Sermon 3545. Our Glorious Leader
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1917.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S DAY EVENING, JANUARY 4, 1872.
"And when He had thus spoken, He went on ahead, ascending up to Jerusalem." Luke 19:28.
A VERY beautiful spectacle it is to see the Lord Jesus marching in front and His followers eagerly following on behind. Theywere going up to Jerusalem, where it is true, He would receive some honor, but also where He would be betrayed into the handsof cruel men and put to a shameful death-but He went on ahead of them. As the shepherd goes before the sheep, not driving,but leading. As the captain goes before his soldiers as taking the post of danger, so our Lord went on before them. It wasfar better that He should go first than that they should, for the disciple is never more out of place than when he outrunshis Master. If he will follow his Master's commands, he shall do well. But if he shall follow his own devices and invent hisown way, he shall do badly. The pilgrimage behind the cloud is a safe one, but a rush before the cloud will end in a disaster.The Master must go first, not the disciple. But then, when the Master advances, it is right to see the disciple follow, readyof foot, quick at his Master's heel, delighted with his Master's company. One likes to think of that journey up to Jerusalem,with Jesus Christ just a little ahead in the front, and His disciples closely following Him. I thought it was a picture thatmight serve us as a model throughout the whole year. I am not going to talk to you long at this time, but wish just to sketchthat picture before your mind's eyes and say, " So be it unto each one of us." May Jesus be with us. May Jesus lead the way.And may His own Divine Spirit give us Grace to follow Him-not like Peter, afar off-but as loving disciples who keep closelyunder their Master's guidance! From the beginning of the year to the end of the year may we rejoice to feel that He goes aheadof us, but may we also, with cheerful willingness, follow close behind! I present it to you, I say, as the picture for thisNew Year of Grace, and may it be verified in your experience.
Very simply, then, I shall try to call attention to the blessed fact that Jesus goes ahead of us and, having done so, I shallask you, in the second place, to seek after a sweet sensation of this Truth of God. And the first Truth, then, to consideris-
I. THE BLESSED FACT-He went ahead of them.
We have already said that He was going the way of suffering. He was going up to Jerusalem to suffer. When you are in the wayof suffering, He will go before you. He was always in the way of service. There was more to be done at Jerusalem before Hehad finished His course. May we, in the way of service, always find Him going before us. And He was also, in the third place,on the way to death-and if we have any fears about our passage through the river, may this console us-He went before us!
To begin, then, at the beginning, here is the blessed fact that Christ has gone ahead of us in the way of suffering. He hasdone so by His own actual experience while He was here in the flesh. "He was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief.""In all our afflictions He was afflicted." "He Himself took our sicknesses and carried our sorrows." Rest assured that inwhatever way of suffering you have to go in consequence of your being a child of man, and especially in consequence of yourbeing a child of God, you will find that Christ has gone that way ahead of you! Are you full of bodily pain, stretched uponthe bed? Are you apt to think that none ever suffered as you do? He suffered more than you! He went ahead of you along thatflinty pathway. The pangs of His death must have been extreme. And remember His Passion in the Garden, His agony in Gethsemane.You have not in this matter yet come to having drops of blood oozing in sweat from your countenance. No, He has gone aheadof you there. In all the pangs of your bodily frame, Jesus has preceded you. Read the 22nd Psalm, with all its wonderful expressions-"Iam poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint." "You have brought Me into the dust of death." He knew the feverand its thirst upon the Cross when He was dying there. He said, "You have brought Me to the dust of death." You have not onesuffering that may be imagined to be more exquisite than what He endured! Your griefs are molehills compared with the Alpsof His sufferings!
