See how blessed we consider those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
I. A WARNING AGAINST IMPATIENCE WITH ONE ANOTHER. (Ver. 9.) "Murmur not, brethren," implies that believers are apt within their hearts, if not also openly, to complain of each other. Indeed, it sometimes requires greater patience to bear with composure the little frictions of feeling to which close contact with Christian brethren exposes, than to endure open and overt wrongs at the hands of persons who are not such. The warning has a lesson:
1. For the family circle. What a happy society is that of a well-ordered family, where love reigns between husband and wife, and where the parents enjoy the confidence and obedience of wisely trained children! But this fireside happiness can be enjoyed only in connection with constant mutual forbearance. How prone, sometimes, are even husband and wife to misunderstand each other! And how often are households made unhappy by envying and quarrelling among the children! Let us remember that the persons who live in the same house with us are in the very best position for appraising the value of our Christian profession. They know at least whether we are learning to bear kindly with the infirmities of our own relations, and to endure with patience petty discomforts in domestic life. The grace of God within the soul will enable us to "walk within our house with a perfect heart" (Psalm 101:2).
2. For the business circle. How many offences arise among Christian men when engaged in the toil and strain of commercial competition! One brother grudges the worldly successes of his neighbor; and perhaps his heart harbors against him uncharitable accusations of dishonest dealing. But, as Abraham long ago was content that Lot should appropriate to himself the best of the land rather than that their herdmen should quarrel, so still it will do a Christian man less harm to make sometimes what is financially a bad bargain, than to soil his soul by cherishing evil thoughts regarding any brother believer.
3. For the Church circle. There is apt to be murmuring and grumbling in ecclesiastical life. Sometimes the spiritual office-bearers of a congregation get but little thanks for the work which they do. Sometimes, also, the people forget that they ought to have large mutual patience with one another. The liberal progress-loving member is apt to groan over the attitude of his conservative let-things-alone brother; and the educated and cultured Christian may fail at times to forbear with the man of narrow and exclusive views. The exemplary Church member, while ready at all times to maintain and defend his own opinions, is yet willing gracefully to yield (wherever conscience does not forbid) to what the majority decide upon, that thereby he may promote the general peace and edification.
II. THE SANCTION BY WHICH THIS WARNING IS ENFORCED. (Ver. 9.) James employs a sweetly persuasive motive in the word "brethren." To complain of each other is to sin against the highest and most sacred brotherhood. This motive, however, is only lightly touched, in passing. The apostle backs up his warning with a solemn sanction. Echoing, as he does so often, his Master's words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1), he speaks of the bar of God, and of the Lord Christ the Judge. To refuse to forbear with brethren, he says, amounts virtually to an assumption of the judicial office, and will expose one's self to be "judged." For what right have we to judge our brethren? We lack the necessary discrimination; our own hearts are impure; and we shall very soon have ourselves to appear before the judgment-bar. Already, indeed, "the Judge standeth before the doors." He is near at hand, to discharge perfectly those functions which we are so prone to usurp; and, in doing so, to condemn all who may have been guilty of such usurpation.
III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT AFFORDED BY CERTAIN OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES. (Vers. 10, 11.) It should cheer us, under this and every other form of trial, to remember how the great seers and saints of old endured their afflictions.
1. The example of the prophets. (Ver. 10.) The Jewish Christians had a deep reverence for the memory of these noble men. The prophets had been the religious teachers of ancient Israel; through them the Divine Spirit himself had spoken. The influence which they exercised while they lived had sometimes been prodigious; indeed, their power was often greater than the power of the sovereign. Yet the lot of the prophets had been one of sore affliction. They were an example to the New Testament Church:
(1) Of suffering. Their trials came upon them as the result of the fidelity with which they "spake in the name of the Lord." It was so with Moses, Elijah, Micaiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel. The Jews indeed were accustomed to confess that the prophets generally had been persecuted (Matthew 23:30, 37; Acts 7:52; Hebrews 11:36-38). No wonder, then, since trouble fell on these great men, that it should fall on us. We may be well contented to follow in the faith that has been trodden by "the goodly fellowship."
