A bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.
I. THERE ARE BRUISINGS OF SIN. Christ will heal these. He never drives to despair. He might, indeed, condemn; for he knows all the subtle intricacies of evil in our hearts. But the Son of man is not come to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.
II. THERE ARE BRUISINGS OF DOUBT. St. Thomas felt these, and he expresses his doubts with startling emphasis and boldness. But Christ is sympathetic even then - shows Thomas his hands and his side, and tells him to reach hither his hand. Alas! many have been driven into infidelity because their doubts have been treated as sins, and the bruised minds have been broken!
III. THERE ARE BRUISINGS OF SORROW. But God knows when godly sorrow has worked repentance not to be repeated of. He knows when the poor heart is well-nigh crushed with grief at its departure from him. He does not delight in pain. The Roman emperors did. But he whose throne was a cross, and whose sceptre is love, he loves to heal. In sin and doubt and sorrow, let us go to Christ alone. - W.M.S.
A bruised reed shall He not break.
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D)
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
(Prof. J Skinner, D. D.)
Homiletic Review.I. INSIGNIFICANCE ESCAPES NOT CHRIST'S ATTENTION. There is no insignificant life, nor insignificant incident of life. All is fraught with the importance of endless existence.
II. UNWORTHINESS FORFEITS NOT CHRIST'S REGARD. Nothing more worthless than a bruised reed. Yet He will not break it. As there is no trifle that escapes His notice, so there is no unworthiness that transcends His gracious regard. Where is the bruised reed that the Redeemer has ever broken? Is it the dying thief? Is it Mary Magdalene? Is it Saul of Tarsus?
III. UNPROFITABLENESS ABATES NOT CHRIST'S LOVE. Nothing more unprofitable than a bruised reed. The heart that yields no large return for all His care He loves and blesses still. The unprofitable bruised reed He will not break.
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
I. SOME ARE BRUISED BY ANCESTRAL SINS. Our scientists now accept and emphasise the great Mosaic doctrine, "The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate Me." Many are seriously handicapped by hereditary taints. "The great men of the world are the forest kings of the social landscape; the rich are its olives, the clever are its orchids; the fashionable are its climbing roses; the merry are its purple vines; but here at the bottom, in the dirt, are the bruised reeds of humanity, the outcast, the forsaken, the ill-starred, the poverty-stricken, the weak, the wronged, the fallen." To which did Jesus give His best, His primary attention? He won for Himself the name, "A friend of publicans and sinners." When His disciples queried Him as. to who was responsible for a man's blindness, He refused to be drawn into a discussion of the law of heredity to satisfy their unfeeling curiosity. To Christ the blind man was something more than a scientific or theological problem — he was a brother whose blindness was an appeal for help, and He helped him by opening his eyes.
II. SOME ARE BRUISED BY PERSONAL SIN. There are many who realise that their lives are knocked out of their proper shape. How many of us have robbed, degraded, and damaged ourselves! God meant us to be temples, but we have desecrated the hallowed shrine. God meant us to be kings, but we have given our crowns away. God meant us to be priest, but we have made ourselves vile. God meant us to be His children, but we have wandered away and become Satan's serfs. No one has injured us half as much as we have injured ourselves. What a contrast is Jesus even to the best of His followers in the treatment of self-injured men! Someone has said, "How surprising it seems that we find in Jesus no feeling of scorn for man." Surprising? There was not a shade of a shadow of contempt in His nature, not even for the sorriest sons of Adam.
III. SOME ARE BRUISED BY THE SINS OF SOCIETY. Some are more sinned against than sinning. Society must be indicted as a great sinner. Full often it is thoughtless, careless, cruel, wicked. It has a don't-care sort of mien. It cares nothing for others' rights, feelings, happiness. Its maxim is, "Every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost." Thus the reeds are trodden on, and there is small wonder that they have hard thoughts of man and God. Whatever our treatment of them, our Lord metes out to them a royal generosity, a most delicate consideration. When He was under Calvary's shadow the soldiers put a reed into His right hand — they did it in mockery, but they knew not what they did. That reed was a sceptre, the symbol of the reign of gentleness. The bruised reed may be nothing to us — but to Him who knoweth all things it suggests music, beauty, usefulness.
