#DO YOU KNOW HIM?
"That I may know Him."
- Philippians 3:10
THE objective of the apostle’s life—that for which he sacrificed everything—country, kindred, honor, comfort, liberty, and life itself, was that he might know Christ! Observe that this is not Paul’s prayer as an unconverted man—that he may know Christ, and so be saved—for it follows upon the previous supplication that he might win Christ, and be found in Him. This is the desire of one who has been saved, who enjoys the full conviction that his sins are pardoned, and that he is in Christ. It is only the regenerated and saved man who can feel the desire, "That I may know Him." Are you astonished that a saved man should have such a desire as this? A moment’s reflection will remove your astonishment. Imagine for a moment that you are living in the age of the Roman emperors. You have been captured by Roman soldiers, and dragged from your native country; you have been sold for a slave, stripped, whipped, branded, imprisoned, and treated with shameful cruelty. At last you are appointed to die in the amphitheatre, to make holiday for a tyrant. The populace assembles with delight; there they are, tens of thousands of them, gazing down from the living sides of the spacious Coliseum. You stand alone and naked, armed only with a single dagger—a poor defense against gigantic beasts. A ponderous door is drawn up by machinery, and there rushes forth the monarch of the forest—a huge lion! You must slay him or be torn to pieces; you are absolutely certain that the conflict is too stern for you, and that the sure result must and will be that those terrible teeth will grind your bones and drip with your blood. You tremble; your joints are loosed; you are paralyzed with fear, like the timid deer when the lion has dashed it to the ground. But what is this? O wonder of mercy!—a deliverer appears! A great unknown leaps from among the gazing multitude, and confronts the savage monster! He quails not at the roaring of the devourer, but dashes upon him with terrible fury, till, like a whipped cur, the lion slinks towards his den, dragging himself along in pain and fear. The hero lifts you up, smiles into your bloodless face, whispers comfort in your ear, and bids you be of good courage, for you are free!
Do you not think that there would arise at once in your heart a desire to know your deliverer? As the guards conducted you into the open street, and you breathed the cool, fresh air, would not the first question be, "Who was my deliverer, that I may fall at his feet and bless him?" You are not, however, informed, but instead of it, you are gently led away to a noble mansion, where your many wounds are washed and healed with salve of rarest power. You are clothed in sumptuous apparel; you are made to sit down at a feast; you eat and are satisfied; you rest upon the softest down. The next morning you are attended by servants who guard you from evil and minister to your good. Day after day, week after week, your needs are supplied. You live like a courtier. There is nothing that you can ask which you do not receive. I am sure that your curiosity would grow more and more intense till it would ripen into an insatiable craving! You would scarcely neglect an opportunity of asking the servants, "Tell me, who does all this; who is my noble benefactor, for I must know him?" "Well, but," they would say, "is it not enough for you that you are delivered from the lion?" "No," you say, "it is for that very reason that I long to know him." "Your needs are richly supplied—why are you vexed by curiosity as to the hand which gave you the gift? If your garment is worn out, there is another; long before hunger oppresses you, the table is well loaded. What more do you need?" But your reply is, "It is because I have no needs, that, therefore, my soul longs and yearns, even to hungering and to thirsting, that I may know my generous loving friend."
Suppose that as you wake up one morning, you find lying on your pillow a precious love-token from flowers bound about with a love-motto? Your curiosity now knows no bounds! But, you are informed that this wondrous being has not only done for you what you have seen, but a thousand deeds of love which you did not see, which were still higher and greater proofs of his affection. You are told that he was wounded, and imprisoned, and scourged for your sake, for he had a love to you so great that death itself could not overcome it—you are informed that he is every moment occupied in your interests, because he has sworn by himself that where he is, there you shall be; his honors you shall share, and of his happiness you shall be the crown. Why, I think you would say, "Tell me, men and women, any of you who know him, tell me who he is, and what he is." And if they said, "But isn’t it enough for you to know that he loves you, and to have daily proofs of his goodness," you would say, "No, these lovetokens increase my thirst! If you see him, tell him I am sick with love. The flagons which he sends me, and the love-tokens which he gives me, they stay me for a while, with the assurance of his affection, but they only impel me onward with the more unconquerable desire that I may know him. I must know him! I cannot live without knowing him; his goodness makes me thirst and pant, and faint, and even die, that I may know him."
