Strangers Called to Behold Christ Part 2, Sermon 10Andrew Gray (1634-1656) - A Powerful Preacher Who Died at a Young Age
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We told you that Christ was presenting a great desire to you, and are there none of you presenting a desire to Christ? I shall tell you two great desires to present to Christ.
The first great desire that ye ought to present to Him should be this, ”Lord ,Jesus, help me to receive my sight. ”
And there is a second great desire that ye ought to present to Him, and that is in Psalm 8:3, ‘Enlighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. ” I would give you the advice that Abimelech gave to Sarah, let Christ be ”the covering of your eyes,” with whom you converse. I would say but this one thing, Christ is willing to satisfy all your senses. Will ye come? Will ye have the sense of sight satisfied? Does not Christ invite you in the text ‘Behold me?” Would you have the sense of tasting satisfied? Is not this commanded in Psalm xxxiv, 8, ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good?” Would you have the sense of hearing satisfied? Is it not His command, hear my Son and his gospel? Would ye have the sense of touching satisfied? Is it not this great command to Thomas, John 20:27, Come, and ‘reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side”? And would ye have the sense of smelling satisfied? Come to Him that is ‘perfumed with all the powders of the merchant. ” I do think, the most part of us shall die strangers to Christ. I think, if we would ask the angels, what is Christ? they would say this, they could not tell. All the saints about the throne would say so, and all that have tasted of the sweetness of Christ, ask all of them, what is His sweetness worth? They would say they could not tell. Would ye ask the depth, as Job xxviii. 14. It would say, the price of Christ is not in me. Yea, all the gold that lies in the bowels of the earth says, it could not buy Christ. Wherewith then could ye buy Him? I say, with one look ye shall get Christ.
Now, in the forenoon, we spake a little to the first thing in the words, which is, that great command given to the Gentiles, ‘Behold me. ” O wonder that ever there should have been such a word! What would ye have thought if all that is in this book had been in this frame, ”Cursed be he that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law”? What if all had been like that in the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, and twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus? Angels wonder that ever there was such a command, and all the saints that are about the throne, wonder; and let all who are here, wonder, that ever there was such a command.
I have some things to add upon this command. 1 shall speak to two or three things.
The first thing is, to point out a little the difference of the look of Christ that the saints have above, and that which is here. We are calling you to behold Christ, hut they that are in heaven, have another look. I shall point out these eight or nine differences.
1. The first difference is, that look we have of Christ here is hut a mediate look, but that which the saints have above is immediate. Here we behold Him but thro’ the vail, thro’ the dark vail of duties, and ordinances, and promises, and dispensations. O! but behold, above we shall have an immediate look; there shall not anything intervene betwixt Christ and the soul; there shall be an immediate embracement of the Son of God. And, we think, these that have seen Him through the vail, will he longing when they shall have these immediate looks of him, when all these vails that are betwixt them and Christ, shall he rent from top to bottom. Are we not longing and groaning for that day when ye shall behold Him in glory?
2. The second difference is, that look we have here doth admit of interruption, hut that which we have above shall have no interruption in it; there is no cloud, no night, no desertion there. There are no such complaints in heaven as this, ‘Why hidest thou thy face?” Or as that, ‘It is thirty days since I did behold the king,” and ”I have lived two years in Jerusalem, and have not seen the king’s face. ” O that look that shall admit of no interruption! It is an endless look that the saints shall have above. And think ye not that the naming of our looks to Christ should make us look and long for that day?
3. The third difference is, that look which we have here may be abused, hut that which is above, cannot. Here a Christian may abuse his look to Christ, through the pride of life. O! there is no abusing of that spotless look that we will get of Christ above.
3. The third difference is, that look which we have here is hut a beholding His back-parts; but there, we shall behold His face. Here we but see (as it were), ‘the skirts of his garments’, but there we shall see him face to face. And is not that a great difference?
