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MEDITATION V

AN EXERCISE OF FAITH FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST IN THE AGONY OF DEATH

To me the Grace of Jesus is of Infinite Value

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

BEHOLD, O Lord Jesus, how basely I have treated Thy passion; my heart is deeply pained and my soul greatly saddened, because I have no works or merits of my own to offer for my salvation; yet since Thy passion, O Jesus, may be my work, let Thy works also be my merit. Surely I do not rightly treat Thy passion, because, when that is amply sufficient for my salvation, I am seeking to supplement it by my own good works. And if I should discover any righteousness in myself, Thy righteousness would be of no avail to me, or certainly I should not so ardently desire it. If I seek to justify myself by the deeds of the law, I shall be condemned by the law. But I know that I am no longer under the law, but under grace (Rom. vi. 14). Shamefully have I lived; "O Holy Father, I have sinned against heaven, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son" (Luke xv. 21); but refuse not to call me Thy servant. Let not, I beseech Thee, the blessed benefits of Thy passion be denied me. Let not Thy precious blood become of no avail in freeing my soul from sin. Sin hath always dwelt in me; I beseech Thee, now, let it die with me. Hitherto the flesh hath had dominion over me, now let the Spirit triumph in me. Let the outward man perish, that the inward man may rise into new glory. Hitherto I have always followed the temptations of the devil; let him now, I pray Thee, be trampled under my feet (Rom. xvi. 20). Satan is at hand to accuse me, but he has nothing in me. The very idea of death terrifies me; and yet death will mark the end of my sins and the beginning of a perfectly holy life. Then at last shall I be able to please Thee perfectly, O my God; then at last shall I be established in goodness and virtue. Satan holds up my sins before me to terrify me; but let him accuse Him, who hath taken upon Him my infirmities, and whom the Lord hath smitten for my sins (Is. liii. 4). My debt is exceeding great, nor can I pay the least part of it; but I trust in the riches and kindness of my Surety; let Him free me, who hath become surety for me; let him pay it, who hath taken my debt upon Himself. I have sinned, O Lord, and my sins are many and great beyond measure; and yet may I never voluntarily commit that most heinous sin of charging Thee with a lie, when Thou dost declare by words and by works and by an oath, that perfect satisfaction hath been rendered for mine iniquities. I fear not my sins, for Thou art my righteousness; I fear not my ignorance, for Thou art my wisdom (I Cor. i. 30); I fear not death, for Thou art my life (John xiv. 6); I fear not my errors, for Thou art my truth; I fear not my corruption, for Thou art my resurrection (John xi. 25); I fear not the pains of death, for Thou art my joy; I fear not even the terrors of judgment, for Thou art my righteousness.

Let the dew of Thy divine grace and of Thy quickening consolation be instilled into my languishing soul. My spirit is drying up within me, yet soon it shall exult in Thee; my flesh droops and languishes, but shortly it shall spring up again into new life; the nature of my body is such that I must undergo corruption, but from corruption Thou shalt free me, as Thou hast delivered me from every other evil. Thou, O God, hast created me; and how can the work of Thy hands perish? Thou hast delivered me from all my enemies, how then could death alone prevail against me? Thy body, Thy blood, and all that Thou hadst, even Thine own self, Thou didst give for my salvation, and shall death then deprive me of that which was purchased with so costly a ransom? Thou art my righteousness, O Lord Jesus; my sins shall not prevail against Thee. Thou art the Resurrection and the Life, death shall not prevail against Thee; Thou art God, Satan shall not prevail against Thee. Thou hast given me the earnest of Thy Spirit (I Cor. i. 22); in this do I glory, in this do I triumph; and most firmly do I believe, doubting nothing, that I shall by and by be admitted to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. xix. 7). Thou, O my dearest spouse, Thou art my wedding garment, which I put on in my baptism (Gal. iii. 27); Thou wilt cover all my nakedness; nor shall I attempt to sew on to this most precious and beautiful garment the vile tatters of mine own righteousness; for what is our righteousness in Thy sight but filthy rags (Is. lxiv. 6)? How could I dare then to patch the robe of Thy glorious righteousness with mine own abominable rags? In this robe will I appear before Thy judgment-seat, when Thou shalt judge the world in righteousness and equity (Acts xvii. 31). In this garment shall I appear before Thee in Thy heavenly kingdom; this robe shall so cover my confusion and shame that they will be remembered no more forever. Then shall I appear before Thy face glorious and holy, and this flesh of mine, this body of mine, shall be clothed in Thine effulgent glory, even a glory that shall continue forever and ever. Come, Lord Jesus, come; and let him that loveth Thee say, come (Rev. xxii. 20)!



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