The God Of Comfort


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 Corinthians 1:3-4).

I CALL THE New Testament the Book of Joy. There is nowhere in the world another book that is pervaded with such a spirit of exhilaration. Nowhere does it pour forth a melancholy strain. Often pathetic, it is never gloomy. Full of sorrows, it is full of victory over sorrow.

In all the round of literature, there is not another book that can cast such cheer and inspire such hope. Yet it eschews humor, and forgoes wit. It is intensely earnest, and yet full of quiet. It is profoundly solemn, yet there is not a strain of morbid feeling in it.

Some books have recognized the wretchedness of man’s condition on earth, and in some sense have produced exhilaration; but it was done rather by amusing their readers. These books have turned life into a comedy. They have held up men’s weakness to mirth. They have turned men’s passions to ridicule, sharply puncturing their folly by wit. They have sought to redeem them from suffering by taking out all earnestness, all faith, all urgent convictions.

Not so the Christian Scriptures. They never jest; they never ridicule; they never deal in comic scenes. They disdain, in short, all those methods by which other writings have inspired cheer. Yet, by a method of their own, they produce in all who accept them a reasonable sympathy, elevation of mind, high hope, and cheerful resignation.

The New Testament recites the wicked deeds that pride and vanity and selfishness have evermore produced in mankind. It paints no paradise of innocent sufferers. It sweeps a circle around a guilty race, lost in trespasses and sins, and so given over to them that all strength for recovery is gone. Death,  universal and final, towers and glooms over the race like a black storm that will soon burst forth unless some kind wind arises to bear it back and sweep it out of the hemisphere.

The New Testament: Full of Hope and Cheer

Strange as it is in statement, it is while dealing with such a scene that the New Testament writers suffuse their compositions with a transcendent joy; and not once, nor twice, but always, and all the way through, they flash with radiant hope and cheer. This is without a parallel.

What is the source of this strange cheer overhanging so strange a subject? What is the source of that joy which glances from every argument, from almost every line, while treating such tremendous realities of sadness? Why are the sacred writers so inspiring? As birds fly easier against the wind (if it is not too strong) does joy, too, rise more easily against the breath of this world’s great sorrows? How is it?

The fountain and unfailing source of this sober exhilaration was found in the divine nature, as it had been revealed to the apostles. Our text is an admirable expression of this representation of the divine nature. I will attempt to open this passage so as to give some insight into those experiences, both of
sorrow and of consolation, which have made the apostles the leaders of men for so many ages.

God: Father of Mercies

God is here styled the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. We are not to take our conceptions of God from human systems, for these systems have been built up out of mere selections from the Word of God. But God’s Word is a vast forest. And just as a man can build either a hut or a common mansion
or a palatial residence out of the timber that is growing in the forest, so out of the Word of God man can build a poor theology, a rich theology, or a glorious one, according as he is skillful in this selections.

Men had heard of the God who created all things, who governed all things, who weighed and measured all human thoughts and feelings, and who stamped with unchangeable lines the moral character of the race. This magisterial and juridical Deity, revealed to men through the types of civil government, was
powerful to incite fear and to restrain from evil.

This vision of God must always remain, having certain purposes, and having in it the office of representing certain truths respecting the divine nature. But this view does not express God. To represent a being as perfectly holy and as sitting in the circle of holiness while holding the race to absolute purity, almost without sympathy, except that which is doled out on certain conditions
that is not to represent God, though it is to represent something about God.

Men had also heard of a God who was perfect in holiness. Their thoughts had ranged until weary through that vast circle inhabited by the ideal of perfect justice and truth.

It was the latest disclosure of the divine nature that, within that august power which had been revealed, and beating like a heart within that perfect holiness, there was a nature of exquisite sympathy and tenderness. It was also in the divine nature that the energies of that Almighty Being were exerted in
the service of mercy and kindness; that the direction of God’s nature was toward love; and that, although alternatively there were justice and judgment, they were but alternative. The length and breath, and the height and depth of God was in the sphere of love potential, fruitful.

Consider what the nature must be which is here styled the Father of mercies. When a man begets children, they are in his own likeness. God groups all the mercies of the universe into a great family of children, of which He is the head. Mercies tell us what God is. They are His children. He is the father
of them, in all their forms, combinations, multiplications, derivations, offices. Mercies in their length and breadth, in their multitudes infinite, uncountable–these are God’s offspring, and they represent their Father.

