Sermon 3012. God Comforting His People
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1906.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JULY 11, 1867.
"The LORD has comforted His people." Isaiah 49:13.
THE JOY of the Prophet was too great for him to give adequate expression to it with his own solitary tongue and, therefore,he would have even the angels of God and the redeemed from among men in Heaven to praise the Lord for His super-aboundingmercy! He would also have the redeemed upon earth and all the works of God's hands take up the joyful strain of praise tothe Most High! And he would have even the great mountainous masses of inanimate Nature find tongues with which to expressthe greatness of God's loving kindness and tender mercy in having comforted His people!
And, when we come to think of it rightly, we see at once that it is a theme for wonder, worthy of the consideration of Heavenand of earth that ever the Infinite God should stoop so low as to comfort finite and fallible creatures such as we are. HadHe nothing better to do than that? Were there no more worlds to be created? Were there no other deeds of power and glory tobe performed that He must come to this poor earth to comfort the sick, the sad and the sorrowing? To speak comfortably evento those who had rebelled against Him and to give them peace and joy when their penitent hearts were breaking in earnest longingfor His pardoning mercy? That is a wonderful passage in the 147th Psalm-"He heals the broken in heart, and binds up theirwounds. He counts the number of the stars. He calls them all by their names." He is truly great in the majesty of His power,but He is equally great in the condescending Character of His love and, as "the morning stars sang together, and all the sonsof God shouted for joy" when Jehovah's great creative works were worked, let them not be slack in their music when His condescendingworks are worked-when, from the highest heavens, He stoops to the couch of deepest woe to lift us up from our sins and sorrowsby the power of His eternal love!
Taking the text somewhat out of its immediate context and speaking simply upon these six words, "The Lord has comforted Hispeople," we see that in the first place, the Lord has a people. Secondly, they are a people who need to be comforted. Andthirdly, the Lord gives them the comfort that they need.
I. First, then, it is clear, from the very wording of our text, that THE LORD HAS A PEOPLE. Isaiah does not say, in generalterms that the Lord has comforted the children of men as a whole, but he says, "the Lord has comforted His people." Here is,as Dr. Watts says-
"A garden walled around, Chosen and made peculiar ground! A little spot, enclosed by Grace Out of the world's wide wilderness"-and it is concerning this particular portion of the human race-selected and elected by God-that the Prophet was moved by theHoly Spirit to write, "the Lord has comforted His people."
Observe, in the first place, that the children of God are "His people" in this sense, that they enjoy His special love. Neverlet us doubt the universal benevolence of God. Let us hold it as a fundamental Doctrine that "the Lord is good to all; andHis tender mercies are over all His works." And let us firmly believe that if any man shall be consigned to carnal misery,it will be because it is just that he should so suffer and he has brought his terrible doom upon his own head, for, as theApostle Peter tells us, God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Yet, we mustnever forget that inside this universal love, there is a private, secret, distinguishing, discriminating love which is setonly upon those whom God chose, before the foundation of the world, to be His own peculiar people. Paul writes to his
son, Timothy, "We trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." And Moses, longbefore, was Inspired to write, "The Lord's portion is His people." There is something peculiarly personal in His affectionfor them. He is kind and generous to all His creatures, but He is lavishly liberal to His own people. And Paul bids us imitatehim when he says, "Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
The Lord, then, has a people whom He regards with a special love which is not shed abroad in the hearts of others. These peopleHe set apart for Himself from eternity. They are a people who are near and dear unto Him, to whom He says, by the pen of theApostle Peter, "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forththe praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
They are not only God's people because He has thus chosen them unto Himself, but because, having fallen into sin, they arenow His by particular and special redemption. Again let me remind you that the Scriptures plainly teach us that the Atonementof our Lord Jesus Christ has a universal bearing and it seems to me that those who limit the value of the Atonement do mostseriously err from the faith. I believe the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was so Infinite that if there had been ten thousandworlds full of sinners to have been redeemed, it was amply sufficient to have redeemed them all! Paul writes to Timothy, "Thereis one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the Man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testifiedin due time." And I am not known to put a limit where I see no limit put by God's Word. Yet, notwithstanding that Truth ofGod, you cannot diligently read the Scriptures and study them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit without learning thatthere is a special aim and objective in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself said, "I lay down My lifefor the sheep." The singers in Heaven, in their new song, declare that "these were redeemed from among men"-they were boughtout of the great mass of mankind, "not with corruptible things, as silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ,as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Paul says that "Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it."