But you will say that it is not exactly the pathway of personal bodily pain you are traversing, but you have endured muchin the sufferings of others you have lost. You have had half your heart, perhaps, taken away at one time. Friend after friendhas been carried to the tomb! But He went ahead of you in this pathway, also. Did you never read where it is written, "Jesuswept?" "Behold how He loved him," said the Jews, as they beheld Him at the sepulcher of the most-beloved Lazarus. He knowswhat bereavements means as well as you-He has ahead of you. "Ah" you say, "but in consequence of the bereavement I have suffered,I am left a widow. How shall I be provided for? In addition to the woe of the loss, I have to look forward to the future!Will these hands be able to find me daily bread? My garments may become, by degrees, more and more thin and time-worn. I fearcold, nakedness and hunger." And suppose it should come to that, as it will not, I trust, yet He went ahead of you! You arenot so poor as He. Hear His voice tonight, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but I, the Son of Man,have not where to lay My head." To pay the common tax, He must borrow money from the fish of the sea. His garment was thecommon seamless robe of peasants. He was but poorly clad-He was in all respects the child of poverty. First cradled in a manger,and then laid for His last sleep in a borrowed grave, for still He had not where to lay His head. In the sleep of death, Jesuswent ahead of you! O son of poverty, O daughter of need, you may see the print of His footsteps all along that thorny way!
"Yes," says one, "but still there is added to poverty in my case the fact that I have been forsaken by friends, and I am veryfearful that even those who stood somewhat faithful to me will soon grow weary, and I shall be left alone." And did you neverhear Him say, "And I shall be left alone, and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me"? And have you never readhow they all forsook Him and fled, and Peter denied Him with oaths and curses and, worst of all, Judas, who had been trustedwith His little stock, sold Him for the price of a slave? "He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me." Ingratitudemost cruel, treachery most base! Your Lord has suffered it! You may see the prints of His pierced feet along that pathwayif you will but look for them. Jesus went ahead of you in actual suffering. And what if you have been serving your Lord withzeal and fervor, and you have been reproached, even by those who love Him? You have met with the cold shoulder where you expectedto find encouragement. If your motives have been misrepresented by the very persons who ought to have supported you in yourardor, ah, what then? Was not He also a reproach among His mother's brethren? When His zeal had eaten Him up, they said thatHe was mad-and even His mother and His brethren stood outside desiring that they might see Him because they thought Him bereavedof His wits! And if the wicked world has reproached you, did they not call the Master of the house, "Beelzebub"? Shall theyhave soft names and honorable titles for the men of His household? If they said of Him, "He has a devil, and is mad, why listento Him?" do you think they will say great and flattering things of you? O you that are made ashamed for His sake, and madea spectacle unto men and unto angels, be not afraid! No strange thing has happened to you! Thousands of saints have passedalong this road and, chief of all, your Master, Christ, has gone ahead of you! In the path of suffering, then, Jesus has goneahead of us from the fact of having actually and literally experienced what we suffer!
He has gone before in another sense, namely, that now, though He reigns exalted high in the highest heavens, He still goesahead of us in the intense sympathy of His sacred heart. Jesus is not separated from His people by the mere fact of distance."Lo," He has said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the world," and you know what mysterious, yet real union existsbetween Christ, the Head, and all His members. It came out clearly in the case of Paul, when Jesus said to Him, "Why do youpersecute Me?" He was persecuting only a few poor people in Jerusalem, or in Damascus, whom he despised, but Christ said,"Why do you persecute Me?" because persecuting the saints was persecuting Christ! Christ suffering in His members. Christsuffering on the Cross was the Head suffering, but when His people were torn to pieces in the amphitheatre, when they wereburned tat Smithfield, and when, today, they are hooted and made a jest of, it is Christ suffering-still suffering in Hismembers-and when any child of God suffers in any righteous cause, whenever affliction comes upon a saint in any form, Christsympathizes with him. Rest assured-
"In every pang that rends the heart, The Man of Sorrows bears His part." In all their affliction He was afflicted. A fingernever suffers without the brain participating-and no humble member of the true Church of Christ ever suffers without Christ,the glorious Head, suffering in sympathy therewith.