Judgments are effects of God’s power. Pains and penalties go forth from His hand. Mercies are God Himself They are the issues of His heart. If He rears up a scheme of discipline and education that requires and justifies the application of pains and penalties for special purposes, the God who stands
behind all special systems and all special administrations, in His own interior nature pronounces Himself the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. Of mercies it is said that they are children. They are part of God’s nature. They are not what He does so much as what He is.

God of All Comfort

But even more strongly is it said that He is the God of all comfort. By comfort, we mean those influences which succor distress, which soothe suffering, which alleviate grief, and which convert the whole experience of sorrow to gladness.

Consider that God is declared, not at times and upon fit occasions, to produce comfort, but always. He is the very God of it. Imagine a kingdom wide and rich in all the elements of consolation, where every ill found its remedy, and every sorrow its cure a celestial sanitarium, out of which issued winds bearing health everywhere. There, in its own center, and exalted to the highest place, is God, sovereign and active in comforting. For this He thinks; for this He plans; for this He executes; for this He waits; for this He lives.

Oh! What a realm of sorrow lies under this kingdom. Oh! What a need there has been in this world that there should be somebody to comfort. “The whole creation has groaned and travailed in pain until now” (Rom. 8:22).

Men have been born, it would seem, that they might be sufferers. Nations have been wrapped in darkness. Tribulation has come like the sheeted doom of storms–sweeping whole continents. Ages have been stained with blood. Tears have been so abundant that they have been too cheap to count. Weeping has had more work in this world then laughing. Trouble has ruled more than joy. Even yet, men high advanced in the causes of a better living and existing in the very midst of civilization, are scarcely creatures of joy, but more of care and trouble and sorrow.

Every household, every heart, in its turn, is pierced. Men go lonely, yearning, longing, unsatisfied. They are bereaved. They are filled with shocks of calamities. They are overturned. All their life is at times darkened. They are subverted. In midday, there walk ten thousand men in these cities, men who
say, “Our life is done. We have sown to the wind, and reaped the whirlwind” (Host 8:7).

There are thousands of dying children, and thousands of mothers that would die. There are armies of men beguiling their leisure by destroying armies of men. There are nations organized so as to suppress manhood. The very laws of nature are employed as forces to curtail men’s conveniences by impoverishing them. Commerce and manufacturing, and work itself, man’s best friend–these are
putting on chains and shackles.

The city makes suffering, and the town makes suffering. Man himself heaps up in himself, by his own work, ten thousand sources of misery. And it is true that “the whole creation groans and travails in pain.” We march like so many soldiers, but we march to a requiem, not to a pean. The sounds that fill the
world are sounds of mourning and of sorrow.

Divine Hope

Oh! What need there is that up out of this darkness and trouble and sadness, out of these calamities, there should be exalted, somewhere, an image that writes upon itself, “I am the God of comfort.” That brings God right home to man’s need. The world would die if it had no hope of finding such a God.

He penetrates and pervades the universe with His nature and with His disposition. My flagging faith has need of some such assurance. I have walked very much in thought with those old philosophers who believe that there was a God of evil, as well as one of good. I am more willingly a disciple, therefore,
of that inspired teaching which declared that evil is not a personage. It is not even an empire.

Like the emery and sand with which we scour off rude surfaces, evil and trouble in this world are but instruments. And they are in the hands of God. If they bite with sharp attrition, it is because we need more scouring. It is because men’s troubles need ruder handling and chiseling, that evils float in
the air, swim in the sea, and spring up from out of the ground.

But all is under the control of the God of consolation, as it is said elsewhere; the God of comfort, and the Father of mercies, as it is said here. More are the tender thoughts, the inspired potential actions, in God, than in the stars in the heavens. Innumerable are the sweet influences that He sends down from His realm above. More and purer are His blessings than the drops of dew that night shakes down on the flowers and grass.

He penetrates and pervades the world with more saving mercies than does the sun with particles of light and heat. He declares that His nature in Himself is boundless–that this heart of mercy is inexhaustible that His work of comfort is endless.

