The Voice from the Cloud and the Voice of the Beloved

   (No. 1727)




   "While He yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and
   behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in
   whom I am well pleased; hear Him. And when the disciples heard it, they
   fell on their faces, and were afraid. And Jesus came and touched them,
   and said, Arise, and be not afraid." Matthew 17:5, 6, 7.

   IT is exceedingly important to have clear evidences of the truth of our
   holy religion. Sometimes, I dare say, you have wished that God would
   speak out of Heaven in your hearing, or that He would work some
   extraordinary marvel before your eyes, that you might know beyond all
   question the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. This desire for signs and
   wonders is no new thing. Ah, my dear Friends, we know not what we ask,
   nor what we desire, for if such a voice were to come to us out of a
   bright cloud--we are made of the same flesh and blood as Peter, James
   and John, and it would, therefore, produce the same effect upon us as
   upon them--we would fall on our faces and be sorely afraid.

   Spirituals must grow out of spirituals--saving faith can never be
   produced by carnal sight and hearing. The Holy Spirit can work faith in
   us apart from any form of miracle and, miracle, alone, can never create
   a spiritual faith. Do we wish to receive a sign in order to confirm our
   belief in God? Suppose that we had it--we would soon need to have it
   repeated, for unbelief dies hard. I cannot tell how often we should
   need to hear the voice out of the cloud, but certainly life would soon
   become a misery to us, for we should be so frequently lying on our
   faces, so often cast into a swoon of fear, that we should be shattered,
   nervous and incapable of the ordinary duties of life! Like Israel at
   Sinai, we would begin to entreat that the Lord would not speak to us
   any more!

   The fact is that the voice of God, as absolute God, is too awful, too
   majestic for mortal ears--and the sight of overwhelming miracles would
   put such a strain upon the human mind that it is better for us to be
   without them. It is plain from the example of Israel in the wilderness
   that even the lowest form of Grace does not grow out of frequent
   miracles, for the tribes fell into every form of evil, though they
   lived on miracles--and even ate and drank the result of them! Not signs
   and wonders on the outside, but a new heart within is the grand cure
   for unbelief! Christ in you is the hope of Glory and the death of
   doubt--anything else will fall short of your need.

   According to our text, what is needed is not an audible voice of God to
   confirm the evidences of our religion, but the touch and the voice of
   Christ to make us conscious within ourselves of the power of Him to
   whom God bears witness. Not external, but internal evidences are what
   we need! The best evidences in the world are what we call
   experimental--such as grow out of actual experience. It is a better
   thing for a man to live near to Christ and to enjoy His Presence, than
   it would be for him to be overshadowed with a bright cloud and to hear
   the Divine Father, Himself, speaking out of it! The voice out of the
   cloud would but dismay and distract--the voice of Christ would cheer
   and comfort and, at the same time, would be an equally powerful
   assurance to us of the divinity of the whole matter. Assurance is the
   thing which we so much desire and we can better obtain it by personal
   test than by any external witness.

   Brothers and Sisters, the most profitable thing for me, at any rate, is
   not so much to study evidences or to seek them, as to enjoy the Gospel,
   itself, by personal contact with the Christ of God. You may be told
   that this is the Bread of Heaven, but you will not know it, however
   heavenly the voice, one half so vividly as if you eat thereof and live!
   Then shall you know when Jesus touches you and bids you, "Be not
   afraid." A miraculous interposition would crush as well as convince. A
   spiritual visitation and a consoling word will convince as certainly
   and it will comfort at the same time! The verses which I have selected
   seem to me to teach us just this--that even the voice of God, the
   Father, would need to be supplemented by the voice and by the touch of
   our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son, or else we would not be so
   assured as to become active witnesses for Gospel truth.

   To preach Christ we must hear Christ! No other voice will suffice
   unless He speak to us. This morning I propose to treat the subject
   thus--first, let us hear the voice out of the cloud. And then,
   secondly, let us hear the voice of Jesus. May the Holy Spirit sweetly
   enable us to listen diligently in each case.

   Observe at the outset the words, "Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed
   them." When God draws near to man, it is absolutely necessary that His
   Glory should be veiled. No man can see His face and live. Therefore the
   cloud, in this instance, and in other cases. Hence that thick veil
   which hung over the entrance to the Most Holy Place. Hence the need of
   the incense to fill that place with smoke when the High Priest once a
   year went within the veil. Hence above all, the need of the Body and
   the Manhood of Christ that the Godhead may be softened to our view.