5. The fifth difference is, that look which the Christian hath here doth not complete his joy. As long as he is here, he is spending his life in bitterness. Would ye know the first day that a Christian hath his joy complete? It is in the blessed morning of the resurrection; ‘When I awake, I shall see thy joy,” saith David. O what joy the Christian shall have when Christ and he meet together; and He shall take the Christian in His arms, and say, ‘Welcome, O friend,” even in that day when Christ and he shall meet together in the streets of the new Jerusalem!
6. The sixth difference is, that look which the Christian hath here doth not complete his conformity to Christ. O, but the look we have above doth abundantly complete our conformity to Him! Know ye not that word, 1 John iii, 2, ‘It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (why so?) ‘for we shall see him as he is. ” That look of Him as He is, makes a complete conformity betwixt Christ and the soul, but all these looks that we have here do not complete our conformity. We must go to heaven, trailing a body of death; but the time approaches when we shall take our everlasting farewell of all our lusts and idols, and shall say, ‘Farewell’ with our hearts, we shall never meet again.
7. The seventh difference is, that look of Christ which we have here doth not complete our graces, hut that which we shall have above shall complete all our graces. Shall not love be complete, when we shall get our look of Christ above, and joy complete? O! then that which is in part shall be done away, when that which is perfect is come. O Christians, what a day shall it be, when faith shall say to love, I give my place to thee; and sight and love shall be the eternal company of the Christian?
8. The eighth difference is, that look that the Christian has here, is not perfect in its degrees. When we shall be able to behold Christ, and shall fall into a sight of Him; when we shall first see the Lord, we shall begin a song that shall never have an end. It is an endless look, a satisfying look, a soul-refreshing look. There is no work so much as this in heaven. Would ye know what the saints in heaven are doing? They are said to be full of eyes, and not of tongues; for this reason, because they are more taken up with looking, than speaking; more in wondering than expressing; therefore, it is that they are said to have many eyes, and but one tongue.
9. The last difference is, that look of Christ that we have here, is but the look of an unknown Christ, of a strange Christ, of an unconceived Christ; but then we shall have a look of a known Christ, of an unveiled Christ, of a Christ that shall be well taken up and understood. These are the differences betwixt the looks here, and the looks that are above. When shall it be that the exercise of heaven and earth shall be all one?
I shall, in the next place, proceed to answer some objections of those who think they have never looked to Christ. Objection 1. ‘0,” says some, ‘I have never looked to Christ because I know not the day; and some folks can tell the time and place, when they have looked to Christ. ” I would say these four things to such: –
1. There are few that win that length, John ix, 25, ‘Whereas I was blind, now I see. ” You can say, ‘Though I know not the time and place, yet sure I am, I see these things that were hid from mine eyes before. ”
I would say, 2ndly. It is not (may be) for your advantage to know the time that Christ keepeth in His own hand. It is not always for your advantage to know the times.
3rdly. It is not absolutely necessary for a Christian to know the time when Christ and he first met. There are some that have met with Christ, and they neither knew the time nor place, nor the first discourse that passed betwixt Christ and them.
4thly. What knowest thou but He hath stolen away thy heart?
Objection 2. ‘I know not if I have looked to Him; for since I began to look to Him, ‘my bonds are strong’. ” I would say these three things to that person: – –
1. Do not cast off thy faith because of that, nor dispute thy love; because there is nothing more ordinary to a Christian than this, to have the spirit under bonds, Heb. x, 32, ‘But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated ye endured a great fight of afflictions. ”
2ndly. I say, the best way to win above these bonds, is not to reject thy faith, but to hold it fast. It is a poor thing in Christians, whenever they lose their feet, to let their hands go; when they begin to misbelieve, they run out of the land of the living.
3rdly. I say, comfort thyself, the day of the liberty of the sons of God is coming, when these bonds shall be taken off thee; when it shall be said, O prisoner come out!