I. SOME OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BELIEVER'S WEAKNESS.
1. He has knowledge, but it is as yet imperfect.
2. He has faith, but as yet it is comparatively powerless.
3. He has hope, but it is faint and feeble.
4. His joys are few and transient. But these characteristics of the Christian's weakness are also the sources of his sorrow.
II. SOME OF THE PLEDGES OF THE BELIEVER'S SECURITY. "He will not break," etc. if faith be genuine, though but like the smallest grain of seed, He owns it; if hope be legitimate, though feeble, He owns it; if love be sincere, though languid, He owns it. The pledges of the believer's security are many and great.
1. Weak believers, equally with the strong, stand in a Divine relation to God.
2. They are, equally with the strong, the purchased possession of the Redeemer.
3. The weak believer is, equally with the strong, supplied out of the inexhaustible store of Divine grace.
(S. Bridge, M. A.)I. WHO ARE SET FORTH UNDER THE FIGURE OF A BRUISED REED? It is a description that well suits all believers, without exception. Some are comparatively stronger than others. How is this where all are so weak? Because they have a deeper, more deeply felt experience of weakness. They live more by faith, lean more on Jesus, are brought into deeper poverty of spirit, receive Him more fully. Those branches next the stem are always the strongest. But our text sets forth the weak believer, and one who is conscious of it. It is not only a reed, but a bruised reed. Perhaps heavy afflictions wound the believer, and temporal troubles become strong spiritual temptations. It is storm upon storm, tempest upon tempest, and the poor reed not only bends beneath it", but is bruised beneath it. The world is unkind, friends are unkind, saints are unkind, and faith being weak, God seems unkind; and then the soul, full of suspicion, is unkind to itself, and suspects its own grace. What s bruising is this! Perhaps a deep sense of sin and inward corruption is added to this.
II. OUR LORD'S CONDUCT TO SUCH. He will not break this bruised reed.
1. His faithfulness will not permit it. These are of those whom the Father has entrusted to His love.
2. His holiness will not permit it. Here is a spark of His own kindling, a germ of His own planting, a new nature of His own creating, a child of God, one who loves Him — will He bruise such a one?
3. His tenderness will not permit it. Will a kind physician neglect his patient? Will a shepherd forget his wandering sheep? Will a mother dash her sick child to the earth?Conclusion —
1. Beware lest you make your feebleness an excuse. There is all fulness in Christ.
2. Beware lest you increase your feebleness. Sin enfeebles, neglects enfeeble, the world enfeebles; want of peace in the conscience enfeebles; living on anything but Christ enfeebles.
3. Admire that condescending Saviour who can stoop to this bruised reed.
4. Admire the compassion of the Saviour.
5. Still more admire Him who has supported, who has all grace to help.
6. Be contented to be ever weak in yourself.
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)I. INQUIRE WHY THE PERSONS SPOKEN OF MAY BE COMPARED TO THE BRUISED REED AND SMOKING FLAX.
1. Both these objects have a mean appearance, and are deemed of little use: and low and humble Christians are much the same. Especially if in a declining state, they bring but little honour to their profession, and often afford matter for reproach.
2. The bruised reed has some strength, and the smoking flax some fire, though both in a small degree; so the Christian, though he has but a little strength, like the church at Philadelphia, yet he is still alive, and the light of Israel is not quenched.
3. Many are ready to break the bruised reed and quench the smoking flax. Great also are the oppositions and discouragements which weak believers meet with, and yet they are still preserved.
4. The bruised reed needs to be supported, and the smoking flax to be enkindled: so does the Christian need to be strengthened, and quickened afresh by Divine grace.
II. NOTICE WHAT IS IMPLIED IN CHRIST'S NOT BREAKING THE BRUISED REED, NOR QUENCHING THE SMOKING FLAX. Much more is implied than is expressed. The Lord will not put the weak believer to those trials which are disproportioned to his strength. He will not suffer him to be tempted above what he is able to bear; but will with the temptation also make a way for his escape. The following things are also implied.
1. That as Christ will not break the bruised reed, so neither will He suffer others to do it.
2. Instead of breaking the bruised reed, He will binD it up, and strengthen it; and will cherish the smoking flax till it break forth into a flame. He who notices the smallest sins to punish them, will also notice the weakest efforts of grace to encourage and reward them.
