"Lord! no guardian to defend me
In the world I have like Thee;
None so willing to befriend me:
You are all in all to me!
What is life! a scene of troubles
Following swiftly one by one;
Phantom visions—airy bubbles,
Which appear, and then are gone.
What at best the world's vain fashion!
Quickly it must pass away;
Vexing care and whirlwind passion,
Surging like the angry spray.
One brief moment, Lord, may sever
All that earth can 'friendship' call;
But Your friendship is for ever—
It outlives the wreck of all."

"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20

We have now reached the last of Gennesaret's Sacred Memories. The time has come when the Savior is to take a final farewell of its shores. In the two previous chapters, we found Him by the Lake side, holding, in a quiet morning hour, a private and confidential meeting with His Apostles. A more numerous gathering is now appointed, that He may publicly bid adieu to the many devoted disciples scattered throughout Galilee, among whom He had longest lived and labored.

The place of assemblage was "a mountain," most probably the Mount of Beatitudes—the spot hallowed by former burning words of warning and mercy, and which more than any other overlooked the scenes of His ministry and miracle. We have every reason, moreover, to believe that this was the same memorable Convocation to which Paul refers when he speaks of Christ having been "seen by five hundred brethren at once"—the greater part of whom were still alive when he wrote, though a few had "fallen asleep."

As Jesus afterwards, on the summit of Olivet, took farewell of the scenes of His ministry in Judea, so now, in presence of a larger throng, he closes His ministry in Galilee, and upon the shores of its honored Sea.

The Roman hero of old, at the close of his victorious campaign, used to address his soldiers before being conducted to the Capitol to be crowned. The Prince of the Kings of the Earth, before ascending the Hill of God, to receive the reward of His triumphs, assembles together His faithful followers, to convey to them words of encouragement and directions for duty, when His own visible presence would be withdrawn. As the Great High Priest of His Church, He had recently entered within the veil with the offering of His own blood. Now, the curtain being torn, He, the true Aaron, comes forth to pour His benediction on the waiting people; or, like a fond father, who, before he sets forth to a distant land, gathers his family around him, to breathe upon them farewell accents of comfort and peace.

The Evangelists give us no particulars regarding the interesting transaction here referred to. It is but the dim outline of a picture which we long to have filled in. May we not, however, so far venture to realize it? With the local Scene we are already familiar. Few hamlets would there be on the Lake that would not probably send a believing delegate to the solemn assembly. Conspicuous among the band of five hundred, would there not be the Centurion of Capernaum, with his restored servant—The Leper, now purged of his uncleanness, no longer an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, but a fellow-citizen with the saints and of the household of God—The Widow of Nain, with the tear of gratitude in her eye, as she first gazed on a restored son at her side, and then upon the face of the Great Restorer—The Paralytic, standing upright, with vigorous limb and gleaming eye—The Maniac of Gadara, now the calm and loving believer—Jairus, also, with the living trophy of redeeming power leaning gently on his arm—Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Susanna, no longer ashamed to mingle in the same group with another (once outcast) sister, who had testified, at their common Master's feet, by tears of anguish, the depth and intensity of her sorrow and love?

If we could have wished an ampler description of the Scene and its Convocation, still more could we have desired that the memorable farewell address of the Great Redeemer had been fully given to us. It has, however, for wise reasons been withheld. All that is recorded is the briefest of outlines; but that outline is, nevertheless, precious and significant. It embraces three statements, to each of which we would now invite attention.

Conscious that for the last time they were standing in the presence of their Divine Master, the multitude would doubtless listen in breathless silence as they heard the farewell tones of the Voice they loved so well. Let it be with something of the same feelings that, in this closing chapter, we gather in thought around the feet of Jesus, and hear the parting word He has to say to our souls!

The three recorded assertions of our Lord consist of

I. There is A PARTING ASSURANCE—"All power has been given to Me in heaven and in earth."

What more precious farewell truth, what more blessed Keepsake, could the Savior have confided to these waiting hundreds, than this—that to Him has been committed the Scepter of universal Empire! Many there had witnessed His poverty, His humiliation, His cruel buffetings, His bitter death. But now these were all past. His head was about to be "crowned with many crowns." As King and Head of His Church, "All things had been delivered to him by his Father." He knew that "the Father had given all things into His hands." He would impart the comfort of this ennobling truth to the orphaned Church He was to leave behind Him—when the chariots of God had borne Him away from their sight, they could still think of the Christ of Galilee as boundless in His resources; that He who so often had spoken to them "in righteousness," was still "mighty to save"—"The Prince who had power with God," and must "prevail"—"the Wonderful, the Counselor, the MIGHTY GOD."

