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29 November, 2013

Three Degrees of Christ's Manifestation - CHRIST SHOWING HIMSELF THROUGH THE LATTICE- Part 3

By Octavius Winslow, 1849



This is a clearer and more glorious discovery of Christ, inasmuch as it is the manifestation of Christ in the revealed word. Our Lord does not want to conceal Himself from His saints. He remembers that all their loveliness is through Him, that all their grace is in Him, that all their happiness is from Him, and therefore He delights to afford them every means and occasion of increasing their knowledge of, and of perfecting their resemblance to, Him. The 'lattice' of His house is figurative of the doctrines, precepts, and promises of His Gospel. Through these the Lord Jesus manifests Himself, when we come to the study of the word, not as self-sufficient teachers, but as sincere and humble learners, deeply conscious how little we really know, and thirsting to know more of God in Jesus. The Lord Jesus often shows Himself through these 'lattices'- perhaps some type, or prophecy, or doctrine, or command- and we are instructed, sanctified, and blest. It is the loss of so many readers of the Bible, that they search it, but not for Christ. 

Men will study it with the view of increasing their knowledge of science and of philosophy, of poetry and of painting; but how few search into it for Jesus! And yet in knowing Him the arcades of all spiritual mystery are unlocked- all that God designed to communicate in the present world. To know God, is to comprehend all knowledge- God is only truly known as revealed in Jesus- therefore, he who is experimentally acquainted with Jesus, holds in his hand the key that unlocks the vast treasury of God's revealed mind and heart. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." O search for Christ in the 'lattice' of the word! The type contains Him, the prophecy unfolds Him, the doctrine teaches Him, the precept speaks of Him, the promise leads to Him.

How has the light of the beauty and excellence of Christ, flashing upon the understanding from the glass of the gospel, filled the will and affections of many with desire and love to that glory it represents, and that state it offers! Grace is a beam from the Sun of righteousness, but darted through the medium of gospel air; a pearl produced of the blood of Christ, but only in the gospel sea. Rejoice in the word, but only as the wise men did in the star, as it led them to Christ. The word of Christ is precious, but nothing more precious than Christ Himself, and His formation in the soul. Rest not in the word, but look through it, to Christ.

Blessed Lord, I would sincerely open this box of precious ointment- your own word- that the fragrance of Your grace and of Your name might revive me. It is Your word, and not man's word that can meet my case, and satisfy my soul. Man can only direct me to You, Your word brings me to You. Your servants can at best but bring You in Your gospel to my heart, but Your Spirit of truth brings You through the gospel into my heart. O show Yourself to me in the gospel 'lattice' of Your word, and I shall rejoice as one that has found great spoil- in finding You.

In conclusion, be cautious, dear reader, how you erect walls, or permit them to be erected, between Christ and your soul. Beware of that which separates from God- which separates, not from Himself, but from the manifestation of Himself; not from His love, but from the experience of His love; not from His covenant, but from the 'secret of His covenant.' "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Nothing but sin separates between God and the soul. Affliction often quickens to a greater nearness to God; temptation and trial often are instrumental of a closer and holier walk; but sin invariably has a separating effect; it drives the soul from God. The moment the consciousness of guilt fastened itself upon the once undefiled and peaceful conscience of Adam, he ran away from God, like a constellation suddenly breaking from its attraction and its orbit, and wandering away into darkness, and distance, and death. God no longer attracted and fixed him; the light of his soul was extinguished, and he became a "wandering star"- yet destined, through sovereign grace, to be again brought back by the Sun of righteousness.

But if there is, perhaps, one sin more than another, that tends to throw up a towering wall of separation between Christ and the believing soul, it is the sin of unbelief. No sin can more dishonor the name of God, or grieve the heart of Jesus, or bring greater distress into the soul than this. God has done the utmost which His infinite wisdom dictated, to lay the most solid ground for confidence. "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us."

He has made all the promises of the covenant of grace absolute and unconditional. Were faith simply to credit this, what "strong consolation" would flow into the soul! Take, for example, that exceeding great and precious promise, "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." What a sparkling jewel, what a brilliant gem is this! How many a weeping eye has caught the luster, and has forgotten its misery, as waters that pass away! While others, perhaps, gazing intently upon it, have said, "This promise exactly suits my case, but is it for me? is it for one so vile as I? who by my own indiscretion, and folly, and sin, have brought this trouble upon myself? May such an one as I call upon God and be answered?" What is this unbelieving reasoning, but to render this Divine and most exhilarating promise, as to any practical influence upon your mind, of none effect? But the promise stands in God's word absolute and unconditional. There is not one syllable in it upon which the most unworthy child of sorrow can reasonably found an objection.