   God shines graciously through the Man and we behold the brightness of
   the Father's Glory without being blinded. There must be a cloud. Yet it
   was a bright cloud, which, in this case, yielded the shadow and not a
   thick darkness like that which became the canopy of Deity at the giving
   of the Law. Then Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke and the Lord sat
   enthroned in thick darkness. On other occasions we read, "He made
   darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about Him were dark
   waters and thick clouds of the skies." But now on Tabor, where God
   bears peaceful witness to His well-beloved Son, He veils Himself in a
   brightness significant of His good pleasure towards the sons of men!

   There were but three who saw this glory of the Transfiguration and
   heard the Father's voice. Such signs are not for unholy eyes and ears.
   Three were sufficient to bear complete witness, for "the testimony of
   two men is true" and, "in the mouth of two or three witnesses the whole
   shall be established." It is not necessary that you and I, therefore,
   should see the transfigured Savior--the fact of the Transfiguration is
   quite as sure as if we did see it, for three men saw it of whose
   truthfulness we have no question. It is not necessary that these ears
   should hear the attesting words of the Divine Father, for those three
   Apostles heard Him speak and they bore witness thereof by their honest
   lives and martyr deaths.

   We know that their witness is true and to us, today, there is an
   absolute certainty of belief that the Lord God Almighty did, with an
   audible voice, declare Jesus of Nazareth to be His Son, in whom He is
   well pleased. The testimony of honest men is all that we can have about
   most things and we are accustomed to accept it and act thereon. In this
   case we may be as sure as if we had been there, ourselves, and had seen
   and heard! It is a very instructive fact that the utterance of God out
   of the cloud was made up of words out of Scripture. We are told, "If
   any man speaks, let Him speak as the oracles of God." And what honor
   has the Father put upon Holy Scripture here! He did but utter three
   brief sentences and each of them might be called a quote!

   The Lord God is the master of language, for He is the creator of
   tongues! He need not, therefore, confine Himself to language used by
   Prophets and Seers in the volume of Inspiration. But because He did so
   in this instance we conclude that He intended to put special honor upon
   the Words of Scripture. The occasion was most august, yet no better
   words are needed by the Lord, Himself, concerning His own Son than
   those recorded in former ages in the pages of Holy Writ! First, the
   Father said, "This is My beloved Son." Turn to Psalm 2:7 and there you
   read, "You are My Son." Then the Father said, "In whom I am well
   pleased." Look at Isaiah 42:1 and there you will read of our Lord that
   He is called, "My elect, in whom My soul delights." This passage is
   quoted in Matthew 12:18 in a rather different form--"In whom My soul is
   well pleased," thus showing how nearly the words agree in all respects.

   Then comes the last word, "Hear Him," which is a repetition of
   Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses says, "The Lord your God will raise up
   unto you a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto
   me; unto Him you shall listen." Or, as Stephen puts it, "Him shall you
   hear." The words of Moses are as much imperative as prophetic and
   contain the sense--"hear Him." So that this voice of the Lord utters
   three Bible phrases and surely, if the Lord speaks in the language of
   Scripture, how much more should His servants? We preach best when we
   preach the Word of God! We may be confident in what we say when we
   preach the Truths of God in the words which the Holy Spirit teaches and
   endeavor to convey the mind of the Holy Spirit in His own words.

   I take it that the Scripturalness of the Divine Witness is noteworthy
   and full of instruction. Coming to the words, themselves, the Father
   said, "This is My beloved Son." "This." As if He called their attention
   away from Moses and Elijah and said, "This is He of whom I speak to
   you. He is above the Law and the Prophets, He is My Son." There was a
   question among the Jews who the Messiah would be--they believed in the
   Messiah, but they did not know when He would come, nor where, nor
   how--and, therefore, when He did come, they made a mistake and missed
   Him. Here the great Fa-

   ther points to Jesus of Nazareth, who is the son of Mary as to His
   flesh and He says, "This is My beloved Son." It is a word of
   demonstration and distinction by which He marks Jesus out from all
   others as His own nearest and dearest One.