(2) Of long-suffering. We are to think also of the meekness of the prophets when enduring their unparalleled afflictions. They were sorely tried by the murmurings of their "brethren," to whom they spoke the Word of God; yet how patiently they bore it all! They laid hold upon the Divine strength, and thus learned to bear and forbear. And so, despite their infirmities and occasional lapses from patience, of these men "the world was not worthy."
2. The example of Job. (Ver. 11.) Although the Book of Job is a poem, our apostle evidently believed it to have an underlying basis of veritable history. The man Job actually existed; and his proverbial patience is an example to the Church. Think of the dreadful distresses which came thick and fast upon him. By successive strokes he was deprived of property, family, health, reputation, and true sympathy. Yet Job left his sufferings with God. He learned to forbear with the bigotry and stupidity of his friends. He evinced at last, in spite of some serious failures, a spirit of perfect submission to the Divine will. He interceded for his misguided comforters; and God forgave them. Job's case, however, is introduced here chiefly with the view of pointing to "the end" or conclusion which the Lord gave to him (Job 42:12). His God, whom he feared, rewarded signally, even in this life, his wonderful patience. And the great lesson which we should learn from Job's career is "that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful." He is so in the very sending of trial, in the measure of it, in the grace which he gives to bear it, in the unraveling of its merciful purpose, and in the happy issues with which he rewards his people, when they "have been approved" (James 1:12). Trial is a goodly discipline intended to prepare for the "goodly heritage;" and thus they will be "bleared' who shall have "endured." - C.J.
We count them happy which endure.
1. Consider we are all sinners. Surely we should be thankful for that which makes us know ourselves; which gives us self-knowledge; which forces us to search ourselves, probe our hearts, and test our conduct; which awakes us from sleep; which calls forth dormant powers, and raises us into activity. Trials are as prophets of old; they are clothed in a sad dress, but they warn us. They tell us what is true happiness — not to enjoy, not to be careless, not to laugh; but to work hard, to labour steadily, to endure what has to be endured.
2. This was the life of Christ. Would you prefer to it the life of any prince, noble, prosperous merchant, merry-hearted youth? Doubtless they are happy in their way. But as gold is better than silver, so is the happiness of Christ a far higher happiness than theirs. And why do we count Christ's life blessed? Because He endured.
3. This is that which does most good, and that which does most good is the happiest. He who attacks sin and ignorance, he who seeks out misery to relieve it, does the most direct good. Now, attack evil, ignorance, misery, we cannot, except with a contest. They are deeply seated. Then comes the struggle. With the struggle comes the endurance, the labour, the toil, the disappointment, the renewed struggle, more endurance.
4. Surely the right thing is work now, rest hereafter. Things show best by contrast. 'Tis the shadow that shows us what light is. It is ungenerous to wish to win heaven lightly. Should we expect, or even desire, ever to sail over an unruffled sea? Should the sea be as calm as the harbour? Should we be satisfied with the merits of Christ? Is there not something to be filled up? "What is all that that is said about a great struggle, a race, a wrestling, a combat? Do we need no inward strivings, no hidden battle, no earnest prayers, no sorrowing for sin? We count the dead blessed who have endured; not simply as if so much affliction and sorrow and pain were so much expiation and satisfaction; but we count, as Christians, him happy who has endured after the pattern and model of Christ's endurance. Nothing else can give us confidence or inspire us with a well-grounded hope. He who is dead may have had less or more to endure; still, something, be he who he may, he must have had to endure. This is the question: Has he endured it with a Christian patience? That which we would think of others, let us each think of ourselves. Endurance should form and fashion our character, try our powers, call out our activity, test our disposition, regulate our temper, teach us confidence in God, wean our souls from the world, join us nearer to the Divine life through Christ; at the same time make us more human, enable us to feel for others' trials; on every side should it strengthen and improve us, so that in all sincerity we may bless God our Father, for that He has not left us without trouble, for that He has not sent us pain, for that He has made us to have not an over-easy life.
