Thursday, June 8th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture MacLaren's Expositions
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Isaiah 35". MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ mac/ isaiah-35.html.
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Isaiah 35". MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/
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MIRACLES OF HEALING
Isa_35:5 - Isa_35:6 .
‘Then’-when? The previous verse answers, ‘Behold, your God will come, He will come and save you.’ And what or when is that ‘coming’? A glance at the place which this grand hymn occupies in the series of Isaiah’s prophecies answers that question. It stands at the close of the first part of these, and is the limit of the prophet’s vision. He has been setting forth the Lord’s judgments upon all heathen, and His deliverance of Israel from its oppressors; and the ‘coming’ is His manifestation for that double purpose. Before its flashing brightness, barrenness is changed into verdure, diseases that lame men’s powers vanish, the dry and thirsty land gleams with the shining light of sudden streams. Across the wilderness stretches a broad path, raised high above the bewildering monotony of pathless sand, too plain to be missed, too lofty for wild beasts’ suppleness to spring upon it: along it troop with song and gladness the returning exiles, with hope in their hearts as they journey to Zion, where they find a joyful home undimmed by sorrow, and in which sighing and sorrow are heard and felt no more.
Now this is poetry, no doubt; the golden light of imagination suffuses it all, but it is poetry with a solid meaning in it. It is not a mere play of fancy exalting the ‘coming of the Lord’ by heaping together all images that suggest the vanishing of evil and the coming of good. If there is a basis of facts in it, what are they? What is the period of that emphatic ‘then’ at the beginning of our text? The return of the Jews from exile? Yes, certainly; but some greater event shines through the words. Some future restoration of that undying race to their own land? Yes, possibly, again we answer, but that does not exhaust the prophecy. The great coming of God to save in the gift of His Son? Yes, that in an eminent degree. The second coming of Christ? Yes, that too. All the events in which God has come for men’s deliverance are shadowed here; for in them all, the same principles are at work, and in all, similar effects have followed. But mainly the mission and work of Jesus Christ is pointed at here-whether in its first stage of Incarnation and Passion, or in its second stage of Coming in glory, ‘the second time without sin, unto salvation.’
And the bodily diseases here enumerated are symbols, just as Christ’s miracles were symbolical, just as every language has used the body as a parable of the soul, and has felt that there is such a harmony between them that the outward and visible does correspond to and shadow the inward and spiritual.
I think, then, that we may fairly take these four promises as bringing out very distinctly the main characteristics of the blessed effects of Christ’s work in the world. The great subject of these words is the power of Christ in restoring to men the spiritual capacities which are all but destroyed. We have here three classes of bodily infirmities represented as cured at the date of that blessed ‘Then.’ Blindness and deafness are defects in perception, and stand for incapacities affecting the powers of knowledge. Lameness affects powers of motion, and stands for incapacity of activity. Dumbness prevents speech, and stands for incapacity of utterance.
I. Christ as the restorer of the powers of knowing.
Bodily diseases are taken to symbolise spiritual infirmities.
Mark the peculiarities of Scripture anthropology as brought out in this view of humanity:-
Its gloomy views of man’s actual condition.
Its emphatic declaration that that condition is abnormal.
Its confidence of effecting a cure.
Its transcendentally glorious conception of what man may become.
Men are blind and deaf; that is to say, their powers of perception are destroyed by reason of disease. What a picture! The great spiritual realities are all unseen, as Elisha’s young servant was blind to the fiery chariots that girdled the prophet. Men are blind to the starry truths that shine as silver in the firmament. They are deaf to the Voice which is gone out to the ends of the earth, and yet they have eyes and ears, conscience, intuitions. They possess organs, but these are powerless.
And while the blindness is primarily in regard to spiritual and religious truths, it is not confined to these, but wherever spiritual blindness has fallen, the whole of a man’s knowledge will suffer. There will be blindness to the highest philosophy, to the true basis and motive of morals, to true psychology, to the noblest poetry. All will be of the earth, earthy. You cannot strike religion out of men’s thoughts, as you might take a stone out of a wall and leave the wall standing; you take out foundation and mortar, and make a ruinous heap.
