« PreviousContinue »
"I am the good Shepherd : the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,” John x, 11.
YOUR BEST FRIEND. You rejoice in the kindness of earthly friends. You are comforted in the time of trouble, by knowing that the tidings of your sorrows will bring them quickly to your relief.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the best Friend, is not wanting in this respect. As the vast scene of human guilt and woe was before him, the Redeemer exclaimed, “Lo, I come,” His human nature made him experimentally acquainted with all the sorrows of man's earthly existence. How many and great were the sufferings of his body! Whose spirit was ever more keenly wounded by reproach, than his? What could a pure mind endure from the view of human depravity, which his did not endure? How great the trial of his patience and love while in
this guilty world! His tears moistened the earth of Gethsemane, and his blood the soil of Calvary ; but the deep agonies of his soul, when made “an offering for sin," must have been great beyond all we can conceive. All the anguish of his body, and all the agony of his soul, add to the proofs of the sincerity of his love.
You rejoice, also, in the power of earthly friends, in their ability to relieve, as well as in their readiness to sympathize. Nor is your best Friend wanting here. Is not the power of the Creator infinite? It is found in Jesus: "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by him, and for him.” If, to be the Preserver of the universe, an almighty arm is necessary, then is Christ its possessor; for he “upholdeth all things by the word of his power." What realm of nature is not subject to his sway? The best Friend has therefore power to manifest his kindness. To the benevolence of his heart he can add the omnipotence of his hand. What want cannot he relieve ; from what danger cannot he deliver ? His human nature, and his experience of its weaknesses, give him sympathy in your earthly sorrows; while his infinite greatness, as Maker and Upholder of all worlds, qualifies him for any acts of friendship you may require now and for ever.
Must you not, however, look upon him as an unrequited and INJURED FRIEND? Tender and affectionate friendship is cruelly wounded by mere neglect. The odiousness of gross guilt may not be upon you, but has there not been cold indifference toward this infinite Friend ? Has not the world appeared more bright and beautiful to you than all the attractions of the Lord of glory? One would have thought that such a Friend would have been welcomed to your heart on the first appeal for admittance,that there would not have been the guilt of a moment's delay. So tender, pure, disinterested, and unspeakably great has been his love, that the least indifference to it is a deep affront. To be unaffected by it is glaring ingratitude to Christ. How great has been this guilty indifference toward the best Friend ! Earthly friendship toward you has been cold, compared with the Redeemer's love; yet by human kindness has your heart been softened, while the Divine has not affected it. Having refused Christ your affection and obedience, he now appears before you in that most affecting relation-a deeply injured Friend.
Yet has he been a PATIENT FRIEND. Human friendship cools rapidly when unrequited. It is utterly extinguished often by long provocation. . What a contrast, the Redeemer's friendship! Its
YOUR BEST FRIEND.
kindness of no human being could have stood the test of such provocations. Consider what you have done to try it. Let your youthful years declare in how many ways redeeming love has been pressed upon your attention, only to be slighted. Let the long periods of later life proclaim in how many, and in what affecting forms, the claims of your best Friend have been urged, to meet only with disregard. All the instances of your denial of him have been registered in his book, and stand in all their aggravations before him. But he has not laid his hand on vengeance. He has seen, and heard, and felt all your abuse of his goodness, and yet has been a long-suffering Friend.
But must he not be an INDIGNANT Friend? He cannot be insensible to the claims of his own excellence, nor blind to the odious guilt of ill-treatment. Do not all the hosts of heaven honour him with the greatest love and the swiftest obedience ? Is not every heavenly crown cast at his feet in profound adoration ? Are not his claims as strong upon you as upon angels? Is not his redeeming love an appeal more affecting than can be addressed to sinless beings ? Say not, reader, that your infinite Friend is not indignant, because he is long-suffering. Do not commit a fresh act of guilt by thus lightly esteeming the moral glory of his character. Could we ask for him your obedience and love, were he capable of receiving, unaffected, such treatment as sinners give him? This would imply such indifference to his own glory, and such disregard of the violation of his own laws, as would be impossible in a righteous moral governor. Dwell as much as you may upon the infinite benevolence and patience of Christ, yet never indulge for a moment the thought that he is not indignant at every resistance of his will, and every abuse of his goodness. Is he tender and compassionate ? So is he glorious in holiness. Is he the “ Lamb of God?” So is he the “ Lion of the tribe of Juda."
Beware, then, that your best Friend does not become a Lost Friend! Your present course of guilt is tending to separate you for ever from him. His patience has been amazing, but it has a bound. Your neglect of the present appeal may be another step towards it. It should startle you to think that you know not the boundary of his forbearance, and know not, of course, how near that limit you may this moment be. A few more repulses of the Saviour's love, perhaps but one, may settle this great question, causing his mercy to be “clean gone for ever."
Our anguish at the loss of a friend is in proportion to our apprehension of the value of his friendship. Look, then, at the value of Christ's friendship in the light of his infinite attributes, and the blessings he is able to bestow. The loss is great to be an alien and a stranger to such a friend in the present life. What brightness his friendship can throw over the dark scenes of adversity! In what cheerless midnight is that bosom which enjoys none of the beams of the Sun of Righteousness! How gloomy, without Him, the valley of the shadow of death!
But what an opportunity ETERNITY will furnish for estimating the loss of such a Friend! There, will be no dimness of the mind. No worldly cares or pleasures then, to prevent the most solemn thoughts upon that dreadful theme. With what terrible vividness will all the expressions of the lost Friend's kindness recur to the mind! His power and willingness to save, his tender sympathy, his humiliation and his sufferings, his patience, his invitations, and his promises—what subjects of agonizing thought in the eternal world!
Beware, dear reader, that you do not encounter in eternity the dreadful fact that your best Friend is a Lost FRIEND! Yes, and lost for ever!
“ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him," Psa. ii. 12.
“To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," Heb. iii, 7, 8.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon," Isa. lv. 7.
Behold a Stranger at the door!
“A certain woman named Martha received him (Jesus) into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word,” Luke x. 38, 39.
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN INDEED? WHEREVER a faithful minister has set forth the glad tidings of a free salvation to lost, guilty, and perishing sinners, it is never known to be preached in vain. He who sends the preacher, prepares the heart of the hearer. And though many of God's dear servants are grieved and humbled, and almost fainting, because they see so little fruit of their labours; the great Shepherd of the flock is, meantime, gathering one and another out of the multitude, who shall be the crown and rejoicing of their minister, “ in that day when the Lord maketh up his jewels."
But wherever true coin is current, there will be counterfeits. Bad money will pass amongst the good. And so, where there are true Christians, we must not be surprised to find false ones. They are sometimes called hypocrites—that is, persons with two faces: persons who really intend to deceive their fellow-creatures, and to pass among them for religious, when they must know that they are not so in the sight of God. There are, also, those who do not mean to deceive others. But they deceive themselves. Both these persons hear the gospel like the true Christian. They would not hear anything else. They discourse about true and false doctrine; about this minister not going far enough