(James Lonsdale, M. A.)Luther, Melancthon, Ridley, Cranmer, St. ? Oh, how the pain of sin entered St. Augustine's soul; how the biting chisel of violated law cut the fair beauty of holiness, engraved his character! and through his confessions we are enabled to see the process through which the angel of his spirit was let out. Dare we say that St. Augustine would have been what he was without all his sufferings?
(S. R. Fuller.)him instead of God. It would but make for him a fool's paradise for a moment, which his own selfish passions would soon convert into a hell. It would be still more terrible, were it possible for man, if he could lie, and cheat, and steal, or be arrogant, self-willed, lustful, tyrannous, or unjust, and live peaceably, free from storm and inward and outward wretchedness. If he could play the tyrant in his home, and find it a house of benediction, or in his state, and find it prosperous and strong; if he could play the hypocrite or the satyr in his own soul, and be honoured and loved of all men, live in peace and die in hope, it would be a training for a miserable and lost eternity. The pain of life throws back man's thought on his sin. He sees, or is meant to see, how his own selfishness, injustice, impurity, are armed with scourges to smite him, and will bury their thongs in his quivering flesh, and stain them with the starting blood, before they leave him to dream, if he can, that the way of the transgressor is peace. But it would be a dark mistake to imagine that the whole meaning of life's discipline has relation to transgression, and that when it has convinced a man of sin, and set right his relations with the laws of the world around him, its work is done. The end of the Lord in much of our affliction is not so much to convert as to elevate, purify, and conform unto Himself. There is a strange absence of bitterness in this form of suffering; the pain may be terribly sharp, while within there is the perfect peaceful consciousness that the chastisement is the most tender and even yearning manifestation of the Divine love. Those deeply experienced in suffering learn lessons of unselfish thought and activity, of devotion to great ends of human good, of comfort, of healing, of teaching, of ministering, which make them the helpers and saviours of society. And what is true of the greatest, is true in minor measure of minor ministries of blessing. It is those who have learnt much in God's high-school of discipline who best understand His mind and methods, and are His servants and ministers for the instruction of the world. It is suffering which unveils to us life's inner mysteries, solves for us its deepest problems, shows us the true treasure-house of the wealth of being, and brings uncertain riches and possessions to their true weight — but a slight one — in the scale of life. The sorrowful find how little gifts and possessions can content them, can lighten their burden or soothe their pangs. They are open to the teaching which bids them "lay up treasures in heaven"; they know that a soul's wealth lies absolutely in fellowship, sympathy, and love, and the fruit of noble, unselfish work.
(J. B. Brown, B. A.)A young man, who had long been confined with a diseased limb, and was near dissolution, said to a friend: "What a precious treasure this affliction has been to me! It saved me from the folly and vanity of youth; it made me cleave to God as my only portion, and to eternal glory as my only hope; and I think it has now brought me very near my Father's house." A minister was recovering from a dangerous illness, when one of his friends addressed him thus: "Sir, though God seems to be bringing you up from the gates of death, yet it will be a long time before you will sufficiently recover your strength and vigour of mind to preach as usual." The good man answered, "You are mistaken, my friend; for this six weeks' illness has taught me more divinity then all my past studies and all my ten years' ministry put together."Constitution, we will suppose. She anchors at the navy-yard. See how men throng the cars, and go to the navy-yard, to get a sight of her I See how the sailors stand upon the deck, and gaze upon her I Some of them, perchance, have been in her; and to them she is thrice handsomer than any new vessel. This old war-beaten ship, that carries the memory of many memorable campaigns, lies there; and they look at its breached bow, its shattered rigging, its coarse and rude lines, its dingy sides, which seemed long since to have parted company with paint; and every one of them feels, if he is a true patriot, "God bless you! old thing; God bless you!"
