"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11

"A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." Isaiah 42:3

The thoughts most prominently brought before us in these two passages from the Evangelical Prophet, are, the vastness of the Divine condescension and the gentleness of the Divine dealings—the timid, the weak, the bruised, the burdened, the fallen, nestling in peace and safety under the Heavenly Palm-shade!

The great ones of the earth generally associate only with the great. They are like the eagle, which holds little converse with the low, misty valley, when it can get up amid the blue skies and granite peaks. It is the powerful—the rich—the strong—the titled, who are the deified and worshiped. The weak, and poor, and powerless get but a small fraction of regard, and are too often left, unpitied and neglected, to endure the rough struggle of existence as best they may. And the world has accordingly shaped its gods after this its own ideal. We see the embodiment of that ideal chiseled in the old slabs of Assyrian marble, where the winged bull or lion is depicted trampling its enemies in the dust—the strong trampling on the weak. But the early Christians had also their truer and nobler symbol, which they have left in crude designs in the Roman catacombs: it is the embodiment of the first words which head this meditation—the often-recurring representation of a Shepherd—the Great Shepherd of the Sheep—the Mighty God—carrying on His shoulder a feeble lamb.

Or, to take the figure employed in the second verse—what a word of encouragement to those who require tender dealing!—who are liable, it may be from constitutional temperament, to become the prey of doubts and fears; sensitive in times of trial, irresolute in times of difficulty, unstable in times of temptation. The whole ministry and teaching of Christ is a significant comment on the prophetic utterance—"A bruised reed He will not break." Simple but expressive emblem! The most fragile object in nature is the shivering reed by the riverside. The Eastern shepherd, tending his flock by the streams where these reeds grow, used them for his rustic flute. When one of them was bruised or broken, he never made the attempt to mend it. Inserting it among the others would only have made his instrument discordant; accordingly, he threw it aside as worthless.

Not so the Great Shepherd. When a human soul is bruised and mutilated by sin, He casts it not away. He repairs it for its place in the heavenly instrument, and makes it once more to show forth His praise. Look at David, the Psalmist of Israel. Who more a "bruised reed" than he? God had inspired his soul—made it a many-stringed instrument in discoursing His praise; but now it lay a broken mutilated thing, with the stain of crimson guilt upon it, tuneless and mute. "I kept silence," says he; "my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."

Does Jehovah desert him?—does He cast the reed away and seek to replace the void by another, worthier and better? Does He mock the cry of penitential sorrow as through anguished tears that stricken one thus implored forgiveness—"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions''? No. Hear him detail his own experience—"I acknowledged my sin to You, and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'—and You forgave the guilt of my sin." And then he takes up the re-tuned instrument, and sings for the encouragement of others—"Let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found." In the case of some aromatic plants, it is when bruised they give forth the sweetest fragrance; so it is often the soul crushed with a sense of guilt which sends forth the sweetest aroma of humility, gratitude, and love. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Go, bruised one, broken with convictions of sin, or wounded in conscience—go, burdened one, weak and weary lamb of the flock, to this Shepherd of Souls; and as you lie in His bosom, hear His assurance of comfort and consolation—"I will remove your shoulder from the burden"—"O Ephraim, you have destroyed yourself, but in Me is your help." Think how He allowed the fallen to kiss His feet! Think how He touched the kneeling leper, and washed the traitor's feet! "I am the Lord who heals you"—"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more!" How many in eternity will be able to testify, in the words of one of the psalms in which the minstrel King of Israel records his experience, as he takes a retrospect of his strangely checkered life—"Your GENTLENESS HAS MADE ME GREAT!"

"Hide and guard us in Your tender arms
Until the wilderness of life be past;
Save us from temptation's fatal charms,
Seal us for Your own from first to last.

"Let Your rod and staff in mercy lead us
In the footsteps of Your flock below,
Until 'mid heavenly pastures You shall feed us,
Where the streams of life eternal flow."

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."

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