   By this He also points Him out as being present then and there--not as
   yet to come, but as actually with them-- their Master and Friend. "This
   is My beloved Son." It is not a finger pointing into history, but a
   hand laid upon the true Messiah, who, in very flesh and blood, stood
   before them, of whom they afterwards said, "We were eyewitnesses of His
   majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when
   there came such a voice to Him from the excellent Glory, This is My
   beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from
   Heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount." In this very
   place, upon this Tabor, Jesus stood among them, and the Father pointed
   Him out, saying, "This is My beloved Son." They could make no mistake
   whatever about the Person--the Word of the Lord so distinctly pointed
   Him out.

   While it thus pointed Him out personally as being present, it separated
   Him from all others and set Him apart by Himself as the sole and only
   One. "This is My beloved Son," and no one else may claim that title.
   Truly, other sons are the Lord's by adoption and regeneration, but none
   are such in the sense in which the Lord said, "This is My beloved Son."
   Beyond all others and in a special sense, He is, "the only-begotten
   Son." "Unto which of the angels said He at any time, You are My son,
   this day have I begotten you?" We do not understand, we cannot
   understand the doctrine of the Eternal Affiliation of the Son of God. I
   suppose it to be well-high profane to endeavor to look into that
   sublime mys-tery--a holy delicacy forbids and, besides, the Glory is
   too bright! We lack the eyes which could perceive anything in such a
   blaze of light.

   This, however, we may observe, namely, that Jesus is not the Son of God
   so that the idea exactly tallies with sonship among men, for He is
   co-equal and co-eternal with the Father--and He is, Himself, called,
   "The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father." He is not of fewer years than
   the Father, for, "in the beginning was the Word." Concerning this
   matter we may sing--

   "Your generation who can tell, Or count the number of Your years?" Yet,
   doubtless, sonship is the nearest approach to the great mystery which
   could be found among human similitudes and the word, "Son," is the
   nearest description that could be given in human language. Hence the
   Father, looking at Jesus and at none other besides Him, says of Him and
   of Him, only, "This is My beloved Son." He says, "I proceeded forth and
   came from God." He is, "the only-begotten Son," which is in the bosom
   of the Father. Oh, dear Friends, how we ought to fix our gaze upon
   Jesus! His is a most singular personality, the wonder of wonders, for
   He is Son of God as truly as He is Son of Man! Verily, He is Man and we
   err not when we think so of Him, for He both suffered and died! Yet
   verily He is God, for He lives forever and ever and upholds all things
   by the word of His power!

   "This is My Son." Moses and Elijah were His servants--only Jesus was
   His Son. By His being thus called, Son, we are taught that Jesus is of
   the same Nature as God--is, indeed, God. A man is the father of a man;
   a man is not the father of that which he makes with his own hands, such
   as a statue or a painting. But a man is the father of another who is of
   the same nature as himself--and the Lord Jesus Christ is of the same
   Nature as God in all respects--a true Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is
   equal in Nature to the Father and, therefore, He counts it not robbery
   to be equal with God and He receives the same honor and worship as the
   Father, as says the Scripture, "that all men should honor the Son even
   as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son, honors not the
   Father which has sent Him."

   A son bears the likeness of his father and assuredly the Lord Jesus is
   described as "the brightness of His Father's Glory and the express
   image of His Person," so that He said, Himself, "He that has seen Me
   has seen the Father." "He is the image of the invisible God." In Him is
   the Godhead better seen than in all the works of creation. Not only is
   there a likeness between them, but there is a perpetual union--"I and
   My Father are One." "I am in the Father," said Christ, "and the Father
   is in Me." This leads to continual communion with each other and a
   participation in plans and designs. "The Son can do nothing of Himself,
   but what He sees the Father do: for what things soever He does, these
   also does the Son, likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him
   all things that He does."

   The Lord Jesus was forever in the bosom of the Father and He says, "All
   things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knows the Son,
   but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and He
   to whomever the Son will reveal Him." It was with the Son of God that
   the Father took counsel when He said, "Let Us make man in Our

   own image, after Our likeness." Our Lord knows and reveals the inmost
   heart of the Father. Yes, the Being and Essence of God, unknown to all
   besides, are with Him, for He, Himself, is "God over all, blessed
   forever, Amen." Let us never, Brothers and Sisters, think of the Lord
   Jesus without the lowliest reverence of Him as very God of very God,
   co-equal, co-eternal with the Father!

