The Leper Cleansed

Mark 1:40-45; Leviticus 13:45, 46.

There was nothing, beloved brethren, that was more dreadful to a Jew than leprosy. The very mention of the dreaded name produced a horror in his mind. It was stealthy in its beginning, but it was irresistible in its progress; and the peculiar nature of it was, that it thoroughly and entirely mastered the whole subject of it until every part was corrupt. And another feature likewise connected with it, that is well for us to bear in mind, so that we may learn a little as to what is presented in scripture by the disease itself was this, that at first it seemed trivial in appearance, that of which we might call small consequence and small moment in the appearance; but with the deadliest and most awful results sooner or later to be developed. And more than that, the children of the one afflicted with leprosy were doomed to the disease. Now what do all these things point us to? Be assured it is not merely the question of the disease itself, or of how the blessed Lord here, in the wonderful grace and mercy of His heart, dealt with it, as we shall see presently; but there surely is a spiritual voice in it, there is a moral lesson as we think of it and dwell upon it, that speaks loudly to us. I suppose it can hardly be questioned for a moment that leprosy in scripture is the picture, the type, of sin; not so much, perhaps, in its condemning character as in its utterly defiling nature. And all those peculiar characteristics of the disease, and especially the ones I have just touched on, help in a very distinct way to bring before us the truthfulness of the moral nature of sin, what sin really is to us. No Jew could contemplate the fact that the children of the leper were doomed to be the subjects, sooner or later, of the disease, without at once being reminded of this great fact, that the taint of Adam and all that was connected with that taint, as the result and consequence of the fall, permeated the whole race, and was transmitted through the whole human family.

And then, beloved friends, there is more than that, though I put that first, because that is one of the most important features in connection with sin for us to bear in mind, and all the more because at the present moment there is a very vigorous attempt by the enemy to get rid of the reality of that taint, and to destroy, if possible, by getting rid of it, not merely the fact of the moral disease of sin itself, but by destroying it, to thrust if possible at God's marvellous provision in our Lord Jesus Christ to meet it. I think it is Calvin who says that the three great chapters of the Bible go in threes: the third of Genesis, the third of John, and the third of Romans. He labels, so to speak, those chapters in this way — the third of Genesis, the total departure, the utter ruin of man before God; the third of John, the necessity for regeneration (that is the way he speaks of it, and we can accept it knowing exactly what the meaning of it is); and the third of Romans, the great chapter which unfolds to us propitiation by the blood of Christ. Now, beloved friends, that in principle is true, and I do not think any severe criticism of expression, if I may so say, ought to hinder us from accepting a statement such as that, that has, on the broad issues of it, truths so vitally important at the present moment. Those are really the three great chapters of the Bible, and they are what is commonly called a test whereby the orthodoxy of persons with regard to the great foundation truths of Christianity are really now put to the proof. Do you hold the three R.'s, that is the question? You say, What do you mean by that? Do you hold the utter ruin of mankind? Do you believe that without a man being born again he cannot see the kingdom of God? Do you also equally believe that, save through the propitiation which our Lord Jesus Christ has made by His blood, there can be no purgation or cleansing from not merely the guilt of sin, but from the defilement of sin? You see how important it is clearly to assert and clearly to hold fast what I call these great, grand foundation truths of Christianity and of God's word (though God in His grace gives us to add to these things as He has unfolded His truth further in His word), and not to have them loosened, or become unimportant, or out of the place of prominence and pre-eminence in our souls at this present moment. And surely, beloved brethren, if the devil sees his gain before him, and that he can more thoroughly accomplish it by loosening the great arch of the truth in that way, if he thinks it worth his while to cast a slur upon Jesus Christ and upon the truth of God by attacking these great foundation truths, verily it is worth our while to hold them fast by God's grace. The attack of the enemy oftentimes is a better indication to us of the value of any possession of the truth than merely our own minds and thoughts about it, because that which is attacked is not of small moment, you may depend upon it. And if Satan considers it of the first moment to loosen the hold of these truths upon people (and there is no creature that is so far-sighted and none so intelligent externally as he is), it is because he sees that the way is opened for him to permeate and vitiate with his malice all the truth afterwards.

