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Friendly Sympathy Illustrated.

Friendly Sympathy Illustrated.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. C. SIMEON, M. A.



Job ii. 11 — 13. Noir, when Job's three friends heard of all this
evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his
own place ; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite,
and Zophar the Naamathite : for they had made an appoint-
ment together to come to mourn with him, and to comprt
him. And when iheij lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew
Mm not, tbei/ If ted up their voice and wept; and they rent
even/ one h's mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads
toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground
seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto
him : for they saw that his grief was very great.
JOB in a second conflict had gained the victory:
vea thouo-h his wife acted as a confederate with Satan,
BY REV. C. SIMEON, M. A.



Job ii. 11 — 13. Noir, when Job's three friends heard of all this
evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his
own place ; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite,
and Zophar the Naamathite : for they had made an appoint-
ment together to come to mourn with him, and to comprt
him. And when iheij lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew
Mm not, tbei/ If ted up their voice and wept; and they rent
even/ one h's mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads
toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground
seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto
him : for they saw that his grief was very great.
JOB in a second conflict had gained the victory:
vea thouo-h his wife acted as a confederate with Satan,

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FRIEDLY SYMPATHY ILLUSTRATED.

BY REV. C. SIMEO, M. A.
Job ii. 11 — 13. oir, when Job's three friends heard of all this
evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his
own place ; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite,
and Zophar the aamathite : for they had made an appoint-
ment together to come to mourn with him, and to comprt
him. And when iheij lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew
Mm not, tbei/ If ted up their voice and wept; and they rent
even/ one h's mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads
toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground
seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto
him : for they saw that his grief was very great.
JOB in a second conflict had gained the victory:
vea thouo-h his wife acted as a confederate with
•^ ' ° Satan,
384 JOB, 11. 11-— 13. • [304.
Satan, and urged him to " curse God and die," yet
did he retain his integrity, and prove himself worthy
of the character which God had given him. But the
rumour of his unprecedented calamities had spread
far and wide, and had caused all those who should
have been a comfort to him to depart from him ;
insomuch that, having none to administer to his
relief, he had " taken a potsherd to scrape himself
withal." But three of his aged friends, descendants
of Abraham, though not of the chosen seed, still
loved and honoured him ; and feeling their incom-
petency, as individuals, to afford him all the in-
struction and consolation that the occasion called
for, concerted a plan to visit him together, and to
unite their eiforts for his welfare. An account of
their first interview is here set before us ; and a
most interesting account it is. In. discoursing upon
it, we shall be led to contemplate,
I. The nature of love —
[Love, as described by St. Paul % and as summarily expressed
by our blessed Lord*', is the acting in all things towards our
neighbour as we would think it right that he, in a change of cir-
cumstances, should act towards us. It makes us to consider all
men as members of one great body, and to participate with them
in their feelings, as the different members of our own body would
with each otlier'^. If any be afflicted, it prompts us to fly to
their relief, and to concert the best measures in our power for
their restoration to happiness. In the friends of Job we see the
nature of love well exemplified : they did not feel indifferent
about him, or run from him, as they did whose hearts were des-
titute of love ; but they met together for the express purpose of
participating and alleviating his sorrows. They did this, too,
unsolicited, and unsought : it was the fruit of a Divine principle
within them, the voluntary expression of their own affectionate
regards. This was a " love, not in word and in tongue, but in
deed and in truth :" it was " a love without dissimulation :" and
wherever true love exists, it will produce exactly the same dispo-
sitions, and stimulate, according to its measure, to the same
exertions.]
In executing their benevolent plan. Job's friends
have shewn us,
II. The
» 1 Cor. xiii. 4 — 7. ^ Mark xii.31. Matt. vii. 12.
• J Cor. xii. 25, 26.
304. j FRIEDLY SYMPATHY ILLUSTRATED. 385
II. The effects of sympathy —
[When they were yet at some distance from him, they saw
him ; but would not have recognized him at all, (so altered was
he in his whole appearance,) if they had not been prepared for
the change by the reports which thev had heard concerning him.
Burthe sight deeply affected them ali ; so thai thev burst forth
into floods of tears, and rent their mantles, as expressive of their
anguish, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward'^ heaven,
as mourners were wont to do'^. On coming into his in-nediate
presence, " they sat down with him upon the ground sevc i days
and seven nights, that is, a considerable part of each successive
day*; and so overwhelmed were they with the sight of his melan-
choly condition, that none of them could give utterance to their
feelings, or attempt to suggest any thing for his relief.
Those who have never known from their own experience how
entirely the soul may be overwhelmed with sympathv, conjecture,
that during all this time the friends of Job were harbouring su-
spicions which they did not dare to express. But this idea is very
injurious to the character of those holy men, and directly con-
trary to the account given in our text : for their silence "is ex-
pressly ascribed to the overpowering effect of their own sympathy
at the sight of his unparalleled afflictions ; " They spake not, for
they saw that his grief was very great :" and to this cause it
must be ascribed. We know, that as silence is the proper effect
