"Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace.
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.
Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.I. Let us start with this great general principle which is full of comfort that EVERY BELIEVER MAY BE ASSURED OF ULTIMATELY DEPARTING IN PEACE. This is no privilege peculiar to Simeon, it is common to all the saints, since the grounds upon which this privilege rests are not monopolised by Simeon, but belong to us all.
1. All the saints have seen God's salvation, therefore should they all depart in peace. It is true, we cannot take up the infant Christ into our arms, but He is "formed in us, the hope of glory." It is true, we cannot look upon Him with these mortal eyes, but we have seen Him with those eyes immortal which death cannot dim — the eyes of our own spirit which have been opened by God's Holy Spirit. A sight of Christ with the natural eye is not saving, for thousands saw Him and then cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him."
2. Believers already enjoy peace as much as ever Simeon did. No man can depart in peace who has not lived in peace; but he who has attained peace in life shall possess peace in death, and an eternity of peace after death.
3. We may rest assured of the same peace as that which Simeon possessed, since we are, if true believers, equally God's servants. The same position towards God, the same reward from God.
4. Another reflection which strengthens this conviction is, that up till now all things in their experience have been according to God's Word. The promises of God, which are "Yea and amen in Christ Jesus," are sure to all the seed: not to some of the children is the promise made, but all the grace-born are heirs. If, then, Simeon, as a believer in the Lord, had a promise that he should depart in peace, I have also a like promise if I am in Christ.
5. The departure of the child of God is appointed of the Lord. "Now lettest Thou," &c. The servant must not depart from his labour without his Master's permission, else would he be a runaway, dishonest to his position.
6. The believer's departure is attended with a renewal of the Divine benediction. "Depart in peace," saith God. It is a farewell, such as we give to a friend: it is a benediction, such as Aaron, the priest of God, might pronounce over a suppliant whose sacrifice was accepted. Eli said unto Hannah, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him." Around the sinner's death-bed the tempest thickens, and he hears the rumblings of the eternal storm: his soul is driven away, either amid the thunderings of curses loud and deep, or else in the dread calm which evermore forebodes the hurricane.
II. SOME BELIEVERS ARE CONSCIOUS OF A SPECIAL READINESS TO DEPART IS PEACE. When do they feel this? Answer:
1. When their graces are vigorous.
2. When their assurance is clear.
3. When their communion with Christ is near and sweet.
4. Saints have drawn their anchor up and spread their saris, when they have been made to hold loose by all there is in this world; and that is generally when they hold fastest by the world to come.
5. Saints are willing to depart when their work is almost done. Ah, Christian people, you will never be willing to go if you are idle. You lazy lie-a-beds, who do little or nothing for Christ, you sluggish servants, whose garden is overgrown with weeds, no wonder that you do not want to see your master!
6. One other matter, I think, helps to make saints willing to go, and that is when they see or foresee the prosperity of the Church of God. Good old Simeon saw that Christ was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of His people Israel; and therefore he said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." It must have reconciled John Knox to die when he had seen the reformation safely planted throughout all Scotland. It made dear old Latimer, as he stood on the fagot, feel happy when he could say, "Courage, brother, we shall this day light such a candle in England as shall never be blown out."
III. THERE ARE WORDS TO ENCOURAGE US TO THE LIKE READINESS TO DEPART (See Psalm 23:4; Psalm 37:37; Psalm 116:15; Isaiah 57:2; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Revelation 14:13). These promises belong to all believers; each of them is a sure word from God.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. The first thing that strikes our notice here is THE SINGULAR ILLUSTRATION OFFERED OF THE PARADOX OF CHRISTIAN LIFE. How extraordinary is the disparity between these two persons, and yet how absolutely the one seems to rest in the other! Jesus lies safely in Simeon's arms; Simeon reposes his life for all the untold future in Jesus' Messiahship. Simeon's soul is held up for ever by the Little Child whose body he now holds in his hands! We can explain nothing in this strange scene without considering that Jesus was the true Messiah, and the Messiah was the incarnate God.
II. So this presents another lesson: here is A SATISFACTORY STYLE OF PIETY FOR AN UNWAVERING DEPENDENCE. There are faiths and religions, there are rituals and creeds, there are persuasions and experiences, enough almost to fill the world. Only some of them do not meet the end for which they have been commended. Many a man has what he calls his religion; and it does very well when shielded and sheltered, but it goes out ignobly in darkness and betrayal under the wild rush of discipline, or the hurricane gusts of tempestuous passion. It is evident that here in Simeon's case we find a perfectly settled rest for any human soul. His full content with it is edifying and unmistakable. He was willing to take his eternal life on Christ's own terms, and so he was perfectly satisfied. It mattered nothing to him that he was an old man, and this was a Babe, nor that he was a wise:ann, and this was only a peasant Infant forty days old; he expressed his entire contentment with the plan which infinite wisdom had devised for human reliance. Men may as well start with this; they must begin by accepting terms already made, and cease trying to make new ones. Felix Neff once told even a minister this: "There is much truth in your sermon, but it lacks one important thing: you still wish men to go to Jesus with lace sleeves, instead of going to Him in rags as they are."