I know, of course, that there may be much mental activity without any perception of spiritual realities, but all knowledge which is not purely mathematical or physical suffers by the absence of such perception. All this blindness is caused by sin.
Christ is the giver of spiritual sight. He restores the faculty by taking away the hindrance to its exercise. Further, He gives sight because He gives light.
But turn to facts of experience, and consider the mental apathy of heathenism as contrasted with the energy of mind within the limits of Christendom. Greece, of course, is a brilliant exception, but even there 1 what of the conceptions of God? 2 what of the effect of the wise on the mass of the nation? Think of the languid intellectual life of the East. Think of the energy of thought which has been working within the limits of Christianity. Think of Christian theology compared with the mythologies of idolatry. And the contrast holds not only in the religious field but all over the field of thought.
There is no such sure way of diffusing a culture which will refine and strengthen all the powers of mind as to diffuse the knowledge of Jesus, and to make men love Him. In His light they will see light.
To know Him and to keep company with Him is ‘a liberal education,’ as is seen in many a lowly life, all uninfluenced by what is called learning, but enriched with the finest flowers of ‘culture,’ and having gathered them all in Christ’s garden.
Christ is the true light; in Him do we see. Without Him, what is all other knowledge? He is central to all, like genial heat about the roots of a plant. There is other knowledge than that of sense; and for the highest of all our knowledge we depend on Him who is the Word. In that region we can neither observe nor experiment. In that region facts must be brought by some other means than we can command, and we can but draw more or less accurate deductions from them. Logic without revelation is like a spinning-machine without any cotton, busy drawing out nothing. Here we have to listen. ‘The entrance of Thy words giveth light.’ Your God shall come and save you; then, by that divine coming and saving, ‘the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.’
II. Christ as the Restorer of the Powers of Action.
Again turn to heathenism, see the apathetic indolence, the unprogressive torpor, ‘Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.’ Sin lames for service of God; it leaves the lower nature free to act, and that freedom paralyses all noble activity.
Christianity brings the Energising of the Soul-
a By its reference of everything to God-our powers and our circumstances and our activities.
b By its prominence given to Retribution. It speaks not merely of vita brevis -but of vita brevis and an Eternity which grows out of it.
c By its great motive for work-love.
d By the freedom It brings from the weight that paralysed.
It takes away sin. Lifting that dreary load from our backs, it makes us joyful, strong, and agile.
The true view of Christianity is not, as some of its friends, and some of its foes, mistakenly concur in supposing, that it weakens interest in, and energy on, the Present, but that it heightens the power of action. A life plunged in that jar of oxygen will glow with redoubled brilliance.
III. Christ as the Restorer of Powers of Utterance.
The silence that broods over the world. It is dumb for all holy, thankful words; with no voice to sing, no utterance of joyful praise.
Think of the effect of Christianity on human speech, giving it new themes, refining words and crowding them with new meanings. Translate the Bible into any language, and that language is elevated and enriched.
Think of the effect on human praise. That great treasure of Christian poetry.
Think of the effect on human gladness. Christ fills the heart with such reasons for praise, and makes life one song of joy.
Thus Christ is the Healer.
To men seeking for knowledge, He offers a higher gift-healing. And as for true knowledge and culture, in Christ, and in Christ alone, will you find it.
Let your culture be rooted in Him. Let your Religion influence all your nature.
The effects of Christianity are its best evidence. What else does the like of that which it does? Let Jannes and Jambres ‘do the same with their enchantments.’ We may answer the question, ‘Art Thou He that should come?’ as Christ did, ‘The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear.’
The perfect Restoration will be in heaven. Then, indeed, when our souls are freed from mortal grossness, and the thin veils of sense are rent and we behold Him as He is, then when they rest not day nor night, but with ever renewed strength run to His commandments, then when He has put into their lips a new song-’then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.’
MIRACLES OF HEALING
MIRAGE OR LAKE
Isa_35:6 - Isa_35:7 .