Objection 3. Some say, ‘I have not these great attendances of the Christian’s light and joy. ” Psalm xcvii, 11, ‘Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. ” I would say these two things to thee: –
1. Thy light and thy joy may be under ground until both appear together. May be Christ is trying the reality of thy faith, whether thou lovest Him rather than sense or sight. I will tell you what it speaks in Christians, if they get not all they sought for when they began with Christ, then they reject all. The reason is, many think more of sense than of Christ; yea, many professors think more of knowledge than of Christ. And,
2ndly, I will say this also, Christ is (may be) teaching thee to love Him more by faith than by sense.
Objection 4. ‘0,” says some, ‘I cannot pray, I never go to prayer but my tongue is still. ” I would not have you mistaken, for there is a threefold silence a Christian may have in prayer, and ye may have greater liberty in them, than if ye would speak like an angel.
1. There are some, when they are enjoying most of God, then the heart is enlarged with love; prayer has little upon the tongue that they can speak. Think ye Daniel was straitened when he saw the angel, and stood trembling; and John, in the Revelation, when he fell at Christ’s feet? Know ye not how a Christian, through a sight of Christ in prayer, will leave off speaking and wonder? A Christian sometimes will not get his enlargement expressed.
2ndly. It is divine silence when he has a deep impression of God’s greatness and his own sinfulness. A Christian is never more enlarged, than when he cannot speak one word but that, Psalm lxxvii, 4, ‘Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak”; i. e. , when his heart wrote uncleanness against himself, and his tongue could not speak. Sometimes his guilt seemed staring him in the face, that lie was stricken with dumbness, and could not speak one word. Ye would know, that sometimes, when Christians cannot speak their confession to God, they must roar. Then they are so put to it sometimes, that put a spear to their hearts, they could not speak one word. Know ye that word of David, Psalm xxxviii, 8, ‘I have roared, by reason of the disquietness of my heart. ”
3rdly. It is divine silence when a Christian is going to commend Christ, and, as it were, so silent a discovery of Christ is let out on him, that he charges himself with presumption, ‘Shall I speak?” We are never put to question Christ thus, ‘Shall I pray?” Know it, there is more expression in a little while’s wondering, than in ten hours praying. There is, I confess, a silence that proceeds from a spirit of bondage; and, I think, a look of Christ is the way to help it. I tell you, if your tongues speak no more than your hearts think, they will be oftentimes short. There are some folks’ prayers that are nothing but a lying to the Holy Ghost; and in their prayers and confessions they lie, and as for their desires, they care no more for them than the dirt under their feet. It is a wonder we are not stricken dead in prayer, both ministers and professors. It is strange that Ananias and Sapphira were stricken dead for one lie, and we are not for so many; yea, may he for fifteen lies in one prayer. Will ye examine yourselves, O Christians, before whom ye speak!
Objection 5. Says the Christian, ‘If ever I had looked to Christ, I would have had some desires to Him,” for, no doubt. they will be longing for these immediate looks of Christ. I would say these five things.
1. There may be some Christians that may have ten desires for death, when not one desire for heaven; for thou mayest desire in reality death oftener in ten days, than thou wilt desire heaven in a month. And what is the reason of it? It is not from our hope, but from the cursedness of our heart, as Jonah desired rather to die, than to live; it was not for heaven he did it, but from the corruption of his heart, being disappointed by God.
2ndly. The second thing I would say is, one may have forty desires for death, when not one for the death of sin. Ye should desire the death of the body of death more.
3rdly. I think, a Christian may long to go away, and so to get his pass.
4thly. I entreat you, Christians, when you get a look of Christ, study to improve it. Would ye know what makes the Christian long so little? It is because he doth not improve his looks to Christ.
5thly. I confess, I think it no wonder that Christians long not for a look of Christ. Were ye never put to these three things? (1) O time, time, that passeth not away to let eternity come! Were ye never put to that, that ye would be content to shake the glass of your time, to win to eternity? That if it were in your own hand, ye would not lay it down upon the side, that it might not run, but would shake it?
