A Sermon Published on Thursday, November 14, 1907,
Delivered by C.H. Spurgeon,
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark
“Is thy counselor perished? “ — Micah 4:9
THIS question is addressed to the Church of God; for in the context it is written, “And thou, O tower of the, flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to, the daughter of Jerusalem. Now why dos6 thou cry out aloud? Is there no king in thee,? is thy counselor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.” The poor Church of God had lost, its way; it was doubting with regard to, its direction it, knew not whither to, turn, to the right, hand or to, the left,. In an agony of deep distraction, it bowed its head in fell dismay, and thought that its King had disappeared and its Counselor perished. Forth comes the prophet Micah, full of the Spirit, and addresses this question to the tried children of God, “Is thy Counselor perished?”
We have. before us a question implying three things. First, a doctrine, namely, that our Counselor is not perished. Secondly, a reproof, for we sometimes act as if our Counselor had perished. And, thirdly, an encouragement; for, however we, may be situated, and whatever may have, perished, our Counselor is not, perished.
I. First, then, here is A QUESTION IMPLYING A DOCTRINE, namely, the doctrine that the Church of God has a Counselor, and that that Counselor has not perished.
In olden times, the Lord’s people, whenever they were in a difficulty, could always had direction. Any man who doubted whether he should build his house, or whether he should go to war, or whether in any matter of his business he. should do, this or that, could at, once, receive instruction and advice by referring to the high priest,, who wore the ephod; and, being moved by the Spirit, spoke with his hand on the Urim and Thummim, and gave an authoritative answer. Thus David told Abiathar to bring the ephod, and when he asked the Lord, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the, hand of Saul?” the Lord said, “They will deliver thee up.” So, in other critical periods of the history of the saints, you will find it recorded that they were constantly in the habit of going to the priest, and seeking for direction. Some of us may bewail the loss of such priests; we may be thinking, “I know not, which way to go; I have no direction, I have no means of obtaining guidance.” O, Christian! is thy Counselor perished? Ah, no! the doctrine is assuredly taught us in Scripture that the, Church of God still hath an infallible Guide.
There are some things, beloved, in which we do not. need a guide. Concerning morality, for instance, we want no other guide than that of the Sacred Volume. Wherever our course has two phases to it, and the one is morally wrong and the other morally right., we have no need of a counselor. We only need, by the help of God’s Spirit, to come to the Bible, and we can always see which road to take. Whenever a thing is a sin, we need scarcely appeal to Christ: to know whether we shall commit it; for we are taught to avoid even the appearance of evil. If we consider that a thing is wrong, we have no, right to do it, even though it, might tend to our advantage in worldly affairs. We must not, do, evil that good may come, for if we were to do so, then indeed our damnation would be just. We have no occasion to ask whether: we should go; the road of sin or the road of righteousness. Is there not a hand-post clearly pointing, “This is the way”? When we see that it is the path which Christ. hath marked out, in which the holy prophets have gone, and that wherein apostles followed, we know we ought to walk in it.
But the difficulty is, when two things may be either one of them right, and we do not know which to choose; when there are two courses which seem to us to be indifferent as to moral propriety; when there is no law against either, and we can do as seemeth to us best without, staining our profession as Christians, or forgetting to honor God in all our ways. We are in a great difficulty then; we know not. what to do. We are resolved we will not commit a willful sin. Through divine grace, we are determined that we, will not, sin to rid ourselves of our embarrassments; but we are in such a strait, we do. not, know what to do. How are, we, to tell? Is there any means left in the Church of God who rob a distressed and entangled traveler on the road to heaven may ascertain his way in the dubious paths of providence, when it is left, to his own choice?
We answer, — Yes, there is; the Counselor is not perished. There are appointed means still whereby the members of the Church of Christ individually have found guidance. These means are not what some take them to be. For instance, they are not, casting lots. Mr. John Wesley very frequently cast: lots to know what, he should do. Now, I care not, who it, was that, did so, it, is all the same to me: it. is tempting God. For a man to twist a piece of paper, and say, “Black, I go; white, I stop;” is tempting God’s providence. I remember a case that happened in the country, when twelve jurymen were almost, equally divided as to the guilt of a certain prisoner; and they had the impudence to appeal to God in the matter’, and to toss up, “heads or tails,” whether the person was innocent or guilty. They were Christian persons, too, and they thought they were appealing to God; for they said that the lot was the end of contention. It is true that lots have been sanctioned in olden times. God has owned lots, and has blessed them; but we know of nothing to countenance lots now. We have no, right to think we can appeal to God in such a manner. God by his providence can direct, it,, and no doubt he does. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” Still, God will take care that the direction will be such a painful one that. we shall be chastised for our presumption in daring thus to appeal to him. We do not believe in suck things; “we have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do, well that ye take, heed, as unto a light that, shineth in a dark place.”