Have I imagined emotions which would not be natural? I think not. The most cool and calculating would be warmed with desires like these. I think what I have now pictured before you, will wake the echoes in your breasts, and you will say, "Ah, it is even so! It is because Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me that I want to know Him; it is because He has shed His blood for me, and has chosen me that I may be one with Him forever, that my soul desires a fuller acquaintance with Him.
Now may God, the Holy Spirit, very graciously lead me onward that I may also quicken in you the desire to know HIM.
I. Beloved, let us PASS BY THAT CROWD OF OUTER-COURT WORSHIPPERS WHO ARE CONTENT TO LIVE WITHOUT KNOWING CHRIST. I do not mean the ungodly and profane; we will not consider them just now—they are altogether strangers and foreigners to Him—I mean children of God—the visible saints. How many there are of these whom I must call outer-court worshippers, for they are strangers to this panting to know Him. They can say with Paul, "That I may win Him and be found in Him"—that they do want; but this higher wish, "That I may know Him," has not stirred their hearts! How many brethren we know who are content to know Christ’s historic life! They read the Evangelists, and they are charmed with the perfect beauty of the Savior’s history. "Never man spoke like this Man," they say, and they confess that never man acted with such love as He did. They know all the incidents of His life, from His manger to His cross, but they do not know HIM. They are as men who have read "Caesar’s Commentaries," but who have never seen Caesar. They know the battles which Caesar fought; they can even recognize the mantle which Caesar wore "that day he overcame the Nervii," but they do not know Caesar himself. The person of the Lord Jesus is as much hidden from their eyes, as the golden pot of manna when concealed in the Ark. They know the life of Christ, but not Christ the Life; they admire His way among men, but they see Him not as the way.
Others there are who know Christ’s doctrine and prize it, too, but they know not HIM. All which He taught is dear to them; orthodoxy—for this they would burn at Smithfield, or lay down their necks at Tower Hill! Many of them are well-instructed and divinely-illuminated in the doctrine of Christ, and the wonder is that they should stop there, because, beloved, it seems to me when I begin to know a man’s teaching, that the next thing is the desire to know his person. Addison, in one of the "Spectators," tells us that the reason why so many books are printed with the portraits of the authors is just this—that as a man reads a book, he feels a desire to know what sort of appearance the author had. This, indeed, is very natural. If you have ever been refreshed under a minister’s printed sermons; if you have at any time received any benefit from his words, I know you have said, "I would like to see that man; I would like to hear the truth of God flow hot and fresh from his living lips; I would like to know just how he said that sentence, and how that passage sounded as it came from his earnest heart." My beloved, surely if you know the doctrine of Jesus, if you have so been with Christ as to sit at His feet, and hear what He has to say, you must, I hope, have had some longings to know Him—to know His person; and if you have, you will have had to pass by multitudes of followers of Jesus who rest satisfied with His words, but forget that He is, Himself, "THE WORD."
Beloved, there are others—and against them I bring no complaint; they go as far as they can—who are delighted with Christ’s example. Christ’s character is in their esteem the mirror of all perfection. They desire to walk in His footsteps; they listen to His sermon upon the mount; they are enchanted with it—as well they may be; they pray to be obedient in all things to Christ, as their Master and their Lord. They do well. Mark, I am finding no fault with any of these who prize the history, or who value the doctrine, or who admire the precept; but I want more. I do want, beloved, that you and I should "know HIM." I love His precepts, but I love HIM better! Sweet is the water from Bethlehem’s well, and well worth the struggle of the armed men to win but a bucket from it; but the well itself is better, and deserves all Israel’s valor to defend it. As the source is always more valuable than the stream, so is Christ always better than the best words of His lips, or the best deeds of His hands. I want to know Him. I do care for His actions—my soul would sit down and admire those masterly works of holy art—His miracles of humiliation, of suffering, of patience, and of holy charity—but better far, I love the hands which worked these master-works, the lips which spoke these goodly words, and the heart which heaved with that matchless love which was the cause of all! Yes, beloved, we must get farther than Immanuel’s achievements, however glorious—we must come to "KNOW HIM."