(H. W. Beecher.)
Baxendale's Anecdotes.There lived in a village near Burnley a girl who was persecuted in her own home because she was a Christian. She struggled on bravely, seeking strength from God, and rejoicing that she was a partaker of Christ's sufferings. The struggle was too much for her, but He willed it so; and at length her sufferings were ended. When they came to take off the clothes from her poor dead body, they found a piece of paper sewn inside her dress, and on it was written, "He opened not His mouth."
The patience of Job.
I. IT IS NOT AN UNHEARD OF VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job."
1. Observe well that the patience of Job was the patience of a marl like ourselves, imperfect and full of infirmity; for, as one has well remarked, we have heard of the impatience of Job as well as of his patience. The traces of imperfection which we see in Job prove all the more powerfully that grace can make grand examples out of common constitutions, and that keen feelings of indignation under injustice need not prevent a man becoming a model of patience.
2. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job," that is, the patience of a greatly tried man. That is a very trite yet needful remark: Job could not have exhibited patience if he had not endured trial; and he could not have displayed a patience whose fame rings down the ages, till we have heard of it, if he had not known extraordinary affliction.(1) Reflect, then, that it was the patience of a man who was tried in his estate. All his wealth was taken!(2) Job was caused to suffer sharp relative troubles. All his children were snatched away without a warning, dying at a festival, where, without being culpably wrong, men are usually unguarded. He sits among the ashes a childless man. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job." Oh, to have patience under bereavements, patience even when the insatiate archer multiplies his arrows!(3) "Ye have heard of the patience of Job" under personal affliction. It is well said by one who knew mankind cruelly well, that "we bear the afflictions of other people very easily"; but when it touches our bone and our flesh trial assumes an earnest form, and we have need of unusual patience. Such bitter pain Job must have suffered.(4) In addition to all this, Job bore what is perhaps the worst form of trial — namely, mental distress. The conduct of his wife must have much grieved him when she tempted him to "Curse God, and die." And then those "miserable comforters," how they crowned the edifice of his misery! They rubbed salt into his wounds, they cast dust into his eyes, their tender mercies were cruel, though well-intentioned. Woe to the man who in his midnight hour is hooted at by such owls; yet the hero of patience sinned not: "Ye have heard of the patience of Job." Job's was in all respects a most real trouble, he was no mere dyspeptic, no hysterical inventor of imaginary evil; his were no fancied losses nor minor calamities.
3. The patience of Job was the patience of a man who endured up to the very end. No break-down occurred; at every stage he triumphed, and to the utmost point he was victorious. Traces of weakness are manifest, but they are grandly overlaid by evidences of gracious power. The enemy could not triumph over Job, he threw him on a dunghill, and it became his throne, more glorious than the ivory throne of Solomon. The boils and blains with which the adversary covered the patriarch were more honour to him than a warrior's gilded corslet. Never was the arch-fiend more thoroughly worsted than by the afflicted patriarch, and instead of pitying the sufferer, my pity curdles into contempt for that fallen spirit who must there have gnawed his own heart as he saw himself foiled at all points by one who had been put into his power, and one too of the feeble race of man.
4. We may once more say that the patience of Job is the virtue of one who thereby has become a great power for good. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job," yes, and all the ages have heard of the patience of Job, and hell has heard of it too; and not without results in each of the three worlds. Among men the patience of Job is a great moral and spiritual force. If Job was patient under trial and affliction, why should not I be patient too? He was but a man; what was wrought in one man may be done in another. He had God to help him, and so have I; he could fall back upon the living Redeemer, so can I and why should I not?