Comprehending God

Listen to this symphony and chant of Paul, wherewith he prays that “we might be able to comprehend with all saints.” Stand back as he builds the statue, glowing at every touch with supernal brightness!

“That we might be able to comprehend” what? That wire-drawn, fine, finical character that too often theology has skeletonized; that filmy and silky substance abstracted almost beyond the grasp of the understanding, reduced, for the sake of a certain notion of perfection, to an abstraction that is absolutely unusable in practical life is this God?

No. As Paul builds, listen: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend” (Eph. 3:17). Ah! old hoary student, do you think because you can read Hebrew and Syriac and Arabic and Greek and Latin, that you can teach me about God? Ah! old grammarian, who comes fighting me on doctrines, who marshals sentences with exegesis, sharp both at the point and at the edge, cutting both ways. Do you think that because you are so wise in construction, you can teach me of God? He is not found by either.

“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love”–which is the only interpreter of the divine nature–“may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth”–look from where the sun comes to where he sets; and look again from where he sets to where he comes, if you would gain any measure “that
ye may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18, 19).

This is the true conception of God. This is that majestic and mighty Heart–rich, glowing, glorious, yearning and desiring good, and scattering it as through the spheres He scatters light and atmosphere. This is that vast, voluminous God that Paul saw riding triumphantly and spreading His bow over the
storms that beat and afflicted Him in this lower mortal state.

This is the God that declares Himself to be, in this wicked, sin-smitten, ruined world, the God of all comfort. He is the great-breasted God, the mother-God into whose arms come those who weep, where He comforts them, even as a mother comforts her child. And the earth itself is rocked, as it were, by that
same tending, nursing, loving God. If only its inhabitants knew the consolation that is offered to them!

Seeing Jesus as Comforter

This view of Christ was the peculiar manifestation. Would that we could have it again, as the first century Christians had it in their time. For, when the apostles lived, most of them had seen Him. Even Paul–in some respects better–had seen Him by celestial vision, and he lived in all the fresh remembrances of the whole lore of Christ’s love, His words, and His actions.

It is very plain that Christians during the first hundred years lived in the presence of Christ, as a person near and dear to them. It was as if He had been born in their own household and had gone out from them as a child or a parent goes. The apostles saw Christ, but they did not see or think of Him as we
do in modern times.

It is difficult for me to make you understand when I say that it is right to philosophize in respect to the nature of God, that indeed it must be done, and that yet this philosophy can never take hold of the soul and satisfy it. You may read all the writings of the apostles, and you will not find once that the
nature of God in Christ Jesus arose to them as a question of mental philosophy.

Yet, handed from school to school, from theory to theory, almost our whole conception of God is one that has been philosophized. We are ranking Him; we are counting His attributes; we are telling how much makes God less than that which cannot be God; we are declaring His functions; we are philosophizing, analyzing, synthesizing; and our divinity is one that is largely made up from the standpoint of mental philosophy. For theology is nothing but mental philosophy applied to the divine mind and the divine government.

But the apostles looked upon God from a different point of view. They saw Him in respect to His practical relations to the wants of the individual heart and the wants of the world. They thought of Him in His adaptation to the needs of the human soul and to the world’s need. They seemed to say in themselves, “Here are all the troubles of life; here is this beneficent Being who carries cure with Him.” And to their view He was God, because He supplied the universal need; because He had that without which the world’s life would die.

It was this practical adaptation of the divine nature to the wants of the suffering world that made Christ so unquestionably divine. The questions that are still discussed in the church respecting the divinity of Christ would long since have ceased as useless, and evaporated as worthless, if men had more habitually contemplated Christ as a life-power, as a Redeemer and a Savior.

The apostles held for certain that–in spite of nature, organization, the drift of things, kingdoms, powers, influences–this meridian mercy, this divine consolation, would yet regulate the world. The world was not, therefore, a pit of hopeless incurables. The matchless power of God would finally overcome all
evil and sweep it out of the universe. And they lived in the anticipation of victory.

So, then, they were neither so disgusted as many are with the wrongdoing of men, nor were they so hopeless as others are who believe that a world so wicked, bound, and hereditated in wickedness, can never be changed nor repaired. The apostles looked up at the power that is above and said, “There is hope for the world. Men can be regenerated. Men can be transformed. A new heaven there will yet be, and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Therefore their conception of the character of God, and of its relations to this world, filled them with a surprise of perpetual joy and with the inspiration of hope.