Again, there are some persons who think they are counseled by God, when they certainly are not. They will even come to their minister to ask his advice, concerning things, when they have already made up their minds what they will do. We have heard a story of a good minister, who was applied to by a young woman, to know what she should do in a certain matter. He could perceive full well that she had made up her mind, so he said, “Go outside, and hear what the bells say.” The bells of course chimed in her ears, “Do it! Do it!” She, wear home, and did’ it,! A little while after, she found she had got into disgrace by doing it; so she came back to, the minister, and said, “Sir, you have advised me wrong.” “No, I did not,,” said the minister; “you did not interpret the bells right; go and listen again.” She went outside, and the bells said, “Never do it,! Never do it!” There are many persons whom; we might advise re, listen to the bells, for they never seek counsel till their have made their own choice,. They call it. a guidance of providence; whereas tale truth is that they determine beforehand what they will do, and if our advice happens to suit them, they take it; but if not, they prefer their own opinion, and give their inclination the benefit of a doubt.
Having thus exposed some of the fallacies in respect to guidance, you will ask me to tell you how our Counselor really doth guide us. I will try to explain this to you briefly. There were two or three different manners whereby the Lord guided the children of Israel when they were passing through the wilderness, which may serve to show us the methods of his counsel. One of them was the fiery cloudy pillar of his providence; another was the ark of the cove,nan6 which always went before them; another was the advice of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, who knew the best places to pitch the tents; and yet, again they had the priest with Urim and Thummim, who, told them what they were to do. Each of these things has a spiritual meaning.
First of all, the fiery cloudy pillar of God’s providence is often a very precious guide to God’s people. Beloved, there may be those among you who will not be able to understand my meaning now; and yet, if you live long enough, you will review with pleasure in your old age, the truth I am setting forth. Many a time, when the night was dark, the hosts of Israel moved forward by the light of that pillar of fire. There, was a necessity for them to proceed in one direction, because there was no light in any other. So you will often find providence going before you. Just now, you are in a dilimma; you are, saying, “Which road shall I take?” Suddenly, providence, stops one of the roads up. Well, you don’t want a guide then, because there is only one road to go. You are saying, “Which of two situations shall I take?” One, is taken by somebody else, and there is only one left, so that you have no, alternative lint to follow the cloud. Look at that, pillar of providence, and you will find it, will guide you better than anything else. Seek when you’re in difficulty, and you know not, what to do, to come before God, and say to him, “O Lord, show me by thy providence what to do: Let events so turn out that I cannot, avoid doing that which would be for the best. If there, be two doors, and I know not which is the proper one, shut, one of them up, Lord, even though it should be the one I like, best, and then I must go through the other, and so:-.’hall I be, guided by thy providence.”
But instead of that, my hearers, we often run before the cloud; and, as the, old Puritans had it,, “They who ran before the cloud went on a fool’s errand, and they soon had to come back again.” Follow the cloud, beloved; ask providence to give, you direction. You have not perhaps looked to God in the matter, to see his hand in providence. Good Mr. Milllet (of the Orphan Home.) says, “In regard to placing out my children in situations for life, in regard to what servants I shall take into my house, and whom I shall receive in my family, I always go and seek direction of God, and exercise faith in his Word that, even in these little matters, he will direct, and guide me; and when I do so, I do not. hear a voice from, heaven, but, I hear something tantamount to it, in providence, which teaches me that such-and-such a thing I ought, to do, and that such-and-such a thing I ought not to do.” Do not expect, beloved, to hear voices, to see visions, and to dream dreams, but, rather look at providence; see how God’s wonder-working wheels turn round, and as the wheels turn so do you; whichever way his hand points, thither go; and thus God shall guide, you, for your Counselor is not. yet perished.
