When anxiety abounds within me, Your comforts delight my soul.
I. THOUGHTS COME IN THRONGS. To one standing on the golden gallery that surmounts the dome of St. Paul's in London, and looking down on the streets below, the sight of the thronging multitudes of people, hastening hither and thither, each intent on his or her own business, the traffic never ceasing, is very striking. How the people come ando, some one way, some another, crossing and recrossing each other, never still for a moment, - it is all a picture of the minds of most men. Who could count or remember the multitude of thoughts that pass and repass, that come and go across thepathways of the mind? It is an incessant traffic, a concourse that is never still. And they are of all kinds, good, bad, and indifferent, grave and gay, coming one scarce knows whence, and going one as little knows whither.
II. MANY OF THEM OFTEN LEAVE THE SOUL SAD. There are those of an opposite character, and by God's mercy they are the most numerous and ordinary. And there are people who seem never to think seriously at all - the mere butterflies of life. But the Christian cannot be one of them. We know what our Lord said of the "wayside" hearers. The good seed never takes root there. But the soul awakened to things that are eternal must often think seriously, and, not seldom, sadly likewise. It was so with the writer of this psalm. To him also the enigmas of this unintelligible world came clamouring for solution, as they do still. "Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph?" (ver. 3). That was to him one of the many inexplicable and heart saddening facts of life. And how many minds are today agitated, perplexed, well nigh shipwrecked, and their lives darkened by the mysteries they must meet, but cannot comprehend? But -
III. GOD HAS PROVIDED RELIEF FOR SUCH SOULS. Indeed, much more than simply relief. He has provided "delight" for them. Unquestionably - blessed be his holy Name for it! - God has done this. The testimony of saints in all ages has shown that God giveth "songs in the night." See the life and letters of men like Paul; above all, listen to "the Man of sorrows" himself telling of his "joy," and praying that it may "be fulfilled" in his disciples. And there are children of God now plunged in poverty or pain, or both, and yet who know and confess that God is their "exceeding Joy."
IV. THIS IS ACCOMPLISHED BY MEANS OF HIS "COMFORTS." "Thy comforts delight," etc.
1. They are of God. Those that this world supplies could never accomplish this.
2. They come through various channels. Sometimes through Nature - her calm and beauty and grandeur uplift the soul. Or through revelation. Think of all the "exceeding great and precious promises." Or through providence. Or by his Spirit in the soul. This best of all.
V. THE CONDITION IS - TRUST IN GOD. - S.C.
I. IN EVIL TIMES THE MISERY OF THE SAINTS OF GOD IS MORE FROM THOUGHTS WITHIN THAN FROM TROUBLES WITHOUT.
I. THE MALADY.
In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.
(W. Young, B. A.)
1. The grief itself. "Thoughts" considered simply in themselves do not contain any matter of grief or evil, they are the proper and natural issue and emanations of the soul which comes from it with a great deal of easiness, and with a great deal of delight, but it is the exorbitancy and irregularity of them which is here intended, when they do not proceed evenly and fairly, as they ought to do, but with some kind of interruption. The finest wits are liable to the greatest distractions; and the more advantages any have of doing evil, the more occasions have they likewise of suffering evil, as the mind is capable of the greater comfort and contentment, so it is also of the greatest trouble; and look as it is in the body, that the most exquisite constitutions are liable to the greatest pains, so in the soul the most sublime and raised parts are exposed to the most disquieting thoughts.
2. The amplification of this evil from the number. "Multitude of thoughts." Thoughts crowding and thrusting in themselves in a violent and confused manner one upon another.(1) Man's mind goes from one thing to another like a bee in the change of flowers, and is never at rest; and this is a part of that vanity which is upon it; this infirmity is seen in nothing more than it is in the performance of good duties, prayer and hearing of the Word, and such religious exercises as these, wherein this multitude of thoughts does in a special manner discover itself.(2) Our thoughts are for the most part answerable to the estate we are in, and the occasions which are presented to us. Now, forasmuch as there is an alteration in them, there is also a diversity in these, suitable and agreeable thereunto.
