Monthly Archives: October 2011

Before the Face of God


 

What Does  “Coram Deo ” Mean?

from R.C. Sproul Feb 23, 2009

I remember Mama standing in front of me, her hands poised on her hips, her eyes glaring with hot coals of fire and saying in stentorian tones, “Just what is the big idea, young man?”

Instinctively I knew my mother was not asking me an abstract question about theory. Her question was not a question at all—it was a thinly veiled accusation. Her words were easily translated to mean, “Why are you doing what you are doing?” She was challenging me to justify my behavior with a valid idea. I had none.

Recently a friend asked me in all earnestness the same question. He asked, “What’s the big idea of the Christian life?” He was interested in the overarching, ultimate goal of the Christian life.

To answer his question, I fell back on the theologian’s prerogative and gave him a Latin term. I said, “The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.”

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.

To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, “Who is it, Lord?” He wasn’t sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.

Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, oblations offered in a spirit of adoration and gratitude.

To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.

The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.

This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation. It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God’s call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.

Coram Deo … before the face of God. That’s the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Is this pleasing to God?



Is this pleasing to God?

(James Smith, “The Proper Aim of a Christian’s Life” 1856)

“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, to do this more and more!” 1 Thessalonians 4:1

In every place,
in every circumstance,
in every undertaking
the Christian should ask, “Is this pleasing to God?

God is pleased or displeased . . .
with every thought we think,
with every word we speak,
with every action we perform,
with every emotion we feel.

Perhaps we do not sufficiently realize this. We think, speak, feel, and act — without ever considering whether we are pleasing God, or not. But this ought not to be, for He . . .
gave us our being,
redeemed us from sin and damnation,
called us by His grace, and
has blessed us with innumerable and interminable blessings —
and all that we may glorify Him! And how can we glorify Him — but by habitually aiming to please Him? If we forget or lose sight of this — we forget and lose sight of the principal end of our being, and well-being.

For instance, the manner in which I employ my spare time — the amount of time I give to  recreation or entertainment. Many Christians seem never to think whether the way in which they spend their time, is pleasing to God or not. If they did, would they ever go to some entertainments, or indulge in certain pleasures? Would the world have so much of their time, and the prayer-closet so little? How much time is wasted in frivolous ways, which are neither conducive to the health of the body, nor calculated to promote the spirituality of the mind.

Also, how many squander their money on dress, ornaments, or delicacies for the body — who never relieve the poor, or contribute to establish God’s cause in the world; or if they do so at all, it is not in due proportion to their means. The pence are given to the Lord — the pounds are spent in the gratification of SELF!

If, when I am going to lay out money in ornaments or dress, or indulgences for the table, I was to ask, “Is this pleasing to God?” — would it not check my lavish expenditure? Would it not often change the course in which my money flows?

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way.” Colossians 1:10

My object in everything I do — should be to please God. The one grand end of my life, the grand thing I am to aim at — is to please my Heavenly Father. I have . . .
nothing to dread, but His frown,
nothing to fear, but His displeasure,
nothing to seek, but His approbation.
If my Heavenly Father is pleased with me — it is enough.

What a comfort it is to know that my God is easily pleased — that it is not the amount of what I do — but the motive from which I do it, which He looks at! He is pleased with my poorest performances, with my most imperfect services, with only a cup of cold water given to one of His children — if my object is to please Him!

In everything I do, I should ask, “Is this pleasing to God?” If so, all is well.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do — do it all for the glory of God!” 1 Corinthians 10:31. This is the rule — and we should walk by it.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Henry Gerecke- Chaplain to Nazi War Criminals.


Henry_Gerecke004

Visiting condemned men in their cells was nothing new to Henry Gerecke.

Much of his early career was devoted to working in prisons. However, the men he went to see in their cells at Nuremberg, Germany, just after midnight on Wednesday, 16 October 1946, were no ordinary prisoners. They were high-ranking Nazis sentenced to be hanged for the vilest crimes.

He walked with each of the ten condemned men from their cells to the gallows. He heard all their last words. Some expressed thanks and faith. Others stayed defiant to the end, their belief in Hitler still unshaken, even though he was dead. One condemned man even shouted, ‘Heil Hitler!’ on the gallows before taking the final drop into the darkness.

The story of Henry Gerecke is little known and the events of the most important year of his life, November 1945 to November 1946, have been largely overlooked. In that year he acted as spiritual advisor and chaplain to Nazis on trial before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. His own accounts, written soon after the event while memory was fresh, survive in American archives. From these primary sources the following story is compiled. He never asked to be believed. He simply outlined his experiences.

Henry F. Gerecke was born in August 1893, the child of a farmer and his wife living at Gordonville, Missouri, USA. The family was bilingual. Young Henry spoke as much German as English in his early years. The family was very active spiritually. At home he was taught to pray and trust the Bible as the Word of God.  The family church was Lutheran, attached to the Missouri Synod. This is a decidedly evangelical body. Its beliefs were not unlike those of the Reformer Martin Luther, with his emphasis on being right with God by personal faith in Christ, rather than by trying to achieve communion with God by accumulating good deeds, even religious good deeds.

After attending a local school during his early years, Henry spent 1913-1918 at St. John’s College, Whitfield, Kansas. Then, in preparation for the ministry, he went to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Ordained as a Lutheran pastor in 1926, he served as minister of Christ Lutheran Church, St. Louis, until 1935. In that year he was appointed as executive director of St. Louis Lutheran City Mission.

The chief task was coordinating aid to the underprivileged of St. Louis. The mission was a large organization reaching institutions like hospitals, schools, nursing homes, refuges and jails. Gerecke led it from the front. An account of its work while Gerecke was in charge still exists. This reveals his extensive care and preaching ministry, notably in the city jail, which held murderers as well as other criminals.

Gerecke’s own written rules for the missions work emphasized the need for personal faith. He was interested in ‘soul- winning’, an old expression for spreading the gospel of Christ. His basic advice to the mission’s workers when confronted with the ‘unchurched’ was: ‘Show them Jesus, Saviour from sin.’

Every Saturday for many years, Gerecke broadcast a programme on the local radio station KFUO called Moments of Comfort. Its main target was shut-ins, and those in hospital. A report from the time states, ‘Many souls have been won for heaven.’ It is plain from this evidence that Gerecke had clear-cut confidence that the message of the Bible would bring redemption, hope and comfort to those who responded in faith. ‘Thousands of letters’ received by the mission affirmed the point.

By 17 August 1943 the United States had been at war with Germany and Japan for nearly two years. On that day Henry Gerecke left St. Louis to enter the Chaplains’ School at Harvard. He was one of 253 Lutheran pastors from the Missouri Synod who became chaplains during World War II.

After a short time at Fort Jackson, Columbia, in South Carolina, he sailed for England in March 1944. The destination was the US army’s 98th General Hospital, where he served for fourteen months tending the sick and wounded. After D-Day, 6 June 1944, the trickle of casualties became a flood. In June 1945 he crossed to France with the hospital as it received the wounded brought back from the front lines.

A month later the hospital was in Munich. While in Germany he went to Dachau concentration camp, ‘where my hand, touching a wall, was smeared with the human blood seeping through’. News had already been received that his eldest son Henry, had been ‘ripped apart’, but not killed in the fighting, and that his second son, Carlton, had been severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. His youngest son, Roy, had also entered the US army.  All in all he had had enough of war and was looking forward to going home. He had not seen his wife Alma for two and a half years, and working with the wounded and dying had been trying and unpleasant.

Then, early in November 1945, Gerecke was called into the office of his commanding officer, Colonel James Sullivan. The fifty-two-year-old Gerecke had been assigned to the 6,850th Internal Security Detachment at Nuremberg. Why? To serve as spiritual advisor and chaplain to the top Nazi war criminals on trial there. Sullivan offered his opinion that it was the most unpopular assignment around. He told Gerecke that he did not have to go. He encouraged him to use his age as a reason to return to the inactive reserves in America. Gerecke wrote, ‘I almost went home.’ He prayed for guidance. ‘Slowly the men at Nuremberg became to me just lost souls whom I was being asked to help.’ After a few days he gave Colonel Sullivan his decision: ‘I’ll go.’

The US army had selected Gerecke for three reasons: first, he spoke German; secondly, he had extensive experience in prison ministry and, lastly, he was a Lutheran Protestant. Fifteen of the twenty-one Nazis on trial identified themselves as ‘Protestant’. Assisting him would be Roman Catholic chaplain Sixtus O’Connor. Six of the prisoners claimed to be ‘Roman Catholic’.

The most senior Nazis of all, such as Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels, had already committed suicide to avoid justice. As Gerecke looked at the crimes of which the fifteen were accused he felt totally inadequate. ‘How can a pastor, a Missouri farm boy, make any impression on these disciples of Adolf Hitler? How can I approach them? How can I summon the true Christian spirit that this mission demands of a chaplain? He prepared himself by praying ‘harder than I ever had in my life’, so that he could ‘somehow learn to hate the sin but love the sinner’.

The prison block at Nuremberg had three storeys. The Nazis were on the ground floor. There was a broad corridor running its length with cells on both sides. Each cell door had a window at shoulder height. This let down to form a shelf where meals were placed. The window was open at all times for observation. A guard stood at the door of every cell round the clock and was required to look at the prisoner once a minute. Only if there was a breach of discipline was a guard allowed to speak to a prisoner. The waiter who brought the food was not permitted to answer even a greeting. The rest of the building was used for the several hundred witnesses who would give evidence at this trial of the century.

Colonel Burton Andrus, the US commanding officer of the prison, made Gerecke’s task clear. He would be allowed to conduct services for any Protestant Nazi prisoner who wanted to come, and be available for spiritual counsel, but only if invited by the prisoner. Nothing he said or did would influence the outcome of the trial. That was in other hands.

