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Christ Is All
by Stephen Tyng
The man in Christ, we have already considered, as deeply serious in a retrospection upon his life past, and truly happy in the enjoyment of his present condition. From a consideration of these facts, we will pass on to remark upon some other attributes and facts which mark his present state. In the present view of him, I would exhibit him as animated by a lively and glorious hope. This is an entirely new fact in his history. He has been begotten again for the enjoyment of a lively hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is a hope which sustains him in every conflict and trial; and which gives him a cheerful, peaceful spirit, in the midst of all his hours of darkness and distress. Literally perhaps, in the actual exercise of hope, he is not peculiar. There is probably no living man wholly without hope. An utter destitution of hope, -- a state of actual, unmixed despair, is the characteristic of the sinner's last abode of recompense. There alone, hope comes not, which comes to all who are not inhabitants of that deep abyss. On this side the grave, all men cherish for themselves some kind of hope. Man could not live without it. Whether this hope be real and substantial, or only imaginary and delusive, in its character and objects, it is still the sweetest solace of human life; and whatever may be man's burden of cares and labours, it is still found in a great degree sufficient to uphold the spirit of a man, and to urge him forward in the path of effort in his earthly concerns, with alacrity and cheerfulness. In the pecuniary embarrassments which often press him down, he hopes for subsequent, returning prosperity, and still works on with ardour and confidence. In sickness, while he feels the load of pain, he still hopes for returning health, and endures with patience the burden which he is required to bear. In relative sorrows, the hope of future rising peace in his earthly condition, still encourages him to cling to his passing life, and to bear with submission, the yoke which is placed upon his neck. This is the universal property and characteristic of man.
If his eye here and there a thin cloud may behold,
The difference between the man in Christ, and other men who are without Christ, is not, that he alone entertains or enjoys, an actual hope of some description, and derives habitual comfort from it; -- but in the remarkable diversity between the objects of their different hopes, and in the opposition of the several grounds upon which they rest them. If it may be said of all men, that they are not destitute of some kind of hope in their present condition, -- it may still be said of the man who is in Christ, that his condition is emphatically a state of hope. He is saved by hope. He rejoices in hope. Hope is an anchor to his soul, both sure and steadfast. And this is so peculiarly his condition, that it is justly said of those who are without Christ, that they have no hope, -- that is, no real, well-grounded hope, -- no hope of things which are truly permanent and unfading. The true Christian, who is dead indeed to the world, and whose life is hid with Christ in God, -- is in actual possession of this most precious comfort of life, and is able to give a sufficient reason for it to others.
Hope plays on its edges, to tinge them with gold.
The hope of the man in Christ, may be considered chiefly in its objects. These objects are various. But they are all contained within the terms of the divine promise; and they are therefore all secured to him, by the word of God, who cannot lie.
The man in Christ is animated and encouraged by a joyful hope in regard to all the concerns of his present life. But these earthly hopes are to be carefully discriminated, lest we give countenance to that secret, sinful spirit, which looks more to the things which are seen and temporal, than to the things which are unseen and are eternal. It is not hope of mere earthly treasures and dignities, though he is not shut out from these. God may bestow them upon his chosen servants; and the voice of humble, spiritual prayer may be heard, and the evidences of holy, living devotion to God may be seen, amidst all the circumstances of grandeur, which adorn the highest possible station in human life. But these things are not the subjects of divine promise under the Gospel, and therefore the man in Christ fixes no hope upon the possession of them. Did he possess them, they would perhaps be the occasions and instruments of his severest conflicts and temptations, and he might justly long for the lowest vale of earthly humiliations in their stead.
It is not hope either, of freedom from personal cares and sorrows. The servant of God is plagued like other men; -- some times chastened every day; -- and sorrows from a full cup are poured out for him. Sickness and grief, temptation and affliction, mingle themselves in his experience, as they do in the experience of others, and often in a higher degree of suffering. He often realizes in such conditions, that if in this life only, he had hope in Christ, he should be of all men most miserable. This freedom from earthly sorrow, is not a subject of divine promise. Nay, God rather speaks of chastisements here, as the portion of his people, chastening those whom he loveth, and scourging every son whom he receiveth. These are not, therefore, the objects of earthly hope to the man who is in Christ.