Again, there is not only the fiery cloudy pillar of providence, but there is, near, the ark of the covenant of the Lord, resting in the believer’s heart, which often guides him. You know that, the ark is the type of Jesus, and Jesus often leads a Christian by his Holy Spirit immediately exercised upon the heart. Perhaps, when you have read the lives of some eminent Quakers, you have laughed at what they conceived to be the inspiration of the Holy Ghost “moving” them as they called, to go to contain places. Nevin’ laugh at that, beloved; there is more, in it than some, of you imagine, — some of you who are not, moved by the Holy Spirit, and who cannot understood it. Your nature is so hard and stubborn that you do not. feel that gentle influence, that touch of God’s hand moving you to do a thing. But it is not a fancy, mark you; they who know most of spiritual life, will attest its reality. I myself, sometimes, (I speak honestly what I do know. I testify what I have felt,) have been moved to do certain things from altogether unaccountable reasons, not knowing in the least degree why I was to do them, or understanding why such things would be profitable. Perhaps a text has come forcibly to, my mind, and I have been obliged to take a certain course which I found afterwards was for the best.
I remember one incident which was a turning-point in my life, and led me to this place. I had determined that I would enter a college,; I had made up my mind, and resolved to see the, principal; in fact,, I had waited at the house some time to see him: but, by divine providence, though I waited in the house, he was shown into one; room, and I into another. He, never knew that I was there, and I never knew that he was there. So, there we sat waiting for each other all the time, and I left without seeing him. I went home, and the text came into my mind, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not.” Day after day, week after week, I could neither rest, sleep, nor do anything without these words ringing in my ears, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not.” And as I pondered them, I thought., — -I know what this means; I have been thinking of great things for myself, but, I will not, seek them. So I made up, my mind the other way, and I said, “By God’s grass, I will never go there.” Then I found reset for my spirit, by following God’s Word. I shall never doubt, as long as I live, that, it was a. divine, impulse; nor shall I ewer cast away that thought from my mind. At any rate, it, was such an impulse that my conscience could not be easy till I obeyed it,. And you, Christians, who look at the inner life, — you who live, much in fellowship with God, — will have divine impulses, you will have, divine movings of the Holy Ghost; you will, at certain seasons, be, moved to do a certain thing; and I beseech you, if you are so moved, however strange it, may seem, to yourselves, if you hear the whisper of the Spirit within you, go and do it at once.
There, is a remarkable anecdote of an old Christian man, who was stirred up, one night, to go to, a certain house in a certain street; and though it was fifteen miles off, and it, was eventide, he saddled his horse, and rode with all haste to the place. He arrived at the city; the lamps were glistening; and as he crossed the bridge, he paused at the sound of the river murmuring in his ears, as if to break the solemn stillness say the night. Still he fell a sacred impulse within him urging his steps forward, till at length he reached the street and the house. When he, had arrived at the door, and knocked, he waited a long time before there was an answer. Presently, down came a haggard-looking man. who asked, “What are you after?.. Friend,” said he, “I am told to come and see thee at this hour of the, night; why and wherefore I cannot tell. I know the, Lord has some message for thy soul.” The, man started. “Bless God,” said he; “I had this halter round my neck five minutes ago to hang myself. Verily thou wast moved to come here.” Then he cast the rope aside, and exclaimed, “Now I know that, the Lord hath not forgotten me, because he hath sent his servant to deliver me out of the hand of the enemy.” If this is not a case of being moved by the Holy Spirit,, I leave it to those, who. are. so incredulous, or rather, so credulous in their unbelief, as to doubt it. There are such things, beloved. They may not often happen in so remarkable a manner; but, depend upon it, such things are, occasionally experienced. The Counselor is not perished, and he, does speak to the heart; he does put, divine impulses there; he does move the soul; he does make us do things of which we should not, have dreamed: and thus a strong necessity may be, laid upon our circumstances:, or it may be, laid upon our will, while cur understanding is in either case kept in the dark, so that we are led in a way we think not., to prove, that our Counselor is not perished.
