Sunday, November 7, 2010

“Unseen Jesus" & Ralph Erskine

Many believers have doubts and fears about their own state, because their life is so hid that it doth not always appear to themselves. Their life is a life of faith, not of sense or sight; and it is the faith of things not seen. Herein God designs the glory of his invisible perfections, his faithfulness and truth particularly, when we trust in him for more than we see. Herein appears the excellency of faith. The apostle speaks of three precious things, the precious promises, the precious blood of Christ, and precious faith: why, it will be able to live comfortable, when all outward props are gone, even upon an unseen Jesus; "In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice:" hence compared to an anchor, Heb. vi. 20. When the anchor is cast out, it keeps the ship in the midst of the sea stable, by taking hold of something not seen by the mariner; thus faith and hope enter within the vail.— The believer casts out his anchor, and it takes hold of things unseen, and as invisible as Christ in God, and God in Christ.

"Unseen Jesus" & William Mason

We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is....1 John iii. 2.

Why should the Lord, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy, lay an embargo on our fully gratifying ourselves in the use of them? Why are we called to daily mortification and self-denial, as to sensual objects? Verily, it is all in love to our souls, that Jesus and spiritual objects might be more enjoyed; for experience proves the life of sense to be opposite to the life of faith. The more pleasure, comfort, and happiness we enjoy in the things of this life, this tends to make us love the world, and loath to leave it? and so our affections to Jesus cool, our desires after his appearing abate in their fervor, and we loose our longings after the unclouded sight of him in glory. So St. Paul reproves christians of old: "Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"....l Cor. iii. 3. How justly applicable is this interrogation to us also! Reflect on this soul-reviving truth, Yet a little while and Jesus shall appear. So sure as he was once upon earth in our nature, he will appear again in the same human body, exalted and glorified. And can we know and believe this as an undoubted truth, live upon it in expectation, without finding a deadness to this present world, and all its enjoyments? Here we feel sin in our flesh, pains in our bodies, afflictions our companions, wanderings and deadness in duties, trials and temptations of various sorts; and innumerable evils of every kind doth this short life abound with: but at the appearing of Jesus all will be at an end; for we shall be like him: our vile bodies shall be fashioned like to his glorious body. Our souls shall be perfectly conformed to his image. In soul and body we shall eternally enjoy him. And are we the subjects of such a hope? Let us live like ourselves; as members of Jesus our head. Let us ever be pressing after him, living upon his fulness, and longing for his appearing. Most blessed sight! most desirable fruition! we shall see our Jesus as he is. Once the despised Nazarene....once the devoted victim to curse and wrath; but now the Lord of life and glory, bestowing immortality and eternal life upon his dearly-purchased, blood-bought members. O, were our hearts more with Christ on the cross, and more with him on his throne by faith, how would sin be subdued, the world overcome, Satan conquered, and our happy hearts triumphing in love! for "we are more than conquerors over all, through Jesus that hath loved us."

O the delights, the heav'nly joys!

The glories of the place,

Where Jesus sheds the brightest beams

Of his o'erflowing grace!

This is the Man, th' exalted Man,

Whom we unseen adore:

But when our eyes behold his face,

Our hearts shall love him more.

And while our faith enjoys this fight,

We long to leave our clay:

And wish thy fiery chariots, Lord,

To fetch our souls away.

(William Mason, A spiritual treasury for the children of God, Vol. 1)

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: to him be glory both now and for ever. Amen....2 Pet. iii. 18.

Christian, know thy danger. Thou art ever liable to be led away by the error of the wicked one, to decline from the Truth, and to fall away from thy stedfastness in the faith of Jesus. Exhortations warn of this; they tend to quicken stronger exercises of faith and love, as a remedy against this; yea, through the influences of the Spirit they cause new-born souls to grow and increase with the increase of God, just as reviving showers of rain and warm influences of the sun, cause the fruits of the earth to grow. It behoves every follower of the Lamb to consider this; to wrestle with the God of all grace, lest he grow faint in his mind, his hands hang down, and his knees become feeble; but that he "grow strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus." Behold the inseparable connection between grace and Jesus, knowledge and growth. No growth in grace but by the knowledge of Jesus. The more thou growest up in thy Head, Christ, the more thou wilt grow out of hope in thyself, out of conceit with thyself, out of the reach of the Self-righteously Wicked.

