The Grace of Christ, or,
Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness
William S. Plumer, 1853
"We believe it is through the grace of our
Lord Jesus that we are saved." Acts 15:11
CHRISTIANS LONG TO SEE JESUS
Sinners, saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
greatly love his person, and long to see him, and to be filled with his
fullness. He who has seen the Son, has seen the Father. He is the brightness
of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person. Yet his divinity
is so veiled by his flesh that we fear not to come near him. Formerly many
denied the proper humanity of Christ, but now the attack is against his
divinity. Both are fundamental. If he is not the true God, he is not eternal
life. His humanity makes him most approachable.
Until God in human flesh I see,
My thoughts no comfort find;
The holy, just and sacred Three
Are terrors to my mind.
Jesus is the source of all hope, and joy, and peace, and
life, and comfort to the pious. Therefore. they love him, and long to be
with him, that they may behold his glory, which he had with the Father
before the world was. In this life the saints look to the Savior by faith;
in the next they behold him by immediate vision. Here they see him through a
glass darkly; there they see him face to face. The stronger their faith, the
clearer the view they here have of him. Sometimes a sight of him, even
through a dark glass, is wonderful, and makes the soul like the chariots of
Amminadib. Such a sight has often made God's people welcome whips, and
chains, and dungeons, and death. But the vision of him in the next world
will transcend all human conceptions!
There he is not only glorious as on the mount of
transfiguration; but he is as gentle, as kind, as tender as when he wept
at the grave of Lazarus, gave eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, or
granted mercy to a wretch hanging by his side. True, he weeps no more,
but his present kindness soothes every sorrow in the hearts of his "hidden
ones." Yes, his hand wipes all tears from their faces. Even the old disciple
who groaned out his sixty years on earth, shall sigh no more forever. His
glory and his tenderness expel all sadness, and bar all sorrows. Here his
people behold him in their closets. While they sit alone and keep silence,
he speaks comfortably to them, he puts in his hand by the hole of the door.
Jesus reveals himself to those who love secret devotion. He visits where his
flocks rest at noon. Would you have clear views of Jesus? Lay aside your
worldliness, enter into your chamber, and shut your door behind you. If you
but mingle with the crowd, you may look in vain for soul-transforming views
of the Redeemer. Blessed Savior, why is my heart so slow to seek you in
solitude? "While the King sits at his table, my spikenard sends forth the
smell thereof." I must seek him more. I will hearken unto him, and walk in
his ways; then he will soon subdue my enemies, then shall he feed me with
the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock shall he satisfy me.
Lord, increase my faith.
It is also well to ascend the mount of ordinances,
that we may see him in his beauty and glory. There he is held in his
galleries. There he often manifests himself in the breaking of bread. In the
songs of Zion, in public prayers, in gospel preachingóhow gloriously does
Christ often come and make his abode with his people, and fill their hearts
with joy and peace! "Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they will be
still praising you. A day in your courts is better than a thousand. I had
rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents
of wickedness." Often do his saints go down from his house, satisfied as
with marrow and fatness, when some word in season, borne to their hearts by
the blessed Spirit, has been spoken by the servant of Christ.
Many get pleasant views of Christ in the valley of
humiliation, which flows with wholesome waters, abounds with precious
fruits, and is the constant resort of our souls' Beloved. Some of the sights
there seen, such as the evil of sin and the wickedness of our own hearts,
are not pleasant; but these make a sight of Jesus the more ravishing. Every
child of God finds great treasure in this valley. Some have thought it
better than the mount of transfiguration, and would gladly abide there all
their days; for there they see Jesus as they never see him anywhere else.
The place suits them well.
We often get a blessed view of our Savior, when we are in
the furnace of affliction. Sometimes its heat is intense; but the
hotter, the better, if Jesus be with us, and our faith fails not. When the
furnace of Nebuchadnezzar was made seven times hotter than usual, and the
three faithful Hebrews were cast into it, there was one seen walking with
them, and "his form was like unto the Son of God." Many Christians declare
that they never saw happier days than when adversity pressed hard upon them.
This is just what Jesus promised: "I will not leave you comfortless: I will
come to you." John 14:12.
But the brightest vision of Christ will be "when we
shall see him as he is." The sight of husband, wife, child, parent,
friend, or lover, never was so gladsome as the sight of the Savior shall be.
Blessed vision! The righteous long for it. To be with Jesus, and like Jesus,
and to behold His glory--constitute the heaven which true believers desire.
Though I should never see another pleasant sight in this world, may I at
last behold that blessed face, which was buffeted for me. Once his visage
was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. But
when Paul saw him on the way to Damascus, he shined with a light, "above the
brightness of the sun." And when John saw him, he fell at his feet as dead;
but he laid his hand upon him, saying, "Fear not; I am the first, and the
last; I am he who lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore,
Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Rev. 1:17, 18. Lord Jesus,
help me, intercede for me, comfort me, forsake me not, but bring me to
behold your face in righteousness.
All these blessed visions are by the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ. He is our Lord, our Governor, our King. "One is your
Master, even Christ." "You call me Master and Lord, and you say well; for so
I am." "Other lords have had dominion over us; but by you only will we make
mention of your name." Like Thomas let us ever say, "My Lord and my God!" If
we really feel that he is our Master, and we his disciples; our Lord, and we
his servants; we shall walk as he walked, we shall delight in his authority
over us, we shall be happy in doing and suffering his holy will.
He is also Jesus, which is the proper name of our
Savior. No name was ever more appropriate. Joshua was a savior, and so
were many others; but they were so only as instruments, while he is the
author of salvation. Their deliverances were temporal and political. His
salvation is spiritual and everlasting.
Our Lord Jesus is Christ. The Hebrew word,
Messiah, and the Greek word, Christ, both signify 'anointed'. Christ was the
Lord's anointed in the highest sense. He had the oil of gladness poured upon
him above all his fellows. Thus we read in that beautiful narrative in Luke
4:14-22: "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news
about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their
synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been
brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his
custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed
to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of
the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the
poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of
sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the
Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant
and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your
hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that
came from his lips." This settles the fact, and points out the manner of his
anointing. God the Father poured upon our Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit, and
thus he became the Christ of God.
Well might Peter say at the Council at Jerusalem, "We
believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved,
even as they." "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" is a phrase that occurs
in the New Testament more than a dozen times, and always in a manner well
suited to affect our hearts. Ten times it occurs in the form of a
benediction: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," or "with your
spirit," or "with you all." The text where it is mentioned most at length is
found in 2 Cor. 8:9: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his
poverty might be rich." There is the whole Gospel in epitome. The rich
became poor, that the poor might become rich. Who would not wish to see this
blessed Lord Jesus Christ?
When the celebrated Lord Duplessis of France was dying,
he said: "Away, away with all merit; I call for nothing but mercy, free
mercy." When secretly praying, he was heard to say, "I fly, I fly to heaven.
Let the angels carry me to the bosom of my Savior." Again he said, "I know
that my Redeemer lives, and I shall see him with these eyes," and so he went
to the Savior.
When near his end, Payson said: "I have done nothing
myself. I have not foughtóbut Christ has fought for me. I have not runóbut
Christ has carried me; I have not worked, but Christ has wrought in me.
Christ has done all." Who would not wish to see such a friend, such a