But, there, was another mode of guidance. I told you that the children of Israel were guided by Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses. He knew the places where to pitch their tents, he knew where the palm trees grew, he knew the shady side, of the rock, he knew where the rippling rills flowed from beneath the rocky mountain side. he knew the best place of shelter from their foes. Hobab guided them, and he was a type of the gospel ministry; and those whom God has called to that honorable service will often be. the means of guiding God’s people. We have: known many come to God’s house seeking guidance, and have heard them say that. The minister described their case exactly; and they have gone away, and s. aid,” Although nobody could have told him about, me, really, if I had told him all about myself, he could not have; spoken more, pointedly at me than he did.” Have I not had hundreds of cases of that, sort? Why, I have had letters written to me, telling me not, to be so personal, when I never knew anything whatever of the, person who felt aggrieved. What, do any of you object, to my being personal? As long as I live, I will be personal to all of you; and if there be an error in any man’s conduct, or judgment, by the help of God I will show him where, he is wrong. Personal preaching is the best kind of preaching. We are not going to avoid personalities; we, are stirring to reach individual cares as much as possible: that every man may hear the Word of God in his own tongue, and hear it. speaking to his own heart.
But, how singularly, at times, you have heard your case described! You have gone to the house of God, and sat, down in the pew, and the minister has gone into the pulpit, and taken a text just, adapted to yourself; he begins to tell you what, your position is exactly, and then he, tells you the, way you should go. You cannot help saying as you retire, “That, man is a prophet.” Ay! And so he is; for, as you will remember, I have often told you, this is, the way to find out, a true servant, of the Lord. Daniel was acknowledged to be a true servant, of the Lord because he, could tell the king both the dream and its interpretation. The, astrologers could only tell the interpretation after they had been told the: dream, Many can give., you advice when they know your case; but. the true servant of the: Lord does not. want, to be informed about, your case; he. knows it. beforehand. You come, up here, unobserved by your fellow-creatures; but what you have done, in your closet, that the Lord has told his servant; what, you have: done in your business, that he has revealed to him in secret, communion, and it, will be made manifest to your conscience. He, will tell you your dream, and the interpretation of it too; and you will say, “Verily, he is a servant of the Lord God of Israel” That is the way to tell a true prophet of the Lord, and I beseech you believe no etcher. Do not go to the astrologer or the soothsayer, who wishes to know your experience before he, will open to. you the future,; but go where your experience is unfolded, and where you have all your difficulties grappled with and removed. The Counselor is not perished. Though speaking not in visions, he still leads his people by providence, by divine impulses in the mind, and by a holy ministry, which is the oracle of the most, high and living God. Still doth the gracious Counselor deign to counsel his people.
And the children of Israel were also guided in another way, when the priest, inquired of the Lord by the, Urim and Thummim. There is a sacred mystery about this, “of which we, cannot now speak particularly.” Still, I doubt, not that, by this ordinance, God put a, very high honor upon the priesthood, and conferred a great privilege on his people,. Now the peculiar privilege of this dispensation is not the, Urim and Thummim; it is the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all his disciples, to all who, believe on his name. Ah, beloved, ye know not much of counsel and guidance if ye have not yet received the Holy Ghost. Observe, how it is written, “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
Do, you ask me, “How doth the Spirit of God guide us?” I answer, not by making fresh revelations, as the Swedenborgians pretend, but, by shining upon the Word that hath been revealed of old, and by shining in our hearts. So the Spirit witnesseth with our spirits; so doth he, apply to us the promises; so doth he, open the Scriptures to our understanding, and he openeth our understanding to understand the Scriptures.
The blessed Spirit, also maketh intercession for us on earth even as Chris4 maketh intercession for us in heaven. Then he taketh of the things of Jesus, and showeth them unto, us; and he guideth us by the old paths, where we see the fob)t-tracks of patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs. Such is the doctrine implied in the inquiry of my text, “Is thy Counselor perished?”
II. Then, secondly, THIS QUESTION SUGGESTS A REPROOF: “IS thy Counselor perished?”
It is a reproof, because the child of God does not believe, doctrinally, that his Counselor is’ perished, but he does so practically. He at times runs of his own accord instead of waiting for the guidance of God; at other times, he is afraid to move forward, even when the, finger of him who “is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working,” hath clearly pointed the way, and made, the vision so plain “that he may run that readeth it.” How often doth the child of God nurse his difficulties as Asaph did when he stud, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;” but then he adds, “until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.” O beloved, remember how Habakkuk, in a time of danger, shoed upon his watch, and sat upon his tower, to see what the Lord would say unto him. Remember what, Hezekiah did with the letter which he received from the hand of the, messengers of Sennacherib, king of Assyria; when he had read it., “he went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it, before, the Lord.” Alas, alas! that, your lives should be constantly vexed with trifling cares, instead of “casting all your care upon teed.” The, knowledge, that “he careth for you” ought to drive all your anxious cares away.
