The Glory of ChristBeheld!
Delivered on Sunday Morning, October 20th, 1861 by the
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth"John 1:14.
CANNOT REFRAIN from mentioning an incident connected with the perusal of the first chapter of John. I suppose there is not a passage in God's Word which has not at some time or other been blessed to the conversion of a soul. Even the fifth chapter of Genesis, which is so uninteresting to the most of readers, because the verses continually end, "And he died," "And he died," "And he died," has been blessed to one, who from the reiteration of the fact that men who lived nine hundred years nevertheless died, was led to think of his own death. Now, the first chapter of John was the means of the conversion of a celebrated writer, Junius the younger, one who did good service in the Church. His father, perceiving him to be an ungodly young man, put in his way as much as possible the New Testament, and the following is an extract from Junius's account of his own life. "My father, who was frequently reading the New Testament, and had long observed with grief the progress I had made in infidelity, had put that book in my way in his library, in order to attract my attention, if it might please God to bless his design, though without giving me the least intimation of it. Here, therefore, I unwittingly opened the New Testament thus providentially laid before me. At the very first view, although I was deeply engaged in other thoughts, that grand chapter of the evangelist and apostle presented itself to me'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.' I read part of the chapter, and was so greeted that I instantly became struck with the divinity of the argument, and the majesty and authority of the composition, as infinitely surpassing the highest flights of human eloquence. My body shuddered; my mind was in amazement, and I was so agitated the whole day that I scarcely knew who I was; nor did the agitation cease, but continued till it was at last soothed by a humble faith in him who was made flesh and dwelt among us."
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children as lambs to his fold,
I should like to have been with them then.
I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,
That his arm had been thrown around me,
And that I might have seen his kind looks when he said,
'Let the little ones come unto me.'"
But better still to have been with himto have leaned this head upon his bosomto have told him my griefs, as they did who took up the body of John, and went and told Jesusto have asked of him the explanation of difficulties, as they said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth"to have had one's faith encouraged by touching his very flesh, as he did of whom it is written, that he put his finger into the print of the nails and thrust his hand into his side. But what are we talking about? All this is carnal, all this is of sight, and the Christian is a nobler being than to live and walk by sight. He lives by faith; and to this day, brethren, there is a sight of Christ which can be had by faith; and therefore, we need not murmur because we are denied the privilege of sight. The sight of Christ it seems, did but little good to those who had it, not even to his disciples, for they were sorry dolts, even though he was the Master. It was only when the Spirit came down at Pentecost, that they began to know Christ, and to understand what he had said to them, though he himself had said it. And truly 'tis better to see Christ by faith than it is to see him by sight, for a sight of him by faith saves the soul; but we might see him with the eye, and yet crucify him, yet be found amongst the greatest rebels against his government and power.
Now we say to you, Have you beheld his glory by faith? Oh! ye have all of you heard of it. We, the ministers of Christ, have tried Sabbath after Sabbath to lift him up, and it is such sweet and blessed work that I would fain do it every day. When we have to preach the law, we feel it a hard and toilsome servitude, but to preach Christ; O how sweet and blessed is the labor! Happy is the man whose lips are ever overflowing with the news of Jesus! Blessed is he whose ministry is full of Christ! He is blessed in his own soul, as well as blessed unto others. Ye have heard of it, then, but what of all this? Ye may hear of his glory and perish in your sins. Ye have read of his glory; this book is in your houses, and ye read it, I trust, each day, thus ye have read the story of the Man of sorrows and grief's acquaintance. And ye know how he ascended on high, leading captivity captive, and ever sitteth at the right hand of God. But ye may read all this; and yet it shall be a curse and not a blessing, for ye knew him and yet rejected him. You were among his own and he came unto you, and ye received him not. Oh! to behold his glory! This is soul work, saving work, blessed work, everlasting work: have ye any interest in it?
