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Consolatio : or, Comfort for the afflicted online

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want, Jesus became our brother; He took on Him
our nature, and with it all its feelings and all its
frailties; and thus it is that now, everyone, of
whatever class and condition, can look to Him
with confidence. The poor can look to Him, for
He was emphatically a poor man ; the rich, for
He Avore the nature which the rich man wears.
The young can look to Him, for He v^^as once
young ; He lay in a mother's bosom. He trod a
nursery floor, He was subject to a father's autho-
rity. The full-grown man can look to Him, for
He felt the sorrows which the full-grown man
must sooner or later feel. With tiie dying He
can sympathize, for He bowed His own sacred
head, in the hour of darkness, before the power of

He is thus "a merciful," or (as it may be trans-
lated) a "pitifid High Priest." He feels for those
for whom He intercedes. When we come to Him


in weakness and weariness, our bodies oppressed
by disease, our minds weighed down by care, we
come to One who has Himself felt oppression of
body and weariness of mind, and we know that
He pities lis — for He cannot forget — man may
forget; and it often happens that he who has been
in a low estate will lose the memory of the trials
he then experienced ; and should he be advanced
higher, will trample unfeelingly upon those who
were once his equals. It is not so with Jesus !
He is "faithful and true," as well as "merciful
and pitiful." He remembers what human weak-
ness is: He recalls it when the mourner is before
Him ; He looks upon His beating heart, upon His
tearful, upon His pale cheek, upon His anx-
ious brow, and He seems to say, " I once wept, I
once was pale. I once was sorrowful ; O my Father,
have compassion on this poor suppliant, as Thou
once in the days of my flesh hadst compassion on
me ! " Verily, He is a merciful, a pitiful High
Priest! Yerily, "He knoweth our frame" by
personal experience ; " He remembereth that we
are dust ! "

But, again, He is said to be "faithful." His
faithfulness consists in His earnest and constant
intercession for His brethren ; He pleads as for
His own flesh and blood; He does not forget that
He was Himself a man. Perhaps we may thus


illustrate this part of His character. If a man
make a promise while he is in a certain situation,
as long as he remains in that situation he will be
likely to remember it; many things will call it to
his mind; but if his situation be changed, — if he
go to other places, form other connections, or enter
into other pursuits, he is too apt to forget the past,
and its feelings and its promises. Now Jesus is
ever the same. His heart is unchanged — un-
changeable : He is passed into the heavens, but
He is still the God-man, the God incarnate, and
still feels in perfect sympathy and brotherhood
with man.

What solid comfort does this consideration afford
us. The atoning sacrifice was made eighteen
hundred years ago, but the Victim is still fresh
before the throne ; the Lamb lies bleeding on the
altar; the blood still seems to flow; the High
Priest still and for ever offers the Eternal Sacrifice ;
He is pitiful and faithful ! — in glory, but not for-
getful of His shame ; in heaven, but not unmind-
ful of earth; in company with God His Father
but bearing upon the palms of His hands, upon
His jewelled breastplate, and upon His swelhng
heart, the names and the memories of His own
ransomed brethren.


The sight of God, the soul's reward.

If such a single sincere spirit be in you, it comes
of God : it is a sign of the seal of the Holy One
setting you apart to eternal life : it is a proof of the
operation of the grace of Christ in your heart ; of
your being a child of God, as led by His Spirit.
If, then, rooted and grounded in Christ by godly
repentance and self-abasement for your sins, and
earnest reliance of belief on His sacrifice for your
reconciliation with God ; if in this spirit of faith
and of love you are patiently walking with Him
in singleness and sincerity of heart, be comforted
with the assurance that you are of that number
whom He is pleased to call pure in heart, and in
whom, as in a temple, He promises to dwell.

And then, what shall be your recompence of
reward hereafter 7 Hear the word of the Lord of
all grace: " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they
shall see God." The revelation of God in glory,
Father, Son, and Spirit; and the admission per-
petual into the unclouded presence of His love, joy,
and praise, are the exceeding high reward held
out to all those who are purified in heart : a proof
how transcendently excellent the most Blessed
God must be, since even to behold Him is the con-
summation of the happiness of His beloved people.


