Jesus replied, "How can the attendants of the bridegroom mourn while He is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast.
I. THE BRIDEGROOM'S PRESENCE, AND THE STATE OF FEELING AND CONDUCT SUITABLE TO IT. The disciples had Christ present in human body. We envy them the material realization; it was a bridal-time. And yet the inward sense of Christ's presence is a higher and better thing. (Illustrate from Longfellow's 'Footsteps of Angels.') Though we have, as we say, only the spiritual presence of Christ, we are not left without both inward and outward signs of the reality of that presence. Inward.
(1) Rest of soul;
(2) freedom from doubts and fears;
(3) communion of spirit with spirit. Outward.
(1) Vigour and energy in the efforts to live a right life;
(2) pleasure in scenes that help to communion with Christ;
(3) love of the brethren.
What is suitable to the Bridegroom's presence? No mournings; no lastings; no forcings of will. The soul is moved freely by inward inspirations. We should feel the "liberty of love;" a quiet, intense joy, finding expression according to disposition.
II. THE BRIDEGROOM'S ABSENCE, AND THE STATE OF FEELING AND CONDUCT SUITABLE TO IT. "Then they fast." Illustrate, condition of disciples between Ascension and Pentecost. For us Christ is never absent in fact; he may be in feeling. Though matter of feeling only, we are not left without signs of the absence. Especially in lost impulse to goodness. (Illustrate, failing vitality in the body.) What is suitable to the Bridegroom's absence? Apply to those who feel the Bridegroom is gone, and:
1. Do not even mourn. (Illustrate, John Bunyan's 'Holy War,' Mansoul hardened.)
2. Only mourn. Mansoul sorrowing.
3. Fast as well as mourn. Mansoul putting away its evils, sitting in sackcloth, and sending messages after the lost prince. Are we jealous, as we should be, about keeping ever with us the sense of the Bridegroom's presence? - R.T.
Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn?
1. They had the joy of fresh religious intuitions.
2. The joy of spiritual freedom.
(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)let it have its festal day with the bridegroom, and when the better presence fades or vanishes, let it set itself to ways of self-compulsion, moving from its own human centre.
(Horace Bushnell, D. D.)
(Horace Bushnell, D. D.)
(E. de Pressense, D. D.)
(H. Bushnell, D. D.)
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