   While we call Him Master and Lord, let us take care that we render unto
   Him the glory which is due unto His name. There must be no trifling
   with Him, nor with the things which He speaks, for He is Lord of All
   and to Him every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He
   is Lord to the glory of God the Father. For a minute let me dwell upon
   this declaration. "This is My Son." Does it not teach us the great love
   of God to us guilty creatures? "He spared not His own Son." You
   perceive the love of Abraham to God when he is ready to offer up Isaac
   at the Lord's bidding. Remember the words, "Take now your son, your
   only son, Isaac, whom you love, and offer Him for a burnt offering."
   This is just what the great Father did for us! And yet we were His
   enemies, living in alienation and in open rebellion against Him.

   Hear, O heavens, and wonder, O earth! He spared not His own Son, but
   freely delivered Him up for us all! "Herein is love, not that we loved
   God, but that God loved us, and sent His Son to be the Propitiation for
   our sins." What gratitude this should create! What devotion it should
   bring! "This is My Son." When you see Jesus on Tabor or on Calvary, you
   see God giving Himself to us, that we might not perish, but have
   everlasting life. Does the Father say, "This is My Son"? What a Savior
   this must be! How confidently may you and I trust Him! If the Lord
   Jesus Christ is no common person, but nothing less than God, Himself,
   who shall doubt His power to save? If He is God's only-begotten Son,
   how safely we may trust our souls' affairs in His almighty hands! He
   is, indeed, "a Savior, and a great one!" "It pleased the Father that in
   Him should all fullness dwell."

   What an Intercessor we have! So dear to Him with whom He pleads, for He
   is His beloved Son! What a Sacrifice we have that may cover all our
   sin, for, "He gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God,
   for a sweet smelling savor." However black our sin and however deep our
   despair, we may readily rise out of it and say, "Verily, there is
   salvation here!" If the Son of God has made His own Person the price of
   our redemption, then we are, indeed, redeemed, and none can hold us in
   bondage! One thing more is worthy to be noted here. If the Father says,
   "This is My Son," observe the graciousness of our adoption!

   With such a Son, the Lord had no need of children! He did not make us
   His children because He needed sons and daughters, but because we
   needed a Father. The infinite heart of the Father was well filled by
   the love of the Only-Begotten. There was enough in Jesus to satisfy the
   love of the Divine Father and yet He would not rest till He had made
   Him "the firstborn among many brethren." Herein we ought to exceedingly
   admire the Grace of God. "Behold what manner of love the Father has
   bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God." When a man
   is childless and desires an heir, it may be that he adopts a child to
   fill the vacancy which exists in His house. But the heavenly Father had
   no such need, for He says, "This is My beloved Son." Our adoption is,
   therefore, not for His gain, but for ours--it is a matter of Divine
   charity, arising out of the spontaneous love of God. Thanks be unto the
   Father evermore!

   Do you remind me that I have left out one word? The Father said, "This
   is My beloved Son." I have by no means forgotten it, for though I
   cannot speak as I would upon that word, yet it is exceedingly sweet in
   my ears. "This is My beloved Son." We, none of us, know how much
   beloved our Lord is of the Father. We love our children--we love them
   as our own souls--we could not measure our affection for them. But we
   are finite and so are our children! And the finite to the finite yields
   but a finite love. But here is an Infinite Father with an Infinite Son
   and He loves Him infinitely! Why should He not? He is most near to
   Him--His own Son! Why should He not? He is in all things like onto Him
   in nature, dignity, character, and glory. Why should He not? For He in
   all things does His will. Jesus said, "And He that sent Me is with Me:
   the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those things that
   please Him."

   If we had such a son as God has in Jesus, then we should love him,
   indeed, for there has been nothing in the Son throughout eternity which
   is in the least opposed to the Father's mind. These are wonderful words
   of the Man, Christ Jesus--"Therefore does My Father love Me, because I
   lay down My life, that I might take it again." When Solomon speaks of
   wisdom, which is but another name for our Lord Jesus, he represents Him
   as saying, "The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before
   His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or
   ever the earth was. When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters
   should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the

   foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with
   Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him."

