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Lord Bishop of Rochester

Who hath believed our report — Isaiah liii. 1.

Lord Bishop of Rochester

Who hath believed our report — Isaiah liii. 1.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 14, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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DISAPPOITMETSBY ATHOY W. THOROLD, D.D.Lord Bishop of RochesterWho hath believed our report — Isaiah liii. 1.All kinds of sorrow, disappointment is atonce the most universal, inevitable, abiding - ,pathetic, and in some aspects of it noble. Theman who fails, and docs not care for failing, willnever deserve to succeed. The man who desires,if it be a good and lofty thing that he desires,supposing him to be a man of purpose, tender-ness, and insight, should he desire it in vain,cannot be quite the same man afterwards. Itis not too much to say that the greatest men inthe world — those whom we respect, admire, evenlove more than any others — are those who, whenthey missed their aim, even though they did nottake the world into their confidence, carried themarks of their trouble on them to the grave.Elijah on Horeb, John Baptist in the dungeon of Machaerus, ma)' we not add the apostle in hisprison at Caesarea, longing for liberty and forRome, touch our hearts and win our enthusiasm,even more than the grandest of conquerors at thepinnacle of their triumph. For prophets and cvan-216 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYgclists to be human, and to make us feel it, tightensthe cord that unites the least and the greatest.Let us glance at some of the disappointmentswhich fill such a large place in the chapter of earthly sorrow ; and then ask what we are to dowith them, if we would fulfil the counsel of God.There are — to select a few out of many — disappointments in our earthly affairs, in ourmoral and religious progress, and (as theprophet's question indicates) in our publicduty for God. Disappointments in earthlyaffairs come to all of us in turn, and in the
Hush of youth cause us keener pain than atany other period. ay, they are often the onlysorrows we are then called to know. Theypass ; they leave their mark, which is what theyare meant to do ; when we look back at themover a vista of years, how thankful we feel theycame. God said o to us about what wouldhave been harmful, presently to say Yes tous about what was helpful. To all who are sorewith trouble of this kind, the Psalmist's wordsshould come home, full of healing wisdom: "Restin the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Beof good courage and He shall strengthen yourheart, all ye that hope in the Lord." Disap-pointments in our moral and religious progresshave a morbid as well as a healthy side ; areoccasionally the result of over-introspection, aresuggested by the secret repinings of spiritualpride. Self-consciousness is the bane of sim-sokkow 217plicity, and simplicity is the flower of the soul.To forget ourselves as much as possible, to walk in the light as God is in the light, without toomuch thinking about it, but as a simple matterof course, because we belong to Him ; to avoidwatching our growth, but to trust God with it,while we do our duty in and for Him, is the ideallife, and the life that is also possible for all.But often it is too high for us, we cannotattain unto it. Our faults are like weeds, whichmay be cut down with the mower's scythe, butwhich have their living roots far down below.Sometimes they take us by surprise, and are toomuch for us ; and then in an unguarded momentwe seem to have lost the spoils of years, and tohave gone back to our petulant and undisciplinedchildhood. It is still hard to love God forHimself, it is still hard to carry the cross whichI le chooses for us, and to surrender the treasureswhich He claims. Jealousy, or selfishness, orpride, or worldliness seem as vital and mis-chievous in us as ever. There is but one thing
wc seem to be sure of — and the multiplyingyears have at least done this for us ; we seemore than we ever did how beautiful, how glo-rious, how heart-satisfying the Lord JesusChrist is ; and if we seem as far off as everfrom having attained to anything of His perfec-tion, His image seems more desirable than ever,His love passeth knowledge. All sorts of remedies are given us : this teacher and that218 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYteacher profess to tell the secret of a sinlesslife. One tells us that holiness is by faith.So it is, if it is meant that faith is the secretof that plentiful grace which can alone build usup into our Lord. So it is not, if it is meantthat faith or anything else can modify, suspend,or repeal the immutable laws of the spiritualkingdom, or that any amount of believing whatis not true can make what is never promised orintended come to pass. To all souls beauti-fully, grandly disappointed from time to time, bythe shallowness of their knowledge, or the incon-sistency of their lives, or the indevoutness of their worship, or the poverty of their love (thesedisappointments are in God's good providencetransitory phases, not permanent depressions),let me offer a word of warning and a word of counsel.While there is practically no limitation set toour moral and spiritual progress, the old Adamnature in us makes absolute sinlessness a pre-sumptuous dream. We cannot hate sin toomuch, nor watch against it too constantly, norcrucify it too relentlessly. But it is alwayshere — living, and visible, till death translatesus into the sinless land. The constant imita-tion of the Lord must be our one purpose, " Letthis mind be in you which was also in ChristJesus." The Indwelling Christ must be our safe-guard : " I am crucified with Christ, neverthelessI live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and

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