"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."—Isaiah 61:1.
May a dew from the Lord rest upon us while we consider line by line this wonderful passage from what has been well called "the Gospel according to Isaiah," and may many mourners derive consolation from our meditations.
This Scripture is true if applied to every man whom God hath ordained to declare the glad tidings. It was true of Isaiah himself when he spake as the great evangelical prophet, and it has been true of the apostles and of all those who have been enabled in the divine strength to proclaim the testimony of mercy. The text shows us that the great business of every true minister is to preach the gospel: there are other duties to be fulfilled, but this is the head and front of a minister's calling. Every minister should say, "this one thing I do: the Lord hath appointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek."
The preaching can, however, only be done in the power of a divine anointing. He that speaks for God should speak in God's strength, because the Spirit of God has come upon him, is moving him to speak, is helping him while speaking, and will make the word which he proclaims to be quick and powerful. To attempt to preach in any power but that of the Holy Ghost is to ensure failure. There can be no broken hearts bound up, or captives set free, where the Spirit of God is not honoured.
The preacher giving himself up wholly to his preaching, and discharging his work in the power of the Spirit, is to aim at the results which are mentioned in the text. He must pity broken hearts and endeavour to bind them up. He must remember the Lord's prisoners and seek their release. If he does not aim at these objects he forgets the design of true preaching, which is not for preaching's sake, much less for the preacher's sake; but all for the sake of the people of God, many of whom Satan holds in bondage under sin. He must never reckon that his preaching has succeeded unless he continually hears the joyful cries of liberated captives and the songs, of mourners comforted.
But while it is true that the text has a meaning towards all God's servants, yet our Lord himself has told us that this passage is to be interpreted concerning himself. When he stood up in the synagogue of Nazareth and read from the roll these gracious words, he closed the book, gave it to the minister, and added, "this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." That day in which he was present, preaching and teaching, was the time in which the text was fulfilled. The fulness of its meaning was turned into matter of fact, for there had come one who above all others was anointed of the Spirit of God that he might proclaim glad tidings to the meek. We shall, therefore, only consider the text as referring to our blessed Redeemer. We will allow all other teachers to vanish into him as the stars merge their light in the rising sun: Christ Jesus is he who comes to bind the broken hearts, and to break the iron chains.
Following our text closely, we shall first consider our Lord's anointing. He himself says, "the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me." Secondly, we shall dwell upon our Lord's preaching—"the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;" and then, thirdly, we shall dwell upon our Lord's design and object—"He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
I. First, let us contemplate our Lord's anointing.
The first remark under this head shall be this, that it was very special. He was anointed of the Spirit first in order, for he is first and chief. He is the head, and on him the sacred unction first descends and then to us. Even as upon Aaron's head the oil was poured, and then it flowed down to the skirts of his garments, so is the Spirit first, and originally, given to the Christ of God, and then through him it falls upon us. Our anointing is a secondary one: because he is Christ we are Christians—the Anointed is surrounded by anointed ones.
Our Lord was specially endowed with the Spirit at the first, for he was born supernaturally, according to the word of the angel to the highly favoured virgin, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Mysteriously begotten, our Lord came into the world, and from his childhood manifested the special possession of the Spirit: for he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. His actual anointing took place at the time of his baptism. When he came up out of the water, John bare witness that he saw the Spirit descending like a dove and resting upon him. The Spirit has not in any visible form descended upon us. We, I trust, have received him, but not after that fashion. The manifestation was peculiar to him who came to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
The speciality of his anointing lies also in the fact that "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." To us the spirit is given by measure according as our need requires. For quickening, for illumination, for sanctification, for the gift of utterance, and various necessary uses, according as we have capacity we receive of the Holy Ghost; but, having an infinite capacity, our Lord received an infinity of the Spirit of God.
Again, there was a speciality in this—that the Spirit, when he descended upon the Lord Jesus, "abode upon him." (John 1:32). He continueth not at all seasons with every child of God, for sometimes we grieve him, and he departeth from us. We have not always, at any rate, the conscious presence of the Holy Spirit, but John tells us, "He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." So you see, dear friends, the anointing of our Lord has the special character of being without equal, without measure, and without withdrawal. Jesus is at no time more anointed than at another, but always full of the Holy Ghost. You and I have sometimes the fulness of the Spirit; at other times we are crying that his Spirit may return to us: but Jesus never grieved the Spirit, nor could do so, for in him is no sin.
