Sermon 1974. The Suffering Savior's Sympathy
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." Hebrews 2:18.
WE are told by the Apostle in the fifth chapter that one special requisite in a High Priest was that he have compassion uponmen. "For every High Priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both giftsand sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way; for that he himselfalso is compassed with infirmity." You see, God did not choose angels to be made High Priests because, however benevolentthey might be in their wishes, they could not be sympathetic. They could not understand the peculiar needs and trials of themen with whom they had to deal. Ministers who of God are made to be a flame of fire could scarcely commune familiarly withthose who confess themselves to be as dust and ashes! But the High Priest was one of themselves. However dignified his office,he was still a man. He was one of whom we read that he could lose his wife, that he could lose his sons. He had to eat andto drink, to be sick and to suffer just as the rest of the people did. And all this was necessary that he might be able toenter into their feelings and represent those feelings before God and that he might, when speaking to them for God, not speakas a superior, looking down upon them, but as one who sat by their side, "a brother born for adversity," bone of their boneand flesh of their flesh.
Now this is peculiarly so in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is sympathetic above all. There is none so tender as He.He has learnt it by His sufferings, but He proves it by His continual condescension towards His suffering people. My Brothers,we that preach the Gospel, you that teach it in the Sunday school-you will always find your greatest power to lie in love.There is more eloquence in love than in all the words that the most clever rhetorician can ever put together. We win uponmen not so much by poetry and by artistic wording of sentences, as by the pouring out of a heart's love that makes them feelthat we would save them, that we would bless them, that we would, because we belong to them, regard them as brethren and playa brother's part and lay ourselves out to benefit them. Now, as it should be in the under-shepherds, so is it in that GreatShepherd of the sheep. He abounds in tenderness and though He has every other quality to make up a perfect High Priest-thoughHe is complete and in nothing lacking-yet if I must mention one thing in which He far outshines us all, but in which we shouldall try to imitate Him, it would be in His tender sympathy to those who are ignorant and out of the way and to all those whoare suffering and sorely distressed.
It is in the spirit of brotherly sympathy that I would endeavor to preach on this occasion as the Good Spirit shall help me.May I ask my Brothers and Sisters whose hearts are full ofjoy at this hour to be praying for others who have not that joyand to be helping me in my endeavor to speak words of consolation to them? May the Holy Spirit, in answer to your prayers,make every sentence to be as wine and oil to the wounds of those who are left half dead in the King's highway! We have notto look far for "them who are tempted," for they are all around us, and deserve the thoughtful regard of each one of us. Donot overlook them, my more happy Brothers and Sisters, "considering yourself, lest you, also, be tempted."
In my text I think I see two things very clearly. Jesus suffering-"He Himself has suffered being tempted." Jesus succoring-"Heis able to succor them that are tempted." And then I think I see a third thing most certainly there, namely, Jesus soughtafter because in the word which is translated, "succor," there is a latent meaning of crying. He is able to hear the cry ofthem that are tempted. It is a word that signifies a mother's quickness to answer her child's cry and Jesus is able to answerour cry, therefore we ought to lift up that cry when our soul is in distress. It shall be the best thing seen in this Tabernacletonight if the third thing be seen, namely, Jesus sought after by every weary, heavy-laden spirit. Why should it not be? Come,Holy Spirit, and create in each mourner the spirit of prayer and the Grace of supplication!
I. First, then, and to begin, here is JESUS SUFFERING.
I call your attention, first, to the feeling that is here expressed-"in that He Himself has suffered being tempted." Manypersons are tempted, but do not suffer in being tempted. When ungodly men are tempted, the bait is to their taste and theyswallow it greedily. Temptation is a pleasure to them. Indeed, they sometimes tempt the devil to tempt them! They are drawnaside of their own lusts and enticed so that temptation, instead of being suffering to them, becomes a horrible source ofpleasure. But good men suffer when they are tempted and the better they are, the more they suffer. I know some children ofGod to whom temptation is their constant misery day and night. If it took the form of external affliction, they would bravelybear it, but it takes the shape of evil suggestions and profane insinuations which leap into their minds without their willand though they hate them with their whole heart. These suggestions continue to annoy some dear saints whom I know, not onlydaily, but nightly, and month after month. These thoughts beset them as a man may be surrounded by swarms of gnats or fliesfrom which they cannot get away. Such Brothers and Sisters are tempted and they suffer being tempted. Our Lord Jesus Christenters into this trying experience very fully because His suffering through being tempted must have been much greater thanany suffering that the purest-hearted Believer can know, seeing that He is more pure than any one of us.
