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Christ, the Everlasting Father
by Octavius Winslow
"His name shall be called.... the Everlasting Father." Isaiah 9:6
It is not to the First Person of the blessed Trinity that these words primarily refer. In that case our theme would properly be, the Fatherhood of God. This prophecy- a portion of which we have already considered- clearly belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to Him the evangelical prophet thus gives witness. This interpretation may at first sight perplex the minds of some readers of the Bible.
They will be embarrassed by the application to the Second Person, of a title which they have been wont, and properly so, to ascribe to the First Person of the Trinity– in other words that, to the Son of God should be given a designation which would seem by the concurrent testimony of Scripture to belong exclusively to the Father. This title of our Lord will, perhaps, involve, in view of some minds, an insuperable difficulty. They will be disposed to ask, "How can a child just born be a father? How can an 'infant of days' be the 'Ancient of days?'
You ask me to believe a doctrine which carries upon its very face an absurdity and a contradiction." But, suppose I were to answer your questions by putting to you one which the Savior once addressed to the caviling Pharisees, "How can David's son be David's Lord?" With your view of a mere created Savior you could not answer this question, neither can any one who does not believe that Christ was God and man united. But, believing this doctrine- the Deity and the Humanity of the Son of God- the difficulty vanishes. As God, Christ was David's Lord; as man, He was David's son, because He was born of the house and lineage of David.
By reasoning, we find a solution of the mystery before us. As man, our blessed Lord was "a child born;" as God, He was the "everlasting Father." As born of a woman, He was the "holy child Jesus;" as uncreated and from everlasting, He was the Father of eternity. With the utmost propriety, therefore, was He entitled "the everlasting Father." But we trust that, in our present exposition, all difficulty will be removed, and that this expressive title of Christ- "the everlasting Father"- will be found not less applicable, instructive, and endearing than any we have as yet considered.
Every view of the Lord Jesus is significant and precious to the believing mind. He is a wonderful being, composed of a complex nature, combining an infinite variety of perfections, human and divine. Study him from what stand-point we may, some new trait of excellence and beauty is unveiled, heightening His glory and deepening our love. We cannot find His parallel in nature. There are some works of art which, whatever the genius they display or the beauty they embody, can only be seen to perfection in one kind or degree of light. Viewed in any other, and there appears such a commingling of color and confusion of design as entirely to destroy the effect of the picture.
And there are some characters which can only be thus studied. View them as patriots, or as philanthropists, or as heroes, or as thinkers, and they appear to perfection- in any other character they are lost. But not so our blessed Lord Jesus. Contemplate Him in every light, view Him from any stand-point, study Him in every office and relation and act, and whether you view parts or the whole of His character, He appears in perfect symmetry, fairer than the children of men, the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely. But let us now view Him under a new and impressive title as the "everlasting Father." How are we to understand this? May the Divine Spirit teach us!
We have already reminded the reader that we must keep the Three Persons of the Godhead in their distinct relation– the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Properly speaking, the First Person of the Trinity is the Father, and must be regarded as distinct from the Son. On every suitable occasion our dear Lord asserted His divine Sonship. He hesitated not to speak of Himself as distinct from the Father, as with the Father from eternity, as the only-begotten and beloved Son of the Father; and as anointed of the Father, to whom the Father had committed all judgment. And yet our Lord is styled the "everlasting Father." In what sense are we to understand this?
In the first place, HE IS DIVINELY ONE WITH THE FATHER. Distinct in person, yet one in essence; separate in relation, yet one in nature, He is of the same substance with the Father. In this sense we are to understand His remarkable declaration, "I and the Father are one." One, not as we have intimated, in person- for the Father is a distinct person- the Son is a distinct person- and the Holy Spirit is a distinct person- but one in nature and essence. The verb is plural, and the passage may be rendered, "I and my Father, we are one." They are one in mind and heart, one in purpose and counsel, one in will and affection.
Now in this sense we may read this title of Christ, "the everlasting Father," and how significantly it appears! So essentially is He one with God- yes, so truly and absolutely God, that, without losing His personal relation, He may be justly styled the "everlasting Father." Perhaps, there is not another title of our Lord more truly descriptive of His divine nature than this. So essentially is He the same with the Father, that He is, even without intending any confusion of people, called the "Father." Thus, though He do not be the Father, touching His personality in the Godhead, yet is He properly and justly so denominated.