Secondly, with regard to the possession of the Spirit by our Lord, it is special, because it has ordained him to special offices, upon which none of us can enter. There are three offices to which men were appointed of old by being anointed. First, the prophetical office was so received. We read of Elisha, that God said to Elijah, "Go and anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, that he may be prophet in thy stead." Priests, too, were anointed: you have a long series of rules given in the book of Leviticus as to the anointing of Aaron and of his sons with an oil that was made after the art of the apothecary, with choice spices mingled in a peculiar manner to make an oil which should never come upon the flesh of any man but the high priest. For him and for him alone was the oil of his anointing before God, and so the Lord Jesus is anointed as a priest with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Kings, too, were anointed. Saul was only anointed with a vial of oil, whereas David was anointed with a horn of oil, as if to mark the abundance of his kingdom and the favour in which he stood in the sight of God. As for our most blessed Lord, he is called the Messiah, or the sent One, and that office comprehends priesthood, prophecy, and kingship, all in one, and in each of these offices he is plentifully anointed of God. Would you know the truth? Jesus can teach it to you. God has given him the Spirit to be a prophet among us. Would you be cleansed from sin? Christ can remove all impurity by means of his priestly office, for he has presented a complete sacrifice, and he can apply its cleansing power to your souls and make you know that as a priest the fulness of the Spirit dwells with him. Do you long to have sin conquered? Do you need the aid of supreme power to subdue your corruptions? Christ can exercise it, for he is anointed to be King in the hearts of men by the Holy Ghost. I delight to think of our blessed Lord in those three offices, each one of which we so much need. I delight to perceive the heavenly perfume which flows from his person and work, because of the holy oil of the Spirit which rests upon him.
Now this produced in our Lord remarkable results, worthy of being mentioned under this head. We noticed that the Spirit of God was upon Christ, that he might preach. To his preaching we must look for its effects, and we notice that his utterance as the result of the indwelling of the Spirit was surpassingly powerful. "Never man spake like this man," said those who went to take him. Those who listened to him were charmed with his accents, and even the ministers of justice who were sent to seize him, and who are usually the last persons ever to be affected by oratory, nevertheless came under the spell of his words. I should suppose that a sheriff's officer who came to arrest a preacher would be the last person to be impressed by his sermon; but yet these men went back to those who sent them, and reported that they could not take him, for never man spake as he did. He was a mighty preacher; he spake as one having authority. All other speakers will do well to sit at his feet and learn their art from the great Master of it. Never man spake like this man, because the Spirit of God rested upon him as it has never rested upon another.
The result was seen in his own spirit, for what a spirit was that which dwelt in Jesus Christ. So gentle; he was tender as a nurse with her child. So brave; he never feared the face of man. What strong words are his. How forcible! how courageous! He is a man to the very fulness of manhood, and yet he is always the holy child Jesus. His spirit was unselfish, for the Spirit of God consecrated him entirely to his work; he lived and died for it. He never thought of self at all, but the zeal of God's house did eat him up, and he was with a cloak. You never detect in his spirit the imperfections which are so palpable in us. He is never cold or indifferent; his words never freeze on his lips. He is never proud and lofty. You never find him using language which the poor could not understand; but you find him condescending to men of low estate as if it were no condescension at all. Above all, his spirit was saturated with love. He looked with love upon those who hated him, and even when at last he had to give them up to perish, his proclamation of the destruction of Jerusalem was wetted with his tears. He loved our guilty race as men never loved each other. He, the greatest of men, loved his ungrateful people with all his heart, and hence his preaching was so full of power.
And then as his utterance and spirit were thus full of the Holy Ghost his whole career became marvellous because of it: Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good, because he was a man filled with the Spirit of God. It was not only what he did and spoke in public, the Spirit of God was as conspicuous in his private prayers. The Spirit inspired not only his proclamations among the crowd, but his quiet and gentle teaching of the twelve in the lone places, where he told them the secrets of his heart. The man himself was power because of the Spirit. His thoughts, his words, his glances, his sufferings, everything about him through the power of this anointing became subservient to his great life-work. And hence it is that now, though Jesus has gone from us, there remains about his name a wondrous power; and about the truths which he reveals to us there is a sacred might. Since the Spirit of God still rests upon him, and upon his word, when he is preached his saving work is accomplished in them that believe. This is the very joy and strength and hope of the church—that the Lord anointed Jesus to preach the gospel, and that his Spirit still goes forth with those who are sent in his name. The Spirit still rests upon the pages of the Bible, in each promise and precept and exhortation, making all to be instinct with life. He still comes upon the members of Christ's mystical body, and in his power that body remains unconquerable. All the multitudinous iniquities and grievous errors of this world shall yet yield before Christ, because the Spirit of God is almighty and he glorifies Christ. He that brooded over chaos broods over this disordered universe, and he will bring order out of confusion; therefore we look for a millennium from him. He that said "let there be light," and caused light to spring forth, still lives, and he will still give light to the dark places of the earth, till over the new creation this glorious anointed Christ shall shine forth like the sun in his strength. He shall reign amongst his ancients gloriously, because the power of the Spirit is upon him.
