The Cross as the ‘spring of our happiness’
by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
Let us delight in the knowledge of Christ crucified, and be often in the thoughts and study of him. Study Christ, not only as living but dying, not as breathing in our air, but suffering in our stead; know him as a victim, which is the way to know him as a Conqueror. Christ as crucified is the great object of faith. All the passages of his life, from his nativity to his death, are passed over in the creed without reciting, because, though they are things to be believed, yet the belief of them is not sufficient without the belief of the Cross; in that alone was our redemption wrought. Had he only lived, he would have not been a Savior. If our faith stops in his life, and does not fasten upon his blood, it will not be a justifying faith. His miracles, which prepared the world for his doctrine, and his holiness, which fitted himself for his suffering, would have been insufficient for us without the addition of the Cross. Without this, we had been under the demerit of our crimes, the venom of our natures, the slavery of our sins, and the tyranny of the devil; without this, we should forever have had God for our enemy, and Satan for our executioner; without this, we had lain groaning under the punishment of our transgressions, and despaired of any smile from heaven. It was this death as a sacrifice that appeased God and as a price redeemed us. Nothing is so strong to encourage us; nothing so powerful to purify us; how can we be without thinking of it? …
This will be the foundation of all our comforts. What comfort can be wanting, when we can look upon Christ crucified as our surety, and look upon ourselves as crucified in him, when we can consider our sins as punished in him, and ourselves accepted by virtue of his Cross? It was not an angel which was crucified for us, but the Son of God; one of an equal dignity with the Father; one that shed blood enough to blot out the demerit of our crimes, were they more than could be numbered by all the angels of heaven, if all were made known to them. He was not crucified for a few, but for all sorts of offenses. When we shall see judgment in the world, what comfort can we take without a knowledge and sense of a crucified Christ? What a horror is it for a condemned man to see the preparation of the gibbets, halters and executioners? But when he shall see a propitiation made for him, the anger of the Prince atoned, the Law some other way satisfied, and his condemnation changed into remission; all his former terrors vanish, and a sweet and pleasing calm possesses him… When we tremble under a sense of our sins, the terrors of the Judge and the curses of the Law, let us look upon a crucified Christ, the remedy to all our miseries. His Cross has procured a crown. His passion [death] has expiated our transgressions. His death has disarmed the Law. His blood has washed a believers soul. This death is the destruction of our enemies, the spring of our happiness, the eternal testimony of divine love. We have good reason, as well as the apostle Paul, to determine with ourselves to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and especially him crucified.
-Transcribed from “A Discourse of the Knowledge of Christ Crucified,” taken from the 2 volume Works of Stephen Charnock (London: 1684) pp. 844-845