3. The subject of this grief and distemper is David himself; from whence observe that even the children of God themselves they are sometimes troubled with anxious and solicitous thoughts, and that also in a very great multitude and plurality of them.(1) Concerning their own salvation and state in grace.(2) Concerning their own preservation and provision and state always in the world.(3) Concerning the public state and condition of the Church of God and the commonwealth. All these several heads do make up this multitude of thoughts in the Church of God.
4. The intimacy or closeness of it. "In my very heart."(1) The secrecy of this grief.(2) The settledness and radication of this evil; it was within him, and it was within his heart, that is, it was deeply rooted and fastened, and such as had a strong groundwork and foundation in him, such were these troublesome thoughts, they were got into his very inwards and bowels, and so were not easily got out again.(3) The impression which they had upon him, and the sense which he himself had of them. They were such as did grievously afflict him, and pierce him, and went near unto him, they went to his very heart, and touched him, as it were, to the quick, through the grievousness of them.
II. THE REMEDY.
1. The physic itself.(1) To take it distinctly and simply in itself. "Thy comforts." He speaks here to God, and gives testimony to His comforts in this hi.s present condition. "My thoughts," but "Thy comforts"; we may raise thoughts of ourselves, but it is God only can settle them: we may torment ourselves, but it is God only can relieve us; none can comfort but God. "Thy comforts," not only original and effective, but likewise material and objective; not only as God is the author and bestower of these comforts, but likewise as God is the object and matter of this last. If we speak properly and exactly, so all comforts are God's comforts, even those comforts which are in the creatures, and which are derived and conveyed to us in them, they are no other than His. The comforts which are in friends, estates, outward blessings, are all His comforts. They are His as giving the thing, and as giving the contentment. But these comforts here in the text are said to be His in a further consideration. "Thy comforts," that is Divine comforts, Christian comforts, spiritual comforts, comforts drawn from religion. The closer we walk with God, the more comfort we have from Him, not only hereafter in heaven, but also now at present here upon earth, which should therefore be a further spur to incite us hereunto.(2) The second is by considering them connectively in reference to what went before in the beginning of the verse, "In the multitude of my thoughts." First, here is their concomitancy, by making "in" to be as much as "cure." "In my thoughts," that is, altogether with them; and so it does imply thus much unto us, that the children of God are never wholly and absolutely disquieted and dejected in themselves; but as God does in His providences suffer them now and then to be troubled with sad thoughts, so at the very same moment and instant of time does he administer comfort more or less unto them. The second is their opportunity, "In the multitude" of distracting thoughts; that is, just when they were come to their height and extremity in me. The comforts of God are seasonable, and observe the proper time for their coming, neither too soon, nor too late; not before, that were too soon, nor after, that were too late; but "in," that is, just in the very point and nick of time. This should teach us never to despair, but rather then to be fullest of hope, and to make perplexities to be a remedy against themselves. And so much for that second particular, to wit their opportunity. The third particular is their conveniency, and the suitableness of these comforts here spoken of. This is signified in that interpretation, which renders it by the word "according." And here again are two things more. First, they are suitable to the number of the evils. And, secondly, they are suitable to the greatness of them.
2. The operation of this physic, and that we have briefly in these words, "Delight my soul."(1) For the act "delight," this is a transcendent expression, which the Holy Ghost in the pen of the prophet David comes up unto: it had been a great matter to have said, they satisfy my soul, or they quiet me, no more but so, that is the highest pitch which a perplexed spirit can wish to itself. Those which are in great pain, they would be glad if they might have but ease, they cannot aspire so high as pleasure and delight; this is more than can be expected by them; but see here now the notable efficacy of these Divine comforts, they do not only pacify the mind, but they joy it; they do not only satisfy it, but ravish it; they do not only quiet it, but delight it.(2) The second is the object, and that is my soul. We showed before how the grief was in the mind, and therefore the comfort must be so also, that the remedy may answer the malady. Bodily comforts will not allay spiritual troubles, but spiritual comforts will make very great amends in bodily infirmities. A good heart it will do good, as a medicine, as Solomon speaks; and it will give marrow and fatness to the bones.
