“But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” — Luke 24:29.
THESE disciples knew not their Lord, but they loved the unknown stranger who spake so sweetly of him. Blessed are the men who discourse of Jesus; they shall ever find a welcome in the hearts and homes of the elect. His name to our ears is ever melodious, and we love that conversation best which is fullest of it. We would willingly afford the chamber on the wall, the table, the stool, and the candlestick, to all those who will talk continually of Him. But, alas! there are too many who would blush to answer our Savior’s question, “What manner of communications are these that ye. have one to another?” Too great a number of professors forget the words of the prophet, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” We will not be censorious, but we believe with an old author, that “the metal of the bell is known by the sound of the clapper; what is in the well will be found in the bucket; what is in the warehouse will be shown in the shop; and what is in the heart will be bubbling forth at the mouth.”
We often miss our Lord’s company because our conversation does not please him. When our Beloved goes down into his garden it is to feed there and gather lilies; but if thorns and nettles are the only products of the soil, he will soon be away to the true beds of spices. When two walk together, and are agreed in solemn discourse concerning heavenly things, Jesus will soon make a third. So here, on this journey to Emmaus, the Savior, though they “knew him not, because their eyes were holden,” did so wondrously converse with them, that their “hearts burned within them.”
He who would stay a man in the street would naturally call out his name; and he who would bring Jesus into his soul must frequently pronounce his charming name.
The Lord having graciously conversed with these favored travelers, essays to leave them, and continue his journey, but they constrain him to remain, and at their earnest suit he does so. From this pleasing little incident let us glean one or two lessons.
I. When we have the Savior ’s company for a little while we shall not be content until we have more of it. These holy men were not content to let him go, but would have him tarry with them all night. There are certain liquors which men drink that are said to increase thirst; it is most true of this rich “wine on the lees,” that the more we drink of it the more we desire. Nor will the draught be forbidden us, or prove in any way injurious, for the spouse bids us “drink, yes, drink abundantly.” The soul which has enjoyed communion with Jesus will never agree that it has dwelt long enough on the mount: it will far rather build a tabernacle for itself and its master. Never is a Christian tired of his Redeemer’s society, but, like Abraham, he cries, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.” Any plea will be urged to persuade our Lord to remain. Is it evening? we will plead that the day is far spent, and we shall need him to cheer our midnight hours. Is it morning? we will tell him that we fear to begin the day without a long visit from him.
Is it noon? we will urge that the sun is hot, and we shall faint unless he allows us to sit beneath his shadow. We will always find some reason for his remaining, for love’s logic is inexhaustible. If he would become our constant guest we should never weary of his company. A thousand years would seem but as one day if all the time we might lay our head’ upon his bosom; yea, eternity itself shall need no other source of joy since this perennial stream is ever running. When our wondering eyes have admired the beauties of our Savior for millions of years we shall be quite as willing to continue the meditation, supremely blest with that Heaven which our eyes shall drink in from his wounded hands and side. The marrow of Maven is Jesus; and as we shall never be surfeited with bliss, so we shall never have too much of Jesus. Fresh glories are discovered in him every hour; his person, work, offices, character, affection, and relationships, are each of them clusters of stars which the eye of contemplation will view with unutterable astonishment as they are in their order revealed to the mind. The saint who has longest tenanted the mansions of glory will confess that the presence of the Savior has not ceased to be his bliss, ‘nor has the freshness of the pleasure been in the least diminished’. Christ is a flower, but he fadeth not; he is a river, but he is never dry; he is a sun, but he knoweth no eclipse; he is all in all, but he is something more than all. He that longs not for Christ hath not seen him, and by just so much as a man has tasted of the sweetness of Jesus will he be hungry and :thirsty after more of him. Men who are content with a manifestation once in a month will soon become so dull that once a year will suit them; but he who has a visit from the Savior very frequently will be panting for fresh views of him everyday — yea, and every hour of the day. He will never lack appetite for spiritual things who lives much on them. The poor professor may be content with a few of Christ’s pence now and then, but he who is rich in grace thinks so small an income beneath his station, and cannot live unless he has golden gifts from the hand of his Lord; he will covet earnestly this best of gifts, and be a very miser after the precious things of the cross. John Owen, the most sober of theologians, falls into a perfect ecstasy when touching on this subject. In expounding Cant. 44:6, 7, he gives us the following glowing passage: “The intendment of what is so loftily set out by so many metaphors in these verses is, “I am not able to bear the workings of my love to thee, unless I may always have society and fellowship with thee. There is no satisfying of my love without it. It is as the grave, that still says, Give! Give! Death is not satisfied without its prey. If it have not all it hath nothing. ’ Let what will happen, if death hath not its whole desire it hath nothing at all. Nor can it be withstood in its appointed season; no ransom will be taken. So is my love; if! have thee not wholly I have nothing. Nor can all the world bribe it to a diversion; it will be no more turned aside than death in its time. Alas! I am not able to bear my jealous thoughts; I fear thou dost not love roe — that thou hast forsaken me, because I know I deserve not to be beloved. These thoughts are hard as hell; they give no rest to my soul. If! find not myself on thy heart and arm, I am as one that lies down in a bed of coals. ” The absence of the Savior deprives the believer of more than joy or light; it seems to destroy his very life, and sap the foundations of his being. Let us seek then to hold the king in his galleries.
