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CHAPTER IX.

THE SPIRIT, A COMFORTER.

THE BROKEN HEART BOUND UP.

" The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost.” John xiv. 26.

In several parts of this work, we had occasion to touch upon the sanctifying tendency of the discipline of the covenant. We were led to trace the goodness, and to justify the wisdom of God, and to mark some of the blessed results in his appointing the suffering state to be the peculiar allotment of his children. But, there is one important view of the subject yet reserved. It is this: That, in no one aspect does the happy tendency, and we may add, the indispensable necessity, of that discipline more manifestly appear than that, through this channel mainly, is the believer brought into communion with, and into enjoyment of, the tenderness and sympathy of the Spirit. The wisdom, the faithfulness, and the power of the Spirit, the soul has been brought to acknowledge and experience in conversion; but to

know the Spirit as a Comforterto experience his tenderness and sympathy, his kindness and gentleness, we must be placed in those peculiar circumstances that call it into exercise. In a word, we must know what sorrow is, to know what comfort is, and to know what true comfort is, we must receive it from the blessed and Eternal Spirit, the Comforter of the church.

The God and Father of his people foreknew all their circumstances. He knew that he had chosen them in the furnace of affliction, that this was the peculiar path in which they should all walk. As he foreknew, so also he fore-arranged for all those circumstances. In the eternal purposes of his wisdom, grace, and love, he went before his church, planning its history, allotting its path, and providing for every possible position in which it could be placed. So that, we cannot imagine an exigency, a trial, a difficulty, or a conflict, but is amply provided for in the covenant of grace. Such is the wisdom, and such the goodness of God towards his covenant family.

The great provision for the suffering state of the believer, is, the Holy Spirit, the special, personal, and abiding Comforter of the church. It was to this truth our dear Lord directed the sorrowing hearts of his disciples, when on the eve of his return to his kingdom. He was about to

withdraw from them his bodily presence. His mission on earth was fulfilled, his work was done, and he was about to return to his father and to their Father, to his God and to their God. The prospect of separation absorbed them in grief. Thus did Jesus mark, and thus, too, he consoled it. “But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John xvi. 5—7. Mark the circumstances of the disciplesmit was a season of deep sorrow. Then observe, how Jesus mitigated that sorrow, and chased away the dark cloud of their griefby the promise of the Spirit as a Comforter, assuring them that, the presence and abiding of the Spirit as a Comforter, would more than recompense the loss of his bodily presence. What the Spirit then was to the sorrowing disciples, he has been in every successive age, is at the present moment, and will continue to be to the end of time, the personal and abiding Comforter of the afflicted family of God. May he now sanctify and comfort our hearts, by leading us into the consideration of this great and most precious doctrine.

Upon the subject of comfort, great stress is laid ini the sacred word. It is clearly God's revealed will that his people should be comforted. The fulness of Christ, the exceeding great and precious promises of the word, the covenant of grace, and all the dealings of God, bear upon this one point, the comfort and consolation of the saints. A brief reference to the divine word will convince us of this. This is the very character he himself bears, and this is the blessed work he accomplishes. Thus, “ Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort, wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God," 2 Cor. i. 3, 4. Kindred to this, are those striking words in Isaiah xl. 1, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” This was God's command to the prophet. It was his declared will, that his people should be comforted, even though they dwelt in Jerusalem, the city which had run down with the blood of the prophets, and more than that, which had witnessed the crucifixion of the Lord of life and glory. What an unfolding does this give us of him who is the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, and that, too, in every place.

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To comfort the saints, is one important end of the Scriptures. “Whatsoever things werel written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope," Rom. xv. 4. And thus the exhortation runs—"Comfort the feeble minded." " Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.". : “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Thus has the Holy Ghost testified to this subject. Thus is it clear that it is the will, and that it is in the heart of God, that his people should be comforted.

The necessity of comfort springs from the existence of sorrow in some one or more of its varied and multiplied forms. For each and every kind of sorrow the blessed Spirit is the Comforter ; but as he comforts in various ways, according to the nature of the sorrow, we would select a few of the prominent sources of grief, common alike to all the Lord's people, and show how he binds up, heals, and comforts.

With regard to the spiritual sorrows of a child of God-those peculiar only to a believer in Jesus, --we believe that a revelation of Jesus is the great

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