Now this is very cheering to those who have faith to receive it, because very much of the heart-breaking that comes into theworld is from a sense of loneliness. When men feel that somebody sympathizes with them. When those who are being beaten feelthat others smart as they do, then they take courage. Oh, there is One who loves you more than you can love yourself, whosympathizes with you, you suffering saint, from the Throne of His Glory! Be you, therefore, glad! Be of good courage and letthis comfort your heart!
There is a third way in which Christ goes ahead of us in the path of suffering-that is, in the matter of Providence. WhileHe has Himself suffered, and sympathizes, in a third respect He always goes ahead of us in our sufferings, in preparing themfor us, and preparing us for them. Our Lord has gone to Heaven to prepare a place for us-and I believe He has prepared allthe road as well as a place at the end of it. You shall find, O child of God, when you come into the deep waters, that Christis there-there by His Grace and Spirit, and there, also, by His Providence, to take care of you. It was appointed that Jacoband his tribes should all go down to Egypt. To Egypt they must go, but Joseph went down there before them and became lordover all Egypt-not for his own sake, but for the sake of his brothers, for all the wealth of Egypt shall be used, if necessary,in order that Jacob and all his household shall be preserved during the time of famine! Now if there is an Egypt to whichyou are to go, Jesus, your Joseph, has gone before you to make it ready for you, to find you a Goshen and to nourish you theretill such day as you shall come from it. God, even your Savior, Jesus, leads the van! As the cloud, like a mighty banner offire, went through all the mazes of the winding way of Israel over the desert, so Jesus marches before us, the Leader, theStandard-Bearer among ten thousand, always in the front and with His eternal power and Godhead making straight the pathwayfor His people's feet! Let us be of good courage, then, in this respect. In the matter of suffering, He went ahead of you.
But now realize here the retrospect. If He goes ahead of you, then follow Him. You love not suffering. It were not sufferingif you did love it, but still, if Jesus leads, look not to the way. It were better that that way should be full of thornsand briars which would tear your flesh, and Christ be with you, than that it should be a long green pathway, and your Shepherdlead you not! Go on! He went to His sufferings without a murmur. Moreover, even His flesh shrank and, at last, He said, "NotMy will, but Yours be done." Say you, the same. Dot you fear as you enter into the cloud? Within that cloud shall be the secrettabernacle of the Most High, wherein He will reveal Himself to you as He never did before! Some of us owe much to the anviland the hammer, and the fire, much to suffering, much to trials-and we thank God we had them! And you will yet have to dothe same, but, oh, stay not back! Remember, after all, a lack of resignation will not assist you in your suffering, but, onthe contrary, nothing makes suffering so light as resignation to it-and a perfect acquiescence in the Divine Will does muchto take away the gall from the cup! You must go where Jesus leads-go, therefore, willingly, cheerfully, trustingly and evenjoyfully, for it is a triumph to a Christian to bear the cross after Jesus- and to be crucified and buried with Him were ahigh honor to any child of God. Go on, then, for Christ leads the way!
But now I must not tarry so long on that part, but I observe it is said Christ leads the way in serviceas well as in suffering.He was going up to Jerusalem to accomplish the rest of His life-work before He surrendered His Spirit to His Father. Now youand I, and each of us, have a service to perform. We were redeemed and with a price that we might serve the Lord. We are aroyal priesthood, a peculiar people. We have a priesthood to fulfill. All God's children, all God's servants are priest andkings, and they have a rule to discharge, and a priesthood to fulfill. Now we are beginning a new year of service. It willbe a very sweet thing to us if we can know that Jesus Christ has gone ahead of us in the path of service. Beloved, I mighttake the same Truth of God and say that He has actually gone before us in having fulfilled the same service. If there is anygood thing for you to do, Christ has done it before you! Are we called to preach the Gospel? You know how He was anointedto preach glad tidings to the poor. Are you called to teach the little ones? Did not He say, "Suffer the little children tocome unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven"? Have you to feed the hungry? On what a large scaledid He do it! Have you to visit the sick and to minister to their needs? Oh, how many thousands owed their opened eyes orrestored limbs to Him! Christ's life anticipates all the service of the Church. One might very easily, in taking the lifeof Christ, find all the operations of a truly active Church prefigured there-all of them. There is nothing new under the sun,and when a man has found something, and thought, "Here is something that is fresh," you shall find Christ has looked afterthe halt, the blind and the lame before you-and if you seek to raise the fallen woman, you will be made to remember Him whosaid, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." I should be afraid to undertake any service in which I could not seethat He has gone before. What Christ has done, it is right for us to do, save only in that work of Expiation where we cannothelp Him. There He treads the winepress alone, and of the people there is none with Him-but in all in which He is our Exemplar,it is always a safe thing for us to follow very closely-and we shall find that He has gone before us!