II. Thus have I spoken upon the first head—the Lord's anointing; now, secondly, let us think of our Lord's preaching. He says, "the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek."
First, then, the anointing was with a view to preaching. Such honour does the Lord put upon the ministry of the Word that, as one of the old Puritans said, "God had only one Son, and he made a preacher of him." It should greatly encourage the weakest amongst us, who are preachers of righteousness, to think that the Son of God, the blessed and eternal Word, came into this world that he might preach the same good tidings which we are called to proclaim.
We may profitably note how earnestly our Lord kept to his work. It was his business to preach, and he did preach, he was always preaching. "What," say you," did he not work miracles?" Yes, but the miracles were sermons; they were acted discourses, full of instruction. He preached when he was on the mountains; he equally preached when he sat at table in the Pharisee's house. All his actions were significant; he preached by every movement. He preached when he did not speak; his silence was as eloquent as his words. He preached when he gave, and he preached when he received; for he was preaching a sermon when he lent his feet to the woman, that she might wash them with her tears and wipe them with the hairs of her head, quite as much as when he was dividing the loaves and the fishes and feeding the multitude. He preached by his patience before Pilate, for there he witnessed a good confession. He preached from the bloody tree: with hands and feet fastened there, he delivered the most wonderful discourse of justice and of love, of vengeance and of grace, of death and of life, that was ever preached in this poor world. Oh, yes, he preached, he was always preaching; with all his heart and soul he preached. He prayed that he might obtain strength to preach. He wept in secret that he might the more com-passionately preach the word which wipes men's tears away. Always a preacher; he was always ready, in season and out of season, with a good word. As he walked the streets he preached as he went along; and if he sought retirement, and the people thronged him, he sent them not away without a gracious word. This was his one calling, and this one calling he pursued in the power of the eternal Spirit; and he liked it so well, and thought so much of it, that he trained to the same work his eleven friends; and he sent them out to preach too; and then he chose seventy more for the same errand, saying, "As ye go, preach the gospel." Did he shave the head of one of them to make him a priest? Did he decorate one of them with a gown, or a chasuble, or a biretta? Did he teach one of them to say mass—to swing a censer, or to elevate the host? Did he instruct one of them to regenerate children by baptism? Did he bring them up to chant in surplices and march in procession? No, those things he never thought of, and neither will we. If he had thought of them it would only have been with utter contempt, for what is there in such childish things? The preaching of the cross—this it is which is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us who are saved it is the wisdom of God, and the power of God; for it pleaseth God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. As our Lord ascended he said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." His charge in brief was—preach, preach even as I have done before you.
Now, as you have seen that our Saviour came to preach, now notice his subject. "the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek." And what good tidings did he preach? Pardon, pardon given to the chief of sinners, pardon for prodigal sons pressed to their father's bosom. Restoration from their lost estate, as the piece of money was restored again into the treasury, and the lost sheep back to the fold. How encouragingly he preached of a life given to men dead in sin; life through the living water which becomes a fountain within the soul. You know how sweetly he would say, "he that believeth in me hath everlasting life." "He that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live." "Like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He preached a change of heart, and the need of a new creation. He said, "Ye must be born again," and he taught those truths by which the Holy Ghost works in us and makes all things new. He preached glad tidings concerning resurrection, and bade men look for endless bliss by faith in him. He cried, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." He gave forth precepts, too, and threatenings in their place,—some of them very searching and terrible, but they were only used as accessories to the good news. He made men feel that they were poor, that they might be ready to be rich. He made them feel weary and burdened, that they might come to him for rest; but the sum. and substance of what he preached was the gospel—the good spell—the glad news.