What a picture is painted in these verses! The dreary wilderness stretches before us, monotonous, treeless, in some parts bearing a scanty vegetation which flourishes in early spring and dies before fierce summer heats, but for the most part utterly desolate, the sand blinding the eyes, the ground cracked and gaping as if athirst for the rain that will not fall; over it the tantalising mirage dancing in mockery, and amid the hot sand the yelp of the jackals. What does this dead land want? One thing alone-water. Could that be poured upon it, all would be changed; nothing else will do any good. And it comes. Suddenly it bursts from the sand, and streams bring life along the desert. It gathers into placid lakes, with their whispering reeds and nodding rushes, and the thick cool grass round their margins. The foul beasts that wandered through dry places seeking rest are drowned out. So full of blessed change will be the coming of the Lord, of which all this context speaks. Mark that this burst of waters is when ‘the Lord shall come,’ and that it is the reason for the restoration of lost powers in men, and especially for a chorus of praise from dumb lips. This, then, is the central blessing. It is not merely a joyful transformation, but it is the reason for a yet more joyful transformation Isa_44:3. Recall Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman and in the Temple on the great day of the Feast.
Then this is pre-eminently a description of the work of Christ.
I. Christ brings the Supernatural Communication of a New Life.
We may fairly regard this metaphor as setting forth the very deepest characteristic of the gospel. Consider man’s need, as typified in the image of the desert. Mark that the supply for that need must come from without; that coming from without, it must be lodged in the heart of the race; that the supernatural communication of a new life and power is the very essence of the work of Christ; that such a communication is the only thing adequate to produce these wondrous effects.
II. This new life slakes men’s thirst.
The pangs and tortures of the waterless wilderness. The thirst of human souls; they long, whether they know it or not, for-
Truth for Understanding.
Love for Heart.
Basis and Guidance for Will and Effort.
Cleansing for Conscience.
Adequate objects for their powers.
They need that all these should be in One.
The gnawing pain of our thirst is not a myth; it is the secret of man’s restlessness. We are ever on the march, not only because change is the law of the world, nor only because effort and progress are the law for civilised men, but because, like caravans in the desert, we have to search for water.
In Christ it is slaked; all is found there.
III. The Communication of this New Life turns Illusions into Realities.
‘The mirage shall become a pool.’ Life without Christ is but a long illusion. ‘Sin makes a mock of fools.’ How seldom are hopes fulfilled, and how still less frequently are they, when fulfilled, as good as we painted them! The prismatic splendours of the rain bow, which gleam before us and which we toil to catch, are but grey rain-drops when caught. Joys attract and, attained, have incompleteness and a tang of bitterness. The fish is never so heavy when landed on the sward as it felt when struggling on our hook. ‘All is vanity’-yes, if creatures and things temporal are pursued as our good. But nothing is vanity, if we have the life in us which Jesus comes to give. His Gospel gives solid, unmingled joys, sure promises which are greater when fulfilled than when longed for, certain hopes whose most brilliant colours are duller than those of the realities. The half has not been told of the ‘things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’
A certain Hope.
IV. This New Life gives Fruitfulness. It stimulates all our nature. A godless life is in a very tragic sense barren, and a wilderness. There is in it nothing really worth doing, nor anything that will last. Christ gives Power, Motive, Pattern, and makes a life of holy activity possible. The works done by men apart from Him are, if measured by the whole relations and capacities of the doers, unfruitful works, however they may seem laden with ruddy clusters. It is only lives into which that river of God which is full of water flows that bring forth fruit, and whose fruit remains. The desert irrigated becomes a garden of the Lord.
Note, too, how this river drowns out wild beasts. The true way of conquering evil is to turn the river into it. Cultivate, and weeds die. The expulsive power of a new affection is the most potent instrument for perfecting character.
What is the use of water if we do not drink? We may perish with thirst even on the river’s bank. ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.’
THE KING’S HIGHWAY
Isa_35:8 - Isa_35:9 .
We can fancy what it is to be lost in a forest where a traveller may ride round in a circle, thinking he is advancing, till he dies. But it is as easy to be lost in a wilderness, where there is nothing to see, as in a wood where one can see nothing. And there is something even more ghastly in being lost below the broad heavens in the open face of day than ‘in the close covert of innumerous boughs.’ The monotonous swells of the sand-heaps, the weary expanse stretching right away to the horizon, no land-marks but the bleaching bones of former victims, the gigantic sameness, the useless light streaming down, and in the centre one tiny, black speck toiling vainly, rushing madly hither and thither-a lost man-till he desperately flings himself down and lets death bury him, that is the one picture suggested by the text. The other is of that same wilderness, but across it a mighty king has flung up a broad, lofty embankment, a highway raised above the sands, cutting across them so conspicuously that even an idiot could not help seeing it, so high above the land around that the lion’s spring falls far beneath it, and the supple tiger skulks baffled at its base. It is like one of those roads which the terrible energy of conquering Rome carried straight as an arrow from the milestone in the Forum over mountains, across rivers and deserts, morasses and forests, to flash along them the lightning of her legions, and over whose solid blocks we travel to-day in many a land.