It was a trying thing to the Blessed Christ even to dwell here among men. He behaved Himself with most condescending familiarity,but He must have been greatly sickened and saddened by what He saw in this world of sinners. They were no fit company forHim, for their views of things and His were as different as possible-they had no points of agreement in character with Him.They were as much company for Him as a patient may be to a surgeon. No, not as much as an imbecile may be to his teacher,or as a madman to his keeper-they could not come much closer until His Grace changed and renewed them. Our Lord and Masterhad such a delicate sensitiveness of soul with regard to holiness that the sight of sin must have torn Him as a naked manwould be torn by thorns, thistles and briers. There was no callousness about His Nature. He had not made Himself familiarwith sin by the practice of it, as many have done-neither had He so associated with those who indulge in evil as to become,Himself, lenient towards it.
We inherit the customs of our ancestors and do not raise questions about that which has been commonly done. We begin at anevil point and start from a wrong point in morals, but it was not so with our Lord. He had no original, or inherited, or birthsin-neither did He learn evil in His upbringing. We also commit sin through a comparative ignorance of its evil, but He knewthe horror of it. He felt within His soul the shame, the wrong, the inherent baseness of sin against a holy Law and a lovingGod. His infinite knowledge helped Him to understand and measure the heinousness and Hell-desert of it and, therefore, tobe in contact with it must have been a perpetual sorrow to Him. He suffered in being placed where He could be tempted.
When sin actually assailed Him, and He was tempted to prove His Sonship by working a miracle to feed Himself, thus anticipatingHis Father's Providence by a hasty act of self-seeking, how He must have loathed the suggestion! When Satan bade Him presumptuouslycast Himself down from the Temple's pinnacle, how He must have smarted at the horrible proposal! When the tempter hissed intoHis ear that abominable offer, "All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me"-it must have grievedthe holy heart of Jesus most intensely! He could not yield to temptation, but He did suffer from it. He did not suffer fromit morally, He was too pure for that, but He did suffer from it mentally because of His purity. His mind was grieved, vexedand troubled by the temptation that He had to bear. We specially see this when we find Him in the Garden. There He showedHis grief when He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground. In many other ways He endured such contradictionof sinners against Himself, such multiplied temptations, that it is said and truly said by the Holy Spirit in this verse,that He "suffered" being tempted.
Now, then, you poor creatures who can scarcely lift up your heads because of shame as you tremble at the memory of your ownthoughts, come here and meet with One who suffered being tempted! He knows how you are hunted by Hell-dogs, go where you may.He knows that you cannot escape the presence of the tempter and from His own experience He enters into your feelings to thefullest. He gives you a flood of sympathy in these deep distresses of your spirit, as you fight against Apollyon and agonizeagainst temptation, for He suffered being tempted-
"Exposed to wounds most deep and sore The great Redeemer stood While Satan's fiery darts He bore And did resist to blood."
Let us meditate for a while upon the fact that our Lord was tempted, tempted up to the suffering point. I must not omit tomention the particular use here made by the Spirit of that word, "Himself." It is not only in that He suffered being tempted,but you see that He Himself has suffered being tempted. That word is sometimes used to make passages emphatic. "Who Himselfbore our sins in His own body on the tree." We read again and again of Jesus Christ Himself, as if to show that the mattersreferred to were really, truly, personally, actually His. He Himself has suffered. All that there was in Him, that made upHimself, suffered being tempted. Survey this fact carefully. Our Lord was tempted by His circumstances, just as you are. Yes,more than many of you are, for He felt the woes of poverty and poverty, at times, carried to the extreme. "Foxes have holesand the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head."
