Christ Precious to All True Believers
Adapted from a Sermon by Samuel Davies
So the honor is for you who believe. 1 Peter 2:7
Though a great part of the creation views Jesus Christ with cynicism; though fallen souls, both in the flesh and without the flesh, both on earth and in hell, neglect him, or profess themselves open enemies to him, yet he is honorable, he has precious value; value, not only in himself, not only to his Father, not only to the choirs of Heaven, who witness his full glory without a veil, but precious to some even in our guilty world; precious to a sort of persons of our sinful race, who do not seem like much to mortal eyes, who have no idea of their own goodness, who are poor, unworthy creatures in their own view, and who are generally despicable in the view of others; I mean he is precious to all true believers. And, though they are but a few compared to the world; though there are, I am afraid, but few of them in this city and province and country; yet, blessed be God, there are some believers even upon our guilty earth; and, I have hope that I am now speaking to some such.
A word as we begin, regarding our translation.
The King James has “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious,” which is what the first hearers of this sermon would have been familiar with. A more literal translation, is as we have it is, “So the honor is for you who believe,” or as in the NASB “This precious value, then, is for you who believe.“ The meaning of the verse seems to be that believers are honored by God because of Christ, who is precious to him (vv. 4, 6). And if Christ is the cause of their honor, they in turn naturally ascribe honor and respect to him and hold him as precious. They honor and value the stone that unbelievers reject. (compare 2 Cor. 2:16). Either way there is this thought implied that, to believers, Christ is, indeed, precious.
My believing friends (if I may venture to claim to be part of your group) I am now touching on a subject, which I know you have much at heart; and that is, to make the blessed Jesus more precious to you, and, if possible, to recommend him to the affections of the crowd that neglect him.
You know, and it grieves you, that you love him but little; but very little, compared to his infinite excellency and your obligations to him; and you know that multitudes do not love him at all. Whatever they profess; their practice shows that their carnal minds are hostile to him. This you often see; and the sight affects your hearts. It affects you deeply to think so much excellency should be neglected and despised, and so much love meet with such base responses of ingratitude. And you cannot but pity your poor fellow-sinners, that they are so blind to the brightest glory and their own highest interest, and that they should perish, through wilful neglect of their deliverer; perish, as it were, within reach of the hand stretched out to save them.
This is indeed a very heart-breaking, very lamentable, and sadly! a very common sight. And will you not then pray God’s blessing this day on my attempt to recommend this precious, though neglected, Jesus? Will you not contribute your share towards my success in so pious and benevolent a goal by your earnest prayers? May not an interceding sigh rise to Heaven from every heart, and every soul be cast into a praying posture? I hope to fulfill my duty this morning with more comfort and success; if you afford me this assistance. And surely such of you cannot deny me this aid, who desire that Jesus may become still more precious to your own hearts, and that he may be the object of universal love from all who are now alienated from him!
So the honor is for you who believe —And from where is this honor derived? Is it from money, the god of the world? Is it the applause and respect of the world? No; none of these is the object of the believing heart. But it is he who is the uppermost in every pious heart; he, who is first in the thoughts and affections; he, whom every friend of his must know, even without a name; if it be but said of him, he is precious, this is enough to distinguish him from all others. It is he the apostle means, whom he had just described as a living stone, chosen of God, and the precious; the chief corner-stone, the great foundation of the church, that spiritual temple of God, so stately and glorious, and reaching from earth to heaven; it is this precious stone, this heavenly jewel, that is valued by believers.
"the honor is for you who believe;" that is to say, the value of this precious stone is, sadly! unknown to the crowd. It is so far from being precious, that it is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; a stone rejected by men (v. 4.) rejected even by the builders (v. 7.); but you believers, you happy few, have another estimation of it. Faith enables you to see the glories of the blessed Jesus; and, when you know him in this way, you cannot but love him. The blind world neglects the Lord of Glory, because they do not know him: but you believers know him, and therefore to you he is of great value. Faith presents him to your view in a right light, and leads you to form a proper estimate of him. It is truly sad that such real excellency should be despised; but so it will be with the world until they believe. The mere logical endorsement of their reason, the benefit of education in his favour, and the best human means, are not enough to make Jesus precious to them. Nothing but saving faith can do this.