Moreover, He is called the "everlasting Father," because He alone makes the Father known to us. There was but One being in the universe who could fully reveal the Father. It is thus declared, "No man has seen God at any time; the only- begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." Listen to the Savior Himself. "No man knows the Son but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." In this light, too, we interpret the meaning of those remarkable words, couched in the form of a gentle, yet searching rebuke, addressed to Philip, "Philip, don't you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you?
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see him? Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say are not my own, (that is, not of myself separate from the mind of the Father,) but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of what you have seen me do." Oh, glorious revelation of God! Groping in the darkness of nature, amid stars and flowers and rocks, men search for God and find Him not: for who by searching amid "the things that are made" can learn God's moral character and relations? Nowhere is the glorious fact written in flaming letters across the heavens- nowhere does it glow in the sunbeams, or is breathed by the wind, or is echoed by the sea, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
But men pass by the only true revelation of God in Christ Jesus. A veil is on their hearts, the shadow of death is upon their souls, and they know not and see not God. But this veil is done away in Christ. Uplifted and removed by Him, lo! the Father stands before us in full-orbed majesty, every perfection and attribute of His nature, every thought of His mind and affection of His heart revealed- a just God and a Savior. Oh that men would learn that their only true, saving knowledge of God is through Christ- "This is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." What a precious truth is this to you who know just enough of your heart's plague to take you to Christ, and just enough of Christ to be assured that you are saved.
It is in the light of this title of Christ that we learn the parental relation in which God stands to us. Christ is the "everlasting Father," because He makes His Father known to us as Our Father. We could have known nothing of God as sustaining this close relation, and as wearing this endearing character, but as Jesus taught us it. And how outspoken was He on this point. With what unreserve He admitted us to this truth. He taught us to pray: "Our Father Who is in heaven." And after His resurrection, and on the eve of His ascension, He reminded His disciples that He was about to "go to His Father and to our Father." Who but the eternal Son could reveal the parental relation and portray the paternal character of God?
Until He thus uplifted the veil, how profound the ignorance of the world and even of the Church respecting it. Listen to His emphatic declarations– "Oh righteous Father, the world has not known You." "No man knows the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." "I have manifested Your name unto the men whom You gave me out of the world." O what a precious treasure the only-begotten of the Father now possessed, and with what a glorious mission was He charged- that of revealing the great Jehovah to man in the light and glory of a reconciled Father. Such is the relation as embodied in the title of our Lord- the "everlasting Father."
Christ, as the "everlasting Father," reveals the paternal love of God. The love of God to us must be a divine revelation. The fall of man obliterated from the human mind all consciousness of the love of God. To the sin-obscured eye of man, God appeared no longer a Father, but a judge; no longer a loving friend, but a relentless foe. "The carnal mind is enmity against God;" and why? Because all vestiges of His character are effaced from the mind, and through the distorting medium of guilt, man looks upon God in any and every relation than as a Father, and as clothed with any and every attribute but love.
But Christ has come to vindicate the character, and reveal the relation of God. "God is love." And the only-begotten Son of God, who was in the bosom of the Father, left that bosom, His heart all glowing with the love within whose infinite depths He had eternally dwelt. He came to make known, what He only could, the marvellous fact, that God still loved us. Within the compass of one declaration, He embodies a truth, the dimensions of which were as vast and glorious as His being- "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Sin had not annihilated the love of God. Rebellion had not alienated the heart of the Father. From the moment the fatal fruit was plucked, the love of God ceased to flow, as once it did, when the unsinning creature trod the sylvan walks of paradise in holy converse with God. But although restrained, it had not ceased; although hidden, it was not lost. God was still love, and still loved man. And what expedient would He adopt, in order to assure man of this great fact, that, while sin had changed his views of God, it had not touched God's love to him? He adopted the only one adequate to meet the case.
Love must become incarnate; and in the person of the only-begotten Son of God proclaim, "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Behold, child of God, the precious truth Christ, as the "everlasting Father," makes known to you. God loves you, loves you as Father, loves as no earthly father possibly could. He came to show us that God's love was parental. Passing by all other relations, He selected that which He knew entwined the closest and the dearest around the human heart- the relation of a parent– and taught us to approach God in prayer, and faith, and love, in the endearing appellation of Father. And shall we not open our hearts to this paternal love of God without a single feeling of distrust? If Christ has taught us this truth, it were base unbelief to doubt, still more base ingratitude to reject it.