That is one reason why I lay stress on it for a little this evening, because this leprosy that meets us here in the first instance is in scripture constantly and continually set before us as the great picture and type of sin in its defiling nature and character. And that is the reason I read from Leviticus 13. Leprosy shut the afflicted person out from the haunts of men, and all intercourse and all communion, so to speak, was interrupted where that disease asserted itself; and the man that was afflicted with it proclaimed to every one who, far and near, approached him, not only in his person but by word of mouth in his testimony, the fact that there was that upon him and in him, preying upon his vitals, which was loathsome and hateful and detestable both to God and men. That is how our scripture opens to-night. It brings before us the great fact of leprosy.

Now, beloved friends, there is another point that I would like to interest you with for a little. I do not for a moment enter into any detailed argument whether the leprosy of scripture was contagious or not — we can leave all that aside. But this is clear at any rate, that amongst the Jews to be afflicted with the leprosy was to be ceremonially unclean, that a person who had leprosy was ceremonially shut out from intercourse with God's people and intercourse with the camp. And that prescription of the law is one of the most remarkable exceptions to its kindness and its consideration. The very fact that a poor creature in the condition of a leper with an incurable disease eating away his very life, as it were, and with no possibility of any relief or cure, being brought to him from man (for no one but Jehovah Rophi could deal with the leper), the very fact that such an one was shut out by the law and placed alone, outside, to be in misery and wretchedness, that very fact brings before us how loathsome, and how detestable, and how hateful in its own nature that disease was.

Now, having stated that by way of introduction, let us look further for a little at the particular case that is brought before us here. You will notice the way that the writer of the gospel presents it. He says, "There came a leper to him, kneeling and beseeching." What an object of misery! And I am anxious, beloved friends, to press it upon all our hearts this evening, not merely the picture itself as it is here, but that we should learn by God's grace a little of something that is practical in relation to misery as it comes before us here in scripture, and as we see it in this world. Just look at this object for a moment, a repulsive object, and I suppose up to this moment in despair, a man avoided by every one, a man without, shall I say, the shadow even of that principle in the human heart without which it is almost impossible to go through such a world; he could have had no hope in his breast, not the dimmest ray would ever cross that poor desolate heart pushing his way, no doubt, through the crowd that avoided him, and getting down at the feet of Jesus, kneeling down there a suppliant in his misery, a suppliant upon the very borders of the land of despair, and then beseeching Him. Oh! I do not know any picture that helps to bring human wretchedness more before us than that, beloved friends.

I would like to say this to you, for I have thought of it very much of late — I think there is a way in which we may look at human wretchedness and human misery very different from the way in which it is, generally speaking, regarded, even by persons who are more or less affected and touched by it. You know there is a sort of philanthropy abroad that I am perfectly certain is not the philanthropy of the New Testament, and is not the compassion of Jesus Christ nor of truth. But there is a sort of pity and a kind of compassion attempted to be created in the heart of men by presenting pictures of wretchedness and of misery; persons are supposed to be more or less touched by these pictures as they come before them, and out of this consideration and out of this compassion, as is supposed, for such objects, they are to address themselves in some way or another to their relief. I do not see that in scripture, beloved friends. Yet what I see is the most unbounded compassion and the most unbounded kindness in our Lord Jesus Christ. But this I see, and I thank God for it, and I have seen it recently, perhaps, more than ever — that there is a bright side to distress and to human misery and human wretchedness. Oh! beloved friends, if we could only get one another a little under the light of this for an instant, so as to read the blessing that is in it! I believe that God has, in His wonderful grace, permitted the misery and wretchedness of mankind, and the desolations that are upon hearts, as a rebuke to the awful selfishness of our nature. Take, for instance, this great city, completely surfeited with luxury as it is on the one hand, and yet at the same time completely steeped on the other in misery and wretchedness. What do I see in it? I see this, that God in His infinite mercy has allowed all that as a rebuke to the awful selfishness of men. And I believe that is one of the great things that He would impress upon our hearts at this present moment, that He leaves these objects amongst us, and that He brings these cases of wretchedness before us, in order that this principle, this hateful selfishness of our nature, may be rebuked and checked as we see these cases day by day. So that it is not merely the fact of pitying a man because he is a man like ourselves, afflicted with these trials and pressures and wants and woes — this, I think, might very soon sink down into a sort of sentimentalism that would be of very little use or practical good — but I say this to my brothers and sisters in Christ here to-night, we are brought positively into contact with the misery of this world that we might be here, through grace, the reproduction and the continuation of the life of Jesus Christ in mercy in it. It is not merely that men might be relieved — though I fully admit men are relieved; it is not merely that misery might be alleviated though I fully admit misery is alleviated; but that His own blessed life of those three and thirty years might, at least in the shaded and dim distance in which it could be represented in any of His poor people, be continued in His saints, now that His blessed Son is no longer in this world. So I see these two things in it, and this picture brings it vividly before me — I see in misery a rebuke to human selfishness, and I see in the wretchedness in which mankind are held in consequence of sin, that God has left us in a world where sin is rampant that we might, even in regard to the bodies of men, and not merely their souls, be here in some little way to set forth our Lord Jesus Christ as He was here in this world.