II. We remark in the next place, that if we would keep the Savior with us, we must con. strain him. Jesus will not tarry if he is not pressed to do so.
Not that he is ever weary of his people, but because he would have them show their sense of his value. In the case before us, it is said, “he made as if he would go further.” This he did to try their affection. “Not, ” says Ness, “that he had any purpose to depart :from them, but to prove them how they prized him, and accounted of his company. Therefore this ought not to be misimproved to countenance any kind of sinful dissimulation. If Solomon might make as though he would do an act that in its own nature was unlawful (to slay an innocent child), sure I am our Savior might do that which h but indifferent in itself (whether to go or stay) without being charged with the sin of dissembling. But when Christ makes to begone, the two disciples would not let him go, but one (as it were) gets hold on one arm, and the other on the other; there they hang till they constrain him to continue with them.” These were wise men, and were, therefore, loath to part with a fellow-traveler from whom they could learn so much. If we are ever privileged to receive Jesus under our roof, let us make haste to secure the door that he may not soon be gone. If he sees us careless concerning him, and cold towards him, he will soon arise and go hence. He will not intrude himself where he is not wanted; he needs no lodging, for the heaven of heavens is his perpetual palace, and there he many hearts of the contrite where he will find a hearty welcome.
When we have the honor of a visit from Prince Immanuel let everything be done to protract it. Angels’ visits are few and far between: when we have the happiness of meeting therewith, let us, like Jacob, manfully grasp the angel, and detain him, at least until he leaves a blessing. Up, Christian, with a holy bravery, and lay hold on the mercy will it is within reach! The Son of Man loves those who hold him tightly. He will not resent the familiarity, but will approve of thine earnestness. Let the loving bride of the Canticles teach thee by her example, for she glories in her deed when she sings. “I found him whom my soul loveth, I held him, and I would not let him go.”
True, ‘tis amazing grace which can allow such a liberty with the person of so exalted a being; but seeing that he invites us to lay hold on his strength, and has sanctioned the act in others, shall we, like Ahaz, when he declined to ask a sign, refuse the favor which our Lord allows? No — “We will maintain our hold ‘Tis his goodness makes us bold.” How can we then prolong our communion with the Savior? Let us reply to the question by sundry directions, which, by the aid of the Spirit, we will labor to follow. 1. Allow no rivals to intrude. Jesus will never tarry in a divided heart. He must befall or nothing. Search then thy heart; dethrone its idols; eject all interlopers; chastise all trespassers; yes, slay the Diabolians who lurk in thy soul. If we would enjoy uninterrupted fellowship with the Son of God, we must institute a rigid inquisition against all kinds of sin. A little evil will at times mar our peace, just as a small stone in the shoe will spoil our walking. Tender are the shoots of this vine of communion, and little foxes will do no little injury. “The Lord thy God is a jealous God,” and Jesus thy husband is jealous also. Sorely did he smite Jerusalem, because she sought affinity with other gods, and chose to herself many lovers. Keep then thy house and heart open to him, and shut to all others. With sin he cannot dwell. Canst thou expect the “angel of the covenant” to dwell with the prince of darkness? Can there be concord with Christ and Belial? Awake then, and cry “Away, ye profane,” my heart is the temple of Jesus, and ye must not defile its hallowed places. If they retire not, get to thyself the scourge of repentance and self-mortification, and if it be laid on lustily they will not long abide the blows.
It behoves us to remember, also, that there are other things besides sins which may become offensive to the Savior. The nearest friend, the partner of our bosom, or the offspring of our loins, may excite the Lord’s jealousy.
If these become the objects of an affection which ought to be wholly his, he will be moved to anger with us. The calf was no less an idol be. cause it was made of gold. The brazen serpent, despite its original service, must be broken when men worship it. All things are alike cause of jealousy to Jesus if they are exalted to his throne, since no creature can in the least possess anything deserving of worship. The very mention of a rival’s name will suffice to drive our blessed Lord away. He will have the name of Baali taken utterly out of our mouth; and he alone must be our Ishi.
