Let yours be an obedient walk, dear reader! Let your obedience be the fruit of faith, the dictate of love. Permit no reserve in your obedience! let it be full, honest, and complete. Search the New
Testament Scripture, and examine closely your own walk, and ascertain in what particular your obedience to Christ is deficient. Be upright, honest, and sincere in your inquiry. Let your fervent prayer be, "Lord, what will You have me to do? Is there any precept of Your word slighted, any command disobeyed, any cross not taken up? Is there any desire to withhold my neck from Your yoke, or to withdraw my shoulder from Your burden, or to mark out a smoother path than that which You have chosen and bid me walk in? Is there any secret framing of excuse for my disobedience, any temporizing, any carnal feeling, any worldly motive, any fear of man, any shrinking from consequences? Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. You are precious to my soul, for You have borne my sins, endured my curse, carried my cross; and in return do only ask, as an evidence of how much I owe, and how much I love, that I should keep Your commandments, and follow Your example. Now, Lord, take my poor heart, and let it be Yours, Yours only, and Yours forever. Let Your sweet love constrain me to 'run in the way of Your commandments,' for this will I do when You shall enlarge my heart." Then will follow the precious fruits of obedience, even as the bud expands into the blossom, and the blossom ripens into the fruit. There will be a growth, a delightful expansion of the life of God in the soul! and with the increase of the Divine life, there will be an increase of all the precious 'fruits of the Spirit.' "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel! I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. Oh that you had hearkened to my commandments! then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea." See that your Redeemer is glorified in your obedience; that for the happiness of your soul, and for the honor of Christ, you "stand complete in all the will of God!"
The branch of our subject, thus imperfectly placed before the reader, is deeply practical. In what a solemn and responsible position it places every believer! "You are my witnesses, says the Lord." "I have created him for my glory." "You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified." Then, how "very jealous for the Lord God of hosts" should we be! How vigilant, lest in any degree, or in any way, we withhold from Christ the glory due unto Him. There are many ways by which we may be betrayed into this grievous sin- a careless walk- unmortified sin- self-indulgence- a light and volatile spirit- a neglect of means- a distant walk with God- coldness of love towards the saints. But especially mixing up with, and indulging in, a sinful conformity to the world, its fashions, its pleasures, its literature, its religion. Christian professor! can you rigidly conform to these fashions- can you spend your hours over that novel- can you attend that ball- can you move in that dance- can you embark in that enterprise, and glorify Jesus by it? Put the question fairly, honestly, and closely to your conscience, "Do I bring glory to Christ by this? Is my Redeemer thus magnified in me before the world and the Church?" Oh, aim for a high standard! Do not be a common-place professor. Do not be an ordinary Christian. Shun not to be singular. Dare for the glory of Christ to come out of the world, not to touch the unclean thing, and to be separate, set apart for God alone. "Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit! so shall you be my disciples." Thank God for the little, but, oh, aim for the 'much fruit!' -strong faith, ardent love, self-consuming zeal, unreserved obedience, holy, and entire, and supreme surrender. "From me is your fruit found." Your union with Christ, your living in Christ, your close adherence to Christ, your constant drawing from Christ, will be found to involve the happy secret of that great fruitfulness which brings most glory to the Triune God. Come- drawn by grace, constrained by love, attracted by the glory and the preciousness of Jesus- come now to that one' altar which sanctifies both the giver and the gift,' and as you lay yourself upon it, body, soul, and spirit, exclaim with the apostle, "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death." The solemn vow is taken! The holy surrender is made! It is seen, it is heard, it is ratified in heaven. May you be so strengthened from above, "that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ," is the devout and fervent desire of one who, with you, through time and through eternity, hopes to unite in the grateful, adoring, and never ceasing hallelujah,
"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift!"