(T. Horton, D.D.)
1. The best men they are not freed, while they live here, from unruly, unsubdued thoughts.(1) From the corruptions of the unregenerate part, the remainder of a corruption in the best men, it is like fire in an oven (Hosea 7:4, 5), and he hath violent irruptions.(2) From the invasion of some enticing creature-objects amongst them, as David saw Bathsheba: Achan saw, and he desired; considered and desired: so likewise it is said in 1 John 2:6.(3) From the injections of Satan: for what are unruly thoughts? It is Satan doth himself many times immediately inject: so the devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ.
2. In times of trouble, these thoughts come in by multitudes: a man's thoughts are never so tumultuous as in troublesome times.(1) Because in troublesome times the souls of men are awake. In times of prosperity and peace there is usually a spirit of slumber upon men; but when God empties a man from vessel to vessel, then how full of projects is the heart of man? never brought into danger, but the man his thoughts rise. Oh, how shall I escape? what shall I do? and how shall I make provision for myself?(2) Satan takes special care to assail the hearts of men with thoughts in an evil time.
3. The great part of afflictions doth lie more in these tumultuous and unruly thoughts within, than in all a man's troubles and afflictions without: winds without do not cause an earthquake, but wind within.
II. GOD DOTH PROVIDE FOR HIS PEOPLE CONSOLATIONS IN AND ANSWERABLE TO THEIR AFFLICTIONS. Consider, first, there is no affliction that ever the people of God are cast into that He leaves destitute of consolation. It is never pure darkness (Genesis 15:17), even when the Church of God was as a sacrifice cut in pieces, yet notwithstanding there was a light passed between the pieces; it is never pure darkness, but yet notwithstanding it may be many times darkness in reference to creature-comforts, they may have no comforts they can look at here below. And this consolation that God gives them is a seasonable consolation, "In the multitude of my thoughts": in the very time when I am most perplexed, then doth God bring in His consolations. Nay, not only in the affliction, but according unto the affliction, so shall the consolation be, and therefore reads it, "According to the multitude of my thoughts"; so were the multitude of God's consolations; God will give it in the time and the season of it; but, withal, the Lord will give it according unto the measure; when He doth bring great afflictions, He provideth for you strong consolations, that as the affliction aboundeth, so the consolations shall abound; the Lord tells you, that His rewards shall be according to the measure of His mercies: it is an admirable expression in Hosea 10:12.
II. RELIGION affords such immediate delight and pleasure, as in a great measure supplies the want of any outward enjoyment, and allays the pain of any worldly distress.
III. RELIGION, as it teaches that all things are ordered by the most perfect wisdom and goodness, so it particularly assures every good man that all things shall work together for his real interest.
IV. RELIGION gives us the blessed prospect of a happy end to all our sorrows, and of rest from all our labours in the life which is to come.
V. RELIGION entitles us to the gracious influences of the Spirit of God, by which we are enabled to apply all these things to our comfort, and to rejoice in the Lord always.
Homilist.I. MAN'S REAL WORLD IS IN HIS THOUGHTS, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." The universe and God are to a man according to his thoughts. Those thoughts are very multitudinous. "The multitude of my thoughts." Who can count the thoughts of one man, even during one day? They flow through the soul as wavelets on the rapid stream.
II. MAN'S REAL HAPPINESS IS IN HIS GOD. "Thy comforts delight my soul." Thy unchangeableness amidst the mutations, Thy paternal providence amidst the solicitudes, Thy pardoning mercy amidst the remorses, Thy promises of immortality amidst the forebodings — all these "delight my soul."
