Consolation in Christ
Written by: Spurgeon, C.H. Posted on: 04/02/2003
Consolation in Christ
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 2nd, 1860, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At Exeter Hall, Strand.
"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if
any bowels and mercies."Philippians 2:1.
THE language of man has received a new coinage of words since the time of his perfection in Eden. Adam
could scarce have understood the word consolation, for the simple reason that he did not understand in
Eden the meaning of the word sorrow. O how has our language been swollen through the floods of our
griefs and tribulations! It was not sufficiently wide and wild for man when he was driven out of the garden into the
wide, wide world. After he had once eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, as his knowledge was
extended so must the language be by which he could express his thoughts and feelings. But, my hearers, when
Adam first needed the word consolation, there was a time when he could not find the fair jewel itself. Until that
hour when the first promise was uttered, when the seed of the woman was declared as being the coming man who
should bruise the serpent's head, Adam might masticate and digest the word sorrow, but he could never season
and flavour it with the hope or thought of consolation, or if the hope and thought might sometimes flit across his
mind like a lightning flash in the midst of the tempest's dire darkness, yet it must have been too transient, too
unsubstantial, to have made glad his heart, or to soothe his sorrows. Consolation is the dropping of a gentle dew
from heaven on desert hearts beneath. True consolation, such as can reach the heart, must be one of the choicest
gifts of divine mercy; and surely we are not erring from sacred Scripture when we avow that in its full meaning,
consolation can be found nowhere save in Christ, who has come down from heaven, and who has again ascended
to heaven, to provide strong and everlasting consolation for those whom he has bought with his blood.
You will remember, my dear friends, that the Holy Spirit, during the present dispensation, is revealed to us as
the Comforter. It is the Spirit's business to console and cheer the hearts of God's people. He does convince of sin;
he does illuminate and instruct; but still the main part of his business lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed,
in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down. Whatever the Holy Ghost may not be, he is
evermore the Comforter to the Church; and this age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which
Christ cheers us not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-bye, but by te indwelling and constant abiding
of the Holy Ghost the Comforter. Now, mark you, as the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, Christ is the comfort. The
Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If I may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but
Christ is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ's name and grace. He
takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. We are not consoled to-day by new revelations, but by the
old revelation explained, enforced, and lit up with new splendour by the presence and power of the Holy Ghost the
Comforter. If we give to the Holy Spirit the greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers
on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of the Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the comfort.
I shall try this morning, first, to show how Christ in his varied positions is the consolation of the children of
God in their varied trials; then we shall pass on, secondly, to observe that Christ in his unchanging nature is a
consolation to the children of God in their continual sorrows; and lastly, I shall close by dwelling awhile upon
the question as to whether Christ is a consolation to usputting it personally, "Is Christ a present and available
consolation for me."
I. First, CHRIST IN HIS VARIED POSITIONS IS A CONSOLATION FOR THE DIVERS ILLS OF THE
CHILDREN OF GOD.
Our Master's history is a long and eventful one; but every step of it may yield abundant comfort to the
children of God. If we track him from the highest throne of glory to the cross of deepest woe, and then through
the grave up again the shining steeps of heaven, and onward through his meditorial kingdom, on to the day when
he shall deliver up the throne to God even our Father, throughout every part of that wondrous pathway there may
be found the flowers of consolation growing plenteously, and the children of God have but to stoop and gather
them. "All his paths drop fatness, all his garments which he wears in his different offices, smell of myrrh, and
aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby he makes his people glad."