You are sometimes tempted with the thought that you will be out of house and home before long. Where will you find a nightlyshelter? Jesus can sympathize with you. He also was weary with incessant labors. "Being wearied, He sat thus on the well."Weariness has its temptations. He that is weary is hardly in the condition to judge rightly of things. When we are weary,we are apt to be impatient, complaining, hasty. If you are weary and can scarcely keep your eyelids from dropping down, rememberbefore you quite yield to fatigue that your Lord was weary, too. Once, "they took Him even as He was, into the ship"-and Ithink it must mean that He was too weary to go into the ship, Himself, so that they took Him in His absolute exhaustion andgently laid Him down, in the back part of the ship, placing His head upon a pillow. Do not blame yourself for feeling tiredin the House of Prayer, if, after long watching or hard working you feel more fit for sleep than for a sermon!
I shall not blame you, certainly, for I remember how little my Lord blamed the disciples when they fell asleep in the Gardenduring His agony. He said, "The spirit, indeed, is willing, but the flesh is weak." And He never would have thought of sotender an excuse for their untender slumbers if His own flesh had not, also, been weak when He, too, was weary. So you seethat the Lord knows from His own circumstances what are the temptations of poverty and of weariness. He Himself was hungry.He Himself said, "I thirst." Everything round about Him contributed to fulfill the tale of His trials. He Himself was, aboveus all, "a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief."
And then He Himself suffered from temptations arising from men. He endured sadly much from good men. It would seem that evenHis beloved mother tried Him. His mother was with His brothers and sisters when we read that they were outside, desiring tospeak with Him. Was it not at that time that they desired to take Him, for they said, "He is beside Himself"? The men of Hisown kindred thought that surely He was a distraught man who ought to be put under restraint! "Neither did His brethren believein Him."
His disciples, though He loved them so intensely, yet each one tried Him. Even John, the dearest of them all, must ask forplaces at the right and the left hand of His Throne for himself and his brother, James! Even Peter, "took Him and rebukedHim." All the disciples were much of Peter's mind when He described Himself as about to be crucified and slain. Their spiritwas often so worldly, so selfish, so foolish as to greatly grieve their Lord and Leader. While He was the Servant of all,they were seeking who should have the pre-eminence! While He was seeking the lost, they were for calling fire from Heavenupon rebels! They spoke unadvisedly with their lips and committed their Master by their words. And you know how, worst ofall, He had to complain in utmost bitterness of spirit, "He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me." Sothat from the circle of His own favored ones He gathered more thorns than roses! He received wounds in the house of His friends,even as you may have done. Herein you see His power to exhibit sympathy with us. He suffered just as we do. He "suffered beingtempted" even by the failures of those whom He loved-
"If wounded love my bosom swells Deceived by those I prized so well, He shall His pitying aid besto w Who felt on earth severerwoe; At once betrayed, denied, or fled By those who shared His daily bread."
As for His enemies, need I speak about them? Did they not all tempt Him? Herodians and Sadducees-the openly skeptical! Phariseesand Scribes-the professedly religious, were equally His fierce foes! Those to whom He was a benefactor took up stones to stoneHim and Jerusalem, over which He had wept, cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him," and would not rest till He was slain! Ah, Lord!We have, none of us, such foes as You had! However cruel our adversaries, they are not so numerous or so fierce as Yours.Besides, they have some cause to hate us, but of Your enemies it is true
that they hated You without a cause. They could bring no true charge against Him and, therefore, they forged the cruel-estof falsehoods until their reproaches broke His heart! So you see how He was tempted and how He suffered.
Moreover, it is a very amazing fact-one could scarcely have imagined it-but the record is most clear. He was tempted of thedevil-Jesus was tempted of the devil! He in whom all evil is personified dared to stand foot to foot in single duel with Himin whom all goodness is concentrated! The infernal fiend dared to face the Incarnate God! God in our mortal flesh encounteredthe devil in the wilderness of temptation. How could the fiend have ventured to assail our Lord? Truly Lucifer was liftedup to the extreme of pride when He dared thus to confront his Lord. But Christ was tempted of the devil early in His publiccareer and again, near its close, He exclaimed, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." He seemed to hear the dragon'swings as they beat the midnight air and He cried, "The prince of this world comes." Calmly He added, "And has nothing in Me."Yet His heart grew chill in the hideous presence of the great adversary.
