“Are you a distressed believer? Is your heart pressed down with sickness, tried with disappointments, overburdened with cares? To you also I say this day, ‘Behold the cross of Christ.’
Think whose hand it is that chastens you; think whose hand is measuring to you the cup of bitterness which you are now drinking. It is the hand of Him that was crucified. It is the same hand which in love to your soul was nailed to the accursed tree.
Surely that thought should comfort and hearten you. Surely you should say to yourself, ‘A crucified Saviour will never lay upon me anything that is not for my good. There is a needs be. It must be well.’
Are you a believer that longs to be more holy? Are you one that finds his heart too ready to love earthly things? To you also I say, ‘Behold the cross of Christ.’
Look at the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross, and then go and set your affections on the world if you can. I believe that holiness is nowhere learned so well as on Calvary.
I believe you cannot look much at the cross without feeling your will sanctified, and your tastes made more spiritual. As the sun gazed upon makes everything else look dark and dim, so does the cross darken the false splendour of this world.
As honey tasted makes all other things seem to have no taste at all, so does the cross seen by faith take all the sweetness out of the pleasures of the world. Keep on every day steadily looking at the cross of Christ, and you will soon say of the world, as the poet does,—
Its pleasures now no longer please,
No more content afford;
Far from my heart be joys like these,
Now I have seen the Lord.
As by the light of opening day
The stars are all concealed,
So earthly pleasures fade away
When Jesus is revealed.
Are you a dying believer? Have you gone to that bed from which something within tells you you will never come down alive? Are you drawing near to that solemn hour, when soul and body must part for a season, and you must launch into a world unknown?
Oh, look steadily at the cross of Christ by faith, and you shall be kept in peace! Fix the eyes of your mind firmly, not on a man-made crucifix, but on Jesus crucified, and He shall deliver you from all your fears.
Though you walk through dark places, He will be with you. He will never leave you,—never forsake you. Sit under the shadow of the cross to the very last, and its fruit shall be sweet to your taste.”
–J.C. Ryle, Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (London: Charles J. Thynne, 1898), 261-262.