Is it now with you a 'day of trouble?'- God makes no exception as to how, or by whom, or from where your trouble came. It is enough that it is a time of trouble with you; that you are in sorrow, and in difficulty, and in trial- God says to you, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you." Resign, then, your unbelief, embrace the promise, and behold Jesus showing Himself through its open 'lattice.'

Take yet another glorious promise, "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away." "This is just the promise that my poor, guilty, anxious heart needs," exclaims a trembling, sin-distressed soul; "but dare I, with all my sin, and wretchedness, and poverty, take up my rest in Christ? What! may I who have been so long an enemy against God, such a despiser of Christ, such a neglecter of my soul and scoffer of its great salvation, approach with a trembling yet assured hope that Christ will receive me, save me, and not cast me out?" Yes! you may. The promise is absolute and unconditional, and magnificent and precious as it is, it is yours. "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Satan shall not persuade me, sin shall not prevail with me, my own heart shall not constrain me, yes, nothing shall induce me, to cast out that poor sinner who comes to me, believes my word, falls upon my grace, and hides himself in my pierced bosom! "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

My reader, is Jesus your soul's Beloved? Can you in humble faith exclaim, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine?" Then, covet His manifestation to your soul; God in Christ has laid prostrate every 'wall' on His part that would prevent your near approach to Him. The Breaker is gone up before you, the gate is open, and God waits to reveal Himself to you in Jesus. "Draw near unto God, and He will draw near unto you." Is there any wall of separation on your part behind which your beloved Lord stands? Search and see. Is it the world, or the creature, or an unholy life? Yes, is there any self-erected object that obscures your view of Christ, and prevents His manifestations to you? Submit it to Jesus, and beseech Him in love, in gentleness, and in grace to remove it, rather than that you should lose one glimpse of your beloved Lord. He is behind that wall; let it fall- and behold! He stands before you, arrayed in ten thousand charms!

And do not be satisfied with the mere open window- seek for Jesus in the window, and looking forth upon you with eyes of love. Do not come away from an ordinance without seeing your Beloved in it. While engaged in the hallowed service, watch against the wandering eye, the wavering mind, the truant affection, the cold, formal frame. Fix every glance, and thought, and affection on one object- JESUS. Let it be indeed the "communion of the body and the blood of Christ." And as it is a solemn occasion of the Lord's especial nearness to your soul, let it also be a season of especial opening of your heart to the Lord. Confess to Him all your sins, declare to Him all your sorrows, make known to Him all your needs; for while thus, like the beloved disciple, leaning upon His bosom at supper, you may indulge in the fullest, closest, and most confidential communion with your Lord.

Oh seek to know that He is your Beloved; and attempt not to rest in anything short of the blessed assurance, "I Am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."
"Long did I toil, and knew no earthly rest;
Far did I rove, and found no certain home
At last I sought them in His sheltering breast
who opens His arms, and bids the weary come.
With Him I found a home, a rest divine,
And I since then am His, and He is mine."
"Yes, He is mine! and nothing of earthly things,
Not all the charms of pleasure, wealth, or power,
The fame of heroes, or the pomp of kings,
Could tempt me to forego His love an hour.
Go, worthless world, I say, with all that's yours!
Go! I my Savior's am, and He is mine."
"The good I have is from His stores supplied;
The ill is only what He deems the best
He for my Friend, I'm rich with nothing beside;
And poor without Him, though of all possessed.
Changes may come- I take, or I resign,
Content, while I am His, while He is mine."
"Whatever may change, in Him no change is seen,
A glorious Sun, that wanes not nor declines;
Above the clouds and storms He walks serene,
And sweetly on His people's darkness shines.
All may depart! fret not, nor repine,
While I my Savior's am, and He is mine."
"He stays me falling; lifts me up when down;
Reclaims me wandering; guards from every foe;
Plants on my worthless brow the Victor's crown,
Which in return before His feet I throw;
Grieved that I cannot better grace His shrine
Who deigns to own me His, as He is mine."
"While here, alas! I know but half His love,
But half discern Him, and but half adore;
But when I meet Him in the realms above,
I hope to love Him better, praise him more,
And feel and tell, amid the choir divine,
How fully I am His, and He is mine."