“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:14, 15
Pause, my soul, over these words, and remember that they are the words of Jesus. Call to mind the wonderful event to which Christ refers, in the church’s history in the wilderness, as related, Numb. 21:5—9. Israel had sinned; and the Lord sent fiery flying serpents among the people, which bit them, and they died. In their distress they cried unto the Lord, and the Lord appointed this method of cure. A figure of a serpent was made in brass, to which Israel was commanded to look only, and be healed. They who did so, lived. If any refused, he died. This was the ordinance of God. “Now,” saith Jesus, “as Moses, at the command of God, lifted up the serpent, so must I be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in me shall never perish, but have eternal life.” Now, my soul, mark what the Saviour saith, and see the blessedness contained in his precious assurance. It was a serpent, that stung the Israelites. It was the old serpent, the devil, which poisoned our nature at the fall. All his temptations, assaults, and poisons, are fiery. And when the dreadful effects of sin are felt in the awakened conscience, how do they burn with terrors in the soul! What could the dying Israelite do to heal those venomous bites? Nothing. Would medicine cure? No. Was there no remedy within the power of man? No; it baffled all art, it resisted all attempts to heal. Such is sin. No prayers, no tears, no endeavours, no repentance can wash away sin. If the sinner be restored, it must be by the interposition and mercy of God alone. Now observe the method God took with Israel—a figure of brass. And if, as some men tell us, any thing shining like brass, to look upon, when the head and brain is diseased, would make the person mad; so far was this serpent of brass likely to cure, that it was the most unpromising thing in the world to accomplish it. But yet it was God’s command; and that was enough. It infallibly cured. Look now to Christ. Here also is God’s appointment, God’s command, God’s authority. Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh: and though holy in himself, yet becoming sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. The single precept is, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” What, must I do nothing, bring nothing, take nothing? No. The answer is, “look unto me.” This is the appointed way. Christ is the One only ordinance; Christ is the Altar, Offering, High Priest. “If thou liftest up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Christ is the Father’s gift for healing. In Jesus there is a fulness to heal. Faith then hath a double plea—the authority of God the Father, and the fulness of salvation in God the Son. Lord, I take this for my warrant. Help me, thou blessed Spirit, so to look, so to depend, so to fix my whole soul on this complete remedy for all my need, that heaven and earth may witness for me, I seek salvation in no other, being most fully convinced that there is salvation in no other; “neither is there any other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
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."