The little word “So” shows that this passage is linked to what went before; and the reasoning seems to be this: “This stone is precious to God, therefore it is precious to you that believe. You have the same estimate of Jesus Christ which God the Father has; and for that very reason he has honor in your eyes, he is precious to you, because he is precious to him.” That this is the connection, becomes clear when you look back to the 4th and 6th verses; where you find Jesus described as “a cornerstone ...rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious."
Men wickedly reject this stone, and even many of the professed builders of his church reject him. This, says the apostle, must be admitted. But this is no objection to his real worth. He is precious to God, who knows him best, and who is a perfect judge of real excellency; and for that very reason he is precious to you that believe. Faith teaches you to look upon persons and things in the same light in which God views them; it makes your sentiments conformed to his. Christ is the Father's beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased; and he is your beloved Saviour, in whom you are well pleased.
Is it any wonder that Jesus should be precious to believers, when he is so precious in himself, and in his offices, so precious to the angels, and so precious to his Father?
1. He is precious in himself. He is Immanuel, God-man; and therefore, whatever excellencies belong either to the divine or human nature, center in him. If wisdom, power, and goodness, divine or human, created or uncreated, can make him worthy of the highest affection, he has a just claim to it.- Whatever excellencies, natural or moral, appear in any part of the vast universe, they are but faint shadows of his beauty and glory. “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him,” (Col. 1:16:17) and whatever excellencies are in the result must be ever more present in the source.
You have no objection, when you see men delighted with the glories of the sun, and the various wonders of the night sky: you do not wonder nor blame when they take pleasure in the beauty of nature, or in that rich variety of good things, which earth, and sea, and every element provides for the support of man, or the gratification of his senses: you do not wonder and blame, when they are struck with the beauty of creation; when you see them admire and approve wisdom, benevolence, justice, truthfulness, meekness, and mercy: you never think it strange, much less blameworthy, that men should love these things, and count them precious; and can you be astonished, can you ridicule or find fault that Jesus is precious to poor believers?
If the copy is so fair and lovely, who would not love the original, that has eyes to behold it? Believers see so much of the worth of Christ as is enough to captivate their hearts, and convince them of their guilt in loving him no more than they do; and the clearer their views are of him, the more they are saddened at the awful defects of their love; for they see how he deserves infinitely more!
2. The Lord Jesus is precious in his offices. His mediatorial office is generally subdivided into three parts; namely, that of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king: and how precious is Christ in each of these!
i) As a prophet, how, sweet are his instructions to a bewildered soul! How precious the words of his lips, which are the words of eternal life! How delightful to sit and hear him teach the way of duty and happiness, revealing the Father, and the wonders of the world to come! How delightful to hear him declare on what terms an offended God may be reconciled! a discovery beyond the searches of all the sages and philosophers of the heathen world!
How reviving is it to listen to his gracious promises and invitations! promises and invitations to the poor, the weary, and heavy laden, the broken-hearted, and even to the chief of sinners! The word of Christ has been the treasure, the support, and joy of believers in all ages. “I have treasured the words of his mouth,” says Job, “more than my portion of food.” (Job 23:12)
It is this precious word the Psalmist so often and so highly celebrates. He celebrates it as “more to be desired ... than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:10) “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (ver. 103) “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” (ver. 72) This is the language of David, in honour of this divine Prophet, near three thousand years ago, when Christ had not yet revealed the full gospel to the world, but only some rays of it shone through the veil of the old dispensation. And must not believers now, who live under the more complete and clear instructions of this great Prophet, entertain the same sentiments of him? Certainly, to such of you as believe, even in this age, he is most precious.
But the mind of man, in his present fallen state, like a diseased eye, is not able to see things in a proper light, however clearly they are revealed; and therefore, until this is corrected, all external revelation is in vain, and is only displaying a beautiful image to a blind eye.
