Extracts from the thoughts of John (Rabbi) Duncan 1796-1870.
THINKING OF JESUS CHRIST
Extracts from the thoughts of John (Rabbi) Duncan, 1796-1870.
The Banner of Truth have published a fascinating collection of the Sayings of Dr. John Duncan selected and edited by John M. Brentnall, entitled Just a Talker. This is warmly commended and the following paragraphs give some indication of Dr. Duncan’s high thoughts of his Saviour.
‘And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin, unto salvation.’ Amidst all the deaths that have taken place, there is one that stands out distinct and pre-eminent above them all. We die, because we are sinners; we die, because we sinned in the first of men; we die, having added innumerable actual transgressions, sin having abounded. But there died One who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; One who did no violence, neither was deceit found in His mouth; One of whom the Heavenly Father proclaimed. ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’: and One who was not involved in the guilt of Adam’s transgression, for He came not by ordinary generation.
‘His arrows are sharp in the heart of his enemies.’ Alas! that I should be an enemy to my best friend, and fight against my own salvation. He hath sent some arrows of His terrors, and I was (in a measure) distracted. This morning He sent an arrow of love, and it was sharper still, for it is the text. ‘The blood of Christ shall purge your conscience’. May the arrow dipt in the life’s blood of the Son of God be fixed to remain for ever, and my whole soul brought in subjection to Him – His blood, at once my soul’s redemption and purgation, carried into the holiest of all, as atoning – sprinkled on my conscience, cleansing. ‘There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.’ Pray for me, dear friend, who am sometimes trembling exceedingly before Him as able to destroy, sometimes a little helped, as I judge, to trust in Him as able to save, and wishful to be brought by His grace to the harmonious exercise of both together.
His Drawing Power
Christ crucified, that’s the Object drawing – drawn to it – drawn away from all that is not Christ, drawn to Christ – drawn to Him in His Person, covenant-engagements, work, gospel, law, grace, authority -drawn to him as your Prophet, and Priest, and King – as all your salvation and all your desire. Are you being drawn? Drawn more and more? If Christ has been drawing you, sure I am He has not finished drawing you. We are not so near Jesus as we should be, as we must be, as, if we are under His drawing, we shall be. All who have been drawn are being drawn still; and all who have been drawn and are being drawn are approximating, are coming to Christ. They have heard Him who says ‘Come!’ and they have set out to go to Him, and they’re going, going; and He is always saying ‘Come, come!’ and they’re coming and getting nearer.
What steps of progress are we making as the results of this drawing? Surely, surely if we are not coming, He is not drawing. He is drawing in one sense, in His sweet and powerful invitations, but so drawing as that we feel able to resist them all still. Surely there is another drawing than that, a drawing not to be resisted. Are we drawn by that drawing? There is a drawing with the cords of love and the bands of a man. Sweet affections, different from all constraints and contraries, but stronger than all constraints – more powerful than all necessity – the constraint of love. What other attractions are being loosed and letting you go on? What bands untied? What swiftness given to the feet, making them like hinds’ feet? What kindling up of the love strong as death, and the jealousy cruel as the grave? What sacrifices, what accounting of all things but loss for the excellency of Jesus Christ? What suffering for His sake of the loss of all things, and counting them but dung if so be we may win Christ and be found in Him? Feel you ever His attractive power coming and drawing hard away from detentions? When you are slow, and He goes away, putting His hand at the hole of the door, and leaving the smell of the sweet myrrh, what meetings of heart – what openings even for the gone Beloved – and, when He is not found, what rising and going about the city? What drawing to a crucified Saviour -Oh, the world likes a crowned Saviour tolerably well, if it were a crown without a cross, but a crucified Saviour – to draw men to be crucified! A crown without a cross for me, saith the natural heart. Jesus is drawing you to the cross.
Coming to Christ
For myself, I cannot always come to Christ direct, but I can always come by sin. Sin is the handle by which I get Christ. I take a verse in which God has put Christ and sin together. I cannot always put my finger upon Christ and say, ‘Christ belongs to me’; but I can put my finger upon sin and say, ‘Sin belongs to me.’ I take the word, for instance, ‘The Son of man is come to save that which was lost.’ Yes, lost, lost – I’m lost; I put my finger upon that word and say, ‘I’m the lost one; I’m lost.’ Well, I find that ‘the Son of man is come to save the lost’; and I cry out, ‘What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’
‘Behold the Lamb of God’
But these words direct us to the contemplation of the Lamb of God. Not to a simple glance; although we should be glad if we could get sinners so to honour Christ. For we are sure that the eye that sees Him once would never cease to gaze on Him. We know that people have their thoughts in a certain way about Christ, which they can take up and lay down, which they get ready for any specific purposes of their own; but these are not views of Christ at all. If they saw Him, He is not an object to let the eye off. Do you think that the King in His beauty, if but one glimpse were obtained of Him – that His beauties would not fix the gaze? When, O soul! will you have seen all the beauty of Christ? When will you have fathomed the depth of purity and love and grace that’s but in one only of His words of eternal life? When will you have scrutinized His gracious heart, so as to say, ‘I have searched to the bottom, and I know it all’? When will you have given but a cursory glance to His unsearchable riches, and say, ‘Now, I have at least taken the inventory and catalogue of them all’? Friends, God hath provided an eternal heaven for us in His own Lamb. He is Heaven’s heaven. There could not be an eternity of blessedness without an object of highest, holiest contemplation. We should weary in course of revolving ages of anything which hath a limit of any excellence, of which we could say, ‘Now this is exceeding good: for the last million of years I have enjoyed it all!’ What kind of Christians then are they who are pleased with a glance of Christ? What can we say of the eye which turns from Him, but that it has never seen Him, else diversion of the eye were an impossibility? What can we say of ourselves if He gets a passing thought among other objects at our leisure and convenience? Oh, surely we have not seen Him. Behold, then, the Lamb of God! Behold Him! The Father’s eye never ceases resting on Him with delight! And what are the demands of the Father for excellence, that His eye can rest upon Him with eternally unwearied delight! The blessed Spirit hath never wearied through thousands of years of the one unchanging work of glorifying Him, and what must be the excellence of that subject which occupies the Holy Spirit of God with never wearied delight to reiterate! The whole church of God hath been looking from the beginning, and tire it never shall, neither of the exercise nor in it. The eyes of the glorified shall through eternity rest on this Object. Therefore let us contemplate Christ.