III. We find here AN INTELLIGENT AND EXEMPLARY APPRECIATION OF THE EXACT PURPOSE OF THE GOSPEL. It will be well to put alongside of this song Simeon's prophecy, which comes just after it. This good old man tells that young mother precisely what her Child was "set" for Christ was appointed to prostrate men from self-dependence, and raise them again into full union with Himself. His heart would be pierced in suffering, and so would Mary's, before the history should be finished. But Christ's sufferings would work out an atonement, by which sinners might be saved.
IV. A LESSON OF TRUST FOR NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANS FROM AN OLD TESTAMENT BELIEVER. Picture just that instant in which this old man stands gazing down upon the face of the Infant for the first time. Was this all to which mighty generations had been looking during those thousands of years that were gone? Was it just this weak little peasant Babe that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had seen afar off, and been glad to see? Was He what the ancient prophets had descried in the distance, as they stood peering off from the watchtowers of a militant Zion, the flashing seer-light in their eyes as they sang? Was this the King, whom King David had so celebrated in his Psalms? Alas for the poor show the new Monarch now made I Yet Simeon accepts Him I Just remember that it was everything or nothing to this old man to make his decision. No halfway allegiance would do. Jesus was the Messiah, or nothing. Surrender to Him would carry time and eternity with it, and he surrendered.
V. A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF READINESS FOR DEATH. Note the language carefully. Simeon does not use a prayer; he makes a declaration. He does not say — now let me depart; he says — now Thou dost let me depart. We feel certain that this man has been waiting a good while. Such unusual preparedness for departure was the general growth of years. It was no sudden explosion of experience, but must have had its increments of spiritual increase as many and as various as the rings of fibre in the trunk of a palm-tree. There is an old age full of querulous complaint and peevishness, under every on-coming of infirmity. It wears itself out in discontent; it often vanishes at the last, and makes no sign. On the other hand, there is an old age like this of the illustrious Simeon. The soul has leaned its all on God, and is perfectly satisfied because it knows it is perfectly safe. Not even severe trial can alter the permanence of such trust. For heaven seems the only true thing in the universe, and death is nothing but a kind of rough way of going to it. Remember the beautiful inscription upon Dean Alford's tombstone; how it describes a grave: "The inn of a traveller on the way to Jerusalem"
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
1. Its position in the service of our Reformed Church is an indication of honour paid to the written Word. The New Testament is exalted by the appointment of the Song of Simeon to be used after the second lesson from Scripture at evening service. The New Testament is full of Jesus. The Church has been rent with disputes about the nature of His presence in the sacrament of His love. Every Christian knows that there is a presence also in the Word of His truth. More especially, the thought, the breath, the very heart of Christ may be felt in the Gospels. When we read or hear them, we embrace Him as Simeon did. We cease to be critics when, with the aged saint, we hold Him in our arms.
2. More broadly, the "Nunc Dimittis" is also a Missionary strain. It is fittingly recorded by St. Luke, the Pauline Evangelist, who was as truly the Evangelist, as St. Paul was the Apostle, of the Gentiles. In Simeon's Song we have the history of the ages in one short sentence, in three pregnant clauses, at once original, concise, and oracular. To the Gentiles, Messiah is ever giving "light"; to the Jews, He is ever bringing "glory."
3. This canticle has a tone which is peculiarly suitable to the evening, and may profitably be applied in this spirit by believers of every Church. It is a soothing voice which sings for those who have had a long day's work. It fits into the golden melancholy of the sunset time, or the later hours, when the lamps are lighted in the sanctuary. It is as a prayer with which a mother taught us to lie down in our beds.
4. The "Nunc Dimittis" has always seemed suitable as a prayer for a holy death. In some of the old services there was a touching way of referring Simeon's song to our departure, and to the thought of those who rest in peace. When it was sung in "Holy Week," just at its close the choir burst out into the funeral anthem — "In the midst of life we are in death." The Song of Simeon, thought over with prayer, may lead us to exclaim with Paul, "I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ." Simeon's holy soul can find no home and rest on the water-floods of life; it desires to return into the ark with the olive-branch of peace. And if any wish to depart in peace like Simeon, let him come in the guidance of the Spirit to the Temple. Let him expect Christ. Let him receive his Saviour into his arms of faith, and cradle Him upon a heart of love. The Old Testament often takes a dark view of death. The writer shudders as he writes. The last words of the great Italian poet, Leopardi, were, "I cannot see you any longer," with a deep sigh. The last words of the sceptical Hamlet are — "the rest is silence." The only Psalm which, in a like spirit, ends as it began, with gloom, is the 88th —
Lover and friend hast Thou removed from me;
My intimates are — Darkness.
In such passages as these death is viewed as it is for us all, naturally. But Simeon seems to stand for a gentle picture of the Law — wearied with life-long effort, worn out with age, ready to embrace the gospel, and so "depart in peace." It is of profound and soothing significance that one, who may be almost termed "the last Old Testament saint," finds death sweet. For him the promise of the Psalmist is fulfilled —
This God is our God for ever and ever;
He is our guide, gently leading us over death.