Therefore this great Prophet carries his instructions further, not only by proposing divine things in a clear objective light by his word, but inwardly enlightening the mind, and enabling it to perceive what is revealed by his Spirit. And how precious are these internal subjective instructions! How sweet to feel a disordered dark mind opening to let in the rays of heavenly day; to perceive the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the beauties of holiness, and the majestic wonders of the eternal world!
Let those that know by happy experience, speak of and tell how precious Jesus appears to you, when by his own blessed Spirit he scatters the cloud that darkened your understandings, and lets in the rays of his glory on your admiring souls;
When he opens your eyes to see the wonders contained in his law, and the glorious mysteries of his gospel. What a divine glory does then spread upon every page of his blessed Word! Then it indeed appears the Book of God, God-like, and worthy of its Author. May God grant to us all this day to feel Christ’s enlightening influences, that experience may teach us how sweet they are! May he make his own spirit our teacher, and then we shall be truly wise!
ii) Again, the Lord Jesus is precious to believers as a great High Priest.
As a high Priest, he made a complete atonement for sin by his sacrifice on the cross; and he still makes intercession for transgressors on his throne in heaven. It was his sacrifice that satisfied the demands of the law, and justice of God, and made him reconcilable to the guilty, on terms consistent with his honour and the rights of his government.
It was by virtue of this sacrifice that he purchased pardon of sin, the favour of God, freedom from hell, and eternal life for condemned offensive rebels. And those of you who have ever felt the pangs of a guilty conscience, and obtained relief from Jesus Christ, you can tell how precious is his atoning sacrifice. What relief it gave to your self-tormenting consciences, and healing to your broken hearts! How did it change the frowns of an angry God into smiles of love, and your trembling fears of vengeance into delightful hopes of mercy! How precious did Jesus appear, with a pardon in his hand, and making his cross, as it were, the key to open the gates of heaven that you may enter.
As this great High Priest he is also our intercessor in the presence of God. There he appears as a lamb that was slain, displaying the marks of his sacrifice, and laying before the Father the blessings purchased for his people. And how precious must Christ appear in this character! That the friendless sinner should have an all-prevailing advocate in the court of heaven to undertake his cause! that the great High Priest should offer up the grateful incense of his own merit, with the prayers of the saints. What delightful reflections are these! and how warmly may they recommend the Lord Jesus to the hearts of believers! How just is the Apostle's reading, ”since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, ...Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. (Heb 10:21)
iii) And also, the kingly office of Christ is precious to believers.
As King he gives laws; laws perfectly wise and good, and enforced with the most important sanctions, everlasting rewards and punishments. And how delightful, how beneficial, to live under such a government! to have our duty explained with so much clearness and certainty, which frees us from so many painful anxieties, and to have such powerful motives to obedience, which have a tendency to infuse vigour and spirit into our endeavors, and cause us to overcome all obstacles put in our way by Satan and self, and the world in the obeying of his clear commands.
As King, he appoints ordinances of worship. And how agreeable to draw near to him in these ordinances, and to be freed from confusion about that kind of worship which God will accept, without being exposed to that question, so confounding to those “promoting self-made religion”, (Col 2:23) “who has required of you this trampling of my courts?” (Is 1:12)
As King, he is head over all things to his church, and manages the whole creation, as leads most to her good. The various ranks of creatures in heaven, earth, and hell, are subject to his direction and control; and they must all co-operate for the good of his people. He reclaims, confounds, subdues, or destroys their enemies, according to his pleasure. And how precious must he be in this majestic character to the feeble helpless believer!
To have an almighty friend sitting at the helm of the universe, with the supreme management of all things in his hands; to be assured that even the most harmful enemy can do the believer no real or lasting harm, but will in the end contribute to work his greatest good; and that, come what will, it will go well with him, and he will at last be made triumphant over all difficulty and opposition.
What truly wonderful thoughts are here! But this is not the whole exercise of the royal power of Christ. He not only makes laws and ordinances, and restrains the enemies of his people, but he exercises his power inwardly on their hearts. He is the King of souls; he reigns in the hearts of his subjects; and how infinitely dear and precious he is in this respect!
To feel him subdue the rebellion within, gently bending the stubborn heart into willing obedience, and reducing every thought into a cheerful captivity to himself, writing his law on the heart, making the dispositions of his subjects a transcript of his will, corresponding to it, like wax to the seal, how delightful is all this!