II. IT IS NOT AN UNREASONABLE VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT, for according to our text there is great love and tenderness in it, "Ye have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
1. We must have seen in Job's story, if we have regarded it aright, that the Lord was in all. God was not away while His servant suffered; in fact, if there was any place where the thoughts of God were centred more than anywhere else in providence at that time, it was where the perfect and upright man was bearing the brunt of the storm.
2. The Lord was ruling too. He was not present as a mere spectator but as still master of the situation,
3. Moreover, the Lord was blessing Job by all his tribulation. Untold blessings were coming to the grand old man while he seemed to be losing all. It was not simply that he obtained a double portion at the end, but all along, every part of the testing process wrought out his highest good.
4. And when we come to look all Job's life through, we see that the Lord in mercy brought him out of it all with unspeakable advantage. He who tested with one hand supported with the other. Such is the case with all afflicted saints. We may well be patient under our trials, for the Lord sends them; He is ruling in all their circumstances, He is blessing us by them, He is waiting to end them, and He is pledged to bring us through. Shall we not gladly submit to the Father of our spirits?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(W. Denton.)when Thou wilt, what Thou wilt, how Thou wilt."
(H. W. Beecher.)
(S. H. Langston, M. A.)
(S. H. Langston, M. A.)
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Tinling's Illustrations.Thomas Fuller wrote in reference to his own sufferings in the Civil War, "I have observed that towns which have been casually burnt, have been built again, more beautifully than before; mud walls afterwards made of stone; and roofs, formerly but thatched, after advanced to be tiled. The apostle tells me that I must not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to happen unto me. May I likewise prove improved by it. Let my renewed soul, which grows out of the ashes of the old man, be a more pious fabric and stronger structure: so shall affliction be my advantage."
(H. W. Beecher.): — Unthinking people would like a world where corn should grow spontaneously and plenty ever lie ready to hand. They would have their path beautified by flowers fairer than those of Eden, and refreshed by zephyrs balmier than those of the sunny south. They would banish care, and make work obsolete, How would all this issue? Doubtless in the degeneracy of our race into a crowd of soft and slothful Sybarites. God is too wise for this. He knows comfort to be of far less importance than character, and acts on that knowledge.
The Lord is very pitiful.
I. Notice that when James is exhorting us to full confidence in God in the hour of trial, He gives us AN INSTRUCTIVE INSTANCE. He quotes the story of Job. Observe that when this apostle introduces Job it is with the view of pointing out the tender mercy of God in his case; and he begins by saying, "Behold, we count them happy which endure."
1. The pitifulness and tender mercy of God are to be seen in the happiness of those who are called to suffer. "We count them happy which endure." This arithmetic is only known to faith, and must be learned of the Lord Jesus "We" — that is, the Church of God — count them happy who are counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. I may venture to say that the more sensible part of mankind in some measure concur with the people of God in this accounting. We count that man happy who has passed through trial and hardship with a brave endurance. Such life is of an interesting and manly kind; but life without struggle and difficulty is thin and tasteless. How can a noble life be constructed if there be no difficulty to overcome, no suffering to bear? When we see what poor, paltry things those are who are nursed in the lap of luxury, and consequently never come to a real manhood, "we count them happy that endure." This counting is not mere fancy, but it is a correct estimate: there is a happiness in affliction which none will doubt who have tasted it. When we look to the end of affliction, when we see all its comfortable fruit, when we mark what it corrects, and observe what it produces, we judge that it is no mean blessing. Happy is the man who has been enabled to endure; he rises from the deeps of woe like a pearl-finder from the sea, rich beyond comparison. The people of God find themselves more buoyant in the saltest seas of sorrow than in other waters. The Cross does in very deed raise us nearer to Christ when it is fully sanctified. Rare gems glisten in the mines of adversity. We never get so near to the source of all heavenly consolation as when earthly comfort is removed far away. God seemeth never so much a Husband to any as to the widow; and never so much a Father as to the fatherless. Endurance also works in the child of God a close clinging to God, which produces near and dear communion with Him. Sorrows reveal to us the Man of Sorrows. Griefs waft us to the bosom of our God. Beside, the Lord has a choice way of manifesting Himself unto His servants in their times of weakness. He draws the curtain about the bed of His chosen sufferer, and at the same time He withdraws another curtain which aforetime concealed His glory, He takes away the delights of health and vigour, and then He implants energy of another and a higher order, so that the inner man waxeth mighty while the outer man decayeth. So wondrously doth grace work beyond nature that it transfigures bodily sickness into spiritual health.
