THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN HIS EXALTATION AFTER THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE WORK OF MEDIATION IN THIS WORLD
“This is that glory which our Lord Jesus Christ in a special manner prayed that His disciples might behold. This is that of which we ought to endeavor a prospect by faith; by faith, I say, and not by imagination. Vain and foolish men, having general notions of this glory of Christ, knowing nothing of the real nature of it, have endeavored to represent it in pictures and images, with all that luster and beauty which the art of painting, with the ornaments of gold and jewels, can give to them. This is that representation of the present glory of Christ, which, being made and proposed to the imagination and carnal affections of superstitious persons, carries such a show of devotion and veneration in the Papal Church. But they err, not knowing the Scripture nor the eternal glory of the Son of God.
This is the sole foundation of all our meditations herein. The glory that the Lord Jesus Christ actually possesses in heaven can be no otherwise seen or apprehended in this world but in the light of faith fixing itself on divine revelation. To behold this glory of Christ is not an act of fancy or imagination. It does not consist in framing to ourselves the shape of a glorious person in heaven. But the steady exercise of faith on the revelation and description made of this glory of Christ in the Scripture is the ground, rule, and measure of all divine meditations thereon.
So our duty is to call ourselves to account as to our endeavor after a gracious view of this glory of Christ: When did we steadfastly behold it? When had we such a view of it that our souls have been satisfied and refreshed? It is declared and represented to us as one of the chief props of our faith, as a help of our joy, as an object of our hope, as a ground of our consolation, as our greatest encouragement to obedience and suffering. Are our minds every day conversant with thoughts of it? or do we think ourselves not much concerned with it? Do we look upon it as that which is external to us and above us, as that which we shall have time enough to consider when we come to heaven?
So it is with many. They care neither where Christ is nor what He is, so that one way or other they may be saved by Him. They hope, as they pretend, that they shall see Him and His glory in heaven, and that they suppose to be time enough; but in vain do they pretend a desire thereof; in vain are their expectations of any such thing. They who do not endeavor to behold the glory of Christ in this world, as has been often said, shall never behold Him in glory hereafter to their satisfaction; nor do they desire so to do, only they suppose it a part of that relief which they would have when they are gone out of this world. For what should beget such a desire in them? Nothing can do it but some view of it here by faith, which they despise or totally neglect. Every pretense of a desire of heaven and of the presence of Christ therein that does not arise from, that is not resolved into, that prospect which we have of the glory of Christ in this world by faith, is mere fancy and imagination.
Our constant exercise in meditation on this glory of Christ will fill us with joy on His account, which is an effectual motive to the duty itself. We are for the most part selfish, and look no farther than our own concerns. Just so we may be pardoned and saved by Him, we care not much how it is with Himself, but only presume it is well enough. We find not any concern of our own therein. But this fame is directly opposite to the genius of divine faith and love. For their principal actings consist in preferring Christ above ourselves, and our concerns in Him above all our own. Let this, then, stir us up to the contemplation of this glory. Who is it that is thus exalted over all? Who is thus encompassed with glory, majesty, and power? Who is it who sits down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, all His enemies being made His footstool? Is it not He who in this world was poor, despised, persecuted, and slain—all for our sakes? Is it not the same Jesus who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and washed us in His own blood?
So the apostle told the Jews that the same “Jesus whom they slew and hanged on a tree, God had exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and Saviour to give repentance unto Israel, and the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30,31). If we have any valuation of His love, if we have any concern in what He has done and suffered for the Church, we cannot but rejoice in His present state and glory.
Let the world rage while it pleases; let it set itself with all its power and craft against everything of Christ that is in it, which, though some pretend otherwise, proceeds from a hatred of His person; let men make themselves drunk with the blood of His saints; we have this to oppose to all their attempts, and to our support—what He says of Himself: “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:17,18).
Blessed Jesus! we can add nothing to Thee, nothing to Thy glory; but it is a joy of heart to us that Thou art what Thou art, that Thou art so gloriously exalted at the right hand of God; and we long more fully and clearly to behold that glory, according to Thy prayer and promise.”
(HT: Recover the Gospel)