And so, you see the Lord Jesus is precious to believers in all the aspects of his mediatorial office. But he is not precious only to them; he is beloved as far as he is known, and the more he is known the more he is beloved: which brings us to observe how
3. He is precious to all the angels of heaven.
The Apostle Peter tells us that the things now reported to us by the gospel are “things into which angels long to look.” (1 Pet 1:12) Jesus is the wonder of angels now in heaven; and he was so even when he appeared in the form of a servant on earth. The Apostle Paul mentions it as one part of the great mystery of godliness, that God “was manifested in the flesh” and was “seen by angels.” (1 Tim 3:16)
Angels saw him and admired and loved him in the various stages of his life, from his birth to his return to heaven. Hear the manner in which angels celebrated his entrance into our world. One of them appeared to a company of poor shepherds that kept their midnight watches in the field, and abruptly tells the news, of which his heart was full: behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host. (Luke 2:10)
Crowds of angels left their posts in that memorable hour, and hovered over the place where their incarnate God lay in a manger: Jesus, their delight, was gone down to earth, and they must follow him; for who would not be where Jesus is?
Men, ungrateful men, were silent on that occasion, but angels sang out their praise. The astonished shepherds heard them sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) “When he brings the firstborn into the world,” the Father says, “Let all God's angels worship him.” (Heb 1: 6)
This seems to imply that all the angels crowded round the manger, where the infant God lay, and paid him their humble worship. We are told, that when the Devil had finished his long process of temptations, after forty days, and had left him, the angels came and ministered to him. (Matt 4;11) When this disagreeable companion had left him, his old attendants were glad to renew their service to him.
In every hour of difficulty they were ready to fly to his aid. He was seen of angels, in his hard conflict, in the garden of Gethsemane; and one of them appeared to him... from heaven, strengthening him. (Luke 22:43) With what wonder, sympathy, and readiness must they have come to his assistance. And with what astonishment and horror must they have been struck, when they saw him die on the cross!
While they hovered around his tomb, the weeping women and his other friends found them stationed there in their early impatient visits to the tomb. What wonders must have then appeared to their astonished minds! Could they, that pry so deep into the secrets of heaven, who know so well what divine love can do, could they have thought that even divine love could have gone so far? could have laid the Lord of Glory a pale, senseless corps dead in a tomb? Must it not have been a strange surprise even to them? And, when the appointed day began to draw, with what eagerness and joy must they have rolled away the stone, and set open the prison doors, that the rising conqueror might march forth!
Consider that if we could see what was going on in heaven in relation to Jesus, how would it surprise, astonish, and confound us! Do you think the name of Jesus is of as little importance there as in our world? Do you think there is one lukewarm or dissatisfied heart there among the vast company? Absolutely not! There, his love is the ruling passion of every heart, and the favourite theme of every song. And is he so precious to angels? to angels, who are less indebted to him? And must he not be precious to poor believers bought with his blood, and entitled to life by his death? And so all who believe share this spirit with angels; they love Jesus, though unseen, as well as they who see him as he is, though sadly, in a far less degree. But to bring his worth to the highest standard of all, we now consider how,
4. He is infinitely precious to his Father, who thoroughly knows him, and is an infallible Judge of real worth. He proclaimed more than once from the excellent glory, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35) ”Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” ( Isa 42:1) He is called by the names of the greatest endearment; his Son, his own Son, his dear Son, the Son of his love. He is a stone, rejected indeed by men; if their approval were the true standard of merit, he must be looked upon as a very worthless, insignificant being, unworthy of their thoughts and affections.
But let men form what estimate of him they please, he is chosen of God, and precious. And shall not the love of the all-knowing God have weight with believers to love him too? The Apostle draws out that very conclusion; he is precious to God, therefore to you that believe, he is precious. It is the characteristic of even the weakest believer, that he is God-like. He is a partaker of the divine nature, and therefore views things, in some measure, as God does; and is affected towards them as God is, though there is an infinite difference as to the degree. He prevailingly loves what God loves, and that because God loves it.