Brethren, our divine Lord always preached upon that subject, and did not stoop to secular themes. If you notice, though he would sometimes debate with Pharisees, Herodians, and others, as needs must be, yet he was soon away from them and back to his one theme. He baffled them with his wisdom, and then returned to the work he loved, namely, preaching where the publicans and sinners drew near together for to hear him. Our business, since the Spirit of God is upon us, is not to teach politics, save only in so far as these immediately touch the kingdom of Christ, and there the gospel is the best weapon. Nor is it our business to be preaching mere morals, and rules of duty; our ethics must be drawn from the cross, and begin and end there. We have not so much to declare what men ought to do, as to preach the good news of what God has done for them. Nor must we always be preaching certain doctrines, as doctrines, apart from Christ. We are only theologian so far as theology enshrines the gospel. We have one thing to do, and to that one thing we must keep. The old proverb says, "Cobbler, stick to your last," and depend upon it it is a good advice to the Christian minister to stick to the gospel and make no remove from it. I hope I have always kept to my theme, but I take no credit for it, for I know nothing else. I have determined to know nothing among men, save Jesus Christ and him crucified." Indeed, necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel. I would fain have but one eye, and that eye capable of seeing nothing from the pulpit but lost men and the gospel of their salvation: to all else one may well be blind, so that the entire force of the mind may centre on the great essential subject. There is, certainly, enough in the gospel for any one man, enough to fill any one life, to absorb all our thought, emotion, desire, and energy, yea, infinitely more than the most experienced Christian and the most intelligent teacher will ever be able to bring forth. If our Master kept to his one topic, we may wisely do the same, and if any say that we are narrow, let us delight in that blessed narrowness which brings men into the narrow way. If any denounce us as cramped in our ideas and shut up to one set of truths, let us rejoice to be shut up with Christ, and count it the truest enlargement of the mind. It were well to be bound with cords to his altar, to lose all hearing but for his voice, all seeing but for his light, all life but in his life, all glorying save in his cross. If he who knew all things taught only the one thing needful, his servants may rightly enough do the same. "the Lord hath anointed me," saith he, "to preach good tidings;" in this anointing let us abide.
But now notice the persons to whom he specially addressed the good tidings. They were the meek. Just look to the fourth of Luke, and you will read there, "The Lord hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor!" the poor, then, are among the persons intended by the meek. I noticed when I was looking through this passage that the Syriac renders it "the humble," and I think the Vulgate renders it "the gentle." Calvin translates it "the afflicted." It all comes to one thing. The meek, a people who are not lofty in their thoughts, for they have been broken down; a people who are not proud and lifted up, but low in their own esteem; a people who are often much troubled and tossed about in their thoughts; a people who have lost proud hopes and self-conceited joys; a people who seek no high thing's, crave for no honours, desire no praises, but bow before the Lord in humility. They are fain to creep into any hole to hide themselves, because they have such a sense of insignificance and worthlessness and sin. They are a people who often desponding, and are apt to be driven to despair. The meek, the poor—meek because they are poor: they would be as bold as others if they had as much as others; or as others think they have; but God has emptied them, and so they have nothing to boast of. They feel the iniquity of their nature, the plague of their hearts; they mourn that in them there dwells no good thing, and often-times they think themselves to be the offscouring of all things. They imagine themselves to be more brutish than any man, and quite beneath the Lord's regard; sin weighs them down, and yet they accuse themselves of insensibility and impenitence. Now, the Lord has anointed the Lord Jesus on purpose to preach the gospel to such as these. If any of you are good and deserving, the gospel is not for you. If any of you are keeping God's law perfectly, and hope to be saved by your works; the whole have no need of a physician, and the Lord Jesus did not come upon so needless an errand as that of healing men who have no wounds or diseases. But the sick need a doctor, and Jesus has come in great compassion to remove their sicknesses. The more diseased you are, the more sure you may be that the Saviour came to heal such as you are. The more poor you are the more certain you may be that Christ came to enrich you; the more sad and sorrowful you are, the more sure you may be that Christ came to comfort you. You nobodies, you who have been turned upside down and emptied right out, you who are bankrupts and beggars, you who feel yourselves to be clothed with rags and covered with wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores, you who are utterly bad through and through, and know it, and mourn it, and are humbled about it, you may feel that God has poured the holy oil without measure upon Christ on purpose that he might deal out mercy to such poor creatures as you are. What a blessing this is! How we ought to rejoice in the anointing, since it benefits such despicable objects. We who feel that we are such objects ought to cry, "Hosannah, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
III. We must now take the third head—our Lord's design and object in thus preaching the gospel to the poor and the meek.
It was, you observe, first, that he might bind up the brokenhearted. "He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted."