For narrrow though the bridge seems to be that spans the chasm, it is yet broad and strong for those who are thus guided. That bridge is the Cross of Christ.
(Bp. Wm. Alexander.)
(E. G. Charlesworth.)
(Scriver.)Some hearts, like evening primroses, open most beautifully in the shadows of life.
1. That a good man having served his generation, and God in his generation, faithfully, is weary of the world, and willing to be dismissed from it.
2. That the death of a good man is nothing else but a quiet and peaceable departure; it is a departure "in peace" to the God of peace.
3. That it is only a spiritual sight of Christ by faith that can welcome the approach of death, and render it an object desirable to the Christian's choice.
4. Holy Simeon, having declared the faithfulness of God to himself in the gift of Christ, next celebrates the mercy of God in bestowing this invaluable gift of a Saviour upon the whole world. The world consists of Jews and Gentiles; Christ is "a light" to the one, and "the glory" of the other. A light to the blind and dark Gentiles, and the glory of the renowned Church of the Jews; the Messiah being promised to them, born and bred up with them, living amongst them, preaching His doctrine to them, and working His miracles before them; and thus was Christ "the glory of His people Israel."
(W. Burkitt, M. A.)
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
I. In Simeon's Song we have A NOBLE CONCEPTION OF LIFE. KNOW art Thou relieving, or setting free, thy slave, O Master (literally, "O Despot"), according to Thy word, in peace." Simeon regards himself as a sentinel whom, by His word or promise, the Great Master, or Captain, had ordered to an elevated and dangerous post, and charged to look for and announce the advent of a great light of hope, a light which was to convey glad tidings of great joy. To him life, or at least his own life, shaped itself as the task of a watchman, or a sentinel on duty — who has to face rough weather and smooth as he paces his weary beat, to confront the fears and hidden perils of the darkness, in order that the camp he guards may be secure; but who is sustained, under the burden of anxiety and weariness, by the hope of receiving a signal, of seeing a light arise in the darkness, which will not only release him from his post, but will also bring the tidings, or the prediction, of a great and final victory. A very noble, though by no means a perfect conception of human life, which is too large and complex to be rendered by any one image. A conception, moreover, which may be very helpful to us in many of the conditions in which we are placed. When life grows as weary and monotonous to us, through the prolonged pressure of samely duties, as to the watchman fixed to Agamemnon's roof or to a dog chained to a post; or when the zest of youth has passed and the infirmities and disabilities of age, or disease, accumulate upon us; or when we are weighed down with a burden of cares, anxieties, and fears, many of which are gross and palpable enough, but to some of which we can hardly give a name; when flesh, or heart, fail us, or both fail us, it surely would sustain and comfort us were we to remember that our post has been appointed us by the Great Captain who makes no mistake; that the duties and the burdens allotted to us have an end of discipline and love, and are intended to make us stronger, wiser, better; and that, however long it may delay its coming, a great Light is to arise upon us; that it is this for which we are watching and serving: and that it will bring with it glad tidings of great joy for all people as well as for us.
II. In Simeon's Song we have A NOBLE CONCEPTION OF DEATH. In his view, the sentinel was also the slave, and the discharge of the sentinel was also the manumission of the slave. Relief from toil, relief from danger, relief from bondage — can any conception of death be more welcome and attractive to weary, world-worn, sinful men? Only one thing could render it more attractive and complete, and this we, who have the mind of Christ, are bound to supply: viz., that our relief from toil will not be an exemption from work, but an added capacity for labour which will take all toil and weariness out of it; that our relief from danger will not release us from that strife against evil in which even the holy angels are engaged, but will bring us an immortal strength and serenity in virtue of which we shall carry on the conflict without fear, and cherish the sure and certain hope that evil must in the end be overcome of good; and that our relief from bondage will not be a discharge from service, but will bring us a vigour and a grace which will make our service a delight, since henceforth we shall serve as sons and not as slaves.
III. We have A NOBLE CONCEPTION OF SALVATION. Simeon does but show the true prophetic, i.e., the true catholic, spirit when he conceives of the salvation of God as extending to the Gentile as well as the Jew, and delights in a mercy as wide as the world. And we fall short of that spirit, we sin against the revelation of the Old Testament no less than that of the New, so often as we affect any special personal interest in the fatherly love and compassion of God, or even when we conceive of His salvation as confined to the Church. The Church has been elected, as the Jewish race was elected, solely for the sake of the world, solely that it may carry the news and the power of salvation to those who are outside its pale. If we have seen the Light, it is that we may bear witness to the Light; that we may announce its rising, reflect its splendour, and believe that it will shine on till the darkness is past and every shadow has fled away. If we are sentinels, it is that we may guard and save the whole camp, and not simply our own company or our own regiment.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
I. PROPHETIC POWER. He saw the Child and he knew that It was the Saviour of the world. This is the glory of a Christian's old age — vividness of spiritual vision.
