Luke 2:25

There are few more exquisite pictures even in Holy Writ than the one which is here drawn for us. An aged and venerable man, who has lived a long life of piety and virtue, and who has been cherishing an everbrightening hope that before he dies he should look upon the face of his country's Savior, directed by the Spirit of God, recognizes in the infant Jesus that One for whose coming he has so long been hoping and praying. Taking him up into his arms, with the light of intense gratitude in his eyes, and the emotion of deepest happiness in his voice, he exclaims, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.... for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation." Life has now no ungranted good for him to await. The last and dearest wish of his heart has been fulfilled; willingly would he now close his eyes in the sleep of death; gladly would he now lie down to rest in the quiet of the grave.

I. THOSE WHO MUST BE UNSATISFIED IN SPIRIT. There is a vast multitude of men who seek for satisfaction in the things which are seen and temporal - in taking pleasure, in making money, in wielding power, in gaining honor, etc. But they do not find what they seek. It is as true in London as it was in Jerusalem, eighteen centuries after Christ as ten centuries before, that "the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing." All the rivers of earthly good may run into the great sea of an immortal spirit, but that sea is not filled. Earthly good is the salt water that only makes more athirst the soul that drinks it. It is not the very wealthy, nor the very mighty, nor the very honored man who is ready to say, "I am satisfied; let me depart in peace."

II. THOSE WHO MAY BE SATISFIED IN SPIRIT. Simeon knew by special communication from God - "it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost" - that he should reach a certain point in the coining of the kingdom of God, that his heart's deep desire for "the Consolation of Israel" should be granted him. And waiting for this, and attaining it, his soul was filled with joy and holy satisfaction. It is right for those who are taking a very earnest interest in the cause of Christ to long to be allowed to accomplish a certain work for him. Again and again has the parent thus striven and prayed and longed to see the conversion of all his (her) children, or the teacher of his (her) class; the minister of Christ to see the attainment of some pastoral design; the missionary to win some tribe from barbarism and idolatry; the translator to render the Word of God into the native tongue; the national reformer to pass his measure for emancipation, or temperance, or virtue, or education, or the protection of the lives and morals of women or children. And this deep desire of the heart has been a con- straining power, which has nerved the hand and energized the life, which has brought forth the fruit of sacred zeal and unwearied toil. God has given to these souls the desire of their hearts, and they have gone to their grave filled with a holy, satisfying peace. So may it be with us. And yet it may not be so. We may be called upon to quit the field of active labor before the harvest is gathered in. Others may enter into our labors. But if it should be so, there is a way in which we may belong.

III. THOSE WHO CANNOT FAIL TO BE SATISFIED IS SPIRIT. For we may be of those who realize that it is in God's hand to fix the bounds of our present labor, and to determine the measure of the work we shall do on earth. We may work on diligently and devotedly as those who have much to do for God and man, yet clearly recognizing that God has for us a sphere in the spirit - world, and that he may at any hour remove us there, though we would fain finish what we have in hand below. If we have the spirit of Christ in our service, if we go whither we believe he sends us, and work on in the way which we believe to be according to his will. we may rest in the calm assurance that the hour of our cessation from holy labor is the hour of God's appointment, and a peace as calm as that of Simeon may fill our soul as we leave a not- unfinished work on earth to enter a nobler sphere in heaven. - C.

Whose name was Simeon.
New Cyclopaedia of Anecdote.
"Some years ago," says a lady, "I made the acquaintance of an old peasant in a little German village, where I for some time resided. He was called Gottlieb, a name which has the very beautiful signification, 'The love of God.' The old man was well worthy of it, for if ever heart was filled with love to God and to all God's creatures it was his. Once when walking I came upon him as he was stooping to pick up a fallen apple. 'Don't you weary, Gottlieb,' I asked, 'stooping so often, end then lying all alone by the roadside?' 'No, no, miss,' he answered, smiling, and offering me a handful of ripe pears, 'I don't weary; I'm just waiting — waiting. I think I'm about ripe now, and I must soon fall to the ground; and then, just think, the Lord will pick me up! O miss, you are young yet, and perhaps just in blossom; turn well round to the Sun of Righteousness, that you may ripen sweet for His service.'"

(New Cyclopaedia of Anecdote.)

