[Page 1]

DEVOTEDNESS TO CHRIST - TWOFOLD

I think we little comprehend what Bethany was to the Lord. He was not only at home there because they rested in His love, but because He was understood. Mary does two things most pleasing to Him. She sits at His feet, hearing His word, and she anoints Him for the burying. The one shews that she appreciates His mind - what He had to unfold; the other, that the most fragrant thing in her possession goes into the tomb with Him. This is devotedness of a double kind; it is on the one hand to receive only from Him: to have no thought, no mind, but His; on the other, to declare plainly that what would most distinguish me in nature, I pass over to Him who has died here. It fills the house of Bethany with fragrance. What living one is worthy of it, if the One who has revealed the Father has died out of the scene? No doubt the knowledge of His mind enabled Mary to confide in Him in the hour of sorrow (John 11); and then she not only knows what His mind is, but she proves what He Himself is, when there was nothing to afford one ray of light; and this prepares her for anointing His body for the burying (John 12). Thus the first part of devotedness - sitting at His feet, hearing His word, choosing the "good part" (Luke 10), leads to the proving of it all in His personal sympathy, so that it is not only His mind that is revealed to me, but I know how He meets me, and consoles me in a scene of death. Then follows the second part of devotedness, viz., to resign to Christ in death that which would lend distinction to myself. Now unless these traits exist, there will be a defect in the character which is so pleasing to the Lord. I might be like Peter, who truly desired to know the mind of the Lord when he beckoned to John to ask Him who it should be who should betray Him; and afterwards so unwisely zealous that he cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Here there were apparently the two parts of devotedness in

[Page 2]

Peter; but we see when the pressure came - when the Lord was friendless and surrounded by foes, Peter had not the stay which one who had sat at His feet would have experienced at such a moment. If I have chosen the "good part" - if I have sought Him for His own sake - I am sure to find and to know Him in my need and sorrow; for it is there I prove Him. Everything here loses its charm, because He is not here. Everything valued here is surrendered to embalm a Christ dead to this scene.

The wind and the waves test the stability of the house, whether the foundation has been laid deep in the rock; and if the house does not stand the test, it cannot fulfil the purpose of a devoted heart. If I am without sympathy in my trials, I become hardened by them, like the bark of an old tree, but if I have known the sympathy of Christ which is perfect, instead of having a hard exterior, I grow a soft and beautiful moss, though my nature be as the granite rock. Thus there is personal evidence of real, full devotedness. The one wholly devoted to Christ receives so from Him, that the very vicissitudes which harden another, only make him soft and gracious. In my trials I prove Him; and I show my devotedness to Him by the easy way I express Him in my ways to suffering man down here. The moss tells me that I have received, and that I have nothing but what I have received. The thick bark indicates the effort to preserve something of one's own.

THE HOME OF THE HEART

What rest and satisfaction the heart finds when simply enjoying Christ! It is the sense of ease and rest that one feels when in the same room with a known and valued friend. It is not so much what passes, as the feeling of resource, and the absence of all fear or care as to any-thing around or within, like the lamb, unmoved by the approaching dog which alarms the other sheep, because it is beside its mother. It is the consciousness of being

[Page 3]

under the shelter of His wing; not merely as sheltering one from what is outside, but still more as assuring one of what His love is. The strong quills preserve you from what is outside, but the nearer you are to Him the more you enjoy the down, and not merely the quills of the wing. This is the home - the place of rest, and of true cultivation of everything good and great. It is the home that really forms every one. The homeless one must be more or less the heartless one. There are homeless rich as well as homeless poor; for abundance of other things does not make up for the want of a home.

