NO. 1500



                        OCTOBER 19TH, 1879,

                                                BY C. H. SPURGEON,




“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it

came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld

the serpent of brass, he lived.” - Numbers 21:9.


THIS discourse when it shall be printed will make fifteen hundred of my

sermons which have been published regularly week by week. This is

certainly a remarkable fact. I do not know of any instance in modern times

in which fifteen hundred sermons have thus followed each other from the

press from one person, and have continued to command a large circle of

readers. I desire to utter most hearty thanksgivings to God for divine help

in thinking out and uttering these sermons, sermons which have not merely

been printed, but have been read with eagerness, and have also been

translated into foreign tongues; sermons which are publicly read on this

very Sabbath day in hundreds of places where a minister cannot be found;

sermons which God has blessed to the conversion of multitudes of souls. I

may and I must joy and rejoice in this great blessing which I most heartily

ascribe to the undeserved favor of the Lord.

I thought the best way in which I could express my thankfulness would be

to preach Jesus Christ again, and set him forth in a sermon in which the

simple gospel should be made as clear as a child’s alphabet. I hope that in

closing the list of fifteen hundred discourses the Lord will give me a word

which will be blessed more than any which have preceded it, to the

conversion of those who hear it or read it. May those who sit in darkness

because they do not understand the freeness of salvation and the easy

method by which it may be obtained, be brought into the light by

discovering the way of peace through believing in Christ Jesus. Forgive this

prelude; my thankfulness would not permit; me to withhold it.

Concerning our text and the serpent of brass. If you turn to John’s gospel

you will notice that its commencement contains a sort of orderly list of

types taken from Holy Scripture it begins with the creation. God said, “Let

there be light,” and John beans by declaring that Jesus, the eternal Word, is

“the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

Before he closes his first chapter John has introduced a type supplied by

Abel, for when the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him he said, “Behold the

Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” Nor is the first

chapter finished before we are reminded of Jacob’s ladder, for we find our

Lord declaring to Nathanael, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the

angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” By the

time we have reached the third chapter we have come as far as Israel in the

wilderness, and we read the joyful words, “As Moses lifted up the serpent

in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that

whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We are going to speak of this act of Moses this morning, that we may all of

us behold the brazen serpent and find the promise true, “every one that is

bitten, when he looketh upon the brazen serpent, shall live.” It may be that

you who have looked before will derive fresh benefit from looking again,

while some who have never turned their eyes in that direction may gaze

upon the uplifted Savior, and this morning be saved from the burning

venom of the serpent, that deadly poison of sin which now lurks in their

nature, and breeds death to their souls. May the Holy Spirit make the word

effectual to that gracious end.


I. I shall invite you to consider the subject first by noticing THE PERSON IN

MORTAL PERIL for whom the brazen serpent was made and lifted up. Our

text saith, “It came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he

beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

Let us notice that the fiery serpents first of all came among the people

because they had despised God’s way and God’s bread. “The soul of the

people was much discouraged because of the way.” It was God’s way, he

had chosen it for them, and he had chosen it in wisdom and mercy, but they

murmured at it. As an old divine says, “It was lonesome and lonesome,”

but still it was God’s way, and therefore it ought not to have been

loathsome: his pillar of fire and cloud went before them, and his servants

Moses and Aaron led them like a flock, and they ought to have followed

cheerfully. Every step of their previous journey had been rightly ordered,

and they ought to have been quite sure that this compassing of the land of

Edom was rightly ordered, too. But, no; they quarreled with God’s way,

and wanted to have their own way. This is one of the great standing follies

of men; they cannot be content to wait on the Lord and keep his way, but

they prefer a will and way of their own.