Everybody knows and loves the story of the dog Argus, who just lives through the term of his master's absence, and sees him return to his home, and recognizes him, and rejoicing in the sight, dies. Beautiful, too, as the story is in itself, it has a still deeper allegorical interest. For how many Arguses have there been, how many will there be hereafter, the course of whose years has been so ordered that they will have just lived to see their Lord come and take possession of His home, and in their joy at the blissful sight, have departed! How many such spirits, like Simeon's, will swell the praises of Him who spared them that He might save them.

(Augustus Hare.)

Mrs. Cartwright, wife of the famous American preacher, was, after her husband's death, attending a meeting at Bethel Chapel, a mile from her house. She was called upon to give her testimony, which she did with much feeling, concluding with the words: "The past three weeks have been the happiest of all my life; I am waiting for the chariot." When the meeting broke up she did not rise with the rest. The minister solemnly said, "The chariot has arrived."

I. SIMEON'S EXPECTATION. He was "waiting." He did not wish that the tabernacle of his body might be dissolved; but he did hope that, through the chinks of that old battered tabernacle of his, he might be able to see the Lord.

II. THE FULFILMENT OF THIS EXPECTATION. He had the consolation for which he waited, and all the people of God now have it, in Jesus. But a little while ago I heard of an ungodly man who had a pious wife. They had but one daughter, a fair and lovely thing; she was laid on a bed of sickness: the father and mother stood beside the bed; the solemn moment came when she must die; the father leaned over, and put his arm round her, and wept hot tears upon his child's white brow; the mother stood there too, weeping her very soul away. The moment that child was dead, the father began to tear his hair, and curse himself in his despair; misery had got hold upon him; but as he looked towards the foot of the bed, there stood his wife; she was not raving, she was not cursing; she wiped her eyes, and said, "I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me." The unbeliever's heart for a moment rose in anger, for he imagined that she was a stoic. But the tears flowed down her cheeks too. He saw that though she was a weak and feeble woman, she could bear sorrow better than he could, and he threw his arms round her neck, and said, "Ah! wife, I have often laughed at your religion; I will do so no more. There is much blessedness in this resignation. Would God that I had it too!" "Yes," she might have answered, "I have the consolation of Israel." There is — hear it, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish!-there is consolation in Israel. Ah! it is sweet to see a Christian die; it is the noblest thing on earth — the dismissal of a saint from his labour to his reward, from his conflicts to his triumphs. The georgeons pageantry of princes is as nothing. The glory of the setting sun is not to be compared with the heavenly coruscations which illumine the soul as it fades from the organs of bodily sense, to be ushered into the august presence of the Lord. When dear Haliburton died, he said, "I am afraid I shall not be able to bear another testimony to my Master, but in order to show you that I am peaceful, and still resting on Christ, I will hold my hands up;" and just before he died, he held both his hands up, and clapped them together, though he could not speak. Have you ever read of the death-bed of Payson? I cannot describe it to you; it was like the flight of a seraph. John Knox, that brave old fellow, when he came to die, sat up in his bed, and said, "Now the hour of my dissolution is come; I have longed for it many a-day; but I shall be with my Lord in a few moments." Then he fell back on his bed and died.


1. There is consolation in the doctrines of the Bible. What sayest thou, worldling, if thou couldst know thyself elect of God the Father, if thou couldst believe thyself redeemed by His only-begotten Son, if thou knewest that for thy sins there was a complete ransom paid, would not that be a consolation to you? Perhaps you answer, "No." That is because you are a natural man, and do not discern spiritual things. The spiritual man will reply, "Consolation? ay, sweet as honey to these lips; yea, sweeter than the honeycomb to my heart are those precious doctrines of the grace of God."

2. There is consolation in the promises of the Bible. Oh! how sweet to the soul in distress are the promises of Jesus! For every condition there is a promise; for every sorrow there is a cordial; for every wound there is a balm; for every disease there is a medicine. If we turn to the Bible, there are promises for all cases.