III. AN IMPROVEMENT OF THE SUBJECT.
1. Let weak Christians be encouraged from hence to commit themselves to Christ, and place an entire confidence in His faithfulness and compassion.
2. Let us imitate this part of our Lord's conduct, and carry it towards others as He carries it towards us.
3. It becomes us to beware that we do not abuse the mercy of our Saviour, by supposing that we have weak grace, when, indeed, we have none; for it is real and not counterfeit piety to which He shows His tender regard. Nor yet by contenting ourselves with weak grace, though it is true.
4. If weak Christians shall not be neglected, much less the strong.
(B. Beddome, M. A,)
1. It is plain that this gentle reception even of the greatest sinners implies that, where there is so much as a spark of life in the conscience, there is possibility of an entire conversion to God. Where there is room to hope anything, there is room to hope all things. Such is the mysterious nature of the human spirit, of its affections and will, such its energies and intensity, that it may at any time be so renewed by the Spirit of the new creation as to expel, with the most perfect rejection, all the powers, qualities, visions, and thoughts of evil.
2. Another great truth implied in our Lord's conduct to sinners is, that the only sure way of fostering the beginning of repentance is to receive them with gentleness and compassion. On those in whom there is the faintest stirring of repentance the love of Christ falls with a soft but penetrating force. To receive sinners coldly, or with an averted eye, an estranged heart, and a hasty, unsparing tongue, will seldom fail to drive them into defiance or self-abandonment. A sinner that is out of hope is lost. Hope is the last thing left. If this be crushed the flax is extinct. Truth told without love is perilous in the measure in which it is true. There is in every sinner a great burden of misery, soreness, and alarm; but even these, instead of driving him to confession, make him shut himself up in a fevered and brooding fear. And it was in this peculiar wretchedness of sin that the gentleness of our Lord gave them courage and hope. It was a strange courage that came upon them; a boldness without trembling, yet an awe without alarm. What little motions of good were in them, what little stirrings of conscience, what faint remainder of better resolutions, what feeble gleams of all but extinguished light, — all seemed to revive, and to turn in sympathy towards some source of kindred nature, and to stretch itself out in hope to something long desired, with a dim unconscious love. It is an affinity of the spirit working in penitents with the Spirit of Christ that made them draw to Him. It was not only because of His infinite compassion as God that Christ so dealt with sinners; but because, knowing the nature of man, its strange depths and windings, its weakness and fears, He knew that this was the surest way of winning them to Himself.
(H. E. Manning, D. D.)
(A. Sradlle, M. A.)
I. THE ANALOGIES OF HIS FORBEARANCE.
1. Few of nature's forms are more lovely and symmetrical than the tall cane of the reed rising by the marsh or river edge. One of the elements of our pleasure as we look at it, is derived from our sense of its marvellous power of resisting the pressure of the wind or the dashing of the waves. It is one of the triumphs of nature's architecture. Yet let but a rough stroke fall suddenly upon it, and all its glory is abased. Every passing wind only aggravates the injury. Of what good is it henceforth, but to be cut down and cast into the oven! Yet this, which we should esteem reasonable in the husbandman, is precisely what the Messiah does not do with respect to souls that have been similarly injured.
2. The other illustration of the prophet is from the home or the temple. The oil-lamp was one of the most common objects there. The wick fed by the oil is able to sustain a flame which, although feeble, is clear, and sufficient for the small chambers of the poor. The oil, however, is supposed to be exhausted, and the wick is sending forth a weak, smoky, disagreeable light, soon to subside into darkness. Would it not be better, one might ask, to put out such a light altogether than to endure its disagreeable stench, or, all unprepared, find ourselves plunged in darkness? These two images set before us suggestions of what would be reasonable actions on the part of man, when considering merely human ends.These two things are —
1. Types of spiritual states.
2. Suggestions of judicial action.
II. THE ULTIMATE AIM OF HIS FORBEARANCE. "Until He bring forth judgment unto truth." The gentleness of Christ without some such obvious explanation might appear moral indifference, or amiable eccentricity, or insane belief in the inherent goodness of men. This aim gives it an entirely new, a far nobler aspect.
