Ah, human compassion—sometimes, perhaps, it is indeed praiseworthy self-restraint, sometimes, perhaps, even true compassion, which may cause you to refrain from questioning him whom you suppose to be brooding over a hidden affliction; but also, how often indeed is this compassion but worldly wisdom which does not care to know too much! Ah, human compassion—how often was it not pure curiosity, and not compassion, which prompted you to venture into the secret of one afflicted; and how burdensome it was—almost like a punishment of your curiosity—when he accepted your invitation and came to you! But he who sayeth these redeeming words “Come hither!” he is not deceiving himself in saying these words, nor will he deceive you when you come to him in order to find rest by throwing your burden on him. He follows the promptings of his heart in saying these words, and his heart follows his words; if you then follow these words, they will follow you back again to his heart. This follows as a matter of course—ah, will you not follow the invitation?—”Come hither!” For supposes that they that labor and are heavy laden are so orn out and overtaxed, and so near swooning that they have forgotten, as though in a stupor, that there is such thing as consolation. Alas, or he knows for sure that there is no consolation and no help unless it is sought from him; and therefore must he call out to them “Come hither!”
“Come hither!” For is it not so that every society has some symbol or token which is worn by those who belong to it? When a young girl is adorned in a certain manner one knows that she is going to the dance: Come hither all ye that labor and are heavy laden—come hither! You need not carry an external and visible badge; come but with A your head anointed and your face washed, if only you labor in your heart and are heavy laden.
“Come hither!” Ah, do not stand still and consider; nay, consider, consider that with every moment you stand still after having heard the invitation you will hear the call more faintly and thus withdraw from it, even though you are standing still.—”Come hither!” Ah, however weary and faint you be from work, or from the long, long and yet hitherto fruitless search for help and salvation, and even though you may feel as if you could not take one more step, and not wait one more moment, without dropping to the ground: ah, but this one step and here is rest!—”Come hither!” But if, alas, there be one who is so wretched that he cannot come?—Ah, a sigh is sufficient; your mere sighing for him is also to come hither.
COME HITHER UNTO ME ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I SHALL GIVE YOU REST.
Pause now! But what is there to give pause? That which in the same instant makes all undergo an absolute change—so that, instead of seeing an immense throng of them that labor and are heavy laden following the invitation, you will in the end behold the very opposite, that is, an immense throng of men who flee back shudderingly, scrambling to get away, trampling all down before them; so that, if one were to infer the sense of what had been said from the result it produced, one would have to infer that the words had been “procul o procul este profani”, rather than “come hither”—that gives pause which is infinitely more important and infinitely more decisive: THE PERSON OF HIM WHO INVITES.