From Horae Homileticae (1832)
Christianity is altogether a deep stupendous mystery, one that could never have entered into the human mind, nor could it have been devised by the highest archangel in heaven. Even subordinate parts of it, such as the calling of the Gentiles and the uniting of them in one Church with the Jewish people, are spoken of as a mystery, which in other ages was not made known, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit, or that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body and partakers of God’s promise in Christ by the Gospel.
Indeed, so mysterious was this particular appointment in the eyes of the Apostle Paul, that, in the contemplation of it, he exclaimed, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out,” (Rom. 11:33). It is upon that subject primarily that Paul is speaking in the whole preceding context. He declares himself to have been expressly ordained by God as “a preacher to the Gentiles,” that, through him “all men,” not Jews only, but Gentiles also, might “see what was the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, to the intent that now unto the angels also might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.” Here the mystery which he refers to is the Gospel, in which are contained “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” and in which also is pre-eminently displayed “the manifold wisdom of God.” …
Desperate, beyond measure, was our state… But in the provision which Divine wisdom made for humankind was every want supplied. Was humanity laden with guilt? It shall be removed by a sacrifice. Were we like a king under a curse? Such a king shall be delivered from the curse, by one “becoming a curse for him.” Did humanity need a righteousness in which to stand before God? A righteousness shall be wrought out for humanity and imputed to us.
Are we, by reason of our natural depravity, incapable of enjoying God’s presence and doing his will? A new nature will be given, and, through the strength of Christ, we shall be enabled to do all things (Phil. 4:13). Are we unable to do anything whereby we will merit any of these things? They shall all be given to us freely, “without money and without price” (Isa 55:1). Are we, even when restored, unable to keep ourselves in the Lord’s way? The Lord Jesus Christ shall perfect in us the work he has begun (Phil 1:6). Could that enemy, who assaulted and ruined humanity in Eden, prevail over us again? Our lives are hid with Christ in God, beyond the reach of harm; so that when Christ, who is his life, shall appear, we will be secured to appear with him in glory, (Col 3:3-4)…
One must simply look to Christ by faith; and all these blessings shall flow down into his soul precisely as health did into the bodies of the dying Israelites, the very instant they looked to the brazen serpent. The only difference between them shall be, that, whereas the Israelites looked but once, and had their health completely restored, the sinner must look to Jesus continually, and derive from him gradual and progressive communion….
The angels, from the first moment of their creation, saw much of God. But of him, as exhibited in the Gospel, they could have no conception, till that fuller revelation of him was given to the Church…. They had seen God’s wisdom, power, and goodness, in the works of creation. They themselves, indeed, were bright monuments of these perfections. The justice of God, too, they had beheld in his judgments… They had seen in what profusion love had poured its blessings…. We may conceive, that, from what the angels had seen of the goodness of God, they would believe him ready to exercise mercy… but that God should devise such means for the exercise of mercy, and be capable of carrying those means into effect, the angels could never have imagined. Yet, in the provisions of the Gospel the angels beheld all this, not only contemplated, but carried into effect. It is no wonder, then that on attaining such a view of God, they sang, “Glory to God in the highest”
The happiness of the holy angels consists mainly in this, in singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:11-12). And how much more happiness must there be for those who can say, “He has loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). There can be no doubt but that our happiness will consist in contemplating all the wonders of Christ’s love and in beholding the glory of God’s perfections as displayed in the great mystery of redemption.
And if here, in this world, a little glimpse of Christ is enough to fill us “with joy unspeakable and glorified,” what must a full discovery of his glory bring to our souls? Here even Paul himself saw Christ only “as in a glass darkly,” Yet in time the least and meanest of the saints shall behold him “face to face.” Shall we not, then, long for the time when we shall be translated to that blissful place, where we shall have the full vision of his glory, and see him as we are seen, and “know him as we are known” (1 Cor 13:12).
Let us, then, contemplate this blissful scene, till we have already obtained views of its excellency, and foretastes of its blessedness. And, whatever hastens us to that land, or prepares us for it, let us welcome it from our inmost souls, looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of Christ; that when his glory shall be revealed, we may rejoice before him with exceeding joy
Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an English cleric, the most prominent evangelical Anglican leader of his time. He served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 43 years, converting thousands of students, and inspiring many to ordained ministry, especially in the mission field. He helped to organize the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. His great work was the Horae Homileticae, a sermonical commentary on the whole Bible. He is commemorated on November 12 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.