The special objective of Christ, in coming to this world, was that He might "save His people from their sins." That is thevery meaning of His name, Jesus. It is in them that redemption attains its great end. It is in them that Christ sees of thetravail of His soul and is satisfied. It is for each of them, personally and individually, that the Lord Jesus Christ shedHis blood on Calvary with the distinct purpose of saving them. Christ did not die for Judas as He did for Peter. He did notshed His blood for Demas as He shed it for Paul. There is, in the redemptive work of Christ, an inner and select circle intowhich none but those who are spiritually quickened by the Spirit of God are ever privileged to enter-and herein, Beloved,we see that God has a people who are specially His-a people especially loved and specially redeemed.
These same people, too, are especially called by the Spirit of God. Again, to keep up the parallel with which I commenced,let me remind you that all sinners are called to repentance and faith in Christ wherever the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed.It is true that Christ Himself said, "Many are called, but few are chosen," yet the call of the Gospel is a universal callto all mankind. Wisdom truly says, "Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men," but, Beloved, there is anothercall, a special, peculiar, personal, effectual callby which only the Lord's chosen and redeemed people are called out fromamong the mass of men by whom they are surrounded. The New Testament title for the Church of Christ is the ecclesia-the assemblyof those who are "called out" from among men by the distinguishing Grace of God. The Holy Spirit has breathed upon those whowere, spiritually, like the dry bones in the valley-and they have "stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army." Thoughthey were, once, heirs of wrath even as others, and far off from God by wicked works, they have been brought near by the bloodof Christ and now they are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." They are now regenerated, quickened and so completelychanged that "all things have become new" with them! They now enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a way which othersknow nothing at all. The Holy Spirit may "strive" with some men who ultimately perish, yet He does not operate upon them asHe does upon those in whom He works effectually, making them what He would have them to be, without violating their will,yet so effecting the Divine Purpose as to constrain them to be obedient to the will of the Most High.
These, then, are the Lord's people-especially loved, especially redeemed and especially called.
Besides that, they are especially cared for in the world. God's Providential care extends not only to the righteous, but alsoto the wicked-yes, and not only to the wicked among men, but to the very beasts of the field. You know what I said to you,the other Sabbath morning, about the God who makes the grass to grow for the cattle. [See Sermon No. 767, Volume
13-IN THE HAY FIELD] It is the same great Provider who feeds the
young ravens when they cry, and the hungry lions when they roar for their food. God's Providence not only extends to mankindin general, and to the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the innumerable fish in the sea, but also to everyatom of matter in the universe. The grain of dust that is blown from the threshing floor is steered as certainly as "the starsin their courses." It is the same God who provides for the little and for the great-though all must be infinitely little toHim who alone is great. Yet, while all that I have said is true, we cannot read the Bible without knowing that there is aspecial Providence always watching over and caring for the people of God. That comforting assurance in Psalm 34:7 applies not to all men, but only to some men-"The Angel of the Lord encamps around them that fear Him, and delivers them."Then there is that cheering question concerning the holy angels, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister"-notfor all men, but-"for them who shall be heirs of salvation" Turn to Romans 8:28. "We know that all things work together for good"-to whom? Not to every son or daughter of Adam, but-"to them that love God,to them who are the called according to His purpose." The wheels of Divine Providence are like those wheels which Ezekielsaw-full of eyes, but everyone of those eyes gazes upon everything out of love to the chosen people of God who are thus especiallycared for, as well as especially loved, especially redeemed and especially called.
I need not try to describe the sense in which the saints are to be God's people throughout the never-ending eternity of blisswhich is especially reserved for them. It will suffice if I remind you that God has said of them that they are to be His specialtreasure, His royal regalia, His crown jewels-"They shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels."Just as a man sometimes says of a certain thing that he prizes beyond everything else, "I will give all else away, but I willreserve this for myself," so God gives to kings and princes the power to rule in the world and He frequently gives to theungodly the very fat of the land-but He gives away everything but His people-and of them He says, "They shall be Mine." Heclaims such complete ownership of them that He will never give them away. For them the Lord Jesus Christ came into this worldand lived, loved, labored and died. For them that same Jesus still lives to plead before His Father's Throne above. Theirnames are engraved on His hands and on His heart. He carries them upon His shoulders as the shepherd carries the sheep thatwas lost and He will never let go His hold of any one of them till He has brought it home and called together the holy angelsand the redeemed from among men, and said to them, "Rejoice with Me, for I have found My sheep which was lost."