I. SUPPOSE THAT THE TROUBLE ARISES DIRECTLY OUT OF THE HEART. The multitude of the thoughts in this ease are all tinged with self-accusation. Sin revives, the better self seems dead. Where is the comfort for such a state? In the whole Gospel. In all the fulness of Jesus Christ — His cleansing blood, His purifying Spirit, His tender love, His power to save to the uttermost.
II. Suppose that the trouble arises, not out of the heart directly, BUT OUT OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES. There are some who have not habitually many fears within, but who have often or constantly great fightings without. Martha still lives her busy, toilsome life. "Careful and troubled about many things" is written on many a face. The comforts God has for such a state are manifold, and they sometimes break upon the man suddenly, like stars through clouds. "Ebenezer!" That seals and keeps all the past, so that now you cannot lose it. It will be a fact for evermore, and I trust to you a blessed memory, that the Lord has helped you through all that past. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want!" Is not that a plentiful provision for the present hour? And there are some texts with still more tenderness in them (Matthew 6:8; Philippians 4:19; 1 Peter 5:7).
III. Or suppose that the trouble arises in some way OUT OF THE STRANGENESS AND THE STRENGTH OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Every man with a will, with a plan, with any great and generous purpose, is sure to be at some time so thwarted as greatly to need the comforts of God. Then take these comforts, these two: — The first is this, that undoubtedly the supreme and perfect will of God has been working in all. And as soon as there is a devout recognition of that will, there will be some beginning of rest, some influx of a holy calm. But there is another. Because another is needed to make the comfort full. For the man might still say, "Then all I have been working for is pure loss — loss of energy, loss of affection, loss of time — mere ruin in God's universe. God does not need ruins to build with. How much better, therefore, it would have been if I could have discovered the perfect will earlier, so as to save all that bootless toil and useless waste." Not so. For here is the second comfort: — "All things work together for good to them that love God."
IV. A devout Christian LOOKING AT THE WHOLE CHURCH may well have a "multitude of thoughts within him." This whole Church is the one body of Christ, and "every one members one of another"; and yet what divisions, what conflicts there are among the parts and sections! But here also God's comforts come in. The Lord reigneth. He will heal the distractions of His Church. He will give "the same mind and the same judgment." He will give one heart and one soul. He will pour out His Spirit as a spirit of love and power and of a sound mind. He will restore the waste places, the ruins of many generations. He will bring again Zion. He will establish and make Jerusalem a praise in all the earth.
(A. Raleigh, D.D.)I. THE SOUL'S DANGER AND DISTRESS.
1. The danger arose, not from any impotency in the man, but from the slippery or rough state of the road. Your horse may be quite sure-footed, but if you drive him over a rough or ice-covered road he may stumble. This good man was both sound and strong. He believed that the man was blessed whom the Lord chastened. But just at this point the path became very slippery, and for the moment he felt confused, excited, and troubled, so that he was almost falling. Now, a much-needed lesson springs out of this circumstance. We are taught to guard ourselves against a spirit of self-sufficiency, and also to sympathize with our stumbling brethren, who are quite as sound and strong as ourselves, but who slip because of the stronger temptations they have to encounter.
2. But connected with this danger there is distress. As a rule distress follows in the wake of danger, even though the threatened danger has been averted. People who have experienced what seemed miraculous escapes have afterwards been visited by the greatest distress of mind. They are intensely thankful that they did escape, but the danger, that was so dreadful and imminent, takes such hold of their mind, that, though saved from it in a physical sense, they, nevertheless, go through it again and again in their imagination, and the process is one of the most acute pain. Deliverance from evil does not, as a rule, leave the mind full of pure joy and gratitude; the thought of the other alternative — what might have been — fixes itself like a barbed arrow in the breast.
