The Burdened Gently Led By
Octavius Winslow, D.D.
“He shall gently lead those that are with young”—Isaiah 40:11
“THOSE that are with young”—those that are
burdened; for such are they whom Jesus gently leads. This is a large portion of
the “little flock” of which Christ is the Chief Shepherd, Leader, and Exemplar.
In nothing scarcely is the assimilation stronger—in no particular more
appropriate. It is proper and befitting that the sheep of the Burden-bearer
should themselves be a burdened flock. But little would they know of Him as
such—in the glory of His Godhead, in the compassion of His manhood, in the
strength of His shoulder, and in the tenderness of His heart—but for their
wearisome, toilsome travail. They must be “with young” to know what the
“gentleness of Christ” is. A general view of our humanity will present to the
eye the spectacle of the “whole creation (rational and irrational) groaning and
travailing together in pain until now.” Our humanity is a burdened humanity, and
we, who believe, share that burden in addition to those of which the
unregenerate feel nothing. Spiritual life renders the soul sensible to many a
crushing weight, of which the soul spiritually dead is unconscious, just as the
corpse feels no pressure. We would not anticipate other portions of this
chapter, yet we cannot forbear the remark, at this stage, that, if you discover
in your soul that spiritual sensibility, that sense of pain, suffering, and
depression produced by a holy consciousness of indwelling evil, of a nature
totally depraved, or those diversified spiritual exercises of the soul through
which the flock of the Lord’s pasture more or less pass, then have you one of
the most indubitable evidences of spiritual life. We repeat the remark—it is
only a living man who is conscious of the pressure; a corpse cannot feel.
Spiritual sensibility is a sign of spiritual life.
The Lord’s people, then, find them where you may, in high circles or low, rich or poor, are a burdened people. Each one has his cross, each his load, each his pressure. Oh, how ought this truth to unite the people of God in holy affection, forbearance, and sympathy towards one another! The precept which recognizes the burdens of the Lord’s people, in the same words binds them upon our hearts: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” But let us specify some of the burdens of the Lord’s people,—those of whom it is said, “He shall gently lead those that are with young,”—and this will prepare us to consider the gentleness of Christ towards them.
All the Lord’s people are sensible of the burden of conscious guilt. In this particular it may with truth be said that “He fashioneth their hearts alike.” In this school—painful yet needed—all are experimentally taught; and it may be added, that from it they never entirely graduate until called home to glory. The lesson of our original and deep sinfulness, the weakness, impurity, and vileness of the flesh,—that there dwelleth in it no good thing,—is the daily, hourly lesson of the Christian’s life. If we ever extract any honey from that precious declaration, “By grace are ye saved,” it is under the pressure of our personal and inexpressible vileness and nothingness. Into this bitter cup the Lord distills the sweetness and savour of His most free and rich grace. But oh, how few of our species are conscious of this burden—the burden of the curse! And yet it confronts them at every step, meets them in every object, starts up before them at each turn. We cannot gaze upon the outspread landscape, nor walk into the beautiful garden, nor sail upon the lovely lake,—we cannot pluck the flowers, nor breathe the air, nor quaff the spring, but the sad, sad truth confronts us,—the curse of God has blighted and blasted all! Is man spiritually sensible of this? Ah, no! He sighs, but knows not why. He is fettered, but feels no chain; sickens, and knows not the cause. He marvels to find a sepulchre in his garden—disease, decay, and death in such close proximity to his choicest, sweetest, dearest delights. He wonders that his flower fades, that his spring dries, that his sheltering gourd withers in a night. He knows not that the curse is there—that the overshadowing vine breeds its own worm. Thus he treads life’s short journey, from the cradle to the grave, crushed beneath this tremendous weight, nor sees, as he passes, the uplifted cross where He was impaled who died to deliver us from its weight, yea, “who was made a curse for us.” Here and there we see one of this long and gloomy procession awakened to the conviction of the truth, and exclaiming, “What shall I do to be saved?” Here and there we descry a pilgrim, with the load upon his back, climb the sacred hill, and reach the cross—look—and leave his burden, and pursue his way, rejoicing in Christ, and exclaiming, “There is now no condemnation!” But the great mass pass on insensible and dead. Not so the Lord’s people. Emancipated, indeed, we are from the curse and condemnation of sin, for Christ our Surety was “delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification:” nevertheless, the more healthy our spiritual life, the more frequently and closely the conscience deals with atoning blood, the more alive and sensitive will be our spiritual sensibility to the conviction and pressure of that curse, which, though removed as a condemnation, yet remains as a fact. The tenderness which the blood imparts, the conviction of indebtedness which Divine grace gives, deepens the sensibility of sin; and, although standing beneath the shadow of the cross, and reading our pardon there, the conviction of its exceeding sinfulness is not the less, but all the more, acute. The curse, though removed, has left its lingering shadow upon the soul, and this, to a saint of God, is no little burden. And when to this is added the faltering of the Christian walk, the flaw of service, the imperfection of worship, the dead insect tainting the perfume of the sacred anointing, the dust upon the sandal, the trailed robe, the concealed, but not less real and sinful, appetency of the heart—its foolishness and inconstancy—oh, is there no painfully-felt burden in all this to a mind whose moral perceptions are quick, and whose spirituality covets the close and holy walk with God?