Thus I have shown you that God has a people.
II. Now, secondly, and very briefly, because I do not want to make the roll of lamentation too long, THEY ARE A PEOPLE WHONEED TO BE COMFORTED.
You never find God giving any blessings that are not really required. "Works of supererogation" are talked of by fools andknaves, but such works are never performed by God, nor by man either! So that, when the Lord comforts His people it is becausethey needcomfort.
If I began to tell you why the people of God need to be comforted, you would think that I was attempting a work of supererogation!You do not need to be told that-some of you can find enough reasons in your own recollections to assure you that the peopleof God often need comfort. Yet I may, perhaps, give you one or two reasons that occur to me.
We need comfort because we are in the valley of tears. We do not travel long in that gloomy valley without finding that thedewdrops of tears are hanging thickly every morning and every evening upon the briers and the brambles by the wayside. Manyof you have troubles in your family and they are very heavy troubles. Some of you have dead crosses in the form of those whohave been taken from you, and living crosses-which are much heavier to carry-in the form of those who seem to live only totrouble you. Others of you meet with serious losses in your business and you have to ask how that bill is to be met and howthat liability can be honorably discharged. There are troubles in the house and troubles in the field-troubles on the landand troubles on the sea and, worst of all, there are troubles even in the Church of God.
"Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." But when we were born-again, we were born to a double set of troubles.Both our births bring us troubles! Our first birth brings us the troubles that are incident to sin and our second birth bringsus the troubles that are incident to fighting against sin. But, though we get a double share of trouble, we get a double share,a triple share, a sevenfold share, a thousand-fold share of joy when we become partakers of the new life in Christ Jesus!There are troubles incident to ordinary manhood and troubles incident to Christian manhood. But the worst trouble of all isthat caused by our inbred sin. I would not mind all the trouble that comes from the world if I could but get rid of sin-ifI could but live without temptation, or even with temptation if it came only from the devil. We could manage very well, evenwith him, if it were not for the evil that is within our own hearts-for we are worse enemies to ourselves than even the devilis! Our great enemy cannot do us much harm if he is kept locked outside the gates-as long as there is no traitor within thewalls of Mansoul to admit him into the castle of our heart. The sailor does not fear the roaring billows outside his vessel,but when he finds that a leak in the ship gives the water power to rise in the hold, then he begins to fear. And, alas, wehave many a leak in the ship of our soul and, in that way, temptation gets great power over us. We need comfort from God whilewe are wrestling with inbred sin. That fearful trinity, "the world, the flesh and the devil," will keep a Christian from imaginingthat this world is his rest, for one or other of them will stuff his pillow with thorns and make his bed hard for him to lieon and cause the pilgrimage of his life to be like passing through a hedge of thorns and briers which lacerate the flesh andweary the spirit.
The sorrows of God's people not only come from within and from without, from Satan beneath and from the world around, butthey also come from God, Himself, when He chastens His people for their good. Is there any son, anywhere, whom his fatherchastens not? If so, he is not a son of God, for He "scourges every son whom He receives." Among the mercies of the Covenant,the rod is very conspicuous, and when the Lord chastens us with it, He causes us to smart! Yet every twig of the rod is sanctifiedand every stroke we receive from it is for our lasting good.
I said that I would not enlarge upon this part of the subject. Neither will I. But I know that there is not a little troublein the lives of many whom I am now addressing. As I look around this area and these galleries-though I know far less of manyof you than I would like to know, and if there were fewer of you, I could know you better-I remember some of your sorrowsand I know that many of you are seldom long at ease, yet, with all your troubles, you enjoy that peace which is like a river,for you have learned to drink of that river, the streams of which make glad the city of our
III. Now I must pass on to the third point which is more comforting to us. It is this-as God has a people who need to be comforted,the Prophet Isaiah is Inspired to tell us that "THE LORD HAS COMFORTED HIS PEOPLE.