1. To every man is given an opportunity of putting himself right with God. The force of circumstances will be counterbalanced so that the will and affections may work freely; inequalities, opposition, etc., will be neutralised or allowed for in so far as they affect conduct.
2. Judgment will be withheld until the career of man is complete. Good and evil alike will work themselves out. There is a tragic power of evolution latent in all sin. Righteousness, too, is as a seed.
3. The character of this judgment, therefore, will be final and absolute.
(St. J. A. Frere, M. A.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D
I. AS THE RESTORER OF THE BRUISE THAT IT MAY NOT BE BROKEN. "He shall not break the bruised reed." It is "bruised," but the bruise is not irreparable. And so there are reeds bruised and "shaken by the wind," but yet not broken. And the tender Christ comes with His gentle, wise, skilful surgery, to bind these up and to make them strong again. To whom does this text apply?
1. In a very solemn sense to all mankind. In all the dints and marks of sin are plainly seen. Our manhood has been crushed and battered out of its right shape, and has received awful wounds from that evil that has found entrance within us. But there emerges from the metaphor not only the solemn thought of the bruises by sin that all men bear, but the other blessed one, that there is no man so bruised as that he is broken. And Christ looks on all the tremendous bulk of a world's sins with the confidence that He can move that mountain and cast it into the depths of the sea.
2. But then the words may be taken in a somewhat narrow sense, applying more directly to a class. "The broken and the contrite heart," bruised and pulverised as it were by a sense of evil, may be typified for us by this bruised reed. And then there emerges the blessed hope that such a heart, wholesomely removed from its self-complacent fancy of soundness, shall certainly be healed and bound up by His tender hand. Wheresoever there is a touch of penitence there is present a restoring Christ.
3. The words may be looked at from yet another point of view, as representing the merciful dealing of the Master with the spirits which are beaten and bruised.
II. AS THE FOSTERER OF INCIPIENT AND IMPERFECT GOOD. "The dimly burning wick He shall not quench." Who are represented by this "smoking flax"?
1. I am not contradicting what I have been saying, if I claim for this second metaphor as wide a universality as the former. There is no man out of hell but has in him something that wants but to be brought to sovereign power in his life in order to make him a light in the world. You have got consciences at the least; you have convictions, which if you followed them out would make Christians of you straight away. You have got aspirations after good, desires, some of you, after purity and nobleness of living, which only need to be raised to the height and the dominance in your lives which they ought to possess, in order to revolutionise your whole course. There is a spark in every man which, fanned and cared for, will change him from darkness into light. Fanned and cared for it can only be by a Divine power coming down upon it from without.
2. Then, in a narrower way, the words may be applied to a class. There are some of us who have a little spark, as we believe, of a Divine life, the faint beginnings of a Christian character. They say that where there is smoke there is fire. There is a deal more smoke than fire in the most of Christian people in this generation. And if it were not for such thoughts as this about that dear Christ that will not lay a hasty hand upon some little tremulous spark, and by one rash movement extinguish it for ever, there would be but little hope for a great many of us. Look at His life on earth; think how He bore with those blundering, foolish, selfish disciples of His. Remember how, when a man came to Him with a very imperfect goodness, the Evangelist tells us that Jesus, beholding him, loved him. And take out of these blessed stories this great hope, that howsoever small men "despise the day of small things," the Greatest does not. How do you make "smoking flax" burn? You give it oil, you give it air, and you take away the charred portions. And Christ will give you, in your feebleness, the oil of His Spirit, that you may burn brightly as one of the candlesticks in His temple; and He will let air in, and take away the charred portions by the wise discipline of sorrow and trial sometimes in order that the smoking flax may become the shining light. The reason why so many Christian men's Christian light is so fulinginous and dim is just that they keep away from Jesus Christ.
III. AS EXEMPT FROM HUMAN EVIL AND WEAKNESS, as the foundation of His restoring and fostering work. "He shall not burn dimly nor be broken till He hath set judgment in the earth." There are no bruises in this reed. That is to say, Christ's manhood is free from all scars and wounds of evil or of sin. There is no dimness in this light. That is to say, Christ's character is perfect, His goodness needs no increase. There is no trace of effort in His holiness, no growth manifest in His God likeness, from the beginning to the end. There is no outward violence that can be brought to bear upon Him that shall stay Him in His purpose. There is no inward failure of strength that may lead us to fear that His work shall not be completed. And because of all these things, because of His perfect exemption from human infirmity, because in Him was no sin, He is manifested to take away our sins.