How keenly sensible, too, are many of God’s people of the burden of bodily infirmity. The apostle numbers himself among them, when, so feelingly and vividly describing this infirmity of the flock, he says, “We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.” While all believers are conscious of this, many are more painfully so than others. Some know not a single day’s perfect health, yea, many not an hour’s freedom from wearying pain. Days of languor and nights unsoothed by sleep are appointed to them. Others, while, perhaps, exempt from positive disease, are afflicted with an acutely nervous, sensitive temperament, subjecting them to a species of sorrow which compels them to nurse their burden in lonely isolation. It is with them incessant suffering. The trembling of the aspen leaf startles them, their own shadow alarms them, the flutter of an angel’s wing, as he sweeps past on his mission of love, would discompose them. This is their burden, and the last, because the least known of all, that receives the soothing of human kindness, consideration, and sympathy. Christians thus afflicted require a mode of treatment peculiarly patient and gentle. Those who are not conversant with the delicate sensibility of the nervous system can but imperfectly estimate the acute suffering of such. Is it trespassing too curiously into the awful mystery of Christ’s unknown agony, to venture the surmise that, in the terrible conflict which so fearfully agitated His whole frame in the garden, as to clothe it with a vesture of blood, there entered deeply this element of suffering—the exquisite sympathy of the nervous system? If this be true, and we see no reason to question it, then how appropriate, precious, and soothing His compassion and sympathy with all His members similarly afflicted! What, beloved, if your case distances the sympathy, or baffles the cure, or even awakens the reproach, of your fellows, let it suffice that every nerve quivering with agony, that every pulse fluttering with excitement, awakens a response of tenderness and sympathy in the Sufferer of Gethsemane. And oh, if this be so, you can well afford to part with a creature’s compassion and help, since it but makes room for Christ. Ah! one five minutes’ experience of His love in the heart, is of more worth than an eternity of the creature’s. And little think we often, as we feel the human arm droop, and see the human eye withdrawn, and are conscious of the chill that has crept over the warm bosom upon which we fondly leaned, that Jesus is but preparing us for a more full and entire enthronement of Himself in our soul.
Then, there are others whose burden is a constant tendency to mental despondency and gloom. Whether this is constitutional, is produced by sorrow, or is the result of disease, the effect is the same—a life perpetually cloud-vailed and depressed, scarcely relieved by a transient gleam of sunshine. No little burden is this. “A mind diseased” involves more real suffering, and demands more Divine grace, than a body diseased. And yet, how large a class is this! What numbers are there of the Lord’s people whose spiritual hope is obscured by mental disease, and whose mental disease is, in its turn, produced by some physical irritant—so close is the relation and so sympathetic the emotions of the body and mind. What a mystery is our being! There is One—and but One—who understands it. “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” Your Saviour, beloved, experienced mental gloom and spiritual depression as you never can. It was not always sunshine and joy with your Lord. His path often wound along the lonely vale, and across the dreary desert, and through the deep gloom of the pathless forest—and He knows the way that you take. The spiritual despondency of your soul, the cloud-vailings of your mind, the absence of vigorous faith, of heaven-springing joy, and of undimmed hope, affect not your union with Christ, touch not your interest in the love of God, and render not doubtful or insecure your place in the many-mansioned house of your Father in heaven. Will not this truth be a little help heavenward? Will not this assurance, founded as it is on the Word of God, distil some joy into your heart, and throw some gleam of sunshine upon your path, and strengthen you as a child of the light to walk through darkness, until you reach that world of glory of which it is said, “And there is no night there!” “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God,” (Isa. 50:10.) “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Take heart and go forward; “light and gladness” shall spring up in your path just where and when the God who loves you, and the Shepherd who leads you, sees best. They are “sown” by God’s hand, and they shall spring forth beneath His smile. A love unchanging and a covenant-keeping God is bringing you home to Himself.