Home with Christ is a wondrous home; and when this is known, outdoor work of every kind really only contributes to the comfort of the home. The one who makes the home everything is before the heart in every labour, as the result of all the wise woman's works (Proverbs 31), is that "her husband is known in the gates". The gleaning of Ruth is carried to the home of Naomi, and there the day's toil finds its recompense in the acceptance which it receives from Naomi. Thus the disciples returned and told the Lord all they had done (Mark 6:7 - 30). Toiling without a home may have large results, but there is never heart-enjoyment in connection with them. The results are satisfaction, like gold to the miser but there is not the increase of friendship with Christ, which they, if simply referred to Him, would produce. It makes a great difference whether I am toiling for the gain - the mere results of toil - or in order that the fruits of it may contribute to His pleasure in whom is the home and rest of my heart. In the latter case the results are not my object, but are like fragrant and rare flowers, adding to the charm of the home, and sweeter there than they could be anywhere else. There, as with Ruth in the house of Naomi, the fruit of the day's toil is really enjoyed. There was suffering in acquiring it, but there is enjoyment from it, when at home with Naomi. But more than this, the character is formed by the home; the

[Page 4]

miser thinks and talks of his gold; the homeless toiler or gleaner thinks only of the result of his day's work. But the one with a home finds how his heart is increasingly bound up in the sphere where it has rest, as he contributes in any way to please Him who makes it a home. And thus the heart is drawn out, because it finds its own proper food in the very love it clings to. Love feeds on love, and as it toils for it, it finds its reward in that for which it toils. All the exercises of the heart are at home, as all the exercises of the hand are abroad; and the heart imparts a character to the hand which can only be returned by the hand, in the improved nature of its work. The heart must have a hand, though there may be a hand without a heart. The heart can only be taught by a heart, and the hand derives its exquisite touches from the heart. The heart learns in the home, and the hand goes out from it to act for the heart; hence, the more you are in your proper home the larger will be your heart, and the better will your hand do whatever it findeth to do. But go from the home, as the bee from the hive, and all you gather, gather it with purpose to carry it back from every flower to the hive - the home of your heart; and thus you will grow in deeper rest and at-homedness with Him who makes every place where He is a blessed home to your heart.

PROGRESS IS ALWAYS CHRISTWARD

Every progress or growth is followed by some peculiar trial, and the extent of the growth is tested by it. It is not that the progress is annulled, but one is made sensible how entirely it is apart from nature. The trial may floor one, and one may appear for the time vanquished, and the progress may seem to have vanished; but after a time one is found to be as the teil-tree, whose substance is in it. The tree which had been cut down and left to every eye without a branch, sprouts again

[Page 5]

with all the vigour of old and strong roots. The time of growth is bright and pleasant, it is summer time; but then winter ensues, and the leaves all disappear, and for a time there is no progress, at least apparently. The trial may be something painful, or it may be something attractive which addresses one's nature. When it is painful, one seeks if possible to get out of it; but the trial which thoroughly tests us, is the one which addresses our nature, as the green fields addressed Lot's nature: or as the Babylonish garment did Achan's; or as Delilah Samson's, and so on. The question of natural right comes in, and one asserts it, and thus one loses the path of faith, which rests on God only.

Now the reason why this kind of trial is not more felt is that the conscience is not troubled; - the sense of standing on my natural rights saves my conscience from disquietude. Lot might have urged that he had a right to choose any part of the land. My natural conscience would be troubled if right were not on my side; but it will back me in the assertion of my right to gratify my lawful desires, and thus it balks and hinders me from seeing how I am drawn aside into nature; and my progress in Christ is checked.

Progress is always Christward. The moment I stand for my own rights or the gratification of the most lawful tastes - - for instance, affection or ambition - that moment I am turned aside from Christ, and my progress must be stayed, because I have become occupied, however amiably, with the man on which the cross must come. You may say this is hard - so did the young ruler, and "he ... went away grieved", (Mark 10).

But now mark the order and manner of restoration. First, one begins to feel, like Lot, that one's ambition has not conduced to one's happiness; his righteous soul was vexed. What his conscience could sanction as right has brought him into very unhappy associations. Next, he suffers with his new companions, and, finally, he loses all his goods and escapes with his life. Samson

[Page 6]

loses his eyesight and is imprisoned; Achan is stoned and perishes with all that he had. When there is real truth of heart there will be restoration, though the tree may have appeared withered, after suffering grievously in every way, and the end is, one rejoices in parting company with one's self. Accepting the place of death, we turn to Christ, like Jonah in the bottom of the sea - the whale's belly; and then there is full restoration. Self has been discovered and judged; growth in Christ recommences; and a dreary winter is succeeded by a very prosperous and luxuriant spring-time.