II. Another remarkable gain blessed the old age of Simeon, the possession of A LIBERAL RELIGIOUS VIEW. We find the old man set free from the exclusiveness and bigotry of his time and of his youth. Those were strange words upon the lips of a Jew — "a light to lighten the Gentiles!" They had been said before. But it was not a common thought, nor a national thought, at the time of Christ's coming. Those who heard Simeon would be likely to call him a dangerous Liberal. Tolerance and a wide religious view are natural to old age, and it is very pitiable when we find it without them.
III. Simeon wins the crowning blessing of old age — DEEP PEACE. We cannot win that quiet till just before the close.
IV. But what is the SPECIAL WORK OF old age? It is partly outward, partly inward. Its outward work is the spreading of charity; the using of experience for the help of others. Its inward work is, however, the most important-the edifying of the heart in noble religion by consideration of the past; the rounding of the soul into as great perfection as possible, in filling up the broken edges of the sphere of life, in consolidating the world of our ideas. In wonder, and in joy that he has been so cared for, and so led into maturity, all thought of self passes from the old man's life, and he throws his whole being in gratitude at the feet of his Saviour and his God. It is, in fact, the first touch, even before death, of the pure and perfect life, the first faint throb of the exquisite existence into which he is going to enter, the half-realization on the borders of the world of light, while yet within the glimmering shadow, of what communion with God may mean. Then, indeed, he feels what Simeon felt when the long-repressed cry rose to his lips, for he sees the very Christ: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant," &c.
(Stopford A, Brooke.)Simeon felt that little hand that lay hidden in his bosom as if it was fast loosening the silver cord. He speaks less like a living man than as a kind of Lazarus, alive indeed, but bound. "Lord, loose me," he prays. Younger men must work with the Messiah — his day was done.
(A. Whyte, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Standing behind a barred window-pane,
Fettered with heavy handcuff and with chain,
And gazing on the blue sky far and clear;
And suddenly some morning he should hear
The man had in the night contrived to gain
His freedom, and was safe, would this bring pain?
Ah! would it not to dullest heart appear
(Helen Hunt.)Sift therefore the agreeableness of those two parts, attend to these particulars:
1. Here is a supplicant the servant of the Lord — "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant."
2. The petition of his soul — "to depart."
3. The time which he sets — "Now, Lord, now ."
4. He pleads that he was well prepared to depart, for his heart was in peace, "Lord now ."
5. The assurance in which he trusted that God would grant him his desire, for it was according to His word.
6. And principally: Here is the reason upon which he framed his desire why he would depart, he had seen that which his soul waited for before it flitted away, "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."
(Bishop Hacker.)Simeon knew the instant of his dissolution was at hand, and yet he sang away the remainder of his life with joy; as who should say, fly away my soul, fly away like a dove and take thy rest, for now I see that the promises of grace and mercy are true; here is Christ thy Saviour in thy hands, thine eyes do see, thine arms do support thy salvation; though thou departest thou shalt not go from Him, for He is man on earth to comfort thee, and God in heaven to glorify thee.
(E. H. Hall.)
(A. C. Thompson, D. D.)
(G. D. Boardman.)
"We live in deeds, not words; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial:
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
ho thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."
Age is far more a matter of indolence, and uselessness, and ennui, than of chronology. And a Christian old age is ever youthful.
(G. D. Boardman.)I. HIS PERSONAL, PIETY. Who is the devout man? The answer is brief. It is the man who, in consequence of inward, spiritual illumination, entertains correct views of God — of God's nature, character, government, worship, and grace; and who habitually feels, acts, and lives under the living influence of these views. It is the mart who has respect to God in all things; it is he who inherits and exhibits the moral glories of the great Father, walks in serene fellowship with Him in a world of storms, and lives and moves in His everlasting love. The devout man prays to his God in secret, makes His Book the reason and rule of duty, leans upon His kind arm when sorrows darken his path, and endeavours everywhere and always to glorify His holy name. But Simeon was not only devout, but also just. And who is the just man? The scriptural idea of him is vast and comprehensive. A just man is one who is universally right — right as to his condition, and right as to his character. His faith, his principles, his practice, are all right. Having accepted the Divine method of salvation, he is treated as though he were just; the Lord imputeth no iniquity to him. Having received the Divine Spirit, he is become actively just towards himself, his race, and his God. In law he is righteous: in life he is righteous. Such is the general idea the Bible gives of a just man. But, in the text, the phrase has evidently a limited signification. It denotes social rectitude. To be just to our fellow-men is to recognize, and, as far as we can, to protect their rights, civil, mental, religious. Now, between these distinct virtues there is an essential connection. They never do, they never can, exist separately. Strictly speaking, they are only two manifestations of the same thing. It is human holiness embracing at once the finite and the infinite as the spheres of its action. Men would sever devotion and morality; but the thing is impossible. Facts as well as philosophy prove it so. How can a truly devout man be unjust? And how can a just man be yet so unjust as to neglect his God? The two virtues we speak of, then, necessarily co-exist. But although these two qualities never exist independently of each other, yet it is a matter of fact, that in many a good man they are far from being equally developed. One man is very devotional as to the current of his thoughts, associations, feelings, hopes, and desires, and yet very defective, to say the least, in the discharge of his social obligations. Another man is remarkably exact, punctual, and conscientious in all his relative duties, who nevertheless is, or appears to be, very careless and cold in the offices of devotion and in the higher exercises of religion. How is this? In the history of practical godliness are four things which it would be well to remember: that different men excel in different virtues; that the same men excel in different virtues at different periods of their history: that in no man do all the virtues shine with equal radiance; and, finally, that the best of men are far from perfection here. Thus we have glanced at the virtues of Simeon; their nature, development, and mutual relation. In him they shone beautifully and harmoniously. His love to God produced universal propriety of conduct towards men; and that is what I would call true religion.
