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Although the whole of His word is not—let who will deal harshly with of himself or from himself, and woe be her I will not; “I will allure her and to us if we undervalue any part of his bring her into the wilderness,” and word; I speak not of a woe of des. when she is there, I will not leave her to truction, but I am sure of a woe of be terrified in the wilderness, but there loss; although the whole be God's I will “speak comfortably unto her." word, yet there is emphasis in this— It is the whole administration of God, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, it is the whole tenor of his dealings SAITH your God.” It is the God of providentially and graciously. He alcomfort, the God of all comfort that lures her into the wilderness, and there here speaks comfortably to his people. he speaks comfortably unto her. I And what is the message he sends to need hardly remind you of our Lord's them? It is concerning the consola- legacy which I lately preached upontion of Israel. And by whom does he * Peace I leave with you, my peace I speak effectually? It is by the Holy give unto you; not as the world giveth, Spirit, the Comforter; and the more give I unto you." you and I know of him as the Holy But there are other portions of Spirit, the Comforter, the more shall the word to which I would call your we understand these few words attention. When the Apostle Paul, in “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, the fifteenth chapter of the Romans saith your God.”
and fourth verse, speaks of the ScripI know there is a danger of our tures, he says, “ Whatsoever things thinking too much of comfort, and one were written aforetime, were written may only value the word preached for our learning; that we through paas it administers comfort ; this is a tience and comfort of the Scriptures great error, because all Scripture is might have hope." So that one great given by inspiration of God, and is end which even the Scriptures have in profitable for doctrine, for reproof, as view, is not only to lead us to patience in well as for comfort ; although I do suffering, but to comfort us under suf. believe that the word that comforts us fering. You will observe, too, that when the most is often that which reproves the apostle speaks of prophesying, in the us the most deeply. But whilst there first epistle to the Corinthians, fouris a danger of valuing truth preached teenth chapter, third verse, he says, according to the measure of comfort it “ He that prophesieth, speaketh unto affords at the time, still most surely men to edification, and exhortathe whole tenor of the Gospel is an tion, and comfort.” When the same administration of comfort. If you turn apostle speaks of his own tribulation to the second chapter of Hosea and in the second epistle, first chapter, the fourteenth verse, you will see how sixth verse, he says, “And whether we the Lord deals with his people ; and I be afflicted, it is for your consolation, trust some of us can transcribe it out and salvation, which is effectual in of that chapter into our own lives, and the enduring of the same sufferings say, thus hath the Lord dealt with which we also suffer : or whether we
“Therefore, behold, I will allure be comforted, it is for your consolation her”—I will draw her gently step by and salvation.” Turn to the epistle step as she is able to bear it-I will to the Thessalonians, and there obdeal gently with her—I will not over- serve how the apostle exhorts the Thes. drive the little ones, nor despise those salonian church speaking of the coming that are with young; but I will allure of the Lord, “ Then we which are her; let who will despise her I will alive and remain, shall be caught up
ARE HERE SPOKEN TO.
together with them in the clouds, to Now observe, Secondly, THE PERmeet the Lord in the air : and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Then “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.” observe, he says, “Wherefore comfort The Lord has a people upon earthone another with these words"-en- He has never been without a people. courage one another. And observe, in He has a people whom he loveth, and the eleventh verse of the next chapter, has loved with an everlasting love-he he says, “ Wherefore comfort your- chose them in his Son before the world selves together, and edify one another, was. These are they that are redeemed even as also ye do ;” and in the four- by precious blood--these are they that teenth verse, “Comfort the feeble- are called by sovereign grace-these minded, support the weak, be patient are men that sigh and cry and mourn toward all men.” Do not say they for inward sin—these are they that are dark and legal, but comfort them. feel the festering plague within-these Do not find fault with them, but com- are they that are taught to mourn over fort them and encourage them, and secret principles as well as outward tell them they must look out of them carnality. And if you ask them for selves to Christ in order to be com- the character of their spirits, they will forted. So that we find the Lord tell you at once it is found in the seventh whether he speak by his gracious deal- chapter of the Romans. “ The good ings, his providential dealings, or whe. that I would, I do not; but the evil ther he speak by his word, by his pro- which I would not, that I do.” Or if phets, by his apostles, yet, still he says, you contend against that interpreta“Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people." tion of God's word—and I wonder if
But observe, The Lord is the Speaker. ye do so—yet I will take you to conOh, my dear hearers, it is one thing fessions you must make : “ We have for man to speak comfort, it is another left undone what things thou hast comthing for God to speak comfort. Let manded, and we have done what thou it be our earnest prayer that with the hast forbidden, and there is no health in word of Jehovah there may be power
Look not upon us, but look upon to-day. “When he giveth quietness, the face of thy anointed,” who then can make trouble, and when Yes, the Lord has a people, and he he hideth his face, who then can be loves them as the apple of his eye ; hold him.”—Job, xxxiv. 29. Let the and he has given costly proof of it; for affliction of the afflicted bear witness he gave his own Son to die for their how he can dry up tears—let the sins. It was for them he was wounded trouble of the troubled bear witness and bruised and put to grief. It was how he can deliver and how he can for them that he watered his couch support, how one word of his applied with his tears. It was for them he was by his blessed Spirit can give a liberty, spit upon and bare reproach and cona quietness, and a rest the world knows tumely, and was content to die. It is nothing of. And while the world which for them he pleads in heaven at this lieth in darkness is a stranger to all moment. When you and I think upon real comfort, yet remember that God our poor prayers—when we reflect himself condescends to be the comforter upon our unpraising praises—when we of his people; and whilst he makes use think what sins have been committed of men, whilst he sends ministers, whilst within these walls when others have in a sermon, in a conversation he may thought us, as our brother confessed to speak, yet it is himself that gives the day in his prayer, so holy, living so near comfort-nobody but himself.