3. Not only have we consolatory promises, and consolatory doctrines, but we have consolatory influences in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

What a biography of a man? How short, and yet how complete! We have seen biographies so prolix, that full one half is nonsense, and much of the other half too vapid to be worth reading. We have seen large volumes spun out of men's letters. Writing desks have been broken open, and private diaries exposed to the world. Now-a-days, if a man is a little celebrated, his signature, the house in which he was born, the place where he dines, and everything else, is thought worthy of public notice. So soon as he is departed this life, he is embalmed in huge fulios, the profit of which rests mainly, I believe, with the publishers, and not with the readers. Short biographies are the best, which give a concise and exact account of the whole man. What do we care about what Simeon did — where he was born, where he was married, what street he used to walk through, or what coloured coat he wore? We have a very concise account of his history, and that is enough. His "name was Simeon;" he lived "in Jerusalem;" "the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him." Beloved, that is enough of a biography for any one of us. If, when we die, so much as this can be said of us — our name — our business, "waiting for the consolation of Israel" — our character, "just and devout" — our companionship, having the Holy Ghost upon us — that will be sufficient to hand us down not to time, but to eternity, memorable amongst the just, and estimable amongst all them that are sanctified. Pause awhile, I beseech you, and contemplate Simeon's character. The Holy Ghost thought it worthy of notice, since he has put a "behold" in the sentence. "Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon." He doth not say, "Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was King Herod;" he doth not say, "Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, who was high priest;" but "Behold!" — turn aside here, for the sight is so rare, you may never see such a thing again so long as you live; here is a perfect marvel; "Behold," there was one man in Jerusalem who was "just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him." His character is summed up in two words — "just and devout." "Just" — that is his character before men. "Devout" — that is his character before God. He was "just." Was he a father? He did not provoke his children to anger, lest they should be discouraged. Was he a master? He gave unto his servants that which was just and equal, knowing that he also had his Master in heaven. Was he a citizen? He rendered obedience unto the powers that then were, submitting himself to the ordinances of man for the Lord's sake. Was he a merchant? He overreached in no transaction, but pro-riding things honest in the sight of all men, he honoured God in his common business habits. Was he a servant? Then he did not render eye-service, as a man-pleaser, but in singleness of heart he served the Lord. If, as is very probable, he was one of the teachers of the Jews, then he was faithful; he spoke what he knew to be the Word of God, although it might not be for his gain, and would not, like the other shepherds, turn aside to speak error, for the sake of filthy lucre. Before men he was just. But that is only half a good man's character. There are many who say, "I am just and upright; I never robbed a man in my life; I pay twenty shillings in the pound; and if anybody can find fault with my character, let him speak. Am I not just? But as for your religion," such a one will say, "I do not care about it; I think it cant." Sir, you have only one feature of a good man, and that the smallest. You do good towards man, but not towards God; you do not rob your fellow, but you rob your Maker. Simeon had both features of a Christian. He was a "just man," and he was also "devout." He valued the "outward and visible sign," and he possessed also the "inward and spiritual grace.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

All the saints have waited for Jesus. Our mother Eve waited for the coming of Christ; when her first son was born, she said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord." True she was mistaken in what she said: it was Cain, and not Jesus. But by her mistake we see that she cherished the blessed hope. That Hebrew patriarch, who took his son, his only son, to offer him for a burnt offering, expected the Messiah, and well did he express his faith when he said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb." He who once had a stone for his pillow, the trees for his curtains, the heaven for his canopy, and the cold ground for his bed, expected the coming of Jesus, for he said on his death-bed — "Until Shiloh come." The law-giver of Israel, who was "king in Jeshurun," spake of Him, for Moses said, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me: Him shall ye hear." David celebrated Him in many a prophetic song — the Anointed of God, the King of Israel; Him to whom all kings shall bow, and all nations call Him blessed. How frequently does he in his Psalms sing about "my Lord"! "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." But need we stop to tell you of Isaiah, who spake of His passion, and "saw His glory"? of Jeremiah, of Ezekiel, of Daniel, of Micah, of Malachi, and of all the rest of the prophets, who stood with their eyes strained, looking through the dim mists of futurity, until the weeks of prophecy should be fulfilled — until the sacred day should arrive, when Jesus Christ should come in the flesh? They were all waiting for the consolation of Israel. And, now, good old Simeon, standing on the verge of the period when Christ would come, with expectant eyes looked out for Him. Every morning he went up to the temple, saying to himself, "Perhaps He will come to-day." Each night when he went home he bent his knee, and said, "O Lord, come quickly; even so, come quickly." And yet, peradventure, that morning he went to the temple, little thinking, perhaps, the hour was at hand when he should see his Lord there; but there He was, brought in the arms of His mother, a little babe; and Simeon knew Him. "Lord," said he, "now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." "Oh," cries one, "but we cannot wait for the Saviour now!" No, beloved, in one sense we cannot, for He has come already. The poor Jews are waiting for Him. They will wait in vain now for His first coming, that having passed already. Waiting for the Messiah was a virtue in Simeon's day; it is the infidelity of the Jews now, since the Messiah is come. Still there is a high sense in which the Christian ought to be every day waiting for the consolation of Israel. I am very pleased to see that the doctrine of the second advent of Christ is gaining ground everywhere. I find that the most spiritual men in every place are" looking for," as well as "hastening unto," the coming of our Lord and Saviour. I marvel that the belief is not universal, for it is so perfectly scriptural. We are, we trust, some of us, in the same posture as Simeon. We have climbed the staircase of the Christian virtues, from whence we look for that blessed hope, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Piscator observeth that "the consolation of Israel" is the periphrasis of Jesus Christ; because all the consolation of a true Israelite, as Jacob's in Benjamin, is bound up in Christ. If He be gone, the soul goeth down to the grave with sorrow. As all the candles in a country cannot make a day — no, it must be the rising of the sun that must do it, the greatest confluence of comforts that the whole creation affordeth, cannot make a day of light and gladness in the heart of a believer; no, it must be the rising of this Sun of Righteousness.