Now see how this comes out in connection with this case. This poor, wretched creature comes, and kneels, and beseeches Him. Now here is another thing, in the attitude itself, the condition of the man, the place he takes. And then look at his words for a moment, "If thou wilt, thou canst." Oh what words these are! You see I am passing now from the literal object of distress to look at the moral state, for I believe we find both here. And, beloved friends, I am able to say this to you to-night, that the moral state is far more affecting to me than the state of his body. The state of this man's mind touches me a great deal more than the state of his poor frame. I admit everything that you can put with regard to his body; but look at the state of his mind! The malice of Satan and the cruelty of man had sowed in that poor heart distrust of the heart of Christ. That is what you find here. "Ah" he says, as it were, "I do not question your power; I have seen that, I have witnessed your works of greatness" (as I have no doubt he had, for they were in abundance; Jesus was ever working in grace in this world); "but," he says, "I doubt the will, I doubt the love, I doubt the interest; I know you can do it, but I call in question whether there is sufficient readiness of heart and willingness of mind, whether, in other words, there is sufficient interest in my case to lead you to bestow upon me in my misery the mercy which I know you have."

Now, beloved friends, how very instructive that is to us! Do you not see that brings us back exactly to what was the root of the beginning of all sin? And I am thankful to be able to say a word about that this evening, because we are met at the present moment with very crude thoughts, superficial, shallow ideas about sin (that is one of the things that are pervading the people of God on every side), and consequently shallow, crude, superficial thoughts about holiness. They always go together, false and shallow thoughts of sin are sure to precede shallow and false thoughts about holiness. Hence you have them going hand in hand; the one paves the way for the other. And when I say that, it is in order to bring your thoughts for a moment back to the very root-principle of sin. What is it? You have got it here in this poor leper — I do not mean in his disease, but in the wretched state of his mind. I trust most in this company tonight remember what the principle was that the enemy sowed in the heart of the woman at the very commencement of the history of our race in the garden of Eden. It was just exactly that. The serpent said, as it were, to the woman, "Ah! but you see there is one tree God has kept back from you." "Yes," she says, "we may eat of all the trees of the garden but one." "Ah yes," he says; "you may eat of all the trees of the garden, but there is one tree your Maker has kept back; you have got all the rest, but still there is one reserved." Do you not see there was direct and deadly insinuation against the heart of God? an insinuation against His kindness and goodness and wisdom; all His being was called in question by that insinuation. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took and she ate — that is to say, she helped herself to that which she did not believe there was goodness enough in the heart of God her Creator to give her. Ah! there is the root-principle of sin, and there is a lesson to those who talk to-day about its being discernible in its acts. There it is in its root, there it is at the very bottom, there it is in the beginning of its history. What is sin? Now, you know how it is brought down to mere acts; it is spoken of as gross acts, and so forth. Sin is in the creature, a will independent of God. And when people say — well meaning, I have no doubt, God forbid that I should say a hard word with regard to any; I fully admit the good intention, though I see the falsity that is at the bottom very often — but when it is said, "The way for a Christian to get free from all this is to put his will over on the side of God," the advice that they are giving you is simply this, to put over on the side of God, as they say, that which in principle is sin. Let us never forget that, beloved. Because the will of the creature is sin in its essence, sin in its principle. The principle of sin in the creature is a will of its own. And, beloved friends, how that came and how that was sown in the woman, was by a slur upon the character, the goodness, the kindness of God. The leper has it here, and he comes out with it in his distress and misery. His heart, I believe, is more leprous than his body. The moral state of that man is a great deal more leprous than his external condition. "If thou wilt, thou canst." Oh, dear friends, what a picture we have before us!