The prophet has seen in his vision the blind and deaf cured, the capacities of human nature destroyed by sin restored. He has told us that this miraculous change has come from the opening of a spring of new life in the midst of man’s thirsty desert, and now he gets before us, in yet another image, another aspect of the glorious change which is to follow that coming of the Lord to save, which filled the farthest horizon of his vision. The desert shall have a plain path on which those diseased men who have been healed journey. Life shall no longer be trackless, but God will, by His coming, prepare paths that we should walk in them; and as He has given the lame man power to walk, so will he also provide the way by which His happy pilgrims will journey to their home.
I. The pathless wandering of godless lives.
The old, old comparison of life to a journey is very natural and very pathetic. It expresses life’s ceaseless change; every day carries us into a new scene, every day the bends of the road shut out some happy valley where we fain would have rested, every day brings new faces, new associations, new difficulties, and even if the same recur, yet it is with such changes that they are substantially new, and of each day’s march it is true, even when life is most monotonous, that ‘ye have not passed this way heretofore.’ It expresses life’s ceaseless effort and constant plodding. To-day’s march does not secure to-morrow’s rest, but, however footsore and weary, we have to move on, like some child dragged along by a careless nurse. It expresses the awful crumbling away of life beneath us. The road has an end, and each step takes us nearer to it. The numbers that face us on the milestones slowly and surely decrease; we pass the last and on we go, tramp, tramp, and we cannot stop till we reach the narrow chamber, cold and dark, where, at any rate, we have got the long march over.
But to many men, the journey of life is one which has no definite direction deliberately chosen, which has no all-inclusive aim, which has no steady progress. There may be much running hither and thither, but it is as aimless as the marchings of a fly upon a window, as busy and yet as uncertain as that of the ants who bustle about on an ant-hill.
Now that is the idea, which our text implies, of all the activity of a godless life, that it is not a steady advance to a chosen goal, but a rushing up and down in a trackless desert, with many immense exertions all thrown away. Then, in contrast, it puts this great thought: that God has come to us and made for us a path for our feet.
II. The highway that God casts up.
Of course that coming we take to be Christ’s coming, and we have just to consider the manner in which His coming fulfils this great promise, and has made in the trackless wilderness a way for us to walk in.
1. Christ gives us a Definite Aim for Life. I know, of course, that men may have this apart from Him, definite enough in all conscience. But such aims are unworthy of men’s whole capacities. Not one of them is fit to be made the exclusive, all-embracing purpose of a life, and, taken together, they are so multifarious that in their diversity they come to be equal to none. How many we have all had! Most of us are like men who zig-zag about, chasing after butterflies! Nor are any such aims certain to be reached during life, and they all are certain to be lost at death.
Godless men are enticed on like some dumb creature lured to slaughter-house by a bunch of fodder-once inside, down comes the pole-axe.
But Christ gives us a definite aim which is worthy of a man, which includes all others; which binds this life and the next into one.
2. Christ gives us distinct knowledge of whither we should go. It is not enough to give general directions; we need to know what our next step is to be. It is of no avail that we see the shining turrets far off on the hill, if all the valleys between are unknown and trackless. Well: we have Him to point us our course. He is the exemplar-the true ideal of human nature. Hour by hour His pattern fits to our lives. True, we shall often be in perplexity, but that perplexity will clear itself by patient thought, by holding our wills in suspense till He speaks, and by an honest wish to go right. There will no longer be doubt as to what is our law, though there may be as to the application of it. We are not to be guided by men’s maxims, nor by the standards and patterns round us, but by Him.