to God; and yet the heart knoweth its
own bitterness, and a stranger inter- Corinthians, sixth chapter and sixteenth meddleth not with it; but the Lord verse, you read, “And what agreement knoweth it altogether; yet in the midst hath the temple of God with idols? for of all, the Lord pleadeth at the right ye are the temple of the living God: as hand of God as our great intercessor; God hath said, I dwell in them, and I when we have ceased to pray, his walk in them; and I will be their God prayers go up as much incense, and and they shall be my people.” Oh I hope his boundless merit pleadeth louder for never to forget that truth of that dear us than all our evil ingratitude can man of God Goodwin, describing all ever plead against us.
the blessings of the covenant, he says, The Lord has a people; and if he “ The covenant has all fulness, granhas a people he will try them, and they deur, and glory, yet the greatest of shall not be found summer flies just all is, that God is the God of his resting on the surface of things, but people—that he has made himself over they shall be found to be those that as their God—that he not only has know the truth in the power of it, and taken their nature—that he not only they shall be made to feel and experi. watches over them by night and by day, ence the worth of it. It shall not be but that he has made himself over as enough for them to say I am a sinner, their God—that there is not a perfection but they shall feel the wretchedness of of his nature but what is their bulwark being a sinner, they shall not only that there is not an attribute of his confess that Christ is precious, but name but what is that wall of fire that they shall be placed where they shall surrounds them night and day.” know him to be precious. Be assured, My dear hearers, if you have God my dear hearers, there is nothing that for your God I will suppose you poor, lies more upon my heart at this present and empty, and tried, and outwardly moment when I am preaching, than wretched— I will suppose you friendthe full consciousness that when the less and homeless“I will suppose the Lord cometh he will find numbers that most destitute case that ever has been, have thought themselves Christians, or ever can be in this world, and yet it who have thought that they shall see and when you go to your cheerless residence that they now know Christ, and when you have God as your God, I would that solemn hour shall come, their pro- say with abasement and reverence of fession shall be found to be nothing but soul, you have more cause to bless a mere empty lamp in their hand. Oh, God, you have more cause to adore him, there is something deeply affecting in all you have more cause to shout for joy this ! God will try his own work-he than the highest angel or archangel will put his own people in trials and that is now surrounding his throne. temptations, and there shall not be a Talk not of your wretchedness and grace of his spirit but what shall be your poverty and your disease-talk tried. He will put his gold into the not of your weakness and nothingness, furnace-he will put his people into if God be your God not only heaven is the valley of humiliation in order that your home but you have that without they may know and feel the worth of which heaven would not be worth the the great deliverer.