This "prophecy" was of no "private interpretation," intended merely for the ears of this mountain auditory. These five hundred formed the representatives of the Church of Christ in every age—whatever truths were soothing and consolatory to them, may be equally so to us. And who will not exult in the glorious assurance, that to these very hands, that were pierced on Calvary's Cross, has been confided the Sovereignty of the Universe!

John, sixty years later, beheld in striking vision, in Patmos, a book or roll "sealed with seven seals." Tears came to the aged eyes of the Evangelist, because no one in heaven or in earth was found "worthy to take the book" and unloose its mysteries. All at once, one of the redeemed from the earth conveys to him the joyous assurance, that he need no longer "weep," for the "Lion of the tribe of Judah had prevailed to open the book" and unloose its mystic seals. What was this, but the announcement in significant figure of the Savior's own last utterance, that He has had committed to His keeping the roll of Providence—that roll in which is inscribed not only the fate of kingdoms, the destinies of nations—but all that concerns the humblest and lowliest member of His Church on earth—with Him rests the unfolding of the roll—the breaking of the seals—the pouring out of the vials—the bursting of the thunders. Need we wonder that in taking the book into His hands, the ransomed myriads in the Apocalyptic vision should be seen falling down at the feet of the LAMB, with their harps and golden vials full of incense; and, exulting in the thought that the Great Ruler of all was a Brother of the human race, they should attune their lips to the lofty ascription, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, FOR You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation!"

Yes, I repeat, who will not exult in the thought, that this vast world of ours is committed to the rule of Jesus—that it was "created by Him," that it was created "for Him," that "by Him all things are held together?" I look up to the spangled dome of Heaven with its myriad constellations. I am told these lamps, hung in the sky, are burning incense-fires to His glory—that they march at His word, and their eternal music is an anthem to His praise. I look to the landscape beneath—all that vast furniture in the Palace of Nature is His providing. It is He who covers it in its robe of light, who wreathes the brow of Spring in living green, and decks the valleys in Summer glory. Not a breeze murmurs through the forest, nor a dewdrop sparkles on its leaves, the sun shoots not one golden arrow through its glades, but by His permission. It is He who pencils the flower, and intones the thunder with its loud peals, and gives voice to the tempest, and wings to the lightning.

But these manifestations of His power in nature are subordinate to a nobler sovereignty with which He is invested in the moral and spiritual world. There, too, nothing can happen but by His direction; nothing can befall us but what is the dictate and result of His loving wisdom. Often, indeed, that wisdom and love are veiled behind gigantic clouds of permitted evil. "Truly, You are a God who hides Yourself"—"Your judgments are a great deep"—is often all the explanation which our finite minds can offer. But when we remember the pledge, in His own life's blood, which He has Himself given of His love to His people, dare we impugn the rectitude of His dealings, or arraign the wisdom of His ways? No! This Savior-God reigns, "let the earth be glad." From the heart stripped of its beloved gourd by the gentle hand of death, to the more terrible cry of perishing thousands in a revolted empire or beleaguered capital—what truth more sublime, what syllables fall with more soothing music on the soul than these—"HE" (the Savior who died for me, who now lives for me) "does according to His will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth!"

Conscious that the Lord has set Him as "King on His holy hill of Zion," we may well take up that triumphant Psalm, which to hundreds of bleeding hearts will ever have a memorable significance—that Psalm which speaks pre-eminently of the ascension glories of a reigning Redeemer. In one of the world's very darkest hours, when the last vestige of the footsteps of a God of Love seemed obliterated—when, man-forsaken and God-forsaken, the hapless innocents were about to go down into darkness, tempted to cry out in frantic unbelief, "Is there a God on the earth?" the glorious truth of the text was made to fringe the edges of the threatening cloud—a blood-stained leaf floating on the crimson deluge pointed to the all-power of Jesus as the alone sheet-anchor in the maddening storm. "The Lord has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to our God, sing praises: sing praises to our King, sing praises. God reigns over the heathen; God sits on the throne of his holiness. The shields of the earth belong unto our God: He is greatly exalted."

II. We have here A PARTING COMMISSION. "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Appropriate seemed the spot where Jesus now stood to issue this great commission. It was on the frontier land of Judea—"Galilee of the Gentiles"—almost within sight of Heathendom.

At an earlier period of His public ministry the command had been very different—"Do NOT go into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans do not enter; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." A new dispensation, however, with the rending of the old temple veil, had now dawned on the world—the brotherhood of the human family was boldly announced; the leaves of the tree of life were no longer to be for the healing of Judea, but for "the healing of the nations."

The announcement of Christ's investiture with "all power" is beautifully connected with this missionary injunction—"All power," says He, "is given to Me," THEREFORE, "go and make disciples of all nations"—as if the first use He would make of this Mediatorial rule and sovereignty was to break down the barriers that had so long separated race from race, and make the waters of salvation roll round the globe, and, like its own oceans, touch every shore. Seated as King in the citadel of Zion, He had examined its armory, inspected its treasures, and the first use He makes of these is to armor His Disciples, and send them forth as the conquerors of the world.