It was nothing less than an agony in Gethsemane-a painful wrestling between Jesus and the powers of darkness. You that aretempted of the devil. You that are troubled by mysterious whispers in your ear. You that, when you sing or pray, have a blasphemysuggested to you. You that even in your dreams start with horror at the thoughts that cross your minds, be comforted, foryour Lord knows all about temptation! Some of you do not understand this and I hope you never may. But I am speaking witha purpose to others to whom this is a life's gloom. To you, I say, you can enter into fellowship with your Lord in His beingtempted of the devil-that which is incomprehensible to others is plain enough to you. Be of good cheer, for in this respectyour Lord Himself has suffered being tempted-
"If anything should tempt my soul to stray
From heavenly wisdom's narrow way.
To fly the good I would pursue,
Or do the sin I would not do.
Still He, who felt temptation's power,
Shall guard me in that dangerous hour." Once again-our Lord knew those temptations which arise out of being deserted by God.There come times to certain of us when our soul is cast down within us, when faith becomes feeble and joy languishes becausethe light of the Divine Countenance is withdrawn. We cannot find our God. We enter into the language of Job, "Oh that I knewwhere I might find Him! That I might come even to His seat." We cry with David, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God:when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Whereis your God?" Nothing chills the marrow like an eclipse of the great Sun whose Presence makes our day! If the Lord withdrawsfrom us, then the strong helpers faint-
"He frowns and darkness veils the moon!
The fainting sun grows dim at noon!
The pillars of Heaven's starry roof
Tremble and start at His reproof." In this great temptation our Lord has suffered His full share. He cried, "Eloi, Eloi, lamaSabachthani." There was condensed into that dying cry an infinity of anguish such as we cannot conceive! Some of us know whatthe surface of this Black Sea is like, but we have never descended into its utmost depths as He did. And, if we have doneso, this is our comfort-that HE has been there! He has been to the very bottom of it! He has suffered being tempted even bythat heaviest of all the trials which ever fall upon the sons of God. There is the fact.
I desire to go a step farther, to comfort you upon the fruit of all this, for though our Lord thus suffered being tempted,He suffered not in vain, for He was made perfect through His sufferings and fitted for His solemn office of High Priest toHis people. From that fact I want you to gather fruit, because our heavenly Father means to also bless you. We cannot comfortothers if we have never been comforted ourselves. I have heard-and I am sure that it is so-that there is no comforter fora widow like one who has lost her husband. Those who have had no children and have never lost a child, may talk very kindly,but they cannot enter into a mother's broken heart as she bows over yonder little coffin. If you have never known what temptationsmean, you make poor work when attempting to succor the tempted! Our Lord obtained a blessing from suffering temptation andyou may do the same.
Brother, the Lord means to make of you a man that shall be used like Barnabas to be a "son of consolation." He means to makea mother in Israel of you, my dear Sister, that when you meet with others who are sorely cast down, you may know how to dropin a sweet word by which they shall be comforted. I think you will one day say, "It was worth while to go through that sorrowto be enabled to administer relief to that wounded heart." Will you not comfort others when you are delivered? I am sure youwill! You will be ready and expert in the sacred surgery of consolation. Therefore, be content to suffer being tempted andlook for the comfortable fruit which all this shall produce in you.
So you have seen the feeling, the fact and the fruit. Now, what are the inferences to be drawn from this part of the subject?I must be short with them.
I want you that are tempted to draw the following inferences from the suffering and temptation of the Lord Jesus- First, thattemptation to sin is no sin. It is no sin to be tempted, for in Him was no sin and yet He was tempted. "He suffered beingtempted," but there was no sin in that because there was no sin in Himself. You may be horribly tempted and yet no blame whatevermay attach to you, for it is no fault of yours that you are tempted. You need not repent of that which has no sin in it. Ifyou yield to the temptation, therein is sin-but the mere fact that you are tempted, however horrible the temptation, is nosin of yours.
And, in the next place, temptation does not show any displeasure on God's part. He permitted His only-begotten Son to be tempted-Hewas always the Son of His love and yet He was tried. "This is My beloved Son," said He at His baptism and yet the next hourthat Son was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil! It does not even show displeasure on God'spart that He permits you to be tempted. On the contrary, it may be consistent with the clearest manifestations of Divine favor.