One, reason why many of us are, slow to. take, counsel of the, Lord is this, we are not thoroughly emptied of our own conceits. Let, me remind you of that memorable passage in the history of the children of Israel when they came to Kadesh, and were proceeding along the borders of Canaan. The spies were, sent forth by Moses to bring in their report of the land; and of the twelve, two only brought, in a cheering report; the other ten discouraged the hearts of the people with a pitiful tale of walled cities and their giant population. In vain does Moses admonish them, “Dread not, neither be, dismayed.” In vain does he: assure them, “The Lord shall go before you, he shall fight for you.” In vain does he call to remembrance the wonders which the Lord had done in Egypt before their eyes. Fainthearted and desponding, in this thing they did not believe the Lord their God.
Look again, and you shall behold the counterpart. They were not more, timid than they were presumptuous. The heart that, is prone to misgive I equally liable to presume. No, sooner has the, commandment been given to return into the wilderness than they gird on every man his weapons of war, and go presumptuously up the hill to. fight, with the Amalekites and the Canaanites, and so they were. smitten and chased before them. Who would imagine, that. the people, who, cringed at the mention of the sons of Anak yester-day, would dare, to fly in the face of the commandment of God on the morrow? With more of humility, they would have, been braver men. Ah, beloved! how closely we resemble those Israelites in measuring ourselves by ourselves! One day we, feel so faint that, we can attempt nothing for God, and another day our hearts beat so high that we could presume on anything. The young convert in particular will often complain that he is too weak in faith to pray, and then again he, will boast, that, he, feels, so strong in faith that he could preach. The oldest, of you have never yet learnt the, full meaning of these precious words, “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Ah! you may make a deal of ceremony about laying your great troubles before him, but, you do not seem to understand the length and breadth of “everything “ — every little thing as well as every great thing. Paul could go into particulars, and say, “Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do.” You seek counsel in foul weather, but not when the. Sun shines. You consult the weather instead of watching “the cloud” to regulate your movements.
The reproof is intended to rebuke our folly as well as our sin: “Is thy Counselor perished?” What would you think of a. captain, out at sea, near a coast where there are many rocks, — as on the British coast, which is exceedingly dangerous, — if he should say, “Now, sailors, reef your sails; you must be kept still on the ocean, for there are so many rocks, we don’t know which way to go”? imagine him as he walks up and down the deck in melancholy anxiety, and says, “Sailors, we can’t go on; I don’t know which way to steer; I can’t tell what to do!”’ What, would the sailors say? “Sir, are all the pilots dead?” “No.; they are not.” “Then run up a signal, and fetch a pilot.” That is the way to steer through your difficulties; but, very often, you are, pacing up and down the deck, and saying, “Oh, I shall never be able to. steer through this narrow channel! I shall never be able to escape these dangers. I shall never be able to avoid that rock.” But run up the signal, and fetch the Pilot. That is the way, for our Counselor is not perished. There is a Pilot. on shore yet., he will see your signal; and as sure as, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, you make known your requests unto God, he will guide you by his counsel, and afterward receive you to glory.
But, you often act as if you had no Counselor. You run to one friend, and then to another friend, and you ask their advice. But, let, me tell you that, if you asked advice of the creature all day long, to however many different, counselors you went, you would have so many different pieces of advice. We have heard of a man, who, in order to test the doctors, and ascertain whether they were tame, wrote, I think, to four hundred of them for a prescription, giving. them all the, same case; and I think he had three hundred stud’ eighty different prescriptions, many of them diametrically opposite to one another, and not above two, of them at all like each other in the smallest degrees. Astonishing, is it not, that there should be strong division? But there is equal division of opinion when you come to ask advice of yore- friends. One, says, “I would do it;” another says, “I would not do it.” Some of old said, “This is the blind man;” others said, “He is like him.” There, were, these, again, who denied his identity. But there, were, some who said, “The best, way is to go to the, blind man himself.’” And he said, “I am he.” It is the wisest plan to go to the Master, and ask him, instead of going to our fellow-men. You may go round and round and round, and take all the advice you like; but. you will obtain no guidance, nor direction. Rather follow the example of the disciples, who went to Jesus’ when they were in difficulties. He will guide you through the desert, and bring you safely to heaven.