What a startling commission! what a gigantic undertaking! Had the wise of this world been of the listening throng on that Galilee mountain, how would they have laughed it to scorn! What! that handful of Galilean barbarians and fishermen to go forth on the conquest of the human race?—men devoid of learning, polish, worldly tact, worldly wisdom, to proclaim a lowly Jew, who lived a lowly life and died an ignominious death, Lord of all? To undertake, moreover, to wage war with lust, and passion, and self in every shape—to proclaim that there was sin against high Heaven, not in the word and deed only, but in the secret thought of revenge, the rising passion, the unclean look—to hurl the venerated religious systems of ages from their thrones—to dethrone Jupiter from the Capitol, Minerva from the Acropolis, and erect in their place the pure, self-denying doctrines of the Cross, and the worship of an Invisible God! It seemed the ravings of childish enthusiasm, the boldness of ignorant and infatuated dreamers.

And what were to be their weapons? The battle of the world's warriors is "with confused noise and garments rolled in blood." The secret of Mohammedan triumph was the power of the sword. But the commission is not "go and subdue," "go and conquer"—but go and teach, go "make disciples." It was to be a moral victory over Mind, Conscience, Will, a debased Nature, groveling Passions. It was by a few scrolls written by Hebrew prophets, and Jewish fishermen and publicans, that the world was to be "turned upside down!" The unlettered listeners, with nothing but the simple sling of faith and the smooth pebbles from the brook of eternal Truth, were to go forth on their apparently hopeless undertaking!

If those localities are sacred in the world which are associated with the first plannings and conception of a great enterprise, where originated some grand thought or purpose which has had a powerful influence for good on mankind—if that spot is memorable where Columbus first dreamed of his unknown western world—or where Newton sat under his garden-bough and grasped the law which molds the raindrop and gives the planet its pathway—or the library where Luther found the dusty volume which gave birth to the Reformation, and emancipated the human mind from the despotism of ages—how illustrious and hallowed surely must ever be that mountain scene in Galilee where the simple Jew listened with startled ears to the strange command, that "Repentance and remission of sins" were now to be preached, in the name of Jesus, "to all nations"—that henceforth there was to be "neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free"—that the Angel of the Jewish Church had now folded his wings, and that "another Angel" was about to "fly in the midst of Heaven, having the Everlasting Gospel, to preach to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."

What a sacred trust was here confided to us! Woe to that Church which neglects so hallowed a commission and selfishly appropriates its spiritual blessings without one effort to convey them to others.

If farewell words are ever solemn and binding ones, let the Church of Christ come to this Mountain of Galilee, and listen to the parting command and injunction of her Great Lord. Striking surely, and significant it was, that, before He ascended, one of His last farewell looks should have been turned towards the nations yet sitting in darkness; that His last utterances were burdened with a solemn charge to the Church of the future to "go far hence unto the Gentiles." The wailing cry of unhappy Heathendom was doubtless, at that moment, borne to His ear from all coming ages. The wild shriek that has risen in our own age may have mingled in the terrible appeal. Well He knew that nothing would tame savage hearts but the regenerating power of His own blessed Gospel; and, therefore, before He bids the world farewell, and allows the chariot-cloud to descend, He utters, with heathen mountain-peaks in view, and half heathen villages at His feet, the ever memorable command, "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

III. We have finally, the PARTING PROMISE.

The Savior's discourse is drawing to a close; a few more utterances and He will vanish from sight never again to be seen by His Church on earth, until the Great Day of His appearing.

Sorrow was doubtless filling their hearts at the thought of His departure, when the most sacred and joyous of friendships seemed about to be dissolved for ever. But by one glorious promise He turns their sorrow into joy—"I go," He seems to say, "and yet I will never leave you. These heavens are about to receive Me, but though My personal presence be withdrawn—though this Risen Body is soon to be screened from view behind the veiled glories of the Holiest of all, do not think that in reality My Presence is gone, for Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world."

There is a beautiful connection and contrast between the first and the last assertions of this farewell discourse. The assertion of His unlimited sovereign Dominion was a cheering and gladdening one. It was the announcement that the garnered riches of the Universe were in His possession, and that all these would be used in behalf of His people. He seems in it to take the telescope and sweep the boundless skies of His power, proclaiming His kingdom to be an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion enduring throughout all generations.

But now is the telescope laid aside and the microscope is turned to every atom of redeemed dust! He leaves the symbols of His might in the Heavens above—His regal sway over "thrones, dominions, principalities, powers"—and turning to every single individual member of His Church on earth, the feeblest, the poorest, the lowliest, the most desolate—He says, Lo! I am with You always, even to the end of the world! The splendors of His mediatorial throne were at that moment in view. The harps of Heaven were sounding in His ear. But He assures them, when standing on the very threshold of all this glory, that His heart of love would still continue with the Pilgrim Church He was to leave in a Pilgrim World. "All power is given to Me in Heaven;" YET, "Lo! I am with you!"