Shall this truth, the knowledge of which Christ, the "everlasting Father," came from heaven to impart, remain in our possession a dead and useless thing? Shall we first distrust it, then sport with it, and at last put it away from us as a matter of no concern of ours? God forbid! You earthly parents, look into your hearts, and see if there exists a passion half so deep, a sentiment half so tender, a feeling half so deathless, as the love you cherish for your offspring.
But what is the love, what the pity, what the self-denying, all-absorbing, life-sacrificing affection reposing in every cloister of your heart, compared with the ocean of love that dwells in the heart of your heavenly Parent for you? And yet how prone to doubt it! how ready to question it! how faintly we realize it! how little we practically employ and personally experience it in our hearts! But, beloved, keep yourselves in this paternal love of God. Abide in it, live in its enjoyment, walk in its light, be constrained by its influence; in a word, be filled with it, let it be your guiding star, the robe you wear, the atmosphere you breathe, the goal that allures your spirit to immortality!
In the light of this paternal love of God, the fountain of which Christ, the "everlasting Father," came to unseal, we are to read all the dealings of God. If God's dispensations are dark and mysterious, His footsteps in the sea, and His thoughts a great deep; if His providences are painful, trying to faith and patience, let faith interpret them of love. The Father's love, that gave you the Son of His love, will withhold no blessing, and will send no trial, but what shall eventually terminate in a deeper, wider unfolding of the great love with which, as a Father, He loves you.
As the "everlasting Father," our blessed Lord Jesus equally unfolds to us the unity of the Father in His atoning work. A more important truth is not taught us by the Great Teacher than this. There exists in the minds of some a latent suspicion, touching the part the Father took in the redemption of the Church, highly detrimental to His glory. The idea is, that the Atonement is the cause rather than , the result of God's love; that the death of the Son inspired the love of the Father. But nothing could be more contrary to the real fact.
When our Lord Jesus declared, "My Father is in Me, and I in Him," "I and My Father are One," the great truth He thus sought to enunciate was, the essential and perfect unity of the Father and the Son in the great Atonement He offered once for all for the sins of His people. In fact, there is a sense in which- only short of identity- the obedience of the Son was equally the obedience of the Father, and the sufferings of the Son were equally the sufferings of the Father, and the Atonement of the Son was equally the Atonement of the Father. In this wondrous scheme of saving sinners, they were essentially, indivisibly, and eternally one. Two persons, but one heart, one mind, and one will. What encouragement you have here to approach God in the character and with the petition of a sinner.
Your warrant to come is what Christ is, and what He has done, in perfect harmony with the Father. He is the "everlasting Father," because He represents His Father and our Father, His God and our God. "He that has seen Me has seen the Father," is an emphatic declaration of Christ we cannot, when treating of this subject, too frequently repeat. Oh for more faith to give a reality and a present actuality to this truth! Oh to feel that when my faith entwines around my Savior, and when my love enfolds Him in its embrace, I include the eternal God as made flesh in the person of Christ, the "everlasting Father." What substance and reality does this unity of the Father and the Son in redemption give!
What augmentation of love, what increase of power, what stronger attraction of the cross, when we remember that every step Christ took in redemption, every pang He endured, every groan He uttered, every sigh He breathed, every tear He wept, all the throes and agonies and pulsations of His soul-travail in the garden- supplied us with a line enabling us to fathom the Father's love, grace, and compassion to an infinite depth, yet leaving that depth immeasurably deeper still! "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and gave His Son to be a propitiation for our sins." "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"
This expressive title is also intended to remind us that Christ leads us to the Father. How emphatic His words bearing upon this truth- "No man comes unto the Father but by Me." Christ is the "everlasting Father," because He introduces us to the Father; presents us for pardon, for acceptance, for adoption. Thus in coming believingly to Christ we come filially to the Father, and the Father receives us graciously, because He is well pleased with His beloved Son.
What sweet encouragement is this never to hesitate approaching God! If our eyes rest not upon Jesus, but are looking exclusively within ourselves, and at our sins, backslidings, and unworthiness- at the trials, and difficulties, and discouragements which would impede our approach- then we shall never find our way to God. We shall weep in secret, pine in solitude, and carry our load of sin, care, and need alone, unsoothed, uncheered, unsustained by the comfort, sympathy, and power we should have found in drawing near unto God. But Jesus leads us to Him just as we are, gives us access by His own blood into the Divine presence, and lays us as His children upon the paternal heart of God.