II. I now proceed to notice THE PUBLIC SPIRIT OF SIMEON. That is beautifully expressed in these words — "Waiting for the Consolation of Israel." He was not only a just and devout man, but he was also writing for Him who was to be Israel's consolation and glory and the Gentiles' light. Simeon was not a man of a narrow, contracted, selfish mind. Oh! no. His thoughts, desires, solicitudes, and hopes were not limited to himself, nor to his own nation; his heart burned for the public good; he was an observer and interpreter of public events. Through the Divine medium of prophecy he surveyed the far-spread scenes of futurity. He had long waited for the day of the Lord: at last it sweetly dawned upon his hopes. Faith and prayer ever wait for those eras of light and renewal, by a succession of which God has promised to draw humanity nearer and still nearer to Himself. Simeon waited for the coming of Messiah: expectation was the habitual attitude of his spirit; it was the theme of his conversation; the breath of his prayers; the bright beam that ever cheered the long path of his pilgrimage. In the teachings of the synagogue, in the sacrifices of the Temple, in the changes which were passing over the institutions of his people, the devout patriarch saw the prophetic signs of the Son of man. His constant waiting for Christ kept his affections in a state of healthy excitement, spiritualized his piety, shed an unearthly lustre around his general character, and raised him far above the men of his age. Simeon gives three distinct views of Jesus. He refers to Him as the object of human hostility; as the cause of great moral revolutions; and, finally, as the source, the Divine source, of spiritual blessings.
1. The text refers to Christ as an object of human enmity, as a sufferer. He was to be a "sign to be spoken against" — the mark of evil men and evil spirits.
2. Simeon pointed to Jesus as the cause of great moral revolutions. He was to be "for the fall and the rising of many in Israel" — "the thoughts of many hearts were to be revealed." Here two great effects are attributed to the presence of Jesus on earth; a revelation of human thoughts, and a revolution in human affairs. One of the mighty works which Jesus came to accomplish was to set men to think — to think with freedom, earnestness, and force; and this He actually did to an extent before unknown. His aim was not to affect the mere surface of our nature, to alter only its moral forms and fashions; but to send His influence down to its very centre. He set mind in motion; He touched the mysterious springs of its power: and this He did by the conjoined influence of two things — His truth and His character. Both these were original, perfect, Divine. The impulse which He thus imparted to our nature has been deepening and widening ever since. He originated a succession of improving changes which can no more be stopped than the course of the stars. The living power of the gospel, by rousing humanity to action, elicited its true character: opposing elements were set in commotion; the good and the evil rose to the surface; and thus "the thoughts of many hearts were revealed." Simeon foresaw also that the Holy Child would be for the fall and rising of many. Here, again, we meet another wonderful principle — we say principle — for risings and failings in our world are not mere accidents or chances, but events regulated by a fixed law; and that law is administered by the Divine Mediator. We fancy we can see emblems of these moral changes — these risings and failings — even in the material world. The motions of the heavens — the processes of matter everywhere around us — the revolutions of the seasons — continually remind us of them. This revolutionary principle seems to be in constant operation in the government of our disordered race. It pervades the internal and the external history of humanity; it presides over all the alterations which take place in the ideas, the characters, and the institutions of men. How very remarkably was its energy displayed during the first age of Christianity. Then truth rose higher than it had ever done before: then error and ignorance began to fall; and, blessed be God! they have been falling and falling and falling ever since. Then the old schools of religious teachers fell; and a new one rose under the inspirations of Jesus, which is one day to fill the world with its doctrine. Then the first covenant disappeared, to give place to a better one. Then, in a word, the ancient Church fell, and the new rose into being; and the rise of this new society was one of the grandest results of Christ's descent to our earth; it was, if we may be allowed the expression, the incarnation of one of the sublimest ideas of the Son of God.
3. Simeon speaks still more definitely of the Saviour. He represents Him as the source of all spiritual blessings. Three precious gifts, he predicted, would flow from this Divine Fountain; light, consolation, and glory. He is the light of men. We have already spoken of Christ as the quickener of mind: we must not forget, however, that the great instrument He employs is truth. Having thus meditated a little on the personal holiness of Simeon, and on his enlarged view of Jesus as the Saviour of the world, let us for a few minutes look on the glory that was shed on his latter end.
