„If then we would indeed be “filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding;” if we would “walk worthy of the Lord unto all well pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” here let us fix our eyes! “Laying aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily beset us; let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Here best we may learn the infinite importance of Christianity. How little it can deserve to be treated in that slight and superficial way, in which it is in these days regarded by the bulk of nominal Christians, who are apt to think it may be enough, and almost equally pleasing to God, to be religious in any way, and upon any system. What exquisite folly it must be to risk the soul on such a venture, in direct contradiction to the dictates of reason, and the express declaration of the word of God! “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?”
LOOKING UNTO JESUS!
Here we shall best learn the duty and reasonableness of an absolute and unconditional surrender of soul and body to the will and service of God.—“We are not our own; for we are bought with a price,” and must “therefore” make it our grand concern to “glorify God with our bodies and our spirits, which are God’s.” Should we be base enough, even if we could do it with safety, to make any reserves in our returns of service to that gracious Saviour, who “gave up himself for us?” If we have formerly talked of compounding by the performance of some commands for the breach of others; can we now bear the mention of a composition of duties, or of retaining to ourselves the right of practising little sins! The very suggestion of such an idea fills us with indignation and shame, if our hearts be not dead to every sense of gratitude.
LOOKING UNTO JESUS!
Here we find displayed, in the most lively colours, the guilt of sin, and how hateful it must be to the perfect holiness of that Being, “who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” When we see that, rather than sin should go unpunished, “God spared not his own Son,” but “was pleased, to bruise him and put him to grief” for our sakes; how vainly must impenitent sinners flatter themselves with the hope of escaping the vengeance of Heaven, and buoy themselves up with I know not what desperate dreams of the Divine benignity!
Here too we may anticipate the dreadful sufferings of that state, “where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth;” when rather than that we should undergo them, “the Son of God” himself, who “thought it no robbery to be equal with God,” consented to take upon him our degraded nature with all its weaknesses and infirmities; to be “a man of sorrows,” “to hide not his face from shame and spitting,” “to be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities,” and at length to endure the sharpness of death, “even the death of the Cross,” that he might “deliver us from the wrath to come,” and open the kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
LOOKING UNTO JESUS!
Here best we may learn to grow in the love of God! The certainty of his pity and love towards repenting sinners, thus irrefragably demonstrated, chases away the sense of tormenting fear, and best lays the ground in us of a reciprocal affection. And while we steadily contemplate this wonderful transaction, and consider in its several relations the amazing truth, that “God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all;” if our minds be not utterly dead to every impulse of sensibility, the emotions of admiration, of preference, of hope, and trust, and joy, cannot but spring up within us, chastened with reverential fear, and softened and quickened by overflowing gratitude. Here we shall become animated by an abiding disposition to endeavour to please our great Benefactor; and by a humble persuasion, that the weakest endeavours of this nature will not be despised by a Being, who has already proved himself so kindly affected towards us. Here we cannot fail to imbibe an earnest desire of possessing his favour, and a conviction, founded on his own declarations thus unquestionably confirmed, that the desire shall not be disappointed. Whenever we are conscious that we have offended this gracious Being, a single thought of the great work of Redemption will be enough to fill us with compunction. We shall feel a deep concern, grief mingled with indignant shame, for having conducted ourselves so unworthily towards one who to us has been infinite in kindness: we shall not rest till we have reason to hope that he is reconciled to us; and we shall watch over our hearts and conduct in future with a renewed jealousy, [Pg 243] lest we should again offend him. To those who are ever so little acquainted with the nature of the human mind, it were superfluous to remark, that the affections and tempers which have been enumerated, are the infallible marks and the constituent properties of Love. Let him then who would abound and grow in this Christian principle, be much conversant with the great doctrines of the Gospel.
It is obvious, that the attentive and frequent consideration of these great doctrines, must have a still more direct tendency to produce and cherish in our minds the principle of the love of Christ.“
— William Wilberforce English politician 1759 - 1833
Source: Real Christianity (1797), p. 240-243.