Sunday, October 10, 2010

Robert Murray M'Cheyne on 1 Peter 1:8-9 "the unseen Saviour"

I edited the text below from from The Sword and the Trowel; ed. by C.H. Spurgeon. Enjoy!



MAY, 1867.

Love, Joy, Hope; or, The Fruits of Faith.


Copied from the Author's own unpublished manuscript. Preached
January 28th, 1838.

"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."—1 Peter, i. 8, 9.

I.—Believing In An Unseen Saviour Gives Love. "Whom having not seen, ye love."

1. Unawakened persons have got no love to an unseen Saviour. They see no form nor comeliness in him; no beauty that they should desire him. They have got affections lively and ardent, but none towards Christ. Unconverted mothers have a tender love for their children. Unconverted friends have a tender love for friends, but they love not Christ. They are lovers of pleasure, but not lovers of Christ.

Mark (1). They do not love to hear his name. When you are sincerely attached to any one, you love to hear their name. Their name is sweetest melody in your ears. I remember a dying man, whose favourite brother was in a foreign land, when any one approached his bed he always called him by the name of his absent brother. "Why do you call me so?" he was asked again and again. "It is very foolish," he said, smiling, "but I love the name." Just so it is with those who love Jesus, they love the name. The book in which they do not find it is a tiresome book to them. Now, the Christless love not the name of Jesus; they cannot call him Lord; their lips are not formed to speak his name. How plain that they do not love Jesus.

Mark (2). They do not think of him. If you are sincerely attached to any one, you love to think of them. The meditative eye of the mind doth always follow the affections of the heart. Where your treasure is your heart will be also, and where your heart is your thoughts will often be. A mother has her son upon the sea — the son round whom all her affections are twined. Now, tell me where her thoughts will oftenest be? Ah! they will be with her child: the ship, the masts, the raging sea, will be often, often in her mind. Often she sits unconscious of what is going on beside her. Why? She is thinking on the son of her love. So is it with the soul when Christ is precious; when he is felt to be the "chief among ten thousand," and "altogether lovely;" more to the soul than two sons. Such a soul loves to meditate on Christ. "I will meditate on thee in the night-watches." Not once or twice, but day by day the soul dwells with increasing admiration on all his works of love. "Whom having not seen, we love." But not so the unconverted. They do not think of Jesus, they do not love him. I put it to you, my friends, do you love to meditate on Christ? Are the thoughts of business, the thoughts of care, the thoughts of pleasure, the thoughts of sin, gladly pushed aside to make way for thoughts of Jesus? If not, then you have not a spark of love to Jesus. Ah! it is true the unconverted have no love to Jesus Christ.

Mark (3). They do not keep his commandments. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." If you are sincerely attached to any one, you love to do what they request of you, especially when they are away; you love to do what they would wish you to do. When a dying father leaves his parting commands to his affectionate children, how diligently do they follow out his desires. Shall we not do what our Father desired? So is it with those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They love to eat bread and drink wine, because he said, "Do this in remembrance of me." They love to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, because Jesus said, "Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful." They love to yield their whole bodies, and souls, and spirits, to be dwelt in by his Spirit, that they may be enabled to do what Jesus loves them to do. But the unconverted do not keep his commandments. I put it to you—when they come to the Lord's Supper, they love it not. When they give to the poor it is grudgingly, or ostentatiously; they do not know the luxury of giving because they love Jesus: they do not love Jesus. They do not yield themselves to be reigned over by his Spirit.

