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66 COMFORT YE, COMFORT YE MY PEOPLE, SAITH YOUR GOD."
ENDEAVOURING TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BOND OF PEACE."
W. H. COLLINGRIDGE, 117 TO 119, ALDERSGATE STREET, E.C.
How amazingly rapid is the flight of time! Personally we are more and more astounded in the contemplation.
However our readers in general may feel this, unless they have had some experience of the matter, they can have little conception of the seemingly additional fleetness of weeks and months and years, as realized in connexion with the press. Where publications have statedly to appear, even though it be at intervals of a month, still they are almost uninterruptedly on the mind, and the ever-constant demand upon one's time and attention causes a new month to be, as it were, ever dawning. The same idea-only somewhat enlarged presents itself as respects the year. It is amazing how quickly the closing month appears to present itself, and a new December calls for another Preface.
But, brethren beloved, although we may witness change and vicissitude with respect to time and the world, yet how cheering is the consideration that there is no change whatever in our God. He is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." "With Him is no variableness, neither the shadow of a turning." Oh, how blessed is this fact! Come what change there may in the creature, and although one and another may be called away by the unsparing hand of Death, yet Jesus is the same. He, too, "rests in His love," and "hates putting away." It is as true of Him now as of old, "Having loved His own, which were in the world, He loveth them unto the end."
This, beloved, is something—and how great a something, too which to fall back.
Be assured, moreover, as we advance onward and homeward, the reality and the blessedness of this truth will be yet more and more tested.
If not as a matter of choice, yet as one of sheer necessity, we believe our God will compel His children to relax their hold of the world. Hence, if from no other cause, the trials and tribulations connected therewith the Lord will so overrule as to compel His dear children to sit more loosely to the things of time and sense. He will cause them, by His all-wise and in His ever-loving discipline, to feel that "this is not their rest; it is polluted."
And need we remark that, whatever may be the special methods and the peculiar measures by which a wise and tender and gracious God may fix this truth upon the heart and conscience of His child, such instruction must be salutary and profitable to the last degree?
Would to God that many of our readers could thus construe and interpret the Lord's dealings with them, both in providence and grace. All He does with regard to them He is prompted by infinite love and boundless wisdom and tenderness in the doing. He afflicts because He loves. "If ye are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"
At this season it may be that remarks are looked for with regard to the times in which we live. We are prepared to admit that they are solemn and momentous. Our readers have long been familiar with our opinion on this head. As years advance, and time closes in, we are justified in expecting that the general aspect of things will become additionally solemn and important. Much of Scripture has yet to be fulfilled, many events must of necessity occur, then "cometh the end," and we often think that end is much nearer than men are wont to consider. We believe we are nearer the Saturday night of time than is generally imagined. "The coming of the Son of man" is not so remote as people think. To us it appears that Infidelity and Popery are making such rapid progress in our own long highly-favoured England, that the land is ripening for destruction. Everything socially, politically, nationally, bespeaks a coming crisis. If there be not a callous indifference, then there is what the Scriptures declare there should be, "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth."
But, come what may, beloved, and amid all the dangers and destructions by which the ark of God may be surrounded, "the Scriptures cannot be broken." Still it stands as firmly and as blessedly upon record as ever, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." Then
"What shall injure you,
If we look to the prophet, in the anticipation of coming calamities, how sweet and how forcible was his language, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain" (Isa. xxvi. 20, 21). Then if we consider what the Lord Himself said, in the prospect of the destruction of Jerusalem, or in the near approach of the
termination of all things, how consolatory are His words, "But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified." Now supposing this counsel were limited to the calamities about to befall Jerusalem, would not such calamities be quite as solemn and as overwhelming to those then addressed as any that may befall our own land? Can we, beloved, be more deeply interested about our present state of things than were those then resident in the holy city? Yet mark the language, "Be not terrified."
Again, later down in the chapter, the Lord assures His disciples, "There shall not an hair of your head perish." We would have every poor Spiritquickened soul remember, that those to whom the Lord thus addressed Himself were not more loved by Jesus, nor had they a larger interest in Him, than themselves. He loves all His people with the same love, He redeemed them by the same blood, and is equally tender with all.
"To Him the weakest
Is dear as the strong."
Again, after the Lord had testified, "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory," He adds, for their comfort and fearlessness, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Beloved, we cannot conceive of language more cheering or fear-assuaging. That, under these very circumstances, when confusion and destruction are about to befall a God-dishonouring world, His own dear blood-bought ones are to "look up" hopefully and joyfully, and to "lift up their heads " expectingly and exultingly, knowing that their "redemption," their full and final freedom from all sin-trial—thraldom-temptation, the entire consummation of all their hopes, joys, and anticipations—salvation, in all its perfection, purity, and power, "draweth nigh"-is about to be divinely developed and personally realized in all its fulness, blessedness, and satisfaction.
Beloved, these are no cunningly-devised fables, but divine realities, as sweetly set forth and graciously commented upon by our blessed Lord Himself. We know, therefore, of nothing more calculated to cheer the heart of His drooping ones, and to cause them to "rejoice in hope of the glory of God," than these precious verities.
Such may reason with themselves, and ask, "How shall I stand in that great day?" Beloved, if thou art a poor sensible sinner, looking for salvation simply and exclusively to Jesus, thou needest not be under any apprehension as to how thou shalt stand under those momentous circumstances. As experienced throughout the pathway of the wilderness, so assuredly shall it then be found to be equally true,
"He'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,