Isaiah 53:2 – “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness: and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Continuing on from Part 1 of the series on desiring Christ, taken from Thomas Manton’s Isaiah 53 commentary.

You can read it here, or listen to the whole exposition here.

The new section below after the recap at the beginning starts here if you want to read it, or you can listen to it in this audio section.

From Thomas Manton:

Recap:

Doct. 4. That Christ is so outwardly mean [low], that the men of the world do not any way desire him, or that carnal men do see nothing in Christ wherefore they should desire him. To his spouse he is all beauty, ‘altogether lovely;’ but to them there was no beauty why they should desire him.

The reasons of the point are these:-

  1. Because carnal men neglect the study of Christ; their hearts are so taken with the things of sense, and the beauty of the creatures [all things created], that they do not look any further.
  2. Because they reject Christ; he is not for their turn; nay, he is quite contrary to their ends [purposes]. Carnal men have not all the same ends, but they all agree in this, their ends are carnal.

Use 1. It serves for information, to teach us the difference between God’s people and carnal men.

To God’s people he is all their desire; to carnal persons there is nothing desirable in him.

. . .

Wicked men feel no desires; they have some slight wishes, carnal and weak velleities [the lowest degrees of desire], but they have no serious desires, nor true volitions [will, or power to will]. Balaam may wish to die the death of the righteous, Num. 23:10. So they may desire Christ out of some general conceit [conception] of happiness; but they do not desire Christ for holiness.

. . .

But that you may not deceive yourselves in this matter, I will give you a few notes. I will not speak anything of the cause of desires. A high value and price set upon Christ, and a seeing rich beauties in him, of that I shall speak in the next verse. I shall only treat now of the effects of this desire.

If it be earnest and strong after him, it will be manifested by these things.

Continuing on:

1. A holy impatiency in the want [lack] of Christ.

When we strongly desire a thing, the heart faints under the want [lack] of it. Amnon was sick for Tamar, 2 Sam. 13:1-4. And the spouse was sick of love for Christ, Cant. 5:8.

The soul languishes with a holy desire of the sense of his mercy, with a longing after pardon, and grace, and quickening, and life, and what is to be found in Christ. They can find no rest in themselves till they do enjoy it: Ps. 13:1, ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so doth my soul pant after thee, O God.’ Thirst is the most implacable impression that can be upon the body; the creature cannot be quiet till it be quenched.

Now, of all creatures the hart is most thirsty by nature, and the thirst is mightily increased when it is hunted. And mark, it is the she-hart, for so the Seventy [Septuagint, Greek translation of the old testament] read it, ‘The she-hart panteth after the water brooks.’ Passions in females are stronger than in the males. As the she-hart pants when chased, such a rage of thirst was there in his soul till it were satisfied with God, and refreshed with the comforts of Jesus Christ.

Search then for such a restless and strong desire; try if there be such an ardency and earnestness upon your affections, that nothing can satisfy but Christ, that you cannot be quiet till you have him.

Was your heart never chased into a panting for the water brooks? Some are haunted so by the ghastly apprehensions of God’s wrath, that they have no ease, no rest. But certainly all that love Christ are chased into a panting; they have such a sense of their sins and miseries, that their souls are put into an earnest expectation of the mercies of Christ.

2. A holy indignation.

Passions usually serve and accompany one another. If there be a holy desire, there will be a holy anger. And this is at two things:-

[1.] At anything that would rival the affection.

[2.] At what would hinder the enjoyment of the object.

[1.] [Indignation] at anything that would rival Christ in the affection.

There is a scorn that anything should come in competition with him, that we should have so much as a thought that anything were worthy but Christ: Phil. 3:8, ‘I count all things but loss and dung, that I may win Christ.’ Any outward excellency in comparison of him is but skubala, dog’s meat. It thinks the worst name good enough for anything that shall come in competition with him. And in such a case gold is not gold, but dog’s meat—honour is not honour—pleasure is not pleasure—but all is dung and dog’s meat.

You know in a natural way things have their due respect from us, till they be compared with what we dearly love and prize; then no term is bad enough for them. So here, the soul does even abhor the thought that Christ and other things should be spoken of the same day, which otherwise might have fairer respects and valuations from the soul.

It is worth your observation to see how the saints do abominate the thought that anything should be supposed to satisfy them without or besides Christ: Ps. 4:6, ‘There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift up the light of thy. countenance upon us.’ O Lord, do not think we are of that strain [ie. Who will show us any good?]. It is the many, the men of the multitude, that think so; they speak as if they would not own such an unworthy thought, nor entertain any resolution to prostitute their desires to any sensual [simply, pleasing the senses] good [ie. They would never think to give away the things that fulfill their sensual (again, pleasing to the senses) desires].

God shall not turn them [His saints] away so. If they should have all things else, it is irksome to them to think they should be contented; as Austin cried out: ‘Thyself, Lord—thyself, Lord.’ They are angry with themselves if any pleasing thought should arise any other way, any vain [useless] conceit [conception, thought], that they should be happy apart from God and Christ. It is an excellent saying of one, ‘They had rather mourn for God than delight without him’. All their comforts are irksome to them if they have not Christ with them.

Try, then, is there such a zealous indignation against false thoughts in your comforts? In what case do you think yourselves? ‘Happy is the people that is in such a case.’ If that be a thought that is pleasing to your minds, it is a good sign.

[2] Indignation against what hinders the enjoyment of the object.

A man is angry with what comes between him and his desires. If your desires be to Christ, you will be angry with your perverse hearts, that keep you from him.

When a man desires to sin, he is angry with God because he comes in with his law, and steps between us and our desires: Rom. 8:7, ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law, neither indeed can be.’

So when the desires are set and bent upon Christ, a man is angry with himself that he is so clogged and weighed down with the flesh that he cannot enjoy such full communion with him as he desires: 2 Cor. 5:4, ‘For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.’. And David cried out, Ps. 120:5, ‘Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!’ My pilgrimage, is prolonged. They are angry with their own base hearts, that still there is such a strangeness between them and Christ.

May God grant us a panting desire for the blessed Lord Jesus, and may He grant us earnest indignation against anything that comes between Him and us!

Stay tuned for Part 3!

— David