And now let me say to my brethren (and that will bring it a little more home to all of us; and let us search our own hearts and allow the word of God to search our hearts to-night), have we not often said that in our hearts? Have we not, my beloved brethren, oftentimes been brought into circumstances in our history, circumstances in our family perhaps, or in our business, or in our daily life, circumstances of difficulty when we have come to what is called the parting of the ways, and we do not know what will come next, and have we not often thought, Well, I know that He has got the power, I know He has the ability, "I know thou canst do all things," as Job says — but, but! Ah! that is just where this poor leper was. Oh, dear friends, let us through God's infinite grace learn how ready we are to reflect on that heart! Oh! how ready we are to discredit that love, and oh, what love! to discredit the goodness, the kindness, the compassions that are not small, the compassions that are "new every morning." That is what confronted the great Servant-Prophet here in the very first instance in connection with this leper, "If thou wilt thou canst make me clean."

Now how is this met? That is the next thing we have to look at "And Jesus, moved with compassion." I love that word, the "compassion" of Jesus Christ. O the compassion of His heart! If it had been anyone of us there would have been a shudder, a shrug of the shoulder, as we retreated from the revolting object of misery. You see we cannot avoid contrasting ourselves with Him. I think that is one part of the blessedness of our blessed Lord's ministry and work here in this world, that the contrast between Him and every one else stands out so wonderfully before us. I know well how we should have turned away from an object so loathsome, and if there had been ever so little a trace left of the kindness even of human nature in us, the refusal of this poor man to acknowledge the goodness of the heart though He owned the power would have left us without a shred of compassion for him, and we would have turned away to leave him in his wretchedness still more wretched. But ah! that is not what we read here, "Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand and touched him." He put forth that ever open hand of kindness, and mercy, and goodness, and touched that death in life (for that is what it was), and said, "I will." Oh, what was there not in that sentence! Oh, what those two little words brought home to the heart, "I will." You doubt my affection? "I will." You doubt my readiness? "I will; be thou clean."

Now do you notice, beloved friends, the two blessed points that come before us in the act and word of Jesus here? It is a great thing to dwell upon the acts and words of Jesus. The act spoke of the love of His heart in a way that no word could. Oh, the touch of that hand, that blessed hand, that hand of mercy! Oh, the tenderness of that touch! Do not we know something about it when it comes and touches us? If there is a tried or an afflicted one of the Lord's people here to-night, cannot you witness to the tenderness of that touch? When He touches you, how tender His touch is! — no roughness in it any more than in His voice. It was not even like Joseph. Joseph spake roughly to his brethren, and it was good for them to be probed to the bottom of their hearts with regard to their state; but though he did speak roughly his heart was breaking over them all the time. But oh! beloved friends, Jesus neither speaks roughly nor touches roughly. God help us to remember that. Sometimes I think some of us imagine there is something very noble in rough speech, or unloving look — but it is unChristlike. Do not let us falsely consecrate things that are not after Christ. It may appear very clever to be severe and cutting in tongue, and it may appear very exalted to be haughty in bearing, but you will look in vain in the history of the great Servant-Prophet Himself to find that. I dwell upon it, beloved friends, because I love to think of it. "He put forth his hand and touched him." Now I say the act proclaimed the heart in a way that no word could. The word proclaimed the mighty power of God, "Be thou clean," and the touch, too, for who could touch a leper without being defiled unless He was God? A mere man would be defiled at once. A mere man like any other man would have carried away the defilement of the leprosy with him. What happened with the touch of Jesus was not what would have taken place with anyone else, God forbid such a thought in any heart; cleansing to the leper was what happened. "He put forth his hand, and touched him, and said, I will, be thou clean." "He spake and it was done." It is the mighty God, beloved friends, manifested in a man. I know no scripture that more beautifully and more wonderfully presents Him in His Person as God and man than this does here. Do you not see the tenderness of the man in that touch? Do you not also see the compassions of Him who was perfect man? As the old confession rightly and truly says, "very God, and very man;" but do we not also see here the mighty God, the Creator of the ends of the earth? Do we not see Him who made the worlds by His word? "I will, be thou clean." What a new thing on earth this was! What was it? Was it law or was it love? What is it that is brought before us here? These two things come before me, beloved friends, in this little scene in a wonderful way — the divinity of love, if I may be allowed to use the expression — and the divinity of power. I see the divinity of power in the "Be thou clean;" I see the divinity of love in "I will," with a touch.