There is often, too, in the experience of many, the burden of some heavy daily cross. A personal grief, or a domestic trial, or a relative calamity, is the weight they bear, perhaps with not a day’s cessation. Is it no burden to have a wounded spirit? Is it no burden to nurse a sorrow which interdicts all human sympathy, which admits not, from its profound depth and sacredness, another to share it? Is it no burden to stand up alone for Jesus and His truth in the domestic circle, allied in the closest bonds of nature to those concerning whom we must exclaim, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children”—in whom your spiritual joy awakens no response, and your spiritual sorrow no sympathy? But, oh, what a privilege and honour to endure reproach, and separation, alienated affection, studied neglect, and relentless persecution, for Christ’s sake! “And on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.” Tried, persecuted disciple, “to you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in His name, but also to suffer for His sake.” Upon you Jesus has laid the burden, the sweet, the precious burden, of His cross, that you might bear it after Him. Did ever burden confer such honour, bring such repose, secure a crown so bright, or lead to such glory and blessedness? “Whoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.” Lord! make Thyself more precious to my heart—then will Thy burden be lighter, Thy yoke easier, shame for Thee will be sweeter, and Thy cross, rude and heavy though it be, will become increasingly my joy, my glory, and my boast! Let us now turn our thoughts to the gentleness with which the Divine Shepherd leads these His burdened ones “He shall GENTLY lead those that are with young.”
The Leader is Jesus—the Shepherd. He claims this as one part of His pastoral office. “The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” “He leadeth them out”—leadeth them out of their unregenerate nature, out of their state of condemnation, out of the world, and out of their families. And whither does He lead them? He leads them to His cross, to Himself; and, thus accepting and resting in Him as their righteousness, and their salvation, and their portion, He then leads them out to the green pastures He has provided for the flock, where He causeth them to lie down in safe and quiet resting-places. Oh, what a momentous step is this, the first that His people take! To be led out of our own righteousness and unrighteousness, out of our wrecked and polluted selves, out of the false confidences, the spurious hopes, the ritual worship, and pharisaical religion to which we had been so long and so fondly wedded, and led to embrace the Lord Jesus as our one, our sole, our sure hope for eternity, oh, it is heaven’s first, heaven’s last and latest step; this step taken, heaven is sure! Test your religion, beloved, by this. Has Jesus so taught you? Has His sovereign grace been exhibited in leading you out of your worldly circle? His converting grace in leading you out of your self-righteousness? His pardoning, justifying grace in leading you to peace, holiness, and hope?—then, if this be so, you are Christ’s, and Christ is yours. Thus does the Lord lead His people. He leads them through the wilderness, up the steep ascent, and down into the low valley, through water and fire, cloud and storm, thorn-brake and desert, watching them with an eye that never slumbers, keeping them by a hand that never wearies, and encircling them with a love that never chills. Thus, step by step He leads them on, from grace to glory, from earth to heaven, from the wilderness below to the paradise above. Not one of that flock, thus led, thus guarded, thus loved, shall be missing when the Shepherd folds them on high. His “rod and His staff” will be found to have restored them, guided them, comforted them, and at last to have brought them home—little faith, and fickle love, and weak grace, and limited experience, and defective knowledge, and faltering steps, finding their way, through trial and temptation and suffering, home to God—not one “vessel of mercy” missing. Oh, who but Christ could accomplish this? Who but the Divine Shepherd could thus have kept, and thus have gathered, and thus have folded the sheep scattered up and down in the cloudy and dark day? What an evidence of the Godhead of Christ! Oh, crown His deity! crown it with your faith, crown it with your love, crown it with your praise, ye who have “now received the atonement;” for nothing short of this could place you within the realms of glory. And this, when there, will be your crown and joy for ever.