(2) And were ye never put to that, to long for your light? ‘Arise, my dove, my love, for your winter is past. ”
(3) Were ye never like Sisera’s mother, looking out at her windows and saying, ‘Why stay his chariots so long?” And when death comes, ye would take it in your arms, and say, ‘Welcome, O friend”? Know ye not what death is to a Christian? It is the putting off of your burdens; the day of death to all your sorrows, to all your iniquities, and to all your idols, to all your anxieties; it is the door whereby you must enter into all good eternally; and it is like Joseph’s chariot, which was sent to bring Jacob down into Egypt. Where is your heart, O Christians? Ought it not to be up in heaven? Where is your faith? Is it not there? I have but two or three things to persuade you to give Christ one look.
(1) I have nothing in commission but this. Now, what will ye send me away with? Will ye send me away with a blank? O that this congregation, that is much destitute of knowledge, would begin this night! For I defy all the ministers of the world to assure you that ye shall live to look to Him tomorrow; therefore, look to Him today.
(2) What know you, but one of you may break your neck? What do you know, but that it may be said this night, ‘Rise, undervaluers of the gospel, and of the Son of God, and give an account in judgment”? What would you say if that voice were heard this night? And what do you know but it will be? With what countenance would ye look Christ in the face? Ye would desire that ye were ground in pieces.
(3) I say, this very night, will ye be content to take Him? What arguments can be used more to persuade you? Is there any argument under heaven that can persuade you to take Him? O you despisers and slighters of the Son of God! I charge you, as ye will answer one day, to take Him; and beware that that word shall not come upon you, ‘His blood he upon us, and our children. ‘ And know ye this, that the curses of one side of this book are able to smother ten thousand worlds? What will ye think then, when all the curses in this book shall light upon you? Where shall ye flee in that day, when all that is in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, and 26th chapter of Leviticus, shall light upon you, and, and there shall be no redemption? Is there any redemption where Christ turns to be your enemy? Therefore, I say, this night look to the Son of God. Is it nomatter wherein ye trifle over your time? I say, be serious in this thy day. Old men, what say ye to it, ye that are near your graves? I would say this, ‘I set life and death before you’; which will ye choose? It is Christ that is offered to you. Know this, that be what ye will, sirs, that are slighters of the gospel, that word in Isa. 45:1, shall gnaw your consciences. Ye shall remember that day when ye shall be crying for mercy and ye shall cry out, ‘Where now is the slighter of the gospel? I shall never any more have another offer. The day was when I was bidden take Christ, and give Him one look. ‘ Therefore, before ye go, close the bargain this night. Ye know not, if ever Christ shall come again, and send His message to invite you to take Him. So again, what is your last report? Speak to Him, for ye know not but they may be His last words; let us, therefore, be entreated now to take Him Cursed be the person that will never see Him all their days. It had been better ye had never heard a word of Him. O! shall Christ in His face, and in His beauty, and in all the excellent offers of heaven, be slighted?
Now, know ye, the day is approaching, that thou shalt wish thou hadst never been born. Ye slighters of the great salvation, ye shall cry out ‘0 that I had never been born!’ Therefore I say, seeing Christ is in your offer, take Him, and take witnesses in heaven, that ye shall never have another. Now, old men, will ye take witnesses of this ye shall never have another but Christ? Young men, and young women, look to the Son of God, and it shall be one of the days of the Son of man to you. O, that look that Christ shall give to His own children when time shall be no more, when they shall be led with the Lamb about the rivers of living waters! Are ye all content? Will ye say nothing against it? Then I say, if it be so (which I fear is not so), blessed be he who embraces the Son of God; and cursed be the man or woman which takes Him not. Since ye are standing before the mountain of cursing or blessing, I entreat you, look to the Son of God, who, like the brazen serpent, can heal you from all your stings and iniquities. Now, to Him that can persuade you, and will one day stand to judge you, be praise for evermore. Amen.
Andrew Gray was an exceptionally gifted young preacher. This work is a set of 5 treatises to establish the heart of believers in Christ and give them assurance. Gray is one of the easiest Scottish puritans to read.