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Extracts from "A Description of Christ"
by Richard Sibbes
Transformed by the Beholding of Christ
The very beholding of Christ is a transforming sight. The Spirit that makes us new creatures, and stirs us up to behold this Saviour, causes it to be a transforming beholding. If we look upon him with the eye of faith, it will make us like Christ; for the gospel is a mirror, and such a mirror, that when we a look into it, and see ourselves interested in it, we are changed from glory to glory, II Corinthians 3:18.
A man cannot look upon the love of God and of Christ in the gospel, but it will change him to be like God and Christ For how can we see Christ, and God in Christ, but we shall see how God hates sin, and this will transform us to hate it as God cloth, who hated it so that it could not be expiated but with the blood of Christ, God man. So, seeing the holiness of God in it, it will transform us to be holy. When we see the love of God in the gospel, and the love of Christ giving himself for us, this will transform us to love God.
When we see the humility and obedience of Christ, when we look on Christ as God's chosen servant in all this, and as our surety and head, it transforms us to the like humility and obedience. Those that find not their dispositions in some comfortable measure wrought to this blessed transformation, they have not yet those eyes that the Holy Ghost requireth here. 'Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul delighteth.'
Coming to God in Him
And what a comfort is it now, in our daily approach to God, to minister boldness to us in all our perplexities, that we go to God in the name of one that he loves, 'in whom his soul delights,' that we have a friend in court, a friend in heaven for us, that is at the right hand of God, and interposeth himself there for us in all our suits, that makes us acceptable, that perfumes our prayers and makes them acceptable. He intercedes by virtue of his redemption.
If God loves him for the work of redemption, he loves him for his intercession, therefore God is required to regard the prayers made by him, by virtue of his dying for us, when he loves him for dying for us. Be sure therefore, whenever we bring our needs to God, to take along our elder brother, to take our beloved brother, take Benjamin with us, and offer all to God in him, our persons to be accepted in him, our prayers, our hearing, our works, and all that we do, and we shall be sure to speed; for he is one in whom the soul of God delights.
There must be this passage and repassage, as God looks upon us lovely in him, and delights in us as we are members of him. All God's love and the fruits of it come to us as we are in Christ, and are one with him. Then in our passage to God again we must return all, and do all, to God in Christ. Be sure not to go to a naked God; for so he is 'a consuming fire,' but go to him in the mediation of him whom he loves, 'and in whom his soul delighteth.'
Concerning our own Reputations
And let us commit the fame and credit of what we are or do to God. He will take care of that. Let us take care to be and to do as we should, and then for noise and report, let it be good or ill as God will send it. We know oftentimes it falls out that that which is precious in man's eye is abominable in God's. If we seek to be in the mouths of men, to dwell in the talk and speech of men, God will abhor us, and at the hour of death it will not comfort us what men speak or know of us, but sound comfort must be from our own conscience and the judgement of God. Therefore, let us labour to be good in secret. Christians should be as minerals, rich in the depth of the earth. That which is least seen is his riches. We should have our treasure deep.
For the discovery of it we should be ready when we are called to it, and for all other non-essential things, let them fall out as God in his wisdom sees good. So let us look through good report and bad report to heaven; let us do the duties that are pleasing to God and our own conscience, and God will be careful enough to get us applause. Was it not sufficient for Abel, that though there was no great notice taken what faith he had, and how good a man he was, yet that God knew it and discovered it? God sees our sincerity and the truth of our hearts, and the graces of our inward man, he sees all these, and he values us by these, as he did Abel.
As for outward things there may be a great deal of deceit in them, and the more a man grows in grace, the less ho cares for them. As much reputation as is fit for a man will follow him in being and doing what he should. God will look to that. Therefore we should not set up sails to our own imaginations, that unless we be carried with the wind of applause, to be becalmed and not go a whit forward, but we should be carried with the Spirit of God and with a holy desire to serve God and our brethren, and to do all the good we can, and never care for the speeches of the world, as St Paul saith of himself: 'I care not what ye judge of me, I care not what the world judgeth, I care not for man's judgement,' 1 Cor. iv. 3. This is man's day. We should, from the example of Christ, labour to subdue this infirmity which we are sick of naturally.
Christ concealed himself till he saw a fitter time. We shall have glory enough, and be known enough to devils, to angels, and men ere long. Therefore, as Christ lived a hidden life, that is, he was not known what he was, that so he might work our salvation, so let us be content to be hidden men. A true Christian is hidden to the world till the time of manifestation comes.
When the time came, Christ then gloriously discovered what he was; so we shall be discovered what we are. In the mean time, let us be careful to do our duty that may please the Spirit of God, and satisfy our own conscience, and leave all the rest to God. Let us meditate, in the fear of God, upon these directions for the guidance of our lives in this particular.