POSITION WITHOUT POWER

The first difficulty in educating a soul, is to get it to accept its position in Christ, from mere knowledge of forgiveness upward; but after that position has been seen, if it be regarded merely as a title of nobility, there will not be practical power in keeping with the great title. The man is ennobled, but he has no property to support his rank. This is too often the case with saints in the present day. They can talk of their rank in Christ, as some in another day could say, "We have Abraham for our father" (Matthew 3:9), our title and nobility are indisputable; but the poverty is so great that it seems to be almost an appendage of nobility. There are many poor nobles now; and there is no question as to their right to be ennobled; the patent of the title is perfectly genuine; but the reason why there is not power or property to support the rank is that these ennobled ones are not dependent ones.

If I have been lifted by the hand of another to a high position, I am dependent on that hand for everything, and if I am as powerless as a child myself, it is plain, if I do not depend on the hand that exalted me, I must fall from my position from sheer inability to retain it. I may assert that I am entitled to it, because I have been elevated through the grace of the Lord;

[Page 7]

but my support depends on and flows only from the same source and hand that elevated me. The fact is, the greater my elevation, if I have a true sense of the grace and the goodness of Him who elevated me, the more do I depend on Him who has done it: and thus, if the dependence increases, the higher the position, the more abundant will be the power to sustain it. Title to position, without dependence, is poverty. A person of high title in poverty is a very sad spectacle. I am not only through grace a king, but I am, because a son, privileged to draw everything from Him who is my life and my portion. Dependence always ensures property; and you will find some christians who have a little property because they are dependent, though they are ignorant of their title, and have no consciousness of their high rank. I do not defend that. If they knew the grace of God, they would know that they are ennobled; but it is better to be a rich commoner than a poor noble. There is a general acceptance of our divine rank now among saints. The knowledge of high position is very attractive, when the conscience does not feel that there is any exaction from the knowledge of it. Alas! many a well-to-do commoner who daily drew his income from his Lord, has lost his means since he found out that he was a nobleman, because he has held it in theory and lost his dependence.

Israel in the wilderness were commoners, but because of a measure of dependence, they were not poor. In the land they were nobles, and they soon became very poor, because they were not dependent. The church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1), was of the highest rank, and had large property, but she gave up dependence, and with all her titles, she became poor indeed. If saints are dependent on God, they support their rank in Christ; but if not, however assured of their nobility, they can do nothing noble. They are destitute of all divine resources. Among men nothing is more despicable than a great noble able to do nothing in any way worthy

[Page 8]

of his high position. Thus it is too often nowadays with christians well taught in truth, who in their lives set forth nothing of the heavenly kingdom; and all because they are holding title without dependence.

The Lord give us to be daily more dependent on Him, drawing supplies from Him, so that everything worthy of our rank may be maintained and expressed. I should rather prove that I was a noble by my ways and acts, than be acknowledged as one by title, and yet be found deficient in true nobility.

THE POWER TO ACQUIRE THE WAYS OF CHRIST HERE

The Scriptures present to us the truth of God, and that truth demonstrated in living ways by the Son of God on earth. He is the truth because He has fully set forth the mind and ways of God, in contrast to all the evil and opposition here. Truth has been fully expressed by Him. He has shewn what is contrary to God, by presenting in Himself what is worthy of God. The Light has come, and darkness is manifested. It is not a mere demonstration of the wrong, but an exposure of it in the light of that which is fully right; the evil is shewn, but it is shewn in contrast with the good. Thus grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. In the perfection of His ways, He set forth everything in its true state; what God is and what man is to God. The divine perfection manifested in Him exposed the true state of man with reference to God. The will of God was the rule of His life, and as He followed it, He observed a path peculiar to it; hence, that path judged and exposed ever one and everything not in it. He was not scrutinising the course of things here to hit on some line of action, which He could observe; He looked not at things here, but to God, and He walked in them according to His will. He walked independently of everything here. What God would have Him do, be it subjection to His

[Page 9]

parents, or anything else, entirely and simply ruled Him; and this definite reference to God in everything necessarily led Him into a new and hitherto unknown line here, where every man acted for himself. Christ acting in the midst of evil and contrariety here in this singular and perfect way, described the path well-pleasing to God; and hence He exposed the course which man had followed; and thus the true and false were brought into juxtaposition; the truth was manifested, and with it the grace also.