The people, also, quarreled with Gods food. He gave them the best of the

best, for “men did eat angels’ food;” but they called the manna by an

approbrious title, which in the Hebrew has a sound of ridicule about it, and

even in our translation conveys the idea of contempt. They said “Our soul

loatheth this light bread,” as if they thought it unsubstantial, and only fitted

to puff them out, because it was easy of digestion, and did not breed in

them that heat of blood and tendency to disease which a heavier diet would

have brought with it. Being discontented with their God they quarreled

with the bread which he set upon their table, though it surpassed any that

mortal man has ever eaten before or since. This is another of man’s follies;

his heart refuses to feed upon God’s word or believe God’s truth. He

craves for the flesh-meat of carnal reason, the leeks and the garlic of

superstitious tradition, and the cucumbers of speculation; he cannot bring

his mind down to believe the Word of God, or to accept truth so simple, so

fitted to the capacity of a child. Many demand something deeper than the

divine, more profound than the infinite, more liberal than free grace. They

quarrel with God’s way, and with God’s bread, and hence there comes

among them the fiery serpents of evil lusting, pride, and sin. I may be

speaking to some who have up to this moment quarreled with the precepts

and the doctrines of the Lord, and I would affectionately warn them that

their disobedience and presumption will lead to sin and misery. Rebels

against God are apt to wax worse and worse. The world’s fashions and

modes of thought lead on to the world’s vices and crimes. If we long for

the fruits of Egypt we shall soon feel the serpents of Egypt. The natural

consequence of turning against God like serpents is to find serpents

waylaying our path. If we forsake the Lord in spirit, or in doctrine,

temptation will lurk in our path and sin will sting our feet.

I beg you carefully to observe concerning those persons for whom the

brazen serpent was specially lifted up that they had been actually bitten by

the serpents. The Lord sent fiery serpents among them, but it was not the

serpents being among them that involved the lifting up of a brazen serpent,

it was the serpents having actually poisoned them, which led to the

provision of a remedy. “It shall come to pass that everyone that is bitten,

when he looketh upon it, shall live.” The only people who did look and

derive benefit from the wonderful cure uplifted in the midst of the camp,

were those who had been stung by the vipers. The common notion is that

salvation is for good people, salvation is for those who fight against

temptation, and salvation is for the spiritually healthy: but how different is

God’s word. God’s medicine is for the sick, and his healing is for the

diseased. The grace of God through the atonement of our Lord Jesus

Christ is for men who are actually and really guilty. We do not preach a

sentimental salvation from fancied guilt, but real and true pardon for actual

offenses. I care nothing for sham sinners: you who never did anything

wrong, you who are so good in yourselves that you are all right-I leave

you, for I am sent to preach Christ to those who are full of sin, and worthy

of eternal wrath. The serpent of brass was a remedy for those who had

been bitten.


What an awful thing it is to be bitten by a serpent! I dare say some of you

recollect the case of Gurling, one of the keepers of the reptiles in the

Zoological Gardens. It happened in October 1852, and therefore some of

you will remember it. This unhappy man was about to part with a friend

who was going to Australia and according to the wont of many he must

needs drink with him. He drank considerable quantities of gin, and though

he would probably have been in a great passion if any one had called him

drunk, yet reason and common-sense had evidently become overpowered.

