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Look unto me, and be ye saved,
all the ends of the earth: for I am God,
and there is none else” —Isaiah 45:22
Six years ago today, as near as possible at this very hour of the day, I was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity,” but had yet, by divine grace, been led to feel the bitterness of that bondage, and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery. Seeking rest, and finding none, I stepped within the house of God, and sat there, afraid to look upward, lest I should be utterly cut off, and lest his fierce wrath should consume me. The minister rose in his pulpit, and, as I have done this morning, read this text, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” I looked that moment; the grace of faith was given to me in the self-same instant; and now I think I can say with truth,
“Ere since by faith I saw the stream,
His flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”
I shall never forget that day, while memory holds its place; nor can I help repeating this text whenever I remember that hour when first I knew the Lord. How strangely gracious! How wonderfully and marvelously kind, that he who heard these words so little time ago for his own soul’s profit, should now address you this morning as his hearers from the same text, in the full and confident hope that some poor sinner within these walls may hear the glad tidings of salvation for himself also, and may today, on this 6th of January, be “turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God!”
Salvation is God’s greatest work; and, therefore, in his greatest work, he especially teaches us the lesson of our text—that he is God, and that beside him there is none else. Our text tells us how he teaches it. He says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” He shows us that he is God, and that beside him there is none else, in three ways. First, by the person to whom he directs us: “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” Secondly, by the means he tells us to use to obtain mercy: “Look,” simply, “Look.” And thirdly, by the persons whom he calls to “look”; “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”
First, to whom does God tell us to look for salvation? O, does it not lower the pride of man, when we hear the Lord say, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth?” It is not, “Look to your priest, and be ye saved”: if you did, there would be another god, and beside him there would be some one else. It is not, “Look to yourself”: if so, then there would be a being who might claim some of the praise of salvation. But it is, “Look unto me.” How frequently you who are coming to Christ look to yourselves. “O!” you say, “I do not repent enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I do not believe enough.” That is looking to yourself. “I am too unworthy.” That is looking to yourself. “I cannot discover,” says another, “that I have any righteousness.” It is quite right to say that you have not any righteousness; but it is quite wrong to look for any. It is, “Look unto me.” God will have you turn your eyes off yourself and look unto him.
The hardest thing in the world is to turn a man’s eyes off himself; as long as he lives, he always prefers to turn his eyes inside, and look at himself; whereas God says, “Look unto me.” From the cross of Calvary, where the bleeding hands of Jesus drop mercy; from the garden of Gethsemane, where the bleeding pores of the Saviour sweat pardons, the cry comes, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” From Calvary’s summit, where Jesus cries, “It is finished,” I hear a shout, “Look, and be saved.” But there comes a vile cry from our soul, “Nay, look to yourself! look to yourself!” Ah, my hearer, look to yourself, and you will be damned. That certainly will come of it. As long as you look to yourself there is no hope for you. It is not a consideration of what you are, but a consideration of what God is, and what Christ is, that can save you. It is looking from yourself to Jesus.
O! there be men that quite misunderstand the gospel; they think that righteousness qualifies them to come to Christ; whereas sin is the only qualification for a man to come to Jesus. Good old Crisp says, “Righteousness keeps me from Christ: the whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. Sin makes me come to Jesus, when sin is felt; and, in coming to Christ, the more sin I have the more cause I have to hope for mercy.” David said, and it was a strange thing, too, “Have mercy upon me, for mine iniquity is great.” But, David, why did you not say that it was little? Because David knew that the bigger his sins were the better reason for asking mercy. The more vile a man is, the more eagerly I invite him to believe in Jesus.