Most believers rest perfectly at ease with knowing Christ’s Sacrifice. They see Jesus as the great High Priest, laying a great sacrifice upon the altar for their sins, and with their whole heart they accept His atonement. By faith they know that all their sins are taken away by precious blood. This is a most blessed and hallowed attainment, I will grant you, but it is not every Christian who perceives that Christ was not only the offerer of a sacrifice, but was Himself the sacrifice, and, therefore, loves Him as such. Priest, altar, victim—Christ was everything! He gathers up all in Himself, and when I see that He loved me, and gave Himself for me, it is not enough to know this fact—I want to know Him, the glorious person
who does and is all this. I want to know the Man who thus gave Himself for me; I want to behold the Lamb once slain for me; I want to rest upon the bosom which covers the heart, which was pierced with the spear; I pray Him to kiss me with the kisses of that mouth which cried, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?" I love Calvary, the scene of woe, but I love Christ better, the great object of that agony; and even His cross and all His sufferings, dear though these must always be to the Christian mind, only occupy a second place—the first seat is for Himself—His person, His deity, and humanity!
Thus, you see, we have to leave a great many believers behind; nor have we enumerated all, for I believe that even some of those saints who have received grace to look for the coming of Christ, yet in their vision of His coming too much forget Him! Is it not possible, for men to pant for the second advent as to lose sight of Him who is to make that advent? So to long for a millennium, that I may forget Him, who is to reign King of kings? So to pant after that glory of Israel, that I may forget Him who is Israel’s glory? Anywhere short of knowing Him, I would not have you stop, beloved; and even when you know Him, I would urge you to still be impelled with the same desire, and to press forward, crying with the apostle, "That I may know Him."
Beloved, how many there are who have heard of Christ and read about Christ, and that is enough for them! But it is not enough for me, and it should not be enough for you. The apostle Paul did not say, "I have heard of Him, on whom I have believed," but, "I know whom I have believed." To hear about Christ may damn you—it may be a savor of death unto death to you. You have heard of Him with the ear—but it is essential that you know Him in order that you may be partakers of eternal life! My dear hearers, be not content unless you have this as your soul’s present portion.
Others there are who have been persuaded by the judgment and encouragement of others, that they know something about the Great Redeemer. They do not know Him, but still they are persuaded by others that they have an interest in Him. Let me warn you of second-hand spirituality! It is a rotten, souldeceiving deception! Beware of all esteeming of yourself according to the thoughts of others, or you will be ruined. Another man’s opinion of me may have great influence over me—I have heard of a man in perfectly good health killed by the opinion of others. Several of his friends had foolishly agreed to play a practical trick on him, whereupon one of them met him and said, "How ill you look this morning." He did not feel so; he was very much surprised at the remark. When he met the next, who said to him, "Oh, dear, how bad you look," he began to think there might be something in it. And as he turned round the corner, a third person said to him, "What a sight you are! How altered from what you used to be!" He went home ill; he took to his bed and died. So goes the story and I should not marvel if it really did occur. Now, if such might be the effect of persuasion and supposed belief in the sickness of a man, how much more readily may men be persuaded into the idea of spiritual health! A believer meets you, and by his treatment seems to say, "I welcome you as a dear brother"—and he means it, too. You are baptized, and received into church fellowship, and so everybody thinks that you must be a follower of Christ; and yet you may not know Him. Oh, I pray you do not be satisfied with being persuaded into something like an assurance that you are in Him, but do not _know Him_—know Him for yourself.
There are many who I hope will be saved before long; but I am in great doubt of them, because they can only say they half think they know Christ; they do not quite believe in Him, but they do not disbelieve in Him; they halt between two opinions. Ah, dear hearer, that is a very dangerous place to stand! The borderland is the devil’s hunting ground. Undecided souls are fair game for the great fowler. God give you, once and for all, the true decision by which, through grace, you shall know Him! Do not be satisfied with thinking you know Him; hoping you know Him, but know Him! Oh, it is nothing to have heard about Him, to have talked about Him, to have eaten, and to have drank with Him, to have preached Him, or even to have worked miracles in His name, to have been charmed by His eloquence, to have been stirred with the story of His love, to have been moved to imitate Him—this shall gain you nothing unless you win Him, and are found in Him! Seek with the apostle, to give up everything of your own righteousness, and all other objectives and aims in life and say, "This I seek after, that I may know Him." Thus much, then, on the first point. Leaving those behind who do not know Him, let us make an advance.