Sharing the Comfort

They were also inspired, by the example of Christ, to make their sorrows so many medicines for others. In other words, they learned that the business of sorrow was not simply to be comforted. The comfort that they received was to make itself the comforter of others.

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. 1:3-4).

This world is not an orb broken loose and snarled with incurable evils. If we would know what this world is coming to, we must not look too low.

Have you never noticed in summer when the sun stands at the very meridian height, how white and clear the light is; how the trees stand revealed; how all things are transparently clear? But let the sun sink and droop till it shoots level beams along the surface of the earth. Then those beams are caught and
choked up with a thousand vapors, with dust, with all the day’s breedings from swamp, river, and fen, and the sunlight grows thick and murky. We call it roseate, and orange, and what not, but it is the poisoned light of the sun, which, in its own nature, is white and pure.

Likewise, when men’s eyes glance along the surface of the world, looking at moral questions, they look through the vapors that the world itself has generated. They cannot see clearly. That is why many men think this world is bound to wickedness, and that all philanthropic attempts are mere efforts of
weakness and inexperience.

There are many men who ascribe to themselves great superiority and are proud of the* cynical wisdom. They sit with a kind of impudent, pitying leer, looking upon men who instruct the ignorant, who clothe and feed the poor and the needy, who spend–waste as they say-their* time in going out into the highways to do good. “What does it matter,” say they, “whether this great beast of the world dies with its hair licked one way or another? What does it matter if all the wombs of time are generating wickedness, and if man is born to wickedness, whether anything is done for him or not? You might as well attempt to cure volcanoes with pills, as to attempt to cure the human heart by any of your poor medicine.”

Men are wicked, and no one can be charitable with others who does not start with the belief that they are wicked in all parts of their nature. And then, no one can be charitable with others who does not believe that it is the essential nature of God to cure and not to condemn; that His first and latest thought is, “0 Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy remedy” (Hosea 13:9).

God the Remedy

God is Himself a vast medicine. God’s soul and nature are the blood of the universe. Ask the physician what it is that he trusts to throw out deadly influences from the human system. If there are diseased organs, what cures them? Do you think pills do the work? They do but little except to say to the lazy
organ, “Wake up and go to work, and throw out the enemy that is preying upon you.” What is medicine? It is merely a coaxer. Its business is to say to the part affected, “Lazy dog! Wake up and get well.”

If a man gets well, he cures himself–often, thanks to the doctor; more often, thanks to the nurse; always, thanks to nature. That does the work, if it is done at all. What is the stream that carries reparation to the wasted parts, that carries stimulation to the dormant parts, that carries nutrition to the exhausted parts? What is it that fights? It is the blood.

And throughout the vast heaven, throughout time and the universe, the blood of the world comes from the heart of God. The mercies of the loving God throb everywhere–above and below, within and without, endless in circuits, vast in distribution, infinitely potential. It is the heart of God that carries restoration, inspiration, aspiration, and final victory. And as long as God lives, and is what He is “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort”–this world will not go to rack and ruin.

The earth is to stand up. The earth is not forever to groan. There is to come a day when God will sound the note from the throne where He is. And when from afar off, catching that keynote and theme, this old earth, so long dismal and rolling and wailing the sad requiem of sin and death, shall surprise the
spheres and fill all the universe with that chanting song of victory: “Christ hath redeemed us, and He reigns in every heart, and over all the earth.” The time shall come.

Work on then, brother! Work on then, sister! Not a tear that you drop to wash away any person’s trouble not a blow that you strike in imitation of the strokes of the Almighty arm, will be forgotten. And when you stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He says to you, “Inasmuch as ye have done
it unto one of the least of these my disciples, ye have done it unto me,” it will mean more to you than if you wore the crowns of the Caesars and carried all the honors of the earth. The world will be redeemed; for our God’s name is Mercy and Comfort. The Redeemer of Israel is His name.