And truly He goes before us in all our works by His Holy Spirit actively proving His Divine sympathy still with us. I do notlook upon the Church of God as so many pious men and women at work by themselves, but I see God working by them, working inthem, working through them! They are the workers to the eye, but no further. It is God who works in them to will and to doof His own good pleasure! If Satan saw in the work only the man, he would laugh at him, but he perceives "the hand of Joab"is there-a mightier hand than the hand of man and, therefore, it is that he is often put to the rout. O you that speak forJesus, that pray for Jesus, that give to His cause and work for His name, let this be your joy and your comfort-that JesusChrist is with you and goes ahead of you in all this service!
And so He does in His Providence. If we had but eyes to see it, and could know all things, we would perceive that when wecome to preach the Gospel, God has been preparing men's hearts to receive it. Many a time a man will come up to the Houseof Prayer, and he has a trouble that has been plowing up and down, and the minister has got a handful of seed to sow, whichthe birds would have devoured if they had fallen on hard soil-only God has plowed the man and made him like soil, ready toreceive it! He has gone ahead of us! If ever I see these benches full, I feel a little distressed, and yet elated, becauseI always reckon that I have got a picked congregation and each man is sent with a design. Though there may not be salvationin every case, yet there are some to whom God will bless the Word, to which the Word will be fitted to the very letter, forGod will guide the preacher and oftentimes as much reveals Himself from the pulpit as ever a Nebuchadnezzar' s dream was revealedagain by Daniel when it was gone altogether from his mind. You shall be sure that God is in the Word if it comes home to youin that way! And if you are a Christian worker, you may expect that the Providence of God will prepare men's hearts for thatwork which you are trying to do!
I would that the Church of God would now recollect that assuredly God is going ahead of her in all her service at this moment.The world is prepared for the Gospel if we were but willing to present the Gospel to the world! When our Lord Christ cameinto this world there was a universal peace, and the peace of the public mind and the state of the public pulse was just suitablefor the preaching of the Gospel by the Lord and by His Apostles-and there is some such suitability as that now. Chains thatlong have galled unhappy nations have been filed through. The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light-they havedemanded liberty and won it with a good right hand-and mean to hold it! And now is the time when the darkness flies and lightcomes for those who have the still brighter light of the everlasting Gospel of the ever blessed God to spring into the gapand proclaim salvation by a Crucified Redeemer to all the sons of men! Up, Churches of London, and to your work! Even nowthe very demand for education among you, and the stir that there is among the people, the breaking up of hoary systems ofabomination, the motion and commotion-all this means good to you! You have been embedded in the ice and frozen up these longwintry days, but, lo, the sun has risen and the long summer days shall soon come and your boat shall be freighted and putout to sea-and bring a blessed cargo of souls home to God their Father! Let us be up and doing, for Jesus goes ahead of usin the matter of Providence. May He help us to keep always near Him. What He would have us do, oh, may we do it! Word forword what He would have us speak, thought for thought what He would have us think, act for act what He would have us do! Letus never have a glorious Leader and be a laggard people. Oh, for the Grace that is in Him to bedew us plenteously, that asHe goes ahead of us we may follow Him in the path of service!
