"THE GOD WHO COMFORTS US. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Cor. 1:3-4

How soothingly fall these words upon the ear of the sorrowful, sweeter and more powerful than angel-chimes floating from the celestial hills! What grief-smitten heart, bending in tears over them, is not conscious of a power and a charm, at once the evidence of their divinity and the pledge of their truth. The religion of Jesus possesses in the experience of its disciples this remarkable characteristic; there is more true holiness in the heart's thirst for sanctification, and more solid happiness in a passing thought of God, and more real life in one believing look at the Savior, and more perfect repose in one single promise of God's Word, and more of the reality of heaven in a glance within the veil, than this world could ever give, or its religion inspire. Empty, were it possible, the whole world into the soul, and still the worldling's inquiry would be, "Who will show me any good?" Thus confirming the truth of God's Word, "In the midst of plenty, he will run into trouble, and disasters will destroy him." But let one devout, holy, loving thought of God in Christ enter that soul, and its satisfaction is full, its happiness complete.

Such, in a measure, we believe will be the effect of these words of the apostle placed at the head of this chapter. What child of affliction and of sadness scanning them will not feel that, desperate as is his case, and profound as is his grief, hope springs in his breast that yet there may be comfort even for him! You have, perhaps, given yourself to inconsolable grief, "refusing to be comforted." You have thought that even the consolation of God could not fathom your sorrow, and that your wound must bleed unstaunched, and your sore must run unhealed. But these wondrous words have met your eye- "The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation," and lo! a gleam of hope suddenly falls upon your spirit, and for the first time since your calamity you begin to think that, God has not entirely forsaken you; that, though He kills, yet He makes alive; that, though He wounds, yet He heals; and that, though He brings low, yet He raises up again. If, then, these words, dimly read with tears, prove so soothing and assuring, may we not hope that, as the Spirit, the Divine Paraclete, unfolds them in these pages, they may prove to your sad spirit as the breaking forth of waters in the parched desert, "satiating the weary and replenishing the sorrowful soul."

The first thought that suggests itself to the reflecting mind will be the necessity that existed for this revelation of God as the "God of all comfort." There is nothing unmeaning or superfluous in the relations which God sustains to His Church. Each unfolding of His character, and each perfection of His being, points to some relation or need of His people. When, therefore, God is revealed as the "God of all comfort," as "God who comforts those that are cast down," and when also we find Him commanding His servants the prophets to comfort His people, to what conclusion can we come but that His Church is an afflicted Church, His people a tried and sorrowful people, standing in need of that comfort which He only could impart?- in a word, that there exists a peculiar condition of His Church answering to this special relation of God to them as the "God of all comfort " To this thought let us briefly address ourselves.

There is no fact in the history of God's people more strongly confirmed by their individual experience than that, He has "chosen them in the furnace of affliction." Like the burning bush which Moses saw, God's Church has ever been in the furnace, and yet, like that bush, it has never been consumed. Many and great are the blessings which accrue to the Church of God from this divine arrangement. Not the least one is, the more perfect interpretation of the Bible which this school of God imparts. Affliction places the believer in a position for understanding the Scriptures which no other divine dispensation does. Luther remarks that he did not understand the Psalms until God afflicted him. How many will find in the volume of their Christian experience a page corresponding with this! How apocryphal– sealed, shut up, and mystical– is much of God's Word until read in the ashen glow of the furnace! Until then the sunshine of prosperity shone brightly upon them, and parts only of God's Word were read and studied. But adversity has come! The light on your path has faded into the shadow of sorrow, and sorrow has deepened into the darkness of despondency, and gloom envelops the entire scene of your life. And now how new and precious has God's Word become! Affliction has driven you to the Scriptures, and the Scriptures have revealed to you Christ, and Christ has brought you near to God, and the God of all consolation has soothed your mind, "through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures."

God will have His saints experimentally acquainted with His truth, and with Christ, who is the truth. A mere theoretical Christian, a notional religionist, is of little worth. We need a religion upon which we can live holily, and upon which we can die happily. This can only be attained in a personal acquaintance with Christ and His Gospel. All God's children are taught of God, all in the same school, the same truths, and by the same Divine Teacher, and thus "He fashions their hearts alike." Oh, count the faith that touches with its experimental hand but the fringe of the Savior's robe more precious than "the faith which moves mountains," but is nothing more than an intellectual acquaintance with the truth. If, then, this experimental acquaintance with the Bible is the result of affliction, welcome the discipline whose rod of correction blossoms into such golden fruit as this. What an evidence have we here of the divinity of the Bible, in its adaptation to all the trials and afflictions of God's saints, as to all the shades of Christian character and experience! Of what other book could this be said! Accept with gratitude every evidence that confirms your faith in the divinity of God's Word.