But he hopes for perfect security in all the possible changes of this present life. All things work together for good, to those who love God, who are called according to His promise. He is perfectly defended by divine power, from the possible injury to which he is exposed, while he is a follower of that which is good. His earthly advantages may lie very small, and his trials may be accumulated and great. But nothing can separate him from that love of God, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord. Every tongue that riseth against him in judgment, he is able to confound; and darkness is made light, and crooked things become straight, in his path. Nothing which can be made to promote his ultimate happiness, can be withdrawn from him. The hairs of his head are numbered, and angels bear him in their hands, lest he dash his foot against a stone. This perfect security from the evil power of trials and enemies, is his portion as a member of Christ, by the certain provisions of a divine covenant. God is a wall of fire about him, by day and night.
He hopes for certain benefit to himself, and equally certain glory to God, as the result from every suffering and loss which he is required to bear. His present dispensations in whatever shape they come, are instruments of personal gain to him, by the same assurance of the divine promise. Peaceable fruits of righteousness must be gathered from the bitter roots of present sorrow. And he learns to look for these, with confidence, and without fear. He is to be stablished, strengthened, and settled, by the operation of the very temptations, in the midst of which he is often in heaviness. His spirit will grow more humble, his mind more heavenly, and his affections more spiritual, under the training which often seems so grievous, that his wounded spirit can scarcely endure its operation. He thus enters upon every path of duty without fear; and upon every contest without carefulness. All that he really possesses, and really values, is always secure; laid up in the keeping of a Being whose truth remaineth; and whose power cannot be overcome. These two facts, which are the subjects of the divine promise, and, therefore, of a proper Christian hope, cover all the possible changes of the present life. The power of harm is removed from every trial; and certain and abiding benefit is to be brought by divine ability and determination out of every painful dispensation. This is the portion of the man who is in Christ, because he is there. It is a result of the everlasting covenant, in all things well ordered and sure, which God has there made with him. And thus on the very journey to his home, while he has here no continuing city, but is seeking one to come, he actually enjoys more of the real comforts of the road, than any of Chose who are without Christ can, though they have made it their rest, and have said in the madness of their hearts, "Here will I dwell, and this shall be my heritage forever, for I have a delight therein."
The man in Christ is animated by objects of hope, which are entirely peculiar to the condition in which he is placed, and appertaining to his state as a member of Christ. These are spiritual and invisible things. But notwithstanding this, they are real, and inestimably valuable. They are entirely secure, and wholly unfailing, because they depend simply upon the power, and the promise of an unchanging God. They are hopes, therefore, which cannot be cut off; which are not affected by earthly changes, and which remain imperishable, though all things should seem to be against him to whom they are given.
He hopes for full and permanent victory over all that is evil, both in the corruptions of his nature, and the temptations of his state. Sin cannot have the dominion over him, because he is under the protection and government of grace. The sure promise of God secures to him a new heart, and will make him, eventually, holy as God is holy. Infirmities press upon him. Missions and tempers of an unholy character rebel against him. Sin is mingled with the very best services which he performs. The plague of his own heart is brought out to his view, with a clearness of exhibition, and a bitterness of influence, which fills him with unutterable distress. But though, amidst this fearful display of secret sin, his spirit is sometimes overwhelmed within him, he still has a sure hope of victory through the power of God which worketh in him, and which is promised to him. This blessed hope supports and comforts him, while struggling with many foes, and enduring much hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. When he mourns over past deficiencies, -- when he grieves for his backslidings from God, -- when he dare hardly deem himself a child, so pressing and victorious seems to him the power of sin within him, -- this sure hope of final triumph over sin gives him encouragement and joy. God will make him at last, a conqueror, because Christ, to whom he belongs, and in Whom he lives and dwells, has already conquered. The hour will yet come, when, with a perfectly pure and peaceful spirit, he shall adore the grace which has sanctified him wholly, and made the bones within him which have been broken, to rejoice. With this hope he presses forward in the path of duty, mingling songs of praise, with his cries and tears beneath the burden of sin; so that it may be sometimes said of him, as of the Israelites at the building of their second temple, -- you can hardly discern between the noise of the shout of joy, and the noise of the weeping. But of his riven and contending soul it may be also said, as of that house, and with equal certainty, "In this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts."
