"He will comfort us." Genesis 5:29
Thus speaks the patriarch Lamech. Such is his voice of
joy, when he receives his first-born Noah. He was tilling a soil hardened by
the curse—fruitful only in thorns and thistles. But now a son is given to
share the painfulness of his daily toil. Cheered by this hope, he calls his
name Noah, which has the meaning of Rest or Comfort.
Reader! in these simple pages there is but one thing sought: the best good
of undying souls. Therefore I examine not whether this name was designed as
another ray of the coming Savior. I rather proceed to realities, which all
experience. I rather turn to tidings, which are bright on the Gospel
I first state a fact, which is ancient as the fall, and
wide-spread as man. It is this—A sinful world is a tearful world. Wherever
we stand, our shadow is sorrow. It s so before the flood. It is so now. In
all climates and ranks, the head is weary, and the heart is sick.
I next state a truth, which came in, as twin-born, with
the earliest promise. It is this—Consolation is provided. God has sent forth
Christ Jesus from the bosom of His love to be the Consolation of this
woe-worn world. It is my longing desire that this heavenly knowledge would
more largely shed its pure balm. I mourn that men should drink nothing but
the dregs of bitterness, while healing streams flow close beside them. Let
me invite you, then, to come with me for a few moments into some of the
chambers of earth's grief. I can show you there, with the Spirit helping,
that in Jesus Christ there is a pillow for the throbbing brow—a cordial for
the fainting spirit—a plank for the sinking—a haven for the tempest-tossed.
I need scarcely say that the heart of misery is misery of
heart—the soul of anguish is anguish of soul. But where is the home of this
extreme distress? Surely in the breast of him whose conscience is awake to
discern the nature—the evil—the wages—of his sins. The nest of
self-delusion has now become a bed of thorns. Before his eyes God
frowns, dreadful in justice. In his ears the law thunders a tremendous
curse. He moves forward, and there is a gaping hell. Shall he stir—the next
step may cast him headlong into flames. Shall he sleep—he may awake among
the lost. Where can comfort reach a mind thus tortured? It cannot spring
from earth. For let the world now present its every charm; how worthless are
they! The world has nothing, but for a sin-blinded man. When things are seen
as they really are, earthly toys are worse than empty bubbles.
Comfort, to be comfort now, must come from heaven. All is
mockery, except it can tell of God reconciled—sin pardoned—the soul safe.
Now Jesus can raise out of these lowest depths; and He alone. He can guide
the trembler to His cross. He can reveal to him there a heavenly Father,
arrayed in glories of eternal love. He can point to His own dying as the
death of wrath. He can show the sword of justice sheathed in His own
heart—the flames of vengeance quenched in His own blood—the hand, that was
uplifted to strike, now extended to bless—all hell piled upon the Guiltless,
and heaven freely given to the guilty! Is not this Consolation? It is! And
Jesus pours it from His wounded hands and pierced side!
Is not this, I repeat, Consolation? Ask those who have
tasted it. Ask the jailor. Terror-stricken he sprang in—wrath was at his
heels—he heard of Jesus—peace soothed his fears, and he rejoiced, believing
in God with all his house. But it occurs, alas! too often, that they who
have escaped, as drowning mariners, to this rock, are enticed again to
stray. They cease to watch and pray. Then the tempter finds an open door.
They neglect the preserving means of grace. Then the foe creeps in. The
Spirit is grieved and withdraws. Corruptions regain their power. Woe to
backsliders! what wretchedness is theirs! Consciousness of peril
returns, and it is embittered by keen self-reproach. They see how basely
they have deserted the Friend, who had said to them, while in their blood,
Reader! perhaps this agony is yours. You once had rest in
Jesus, but it is gone. The fault is wholly your own. He did not drive you
from Him. You have departed from Him. And now you sigh, Oh! that it were
with me, as in the days when the Sun of Righteousness shone upon my path. Do
not be tearless, for grievous is your fall. But do not be hopeless, for
Jesus is yet near. His voice still follows you, "Return, and I will not
cause My anger to fall upon you." In nothing is His tenderness more tender,
than in stilling the sobs of those who sob in penitence before Him. Return
then. The Lord still extends the arms of His pitifulness. He is the balm in
Gilead. He is the Physician there. He cannot be silent to the cry, "Restore
to me the joy of Your salvation."
There are others who closely cling to the Lord, and yet
are disquieted. They gratefully acknowledge, "Hitherto has the Lord helped
us;" but heaven seems far off; the pilgrimage is long; adversaries are many;
their own strength totters—they look to the winds and waves, and trembling
takes hold upon them; they say with David, we shall one day perish by the
hand of Saul.
Reader! perhaps you have such heart-felt misgivings.