To begin at the beginning, there are times when we look upon the past with the deepest grief. The withering of
Eden's flowers has often caused a fading in the garden of our souls. We have mourned exceedingly that we have
been driven out to till the ground with the sweat of our browthat the curse should have glanced on us through
the sin of our first parent, and we have been ready to cry, "Woe worth the day in which our parent stretched forth
his hand to touch the forbidden fruit." Would to God that he had rested in unsullied purity, that we his sons and
daughters might have lived beneath an unclouded sky, might never have mourned the ills of bodily pain or of
spiritual distress. To meet this very natural source of grief, I bid you consider Christ in old eternity. Open now the
eye of thy faith, believer, and see Christ as thine Eternal Covenant-head stipulating to redeem thee even before
thou hadst become a bond-slave, bound to deliver even before thou hadst worn the chain. Think, I pray thee, of
the eternal council in which thy restoration was planned and declared even before thy fall, and in which thou wast
established in an eternal salvation even before the necessity of that salvation had begun. O, my brethren, how it
cheers our hearts to think of the anticipating mercies of God! He anticipated our fall, foreknew the ills which it
would bring upon us, and provided in his eternal decree of predestinating love an effectual remedy for all our
diseases, a certain deliverance from all our sorrows. I see thee, thou fellow of the Eternal, thou equal of the
Almighty God! Thy goings forth were of old. I see thee lift thy right hand and engage thyself to fulfil thy Father's
will"In the volume of the book it is written of me, 'I delight to do thy will, O God.'" I see thee forming, signing,
and sealing that eternal covenant by which the souls of all the redeemed were there and then delivered from the
curse, and made sure and certain inheritors of thy kingdom and of thy glory. In this respect Christ shines out as
the consolation of his people.
Again, if ever your minds dwell with sadness upon the fact that we are at this day absent from the Lord,
because we are present in the body, think of the great truth that Jesus Christ of old had delights with the sons of
men, and he delights to commune and have fellowship with his people now. Remember that your Lord and Master
appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre under the disguise of a pilgrim. Abraham was a pilgrim, and Christ to
show his sympathy with his servant, became a pilgrim too. Did he not appear also to Jacob at the brook Jabbok?
Jacob was a wrestler, and Jesus appears there as a wrestler too. Did he not stand before Moses under the guise
and figure of a flame in the midst of a bush? Was not Moses at the very time the representative of a people who
were like a bush burning with fire and yet not consumed? Did he not stand before JoshuaJoshua the leader of
Israel's troops, and did he not appear to him as the captain of the Lord's host? And do you not well remember that
when the three holy children walked in the midst of the fiery furnace, he was in the midst of the fire too, not as a
king, but as one in the fire with them? Cheer then thy heart with this consoling inference. If Christ appeared to his
servants in the olden time, and manifested himself to them as bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh, in all
their trials and their troubles, he will do no less to thee to-day; he will be with thee in passing through the fire; he
will be thy rock, thy shield, and thy high tower; he will be thy song, thy banner, and thy crown of rejoicing. Fear
not, he who visited the saints of old will surely not be long absent from his children to-day; his delights are still
with his people, and still will he walk with us through this weary wilderness. Surely this makes Christ a most
blessed consolation for his Israel.
And now to pursue the Master's footsteps, as he comes out of the invisible glories of Deity, and wears the
visible garment of humanity. Let us view the babe of Bethlehem, the child of Nazareth, the Son of Man. See him,
he is in every respect a man. "Of the substance of his mother" is he made; in the substance of our flesh he suffers;
in the trials of our flesh he bows his head; under the weakness of our flesh he prays, and in the temptation of our
flesh he is kept and maintained by the grace within. You to-day are tried and troubled, and you ask for consolation.
What better can be afforded you than what is presented to you in the fact that Jesus Christ is one with you in your
naturethat he has suffered all that you are now sufferingthat your pathway has been aforetime trodden by his
sacred footthat the cup of which you drink is a cup which he has drained to the very bottomthat the river
through which you pass is one through which he swam, and every wave and billow which rolls over your head did
in old time roll over him. Come! art thou ashamed to suffer what thy Master suffered? Shall the disciple be above
his Master, and the servant above his Lord? Shall he die upon a cross, and wilt not thou bear the cross? Must he
be crowned with thorns, and shalt thou be crowned with laurel? Is he to be pierced in hands and feet, and are thy
members to feel no pain? O cast away the fond delusion I pray thee, and look to him who "endured the cross,
despising the shame," and be ready to endure and to suffer even as he did.
And now behold our Master's humanity clothed even as ours has been since the fall. He comes not before us
in the purple of a king, in the garb of the rich and the respectable, but he wears a dress in keeping with his
apparent origin; he is a carpenter's son, and he wears a dress which becomes his station. View him, ye sons of
poverty, as he stands before you in his seamless garment, the common dress of the peasant; and if you have felt
this week the load of wantif you have suffered and are suffering this very day the ills connected with poverty,
pluck up courage, and find a consolation in the fact that Christ was poorer than you arethat he knew more of
the bitterness of want than you ever yet can guess. You cannot say, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air
have nests, but I have not where to lay my head;" or if you could go as far as that, yet have you never known a
forty-day's fast. You have some comforts left to you; you do know at least the sweet taste of bread to the hungry
man, and of rest to the weary; but these things were often denied to him. Look at him, then, and see if there be
not to you comfort in Christ.