He hopes for a full and everlasting acceptance before God.I say he hopes for this, -- for although he has it now, by the certainty of the divine promise, yet its glory has not been fully revealed to him, for his own present actual enjoyment. But his confidence rests upon one who is mighty to save Being one with Him, he has all, and abounds in him, -- in reference to his full justification in the sight of God, -- and he can look up to Him as to an accepting Father, with undoubting confidence, and without fear. He knows in whom he has believed. He is willing to venture every thing upon the revealed sufficiency of a divine Saviour. When God shall enter into judgment with his soul, he knows that there is one who hath borne his burden, and is near to justify him. In the perfect ability of that Mighty Substitute, he is safe forever. And although it does not yet appear what he shall be, he knows that when He shall appear, he shall be like Him, and see Him as He is. This blessed hope comforts and encourages him under a sense of guilt, beneath which he truly mourns; -- amidst all the accusations of his own conscience, and all the re collections of his past folly and sin. This supports him, when Satan tempts him to despair. This gives him a sufficient answer, when many tongues rise against him in judgment, and call for the condemnation of his soul. The abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness which he has received, supply every want, and remove every fear. And, comforted with the assurance of this hope, he endures continually, as seeing Him who is invisible.
He hopes for a triumphant entrance into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. His present term of being is short, and coming rapidly to its conclusion. Its final hour is fixed, how near he knows not. The Judge standeth at the door. As he daily sleeps, and wakes again, he goes through the daily semblance of his departure. He cannot but often think of it seriously, and with a solemn calculation of its results. But, though his heart is sometimes afraid, he has a bright and blessed hope connected with this hour. When it. comes, it will be an hour of liberty. The Saviour will attend his departure from the earth; -- He will watch over the operation of his dying hours, -- like the skilful refiner who has placed his precious substance in the crucible, and marks it with an intense interest and observation, while he applies the proportion of heat which is necessary to accomplish his design regarding it. The chamber where the Christian meets his death, is indeed a sacred spot; privileged beyond the common walk of virtuous life, quite on the verge of heaven. There is no fear in such a death; -- there are no bands of servitude in such a departure. He is in the everlasting arms of a Saviour omnipotent, and he will soon be with Him in His glory. The dying strife will soon be over. The spirit's jubilee has come. It is to be free from bondage forever. And however the saint may suffer in the flesh, for a little time if need be, in a moment he will be at home. Death is uniformly made an occasion of peaceful joy to the man who is in Christ. Through his whole life, he looks forward to this hour with hope as the appointed time, when he shall receive an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of his Lord and Saviour.
He hopes for a future glorious resurrection of his body from the grave,in a spiritual and undying form and nature. This is a peculiar and blessed hope which the Gospel gives. With this hope, he parts with his mortal body, that like a seed sown in the earth, it may go through its appointed process of decay, to a future brighter and more beautiful manifestation. Jesus, as a faithful Creator, will watch over it, till His own appointed hour shall come. In that hour, He will raise it from the dust of the earth again, however apparently commingled and lost, and bring it to the glory which He has provided for it. The man in Christ confides in this hope, as founded upon a divine assurance, and rejoices to contemplate the day, when the Lord shall return with the archangel's shout, to be glorified in His saints, and when those who are asleep in Christ, shall arise to meet Him in clouds, when the uncounted myriads of His people shall reflect the brightness of His own appearance, and manifest the power of His grace, and the riches of His glory.
He hopes for a crown of glory in the great day of his account with God. When in body and spirit again united, he stands before God in judgment, it will be to have his full salvation there proclaimed. He shall shine as the sun, in the kingdom of his Father. He shall be brought with triumph to God as the reward of the travail of a Saviour's soul. The crown which he receives, is the recompense of a Saviour's merit. The righteousness which earned and deserved it, was the righteousness of Christ. But it is by the grace of Christ bestowed upon him, and secured to him, as his eternal portion. Jesus has triumphed, and His servants and people have triumphed in Him. Jesus has merited, and they receive the reward which He has earned for them. To this glorious day, the man in Christ looks forward, when the Lord shall make up His jewels, and receive His servants with an affectionate welcome, to His own abode.