And again, temptation really implies no doubt of your being a son of God for the Son of God was tempted, even the unquestionedSon of the Highest! The prime model and paragon of sonship, Christ, Himself, was tempted. Then why not you? Temptation isa mark of sonship rather than any reflection thereupon.
Note, next, that temptation need not lead to any evil consequences in any case. It did not, in your Lord's case, lead up tosin. The Lord Jesus was as innocent in temptation and after temptation as before it-and so may we be through His Grace. Itis written by the beloved John concerning the man that is born of God, that "He keeps himself and that wicked one toucheshim not."
Moreover, do not make it any cause of complaint that you are tempted. If your Lord was tempted, shall the disciple be abovehis Master, or the servant above his Lord? If the Perfect One must endure temptation, why not you? Accept it, therefore, atthe Lord's hands and do not think it to be a disgrace or a dishonor. It did not disgrace or dishonor your Lord and temptationwill not disgrace or dishonor you. The Lord, who sends it, sends also with it a way of escape-and it will be to your honorand profit to escape by that way.
Far from your hearts be the idea that any temptation should lead you to despair. Jesus did not despair. Jesus triumphed andso shall you! And, therefore, He cries, "In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome theworld." You are a member of His body and when the Head wins the victory, the whole body shares the triumph! "Because I live,"He said, "you shall live, also," and so you shall-even in the poisonous atmosphere of temptation you shall be in health. Theyof old overcame through the blood of the Lamb and you shall do the same. Therefore comfort one another with these words, "HeHimself has suffered being tempted," for you who have His life in you shall first suffer with Him and then reign with Him.
That is the first part of our discourse and it is rich with comfort, if the Spirit of God shall but apply it to the temptedheart. I feel such a poor bungler-I have ointment and soft linen wherewith to bind on the healing ointment-but perhaps I haveput it on too tightly, or too loosely, and if so, I may fail. O Divine Comforter, undertake the work! It needs the piercedhands to fitly apply the sacred liniment.
II. But now I come, secondly and briefly, to notice JESUS SUCCORING. Jesus suffering is preparatory to Jesus succoring. Observe,then, "He is able to succor them that are tempted." In this we note His pity, that He should give Himself up to this businessof succoring them that are tempted. Have you a tempted friend living in your house? If so, you have a daily cross to carry,for when we try to comfort mourners we often become cast down, ourselves, and the temptation is for us to get rid of them,or stay out of their way. Has it ever occurred to any friend here to say, "That good Brother, who sits in the pew near me,is rather a burden to me. I have spoken to him several times, but he is so unhappy that he
drags me down. I go out of another door now to get out of his way"? So might your Lord have done to the unhappy and to youif He had not been your Lord, but He is full of pity that He seeks out those that are cast down! He heals the broken in heartand binds up their wounds. He lays Himself out to succor them that are tempted and, therefore, He does not hide Himself fromthem, nor pass them by on the other side.
What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this Divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord ofAll, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest! Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succors "them that are tempted."He does not throw up the business in disgust. He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as togive way to idle fears. He does not tell them that it is all their nerves and that they are stupid and silly and ought toshake themselves out of such nonsense. I have often heard people talk in that fashion and I have half wished that they hadfelt a little twinge of depression, themselves, just to put them into a more tender humor. The Lord Jesus never overdrivesa lame sheep, but He sets the bone and carries the sheep on His shoulders, so tenderly compassionate is He. Here is His pity.
The text, however, treats also of His fitness. He is just the very Person to succor them that are tempted. I have alreadybeen showing you this. He has the right, acquired by His suffering, to enter in among sufferers and deal with them. He isfree of the company of mourners-
"When our heads are bowed with woe, When our bitter tears overflow, When we mourn the lost, the dear- Then the Son of Manis near. You our throbbing flesh ha ve worn. You our mortal griefs have borne. You have shed the human tear, Son of Man, tomourners dear." He has the right to succor them that are tempted, for they are His own, since He has bought them with Hisblood. The feeble, the weak, the trembling, the desponding are His care, committed to Him by God. He said, "Fear not, littleflock," which shows that His flock is little and timid. He says, "Fear not, little flock," because they have great tendencyto fear and because He does not like to see them thus troubled. He has bought them and so He has the right to succor themand preserve them to the end.
