Come hither all, all ye—with him is rest; and he will raise no difficulties, he does but one thing: he opens his arms. He will not first ask you, you sufferer—as righteous men, alas, are accustomed to, even when willing to help—”Are you not perhaps yourself the cause of your misfortune, have you nothing with which to reproach yourself?” It is so easy to fall into this very human error, and from appearances to judge a man’s success or failure: for instance, if a man is a cripple, or deformed, or has an unprepossessing appearance, to infer that therefore he is a bad man; or, when a man is unfortunate enough to suffer reverses so as to be ruined or so as to go down in the world, to infer that therefore he is a vicious man. Ah, and this is such an exquisitely cruel pleasure, this being conscious of one’s own righteousness as against the sufferer—explaining his afflictions as God’s punishment, so that one does not even—dare to help him; or asking him that question which condemns him and flatters our own righteousness, before belping him.
But he will not ask you thus, will not in such cruel fashion be your benefactor. And if you are yourself conscious of your sin he will not ask about it, will not break still further the bent reed, but raise you up, if you will but join him. He will not point you out by way of contrast, and place you outside of himself, so that your sin will stand out as still more terrible, but he will grant you a hiding place within him; and hidden within him your sins will be hidden. For he is the friend of sinners. Let him but behold a sinner, and he not only stands still, opening his arms and saying “come hither,” nay, but he stands—and waits, as did the father of the prodigal son; or he does not merely remain standing and waiting, but goes out to search, as the shepherd went forth to search for the strayed sheep, or as the woman went to search for the lost piece of silver. He goes—nay, he has gone, but an infinitely longer way than any shepherd or any woman, for did he not go the infinitely long way from being God to becoming man, which he did to seek sinners?
COME HITHER UNTO ME ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.
“Come hither!” For he supposes that they that labor and are heavy laden feel their burden and their labor, and that they stand there now, perplexed and sighing—one casting about with his eyes to discover whether there is help in sight anywhere; another with his eyes fixed on the ground, because he can see no consolation; and a third with his eyes staring heavenward, as though help was bound to come from heaven—but all seeking. Therefore he sayeth: “come hither!” But he invites not him who has ceased to seek and to sorrow.-“Come hither!” For he who invites knows that it is a mark of true suffering, if one walks alone and broods in silent disconsolateness, without courage to confide in any one, and with even less self-confidence to dare to hope for help. Alas, not only he whom we read about was possessed of a dumb devil. No suffering which does not first of all render the sufferer dumb is of much significance, no more than the love which does not render one silent; for those sufferers who run on about their afflictions neither labor nor are heavy laden. Behold, therefore the inviter will not wait till they that labor and are heavy laden come to him, but calls them lovingly; for all his willingness to help might, perhaps, be of no avail if he did not say these words and thereby take the first step; for in the call of these words: “come hither unto me!” he comes himself to them.