We pass now, O Jesus, from thy robe of poverty to that scene of shame in which thy garments were rent
from thee, and thou didst hang naked before the sun. Children of God, if there be one place more than another
where Christ becomes the joy and comfort of his people, it is where he plunged deepest into the depths of woe.
Come, see him, I pray you, in the garden of Gethsemane; behold him, as his heart is so full of love that he cannot
hold it inso full of sorrow that it must find a vent. Behold the bloody sweat as it distils from every pore of his
body, and falls in gouts of gore upon the frozen ground. See him as all red with his own blood, wrapped in a
bloody mantle of his own gore, he is brought before Herod and Pilate, and the Sanhedrim. See him now as they
scourge him with their knotted whips, and afresh encrimson him, as though it were not ehough for him to be dyed
once in scarlet, but he must again be enwrapped in purple. See him, I say, now that they have stripped him naked.
Behold him as they drive the nails into his hand and into his feet. Look up and see the sorrowful image of your
dolorous Lord. O mark him, as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown, and make it the blood-red diadem of the
King of misery. O see him as his bones are out of joint, and he is poured out like water and brought into the dust
of death. "Behold and see, was there ever sorrow like unto his sorrow that is done unto him?" All ye that pass by,
draw near and look upon this spectacle of grief. Behold the Emperor of woe who never had an equal or a rival in
his agonies! Come and see him; and if I read not the words of consolation written in lines of blood all down his
side, then these eyes have never read a word in any book; for if there be not consolation in a murdered Christ,
there is no joy, no peace to any heart. If in that finished ransom price, if in that efficacious blood, if in that
all-accepted sacrifice, there be not joy, ye harpers of heaven, there is no joy in you, and the right hand of God
shall know no pleasures for evermore. I am persuaded, men and brethren, that we have only to sit more at the
Cross to be less troubled with our doubts, and our fears, and our woes. We have but to see his sorrows, and lose
our sorrows; we have to see his wounds, and heal our own. If we would live, it must be by contemplation of his
death; if we would rise to dignity it must be by considering his humiliation and his sorrow.
"Lord, thy death and passion give
Strength and comfort in my need,
Every hour while here I live,
On thy love my soul shall feed."
But come now, troubled heart, and follow the dead body of thy Master, for though dead, it is as full of
consolation as when alive. It is now no more naked; the loving hands of Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus,
and the Magdalene and the other Mary, have wrapped it in cerements, and have laid it in the new tomb. Come,
saints, not to weep, but to dry your tears. You have been all your lifetime subject to fear of death: come, break
your bonds asunder; be free from this fear. Where your Master sleeps, you may surely find an easy couch. What
more could you desire than to lie upon the bed of your royal Solomon? The grave is now no more a charnel-house
or a dark prison; his having entered it makes it a blessed retiring-room, a sacred bath in which the King's Esthers
purify their bodies, to make them fit for the embraces of their Lord. It becomes now not the gate of annihilation,
but the portal of eternal bliss,a joy to be anticipated, a privilege to be desired. "Fearless we lay us in the tomb,
and sleep the night away, for thou art here to break the gloom, and call us back to day."
I am certain, brethren, that all the consolations which wise men can ever afford in a dying hour will never be
equal to that which is afforded by the record, that Jesus Christ ascended from the tomb. The maxims of
philosophy, the endearments of affection, and the music of hope, will be a very poor compensation for the light of
Jesus' grave. Death is the only mourner at Jesus' tomb, and while the whole earth rejoices at the sorrow of its last
enemy, I would be all too glad to die, that I might know him, and the power of his resurrection. Heir of heaven! if
thou wouldst be rid once for all of every doubting thought about the hour of thy dissolution, look, I pray thee, to
Christ risen from the dead. Put thy finger into the print of the nails, and thrust thy hand into his side, and be not
faithless but believing. He is risen; he saw no corruption; the worms could not devour him; and as Jesus Christ has
risen from the dead, he has become the first fruits of them that slept. Inasmuch as he has risen, thou shalt rise. He
has rolled the stone away, not for himself alone, but for thee also. He has unwrapped the grave-clothes, not for his
own sake, but for thy sake too, and thou shalt surely stand in the latter day upon the earth, when he shall be here,
and in thy flesh thou shalt see God.