It was 12 November 1945 – time to begin work. Gerecke decided that he would visit each prisoner. That experience provided him with his first impressions of the men on trial. He admitted later, ‘I was terribly frightened.’ There was nothing frightening in a physical sense, because the once all-powerful prisoners were now helpless. It was the nature of their crimes, their connection with the absolute depths of evil, which made Gerecke shudder.

Before going to the cells he made the decision to offer to shake hands with each of the accused. There was no intention of making light of what they had done. Gerecke wanted to be friendly so that his message would not be hindered by a wrong approach. In his 1947 account of his first visit to the cells, Gerecke records that he was criticized for this decision. Presumably his critics did not understand his spiritual motives.

The first cell contained fifty-one-year-old Rudolf Hess, who once had been Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi party. Hess ruled his life by astrology. Gerecke offered his hand. Hess responded.

Speaking in German, Gerecke asked, ‘Would you care to attend chapel service on Sunday evening?’

‘No,’ replied Hess, in English.

Gerecke then asked him, this time in English, ‘Do you feel you can get along as well without attending as if you did?’

‘I expect to be extremely busy preparing my defence,’ answered Hess. ‘If I have any praying to do, I’ll do it here.’

Gerecke left, knowing that he had accomplished nothing.

The next cell contained the highest-ranking Nazi on trial, fifty-two year old former Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering. With a range of powers given to him by Hitler, he had been an agent of death, clearly guilty on all charges. Gerecke wrote, ‘I dreaded meeting the big flamboyant egotist worse than any of the others. Through the small aperture I had a chance to size him up for a moment. He was reading a book and smoking his meerschaum pipe.’

Any diffidence Gerecke felt was removed by Goering’s shrewdly calculated amiability. ‘I am glad to see you,’ said Goering, pulling up a chair for Gerecke. In conversation he seemed enthusiastic about attending chapel services, though the chaplain soon found out from the prison psychologist that he only went in order to get out of his cell for a while.

The third cell contained sixty-three-year-old Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. His unquestioning obedience to Hitler led to his being responsible for more deaths than anybody could count. Gerecke found Keitel also reading a book. ‘I asked him what he was reading. He all but knocked me speechless by replying, “My Bible.”’

Keitel then said, ‘I know from this book that God can love a sinner like me.’

‘A phoney,’ thought Gerecke.

They talked, Yes he would come to chapel. Would the chaplain join his devotions now? ‘This I wanted to see,’ thought Gerecke.

Keitel knelt beside his bed and began to pray. He confessed his many sins and pleaded for mercy because of Christ’s sacrifice for sin. When Keitel finished his prayer, both men repeated the Lord’s Prayer together. Then Gerecke gave a benediction.

The next cell contained fifty-one-year-old Fritz Sauckel. Once Head of Labour Supply, he was, according to the Chief Justice Jackson, ‘the greatest and cruellest slaver since the pharaohs of Egypt.’ He worked millions of slave labourers to death without mercy. When Gerecke appeared, he exclaimed with feeling: ‘As a pastor, you are one person to whom I can open my heart.’ During the conversation that followed he wiped away many tears. Yes, he would attend chapel services.

Admiral Raeder agreed to attend. That was not surprising since it was he who had taken the initiative in asking for spiritual advice. ‘Be sure to visit my friend, Admiral Doenitz,’ urged Raeder as Gerecke departed. In the event Doenitz, the man once in command of U-boats, was not interested in spiritual matters. ‘I’ll attend your services,’ was his lukewarm response to Gerecke.

He went to the next heavy door. Initial contact with fifty-two-year-old Joachim von Ribbentrop was not encouraging. He had been Hitler’s foreign minister. He was best remembered in Britain for greeting King George VI with a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute while ambassador to the UK. He had a string of difficulties about Christian belief, which he shared with Gerecke in the months before the verdict. Nor would Ribbentrop promise to come to the service on Sunday, commenting that, ‘This business of religion isn’t as serious as you consider it.’ In spite of this, he became a regular in the chapel.

Gerecke’s footsteps echoed in the corridor as he proceeded to the cell of Alfred Rosenberg. The fifty-two-year-old Nazi ‘philosopher’ had committed most of his crimes while Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. He rejected everything Gerecke stood for, and told him to spend his time with others. Like Hess, he never attended any services.

Just a few paces further on and the chaplain found himself with Baron von Neurath. The latter had served Hitler as ‘Reich protector’ of Bohemia, in other words ruler of most of occupied Czechoslovakia. To be invited to go to church was a new experience for the seventy-two-year-old aristocrat. Though very lukewarm on the subject of faith, he did ultimately attend services.

The next short walk took Gerecke to Hjalmar Schacht. He was a sixty-eight-year-old banker who, as Nazi Economics Minister, had used his skills to finance pre-war German re-armament. He had little or no interest in spiritual matters, but informed Gerecke that if a Lutheran minister was holding services, he would be there.

Next was fifty-five-year-old Walther Funk, head of the German Central Bank and head of the war economy. He was another banker who protested his innocence. The Allies took the view that a man who filled the bank’s vaults with gold teeth and fillings taken from the mouths of the regime’s victims was a war criminal. Funk decided to go to chapel.

A little further and Gerecke was with Hans Fritzsche. He was forty-five years old, and had been a senior figure in Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda. He decided to attend merely to hear what the chaplain would say.

The chaplain’s walk from cell to cell was nearly over. Next he met Baldur von Schirach. At the age of thirty-eight he was the youngest defendant, and had been the Hitler Youth leader.

Gerecke disliked the visit to Wilhelm Frick. He was sixty-eight and a hard-line Nazi whose title, Minister of the Interior, covered up a vicious reign of terror.

The final man was forty-year-old Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments, who had caused as many deaths as any other man on trial. Every other Nazi claimed to be obeying orders. Speer probably saved himself from death by admitting responsibility and cooperating with his interrogators. He was to become known as ‘the Nazi who said sorry’.

Frick, Speer and Schirach all said that they would come to chapel services.

As Sunday, 18 November 1945, approached, Gerecke wondered how many of these men, whose collective crimes were so immense, would in fact, attend the service.

Knocking down the wall between two cells on the second floor made a spartan chapel. Where the organ came from is not explained, but the organist was a volunteer from among the witnesses. He was Walter Schellenberg, once a top officer in the Nazi security police. The simple services consisted of three hymns, a scripture reading, prayers, a sermon and the benediction. Fifteen chairs were put out in hope. Out of a possible ‘congregation’ of fifteen, thirteen came – and continued to come on the following Sundays. Hess and Rosenberg kept their word and did not come.

For the first service only, two trial witnesses filled the two vacant seats. One was Hess’s former secretary. The other was Field Marshal Kesselring. During the hymn singing Goering’s voice always ‘boomed above all the rest’, and Gerecke noticed that Kesselring was moved to tears during the gospel sermon in German.

At the end of the service Sauckel asked to see Gerecke in his cell. When the chaplain arrived, he sensed that Sauckel wanted to discuss spiritual matters. After some conversation on those lines, Sauckel implored Gerecke to read the Bible and pray with him. Unafraid and unashamed, Sauckel prayed at his bedside and ended with the words: ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ In the weeks that followed Sauckel was given his own Bible and Luther’s Catechism. Gerecke worked with Sauckel until he reached the point where he was satisfied in his own mind that the latter was a broken man with regard to what he had done. No restitution was possible, but Gerecke was convinced that Sauckel trusted in Christ as Saviour and had become a real Christian. In his written submissions about his work Gerecke repeatedly insisted: ‘I have had many years of experience as a prison chaplain and I do not believe I am easily deluded by phoney reformations at the eleventh hour.’

As Christmas 1945 approached, Gerecke noticed a change in the spiritual attitudes of Fritzsche, Schirach, and Speer. After instruction in the Christian faith these three joined Sauckel and Schellenberg, the organist, as communicants. The Lutheran preparation to receive the bread and the wine ends with the pastor addressing each proposed communicant in these words: ‘I now ask you before God, is this your sincere confession, that you heartily repent of your sins, believe on Jesus Christ, and sincerely and earnestly purpose, by the assistance of God the Holy Spirit, from now on to amend your sinful life? Then declare so by saying: “Yes.”’

The guards who were present at this first communion service were so impressed by the bearing of the penitent Nazis that they said to Gerecke, ‘Chaplain, you’ll not need us. This is holy business.’ They walked out, leaving Gerecke alone with his five communicants.

Gerecke wrote later, ‘I am very slow about ministering the Lord’s Supper. I must feel convinced that each candidate not only understands its significance, but that, in penitence and faith, he is ready for the sacrament.

Keitel was to follow the road to faith. Gerecke recorded: ‘On his knees and under deep emotional stress, he received the Body and Blood of our Saviour in the bread and the wine. With tears in his eyes he said, “May Christ, my Saviour, stand by me all the way. I shall need him so much.”’

In the spring of 1946 Raeder told Gerecke that he too wanted to be a Christian. He had stated initially that he could not accept certain Christian beliefs and Gerecke thought he was a genuine intellectual sceptic. He had a Bible and tried to dig for material to justify his doubts. After many services and much instruction in the meaning of Christian belief, he changed into ‘a devout Bible student’. Eventually Gerecke added him to the communicants.

Even more heartening for the American pastor was ‘the slow but steady change in von Ribbentrop’. In the course of several months he moved from cool, arrogant indifference to sincere questioning of Gerecke about various Christian teachings. He became more and more penitent, eager to turn from the past. After his final plea in the courtroom, Gerecke admitted him to communion, being convinced that God had worked in his soul.

Ribbentrop’s wife agreed with her husband’s pleadings that she should bring up their children in a godly way if the verdict went against him. Eventually, after instruction, Gerecke arranged for the Ribbentrop children to be baptized in the local church.

