Thomas Wilcox (1622–1687) was the pastor of a small Baptist church in the city of London. For whatever reason, very few details of his life have been preserved for us. There’s no funeral sermon or collection of personal letters. There are no biographical references in the writings of his contemporaries. All that remains of this obscure Baptist pastor is one solitary sermon entitled A Guide to Eternal Glory. In this sermon, Wilcox encourages his readers to fix their eyes on Christ. What does he mean? We can sum up the answer in three statements.
We fix our eyes on Christ by applying his blood
“Keep the eye constantly upon Christ’s blood,” says Wilcox. Why? As he explains, the value of Christ’s blood is twofold (Heb. 9:14). First, Christ’s blood makes atonement for sin by satisfying God’s justice, appeasing God’s wrath, and securing God’s mercy. Second, Christ’s blood cleanses the conscience from dead works—that is, sin’s guilt and defilement. How? Christ’s blood removes the guilt of sin (justification) and the defilement of sin (sanctification). For this reason, Wilcox pleads with us to “not keep guilt in the conscience, but apply the blood of Christ.”
We fix our eyes on Christ by prizing his righteousness
“The more you look at Christ, the Sun of righteousness,” writes Wilcox, “the stronger and clearer the eye of faith will be.” Why? We stand to Christ in the same relation as the members of a physical body stand to their head, and Christ stands to us in the same relation as the head of a physical body stands to its members (Eph. 4:15). As a result of this “intimate conjunction,” the body has communion with the head. In other words, we share in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We share in his names and titles. Moreover, we share in his righteousness. All those who are in Christ are righteous, because they are one with the Righteous One. As Wilcox declares, this alone is “the foundation for our hope,” adding, “Christ’s infinite satisfaction is our justification before God.”
We fix our eyes on Christ by esteeming his priesthood
“See Christ your peace leaving you peace when he went up to heaven.” In this exhortation, Wilcox is primarily thinking of the benefits of Christ’s priesthood: his oblation (sacrifice) and intercession (prayer). Significantly, these two aspects of Christ’s priesthood correspond to the high priest’s “double office” under the Mosaic Covenant, whereby he offered the blood of the sacrifice outside the holy place (oblation) and presented the blood of the sacrifice inside the holy place (intercession). Christ’s oblation is offered to make atonement by giving to God a full and adequate satisfaction for our sin. Christ’s intercession guarantees the application of all that he procured by his atonement. It’s this ministry of intercession that Wilcox has in view when he declares, “See Christ praying for you, using his interest with the Father for you.”
Knowing that we’re “absolutely nothing” while Christ is “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28), Wilcox encourages us to fix our eyes upon Christ. “This alone,” says he, “is true religion: to rest everything upon the everlasting mountains of God’s love in Christ; to live continually in the sight of Christ’s infinite merit and righteousness; to see all the vileness of your sin pardoned; to see your polluted self accepted continually; to trample upon your own righteousness, efforts, and privileges as abominable; and to be found continually in the righteousness of Christ alone, rejoicing in the ruin of your own righteousness and the spoiling of your own excellencies; so that Christ alone, as Mediator, may be exalted upon his throne.”