THE MAN OF GOD  Or "Spiritual Religion Explained and Enforced"
by Octavius Winslow

The Mute Sufferer

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7

There is a state of soul-quietness which is the peculiar privilege of the saints of the Most High, and which, in fact, can only be experienced by those who are in a state of friendship with God. Yet notwithstanding this, in a world of turmoil, and even in the excitement of what is termed the religious world, there is great danger of impairing, if not losing, this precious and holy state. We therefore desire, in this chapter of our work, to strengthen your faith; by placing before you the Lord Jesus Christ, as illustrating and exemplifying in His own conduct; amid circumstances the most trying and painful, that state of quietness of soul, of mute submission to the will of God, which it is the high privilege of the believer to possess and imitate.

We shall never so value, or so deeply feel the force of any single precept as when we see it embodied in the example of Jesus Christ, as the personal illustration of all the precepts which are to be exemplified in the Christian's life. Just as no motive or action can be properly seen or studied but in the light of the cross, so no principle of conduct can be evangelical and potent but as drawn from the teaching and life of Emmanuel. "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth." This wonderful passage leads us to study Christ's burden- soul-depression, and the mute deportment He exhibited.

Such an extraordinary state of soul-distress must have its adequate cause. Upon what principle are we to account for the oppression of the Son of God? What shall give us anything like a reasonable clue to it? "He was oppressed." The word "oppressed" is sometimes employed in the sense of exaction. It is used when tribute is claimed; when a debt is enforced, the payment of which is exacted. Now what was exacted of Christ? What claim is enforced? When Divine Justice traveled to the cross of Calvary, she found the Son of God, suspended there in the character of a Substitute. He suffered as standing in the place of His Church, as the substitute of His people. When an individual affixes his name to a bond in commercial transactions, he becomes responsible  for the payment of that bond. It is as though he had exchanged places with the original signer of the document. He becomes legally bound to honor that bond whenever exaction shall be made.

Precisely in the same light the Son of God stood as the Surety of His Church. By a divine act of love, He placed Himself in her condition, and undertook to discharge all that great debt which she owed to the moral government of God. In a word, Christ became the Substitute of His people, took the place of the fallen sinner, and undertook to discharge the stupendous claim, for the payment of which he had signed the bond in the eternal counsel of the Triune Jehovah. And now, what is the nature of the burden which Jesus bare? He was standing beneath the sins of His people: He was bearing the transgressions and iniquities of His elect. He was paying the bond to which He had affixed His name. In a word, He was cancelling the great debt.

He was discharging the tremendous obligation which His people lay under to the justice and holiness of God. The payment of that debt was exacted of Him because He became the Sinbearer of His people. Hence, we have the meaning of those prophetic words of Christ "Then I restored that which I took not away." What was it that Christ restored which He did not take away? Oh, it was the glory of God's government, the honor of God's law, the perfection of the Divine precept, the great debt to the moral government of Jehovah! Christ, by His obedience to the law, and by His paying the penalty to justice, restored to the divine government of God, the glory and honor which He took not away. And oh, what a glorious and perfect restoration was that which the sinless Son of God gave, standing as the Surety and Head of His Church! Now, this is the doctrine of the text.

But what is the comfort and consolation which this doctrine is so calculated to bring to our souls? It is the richest in its nature that the gospel can give, and without which all other comfort and consolation is but an empty name. If all our sins were laid upon Christ our Surety, then 'they were taken off' from us; and consequently, sin shall never bring into condemnation the believer in Jesus, for whom He was thus oppressed and afflicted.

We now pass to a consideration of the soul-depression which the Son of God endured beneath this burden. All sin brings its consequent sorrow. Sin is a violation of the law of God; and so obnoxious is it to the holy God, that, as we cannot cast the smallest pebble into a tranquil lake without disturbing its repose, so we cannot in the slightest degree run counter to God's law without dishonoring God and compromising the peace of our own soul. Now, from this passage we may argue- What must have been the soul-sorrow of the Son of God when He stood, as the Surety and Substitute, beneath the weight of all the sins and transgressions of His people?

My reader, what is it that darkens the spirit? What is it that gives the bitterest ingredient to the cup of sorrow? Is it not your daily conflict with sin? And yet your sins are pardoned; they are blotted out, and forever cancelled. We should do injustice to you, and a still greater wrong and dishonor to Christ, were we to conceal or shade the fact in our deepest distress for sin, that we have to deal with sin, the commission of which is forgiven, the guilt of which is cleansed, the curse and condemnation of which are entirely and forever removed.