It is profitable to us to note the various ways in which God has provided for our comfort in our ever-recurring sorrows. Heknew that we should have many fountains of grief and, therefore, He appointed quite as many fountains of joy and even more.And besides opening the fountains for us, blessed be His name, He draws the water for us and puts it to our parched lips,as the Holy Spirit applies to us the precious promises which God has provided for us in His never-failing fountain of comfort.
In the first place, in providing for the comfort of His people, God has been pleased to give us this grand old Book, the Bible.What a storehouse of comfort this is! Many times have we gone to it, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we have nevergone there without finding a portion that just exactly met our needs. Some of you, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ are,perhaps, in old Giant Despair's castle, but if you use this precious Book rightly, you will find in it a key that will openevery lock in Doubting Castle and make the way clear for you to pass through the great iron gate. O Beloved, what would wedo without this Bible of ours? Let us prize it, among other reasons, because through it, "the Lord has comforted His people."
Then He has also been pleased to give us that blessed institution which is not second in importance even to the Bible, namely,the Mercy Seat. Wherever we may be, that Mercy Seat is always accessible! What a mercy it is that there are no longer anyspecially holy places, like the Temple at Jerusalem but that-
"Wherever we seek Him, He is found, And everyplace is hallowed ground!" If I thought that I had always to go up to a certain"sacred" building in order to be able to pray to God, or that there were certain "holy" hours in which it was right to pray,I would often be miserable-but it is not so. At midnight, in prison, prayer is in season and in place, for Paul and Silasthus prayed at Philippi-and the prison walls began to shake and the prison doors flew open! Prayer is in season at all hours,for David says, "Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice." No matter whereyou are, nor into what state you may have fallen, nor how low and desponding you feel-and no matter how sinful you are-forGod has said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me." After providing for us theMercy Seat, over which is written, "Ask,
and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," surely you may truly say, "TheLord has comforted His people!"
You all know that prayer to God is necessary in great things, but it is equally necessary in little things. None of you doubtthat when much is at stake you ought to pray, but you ought equally to pray when little is at stake. I do not think that manytrue Believers go wrong in the difficult places of their pilgrimage, for they then kneel down and ask God's guidance. Andso they go right. But when they get to the very plain places, they think they know all about the road and then it is thatthey are sure to make a mistake. The warrior was not slain in battle for lack of courage, nor for want of armor-why was heslain? It was because one nail was missing from his horse's shoe, as the old saying puts it, "For the want of a nail, theshoe was lost; for the want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for the want of a horse, the rider was lost"- and many a Christianhas been almost lost "for the want of a nail." Mind that you look after the nails and take care of them. Take the little thingsto God in prayer, for the little is the mother of the great and that of the greater, and even the little is great if we onlylook at it rightly. Just as the brush of a bird's wing sets the first snow-flakes moving, which afterward accumulate intoa ball, which grows into a great mass, which comes rushing down the mountain in a mighty avalanche, so it is the little thingthat sets the great in motion! And it is for this that we need particularly to enquire of the Lord-
"There is no sorrow, Lord, too light To bring in prayer to Thee. There is no anxious care too slight To wake Your sympathy.You who have trod the thorny road Will share each small distress. The love which bore the greater load Will not refuse theless."
Besides that, He has been graciously pleased to give us the means of Grace. I trust that you have often gone out of this Houseof Prayer saying, "Truly, 'the Lord has comforted His people' this morning." Or, "We have certainly had our burdens takenaway from us while we have been listening to His precious Truth this evening." When God the Holy Spirit has spoken throughthe preacher, you have found that the Word preached has been to you a delightful spiritual repast and cordial, so that youhave been able, at least for the time, to forget your sorrows!
The Lord has, however, comforted us in a still higher way, by forgiving all our sins. I recollect the time when I would gladlyhave made a strange bargain with God, if He would have agreed to it. My sin was such an awful burden to me that I thoughtthat if I might but have it all pardoned, I would even be willing to be imprisoned for a hundred years. If you have ever feltthe weight of your sin, you must acknowledge that there is no bodily affliction that is at all comparable to it. If you oncereally know, by sad personal experience, what the word, "guilt," means-if its horrors are clearly revealed to your soul-youwill be distracted in mind and know not what to do. And you will admit that all the griefs that could possibly be heaped uponyou could not equal the horror of great darkness which comes over the soul under a sense of sin. But, then, "the Lord hascomforted His people," because He has forgiven their sin. Your coat may be threadbare, my Brother, but your sins are forgivenyou for Christ's sake! Your loaf may be but a very small one, and your bed may be a very hard one, but, being justified byfaith, you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! If you are the very poorest of God's saints, in pardoning yoursins "the Lord has comforted His people." Is not this the best comfort you could possibly have? Long ago the Prophet Isaiahwas Inspired to write, "Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God. Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry untoher, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." The forgiveness of all their sins is the greatest comfortthat the Lord's people can ever enjoy!