And now, you in this small gathering, what do you think of Christ? Will you not think of him as believers do! If so, he will be precious to your hearts above all things for the future. Or if you disregard this standard of excellence, as being but the estimate of fallible creatures, will you not think of him as angels do; angels, those bright intelligences, to whom he reveals his unveiled glories, who are more capable of perceiving and judging of him, and who therefore must know him better than you; angels, who have had a long acquaintance with him at home, so to speak, for above six thousand years, as God, that is, ever since their creation, and for above two thousand years as God-man?
Since angels then, who know him so thoroughly, love him so highly, certainly you may safely venture to love him; you might safely venture to love him implicitly, upon their word. He died for you, which is more than ever he did for them, and will you not love him after all this love? It is not the fashion to think much of him in our world, but it is the fashion in heaven. For sure, if he is despised and rejected by men, he is not despised and rejected by angels. Angels, that know him best, love him above all, and, as far as their capacity will allow, do justice to his merit: and this is a very comforting thought to a heart broken with a sense of the neglect and contempt he meets with among men.
And may there not be one congregation assembled, even upon our guilty earth, that will in this respect be like the angels, all lovers of Jesus? Why should this be impossible, while they are all so much in need of him, all so much indebted to him, and he is so wonderful in himself? Why should not this congregation be made up of such, and such only as are lovers of Jesus? Why should he not be precious to every one of you?
What reason can any one of you give why you in particular should neglect him? I am sure you can give none. And will you, without any reason, dissent from all the angels in heaven, in point of which they must be the most competent judges? Will you differ from them, and agree in your sentiments of Christ with the spirits of hell, his implacable, but conquered and miserable enemies?
If all this has no weight with you, let me ask you further: Will you not agree to that estimate of Jesus which his Father has of him? Will you go against the supreme reason? Will you set yourselves up as wiser than the all-knowing God? How must the Almighty resent it to see a worm at his foot-stool daring to despise him, whom he loves so highly? Will you not let him be precious to you, because he is so to God, who knows him best?
And how has it come to pass that creatures bought with the blood of Christ, creatures that owe all their hopes to him, should need to be persuaded to love him? How sad and lamentable this is! However, by the grace of God, there are some, even among men, to whom he is precious. This world is not entirely peopled with the despisers of Christ. To as many of you as believe, he is precious, though to no one else.
And what is the reason for this? Why is this so? Here are three reasons: It is because none but believers have eyes to see his glory, none but they are aware of their need of him, and none but they have learned from experience how precious he is.
1. First, none but believers have eyes to see the glory of Christ.
As the knowledge of Christ is entirely from revelation, an avowed unbeliever, who rejects that revelation, can have no right knowledge of him, and therefore must be entirely indifferent towards him, as an unknown stranger, or must despise and abhor him as an fanatic or impostor.
But one, who is not an open unbeliever, may yet not have the faith of a true believer, which makes Jesus precious to the soul. Even devils are very orthodox in their knowledge of God: Devils believe, and tremble; and one could cry out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? ... I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24)
And there are crowds in this city, in this nation, who believe, in a way, that Christ is the true Messiah, who yet clearly show by their practice that they neglect him in their hearts, and are not believers in the full meaning of the word. Saving faith includes not only head knowledge and belief, but a clear, heartfelt, realizing view, and an hearty approbation of the things known and believed concerning Jesus Christ; and such a view, such an approbation, cannot be produced by any human means, but only by the enlightening influence of the holy Spirit shining into the heart.
Without such a faith as this, the mind is all dark and blind as to the glory of Jesus Christ; it can see no beauty in him, that he should be desired. Honourable and sublime ideas concerning him may hover in the understanding, and the tongue may pronounce many grand speeches in his praise, but the understanding has no real, heartfelt views of his excellency; nor does the heart delight in him and love him as infinitely precious and lovely. The god of this world, the prince of darkness, has blinded the minds of them that do not believe, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into them.
But as to the enlightened believer, God, who first commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shined into his heart, to give him “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6) This divine illumination pierces the cloud that obscured his understanding, and enables him to view the Lord Jesus in a strong and striking light; a light entirely different from that of the crowd around him; a light, in which it is impossible to view this glorious object without loving him.