He went back to his post at the gardens in an excited state. He had some

months before seen an exhibition of snake, charming, and this was on his

poor muddled brain. He must emulate the Egyptians, and play with

serpents. First he took out of its cage a Morocco venom-snake, put it

round his neck, twisted it about, and whirled it round about him. Happily

for him it did not arouse it so as to bite. The assistant-keeper cried out,

“For God’s sake put back the snake,” but the foolish man replied, “I am

inspired.” Putting back the venom-snake, he exclaimed, “Now for the

cobra.” This deadly serpent was somewhat torpid with the cold of the

previous night, and therefore the rash man placed it in his bosom till it

revived, and glided downward till its head appeared below the back of his

waistcoat. He took it by the body, about a foot from the head, and then

seized it lower down by the other hand, intending to hold it by the tail and

swing it round his head. He held it for an instant opposite to his face, and

like a flash of lightning the serpent struck him between the eyes. The blood

streamed down his face, and he called for help, but his companion fled in

horror; and, as he told the jury, he did not know how long he was gone, for

he was “in a maze.” When assistance arrived Gurling was sitting on a chair,

having restored the cobra to its place. He said, “I am a dead man.” They

put him in a cab, and took him to the hospital. First his speech went, he

could only point to his poor throat and moan; then his vision failed him,

and lastly his hearing, His pulse gradually sank, and in one hour from the

time at which he had been struck he was a corpse. There was only a little

mark upon the bridge of his nose, but the poison spread over the body, and

he was a dead man. I tell you that story that you may use it as a parable

and learn never to play with sin, and also in order to bring vividly before

you what it is to be bitten by a serpent. Suppose that Gurling could have

been cured by looking at a piece of brass, would it not have been good

news for him? There was no remedy for that poor infatuated creature, but

there is a remedy for you. For men who have been bitten by the fiery

serpents of sin Jesus Christ is lifted up: not for you only who are as yet

playing with the serpent, not for you only who have warmed it in your

bosom, and felt it creeping over your flesh, but for you who are actually

bitten, and are mortally wounded. If any man were bitten so that he has

become diseased with sin, and feels the deadly venom in his blood, it is for

him that Jesus is set forth today. Though he may think himself to be an

extreme case, it is for such that sovereign grace provides a remedy.

The bite of the serpent was painful. We are told in the text that these

serpents were “fiery” a serpent, which may perhaps refer to their color, but

more probably has reference to the burning effects of their venom. It

heated and inflamed the blood so that every vein became a boiling river,

swollen with anguish. In some men that poison of asps which we call sin

has inflamed their minds. They are restless, discontented and full of fear

and anguish. They write their own damnation, they are sure that they are

lost, they refuse all tidings of hope. You cannot get them to give a cool and

sober hearing to the message of grace. Sin works in them such terror that

they give themselves over as dead men. They are in their own

apprehension, as David says, “free among the dead, like the slain that lie in

the grave, whom God remembers no more.” It was for men bitten by the

fiery serpents that the brazen serpent was lifted up, and it is for men

actually envenomed by sin that Jesus is preached. Jesus died for such as are

at their wits’ end: for such as cannot think straight, for those who are

tumbled up and down in their minds, for those who are condemned already

for such was the Son of man lifted up upon the cross. What a comfortable

thing that we are able to tell you this.


The bite of these serpents was, as I have told you, mortal. The Israelites

could have no question about that, because in their own presence “much

people of Israel died.” They saw their own friends die of the snakebite, and

they helped to bury them. They knew why they died, and were sure that it

was because the venom of the fiery serpents was in their veins. They were

left without an excuse for imagining that they could be bitten and yet live.

Now, we know that many have perished as the result of sin. We are not in

doubt as to what sin will do, for we are told by the infallible word, that

“the wages of sin is death,” and, yet again, “Sin, when it is finished,

bringeth forth death.” We know, also, that this death is endless misery, for

the Scripture describes the lost as being east into outer darkness, “where

their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.” Our Lord Jesus

speaks of the condemned going away into everlasting punishment, where

there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. We ought to

have no doubt about this, and the most of those who profess to doubt it are

those who fear that it will be their own portion, who know that they are

going down to eternal woe themselves, and therefore try to shut their eyes

to their inevitable doom. Alas, that they should find flatterers in the pulpit

who pander to their love of sin by piping to the same tune. We are not of

their order. We believe in what the Lord has said in all its solemnity of

dread, and, knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men to escape

therefrom. But it was for men who had endured the mortal bite, for men

upon whose pallid faces death began to set his seal, for men whose veins

were burning with the awful poison of the serpent within them for them it

was that God said to Moses, “Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a

pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he

looketh upon it. shall live.”