I. He was permitted to embrace the Holy Infant. He had been studying the predictions and types of the law; he had been long waiting for the Wonderful One, to whom they pointed; and now he was blessed with His presence. "Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God." As he took the Incarnate One into his arms, the sunshine of heaven broke upon his soul: as he pressed Him to his heart, ideas, emotions, and beatitudes unutterable at once overwhelmed it like a flood, and before he uttered a word of gratulation to the blessed mother, he turned to God, and breathed his praises there: he blessed God. Oh! there are hours when the heart is too full to speak to any but its God. What a dreadful thing it is to see death before we see Christi See death we all must — we all shall, and that soon; perhaps unexpectedly. But have we seen Christ? Have we embraced Christ? Have we, by faith, seen the Divine grandeur of His person, the transcendent excellence of His character, and the preciousness of His cross, as the medium of pardon and the means of perfection?
II. Simeon was willing — I may say more — he was desirous to die. "Lord," said the happy man, "Lord, now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." This is a comprehensive sentence, and admits of a copious interpretation. First, with what calmness he viewed death. To him, it was only the letting him go — the departing from one place for another, and a better. I have seen, he said, all that is worth seeing in this narrow shadowy sphere; I have seen what I was most anxious to see; now let me be loosed, that I may soar to the world of the blessed. Again: he viewed his death as being entirely under the control of God. How soothing and sustaining this idea of death. The time, the place, the circumstances of our departure, are all pre-ordained by our Father's love.
III. Finally, he viewed the last scene as overspread with peace. "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace." The departure of the just is peaceful. He has peace with heaven, with earth, and with his own nature.
(Caleb Morris.)I. Let us notice THE OCCASION of these words. It is an affecting circumstance, that although our Lord came to abolish the whole ceremonial law, He himself submitted to it all. The object of this visit to the Temple was twofold. It was, in the first instance, for Mary's purification. Wonderfully, brethren, amidst all His mercies to us, does s holy God keep up the remembrance of our sinfulness, and command us also to keep it up. We cannot even show our gratitude, lay a thank-offering upon His altar, without approaching His altar in the character of sinners. A grateful heart and a contrite heart must go together. Another object was accomplished by this visit. To keep up the remembrance of His mercy in sparing the sons of the Israelites when those of the Egyptians were destroyed, it was the command of God, that in all succeeding generations, the first-born of Israel, both of man and beast, should be considered as His property. "Sanctify to Me," he says, "all the first-born, it is Mine." The child was to be brought to the Temple as an acknowledgment of God's right to him, and then, after the appointed sum was paid and certain ceremonies gone through, he became free. And this is the ground on which we rest the honour that we pay to our Christian sacraments. They are no more in themselves than the long abolished ceremonies of the Jewish Temple, but, like those ceremonies, they are of Divine appointment, and, according to the example of our Saviour Christ, we will revere them. We may now place before us the scene connected with the text. We must conceive of Mary, her own purification over, as standing in the Temple with the ministering priests before her and a company of other worshippers around her. And then we must imagine an aged man approaching, gazing for a moment at the heavenly Babe in her arms, then taking it into his, and, with a look upwards, bursting forth in the hearing of them all into this happy song.
II. Let us consider the HAPPINESS HE EXPRESSES IN IT. We feel at once that it is happiness he expresses, not that overflowing of delight and joy which we see in Mary at Elisabeth' door, but a calm, subdued happiness; the happiness of one who has been long accustomed to strong emotions, and knows how to govern and restrain as well as indulge them. We are not told that Simeon was an old man, but it is probable from the narrative that he was so, and his happiness seems to be the happiness of old age, less lively and exuberant than that of youth, but as heart-felt and deep or deeper, and, like deep waters, quiet and serene. But in what did Simeon's happiness consist?
1. In praise for a blessing given. "He took Him up in his arms, and" — what? gave utterance at once to the joy that thrilled within him I When some of us have a mercy sent us, we must welcome it, we say; have a little time allowed us to feel that it is ours, to examine it, and delight ourselves in it. Then comes late and slow the thought, that we owe this mercy to a gracious God, and must thank Him for it. But this is because our joy in our mercies is not holy joy. Holy joy is like the joy of heaven — its natural language is praise, and its happiest language is praise. Blessings become sweeter to us when they draw forth our praise. And it is this looking on Christ as a Saviour provided for us by the everlasting Jehovah, that leads the soul to feel so thankful for Him and rejoice so much in Him.
2. A hope realized was another part of Simeon's happiness at this time. The history represents Simeon to us at first as under the influence of hope.
3. There was yet something more in this man's happiness — delight in a glorious prospect opened to him. Let God give the real Christian what spiritual blessing he may, he immediately longs for more. The blessing he has received seems to bring into his view other blessings, and to kindle his desires for them. With him, therefore, hope realized is a new impulse given to hope.