Now for a few moments more, just look at what we may call the attendant circumstances. I will not dwell long upon some of them, because we have already had them before us, but we get the word "immediately." I have pointed out before how that is the characteristic word of the Gospel of Mark, occurring frequently under different names, not always translated "immediately," but "instantly," or "quickly," or "at once." But it is the urgency and the absence of all delay in the rendering of service, or in the effect of the works of mercy, whichever it may be. And so in this case, "Immediately the leprosy departed from him and he was cleansed." As I was saying on a previous occasion, man is very well up in the healing art now, but he cannot do this, he cannot bring about a result like this at once. There are stages of cure, and progress, just as there are stages of disease; but instantaneously the whole order of things changed — that is the mighty power of God. And that is what this word "immediately" brings before us.

There is another point of great beauty here — indeed there are two points. Observe what he says to this man. "He straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away, and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man, but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them." Now first of all we learn from this, beloved friends, how the Lord Jesus never left and never surrendered the place of servant that He was pleased to take. That is the first great thing that comes before us in connection with the case of the leper here, how entirely He maintained the servant place. I need not say to you that we find elsewhere how entirely He always maintained the place of man that He was pleased to become in this world; indeed He will never give up manhood, He will never cease to be a Man; having become a man, He is a man for ever, a man in glory; but I do not dwell on it now, we shall have another opportunity; but what is so blessed is that He is set before us as a girded Servant in heaven, He says so Himself in Luke 12, that in that scene when He will have it all His own way, He will make those who have followed Him, and waited for Him, and watched for Him, sit down, and will gird Himself, and come forth and serve them. But what we see here is, on earth He never ceased to be a servant. No effects of His ministry, no consequences of His works of power were ever claimed by Him so as to reflect any honour or any glory upon Himself. To me that is one feature of His ministry which is most precious. "I came from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." And hence you see Him here sending this poor leper to the priest in order to fulfil the requirements of the law of Moses, and that he might go and offer for his cleansing, and might be a witness really to them of the mighty power of God who was still Jehovah-Ropheka to His people. Observe how the blessed One does not claim any honour for Himself; but this poor leper lost the opportunity of carrying out the thoughts and wishes of our Lord Jesus Christ, and went and proclaimed everywhere what Jesus had done; and the retiring, gracious, blessed ways of the great Servant-Prophet were broken in upon, and He could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places. You see how entirely He kept His retirement. And I commend that, beloved brethren in Christ, to all our hearts. The very essence of a good servant is to render service and to retire into the servant's place. And you see the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ in this very thing that so distinctly and peculiarly marked Him as the great Servant-Prophet in the midst of Israel that having become a servant, and taken the servant's form, He never departed from it.

But now there is another point that is even more touching, and that you will find all through His history — He never claimed for Himself, on the score of His services, any one whom He had healed, or relieved, or blessed. It is beautiful to trace the history of that in scripture. See, for instance, how the daughter of Jairus was left in the bosom of her family. See how the son that was healed at the bottom of the holy mount was handed back to his father. See how the widow of Nain's son was restored to his mother. And you remember how He would not let the poor Gadarene follow Him or be with Him, but sent him home to his friends. I do not know any thing that is more precious than that aspect of our blessed Lord's ministry in this world — that on the score of mercy given He never claimed. It was as if grace would be offended not to confer the thing sovereignly, without the surrender of any other thing in return; that is what I see in it. May I say with all reverence — it has been said before, and I therefore only repeat it — that He did good, hoping for nothing again. In that aspect you see it in a wonderful way in our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He had rendered the most wonderful service — a leper cleansed, a dead man raised up, a poor dumb creature with her mouth opened, no matter what it was, excessive though the case might have been in human wretchedness and human misery, still the Lord Jesus rendered His mercy and His grace "freely," as He said to His disciples, and I believe it was the spirit He put upon it, "Freely ye have received; freely give." The Lord in His grace give us to take that in. I believe it is a great thing not to hamper grace with any conditions in the shape of a return. There is one scripture that throws immense light on that, and that is in the healing of a leper, too. Do you remember in the case of the prophet Elisha, how he resented it with Gehazi? Do you remember what Gehazi said? Gehazi was very like the people of the present day. He said, Naaman is not going to get everything from my master without paying for it; he says, My master has spared Naaman, this Syrian, I will go after him, and I will take somewhat of him. And you know what he did; I need not go into it. But do you remember the words of the prophet? Is it a time to receive garments, and silver? and so on. Is it a time?" after the display of such marvellous grace of God, the sovereign pure grace of God, without money and without price." "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave to thee, and to thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow." And why? Because with an avidity and a greed for money, and a lie to sustain it, he sought to hamper and to tarnish the free sovereign cure of God through His servant the prophet.