There is no limit set to the stage of poisoning: however far gone, the

remedy still had power. If a person had been bitten a moment before,

though he only saw a few drops of blood oozing forth, and only felt a little

smart, he might look and live, and if he had waited, unhappily waited, even

for half an hour, and speech failed him, and the pulse grew feeble, yet if he

could but look he would live at once. No bound was set to the virtue of

this divinely ordained remedy, or to the freedom of its application to those

who needed it. The promise had no qualifying clause, “It shall come to pass

that everyone that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live,” and our

text tells us that God’s promise came to pass in every case, without

exception, for we read-”It came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any

man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” Thus, then, I have

described the person who was in mortal peril.


II. Secondly, let us consider THE REMEDY PROVIDED FOR HIM. This was

as singular as it was effectual. It was purely of divine origin, and it is clear

that the invention of it, and the putting of power into it, was entirely of

God. Men have prescribed several fomentation’s, decoctions, and

operations for serpent bites: I do not know how far any of them may be

depended upon, but this I know-I would rather not be bitten in order to try

any of them, even those that are most in vogue. For the bites of the fiery

serpents in the wilderness there was no remedy whatever, except this which

God had provided, and at first sight that remedy must have seemed to be a

very unlikely one. A simple look to the figure of a serpent on a pole how

unlikely to avail! How and by what means could a cure be wrought

through merely looking at twisted brass? It seemed, indeed, to be almost a

mockery to bid men look at the very thing which had caused their misery.

Shall the bite of a serpent be cured by looking at a serpent? Shall that

which brings death also bring life? But herein lay the excellency of the

remedy, that it was of divine origin; for when God ordains a cure he is by

that very fact bound to put potency into it. He will not devise a failure, nor

prescribe a mockery it should always be enough for us to know that God

ordains a way of blessing us, for if he ordains, it must accomplish the

promised result. We need not know how it will work, it is quite sufficient

for us that God’s mighty grace is pledged to make it bring forth good to

our souls.


This particular remedy of a serpent lifted on a pole was exceedingly

instructive, though I do not suppose that Israel understood it We have been

taught by our Lord and know the meaning. It was a serpent impaled upon a

pole. As you would take a sharp pole and drive it through a serpent’s head

to kill it, so this brazen serpent was exhibited as killed, and hung up as

dead before all eyes. It was the image of a dead snake. Wonder of wonders

that our Lord Jesus should condescend to be symbolized by a dead serpent.

The instruction to us after reading John’s gospel is this: our Lord Jesus

Christ, in infinite humiliation, deigned to come into the world, and to be

made a curse for us. The brazen serpent had no venom of itself, but it took

the form of a fiery serpent. Christ is no sinner, and in him is no sin. But the

brazen serpent was in the form of a serpent; and so was Jesus sent forth by

God “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” He came under the law, and sin was

imputed to him, and therefore he came under the wrath and curse of God

for our sakes. In Christ Jesus, if you will look at him upon the cross, you

will see that sin is slain and hung up as a dead serpent: there too is death

put to death, for “he hath abolished death and brought life and immortality

to light:” and there also is the curse for ever ended because he has endured

it, being “made a curse for us, as it is written, cursed is every one that

hangeth on a tree.” Thus are these serpents hung up upon the cross as a

spectacle to all beholders, all slain by our dying Lord. Sin, death, and the

curse are as dead serpents now. Oh, what a sight! If you can see it what joy

it will give you. Had the Hebrews understood it that dead serpent, dangling

from a pole, would have prophesied to them the glorious sight which this

day our faith gazes upon Jesus slain, and sin, death, and hell slain in him.

The remedy, then, to be looked to was exceedingly instructive, and we

know the instruction it was intended to convey to us.

Please to recollect that in all the camp of Israel there was but one remedy

for serpent-bite, and that was the brazen serpent; and there was but one

brazen serpent, not two. Israel might not make another. If they had made a

second it would have had no effect: there was one, and only one, and that

was lifted high in the center of the camp, that if any man was bitten by a

serpent he might look to it and live. There is one Savior, and only one.

There is none other name given under heaven among men whereby we

must be saved. All grace is concentrated in Jesus, of whom we read, “It

pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Christ’s bearing

the curse and ending the curse, Christ’s being slain by sin and destroying

sin, Christ bruised as to his heel by the old serpent, but breaking the

serpent’s head, it is Christ alone that we must look to if we would live. O

sinner, look to Jesus on the cross, for he is the one remedy for all forms of

sin’s poisoned wounds.