Hence is He styled the "everlasting Father." In drawing us to Himself, he draws us to the Father, and in conducting us into the immediate presence of the Father, He leads us up to the Divine and infinite spring-head from where flowed the love that gave Him to us, the Friend and Savior of sinners. This, my reader, opens to you the sweetest and holiest privilege this side of heaven- access to the Father, through the merits and blood-shedding of Jesus. I repeat, what great encouragement to a close and filial walk with God! With such an open door to God as Christ, the "everlasting Father"- a door open in the lowest depths of soul-sorrow, open in our deepest valley of suffering, in our gloomiest day of adversity, in our darkest night of sorrow- why should we hesitate coming to our heavenly Father in the name of Christ, the "everlasting Father," the Son of His love?
Oh, faintly do we realize the reality and freeness of this privilege of sweetest and free access into the presence of God by prayer, through the atoning blood of Jesus. There is everything in yourself to keep you at a distance; there is everything in Christ to bring you near. Having put away your sins– broken down every barrier- cancelled all your great debt– rising from the grave, and ascending into heaven to represent your person and present your petitions- having done all this, we are invited to "draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
Avail yourself, my reader, of this sacred and precious privilege. The angels in heaven are not so favored. They are near to God as unfallen creatures, standing in their own righteousness; but you are nearer to God than they, standing as a sinner in the imputed righteousness of God Himself. They approach the throne of glory in the atmosphere of their own holiness; you, who were far off by wicked works, are brought near by the blood of Christ, and commune with God, as angels cannot, as the objects of His electing love, as the children of His adopting grace, as partakers of His Divine nature. Arise, then, and with boldness enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; for your heavenly Father extends to you, in Him, the golden scepter, the symbol of approach, and bids you present your every petition, and make known your every request. And what are your petitions?
Ah! how many and varied, how urgent and touching, the needs of the Lord's people are! "Blessed Lord, I am oppressed with anxiety and care; undertake for me!" "My Father, I am smitten with adversity; hide me under the shadow of Your wings." "My God, I am mentally depressed, and am walking in great darkness; let the light of Your countenance shine upon me!" "Lord, my heart is broken with sorrow, my soul is bowed down with grief, all Your waves and Your billows are gone over me; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."
"Jesus, Savior, I come tainted with sin, and burdened with guilt; my transgressions are as crimson, and my sins as the sands for multitude: purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." "O Lord, I fear I am deceived, have committed the unpardonable sin, and shall be a poor castaway, and never reach heaven at last. Dissipate my fears, and remove my doubts; lighten my burden, confirm my hope, and say unto my soul, I am your salvation." Coming thus, my reader, to God, in the name of Christ the "everlasting Father," you may unveil every sorrow, make known every request, acknowledge every sin, and lose yourself, with all your needs and woes, in the fathomless depths of His unchanged, unchangeable love.
It is greatly encouraging, too, to consider our Lord Jesus as the "everlasting Father." Our thoughts are thus carried back to the past of His being, are concentrated upon the present of His existence, and are carried onward to the future of His coming. We need this doctrine of Christ's everlasting being; for all around and within us is changeful and passing away. Nothing earthly, nothing human abides; change is visibly and indelibly written upon all. It is the cankerworm embosomed in the heart of earth's loveliest flower, and feeds at the root of time's most refreshing gourd. But the most frequent and painful changes are those we find in our spiritual life.
What fluctuations of experience, what fickleness of love, what variations of faith, what ebb and flow of our religious feeling! And then, how changing the events of Divine providence!- how many dissolving views, lights and shadows, joys and sorrows, smiles and tears, are often crowded into the history of a single day! How sad and painful, too, the separations in life!- distance parting us from one, death sundering the link that bound us to another! Truly all here is changing; but here is One who changes not- even Christ, "the everlasting Father."
Other relations will cease, other friends will relocate, other joys will fade, other hopes will die, and other ties will break; but Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Christ is essentially immutable; He is the Surety and Mediator of the everlasting covenant, Himself the "everlasting Father." And because He has an unchangeable priesthood, He ever lives to make intercession for His people, and saves to the uttermost extent of sin, and to the latest period of time.
How comforting is the assurance which this truth gives us of the everlasting love of Christ! It never veers, never chills, and knows not the shadow of a change. Measuring Christ's love to us by our love to Him, we often imagine that it must necessarily be affected by the cold, chilling atmosphere of our hearts; that when our love to Him ebbs, His love to us also ebbs; that when ours proves fickle and treacherous, wandering after some creature idol, then His love, exacting reprisals, in like manner starts off, and quits us for another and perhaps more faithful object.
No! the love of Jesus to His saints, of our Joseph to His brethren, of Christ the "everlasting Father" to His children, is eternal as His being, is as unchangeable as His nature. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" It has separated us from all others for itself, and it will never separate, or allow anything else to separate us from itself. "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Yield not, then, to despondency, beloved, when you discover the mercury of your love sink, even though it be to freezing-point.
There may be times when you can scarcely detect its existence, so faint its beating pulse, so congealed its warm current. But since Christ's love is not the effect, but the cause of ours to Him, and is an everlasting love, glowing in His heart ages that cannot be numbered or measured before one pulse throbbed in ours, we may take comfort in the assurance that no variation of affection in us towards the Savior can in the slightest degree affect the tenderness, depth, or immutability of the great love with which He has loved us.
Look, then, to Christ's love to you, and not to your love to Christ. Go and lay your icy heart upon His flaming heart of love; go to His cross, and there muse upon the love that bore your sins, that suffered and bled, that wept, and groaned, and died for you, paying the death-penalty of your transgressions; and, while you thus muse, the flame will kindle, the fire will burn, and your tongue will break forth into singing-
"Oh for this Love, let rock and hills
Their lasting silence break,
And all harmonious human tongues,
The Savior's praises speak.
"Were the whole realm of Nature mine,
That were a present far too small-
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all."
If our Lord Jesus, though our elder brother, yet stands to us in so close and endearing a relation as the "everlasting Father," should there not be in our hearts the responsive spirit of filial love? If God in Christ is our Father, surely it behooves us to know our adoption by grace, and to obey and serve, and come to Him, not as slaves and aliens, but as children and brethren, whom His own free love constrains to an unreserved obedience and to a holy walk. "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father." Rest not short of this
attainment; sink not below your adoption; see in Christ the reflection of your heavenly Father's relation to and love for you; and walk in the holy liberty of sons and daughters, upheld by His "free Spirit;" and, thus upheld, bringing forth the "fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
Thus realizing our adoption, we shall know more what it is to have power with God in prayer. There is no petition like that of a child, no language that goes so directly to a parent's heart as a son's. "Abba, Father," has more power with God than all other appeals the most eloquent in diction, persuasive in argument, or protracted in length. As Luther observes, "This feeble crying is a mighty voice in the ear of God, and so fills heaven and earth that God hears nothing else; for it drowns the cries of all other things whatever."
Let this encourage you to come like a little helpless child with your simple cry to Him, your "everlasting Father." Speak out all you need, or if your language is broken, lisp it again and again; the Lord will not send you empty away. The shortest prayer and the most simple cry has shot past all other more elaborate and lengthened prayers, and has reached heaven the first. The eloquence of groans, the voice of tears, the language of desire, the utterances of the heart- these are things which have power with God, and prevail. Oh, then, arise and give yourself to prayer, and though the answer tarry- wait, it will surely come.
It is profitable to keep in remembrance the fact, that we are fruitful in holiness only as we live upon Him from whom our fruit is found. Holiness is a plant of paradise, a divine principle, a fruit of the Spirit, found only in the truly regenerate. Its Author, therefore, like its origin, must be supernatural and divine. To this end we must be looking to Jesus, be living upon Jesus, keeping close to Jesus, abiding in Jesus, without whom we can do nothing. Let me simply illustrate this thought.
Gather from your vine a cluster of grapes. Mark how the fruit that stands the highest and is the nearest to the wood looks the largest, blossoms the richest, and tastes the sweetest, just because it hangs the closest to the vine and derives more largely of its vitality. So is it with the believing soul. Look at those saints who live the nearest to the cross, how much more fruitful are their souls, and how much more lovely their lives, adorned with the "beauties of holiness," than others, who, though equally engrafted on Christ the vine, live at so remote a distance from Him, the source of their spiritual life, grace, and strength, as to appear sickly, unfruitful, and ready to die.
Oh cease, then, to live upon spiritual frames and feelings, to look at your duties, service, and barrenness; but, like Mary and the other holy women, stand close by the cross of Jesus, draw largely from the fulness of Christ, take every taint of guilt, every shade of sorrow, every dart of Satan, every disappointment in the creature, every assault of the world, every wound of the saints, every want and trial and perplexity to Jesus; so shall you be a fruit-bearing branch of the Vine, fulfilling the desire of your Lord, "Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples."