II. Secondly, let us DRAW CURTAIN AFTER CURTAIN WHICH SHALL ADMIT US TO KNOW MORE OF CHRIST.
Did you ever visit the manufactory of splendid porcelain at Sevres? I have done so. If anybody should say to me, "Do you know the manufactory at Sevres?" I would say, "Yes, I do and no, I do not. I know it, for I have seen the building; I have seen the rooms in which the articles are exhibited for sale, and I have seen the museum, and model room; but I do not know the factory as I would like to know it, for I have not seen the process of manufacture, and have not been admitted into the workshops, as some are." Suppose I had seen, however, the process of the molding of the clay, and the laying on of the rich designs? If anybody should still say to me, "Do you know how they manufacture those wonderful articles?" I would very likely still be compelled to say, "No, I do not, because there are certain secrets, certain private rooms into which neither friend nor foe can be admitted, lest the process should be open to the world." So, you see, I might say I knew, and yet might not half know! And when I half knew, still there would be so much left, that I might be compelled to say, "I do not know." How many different ways there are of knowing a person—and even so there are all these different ways of knowing Christ, so that you may keep on all your lifetime, still wishing to get into another room, and another room, nearer and nearer to the great secret, still panting to "know Him." Good Rutherford says, "I urge upon you a nearer communion with Christ, and a growing communion. There are curtains to be drawn by, in Christ, that we never shut, and new foldings in love with Him. I despair that I shall ever win to the far end of that love; there are so many plies in it. Therefore, dig deep, and set by as much time in the day for Him as you can—He will be won by labor."
To begin with, we know a person when we recognize him. You know the Queen. Well, I do. I recollect seeing her, and if I were to see any quantity of ladies, I think I would know which was the Queen, and which was not. You may say honestly that you know her to that extent. Beloved, every Christian must in this sense know Christ! You must know Him by a divine illumination so as to know who He is, and what He is. When Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Whom do you say that I am," he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And the Lord replied, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you." It is an early step in this knowledge of Christ, to know and to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord; to know that Christ is God, divine to me; that Christ is Man, brother to me—bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh—and that as such He is a sin-subduing Savior; that He is for me an intercessor, pleading before the throne; that He is my prophet, priest and King—in this sense I trust that most of you know Him. If you do not, breathe the silent prayer now, "Lord, help me that I may know Him." But this knowledge of recognition is comparatively a low attainment, one of the lowest rungs on the ladder of light.
In the second place, a believer knows Christ to a higher degree, when he knows Him by practical experiential acquaintance with what He does. For instance, I know Christ as a cleanser. They tell me He is a refiner, that He cleanses from spots; He has washed me in His precious blood, and to that extent I know Him. They tell me that He clothes the naked—He has covered me with a garment of righteousness, and to that extent I know Him. They tell me that He is a breaker, and that He breaks chains—He has set my soul at liberty, and, therefore, I know Him. They tell me that He is a King, and that He reigns over sin—He has subdued my enemies beneath His feet, and I know Him in that character. They tell me He is a shepherd—I know Him, for I am His sheep. They say He is a door—I have entered in through Him, and I know Him as a door. They say He is food—my spirit feeds on Him as on the bread of heaven and, therefore, I know Him as such. You know if anyone says, "Do you know Doctor So-and-So?" it is a very satisfactory answer if you can reply, "Oh, yes, I know him, for he attended me the last time that I was ill." There is more knowledge in that, than if one could only say, "Oh, yes, I know him—he wears such-and-such a hat," or "He is a man of such-and-such an appearance." So, Christian, there is a second and higher step to know Christ—when you have experienced in your own soul that He is just what God has revealed Him to be!