There was but one healing serpent, and that one was bright and lustrous. It

was a serpent of brass, and brass is a shining metal. This was newly-made

brass, and therefore not dimmed, and whenever the sun shone, there

flashed forth a brightness from this brazen serpent. It might have been a

serpent of wood or of any other metal, if God had so ordained; but he

commanded that it must be of brass, that it might have brightness about it.

What brightness there is about our Lord Jesus Christ! If we do but exhibit

him in his own true metal he is lustrous in the eyes of men. If we will but

preach the gospel simply, and never think to adorn it with our philosophical

thought, there is enough brightness in Christ to catch a sinner’s eye, aye,

and it does catch the eyes of thousands. From afar the everlasting gospel

gleams in the person of Christ. As the brazen standard reflected the beams

of the sun, so Jesus reflects the love of God to sinners, and seeing it they

look by faith and live.


Once more, this remedy was an enduring one. It was a serpent of brass,

and I suppose it remained in the midst of the camp from that day forward.

There was no use for it after Israel entered Canaan, but, as long as they

were in the wilderness, it was probably exhibited in the center of the camp,

hard by the tabernacle door, upon a lofty standard. Aloft and open to the

gaze of all hung this image of a dead snake the perpetual cure for serpent

venom. Had it been made of other materials it might have been broken, or

have decayed, but a serpent of brass would last as long as fiery serpents

pestered the desert camp. As long as there was a man bitten there was the

serpent of brass to heal him. What a comfort is this, that Jesus is still able

to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth

to make intercession for them. The dying thief beheld the brightness of that

serpent of brass as he saw Jesus hanging at his side, and it saved him; and

so may you and I look and live, for he is “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday,

today, and forever.”


                        “Faint my head, and sick my heart,

                        Wounded, bruised, in every part,

                             Satan’s fiery sting I feel

                        Poisoned with the pride of hell:


                            But if at the point to die,

                           Upward I direct mine eye,

                               Jesus lifted up I see,

                        Live by him who died for me.”


I hope I do not overlay my subject by these figures. I wish not to do so, but

to make it very plain to you. All you that are really guilty, all you who are

bitten by the serpent, the sure remedy for you is to look to Jesus Christ,

who took our sin upon himself, and died in the sinner’s stead, “being made

sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Your

only remedy lies in Christ, and nowhere else. Look unto him and be ye



III. This brings us, in the third place, to consider THE APPLICATION OF

THE REMEDY, or the link between the serpent-bitten man and the brass

serpent which was to heal him. What was the link? It was of the simplest

kind imaginable. The brazen serpent might have been, if God had so

ordered it, carried into the house where the sick man was, but it was not

so. It might have been applied to him by rubbing: he might have been

expected to repeat a certain form of prayer, or to have a priest present to

perform a ceremony, but there was nothing of the kind; he had only to

look. It was well that the cure was so simple for the danger was so

frequent. Bites of the serpent came in many ways; a man might be

gathering sticks, or merely walking along, and be bitten. Even now in the

desert serpents are a danger. Mr. Sibree says that on one occasion he saw

what he thought to be a round stone, beautifully marked. He put forth his

hand to take it up, when to his horror he discovered that it was a coiled-up

living serpent. All the daylong when fiery serpents were sent among them

the Israelites must have been in danger. In their beds and at their meals, in

their houses and when they went abroad, they were in danger. These

serpents are called by Isaiah “flying serpents,” not because they do fly, but

because they contract themselves and then suddenly spring up, so as to

reach to a considerable height, and a man might be well buskined and yet

not be beyond the reach of one of these malignant reptiles. What was a

man to do? He had nothing to do but to stand outside his tent door, and

look to the place where gleamed afar the brightness of the serpent of brass,

and the moment he looked he was healed. He had nothing to do but to

look, no priest was wanted, no holy water, no hocus-pocus, no mass-book,

nothing but a look. A Romish bishop said to one of the early Reformers,

when he preached salvation by simple faith, “O Mr. Doctor, open that gap

to the people and we are undone.” And so indeed they are, for the business

and trade of priest-craft are ended forever if men may simply trust Jesus

and live. Yet it is even so. Believe in him, ye sinners, for this is the spiritual

meaning of looking, and at once your sin is forgiven, and what perhaps is

more, its deadly power ceases to operate within your spirit. There is life in

a look at Jesus; is not this simple enough?


