Consolation in Christ!
James Smith, 1860
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ!" 2 Corinthians 1:5
The privileges of the gospel are intended, not only to display the rich grace of God, and to make the believer happy — but also to enforce its duties. Our privileges bring us near to God, bring us into fellowship with God, and supply us with strength from God, which strength is to be spent in the service, and to the praise of God. When Paul would exhort the believers at Philippi to befitting behavior, and humility of mind, and union of heart and soul — he does so by reminding them of their privileges, and urges his exhortation, by these words, "If there is therefore any consolation in Christ." Philippians 2:1
The if does not suggest a doubt — but is a strong assertion, more forcible than if he had said "as there is consolation in Christ, etc." All our comfort is laid up in Jesus, to him we are to look for it, and from him receive it.
THERE IS CONSOLATION IN CHRIST.
In his COVENANT ENGAGEMENTS. What a source of never-failing comfort it is, to think that Jesus stood up for us in the eternal covenant, and engaged for us. Engaged to be . . .
our Substitute, restoring that which sin took away;
our Surety, paying all the debts we would contract;
our Shepherd, taking charge of our persons, to preserve them, protect them, and set them before his Father's face forever.
In his PERFECT WORK. Which work . . .
magnified the law,
met all the claims of the great law-giver,
satisfied divine justice, and
secured for us an exemption from all penal evil.
His obedience is our righteousness.
His blood is our ransom price.
His death is our life.
This work of Jesus is a finished work. It is a perfect work. It remains everlastingly the same.
In his TENDER SYMPATHY. Jesus always has sympathized with his people. He sympathizes with them still. His loving heart is as tender now that he is in Heaven, as it ever was when he was upon earth. He knows all our sorrows, all our cares, and all our pains — and he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Human sympathy we may lose, we may outlive it — but the sympathy of Jesus never. In all our afflictions, he is afflicted.
In his CONSTANT CARE. He is always caring us. His care extends . . .
to all our circumstances,
to all that concerns us,
even to the very hairs of our heads!
He cares for . . .
our needs — to supply them,
our holy desires — to grant them,
our eternal salvation — to secure it.
In his PREVAILING INTERCESSION for us. For this he ever lives. To carry on this work, he went into Heaven. Now at the right hand of God, he watches over our persons, enters into our experience, and pleads for us with his father.
In his PRECIOUS WORD. Are not his gracious invitations, full of comfort? Are not his great and glorious promises, full of consolation too? Nor can we rightly read the histories, or understand the doctrines, or become acquainted with the exhortations of the word — but we must see that they are sweet, and very full of comfort.
So also in his UNVARYING LOVE. The love of Jesus is always the same. It never ebbs — but flows on in one continuous stream. His love is . . .
as ancient as eternity,
as strong as omnipotence, and
as unchangeable as his nature.
Creature love may fail, and creatures who love us today, may hate us tomorrow — but as Jesus ever lives, so Jesus ever loves. In the . . .
and unvarying love of Jesus —
there is an ocean of consolation!
THERE IS ALWAYS CONSOLATION IN CHRIST. Whatever may be our outward circumstances, and they may be very trying . . .
in poverty and pain,
under losses and crosses,
however tempted or tried —
there is still consolation in Christ!
Creatures may prove crosses,
ordinances may be like wells without water,
providence may frown,
the meal barrel may be empty,
and the brook may dry up —
but there is still consolation in Christ.
Though harassed with doubts,
tormented with fears,
tortured with temptations,
shrouded in darkness, and
drinking the wine of astonishment
— there is still consolation in Christ.
All within may be discouraging, disheartening, and depressing —
our evidences may be lost,
our fears may be great,
our convictions may be painful,
and our terrors may be dreadful —
but there is still consolation in Christ.
Our immediate prospects may be dark . . .
all going out — and nothing coming in,
all losses — and no gains,
disease may be working in the system,
old age may be creeping upon us,
our business may be failing,
claims upon us may be increasing,
our families may be increasingly trying
— but there is still consolation in Christ!
Yes, though the crops fail,
though provisions give out,
though resources are cut off, and
poverty stares us in the face — let things be as bad as they may, and threaten to be ever so much worse — there is still consolation in Christ.
Yes, when all without us is dark, and all within us dreary, when friends are removed, and enemies increase, when with Jacob we are ready to look around and before us, and say, "All these things are against me!" There is still consolation in Christ!
As there is always consolation in Christ — we should learn . . .
to know and love Christ,
to know and love Him well,
to know and love Him experimentally,
to know and love Him in His person, offices, and work,
to know and love Him in His relations, characters, and love,
to know and love Him as our unchanging source of supply, comfort, and peace.
We should trust Christ at all times and in all circumstances.
However our experiences may vary — He is ever the same!
His Word is like the great mountains!
His heart is an ocean of love!
His faithfulness reaches to the very Heavens!
Trust in creatures we may not, we must not — but trust in Jesus, and in Jesus at all times, we should. We should make use of Christ and be happy. Nor can we, as Christians, be happy but as we make use of Christ.
He is our strength, and we must look to him to strengthen us.
He is our wisdom, and we must look to him to counsel us.
He is our righteousness, and we must look to him to answer for us, if the law appears to threaten us, or conscience to condemn us, or justice to make any demands upon us.
He is all in all to us, and therefore we must . . .
look to him for all,
go to him with all, and
expect him to bring us through all.
As there is always "consolation in Christ," and in Christ alone — we should always seek to please him, and in order to do so, we should be united as his saints, which is his prayer and desire, that we all may be one. We should be humble as his disciples, which lesson he has taught us both by word and deed. We should be obedient as his servants, to which he has appended the promise of the highest honor. Let us then look to Jesus whenever we are cast down, for his word always is "Look unto me!" And the testimony of the Psalmist in reference to such as were dark, dreary, and burdened in his day is, "They looked unto him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed."
Let us expect to find consolation in Jesus — when we can find it nowhere else. Only Christ can make us content — but he can always do so. In Christ we may always find comfort — but at times we can only find it in him. Sweet thought, let us be where we may, let us be as we may — there is still "consolation in Christ."
Precious Savior, to you will I look, from you will I expect, and of you will I ask comfort in every day of distress, and consolation in every season of sorrow! You are "the Consolation of Israel." From you your people have sought and obtained consolation in all their trying experiences — and from you will I seek and expect to receive consolation in health, and sickness; while living, and when dying!