"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

The Holy Spirit A Comforter

By Octavius Winslow (1808 1878)

    "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost..." (John 14:26).

    There is a painful forgetfulness among many of the saints of God, of the appointed path of believers through the world. It is forgotten that that path is to be one of tribulation; that, so far from being a smooth, a flowery, and an easy path, it is rough, thorny, and difficult. The believer often expects all his heaven on earth. He forgets that, whatever spiritual enjoyment there may be here, kindred in its nature to the joys of the glorified – and too much of this he cannot expect – yet the present is but the wilderness state of the church, and the life that now is, is but that of a pilgrimage and a sojourning. Kind was our Lord’s admonition, "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33); and equally so that of the apostle, "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom" (Acts 14:22). Affliction, in some of its many and varied forms, is the allotment of all the Lord’s people. If we have it not, we lack the evidence of our true sonship, for the Father "scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Heb. 12:6). But whatever the trial or affliction is, the Spirit is the Comforter. And how does He comfort the afflicted soul?

Revelation of God’s Love

    He unfolds the love of His God and Father in the trial. He shows the believer that his sorrow, so far from being the result of anger, is the fruit of love; that it comes from the heart of God sent to draw the soul nearer to Himself, and to unfold the depths of His own grace and tenderness; that "whom [He] loveth He chasteneth" (Heb. 12:6). And oh, how immense the comfort that flows into a wounded spirit, when love – deep, unchangeable, covenant love – is seen in the hand that has stricken; when the affliction is traced to the covenant, and through the covenant, to the heart of a covenant God.

Revelation of God’s Purpose

    He comforts by revealing the end wherefore the affliction is sent. He convinces the believer that the discipline, though painful, was yet needed; that the world was, perhaps, making inroads upon the soul, or creature love was shutting out Jesus; some indulged sin was, perhaps, crucifying Him afresh, or some known spiritual duty was neglected. The Comforter opens his ears to hear the voice of the rod, and Him who hath appointed it. He begins to see wherefore the Lord has smitten, why He has caused His rough wind and His east wind to blow, why He has blasted, why He has wounded. And now, the Achan is discovered, cast out, and stoned. The heart, disciplined, returns from its wanderings, and wounded, bleeding, suffering, seeks more fondly than ever a wounded, bleeding, suffering Savior. Who can fully estimate the comfort which flows from the sanctified discipline of the covenant? When the end for which the trial was sent is accomplished, it may be in the discovery of some departure, in the removal of an obstruction to the growth of grace, of some object that obscured the glory of Jesus, and that suspended His visits of love to the soul. "Blessed discipline," he may exclaim, "that has wrought so much good – gentle chastisement that has corrected so much evil – sweet medicine that has produced so much health!"

Revelation of Christ’s Sympathy

    But in unfolding the tenderness and sympathy of Jesus, the Spirit most effectually restores comfort to the tried, tempted, and afflicted soul. He testifies of Christ especially in the sympathy of His manhood. There can be no question that, in His assumption of our nature, Jesus had in view, as one important end, a closer affinity with the suffering state of His people, with a view to their more immediate comfort and support. The great end of His incarnation, we are well assured, was obedience to the law in its precept and the suffering of its penalty. But, connected with and resulting from this, is the channel that thus is open for the outflowings of that tenderness and sympathy of which the saints of God so constantly stand in need, and as constantly receive. Jesus is the brother "born for adversity" (Prov. 17:17); "...It behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest" (Heb. 2:17); "For 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" (Heb. 4:15).

    Here is opened the true and blessed source of comfort in the hour and the circumstance of sorrow. The Lord’s people are a tried people – Jesus was a tried Savior. The Lord’s people are an afflicted people – Jesus drank deep of its bitter cup. The Lord’s people are a sorrowing family – Jesus was a "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). He brought Himself down to a level with the circumstances of His people. He completely identified Himself with them. He took upon Him pure humanity in its suffering form and was deeply acquainted with sorrow as sorrow; and, from these two circumstances, became fitted in all points to succor, to sustain and to sympathize with His afflicted, sorrowing people, whatever the cause of that affliction or sorrow might be. It is enough for us that He was bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. It is enough for us that His heart was composed of all the tenderness, and sympathy, and gentleness of our nature, and that, too, freed from everything growing out of the infirmity of sin, that could weaken and impair, and blunt the sensibilities. It is enough for us that sorrow was no stranger to His heart, that affliction had deeply furrowed His soul, and that grief had left its traces upon every line of His countenance. What more do we require? What more can we ask? Our nature? He took it. Our sicknesses? He bore them. Our sorrows? He felt them. Our crosses? He carried them. Our sins? He pardoned them. He went before His suffering people; trod out the path; left His footprint; and now invites them to walk in no way, and to sustain no sorrow, and to bear no burden, and to drink no cup, in which He has not Himself gone before. It is enough for Him that thou art a child of grief, that sorrow is the bitter cup thou art drinking. He asks no more. A chord is in a moment touched in His heart, which vibrates to that touched in yours, whether its note be a pleasing or a mournful one. For, let it be ever remembered that Jesus has sympathy for the joys, as for the sorrows, of His people. He rejoices with those that rejoice, and He weeps with those that weep. But how does Jesus sympathize?

Fellowship with Jesus

    When the believer suffers, the tenderness of Jesus is drawn forth. His sustaining strength, and sanctifying grace, and comforting love, are all unfolded in the experience of His child, while passing through the furnace. The Son of God is with him in the flames. Jesus of Nazareth is walking with him on the billows. He has the heart of Christ. And this is sympathy – this is fellowship – this is to be one with Christ Jesus.

    Come, dear reader, what is thy sorrow? Has the hand of death smitten? Is the beloved one removed? Has He taken away the desire of thine eyes with a stroke? It is thy parent, thy child, thy friend, thy all of earthly bliss? Is the cistern broken? Is the earthen vessel dashed to pieces? Are all thy streams dry? Jesus is yet enough. He has not taken Himself from thee, and never, never will. Take your bereaved, stricken, and bleeding heart to Him, and repose it upon His, once bereaved, stricken, and bleeding, too; for He knoweth how to bind up the broken heart, to heal the wounded spirit, and to comfort those that mourn.

    What is thy sorrow? Has health failed thee? Has property forsaken thee? Have friends turned against thee? Art thou tried in thy circumstances? Perplexed in thy path? Are providences thickening and darkening around thee? Art thou anticipating seasons of approaching trial? Art thou walking in darkness, having no light? Go simply to Jesus. He is the door ever open. The tender, loving, faithful Friend, ever near. He is the Brother born for thy adversity. His grace and sympathy are sufficient for thee. The life thou art called to live is that of faith; with that of sense thou has done. Thou art now to walk by faith and not by sight. This, then, is the great secret of a life of faith: to hang upon Jesus daily, to go to Him in every trial, to cast upon Him every burden, to take the infirmity, the corruption, the cross as it rises, simply and immediately to Jesus. Thou art to set Christ before thee as thy Example to imitate; as thy Fountain to wash in; as thy Foundation to build upon; as thy Fullness to draw from; as thy tender, loving, and confiding Brother and Friend, to go to at all times and under all circumstances. To do this daily, constitutes the life of faith. Oh to be enabled with Paul to say, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Oh holy, happy life! Oh unearthly, heavenly life! The life Jesus Himself lived when below, the life all the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and the spirits of just men made perfect once lived, and the life every trueborn child of God is called and privileged to live, while yet a stranger and pilgrim on the earth.

    – Taken from The Work Of The Holy Spirit, Viewed Experimentally And Practically by Octavius Winslow.