In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood;
He fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.
Sure never till my last breath,
Shall I forget that look!
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.
A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for your ransom paid;
I die that you may live.”
Thus while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too!
“Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
“In Christ’s humiliation stands our exaltation; in His weakness stands our strength; in His ignominy our glory; in His death our life.” (Cudworth, 1613)
People seem to forget that all Christ’s sufferings were endured voluntarily, and of His own free will. He was under no compulsion. Of His own choice He laid down His life—of His own choice He went to the cross in order to finish the work He came to do. He might easily have summoned legions of angels with a word, and scattered Pilate and Herod, and all their armies, like chaff before the wind. But He was a willing sufferer. His heart was set on the salvation of sinners. He was resolved to open “a fountain for all sin and uncleanness,” by shedding His own blood. (Zech. 13:1.)
When I think of all this, I see nothing painful or disagreeable in the subject of Christ’s cross. On the contrary, I see in it wisdom and power, peace and hope, joy and gladness, comfort and consolation. The more I keep the cross in my mind’s eye, the more fullness I seem to discern in it. The longer I dwell on the cross in my thoughts, the more I am satisfied that there is more to be learned at the foot of the cross than anywhere else in the world.
Would I know the length and breadth of God the Father’s love towards a sinful world? Where shall I see it most displayed? Shall I look at His glorious sun, shining down daily on the unthankful and evil? Shall I look at seed-time and harvest, returning in regular yearly succession? Oh, no! I can find a stronger proof of love than anything of this sort. I look at the cross of Christ. I see in it not the cause of the Father’s love—but the effect. There I see that God so loved this wicked world, that He gave His only begotten Son—gave Him to suffer and die—that “whoever believes in Him should not perish—but have eternal life.” (John 3:16.) I know that the Father loves us, because He did not withhold from us His Son, His only Son. I might sometimes fancy that God the Father is too high and holy to care for such miserable, corrupt creatures as we are! But I cannot, must not, dare not think it, when I look at the cross of Christ. (“The Cross of Christ”)