The “gentleness of Christ” is a theme on which the Holy Ghost frequently dwells. It is an essential perfection of His nature. The nature of Christ is gentle. It is not an accident of His being, an engrafted virtue, a cultivated grace—it is essential to His very existence. Recollect that the two natures of our Lord were perfect. If we look at His superior nature—the divine—the wondrous truth meets the eye as if emblazoned in letters of living light, “God is love.” Now, Christ was an embodiment of the essential love of God; consequently, gentleness was a perfection of His being. If we view His inferior nature—the human—not less manifest was His gentleness, since His humanity, though identified with the curse, and laden with sin, and encompassed with infirmity, and shaded with sorrow, yet was sinless humanity, free from all and the slightest moral taint; and so gentleness, in its most exquisite form, was one of its most distinguished attributes. If, too, we connect with this truth the fulness of the Spirit in our Lord’s human nature, the evidence of its essential and perfect gentleness is complete. And was not the gentleness of Christ visible in His every act? There was nothing censorious in His disposition, nothing harsh in His manner, nothing bitter or caustic in His speech. If, with withering rebuke, He denounced the hypocrisy of the scribes, or the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, or the extortion of the lawyers, or His rejection by the nation He had come to save, while no voice could speak in words more fearful, yet none in tones more tremulous with the deepest, tenderest emotion. But oh, how much oftener the blessing breathed from His lip than the woe! Judgment was His strange work; mercy His delight. Truly in all His works, in all His ways, in all His discourses, the beautiful prophecy that foretold the gentleness of His grace was fulfilled: “He shall come down like rain on the mown grass, as showers that water the earth.” “The bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” But let us consider this specific illustration of Christ’s gentleness—His dealings with the burdened. “He gently leadeth those that are with young.”
We have an apposite illustration of this in the considerate tenderness of Jacob: “And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me; and if men should over-drive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly,” (Gen. 33:13,14.) If such the tenderness, such the considerateness of man, what must be that of Christ! Who can portray the gentleness with which He leads His people? His gentleness, as displayed in conversion, how great! drawing them with cords of love, and with the bands of a man—gradually unvailing their vileness, and thus step by step leading them into assured peace. His teaching, how gentle! “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Here a little and there a little, He, by the Spirit, softly leads us to truth—doctrine explaining doctrine, precept leading to precept, promise following promise, and so, by a gradual unfolding of the gospel, by a process of instruction the most gentle, we are fed, first with the milk, and then with the strong meat of the Word, and so grow up into Christ, the Truth. Submit yourself, then, beloved, to His teaching. Burdened with a sense of your ignorance, wearied with the teaching of men, perplexed and discouraged by the conflicting of human judgment, come and learn of Christ. You will advance more in Divine instruction in one day at the feet of Jesus than in a lifetime at the feet of Gamaliel. The very gentleness of His teaching instructs. His patience, forbearance, and painstaking, His words of heart-cheer and commendation, untinged by an unkind look, and untinctured by a harsh word, will advance your experimental knowledge of Himself, and so advance your soul heavenward.
Not less gentle is His guidance. Is the path our heavenly Father has chosen for us paved with flint and sown with briar? Is it narrow and serpentine, difficult and perilous, often lone and dreary? How gently the Shepherd leads us along! How he goes before, straitening the crooked, and smoothing the rough places, and rolling the stone from before us! What unexpected mercies and interpositions and aids He causes to spring forth in our way; how He mitigates expected suffering, allays foreboding fears, and disappoints all our unbelieving and mournful anticipations, preventing us with His goodness! And when we have reached that event in our life which we the most dreaded, the spot which looked the darkest in our history, lo! we have stood amazed at the marvellous loving-kindness of our God—that very event has proved our greatest blessing, and that very spot the sunniest and the brightest in the wilderness—so gently has Jesus led us!