Tlic revelation of God is the most sublime enjoy-
ment that the soul of man. intelligent and immor-
tal as it is, refined and sanctified as by grace it
may be, is yet capable of. The least and faintest
glimpses which here we taste of Him are the most
sweet, the most sacred, the most elevated delight
we know; in Him is the fountain of life; but
hereafter the pure in heart shall behold Him face
to face; they shall be abimdantly satisfied with
the fatness of His house, and made to drink of the
rivers of His heavenly pleasures.

And shall they indeed see God? Shall mortal
man stand upright before His Maker ? Then shall
they see Him who no longer opposes the blank of
His oflended justice and His terrible holiness
before their unrighteousness, and ascends in the
majesty of a Judge ; but they shall see Him as a
father, a reconciled father, who embraces them in
the arms of His mercy, who abhors not to call them,
and comfort them as sons, who has gathered
them beneath the wings of His parental love,
through the intercession of His Divine Son, in
order to exalt them into the presence of His
glory !

Shall they see God 7 Then shall they behold
that Saviour who emptied Himself of all His glory,
and became man, for their redemption. Then
shall they see that loving and lowly Shepherd, who


laboured, wrought, wept, agonized, for their sakes;
who bared the breast of His compassion to the full
fury of the storm of Almighty wrath, — wrath
and anguish unutterable ; compounded of the judg-
ment of heaven, the ingratitude of earth, and the
fiercest malice of hell ; wrath that terminated in
the extinction of His life, and the shedding of His
blood on the accursed cross. Moreover, that lov-
ing Saviour, who ceased not His compassions with
His mortal life, but who lives again, and for ever-
more, specially to appear and advocate their cause
in tiie presence of the Father ; specially also to
hear and answer their supplications, to receive
and dispense His Spirit of grace, to exercise the
government of heaven and earth for their preser-
vation, and to prepare for them mansions of divine
rest. This Saviour whom, here below, without
seeing, they loved and rejoiced in with joy un-
speakable and full of glory, the pure in heart shall
behold on His heavenly throne, encompassed with
His armies of angels, and shining above the sun in

And shall they see God ? Neither then shall
they be without the sight of that blessed Com-
forter and Counsellor, even the Holy Ghost, who
led, and taught, and guided them; who bore with
all their rebellion and perverseness; who dwelt
within their souls, shedding abroad His light and
life, His peace and holiness, to their sanctification ;


and whose mighty power has raised their mortal
bodies to incorruption and immortahty.

Shall they, I ask once more, see God? Oh,
then ! they shall be like Him too. The beloved
disciple instructs ns concerning this : "We shall
be like him, for we shall see him as he is:" and
the Psalmist : " I shall be satisfied, when I awake
with thy likeness." Then shall be brought to
pass that most gracious desire of our Lord, that
His own should be altogether united, and should
be one with Him even as He is with the Father;
and when His will that those whom the Father
has given Him may be with Him where He is, to
behold His glory, shall be fulfilled, to His eternal

In that day God, in all the glory of His Person,
Father, Son, and Spirit; God, in all the glory of
His perfections, wisdom, righteousness, faithful-
ness, lovingkindness ; God in His unclouded glory
of love, ligiit, and life; shall be revealed to the
admiring, adoring eyes of His chosen and beloved
ones. Shall we see God 7 O, brethren ! do we
desire to see Him? Well, then, may we inquire :
Lord, who shall dwell in tiiy holy hill? — who
shall ascend to the throne of thy majesty? The
Scripture answers, "The pure in heart shall see
God." Then let us seek the mighty influence of
the Holy Spirit, so to cleanse and purify our hearts
by faith as to entitle us to that most blessed sight,


and that high and holy habitation; and to make
us one with God, even as He is one with

Real heartfelt submission to the will of God, in
pain, sickness, crosses, every thing, never was
the work of a man's own spirit ; and when it
comes from above, in answer to prayer, is full
amends for all we can suffer.

Tlie blessedness of the faithful departed.