Truly if Jesus were other than He is, you might thus faint. But now I am
bold to bid you arise and shake yourself from the dust. Open your eyes and
read His heart. It speaks one language. It is all encouragement. It tells of
faithful love, which, as it never had beginning, so it can have no end. He
draws you to the shelter of His wings, and there stifles each rising doubt
by assurances as large as they are free—as gentle as they are countless. He
tells you, "Because I live, you shall live also." "Your life is hidden with
Christ in God." If you ask richer Consolation, you ask more than God can
But afflictions break upon you with ceaseless tide. This
is to be expected. It is our common lot. There is no home so lowly, but some
sorrow finds the door. There is no palace so upraised, but some sorrow
mounts the steps. Faith shields not from this. "In the world you shall
have tribulation." But welcome all sorrow, if Jesus enters by its side! This
always is so to the true believer. Health may wither like a fading flower;
languor and disease may feed upon the frame; there may be tossings to and
fro until the dawning of the day. But Jesus can relax with smiles the
pain-contracted brow, and charm with songs the wakeful night. Earthly
possessions may crumble to decay; poverty may sit where affluence used to
But can the believer's portion fail? Oh, no! he has all
the treasures in the word, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack."
Friends may forsake; averted looks may chill. There may be treachery or open
hate, where once much love was pretended. Jesus knew this trial in its
bitterest form. Hence He is quick to prove that He changes not with the
changing world. He magnifies His sympathy by sticking closer than a brother.
His own presence more than fills each void within.
But death draws on with rapid step. Yes! it will
soon draw back the covers of your bed, and extend an icy hand to bear
you there. You will then need strong Consolation. Long-tried props can prop
no more. Alone you must go through the dark valley. But not alone! For Jesus
whispers, "I am with you. Thus I guide to my many-mansioned home." So the
last trial is the last and largest Consolation.
Believer, let me beg you to live and die leaning on Jesus
as your Consolation. Would you be expert in this happy state? Make it, then,
your daily habit to meditate upon Himself—His promises—His dealings. Hold
close communion with Him. Measure the breadth, the length, the depth, the
height of His office and His work. Be assured that all that He is, and all
that He has, and all that He has done, and all that He is doing, and all
that He will do, is yours. You have never been absent from His heart, and
never can be. You are a member "of His body, of His flesh, and of His
bones." Abide in Him at all seasons, and all seasons will be comfort.
Strike, too, the rock of the promises with the
rod of faith. Sweet waters will gush out. They will flow very deep, and
very broad, and all within this channel, "Comfort, comfort, my people, says
your God." Take frequent walks also by the side of the faithful pilgrims of
old. Precious is their companionship. They may be sorrowful, yet they are
always rejoicing. They may be homeless wanderers, as Jacob was, yet they are
comforted. They may pine long in dungeons and under evil fame, as Joseph
did, yet they are comforted. They may be destitute of all things, as Elijah
was, yet they are comforted. They may flee for their lives and hide
themselves in caves of the earth, as David did, yet they are comforted. They
may be in the hottest fire of persecution, as the three captive youths were,
yet they are comforted. They may be in all perils, and in the wildest
storms, as Paul was; they may be called to bear faithful witness in scoffing
crowds, or before frowning tyrants, as this apostle was, yet they are
comforted. They may die the martyr's death under showers of crushing stones,
as Stephen did, yet they are comforted. They may lose all things, yet they
never lose the Consolation, which is in Christ Jesus. It is the work of His
Spirit. It is the gift of His grace. It is the token of His indwelling. It
is the foretaste of His heaven!
Perhaps the eyes of some rest upon these pages, who are
strangers to this deep well-spring of Consolation. Unhappy men! Your hearts
are a disconsolate blank. You have been sowing vanity, and what do you now
reap? You have made the world your all, what has it given you? If much be
obtained, more is coveted. Possessions do not content. Pursuits only weary.
This hour is fretfulness. The next is a dreaded abyss. You wander over
fields of anxiety, and there is no place of rest. Society is a hollow
insipidity. Solitude is a dismal gloom. Where are your comforts? There are
none in the retrospect, none in hand, none in the horizon. The past
upbraids, the present dissatisfies, the future terrifies! A condemning voice
within tells you, that is true. Turn not, then, from the beseeching voice of
this page. Be persuaded. Consent, consent to be happy. "Seek the Lord while
He may be found." "Take with you words." Plead with Him His office, "The
Lord has anointed Me to comfort all that mourn in Zion." Plead with Him His
call, "Come unto Me, all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give
you rest." Plead with Him His promise, "I will not leave you comfortless."
Plead with Him His title, "The Consolation of Israel." Plead with Him His
tender voice, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you."
Plead with Him the dreadful gulf between the saved and the lost, "Now he is
comforted, and you are tormented." Plead with him the command from heaven,
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God." Cease not thus to plead, until
you can say of Him, who is far greater than Noah, "This same shall comfort