III. Let us now endeavour to draw from his happiness SOME USEFUL INSTRUCTION FOR OURSELVES. And in doing so, we must regard ourselves, brethren, as dying men. Simeon speaks here as a dying man. Job, Elijah, Jonah, all cried out, "Let me die," but they were some of the very worst words these men ever uttered. They were tired of God's dealings with them, weary of the discipline or the work He had allotted them, and they wanted to get away from them. Bring your desire for death then, just as you would bring any other feeling, to the standard of God's Word. It tells you that if it is a holy desire, it is the desire, not of a wretched, but of a happy hour. It is the strongest when the soul's happiness is the greatest. It springs no more from the ills than from the joys of life. It tells you that Simeon's happiness in the prospect of death was happiness in a Saviour. "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation," explains it all. And you must understand this, and fully understand it, before you can participate in Simeon's peaceful feelings. Sin is the sting of death. It is guilt on the conscience that makes death so terrible to man. And then, brethren, how shall we look on death? Prospects will open before us, feelings will arise within us, so elevating, that we shall care no more for it, than the eagle cares for the fog or the cloud through which it is piercing to get to the sun. I am going to my Saviour, we shall say, and what matters to me the darkness, or roughness, or loneliness, of the road which leads me to Him? Once with Him, I shall never feel lonely again.
(C. Bradley, M. A.)In entering upon our subject this morning, we shall notice in the first place, the character of Simeon; secondly, his proclamation; thirdly, his desire.
I. THE CHARACTER OF SIMEON. This is set forth in the first verse of our text — "And behold there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was upon him." First, as to his justice. The former of these expressions, "and the same man was just," has reference to his conduct towards men; the latter stating that he was "a devout man," has direct reference to the feelings of his mind towards his God. Again, there is reference to his faith. "He was waiting for the Consolation of Israel." This was a name given to the Messiah by those Jews who expected and most anxiously looked for His approach. Again, there is a reference to his gifts — "The Holy Ghost was upon him." This is not intended merely to imply that he was a partaker of the influences of the Holy Spirit, which perform morally a renovation of the mind; but that he was also the subject of that sacred revelation which we find spoken of in the twenty-sixth verse — "And it was revealed unto Him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." This holy man of God was the partaker of the same mighty agency which characterized the ancient patriarchs, prophets, and seers.
II. But we pass on to notice in the second place, HIS PROCLAMATION. Simeon was under the influences of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned in the twenty-sixth verse; and we find it was at the very moment, when the infant Saviour was brought into the Temple to receive according to the custom of the law, that he came also by the Spirit into the Temple. His inspiration now assumed a character of sublimity not to be Bur. passed; and he makes dignified proclamation of the incarnation of man's only salvation; he calls Him "a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." We shall consider under this part of our subject —
1. The nature of the work which the Lord Jesus Christ was ordained to accomplish.
2. Again, we notice, that the salvation of man, as a salvation from the guilt and punishment of sin, is a position to be maintained — that this salvation has been accomplished by the atonement of the Cross, is a principle firmly to be upheld — and that the denial of this is unbelief, shutting out all heavenly mercy, and exposing the soul, without any refuge, to a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.
3. We notice again, not only the nature of the work that the Lord Jesus Christ came to accomplish, bat also the extent to which it is to be carried. "Which thou hast prepared before all people." We pass on from the character of Simeon, and his proclamation, to consider, thirdly, HIS DESIRE. "And He came by the Spirit into the Temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation; which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." First. He had no other object left to wish to live for on earth. It must have been an interesting sight, for those who were living under the Jewish economy, to see the Messiah in person; and then no doubt many of them, having seen Him who was to be the end of their law for righteousness unto them, wished to see nothing more in the world. Hear the tradesman, when he has made a provision for his family, has set them forward comfortably in life, and has gained all the advantages he could desire from commerce, then he thinks he can die in peace. Hear the philosopher, when he has made grand discoveries in philosophy, and has succeeded in tracing the dependence and fixing the boundaries of what was considered incomprehensible affinities — when he can define unknown properties, and has fully developed the relations of cause and effect, he thinks he has nothing more on earth to accomplish, and he can die in peace. Hear the statesman, when he has brought certain principles of government to work harmoniously together — when by his eloquence and energies he has placed his favourite political tenets in a commanding situation, and has effected his long-wished-for purposes, he thinks he has nothing more to do on earth, he now can depart in peace. Hear the warrior, if he can gain the victory over the enemy — if he can entwine around his martial brow the wreath of undying laurel — if he can emblazon his name on the records of fame, and achieve for himself a corruscation of splendour and military renown that will light up his monument in future ages, he thinks he can die in peace. So you may well imagine that Simeon, who had been waiting anxiously for the appearance of the Messiah, whose mind had been goaded, as it were, with many an anxious desire for His manifestation, when he now beheld Him who was the joy and consolation of Israel, should have nothing more to live for below, but should wish to depart in peace. Secondly. It will be seen that now there was the dismissal of all his doubts and fears, and the completion of all his hopes for eternity. There was in Simeon great faith; but now faith was consummated in the possession of the thing hoped for.