   He has been in the bosom of the Father from of old and when He left the
   bosom of the Father it was to do His Father's will and to be obedient
   to Him even unto death! His will and His Father's will are perfectly
   joined together in one spirit and, therefore, we cannot fathom the
   depths of love which are indicated in these words which came from the
   Father who Himself is Love! He, looking at His own Son, says plainly,
   "This is My beloved Son." Oh that we might have Grace to trust without
   wavering in this glorious Son of God!

   Permit me, now, to introduce to you the second of the sentences--"In
   whom I am well pleased." I have heard it quoted, "With whom I am well
   pleased." The alteration cannot be tolerated--it robs the language of
   half its sense. True, God is pleased with Christ, but that is not all
   that He says here. He is pleased in Him, which means not only that God
   is eternally, infinitely pleased with Jesus Christ, Himself, but that
   God, Himself, is reconciled and pleased as we view Him in His Son. I
   thought this over last night till my heart seemed ready to dance for
   joy, for I thought--"Then, however much I have displeased the Father,
   my Lord Jesus, who stands for me, has pleased Him more than I have
   displeased Him! Mine is finite sin, but His is infinite righteousness!
   If my sins have vexed the Lord God, yet Christ's righteousness has
   pleased Him more. I cannot be more than finitely displeasing to God,
   but Jesus is infinitely pleasing to Him--and if He stands in my place,
   then the pleasure which the Father derives from His Son is greater than
   the displeasure which He has ever felt towards me."

   My Brothers and Sisters, how displeased the great God has been with
   men. He said that it repented Him that He had made men upon the earth.
   That was a striking expression which is used in Genesis 6:6--"It
   grieved Him at His heart." He seemed to grow so weary of man's wanton
   wickedness that He was sorry that He ever made beings capable of so
   much evil. Yet He is so well content with His beloved Son, who has
   assumed our Nature, that we read of Him, "The Lord is well pleased for
   His righteousness' sake: He will magnify the Law and make it honorable"
   (Isa. 42:21). The Lord looks down upon those who are in Christ with an
   intense affection. He loves them even as He loves the Son, for that is
   the meaning of this word, "In whom I am well pleased."

   All who are in Christ Jesus are pleasing to God! Yes, God in Christ
   looks with Divine satisfaction upon all those who trust His Son--He is
   not only pleased, but well pleased. If you are pleased with Jesus, God
   is pleased with you! If you are in the Son, then you are in the
   Father's good pleasure. Out of Christ there is nothing but Divine
   displeasure for you. Concerning you who are out of Christ, it is
   written, "The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries." Who can
   stand before His indignation? Who can abide the fierceness of His
   anger? God cannot look on sin without hatred! He says of sinners, "My
   soul loathed them, and their souls also abhorred Me." There is no peace
   between a Christless soul and God, neither can there be.

   But when a poor sinner, by faith, enters into Christ, then such is the
   Father's delight in Christ's Person, that He delights in all that are
   in Him. Jesus said, "The Father Himself loves you." God is pleased with
   every hair of Christ's head--the meanest member of Christ's body is
   delightful to the Father! If I am pleased with a man, I am not angry
   with his foot or with any part of him. So, then, if I am a member of
   Christ, if I am joined to Him by a living, loving, lasting union, then
   I am well pleasing to God, because Jesus is well pleasing to Him!
   Indeed, the Scripture speaks of all saints as one with Christ--they are
   so perfectly joined to Him that they are one body with Him--and God has
   no hatred to some part of the body and love to another part of it. Is
   Christ divided? It cannot be! The Father is well pleased with the
   entire mystical body for the sake of Jesus Christ its Head.

   I wish I could speak at length upon this, but I might weary you upon
   this close and sultry day, when your spirit truly is willing but your
   flesh is weak. Oh, the charm of this voice of God! Each word has a
   Divine emphasis upon it. It is not the voice of man, but of the
   Eternal, Himself. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
   Consider, next, the third word, which is, "Hear Him." Listen to what He
   says; remember it carefully; endeavor to understand it; heartily accept
   and believe it; confidently trust in it and cheerfully obey it. All
   these precepts are wrapped up in the expression "Hear Him" as we could
   prove if there were time available. "Hear Him"--it is as if the Father
   said, "You need not hear Moses any longer--hear Him. You need not
   listen to Elijah any more--hear My Son."