But He also has the disposition to succor them. He obtained that tender temper through suffering, by being Himself tempted.The man that has seen affliction, when he is blessed of God, has the disposition to cheer those that are afflicted. I haveheard speak of a lady who was out in the snow one night and was so very cold that she cried out, "Oh, those poor people thathave such a little money, how little fuel they have and how pinched they must be! I will send a hundredweight of coals to20 families, at least." But I have heard say that when she reached her own parlor, there was a fine fire burning and she satthere with her feet on the fender and enjoyed an excellent tea. She then said to herself, "Well, it is not very cold, afterall. I do not think that I shall send those coals. At any rate, not for the present." The sufferer thinks of the sufferer,even as the poor help the poor. The Divine wonder is that this Lord of ours, "though He was rich, yet for our sakes becamepoor," now takes a delight in succoring the poor! Having been tempted, He helps the tempted! His own trials make Him desireto bless those who are tried.
And then He has the special ability. "He is able to succor them that are tempted." I know certain good Brothers and Sisterswhom I am very pleased to see and I am very happy in their company when I am perfectly well. But I do not enjoy their presencewhen I am ill. Thank you, no! I would rather not have their visits multiplied when I am not well. They walk heavily acrossthe room. They have a way of leaving doors open, or banging them. And when they talk, they talk so loudly and roughly thatthe poor head aches and the sick man is worried. The things they say, though they are meant to be kind, are the sort of remarksthat pour vinegar into your wounds! They do not understand the condition of a sufferer and so they say all their words thewrong way upwards. If Christians are to be comforters, they must learn the art of comforting by being themselves tried! Theycannot learn it otherwise.
Our Blessed Master, having lived a life of suffering, understands the condition of a sufferer so well that He knows how tomake a bed for him. "What a strange thing to say!" cries one of my audience. Not at all. David says, "You will make all hisbed in his sickness." He would not have said that if the Lord did not know how to make a bed! There is a
dainty way of beating up a pillow and a peculiar art in shaking up a bed when the sick man is lifted out of it. Yes, and thereis a way of putting on every piece of covering so as to make it a comfort. By this figure we are taught that the Lord JesusChrist knows how to deal with us in the weakness and pain of our affliction. He has become so good a Nurse, so Divine a Physician,so tender a Sympathizer because He has passed through our sorrows. "In all our affliction He was afflicted." "He Himself tookour infirmities and bore our sicknesses."-
"He knows what sore temptations mean For He has felt the same." He has a fitness for dealing with tempted ones.
Let me spend a minute or two in telling you His methods of succoring them that are tempted. He does it in many ways and perhapsthere may be many here who know more about those ways than I do.
Usually He succors the tempted by giving them a sense of His sympathy. They say, "Yes, my Lord is here. He feels for me."That is, in itself, a succor of no mean order. Sometimes He succors them by suggesting to them precious Truths of God whichare the sweet antidote for the poison of sorrow. There is in the Bible a remedy exactly fitted for your grief if you couldonly find it.
Sometimes you lose the key of a drawer and you must have it opened and, therefore, you send for the locksmith and he comesin with a great bunch of keys. Somewhere among them he has a key that will open your drawer. The Bible contains keys thatwill open the iron gates of your trouble and give you freedom from your sorrow. The point is to find out the right promise-andthe Spirit of God often helps us in that matter by bringing the Words of the Lord Jesus to our remembrance. We had never knownthe richness of the Word of God if it had not been that in our varied distresses the Lord has shown us how He foresaw alland provided for all in the Covenant of promise.
Sometimes the Lord succors His people by inwardly strengthening them. "Oh," one has said, "I am under a heavy trouble, butI do not know how it is I can bear it much better than I thought I could." Yes, through Divine Grace, a secret Divine energyis poured into the soul. We are treated, as Mr. Bunyan puts it, by secret supplies of Grace imparted in a hidden manner. Weare like yonder fire. One is throwing water on it and yet it burns on. Behind the wall another is secretly pouring oil onthe fire so that it will keep burning.
