I Have Had a View!
James Smith, 1859
A Christian man lay dying. Slowly did the work of death go on. Severe were his bodily sufferings, and dark and gloomy the state of his mind. His friends tried to rally and comfort him—but their efforts were in vain. They feared he would die in the dark, depart and leave no sign that God was with him. The room was now still and quiet, and the dying man lay calm with his eyes closed. They knew not if he slept or not. They watched him in silence. At length, a smile began to play on his countenance, and his appearance entirely changed. He looked the image of peacefulness and joy. He opened his eyes, and looking on those around him, he said, "I have had a view!"
"A view of what," inquired a dear friend. "A view of Calvary!" was the reply. Once more the Christian had seen the cross. Once more he had looked upon his Savior, as suffering and dying in his stead. That sight cleared away all gloom from his spirit, and imparted joy and peace to his soul. How could he be sad now—for he saw Jesus dying for his sins, dying as his substitute, dying that he might never die. In the death of Jesus, he saw that sin was put away, his peace was made, and a title to eternal life was given him. The sight of Jesus, dying the just for the unjust—cleared his skies, strengthened his faith, invigorated his hopes, and he felt he could die happy—or rather fall asleep in Jesus, without fear.
Reader! have you ever had a faith's view of Jesus on the cross? Have you ever been led as a poor lost sinner, to look to Jesus, as the serpent-bitten Israelites looked to the brazen serpent—for life, everlasting life? If not, I pray God, that while reading these lines you may. A view of Calvary, or of Jesus dying in the place of sinners, that they may never die—will remove all guilt from your conscience, chase away all the clouds of gloom from your mind, and give you sweet and holy peace. It will end your opposition to God, and the conflict felt in your soul about submitting unreservedly to his righteousness. It will introduce the sweetest tranquility into your soul, and produce devout and holy gratitude to God. No guilt can remain on the conscience—while we look at Jesus as crucified for our sins. No doubts of God's love can live—when we gaze upon Christ, as the sacrifice for our sins. For if Jesus died for us, then our guilt is expiated. If Jesus was given of God to die in our stead—then God must love us, and love us with a love that passes knowledge. But we see this to be the case, when by the teaching of the Holy Spirit—we get a view of Calvary.
Believer, is your soul cast down? Are you in gloom and sadness? Turn your eye to Calvary! Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a view of the wondrous Sufferer on the cross, the great Sin-bearer dying for your crimes! This will chase away your gloom—and disperse your sadness. This will soothe your troubled spirit, and impart joy to your sorrowful heart. In all your temptations, in all your conflicts, in all your sufferings from whatever quarter they may come—turn from them to Jesus, carry them to Calvary, there you will get them sanctified, and at length removed. Do not pore over the depravity of your heart. Do not dwell on your shortcomings. Do not listen to the accusations of the great enemy of souls. But at once, and as often as you are cast down, from whatever cause—turn again to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
On the bed of sickness—when aches, pains, and weakness, make life a burden—look to Calvary. In the hour of death—when about to exchange worlds, in that most solemn hour of man's existence here below—look, look to Jesus as delivered for your offences, as punished in your stead, as putting away your sin, by the sacrifice of himself!
Think of the dying Christian, whose expressions caused these lines to be written, all was dark with him, all was doubt and dread, until the Spirit pointed him to Calvary—and then all was confidence, and light, and joy. O to have a view of Jesus—of Jesus on the cross, when my heart and flesh are failing, when the world is receding from me, and eternity with all its solemn realities is bursting on my view!
Sinner, Jesus died—that you may never die. He suffered the wrath of God on earth—that you may not suffer the wrath of God in hell. He is set before you in the everlasting gospel, as the only refuge from the wrath to come, as the only Savior of lost and perishing transgressors. If you turn your eye and your heart to him—you will be saved with an everlasting salvation. If you look to him—you will be delivered from the guilt, power, and penal consequences of sin. But if you live neglecting him, if you die without a sight of Christ on Calvary, you must perish forever! For there is no other way of salvation, there is no possibility of escaping the wrath of God—but by faith in him.
Hence said the Apostle to the Ephesians, "By grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Grace saves sinners, by giving Jesus to die for them, and by accepting the atoning death of Jesus for them; and faith looks to Jesus, and receives from Jesus, a full and complete salvation. Believe that you can be saved, because Jesus died. Believe that you may be saved, through Jesus who has died. May the Holy Spirit, show you your lost state as a sinner before God, awaken in your soul a desire to escape from the dreadful consequences of your guilt, and lead you to the Lamb of God, that you may enjoy in your own soul, the evidence, persuasion, and foretaste of eternal salvation! Then, then you will be prepared to enter into, and understand, the language of the dying saint, and with him exclaim, while your heart overflows with joy and love, "I have had a view—a view of Calvary!"