But please to notice how very personal it was. A man could not be cured

by anything anybody else could do for him. If he had been bitten by the

serpent and had refused to look to the serpent of brass, and had gone to his

bed, no physician could help him. A pious mother might kneel down and

pray for him, but it would be of no use. Sisters might come in and plead,

ministers might be called in to pray that the man might live; but he must die

despite their prayers if he did not look. There was only one hope for his life

he must look to that serpent of brass. It is just so with you. Some of you

have written to me begging me to pray for you: so I have, but it avails

nothing unless you yourselves believe in Jesus Christ. There is not beneath

the copes of heaven, nor in heaven, any hope for any one of you unless you

will believe in Jesus Christ. Whoever you may be, however much bitten of

the serpent, and however near to die, if you will look to the Savior you

shall live; but if you will not do this you must be damned, as surely as you

live. At the last great day I must bear witness against you that I have told

you this straight out and plainly. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be

saved: he that believeth not shall be damned.” There is no help for it; you

may do what you will, join what church you please, take the Lord’s

Supper, be baptized, go through severe penance’s, or give all your goods

to feed the poor, but you are a lost man unless you look to Jesus, for this is

the one remedy; and even Jesus Christ himself cannot, will not, save you

unless you look to him. There is nothing in his death to save you, there is

nothing in his life to save you, unless you will trust him. It has come to this,

you must look, and look for yourself.


And then, again, it is very instructive. This looking, what did it mean? It

meant this self-help must be abandoned, and God must be trusted. The

wounded man would say, “I must not sit here and look at my wound, for

that will not save me. See there where the serpent struck me, the blood is

oozing forth, black with the venom! How it burns and swells! My very

heart is failing. But all these reflections will not ease me. I must look away

from this to the uplifted serpent of brass.” It is idle to look anywhere

except to God’s one ordained remedy. The Israelites must have understood

as much as this, that God required us to trust him, and to use his means of

salvation. We must do as he bids us, and trust in him to work our cure; and

if we will not do this we shall die eternally.


This way of curing was intended that they might magnify the love of God,

and attribute their healing entirely to divine grace. The brazen serpent was

not merely a picture, as I have shown you, of God’s putting away sin by

spending his wrath upon his Son, but it was a display of divine love. And

this I know because Jesus himself said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in

the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. For God so loved

the world that he gave his only-begotten Son”: plainly saying that the death

of Christ upon the cross was an exhibition of God’s love to men; and

whosoever looks to that grandest display of God’s love to man, namely, his

giving his only-begotten Son to become a curse for us, shall surely live.

Now, when a man was healed by looking at the serpent he could not say

that he healed himself; for he only looked, and there is no virtue in a look.

A believer never claims merit or honor on account of his faith. Faith is a

self-denying grace, and never dares to boast. Where is the great credit of

simply believing the truth, and humbly trusting Christ to save you? Faith

glorifies God, and so our Lord has chosen it as the means of our salvation.

If a priest had come and touched the bitten man he might have ascribed

some honor to the priest; but when there was no priest in the case, when

there was nothing except looking to that brazen serpent, the man was

driven to the conclusion that God’s love and power had healed him. I am

not saved by anything that I have done, but by what the Lord has done. To

that conclusion God will have us all come; we must all confess that if saved

it is by his free, rich, sovereign, undeserved grace displayed in the person

of his dear Son.