3. Christ gives means by which we can reach the aim. He does so by supplying a stimulus to our activity, in the motive of His love; by the removal of the hindrances arising from sin, through His redeeming work; by the gifts of new life from His Spirit.
‘The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.’ But he that follows Jesus treads the right way to the city of habitation.
4. Christ goes with us. The obscure words, ‘It shall be for those’ are by some rendered, ‘He shall be with them,’ and we may take them so, as referring to the presence with His happy pilgrims of the Lord Himself. Perhaps Isaiah may have been casting back a thought to the desert march, where the pillar led the host. But at all events we have the same companion to ‘talk with us by the way,’ and make ‘our hearts burn within us,’ as had the two disconsolate pedestrians on the road to Emmaus. It is Jesus who goes before us, whether He leads us to green pastures and waters of quietness or through valleys of the shadow of death, and we can be smitten by no evil, since He is with us.
III. The travellers upon God’s highway.
Two conditions are laid down in the text. One is negative-the unclean can find no footing there. It is ‘the way of holiness,’ not only because holiness is in some sense the goal to which it leads, but still more, because only holy feet can tread it, holy at least in the travellers’ aspiration and inward consecration, though still needing to be washed daily. One is positive-it is ‘the simple’ who shall not err therein. They who distrust themselves and their own skill to find or force a path through life’s jungle, and trust themselves to higher guidance, are they whose feet will be kept in the way.
No lion or ravenous beast can spring or creep up thereon. Simple keeping on Christ’s highway elevates us above temptations and evils of all sorts, whether nightly prowlers or daylight foes.
This generation is boasting or complaining that old landmarks are blotted out, ancient paths broken, footmarks obliterated, stars hid, and mist shrouding the desert. But Christ still guides, and His promise still holds good: ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ The alternative for each ‘traveller between life and death’ is to tread in His footsteps or to ‘wander in the wilderness in a solitary way, hungry and thirsty,’ with fainting soul. Let us make the ancient prayer ours: ‘See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’
THE KING’ S HIGHWAY
WHAT LIFE’S JOURNEY MAY BE
Isa_35:9 - Isa_35:10 .
We have here the closing words of Isaiah’s prophecy. It has been steadily rising, and now it has reached the summit. Men restored to all their powers, a supernatural communication of a new life, a pathway for our journey-these have been the visions of the preceding verses, and now the prophet sees the happy pilgrims flocking along the raised way, and hears some faint strains of their glad music, and he marks them, rank after rank, entering the city of their solemnities, and through the gates can behold them invested with joy and gladness, while sorrow and sighing, like some night-loving birds shrinking from the blaze of that better sun which lights the city, spread their black wings and flee away.
The noble rhythm of our English version rises here to a strain of pathetic music, the very cadence of which stirs thoughts that lie too deep for tears, and one shrinks from taking these lofty words of immortal hope-which life’s sorrows have interpreted, I trust, for many of us-as the text of a sermon. But I would fain try whether some of their gracious sweetness and power may not survive even our rude handling of them.
The prophet here is not only speaking of the literal return of his brethren from captivity. The place which this prophecy holds at the very close of the book, the noble loftiness of the language, the entire absence of any details or specific allusions which compel reference to the Captivity, would be sufficient of themselves to make us suspect that there was very much more here. The structure of prophecy is misunderstood unless it be recognised that all the history of Israel was itself a prediction, a great supernatural system of types and shadows, and that all the interventions of the divine hand are one in principle, and all foretell the great intervention of redeeming love, in the person of Jesus Christ. Nor need that be unlikely in the eyes of any who believe that Christ’s coming is the centre of the world’s history, and that there is in prophecy a supernatural element. We are not reading our own fancies into Scripture; we are not using, in allowable freedom, words which had another meaning altogether, to adorn our own theology, but we are apprehending the innermost meaning of prophecy, when we see in it Christ and His salvation 1Pe_1:10.