(G. Swinnock.)

Waiting is often the best kind of service a man can render. Indeed we call a good servant a waiter. But it is commonly harder to wait than to work. It was hard for the children, the night before Christmas, to wait until morning before they knew what presents they were to have. Yet there was nothing for them to do but to wait. And if they only would wait, the morning would come — and with it all that had been promised to them for the morning. How hard it is to wait for the fever to turn, when we are watching by a loved one's bedside, and our only hope is in waiting. It is hard to wait from seedtime to harvest, from the beginning of the voyage to its end, from the sad parting to the joyous meeting again, from the sending of a letter until its answer can come back to us. How much easier it would be to do something to hasten a desired event, instead of patiently, passively waiting for its coming. It is so much easier to ask in faith than to wait in faith. The minutes drag while the response tarries.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

Sunday School Times.
Waiting is a harder duty than doing. In illustration of this compare Milton's beautiful sonnet on his blindness, and that part of "The Pilgrim's Progress" which tells of Passion and Patience. Jesus Himself had to wait patiently for thirty long years before He entered upon His mission. In a certain battle a detachment of cavalry was kept inactive. It was hard for the men to do nothing but wait, while the fight was going on before them. At last, in the crisis of the battle, the command was given them to charge, and that body of fresh men, sweeping down like a torrent, turned the tide of battle. So, in the battle of life, waiting is often the surest means to victory. And it is comforting to know that where we see only the unsightly bud, God sees the perfect flower; where we see the rough pebble, He sees the flashing diamond.

(Sunday School Times.)

Those who have read the story of Agamemnon will remember the glorious beauty of its opening. A sentinel is placed to watch, year after year, for the beacon-blaze, the appointed signal to announce the taking of Troy. At last it is lighted up; on many a hill the withered heath flares up to pass on the tidings being given; from many a promontory the fire rises in a pillar, and is reflected tremulously on the ridged waves, till at last it is lighted upon the mountains, and recognized as the genuine offspring of the Idean flame. And then the sentinel may be relieved. Even so it is with Simeon. He is a sentinel whom God had set to watch for the Light. He has seen it, and he feels now that his life-work is over.

(Bishop Wm. Alexander.)

1. It is saying much for Simeon that he was both a just and a devout man. These two features of Christian character are needful the one to the other. A just man may be rigidly and legally righteous, yet his character may be hard and cold; but a devout man is one of a warmer, gentler spirit, who is not only good, but makes goodness attractive. Simeon's devout spirit adorned his justice, and his just spirit strengthened his devotion.

2. No Christian grace is finer than the grace that waits for the consolation of Israel. Waiting higher than working. The passive virtues of the Christian require and display a greater faith and a profounder humility than the active. To those who wait in faith, submission, and holy living, the consolation of Israel will always come.

3. All Christians may not depart in raptures, but they may at least expect to "depart in peace." Many good people are greatly concerned lest they should not be ready to die. If we are ready to live we may leave dying to the Lord. Simeon's life had been passed in peace with God. In the same peace he was ready to die.

4. The salvation of Christ is no meagre and limited scheme. It is for all peoples. Christ is both "a light to lighten the Gentiles," and "the glory of God's Israel." Before His throne will be gathered at last "a great multitude whom no man can number." "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." But what will satisfy His infinite heart, if the kingdom of Satan at last outnumbers His own?