Mine eyes have seen Thy salvationI. God's salvation, as the object of view of which Simeon speaks — "Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." What is it? God's salvation. Then it must be worthy of Himself. Is it God's salvation? Then it is adapted to man's ruin. Is it God's salvation? Then it secures a whole revenue of praise and glory to His great name. Is it God's salvation? Then man has no band in it. Is it God's salvation? Then it is like the altar which God commanded Moses to build — "If thou lift up a tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." Is it God's salvation? Then it originates with Him; it is accomplished by Him; it is imparted by Him; it redounds to His own glory; in the experience and eternal blessedness of those whom He saves.
II. Let us pass on, in the second place, to notice the nature of the sight. "Mine eyes have seen" it. There are men now in the professing Church who see clearly with the mental vision, but without faith. I was once told by an avowed infidel, who had read the Bible a great deal, but whose eyes the god of this world had blinded, "Well, sir, I am brought to the full conviction, that if the Bible be true, your view of it is the right one." Now, he "saw" it. I merely name this to show you that there is such a thing as seeing it without its being a saving sight. I wish my hearers to come to an investigation of this. When Simeon said, "Mine eyes have seen," it was not a desultory, nominal statement of things, as if his eyes had seen a babe only. He saw beyond that. You may have seen some volumes of theology very clearly written, and setting forth the salvation of Christ Jesus with scriptural accuracy; you may say that its arguments are quite irresistible, and be brought to see that they are so; but that is quite a different thing from the sight intended in my text — "Mine eyes have seen." This is the view which faith takes of Christ. And the view that faith takes of Christ implies that faith exists. Moreover, faith views in the official character and work of Christ the relationship that renders the Head and the members one. Moreover, while faith views this precious, glorious Christ in the dignity of His Godhead, in the perfection of His manhood, and in His official character, it goes on to gaze, saying, "Since mine eyes have seen — I may see much more," and examines minutely into the mystery of godliness. Again, it is not only the view which faith thus takes, but this view is by attraction. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." And whenever faith is indulged with a vision of Christ so as to behold in Him all that the poor sinner needs for time and eternity, there is a drawing, a mighty attraction, a desire to come closer to Him, just as in nature, when we are attracted by an object at a distance which appears very beautiful, but scarcely discernible, we desire to approach nearer, and the more clearly we see the object, and the more beautiful it appears, the more vigilantly we draw near to have clearer and clearer views of it. Pass on to mark that the teachings of the Holy Ghost are essential to this. Hence our beloved Lord said, "The Spirit of truth shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you;" and "He shall testify of Me."
III. The effects which follow. I am sure that every poor sinner who gets a glimpse of Christ will wonder; wonder at the provision and gift of such a Saviour; wonder at the very name He bears; for His name is "Wonderful." Mark also, that when this sight of Christ is realized, objects terrene are thrown quite into the shade, trampled upon and entirely lost sight of. One thought more, and I will draw to a close. When all objects beside are thrown into the shade, and everything terrene is lost sight of for the time being; when faith has full scope, it seems as if they were all for awhile removed, and our heavenly felicity begun upon earth.
I. We learn from Simeon that CHRIST IS SALVATION. Not only a Saviour, but Salvation itself. And the only Salvation. And God's Salvation. You have salvation in every aspect of it, and every form of it, as soon as you have obtained Christ. You must trust Him in everything and for everything.
II. CHRIST IS TO BE TAKEN UP INTO OUR ARMS AND TO BE LOOKED AT.
1. A grasp of faith.
2. A grasp of love.
III. WHEN CHRIST IS TAKEN UP INTO THE ARMS AND LOOKED UPON HE HAS A WONDERFUL EFFECT.
1. Waiting is ended.
2. Simeon was excited to praise the Lord.
3. Now that he had seen the Lord's Christ, he desired to close his eyes upon all else. I have heard of stone who have looked on the sun unadvisedly, till they could not see anything else; but his I know, that he who looks on Christ becomes blind to all rival attractions. If these eyes have once seen the salvation of God, it looks like sacrilege to set them upon the base things of time and sense. Let the gate be closed through which Jesus has entered; it seems profane to allow a single object belonging to this traitorous world to enter our mind by eye-gate any more. Having eaten the white bread of heaven, we want no more of the husks of earth; having bad a glimpse of the Incarnate God, what is there more to see?
4. He was now prepared to look on death.
5. Ready to behold the glory of God. We must first look at Christ, and when our eyes have been brightened and strengthened by the mild splendours of Incarnate Deity, they will be fitted to behold the King Himself as He sits upon the throne.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
LinksLuke 2:29 NIV
Luke 2:29 NLT
Luke 2:29 ESV
Luke 2:29 NASB
Luke 2:29 KJV
Luke 2:29 Bible Apps
Luke 2:29 Parallel
Luke 2:29 Biblia Paralela
Luke 2:29 Chinese Bible
Luke 2:29 French Bible
Luke 2:29 German Bible
Luke 2:29 Commentaries