But we return to the truth that God's people are an afflicted people, and need comfort, and hence the revelation of God as the "God of all comfort." We too much forget that there is a moral fitness for heaven as well as a legal title to its possession; the one, the internal holiness wrought in our hearts by the Spirit; the other, the outward justification of our persons through the imputed righteousness of Christ. An heir to an estate may possess the right, but not the fitness for its possession. There may be no flaw in his title, but there may exist a mental or a physical incapacity in his person for its enjoyment. Now, with regard to the heirs of the heavenly inheritance, the title- the obedience and death of Christ- is perfect; no possible flaw in the deed invalidating the legality of their claim. But, in their present partially renewed and imperfectly sanctified state, they are not in a fit condition to enter upon its immediate and full possession.

There must be a moral fitness for heaven. Heaven is a holy place, and is the dwelling of the holy. Where Jehovah dwells, must be holy, and all who dwell with Him are holy for "without holiness no man can see the Lord." Viewed in this light, how indispensable appears the afflictive dispensation of God's people. It is sometimes difficult at the moment to see how any possible good can ever result from such an evil, or how sweet can ever distill from such a bitter, or how "God's bow made quite naked" can ever bear upon its arrows- feathered, it may be, from our nest of down- blessings so costly and precious; yet, though the "chastening for the present seems not joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby."

And thus, clearer than the noontide sun, we see the wisdom and rectitude, the faithfulness and love, of our Heavenly Father in all the way He leads us through the thorn-bush, across the desert, home to Himself. Oh, to be as a weaned child– quiet and silent! or, if we speak, only to exclaim, "It is the Lord; let Him do as seems Him good."

There is a passage of God's Word bearing so directly on this subject, we may venture to offer upon it a passing comment. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." We have in this passage the character of those trials to which God's people are sometimes subjected. It is a "fiery trial." The same word, in the original is rendered, in the 8th chapter of Revelation, "burning;" and the emblem is suggestive of the following ideas–

First, intense severity. God, addressing His Church of old, says, "When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon you." And the apostle Peter, employing the same emblem, thus speaks of the severity of faith's trial- "The trial of your faith being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire." Oh, how severe may our trials be! Think of David, tried by the treason of Absalom; of Eli, by the iniquity of his sons; of Abraham, in the surrender of the heir of promise; of Job, involving, as in one conflagration, children, possessions, health. And thus might we travel down through the different ages of the Church, and we shall find that the history of one believer, of one dispensation, and of one age, has been more or less that of all- "The fiery trial which is to try you."

Beloved, there is one modification of this severity of trial; there is not one spark of hell in it. There may be fire, but it is not the fire of the bottomless pit. There may be displeasure, but there is no wrath; discipline, but no condemnation. Oh, blessed thought! You pass through the fire, but you are not burned. Like the three children of Israel cast into the burning fiery furnace, you emerge from the sheets of flame with not even the smell of fire upon your garments. He who walked through the fire side by side with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, has been with you in the afflictive dispensation, has trod side by side the fiery trial through which God was conducting you home to Himself, and you have emerged from it unhurt.

Our trials are not only often severe, but like fire, they are always searching. The Lord sends them for this end. They search our hearts through and through. They analyze, separate, and sift. They bring out the innate evil of our nature; reveal and expose to our view the hidden and unknown corruptions and subtlety of our hearts. Oh, how much sin, concealed and unsuspected, they bring to light! What evil mixed with good in our principles, motives, and aims, they expose, separate, and destroy! They lead us, too, to an honest turning-over the page of conscience, to a deep probing of heart, and examination of our state as to our real conversion, our true standing before God, and the holiness, uprightness, and integrity of our walk and conversation in the world.