5. Christ has always been "spoken against," but Christianity lives, and is going on in the world "conquering and to conquer."

(E. D. Rogers, D. D.)

Simeon's song was the first human Advent hymn with which the Saviour was greeted, and it has been sung constantly in the Church ever since.


II. See further THE SAINT'S ANTICIPATION, resting upon

(1)the word of prophecy;

(2)a definite personal promise (ver. 26).

III. Now think of THE SAINTLY SATISFACTION. Simeon saw Christ. The promise was fulfilled. The vision was enough to satisfy the soul.

IV. Let us listen to THE SAINT'S SONG. HOW honourable was the position which Simeon occupied in uttering this song! A long chain of saints, stretching through the ages, was completed in him. They expected, he realized. They had all died, not having received the promise, he received. They had only foreseen, he actually touched Christ. He struck the first chords of that song which has been taken up already by the ages, and will go on vibrating and increasing in volume so long as earth stands or heaven endures.

V. THE SAINTLY PROPHECY of Simeon must not be unnoticed. If there is to be glory, there must also be suffering. He gives a hint of Gethsemane and of Calvary. A sword was to pass through Mary's heart. Here is the "first foreshadowing of the Passion found in the New Testament." It should save us from surprise that Christianity has had to pass through such vicissitudes. The Saviour came to His throne by way of the cross, and His truth will come to be the one power among men by way of frequent dispute and temporary rejection.

VI. THE SAINT'S PREPARATION FOR DEATH is suggested in his own words. There is a tradition that this was his "swan-song" — that he passed into the other world when he had finished it. More fitting words with which to die could not easily be found. What a contrast the dying words of such a saint present to the words of the worldling! It is said that Mirabeau cried out frantically for music to soothe his last moments; that Hobbes, the deist, said, as he gasped his last breath, "I am taking a fearful leap into the dark"; that Cardinal Beaufort said, "What I is there no bribing death?" Men with the Christian light have met death in another way. When Melancthon was asked if there was anything he desired, he said, "No, Luther, nothing but heaven." Dr. John Owen said at last, "I am going to Him whom my soul loveth, or rather, who has loved me with an everlasting love." John Brown of Haddington could say, "I am weak, but it is delightful to feel one's self in the everlasting arms." George Washington could say, "It is all well." Walter Scott, as he sank in the slumber of death, "Now I shall be myself again." Beethoven, as he could almost catch the melody of the mystic world, "Now I shall hear." Wesley could cheerily meet death with the words, "The best of all is, God is with us." Locke, the Christian philosopher, exclaimed at dying, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the goodness and knowledge of God!" Stephen said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit": Paul, "having a desire to depart"; and, "to die is gain." All such utterances accord with the last words of Simeon. Inquiry as to the character of the individual life, hope, and preparation for the future should be the outcome of these thoughts. Useful and important lessons all may learn as they contemplate the character of the venerable Simeon — saint, singer, and seer.

(F. Hastings.)

Simeon, we are told, waited for the Consolation of Israel. In that short but striking word we discover a thought unknown to the ancient world, and one which gives the Jewish nation incomparable grandeur. Israel is a people that waits. Whilst the other nations grow great, conquer, and extend here below; whilst they think only of their power and visible prosperity, Israel waits. This little people has an immense, a strange ambition; they expect the reign of God on earth. Much that was carnal and selfish mixed up with that ambition. But the truly pious understood in a different way the consolation of Israel. In their ease, the question was, before everything else, spiritual deliverance, pardon, salvation. Yet how few they were who were not tired of waiting! For more than four hundred years no prophet had appeared to revive their hope. The stranger reigned in Jerusalem. Religious formalism covered with a winding sheet of lead the whole nation. The scoffers asked where the promise of Messiah's coming was. Yet in the midst of that icy indifference, Simeon still waits. Consider —


II. THE GREATNESS OF HIS FAITH, In a poor child brought by poor people to the temple he discovers Him who is to he the glory of Israel, and — something more wonderful still, and wholly foreign to the spirit of a Jew — Him who is to enlighten the Gentiles. It is the whole of mankind that Simeon gives as a retinue to the child which he bears in his arms. Never did a bolder faith launch out into the infinite, basing all its calculations on the Word of God.