Time would fail us, if we should attempt to track the Master in his glorious pathway after his resurrection. Let
it suffice us briefly to observe that, having led his disciples out unto a mountain, where he has delighted often to
commune with them, he was suddenly taken up from them, and a cloud received him out of their sight. We think
we may conjecture, by the help of Scripture, what transpired after that cloud had covered him. Did not the angels
"Bring his chariot from on high
To bear him to his throne,
Clap their triumphant wings and cry,
His glorious work is done?"
Do you not see him, as he mounts his triumphal chariot,
"And angels chant the solemn lay,
Lift up your heads, ye golden gates,
Ye everlasting doors give away?"
Behold angels gazing from the battlements of heaven, replying to their comrades who escort the ascending Son of
Man. "Who is the King of Glory?" And this time those who accompany the Master sing more sweetly and more
loudly than before, while they cry, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O
ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in." And now the doors
"Loose all their bars of massy light,
And wide unfold the radiant scene,"
and he enters. "He claims those mansions as his right," and all the angels rise to "receive the King of Glory in."
Behold him, as he rides in triumph through heaven's streets; see Death and Hell bound at his chariot wheels. Hark
to the "Hosannas" of the spirits of the just made perfect! Hear how cherubim and seraphim roll out in thunders
their everlasting song"Glory be unto thee; glory be unto thee, thou Son of God, for thou wast slain and thou
hast redeemed the world by thy blood." See him as he mounts his throne and near his Father sits. Behold the
benignant complacency of the paternal Deity. Hear him as he accepts him and gives him a name which is above
every name. And I say, my brethren, in the midst of your tremblings, and doubtings, and fearings, anticipate the
joy which you shall have, when you shall share in this triumph, for know you not that you ascended up on high in
him? He went not up to heaven alone, but as the representative of all the blood-bought throng. You rode in that
triumphal chariot with him; you were exalted on high, and made to sit far above principalities and powers in him;
for we are risen in him, we are exalted in Christ. Even at this very day in Christ that Psalm is true"Thou hast
put all things under his feet; thou madest him to have dominion over all the works of thy hands." Come, poor
trembler, thou art little in thine own esteem, and but a worm and no man! Rise, I say, to the height of thy nobility;
for thou art in Christ greater than angels be, more magnified and glorified by far. God gives you grace, ye who
have faith, that ye may now, in the fact of Jesus Christ's exaltation, find consolation for yourself!
But now to-day methinks I see the Master, as he stands before his Father's throne, dressed in the garments of
a priest; upon his breast I see the Urim and Thummim glittering with the bejewelled remembrances of his people.
In his hand I see still the remembrance of his sacrifice, the nail mark; and there I see still upon his feet the impress
of the laver of blood in which he washed himself not as the priest of old with water but with his own gore. I hear
him plead with authority before his Father's face, "I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me
where I am." O my poor prayers, ye shall be heard! O my faint groans, ye shall be answered! Oh, my poor
troubled soul, thou art safe, for
"Jesus pleads and must prevail,
His cause can never, never fail."
Come, my poor heart, lift up thyself now from the dunghill; shake thyself from the dust; ungird thy sackcloth
and put on thy beautiful garments. He is our advocate to-day, our eloquent and earnest pleader, and he prevails
with God. The Father smileshe smiles on Christ; he smiles on us in answer to Jesus Christ's intercession. Is he
not here also the consolation of Israel?
I only remark once more that he who has gone up into heaven shall so come in like manner as he was seen to
go up into heaven. He ascended in clouds, "Behold he cometh with clouds." He went up on high with sound of
trumpet and with shout of angels. Behold he cometh! The silver trumpet shall soon sound. 'Tis midnight: the hours
are rolling wearily along; the virgins wise and foolish are all asleep. But the cry shall soon be heard"Behold the
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