"I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me,
Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the
Lord from henceforth. Even so, saith the Spirit ;
for they rest from their labours." ' Not as the
heretics of old vainly and coldly dreamed, as if
they slept without thought, or stir of consciousness,
from the hour of death to the morning of the resur-
rection. Their rest is not the rest of a stone,
cold and lifeless, but of wearied humanity. They
rest from their labours ; they have no more perse-
cution, nor stoning, nor scourging, nor crucify-
ing; no more martyrdoms by fire, or the wheel, or
barbed shafts ; they have no more false witnesses,
nor cutting tongues ; no more bitterness of heart,

* Rev. xiv. 13.


nor iron entering into the soul; no more burdens
of wrong, nor amazement, nor perplexity. Never
again shall they weep for nnkindness, and disap-
pointment, and withered hopes, and desolation of
heart. All is over now ; they have passed under
the share. "The ploughers ploughed upon their
back, and made long furrows;" but it is all over,
never to begin again. They rest, too, from the
weight of " the body of our humiliation," — from
its sufferings and pams. Their last sickness is
over ; they shall never again bear the tokens of
coming dissolution; no more the hollow eye, and
the sharp lines of distress, and the hue of a fading
loveliness. Now is their weariness changed into
refreshment; their weakness into excellence of
strength; their wasting into a spirit ever new;
their broken words into the perfection of praise ;
their weeping into a chant of bliss. And not only
so, but they rest also from their warfare against
sin, — against all its strength, and subtiltics. and
snares. Satan can tempt no more ; the world can-
not lure; .self cannot betray ; they have wrestled
out the strife with the unseen powers of the
wicked one, and they have won the mastery.
There is no more inward struggle, no sliding back
again, no swerving aside, no danger of falling;
they have gained the siiore of eternal peace.
Above all, they rest from the sufferings of evil in
themselves. It is not persecution, nor oppression,


nor the rage of Satan, nor the thronging assaults
of temptation, that so afflicts a holy man, as the
consciousness that evil dwells in his own inmost
soul. It is the clinging power of spiritual evil that
sullies his whole being; it seems to run through
him in every part; it cleaves to every movement
of his life; his living powers are hindered and
biassed by its grasp. Evil tempers in ' sudden
flashes; unholy thoughts shooting across the soul,
kindling fires in the imagination ; thoughts of self
in holiest seasons ; consciousness of self in holiest
acts ; indevoutness of spirit ; earthliness of heart ;
dull musing heaviness in the life of God : all
these burden the highest saint with a most
oppressive weight. He feels always the stretch
and tension of his spiritual frame, as a man that
is weary and breathless, grappling with a foe,
whom, if he would live, he must hold powerless
to the earth.

But from all this, too, they rest. The sin
that dwelt in them died when through death
they began to live. The unimpeded soul puts
forth its new-born life, as a tree in a kindly soil
invited by a gentle sky ; all that checked it has
passed away; all that draws it into ripeness
bathes it with fostering power. Then at last shall
the bride hear the bridegroom's voice, "Rise up,
my love, my fair one, and come away ; for lo !
the winter is past, the rain is over and gone."


The Refiner shall perfect his work upon them,
cleansing them seven-fold, even as gold is some-
times tried, and all the taints and bias of their
spiritual being shall be detached and corrected ;
till, by direct and intense vision, — not as now
in a glass darkly, but then face to face, — shall
they become pure even as He is pure. Hidden as
is the condition of their sleep, may we not believe
that they remember us 1 How much of all that
they were must they forfeit, if they lose both
memory and love ! Shall we think that we can
remember Bethel, and Gibeon, and the Valley of
Ajalon, and Jerusalem, and the Moufit of Olives ;
but that Jacob, and Joshua, and David, and
the beloved disciple, remember them not 7 Or
shall the lifeless dust that their feet stood upon be
remembered, and the living spirits above, that
dwelt with them, be clean forgotten? May we
not think that they who live unto God, live in the
unfolded sameness of personal identity, replenished
with charity, and filled witii a holy light? They
reach backwards in spirit into their world of
warfare, and onward in blissful expectation to the
day of Christ's coming; and in that holy waiting
they adore, as the brightness of paradise ever
waxes unto the perfect day, when the noontide of
God's kingdom " shall be as the light of seven
days," and shall stand for ever in a meridian
splendour. He hath made His rest to be " glo-


rious ;" and there is He gathering in His jewels.
There is the muhitude of saints waiting and
worshipping; Abel is there, and Isaiah, and
Rachel who would not be comforted, and the
sonless widow, and Mary Magdalene, and all
martyrs, and all the holy ones of God. They
wore out with patience the years of this toilsome
life, and they are resting now; they "sleep in
Jesus." Their's is a bliss only less perfect than
the glory of His kingdom, when the new creation
shall be accomplished.