III. THE FEELINGS AWAKENED IN HIS SOUL BY THE CERTAINTY WITH WHICH FAITH FILLS HIM. All these feelings summed up in one — joy; the joy of a soul overwhelmed with the goodness of God, joy which is breathed out in song. What is the principle of that joy? It is a Divine peace. "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." And on what does that peace rest? On the certainty of salvation. "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." You who know this joy, keep it not to yourselves!

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

Sometimes one man seems to stand as the representative of the whole human family. It was so in this instance. All the expectations, desire, hope, and assurance of better things which have moved the heart of man, seem to have been embodied in the waiting Simeon. His occupation is appropriately described by the word waiting. He had probably seen a long lifetime of varied spiritual service, and had passed through his full share of human suffering; and now, with all this discipline behind him, he had nothing to do but to wait for the disclosure of the supreme mercy of heaven. At his age he could not be long, in the usual order of things, before he saw death; and yet, between him and that grim sight there lay the promised revelation of the very beauty of the Father's image. The coming of Simeon into the Temple, though an ordinary act, was invested with extraordinary feeling and significance. Sometimes the habitude of a whole life will suddenly disclose new meanings and adaptations, and the most beaten ground of our routine will have springing up on it unexpected and precious flowers. Persist in going to the house of God, for the very next time you go you may be gladdened by rare revelations! A beautiful picture is this taking of the child into the arms of Simeon, this lifting up of the old man's face, and this utterance of the saint's prayer! Let imagination linger upon the pathetic scene. It is thus that God closes the ages and opens the coming time. The old man and the little child, whenever they come together, seem to repeat in some degree the interest of this exciting scene. Every child brought into the temple of the Lord should be in his own degree a teacher and a deliverer of the people; and every venerable saint should regard him as such, and bless God for the promise of his manhood. It is amazing at how many points we may touch the Saviour. There is Simeon with the little child in his arms, and in that little life he sees the whole power of God, and the light that is to spread its glory over Israel and the Gentiles. Simeon might have given his prayer another turn; he might have said, "Lord, let me tarry awhile, that I may see the growth of this child. I am unwilling to go just yet, as great things are about to happen, such as never happened upon the earth before; I pray Thee let me abide until I see at least His first victory, and then call me to Thy rest." This would have been a natural desire, and yet the old man was content to have seen and touched the promised child; and he who might have died in the night of Judaism, passed upward in the earliest dawn of Christianity. Simeon saw the salvation of God in the little child. Others have seen that salvation is the wondrousness and beneficence exemplified in the full manhood of Christ. Some have been saved by a simple act of faith; others have passed into spiritual rest through doubt, suffering, and manifold agony. Some have gone "through nature up to nature's God"; and others have found Him in the pages of revelation, in bold prophecy, in tender promise, in profound legislation, in gracious and healing sympathay. Thus there are many points at which we touch the great saving facts of the universe; the question is not so much at what point we come into contact with God as to be sure that our progress is vital and progressive.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The first evangelists were old people. When the King of kings put off the glory of His heavenly state, and came into this world, no person pronounced His name, or even recognized His face on the day of His first public appearance, but one old man and one old woman.

I. THE FIRST MAN IN THIS WORLD WHO WAS HONOURED TO BE AN EVANGELIST WAS AN AGED MAN. An old father named Simeon. Historically, we know nothing about him, not even that he was old; but all tradition says that he was so, and it is the fair, inevitable inference from the spirit of the story that he had reached a stage when, in all human probability, he would not have to live much longer. I think that he began to walk up to the temple with short breath and slow step, and that age had set a seal upon him, which, like the red cross upon a tree marked by the steward to come down, told that he was soon to die. Yet he had in cypher a secret message from heaven, by which he knew that he was safe to live a little longer, It looks as if he had belonged to the predicted few who spake often one to another in the dark hour just before the Sun of Righteousness rose, and that in answer to a great longing to see the Saviour "it was revealed to Him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ." We are not told when this revelation was made. If in his early manhood, it must have been a strange, charmed life that he led ever after. At last the long-looked-for express came. Did he hear in the air or did the voice whisper in his soul words like these: "Go to the temple; the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to His temple this day"? We only know that "he came by the Spirit into the temple." No particular stir in the street that morning, as the old man hurried along, to mark anything out of the common way. No one knows what kind of being Simeon expected to see, but we know that his faith was not shaken by the sight of His King coming as a mere child. All his soul flamed up. The old face shone like a lamp suddenly lighted; then to the delight of the mother and to the amazement of the officiating priests, who almost thought him out of his mind, this servant of the Master in heaven took the child in his arms and spoke like the prophet Isaiah. Let no believer be afraid to die. When the time comes, you will find that, little by little, He has cleared out all the impediments that now seem to you so great; you will be as really to go as Simeon was; and if you look for Him as he did, you will find that Jesus clasped close to you is still "the antidote to death."