In affliction and sorrow, how gentle His dealings! Perhaps, it is then that we learn more of this perfection of our dear Lord than at any other time. The time of trial is a time that tests the reality of things. It brings to the proof the friendship of the world, the real help of the creature, the actual sufficiency of all earthly things. Times of affliction are verily times of trial. But the greatest and grandest discovery of all is the sufficiency, the preciousness, and the gentleness of Christ. Oh, how little is known of the “Man of sorrows” but in the hour of sorrow! There are soundings in the depths of His infinite love, tenderness, and sympathy only made in the many and deep waters of adversity. How gently does He deal with our burdened hearts then! There is not a being in the universe that knows how to deal with sorrow, how to heal a wounded spirit, how to bind up a broken heart, as Jesus. Lord, teach us this truth! Lead us into the depths of Thy love. Unvail the springs of Thy sympathy. Shew us that in the languor of sickness, in the tortures of pain, in the agony of bereavement, in the woundings of trial, in the losses of adversity, Thou still art gentle, and that Thy gentleness maketh us great.
We need as much the gentleness of Christ in the smooth as in the rough path. Smooth paths are slippery paths. Times of prosperity are perilous times to the Christian. Never is the man of God, the man of Christian principle, more exposed to the corruption of his own nature, the assaults of Satan, and the seductions of the world, as when the world prospers with, and the creature smiles upon him. Then is he walking upon enchanted ground,—then he needs to pray, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.” Oh to be kept from this sinful, ungodly, treacherous world! If riches increase, to give the more to Christ; if honours accumulate, to walk the humbler with God; if influence and position and power augment, to write upon it all, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD.” But what can thus preserve, thus sanctify, but the gentleness of Christ, who will not “suffer the moon to smite us by night, nor the sun by day”—who, in the night-season of adversity and in the daytime of prosperity hides us in the cleft of the rock, and thus gently leads us heavenward?
And now, beloved, what a help heavenward, what strength and heart-cheer, will you find in a believing reception of this truth—the gentleness of Christ! Never doubt, never question, never reject it. It is an ingredient in every cup you drink, it is light in every cloud you behold, it is an accent in every voice you hear of Christ’s dealings, leadings, and teachings. He is, He must be, gentle. He is not only gentle, but He is gentleness. Gentleness is His nature, because love is His essence. The heart of Christ is such that it cannot be otherwise than gentle in its every feeling. The physician is not less kind because he prescribes a nauseous remedy, nor the surgeon less feeling because he makes a deep incision, nor the parent less loving because he employs the rod. Nor is your Lord less so, because the way by which He leads, and the discipline by which He sanctifies, and the method by which He instructs you, may for a moment vail the reality, light, and comfort of this truth—“He gently leadeth those that are with young.” Did Jacob lead the flocks and herds with young gently and softly lest they should die? Oh, how much more gently and softly does our Jacob, our true Shepherd, lead us! “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Lest we should be weary, He will not overdrive us; lest we should faint, He leads us by springs of water; lest our soul should be discouraged by reason of the way. He causeth us to lie down beneath the shadow of the Rock that is higher than we.
If this be so, then yield yourself to the Lord’s leading. Be satisfied that He is leading you by the right way homeward. Do not distrust His wisdom, nor question His love, nor fret, murmur, and rebel that the way is not exactly just as you would have chosen. Be sure of this, it is the right way; and if it is one of self-denial and of difficulty, one of straitness and of cloud, yet it is the way home, the ordained way, the only way that will bring you into the beatific presence of Jesus. And His gentleness will constrain Him to bear with you, and will suggest just such wise and holy discipline as will impart robustness to your religion, completeness to your Christian character, and sanctity to all the relations and doings of life.
O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me; I am burdened, gently lead me; I am in darkness, stay my soul upon Thee; I am in perplexity, skillfully guide me. Let me hear Thy voice saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” Let Thy pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, lead and guide me gently homeward. Make Thy way straight before my feet. My foes watch for my halting, my enemies wait for my stumbling—hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe. Sorrow swells my heart, tears dim my eyes, the billows swell, the sky lowers, the cloud darkens, the winds sigh mournfully, and all my landscape is wintry and cheerless—draw me within thy warm, thy sheltering love. Thou hast laid me upon this bed of weakness and of pain—come and make it in my sickness, and pillow this sleepless, weary head upon Thy breast. Thou hast nipped my favourite flower, hast withered my pleasant gourd, hast removed my strong stay, hast dried up my present resources, and hast left me to tread the vale of life in loneliness, in want, and in tears—soothe, succour, and uphold my trembling heart, my weak faith, my desponding mind. “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, [let] thy comforts delight my soul.” In my widowhood, in my orphanage, in my friendlessness, in my desolateness, in my need, I look, I run, I cleave to Thee. Cast me not off from the bosom to which I fly. Shelter me from the storm and tempest within Thy wounded side. Let that eye that never wanders in its glance of love, that voice that never falters in its accents of tenderness, that hand that never droops in its outstretched help, that heart that never chills, that faithfulness that never veers, restore, soothe, and engirdle me. Lord, no parent, no brother, no friend, no lover is like Thee; and I am learning Thy worth, Thy gentleness, and Thy preciousness in Thine own appointed, wise, and holy way. Only let the result of this Thy present dealing be my deeper holiness, my richer experience, my maturer Christianity, my greater usefulness, my more advanced meetness for heaven, my more simple, single, unreserved consecration to Thee, and Thy more undivided, undisputed, and supreme enthronement within my soul.