So it was that eight former Nazis were admitted to communion on the basis of their request, Gerecke’s instruction and a believable profession of faith. That is the practice of almost all churches. There are no windows to look into men’s souls. Gerecke acted in good faith on the basis of the evidence available in 1945-46. A biblical parallel for late repentance is the penitent thief on the cross at the side of Jesus who professed faith in the Lord as his end brought eternity into focus.

During the late spring of 1946 a rumour went around the war criminals that Gerecke, now nearing his fifty-third birthday, would be allowed to return home because of his age. Hans Fritzsche wrote a letter on 14 June 1946 addressed to Mrs. Gerecke. This unusual document still exists in US archives. While the court was in session, and with permission, the letter went from one prisoner to another until all read it. Amazingly it was signed, not only by the Protestants, but also by the Roman Catholics – and by Hess and Rosenberg, the two who refused to attend chapel. It was sent through the regular prison censorship with a translation and a note of explanation sent by Gerecke to his wife. Gerecke’s handwritten letter, also still extant, says, ‘Here’s the most unusual letter signed on the original by the most talked about men in the world. You are, without a doubt, the only woman in the world to get such a letter containing such a request.’ He goes on to say that of the twenty-one men who signed he expects that ‘half will go to their death’.

The substance of the prisoners’ letter says:

My dear Mrs Gerecke,

Your husband, Pastor Gerecke, has been taking religious care of the undersigned … during the Nuremberg trial. He has been doing so for more than half a year.

We have now heard, dear Mrs Gerecke, that you wish to see him back home … we understand this wish very well. Nevertheless we are asking you to put off your wish to gather your family around you. Please consider that we cannot miss your husband now. Our dear Chaplain Gerecke is necessary for us, not only as a pastor, but also as the thoroughly good man that he is. In this stage of the trial it is impossible for any other man than him to break through the walls that have been built up around us, in a  spiritual sense even stronger than in a material one. Therefore please leave him with us. We shall be deeply indebted to you.

We send our best wishes to you and your family. God be with you.

Alma Gerecke sent an airmail reply: ‘They need you.’

With reflection it seems a strange irony of history that men once so powerful should be reduced to petitioning an American housewife to allow her husband to continue to give them spiritual advice.

The trial ended on 31 August 1946. While the judges were in secret session Gerecke and O’Connor arranged for wives and children to visit provided that this took place before the verdicts were announced. Gerecke records several memories of the families. Goering’s wife urged his child Edda to talk to Gerecke. Surprised, and thinking quickly of something to say, he asked the child if she said her prayers. The reply was, ‘I pray every night.’

And how do you pray?’ persisted the chaplain.

She answered, ‘I kneel by my bed and ask God to open my Daddy’s heart and let Jesus in.’

When he tried to talk to Rosenberg’s pretty thirteen-year-old, she interrupted: ‘Don’t give me any of that prayer stuff.’ So Gerecke asked, ‘Is there anything at all I can do for you?’

‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘Got a cigarette?’

On 1 October 1946 each of the defendants in turn stood alone in the dock for the verdict. Each man had been tried on four counts. In summary form they were:

  1. Crimes against peace;
  2. Planning a war;
  3. War crimes
  4. Crimes against humanity

Gerecke watched the members of his ‘congregation’ as each heard the verdict. Death sentences went to Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Frick, Sauckel, and Rosenberg; life imprisonment to Hess, Raeder, and Funk; long terms of imprisonment to Schirach, Speer, von Neurath and Doenitz. Fritzsche and Schacht were declared not guilty. Five of the six Roman Catholics were sentenced to death.

Whatever else may be said about the Nuremberg trials, it is impossible to deny that the defendants were given support and a hearing – something the guilty refused their own victims.

For reasons of security, chapel services ceased after the verdicts were given. Cell interviews numbered many hundreds up to this time. But before the executions on 16 October 1946, there were to be many more.

At about 20.30 on the evening before the death sentences were carried out, Gerecke had his final talk with Goering, who was to hang first soon after midnight in the early hours of the morning of the 16th. During this final interview Goering denied the fundamentals of Christian belief – and then had the temerity to ask for the Lord’s Supper. His attitude was: ‘I’ll take the Supper just in case there is anything to this business of yours.’ What Gerecke told him supports the chaplain’s own statement that he took the administration of the Lord’s Supper seriously: ‘I cannot give you the Lord’s Supper because you deny the very Christ who instituted the sacrament … you do not have faith in Christ and have not accepted him as your Saviour. Therefore you are not a Christian, and as a Christian pastor I cannot commune with you. Goering responded by saying, ‘I’ll take my chances.’

At about 22.30 Goering committed suicide by swallowing potassium cyanide. Commander of the prison Colonel Andrus asked Gerecke to go round the cells and tell the others what Goering had done. They all took a dim view of the cowardice of a man who had bragged how brave he would be at the end. It was as if his lifelong pride had led to the almost inevitable nemesis.

That left ten men to die by the rope. At 01.00 Ribbentrop was called for first. Before he walked to the gallows, he told Gerecke that he put all his trust in Christ. Ribbentrop was then marched to the first of three scaffolds. He climbed the thirteen steps to the trapdoor. The impassive soldiers and press representatives looked on. A guard tied his legs. An American officer asked for his last words. Ribbentrop responded: ‘I place all my confidence in the Lamb who made atonement for my sins. May God have mercy on my soul.’ Then he turned to Gerecke and said, ‘I’ll see you again.’ The black hood was pulled over his face. The thirteen-coiled noose was put around his neck – and he dropped through the trap door.

Keitel and Sauckel followed amidst similar scenes.

When it came to Frick’s turn, Gerecke records that he received a surprise. Although Frick had been regular at chapel services, and unlike Rosenberg had accepted a Bible, he never showed faith. Andrus allowed Gerecke a few minutes in Frick’s cell before he was escorted to the gallows. On the scaffold Frick, who never took communion, stood in front of the chaplain in his bright tweed jacket and told him that secretly during the chapel services he had come to believe that Christ had washed away his sins. Then the door opened beneath his feet and he was gone.

The last of Gerecke’s group was Rosenberg. ‘I asked if I might say a prayer with him. He smiled and said, “No, thank you.” He lived without a Saviour, and that is the way he died.’

Master Sergeant John C. Woods, the official executioner, had already hanged 347 men for various reasons. He was really looking forward to hanging the hated Nazis and filling the waiting coffins. By contrast, and for reasons he never explained, Gerecke was not totally convinced about death by hanging. To avoid future trouble the bodies of the eleven were cremated at Dachau a few hours later.

At 02.45, when the executions were over, Henry Gerecke walked from the scene to be alone. Later he wrote, ‘Thus died eleven men of intelligence who, differently influenced, could have been, I am convinced, a blessing to the world instead of a curse.’

Shortly afterwards, Captain Gerecke was promoted to major. He left Nuremberg on 16 November 1946, and arrived back at St Louis, Missouri, in time to spend the first Christmas with his family for three years.

He was assigned as prison chaplain to the US Army Disciplinary Barracks at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he stayed for thirty-three months dealing with disobedient soldiers. He described them as ‘mostly young men whom the world wanted to forget’.

His duties as 5th Army Chaplain ended on 1 July 1950. He became a well-accepted joint pastor at St John Lutheran Church, Chester, Illinois. In parallel with this work he served as ‘institutional missionary’ to the 800 prisoners at the Menard State Penitentiary. Driving to take a Bible study at the prison, he collapsed at the gate on 11 October 1961. A heart attack killed him. He was only sixty-eight years old.

Warden Ross Randolph said of the deceased Gerecke, ‘The prisoners respected him. He never lost his temper with them, and they knew they couldn’t fool him.’

The prisoners may have warmed to him, but after his death his eldest son, Henry, found a thick file of letters stored in a secret compartment in his father’s desk. They were postmarked from all over the US. ‘They called my father everything,’ reported Henry Gerecke. ‘He was called “Jew-hater”, “Nazi-lover”. They said that he should have been hanged at Nuremberg with the rest of them.’ All the letters were written in the ‘most hateful vituperative language imaginable’.

The Christian concepts of grace and mercy have always been opposed, not only by the liberal intelligentsia and those with no spiritual interests, but also by a cross-section of most societies. The fact that Gerecke was called a ‘Jew-hater’ makes some historians suspect that many of the letters came from unforgiving American Jews.

There were only three men among the Allies at Nuremberg who spoke German to the defendants – Dr Gilbert, the psychologist, O’Connor and Gerecke. They bore the burden of the spiritual response to the issue of guilt among the Nazis. Hans Fritzsche, who had been found not guilty, later wrote a book in which he offers his opinion: ‘Of all the prison officials, the most outstanding was the insignificant-looking, unassuming, Lutheran pastor from St Louis, Gerecke.’

More information on Henry Gerecke

From WAR AND GRACE – Short biographies from the World Wars, by Don Stephens, published by Evangelical Press, Faverdale North, Darlington, DL3 0PH, England

Reproduced by permission of the publishers www.epbooks.org. Available in South Africa from www.christianbooks.co.za.

The primary sources for this story are stored in the Concordia Historical Institute, St Louis, USA. This is the official archive for the history of Lutherans in America.

Pastor Victor Budgen wrote an article on the Nuremberg Trials in Evangelical Times, May 1985. He based his article on the book by F.T. Grossmith, The Cross and the Swastika (H.E. Walter. 1984). Paul Watkins of Stamford, England, published a second edition of this book in 1998. Sadly, Fred Grossmith died in April 2002. The book he wrote perpetuates the mistake that Albert Speer was truly converted. The evidence for the assertion that this was not the case is based on events in his later life, which were, in practice, a denial of the faith.