A believer and an unbeliever may be equally orthodox in their views, and have the same notions in theory concerning Jesus Christ, and yet it is certainly true, that their views of him are vastly different.
Believers! do you think that, if the Christ-despising multitude around you had the same views of his worth and preciousness which you have, they could neglect him as they do? It is impossible. You could once neglect him, as others do now; you were no more charmed with his beauty than they are.
But then, when you were brought out of darkness into God's marvelous light, when the glories of the neglected Saviour broke in upon your astonished minds, then was it possible for you to withhold your love from him? Were your hearts not warmed to him?
Faith entering your reason is the setting of the disordered eye of the mind right, that it may be able to see Christ; and when once you viewed him with this eye of reason restored and corrected, how did his worth and excellence finally appear to you? Faith gives Christ a living presence in the mind, not as a majestic idea, but as the most glorious and important reality; and this faith is a clear, moving demonstration, or conviction, of his existence, and of his being in reality what his word represents him to be. It is by such a faith, that is, under its day to day influence, that the believer lives; and so, while he lives, Jesus is still precious to him.
2. In the second place, none but believers are properly aware of their need of Christ.
They are deeply aware of their ignorance and the imperfection of their understanding, and therefore they are aware of their lack of both the external and internal instructions of this divine Prophet. But as to others, they are puffed up with intellectual pride, and feel they have very little need of religious instructions; and therefore they think but very little of him.
Believers feel themselves guilty, destitute of all righteousness, and incapable of making atonement for their sins, or recommending themselves to God, and therefore the satisfaction and righteousness of Jesus Christ are most precious to them, and they rejoice in him as their all prevailing Intercessor. But as to the unbelieving crowd, they have no such mortifying thoughts of themselves: they have so many excuses to make for their sins, that they bring down their guilt to a very small thing, hardly worthy of divine resentment; and they magnify their good works to such a height, that they imagine they will nearly balance their bad, and earn them some favour at least from God, and therefore they must look upon this High Priest as needless.
They also love to be free from the restraints of religion, and to have the command of themselves. They acknowledge no higher authority but themselves, and make their own personal pleasure their rule; and therefore the Lord Jesus Christ, as a King, is so far from being precious, that he is very unacceptable to such obstinate, headstrong rebels. They choose to have no lawgiver, but their own wills; and therefore they trample on his laws, and, as it were, form insurrections against his government.
But the poor believer, feeling his inability to properly govern himself, loves to be under direction, and delights to feel the dependent, submissive, pliant spirit of a subject. He counts it a mercy not to have the management of himself, and feels his need of this mediatorial King to rule him. He hates the rebel within, hates every insurrection of sin, and longs to have it entirely subdued, and every thought, every motion of his soul, brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and therefore he feels the need of his royal power to make an entire conquest of his hostile spirit.
His commands are not uneasy impositions, but most acceptable and friendly directions to him; and the prohibitions of his law are not painful restraints, but a kind of privilege in his esteem. The language of his heart is, “Dear Lord! Be my King. I love to live in humble subjection to you. I would voluntarily submit myself to your control and direction. Your will, not mine, be done! Please subdue every rebellious principle within me, and make me all resignation and cheerful obedience to you!” To such a soul it is no wonder Jesus should be exceedingly precious: but O how different is this spirit from that which generally prevails in the world!
Let me add but one reason more why Jesus is precious to believers, and them only; namely,
3. None but believers have known by experience how precious he is.
They, and only they, can reflect upon the glorious views of him, which themselves have had, to captivate their hearts forever to him. They, and only they, have known what it is to feel a wounded heart healed by his gentle hand; and an unsettled anguished conscience pacified by his atoning blood. They, and only they, know by experience how wonderful it is to feel his love poured out in their hearts, to feel a heart, captivated with his glory, yearn, and long, and breathe after him, and exerting the various acts of faith, desire, joy, and hope towards him.