Carefully give heed, that you may see whether this belongs to you. Are you brokenhearted because of sin; because you have sinned often, foully, grievously?
Are you brokenhearted because your heart will not break as you would desire it would break; brokenhearted because you repent that you cannot repent as you would, and grieved because you cannot grieve enough? Are you brokenhearted because you have not such a sense of sin as you ought to have, and such a deep loathing of it as you perceive that others have? Are you brokenhearted with despair as to self-salvation; brokenhearted because you cannot keep the law; brokenhearted because you cannot find comfort in ceremonies; brokenhearted because the things which looked best have turned out to be deceptions; brokenhearted because all the world over you have found nothing but broken cisterns which hold no water, which have mocked your thirst when you have gone to them; brokenhearted with longing after peace with God; brokenhearted because prayer does not seem to be answered; brokenhearted because when you come to hear the gospel, you fear that it is not applied to you with power; brokenhearted because you had a little light and yet slipped back into the darkness; brokenhearted because you are afraid you have committed the unpardonable sin; brokenhearted because of blasphemous thoughts which horrify your mind and yet will not leave it? I care not why or wherefore you are brokenhearted, for Jesus Christ came into the world, sent of God with this object—to bind up the brokenhearted. It is a beautiful figure, this binding up—as though the crucified One took the liniment and the strapping and put it round the broken heart and with his own dear gentle hand proceeded to close up the wound and make it cease to bleed. Luke does not tell us that he came to bind up the brokenhearted. If you examine his version of the text, you will read that he came to cure them. That is going still further, because you may bind a wound up and yet fail to cure it, but Jesus never fails in his surgery. He whose own heart was broken knows how to cure broken hearts.
I have heard of people dying of a broken heart, but I always bless God when I meet with those who live with a broken heart, because it is written, "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." If you have that broken heart within you, beloved, Christ came to cure you; and he will do it, for he never came in vain: "he shall not fail nor be discouraged." With sovereign power anointed from on high he watches for the worst of cases. Heart disease, incurable by man is his speciality! His gospel touches the root of the soul's ill, the mischief which dwells in that place from whence are the issues of life. With pity, wisdom, power, and condescension he bends over our broken bones, and ere he has done with them he makes them all rejoice and sing glory to his name.
The second object of his preaching is to proclaim liberty to the captives. Who are they? Captives were often persons taken in war and driven far away from home, as the Jews were in Babylon, where they wept, but could not sing. You that feel as if you were far off from God, far off from hope, far off even from fellowship with the Lord's people, you are the captives here meant,—carried away against your will into the far off land of sin. Captives in their captivity were generally treated as slaves, and compelled to work very hard without wages. Perhaps that is your condition; you have been working for the flesh and lusts thereof, working for the devil, working to please men and gratify your own pride, and you have had no better reward than the poor prodigal who was not even put upon board wages, but left to starve and envy the greedy swine. Ah, sin is a bad master, and its wages are worse than nothing. You have spent your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not. You have toiled and moiled till your soul is brought down with labour, and you fall down and there is none to help. Is that your case? Then the Lord Jesus is still the anointed of God to proclaim liberty to you. Behold, he will bring you back from banishment and bondage if you trust him. Are you one who is unable to do what you want to do? That is precisely the condition of a captive, he is in another's power and is not free to do his own will. You find sometimes that the will to do good is present with you, but how to perform that which you would you find not. You are in bondage, brought into captivity to the law of sin and death. You will think me cruel when I say that I am glad of it, yet I mean what I say, for it is for you captives, you far-away ones, you bond-slaves, you that cannot do what you would, that the Spirit God rests upon Jesus on purpose that he may proclaim liberty to you.
There is an allusion here to the jubilee. When the silver trumpet sounded in the morning because the fiftieth year had come, that moment every man who was a captive throughout Judea's land was free, and none could hold him in bondage. They began to sing—
"The year of jubilee is come,
Return, ye ransom'd captives, home."