The only scholarly assessment of Gerecke’s ministry at Nuremberg is by Dr Nicholas M. Railton of the University of Ulster. It is a long article called ‘Henry Gerecke and the Saints of Nuremberg’. It appeared in English in a German magazine (Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte) in January 2000. Although Gerecke wrote on the subject several times, the primary document is My Assignment with the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg, Germany, by Henry F. Gerecke, 13 May 1947. It makes astonishing reading.

The internet site of St John Lutheran Church, Chester, Illinois, USA, includes a talk given by him.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How good do I have to be to go to heaven?


“And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”   Acts 10:42-43

I have had a few setbacks with my health lately. One of the blessings of being sick is  being able to get caught up with some reading. I am so thankful to have had enough time to think about things and ponder them and compare them with scripture.  There are days that am so bombarded with information and info overload that I have a hard time processing everything. I think it’s important when studying scripture and all things theological to have enough time to meditate on what we have read and really learn from it.  When reading about the modern day Church and the spiritual condition of  many people who call themselves Christians it’s worth a little pondering time as well.

A lot has been written lately about the spiritual state of the modern Christian. With many “Churches” hungry to get people in the door at any cost, Bible Study and Biblical literacy take a big backseat to seeker sensitive schtick of one kind or another and mass confusion about basic doctrine is the norm. I see one status update after another on social media sites about people who think they are going to Heaven because they are a “Nice guy” or as one facebook friend put it ” I put up with a lot of junk from people but I still think nice thoughts and treat them right”.

We are bombarded with every app and gadget imaginable, literally hundreds of bibles line the store shelves,  every day new ones are published and most are free online  and more accessible than ever. Yet we have no clue how to communicate basic knowledge of salvation. It’s epic fail Gospel 101 here in America in 2o11, and according to most things I am reading lately it’s rapidly getting worse.

Here are a few wise words on the subject of Salvation,  I am posting a great sermon from my Church by  Tim Sigmon called “The example of Cornelius” on what it actually means to be a good,  moral, stand up kind of guy but be lost without redemption  in Jesus Christ. I also included a few wise words from J.C. Philpot,  and to finish it off a very thorough article from John MacArthur on these same simple truths.

*For more information regarding chapter and verse in the MacArthur article, just click on any highlighted text and it will take you the scripture referenced.

Sermon by Tim Sigmon: The Example of Cornelius 

(J. C. Philpot, “Answers to Inquiries”)

So Many True and Sincere Religious People

“Cornelius and all his family were devout and
 God-fearing; he gave generously to those in
need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:2

Yet Cornelius and his family weren’t saved! (Acts 11:14)

–A generous centurion build a synagogue. (Luke 7:3-5)

–A young man keeps the commandments from his
youth up. (Luke 18:21)

–Balaam prophesies. (Numbers 23:16)

–Saul weeps. (1 Samuel 24:16)

–Judas preaches the gospel. (Matthew 10:5-8)

Yet none of these men were saved!

It is at times, enough to fill one’s heart with mingled
astonishment and sorrow, to see so many truly sincere
and religious people
, whose religion will leave them short
of eternal life—because they are destitute of saving grace.

To see so much . . .
amiability,
benevolence,
devotedness,
self-denial,
liberality
loveliness of character,
integrity,
consistency of life,
all inescapably dashed against the rock of inflexible justice,
and there shattered and lost—swallowed up with its unhappy
possessors in the raging billows beneath—such a sight, did
we not know that the Judge of the whole earth cannot do
wrong, would indeed stagger us to the very center of our being!

“How good do I have to be to go to heaven?” John MacArthur

Matthew 19:25; Matthew 5:20

Most people understand that doing evil can keep us out of heaven. But few realize the Bible also teaches that doing good cannot get us in. None of us could ever gain enough merit to deserve heaven. We are sinful, and God’s standard is utter perfection. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). He added, “you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Then who can be saved?
The disciples asked Jesus this same question (Matthew 19:25). His answer? “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (v. 26). In other words, our salvation is not something we can accomplish. It is something God must do for us.

What if I stopped sinning now and never sinned again?
We are hopelessly in bondage to sin and could not cease sinning no matter how hard we tried. Scripture says even our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). In other words, we are sinful to the core. Furthermore, a single sin would be enough to destroy us forever: “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). But even if we never sinned from now on, we still bear the guilt of our past sins. And “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Is there any way to be free from the guilt of sin?
The Bible says, “The blood of Jesus … cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

How can Jesus’ blood cleanse our sins?
When God forgives, He doesn’t merely overlook sin. Atonement must be made. Christ’s death made full atonement for those who trust Him. His dying counts in our stead if we believe. However, that only erases the guilt of our sin. Remember, we still need perfect righteousness in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

Where do we get that perfect righteousness?
The full merit of Jesus’ righteousness is imputed, or credited, to those who trust Him alone for salvation. Scripture teaches that God “justifies the ungodly” by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to them (Romans 4:5). They are clothed in His righteousness, and God accepts believers solely and exclusively on that basis. That’s why Paul was willing to discard all his own efforts to earn God’s favor, preferring instead to stand before God robed in a righteousness that was not his own (Philippians 3:8-9).

If you are not a Christian, you need to lay hold of this truth by faith: the sin that will keep you out of heaven has no cure but the blood of Christ. If you are weary of your sin and exhausted from the load of your guilt, He tenderly holds forth the offer of life and forgiveness and eternal rest to you: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

How can I be sure Christ will save me?
No one will be turned away: “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). All are invited: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Sick One Whom Jesus Loves



When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

In one respect only may it be said, that our Divine and adorable Lord would seem to have been exempted from the physical infirmities peculiar to the nature which He so voluntarily and entirely assumed- it does not appear that He was ever, in His own person, the subject of sickness or disease. It is indeed declared by His inspired biographer, thus confirming at the same time a prediction of one of the prophets, “Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses;” but this He did in the same manner in which He bore our spiritual sicknesses, without any personal participation. He bore our sins, but He was Himself sinless. He carried our sickness, but He Himself was a stranger to disease. And His exemption from the one, will explain His exemption from the other. His humanity knew no sin; it was that ‘holy thing’ begotten by the Holy Spirit, and as stainless as God Himself. As sin introduced into our nature every kind of physical evil, and disease among the rest, our Lord’s freedom from the cause, necessarily left Him free from the effect.

He was never sick because He never sinned. No, He had never died had He not consented to die. With a nature prepared and conceived totally without moral taint, there were no seeds of decay from which death could reap its harvest. Under no sentence of dissolution, death had no power to claim Him as its victim. As pure as our first parents before the fall, like them in their original state of holiness, He was naturally deathless and immortal. Had He not, by an act of the most stupendous grace, taken upon Him the curse and sin of His Church, thereby making Himself responsible to Divine justice for the utmost payment of her debt, the ‘bitterness of death’ had never touched His lips. But even then His death was voluntary. His relinquishment of life was His own act and deed. The Jew who hunted Him to the cross, and the Roman by whose hands He died, were but the actors in the awful tragedy. The king of terrors wrenched not His spirit from Him. Death waited the permission of Essential Life before He winged the fatal dart. “Jesus yielded up the spirit,” literally, made a surrender, or let go His spirit. Thus, violent though it was, and responsible for the crime as were its agents, the death of Jesus was yet voluntary. “I lay down my life,” are His expressive words.

But there is a sense in which it may be said that our Lord was not exempt from sickness in the sense of His love for, and His union to, and sympathy with, all the sick of His flock. In this light it may be truly said, “Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses.” Let us briefly follow out these thoughts, as suggested by the case of Lazarus. Believers in Jesus, though they are the objects of the Lord’s especial love, are often the subjects of His painful dealings in sickness. In the bodily sicknesses of His people the Lord designs, in connection with their good, the promotion of His own glory. This may be traced in a sanctified recovery from sickness.

In alluding to the introduction of this infirmity of our nature, I have already remarked, that in the paradisiacal state of the world the human frame was a total stranger to the ravages of disease and the spoliations of death. It was of necessity so. There was no sickness, because there was no sin. The reign of holiness has ever been the reign of happiness. God, in justice to Himself, and in goodness to us, has indissolubly connected the two. Apart from each other they cannot exist. We address ourselves to the unconverted man, the poor seeker of this world’s happiness, to the panting chaser after the child’s bauble, the variegated bauble that dances before the eye of his fancy- and in truth and solemnity we affirm, that until the reign of holiness is once more set up in your soul, your notion of happiness is but a fiction, and your possession of it but a dream- the mere negation of the blessing.

In thus making the happiness of the creature to depend upon his holiness, let it not be overlooked, that God has studied the highest good of man equally with what was due to His own glory. Bent upon restoring him to happiness, He could only accomplish it by also restoring him to holiness; and in thus making man holy, He glorifies Himself by multiplying His own moral image.

We repeat, then, the moment that witnessed the suspension of the government of holiness in our world, saw the introduction of the curse, with all its entailed and dire effects. What must have been the astonishment and horror which seized the mind of Adam, hitherto a stranger to any physical malady, when for the first time he became conscious of the taint of bodily disease! What a new and strange sensation to him, the writhing pain- the burning fever- the maddening convulsion- the debility that unstrung and prostrated all the energies and vital powers of his frame! How overwhelming must have been the mournful reflection- keen as the adder’s sting- “SIN, MY sin, has created this! How have I destroyed myself, and afflicted my posterity!”