Now, there is victory for each true Christian heart over its troubles, yet not by disowning them; not by discarding them. Every man runs that way. The first impact of pain and trouble leads every man to say, “Cast it out!” Every man’s prayer to God is, “Lord, remove this thorn in the flesh.” He has not a
thought of anything but that. “Thrice,” says the apostle Paul, the most heroic of mortal men, “I besought the Lord.” And His answer was what? “My grace shall be sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9). He whose crown of thorns is now more illustrious and radiant than previous stones could make a crown, says to every one of His disciples who has thorns piercing him, “My grace shall be sufficient for you.” Then bear, bear, BEAR!

Bear how? Resignedly? Oh! If you cannot do any better, be resigned. That is better than murmuring–only just, though. I hear persons in great trouble and affliction saying, “I strive to be resigned.” Well, strive for that; strive for anything; strive for the lowest degree of Christian attainment rather than not
strive at all.

But oh! Is the disciple better than the Master? Would you, if you could, reach forth your hand and take back one single sorrow, gloomy then, but gorgeous now, that made Christ to you what He is? Is it not the power of Jesus in heaven, and to all eternity will it not be His glory, that He was the Sufferer, and that
He bore suffering in such a way that He vanquished suffering? And is He not the Lord over all by reason of that?

Now you are His followers; and will you follow Christ, and will you desire to be worthy of His leadership by slinking away from suffering? Do not seek it; but if it comes, remember that no sorrow comes but with His knowledge. If He does not draw the golden bow that sends the silver arrow to your heart, He knows it is sent, and sees it fall. You are never in trouble that He does not know it.

And what is trouble but that very influence that brings you nearer to the heart of God than prayers or hymns? I think sorrows usually bring us closer to God than joys do. But sorrows, to be of use, must be borne, as Christ’s were, victoriously, carrying with them intimations and sacred prophecies to the heart
of hope. This is not only so we will not be overcome by them, but also so we will be strengthened and ennobled and enlarged by them.

I ask you, brethren what has made you so versatile? What has made you so patient? What has made you so broad, so deep, and so rich? God put pickaxes into you, though you did not like it. He dug wells of salvation in you. He took you in His strong hand and shook you by His north wind. He rolled you in His snows and fed you with the coarsest food. He clothed you in the coarsest raiment and beat you as a flail beats grain till the straw is gone and the wheat is left.

And you are what you are by the grace of God’s providence, many of you. By fire, by anvil-strokes, by the hammer that breaks the flinty rock, you are made what you are. You were gold in the rock, and God played miner, and blasted you out of the rock. Then He played stamper, and crushed you. Then He played smelter, and melted you.

Now you are gold, free from the rock by the grace of God’s severity to you. As you look back upon those experiences of 5, 10, or 20 years ago and see what they have done for you, and what you are now, you say, “I would not exchange what I learned from these things for all the world.”

What is the reason you have never learned to apply the same philosophy to the trouble of today? Why is that, when trouble comes on you today, your heart cannot rise up and say, “O God of darkness, I know thee; clouds are around about thee; but justice and judgment are the habitations of thy throne?” (Ps. 89:14).

When God comes to you wrapped and wreathed in clouds, and in storms, why should we not recognize Him, and say, “I know you, God; and I will not flee you; though you slay me, I will trust thee”? If a man could see God in his troubles and take sorrow to be the lore of inspiration, the light of interpretation, the
sweet discipline of a bitter medicine that brings health, though the taste is not agreeable if one could so look upon his God, how sorrows would make him strong!

Once more. No person is ordained until his sorrows put into his hands the power of comforting others. Did anybody but Paul ever think as Paul did? See what a genuine nobleness and benevolence there was in everything he did. Sorrow is apt to be very selfish and self-indulgent, but see how sorrow worked in the apostle. “Blessed be God,” he said, “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.”

Ministers of Comfort

There is a universal illustration of this truth. When the daughter is married and leaves home, much as she loves her chosen companion, how often her heart goes back to her father’s house! Father and mother are never so dear as about 2 or 3 years after the child has been separated from them–just long enough to get over the novelty of being independent. At no other time and this is a comfort to you, mothers, who cry when your daughters get married, and you think they love somebody else besides you–do they come back so often to their parents for counsel. And that is as it should be for father and mother are the
true counselors of the child.