Now it is clear that the path of Christ is our path. He is our life; and as we see where and how He walked, we are in our consciences assured that the only way for us is to walk even as He walked. When we read of Him, when we trace His way here, we are convinced that is the only course for us - the only true way, and that all the rest has been exposed by Him as false and not of God; and "we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). But conviction that such a course should be mine because it is Christ's, does not give me power to observe it and to walk in it. It is one thing for my conscience to be awakened to the path and ways of Christ, but it is another thing to get power to pursue and carry out what I plainly see enjoined on me as Christ's, and as the fruits of His life; and the latter (the power of life) is not acquired by seeing what flows from the possession of it, but by abiding in Christ who is my life. If I abide in Him, He abides in me, and I bring forth much fruit. I see in the word the ways and the manner of Christ; I am convinced in my conscience that these are the ways and manners which only become me; but the sense of duty is not the power to perform a duty: the power is only acquired by abiding in Christ - being occupied with Him where He is. The conscience being arrested is not power, though it produces zeal for what one feels is the only true thing; hence, if I put away conscience, concerning faith I make shipwreck, and if the truth

[Page 10]

be accepted conscientiously, there must be unhappiness, or a bad conscience, if it be not carried out.

Christ's ways may be admired and coveted without there being a distinct sense that they are the very ways that I am in truth to walk in. When I have this sense my conscience is awakened; and then, as I know from whence my strength comes, I seek it, that I may accomplish what is plainly the duty of my life. I do not look at the duties merely, but I look to Him from whence I derive power to fulfil them. The parent bird is never satisfied until the offspring flies and sings like herself; nor does she ever surrender this, the climax and reward too for all her toil and labour; and if the offspring had sense, it would understand the mind and intention of its parent. But the parent does not merely keep before her the grand consummation and reward of all her toil, when her offspring will display itself in its own nature and ability, but she feeds it with suited food, to increase the constitutional vigour, so that the desired end may be obtained; and as it approaches, when the wings have grown, her attentions are still greater, in order to direct the acquired power into the manner and ways which are in accordance with her own nature and ability. To live Christ is the consummation for me here; but I must feed on Christ in order to acquire constitutional vigour, before I can walk as He walked, which in His life I am called to and enabled for, through the power of the Spirit.

SIN ONLY LEARNT IN GOD'S PRESENCE

The difference between learning sin in God's presence and by falling into it is very great. One may feel sin very deeply, because one has committed it, but this never gives one God's sense of what sin is. The cross of Christ is the measure of sin in the sight of God. Be it great or small sin, as man would speak, that is the distance in which all sin is from Him; and in that

[Page 11]

distance it is removed and atoned for, and only there. I personally measure sin as it pains my conscience and deforms me in the sight of God and man. And hence, one sin is greater to me than another; and the sin I commit is therefore necessarily the one I feel about, and my sense of it is according to the state of my conscience. My conscience is active according to my apprehension of God's claims and appointments for me; and departure from His will and insubjection to His word are known to be sin. Sin is lawlessness; but besides this, one's own sensibility is shocked at the moral deformities one falls into.