The unobserved, hut true participation of the Cross.

Let us understand what that cross is of which
all must be partakers; not the visible material
cross, but that which is more real than the reality
of fleshly crucifixion. It is not so much by suffer-
ings in the body as in the spirit, that we are
likened to Him. The railing thief was more
nearly conformed to His visible passion than all,
save one or two, in all the multitude of saints.
Yet, though conformed to Him in the flesh, he
was not likened to Him in the spirit. St. John
and the blessed Virgin did not suffer indeed in the
flesh, yet were they truly nailed with Him upon
His cross. So in all ages of the Church, kings


and princes, no less than bishops and pastors of
His flock, not only in sackcloth and solitude, but
in soft clothing and in the throng of royal courts,
have borne the marks of the Lord Jesus, and
shared the reality of His Passion. Weak women
too, moving in silence, and a veil, unseen of the
world, and never breathed on by its rough oppo-
sitions, have both carried their cross with Him,
and on it hung beside Him : they have died with
Him in will, and in sacrifice of self; in mortify-
ing the choices and affections of their earthlier
nature; in a glad forsaking of bright hopes and
fair promises in life, sitting at His feet without
distraction, and bearing withal a burden of many
sorrows, partly the awful tokens of their Master's
love, and partly laid upon them by the wrong and
enmity of the world. Among many samples, let
this one sufiice. We read in the life of one, to
whom was meted out a death-sickness of uncom-
mon anguish, that as she drew near the end, for a
long season she was nncheered by the divine con-
solations which M'ere the wonted stay of her soul.
She complained in sadness to her spiritual guide
of this strange and appalling desolation, until she
learned to seek in it the gift of a higher conformi-
ty to Him, who in His last passion cried aloud,
" My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken
me?" In like manner there is many a sorrow
fearfully hidden from the world's hard gaze,


many an overlooked affliction, many a piercing
of hearts by the lesser sharpnesses of our common
griefs, which notthe less, when borne in silence
for God, makes the mourning spirit to partake of
His mysterious cross.

God's design is to bring us happily to Himself
in another world, and He will leave no means
unessayed for this purpose. If we have the same
end in view, and look up to Him as carrying it
on steadily for us, we may be happy both here
and hereafter : if we have not, the consequence
must necessarily be despondency, vexation, and
fretfulness, at the ways of Providence.

A thorough entering into Gocfs plan for our cure, the
onli) safely.

The state of heart in which alone salvation
consists, and on which alone the favour and bless-
ing of God can rest, is a turning from the flesh,
and a returning to God, and a trusting in Him
as the true rest, and life, and direction of our
souls. It is the condition of a heart, which, re-
jecting all other confidence tlian God, commi^ts
itself unreservedly to His hands, that its purpose
in its creation and redemption may be fully


accomplished, and which makes this surrender of
itself to Him, in the full knowledge both of its
own sinfulness and liability to punishment, and
of His determination to punish sin, and to slay
the flesh which has been tainted by sin. Such
a confidence, it is evident, can only have place in
a heart, which, believing that it is the loving
desire and purpose of God to make it blessed by
making it holy, enters fully into that purpose,
and gives itself into His hands for that end, in
the expectation of sorrow and death; as a man
afflicted with some dreadful disease might put
himself into the hands of a surgeon of whose skill
he is assured, and who has said to him, "I will
answer for your cure even now, if you will give
yourself up unreservedly to my treatment. "

The preciousness of the Mediatorship.

The Mediatorship of Christ is a precious doc-
trine. The Kingdom is in His hands, and we
are privileged to receive nothing but as it passes
through His hand, and bears His stamp. He is
Himself the Father's unspeakable gift to us ; and
now every thing that comes to us comes to us
through Him; and in its passage through His
hands it becomes impregnated and saturated with


that very love which first gave Him to lis, and
constituted Him a Mediator, and nailed Him to
the cross ; and with all the holiness too. So let
us call nothing common or unclean ; all is holy,
for all comes stamped with the print of the nail,
which is our King's stamp. And thus there is in
every thing a sorrow, and also a joy which the
world understandeth not : a sorrow for sin, and a
joy that God's holy love is in action to destroy
sin, and that His cause must triumph, and He
will be glorified.