having. The Lord has a people; and it is a God has a people-no wonder then most blessed consideration to reflect he comforts them—his eye is upon that while he has a people, he is their them from the beginning of the year to God. If you turn to the epistle to the the end of the year. They are the salt of the earth to him, and he that touches | David had his courtiers-David had his them touches the apple of his eye. An harp-David was a man of taste and a unkind word to them is an unkind man of war, but what did David es. word to himself, and every cup of cold teem to be that which made him blesswater given to them is the same as if ed? Look to the thirty-second Psalm : they gave it to the God of heaven. “ Blessed is he whose transgression is Jesus himself tells you so—he himself forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessproclaims it—" inasmuch as you have ed is the man unto whom the Lord done it unto the least of these my imputeth not iniquity, and in whose brethren, ye have done it unto me." spirit there is no guile.” My dear
But now observe the Lord's MES- brethren, the great contest Satan has SAGE UNTO HIS MINISTERS. “Com- with our consciences is about the parfort ye, comfort ye, my people." don of our sins, be assured of it. When
The great cause of comfort to a child you and I draw near to death, or think of God may be summed up in a little we draw near to death, when something sentence, through eternity he never shall of a cold shiver comes on us that recome to the close of it. Christ is his minds us—thou mayst be summoned portion; and if you turn to the first from time into eternity—this may be epistle of the Corinthians, third chap- God's message to thy soul—this may ter, twenty-second and twenty-third be that moment when thy soul may be verses, you find, that as he who required of thee, be assured that Satan's has the cabinet has all that is in the great controversy with us will be about cabinet, so he that has Christ, who the pardon of our sins. And I would is the rich gist of the Father's love say, what can render a man peaceful to his church, he has all in him. at that moment? Do you want to Observe “Whether Paul, or Apollos, weigh the world—bring out the scales or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, of it-place a man under a wretched or things present, or things to come; agonizing conscience, and then put beall are yours; and ye are Christ's, fore him all that is in the worldmput and Christ is God's.” The Lord the wife of his bosom, put his children does not say, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, weeping, put his estates, put his momy people,” without giving them cause ney, his titles, his rank, his influence, for comfort. They have Christ the and he will tell you that they are all as consolation of Israel as their portion ; | the bubble that bursteth ; but one view they have all things because they have of God's pardoning love, a drop of that Christ, whether things presentor things | blood sprinkled on his heart, a sense of to come, all are yours because Christ | God's love shed abroad on his spirit by is yours. The weakest believer has the Eternal Spirit, and how quietly Christ, and he that has Christ has God, can he then lay his head upon his piland he has every blessing in Christ low, how quietly can he commend whether it be for time or for eternity. himself into the arms of his father
And now let me point out some few when he can realize that truth “blessed of those great and glorious and stu- is he whose iniquity is forgiven and pendous mercies that flow to a child whose sin is covered.” Well might of God in consequence of his having the people of God then be comforted Christ as his portion. He has that by this truth that their sins have all which made David glad. Look at the been blotted out as a cloud, and as a thirty-second Psalm. See what it was thick cloud their transgressions—that that David counted blessing. Just by the though their sins be as scarlet, yet inasway remark, David had his throne much as they have received Christ, they
have received all forgiveness in him, and But, my dear hearers, David found by one drop of his blood they are another cause of comfort; and if you washed as white as snow.
turn to the seventy-third Psalm and Do you ask us for another ground the last verse, you shall find in what of comfort? See it in a covenant, or- he found it-a Throne of Grace: “It dered in all things.-2 Sam. xxiii. 5. is good for me to draw near to Precious verse. Those fathers must love God." There is no mercy on earth it, I think, who have the love of God in greater than to have a God in hea. their heart.“ Although my house be ven, and to have that God as oursnot so with God”—I do not see what to have an intercessor at the right I wish to see altogether—I see some hand—to have an intercessor in my things that affect me, and some things own soul-to have the heart of God that abase me, and some things that to have the promise of God to have afflict me; but “although my house the covenant of God—to have Jehovah be not so with God, yet he hath himself as my portion. Oh, blessed made with me an everlasting cove- happiness ! high and exalted mercy! nant, ordered in all things and sure: “ It is good for me,” says David, “to for this is all my salvation, and all draw near to God." I feel persuaded, my desire, although he make it not and I humbly thank God for it, that I to grow.” Though where one has am addressing numbers that have felt expected sunshine, all is darkness— the mercy that I am speaking of. You where one has expected things straight, know the worth of the throne of God, all have been crooked—where one has you have known what it is to turn to been prepared for a smooth path, all the wall and pray-you have known has been found rough ; yet has the what it is to shed tears down your Lord made with me an everlasting co-cheeks and to take them to the Lord venant ordered in all its minute details, you have known what it is to go with Jesus the great stay of it, the great a sinking spirit, and place your sinking Mediator of it, having all the blessings spirit in the hands of a tender Saviour of it not only in his hand but in his —you have known what it was when heart. He is the blessed Eliakim on others have said, why do you feel so whom hang all the vessels great and much? You can say, I can take my small, and hanging there, they hang fluttering heart and place it in the bofor eternity. Oh, you that are build- som of my Father and my God. And ing on this world's sandy foundation, have you found it so to day? Oh, is you that have nothing better to go to there a mercy like it? whether it be in your homes with than the smiles of the street or in our houses—whether friends, and the welcomes of affection it be at our homes—whether it be with -you that can see your comforts the world or with the saints—wherever thick around you but are strangers to God places us—not where we place these truths I am speaking of, re- ourselves—but wherever God places us, member what must be the bliss of that is it not good my brother, is it not good soul who can look at a trouble and say, my sister, to draw near to God? When God has ordered it for my mercy-and the Spirit taketh away thy unbelief, who can look at a deliverance though reproving thy hard thoughts, thy misit be but as a hair of the head, or a givings, thy lack of expectation, giveth sparrow that falleth to the ground, and thee freedom in the presence of thy say, It is my Father, my Father. It was Father, and thou canst go and lay this that made David's heart glad, when thy request on his altar, and leave the prospect was black around him. it there, and then look up and expect