One fiery trial, sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit, has done more to break up the crusted ground of the heart, to penetrate beneath the surface, to dissect, and winnow, and separate, than a life-time of reading and hearing could have done. Oh, what secret sins have been detected, what carelessness of walk has been revealed, what spiritual and unsuspected declension of soul has been discovered, all leading to deep self-loathing, and to the laying the mouth in the dust before God! Then has the prayer gone up with an agony and sincerity never experienced before, "Search me, O God, and try me, and know any heart, and see if there be any evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." And all this the fruit of one hallowed trial!

We may refer to the PURIFYING power of a fiery trial as not the least blessed result of the discipline. It is the nature of fire to purify. God so employs the image. "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will by them as gold is tried." "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sins of Levi, and purify them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Blessed and holy fruit of trial! Who now will shrink from the process? who would wish exemption from the fire that but consumes the dross and the tin and the earth of the soul, making the silver so bright and the gold so pure, both reflecting, as they never reflected before, the nature and image of the Divine and lovely Refiner? And when we see the man of God thus emerge from the furnace of affliction, we lift our hearts in thanksgiving and praise to our Heavenly Father for providing in the covenant of grace a discipline so effectual in the accomplishment of results so blessed. "By this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged: and this is all the fruit to take away sins."

Blessed Lord, if this be the result of Your fiery trial; if it be to burn up and consume the self and carnality, the worldliness and unbelief of my heart, if it be to destroy the alloy and to scatter the chaff, then let the fire burn, let the furnace glow. May I, by this burning discipline, but be made more thoroughly a partaker of Your holiness.

"Often the clouds of deepest woe
So sweet a message bear,
Dark though they seem, 'twere hard to find
A frown of anger there.
It needs our hearts be weaned from earth,
It needs that we be driven,
By loss of every earthly tie,
To seek our joys in heaven.
And what is sorrow, what is pain,
To that parental care,
That breaks the conscious heart from sin,
When sin is hated there?
Kind, loving is the hand that strikes,
However keen the smart,
If sorrow's discipline can chase
One evil from the heart."

The apostle then proceeds in this passage to remind us that trial is no strange thing in the experience of the saints. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." Yes, trial is not a strange thing. Common to all, it is yet more common in the history of God's people. There are many reasons why trial should not be considered by us as a strange thing. One is given in the passage under consideration- "The trial that is to try you." Trial is necessary to promote fruitfulness, to test our hope, and to eliminate in the kingdom of God within us the precious from the vile, the purity of Divine grace from the corruption of fallen nature.

Nor should we regard trial and affliction as a strange thing, since it is the appointed and beaten path of all the saints who have either safely arrived, or are wending their pilgrim way home to God. "If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all." And again, the apostle Peter says, "Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

No, more. Trial is not a strange thing, since our blessed Lord Himself was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Significant and instructive words! None were ever so intimate with sorrow, or so closely acquainted with grief as Jesus. He was acquainted with it in its every form, met it in its every aggravation, and tasted it in its every bitter. Standing between the wrath of God and the hatred of man, and enduring both to its utmost strength and extremity, truly never was one so acquainted with grief as Jesus was. Think it not, then, beloved, strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, since the members must be conformed to the Head, and the flock, even "the flock of the slaughter," must follow the Shepherd wherever He goes.

In such illustrious company as this, and identified in suffering with a Savior so precious, shall we not drink the cup our Father has given us with sweet submission to His righteous and sovereign will? Shall we shrink from the knife that but prunes, and from the fire that but refines, increasing our holiness, and so promoting our happiness and usefulness here, and by the same discipline advancing our fitness to take our place before the throne with those who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb?

But God has fully and graciously met this condition of His Church. If He has faithfully and clearly revealed the fact that He has chosen His people in the furnace of affliction, He has, with equal fidelity and distinctness, revealed the truth that He stands to them in the relation of the "God of all comfort," who comforts them in all their tribulations. To an unfolding of this truth, let us devote the remainder of this chapter.

The true comfort of God's Church demands all the resources of Deity. Sin is the cause of all sorrow, and sorrow is "legion" in its name, and protean in its shape. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; and the varied forms which those afflictions assume, are limited only by their countless number. It is not, then, without thought we assert, that the resources of God's nature alone could meet, mitigate, and remove the many afflictions, trials, and temptations to whose wholesome discipline His saints are subject, in their education for heaven, in their preparation for eternity.