II. DELIVERANCE AND DELIGHT. Observe the nature of the deliverance. He was held up, not lifted and carried away. His surroundings remain the same. The slippery path is before him as well as behind him. God simply sustains him. Thus it is that His mercy is often vouchsafed. He takes not away the burden; but He enables us to bear it. He changes not the scene from war to peace, but arrays us in the armour and strengthens us with the might that will ensure for us a glorious victory. He makes not the path less rough or slippery, but takes us by the hand, and so helps us on. And just as the danger is followed by distress, so the deliverance is followed by delight. "Thy comforts delight my soul." The feet are not only firmly established, but a new song is put into the mouth. The heart's agitation is calmed. The shock is allayed. The troubled mind finds peace. Its darkness is turned into day, and its motions are no more those of fear, but the ecstasies of pure delight.
III. THE SOUL'S ACCESS TO THESE BLESSINGS. "When I said." The confession and the salvation are connected — the one leads to the other. And what of the confession? It is that of a trembling, humble soul that mistrusts itself; but though perplexed still, trusts in the living God, and so, in answer to its call, deliverance comes. What a difference there is, then, between confession and profession (Matthew 26:33, 34).
I. THE PSALMIST'S DECLARATION: It means —
1. That, when passing many subjects in review before him, he selected the joys of true religion, or the comforts of God, as the subjects which he preferred before all others. He knew the joys of quiet meditation. He was a man whose contemplations would take a wide range. He had lived a country life, he knew much of the beauties of nature, of the glories of the heavens, and he could unite his thoughts about them to fit words. Of all purely intellectual joys there is, surely, none greater than to be able to pour forth sublime truths in fitting words. But he knew also the delights of active life, and they are not a few to a man who is in vigorous health and mental force. Also he knew the splendours of a court. Yet, reviewing all his life thoughts, he makes this declaration, "In the multitude," etc. Should not this be the assertion of every Christian?
2. The text means, also, that when he was exercised with many cares in life, he found his solace in the comforts of his God. He had many reasons for care. At court, when persecuted; "but," we read, "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." This what we should do. Then —
3. When oppressed with evil thoughts he found his shelter in God. Such thoughts do come into the holiest minds. How horrible they are, and how desperate is the conflict of a gracious soul when it is tortured with them. But at such times the only consolation is to fall back upon God.
4. When the mind is worried with thoughts which cannot be dissipated, it is well to turn unto the Lord. Men will have periods in which they do not seem so much to have a subject for thought as to be prisoners of care to ten thousand subjects at once. They are carried away as with a flood. What nights of weary watchings and longings for rest that will not come do they cause! Now, there is no sleeping draught that I know of like contemplation of the love of God.
5. If ever we are beset with a multitude of thoughts of a doubting kind, we shall find our best solace in flying to our God. Francis Quarles, in his quaint "Emblems," represents a man with a flail, who is dealing heavy blows all around, and the only one who escapes is a person who, with much daring, comes close to him; the way to escape the heavy blows of Providence is to close in with Him who wields the rod, for the further off the heavier the blow. In all dark times run home. Return unto your rest. If you cannot come to the Lord as a saint, come as a sinner.