But let us turn to the case of Lazarus, as presenting, in some of its main features, a type of all the sick ones whom Jesus loves. Here was one dear- O how dear- to the heart of Christ, and yet the subject of disease and the victim of death. His interest in Christ’s love did not exempt him from the visitation of sickness; nor his union with Christ’s person shield him from the shaft of the last enemy. Contemplate the beauty with which the Lord’s love is in this instance brought out. As soon as they discovered that the hand of disease was upon their beloved brother, the affectionate sisters of Lazarus sent to Jesus. And what were the terms in which their message was couched? Observe, they did not say, “Lord, behold, he who loves you is sick;” but, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick!” They cast themselves solely upon the love of Jesus to Lazarus, and while their brother’s love to Christ was indeed most precious as wrought by the Holy Spirit, and as a fruit of faith, they yet based upon it no plea and drew from it no argument wherefore the great Physician and Friend should hasten to the chamber of sickness where he lay; but, founding their request entirely upon the Lord’s own love to him, they besought Him to come and heal him. They well knew that their brother’s love was but the effect, the mere reflection, of their Lord’s love to him. His love, they had been taught, was an infinite, an everlasting fountain. They knew that Jesus looked within Himself for that moved His heart towards a poor sinner, and not in that poor sinner, in whom He could see nothing but repulsive deformity. In appealing to His love, therefore, they pressed with skillful and delicate hand that spring which never needs but the gentlest touch of faith, and in an instant every chamber of His heart is opened.

“Behold, he whom you love is sick.” What a wondrous truth is here revealed for you, dear saints of God, afflicted with bodily disease- for to you, this chapter is especially and in prayer dedicated- that the Lord’s people are not, and cannot be, less the objects of His tenderest love, because He touches them with the hand of disease. I repair to the chamber of sickness, and take my place by the side of the beloved sufferer. The spectacle deeply affects me. I mark the ravages of disease, and the progress of death, advancing by slow and stealthy step, to plant the emblems of his conquest upon that pale brow. I watch the burning fever, the throes of agony, the exhaustion of decay, the weary days without ease, the long nights without sleep- there are tossings, and heavings, and pantings, and sufferings there, which the sufferer’s lip cannot describe, still less the beholder’s imagination conceive.

Or, if there is the absence of extreme pain, there is, perhaps, the long and tedious disease, life evaporating by slow degrees, the vital principle thrown off by minute particles, until the attenuated and weary-worn invalid is forced to exclaim, in the prophetic language of Jesus, “I can count all my bones: they look and stare upon me.” Bending over the couch, I ask, “Is this one whom Jesus loves? Do the Lord’s affections entwine around that skeleton form? Is this long-imprisoned sufferer dear to the heart of God?” Yes, faith instantly replies, and truth responds, “Behold, Lord, he whom you love is sick!”

This is the truth, dear invalid reader, upon which the Lord would pillow and sustain your soul- that you are the sick one whom He loves. Doubtless the enemy, ever on the watch to distress the saints of God, eager to avail himself of every circumstance in their history favorable to the accomplishment of his malignant designs, has taken advantage of your illness to suggest hard and distrustful thoughts of the Lord’s love to you. “Does He love you? Can He love you, and afflict you thus? What! this hectic fever, these night-sweats, these faintings and swoonings, these insufferable tortures, this long-wasting, this slow, tedious disease-and yet loved by God! Impossible!” Such has been the false reasoning of Satan, and such the echo of unbelief. But Lazarus was loved by Jesus, and so are you! That darkened room, that curtained bed, contains one for whom the Son of God came down to earth- to live, to labor, and to die! That room is often radiant with His presence, and that bed is often made with His hands. Jesus is never absent from that spot! The affectionate husband, the tender wife, the fond parent, the devoted sister, the faithful nurse, are not in more constant attendance at that solemn post of observation than is Jesus. They must be absent; He never is, for one moment, away from that couch. Sleep must overcome them; but He who guards that suffering patient “neither slumbers nor sleeps.” Long-continued watching must exhaust and prostrate them- but He, the Divine Watcher, “faints not, neither is weary.”

Yes, Jesus loves you, nor loves you the less, no, but loves you the more, now that you are prostrate upon that bed of languishing, a weak one hanging upon Him. Again I repeat, this is the only truth that will now soothe and sustain your soul. Not the thought of your love to Jesus, but of Jesus’s love to you, is the truth upon which your agitated mind is to rest. In the multitude of your thoughts within you, this is the comfort that will delight your soul- “Jesus loves me.” Your love to Christ affords you no plea, no encouragement, no hope. You can extract no sweetness from the thought of your affection to the Savior. It has been so feeble and fluctuating a feeling, an emotion so irregular and fickle in its expression, the spark so often obscured, and to appearance lost, that the recollection and the review of it now, only tends to depress and perplex you. But O, the thought of the Lord’s love! to fix the mind upon His eternal, unpurchased, and deathless affection to you– to be enabled to resolve this painful illness, this protracted suffering, this ‘pining sickness,’ into LOVE- Divine, tender, unwearied, unextinguishable love, will renew the inward man, while the outward is decaying day by day, and will strengthen the soul in its heavenly soarings, while its tenement of dust is crumbling and falling from around it.

All is love in the heart of God towards you! This sickness may indeed be a correction; and correction always supposes sin; but it is, as we have already shown, a loving correction, and designed to ‘increase your greatness.’ Not one thought dwells in the mind of God, nor one feeling throbs in His heart, but is love. And your sickness is sent to testify that God is love, and that you, afflicted though you are, are one of its favored objects. The depression of sickness may throw a shade of obscurity over this truth, but the very obscuration may result in your good, and unfold God’s love, by bringing you to a more simple reliance of faith.

“Every cloud that spreads above,
And veileth love, itself is love.”

O trace your present sickness, dear invalid reader, to His love who “himself took our infirmities and carried our sickness.” If He could have accomplished the important end for which it is sent, by exempting you from its infliction, you then had not known one sleepless hour, nor a solitary day; not a drop of sweat had moistened your brow, nor one moment’s fever had flushed your cheek. He, your loving Savior, your tender Friend, your redeeming God, had borne it all for you Himself, even as He bore its tremendous curse- your curse and sin, in His own body on the tree. Yield your depressed heart to the soothing, healing influence of this precious truth, and it will light up the pallid hue of sickness with a radiance and a glow- the reflection of the soul’s health- heavenly and divine. “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.”

But there is another most consolatory view of the sickness of the Lord’s people which we desire to present- it is the promotion of His own glory which the Lord designs by it. God is the ultimate end of all beings and of all events. The securing to Himself of His own glory must be the grand motive in all that He has created and ordained. To have been guided by an inferior end- to have made the ultimate result of all creatures and events to terminate in themselves, would have been unworthy of His name, and a denial of Himself, for there is none greater than He. But all His works praise Him, and all holy creatures glorify Him. Every atom of matter, and every spark of intellect, will yield Him an endless revenue of honor. He will be glorified in the salvation of His Church, and He will be glorified in the condemnation of the ungodly. Heaven and hell will contribute to this end so long as He exists. “I have created him for my glory,” is a sentence impressed upon every product of His power. Solemn truth!

We proceed to remark, then, that God’s dealings with His people in seasons of bodily sickness, have this for their ultimate and great end- the glory of God. “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” It is most true that Lazarus died, and for four days was the lifeless tenant of the grave. But death was only the ordained termination of his sickness, not the final result to be accomplished. The temporary cessation of life was but the means to the ultimate and great end, which was, “the glory of God.” Therefore, with truth did our Lord say, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby!” And O how illustrious was the glory brought to Jesus by the sickness and death of this disciple whom He loved! Shall we contemplate it for a moment? Let us go, then; in hallowed imagination, and stand- not by the sick bed, for the mortal struggle was now over- but by the grave of Lazarus.

What a halo surrounds it! It scarcely seems like the place of the dead, for Essential Life is present, and the grave is preparing, at His command, to yield back its prey. Wrapped in his winding-sheet, and reposing in the stillness of death, lay one whom Jesus loved. “Groaning in his spirit and troubled,” He approached the spot. Behold the emotions of the Divine Redeemer! “JESUS WEPT.” How truly human does He appear! How like the Elder Brother! Never more so than now. Philosophy may scorn to betray emotion, and human genius might deem it beneath its dignity to weep. But the philosophy and the genius of Jesus were Divine, and imparted a dignity and a sacredness to the emotions and benevolence of His humanity: and if it be true that by genius a tear is crystallized and exhibited to the admiration of future ages, surely the tears of sympathy and love which Jesus dropped over the newly-made grave of Lazarus, will thrill the holy heart with feeling to the remotest period of time, and perpetuate their wonder through eternity.

Bereaved mourner! cease not to weep. Stifle not your emotions, impede not the flow of your tears. They well up from the fountain of feeling placed in your bosom by the Son of God Himself, who, as if longing to experience the luxury of human emotion, bowed His Deity to your nature and wept. This only would I say, let your tears fall like the dew of heaven- gentle, noiseless, chastened; or rather, like the tears of Jesus- meek, resigned, submissive.

But not illustrious does appear His humanity only. Behold, on this occasion, how His Deity shone forth resplendent and overpowering. He who had just wept, and while yet the tear-drop lingered in His eye, with a voice of conscious God-like power, which showed how completely Essential Life held death within its grasp, exclaimed, “Lazarus, come forth! And he that was dead came forth.” Behold the spectacle, you condemners of His Divine nature- you who would pluck the diadem from His brow, and force us by your soulless, lifeless creed to a reliance upon a created Redeemer- gaze upon the wondrous scene! See the Savior bathed in human sensibility like a man- behold Him summon back the dead to life like a God! Never did the glory of His complex person- the Son of man, the Son of God- burst forth with more overpowering effulgence than at this moment. Who will deny that the sickness and death of Lazarus brought glory to the Deity of the Savior?