of great sorrow f, (David says, " I am so troubled that I cannot
speaks,") so is it also of deep sympathy; such as the elders of
the daughters of Zion experienced, when they saw their city and
Temple destroyed, their princes and people carried into captivity,
the law of their God forgotten, and their prophets no longer
favoured with vis^ions from the Lord\ In a word, the effect of
sympathy is, to make the sorrows of another our own ; and to
produce in our hearts those very feelings of grief and anguish,
which the afflicted individual himself is called to sustain.]
The interview, thus illustrated, displays,
III. The excellence of true religion —
[The whole of true religion is comprehended under the
term love: "Love is the fulfilling of the law*." Moreover,
the sympathy before delineated, is the most unecjuivocal expres-
sion of love : " Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the
Father, isjhis; To visit the fatherless and widows in their
affliction ^" See then religion as exemplified in our text, how
beautiful
^ See this whole expression of sorrow exemplified in those who
mourned over the destruction of Tyre ; Ezek. xxvii. 30^31.
• See Luke ii. 37. & Acts xx, 31.
" Curae leves loquuntur; ingentes stnpent."
' Ps. Ixxvii. 4. " Lam. li. .9— 11.
' Rom. xii. S— 10. ^ Jam. i. 27.
VOL. in. c c
386 JOB, II. 11 — 13. [304.
beautiful does it appear ! A carnal niind would admire rather a
sight of kings surrounded by their nobles : but God and his
holy angels, I have no doubt, esteem such a sight as was exhi-
bited on that occasion, as infinitely grander than all the pomp
of courts, yea than of " Solomon in all his glory." ever did
our Lord himself appear more glorious, no not even on the
mount of transfiguration, than when he was weeping with sym-
pathy at the tomb of Lazarus, or with compassion over the de-
voted city of Jeru.salem. So the sight of these aged men,
assembled to mourn with, and to comfort, their afflicted Bro-
ther, and expressing in such significant ways their overwhelming
sorrow, was as noble and as interesting as can be seen on earth.
And oh, what would this world be, if every one possessed such
a spirit as they evinced ! Yet such is the tendency of true reli-
gion, which transforms us into the image of that God, whose
name and nature is love.]
By way of IxMprovement, we will,
1 . Recommend to you the exercise of these dis-
positions —
[Behold these men, how amiable they appear in all the
posture and habiliments of woe ! And are they not a fit pattern
for you to imitate ? But you have a brighter pattern than they,
even our Lord Jesus Christ himself; who, when he saw our
fallen state, came down from heaven to seek and save us, yea,
** though rich, for our sakes he became poor, that we through
his poverty might be rich." Oh, what marvellous grace was
here ! and still, " as our Great High Priest, he is touched with
the feeling of our infirmities, having been himself in all things
tempted like as we are, on purpose that he might succour them
that are tempted." If then the example of Job's friends be not
sufficient to commend to you these lovelv dispositions, let me
intreat you to seek " the mind that was in Christ." As a further
inducement to this, consider how soon you yourselves may need
the compassion and the sympathy of others. There is no man
so secure, but he is open to the assaults of trouble on every side.
Would von then in trouble have any to sympathize with you ?
Know, that " he who would have friends must shew liimself
fiiendly';" and that you must sow the grain which you desire
to re;ip. This is an argument used by God himself, who bids us
to " remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them;
and them that suffer adversitv, as being ourselves also in the
body"?." If any further motive be wanted, consider, that in the
day of judgment the exercise of this disposition will be a very
princij);il subject of incjuiry, as evincing the sincerity of our love
to Christ : and every act of love towards the poorest of his peo-
ple will be acknowledged bv HIM as a favour conferred upon
himself.
' Prov. xviii, 24. " Heb xiii. 3^
304.] FRIEDLY SYMPATHY ILLUSTRATED. 387
himself". Let me then recommend the exercise of love and
sympathy to all who would adorn their holy profession now,,
or be approved of their God in that great and awful day.]
2. Suggest some cautions in relation to it — -
[Let not sympathy be shewn with the rich only, or with
our own particular friends ; but let it be extended to iM who are in
trouble, whether rich or poor, whether known or unknown"". We
deny not but that those who are nearly related to us have a
superior claim ; as they have also who are of the household of
faith": but still we must, like the good Samaritan, account
every man our neighbour, and gladly avail ourselves of every
opportunity of pouring balm into his wounded spirit.
Again, Wait not till you are called and summoned to the house
of mourning ; but go thither of your own accord, esteemii)g \t
" far better to go there, than to the house of feasting p." Let
the principle of love in you be like a spring, ever ready to act,
the moment that a scope for action is afforded it. Look not
every man on his own things only, but every man also on the
things of others 1;" and be ready on all occasions to " rejoice
with them that rejoice, and to weep with them that vveep^" This
readiness to bear one another's burthens is a fulfilling of the law
of ( hrist^"
But lastly, Be not hasty to offer advice to those who are bowed
down with a weight of trouble. There is a sacredness in grief
which demands our reverence ; and the very habitation of a
mourner must be approached with awe. A hasty effusion even
of consolatory truths is offensive to one who is not prepared in
a mea^-ure for the reception of them. The language of many is,
" Look awav from me ; I will weep bitterly; labour not to com-
fort me*:" and to such, an obtrusive officiousness is disgusting.
To such, the silent elocjuence of sighs and tears is more consola-
tory than the most copious liarangue. See that you yourselves
feel deeply ; and then you will neither fall into an officious im-
pertinence, on the one hand, nor deem even a silent visit unser-
viceable, on the other : you will patiently wait for the most
favourable season, and administer your instructions as the mour-
ner is able to receive them.]
" Matt. XXV. 40. "" Job xxx. 25. ' Gal. vi. 10.
P Eccl. vii. 2, 4. •> Phil. ii. 4. with 2 Cor. xi. 2Q.
¦¦ Rom. xii. 15. ' Gal. vi. 2. ' Isai. xxii. 4.
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