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and by these means to obtain the knowledge of him. Mankind are too commonly regardless and ignorant of him. And are not many of you chargeable with this criminal neglect? The blessed Jesus has exhibited himself to your observation in the gospel, but your attention is so engaged by other objects, that you will not allow him an earnest look. He has been set forth evidently cruci. fied before your eyes, but you have, as it were, passed and repassed careless and unconcerned by his cross. You have had a vari. ety of opportunities and means to be instructed in the glorious mysteries of the gospel ; to know the person of the Redeemer as Immanuel, God and man; to know the absolute necessity, the gracious design, and the high degree of his sufferings ; to know his sufficiency and willingness to pardon and save believing peni. tents ; and, in a word, to obtain a competent acquaintance with the method of salvation. But you have taken but little or no notice of these things; and consequently remained contentedly ignorant of them. It is equally lamentable and astonishing, that in a land like this, abounding in Bibles and other means of instruction, christianity should be so little known even by those that profess it. How ridiculous a figure would an artist make that knew nothing of his trade! a school-master that could not spell ! Or a doctor that knew nothing of physic ! And yet men have the impious im. pudence to call themselves christians, and resent it when their profession is pronounced an hypocritical pretence, though they are ignorant of the rudiments of christianity. You are therefore called in the text to pursue the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, John xvii. 3. to make this the object of your study ; for without it you cannot be saved. It is by the knowledge of him you are justified, Isa. liii. 11.; and if you are a people of no understanding, he that formed you will not have mere cy on you, Isa. xxvii. 11, but you shall be destroyed through lack of knowledge. Hosea iv. 6. Not that a mere speculative knowl. edge of Christ will suffice ; no, it must not be a look of curiosity and speculation, but you must be affected with the object ; your eye must affect your heart; and by beholding the glory of the Lord in the glass of the gospel, you must be changed into the same image, or conformed to him in holiness. 2 Cor. iii. 18. A perishing man is not a mere curious spectator of his deliverer ; but he views him with the tenderest passions. So you must look upon Christ. Thus the knowledge of him was attended with supreme affection to him in St. Paul. Phil. iii. 7, 8. But this will be farther illustrated under the following particulars.
2. Looking to Christ, implies an importunate eagerness for relief from himn. See Psalm xxv. 15. If your child were fallen into the hand of a murderer just ready to dispatch him, and should cast a wishful look upon you, while you was running to his deliv. erance, you would understand it as a silent cry for help. So we are enjoined to look to Christ with the most eager importunity for deliverance from bim as our Saviour. And this supposes a deep sense of our need of him. When a guilty creature, that had been involved in the general presumptuous security, is effectually alarmed with just apprehensions of his danger; when he sees his numberless transgressions in all their horrid aggravations, and the dreadful threatenings of the law in full force, and ready to be executed against him : in short, when he sees himself ripe for ruin, and ready every moment to sink into it, with what im, portunate cries will he betake himself to him for relief! Behold, he prayeth! now he is often on his knees before God in secret, as well as in social prayer ; and in the intervals between his prayers, he is often looking to the hills from whence cometh his aid, Psa. cxxi. 1. and wafting up many an importunate cry to heaven.
Sometimes he sinks into an abyss of sorrow, and is overwhelmed with boisterous waves of fears, so that, with Jonah, he is ready to cry out, I am cast out of thy sight, o Lord; yet, with him he says, I will look again towards thy holy temple. Jonah ji. 4. Happy the souls that are thus looking to Jesus, who is lifted up for the recovery of a dying world, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness ! John iii. 14. And happy we, should this spirit of pious importunity prevail among us, and banish that spirit of deep sleep which seems poured out upon us! Then would prayer be our employ, not only when we observed the returns of stated prayer in secret, in our families, and in our public assemblies, but our souls would be always in a supplicating posture; every wish, every groan would be a cry for mercy : and then might we expect to obtain the blessings we need ; and the aspect of our religious affairs would be happily altered among us. To this duty the text invites us ; and O that we may consult our own interest, as well as regard the authority of God, so far as to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near ! Isa. lv. 6.
3. Looking to Christ implies a wishful expectation of deliverance from him. See Psalm lxix. 3. It may be illustrated by the history of the lame beggar, in Acts iii. 4, 5. He begged an alms of the apostles Peter and John': they do not immediately relieve him, but give him some ground of encouraging expectation by taking particular notice of him, and telling him to fix his eyes upon them. Thereupon the anxious cripple gives heed to them, and wishfully looks upon them, expecting to receive something of them. So a poor sinner, amidst all his anxious fears and despondencies, approaches the throne of grace, and begs for mercy. The Lord Jesus, though his bowels are yearning over him, does not give him immediate relief ; he puts him off for a while, as he did the Syrophænician, that he may give occasion for him to plead with the more importunity, and more suitably prize the blessing when obtained. Yet, in this melancholy inter. val, he does not leave him quite hopeless. The invitations of the gospel cry, “Look on me;" and the poor sinner lifts up the eyes of wishful expectation to receive something. “Who knows, but that soyereign and unbounded grace, which has relieved thousands, may also listen to my cries ? Blessed Jesus! may I not indulge some trembling hope that thou wilt at length grant me deliverance ? Thy free, thine indefinite invitations and absolute promises give me some ground of pleasing expectation; and O ! shall it be frustrated ? No, let me trust in thee for the gracious accomplishment.” Such are the soliloquies of such an anxious soul. And though we might be all left in remediless despair, yet, blessed be God, we have encouragement to look to Jesus with humble joyful hope ; and it is to this the text exhorts us.