But what was true of this servant of Christ, is also true of all the sick whom Jesus loves- their sickness is for His glory. Trace it in the origin of your sickness. It came not by accident, nor by chance- words which should never find a place in the Christian vocabulary of a child of God. It was God who stretched you on that bed of languishing. By the arrangement of your heavenly Father, those circumstances transpired which resulted in your present painful visitation. You have been looking alone at second causes- I do not say that they are to be entirely excluded in attempting to unravel the mystery of the Divine procedure, for they often develop links in the chain of God’s providence most harmonious and instructive; but there is such a thing as resting in second causes, and not using them rather as steps in the ladder which conducts us up to God Himself as the first great cause of all the circumstances of our history, from our cradle to our grave.

Oh how is the Lord glorified when the sinking patient whom He loves, traces the mysterious and strange event which, arresting him in the midst of health and usefulness, has severed him from active life, from domestic duties, and public engagements, imprisoning him in that lone chamber of sickness and solitude, the prey of disease, and perhaps the destined victim of death- to the infinite, infallible, unerring wisdom of the Son of God!

In the gentleness, tenderness, and love displayed in the sickness, the Lord is glorified. What a touching expression is that of the Psalmist, “You Shall make all my bed in my sickness!” What a view it gives of the consideration of our heavenly Father- stooping down to the couch of His sick child- softening the sickness by a thousand nameless kindnesses- alleviating suffering and mitigating pain. Would you learn the Lord’s touching tenderness towards His people? Go to the sick chamber of one whom He loves! Ten thousand books will not teach you what that visit will. Listen to the testimony of the emaciated sufferer- “His left hand is under my head, his right hand embraces me.” What more can we desire?- what stronger witness do we ask? What! is Jesus there? Is His loving bosom the pillow, and is His encircling arm the support of the drooping patient? Is Christ both the physician and the nurse? Is His finger upon that fluttering pulse, does His hand administer that draught, does He adjust that pillow, and make all that bed in sickness? Even so. Oh, what glory beams around the sick one whom Jesus loves!

Trace it, too, in the grace which He measures out to the languid sufferer. The season of sickness is a season, in the Christian’s life, of especial and great grace. Many a child of God knew his adoption but faintly, and his interest in Christ but imperfectly, until then. His Christianity was always uncertain, his evidences vague, and his soul unhealthy. Living, perhaps, in the turmoil of the secular world, or amid the excitement of the religious world, he knew but little of communion with his own heart, or of converse with the heart of God. No time was extracted from other and all-absorbing engagements, and consecrated to the high and hallowed purposes of self-examination, meditation, reading, and prayer- elements entering essentially and deeply into the advancement of the life of God in the soul of man. But sickness has come, and with it some of the costliest and holiest blessings of his life. A degree of grace answerable to all the holy and blessed ends for which it was sent, is imparted. And now, how resplendent with the glory of Divine grace has that chamber of sickness become! We trace it in the spirit and conduct of that pale, languid sufferer. See the patience with which he possesses his soul; the fervor with which he kisses the rod; the meekness with which he bows to the stroke; the subduing, softening, humbling of his spirit, once perhaps so lofty, fretful, and sensitive to suffering. These days of weariness and pain, these nights of sleeplessness and exhaustion, how slowly, how tediously they drag along, and yet not an impatient sigh, nor a murmuring breath, nor an unsubmissive expression, breaks from the quivering lip. This is not natural, this is above nature. What but Divine and especial grace could effect it? Oh how is the Son of God, in His fulness of grace and truth, glorified thereby!

In the result of this visitation, whether it be in recovery or in death, Christ is glorified by the sickness of His people. The control and power of Christ over bodily disease form one of the most instructive and tender pages of His history, when upon earth. We should like to have quoted largely from that page in this connection of our subject, had the limits of the chapter permitted. We can but briefly refer the reader to a few of the different traits of the Divine Physician’s grace, as illustrated by the various cures which He effected. His promptness in healing the nobleman’s son, John 4:43-54. His unsolicited cure of the sick man at the pool of Bethesda, and the man with a withered hand, John 5:1-9; Mark 3:1-6. The humility and delicacy with which He heals the centurion’s servant, Matt. 8:5-13. The tenderness with which He restored the widow’s son, Luke 7:11-17. The simplicity with which He recovered the man born blind, John 9:1-7. The gentle touch with which He cured the man sick of the dropsy, Luke 14:1-6. The physical and spiritual healing of the paralytic, Luke 5:17-28. The resistless compassion with which He cured the daughter of the Syrophenician woman, Mark 7:24-3O. The wisdom and the authority with which He healed the lunatic child, Luke 9:37-43. The power with which He ejected the demon from the man into the swine, Matt. 8:28-34. Truly the name of our Divine Physician is “Wonderful!” All this skill and power and feeling He still possesses; and in their exercise, in His present dealings with His suffering saints, is He glorified.

When human power has come to its end; when skill and affection can do no more; when man retires, and hope is extinguished, and the loved one is despairingly abandoned to death- then to see the Lord step forward and take the case in His hands, arresting the disease, rebuking the distemper, bringing back the glow of health to the cheek, vigor to the frame, elasticity to the limb, and brilliance to the eye, and raising as from the very grave itself- oh how glorious does He appear in that chamber of sickness!

Who bowed down His ear to the whisper, that faintly cried for help and support? Who heard the fervent, agonizing prayer that that precious life might be spared, which, in another room, broke from the lips of some anxious, holy wrestler- a parent, a brother, a sister, a friend, it may be? It was the Son of God! and oh how is He glorified in the recovery!

But trace it further in an increased acquaintance with God and His truth. The season of sickness is the schooling of the soul. More of God is unfolded then, and more of His truth is learned, than perhaps in any other circumstances. The individual was, it may be, but little more than a mere theorist. He could talk well about God, and Christ, and the Gospel. He could reason accurately, and argue skillfully, and speak fluently, and yet there was a great and melancholy deficiency in his religion; much was still lacking. But a lonely sick chamber has been his school, and sickness the teaching discipline. Oh how the character, and the perfections, and the government of God become unfolded to his mind by the teachings of the Spirit of truth! His dim views are cleared, his crude ideas are ripened, his erroneous ideas are rectified; he contemplates God in another light, and truth through another medium.

But the sweetest effect of all, is the personal appropriation of God to his own soul. He can now say, “This God is my God, and is my Father, and is my portion forever”- words of assurance hitherto strange to his lips. The promises of God were never realized as so precious, the doctrines were never felt to be so establishing, and the precepts never seen to be so obligatory and so sanctifying as now- blessed results of a hallowed possession of the season of sickness!

And what a pruning of this living branch has taken place! What weanedness from the engrossing claims of the earthly calling, from an undue attachment to created good, from the creature, from the world, and from what is the greatest weanedness of all- a weanedness from the wedded idol- self! What humility of mind, what meekness of spirit, and self-renunciation follow! Accompany him on his return to the world, where he has again been brought, as from the confines of the grave, and from the land of Beulah- he appears like another man! He entered that chamber as a proud man! he leaves it as a little child. He went into it with much of the spirit of a grasping, covetous, worldly-minded professor; he emerges from it with the world under his feet- ‘Consecration to Christ, and holiness to God’ written upon his substance, and engraved upon his brow. He has been near to eternity! he has been looking within the veil! he has been reading his own heart! he has been dealing with Christ! he has seen and felt how solemn a thing it was to approach the gate of death, to enter the presence of God- and from that awful point of vision, he has contemplated the world, and life, and human responsibility, as they are; and he has come back like a spirit from another sphere, clothed with all the solemnities of eternity- to live now as one soon in reality to be there.

What a holy and a lovely being does he now appear! A fresh conversion would seem to have taken place. The ‘dust’ swept from beneath his feet, he stands upon the naked ‘rock’ with a firmer foothold than ever. He is brought nearer to Christ. He has the inward witness more clearly to the preciousness of Jesus, and his own personal salvation. His lightness and levity are lessened, and there is a heavenliness of mind, a sobriety of manner, and a spirituality of conversation, which mark one who has been in close converse with the great realities of eternity. Truly his sickness was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

Or, if that sickness terminates in death’s slumber, is He less glorified? Ask the spirit just emerged from its shattered tenement, and hastening away to its home on high- ask it as it enters the portals of heaven, the blaze of eternal glory bursting upon its view- ask it as it finds itself before the throne of God, once an earthly, polluted creature, now whiter and brighter than an unfallen angel- ask it as it rests in the bosom of its redeeming Savior, blissfully conscious of its final and eternal safety, and reposing in expectation of its complete glorification, when its reunion with the spiritual body shall take place on the morning of the first resurrection- ask, and it will testify how great was the glory brought to the Son of God by the termination of a sickness which, while it left kindred and friends weeping around the death-bed below, demonstrated His life, and power, and love, “who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.” Blessed words of Jesus! “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.”

But the subject is suggestive of much practical reflection. We would briefly present one or two. It addresses itself pointedly to those who have been arrested by the hand of bodily disease, after a long course of preparation for holy labor, and who may have just entered upon, or may have been stopped in the midst of, a career of usefulness, full of promise and of hope. It requires no effort of the imagination to portray the class of feelings and of thoughts which now agitate the heart and crowd upon the mind. The whole dispensation is, to you, mysterious, dark, and painful. Taking your view of its circumstances from the complexion of your own feelings, you are probably disposed to regard it rather as a token of Divine displeasure, than as a messenger of mercy, and as an evidence of love. But is it really so? Suffering from disappointed expectation, the mind sympathizing with the body; gloominess, despondency, and unbelief prevailing; are you fitted to form a clear and just view of God’s present dealings with you? May not your judgment err, and your conclusion be wrong?