“But,” saith one, “how may I draw near to this great, Counselor, for I am in deep. distress?” Ah! then the question comes to thee with full power as a reproof. Art. thou asking how thou mayest find him. What! doth he not, abide with thee! Dost thou not live with. him? Has thy Counselor perished? Is he gone? Hath he forgotten thee? Or dost thou cease to remember him, — thy Friend, thy bosom Companion.? Dost thou not hold to him, to walk with thee, and lodge with thee? Dost thou not live in him? Verily, this is a reproof to thee, for thou hast lived as if thy Counselor had perished. And if thou askest, O Christian, how thou mayest draw nigh, even to his seat, let me tell thee, there is the sacred ladder of prayer and faith, up, which thou mayest climb, even to heaven, and talk with Jesus. Let thy difficulties be: ever so great, go and tell them to thy Lord.
You say, “Why, he knows them; there is no. necessity for telling them to him.” I would have you all, when you are in doubt, go and tell the Lord what you are in doubt, about. Go and cross examine yourselves in prayer; draw out your confessions; tell him all your circumstances. Do not say, “I need not utter them with my mouth, for he knows them;” but tell him all about them. It will do you good, and it will ease your aching hearts. God likes his people to make a clean breast, of it,. Speak it, in plain English to God. Don’t go, quoting human prayer-books, but breathe out the plaintive melody of your own sighs. Tell him, “I am in such-and-such distress, and I ask thy gracious guidance.” Don’t go round about, but go straight to the point. Tell him what it is; and when you have confessed your difficulty, the Lord will help you. Cast, the anchor out, and let the Pilot come on board; after that, you may ship your anchor again, and let the Almighty God of Jacob take the tiller, guide, you over the stormy billows, and land you in the haven of peace. The, Counselor is not perished.
Here, then is a reproof which may be often of use to us. When we observe the temper and the conduct of Christian people, we frequently think them ill-advised, as if they had no Counselor. Why so timorous and so, cravenhearted when duty calls? Why is zeal so wild, and so little tempered with discretion? Why does adversity cast, you down so much? Why does prosperity make you vaunt yourselves, and behave so, unseemly? The answer to such questions, I suppose, is not. to be found in any wanton disrespect, to the Word of God, or the statutes of his mouth; but. you draw not near to the Lord as your Counselor, you hold not sweet fellowship with him. You may spell ever his ancient oracles with diligent. care, and yet, if you. have no communion with your Counselor, if you order not your cause before him, and fill your mouth with arguments, then the reproof belongs to you, “Is your Counselor perished?” He is an ever-living Advocate; his secret is with them that fear him. Our blessed Master did not leave, his, disciples., like orphans, to shift for themselves. Why then shouldst thou perplex thyself with strange fears and forebodings? Why run hither and thither to, one and. another for advice? “Is thy Counselor perished?”
III. New, lastly, here is a. word of comfort, to the desponding. THE QUESTION IS INTENDED FOR ENCOURAGEMENT: “Is thy Counselor perished?”