Now very briefly upon one other point, which was the path of death. Our Lord was going to Golgotha, and there was to be, asfar as this world was concerned, the end of His journey. To the Cross He must be nailed, and in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea,the Lord Jesus must sleep. Death is not a pleasant thing. It matters not how you gild the pill, it is a pill. If the Lordcomes not, however, before that time we shall have to pass through death, and we shall find it, if we are His people, to beinfinitely less painful than the fear of death! We feel a thousand deaths in fearing one, and if our faith were greater, wewould have no fear of death. "Ah," says one, "what I dread is parting, leaving my friends." He went before them-He partedfrom them all, and from His mother. And He said to John, "Behold, your mother," and to His mother," "Woman, behold your son,"as the light faded from His eyes. He went ahead of us in the path of death. "Ah, but I cannot bear to think of the pain ofdying," says one. You will never have such pain as His in death-He went ahead of you. He had a sense of sin in dying. He wasmade a curse for us, as it is written, "Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree," but no curse can ever light on you, Believer.The blessing is yours because the curse was His! Oh, He has gone ahead of you-He has gone where you shall never go, for Hesuffered the wrath of God, which you never shall suffer, for that wrath is gone and passed away forever! There are none ofthe surroundings of a dying bed which can suggest such horror as that which surrounded the death of our Lord-so that He hasgone ahead of you in everything that might alarm you in the prospect of your departure. He has gone ahead of you. Be contentto follow Him to the grave. It is no more-
"A charnel-house of sense,
Relics of lost innocence,
The place of ruin and decay;
The imprisoning stone is rolled away."
It is now a nest of sweetness since Jesus laid in it. The grave is no longer unfurnished-there are His grave clothes leftfor you and, moreover, the stone being rolled away, you have the promise that you shall come out of it again! When the trumpetof the archangel sounds, those poor bones shall arise and the body that was sown in weakness shall be raised in power! Whatjoy it is, then, to think that He went ahead of us and how obediently, no, triumphantly, may we follow Him, even to deathitself! Here, then, is the blessed fact, in suffering, or service, or departure, Christ goes ahead of us! Now the point weclose with is this-
II. MAY WE, ALL OF US, HAVE A SWEET REALIZATION OF THIS TRUTH DURING THIS YEAR.
We believe a good deal of Doctrine which we have never yet realized. We know much to be food which we have never fed upon.Many Christians are like those who have sacks of flour in the house, but no bread. They have nothing available for presentfood. Some are like rich men that may happen to be abroad with thousands in gold, but no small silver, no spending money.May you be able to coin the bullion of precious promise so as to use it in the journey of life. May you make practical applicationof precious Truths of God, tasting the honey, drinking the wine and being satisfied with them. Now, then, to realize thatChrist goes ahead of us is to realize that we are never alone. If I am in my study, and a problem staggers me, I am not alone-myLord will teach me. You are in your little chamber with the needle, working hard for very scanty pay. You have to suffer-youhave not got to suffer that alone. "I am with you when you pass through the fire; you shall not be burned, neither shall theflame kindle upon you." But you have got to go into the workroom and there are those that point at you, and they have a jestfor you, whom they know to be a follower of Christ. You have not to bear that alone! He has the heaviest end of that crossand He is persecuted in His persecuted members. But you are busy in business, and your cares afflict you. Blessed be God youhave not got to bear those cares alone! No, nor yet at all, for concerning them He has said, "Cast all your care upon Him,for He cares for you." I have got to come here and preach. Who is sufficient for these things? But I am not to preach alone-"MyGrace is sufficient for you." His strength shall be made perfect in your weakness. You have to go to that Sunday school class.Oh, how incorrigible those boys are and how careless those girls-but you have not got to win those souls alone-Jesus willgo and His Spirit will be there, and you shall be helped in your work! Do try and realize all through this year that you arenever alone. Not only is it, "You, God, see me," but it is this, "Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, I am your God."And Christ is not with you behind, or pushing you into the danger, but He is with you ahead of you-He goes ahead of you-Heis the shield catching the fiery darts upon Himself! You shall come behind the screen and be sheltered by His precious promise.
