The Consolations of the Comforter
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7
THERE is no sorrow of the believing heart of which the Holy Spirit is ignorant, to which He is indifferent, or which His sympathy does not embrace, and His power cannot alleviate. The Church in which He dwells, and whose journeyings he guides, is a tried Church. Chosen in the furnace of affliction, allied to a suffering Head, its course on earth is traced by tears, and often by blood. Deeply it needs a Comforter. And who can compute the individual sorrows which may crowd the path of a single traveler to his sorrowless home? What a world of trial, and how varied, may be comprised within the history of a single saint! But if sorrows abound, consolation much more abounds, since the Comforter of the Church is the Holy Spirit. What a mighty provision, how infinite the largess, the God of all consolation has made in the covenant of grace for the sorrows of His people, in the appointment of the Third Person of the blessed Trinity to this office! What an importance it attaches to, and with what dignity it invests, and with what sanctity it hallows, our every sorrow! If our heavenly Father sees proper in His unerring wisdom and goodness to send affliction, who would not welcome the message as a sacred and precious thing, thus to be soothed and sanctified? Yes, the Spirit leads the sorrowful to all comfort. He comforts by applying the promises—by leading to Christ—by bending the will in deep submission to God—and by unveiling to faith’s far-seeing eye the glories of a sorrowless, tearless, sinless world. And oh, who can portray His perfection as a Comforter? With what promptness and tenderness He applies Himself to the soothing of each grief—how patiently He instructs the ignorant—how gently He leads the burdened—how skillfully He heals the wounded—how timely He meets the necessitous—how effectually He speaks to the mourner! When our heart is overwhelmed within us, through the depth and foam of the angry waters, He leads us to the Rock that is higher than we.
He leads to glory. There He matures the kingdom, and perfects the building, and completes the temple He commenced and occupied on earth. No power shall oppose, no difficulty shall obstruct, no contingency shall thwart the consummation of this His glorious purpose and design. Every soul graced by His presence, every heart touched by His love, every body sanctified as His temple, He will lead to heaven. Of that heaven He is the pledge and the earnest. While Jesus is in heaven, preparing a place for His people, the Spirit is on earth, preparing His people for that place. The one is maturing glory for the Church, the other is maturing the Church for glory.—Octavius Winslow