   There are thousands of priests in the world who say, "Hear us." But the
   Father says, "Hear Him." Many voices clamor for our attention--new
   philosophies, modern theologies and old heresies revived--all call to
   us and entreat us to

   listen, but the Father says, "Hear Him." As if He said, "Hear Him and
   no one besides." Does any man claim to be a successor of Christ? The
   Father speaks of no succession, but bids us, " Hear Him." If Jesus were
   dead and His prophetic office extinct, we might hear others, but since
   He lives, we hear the celestial voice rolling along the ages and
   distinctly crying, "Hear Him." Beloved Brothers and Sisters, do not
   hear me as though I spoke of myself, for I have no more claim upon your
   attention than any other man. I speak faultily, for I know but in part
   and prophesy in part.

   So far as I speak my own mind, I speak in vanity! But if I speak the
   words of Christ and the Truth of God which the Spirit of God has
   revealed, then it is no longer I that speak, but Christ, Himself, that
   speaks--and then you are bound by the Word from the Father, which says,
   "Hear Him." Oh, to be content with hearing Christ and letting other
   voices go away into eternal silence! Is He God's Son? Then "hear Him!"
   Is He God's beloved Son? Then "hear Him!" Is the Father well pleased
   with Him? Then "hear Him!" Is the Father well pleased in Him, and with
   you in Him? Then "hear Him!" What less can you do? Ought you not to do
   this always and with all your might? Peter, you need not build the
   taberna-cles--the Father bids you hear Jesus, your Lord!

   It is better to hear Christ, that is, to believe His teaching and obey
   it, than it would be to build cathedrals for Him, much more such frail
   tents as Peter intended. Peter, you need not cumber yourself with much
   serving and play the Martha--you will do better if you sit at His feet
   with Mary and hear Him! The highest honor we can render to Christ as a
   Prophet is to hear Him, trusting Him in His promises and obeying Him in
   His precepts! Jesus came on purpose to teach--and we are in our best
   position for adoration when we lend Him our ears and hearts--and are
   determined to believe what He says and to do what He commands! "This is
   My beloved Son; hear Him."

   It seems to me as if the great Father said, "I have spoken to you once,
   with My own voice, and I see you fall upon your faces with fear.
   Evidently you cannot bear My immediate Presence. I see your faces white
   with fright; you lie prone upon the ground, stiff with dismay: I will
   speak no more directly from Myself; I have made My beloved Son your
   Mediator; hear Him." The Psalmist David said, "The voice of the Lord is
   powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the
   Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh."
   Is it not gracious on His part that He should no more speak with us,
   Himself, but reveal Himself by His Son, whose name is, "The Word of

   Remember what Israel said at Sinai to Moses, the typical
   mediator--"Speak with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with
   us, lest we die." To this the Lord replied to Moses, "They have well
   said all that they have spoken." The Lord recognized at once the need
   of a mediator and He finds us One in the Person of the Well-Beloved as
   He says, "Hear Him." It is like Pharaoh saying to those who came for
   corn, "Go to Joseph." This day God says to men, "Come not to Me at
   first--go to My Son. No man comes to the Father but by Jesus Christ His
   Son. I will not speak with you, for you are but dust and ashes, and you
   would be overwhelmed by the thunder of My voice. Hear HIM!"

   Blessed ordinance of that gracious One who knows our frame and
   remembers that we are dust! He has spoken to us by His Son! Let us
   incline our ears and come to Him. Let us hear that our soul may live.
   This links the first part of my discourse to the second, upon which I
   will speak as briefly as I can, though the subject might well demand a
   full sermon.

   II. Secondly, LET US HEAR THE VOICE OF JESUS. The Father Himself has
   sent us to Jesus and unto Jesus let us go. "When the disciples heard
   it, they fell on their faces, and were afraid. And Jesus came and
   touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid." Dear Friends, I
   think you will be cured of desiring miracles and of wishing to hear
   voices from God, if you well consider the effect of the Divine voice
   upon these favored Apostles. You could not hear the Divine voice any
   better than they could, if, indeed, as well. I hope that you will now
   be content with what the Father recommends to you--namely, that you
   hear His beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord!