They, and only they, know by experience how pleasant it is to meet with him in his ordinances, and to spend an hour of devotion in some quiet corner, as it were, in his company. They, and only they, have experienced the work of his royal power, conquering their mightiest sins, and sweetly subduing them to himself. These are, in some measure, matters of experience with every true believer, and therefore it is no wonder Jesus should be precious to them.
But as to the unbelieving multitude, poor creatures! they are entire strangers to these things. They may have some superficial notions of them floating in their heads, but they have never felt them in their hearts, and therefore the infinitely precious Lord Jesus is a worthless, insignificant Being to them: and thus, alas! it will be with the unhappy creatures, until experience becomes their teacher; until they taste for themselves “that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:3)
There is an interesting question, which will have risen in the minds of such of you as have heard what has been said and have applied it to yourselves, and keeps you in a painful suspense: “Am I indeed then a true believer?” may some of you ask; and “is Christ precious to me? I cannot enjoy this wonderful subject until this question is resolved. Sometimes, I humbly think, the evidence is in my favour, and I begin to hope that he is indeed precious to my soul; but then my love for him soon languishes, and then my doubts and fears return, and I know not what to do, nor what to think of myself.”
Do not some of you here this morning long to have this perplexing case cleared up? What would you not give, if you might return home this morning fully satisfied about this?
We will conclude with a few words to help you with this difficulty.
The readiest way to clear up the matter is to answer another question which naturally flows from our subject; and that is, “How does that high esteem which a believer has for Jesus Christ show itself? Or how does he show that Christ is indeed precious to him?"
In answer, he shows it in various ways, particularly by his affectionate thoughts of him, which often rise in his mind, and are always welcome there. He discovers that Jesus is precious to him by hating and resisting whatever is displeasing to him, and by parting with everything that comes in competition with him. He will let all go rather than part with Christ. Honour, reputation, ease, riches, pleasure, and even life itself, are nothing to him in comparison of Christ, and he will run the risk of all; will actually lose all, if he may but win Christ.
He discovers this high esteem for him by the pleasure he takes in feeling his heart suitably inclined towards him, and by his uneasiness when it is not the case. When he can love Jesus, when his thoughts affectionately linger around him, and when he has a heart to serve him, then he is happy, his soul is well, and he is lively and cheerful. But when this is not the case with him, when his love languishes, when his heart hardens, when it becomes out of order for his service, then he grows uneasy and discontented, and cannot be at rest.
When Jesus favours him with his gracious presence, and revives him with his influence, how does he rejoice! But when he feels that he is far off, has withdraws himself and is gone, how does he lament his absence, and long for his return! Because Christ is so precious to him, he cannot bear the thought of being away from him.
Because he loves him he longs for the full enjoyment of him, and is overjoyed with the prospect of it.
Because Christ is precious to him, his interests are so too, and he longs to see his kingdom flourish, and all men flourish, and all men filled with his love.
Because he loves him, he loves his ordinances;
loves to hear, because it is the word of Jesus;
loves to pray, because it is to converse with Jesus;
loves to sit at his table, because it is a memorial of Jesus;
and loves his people, because they love Jesus.
Whatever is related to his precious Saviour is for that reason precious to him; and when he feels anything in himself of a contrary nature, it grieves him, and makes him abhor himself.
These things are sufficient to show that the Lord Jesus has his heart, and is indeed precious to him; and is not this the very picture of some trembling doubting souls among you? If it is, take courage. After so many vain searches, you have at length discovered the welcome secret, that Christ is indeed precious to you: and if so, you may be sure that you are precious to him. You “shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” (Mal 3:17) If you are now satisfied, after carefully considering your case, take heart, and do not let every discouraging event renew your fears again: endeavor to be a steady and firm Christians, and do not stagger through unbelief.
But I must solemnly ask! Are there some of you who know nothing experimentally of the exercises of a believing heart, which I have been describing, and must realize therefore that Christ is not precious to you. If this is the case, you may be sure indeed that you are hateful to him. He is angry with the wicked every day. “Those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1 Sam 2:30)
And what will you do if Christ should become your enemy and fight against you? If this precious stone should become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to you, over which you will fall into ruin, how truly dreadful must the fall be! What must you expect but to lie down in unutterable and everlasting sorrow!
“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1-3)