The most excellent subject to discourse or write of is Jesus Christ. Augustine having read Cicero’s works, commended them for their eloquence but he passed this sentence upon them, “They are not sweet, because the name of Jesus is not in them.”Indeed all we say is but unsavoury, if it be not seasoned with this salt. “I determined not to know any thing among you,” saith Paul, “save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He resolved with himself, before he preached among the Corinthians, that this should be the only point of knowledge that he would profess himself to have skill in, and that in the course of his ministry he would labor to bring them to. This he made the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, of his knowledge. Yea, doubtless, saith he, “and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” In this knowledge of Christ there is an excellency above all other knowledge in the world. There is nothing more pleasing and comfortable, more animating and enlivening. Christ is the sun and center of all divine and revealed truths: we can preach nothing else as the object of our faith, which doth not some way or other either meet in Christ, or refer to Christ. Only Christ is the whole of man’s happiness; the sun to enlighten him, the physician to heal him, the wall of fire to defend him, the friend to comfort him, the pearl to enrich him, the ark to support him, the rock to sustain him under the heaviest pressures; “As an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of waters in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Only Christ is that ladder between earth and heaven, the Mediator betwixt God and man; a mystery which the angels of heaven desire to pry into. Here is a blessed subject indeed: who would not be glad to be acquainted with it? “This is life eternal, to know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” Come then! let us look on this Sun of righteousness; we cannot receive harm, but good, by such a look. Indeed, by looking long on the natural sun we may have our eyes dazzled, and our faces blackened; but by looking unto Jesus, we shall have our eyes clearer, and our faces fairer. If the light of the eye rejoice the heart, how much more when we have such a blessed object to look upon! As Christ is more excellent than all the world, so this sight transcends all other sights. Looking unto Jesus, is the epitome of a Christian’s happiness, the quintessence of evangelical duties.
In the text we have the act and object. The act in the original is very emphatic, but the English doth not fully express it; it signifies a drawing of the eye from one object to another: there are two expressions; the one signifies a turning of the eye from all other objects; the other, a fast fixing of the eye upon such an object, and only upon such. So is it both a looking off, and a looking on. On what? That is the object, a looking unto Jesus: a title that denotes his mercy, as Christ denotes his office. My meaning is not to insist on this name, in contradiction to any other names of Christ. He is often called Christ, and Lord, and Mediator, and Son of God, and Emmanuel: but Jesus is all these; Jesus is Christ, as he is the Anointed of God; and Jesus is Lord, as he hath dominion over all the world; and Jesus is mediator, as he is the reconciler of God and man; and Jesus is the Son of God, as he was eternally begotten before all worlds; and Jesus is Emmanuel, as he was incarnate, and so God with us. Only because Jesus signifies Saviour, and this name was given him upon that very account; “for he shall save his people from their sins”: I shall make this my design to look at Jesus more especially, as carrying on the great work of our salvation from first to last. This indeed is the glad tidings, the gospel, the gospel privilege, and our gospel duty — looking unto Jesus. Isaac Ambrose