How cheering is the sight of a man of God! How refreshing his converse! How satisfactory and enlivening is the exhibition of his faith! The goodness of God to one becomes thus the joy and comfort of all. What an excitement is this to close communion with our God, that the light which we thus receive will shine on those around us! What a comfort will it be even in our own hour of temptation, that the hope, which we may then be enabled to maintain in the word of God, shall prove the stay, not only of our own souls, but of the Lord's people! Many a desponding Christian, oppressed with such fears as this, "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul"—when he hears of one and another exercised in the same trials, and who have hoped in God's word, and have not been disappointed, will be glad when he sees them. Thus David recorded his conflicts, that we may not despair of our own; and his triumphs, that "in the name of our God we might set up our banners." "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Thus also, under affliction, he was comforted with the thought of comforting others with the history of his own experience, "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O praise the Lord with me, and let us magnify His name together. He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall compass me about, for You shall deal bountifully with me."
In this view, the believer, who has been "sifted in the sieve" of temptation, without the least "grain" of faith or hope "falling upon the earth," stands forth as a monument of the Lord's faithfulness, to "strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees, and to say to them that are of fearful heart, Be strong, fear not." Those that are "fearful, and of little faith," are glad when they see him. They "thank God" for him, and "take courage" for themselves. What a motive is this to keep us from despondency; that, instead of destroying by our unbelief, those who are already "cast down," we may enjoy the privilege of upholding their confidence, and ministering to their comfort! And how should the weak and distressed seek for and prize the society of those, who have been instructed by the discipline of the Lord's school!
Believer! what have you to tell to your discouraged brethren of the faithfulness of your God? Cannot you put courage into their hearts, by declaring that you have never been "ashamed of your hope?" Cannot you tell them from your own experience, that Jesus "is for a foundation-stone, a tried stone, a sure foundation?" Cannot you show them, that, because He has borne the burden of their sins, He is able to "bear their griefs, and to carry their sorrows?" that you have tried Him, and that you have found Him so? Oh! be animated to know more of Christ yourself; let your hope in Him be strengthened, that you may cause gladness in the hearts of those that, see you; so that, "whether you be afflicted, or whether you be comforted, it may be for their consolation and salvation."
But, O my God! how much cause have I for shame, that I impart so little of Your glorious light to those around me! Perhaps some poor trembling sinner has been glad when he saw me, hoping to hear something of the Savior from my lips, and has found me straitened, and cold, and dumb. Oh! that I may be so "filled with the Spirit," so experienced in Your heavenly ways, that I may invite "all that do not fear to come to me," that I may "declare what You have done for my soul;" so that, "when men are cast down, they may say, There is lifting up."
When a man of God obtains grace for himself he becomes a blessing to others, especially if that grace has made him a man of sound understanding and holy knowledge, God-fearing men are encouraged when they meet with experienced believers. A hopeful man is a God-send when things are declining or in danger. When the hopes of one believer are fulfilled, his companions are cheered and established, and led to hope also. It is good for the eyes to see a man whose witness is that the Lord is true; it is one of the joys of saints to hold converse with their more advanced brethren. The fear of God is not a left-handed grace, as some have called it; it is quite consistent with gladness; for if even the sight of a comrade gladdens the God-fearing, how glad must they be in the presence of the Lord himself! We do not only meet to share each other's burdens, but to partake in each other's joys, gracious men contribute largely to the stock of mutual gladness. Hopeful men bring gladness with them. Despondent spirits spread the infection of depression, and hence few are glad to see them; while those whose hopes are grounded upon God's word carry sunshine in their faces, and are welcomed by their fellows. When professors by their freezing words chill all hearts the godly avoid their company. May this never be our character!