A sense of sin is all we have to look for as ministers. We preach to sinners; and let us know that a man will take the title of sinner to himself, and we then say to him, “Look unto Christ, and ye shall be saved.” “Look,” this is all he demands of you, and even this he gives you. If you look to yourself, you are damned; you are depraved and loathsome, corrupt and corrupting others. But look here—see that man hanging on the cross? Do you behold his agonized head dropping meekly down upon his breast? Do you see that thorny crown, causing drops of blood to trickle down his cheeks? Do you see his hands pierced, and his blest feet, supporting the weight of his own frame, torn well nigh in two with the cruel nails? Sinner! do you hear him shriek, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? Do you hear him cry, “It is finished”? Do you see his head hang down in death? See that side pierced with the spear, and the body taken from the cross? O, come hither! Those hands were nailed for you; those feet gushed gore for you; that side was opened wide for you; and if you want to know how you can find mercy, there it is. “Look!” “Look unto me!” Look no longer to Moses. Look no longer to Sinai. Come here and look to Calvary, to Calvary’s victim, and to Joseph’s grave. And look yonder, to the man who near the throne sits with his Father, crowned with light and immortality. “Look, sinner,” he says, this morning, to you, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” It is in this way God teaches that there is none beside him; because he makes us look entirely to him, and utterly away from ourselves. But the second thought is, the means of salvation. It is, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” You have often observed, I am sure, that many people are fond of an intricate worship, an involved religion, one they can hardly understand. They cannot endure worship so simple as ours. Then they must have a man dressed in white, and a man dressed in black; then they must have what they call an altar and a chancel. After a little while, that will not suffice, and they must have flower pots and candles. The clergyman then becomes a priest, and he must have a variegated dress, with a cross on it. So on it goes; what is simply a plate becomes a paten, and what was once a cup becomes a chalice; and the more complicated the ceremonies are, the better they like them. They like their minister to stand like a superior being. The world likes a religion they cannot comprehend.
But have you ever noticed how gloriously simple the Bible is? It will not have any of your nonsense; it speaks plain, and nothing but plain things. “Look!” There is not an unconverted man who likes this, “Look unto Christ, and be ye saved.” No, he comes to Christ like Naaman to Elisha; and, when it is said, “Go, wash in Jordan,” he replies, “I verily thought he would come and put his hand on the place, and call on the name of his God. But the idea of telling me to wash in Jordan, what a ridiculous thing! Anybody could do that!” If the prophet had bidden him to do some great thing, would he not have done it? Ah! certainly he would. And if, this morning, I could preach that any one who walked from here to the next town without his shoes, or did some impossible thing, should be saved, you would start off tomorrow morning before breakfast. If it would take me seven years to describe the way of salvation, I am sure you would all long to hear it. If only one learned doctor could tell the way to heaven, how would he be run after! And if it were in hard words, with a few scraps of Latin and Greek, it would be all the better. But it is a simple gospel that we have to preach. It is only “Look!” ‘Ah!” you say, “is that the gospel? I shall not pay any attention to that.” But why has God ordered you to do such a simple thing? Just to take down your pride, and to show you that he is God, and that beside him there is none else.
O, mark how simple the way of salvation is. It is, “Look! look! look!” Four letters, and two of them alike! “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” Some preachers want a week to tell what you are to do to be saved; but God the Holy Ghost only wants four letters to do it. “Look.” How simple is the way of salvation! and O, how instantaneous! A look does not require a moment. So a sinner believes in a moment; and the moment that sinner believes and trusts in his crucified God for pardon, at once he receives a full salvation through his blood. There may be one that came in here this morning unjustified, that will go out justified rather than others. There may be some here, filthy sinners one moment, pardoned the next. It is done in an instant. “Look!” and how universal it is! Because wherever I am, however far off, it just says, “Look!”
We say again, how this humbles a man! There is a gentleman who says, “Well, if it costs a thousand pounds to save me, I would think nothing of it.” But your gold and silver is cankered; it is good for nothing. “Then am I to be saved just the same as my servant?” Yes, just the same: there is not another way of salvation for you. The wise man says, “If it had been to work the most wonderful problem, or to solve the greatest mystery, I would have done it. May I not have some mysterious gospel? May I not believe in some mysterious religion?” No; it is “Look!” “What! am I to be saved just like that ragged school-boy who can’t read his letters?” Yes, you must, or you will not be saved at all. Another says, “I have been very moral and upright; I have observed all the laws of the land; and if there is anything else to do, Twill do it. Twill eat only fish on Fridays, and keep all the fasts of the church, if that will save me.” No, sir, that will not save you: your good works are good for nothing. “What! must I be saved in the same way as a harlot or a drunkard?” Yes, sir; there is only one way of salvation for all. “God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” He hath passed a sentence of condemnation on all, that his free grace might come upon many to salvation. “Look! look! look!” This is the simple method of salvation. “Look!”
