"Comfort Ye My People"

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God" (Isaiah 40:1).

God is not indifferent to the state of mind of His children. It is not His will that they should be harried and worried, and it is the responsibility and privilege of the servants of God to minister comfort to them, but where in these sad days can comfort be found?

It is not to be found in the daily newspapers. Mark that, O ye Christians who brood over them, and are elated or depressed according to their fluctuating reports. It is not to be found in the doings of valiant soldiers, or the sayings of astute statesmen, or the proposals of visionary reformers, or in the hoped-for final triumph of democracy, for "ALL FLESH IS GRASS, AND ALL THE GOODLINESS THEREOF IS AS THE FLOWER OF THE FIELD. THE GRASS WITHERETH AND THE FLOWER FADETH" (vv. 6-7).

This is the first part of that message that leads to lasting comfort, and if the servants of God are obedient to His commands and true to their commission they will lift up their voices and "cry" this solemn truth. They will not pipe to the people the devil's gospel of evolution, or indulge in that deceptive talk of the inherent goodness in man, or of the blessed goal of everlasting security from all ill to which that goodness is forcing him in spite of his natural disinclination to travel the road. They will tell the truth, and the truth is that the very best that man can produce is as the poppy of the summer cornfield, brilliant and attractive for a day; and then — withered and gone. A man who comes with a message like that may be dubbed a sour and gloomy pessimist, but he is not. He is stating the sober truth, and it is surely better to be aroused by the truth than drugged and deluded by specious lies.

The first part of the message then that must be delivered shows us where comfort cannot be found; it declares that man is void of goodness, and that his works have no stability, but having exposed the false it proceeds to reveal the true. "THE WORD OF OUR GOD SHALL STAND FOREVER." Peter who heard that word from the lips of the Eternal Word Himself has told us, "This is the word which by the gospel is preached to you." It gives us GOD as our object and resource, and reveals Him as the One in whom there is no possibility of failure. It gives us HEAVEN as our goal. So that it lifts our eyes upward and urges us onward. It gives us cheer and hope.

Longfellow in one of his famous poems starts his pilgrim upon an upward path, bravely clutching his banner "Excelsior," but gives him no destiny to crown his labours, and no power to sustain him in his upward goalless pilgrimage but his own enthusiasm. The word of the gospel gives us heaven as our hope and goal, and God as our resource and strength as we press on to it. It gives us a hope that makes not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given to us, and in these things there is comfort.

God is our present portion and resource; and hear what our chapter has to say of Him. "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, THE LORD, THE CREATOR OF THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding" (v. 28). What a contrast is revealed to us here between the greatness of God and man who at his best is only as the flower of the grass. And the word of the gospel invites us who hear to cease from man, to withdraw our hopes and confidence from him, and to put our trust without fear or misgiving in this great and wonderful God who is from everlasting to everlasting, and who is not only unchanging in His years and almighty in His power but is also infinite in His pity. So we read of Him, "He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength."

"Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall." "But they that wait on the Lord shall renew [or change] their strength they shall mount up with wings as eagles [rise triumphant over every difficulty and depression], they shall run and not be weary [be untiring in their errands of ministry and mercy for the Lord to others]; and they shall walk and not faint," tread steadily and with endurance the upward way to "the hope that is laid up for them in heaven, whereof ye have heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel."

We commend Isaiah 40 to the careful attention of our readers; it is a chapter worth praying over and meditating upon. It has been given to us that it might ring its glad peal for our souls, and fill us with cheer and hope and comfort in dark days. It tells us not to rest in our circumstances, or in any arm of flesh, but in God Himself who is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3).