   The Apostles, one would have thought, needed not to have been afraid,
   for they were holy men engaged in the best possible business--and in
   the company of their Lord who was their Protector and Friend! And yet
   such is the amazing power of the Glory of God upon the human mind that
   they fell on their faces! So was it with Job, Daniel, Isaiah, Habak-kuk
   and all such holy men--the Presence of the Lord filled them with fear,
   trembling and self-abhorrence! See how Jesus acts to His three
   disciples. We might have thought that they would have hastened to their
   Lord. Why didn't they? Why didn't they cry out to Him, "Master, we
   perish"? Why didn't Peter say, as he did on another occasion, "If it is
   You, bid me come unto You"?

   No, they are overpowered, bewildered, confused--the Glory of the Lord
   has laid them on their faces as dead, and they are terribly frightened!
   Then the Incarnate God, their Lord and yet their Brother, interposes
   His sacred ministry.

   First, He comes to them. Wycliffe's version puts it, "He came near." He
   approached them, for any distance is painful when a heart is afraid.
   Jesus came near to the frightened three. This is the beauty of our Lord
   Jesus Christ, that He comes so near to us, poor troubled ones, when we
   are overwhelmed with the Glory of God and our own sense of sin! "The
   man is near of kin unto us: one of our next kinsmen." God, the
   Glorious, must always be far off as to our weakness, however near He
   comes to us in condescending Grace. He is in Heaven and we upon earth.
   He is the Creator and we are the creatures of an hour.

   The Lord Jesus comes so very near to us because He bears our Nature and
   is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. We may be familiar with Him
   and yet incur no censure. Little children climbed on His knees and He
   said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me." We feel that we may
   come where children are welcomed! Yes, we rejoice that when we cannot
   come to Him, our Lord Jesus comes to us--and when our weakness makes us
   fall upon the ground, He stoops over us to help us up! His sympathy
   makes Him quick to draw near and calm our troubled breasts. When a
   child falls, how fast the mother runs to set it on its feet again! Yet
   she is no more in haste than Jesus, who leaves not His own to remain
   long in their distress. He draws very near to His poor, fainting,
   swooning disciples. He will not leave them comfortless. He will come
   unto them.

   He is the same Christ, at this hour, as in the days of His flesh--He is
   still in the habit of visiting His people and manifesting Himself to
   them as He does not to the world. Brothers and Sisters, do not ask for
   evidence any more! Do not begin searching books to find out arguments
   and reasons! Ask Jesus to come to you--His Presence will stand in the
   place of all reasoning and be better, by far! Communion with Christ
   supplies the soul with irresistible arguments as to His being, His
   love, His power, His Godhead. Actual nearness to Him clothes the mind
   with a coat of mail which wards off every arrow of unbelief! Let Christ
   come to us and questions and doubts are heard no more. Quibblings are
   nailed to His Cross; insinuations fall dead at His feet! This assurance
   works in an infinitely better manner than if out of yon black cloud,
   God Himself were to speak to us in thunder-tones!

   When Jesus came, the next thing He did was, He touched them. This is,
   to me, most precious! As they lie there all fainting, He touches Peter,
   and touches James, and touches John, just as in later days we read, "He
   laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not." That was His
   way of healing those diseased with leprosy. He touched the blind man
   and gave him sight. The dead maiden was thus revived. Oh, the power of
   His touch! One touch of Jesus saves us! What will not His touch do? We
   are so much made up of feelings, after all, that we need to know that
   the Lord really feels for us and will enter so tenderly into our case
   as to touch us. That touch reassures our fainting hearts and we know
   our Lord to be Emanuel, God With Us. Sympathy! This is the meaning of
   that human touch of a hand which is, nevertheless, Divine!

   Oh, how sweetly Christ has touched us by being a partaker in all that
   is human! He touched us everywhere--in poverty, for He had not where to
   lay His head! In thirst, for He sat by the well and said, "Give Me to
   drink." In anguish, for He was betrayed by His friend. He has touched
   us in depression of spirit, for He cried, "My soul is exceedingly
   sorrowful even unto death." He is touched with a feeling of our
   infirmities, "for He was tempted in all points like as we are." An
   absolute God does not seem to touch us with a feeling as of a man--He
   pities us as a father pities His children--yet in this He is above us
   and our fears prevent our reaching up to Him. For the most tender
   sympathy in adversity, a brother must be born, and Jesus is that
   Brother. We are frail and sinful, and Jesus touches us in both
   respects, for He has taken our flesh and carried away our sins.

