Dedicated To The Men of God Who Preach the Word of God As It
Is To Men As They Are
"Preach The Word"
THE BALM OF CONSOLATION
One of the many wise counsels which Dr. Joseph Parker gave to young
preachers was that, if they constantly preached to broken hearts, they would
never want for a congregation ; and, in his closing message to the world,
Ian Maclaren declared that, if he had his life to live over again, he would
speak more frequently than he had done words of comfort, consolation, and
cheer. " As men and women grow older, and are compelled to face the storms
of life, they discover how urgently they need a shelter in such times of
stress. Consequently the doctrine of divine consolation becomes exceedingly
precious to those who are of riper years, and we do well to keep such a
truth in the forefront of our expository and experimental considerations."
With our Bibles in our hands, we are to think of the Consoler, the consoled,
the consolation ; and we shall finish up with a word to those who are
I. THE CONSOLER
The Scriptures reveal to us very clearly that the Triune God is engaged in
the work of consolation. In Romans 15. 5, Paul addresses our heavenly Father
as "the God of patience and consolation " ; and in II Corinthians 1. 3, as "
the God of all comfort ". The prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus includes
the precious promise that He would comfort those that mourn (Isaiah 61. 2) ;
while the name chosen for the manifestation of God during this age, by the
third person of the Trinity, is " the Comforter ".
II. THE CONSOLED
God comforts and consoles His people (Isaiah 40. I) ; that is, those who
have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them (Hebrews 6.
18). In Luke 8. 48 we have a lovely picture of how the union between Christ
and His people is formed, and of the blessedness which flows from that
union. He said unto her, ` Daughter ' " —there is the relationship ; " be of
good comfort ; thy faith bath made thee whole "—there is how the
relation-ship is formed ; " go in peace "—there is what follows in the
history of the redeemed one.
The establishment of that relationship separates us from, and brings us
into, conflict with the world which knows us not ; the result oftentimes
being sadness of heart, distress of mind, and, at certain periods of the
history of the Church, physical suffering. In the midst of it all, however,
the heart may be kept in perfect peace ; for He comforts those who mourn
(Matthew 5. 4); those who are cast down (II Corinthians 7. 6) ; and those
who suffer for His name (II Corinthians I. 5).
III. THE CONSOLATION
We have the comfort of His merciful kindness which covers all the guilty
past (Psalm 119. 76 ; Isaiah 49. 13 Ephesians 2. 4, 5) ; of His rod to
direct and His staff to protect in all the needy present (Psalm 23. 4) ; and
of glad reunion with our Christian dead through the eternal future (I
Thessalonians 4. 13-18).
It is of the present, however, that we wish more particularly to write ; and
there are three considerations that are full of comfort for every believing
heart. They are as follows :
(1) Although man rules, God overrules
Dr. Arthur T. Pierson says that all history is, in the last analysis, His
story. " What is good He decrees and ordains ; what is evil He permits and
restrains." " Be-hold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are
counted as the small dust of the balance ; behold, He taketh up the isles as
a very little thing." " I, even I, am He that comforteth you ; who art thou,
that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the
son of man which shall be made as grass ; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker,
that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the
earth." " The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to
whomsoever He will." " All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as
nothing ; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and
among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none can stay His hand, or say unto
Him: ' What doest Thou ?' " (Isaiah 40. 15 ; 51. 12, 13 ; Daniel 4. 17 ; 4.
35). How full of comfort are these reflections as we look out on the
seething unrest which characterizes the nations of the earth to-day.
(2) Our times are in His hand (Psalm 31. 14, 15)
The intrepid African missionary, Dan Crawford, said that if a native
translated these words he would have to render them : " All my life's whys,
and when, and wheres, and wherefores, are in God's hand." Scripture and
experience alike testify, however, that the comfort which God imparts does
not necessarily mean cessation of the sorrow. He comforteth us in all our
tribulation—that is to say, He does not give relief from tribulation, but
sustains us in it ; He does not always remove it, but sanctifies it. " Let
us not think then that the highest forms of comfort must come to us by our
sorrows being dispelled. While our hearts are yet the sorest we may be
receiving the most blessed, because most helpful, consolation of our God."