But, we know a man in a better sense than this, when we are on speaking terms with him. "Do you know So-and-So?" "Yes," you say, "I not only know him by name, so as to recognize him; I not only know him as a tradesman having dealt with him, but I know him because when we pass each other in the morning, we exchange a word or two; and if I had anything to say upon matters—any request to make— I would feel no difficulty about asking him." Well now, the Christian knows his Lord in this sense, too. He has, every day, official communication with Christ; he is on speaking terms with Him. There may be persons here, perhaps, who know the Queen in a sense in which I do not know her—perhaps they speak to her. They have so done; I have never done that; they go beyond me there. But you see, dear friends, this is not a very great thing because you may be on speaking terms with a man—you may not know much of him for all that! So you may be in the habit of daily prayer, and you may talk with Christ every morning and every evening—but you may know exceedingly little of Him. You are on speaking terms with Him; but there is something beyond this, very far beyond this! I might say that I know a man merely because I meet him every day, and ask him for what I need, and understand that he is kind and generous. But how shallow is such an acquaintance, for I do not know his private character, nor his inward heart. Even so a believer may have constant dealings with Christ in his prayers and in his praises and yet, for all that, he may have only gone a certain distance, and may still have need to pray, "That I may know Him."
But, you are said to know a person better still, when he invites you to his house. At Christmas time there is a family party and a romp—and he asks you there, and you are like one of his children, and enter into all their sports around the fireside. And you indulge, as they do, in the genialities of social life. You are asked again; you go there pretty often. In fact, if there is a happy evening in that house, they generally expect to see friend So-and-So there. Well, now, that is better. We are getting now into something like knowing a man, and I trust there are many of you, beloved, who have got as far as this with regard to your divine Lord! Christ has entertained you with some rare visits from His gracious presence. He brought you into His banqueting house, and His banner over you was love. When He manifested Himself, He did it unto you as He did not unto the world; He was pleased in the majesty of His condescension, to take you aside and show you His hands, and His side. He called you, "Friend." He treated you as such, and permitted you to enjoy your sweets of being one of the family.
Ah, but you may go into a man’s house as a constant visitor and yet you may not know him—that is to say, not in the highest sense. You speak to the man’s wife and say, "Your husband is a marvelously charming man; what a cheerful, joyful, spirited man he is! He never seems to have any depressions of spirit, and experiences no changes whatever." She shakes her head, and she says, "Ah, you do not know him, you do not know him as I do." Because she sees him at all times, and at all hours, she can read the very heart of the man. That Christian has grown much in grace, who has advanced not only to be the friend of Christ, having occasional fellowship with Him, but who comes to recognize his marriage union with the person of his Lord, and of whom it can be said, "The secret of the Lord is with them who fear Him; and He will show them His covenant." Now we have the intimacy of love with its perfect frankness, nearness, sweetness, joyousness, delight! The rending away of every separating veil makes the communion to be as near as it well can be this side of the black river; but a Christian may get farther than this!
Even the spouse may not know her husband. The most loving wife, who ever entered into the cares of her husband, must have discovered that there is a something which separates his experience from her powers of comprehension. Luther’s wife, Katharina, was, of all women, the wife for Luther. But, there were times in Luther’s gigantic tribulations, when he must leave Kate behind; there were extraordinary times within him—times both of ecstatic joy—when, like a great angel, he stretched his mighty wings and flew right up to heaven! And, there were times of awful misery, when he seemed to sink down to the very depths of hell; and in either case, no other heart could keep pace with him. Then it was himself alone who had communion with himself. And a Christian may so grow in grace, as to become identified with Christ, a member of His body—not so much married to Him as a part of Him, a member of the great body of Christ, so that he suffers with Christ, sympathizes with Jesus, his heart beating to the same sorrowful tune, his veins swollen with the same floods of grief—or else his eyes sparkle with that same gleam of joy, according to the Master’s Word—"That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
Well, have you not waded out of your depth, some of you? I have certainly got out of my own! I feel as if the Master might come on this platform, look round on many of us, and say, "Have I been so long a time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip?" For truly, even in the minor sense, though I trust we are saved; though we have believed in Jesus, yet we have not reached the height of this great text—"That I may know Him."