2. Believing In An Unseen Saviour Gives Love. It is not a sight of Jesus with the bodily eyes that gives love. Many saw him when he was on earth, and loved him not. Judas went out and in with him during all the days of his ministry, and yet his cold breast had not one spark of love to Jesus. Many Jews saw him call Lazarus out of the grave, and yet went and became his accusers to the chief priests—they hated him. The devil saw him when he stood with him on the exceeding high mountain, yet the devil loves him not, but trembles. Many shall see him when he comes again who will not love him. "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." The face of the Saviour shall shine with inexpressible beauty and brightness in that day. His people shall love him; but the world shall hate his appearing: they will call on rocks and mountains to cover and hide them. It is not a sight of Jesus then that gives love. What does? Answer: It is believing on him unseen. Believing that he is the Son of God; that he comes from God. It was this made Peter love him. "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." It was this that made them all love him. "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." Believing that he is our surety. Ah! it is this that draws forth love. It is his being uplifted on the cross that draws souls to him, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." His deep wounds, made by the wrath that should have come upon sinners—these are the lines of beauty for a wounded soul. It is his blood gushing forth that causes our love to gush like a fountain. He loved me, and gave himself for me: that makes my soul love him, and give itself to him. Believing that he is "an advocate" unseen. The eye of faith follows Jesus within the veil, to the right hand of God. I believe that believers in our day have little faith in an unseen Saviour; I mean, they do not confidently go on in the world as if they saw what Jesus was doing. If you saw him praying for barren fig-trees, that they may not be cut down this year; bearing our name upon his heart; obtaining the Spirit for you; sending him into your heart; ah! surely you would be overcome with love to him. Now, faith is instead of sight. Only believe, and you cannot choose but love him. Question, "Lovest thou me?" Some may say, "Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee." To you I bring again the words of Jesus, "Feed my sheep," "Feed my lambs." Remember, you must not have a vain, frothy love, that vents itself in glowing speeches and nothing more. Those who are only lip-lovers are not worth the hearing. You must love, not in word only, but in deed. Feed Christ's sheep, and feed his lambs. Some may say, "I do not know, I love to love him, but I do not know."

Rules for growing in love. 1st Rule.—Look more to Jesus with the eye of faith. It is the eye that lets in love. When we look at an amiable object, the oftener we look the more we love. So is it with the eye of faith, by it you may receive sights of Christ. Look often and look long, and your heart will burn within you.

2nd Rule.—Look at his love. Love begets love. Looking at the sun makes the face glow with the refulgence. So, looking to Christ's love will make your heart glow with love back again.

3rd Rule.—Look at the whole of Christ. If you would see the glory of the sun, you must see him through his whole course, from his rising to his setting, and then to his rising again. So must you with Christ. Look to his rising, when he came from glory and shone first upon the world, in Bethlehem. Look to his course through the world—fulfilling the law—shining with all the grace and love of deity. Look at his setting on the cross, in the dark cloud of his Father's anger. Look at him now within the veil, still shining for us. Look at him about to rise again upon the world, coming in the clouds of heaven, his raiment white as the light, his face shining like the sun. Surely you cannot but love him who is all love to you!

II. Faith In An Unseen Saviour Sites "Joy Unspeakable And FULL OF GLORY."

1. Unconverted people have not this joy. There is a joy in having life, the buoyancy of health, the elastic footstep, the bracing air— all these reveal the joy of having life, a joy which cannot be expressed in words, and yet the unconverted have this joy. There is a joy in business. You cannot look upon the bustling countenance of your man of business—his active step, his quick look of intelligence, his regularity, like the index of a clock, in going his daily round, without seeing that there is a joy in business—and yet the unconverted have this joy. There is a joy in friends, in home, the fireside, the smiling faces there, the parting at night, the meeting in the morning. These things pour in drops of every-day joy into the cup of the, most gladless families which can scarcely be numbered. There is a joy in this to the unconverted. There is a joy too in sin—strangest joy of all—in that which is opposed to God, and kindred to hell. Yet here there is joy—from the magic charms of the theatre, and the whirl of the godless dance, down to the fascinating delights of the low tavern. There is a troubled joy in sin. Unconverted men have all this. "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." Question, "What is wrong in this joy?"

1. It will not last: "yet a little while and the wicked shall not be." "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found." O my dear friends, your joy is not "unspeakable and full of glory." It can soon be told. A few days and it will be like a tale that is told. Do not think we are stern and sour, because we are sad to see you happy; but ah! how sad to see you placing your chief joy in flowers that are withering as you hold them. God knows that all my desire is to see you happy. O that you were wise.

2. They end in hell. "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." O my dear friends, your joys, as long as you are Christless, are not only passing away, hut they are leading you down to hell; they are preparing you for a bitter day. Oh! how you will curse those smiles that wooed your soul to its eternal ruin.

