One, and the chief, design of this volume is to exhibit and illustrate the practical character of our Lord's emotional nature thus linking Him in closer and more personal actuality with our circumstances.
Every endeavor to bring into more proximate communion the personality of Christ, and the individuality of the Christian, cannot fail, however imperfect the execution, to promote the holiest interests of experimental Christianity.
Much that passes for sympathy, and is really so, as commonly understood, is deficient in this one essential element, and needs to be remodeled. There is poetry and there is beauty in real sympathy; but there is more there is action.
True sympathy may exist impotent to aid, we concede, and its silent expression may not, in some instances, be the less grateful and soothing; but the noblest and most powerful form of sympathy is not merely the responsive tear, the echoed sigh, the answering look it is the embodiment of the sentiment in actual help.
It identifies itself with the object of its commiseration so personally and so closely as to realize the apostle's beautiful idea of true sympathy ''Remember those who are in bonds, as bound with them; and those who suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.'' This was preeminently the character of Christ's compassion when on earth.
He was willing Himself to wear the chain He came to loose, to share the sorrow He came to soothe; and the remembrance that He was likewise ''in the body'' constantly forced itself upon His mind, imparting to His deep sensibility and tender compassion the power and the luster of an actual and personal participation in the calamities He repaired, the needs He met, and the griefs He assuaged. Thus, from His practical sympathy, who is the Great Teacher of the Church, and the ''Consolation of Israel,'' may we derive lessons of holy instruction, and streams of the richest comfort.
To aid this object, the present volume is, with diffidence, offered to the Christian Church. Composed under the pressure of important ministerial, extended pastoral, and continuous public labor, it necessarily partakes of the imperfections of a work thus written, and often at a season when the jaded powers, both of mind and body, demanded the restorative of sleep.
But if the ''lame take the prey,'' the author may humbly hope that this lowly attempt to present the Savior more vividly to the personal realization of the reader, and thus render Him more loved and precious, and His example more closely studied and imitated, will not be without acceptance and blessing to the one Church of God, the sorrowing, suffering Body of a Divine and sympathizing Head.
The Triune Jehovah bless the work, and to the Sacred Three in One shall be the glory! Amen.