We have then here a picture of what Christ does for us weary journeyers on life’s road,
I. Who are the travellers?
‘Redeemed,’ ‘ransomed of the Lord.’ Israel had in its past history one great act, under the imagery of which all future deliverances were prophesied. The events of the Exodus were the great storehouse from which prophets drew the clothing of their brightest hopes; and that is a lesson for us of how to use the history of God’s past deliverances. They believed that each transitory act was a revelation of an unchanging purpose and an unexhausted power, and that it would be repeated over and over again. Experience supplied the material out of which Hope wove its fairest webs, but Faith drove the shuttle. Here the names which describe the pilgrims come from the old story. They are slaves, purchased or otherwise set free from captivity by a divine act. The epithets are transferred to the New Testament, and become the standing designation for those who have been delivered by Christ.
That designation, ‘ransomed of the Lord,’ opens out into the great evangelical thoughts which are the very life-blood of vital Christianity.
Emancipation from bondage is the first thing that we all need. ‘He that committeth sin is the slave of sin.’ An iron yoke presses on every neck.
The needed emancipation can only be obtained by a ransom price. The question of to whom the ransom is paid is not in the horizon of prophet or apostle or of Jesus Himself, in using this metaphor. What is strongly in their minds is that a great surrender must be greatly made by the Emancipator.
Jesus conceived of Himself as giving ‘His life a ransom for the many.’
The emancipation must be a divine act. It surpasses any created power.
There can be no happy pilgrims unless they are first set free.
II. The end of the journey.
‘They shall come to Zion.’ It is one great distinctive characteristic and blessedness of the Christian conception of the future that it takes away from it all the chilling sense of strangeness, arising from ignorance and lack of experience, and invests it with the attraction of being the mother-city of us all. So the pilgrims are not travelling a dreary road into the common darkness, but are like colonists who visit England for the first time, and are full of happy anticipations of ‘going home,’ though they have never seen its shores.
That conception of the future perfect state as a ‘city’ includes the ideas of happy social life, of a settled polity, of stability and security. The travellers who were often solitary on the march will all be together there. The nomads, who had to leave their camping-place each morning and let the fire that cheered them in the night die down into a little ring of grey ashes, will ‘go no more out,’ but yet make endless progress within the gates. The defenceless travellers, who were fain to make the best ‘laager’ they could, and keep vigilant watch for human and bestial enemies crouching beyond the ring of light from the camp-fires, are safe at last, and they that swallowed them up shall be far away.
Contrast the future outlook of the noblest minds in heathenism with the calm certainty which the gospel has put within the reach of the simplest! ‘Blessed are your eyes, for they see.’
III. The joy of the road.
The pilgrims do not plod wearily in silence, but, like the tribes going up to the feasts, burst out often, as they journey, into song. They are like Jehoshaphat’s soldiers, who marched to the fight with the singers in the van chanting ‘Give thanks unto the Lord, for His mercy endureth for ever.’ The Christian life should be a joyful life, ever echoing with the ‘high praises of God.’ However difficult the march, there is good reason for song, and it helps to overcome the difficulties. ‘A merry heart goes all the day, a sad heart tires in a mile.’ Why should the ransomed pilgrims sing? For present blessings, for deliverance from the burden of self and sin, for communion with God, for light shed on the meaning of life, and for the sure anticipation of future bliss.
‘Everlasting joy on their heads.’ Other joys are transitory. It is not only ‘we poets’ who ‘in our youth begin with gladness,’ whereof ‘cometh in the end despondency and madness’; but, in a measure, these are the outlines of the sequence in all godless lives. The world’s festal wreathes wilt and wither in the hot fumes of the banqueting house, and ‘the crown of pride shall be trodden under foot.’ But joy of Christ’s giving ‘shall remain,’ and even before we sit at the feast, we may have our brows wreathed with a garland ‘that fadeth not away.’
IV. The perfecting of joy at last.
‘They shall obtain joy and gladness’: but had they not had it on their heads as they marched? Yes; but at last they have it in perfect measure and manner. The flame that burned but dimly in the heavy air of earth flashes up into new brightness in the purer atmosphere of the city.
And one part of its perfecting is the removal of all its opposites. Sorrow ends when sin and the discipline that sin needs have ended. ‘The inhabitant shall not say: I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.’ Sighing ends when weariness, loss, physical pain, and all the other ills that flesh is heir to have ceased to vex and weigh upon the spirit. Life purges the dross of imperfection from character. Death purges the alloy of sorrow and sighing from joy, and leaves the perfected spirit possessor of the pure gold of perfect and eternal gladness.