IV. Allow me one moment upon the fourth head, which is THE CURE

EFFECTED. We are told in the text that “if a serpent had bitten any man,

when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived;” that is to say, he was healed

at once. He had not to wait five minutes, or five seconds. Dear hearer, did

you ever hear this before? If you have not, it may startle you, but it is true.

If you have lived in the blackest sin that is possible up to this very moment,

yet if you will now believe in Jesus Christ you shall be saved before the

clock ticks another time. It is done like a flash of lightning; pardon is not a

work of time.


Sanctification needs a lifetime, but justification needs no more than a

moment. Thou believest, thou livest. Thou dost trust to Christ, thy sins are

gone, thou art a saved man the instant thou believest. “Oh,” saith one, “that

is a wonder.” It is a wonder, and will remain a wonder to all eternity. Our

Lord’s miracles when he was on earth were mostly instantaneous. He

touched them and the fevered ones were able to sit up and minister to him.

No doctor can cure a fever in that fashion, for there is a resultant weakness

left after the heat of the fever is abated. Jesus works perfect cures, and

whosoever believeth in him, though he hath only believed one minute, is

justified from all his sins. Oh the matchless grace of God!


This remedy healed again and again. Very possibly after a man had been

healed he might go back to his work, and be attacked by a second serpent,

for there were broods of them about. What had he to do? Why, to look

again, and if he was wounded a thousand times he must look a thousand

times. You, dear child of God, if you have sin on your conscience, look to

Jesus. The healthiest way of living where serpents swarm is never to take

your eye off the brazen serpent at all. Ah, ye vipers, ye may bite if ye will;

as long as my eye is upon the brazen serpent I defy your fangs and poisonbags,

for I have a continual remedy at work within me. Temptation is

overcome by the blood of Jesus. “This is the victory which overcometh the

world, even our faith.”


This cure was of universal efficacy to all who used it. There was not. one

case in all the camp of a man that looked to the serpent of brass and yet

died, and there never will be a case of a man that looks to Jesus who

remains under condemnation. The believer must be saved. Some of the

people had to look from a long distance. The pole could not be equally

near to everybody, but so long as they could see the serpent it healed those

that were afar off as well as those who were nigh. Nor did it matter if their

eyes were feeble. All eyes were not alike keen; and some may have had a

squint, or a dimness of vision, or only one eye, but if they did but look they

lived. Perhaps the man could hardly make out the shape of the serpent as

he looked. “Ah,” he said to himself, “I cannot discern the coils of the

brazen snake, but I can see the shining of the brass;” and he lived. Oh, poor

soul, if thou canst not see the whole of Christ nor all his beauties, nor all

the riches of his grace, yet if thou canst but see him who was made sin for

us thou shalt live. If thou sayest, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,”

thy faith will save thee; a little faith will give thee a great Christ, and thou

shalt find eternal life in him.


Thus I have tried to describe the cure. Oh that the Lord would work that

cure in every sinner here at this moment. I do pray he may.

It is a pleasant thought that if they looked to that brazen serpent by any

kind of light they lived. Many beheld it in the glare of noon, and saw its

shining coils, and lived; but I should not wonder that some were bitten at

night, and by the moonlight they drew near and looked up and lived.

Perhaps it was a dark and stormy night, and not a star was visible. The

tempest crashed overhead, and from the murky cloud out flashed the

lightning, cleaving the rocks asunder. By the glare of that sudden flame the

dying man made out the brazen serpent, and though he saw but for a

moment yet he lived. So, sinner, if your soul is wrapped in tempest, and if

from out the cloud there comes but one single flash of light, look to Jesus

Christ by it and you shall live.