“Is there a thing beneath the sun
That strives with Thee my heart to share?
Oh! tear it thence, and reign alone,
The Lord of every motion there!”
I cite you, my Christian reader, as Christ’s witness to this truth. Has not the Lord dealt gently with you? Gently has He carried you over the rough place,—gently has He led you through the swelling tide, —gently has He wounded, and with what gentleness has he healed you,—gently has He chastened, and how gently has He dried your tears. With what gentleness has He dealt with you in sickness, in suffering, and in grief. How gently He has corrected your backslidings, restored your wanderings, guided your perplexities, removed your burdens; and thus, with a power that is never exhausted, with a skill that is never baffled, with a patience that never wearies, with a love that never falters, and with a gentleness that never overdrives, Christ is leading you step by step heavenward, where, with a depth of gratitude and an emphasis of meaning unfelt before, you shall exclaim, “Thy gentleness hath MADE ME GREAT.”
Beloved, burdened with sin, burdened with grief, burdened with sorrow, listen to the gentle voice which bids thee “cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will sustain thee.” Thy burden—whatever it may be—thy burden of care, thy burden of anxiety, thy burden of sickness, thy burden of weariness,—cast it upon Jesus the Burden-bearer, roll it from off thy shoulder upon His, transfer it from thy heart to His heart, in the simplicity and directness of a faith that doubts not, hesitates not, demurs not, because His word has promised that His grace and strength and love shall sustain you. No burden will Jesus have you feel but the easy burden of His commands, the gentle burden of His love, the honoured burden of His cross. In bearing these you shall find rest; for there is real rest in obedience, in love, in the cross, yea, in whatever binds the heart to Christ.
Imitate Christ in His gentleness. Be gentle to others as He is gentle to you. “The servant of the Lord must be gentle.” The great apostle could say, “We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then gentle,” and it teaches us “to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto alt men.” Be gentle to the lambs of the flock; be gentle to them whose grace is little, whose faith is weak, whose strength is small, whose infirmities are many, whose sorrows are keen, whose trials are severe, whose positions and paths in life are difficult and perilous. Oh, I beseech you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, that you be in this particular, Christ-like. Be gentle to them that have fallen by the power of temptation; those who have travelled in the ways of the Lord with so slow and tardy a step that they have been overtaken by evil. Be gentle to the bruised reed and the smoking flax. Be gentle, very gentle, to the broken heart and the wounded spirit. Speak gently to those whom shame and grief and sin have bowed down to the earth. Speak gently of those who, through weakness and frailty, have erred in judgment or in practice. Oh, learn of Jesus, in the gentleness with which He leads the burdened, and consider yourself as never so closely assimilated to Him as when meekness, lowliness, and gentleness clothe you as with a garment, and beautify your whole carriage with their lustre.
“Gently, Lord, oh, gently lead us,
Through this gloomy vale of tears,
Though the changes Thou’st decreed us,
Till our last great change appears.
“When temptation’s darts assail us,
When in devious paths we stray,
Let thy goodness never fail us,
Lead us in Thy perfect way.
“In the hour of pain and anguish,
In the hour when death draws near,
Suffer not our hearts to languish,
Suffer not our souls to fear.
“When this mortal life is ended,
Bid us in Thine arms to rest,
Till, by angel bands attended,
We awake among the blest.
“Then, oh, crown us with thy blessing,
Through the triumphs of Thy grace:
Then shall praises never ceasing
Echo through Thy dwelling-place.”
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