III. Having taken you so far, let us SIT DOWN A FEW MINUTES AND CONSIDER WHAT SORT OF KNOWLEDGE THIS KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST IS—"That I may know Him."
Then it is clear, if I know Him I shall have a very vivid sense of His personality. "That I may know Him." He will not be to me a myth, a vision, a spirit, but a person, a real, solid person, as much real as I am myself, or as my dearest friend can be to me. My soul, never be satisfied with a shadowy Christ! My heart, never be content until He has embraced your soul, and proved to you that He is the Lover of His people. This knowledge, then, must be a knowledge of Him in His personality. Then, beloved, it must be a personal knowledge on our part. I cannot know Christ through another person’s brains. I cannot love Him with another man’s heart, and I cannot see Him with another man’s eyes. Heaven’s delight is, "My eyes shall see Him and not another." These eyes shall behold the King in His beauty. Well, beloved, if this is heaven, we certainly cannot do without a personal sight of Christ here. I am so afraid of living in a second-hand religion. God forbid that I should get a biographical experience. Lord, save us from having borrowed communion. No, I must know Him myself! O God, let me not be deceived in this! I must know Him without fancy or proxy; I must know Him on my own account.
Then these few thoughts upon what sort of knowledge we must have. It must be an intelligent knowledge—I must know Him. I must know His natures, divine and human. I must know His offices—I must know His attributes—I must know His works—I must know His shame—I must know His glory; for I do not know Him if He is merely a subject of passion and not of intellect. I must let my head consciously meditate upon Him until I have something like an idea of Him, that I may, "Comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge."
Then I must have an affectionate knowledge of Him; and, indeed, if I know Him at all, I must love Him. As it is said of some men, that there is such a charm about them, that if you once get into their company you cannot criticize any longer, but must admire—so you feel with Christ. It is said of Garibaldi, that if you are in his society he charms all, so that even malice and slander must be silent in his presence. Infinitely, supremely, so is it with Christ! Being near Him, His love warms our hearts till we glow with intense love to Him!
Then I shall find, if I know Christ, that this is a satisfying knowledge. When I know Christ, my mind will be full to the brim—I shall feel that I have found that which my spirit panted after. "This is that bread whereof if a man eats he shall never hunger."
At the same time it is an exciting knowledge. The more I know of Christ, the more I shall want to know. The deeper I plunge, the greater the deeps which will be revealed. The higher I climb, the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want more as I get more. My spiritual thirst will increase, though in another sense it will be entirely quenched.
And this knowledge of Christ will be a most happy one! In fact, so happy that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, doubts, and sorrows; And it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than, "Man who is born of a woman who is of few days, and full of trouble," for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever-living Savior, and gird me with the golden belt of His eternal happiness. To be near to Christ is to be near to the pearly gates of the golden-streeted city. Say not, "Jerusalem, my happy home, my labors have an end in you," but say, "Jesus, You are my rest, and when I have You, my spirit is at peace." I might thus keep on speaking in praise of this knowledge, but I will not.
Only permit me to say what a refreshing, what a sanctifying knowledge is this, to know Him! When the Laodicean Church was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, how did Christ seek her revival? Did He send her precious doctrines? Did He send her excellent precepts? Mark you, He came Himself, for thus it is said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." That is a cure for it all, you see. No matter how lukewarm, though God may say, "I will spew you out of My mouth," yet, if Christ comes, that is the cure! The presence of Christ with His Church puts away all her sicknesses. When the disciples of Christ were at sea in a storm, do you remember how He comforted them? Did He send them an angel? No. "It is I, do not be afraid." And when they knew Him, they had no more fears. They were assembled one night, "the doors being shut for fear of the Jews." How did He comfort them? Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them and said, "Peace be unto you." There was Thomas, full of doubts and fears. How did Jesus Christ take away his doubts? "Reach here your finger, and behold My hands; and reach here your hand and thrust it into My side." Oh, it is Christ, it is Christ who cures all! The company of Christ is the only thing which a Christian needs. I will undertake that if his heart is like an iceberg, as soon as Jesus comes, it shall flame like Vesuvius. His spirit shall be dead and like a rotten corpse; but if Jesus comes, he shall leap like a hart, and become strong as a young unicorn! Your presence makes me like the chariots of Amminadib!