But ye answer, "How can we behold his glory?" Why, faith sees it. Faith looks back to the man who lived and died for us, and sees glory in his shame, honor in his disgraces, riches in his poverty, might in his weakness, triumph in his conflict, and immortality in his death. Nay, Faith is sometimes assisted by Experience; and Experience sees his glory: it sees the glory of his grace in rolling away all our sins; the preciousness of his blood in giving us reconciliation with the Father; the power of the Spirit in subduing the will; the love of his heart in constantly remembering us upon the throne; and the power of his plea in its perpetual prevalence with God. Experience shows us the glory of Christ in the deep waters, while he puts his arm beneath us and says, "Fear not, thou shalt not be drowned." It shows us the glory in the blazing furnace while the Son of Man treads the glowing coals with his afflicted Israel. Experience shows us the glory of Christ in all the attacks of Satan. While he is our shield he wards off every poisoned arrow, shows us the glory of Christ in helping us to live and enabling us to die, and by-and-bye it shall show us the glory of Christ in enabling us to rise and take possession of the crown which he hath purchased for his children.
And with Experience there is another that helps us to behold the glory of Christ, namely, Communion. Beloved, I hope you know what that meanswhen in the chamber shut in with God, and the world shut out, our eyes behold him and not another; when we can kneel down in the very posture of the poor agonizing victim of Gethsemane, and see by fellowship the sweat of blood as it streams from the pores of his frame: when we can mark him hounded, hissed, scouted through all the streets of his own city, and taken to Calvary to die. Communion knows something of the bitterness of the cup which he then drank, somewhat of the sharpness of the nails that pierced his hands, and somewhat of the death which was endured when at last he said, "It is finished!" and gave up the ghost. Yes, Communion can show us the glory of Christ even in his shame. And then it can take to its wings and show us his glory beyond the skies. These eyes have never seen the Savior, but this heart hath seen him; these lips have never kissed his cheek, for that they might do and I might be a Judas; but the soul hath kissed him and he hath kissed me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is better than wine. Think me not enthusiastic or fanatical when I say that the children of God have as near access to Christ to day in the spirit, as ever John had after the flesh; so that there is to this day a rich enjoyment to be obtained by those who seek it, in having actual fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Oh, it is a joy worth worlds! Worldling, if thou hadst ever known the sweetness of this bread, thou wouldst never eat thine own ashes again. O pleasures of the world! ye would cease to tempt us, if ye knew how much more sweet are the pleasures of his face. O thunders of this world! ye would cease your attempts to frighten us, if ye knew the sweet satisfaction and solace which we find in him, when everything is bitter and disconsolate abroad. Yes, we have beheld his glory, just as surely as if we had seen it with our eyes; as certainly as if we had heard with our ears the acclamations of the glorified, and taken our seat with them at the foot of his throne, or with them had veiled our faces with wings, and cried, "Holy holy, holy, Lord God omnipotent!" Just as truly, though not so fully, we have beheld his glorythe glory of the only-begotten of the Fatherfull of grace and truth.
III. Thirdly we have in the text, A MOST BLESSED VISION.
We have had the favored persons, their exalted privilege, and now we have their blessed vision. We have beheld his glory. Let us dwell upon the thought of his glory for awhile. My brethren, what a glory have we beheld by faith! By faith, in the first place, we have beheld the glory of his complex person. We have known and believed that he is the everlasting Word, the veritable Son of the Father, we have beheld him by faith, as dwelling with the Father or ever the world was, the beloved of his Father's soul; we have seen him and we have marked that his goings-forth are of old, even from everlasting, we have seen him weighing the clouds, measuring the channels of the great deep, planning the heavens, and meting out the sea, we have seen him with the line and with the plummet, making all things according to his wisdom, and the purpose of the counsel of his will, for "without him was not anything made that was made." We have seen him as God, seated upon the throne of his Father, and we have believed that the sea roareth only as he bids it, that the earth with all the creatures that are therein obeys his glorious will. Lo, in his hands to-day the keys of heaven and death, and hell! We have had no doubts whatever as to his Divinity, for we have seen and known that he is "very God of very God." "God over all, blessed for ever Amen."
We have seen him too as man. We have perceived that he is of the substance of his mother, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh; man in all infirmities, but not man in any guiltiness of his own; man weak, suffering, hungry, thirsty, dying, but without spot or wrinklepure, the immaculate Lamb of God. We have beheld him in the glory of this complex personnot God deteriorated to man, not man deified to God, but God, very God, and very man; God in all that is God-like, man in all that is manlike, and we have adored him as such. We have seen in him the lustre of a beauty which far outshines all that earth can present us, or all that heaven can offer. Whom have we on earth but Jesus? Who is there in heaven that we can desire beside him?
