Monday, February 21, 2011

MHCC 43: Sweet Secret Communion

Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues (Ps. 31.20).

Having completed Matthew Henry's Commentary through the Book of Esther, and commenced my study of the Book of Job, I was struck, like Henry, by a quote from Desiderius Erasmus, which speaks to the sweetness of secret communion with the Lord.

Matthew Henry on the Preface to the Vol. 3 (Job-Song of Solomon):

I was much pleased with a passage I lately met with of Erasmus, that great scholar and celebrated wit, in an epistle dedicatory before his book De Ratione Concionandi, where, as one weary of the world and the hurry of it, he expresses an earnest desire to spend the rest of his days in secret communion with Jesus Christ, encouraged by his gracious invitation to those who labour and are heavy laden to come unto him for rest (Matt. xi. 28), and this alone is that which he thinks will yield him true satisfaction. I think his words worth transcribing, and such as deserve to be inserted among the testimonies of great men to serious godliness. Neque quisquam facilè credat quàm miserè animus jamdudum affectet ab his laboribus in tranquillam otium secedere, quodque superest vitæ (superest autem vix brevis palmus sive pugillus), solum cum eo solo colloqui, qui clamavit olim (nec hodiè mutat vocem suam), "Venite ad me, omnes qui laboratis et onerati estis, ego reficiam vos;" quandoquidem in tam turbulento, ne dicam furente, sæculo, in tot molestiis quas vel ipsa tempora publicè invehunt, vel privatim adfert oetas ac valetudo, nihil reperio in quo mens mea libentius conquiescat quàm in hoc arcano colloquio—No one will easily believe how anxiously, for a long time past, I have wished to retire from these labours into a scene of tranquility, and, during the remainder of life (dwindled, it is true, to the shortest span), to converse only with him who once cried (nor does he now retract), "Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you," for in this turbulent, not to say furious, age, the many public sources of disquietude, connected with the infirmities of advancing age, leave no solace to my mind to be compared with this secret communion. In the pleasing contemplation of the divine beauty and benignity we hope to spend a blessed eternity, and therefore in this work it is good to spend as much as may be of our time.

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