There are many t kings that have perished. There is one of you now lamenting the loss of a dear, pious father; and another is groaning over the corpse of a mother; the yet unburied body of a husband lies within your house; or perhaps your dead child is yet unconfined, and you have come here to seek some cordial for your griefs. Well, these have perished, — objects of thy sweet affection! As a dream they have passed away, and lo, they are not! The place that knew them once shall know them no, more. Thou mayest, weep, mourner, for Jesus wept; yet thou mayest not despair. If these be gone, thy Counselor is not perished. Thou hast. lost some
friends, but thy Counselor is not dead. Some of the private soldiers are slain, but. the General is; alive. Some of the common people have fallen a prey to disease, but. the Counselor lives still. If anyone had met peer Little-faith, and said to him, “Well, Little-faith, you have been met by the robbers, what have you lost?” “Oh!” he would have said, “thank God! thank God! thank God!.. What for, Little-faith?” “Why, I have lost a, great many things; but, look here! I have not lost my jewels!” One of you goes home from business to your private house,. As you go, you have to take, a large bag with 500 in it,. Going along, somebody comes behind you, and steals your pocket-handkerchief. What do you say when you get home? “I did not. like, to lose the handkerchief, certainly; but, never mind, the 500 are safe! I am glad they did not. steal that.” So. it is with you; some of your earthly comforts have been taken from you, but do not, despair. “Is, thy Counselor perished?” “No; he is. not,; he is my Counselor still, and he has not ceased to love me, nor has he ceased to live for me; his affection is not abated; his grace is unchanged; his understanding is unsearchable; he knoweth the way that I take.” But another says, “I have not lost my friends by death. I could almost wish I had; but, sir, they have deserted me,. I am a minister. I had deacons who. stood by me once, but now they have turned their backs upon me,; I and an affectionate, church, but. There are some who,. like Diotrephes, have, loved the pro eminence, and turned against me.” Is that. thy state, brother? I can pity, if I cannot sympathize with your trouble. I have not. felt the same, for my people love, their pastor, and gather round him in every possible way. But I can tell thee this for thy comfort, thy Counselor is not perished. What though your principal supporter be determined that you shall leave the place? What if thy familiar friend, with whom thou wentest to the house of God in company, has betrayed thee? Thy Counselor is not perished. Me, thinks again I hear a whisper from one who says, “I am not. A minister, but, I am engaged in seeking the welfare of my people. I had helpers once, I thought, I was doing good; but one by one they have all withdrawn, and I am left alone, faint and cheerless.” You may wish them back for they were good men. But console yourself with this thought, the Counselor is not gone; and he is able to support thee. We, have, heard of an ancient orator, who, when he was speaking, had only one auditor. All who had come to listen at the commencement, went, away, but he still kept on with his oration. When he, closed, the question was asked him, how he could keep on when there, was only one person to hear him. “It, is true,” he said, “I had only one auditor, but that auditor was Plato, and that was enough for me.” So, thou mayest have only one friend, but that one friend is Jesus, and he is enough, — a host in himself, — the “Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God.” O deserted soul, thou who walkest, in solitary places, thou who hast neither friend nor helper, thy Counselor is not perished.
And thou son of poverty, bereaved of thy wealth, — thou child of indigence, bereft of all that thou hadst, — thou whose health is weak, and whose spirits are low and desponding! — what, though thou hast lost wealth, health, and friends; yea, though thou art a term wreck now, there still remaineth one blessed reserve, “Is thy Counselor perished?” No; Jesus lives! Write that down, — Jesus lives! Then let every believer in Jesus make his own application of that truth. A great minister is dead, but Jesus lives; a kind friend is dead, but Jesus lives; my property is gone, but Jesus lives; my comfort, has failed, but Jesus lives; and because he lives, — he himself hath said it, — I shall live Mss. “Where I am, there shall also my servant be.” Then truss him, and give no quarter to fear or despondency. Thy life is secure; he will preserve thee.
O my friends, my friends, how much I mourn that there are some of you who are without a guide! Oh, that I could picture that, sad thought, so that you might, see your own unhappy case, — without a guide! See yonder desert; it is in the midst of Arabia,. There are no trees, no shrubs, no coding streams; nothing but the hot sky above, and the burning sand beneath; and there is a man wandering there in awful solitude! Do you see him? He looks haggard, warn, forlorn. He is gazing on the ground to see if he can find a camel’s track, that he may follow it. He, runs hither and thither seeking a path of escape, but he runs in vain. He turns round and round in a perpetual circle, while fate fiery desert, still encompasses him. Why does he wander thus? Because he has no guide. Watch him a while, longer. He casts his eye around, but there is no hope. Deluded by the mirage for a moment, he thinks there are green plains around him; but, alas! the vision mocks his hope. Stooping down to drink, he fills his mouth with hot sand. O man! why so foolish as to pursue the phantom? Because he had no guide. Watch him again. He lays himself upon the ground, the subject of despair. He groans, and casts his eyes up at the death-bird wheeling in the air, expectant of his prey, for he has scented him from a distance, and is come to devour him; why doth he not rouse himself? Because he has no guide. And now he is dead, the vulture is upon him, and his flesh is cleared away by the horrid bird; and as you go through the desert, there is nothing trot a bleached skeleton to tell the harrowing tale. Why did that man die? Because he had no guide; and so shall the wicked perish; but the righteous” shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not. so: but are like, the chaff which the wind driveth away.” God give you his Holy Spirit, that you may receive the instruction, hearken to the reproof, and enjoy the comforts of this Counselor evermore!