But is it true that God, by setting you aside from active engagements, has set you aside from all duty and labor? We think not. Is it too much to say, that He is now summoning you, though to a more limited and obscure, yet to a higher and holier, because more self-denying and God-glorifying, sphere of duty? Your present loss of health has brought with it its high and appropriate duties, obligations, and employments. It bears an especial message from God to you, and through you to others. Contemplate the work to be done in your own soul, and the testimony through this which you are to bear to the power of Divine grace, to the sustaining energy of the gospel, and to the character of God, and I ask if the lone chamber of sickness has not its especial and appropriate duties, responsibilities, and work; equally as difficult, as honorable, and as remunerative as any which attach to the sphere of activity, or to the season of health? You are called upon now to glorify God in a passive rather than in an active consecration to His service. Graces hitherto perhaps dormant, or but feebly brought into play, are now to be developed and exercised to their utmost capacity. Patience is to be cultivated, resignation is to be exhibited, faith is to be exercised, love is to be tried, and example is to be set- and are not these great, holy, and sublime achievements?

Who will affirm that there is no sermon to be preached from that solitary couch, that sick-bed- yes, and it may be more solemn, more searching, more full of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, than the pulpit ever preached. The Church and the world have now the testimony of one passing through the present and personal experience of what he speaks. A sick room is not the place for theorizing and experimentizing upon truth and eternity. All transpiring there, is stern reality. The dust of human applause is laid, the breath of adulation is hushed, the flush of excitement has faded, and the delirium of an admiring throng has passed away- the artificial gives place to the real. All is as substantial and solemn as eternity.

Deem not yourself a useless cumberer because sickness has incapacitated you for active labor. God has but changed your sphere of duty, transferring you, doubtless, to one more glorifying to Himself. What though your cherished hopes are blighted, what though your fond plans are frustrated, what though your brilliant prospects are darkened, what though your years of hard, ambitious study seem for nothing, and the honors won by unwearied application and midnight toil, are withering and drooping upon your brow? God is summoning you to a profounder study, to more splendid achievements, and to a more verdant and deathless reward.

Do you think that your life has been alla blank? Was Kirke White’s? was Spencer’s? was Brainerd Taylor’s? and a thousand more, whose brilliant career was darkened, and whose opening prospects of eminence and of usefulness were suddenly arrested by sickness, and speedily closed by death? Oh no! Though dead, they still live, and speak, and influence. And who can tell for what nobler purpose and higher employment in heaven the severe mental and moral discipline through which they passed, was designed by God to fit them? No, it is impossible that the past, its toil and sacrifice, can be a blank in your history, or that its literary and spiritual acquisitions are utterly fruitless and lost. To say nothing of the pleasures which you have derived in your mental discursions through the glowing fields of literature and of science, of the high gratification you have felt in converse with ancient authors, and of the feeling of ecstatic delight which has thrilled your soul, when, with the Grecian philosopher, you shouted your “Eureka! Eureka!” over some deep mystery unraveled, or some profound problem solved.

What is a still more consolatory reflection, you have been cultivating those mental powers with which God has endowed you, in the precise way which His wisdom ordained, and which His providence marked out. The future, now mournfully realized, of disappointed ambition, of blighted hope, and of withered expectation, your Heavenly Father studiously concealed from your view, that nothing might suppress your ardor or daunt your zeal in its high and brilliant career of investigation and of thought. And which, let me ask you, would from your bed of sickness be the most painful and humiliating retrospect- the years spent in mental dissipation and wasted time, or the years which you have devoted to those acquisitions which expanded your mind, and enriched it with thoughts, which now shed an intellectual luster upon your pallid countenance, and supply material for pleasing reflection in the weary hours of sickness and of solitude?

But there is a view of your present trial even more soothing and consolatory than this. It is the thought that your heavenly Father- to whom, in youth, and, perhaps, by renewed dedication in riper years, you gave yourself in solemn covenant, to use you and to dispose of you as best promoted His glory- is dealing with you now; that His wisdom is infallible, His love immutable, and that all His thoughts towards you are precious thoughts of peace, and not of evil. Receive, then, with meekness your Heavenly Father’s dispensation, which, while it has set you apart from the Lord’s work, has set you apart more exclusively and entirely for the Lord Himself. Your great desire has been to glorify Him; leave Him to select the means which may best advance it. You have thought of health and activity, of life and usefulness, of being a champion for the truth, a herald of salvation to the ignorant and the lost, a leader in some high and laborious path of Christian enterprise- but He has ordained it otherwise. And now, by sickness and suffering, by silence and solitude, He is giving you other work to perform, which shall not the less secure your usefulness and promote His glory. Oh take this cup of trembling from His hands and say,

“My God, my Father, while I stray
Far from my home on life’s rough way
Oh teach me from my heart to say,
Your will be done.”

“Though dark my path, or sad my lot,
Let me be still and murmur not,
But breathe the prayer, divinely taught,
Your will be done.”

“Should pining sickness waste away
My life in premature decay,
May I with meek submission say,
Your will be done.”

“If You should call me to resign
What most I prize- it never was mine,
I only yield You what was Thine.
Your will be done.”

“Control my will from day to day,
Blend it with Yours, and take away
All that now makes it hard to say,
Your will be done.”

“And when on earth I breathe no more
The prayer often mixed with tears before,
I’ll sing upon a happier shore,
Your will be done.”

But let us not lose sight of the Physician of the patient. “The whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.” That Physician is He who spoke these words. The power of the Son of God over the moral and physical diseases of men, prove Him to be just the Physician which our circumstances require. Do we need skill? He possesses it. Sympathy? He has it. Patience, tenderness, perseverance? all belong to Jesus. Wonderful Physician! No disease can baffle You, for You are Divine. No suffering can fail to move You, for You are human. Are your deep anxieties awakened, my reader, on behalf of some loved object, now pining in sickness, perhaps, to all appearance, in circumstances of extreme danger? In simple faith call in the aid of this Physician. Let the prayer of Moses for Miriam be yours, presented with the faith, and urged with the importunity, of the Syrophoenician mother, “Heal her now, O Lord, I beseech you.” “I will come and heal her,” will be His reply. Deem not the case beyond His skill. Thus reasoned the sister of Lazarus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died. But I know that even now, whatever you will ask of God, God will give it you.” Go in prayer and faith, and lay your sick one at His feet. Jesus is with you. One word from Him, and the disease shall vanish; one touch of His hand, and health shall be restored. He who raised Lazarus from the grave, can bring back from its brink the dear one around whose fast waning life the veins of your heart are entwined. Ask believingly, ask submissively, ask importunately, and then leave the result with Him.

Christian sufferer! you marvel why the Lord keeps you so long upon the couch of solitariness, and upon the bed of languishing- why the “earthly house of this tabernacle,” should be taken down by continued and pining sickness, the corrodings of disease, and the gradual decay of strength. Hush every reasoning, anxious, doubtful thought. Your Heavenly Father has so ordained it. He who built the house, and whose the house is, has a right to remove it by what process He sees fit. The mystery of His present conduct will, before long, be all explained. Yes, faith and love can even explain it now, “Even so, Father, for so it seems good in your sight!” Yours is an honorable and a responsible post. God has still a work for you to do. You have been waiting year by year in the quietness of holy submission the summons to depart. But God has lengthened out your period of weariness and of suffering, for the work is not yet done in you and by you, to effect which this sickness was sent. Oh what a witness for God may you now be! What a testimony for Christ may you now bear! What sermons- converting the careless, confirming the wavering, restoring the wandering, comforting the timid, may your conversation and your example now preach from that sick bed! And oh, for what higher degrees of glory may God, through this protracted illness, be preparing you!

That there are degrees of glory in heaven, as there are degrees of suffering in hell, and degrees of grace on earth, admits of not a doubt. “As one star differs from another star in glory,” so does one glorified saint differ from another. Will there be the absence in heaven of that wondrous variety of proportion which throws such a charm and beauty around the beings and the scenery of earth? Doubtless not. Superior grace below, is preparing for superior glory above. And the higher our attainments in holiness here, the loftier our summit of blessedness hereafter. For these high degrees of heavenly happiness, your present and lengthened sickness may, by God’s grace, be preparing you. Sanctified by the Spirit of holiness, the slow fire is but the more perfectly refining; and the more complete the refinement on earth, the more perfectly will the sanctified soul mirror forth the Divine Sun in heaven. Be, then, your beautiful patience of spirit- meek and patient sufferer- increasingly that of the Psalmist, “I have behaved and quieted myself as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.”

Has the Lord recently recovered you from sickness? Then see that He receives much glory from your recovery. Let your life, which He has anew snatched from the grave, be anew consecrated to His service. Preserve in constant and grateful remembrance the hallowed seclusion, the sacred impressions, the solemn transactions of the sick chamber. “Vow, and pay your vows unto the Lord.” Be doubly guarded against that which, previously to your illness, deadened the life of God in your soul. It is not seemly for a Christian to emerge from the solemnities and retirement of sickness, light, trifling, and earthly. We look for it far otherwise. We expect to see the froth of vain conversation subsided, the dust of earth blown away, the clinging attachment to objects of sense weakened; and in their place, sobriety of spirit heavenliness of deportment, and weanedness from earth. Let these Christian traits be yours, beloved reader. Let it appear by your increased spiritual-mindedness, that you have risen from the bed of sickness, and come forth from the place of solitude, like the “bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.”

Cherish in your heart and perpetuate in your life a grateful sense and remembrance of the Lord’s mercy in your recovery. He it was who healed you. He gave the skill, and blessed the means, and rebuked the disease. You were brought low, and He helped you. A monument of His sparing mercy, may you be a monument of His sanctifying grace. Let the life which He has ‘redeemed from destruction,’ be as a pleasant psalm to the Lord. “O Lord my God, I cried unto you, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from the grave; you have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O you saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness; for his anger endures but a night: in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to you, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto you forever.” “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies.”