And, oh, how sweet is the thought that, in all trials, and afflictions, and sorrows, we have to deal with God, even the "God of all comfort!" From Him comes the discipline! While sorrow springs not from the ground, even in the history of a fallen world, the Lord's people are taught, not only to trace His hand in the evil that is in the city, but especially their personal affliction, to His arrangement, faithfulness, and love. How submissive the language of the afflicted saint! "But what could I say? For he himself had sent this sickness." "Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt. I am silent before you; I won't say a word. For my punishment is from you." "It is the Lord's will. Let him do what he thinks best."

Thus, in all our fiery trials, we are at once brought to God. We recognize, in the Hand that is to heal, the Hand that has wounded. In the very Being to whose bosom we fly in our grief, we see the Sender of our sorrow. Thus, the Author of our affliction and the Comforter of our grief is one, even our own God, the "God of all comfort." Naturalists tell us that by the side of every poisonous plant grows its antidote. Yet more certain is the truth recorded by the inspired penman, and revealed by Jehovah Himself: "Look now; I myself am he! There is no god other than me! I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one delivers from my power!"

In looking more closely at this truth, let us remark, in the first place, that IT IS IN THE HEART OF GOD TO COMFORT HIS PEOPLE. We need to begin with this central truth. All real comfort for any sorrow flows from sympathy; and true sympathy is the reflection of the heart. All our divine comfort is the pure reflection of the heart of God. Oh, how imperfectly we deal with this truth! God's heart is our heart; in it we dwell, as in a home, and within it we are enclosed as in a pavilion. Can we for a moment doubt the heart of God, when within His bosom He found the Lamb for our sin-offering? If, then, He spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, shall the shadow of a doubt be allowed to rest upon our minds, shading the ray of hope that rests there of comfort from God in the depth of our deepest grief and woe? In the very heart that gave us Jesus, is welled the divine spring of all the true consolation, which flows at our side through this valley of tears. Daughter of affliction, child of sorrow! God loves you from His heart. Its every pulse of life, its every throb of love, its every spring of compassion, its every drop of sympathy is yours.

God's heart speaks to your heart. Its deep love chimes with your deep grief. Do you doubt this? Listen to His command to His servant, the prophet; "Comfort, comfort my people," says your God. "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and that her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her in full for all her sins." And mark the tenderness of God's comfort. Still it is the heart, and the heart of a mother! Whose heart so full of love, and tenderness, and sympathy, and yearning, as hers? Listen to the touching words; "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you." "As one whom his mother comforts." From what source of love so pure, what fountain of sensibility so deep, what spring of tenderness so sweet, does sympathy and comfort flow, in seasons of adversity and sorrow, as hers? A mother's heart is the first home which love enters, and the last it leaves. Born with our birth, it grows with our growth, clings to us through all life's vicissitudes, smiles when time smile, weeps when we weep, and, when hoary hairs have silvered the brow, and age has dimmed the eye, and the snows of many winters bow down the womanly form, the mother's love is as deep, and fresh, and warm, as when first it clasped its new-born treasure to its bosom. Such is the comfort with which God comforts His people. "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you."

Add to this beautiful and expressive image, the thought that, God's comforts are infinite and divine, while the tenderest yearnings of a parent's heart are but finite and human, and you have the most perfect idea of the comfort with which God, your Father, is prepared to comfort you, His sad and sorrowful child.

We anticipate, in the foregoing remarks, the idea that God's comforts are parental. He comforts us as a father. All God's corrections are fatherly; so is His comfort. The hand that slays, and the hand that makes alive, the hand that wounds, and the hand that binds up, are both a Father's hand. "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chastens not." "As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him." Such is the image which finds an echo in every parental heart. How soothing thus to trace the discipline of trial to a Father's hand! And truly God rebukes, and chides, and corrects us, even as a father the children that he loves. How this view softens, subdues, and heals! "If this cup is from my Father," exclaims the afflicted child, "then will I drink it without a murmur. He has pierced my heart through and through; He has smitten my sheltering gourd, and He has blighted my lovely flower, and He has shaded my pleasant picture; but He is my Father still, and I will yield Him reverence, bowing silently and submissively to the rod which only love has sent, and which already is bursting into bud so promising, and is maturing into fruit so precious, making me a partaker of His holiness."

