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for the redemption of mankind, that the prophet Isaiah in our text contemplates and describes the Messiah promised to the fathers. This prophet always abounds with the most sublime views of the gospel. and kingdom of Christ. But the scene which he here exhibits appears to be the noblest and most affecting that can be conceived by the mind of man.
While the whole world was groaning under the heavy pressure of the fall, afflicted by sin, that most direful and most fatal disease; while it was thereby subjected, not only to temporal, but to eternal death; the Saviour is lifted up on Mount Calvary ; immediately the sun withheld his light; the earth was darkened, and the rocks were rent; the light of his Father's countenance was withdrawn, and divine wrath was poured out in all its fury upon his head. Omnipotence alone could sustain the dreadful shock. In the midst of this awful conflict, the soul of Jesus seemed to rise above its own agony, and to feel for men. Forgetful of the malice of his enemies, at the very
time he was enduring its most direful effects,
prays his Father to forgive them, and viewing with pity a perishing world, he exclaimed, in the words of the prophet, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”
Such, my brethren, is the noble and affecting view in which the prophet represents Jesus in the passage before us. And from this view the two following observations naturally arise.
First, The words of the text are addressed to persons in a distressed and dangerous condition. They are persons who stand in need of a Saviour; and they are required to look to Christ for salvation. As it was the painful feeling of the bite of the fiery serpents, which alone could induce the Israelites to look to the brazen serpent for a cure; so before men can be persuaded to look to Christ, they must be sensible of their lost and diseased condition. They must be convinced that they are sinners, both by nature and practice, and stand exposed to the just wrath of God, both in time and through eternity. Christ came, not “ to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance ;" he came " to seek and
66 to save those which are lost." The first step, therefore, in the regeneration and salvation of a sinner, is a deep conviction of sin. This conviction alone can excîte him to look to Christ, that he may be saved.
The second observation is, that we must look to Jesus, not so much as the Son of God, the Creator of the world, the heir of all things, and the other high characters in which he is described in Scripture ; but chiefly as the Mediator between God and man; as a crucified Saviour, and the great sacrifice that was to finish transgression, and make an end of sin, and as he who is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him. Had not the wounded Israelites been fully convinced of the healing virtue ascribed to the brazen serpent, they would never have directed their eyes to it, in expectation of a cure.
Having premised these two observations, I go on, first, to shew in what manner we are to look to Jesus Christ. Second, I shall mention some considerations to enforce the duty enjoined in the text.
First, We must look to him with an eye of faith. We can no longer behold Jesus in this world with our bodily eye. We cannot look to him in the same manner as the Israelites looked on the serpent of brass. We must, therefore, look to him with the eye of the soul,through the medium of that faith, which is the evidence of things not seen. The operations of the mind are often expressed by terms taken from external objects. Faith, in particular, which is an act of the mind, is often represented in Scripture by metaphors taken from the body. Sometimes the metaphor is borrowed from the ears; and to believe in Christ, is to hear his voice. 6 Incline your ear “ and come to me ; hear, and
soul “ shall live.” And sometimes, as in the text, the metaphor is taken from the eyes ; and faith is described by “ looking “ to Christ.”
The words before us, therefore, are to be understood in the same sense as if he had said, “ Believe in me;" according to
6 Believe, and thou " shalt be saved."
Simply to look to Christ, that is, to di
rect our thoughts to him, in the same manner as to any
person, sufficient. A medicine will not lessen the violence of a disorder unless it be taken. Food cannot satisfy the cravings of hunger unless it be eaten. It was not enough that the serpent of brass was lift
The remedy thus provided must be used and applied, and, as it were, brought home, by every one to his
Every Israelite that would be healed must look on the serpent ere he could expect a cure; and thus it is with the salvation provided for sinners. It is not enough that it has been provided: It is not enough that Christ has been crucified, and has thereby offered a sufficient sacrifice for sin. Sinners must secure to themselves an interest in that sacrifice; they must make the blessings purchased by it their own. And how is that to be done ? By a lively faith in Christ as a Saviour. What multitudes beheld Jesus stretched on the cross, pouring forth his peace-speaking blood, and offering salvation to mankind, and yet derived no benefit from his death! And what multitudes, in every succeed