2. Now notice here the notability — I had almost said the nobility — of endurance. As one truly says, Job's bones had lain to this day in the common charnel-house of oblivion if it had not been for his sufferings and his patience. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job." But you would never have heard of Job if he had always been prosperous. Even in worldly histories it is by enduring hardness that men build their memorials. Who that has read the classics has not heard of Mutius Scaevola? and why? He was a valiant man, but he did not win his name by a common deed in battle. His fights are unrecorded; but you have heard of his laying his right hand upon the burning coals of an altar, to let Porsenna see how a Roman could endure pain without shrinking. When he suffered his right hand to burn he was writing his name in his country's annals. A thousand instances prove that only by endurance can names be graven in the brass of history. To make a man a man, to bring his manhood forward, and to make other men see it, there must be endurance.
3. Once again, in order to see the pitifulness of God in sorrow, we must see the Lord's end in it; for, saith the apostle, "Ye have seen the end of the Lord." God's end in affliction is that which proves that He is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. We see not so much how grace works as what it works. The design of the Lord is more to be noted than the method He pursues.(1) First, remember that the Lord's end in sending affliction to His people is corrective. Sanctified sorrow is a sharp frost which kills the germs of spiritual disease.(2) Moreover, affliction is sent for the display of grace. Our graces lie asleep within us, like slumbering soldiers, until affliction strikes its terrible drum and awakens them. You know not what spirit you are of till you have been under tribulation. You count yourself rich, but in the fire your gold is tested. You reckon that your house is well built, but the flames find out the wood, and hay, and stubble. Self-knowledge is never sure if it come not of tests and temptations. Therefore we count them happy that endure, because they are less likely to be deceived. God is to be praised for the discovery of our graces, for thus affliction becomes a blessing without disguise.(3) Further, our trials are an education for the future. I do not think that Job was fit to have any more substance until his heart had been enlarged by trouble; then he could bear twice as much as before. Prosperity softens and renders us unfit for more of itself; but adversity braces the soul and hardens it to patience. Beloved, I would not have you forget that "the end of the Lord" is always with His tried people to give them greater happiness as the result of it. Mark, in Job 31:40 it is written, "The words of Job are ended," ended amid thistles and cockle; but the end of the Lord was very different, for He loaded His servant with pieces of money and earrings of gold, and blessed his latter end more than his beginning. Thine end, O thou that art tossed with tempest and not comforted, shall come forth from thy God when He shall lay thy stones with fair colours and thy foundations with sapphires. He will restore thy soul even in this life, and give thee joy and rest out of thy sorrow. As for the life to come, how little do we take it into our estimate! It is as the main ocean, and this life is no better than the village brook. The sorrows of time are a mere pin's prick at the most, if we contrast them with the joy eternal. What shall we think of these temporary inconveniences when we reach eternal felicity?
II. OUR APOSTLE MAKES CONSOLING STATEMENT: "The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."
1. Observe that this is the teaching of God's holy Word; and therefore if we have at this moment no evidence of it perceptible to sight or sense, we are bound to believe it all the same. Do not be persuaded by man or devil to think ill of thy God. He has a father's heart even when He makes thee feel the strokes of His hand. Thy God cannot be unkind to thee. He cannot forsake thee.
