« AnteriorContinuar »
409 they nailed him to the tree, he opened not his mouth; but when his Father hid his face from him, he cried out; yea, his voice was the voice of roaring: this was more to him than a thousand crucifyings. And, surely, as it was to Christ, so is it to all gracious souls, the saddest stroke, the heaviest burden they ever felt. When David forbade Absalom to come to Jerusalem to see his father, he complains, "Wherefore am I come from Geshur, if I may not see the king's face?" 2 Sam. 14: 32. So doth the gracious soul bemoan itself; Wherefore am I redeemed, called, and reconciled, if I may not see the face of my God?
It is said of Tully, when he was banished from Italy, and of Demosthenes, when he was banished from Athens, that they wept every time they looked towards their own country: and, is it strange that a poor deserted believer should mourn every time he looks heaven-ward? Say, christian, did the tears never trickle down thy cheeks when thou lookedst toward heaven, and couldst not see the face of thy God as at other times? If two dear friends cannot part for a season, but that parting must be in a shower, blame not the saints if they sigh and mourn bitterly when the Lord, who is the life of their life, depart, though but for a season; for if God depart, their sweetest enjoyment on earth, the very crown of all their comforts is gone: and what will a king take in exchange for his crown? What can recompense a saint for the loss of his God? Indeed, if they had never seen the Lord, or tasted the incomparable sweetness of his presence, it were another matter; but the darkness which follows the sweetest light of his countenance is double darkness.
And that which doth not a little increase the horror of this darkness is, that when their souls are thus benighted, and the sun of their comfort is set; then doth Satan, like the wild beasts of the desert, creep out of his
den, and roar upon them with hideous temptations. Surely this is a sad state, and deserves tender pity! Pity is a debt due to the distressed, and the world shows not a greater distress than this. If ever you have been in trouble of this kind, you will never slight others in the same case: nay, one end of God's exercising you with troubles of this nature, is to teach you compassion towards others. Do they not cry to you, as Job, 19: 21, "Have pity, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me." Draw forth bowels of mercy and tender compassion to them; for, either you have been, or are, or may be in the same case. However, if men do not, most certainly Christ, who hath felt it before them, and for them, will pity them.
3. Did God really forsake Jesus Christ upon the cross? Then from the desertion of Christ singular consolation springs up to the people of God; yea, manifold consolation. Christ's desertion is the preventive of your final desertion; because he was forsaken for a time, you shall not be forsaken for ever; for he was forsaken for you; and God's forsaking him, though but for a few hours, is equivalent to his forsaking you for ever. It is every way as much for the dear Son of God, the delight of his soul, to be forsaken of God for a time; as if such a poor inconsiderable thing as thou art should be cast off to eternity. Now this being equivalent, and borne in thy room, must needs give thee the highest security in the world that God will never finally withdraw from thee: had he intended to have done so, Christ had never made such a sad outcry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?"
Moreover, this sad desertion of Christ becomes a comfortable pattern to poor deserted souls in divers respects; and the proper business of such souls, at such times, is to eye it believingly, in these six respects:
Though God deserted Christ, yet at the same time he powerfully supported him: his omnipotent arms were under him, though his face was hid from him: he had not indeed his smiles, but he had his supports. So, christian, just so shall it be with thee: thy God may turn away his face, but he will not pluck away
Though God deserted Christ, yet he deserted not God: his Father forsook him, but he could not forsake his Father, but followed him with this cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And is it not even so with you? God goes from your soul, but you cannot go from him. No, your heart is mourning after the Lord, seeking him carefully with tears; complaining of his absence as the greatest evil in this world.
Though God forsook Christ, yet he returned to him again. It was but for a time, not for ever. In this also doth his desertion parallel yours. God may, for wise and holy reasons, hide his face from you, but not as it is hid from the damned, who shall never see it again. This cloud will pass away; this night shall have a bright morning: "I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit shall fail before me, and the souls which I have made.”
Though God forsook Christ, yet at that time he could justify God. "O my God, (saith he,) I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night-season, and am not silent but thou art holy." Psalm 22:2, 3. Is not thy spirit, according to its measure, framed like Christ's in this; canst thou not say, even when he writes bitter things against thee, he is a holy, faithful, and good God for all this? There is not one drop of injustice in all the sea of my sorrows. Though he condemn me, I must and will justify him.
Though God took from Christ all visible and sensible comfort, inward as well as outward; yet Christ subsisted by faith, in the absence of them all: his desertion
put him upon the acting of his faith. "My God, my God," are words of faith; the words of one that wholly depends upon his God: and is it not so with you? Sense of love is gone, sweet sights of God hid in a dark cloud: well, what then? must thy hands presently hang down, and thy soul give up all its hope? What is there no faith to relieve in this case? Yes, yes, and blessed be God for faith. "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light; let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God." Isaiah, 50: 10.
Christ was deserted a little before the glorious morning of light and joy dawned upon him. It was a little, a very little while, after this sad cry, before he triumphed glo'riously and so it may be with you; heaviness may endure for a night, but joy and gladness will come in the 'morning.
But, reader, perhaps you are saying, I fear I am absolutely and finally forsaken. Why so? Do you find the characters of such a desertion upon your soul? Examine and tell me, whether you find a heart willing to forsake God? Is it indifferent to you whether God ever return again? Is there no mourning, melting, or thirsting after the Lord? Indeed, if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever; but can you do so? Oh, no, let him do what he will, I am resolved to wait for him, cleave to him, mourn after him, though I have no present comfort from him, no assurance of my interest in him; yet will I not exchange my poor weak hopes for all the good in this world.
Again, you say God hath forsaken you, but hath he taken away from your soul all conscientious tenderness of sin, so that now you can sin freely, and without regret? If so, it is a sad token indeed: tell me, soul, if thou indeed judgest God will never return in loving
kindness to thee any more; why dost thou not then give thyself over to the pleasures of sin, and draw thy comforts from the creature, since thou canst have no comfort from thy God? Oh, no, I cannot do so; even if I die in darkness and sorrow, I will never do so: my 1 soul is as full of fear and hatred of sin as ever, though empty of joy and comfort. Surely these are no tokens of a soul finally abandoned by its God.
4. Did God forsake his own Son upon the cross? Then the dearest of God's people may, for a time, be forsaken of their God. Think it not strange, when you, that are the children of light, meet with darkness, yea, and walk in it; neither charge God foolishly, nor say he deals hardly with you. You see what befell Jesus Christ, whom his soul delighted in. It is doubtless your concern to expect and prepare for days of darkness. You have heard the doleful cry of Christ, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" You know how it was with Job, David, Heman, Asaph, and many others, the dear servants of God, what heart-melting lamentations they made upon this account; and are you better than they? Oh, prepare for spiritual troubles; I am sure you do enough every day to involve you in darkness. Now, if at any time this trial befall you, mind these two seasonable admonitions, and lay them up for such a time.
Exercise the faith of adherence, cleave to God, when you have lost the faith of evidence. When God takes away that, he leaves this: that is necessary to the comfort, this to the life of his people. It is sweet to live with clear views of your interest in Christ; but if they be gone believe and rely on God. Stay yourself on your God when you have no light. Isa. 50: 10. Drop this anchor in the dark, and do not reckon all gone when evidence is gone: never reckon yourselves undone whilst you can adhere to your God.
Take the right method to recover the sweet light