The knowledge of the Mediatorial reign of our
Lord seems to me to be, in a very sweet and
special manner, the "secret of the Lord, which is
with them that fear him." They will feel it to
be a light thing that a world of sin should be a
world of sorrow, and that a race which had gone
away from God into the far country of unbelief
should find it an evil and a bitter thing to do so;
they will sympathize with God even whilst their
own souls are torn by the bitter wages of sin, and
they will look for a coming glory.

GocPs will dccomplished in us.

Let us receive into our hearts this blessed truth,
that God has and can have no other object in His
dealings towards us, but simply and solely that of


making ns holy and happy for ever. He who
knows tliis truly, can have no wish to elude any
of God's commandments, or corrections, or judg-
ments, because he feels that by this he should
only elude his own blessedness. He can have no
other wish than that all God's will should be
accomplished on him and in him.

He Miio sends the storm, steers the vessel.

Sorrow, the consequence of sin, and an instrument for

The sharp sting of present pain, which is God's
testimony, through conscience, against sin, is but
an intimation of the universal law of His govern-
ment; and all the secret hopes by which wc strive
to silence this warning, and whisper to ourselves
that in our case sin will not bring misery, arc met
here. We see that, if wc will sin, we must suffer ;
that our sins do not, as we are ready to believe,
of themselves leave us as soon as we have com-
mitted them, but that they stay with us, and
become part of us. Wc have been weaving the
web of our life, and it abides still coloured by the
threads that wc have woven into it; and, as far
as we can see, sorrow is even needful, as the


means of tearing out the lines of past permitted
evil. Not that we are to find our atonement in
our sorrows ; God forbid ! for if it were so, our
case were utterly beyond the reach of remedy,
since all our woe could not atone for any one
transgression ; but because, through God's bless-
ing on it, suffering is made a means of carrying
on His cure within us ; not indeed by any virtue
of its own, for sorrow and pain have no power
to renew the heart of man; of themselves they do
but irritate and sour his spirit. He needs a deep-
er and a more effectual cure ; and it is only when
sorrow brings us to Him who can work this with-
in us, that it is a blessing. Then, indeed, under
the blessed leading of His grace, it turns into the
choicest mercy ; for to the Christian man there is
this mystery in it, it does bring us to Him who is
the true and only Purifier, by driving us from the
world and from ourselves to Him ; by bending
our separate wills to His will; by leading us to
wait on Him, to seek His purifying Spirit, to
cling to the cross of His Son, with all its bitter
pains; by setting before us long past sins, even
as certain changes in the atmosphere bring out
again the faded spots of worn-out stains. So that
this connection between suffering and transgres-
sion rests not on an arbitrary decree, which may
be dispensed with in our case, but on the neces-
sity of God's holy nature, on the one hand, and


on the very needs of the nature He has given us,
on the other. There can, in this world, be no
divorce between these true yoke-fellows, sin and
suffering. The man who allows himself in any
iniquity is taking burning coals into his bosom;
and how deeply they may wound him God only
knows. Jacob's life was scarred by them, till
they brought down his grey hairs, after many
sorrows, to the grave.

Here, then, is a lesson of solemn warning; and
close beside it, is that of joyful submission amidst
the afflictions of life.

For what a character does this truth stamp
upon them ! They are indeed, we know, the
consequence of sin ; perhaps we may even be
able to trace them up to some sin of our own in
years long past, and in this there must be bitter-
ness. But, then, what joy is there in this thought
(which is the privilege of every believer in Jesus),
they are not the strokes of anger; they are the
blessed remedies of the most kind and skilful of
Physicians ; they have ever formed the thorny
hedge which at some period of their lives has
shut in the path along which God's chosen ones
have been led on to glory; they are proofs that
we are under training ; they show that we have
a part in the Covenant ; they give us good reason
to hope that the blessed Spirit has not left us;
nay, that He is striving with us, and perfecting


for us His blessed work ! With what words,
therefore, of love does He uphold us in our sharp-
est sufferings : " Whom the Lord loveth he
chasteneth : " " God dealeth with you as with

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Online LibraryP. H. GreenleafConsolatio : or, Comfort for the afflicted → online text (page 11 of 14)