Oh! true believer, is there no strange god with thee? Make a thorough search. Bid even thy beloved Rachel rise, for the teraph is often concealed beneath the place where she sitteth. Say not in haste, I am no idolater. The approaches of this sin are insidious in the extreme, and ere thou knowest it thou art entangled in its iron net. The love of the creature has a bewitching power over men, and they seldom know the treachery of the Delilah until their locks are shorn. Oh, daughters of Zion, let King Solomon alone have your love; rehearse his name in your songs, and write his achievements on your memories; so will he dwell in the city of David and ride through your midst in his chariot paved with love for you: but if ye pay homage to any save himself, he will return unto his place and make your beauteous city a byword with the enemy. Have m) fellowship with strangers, if ye desire manifestations of love from the adorable Jesus. “Let none be your love and choice, and the flower of your delights, but your Lord Scans. Set not your heart upon the world, since God hath not made it your portion; for it will not fall to you to get two portions, and to rejoice twice, and to be happy twice, and to have an upper heaven and an under heaven too. Most of us have a lover and idol besides our husband, Christ; but it is our folly to divide our narrow and little love; it will not serve for two. It is best then to hold it whole and together, and to give it to Christ; for then we get double interest for our love, when we lend it to, .red lay it out upon, Christ; and we are sure, besides, that the stock cannot perish.”
Let us muse on the words of the writer of The Synagogue — “Peace, rebel thought, dost thou not know the king, My God is here?
Cannot his presence, if no other thing, Make thee forbear?
Or were he absent, all the standers by Are but his spies; And well he knows, if thou shouldst it deny, Thy words were lies.
If others will not, yet I must, and will, Myself complain.
My God, even now a base, rebellious thought Began to move, And subtly twining with me would have wrought Me from my love’.
Fain he would have me to believe that Sin And thou might both Take up my heart together for your inn, And neither loathe The other’s company; a while sit still, And part again.” 2. Give the Savior a goodly entertainment, fit for so great a prince, and thus he may be persuaded to make a longer stay. His rank, his honor, and his benevolence, entitle him to the most respectful treatment. Shall the Son of God be entertained in any but the best room of the house? Shall we offer on his altar any save the fattest of the flock and the herd? Shall we spare ourselves when he is our guest? Shall gentlemen spend all their estates that they may sumptuously feast an earthly monarch? and shall we penuriously count the cost of our love to him? Beloved, we shall have but brief glimpses of Jesus if he does not perceive our souls affected by it. A slight from his friends grieves his spirit, trod he withdraws himself. We ought to count it a cheap bargain if we could give our all to win the constant indwelling of Jesus. Princes have melted pearls into the wine wherewith they entertained monarchs, let us do the same. Let us make rich offerings to Jesus; let our duties be more faithfully discharged, our labors more willingly performed, and let our zeal be more eminently fervent. If the altar cease to smoke with incense, the heart will be made empty and void by the departure of its Lord. Self-sacrifice is sweet to our Redeemer, he loves to see his dearly-purchased people confessing that they are not their own. Oh, brethren in the Gospel, do more if ye would receive more; give more largely and ye shall be cheered more abundantly. The self-denying missionary, the laborious pastor, the earnest evangelist, and the indefatigable church member, are generally the persons invited to the royal banquets of Jesus. He delights to honor the men who wait at his gates with diligence, and watch for his coming with vigilance. Faithful service shall never be unrewarded by the master’s notice, and continuance in well-doing shall receive as its recompense a perpetuity of approbation. Hold thou the Savior, oh believer! by hands ready for service and happy to obey. 3. Trust the Lord much while he is with you. Keep no secrets from him.
His secrets are with you; let your secrets be with him. Jesus admires confidence, and if it be not afforded him, he will say,, Farewell,” until we can trust him better. So long as we put our lips to the ear of Christ, and tell him all, he will never let us be alone. When we reveal every whir, and hide nothing from him, he is pleased with us; but when we conceal our designs, our troubles, or our fears, he frowns at our want of confidence. If thou desirest Christ for a perpetual guest give him all the keys of thine heart; let not one cabinet be locked up from him; give him the range of every room, and the key of every chamber; thus you will constrain him to remain. True faith holds the feet of Jesus and prevents his departure: when he rises to continue his journey, she cries, “Not so, my Lord, hear one more word, listen to the wants of thy servant, let at least another of my griefs find a tomb in thy loving heart. Listen to me this once, for I have somewhat to say unto thee which so deeply concerns me, that if thou dost not regard me, I know not whither to resort.” Thus she will hold her confidant by one continued series of confessions. We doubt not that our loving Lord frequently hides his face from us because we rely not enough upon him. It would be the part of wisdom to transfer our cares to him who careth for us; thus should we imitate David, who urges us to “pour out our hearts before him.” Make Christ manager of thine affairs, and so please him. An old writer somewhere says, “He who runs before the cloud of divine direction goeth a fool’s errand :” let us then desist from