As time goes on, the daughter suffers from sickness; children are multiplied in the family; she does not know which way to turn; and the mother comes to her, journeying from afar. And oh, what a light there is in the dwelling! The mother’s face is more than stars in the night, more than the sun in the daytime, to the homesick daughter.

The mother tarries in the family. The children are sick; there is trouble in the household; but the daughter says, “Mother is here.” And when from her lips fall sweet words of consolation, and she says, “My dear child, nothing surprising has befallen you; I have gone through it all,” and she narrates some
of the inward history of her own life, of the troubles that she has experienced. While she is telling her story, strangely, as if exhaled, all these drops of trouble that have been sprinkled on the daughter’s heart have gone, and she is comforted. Why? Because the consolations by which the mother’s heart was
comforted have gone over and rested on the daughter’s mind. Now, the apostle says, “When Christ comforts your grief, He makes you mother to somebody else.”

There are persons who, having had losses, go around with their hat in their hand begging a penny of comfort. Wherever they go, they want to have somebody talk about their griefs and ask about them. If people do not ask about them, they tell about them without being asked. They carry a tail to their griefs as long as a comet’s tail. All the time, their omnivorous mouth is open to give forth something concerning their griefs. They want everybody to be interested in their griefs and sympathize with them on account of them. They make the* griefs an occasion of begging.

And what does the apostle say? That when God comforts your griefs, he ordains you to be a minister of comfort to others who are in trouble. You are not to seek comfort for yourselves, but are, out of your experiences of heart, to pour comfort into other people’s wounded hearts. That is the ministry of

Christian brethren, does God so comfort you that you are able to bear the yoke and endure the piercing thorn? And when God enables you to bear it, is your first thought this, “I am now marked with the cross, as one that bears for others; I am lifted up among my fellowmen, not to be praised, but that I may go
about as my Master did, and minister to them the consolations by which I myself have been comforted?”

Do not ever say, “The cup is too large and too bitter.” Never. The hand that was pierced for you takes the cup and gives it to you, and Christ loves you too much to give you a cup that you cannot drink. Do not say, “The burden is too great; I cannot bear it.” He that loves you, as you do not even love yourself,
the Redeemer, “the God of all comfort,” “the Father of mercies,” lays every burden on you. And He who lays the burden on will give you strength to bear it.

Take up your cross. God gives everybody, I think, a cross, when He enters upon a Christian life. When it comes into the believer’s hands, what is it? It is the rude oak, four-squared, full of splinters and slivers, and rudely tacked together. And after 40 years I see some men carrying their cross just as rude as
it was at first.

Others, I perceive, begin to wind around about it faith, hope, and patience, and after a time, like Aaron’s rod, it blossoms all over. At last their cross has been so covered with holy affections that it does not seem anymore to be a cross. They carry it so easily and are so much more strengthened than burdened by it, that men almost forget that it is a cross, by the triumph with which they carry it.

Carry your cross in such a way that there will be victory in it. Let every tear, as it drops from your eye, glance also, as the light strikes through it, with the consolations of the Holy Spirit.

There be many of you who are standing in dark hours now, and you need these consolations. My dear child, my daughter, my, son, do not be surprised– certainly not out of your faith. God is not angry with you. It is not necessarily for your sins that you are afflicted–though we are all sinful. For your good God afflicts you, and He says to you, “What father is he that chastiseth not his son? If ye endure chastisement, ye are my sons. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” O glorious fact! O Blessed truth! These are God’s love letters, written in dark ink. “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening . . .” (Heb. 12:6, 7), you are the sons of God; if not, bastards.

Grant, O God, that we may be sons. Now speak, and see if You scare us. Now thunder, and see if we tremble. Now write, and see if we do not press your messages to our heart. Afflict us, only do not forget us. Comfort us, and we will bear to others the comfort wherewith we are comforted.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was known as “the American Spurgeon.” He was born into a famous family: His father was Lyman Beecher, theologian and educator, and one of his sisters was Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Beecher pastored in Indiana (1837-47) before moving to the Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, NY. There were twenty-one members when he
came and almost 2,500 when he died. In 1872 he delivered the first of the “Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching,” which were established at Yale by a deacon of the Plymouth Church. The sermon “The God of Comfort” is taken from The Sermons of Henry Ward Beecher in Plymouth Church (New York: J. B. Ford & Co., 1869).