To know and experience the grace of God in Christ, is the special mercy of poor sinners. To grow in the faith of free-grace truths, and in the knowledge of the love of Jesus, is our richest consolation, our highest joy. Hast thou experienced a little of this special grace? Hast thou tasted that the Lord is gracious? In this consists thy present blessedness, peace, and joy. But, alas! what is thy knowledge and experience, but like a drop of water to the vast ocean. Art thou hungering after more grace, thirsting after greater knowledge of Jesus? Verily, thou shalt be filled...."filled with all the fulness of God." It is the nature of grace, the property of the knowledge of Jesus, to create an insatiable thirst in the soul after deeper experiences of it: hence means of grace will be diligently used, the scriptures, which testify of Jesus, constantly searched, the gospel of grace highly prized, the sincere milk of the word desired, and the influences of the Spirit implored. Why all this? That the soul may grow in the faith and love of Jesus; that the bud of grace may blossom and bear ripe fruit to the glory of God. The smallest knowledge of Jesus shall be increased till the believing babe in Christ comes "in the unity of the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," until faith is turned into sight, hope swallowed up in fruition, and the love of an unseen Jesus on earth shall ripen unto the fullest enjoyment of him in heaven; and all this to the glory of God the Father, who hath "made us accepted in his beloved Son."....Eph. i. 6.

(William Mason, A spiritual treasury for the children of God, Vol. 1)

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal....2 Cor. iv, 18.

The faith of the gospel stamps vanity upon the righteousness, glory, and happiness of every object short of Jesus. When the soul beholds the King in his glory, it pours contempt upon all things beside; all the transient objects of time and sense die in esteem while the crucified Saviour is in view; this is our greatest gain, our chiefest glory. Far, infinitely beyond all the reasonings of vain philosophy, is the christian's sight by faith, to reconcile his mind to afflictions, endure with patience under, and give victory over them. Thus Moses "endured, seeing him who is invisible."....Heb. xi. 27. Though the eye of nature hath not seen, nor the uncircumcised ear hath heard, nor can the carnal heart conceive the spiritual things of God's covenant, Jesus's incarnation, and the Spirits revelation; yet the enlightened, heaven-born soul, sees these things in open vision by the eye of faith; to look at them is his chief delight and joy, to obtain clearer views of them his daily study, to converse and be more familiar with them is his chief happiness, his heaven begun, on earth; a strange mystery to his natural self and to the carnal world, is the believing soul; to love and converse with an unseen Saviour, to look to invisible objects, to derive all happiness from things that are not seen; no marvel that there should be so great fight of opposition from fallen nature and carnal reason against such a life.

Soul, ever remember with humility and thankfulness, our dear Saviour saith, "unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God."....Mark iv. 11. "These things are hid from the wise and prudent." O disciple, whilst thou dost adore the Father's love, dost rejoice in the Son's grace, remember thou art wholly indebted for all this rich discovery to the divine Spirit; give him equal glory; grieve not the Spirit, who is the glorifier of Jesus, by turning thine eyes to any other object for righteousness, peace, and happiness. Is Christ thine all? Are the unseen things of his kingdom thy portion? Be a chaste virgin to thy Lord. "Where thy treasure is, there let thy heart be also." Happy for thee to find with Paul, "I die daily." I am dying to the world while living in it; I find and feel many pains and disorders in my frail body as sure forebodings of hastening dissolution; I know perfectly that the day of the Lord is coming, that each breath I draw brings nearer this solemn advent. What then should I look to? Upon what should my affections be placed ? Blessed, be God for revealing these eternal things as our portion. "Be careful for nothing," &c....Phil. iv. 6.

(William Mason, A spiritual treasury for the children of God, Vol. 1)

The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer....1 Pet. iv. 7.