Then he hopes to dwell with Christ forever. So shall he be ever with the Lord. So! So raised, and sanctified, and crowned; -- so accepted and welcomed, and triumphant. This is the grand end of all his plans, and labours, and desires. He asks for no heritage on this side Jordan. He looks for a permanent abode with Christ. He looks for this, as the final, crowning gift of grace. The life and principle of his religion here, is personal union with the Lord Jesus Christ. All his hopes spring from this union, and were given to him, when this union was perfected in his conversion. But here, the influence of this principle is but gradually developed. He is drawn continually nearer to Christ, and enjoys more of the presence of his Saviour in his soul. But yet, all that he knows is but in part, and all that he sees, is through a glass darkly. There, this union is exhibited in all its glory, and bestowed upon him in its blessedness. He dwells forever with Christ, and Christ forever with him. But who on earth can speak of these glorious results of faith and hope for those who are with Christ. It hath not entered into the heart of man, to conceive the least part of the joys which God has prepared for those who love Him.
Faith strives, but all her efforts fail,
These are the precious hopes which belong to the man in Christ. They are found by him, growing more dear and precious to him every day. As years multiply upon him, and cares press around him; these become more constantly his light and his comfort, in the house of his affliction. They literally save him. He is "saved by hope." He would have perished without them, and utterly have fainted, had he not believed to see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living. In all these precious hopes, Christ is all. They are founded upon His word, -- they depend upon His power. They are composed of blessings in prospect, which He only can give. He is himself the great object of them, including all other objects of desire in His own person and love. He is Himself the hope which is as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast. The man in Christ is a man of trials and sorrows. He mourns over the darkness of the world around him; -- he is grieved with the corruptions which go under a Christian name; -- he is pained with the inconsistencies of professed believers; -- he is deeply anxious amidst the dangers and trials to which the truth is exposed; -- he groans under the burden of sin, and over the plague of his own heart. But, amidst all this pressure upon him, he has still a bright and glorious hope; and in this he cannot but rejoice, and he does rejoice.
To trace them in their flight;
No eyes can pierce within the veil
Which hides that world of light.
How unspeakably precious would these hopes be to all! How sad is the thought, my beloved friends, that many of you first see their worth, in the consciousness of their final loss; and behold too late, the unspeakable glories which you have vainly and sinfully cast, away! O that you would think of the importance of this! Here is the great concern for you. How happy would it be for you, would you give half the attention and care to this, which you are ready to devote to the mere dead discussions of religion, or to the vanities of a dying world! Here come, to the feet of Jesus, -- an appointed and sufficient Lord, -- make Him the object of your choice, and your confidence. You will find there, a glorious hope, -- a comforting and satisfying hope. It will watch around you as a ministering spirit from on high. It will stand by you, as an angelic messenger of peace. It will supply you with daily provisions of joy and strength. Why will you not embrace it., and hold it fast? Who of you is excluded from its offers? -- who is driven away from the feast of joy which it prepares? Why stand you remote from a blessing so free, and so precious? My friends, every interest, for you, is involved in the possession of this blessed hope; -- a possession which is imparted by no mere ordinances or ministries of man, but by the converting and transforming power of the Holy Ghost, forming Christ within the heart. Seek, then, the blessing thus proposed. Seek it sincerely, and with your whole heart. Seek it in a self-renouncing, humbled spirit. Seek it with a determination to find and to possess it, -- but seek it only in Christ; -- in an acceptance of His offered pardon; in a trust in His perfect and sufficient righteousness; in a choice of His service, and a willingness to suffer and to count all but loss, for His sake. Seek this blessed hope, as the great business before you, to which every other object, relation, and engagement in life, is to give away; resolved to come out, and be separate from sin, and to walk in newness of life, under a Saviour's guidance. Thus shall you find yourselves sheltered and comforted in Christ, and built up and protected in Him, for every duty, -- in every trial, -- and for the enjoyment of His glory; filled by the God of hope, with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.
This page Copyright © 2004 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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