Accept, then, the comfort with which your Heavenly Father seeks to support and soothe you in your present calamity. Refuse not to be comforted. To refuse divine comfort because God's hand has smitten, is to cherish a murmuring and rebellious spirit against God. Your persistent rejection of all the promises, and assurances, and consolations of your Heavenly Father, is as much as to say, "God has deeply, sorely wounded me, and I will not forgive, and cannot forget." Do you do well to be angry? Who caused the sheltering vine to grow? who reared the oak, around which the tendrils of your heart so long and so closely entwined? Who revealed that spring, that refreshed you so often from its clear and sparkling stream? Your Heavenly Father! Then He has but recalled what was His own; and shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Refuse not, then, the comfort which His own hand offers.

In love He sent this temporal reverse; in love He shaded your home with death; in love He transferred earth's flower to bloom in heaven's paradise; and will you now reject the consolation He would sincerely pour into your heart, exclaiming, in the spirit of contumacy and rebellion, "My soul refuses to be comforted"? God forbid! Yield your drooping heart to that comfort, as the fainting flower to the dew, as the sickly plant to the sun, and, in the depth of your gratitude, exclaim, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations!"

He is the "God of all comfort"- "all comfort," and for "all our tribulations." It is a delightful thought, that in His own infinite heart, in the covenant of grace, in the Gospel of His love, and in our Lord Jesus Christ, He has made provision for all the afflictions, trials, and sorrows of His people. So that no new trial springs up in your path, no new grief shades your spirit, no new calamity crushes you to the earth, but the God of all comfort has anticipated that very need in the comfort He has provided for His Church. "Oh, how great is Your goodness which You have laid up for those who fear You; which You have wrought for those who trust in You before the sons of men!"

And what a comfort is THE LORD JESUS CHRIST to His people! There could be no revelation of God, as the God of all comfort, but in and through Christ. He is the great Depository of our consolation. Yes, He is called the "Consolation of Israel." Christ is our comfort, and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. Who can listen to these words of tenderness and love which distilled from His lips into the sorrowing hearts of His disciples on the eve of their separation from Him, and not feel that Christ is truly the Consolation of His people; "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions!" Does your sorrow spring from a sense of sin? Jesus' blood pardons. Is it from a conviction of condemnation? Jesus' righteousness justifies. Is it from the power of indwelling sin? Jesus' grace subdues. Is it from some pressing temporal need? All resources are in Jesus, and He has promised to supply all your need, and that your bread and your water shall be sure.

Is bereavement- sore, crushing bereavement- your grief? Where will you find such tender sympathy with your sorrow as dwells in His heart, of whom it is recorded, "Jesus wept"? Who can comfort that sorrow, but Christ?- and He can, and He will comfort it. Does some foe menace you, or does some insurmountable difficulty lie in your way? All power is Christ's, and He will defend you from your enemy, and will roll your stone of difficulty from before your feet. Does suffering, and languor, and waning health affect your spirits? He who "bore our sicknesses" is your Consolation now, and will not leave you to suffer and pine alone, but can either heal your malady with a word, or so make all your bed in sickness, by the supports of His grace, and the discoveries of His love, as shall make you willing to lie there patiently so long as it pleases Him.

A few practical deductions shall conclude this chapter. Learn from the subject to take all your troubles at once to God. God wants you- speaking after the manner of men- to make use of Him as the God of comfort. Why has He revealed Himself as such, if not that you should repair to Him immediately and without hesitation in every tribulation? They are sent for this purpose that you might "acquaint yourself with Him." Many a poor soul has made his first acquaintance with God in some deep, sore trial. It was not until God tore up all his earthly comforts by the root that he was led to see that all his life he had been living "without God in the world."

But it is in after-stages of our religious life that we know more of the character of God, learn more of His loving heart and of His revealed word as we fly to Him in our tribulations for the comfort He alone can give. And oh, the blessedness of nearness to Him into which our trouble has brought us! How have we kissed the rod and blessed the hand whose smitings have made known and unsealed to us a source of such comfort and a fountain of such blessing!

And let us not overlook the VARIOUS CHANNELS through which God comforts us. He comforts us by HIS WORD, its doctrines, promises, and precepts. He comforts us through the channel of PRAYER, drawing us to His mercy-seat, and bringing us into communion with Himself through Christ. Oh, what comfort flows through this channel! The moment we arise and give ourselves to prayer, we are conscious of a mental quietness, of a soothing of heart indescribable. Prayer has unloosed the burden- prayer has dissolved the cloud- prayer has proved an inlet of peace, joy, and hope, passing understanding and full of glory.