Yesterday we were born. To-day we live. To-morrow we die. The sum total of human life is justly calculated by the hoaryheaded patriarch, Jacob, "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been."....Gen. xlvii. 9. A truth this that lies level with the common observation and judgment of all men; but is admitted into the regenerate heart and conscience only with that importance it demands, so as suitably to affect the mind and influence the conduct. Hence, the absolute necessity of divine faith ; the continual need of the believing soul exercising his meditations.upon the sure and certain approaching dissolution of all things. So he learns to die daily to the perishing objects of time and sense; and to live like himself, as an immortal inhabitant of a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. To live and lean upon our beloved Jesus as the stay of one's soul 'and the strength of one's hope this is true happiness. While all things below perish in the using; invisible realities ripen in prospect, and most powerfully engage our affections; because they are durable and eternal. Hence, the soul is excited to watchfulness, that he may prayer, that he may be kept....and to sobriety, that he may persevere. O, believer, thou canst not but count drunkenness and whoredom great sins; but know also, the cares, riches, pleasures, and honors of this world, as really intoxicate the mind and cause the heart to be guilty of spiritual adultery against thy loving, lawful bridegroom, Jesus, as outward, gross sins do the body. What need, what daily need hast thou to watch constantly, to be sober continually, and to pray always? Pride is contrary to sobriety of judgment of thyself. Lust and intemperance are inconsistent with the soundness of thy faith, the stability of thy hope, and the exercise of thy love. These are ever at hand to beset thee. Say, therefore, when canst thou dispense with a watchful frame of spirit? when intermit in prayer to, and dependence on thy God ? O, the sweet exercise of watching unto prayer, for divine power: in prayer, for sweet enlargements: after prayer, for a comfortable answer from our Lord! Ever may this just reflection be on thy mind, when tempted or inclined to cast in thy lot with the carnal, and to indulge thyself. in attending the bewitching scenes of sin, folly and vanity: am I now acting like one who knows the end of all things is at hand? do I behave as one in his right mind? am I watching unto prayer? can I desire, pray for, and expect the sense of Jesus's love and presence to be with me? Remember thy calling; it is to love and live upon an unseen Jesus, and to act as daily expecting to "receive the end of thy faith, the salvation of thy soul."....1 Pet. i. 9.

(William Mason, A spiritual treasury for the children of God, Vol. 1)

Moses endured, as seeing him who is invisible....Heb. xi. 27.

What a paradox! "Seeing him who is invisible." Is not this deemed the very height of enthusiasm? I dearly love that word: It signifies, being IN GOD: and I love it in the very sense carnal men use it too; for they mean, one who has got the zeal and fire of godliness in his soul. Give me that man for my companion who is cast off by the world as an enthusiast. Is it any marvel that scriptural, experimental truths are foolishness to the spiritually blind, and that they can neither endure the persons nor the language of the children of faith? Consider, 1st. What did Moses endure? What you, and I, and every enlightened soul is called to endure, "the reproach of Christ, and suffering affliction with the people of God." Now this is opposed, by "enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season." So that if you will but enjoy the pleasures of sin, with the men of this world, you may escape the reproach of Christ and avoid suffering affliction from them. Now, which is your choice? If Christ is in your eye, you cannot hesitate one moment: Moses' choice will be yours. Give me Christ....welcome reproach....afflictions I embrace for him. O let me have Christ within me, and his mark upon me. Faith makes all easy: love makes all pleasant: hope makes all joyful. Well, but how could Moses endure the reproach of Christ, before Christ was born in the flesh? Why, the promised Messiah was the object of his faith, his hope, his love and his joy: so he was of all these heroes of faith, recorded in this chapter. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," is the one only object of every sinner's faith, since the fall of Adam to this day: take away Christ and faith has no existence. But, 2d. How did Moses endure? Just as you and I must, SEEING: this implies a continued act of the mind, constantly fixed upon an object. We cannot be stedfast in faith, joyful in hope, abounding in love, and enduring reproach for Christ, unless we are continually "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."....Heb. xii. 2. Though he is invisible to the eye of sense, yet we see him by the eye of faith: see him as our fore-runner entered into the heavens for us....removed all things out of the way that hindered us....ever living to pray for us....ever ready to keep us....and waiting to receive us to himself, that where he is there we may be also. O, this constant looking makes hopeful, holy, joyful living, and comfortable dying.

Faith is a sight unto the soul,

To see an unseen Christ,

Which does our sinful pow'rs controul,

And makes us truly blest.

(William Mason, A spiritual treasury for the children of God, Vol. 2)