“But now in Christ Jesus, ye, who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”—Ephesians 2:13
Of all the vast alterations made upon our nature by grace, that which is from death to life seems to be the greatest. I do not think the change would be as great, if Jesus were to make a child of God, after his conversion, at once an archangel, as when, by his blessed Spirit he quickens the sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, and brings him into grace. My soul, contemplate the sweet thought this morning, that it may lead thee, with thy hymn of praise, to all precious Jesus! First then, my soul, think where you then stood, before this vast act of grace had quickened you. You stood on the very confines of hell— unawakened, unregenerate, uncalled, without God, and without Christ. Supposing the Lord had not saved you; supposing a sickness unto death had, by his command, taken you; supposing that any one cause had been commissioned to sign your death-warrant while in this state; where must have been your portion? And yet consider, my soul; how many nights and days did you live in this unconscious, unconcerned state? Oh! who, in this view of the thought, can look back without having the eye brimful of tears, and the heart bursting with love and thankfulness! Go on, my soul, and contemplate the subject in another point of view; and pause in the pleasing thought, “where you now stand.” You are now, saith the apostle,” made nigh by the blood of Christ.” You that was an enemy to God by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy, and unblamable, and unreprovable, in his sight. And now, my soul, if death should come, it is but the messenger to glory. Precious, blessed thought! And Oh, how much more precious, blessed Jesus, the Author of it! Advance, my soul, one step more in this sweet subject, and pleasingly consider, where you soon shall be. Paul answereth; “So shall we be ever with the Lord.” “Ever with the Lord!” Who can write down the full amount of this blessedness? “Ever with the Lord!” Here we are, in Jesus, interested in all that belongs to Jesus; but there, we shall be also with Jesus. Here we see him but as through a glass darkly; but there, face to face. Here, even the views we have of him by faith, are but glimpses only—short and rare, compared to our desires; but there, we shall see him in reality, in substance, and unceasingly, the precious, glorious, God-man Christ Jesus. Here, our sins, though pardoned, yet dim our view, by reason of their effects; there, we shall for ever have lost them, and see, and know, even as we are known. And have these blessed changes taken place in my soul; and all by thee, thou gracious, precious, Holy One of Israel? Oh for grace to love thee, to live to thee, to be looking out for thee, dearest Jesus, that I may be counting every parting breath, every beating pulse, as one the less, to bring me nearer and nearer to Jesus, who is my everlasting home, and will ere long, be my never-ceasing portion and happiness in eternity.—Hallelujah!
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."