That farewell saying has lost none of its comfort. "You"—that little word embraced every one of His redeemed people! YOU—Jesus looked down the vista of eighteen centuries, His eye, perhaps was on some lone spirit now reading these pages who thinks he has been left to the mercy of the storm, and still He says, "O you of little faith, why are you downcast? Dispel your tears, dispel Your misgivings, 'Lo! I am with YOU!'"

Yes, Blessed assurance amid much that is changing here! Heart and flesh faint and fail! Often our cisterns are scarcely filled when they break in pieces—our suns have scarcely climbed the meridian when they set in weeping clouds—our fondest schemes are blown upon—our most cherished gourds withered. We seat ourselves in our homes, but there are blanks there—vacant seats tell the too truthful tale of severed links, and blighted hopes, and early graves. As old-age creeps on, we look around us, but the companions of our pilgrimage are gone—noble forest trees, one by one, have bowed to the axe; "the place that once knew them, knows them no more." BUT there is ONE surviving the wreck and ruin of all sublunary joys, changeless among the changeable—"Lo! I am with you"—and "the wilderness and the solitary place" are by that presence made glad!

Amid sacred musings over departed friends—when visions of "the loved and lost" come flitting before us like shadows on the wall, how often do we indulge the pleasing imagination of their still mingling with us in mysterious communion; their wings of light and smiles of love hovering over us; delighting to frequent with us hallowed haunts, and reparticipate with our spirits in hallowed joys. This may perchance be but a fond delusion regarding others—but it is sublimely true regarding JESUS!

When the gates of the morning are opened, swifter than the arrowy light His footstep of love is at our threshold, and His voice is heard saying, "Lo! I am with you!" When the glow of health has left our cheek, and the dim nightlight casts its flickering gleam on our pillow, His unslumbering eye is watching us, and His lips gently whisper, "Lo! I am with you!"

When the King of Terrors has entered our dwellings—when we are seated amid the dreadful stillness of the death chamber, gazing on the shroud which covers the hope of our hearts and the pride of our lives; oh! amid that prostration of earthly hopes—when unable to glance one thought on a dark future—when the stricken spirit, like a wounded bird, lies struggling in the dust with broken wing and wailing cry—longing only for pinions to flee away from a weary world to the quiet rest of the grave—in that hour of earthly desolation, He who has the Keys of death at His belt—more, who has tasted death Himself, and, better still, who has conquered it—draws near in touching tenderness, saying, "Lo! I am with you!" I will come in the place of your beloved ones. I am with you to cheer you, to comfort you, to support and sustain you. I, who once wept at a grave, am here to weep with you—I will be at your side in all that trying future—I will make My grace sufficient for you, and My promises precious to you, and My love better than all earthly affection. All others are changeable, I am unchangeable! Others must perish; I am the strength of your heart and your portion forever!

Mark the word in this parting Promise, "Lo! I am with you ALWAYS." In the original it is more expressive; it means All THE days"—(all the appointed days). Our times are in the hands of Jesus—He counts not our years, but our DAYS—and He promises to be with us every day to the last day of all; and when that last day comes, He does not withdraw His Presence, but changes the Scene of it, and says, "TODAY you shall be with Me in PARADISE."

Reader! cling to this glorious farewell promise. Rejoice in Christ's fidelity to it. The natural world never belies her promises; we can calculate with unfailing accuracy on her unvarying sequences. The sun that sets today behind the western hills, will rise tomorrow. The trees which in the waning year are bared of their foliage, will be clothed with verdure in returning spring. The farmer, casting his seed in the prepared furrow, sees afar off Autumn with her joyous sickle coming to bear the harvest treasure home.

And if the natural world be thus scrupulously truthful and unerring—"He is faithful who promised, I will never leave you, nor forsake you." True, we may not, and do not, witness, in visible manifestation, the Savior's power or presence. But as the mightiest agencies in the natural world—gravitation, heat, electricity—are hidden and impalpable, yet constant in their influence, and stupendous in their effects; so it is with this ever-present Savior.

We see Him not—we hear not His voice—we cannot touch, like the believing suppliant of old, the hem of His outer garment. But it is the mission of Faith to rise above the impalpable and intangible, and to hold converse with the UNSEEN. The Believer, planting his footsteps on the Rock of Ages, can say, with triumphant joy, "the Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted." Mounting with Paul on soaring pinions, he can challenge the Heavens above and the Earth beneath, legions of Angels and hosts of devils, ever to separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus his Lord!