Brethren Archive

Extract on 'Suffering' from 'The Night of Weeping'

by Horatius Bonar


It is the Lamb that we follow: the Lamb "as it had been slain." This surely speaks most plainly of the family badge. We are followers of the Man with the pierced hands and feet, the Man who is covered all over with the marks of the buffet and the scourge and the spitting, the Man with the crown of thorns. Yea, He is our Elder Brother. He is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. And if we see so distinctly the family badge on Him, shall we shrink from taking it up and binding it in triumph as a jewel on our forehead - as a crown upon our head? Surely the purple robe of mockery may beseem us better than it suited Him

There is one mark by which, from the beginning, He has been distinguished as the woman's seed predicted in Eden. It is thebruised heel.  This is, in truth, only another way of expressing His character as the suffering, the crucified Son of Man. This was the mark which God gave by which He was to be known. Yet it was just at this stumbling stone that Israel stumbled. They had no eyes for the dying Saviour. The humbled Jesus found no favor with them. The bruised heel they could not away with. The very mark which God set upon Him as Messiah was that on account of which Israel rejected Him. Yet it is the bruised heel in which we rejoice. It is the Man with the bruised heel who has won our hearts. It is Him who we follow; and His bruised heel we engrave upon our banner as our most honorable badge.

The like bruising we look for as our portion here. Nor are we ashamed of it. All the saints before us have experienced it; are we better than they? Shall the soldiers of the last days be ashamed to wear the uniform which the army of the saints has gloried in for six thousand years?

It is very remarkable that the apostle fixes upon affliction as the mark of true Sonship. Truly, he makes it the family badge. Nay, he makes it the test of our legitimacy. "What son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Hebrews 12:7, 8). Strong language this! Had any but an inspired apostle used it, there would have been outcry against it as absurd and extravagant. Let us, however, take it as it is, for we know that it speaks the mind of God. Chastisement is, then, really one of the chief marks of our lawful and honorable birth. Were this characteristic not to be found on us, we should be lacking in one of the proofs of our sonship. Our legitimacy might be called in question. It might be said that He was not recognizing us as His true-born sons, and that either He had never received us as such, or had rejected us. There must be the family badge to establish our claim of birth and to be a pledge of paternal recognition on the part of God our Father.

It is a solemn thought. Flesh and blood shrink from it. We look around to see if there be no way of escaping, and ask if it must be so? Yes, it must be, as we shall shortly see, and the attempt to shun it is vain. Yet it is also a blessed thought. It cheers us under trial to remember that this is the Father's seal set upon His true-born sons. Oh! how it lightens the load to think that it is really the pledge of our divine adoption.

We need not then count upon bright days below, nor think to pass lightly over the pleasant earth as if our life were but the "shadow of a dream." Joy within we may expect - "joy unspeakable and full of glory" - for that is the family portion. But joy from without, the joy of earth's sunshine, the joy of the world's ease and abundance, the joy of unsevered bonds and unweeping eyes is not our lot in this vale of tears.

Still, in the midst of the ever-wakeful storms through which we are passing to the kingdom, there is peace - deep peace - too deep for any storm of earth to reach. In the world we have tribulation, but in Jesus we have peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you." And it is this which gives the peculiar aspect to the saints, the aspect of mingled joy and grief. The eye is dim with tears, yet, behold! it glistens with joy. There is the brow of shaded thought, yet peace is playing round it. Clouds overshadow them, but on every cloud we see calm sunshine resting.

Their "peace is like a river." It is not stagnant as the lake, nor tumultuous as the sea, but ever in calm motion, ever flowing on in its deep channel like a river. The course may sometimes be through rocks, sometimes through level plains, sometimes through tangled brakes, sometimes along the cornfield or "the hill of vines," yet still it moves unhindered on.It may be night or day, it may be winter or summer, it may be storm or calm, but it is there - flowing on till the embrace of ocean receives it. Such is our peace! Let us hold it fast.

Nor need we hide our peace any more than we should hide our cross. Let the world see both and learn how well they agree together. For it is the cross that makes this peace feel so sweet and suitable. Amid the tears of grief peace keeps her silent place like the rainbow upon the spray of the cataract; nor can it be driven thence so long as Jehovah's sunshine rests upon the soul. "The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever."

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