Next, we have beheld his glory, not merely in his person, but in the motive for which he undertook his great work. That motive was love, love which could have his self interest to be an alloy, love to worthless creatures, love to those who could never repay his love to rebels, love to men who crucified the Lord of glory, and we have said as we have seen this love sparkling like a jewel in a black setting, lying in the heart of the pool, injured, poverty-stricken, houseless, comfortless Man of Nazareth. "There is a glory here in this love that is never to be found elsewhere."
Then, we have beheld the glory of his self-sacrifice. We have looked upon him giving up everything for us, renouncing his crown and sceptre, laying aside his royal robes and splendor, leaving his Father's house, and palaces, and honor, becoming man, nay, a poor man, a despised afflicted man; nay, becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. We have read history through, but we never saw a self-sacrifice that could equal his. In him selfishness never lived, and therefore, never needed to be kept in check. He was not his own; his whole history could be written in this: "He saved others, himself he cannot save," Glorious Christ, in this whilst thou wast rejected of men, we have beheld thy glory.
We have beheld, moreover, the glory of his endurance. He is tempted in every point, yet fails in none. The world's glory lies at his feet, he chooses rather our salvation than the glories of earth. He counted the reproach that he should bear for us greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. We see him mocked, yet never reviling, spit upon, yet never spitting back again even so much as a word of venom. We see him despised, yet never attempting to clear himself; accused, yet silent before the judgment-seat; so giving up himself that he can bear all things, whatsoever they may be. Many waters could not quench his love, neither could the floods drown it. Though all the substance of the world's house were offered him that he might renounce his love, yet did he utterly despise the world. Who was ever such a martyr as the Savior? Who endured as he did? Who bore such contradiction of sinners against himself? Great God, O Jesu,for such thou artGreat God, there is none like thee in the omnipotence of thine endurance. We have seen thy glory, even when thou didst tabernacle among men.
And we have seen his glory also in his great and blessed perseverance even to the end, having loved his own which were in the world he loved them to the end: having undertaken he went through, he never paused till he could say, "It is finished." Then he gave up the ghost, but not till then. Now to-day behold his perseverance. For Zion's sake he does not rest, and for Jerusalem's sake he never holds his peace day nor night until God shall be pleased to make her glory come forth as the brightness, and her righteousness as a lamp that burneth. On, on, on, neither to the right nor to the left turning for a moment, without pause without making a moment's question, onwards to his destined work he speeds, and never doth he cease till he can say to his Father, "I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do."
And then, not to keep you too long even upon such a subject as this, we have beheld his glory in his final triumph. Yes, brethren, by faith we have seen in the very moment when the sun was darkened, and when the earth was shaken, and the rocks rent asunder, we have seen Christ darkening the world's glories, we have seen him rending rocky hearts, and bidding the dead arise. We have seen him in the very instant when he gave up the ghost leaping from the cross, pursuing with thunderbolts the prince of hell, and driving him to darker shades below, we have seen him grasping at last the tyrant in his hands, and chaining him to his chariot wheel. Our faith has beheld him riding up the everlasting hills, leading captivity captive, we have seen the gates wide open flung while angels said, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." We have joined by faith the triumph and have swelled the train, we have heard the acclamation of the spirits of the just made perfect; we have heard above all the voice of God, "Well done, thou hast finished thy Father's will." We have seen him ascend in august majesty the throne which is his resting place, and we have seen him sit down on the right hand of the Father, while from heaven and earth, and even hell, there went up one prolonged note of praise, "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Nay, our faith has gone beyond the mere matters of the past. We have beheld his glory, we have seen him as one by one his sheep are brought, and his prayer is heard, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." We have seen him going forth day after day in the chariot of Salvation scattering with both his hands his mercies among the poverty-stricken sons of men, and we have cried unto him, "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most mighty." Often has our prayer been, Come forth, O Jesus, heaven obeys thee, earth shakes at thy presence, hell trembles at thee, devils are dismayed. Come forth, put thine arrow to the string, and lift up thy glittering spear. Who, who shall stay thy course, or in thy presence stand. Like chaff before the wind so shall they be driven and as stubble before the flame so shall they be utterly consumed. We have been helped to fly even to the great end of all things, and by faith have seen his second advent. We have beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. We have seen him come,
As once in lowliness he came,
A silent Lamb before his foes,
A weary man, and full of woes."