V. I close with this last matter of consideration: here is A LESSON FOR

THOSE WHO LOVE THEIR LORD. What ought we to do? We should imitate

Moses, whose business it was to set the brazen serpent upon a pole. It is

your business and mine to lift up the gospel of Christ Jesus, so that all may

see it. All Moses had to do was to hang up the brazen serpent in the sight

of all. He did not say, “Aaron, bring your censer, and bring with you a

score of priests, and make a perfumed cloud.” Nor did he say, “I myself

will go forth in my robes as lawgiver, and stand there.” No, he had nothing

to do that was pompous or ceremonial he had but to exhibit the brass

serpent and leave it naked and open to the gaze of all. He did not say,

“Aaron, bring hither a cloth of gold, wrap up the serpent in blue and scarlet

and fine linen.” Such an act would have been clean contrary to his orders.

He was to keep the serpent unveiled. Its power lay in itself, and not in its

surroundings. The Lord did not tell him to paint the pole, or to deck it with

the colors of the rainbow. Oh, no. Any pole would do. The dying ones did

not want to see the pole, they only needed to behold the serpent. I dare say

he would make a neat pole, for God’s work should be done decently, but

still the serpent was the sole thing to look at. This is what we have to do

with our Lord. We must preach him, teach him, and make him visible to all.

We must not conceal him by our attempts at eloquence and learning. We

must have done with the polished lancewood pole of fine speech, and those

bits of scarlet and blue, in the form of grand sentences and poetic periods.

Everything must be done that Christ may be seen, and nothing must be

allowed which hides him. Moses may go home and go to bed when the

serpent is once uplifted. All that is wanted is that the brazen serpent should

be within view both by day and night. The preacher may hide himself, so

that nobody may know who he is, for if he has set forth Christ he is best

out of the way.


Now, you teachers, teach your children Jesus. Show them Christ crucified.

Keep Christ before them. You young men that try to preach do not attempt

to do it grandly. The true grandeur of preaching is for Christ to be grandly

displayed in it. No other grandeur is wanted. Keep self in the background,

but set forth Jesus Christ among the people, evidently crucified among

them. None but Jesus, none but Jesus. Let him be the sum and substance of

all your teaching.


Some of you have looked to the brazen serpent, I know, and you have

been healed, but what have you done with the brazen serpent since? You

have not come forward to confess your faith and join the church. You have

not spoken to any one about his soul. You put the brazen serpent into a

chest and hide it away. Is this right? Bring it out, and set it on a pole.

Publish Christ and his salvation. He was never meant to be treated as a

curiosity in a museum; he is intended to be exhibited in the highways that

those who are sin-bitten may look at him. “But, I have no proper pole,”

says one. The best sort of pole to exhibit Christ upon is a high one, so that

he may be seen the further. Exalt Jesus. Speak well of his name. I do not

know any other virtue that there can be in the pole but its height. The more

you can speak in your Lord’s praise, the higher you can lift him up the

better, but for all other styles of speech there is nothing to be said. Do lift

Christ up. “Oh,” says one, “but I have not a long standard.” Then lift him

up on such as you have, for there are short people about who will be able

to see by your means. I think I told you once of a picture which I saw of

the brazen serpent. I want the Sunday-school teachers to listen to this. The

artist represented all sorts of people clustering round the pole, and as they

looked the horrible snakes dropped off their arms, and they lived. There

was such a crowd around the pole that a mother could not get near it. She

carried a little babe, which a serpent had bitten. You could see the blue

marks of the venom. As she could get no nearer, the mother held her child

aloft, and turned its little head that it might gaze with its infant eye upon

the brazen serpent and live. Do this with your little children, you Sunday

school teachers. Even while they are yet little, pray that they may look to

Jesus Christ and live; for there is no bound set to their age. Old men snake

bitten came hobbling on their crutches. “Eighty years old am I,” saith one,

“but I have looked to the brazen serpent, and I am healed.” Little boys

were brought out by their mothers, though as yet they could hardly speak

plainly, and they cried in child language, “I look at the great snake and it

bless me.” All ranks, and sexes, and characters, and dispositions looked

and lived. Who will look to Jesus at this good hour? O dear souls will you

have life or no? Will you despise Christ and perish? If so, your blood be on

your own skirts. I have told you God’s way of salvation, lay hold on it.

Look to Jesus at once. May his Spirit gently lead you so to do. Amen.


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