But, lastly, mark how God cuts down the pride of man, and exalts himself by the persons whom he calls to look. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” When the Jew heard Isaiah say that, “Ah!” he exclaimed, “you ought to have said, Look unto me, O Jerusalem, and be saved. That would have been right. But those Gentile dogs, are they to look and be saved?” “Yes,” says God; “I will show you Jews, that, though I have given you many privileges, I will exalt others above you; I can do as I will with my own.”
Now who are “the ends of the earth”? Why, there are poor heathen nations now that are very few degrees removed from brutes, uncivilized and untaught; but if I might go and find the Bushman in his kraal, or go to the South Seas and find a cannibal, I would say to the cannibal or the Bushman, “Look unto Jesus, and be ye saved.” They are some of “the ends of the earth”; and the gospel is sent as much to them as to the polite Grecians, the refined Romans, or the educated Britons.
But I think “the ends of the earth” imply those who have gone the farthest away from Christ. I say, drunkard, that means you. You have been staggering back, till you have got right to the ends of the earth; you have almost had delirium tremens; you cannot be much worse. There is not a man breathing worse than you. Is there? Ah! but God, in order to humble your pride, says to you, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” There is another who has lived a life of infamy and sin, until she has ruined herself, and even Satan seems to sweep her out the back door; but God says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” Methinks I see one trembling here, and saying, “Ah! I have not been one of these, sir, but I have been something worse; for I have attended the house of God, and I have stifled convictions, and put off all thoughts of Jesus, and now I think he will never have mercy on me.” You are one of them!—”the ends of the earth!” Even if you think there is nobody in all the world like you—the worst and guiltiest sinner under the sun—still you are one of “the ends of the earth!”
In the Master’s name, I cry out, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” But you say, “Sin will not let me look.” I tell you, sin will be removed the moment you do look. “But I dare not; he will condemn me; I fear to look.” He will condemn you more if you do not look. Fear then, and look; but do not let your fearing keep you from looking. “But he will cast me out.” Try him. “But my eyes are so fixed on the earth, so earthly, so worldly.” Ah! but, poor soul, he giveth power to look and live. He saith, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.”
Take this, dear friends, for a new year’s text, both you who love the Lord, and you who are only looking for the first time. Christian! in all your troubles through this year, look unto God and be saved. In all your trials and afflictions, look unto Christ and find deliverance. In all of your agony, poor soul, in all your repentance for your guilt, look unto Christ and find pardon. This year remember to put your eyes heavenward, and your heart heavenward, too. Look unto Christ; fear not. There is no stumbling when a man walks with his eyes up to Jesus. He that looked at the stars fell into the ditch; but he that looks at Christ walks safely. Keep your eyes up all the year long. “Look unto him, and be ye saved”; and remember that “he is God, and beside him there is none else.”
And poor trembling soul, what do you say? Will you begin the new year by looking unto him? You know how sinful you are this morning; you know how filthy you are; and yet it is possible that, before you take another step, you will be as justified as the saints in glory, having lost that burden of sin that has been on your back, and you will go on your way singing, “I am forgiven; I am forgiven; I am a miracle of grace; this day is my spiritual birthday.” O, that it might be such to many of you!
Hear this, convinced sinner! “This poor man cried, and the Lord delivered him out of his distresses.” O, taste and see that the Lord is good! Believe on him now; now cast thy guilty soul upon him; now plunge thy filthy soul into the bath of his blood; now have thy naked soul clothed upon with his righteousness; now seat thy famished soul at the feast of plenty. Now “Look!” How simple does it seem! And yet it is the hardest thing in the world to bring men to. They never will, till constraining grace brings them to do it. Yet there it is, “Look!”
“Look unto me, and be ye saved,
all the ends of the earth:
for I am God, and there is none else.”
“Boast not thyself of TOMORROW; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” —Proverbs 27:1
He was going to be all that a mortal should be—tomorrow. No one should be kinder or braver than he—Tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it too;
On him he would call and see what he could do—Tomorrow,
Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write—Tomorrow, And thought of the folks he would fill with delight—TOMORROW, It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today,
And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
More time he’d have to give others, he’d say,—Tomorrow,
The greatest of workers this man would have been—Tomorrow, The world would have known him, had he ever seen—TOMORROW. But the fact is he died and faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through Was a mountain of things he intended to do—Tomorrow