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ed it. Son of man, what seest thou? Thou hast " the Father!” Jesus showed this mercy, just that He might show us the Father's heart, by His own heart. Go to the well of Samaria. Jesus rests Himself
upon for He was faint and weary. You remember the character of the woman, who is coming to draw water. Will He, can He, the Holy One of God, notice her, except to upbraid her? Yes; He even forgot all His fatigue, that He might teach her the way of salvation. He told her that He would give her "living water," on asking for it. And He called this opportunity of showing mercy,“ meat to eat” when He was hungry. Son of man, what seest thou? Thou hast seen the Father! Jesus will not allow us to confine this good will to Himself. He explains the miracle of mercy thus : “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work."
I repeat, that I am unwilling to forestal, in the least, the luxury of tracing this manifestation of the Father. But now that I have begun, I cannot break off until I accompany you to CALVARY, to witness the “great sight” of the Father given there : for, both at and after the Saviour's crucifixion, as well as before it, He was manifesting the Father by His words and works.
Behold, then, that frantic and ferocious mob around the cross; alternately mocking and execrating the Saviour. The very sun seems shocked at, and the heavens frown on, them. But He frowns not on His murderers. He prays for them. His first prayer on the cross was—for them : “ Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." You are amazed, melted, riveted by this great sight. Well; you have seen the Father! It was to show Him, and to demonstrate that goodness was His glory, that the Saviour prayed thus. He knew, and wished us to know, that, even in the case of such sinners, the Father was as willing to forgive them, as the Son was to pray for their pardon. The
prayer does not disprove this ; for had it not been as agreeable to God to answer, as to the Saviour to ask, it
would not have been presented. It was, however, the first prayer on Calvary; and, how fervent, I need not say; for the very sound of it breathes sincerity and intense solicitude. Thus the heart bleeding and breaking on the cross, was not warmer when its love was stronger than death, than the heart on the Eternal Throne. This is-seeing the Father! And He is not changed since that time: but as Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; so God is, without variableness, or the shadow of a turning, all that He was, when in the face of the darkest enormity which ever disgraced the world, He both heard and answered prayer
Nothing can, of course, exceed this proof of goodness being that glory of God, which God most glories and delights in. It may, however, be well, as these were cases of ignorance as well as of enormity, to add the case of Peter. He had denied his Lord with oaths and curses
and outrage to all principle, pledge, feeling, and conscience, almost unutterable! Some try to soften the guilt of Peter. Let Peter's bitter tears, answer their gratuitous palliations of his shameful fall. I prefer his own opinion of it. Behold, then, Jesus sending a special message of His resurrection, to Peter. - Tell Peter !" Herein is love! Can you look on this, without melting amazement at the fulness and freeness of the Saviour's restoring grace ? Remember: thou hast seen the Father in this act of grace. The Saviour's heart was not more tender at that moment, than the Father's was. The message to Peter was as direct from the throne of God, as from the Arimathean garden.
With this clew, search the Scriptures, and acquaint yourself with God, if you would be at peace : for this is Eternal Life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent to prove that goodness is His glory.
The late venerable Andrew Fuller, of Kettering, said to a friend of mine, “There was a period of my ministry, marked by the most pointed and systematic effort to comfort my serious people: but the more I tried to comfort them, the moru they complained of doubts and darkness. Where. ever I went amongst them, one lamentation met my ear; Ah, Sir, I can get no comfort !—I am unable to appropriate any of the great and precious promises to myself! I looked for light; and, behold, darkness! I knew not," said Mr. Fuller, " what to do, nor what to think : for, I had done my best to comfort the mourners in Zion. I was, therefore, at my 'wit's end. At this time, it pleased God to direct my attention to the claims of the perishing heathen in India. I felt that we had been living for ourselves, and not caring for their souls. I spoke as I felt. My serious people wondered and wept over their past inattention to this subject. They began to talk about a Baptist mission. The females, especially, began to collect money for the spread of the gospel. We met, and prayed for the heathen ; met, and considered what could be done amongst ourselves for them; met, and did what we could. And, whilst all this was going on, the lamentations ceased. The sad became cheerful, and the desponding calm. No one complained of a want of comfort. And I, instead of having to study how to comfort my flock, was myself comforted by them. They were drawn out of themselves, sir ; that was the real secret of the whole matter. God blessed them, when they tried to be a blessing."
Whatever you may think of this fact, or of its application to your own case, it is not without parallels in the history of the Jewish and Christian Church. Isaiah records at great length, a case of this kind, lviii. 10:
“ If thou draw out thy soul unto the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday; and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones ; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Read the whole chapter, and then consider the following hints.
The people, whose darkness and doubts God thus promised to relieve, had tried various experiments, for the express purpose of obtaining the light of God's countenance, and the joy of salvation : but all these experiments failed, although some of them seemed well calculated to secure the object.
For example; they not only did not forsake " the ordinance of their God." they also took“ delight in approaching to God,” verse 2. Thus, like David, they were “glad” when it was said to them from Sabbath to Sabbath, “ Let us go up to the House of the Lord.” They did not come as reluctant victims to the Altar, but as willing votaries. They did not, like Doeg, reckon themselves “ detained before the Lord,” nor, like Eutychus, fall asleep, whilst attending worship; but evidently loved the gates of Zion. And yet-although they thus waited on the Lord, the Lord did not, for a time,"renew their strength,” nor meet with them to bless them. Nay, He did not even interpret His delay, as a trial of their faith or patience; nor say to them, as He did to some, “ Though the vision tarry, wait for it.” Why did God thus depart from his ordinary rule of meeting with them, who wait for him? The chief reason wasthat these persons were selfish : and He would only comfort them, in connexion with curing them of their besetting sin.
“For the iniquity of their covetousness,” He had smote them with darkness and despondency. “I hid Me, and was wroth,” said God. They, however, did not, or would not understand Him at first ; but “ went on frowardly in the way of (their) heart." And, wonder, O heavens! even this, God bore with; and, that He might overcome it, said, “I have seen his ways and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts to him and his mourners.” Isa. lvii. 17, 18. God healed them, however, by showing them the cause as well as cure of their wound. Isaiah was commanded to lift up his voice “ like a trumpet,” that they might be fully aware of the precise reason why God was contending against them. And the substance of that reason was, their neglect of the poor, the oppressed, and the perishing
Another plan they had tried for relief was—the regular habit of daily prayer and meditation. “ Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways,” verse 2.
Thus they were more than regular worshippers in the sanctuary, and on the Sabbath : no day passed without seeking the comfort they wished to find, or without searching the Scriptures. Their prayers and meditations seem to have been as constant as the morning and evening sacrifice: nor were they either hypocritical or heartless; and yet they were unsuccessful. Seeking was not followed by finding, nor reading and hearing by comfort. How true is the Psalmist's maxim, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear
The iniquity of their heart was selfishness, or a degree of “covetousness,” which led him to overlook th wants and woes of others : and this habit of living only for themselves, God would neither humour nor countenance. He “hid ” Himself from them that they might learn this lesson, “that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh," verse 7. They needed and longed for a sense of His mercy to themselves; but God would not give it, apart from teaching them to be merciful to others. He had two great principles of His moral and mediatorial government to establish in the church; first, that “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy;" and second, "they shall have judgment without mercy who have showed no mercy;" and he would not yield either of these cardinal points to their prayers or their tears.
Now mark: the question had come to a crisis, and was