II. WHAT IS THIS SUBJECT UPON WHICH DAVID LAYS SUCH STRESS? He says, " Thy comforts delight my soul." What are God's comforts? They are the truths which surround the person and work of God. First there is the Father. What comfort that He is our Father! Then comes Jesus, the Son of God, our very brother, man, our perfect atonement, and He who has perfumed the grave in which we shall sleep, and then removed its door. And then the Holy Spirit, for He helpeth our infirmities. But these consolations spring from the whole work and system of Divine grace; from the attributes and from the promises of God. The Bible is a great honeycomb, and it drips with honey. Conclusion: — The way to comfort is the way which leads thee to thy God. And oh, poor sinner, the same way is open to you. Do not look within for comfort, for you will find none. As well go to the Arctic regions, and pierce icebergs to discover warmth, as look to yourselves for consolation. Away then to Him who has said, "Whosoever cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. OF MULTITUDINOUS THOUGHTS AND SACRED COMFORTS. None of these thoughts, then, are those which are tumultuous in the night of trial. At such times it is a great blessing if God's comforts are, as they may be, our stay and holdfast. They were so to David (vers. 9, 12, 14). And he calls to mind his own experience. "Unless the Lord had been my help," etc. "Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up." Such thoughts as these in times of tumult will not merely console, but delight the soul. Perplexing thoughts and periods of dilemma. It is with some as with Israel at the Red Sea. The sea before them, the rocks on either hand, and the cruel Egyptians in the rear. In such cases there is nothing for it but to "stand still and see the salvation of God." Remember that often all thy way is ordered by a higher power than thine. Our Pilot never sleeps, and His hand never relaxes its grasp. Remorseful thoughts in the hour of recollection. Who can be without these when he passes his life in review? Can there be forgiveness for all these? Then the comforts of God come to us in Jesus. Thoughts of heart-searching in seasons of spiritual anxiety. And of foreboding in days of depression. Lift high the banner, "Jehovah Jireh." It must be well with us, it cannot be ill. Occasionally we have thoughts profound in times of meditation. There are many great mysteries in the Word of God, and foolish persons utterly befog themselves with them; some minds seem never to be satisfied until they find something which they cannot comprehend, and then they are ready to give up the Bible altogether; they act like one who should come in to a feast, and after turning over all the good things, should at last find a bone with no meat upon it, and should insist upon it that he would not eat a morsel until he could digest that particular bone. But I bless God for a religion which I cannot perfectly understand.
II. VIEW THESE SACRED COMFORTS. View them in their nature. They are connected with God — the Father, Son, Holy Ghost. When Archbishop Whately was dying, a friend said to him, "Sir, you are great in death as well as in life." The good man shook his head and replied, "I am dying, as I have lived, a simple believer in Jesus Christ." "But what a blessing it is," said the other, "that your glorious intellect does not fail you at the last." "There is nothing glorious," said he, "but Jesus Christ." "Still," said the other, "your grand endurance is a great support to you." "I have no support but faith in the crucified Saviour," said he. Comfort comes from the Lord alone. And these comforts have stability. Many consolations are like the life-buoys heard of a while ago, which are exceedingly useful on dry land, but of no service whatever when once a man trusts his life to them in the sea. But not so God's comforts. And they are efficient. They delight "my soul," my very self. And they delight, not merely sustain and quiet the soul.
III. A CONTRAST. For many never think at all. Their thoughts, if they have any, are like a swarm of gnats, volatile, dancing up and down, light, useless. Oh, that men would think! Once there was a canoe afloat on Niagara, but some miles off the fall. As the current carried it on, people on the bank could see that the paddle was shipped and an Indian lying in the canoe fast asleep. They shouted as loud as they could to awake him, for they well knew what dread peril he was in. They ran along the bank shouting and calling to him, but it was of no use. He had either been drinking or was so fatigued that his slumber was most profound, and the canoe went on, continually increasing its pace. It dashed at last against a headland, and spun round in the torrent, and they said one to another, "He is safe; the man will be awakened. Such a start as that must rouse him up, and he will paddle out of danger." But no, he went right on till the roaring of the fall was near, and then the course of the boat was so rapid that none could keep up with it, and it went whirling on faster and faster. So profound was the Indian's sleep, that for a while even the roar of the fall did not awaken him, but at last he was aroused, and then he grasped his paddle; but it was all too late; he was borne onward, and the last that was seen of him was his standing bolt upright in the boat as it plunged over the abyss, and was never seen or heard of more. Ah! how like is this to those of you who are asleep, and are borne onward by the treacherous current. That fever, that sick-bed, like a headland jutting into the stream, methought it would have made you think. That frail bark of thine was twisted round and round. O that thy soul had been but aroused from its slumber. The noise of hell may well be in thy ears, and the sound that cometh up from the abyss of terror may well arouse thee; but alas, I fear, thou wilt sleep on until escape be no longer possible. But may God forbid.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. OUR FOES.