But all this is only viewing sin as it affects ourselves. And this is not the true measure of it. I must see how it is viewed by God. The terrible distance from God in which sin places one is only learned in the cross. I can never see what sin is but there; and if I see it there, though I may never have committed any of it, to the knowledge of my conscience, yet I see that the working of the law in my members is of that sin, which is judged in the cross, and there only is its measure meted out according to God. Then I get a sense of sin which no amount of personal failure could ever give me. There is no excusing it; no toleration of it. The cross is God's measure of every bit of it, the least as well as the greatest; and as I see this, I can allow no less a measure of it than His, and I shrink in holiness of nature from the least, as much as I should from the greatest, though the latter would make my conscience more sensible of my personal criminality and of consequent judgment on it here. As a rule, you will find that those who have committed most sins, have not the deepest sense of sin. They generally have a deep sense of being forgiven, and they occupy themselves with it. Those who have been preserved, though greatly tempted, while fearful of danger, have not only a deeper sense of the grace of God, but also a greater horror of that from which they have escaped; and the

[Page 12]

reason of this is, that they have learned how great their weakness is, without divine succour; the very weakness is disclosed by the hand that rescues, and they shrink from the side where the weakness that would have led them down the precipice is, to the grace which rescued them, while allowing them to see their danger. True sense of sin is less concerned with the extent to which it can go, than with its purpose at the start. The latter I can only know in the presence of God, and hence the word, "Who shall deliver me out of this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). If I only condemn myself for what I have committed, I exonerate myself from everything else. The least particle of my will introduces a distance between me and God. The cross is the measure of that distance, and in the cross only that distance has been removed and the sin atoned for. And hence, I have God's sense about sin if I am near Him, and a deeper abhorrence, and a more rigid separation from it, than if I had experienced my frailty by committing it. In the latter case I discover the extent which sin could go in me, and I am self-condemned; but I do not see sin as terrible as God sees it, though I see how hideous it has made me. It is not only that I have to see sin atoned for in the cross, but in order to have a true sense of it, I must be on God's side, and see it at the root in its native wilfulness, and not merely in its fruit, which is the extent to which it can go. In the one case it is God who is before me, and I see my sin, in its true distance from God - the unutterable agony of the cross. In the other, my own hideousness is before me, and I dwell on the mercy that has met me and saved me. This indeed must come first, but when I am occupied with the holy side, my sense of holiness is divine, while I know only the more deeply the grace which can forgive, and the deliverance vouchsafed to me.

[Page 13]

THE BLESSING MUST BE CONNECTED WITH THE SOURCE

"Knowing what had taken place in her", she "came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth" (Mark 5:33). To ensure enjoyment of any blessing conferred, it is necessary to connect it with Christ the source of it. Independence was the ruin of the first man; dependence is the normal characteristic of the new man. The more conscious I am of my gain, the more necessary is it that I should be assured of its continuance and perpetuity. The deepest misery of man is traceable to this, that in proportion to the value he sets on anything, so is his anxiety as to its continuance; and the less apprehension there is of its being lost, the more enjoyment there is in it. Man in nature cannot connect any favour or blessing with its source; but as to all spiritual blessings, we have the guarantee of their perpetuity in the knowledge of Him from whom every favour comes. Gifts or acquisitions in themselves only make one unhappy in proportion as they are valued, unless we connect them with Christ, and realise Him as the Giver; not only as One able to give, but as One to whom we are brought in the closest relationship, and who imparts to us of Himself, in order to qualify us for Himself. If I know His mind about me, I am not only assured of the continuance of His love but I also know that every gift is an expression of a love which passeth knowledge. I enjoy all that He gives me, all that is unfolded to me in His word, because it acquaints me with His heart; and hence my heart, in order to have full rest, seeks His heart, and not merely what He confers, which is only the expression of it. The very eagerness to acquire, and the extent of the acquisitions, is often followed by a winter of depression, simply because there has been too much occupation with the acquisition, and a losing sight of the source. Acquisitions, even spiritual ones, if held apart from Christ, the Head, cannot maintain freshness of joy and vigour

[Page 14]

in the soul, any more than the action of the heart in the human subject is enough for healthful consciousness without the head, or seat of feeling. For healthful action there must be an unbroken correspondence between the two. Just so, there will not be real enjoyment in the soul unless there be the consciousness of union with Christ as the spring, fountain, and Giver of it all. And the more simply and fully dependence on Him is maintained the better. The thanksgiving in our hearts to Him imparts, it may be unknown to ourselves, this gain to us, because we therein acknowledge our dependence on Him, and realise His love from which all springs.