2. But further, the text tells us that this truth may be seen; and while it is a matter of faith, yet it may be also a matter of sight. Beloved, it is true the Lord has burdened thee; is it not also true that He has sustained thee? Above is the billow, but "underneath are the everlasting arms." See the pitifulness of God in this! How often the mercy of God is seen in sickness and suffering by His mitigating the pain and loss! Those who are washed in the blood of Jesus shall never be drowned in the sea of sorrow. Observe also the tender pity of God in forgiving the sin of His suffering people. When your child has a fever, it may be he is fretful, and begins to talk foolishly. Maybe he talks unkind things against those very persians whom in his heart he loves best. Do you ever say to the child afterwards, "John, I am very grieved that you said such shocking things about me and about your mother"? Far from it; you say, "Poor dear, he does not know what he is talking about; he is wandering ill his mind." So does God deal with our naughtiness when we are under His hand; when He sees that it is rather weakness than wilfulness, He is very pitiful and full of compassion, and blots out the transgressions of His people.
3. See how the tenderness and pitifulness of God are also seen in the revelations lie makes to His saints. So also in the overrulings of our sorrows His love is conspicuous. He often sends a great sorrow that we may not be compelled to bear a greater one. Thank God for the preventive operations of His providence! Bless Him, above all, for the sweet rewards that come to His tried people when afterwards they bear the comfortable fruits of His righteousness, and especially when He comes to them in the riches of His grace, and turns their midnight into everlasting day. In closing the second head i should like to say I wish we could all read the original Greek; for this word, "The Lord is very pitiful," is a specially remarkable one. It means literally that the Lord hath "many bowels," or a great heart, and so it indicates great tenderness. The other word is the complement of the first — "and of tender mercy." There is then, you see, in these two words, pity for misery and mercy for sin: there is inward pity in the heart of God, and outward action in the mercy of God; there is sympathy for suffering, and grace for guilt. These two things make up what we want.
III. THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED out of the whole subject.
1. The first is, be patient. The Lord never grieves us because lie likes to grieve us. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." There is a needs be for every sorrow. Lie still, brother; let the Good Shepherd clip as lie pleases; though He may cut very close to the skin, He is very pitiful, and would only rid thee of that which would harm thee.
2. The next lesson is, be penitent. Seek the Lord while lie may be found, call upon Him while He is near. lie welcomes all who repent; He is eager to forgive; delay no longer.
3. The last lesson is, be pitiful. If God be pitiful and of tender mercy, children of God, you are to imitate Him and to be pitiful too.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
And of tender mercy.Psalm 62, where we shall find the mercy of God if we are thus strictly subjected to the law of consequences: "To Thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for Thou renderest to everyman according to his work." While this affirms the benevolence of strictly holding us to accountability for whatever is our work, it also permits us to think of a procedure which — at least, in comparison with human judgments — deserves to be called merciful. When we discriminate in a man's work that which is strictly his from that which is the work of his parents, or teachers, or of disease, or of the spirit of his time, even a wicked man appears less culpable. Many a man shows the work of his father, or of his surroundings, mixed with his own. If childhood has been subjected to a training which stunts virtue or piety, the resulting vice or scepticism of the man is not all his work. To unravel the tangled skein of responsibility, to crown each man with the pearls or thorns which are due to the work that is strictly his, is the perogative of that Divine judgment which the sinner, thus dealt with, may well deem merciful. In what appears to us the most execrable life, Omniscient may discriminate in the wreck the contributing agency of more than one wrongdoer. Where human judgments are unmerciful in loading one with the guilt of many, the mercy of God appears in apportioning to each no more than is strictly his own. To this we have to add the work of mercy in the forgiveness of sins — the blotting out of offences by the kiss that makes the prodigal again at one with the father — the inspirations of filial trust in the grace of God, by which the forgiven one is empowered to retrieve and repair the past, till the tear of repentance is dry in the joy of a complete remission of his sins.
(J. M. Whiton, Ph. D.)
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