1. The fact of her great age is stated. The style of the statement is obscure, but the meaning seems to be that she was a widow about eighty-four years of age; that seven years out of the eighty-four she had been a wife, and that she was quite a young girl when she married. Then she had lived long enough, like Noah, to see an old world die, and a new world born.

2. She was a prophetess God had said by an ancient seer, "On My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in these days of My Spirit." As the sun sends out shoots of glory and tinges of forerunning radiance to tell that he is coming, so, before the Day of Pentecost was fully come, we have foretokens of it in the prophetic flashes that shone out from the souls of Simeon and Anna.

3. She was of the tribe of Asher. Not an illustrious tribe. No star in the long story of its darkness until now. It had, however, one honourable distinction. To it had been left a peculiar promise, the richest gem in the old family treasure: "And of Asher he said... As thy days, so shall thy strength be." The old prophetess could say of this promise, "I am its lawful heiress. Long have I known it, and always have I found it true. In my young days, in my days of happy wifehood, in my days of lonely widowhood, in my days of weary age; as my days, my strength has been."

4. "She departed not from the temple, but served God," &c. (ver. 37). Looking and listening for the Lord of the temple, she thought that His foot on the stair might be heard at any moment, and she would not be out of the way when He came. When the temple shafts, crowned with lily-work, flashed back the crimson sunrise, she was there; when the evening lamps were lighted, she was there; when the courts were crowded, she was there; when the last echoes of the congregation died away, still she was there; her spirit said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord," &c. (Psalm 27:4).

5. She took part in making known the joyful tidings. Simeon was in the act of speaking, "and she, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him," &c. (ver. 38). We try in vain to picture her delight. It had been her habit to speak about the glory of which her heart was full to the people who came at the hour of prayer; and now, at this most sacred hour, we are sure that in her holy rapture she would stop this person, put her hand on that, and say in spirit, whatever her words may have been: "Look there on that little child; He is all that we have been looking for; folded up in that lovely little life is all our redemption; that bud will burst into wondrous flower some day. Whoever lives to see it, mark my words, that child will grow up to be the Redeemer of Israel." First things are significant things, especially at the opening of a new dispensation. When, therefore, we find in the gospel-story that the first evangelists were old people, both old and young should take the hint. Old Christians must never tell us any more that they are past service. God has no such word as "superannuated" written against any name in His book. The young Christian, joyful with a soul that colours all things with the freshness and glory of its own morning, can never say of the old Christian, "I have no need of thee." No hand can turn back the shadow on the dial of time; no spell can change the grey hair into its first bright abundant beauty; no science can discover the fountain of youth told about in Spanish tales of old romance; but the grace of God can do infinitely more than that. It can keep the heart fresh; it can make the soul young when the limbs are old. When strength is made perfect in weakness; when many years have run their course; when we are obliged to change the tense in speech about your labours, as Paul did when he said, "Salute the beloved Persis, who laboured much in the Lord," but feel all the while that you are more "beloved" than ever; when, "coming in," you "give thanks to the Lord"; when your inmost life can say, "My hand begins to tremble, but I can still take hold of the everlasting covenant; my foot fails, but it is not far from the throne of grace; my sight fails, but I can see Jesus; my appetite fails, but I have meat to eat that the world knows not of; my ears are dull, but I hear Him, and He hears me; my memory is treacherous, but I remember the years of the right hand of the Most High, and delight to talk of His doings"; when you can thus preach Jesus, be assured that few evangelists do more for the gospel. No sermon moves us more deeply than that of an old, happy, Christian life, and no service more confirms our faith.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Simeon had come up by special revelation; Anna needed no such token. Surely her leading was the best. Simeon needed the message, but if Christ had come as a thief at first, as He will at last, Anna would have been there.

(A. Whyte, D. D.)