Go, with lowly and adoring spirit, to the house of the Lord, saying, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.” There lay yourself, a living sacrifice, upon the altar of your living High Priest- a renewed consecration to God.

“Here in Your courts I leave my vow,
And Your rich grace record;
Witness you saints who hear me now,
If I forsake the Lord.”

You who visit sick and dying beds, tread solemn and important ground. You have need to visit much the throne of grace for the wisdom and the grace which such a sphere of labor requires. Remember that you are brought in contact with those with whom God is especially dealing. Your advantages for instruction and impression are great. Sickness has given a distaste for the world; God’s judgment has perhaps aroused the conscience, and his dealings have made the heart soft. Your first step will be to ascertain, as far as it is possible, the real state of the soul. What medical man would attempt to prescribe for his patient without first thoroughly ascertaining the nature of the disease, its symptoms, phases, and the course of treatment demanded?

But your post is infinitely more important and responsible than his, whose only office is to heal the body. Having learned this, you will then be prepared to bring the grand remedy contained in the gospel of Jesus to bear upon the case. Let your unfoldings of that remedy be scriptural, simple, and appropriate. You will present such statements of divine truth as the nature of the case requires, making prominent the two great ingredients in your Divine recipe- the fall in the first Adam- the recovery in the second Adam; out of self, into Christ. Before the truly awakened, yet anxious, restless soul, you will array all the precious promises and gracious invitations of the Gospel, so amply provided for such. You will lay peculiar stress upon the finished work of Jesus, and the perfect freeness of the remedy which he has provided; especially holding up to view the great and glorious fact, that Christ died for the ungodly. You will explain faith to be the one simple channel through which flow pardon and peace to the soul- “believing in the Lord Jesus Christ;” while you unfold his richness to meet all the necessities of his own beloved and called people. But the Spirit of truth will be your Teacher and your Guide. Looking up to Him, and leaning upon Christ, your labor in this peculiarly difficult, trying, and important sphere of Christian exertion will not be in vain in the Lord.

Nor would I fail to remind the Christian physician, should the eye of such an one light upon this page, of the peculiar advantages which he possesses of uniting the healing of bodily disease with a deep solicitude for the spiritual welfare of the sick. The example of our adorable Lord, our great model in all things, presents a beautiful and instructive illustration of this union. Immediately preceding His magnificent sermon on the mount, it is narrated of Him, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of diseases among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought unto him all sick people who were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and those who were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those who had the palsy: and he healed them.”

Molding his Christianity and shaping his professional career after this illustrious example, doubly and immensely useful may the pious physician be. Let no delicacy of feeling lest you should invade the sacred functions of the Christian ministry- let no dread of being singular, nor fear of man, dissuade you from a work which God has so providentially placed in your hands. Some of the most illustrious names in the history of medical science have been identified with the profession and propagation of Christianity. Bateman and Hamilton, Hervey and Sydenham, Boerhaave and Mason Good, were Christian physicians. Illustrious as they were in the annals of science, still more honored and distinguished were they as men of whom it is their highest eulogy, that while they healed the bodily malady of the sick, they administered to the ‘mind diseased,’ and both in their professional and private life, walked with God.

And, oh, if but one soul is, by your instrumentality, brought to Christ- if one, wounded by the serpent, is led to raise his eye of faith, even in the agonies of death, and fix it upon the Savior- slain and lifted up for sinners the chief, the vilest- that were a blessing and a reward before which all the honors of your professional skill and reputation droop and die. Christian physician! be faithful to souls, be faithful to your high trust, be faithful to God.

The subject of Christian Missions, in connection with the medical profession, is becoming one of deepening interest and importance. It is found that a practical acquaintance with the art of healing, clothes the missionary of the Cross with an importance in the estimation of the heathen, and places in his hands an influence over their minds, superior to all other laborers in the field. The healing of the body opens an avenue to the healing of the soul. Confidence and gratitude, and even affection, are inspired within the ‘savage breast,’ and these prepare the way for the Gospel message. The human physician thus becomes the herald of the Divine; and the balm which he administers to the physical malady, is but the introduction to the ‘balm of Gilead,’ of which the diseased and deathless mind so deeply stands in need. The question of duty with pious medical men, as to their personal consecration to the missionary work, viewed in this point of light, is worthy of their most solemn and prayerful consideration.

The following remarks by a distinguished Christian physician are so singularly appropriate, and withal so excellent and eloquent, that I am happy to strengthen my appeal by their quotation. Alluding to the duty of pious medical men, he says, “And responsibility stops not at themselves. Having become Christians, they find it at once their privilege and their duty to become Christianizers too. A privilege- for thus only can they satisfy that burning desire which else consumes them- to make known and convey to others the blessings they have themselves received. And a solemn duty, inasmuch as God has given to them, more than to perhaps any other class of men, many and invaluable opportunities of advancing His glory, and doing His will, in the salvation of lost souls– perishing and yet immortal. It is commonly said that ‘man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.’ The heart is soft in sickness, and impressible; and the soul awakened, seeks earnestly for hope and comfort then. The faithful pastor is perhaps little less successful in turning souls to Christ, by his ministrations in the sick-room, than by those of the pulpit; and the faithful physician, too, can look back with thankfulness to many happy times, when with one hand he healed and soothed the body, and with the other guided the soul heavenward and home. Conversion may come mysteriously and softly as the breeze- no man knowing where it comes or where it goes. At other times it is dated back to special providences in perils and escape. But, oh! how often is it referred, with adoring gratitude, to some lingering disease or sudden and sore sickness! It is in the fear of death and judgment that conscience regains its power, and speaks for God. Memory upbraids and conviction grows deeper and darker; but memory alone will never bring peace. News, good news, is eagerly sought- news of hope and salvation. Then is the sowing time, while the earth is soft and open, and watered by the tears of penitence. Then is it that the smitten patient clings with child-like confidence to the physician; and, hanging life upon his looks and lips, implores his aid. Then is it that he, sad and sorrowful, his best skill baffled, and himself bereft of all hope of cure, yet rejoices in being able to say- ‘One thing more I can do. It is the sure prescription: believe and live!’ Then is it that in the deep furrow of affliction, the good seed may be by his hand hopefully laid. Nourished by the dews of the Holy Spirit, and warmed by the rays of God’s love, it takes deep root, springs up, and bears fruit, to the praise and glory of His name.” -Professor Miller of Edinburgh.

Let the Christian invalid be cheered with the prospect of before long arriving at that land the inhabitants of which shall no more say, I am sick. It is the land of light and love, of rest and holiness. The moment the spirit is ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord,’ it treads those balmy shores where health breathes in the air, flows in the waters, and sparkles in the sunbeams. There is no sickness in heaven, for “the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity,” and this accounts for the absence of all physical malady. There is no sickness in heaven, because there is no sin. But the more full enjoyment of this blessing is reserved for the new earth, upon which the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, will dwell. Then it is that, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Christian sufferer! you are nearing this land- a few more days of languishing and pain, a few more nights of weary wakefulness, and you are there! Do you see through the chinks of the, “earthly house of this tabernacle,” “a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?” Do you see the “city which has foundations, whose Maker and Builder is God?” It has “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine on it for the glory of God does enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. . . The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there is no night there.”

Soon you will exchange this hospital for your Father’s house, and as you cross the threshold, the last pang is inflicted, the last sigh is heaved, and the last tear is brushed from your eye. Then, at the resurrection of the just, comes the new body. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” All this blessedness and glory JESUS has procured for you. All this blessedness and glory awaits you. And into its full possession and experience Jesus will soon bring you. Animated with such a prospect, and cheered with such a hope, patiently endure the prolonged sickness, the protracted suffering, exclaiming in the spirit and language of Jesus, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, your will be done!”

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”

“When languor and disease invade
This trembling house of clay,
It is sweet to look beyond our cage,
And long to fly away.”

“Sweet to look inward and attend
The whispers of His love;
Sweet to look upward to the place
Where Jesus pleads above.”

“Sweet to look back and see my name
In life’s fair book set down;
Sweet to look forward and behold
Eternal joys my own.”

“Sweet to reflect how grace divine
My sins on Jesus laid;
Sweet to remember that His blood
My debt of sufferings paid.”

“Sweet on His righteousness to stand,
Which saves from second death;
Sweet to experience, day by day,
His Spirit’s quickening breath.”

“Sweet on His faithfulness to rest,
Whose love can never end;
Sweet on His covenant of grace
For all things to depend.”

“Sweet in the confidence of faith
To trust His firm decrees;
Sweet to lie passive in His hand,
And know no will but His.”

“Sweet to rejoice in lively hope
That, when my change shall come,
Angels will hover round my bed,
And waft my spirit home.”

“There shall my disimprisoned soul
Behold Him and adore;
Be with His likeness satisfied,
And grieve and sin no more.”

“Shall see Him wear that very flesh
On which my guilt was lain;
His love intense, His merit fresh,
As though but newly slain.”

“If such the views which grace unfolds,
Weak as it is below;
What rapture must the church above
In Jesus’ presence know!”

“If such the sweetness of the stream,
What must the fountain be;
Where saints and angels draw their bliss
Immediately from Thee!”

“O may the unction of these truths
Forever with me stay;
Till from her sinful cage dismissed,
My spirit flies away.”

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An Unbeliever Has No Right To What He Owns!


They [unbelievers] have no true, unquestionable right, I say, even unto the temporal things they do possess; it is true they have a civil right in respect of others, but they have not a sanctified right in respect of their own souls. They have a right and title that will hold plea in the courts of men, but not a right that will hold in the court of God, and in their own conscience. It will one day be sad with them, when they shall come to give an account of their enjoyments. They shall not only be reckoned withal for the abuse of that they have possessed, that they have not used and laid it out for the glory of Him whose it is.

~John Owen

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized