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the brethren, how soon would there be harmony in Jerusalem! What triumphs would crown her arms! what prosperity would bless her palaces! The sin, the shame, the scandal, the monstrous, unnatural, afflicting spectacle of Christian churches, up in arms against each other, and stunning the ears of a wondering, scoffing world with the din of battle, would cease, for ever cease. Let the fields of war present the horrid spectacle of men shearing off each other's limbs, and plunging their swords into each other's breasts, but who ever heard of a case so monstrous, as a man's hands and feet and other members declaring war, one with another? Alas! such a sight the church of Christ has often presented. The most wretched reasons have been considered good enough for separating or remaining separate. Paltry differences have given rise to quarrels, and quarrels have given rise to blows, and blows have ended in running sores and bitter hatreds, and a bleeding, weeping church has been left, when asked about her wounds, to reply, "These are the wounds with which 1 was wounded in the house of my friends."
Oh, that all our unhappy, unholy contentions would cease! How long, 0 Lord, how long! Come, Holy Dove, and sweep the storms away with thy snow-white wing, bringing from heaven the branch of an olive plucked from the trees that grow by the river of life. Yet vain meanwhile the wish! Never shall the ark rest, nor sweet peace brood, like a halcyon bird, on the troubled waters, till Christ receives the honor which is his due; till the Head that is in heaven rules the body that is on earth; till the names of fathers, both ancient and modern, are discarded, and no authority but Christ's is acknowledged by a church which he has bought with his precious blood, and whose members, loved so dearly by him, ought so kindly and so dearly to love one another. "Even so come, Lord Jesus."
III. As Head of his church, Jesus Christ sympathises with its members.
According to Solomon, " all the rivers run into the sea," and were you to dissect the body you would find that all the nerves run into the brain. The head, is the centre of the nervous system. Beneath that palatial dome the soul dwells; and by the nerves which run out from that centre she corresponds with matter, looking through the eyes, feeling by the hand, hearing by the ears, speaking by the tongue, and, unless when she seizes the hours of sleep to rest herself or to roam away in dreams, thusholding communion with the outer world. The nerves form a perfect system of living telegraphs. By means of them the soul knows in an instant what passes in all parts of her realm, and takes immediate measures for the well-being of every member of the body. Let the foot but touch a thorn, it is instantly withdrawn. And how? Pain, thrilling along the nerves, flashes the danger upward to the head, which, by another set of nerves, flashes back an immediate order, so that before the thorn is buried in the flesh, the foot is withdrawn. If but the wing of a gnat brush, if but a mote of dust touch the guardian fringes, the eyelid drops, like the portcullis at yonder castle gate, to keep out the enemy. Thus the head sympathizes with all the body, and, sympathizing, succours it.
Such is the sympathy between Christ and his people. Let that comfort, strengthen, cheer you. He is in constant, ay, in closest communication with every one of his members; and by means of lines that stretched along the starry sky pass from earth to heaven, the meanest cottage where a believer dwells is joined to the throne of God. No accident stops that telegraph. The lines of providence radiate out, and the lines of prayer radiate in. Touched with a fellow-feeling for your infirmities, Christ suffers all your wrongs, is sensible of your every want, and hears every prayer you utter. You can never apply to him too often; you cannot ask of him too much. To his ear the needy's prayers are sweeter music than the voice of angels, or the best strung harp in heaven.
In a distant land, how bitterly the poor invalid thinks of home! Oh! how he wishes he could annihilate the seas that roll between him and his mother, and remove his sick-bed, far from her kind attentions. A stranger in a strange land, the bitter tears rise the faster in his eye as busy fancy flies away, and the home of his boyhood stands before him, and the cool breeze wafting odours from the flowers kisses his cheek, and he passes under the shadow of the trees where he played a happy child, and, entering the well-known door, he hears his sister's song, and a father's merry laugh, and a mother's sweet, soft, loving voice, and sees those that would hasten to his help, and hang over his bed, and smooth his restless pillow, and wipe the deathsweat from his brow, gathered, a bright and happy circle, by a fireside he shall never more see.
It is sweet to feel that any one cares for us; sweetest in suffering's hour to have those near who love us, to see the glistening tear, and hear the kind tones of unwearying affection. But human sympathy, take it at the best, is liable to a thousand interruptions; and then we have sometimes sorrows that we hide from others, with which a bosom friend is not allowed to intermeddle. But, blessed Jesus! there is no sorrow thy people hide from thee, nor any pang thy members feel but it is felt by thee. Thanks be to God that, selecting from our frame its most sensitive and tender part, he has set this forth in an image which all can appreciate and understand. "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye."
If, to words that so beautifully and fully set forth the tender sympathy which Christ, as their Head, cherishes for his beloved people, I could venture to add any that ever fell from mortal lips, I would select those of Margaret Wilson, Scotland's maiden martyr. Some two hundred years ago, there was a dark period of suffering in this land, when deeds of bloody cruelty were committed on God's people, not outdone by Indian butcheries. One day the tide is flowing in the Solway Firth, rushing, like a race-horse, with snowy mane to the shore. It is occupied by groups of weeping spectators. They keep their eyes fixed on two objects out upon the wet sands. There, two women, each tied fast by their arms and limbs to a stake, stand within the sea-mark; and many an earnest prayer is going up to heaven that Christ, who bends from his throne to the sight, would help them now in their dreadful hour of need. The elder of the two is staked farthest out. Margaret, the young martyr, stands bound, a fair sacrifice, near by the shore. Well, on the big billows come, hissing to their naked feet; on and further on they come, death riding on the top of the waves, and eyed by these tender women with unflinching courage. The waters rise and rise, till, amid a scream and cry of horror from the shore, the lessening form of her that had death first to face, is lost in the foam of the surging wave. It recedes, but only to return; and now, the sufferer gasping for breath, her death struggle is begun; and now, for Margaret's trial and her noble answer. "What see you yonder ?" said their murderers, as, while the water rose cold on her own limbs, they pointed her attention to her fellow-confessor in the suffocating agonies of a protracted death. Response full of the boldest faith, and brightest hope, and all the divine, unfathomed consolation of my text to you, she firmly answered, " I see Christ suffering in one of his own members." Brave and glorious words! borrowed in that hour from the precious language of my text, and leading us to the apostle's most comforting and sublime conclusion, "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."