HOW Christ manifests Himself unto those who love Him
HOW Christ manifests Himself unto those who love Him.
(1) Christ here, in this world, manifests Himself but in PART and darkly. The soul is not now capable of the fullest and clearest manifestation of Christ. This is a happiness reserved for heaven. 1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know, that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." John 17:24, "Father, I will that they also whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory which You have given Me." It is hereafter that Christ's disciples shall be perfectly like Christ, and shall have a perfect manifestation of Christ, that they shall see Him as He is. It is hereafter that they shall behold His glory. The luster and brightness of Christ's glory is so great that, should He now let forth the beams thereof upon them—it would dazzle and astound them; it would strike them blind. Yes, it would strike them dead.
There is need, because of their weakness, that Christ should keep a veil on His face when He makes discovery of Himself. They cannot now bear the full manifestation of Christ, therefore Christ reveals Himself but in part. As the Queen of Sheba said, concerning Solomon's wisdom and prosperity, 1 Kings 10:6-7, "Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! I didn't believe it until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. Truly I had not heard the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity are far greater than what I was told!"
Just so-it is not the one half which Christ's disciples now hear, or can in this world discern, of their Master's excellencies! It has not now entered into their hearts to conceive what beauties, and glories, and most admirable perfections there are hidden in their Beloved! Not only Christ's love—but also Christ's loveliness surpasses their knowledge! There are such dimensions of most wonderful glory in Christ's person as infinitely transcend the capacity of the most elevated minds fully to comprehend. Christ manifests Himself truly to those who love Him—yet is it but partly, and that but a little part. It is but darkly, by the beams of a more obscure light, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:9-12
We ministers prophecy but in part. We can tell you but a little part of what there really is in Christ; and both we and you know but in part. Our conceptions of Christ's excellencies and our expressions now are childish; hereafter, there will be a perfect manifestation of Christ, and then all imperfections of knowledge will be removed. Now you may see Christ—but it is through a glass darkly; hereafter, face to face. Indeed, it is said, 2 Corinthians 3:18, "We all, with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed!" There is a comparative open discovery of Christ now in gospel-times over what there was under the law; the veil of types and figures which covered and, in a great measure, hid Christ from the view is now removed. Our face is now open from that veil—but Christ's face is not fully open. There is a looking-glass still between our eye and Christ's face (the looking-glass of ordinances which, though it helps us to see Him—yet it keeps us from the clearest discovery of Him). We see but through a glass darkly; our eyes now need this looking-glass to help our weakness, and that we may see what we do see. There is a time coming when we shall be above the need and use of the ordinance glasses, I mean, when we shall see Christ face to face, and know Him in heaven as we are known by Him!
(2) Christ now manifests Himself GRADUALLY unto those who love Him. Christ does not show at once and altogether what He means to reveal of Himself and His love—but He does it by degrees; a little at one time and a little at another time—a little in this ordinance and little in that. Now He lets down some comfortable beams of the light of His countenance into the soul; by and by, clouds arise and obscure this light and darkness is upon the spirit. Sometimes, Christ opens the curtain, looks upon the soul, and gives gracious smiles; by and by, the curtain is drawn and His face is hid. Now He appears and then He disappears; He manifests Himself at one time, withdraws Himself at another time; and so leads His people on from one revelation of Himself unto another, until He brings them at last unto the full discovery of Himself in glory!
(3) Christ manifests Himself most SWEETLY unto those who love Him, especially after long absence. When the soul has been seeking and cannot find Him, wandering in the wilderness under amazing fears, perplexing doubts, doleful despondencies, sinking and heart-overwhelming grief, after a black night of deep desertion, Oh, how sweet is the day spring from on high! Oh how comfortable are the bright beams of the morning light, when He shines upon their dark, despised, and sorrowful spirits; giving them to know assuredly that they are the dearly beloved of His soul, that He has not forgotten them, that He will not forsake them, that He has a more tender love unto them than the mother to her nursing child! Oh the ravishments of spirit! Oh the transports of soul which arise from hence! Oh the songs which are then in their mouths! "This is our Beloved, we have waited for Him! This is our dear Redeemer, we have trusted in Him!"
Tongue cannot express the delight, the joy, and gladness of heart, which arises from the manifestation of Christ's presence and love; the joy of harvest, the joy of the bridegroom on the wedding day, the joy of victory and taking great spoils from an enemy, the joy of a poor man in finding great treasures, and the greatest delight which ever was found in the sweetest sensual enjoyment—is not worthy to be compared with the joys and exaltings of heart, in the manifestation of Christ unto the soul!