I do not know where you may be this year, but let this thought abide with you-He will be with you! Perhaps you will crossthe sea. Your lot may be to help to colonize some distant land. Over the sea and on the billows, and on the shore so strangeto you-He will be your near Companion! Perhaps this year there is a trial awaiting you, very heavy, or perhaps a temptationarising out of some new joy or fresh prosperity. Do not fear it-you shall be safe on the hilltops of joy and in the Valleyof Humiliation. He is with you anywhere! A child is told, perhaps at nightfall, that he has to go a considerable distance.It is to a lonely farmhouse and the little one trembles to go across the moor in the dark. "Oh," the mother says. "but Fatheris going with you." Oh, then that changes the aspect of everything! The boy is pleased to go! Even the dangers that seemedso great, only attract him now-he will be glad to be with his father. Through the moor land of another year, you have to go,and it may be dark and cold, but your heavenly Father and your blessed Elder Brother will be with you! Therefore, be not afraid.You will have to contend this year for "the faith delivered once for all to the saints," and to do much service, too. If youare to render a good account at the year's end, you are to try and live this year, not at a slow rate, like the cold-bloodedfrog, but to have hot blood in you! Regulated by prudence, and yet boiling over with a burning zeal, you are to serve theLord! And it may be you think you cannot do it. Is anything impossible when He helps you? Is any sacrifice impossible whenit is for Him? Is any difficulty insurmountable when He, Himself, gives the all-sufficient strength? Oh, this is a very choicethought, though a very simple one, that Jesus will be with you all the year through!
The only other thought is, take care that you abide with Him. He is a quick walker. Idle souls will be left behind. He isa holy liver. Unclean spirits will find Him part company with them. Be you watchful, vigilant, sober, careful, zealous, andseek to have perpetual fellowship with Jesus Christ. I am sure those are the happiest that live nearest to God! I am certainof it. I do know it is not the wealthiest who are the happiest. It is not those who have the most health that are always happiest,and those who are most esteemed among their fellow men. There is one rule without any exception-he who lives nearest to Godhas the most of that profound peace of God which passes all understanding. He says to you, "Abide in Me." May His words abidein you! May you abide in Him and may this be to each one of you, and to this Church, the very happiest year we have ever had!Oh, that some poor sinner would seek the Savior! May the Lord's lovely attractions entice Him!
And I shall close by saying this-that if any soul longs for Christ, Christ is already longing for Him-and if you have a halfof a desire towards Him, He has a heart full of desire towards you! There never was a soul that had a head start on Christin the matter of desire for salvation. God grant you Grace to touch Jesus and then to follow after Him, and to make His blessingabide with you, both now and forever. Amen and amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH 35, HEBREWS 12:1-6.
Verse 1. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them. They shall be so glad that they shall inspire gladnesswhere all was desolation, brooding, melancholy and dragon's howls. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad forthem."
1. And the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. God's people are a happy-making people. They are a blessing in themselvesand they shall be a blessing to others till all shall say, "These are the seed that the Lord has blessed." "The desert shallrejoice and blossom as the rose."
2. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellenceof Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. A wonderful sight to see, for thereis one of the most lovely sights in the world when the Glory and excellency of God are to be seen in the works of His Gracein His own people. It is such a sight that it makes men first rejoice in their hearts and then rejoice with their tongues.They shall "rejoice with joy and singing," which is the double rejoicing of the heart and of the lips. Well, these must bea favored people who, wherever they go, can make others glad after this fashion! Brothers and Sisters, they must be full orthey could not overflow! They must be alive, or else they could not quicken the desert places. They must be in flower, bloominglike the rose, or they could not make the wilderness so full of verdure. The Lord grant that we may be in that state, thatwe may be able to go into the wilderness. There are some of God s people that cannot trust themselves to go where they areneeded because they have not Divine Grace enough. They are so weak that they are like the weak man standing on the river sbrink who cannot leap in to pull out a drowning man for fear he should be pulled in himself. But, oh, they are blessed, indeed,who dare go into the wildernesses and into the solitary places, and carry the transforming benediction of Heaven with themtill the wilderness changes its dress-and the brown of the arid sand gives place to the ruddiness of the rose-because Godhas come there with His people!
3. Strengthen you the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Are there such here tonight? No doubt there are- weak at workand weak at praying. The two things go together-weak hands and feeble knees. May they both be strengthened!
4. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God witha recompense; He will come and save you. It is very singular how salvation and vengeance are so often associated togetherin Scripture. It is the day of salvation, "and the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all who mourn." Vengeance upon thefalse is the best consolation to the true! When God smites the sham, even to the heart, then does He bless those in whichHis Truth is found. "He will come and save you."
5. 6. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leapas an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert See whatthe Presence of Christ does? See what the presence of Christ's people will do when He comes in them and with them! They makethe wilderness rejoice. But, besides that, the dwellers that are found in the wilderness-these lame and deaf people-get theblessing. Oh, may God make us to be a desert to others of this sort!
7. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, whereeach lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. The greenest spots your eyes ever rested upon are just there where the grassis so rooted in the morass that it is always green with a delicate tinge, and the reeds and rushes spring up abundantly. OGod, make poor parched hearts to become like this! You barren ones, you desolate ones-He can give you the best verdure thatis possible! Your hearts shall be as green and fresh as the spots where there is grass with reeds and rushes.
8. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it:but it shall be for others: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. Oh, what a blessing that is to us poorfools! We could err anywhere. To err is human and we seem to have come in for a double share of it. The more we look at ourlives, the more we see the folly of our hearts. What a mercy it is that when we walk in the way of faith, in the way of Christ,fools as we are, we shall not err!
9, 10. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go on it, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shallwalk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; theyshall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Like frightened things. They kept us company part ofour road, but when the Lord appeared, they took to themselves wings and fled away. We could not tell where they were gone.We were surprised to find that they had quite vanished. Oh, for the appearing of the Lord tonight to His mourning people whomay be here!
Verse 1. Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, andthe sin which does so easily beset us. Or. "entangle us."
1-3. And let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith;who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throneof God. For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself lest you be wearied and faint in your minds.The Lord does not wish His people's hands to hang down and their knees to become weak, so in this passage, as in many others,He administers gracious remedies! Among the rest, He bids us consider His own dear Son. Shall we faint under our small afflictionswhen He endured so well under His heavy burdens? Come, be strengthened, my weak heart-
"His way was much rougher and darker than thine- Did Christ, your Lord, suffer, and will you repine?'
4. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. It has hardly come to blows and bruises yet-certainly not tobloody strokes! You have not yet lost blood for Christ.
5. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening ofthe Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him.Neither think too little of it, nor too much of it-too little of it by despisingit and not listening to the voice of the rod, nor too much of it by fainting when you are rebuked of
6. For whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. Oh, what comfort there is here! Wheneverwe are under the scourging hand of God, how we ought to be cheered with the thought that this is a part of the heritage ofthe children! There are Elis who spoil their children. God is not one of them. He spares not the rod and the more He loves,often the more He corrects. A tree of common fruit may be left alone so long as there is some little fruit on it, but thevery best fruit gets the sharpest pruning-and I have noticed that in those countries where the best wine is made, the vinedresserscut the shoots right close in, and in the winter you cannot tell that there is a vine there at all unless you watch very carefully!They must cut them back sharp to get sweet clusters. The Lord does thus with His beloved. It is not anger. Afflictions arenot always anger. There are often tokens of great love!