Now, do not think I am talking what I do not know. Do not imagine that I am talking mere fanatical slip-slop which I cannot prove. I do assert (and God who searches all hearts knows how true this is)—I do assert that from the depths of doubt, of dullness, of worldliness, I have leaped in one moment into love, and life, and holy enthusiasm when Jesus Christ has manifested Himself to me. I cannot describe the difference between my spirit, water-logged, worm-eaten, ready to sink to the bottom without Christ—and that same spirit like a strong staunch ship, with sails full, with favorable wind, speeding into harbor with a golden freight. Like yon poor little bird which some cruel boy has torn from the nest and almost killed—it is not fledged yet, and cannot fly, and it lies down to die, trampled in the mire in the streets—that is my heart without Christ. But see that other bird! The cage door is opened, its wings vibrate, it sings with all its might, and flies up to talk with the sun—that is my heart when I have the conscious presence of my Lord Jesus Christ! I only bring in my own consciousness because I do not know yours; but I think I will now venture to say that every believer here will admit it is the same with him—
"Midst darkest shades, if He appears
My dawning is begun!
He is my soul’s bright morning star,
And He my rising sun!"
IV. I shall close by urging you, dearly beloved, who know the Lord, to take this desire of the apostle, and by exhorting you, make it your own, "That I may know Him." I wish I had time this morning—time will fly—I wish I had time to urge and press you believers onward to seek to know Him. Paul, you see, gave up everything for this—you will be seeking what is worth having. There can be no mistake about this. If Paul will renounce all, there must be a reward which is worthy of the sacrifice. If you have any fears—if you seek Christ and find Him—they will be removed. You complain that you do not feel the guilt of sin, that you cannot humble yourself enough. The sight of Christ is the very best means of setting sin in its true colors. There is no repenting like that which comes from a look from Christ’s eyes— the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and he went out and wept bitterly. So it is not a sight of the law—it is the sight of Christ looking upon us which will break our hearts!
There is nothing like this to fill you with courage. When Dr. Andrew Reed found some difficulties in the founding of one of his orphan asylums, he sat down and drew upon a little piece of paper the cross, and then he said to himself, "What? Despair in the face of the cross?" And then, he drew a ring round the cross, and wrote in it, "Nil desperandum!" and took it for his coat of arms. Oh, there cannot be any despair in the presence of the cross! Dying Lamb, did You endure the cross, despising the shame—and shall I talk of difficulties when Your glory is in the way? God forbid! O holy face bedewed with bloody sweat, I pledge myself in Your solemn and awful presence, that though this face of mine should be bedewed with sweat of the like sort to accomplish any labor upon which You shall put me; by Your will and in Your strength, I will not shrink from the task! A sight of Christ, brethren, will keep you from despondency, and doubts, and despair. A sight of Christ! How shall I stir you to it? It will fire you to duty; it will deliver you from temptation; it will, in fact, make you like He. A man is known by his company; and if you have become acquainted with Christ, and know Him, you will be sure to reflect His light! It is because the moon has converse with the sun, that she has any light for this dark world’s night; and if you talk with Christ, the Sun, He will shine on you so gloriously, that you, like the moon, shall reflect His light, and the dark night of this world shall be enlightened by your radiance. The Lord help us to know Him!
But I do seem, this morning, to have been talking to you about Him, and not to have brought Him forward. O that I knew how to introduce you to Him! You who do not love Him—O, that I could make you seek after Him! But you who do love Him, and have trusted in Him—O that I could make you hunger and thirst until you were filled with Him! There He is, nailed to His cross—suffering—oh how much He suffers for you! There He is, risen, ascended, pleading before the throne of God for you. Here He is—"Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Here He is, waiting to be comforted with your company, desiring communion with you, panting that His sister, His spouse, would be no longer a stranger to Him! Here He is, waiting to be gracious, saying, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Come, Christian, come! Let this be your desire, "That I may know Him."
And you who do not know Him, and have not loved Him, I pray you will breathe this prayer with me, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." O sinner, He is a gentle Christ! He is a loving Savior, and they who seek Him early shall find Him! May you seek and find Him, for His name’s sake. Amen.