Moreover, in addition to giving us the pardon of all our sins, the Lord has graciously adopted us into His family. Ah, poorson of toil, your brow may often be covered with sweat, but you shall, by-and-by, be made like unto your Divine Elder Brother,for you have become, by Grace, a child of God! How delightful it is to us to know that "we have received the Spirit of adoption,whereby we cry, Abba, Father"! There is no other peace like this, no other joy like this! The angel Gabriel has not half somuch reason to be happy as I have. It is true that he has not my cares, nor my troubles, but then, he is not a child of God,for, as Paul wisely asks, "Unto which of the angels said He at any time, You are My
Son?"But He does say that to us who have believed in His Son, Jesus Christ! We are the sons and daughters of the Most HighGod! The holy angels are highly favored in having been kept from sinning, yet the Son of God took not up angels, but He becamea Man that He might redeem us from destruction and, through Him, we are brought into closer communion with God than the angelsever have! Oh, what cause we have, then, for thankfulness when we think of our adoption as well as of our pardon!
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I have not time to even mention all the blessings which are already in your possession.Truly, the full roll of them would need eternity in which to display it rightly before your eyes, "for all things are yours...whetherthe world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours and you are Christ's and Christ is God's."So you have every reason to rejoice and no cause to be disconsolate, for God has comforted you with the richest of consolationsin the blessings which He has already bestowed upon you!
But think of what is yet to come! Let the pearly gates be opened for a moment. You will soon be inside them-how soon, noneof us can tell. Unless our Lord shall first come-as He may-we who have believed in Jesus shall all pass through the gatesof pearl and our disembodied spirits shall see our Savior face to face! Glory be to God, there is a crown there that no headbut yours shall wear, Believer! A harp that no hands but yours shall play, a mansion that none but you shall inhabit. Withoutyou, Christ's mystical body would not be complete-one of its members would be missing without you! The hallelujah chorus ofHeaven would lack some of its jubilant notes and the eternal orchestra would miss one of its players on golden harps-so youmust be brought there. The Apostle Paul, speaking of glorified saints who have gone to Heaven before us, says, "They withoutus should not be made perfect." They must have us to perfect the company of the redeemed, to gather in Glory the full complementof the elect! Come, Brothers and Sisters, take off your sackcloth and ashes. Take down your harps from the willows. Put awaythe sackbut and bring out the Psaltery and all kinds ofjoyous music, and let us sing, in the words of the familiar hymn-
"My God, I'll praise You while I live,
And praise You when I die!
And praise You when I rise again,
And to all eternity."
Well now, what follows from all that I have been saying to you? This question surely follows-who would not be one of the Lord'speople I pity those of you who have great grief, but no consolation. I do not know how some of you manage even to live! Youwork hard, but what do you get by it all-food and raiment? Yes, and then you go on again and again, and all your life is likethat of the blind horse at the mill, going round and round and round, and you never make any real progress. You bring up yourchildren-in a fashion. You grow old, and you die, and that is the end. It would be better for you if it were the end, but,alas, there is something far worse to come! How can you keep on living as you do, without any objective beyond this poor grovelingworld? I can understand a Christian galley-slave, chained to the oar and flogged all day long, feeling that he was livingup to the dignity of a man in Christ Jesus, for he could say, "I have a Savior on high and though my legs and wrists are bound,yet my free, immortal spirit has fellowship with the eternal God." But I cannot understand how men can work on, day afterday, or, being above work, can roll along in their carriages and yet have no thought beyond this present, sin-stained world!It is not even fit for immortal spirits to think much about-it is too base, too scant, too poor, too barren a thing to satisfyimmortals! Its atmosphere is a coverlet too narrow for a man to wrap himself and all that earth calls good or great is a bedtoo short for a never-dying spirit to stretch itself upon! How do you live without your God? Especially you who are sick andill! You young people who have consumption stamped upon your cheeks-you young men who are mortally ill and know you must soondepart, you graybeards who are not only awaiting the assaults of Death, but are already attacked by him-how can any of youbear the thought that God's short sword of Infallible Justice is furbished against you? How can you make mirth on the veryedge of the bottomless Pit? Oh, that you would flee away to Christ, lay hold upon Him by a simple faith and so be saved forever!