To be devout means to live always with the consciousness of God's presence; to walk with Him, as the old Scriptures put it, so that all thoughts and acts are thought and done before Him, and ordered so as to be in tune with His character. It means to live in worship of Him, so that honour is paid in everything to that which is God, to truth and mercy, justice and purity. But to be devout without being just is almost useless. For this kind of devotion is liable to extravagances of feeling which dim the clear sight of things. There is nothing more common than the prophecies M pious men who map out the future and run into the wildest follies. The prophet must be a just man, and that means not only the habit of right doing which devoutness almost secures, but the habit of right thinking.

(Stopford A. Brooke.)

But God was with Simeon, and high hopes, and faith. God with him; he had no lonely hours, and it is the loneliness of the heart that makes waiting so bitter. He had that ineffable Presence with him, consciousness of whom would make life Divine, could we but possess it; and the glory of God's life and thought had filled his heart with song. To wait, then, was not hard; for every hour brought peaceful joy, and every joy was a new pledge of the last and most glorious joy. But along with this life with God, and flowing from it as a source, were those high hopes and faiths which were his companions in this abiding old age. Waiting was no hardship to one So companied.

(Stopford A. Brooke.)

We here see three different periods in the career of a believer.


1. For what? Consolation. The heart requires this (Hebrews 6:18). Redemption. No consolation except through redemption. God's salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ the sum and substance of it all; for when he saw Him he was satisfied.

2. Relying on what? God's Word.

3. Where? In the Temple. Perhaps because he looked for a special blessing in the house of God (Isaiah 56:7). Perhaps because of prophecy (Malachi 3:1). Learn that the Holy Ghost never supersedes Scripture, but leads men to trust it, and wait in faith for the promised blessings. Observe also that He leads men to the sanctuary of God; not to neglect church, but to look for a blessing in it.

II. FINDING. We do not know how long he waited. Perhaps years. At length a very insignificant party entered the Temple. A man with a young woman and Child. Poor people. Proved by turtle doves (Leviticus 12:8).

1. He recognizes the sacred character of the Child. The believer recognizes Christ as his Saviour, though men in general may think nothing of Him.

2. He receives Him into his arms (Hebrews 11:13).

3. He blesses God.


1. He is at peace.

2. He is ready to die.

3. He is sure of the Divine salvation.

(Canon Hoare.)


II. Having shown you under what character the Messiah was expected by Simeon and his friends, I proceed now, in the second place, to consider the STATE OF MIND IN WHICH THEY AWAITED HIS ARRIVAL.

1. Simeon waited in full confidence for the Consolation of Israel. He had received the promises of God concerning the coming of that Just One, and by faith he was persuaded of them, and embraced them. He entertained no doubts of their being fulfilled in their season.

2. Simeon waited for the Consolation of Israel with ardent desire. The Incarnation of the Son of God was not merely an event of whose certainty this excellent man was assured: he regarded it as an event most desirable, most happy for himself.

3. Once more; the state in which Simeon awaited the birth of the Messiah, was a state of holy preparation. For the same man was just and devout; and both he and his friends appear to have been very constant in their attendance on the public worship at the Temple.

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

I. Let us ask ourselves what it is that is here described by the words "the Consolation of Israel." Israel was God's own people. For all the duties, for all the trials, for all the sufferings of life, what had the Greek, what had the Roman, to furnish him, as compared with the poorest peasant in Israel, with one who could go forth in the strength of the Lord his God, and make mention of His righteousness only; who could stay himself on his God in trial, and in suffering could say, "It is Jehovah, my covenant God: let Him do what seemeth Him good"? Which of them could ever cry out, as death drew on, "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord?" Of which of them could it ever be said, amidst all the void and unsatisfied yearnings of this life, "When I awake up after Thy likeness I shall be satisfied"? So that, as compared with the nations round, Israel's Consolation was already abundant. Still, Israel had, and looked for, a Consolation to come. God's people differed in this also from every people on earth. When, then, we use the words "the Consolation of Israel," we mean Christ in the fulness of His constituted Person and Office as the Comforter of His people. And when we say "waiting for the Consolation of Israel," we imply that attitude of expectation, anxious looking for, hearty desire of, this Consolation, which comes from, and is in fact, Christ Himself. First, then, Christ is the Consolation of His people, inasmuch as He DELIVERS THEM FROM THE BONDAGE OF SIN. But, again, Christ consoles His people not only from guilt, but Is SORROW. It is His especial office, as we saw, "to bind up the broken heart; to give the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."

(H. Alford, M. A.)

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