The Lord Jesus Himself.

Our Past — Our Present — Our Future.

By W. T. Turpin, M.A.

I have been greatly delighted of late in contemplating the blessedness of being engrossed with the Lord Jesus; and one effect that the many questions, strifes about words, vain janglings and contentions which beset one on every side, have had is to drive me closer to Himself. I desire to recall the scattered and bewildered minds of saints from everything else, and to present before them an object that is worthy  — oh, how worthy! — of their entire, constant, continued attention, adoration, and praise.

It is exceedingly blessed to observe the prominence which that one word "HIMSELF" has all through the Word.

Our Past: "Himself."

If the Holy Ghost would direct the thoughts to the Cross, that great judgment of sin, the scene of that complete payment of all our debt, Calvary, the place of life though the place of a skull, it is by presenting "HIMSELF," and hence it is in 1 Peter 2. 24, "Who His OWN SELF bare our sins in His OWN BODY on the tree; . . . by WHOSE STRIPES ye were healed." It is "His own self," it is "His own body," it is "His stripes!" Oh, blessed particularity and speciality! How sweet to the heart it is! The same thing is to be observed in Isaiah 53, where it is all "Him," "He," "His;" the Holy Ghost would fix the undivided, undistracted gaze of my soul on "JESUS HIMSELF" as my perfect Sacrifice!

Again, HE has finished the work, He has endured the Cross, and sin, that mighty barrier standing in the road of the sinner's return to God, is taken out of the way; the mountains of my guilt, yea, "the tops of the highest mountains" of mine iniquities, having been "covered" by "THE BLOOD OF JESUS," the Saviour rises from the dead. The grave could not detain Him. He rises, He bursts the bonds of death, for it was "not possible that He should be holden of it." He presents Himself to His disciples, who, with blighted hopes and scattered prospects, are terrified and affrighted. All their hopes had been laid in the grave of Jesus, never again, as they thought, to rise. Consequently, when He appears, He causes fear and affright among them. And how does He reassure their hearts? What is the plan He adopts to restore their confidence and peace? He presents HIMSELF, saying (Luke 24:39), "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I MYSELF." Then (v. 40) "He showed unto them His hands and His feet." Still, it is "HIMSELF;" it is not even a clear announcement of the proofs of what He was; it is not a recalling to their minds that He had taught them these things. No, precious as this would have been from His lips, there was something yet more touching, more melting, more convincing, and that was — presenting HIMSELF — "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I MYSELF." How blessed is all this!

Our Present: "Himself."

But there is a step even further in this blessedness, for we find the Gospel by John ends, leaving the disciples and Jesus together, leaving them with HIMSELF. In John 21 Peter is restored, and then, when fully restored and reinstated in office, the blessed Master says (v. 19) "Follow ME." John, we are told, was seen by Peter "following." When Peter inquires of the Lord about John, the reply is, "What is that to thee? follow thou ME." Here we see again the blessed Lord would have the mind engrossed with HIMSELF.

And now that He has come and gone away, and that we, His poor weak ones, are left in a world that disowns and rejects Him, what has He left us to cheer our hearts, to occupy our souls, to feed our hopes? "HIMSELF." "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3); and so in kindred words of comfort does the Holy Ghost console the Thessalonian saints in their sorrow: "For the Lord HIMSELF shall descend from Heaven with a shout: . . . then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them, to meet THE LORD in the air."

Our Future: "Himself."

If our past be HIMSELF, if our present be HIMSELF, our future is also HIMSELF, and "so shall we ever be WITH THE LORD."

Oh, the exceeding preciousness of all this! It is truly "Jesus only."

May the Lord deliver us from every object that would seek to intrude itself into the place HE HIMSELF ought to have in our hearts! The devil is not wanting in skill and stratagem to draw the minds and affections of the saints to various points which are indeed connected with Jesus, but which are not "HIMSELF," and to make these (right and proper in their place) the all-absorbing subjects for the mind; and when he succeeds, what is the result? A manifest chill among the saints of God, a coldness which must ever be the consequence of having any object but "HIMSELF" next the heart. May the LORD JESUS HIMSELF give us all the grace to abide in that happy place, of which we sometimes sing:

"Oh, that I may, like favoured John,
 Recline my wearied head upon
   The dear Redeemer's breast.
 From care, and sin, and sorrow free,
 Give me, O Lord, to find in THEE
   My everlasting rest."