I have known the Lord bless His people by making them very weak. The next best thing to being strong in the Lord is to beextremely weak in yourself. They go together, but sometimes they are divided in experience. It is grand to feel, "I will notstruggle any more. I will give up and lie passive in the Lord's hands." Oh, it is the sweetest feeling, I think, outside Heaven!You may think it strange for me to say so, but I believe that as in the center of a cyclone there is a little spot where thereis perfect calm-and as it is said that in the center of the greatest fire that ever burned there is a spot where no fire israging-so there is in a deep sense of yielding up to God in the very center of your pain, grief, misery and your depression-aplace of perfect repose when you have once yielded yourself fully up to God. I know this to be true, even though I may notbe understood.
In these ways He that was tempted, Himself, succors those who are tempted.
III. I will close by thinking of JESUS SOUGHT AFTER. Let us seek Him! Come, you weary, heavy-laden ones, come to Him who isable to succor you! Do not stay away until you are a little comforted, but come in your despair. Do not wait until you havea little more faith, but come just as you are and say to Him, "Dear Lord, You have felt all this and I lie down at Your dearfeet! Do help me, I beseech You!" Let these few thoughts help to bring you now, in prayer and trust and hope, to the feetof this Great High Priest.
First, where else can you go? Who can help a soul like you? Come to Him, then! Men are nothing-miserable comforters are theyall. The cisterns are all broken-come to the Fountain. Come to my Lord! Every other door is shut, but yet you may not despair,for He says, "Behold I set before you an open door."
Where better can you go? Do you need to find a friend able to help you? Do you really need a comrade that can be a brotherto you? To whom should you go but unto your own Lord, the sympathizing Son of Man? To whom better can you go? Do you say thatyou are downcast? Do you tell me you are afraid you are no child of God? Never mind about that! Come as a sinner if you cannotcome as a saint! Do you mourn that you have no good thoughts? Come and confess your bad ones! Do you lament that you are notbroken-hearted over sin as you ought to be? Come, then, to be brokenhearted! Do you mourn that you are unspeakably bad? Thencome at your worst! It is never a good thing if you need a
surgeon, to say, "My bone is broken, but I shall not have it set until it begins to mend." Poor foolish thing! Go while itis broken! O perishing sinner! Cry to the Savior. Ask Him to save you now. Are you, of all men, the worst? Then go to Himwho is the best! Remember He never casts anyone out. Never yet! Not one! I have declared this everywhere and I have said,"If Jesus Christ casts any one of you out when you come to Him, pray let me know, for I do not want to go up and down thecountry telling lies." Again I give the challenge! If my Lord does cast out one poor soul that comes to Him, let me know itand I will give up preaching! I would not have the face to come forward and preach Christ after that, for He, Himself, hassaid it, "Him that comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out," and He would be a false Christ if He acted contrary to His Word!He cannot cast you out! Why should He? "Oh, but then I am so bad." So much the less likely is He to refuse you, for thereis the more room for His Grace.
"I am lost," said Mr. Whitefield's brother to the Countess of Huntingdon. "I am delighted to hear it," said the Countess."Oh," he cried, "what a dreadful thing to say!" "No," she said, "'for the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that whichis lost.' Therefore I know He is come to save you." O Sinner, it would be unreasonable to despair! The more broken you are,the more ruined you are, the more vile you are in your own esteem, so much the more room is there for the display of infinitemercy and power!
Come, then, just as you are, saint or sinner, whoever you may be! Have done with yourself, your good self and your bad self,too, and say, "If I perish I will trust in Jesus." Trust in Jesus and you cannot perish. If you perish believing in Jesus,I must perish with you. I am in the same boat with you. You may be a very seasick passenger and I may be an able-bodied seaman,but if you are drowned, I shall be, for I cannot swim any more than you can. I depend upon the seaworthiness of this vesselof Free Grace in which we are embarked-and we must either reach the Fair Havens together, or sink together. You and I, poorbroken-down one, oh, will we not sing when we get safely to land? Will we not sing? If we once get to Heaven, will we notsing aloud and clash the high-sounding cymbals with all our might? I will contend with you as to which shall praise God themost! You say that you will. I say that I shall! Will we not vie with each other and with all the blood-redeemed ones, singhallelujah to God and the Lamb? If ever such sinners as you and I get inside the gates of Heaven, we will give forth suchoutcries of holy joy and gladness as never came from angels' throats, but can only come from the lips of sinners bought withblood
The Lord, who succors the tempted, Himself, bless and comfort you! Amen.