(A. Maclaren, D. D)
The smoking flex shall He not quenchI. A STATE OF GRACE IS SUPPOSED. The figure is that of a lamp. Such are believers (Matthew 5:15, 16).
II. THE FEEBLENESS OF THAT STATE. "Smoking flax." There is some light, yet but little, and that little seems all but ready to be extinguished. There is something of the light of God's Word in the soul, a real spark of grace, but it seems little more than this. Some warmth of affection, but it acts feebly. Many causes conspire to produce this. Some have but the first spark. All things seem ready to put it out. Strong corruptions, fleshly passions, vanities of the world, evil companions, entire inexperience are all extinguishers. Others have little light in the school of self-knowledge — the danger of temptation, the evil of the heart, the worth of Jesus, the character of God. There is much of the smoke of vain confidence, fearlessness of consequences, tampering with things dangerous, and this very smoke obscures the light still more. Some are in great prosperity — the wick grows tall and all is dim. In some, the light is obscured by neglects with a certain degree of wilfulness in them. In some, by want of deep humbling and thorough repentance on account of sin. In some, by ceaseless engagement, that scarcely allows any real dealing with God. In some, the constant, undeviating habit of looking at themselves rather than Christ, living more by sense than faith. In short, we may dim the light by whatever grieves the Spirit.
III. THE CONDUCT OF OUR LORD WITH RESPECT TO IT. He shall not quench it. He will greatly exceed this. He will tend this smoking flax. The flax is His own, the light His own, the oil His own, all His heart is shown in all His actings here. He will dress it. True, He may cut down the wick — humble, lower, abase. He will increase the light. "He giveth more grace." He will perfect it. Conclusion —
1. Perhaps there are some whose hopes of worldly happiness are like a dying taper, and, alas! they have little, if any other, hope. Such a beam was in the heart of poor Manasseh. Is it but the faintest, the feeblest, yet does it take thee poor and needy to the Saviour? Will He cast out? Never!
2. If the blessed Saviour does not despise, neither should we.
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)I. WHAT STATE THIS METAPHOR REPRESENTS.
1. A smoking flax represents a state in which there is a little good. The margin is "dimly burning flax." It is burning; but it is burning very dimly. There is a spark of good within the heart.
2. You are like smoking flax, because your good is too little to be of much use to anybody. What could we do with a smoking flax if we had it here to-night, and the gas was all out?
3. Smoking flax, then, has a little fire, but it is so little that it is of small service, and, what is worse, it is so little that it is rather unpleasant.
4. Though the good of it is so little that it is of very little use to other people, and sometimes is very obnoxious, yet there is enough good in you to be dangerous in Satan's esteem. He does not like to observe that there is yet a little fire in you, for he fears that it may become a flame.
II. WHEN ARE SOULS IN THAT STATE?
1. Some are in that state when they are newly saved — when the flax has just been lighted.
2. Sometimes a candle smokes, not because it is newly lit, but because it is almost extinguished. I speak to some Christians who have been alight with the fire of grace for many years, and yet they feel as if they were near the dark hour of extinction. But you shall not go out. The Lord will keep you alight with grace.
3. Sometimes the wick smokes when worldliness has damped it.
4. At times a wick burns low because a very strong wind has blown upon it. Many men and women are the subjects of very fierce temptations.
III. WHAT DOES JESUS DO WITH THOSE WHO ARE IN THIS STATE? He will not quench the smoking flax. What a world of mercy lies in that word!
1. He will not quench you by pronouncing legal judgment upon you.
2. He will not quench you by setting up a high experimental standard.
3. He will not judge you by a lofty standard of knowledge. The Lord has some of His children whose heads are in a very queer state; and if He first puts their hearts right He afterwards puts their heads right.
4. The Lord will not quench you by setting up a standard by which to measure your graces. It is not, "So much faith, and you are saved. So little faith, and you are lost." If thou hast faith as a grain of mustard-seed it will save thee. Come along, you little ones,-you trembling ones! Jesus will not quench you. He will blow upon you with the soft breath of His love till the little spark will rise into a flame.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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