1. The rebels are thoughts. As the world produceth vipers, and serpents, and venomous creatures, worms and caterpillars that would devour their parent, so the soul breeds noxious and mutinous thoughts, that are like an earthquake in her bowels; and while they maintain civil broils and factions one against another, she feels the smart of all.
2. The number of them is a multitude. Thought calls to thought, jealousy to fear, fear to sorrow, sorrow to despair; and these furies leap upon the heart as a stage, beginning to act their tragical parts. Man hath more wheels moving in him than a clock; only the difference is, that the wheels of a clock move all one way, whereas his faculties, like the epicycles, have a rapt motion. His sensitive appetite gives him one motion, his fantasy another, his reason a third, and his imperious, impetuous will crosseth them all, driving the chariot of his affections with the fury of Jehu. He desires and thinks, and chooseth, argues, consents, and dislikes, and makes more business than time itself. There are not so many hours in one year as there may be thoughts in an hour.
3. The captain of this troublesome soul is himself; "my" thoughts. From what suggestion soever our thoughts come, we call them our own; as whosoever begot the babe, the mother calls it her own child. Indeed, the praise and propriety of good motives we ascribe only to God, without whom we cannot so much as think a good thought; as the channel may gather filth of itself, but it cannot have a drop of pure water but from the fountain. Bad suggestions, though they proceed from Satan, we call them our own, because they are bred in the womb of our natural corruption; stubble is blown by the wind into the fire, and, being inflamed, it becomes fire.
4. The field where the skirmish is fought; "within me." It is unhappy when soldiers march over the palaces of peace and seats of justice, where the councillors and senators used to sit. If there must be war, let it be in foreign countries, or if it will be in our own land, yet let it proceed no further than the borders; but when it is gotten into the chief city, though it be subdued, it will cost a dear victory.
II. OUR FRIENDS.
1. They are "comforts"; not presumptions, nor promises, nor mere hopes; but solid and sensible comforts.
2. There is a plurality of them: "many comforts." Are we troubled with the wants and miseries of this life? We have a comfort for that: "The Lord is my portion; He is my shepherd. I shall lack nothing." Do we sink under the burden of our transgressions? We have a comfort for that. Mary Magdalene heard it to quiet all her storms: "Thy sins are forgiven thee." Are we haunted with temptations, hurried with persecutions? We have a comfort for that: "I will be with thee in trouble," saith the Lord. Our comforts vie with the number of our sorrows, and win the game. The mercies of God passed over in a gross sum breed no admiration; but cast up the particulars, and then arithmetic is too dull an art to number them. As many dusts as a man's hands can hold is but his handful of so many dusts; but tell them one by one, and they exceed all numeration.
3. "Thy comforts." Troubles may be of our own begetting; but true comforts come only from that infinite fountain, the God of consolation; for so He hath styled Himself. The eagle, at her highest flight, will not lose sight of her young ones; if she perceive any danger approaching, down she comes again to their defence. Christ is indeed ascended up on high, yet He hath a favourable eye to His servants below.
4. "Delight the soul," which is the last circumstance; the effect of all. All God's war is for peace. We should never have had such a conflict, if God had not intended us for such a conquest. If here were nothing but sorrows, earth would be thought hell; if nothing but comforts, it would be thought heaven.But that we may know it to be, as indeed it is, neither heaven nor hell, but between both, and the way to either, we have a vicissitude of troubles and delights. In calamity, good nourishments are comfortable, good words are comfortable, good friends are comfortable, the physician is comfortable, a good spouse is specially comfortable; but in respect of these comforts, which do nevertheless pass all understanding, we may say of them, as Job did to his visitant friends, "Miserable comforters are ye all." But blessed are the souls upon whom this Sun of comfort shineth; and happy are those showers of tears and sorrows that shall be dried up with such beams of comfort.
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
( T. Manton, D.D.)
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