One of our American poets has very beautifully expressed this. He says :
" I grieve, and still I grieve, but with a heart At peace with God, and soft
with sympathy Toward all my sorrowing, struggling, sinful race. My hope,
that clung so fondly to the world And the rewards of time, an anchor sure,
Now grasps the eternal Rock within the veil
Of troubled waters. Storms may wrench and toss, And tides may sway me in
their ebb and flow, But I shall not be moved."
(3) He will never let us go
" My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me : and I give
unto them eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man
pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than
all ; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand " (John 1o.
" My sheep ! " " I have married many couples," says an American preacher. "
I have heard the young husband introduce his new wife to a friend saying : `
This is my wife.' How proud he is of his new possession ! I have seen a
young mother start out for a morning's walk in the park with her new baby.
She meets an old friend. Back go the beautiful hemstitched things presented
by sisters and cousins and aunts, and she points to the little bundle of
sweetness, and says : ` My baby.' In the midst of the darkness of this hour
we know One to Whom we have been presented by His Father, and Who thought so
much of His Father's gift that He paid a tremendous price to redeem us from
the curse of sin. He sits up yonder on the right hand of God the Father with
as much love for us, and interest in us, as when He hung upon the Cross. He
knows all about our troubles. He knows our heartaches. He knows our sorrow
for sin. He knows our financial straits. What a comfort it is to know that
we are the special objects of divine love and care, because we are the
special possession of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Out in the great continent of Africa, there are people who are unable to
count beyond ten—the number of their fingers. One of these folk was asked
how many oxen he possessed. He replied that he could not tell. " Then how
would you know if one or two of your oxen were missing ? " was the next
question. " Not because the number was less, but because I should miss a
face." Beloved Christian friend, if by any possibility you fail to appear in
heaven, you would be missed ! But there is
no such possibility. I like very much the reply which the old lady gave to
one who objected to her rejoicing so unfeignedly in the biblical assurances
of the security of the believer. " You seem pretty confident about this
salvation of yours. I would not be too sure about it if I were you. Suppose
the Lord should let you slip through His fingers." But," said the old saint,
" He cannot do that since I happen to be one of His fingers myself." (See
Ephesians 5. 30).
" The love that led me all the golden way, Nor left me when my feet had gone
astray, Will hold me still at dying of the day
And bring me home."
IV. THE INCONSOLABLE
Although these consolations are great and manifold and wonderful, however,
experience teaches that it is sadly possible for a true-hearted child of God
to get into such a condition of nervous prostration that they will seem as
idle tales. " Shattered in nerve, they cannot shake themselves free from
melancholy. They trouble themselves with the thought of their sinfulness ;
they bitterly question the reality of their life in Christ ; they can find
no pleasure in any of the comforts of earthly circumstance ; and over their
future, here and hereafter, there hangs a gloomy pall. No one can divert
their minds, no one can reason away their fears, no well-worn verses of
Scripture give them comfort ; they are down in the very depths, as the
Psalmist was, when he asked : ` Hath God forgotten to be gracious, hath He
in anger shut up His tender mercies ? ' And this is their infirmity, as it
was his (Psalm 77. 1-10). It is due to causes other than sin—to physical
weakness and nervous prostration, which God understands better than any
human physician, and allows for, more patiently and generously than the
dearest earthly friends. He knoweth their frame and remembereth that they
are dust. And amid the lingering darkness He asks you simply to trust in Him
; to leave yourself absolutely in His hands, saying : ` What time I am
afraid I will trust in Thee.' The darkness will end by and by ; mysteriously
as it came it will pass away ; and the nightmare of despondency will vanish
as a dream when one awaketh. ` Weeping may endure for a night, but joy
cometh in the morning '."
We leave with you two statements from the Book of God : " Who is among you
that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh
in darkness, and hath no light ? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and
stay upon his God." " There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man ; but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to
escape, that ye may be able to bear it " (Isaiah 5o. io ; I Corinthians io.
" When sorrows come like shocks of doom, Or faith lone staggers in the
When phantoms rise to block the way, And hopes are toned to sombre gray,
Give me one book—Love's Book—The Bible.
When faith is strong and skies are clear, When joy exults and laughs through
tears, When all the world is redolent
With choicest blessings heaven-sent,
Give me one book—Joy's Book—The Bible.
When sunset glow has fringed life's skies, And time and toil have dimmed
these eyes, When for me comes the Pilot's call,
E'en then before the curtains fall,
Give me one book—God's Book—The Bible."
(A Study from George Henderson)
A Scottish Preacher
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