self-serving, and give ourselves up like children to the loving care of a tender parent, to be led, guided, directed, and supplied by our great Covenant Head; so will he always have business to do at our house, and will make our soul his settled rest. 4. Another method of retaining the company of our Beloved, is to bring in others of his friends to sit with us. It may be if he cometh not to us alone, he will come with them, and if perchance some ill word of ours might urge him to depart, yet, for the sake of others who sit with him, he will remain. One Of these disciples might not have constrained Christ, but the two effected it. Fire will not tarry in a single coal, but if many be laid together it will be long before it is clean gone. A single tree may not afford much shelter for a traveler, but he will rest beneath the thick boughs of the grove: so will Jesus often sit longer where many of ‘¢ the trees of the Lord” are planted. Go to the assemblies of the saints, if you would keep the arm of the King of saints. Those who dwell most with the daughters of Jerusalem are most likely to have a goodly share of Emmanuel’s company. Cannot my reader add his own testimony to the fact that fellowship with the saints is conducive to a continuance of fellowship with Jesus? 5. Earnest prayer is the most potent means of winning continued communion. We have found it true, that the mercy-seat is the place where the Lord meets his servants. Full often our souls have risen from depths of distress to heights of delight, ‘by the simple appeal to heaven, which we by supplication have been allowed to make. We will speak well of the exercise of prayer; we can endorse all the titles which old divines have given it, such as — the key of heaven, and of all God’s cabinets, the conduit of mercy, faith flaming, Jacob’s ladder, an invisible and invincible weapon, a victory over the Omnipotent, the sweet consumption of cares, a box of ointment broken on the head of Christ, the perfume of heaven, the mount of transfiguration, the soul’s messenger, and Satan’s scourge: but we will add another — it is a golden chain which holds the Savior, and secures him to his people. Christ never lingers long with dumb souls; if there be no crying out to him, he loves not silence, and he departs and betakes himself to those hearts which are full of the music of prayer. What a marvelous influence prayer has upon our fellowship with Jesus! We may always measure one by the other. Those pray most fervently and frequently who have been constant attendants on the kind Intercessor; while, on the other hand, those who wrestle the hardest in supplication will hold the angel the longest. Joshua’s voice stayed the sun in the heavens for a few hours; but the voice of prayer can detain the Sun o! righteousness for months and even years.
Christian Brethren, will you slight this exhortation? Shall none of these means be tried? Are you content to suffer your Savior to depart? Are ye careless as to his company? Then you have grave cause for fear; there is something vitally wrong. Pass not by this sad admonitory symptom; search your heart, for a sad disease is there. May the great Physician heal thee.
But surely, as joint-heir with Jesus, thou hast longings after him and sighings for his presence. Then let it be thy concern to find him, and, having found him, to constrain him to abide with thee forever. “Oh, that we could for ever sit With Mary, at the Master’s feet; Be this our happy choice, Our only care, delight, and bliss, Our joy, our heaven on earth be this, To hear the Bridegroom’s voice. “ Oh, that we could with favor’d John, Recline our weary heads upon The dear Redeemer’s breast!
From care, and sin, and sorrow free, Give us, O Lord, to find in thee Our everlasting rest.” In a short time it will be our joy to hold further converse with each other, upon various important points of our knowledge of Christ. We trust we shall then be privileged to enter more fully into the mysteries of communion, and in the mean time we commend our humble effort to the blessing of Heaven, trusting that some beginners will here read and learn what are the elements of that wondrous experience which falls to the lot of a Christian.
TO THE UNCONVERTED READER.
FRIEND — You are now commencing the life of grace, for thou art just awakened to know the evil of sin. You are now feeling the guilt of your life, and are lamenting the follies of your youth. You fear there is no hope of pardon, no prospect of forgiveness, and you tremble lest death should lead your guilty soul unforgiven before its Maker. Hear, then, the word of God. Thy pains for sins are God’s work in thy soul. He woundeth thee that thou mayest seek him. tie would not have showed thee thy sin if he did not intend to pardon. Thou art now a sinner, and Jesus came to save sinners, therefore he came to save thee; yea, he is saving thee now. These strivings of soul are the work of his mercy; there is love in every blow, and grace in every stripe. Believe, O troubled one, that he, is able to save thee unto the uttermost, and thou shalt not believe in vain. Now, in the silence, of thine agony, look unto him who by his stripes healeth thee. Jesus Christ has suffered the penalty of thy sins, and has endured the wrath of God on thy behalf. See yonder crucified Man on Calvary, and mark thee that those drops of blood are falling for thee, those nailed hands are pierced for thee, and that open side contains a heart full of love to thee. “None but Jesus, none but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good.” It is simple reliance on him which saves. The negro said, “Massa, I fall fiat on de promise ;” so if you fall flat on the promise of Jesus you shall not find him fail you; he will bind up your heart, and make an end to the days of your mourning. We shall meet in heaven one day to sing hallelujah to the condescending Lord; till then may the God of all grace be our helper.