For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are…
If God is a merciful High Priest to all, in all circumstances, and according to the law of humanity, the, He must needs have sympathy and tender regard for man, not in those sufferings alone which are brought upon them without their own fault, but in that vast flow of daily follies, and sins, and prejudices, and stumblings, and slidings, that go to make up human life. Divine sympathy for mere misfortune we have, and it is a great mercy; and if there were no other sympathy than that, it would still be a great mercy; but it would go only a little way towards alleviating human suffering. The want of the heart does not lie chiefly in the things that are brought upon us without any agency of our own. Hence, sympathy, to be efficacious, and to meet the wants of human life, must take man in his sinful nature, and in his actual experience. That which Christ came to do was to seek and to save the lost; not those simply that were lost by others' fault, but those that were lost by their own fault. God in Christ is a Father with plenary paternal attributes and feelings. Consider what a parent — a being infinitely lower, less sensitive, and less capable of moral greatness — will do for a child. How much he will bear I how much he will forget I how much he will forgive! And shall God be thought to be less than a man? Shall He who is greater than man in the direction of goodness, of patience, of glorious lovingkindness, be capable of less forbearance towards His children than an earthly father manifests towards his? God's tender thought, and His compassionate sympathy, are a refuge into which every man may run — and then most when most lie needs some refuge and some strength. Let us select a few occasions that shall bring us to God. In general, it may be said that all emergencies in which the heart can find no rest and comfort in the use of the ordinary instruments of consolation are among those occasions. There are times of great physical suffering, in which men are justified in appropriating this promise and this exhortation, and going directly for help to God. There is a cold physical philosophy, a stoical indifference, or stoical strength, upon which one may lean in suffering; but this is not to be compared with that glowing faith which one may have, that God, although for wise purposes of His own He does not remove pain, yet looks upon us, and understands our wants, feels with us and for us, and works in us submission, and patience, and fortitude. Physical suffering, long continued, ordinarily tends to degradation; but where it is accepted in the right spirit, it builds men up in qualities that are godly — and through suffering many men have become heroic. Times of great perplexity, in which there are doubts and uncertainties that prey like wolves upon the fears of men; which bring pressure, and care, and soul-suffering — these are times of need that justify you in going to God for sympathy. You have His thought and His regard; and why should you not take the comfort of it? You would carry your fears to a friend's bosom; why will you not carry them to the bosom of the best of friends? Times of religious depression are peculiarly times of need, in which men are justified in going to God, where they arise from a doubt of any one's own piety, or from what is even more painful — scepticism of the whole nature and web of the truth itself, which, as it were, unsettles and sets adrift the whole religious nature. There are two kinds of sceptics. Some are sceptical from the force of malign passions, which lead them to seek to destroy, that they may have a larger license, and be wicked with impunity. Others are sceptical from the force of moral feelings. They have their thought-doubts and their heart-doubts; and it is the best part of their nature, oftentimes, that strives within them, seeking to solve many of these insoluble questions; seeking to appease many aspirations and hungers of the soul; seeking to put partial truths into their full light. Hunger and thirst they do for faith. They long for it with an unutterable longing. And where, not because they seek to, and not because they wish to, men dishonour God. and separate themselves from right conduct; where they do this, notwithstanding they endeavour to conform their life to the ethical principles of the gospel, do you say that they ought to be shut up to themselves, and ought not to go to any friend for sympathy and medicament? And, above all, should they not go to God? And may they not suppose that, in such times of need as theirs, God will sympathise with them? There are times of need, too, when men are led to suffering from the development in them of philanthropic tendencies. There be many persons who look out upon human life with most melancholy feelings. The condition of society at large; the state of mankind that is everywhere apparent; the laws that are at work among men; the problems of the destiny of the race — these things, to a thoughtful and generous nature, are productive, frequently, of exceeding great pain. An indifferent, unsympathising, selfish nature will look upon them without the least trouble; but there are many who are made sad by pondering upon such insoluble mysteries. And those times of sadness that they experience are times of need in which they are justified in laying their anxieties and solicitudes at the feet of Christ, and finding rest in Him. Against all these views, the atheistic tendencies of the heart will often rise up. Men know the truth; but often in these times of exigency they have a consciousness of their own unworthiness, and they dare not leave their fate to Jehovah or to Jesus; and their remorse and sense of guilt keep them from acting. There are very many persons who will not go to God just when they need Him, but who undertake first to do a work of righteousness, and so to make a preparation. When they shall have overcome their temptation or sin, or when they shall have brought some degree of peace and complacency into their heart, then they mean to go to God for a ratification, as it were, of the work that is accomplished in them. But this is not wise. It is when most you feel the dart that Satan casts; it is when most you feel the poison that rankles in the soul; it is when most you feel the pang which the heart suffers — it is then that you most need God. Do not wait till you feel willing. Do not wait till you are conscious that all fear is gone. Take your fear, your guilt, your remorse, and go with these, because you are in need. There is no other argument like this, "Lord, save, or I perish." There is another difficulty which leads men not to use these views when presented; and that is the unresponsiveness of God. Well, you have a High Priest that was tempted in all points as you are, and yet without sin. Your own Christ, who calls you to Him, suffered in just precisely the way in which you complain of suffering. And the time when you experience an inability to go to God is itself one of the times of need that should bring you to Him. You have a God that has had the same experience in His earthly and limited condition. He, too, was brought into these emergencies that try you, and He pities you, and sorrows with you, on account of them. There is no time of need in which you cannot find a preparation in the heart of Christ for you. You will ask, perhaps, "How, then, under such circumstances, will God give us help in such times of need?" I do not know. It is not written. But this I know: that He has the control of all natural forces, of all physical laws, of all social and moral influences. I know that He is the Governor of the universe, and that all things shall work together in due time for the good of those that love and trust Him. And because I do not know of the secrets by which He succours men, shall I, therefore, not trust in Him?
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.