If a man suffers much trouble, some persons draw from that an inference that he is one of God's people. I have sometimes heardvery great professors of religion pacify their consciences with the idea that because they were going through much tribulation,they must, therefore, inherit the Kingdom-because they were tried and troubled, they have, therefore, inferred that they mustnecessarily be the children of God. Let such understand that there is a rod for the wicked as well as a rod for the righteous!'Tis true that many go through much tribulation to the Kingdom of Heaven,
but it is equally true that many go through all their tribulations to the depths of Hell. "Well" says good Mr. Watson, anold Puritan, "The path to Hell is hard and rough to many. Many a man has gone to Perdition in the sweat of his brow and hastoiled harder to win for himself eternal damnation than ever the Christian has labored to serve his Master." I doubt not thatthis is exactly the truth, or may even come short of it!
There is another thought that is suggested by what I have been saying. It is this, If God comforts His people, we should imitateHim. If we are His, let us be God-like. I do not know when a man is more like God than when he wipes the tears from a mourner'seyes. God wipes away the tears from all eyes in Heaven, so, whenever we have wiped a tear from the eye of a saint here below,we have been doing similar work to God's. If you do not yet know what joy and satisfaction are to be found in helping thefatherless and the widow, I hope you will all soon have that joy and satisfaction by helping them in every way that you can.When you go to visit the widow and see those many little children, their heads rising one above another like a set of stairs,the father dead, the mother doing a little needlework to provide for her children- when you see all this, I am sure you willhelp them all you can! It has been a great joy to some of us, this very night, to receive some six or seven fatherless childreninto the Orphanage which has yet to be built-and we could not help feeling great joy as we accepted them. There is great joyin helping the fatherless and the widow, relieving the poor and needy, comforting those who are broken-hearted, speaking acheering word to the mourner, or a guiding word to the soul that is seeking Christ, repeating a word of promise in the earof a backslider, or of one who, for a while, has lost his evidences. So, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as God has comfortedHis people, mind that you try to do the same good work, remembering that in ministering to them, you are also ministeringto HIM, as our hymn puts it-
"They who feed YOUR sick and faint
For YOURSELF a banquet find!
They who clothe the naked saint
Round YOUR loins the raiment bind!" And then, finally, as Godhas comforted His people, why do they go about the worldas iftheywere not comforted I thank God that there are so many members of this Church the sight of whose face is enough to make usglad even in the worse weather! Some of my Brothers and Sisters, when I am the most disconsolate, cheer me up with the verygrasp of their hands! These are cheerful Christians who live near to God and who so firmly believe in Christ that they willnot believe the devil's lie when he tells them that God has forsaken them. Dear Brothers and Sisters, should we not all tryto be like them? It is a great blessing to be of a happy, thankful spirit and to carry a cheerful countenance wherever wego. Yet some Christians, when you go to see them, are always telling you how poor they are, how badly they have had the rheumatism,how many aches and pains and trials and troubles they have, and so on. I remember one visitor who had heard this sort of storyso often from one good old lady whom he used to visit, that one day he said to her, "My dear Sister, I have heard all aboutyour troubles so many times that I think I could repeat them word for word! So could you now change the subject for once,and tell me something about your joys?" Whenever we must touch the mournful theme, let us do as the swallow does when it justbrushes the brook with its wing and flies up into the clear air as if its whole being were full of joy. So let it be withus-sometimes touching the waters of trouble, as we must, yet swiftly mounting in sweet contemplation and holy meditation-leavingthe sinful, sorrowing world behind us and entering into the very Presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ-
"Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?
Great Comforter, descend and bring
Some tokens of Your Grace." God bless you, dear Friends, with the Spirit of consolation! The Holy Spirit is the Comforter!May He comfort you, for Jesus' sake! Amen!