That is the song I want my hearers and readers to sing even now. Jesus Christ proclaims it—proclaims it, Do you notice that? A proclamation is a message which all loyal subjects are sure to attend to. In this case it is headed, not with V. R., Vivat Regina! but Vivat Rex Jehovah! Long live Jehovah the King! He issues a proclamation from his throne, he bids his Son tell poor captive souls that Christ Jesus sets them free. Let them but believe him, and they shall rise to instant liberty. The Lord grant that many may accept this good news. We may expect it, for the Spirit of God rests upon the preaching of Christ. Now, according to Isaiah, our Lord came for a third matter—the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Kindly look at Luke and see how that evangelist words it: he puts it thus—"And recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." They say that everything loses by translation—except a bishop; but. here is a passage in which a text has greatly gained by translation, for, behold, it has doubly budded, and the one sentence is turned into two, and of the two each one is most precious. Nor is the Greek translation, quoted in Luke, incorrect, for there is a wealth of meaning in the original Hebrew, which runs thus—"to the bound open opening," and this includes both the eyes and the prison. A blind man is practically in prison. He is like a man shut up in a dark dungeon; his blindness is cell, and fetter, and closed door to him. Isaiah in our text promises an opening of eyes, and so of prison doors; it is a complete opening, a glorious liberation from darkness within and without. Who could bring this to us but a divine Messiah? O ye blind and bruised, hearken to this! Let Bartimeus hear that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by, and bids us bring the blind to him. You that see no light must not think that there is none, for the Sun of Righteousness has arisen; but, alas, you cannot see him, and so the gospel day is as midnight to your sightless eye-balls. You pine as in a dreary dungeon which you carry about with you; it is the atmosphere of unbelief, the dense fog of ignorance and fear. It all arises from your blind eyes; if these were opened, even the night would be light about you.
A blind man is the figure of one who cannot understand. You have heard the gospel hundreds of times, but you cannot grasp it, it remains a mystery to you. It has been put very plainly to you by minister, parent, teacher, and friend; you have read it in many simple books, but you have not found out its meaning yet. It is plain as the sun in the heavens, but you cannot see it. We may make a thing very clear, but a blind man cannot see it, and such is your case: but behold the Lord Jesus Christ has come on purpose to open your eyes. Do you know that you are blind? Then you have begun to sec already. He who sensibly mourns that he is blind has some portion of sight. If you already feel the darkness of sin in which you are groping, and are beginning to cry, "Lord, open thou mine eyes," behold Jesus Christ stands before you, and says, "the Lord hath anointed me to give recovery of sight to the blind." Believe in the Messenger of the covenant and he will touch those eyes of yours, and light shall stream into your soul. He will do for you what he did for the man who was born blind, and you shall be a wonder unto many. I think I hear you say, "I understand it all now. However was it that I did not see it before?" You shall never be blind again, for when the Lord opens the eyes of a man Satan himself cannot shut them. The divine oculist does his work for eternity.
The last sentence, according to Luke, is—"to set at liberty them that are bruised." This is an extreme case of sorrow where a man is entirely under bondage, as, for instance, bondage through fear of death, or bondage under an awful sense of the law of God,—bondage under doubt, and an apparent inability to believe anything; bondage under heavy apprehensions of approaching judgment, bondage under the idea that you are forsaken of God, and that your conscience is seared; bondage under the notion of your having committed the unpardonable sin. And not only in bondage, but bruised; the fetters having hurt the limbs they bind, till the iron enters into the soul. You are suffering great spiritual pain, and it continues upon you from day to day. The chastisements of God leave bruises on your heart; you are so suffering that you write bitter things against yourself, and conclude that the bruises mean death. Ah, poor bruised heart, there seems neither hope nor help for you; but it is not so, for according to the text Jesus Christ was anointed to set you at liberty. Oh, how happy you shall be if at this moment you can but trust the great Emancipator. Believe that if God anointed him to do it he can set even you at liberty, though you lie in the inner prison of despair with your feet bruised by the stocks of doubt. You who have been in bondage for years, you who have not dared to hope ever since you were a child, you who have given all up, you who consider yourselves to be already condemned, you who lie at death's dark door and seem already to feel the horrors of the bottomless pit—you most sad, most wretched of all mankind, daughters of sorrow, sisters of misery—even to you is the gospel peculiarly sent. While it is to be preached to every creature under heaven, it is especially to be proclaimed to you. Here is comfort for all that mourn, for, behold, Jesus has come to proclaim liberty to such as you are, and to set free the bruised ones. I feel an inward happiness at having such a gospel to preach, and my only sad thought is that so many will refuse it. But, then, I am cheered with this—"The Lord knoweth them that are his." Those who are his sheep will hear his voice, and if ye believe not it will prove that ye are not of his sheep. All that the Father giveth to him shall come to him; and I will close with the other half of the verse, "and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." May the Lord appear very graciously unto you, for Christ's sake. Amen.
—Mourner's Comforter, The