See how beautifully the opposite principle shows out in our Lord Jesus Christ. The contrast in Him is so beautiful in all these instances; and not only that contrast, but the blessedness of being permitted to dwell on that side of His character and nature, the perfection of the man. I do love to dwell upon the perfections of the Man Christ Jesus; I love to sit down and think of them; I love to go over them in my own heart; I love to think of Him handing over that poor young man to his mother. Is it not blessed to see the perfection of His heart, the perfection of tenderness, even that of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so you find it, beloved friends, everywhere throughout in every instance.

But there is one other point. Some one here might object, and say, Well, but what do you make of this? Had he not servants, and did not He call His servants? Were you not speaking to us about the call of the apostles a few evenings back? Ah! but that is quite a different case. These were not persons that had received any favour from Him; He did not heal them; He did not bestow bodily strength, or power, or cure upon them. They were called, of course; that is quite clear; but how were they called? His charms called them; He charmed them to Him; He never made a claim; He charmed them; they could not help coming, the charm of His call was irresistible for leaving everything in this world and going; for leaving net, and fish, and father, to follow such an one as Jesus Christ. The point, beloved friends, is this, that they could not resist it; there was an attractiveness about Him, He drew; He was the great heavenly magnet here, even as a man in this world, that drew hearts after Him, charmed them, kept them, sustained them, held them. It was not merely that they went out after Him, but they stayed out after Him. Do we? that is the question. I was reading the other day, and was struck with it afresh, what is said of Abraham. It was the God of glory that charmed and called him out, and you admire his going out, do you not? We often dwell upon it. How beautiful to see Abraham rising up and going forth, and the God of glory, as it were, shining him out of everything, and death removing the hidden difficulties out of his way. Glory and death conducted him out. Glory beckoned him out, and death took the great tall cedar trees, as it were, out of the path. But, beloved friends, there is something else in the history, even this — he stayed out. Many a one has gone back; that is what is so solemn. Many a one has gone out, and the going out has been beautiful, but the staying out has failed. Ah! it is the staying out. Now I tell you nothing will keep you out but the heavenly glory of Jesus Christ. A great many things may call you out in the first instance. Oftentimes, in the history, particularly of young Christians, there is something that looks to them very beautiful, and somehow the more it is in the distance the more beautiful it looks; it is not perhaps quite so beautiful when you come near to it, but, as is said, "distance lends enchantment to the view." But oh! nothing will keep you out but the glory of Jesus Christ.

I just say that, beloved friends, in connection with this little history. He did not claim any one whom He served in the way of mercy for Himself, but He called His servants, and charmed His servants, and His heart educated them, and they learnt — poorly, I admit — the art of Jesus Christ in mercy, and in kindness, and in goodness, by being with Him. God in His infinite grace grant that we may learn the art by being with Him. You never can educate a person to be kind, and gentle, and affectionate, and forbearing. You cannot cultivate and educate a hard, severe nature into a kind, gentle, tender nature. There is only one thing can do it. If you keep the company of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will learn it by being in His company.

May God, by His grace and Spirit, read those lessons out to us this evening, that we may understand His compassions. And this I say to my beloved brothers and sisters here to-night — bear with me as I press it upon you — let us go into this world, and seek by His grace to continue that life of mercy. And of all things, may the Lord keep us from being hard and censorious. This is the serious part of it, for us there is plenty of talk, a great deal too much boasting of our wealth, and yet very little done. What we want is this — practical manifestation of the mercy of Jesus Christ, not only in word, but in deed and in truth. Oh, that He in His grace might use His word to call us near to Himself, to sit before Him and learn that grace a little more, for His Name's sake.