But what must have been the soul-distress and oppression of Jesus when there were made to meet upon Him the accumulated sins of the whole family of God? Truly might it be said, "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted." This, then, was the cause of Christ's sorrow He was oppressed. And who can tell what deep mental and heart oppression the Savior endured while passing through that scene of trial? Oh, what is our oppression compared with the oppression of the Savior's holy soul, when paying the penalty of our transgressions and sins? Divine Justice was exacting from Him the utmost farthing of the great debt.

But He was afflicted too. Yes, His whole life was a life of affliction. Every step He trod, from the lowly manger to the ignominious cross, was marked by affliction. He was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." He was born to trial and conflict. It is well for us that it was so. Who could enter into our oppression but the Lord! Our Savior in His distress, knowing there was no creature that could help Him, cries up God. And to whom could you flee in your oppression, to whom could you repair in your affliction, if not unto Him whose spirit, whose heart, was so afflicted? O you sons and daughters of sorrow, affliction, and trial; press the comfort and consolation of this truth to your hearts- Jesus Christ was oppressed and afflicted, and He knows how to enter into all your oppressions, your mental and spiritual dejection and sorrow. The gloom that often broods around your soul, the nervousness which often unhinges your whole frame, the affliction that embitters your cup of sweets, He passed through, that He might be able to support us. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, that He might know how to sympathize with the afflictions of His suffering family.

We would now direct your thoughts to the deportment of our blessed Lord while passing through this season of oppression and affliction. "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth." Here is a great truth for us to consider, an important lesson for us to learn, and a bright example for us to study: "He opened not His mouth." There was a deathlike silence, a mute, yet not a sullen, submission of the soul beneath the sorrow He was enduring. Not a word was spoken; not a sentence was uttered; not a whisper was heard. "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth."

And now, may the Spirit of God enable us to understand something of the deep spiritual significance of these words, "Yet He opened not His mouth." In the first place, our suffering Messiah, our afflicted Surety, did not impeach the justice of God in the soul-discipline through which He was passing. There was no arraignment at His bar of the righteousness of the judgment. He saw it to be equitable, just, and holy. He seemed to say, "Why should I complain of this bitter cup? Why should I murmur at this terrible affliction? I became a Surety for my Church. I gave myself up as a Substitute. It is an equitable obligation to which I bound myself; and I have not a word to utter impeaching the righteousness of my Father in the trial through which I am passing."

And is God less just in His dealings with you, my reader? Is there anything in His conduct that can give you cause to impeach the Divine equity? What, will you dispute the holiness and integrity of the Judge of all the earth when He blows upon your beautiful flower, when he cuts down your tall cedar, or when He wounds you in the most sensitive part of your nature? Is God unrighteous, unjust, unholy, in any of His dealings with you? "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Bitter may be the cup you are called to drink, dark the cloud that flings its shadow upon your path, and most beloved the "Isaac" of your heart you are compelled to surrender; yet, you may exclaim with David, "I was dumb; I opened not my mouth, because You did it. You are too wise to err, too good to be unkind, too righteous, too just, too holy, to do wrong."

He did not open his mouth to impugn the goodness and love of God. He felt it was the conduct of Him who is essential goodness and essential love; therefore, He did not question these perfections of His heavenly Father. And shall you, shall I impugn the goodness of God when He sees fit to chasten and afflict? What? is He less kind, is He less good, when He touches your health, when He blows upon your enterprises, when He scatters your riches, bereaves your heart, places you in circumstances that are trying to bear, and deprives you of mercies which once you enjoyed? Is He less good, and kind and loving then?

Oh, forget not that it is said of your Lord and Savior, "He opened not His mouth." He did not question the goodness and love of His Father though He was oppressed. Oh no; God your Father is not less kind, is not less good, or less loving, even when you may be oppressed and afflicted. If you would be like Christ, you must be dumb and open not your mouth- a mute and patient sufferer.

Christ did not murmur at the affliction that lay upon Him. Not a word of rebellion or of fretfulness breathed from His lips. No thoughts were in His mind which, if uttered, would say, I could have arranged this more wisely and justly. I could have formed, and fashioned this or that with more skill and ingenuity than He has done it. If it had been left to my own choice, I would have selected for myself a better position than this" Oh no; "He opened not His mouth." He uttered not a murmur; no unhallowed fretting broke from His sealed lips. Oh, learn, you saints of God, to be like Jesus, repining and murmuring not when the hand of God is heavy upon you. Be still, and know that He is God.