4. Looking to Jesus, implies an humble dependence upon him for salvation. This supposes that we are deeply sensible of our own utter inability to relieve ourselves ; and when we are convinced of this, we shall immediately look to another: when we see no ground at all for self-confidence, we shall place our trust in Jesus alone. It was such a look as this that good Jehoshaphat raised to heaven: We have no might against this great company, neither know we what to do ; but our eyes are upon thee. 2 Chron. xx. 12. So Micah, finding no room for human confidence, resolves, Therefore I will look unto the Lord. Micah vii. 7. Thus an humble sinner, sensible of his utter inability, resolves to venture upon Christ, to trust in him, though he should slay him.
Job xiii. 15. And in those happy moments when the sinner has some glimmering hopes of acceptance, with what pleasure and satisfaction does he rest upon this eternal rock ! and how happy we, should we be engaged this day to place our humble depend. ence there! It is to this the text calls us.
5. Looking to Christ, means an universal, cheerful submission to his authority. We must consent to be his servants forever, and wait all the intimations of his will to obey them. We must look and observe the motion of his hand pointing out to us the way of duty. We must look as a servant upon his master, eager to receive his orders. So the phrase seems used in Psalm cxxiii.
Unto thee I lift up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the hea.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistres8, 80 our eyes look unto the Lord. Thus, whoeyer trusts in Jesus with a saving faith, surrenders himself to an unlimited obedience to all his commandments ; and to this the text invites u's.
6. Looking to Christ, implies a hearty approbation of him as a Saviour, and supreme affection to him. Love is often expressed by looks; and when we look affectionately upon an object, it evi. dences that we are pleased with the survey. So a perishing world is commanded to acquiesce in the method of salvation through Christ, to love him above all, and to take the fullest and nobles complacence in him : and upon their so doing, they are assur salvation. We have indeed been influenced by education and the like means to entertain a general good esteem of Christ ; but, alas ! this is very far short of that endearing affection and hearty complacence which he claims and deserves. Our hearts must be engaged to him ; he must be the chief among ten thousand in our eyes. Our thoughts and passions must often ascend to him, and we must rest in him with complacence, as containing all our salvation and all our desire. 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
7. And lastly, Looking to Christ, implies joy and gratitude for his delivering goodness. The passions of joy and gratitude are easily discovered by the looks ; and therefore are intended by this phrase, look unto me. And this is not only the duty, but the delightful inclination of one that has been relieved by him from the horrors of a guilty conscience, and the dreadful displeasure of God. Joy is in itself a pleasing passion, and we delight to indulge it : and to a heart that has just felt the mercy of deliverance from everlasting destruction, thanksgiving is a most grateful and pleas. ing employ; and, in this, much of the happiness of heaven consists.
From this view of the duty intended by looking to Jesus, take occasion, my brethren, to examine, whether ever you have complied with it; for it is a matter of infinite importance, as your eternal state depends upon it.
He that hath the Son, hath life, and he that hath not the Son, hath not life, I John v. 12.
ARGUMENTS TO ENFORCE OUR LOOKING TO CHRIST.
Isatan xlv. 22. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the
earth ; for I am God, and there is none else.
THE duty of looking to Christ, being explained, I shall,
This is the great duty of saints and sinners, and consequently of every one in all ages and places, even to the ends of the earth.It is the duty of sinners to turn away their eyes from beholding vanity, and fix them upon this attractive, but, alas ! neglected Saviour ; to turn their attention from the trifles of time to the great Antitype of the brazen serpent, who is lifted up that a dying world may open their eyes just closing in death, and look and live. And saints, whose eyes have been turned to this glorious object, ought to fix them more intensely upon him, to take larger surveys of his glory, and to renew their affectionate trust in him.
I would premise, that when I exhort sinners to look to Jesus, I would not intimate, that they are able to do this of themselves. No; I am very sensible, that all the exhortations, persuasions, invitations, andexpostulations that a feeble mortal, or even the most powerful angel in heaven can use with them will have no effect, but vanish into air, without the efficacious operation of almighty grace. And yet such exhortations are neither useless, improper, or unscriptural : they tend to convince sinners of their inability to believe, which is necessary to their believing aright ; and it is while such arguments are addressed to their understandings, that the holy Spirit is wont to work upon their hearts. Hence they are so often commanded in scripture to repent, to believe in Christ, to look to him to make them a new heart,