O Christian, have you learned these lessons? Then let your actions be Christ-like, and walk as you have Him for an example. He lived to teach you how to live, and He died to teach you how to die. He that will not follow the example of Christ's life shall never be saved by the merits of His death. As He is the root on which a saint grows, so He is the rule by which a saint squares. If He is not your soul's staff to guide you to heaven, He will never be your soul's ladder to mount up to heaven. We should be as willing to be ruled by Christ as we are willing to be saved by Christ.
God made one Son like to all, that He might make all His sons like to one. If the life of Christ is not your portion, you are dead. God in Christ is a Father that stamps upon all His children the lovely image of Christ. They resemble Him to the very life. God will allow no man to wear the livery of Christ upon him who has not the likeness of Christ within him. "We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Viewed in the light of this divine and endearing relation, how parental appear the rebukes and corrections of Christ, the "everlasting Father." As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him, and those also whom He corrects, and whom He corrects because He loves them. "For the Lord disciplines those he loves, he punishes those he accepts as his children." Are you a tried believer, an afflicted saint, a chastened child? Has adversity swept from you riches? has disease robbed you of health? has death bereaved you of the desire of your eyes? O misinterpret not these, the dealings of the "everlasting Father."
Could you spy into His heart, not one thought or feeling of anger towards us would you see. There has been a holy and, perhaps, urgent needs be for this discipline. It has been sent either as a corrective or as a preventive; either as a rod to restore, or as a curb to restrain you. There may be divine mystery in it, but nothing unwise; severity, but nothing unkind; bitterness, but no wrath; a cloud of thick darkness, but not unrelieved by the softening luster of the rainbow which is round about the throne. He that sits upon that throne is Jesus, your Savior; Christ, your "everlasting Father;" and He judges righteously. Accept, then, your present affliction as the fruit of love, as the dictate of wisdom, and as a part, an indispensable part, of your education for heaven, your fitness for glory.
Jesus Himself trod the path you now tread. "Though He was a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." And if He, your sinless, perfect Lord and Savior, was taught in this school, taught the holy lesson of obedience, shall we shrink from a like discipline, from being taught a like lesson, as among the many sons God our Father is bringing to glory? Be still then, O chastened child, and know that He is God, even your God. You are in His hands, and oh, how safe are you there!
Better, far better, to fall into a Father's hands, though it hold a rod uplifted even to slay, than to be left in the hands of the dearest creature upon earth. A loving Father's frowns are better than the treacherous creature's smiles. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Give me the wounds, if I must have them, of my Heavenly Friend, and let who will take the world's caresses. Peace, then, troubled soul! You are in God's hands, and He can do nothing wrong. Give Him back kisses for His smitings- return Him smiles for His frowns- and let the accents of cheerful acquiescence respond to the voice that bids you resign your Benjamin, or slay your Isaac.
And what, my reader, if you have no part or lot in this matter? What if you cannot look upon the Lord Jesus as your "everlasting Father"? Then the children's inheritance is not yours, and, dying thus portionless, Christ will be your everlasting judge. Oh, that solemn, that significant word, "everlasting!" "Everlasting punishment!" "Everlasting life!" If Christ is "everlasting" then the punishment which He will award to the impenitent, and the happiness which He will bestow upon the righteous, must be also everlasting; "for He is of one mind; and who can turn Him?" Annihilation! there is not such a thing in the universe.
God Himself must be annihilated before one soul, saved or lost, can ever cease to be. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into life eternal." Oh, fly to Christ! There is no forgiveness of sin, no acceptance of the sinner, no salvation of the lost, no hope of glory, but in Christ Jesus. Simple, child-like faith in Christ will put you in happy possession of pardoning, justifying, adopting grace now; and that grace will put you in possession of the fulness of glory hereafter. The two are inseparable. Grace is glory militant, and glory is grace triumphant. Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace made perfect. Grace is the first degree of glory, glory is the highest degree of grace. Grace is the seed, glory is the flower.
Grace is the ring, glory is the sparkling diamond in the ring. Grace is the growing infant, and glory is the perfect man of grace. Thus, however limited the degree, and imperfect the growth of your grace now, you have grasped by faith the last and lowest link of the golden chain let down from heaven, which before long will raise you to the first and highest. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."