Again, when He was falsely accused, maligned, insulted, and traduced; spat upon, scourged, and degraded; yet "He opened not His mouth" to threaten and denounce. There was no complaining, no threatening, no returning evil for evil. "When He was reviled, He reviled not again." Learn, oh you who suffer from the world, who endure reproach and ignominy for Christ's sake- learn to suffer all that God sees fit; willing, if need be, that your actions and motives shall be misunderstood and misinterpreted by others; willing to confide your character into the hands of Jesus, your Surety.

When man falsely accuses you, when the world maligns you, oh, learn to be quiet beneath it all; leave it with Him who judges righteously, and who has left you an "example" of meekness, patient endurance, and silence under accusation, and bids you, "follow His steps." He opened not His mouth. to vindicate His own innocence; He was falsely accused and slandered by malignant foes, though He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and, separate from sinners. But He opened not His mouth in self-vindication. He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

What a lesson do we learn here! If you act from right principles, and your character is approved of God, you need not be anxious to vindicate it before men. Leave it with the Lord. Your Counselor and Advocate is Jesus Christ. "Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday."

There may be occasions when, to rebut a false accusation, and to vindicate our integrity and uprightness, we may meekly assert and establish our innocence. But this need not transgress the spirit of Jesus, who, "when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously." It were best not to take our cause out of Christ's hands into our own. In spiritual, as in worldly litigation, it were wise not to be our own counselor, but to remember that the believer has an "Advocate with the Father, Jesus-Christ the righteous," a powerful and ever-successful Pleader.

I would remind you, in concluding the chapter, that this quietness of spirit under all circumstances produces a peaceful, happy mind. A quiet mind is a happy and peaceful one- a mind firmly stayed upon God under all those circumstances which are calculated to produce mental disquietude and distress. Such a believer feels that God is doing right whatever He does. His mind is kept in perfect peace, being stayed upon God. It is calm, tranquil, peaceful, whatever the stormy billows that ruffle and agitate life's surface.

A state of mute submission is also a most instructive state to the mind. I believe we learn more in a state of quietness than in a state of excitement. God may teach you in the quiet more deeply than in the turmoil and bustle. Look at Jesus in His teaching of His disciples. He propounded to them some great and precious parables which He would explain and unfold as they were able to bear it. How did He this? Was it amid the din and confused noise of the world? No; He took them apart from the multitude, and in the quietness and repose of the desert, he expounded to them the deep mysteries of the kingdom of God. "And when they were ALONE, He explained to them the parables."

Then, shrink not from the privacy of the closet, from the quietude of the sick chamber, or from the stillness of some remote scene; where, perchance, you may be deprived of the privileges of the house of God. Shrink not from solitude and retirement. God has put you there to teach you what  He would not teach you amid the noise and tumult of the world. He has led you to close searchings of heart, to a more attentive and a more prayerful reading of His blessed Word, and more deeply into the secret of His covenant, and taught you more experimentally and perfectly, the all-important truths of the gospel of Christ.

Oh then, cultivate still more this quietness, this muteness of soul in suffering. We live in an age of action rather than of thought; of external excitement rather than of calm, meditative retirement. There may be much self-denying labor for others, while yet leanness may steal into your own soul, and the love of God wane within your heart. Study to be quiet, and cultivate communion and close communion with God, and commune with your own heart and be still.

Oh, cultivate the habit of self-examination! Look well into the state of your own soul. Sitting in lowliness and quietness at the Savior's feet, let your silence be a profound meditation upon your own heart as upon His; and let your mouth be sealed with perfect submission under the dealings of your heavenly Father, feeling that all those dealings are right, and all in love. Then, oh! then you will know in some degree what that repose and quietness of soul is which the Savior felt when oppressed and afflicted for your sins. "Yet He opened not His mouth."

"Be still, my soul! Jehovah loves thee;
Fret not, nor murmur at your weary lot;
Though dark and lone your journey seems to be,
Be sure that you are never by Him forgot.
He ever loves; then trust Him, trust Him still,
Let all your care be this- the doing of His will."
"Your hand in His, like fondest, happiest child,
Place you, nor draw it for a moment thence;
Walk with Him, a Father reconciled,
Until in His own good time He call you hence;
Walk with Him now, so shall your way be bright,
And all your soul be filled with His most glorious light"
"He comes with His reward; it is just at hand;
He comes in glory to His promised throne;
My soul rejoice before long your feet shall stand
Within the city of the Blessed One
Your perils past, your heritage secure,
Your tears all wiped away, your joy forever sure"