2nd. Awakened persons have not this joy. When God begins a work of grace in the soul, joy vanishes. When he reveals the past life in the light of God's countenance, or in the light of the cross, the sinner trembles like Belshazzar at the feast; his mouth is stopped, and he stands guilty before God. When he looks to the law of God he feels that Sinai is ready to tumble on his head, and the voice is, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." When he looks to God himself, his eyes of flame seem to pierce him through and through, and this word is graven on his heart, "In thy sight shall no flesh living be justified." When he looks to the cross of Christ, the tender look of the Saviour breaks his heart in pieces, for he has always despised Jesus, and this word comes to him from the cross as if it were spoken, "He that believeth not is condemned already." My dear friends, an awakened soul is a brokenhearted soul. Do you know anything of this? Then you will find no more pleasure in sin. True, it is sweet as ever, like Belshazzar's wine, but the handwriting of God is on the wall. Oh! with what a heavy, sinking heart, some people live in sin: joy in friends will be departed; home no more wears the smile it used to do; joy in business too is fled, for the business of the soul is not settled; joy in living is almost forgotten; the sun cheers not, for the Sun of Righteousness does not shine on the soul—neither moon nor stars appear for many days. If you are awakened you will know what that meaneth. "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted," now wait on the Lord quietly; he only can bring you a new joy, joy that is "unspeakable and full of glory."

3rd. They that believe in an unseen Saviour have this joy. If you saw a man with an open letter in his hand, weeping tears of joy, his heart too full for utterance, you would say he has got good news from a far country. He believes something which he does not see. So is it with the Christian. God shines on the Bible, makes his word bright that tells of Jesus having died in the stead of sinners, even the chief; the soul believes the report, and cries out, "There is hope ! there is hope !" "Jesus died for me, I do not need to die." "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."

Learn 1st. That it is not a sight of Christ with the bodily eye that gives joy. Many saw Christ at Nazareth, and wondered at his gracious words, yet got no joy. Many saw him preaching from the boat on the sea of Galilee, yet were none the better for it. Many saw him in the temple, on the last day, that great day of the feast, yet you do not read of one that Was made glad by the sight. Many saw him on the cross, saw his pierced hands and feet, saw the darkness come over him, saw him bow his head in agony, and give up the ghost, and yet got no joy thereby. So many will see Jesus when he comes in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and yet get no joy thereby. Many shall wail because of him in that day. When John saw him in glory, he fell at his feet as dead: how much more when his enemies see him! they shall wish that they never had eyes to look on him—his appearance will be so terrible. Some say, "If I had lived in Christ's day, I would have seen and believed." Learn the folly of this. "Faith comes by hearing," "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

Learn 2nd. It is not a Christ in the imagination that gives joy. Some weak foolish people have expected to be brought into peace by having a vivid representation of Christ made to their fancy; imagining they see him on the cross, bleeding, dying, or smiling on them with a sweet countenance; imagining that they shall hear some words spoken to them, borne in upon their imagination, telling them of their interest in Christ. Many weak foolish persons have hoped for these things; but even if granted, they would not give true joy. Do not look for any such fanciful things. If you believe not Moses and the prophets, neither would you be persuaded though one rose from the dead.

Learn 3rd. It it is a heart reception of God's word concerning Jesus that gives joy. God shines on the word and makes it appear true and excellent: God thereby persuades the soul that he has loved sinners, that Christ has died a ransom for them, that any sinner is welcome. Oh, for a spark of this faith, cry for it! It gives a joy "unspeakable and full of glory." Oh, the greatness of a Christian's joy! Two things in the heart of a Christian are said to be unspeakable. (1.) His feelings when the Holy Spirit dwells within him—"groanings that cannot be uttered." (2.) His joy in an unseen Saviour. It is "unspeakable and full of glory." It cannot be felt, it cannot be told.

III. Believing In An Unseen Saviour Gives Hope. "Receiving the end of your faith." This word especially refers to the appearing or second coming of the Saviour; it is then that the believer shall really receive the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul; but he receives it now by believing. (1.) Unconverted persons have no hope of the appearing of Jesus. Their eye has not followed him into heaven, and therefore they do not look for him returning; they neither wait for, nor love his appearing. No doctrine evinces the natural enmity of the human heart more than that of the second coming of the Saviour. "Where is the promise of his coming?" the scoffer always cries. O my friends, if you be Christless, the coming of the Saviour is no joy to you. (2.) But to you who are "in Christ," it is the sweet time when you shall receive the end of your faith. Faith in the unseen Saviour fills the bosom with his glorious hope, "My Saviour stands behind the curtain of this frail world," the believer says, "I see his shadow, as if he were just ready to come. When the hour has arrived, he will come and not tarry, and then I shall have a crown put upon this head, and a harp of pure gold to sing his praise; then I shall be freed from sin, and freed from sorrow.'' Do you live by the faith of a coming Saviour? If not, then you are depriving yourself of a sweet comfort to the soul. Oh! how it cheers the soul in its darkest hour. The "Lord is at hand." He will reign. The kingdom will come. "Behold! I come quickly." "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.