   He was "numbered with the transgressors," thus He touched
   transgressors, and He became frail, even as we are, until, at last, He
   said, "I am a worm, and no man"--thus He touched our infirmities. Dear
   Friends, nothing so cheers the heart as the Divine touch of Christ, for
   if you have felt it, you will bear witness that contact with His
   wondrous Person is like life from the dead! Virtue comes out of Christ
   to us when His garment's hem and our finger meet. The contact of Grace
   on His part and faith on our part brings into us strength, light,
   joy--and everything else that is laid up in Jesus to meet our needs.
   The hand of Jesus is laid upon us and, in the strength which it gives,
   a man might dash through Hell and climb to Heaven! Ezra said, "I was
   strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me." Touched with
   the almighty Sufferer's sacred sympathy, we glory in tribulation and
   triumph in death!

   Is not this more effective evidence of the Truth of the Gospel and of
   the commission of Christ than if the Lord God should again speak out of
   a cloud? To feel the wondrous power of Christ strengthening our
   hearts--surely this is the

   most certain witness! Next time you read of the Red Sea, and of God's
   dividing it for His people, and drowning Pharaoh in the deep waters, do
   not say to yourself, "I wish I had been there!" but pray God to make a
   way for you through your troubles, to dry up the Red Sea of your sins
   and lead you into Canaan! Pardoned sin will make you rejoice in Him! It
   must have been a fine demonstration of God's glorious majesty when He
   sent a thick darkness over all the land, even darkness that might be

   For my part, I count it a more-to-be desired demonstration of the power
   of God when He took away my thick darkness and brought me into His
   marvelous light. When He turned all the waters of Egypt into blood, so
   that they loathed to drink of the river, it was a sure proof that God
   was there. But to my soul it was a more assuring proof when He turned
   my water into wine and made my ordinary life to become like the life of
   those in Heaven by His sovereign Grace! He has raised us up together
   from the depths of our natural ruin and made us sit together in the
   heavenly places--is not this as great a proof of His power and Godhead
   as when He raised up Israel from the brick-kilns and set His people
   free? It was a sure proof of God's being in Egypt when He called for
   the frogs--and they came--even into the king's chambers!

   But what a proof of His being with us is given to our mind when the
   Lord sweeps out of our soul all the frogs of fear that used to croak
   within us, even in the king's chambers of devotion and communion! We
   could not worship God for their croaking--we were defiled and disturbed
   with doubts and fears--but when Jesus comes and clears them all away,
   it is a surer proof and more effectual to the heart than a thousand
   plagues could be! So there were two actions of Christly sympathy--Jesus
   came near and He touched them. But always the great thing with Jesus is
   His Word--He spoke to them. He is the Word of God and as the Word He
   proves His Godhead. "Where the word of a king is, there is power."
   Jesus, after He had touched them, said, "Arise, be not afraid."

   Precious words! "Arise, be not afraid." When the Word of Jesus Christ
   comes with power to our discouraged souls and we are made strong in
   confidence, then we are persuaded of the truth of the Gospel! When we
   are disabled from the Divine service through fear and Jesus renews our
   strength by saying, "Arise," so that we are able to work, again--then
   do we believe and are sure! "The joy of the Lord is our strength."
   Whenever the blessed Comforter reveals Christ to us so that we are
   cheered and made glad in the midst of our tribulations, then we need
   not ask for signs and wonders, nor for voices speaking out of the
   clouds! It is enough, the truth is sealed in our consciences. The voice
   of Christ is far better than all other manifestations, for it does not
   leave us swooning with fear, but sends us out to fight the battles of
   the Lord!

   This is the sum of what I have spoken to you--ask not for signs and
   wonders which God will not give. But, "Hear Him." Listen to Jesus by
   faith and your personal experience of His Presence shall be to you all
   that you need by way of assurance. Live on Christ, live in Christ, live
   with Christ and this shall be better to you than visions or bright
   clouds, or celestial voices, or all supposable evidences! This shall
   make your spirit leap and your heart rejoice till the day breaks and
   the shadows flee away--and you see God, even the Father--face to face
   in Glory! May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.