God comforts us by the MINISTRY of His Word. For this purpose He furnishes His servants with gift and grace, and while some are as John the Baptist, "crying in the wilderness," others are like Barnabas, "sons of consolation," able to speak a word in season to those who are weary. How expressive the words of the apostle, "God, who comforts those who are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus." Nor must we forget to remind you that God often comforts His people by writing the sentence of death upon all comfort out of Himself. Thus He spoke to His Church, "Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her"- margin, "speak to her heart." Is He thus bringing you, beloved, into the wilderness of separation, of entanglement, of solitude? Be sure it is but to comfort you, to speak to your heart, and to reveal Himself to you as the "God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulation."

Thus, then, we learn that if we would have true comfort and consolation we must in faith run to heaven for it. It is a treasure found in no earthly climate. It is a jewel of heaven, a flower of paradise, found in no mine or growing in no garden below. We can carve our own crosses, we cannot make our own comfort. Seeking it from creatures, and amid creature good, we, alas! but seek the living among the dead. "When I said, my bed shall comfort me, You scared me with dreams."

Has Jesus given you an excess of comfort? Go and pour its overflowings in some stricken heart. Remember one end of God's comforts- it is "that we might be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God." Oh, high and holy privilege- godlike and divine- of repairing to some house of mourning, to some chamber of sickness, to some bed of suffering, to some believer in Jesus passing through adversity, and of some child of the light walking through darkness, and of strengthening and comforting them in God. Be this our mission, and then shall we be imitators of God, the "God of all comfort."

Let me remind you what a fountain of comfort you have in the truth that this God of all comfort is your God. Thus while you possess the streams, the streams lead you to their source, and all that is in God is yours. I will suppose your case one of extreme woe. I will imagine you tried in your families, straitened in your circumstances, afflicted in your person, friendless, and homeless; and yet, against all this, I will weigh the truth that the God of all comfort is your God, and knowing how infinitely this blessing outweighs all your destitution and sorrow, I would call upon you to make the solitude through which you are traveling echo and reverberate with your shouts of joy and your songs of praise.

What if your home is desolate and your provisions are scanty; what if your heart is lonely and your body is diseased; if God is your God, and Christ is your Savior, and heaven is your home? In the midst of all your trials, sorrows, and discomforts, you have more cause to be happy and to sing than the brightest angel or the sweetest seraph before the throne. They stand in their own righteousness, you in the righteousness of God; they worship at a humble distance from God, you are brought near by the blood of Christ, enter into the holiest, and call Him Father!

And is it no comfort to be assured that Christ is yours, and that you are Christ's? With such a Savior and Friend, with such a Patron and Intercessor in heaven as Jesus, how comforted should you be in all your tribulations! Jesus knows you; others may not. The world assails, the saints judge; friends misinterpret and foes condemn, just because they neither know nor cannot understand you. Jesus knows you! Let this suffice. What a comfort that you can admit Him to every cloister of your soul, to every secret of your heart, with the feeling that He sees all, knows all, and understands all; and, what is more, sympathizes with, and approves all, which must, from the nature of the case, be profoundly veiled and inexplicable to human eye.

Oh to live independently of the saints, and above the world, upon Jesus!– this is true comfort. The moment you are brought fully to realize– "Christ knows me altogether: my personal infirmities, my secret sorrows, my domestic trials, my professional anxieties, all the workings of my inner life," you are comforted as no friend on earth or angel in heaven could comfort you. Oh, what a Christ is ours! How should we love Him, trust Him, serve Him, and if need be, suffer and die for Him.

Poor worldling! what is your comfort?– the creature that soon must die? the world that you soon must leave? a life that is but as a shadow? the prospect of a death without a Savior? and an eternity without a heaven? Is this all? Yes, this is all the real comfort which you possess. Oh, fly to Christ without a moment's hesitation or delay! Secure an interest in Jesus, make Him your Friend, trust in Him as your Savior, accept Him as your Portion, and you shall be comforted in this life, and be happy forever in the life that is to come.

"May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and in his special favor gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say." 2 Thes. 2:16-17