“Within the vail, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”—Hebrews 6:19, 20
Pause over these words, my soul, this morning. Is the vail removed? Was the vail rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, in the hour that Christ died? And did Jesus, as thy High Priest, with all his blood, then enter into ‘the place not made with hands, having obtained eternal redemption for us? Did he enter too as thy forerunner? Pause over this thought—it is a sweet one. Is Jesus still there? Nay, my soul, look in and see. He calls thee to look unto him—nay, to follow him, “having boldness to enter into the holiest by his blood, in the new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh.” And what canst thou see there? Within the vail of the Jewish temple there was the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, and the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy-seat. But within that vail, whither our forerunner is entered, look up, my soul, and see Jesus with the golden censer of his own merits and blood; and not the symbols of the covenant only, but he himself, the whole of the covenant, God the Father hath given him for the people; not merely manna, but himself the living bread, the bread of God, of which whosoever eateth shall live for ever; not the rod of Aaron, but the rod of his power, to make poor sinners willing in the day of his power; not the cherubims of glory, but himself the mercy-seat, the propitiatory, the sacrifice, high priest, and ail in all. Look up, my soul; look in, my soul; go in, my soul, after him, by faith, and contemplate him as thy forerunner; and while all thy faculties, in grace and faith, are going forth in the most lively exercise, hear him say, and let his words sink deeper and deeper in thine unceasing remembrance: “I only go to prepare for you a place: I will Come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Hail thou glorious Forerunner, who art made an high priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."