We have seen him come
With rainbow-wreath and robes of storm;
On cherub wings, and wings of wind,
Appointed Judge of all mankind!"
We have beheld his millennial reign. We have marked the dwellers in the wilderness blowing before him, the kings of Seba and Sheba offering their gifts; we have heard the universal song from the dwellers in the rocks and the islands of the sea, we have seen the halcyon age of love, when no strife shall vex Messiah's reign. When they shall
And study war no more."
And then we have seen the judgment; we have beheld the reeling earth unable to bear the splendor of his triumph; we have heard the wailings of his enemies; we have seen them melt as wax before the flame, utterly consumed like the fat of rams upon his altar. We have at last, by faith, seen the end, when he shall give up the kingdom to God, even our Father; we have heard, I say, the last word of the whole history in the shout of complete victory
Sheathed his sword: he speaks'tis done!
And the kingdoms of this world
Are the kingdoms of his Son.
Then the end,beneath his rod,
IV. Have patience with me while I now conclude. In the fourth place, the text reminds us of THE TESTIMONY WHICH WE WHO HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY ARE SURE TO BEAR.
We bear our testimony that he is "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Brothers and sisters, instead of preaching let me bear my testimony; my testimony of what I have seen, what my own ears have heard, and my own heart has tastedthat Christ is the only begotten of the Father. He is divine to me, if he be human to all the world besides. He has done that for me which none but a God could do. He has turned my stubborn will, melted a heart of adamant, broken a chain of steel, opened the gates of brass, and snapped the bars of iron. He hath turned for me my mourning into laughter, and my desolation into joy, he hath led my captivity captive, made my heart rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let others think as they will of him, to me he must be the only begotten of the Father: blessed be his name.
Like the heavenly host above,
Who for ever bow before him,
And unceasing sing his love. Happy songsters!
When shall I your chorus join?"
Thy name is precious even as ointment poured forth. Thou art indeed my Lord and my God, as certainly as ever thou wast the God of Thomas. Like Paul, my soul shall say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Again, I bear my testimony that he is full of grace. Ah! had he not been, I should never have beheld his glory. I was full of sin to overflowing. I was condemned already, because I believed not upon him. He drew me when I wanted not to come, and though I struggled hard, he continued still to draw; and when at last I came all trembling like a condemned culprit to his mercy-seat, he said, "Thy sins which were many are all forgiven thee be of good cheer." "He took me up out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay. He hath set my feet upon a rock, and put a new song into my mouth, and established my goings." Let others despise him; but I bear witness that he is full of grace. Oh, I would that some poor sinner here who is full of sin, would remember that Christ is full of grace: I would that thou, poor despairing onethou who hast given thyself up as a lost soul, wouldst remember that
Grade to pardon all thy sin:
May the healing streams abound,
Make and keep thee pure within."
Finally I bear my witness, that as he is full of grace he is full of truth. True have his promises been, not one has failed. I have often doubted him, for that I blush; he has never failed me, in this I must rejoice. His promises have been yea and amen. I do but speak the testimony of every believer in Christ, though I put it thus personally to make it the more forcible. I bear witness that never servant had such a Master as I have; never brother had such a kinsman as he has been to me; never spouse had such a husband as Christ has been to my soul; never sinner a better Savior; never soldier a better captain; never mourner a better comforter than Christ hath been to my spirit. I want none beside him. In life he is my life, and in death he shall be the death of death; in poverty Christ is our riches, in sickness he makes our bed; in darkness he is our star, and in brightness he is our sun; he is the manna of the camp in the wilderness, and he shall be the new corn of the host when they come to Canaan. He is the rock that follows them today; he is the rock on which they shall rest, and within which they shall dwell for ever.
In thee thy Father's glories shine;
Thou brightest, sweetest, fairest one,
That eyes have seen or angels known.
O may I live to reach the place
Where he unveils his lovely face.
Where all his beauties saints behold,
And sing his name to harps of gold.-
So be it, Lord. Amen.