Hence it is in the trials and the vexations here, which appear to be the very contrary to love, that we, in turning to God, are assured of His love. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which He hath given unto us. As we receive from God so must our dependence on Him consciously increase, and our independence be repudiated. Trials break down the independence, but the dependence must keep pace with every favour received, or the independence of the flesh will supervene, and there will be darkness, because there is not dependence coeval with the acquisition. Light and heat may be found in many substances in nature, but in none, excepting the sun, is there the quality to disengage the essential food of life, the oxygen, from the vegetable world to sustain us, while at the same time imparting the most perfect light and heat. What is light and heat, if life be not sustained to enable me to enjoy it? Just so, if I would enjoy the light and heat of grace, I must connect all with Him, who is the Sun, the centre and source of everything from God unto me. And the more fully I do so, thanking Him for His favours, owning His gifts to me, praising Him for the light and truth He imparts to me - the more fully will my soul enjoy all in the unquestioning assurance that all comes from Him who gave Himself for me.

[Page 15]

SUITABILITY TO CHRIST ONLY PRODUCED BY HIS COMPANY

Satan's aim is to hinder souls from finding and enjoying that nearness to Christ which would so establish them in the taste and ways and manners of Himself, that they would find everything of man irksome, and only affording an opportunity to express the qualities of that blessed One whose spirit they have imbibed. I am struck in observing how saints delight in listening too to details of His love, who know very little what it is to be taught by His presence, the manners, as I may say, suited to His presence. One might greatly enjoy reading of the acts and purposes of a great sovereign, or a great benefactor, and yet know little or nothing of the habits and ways which would suit such a one; and possibly one might find it irksome to be obliged to submit to the peculiar influence which the presence of a great one exercises. The effect of the presence of Christ is piety and godliness - subduedness of heart and mind to the One whose presence is in full sway. When I am reading of or listening to the living acts of the Lord, I necessarily see, as I accept them in faith, that I am an object to Him; but when I am in His company, He only is before me, and as I enjoy His company, I am formed by the influence of that company, into the same order of things as Himself, so that I am not only influenced, but I am changed into the same image from glory to glory. Working for Him, reading, even praying, can be carried on without the sense of His presence. There may not be in any of these the sense of One so fully and entirely occupying the vision of the soul that not only must all of one's evil be in abeyance, but self is ignored, while at the same time there is a real acquisition of new habits and powers which so displace the old ones, that there is growth. Now I find many who, after all their reading and learning, are not thoroughly satisfied that they are objects of His

[Page 16]

love. If they were really in this great truth, as a necessary consequence they would not be content without the personal acquaintance, the presence of the One to whom they know they are so dear.

When the company of Christ is truly cultivated, there is ever a growing sense of and ability to discern what suits Him; and however isolated saints may be, they are empowered, when thus skilled, to see the path which He would take in the circumstances. The silken thread, the clue to the labyrinth is in their hands; however great the confusion, they can separate the precious from the vile, and they increase in suitability to Him as they go on. They connect themselves with everything of God and for God on earth, and by strange and unexpected ways, they are found connected with the brightest and most interesting circle of His interests on earth. If you are not familiar with His tastes, how can you know what suits Him? and you cannot be familiar with them, but as you are in His company.

THE DAILY MARCH IN THE WILDERNESS

It is a marching time. There is for us an annual and a daily journey to Canaan, like the earth, which has its annual and its diurnal motion. The former is the course of faith, the latter that of practice. I mean, one takes the circuit, fulfils the journey in faith, and one has in practice to traverse all the road; all the varieties of seasons are to be known to the soul; but we are not to be occupied with the journey, but to be each day prepared for it before the day's march begins. The manna was gathered before the sun was up, and the cloud was the signal for them to journey. our heart is to be stored with Christ before the demands of the march are upon you, but you must be ever ready for the word 'March.' There is some new experience, some new testing every day almost; at any rate, I think

[Page 17]

there is seldom a repetition of the same experiences, except in new combinations. I suppose with the Israelites that there was a tarrying at one place until the lesson connected with it was learned. They were conducted through the wilderness in order to be, in their biography, ensamples to us in our journey through this world, upon whom the ends of the world have come. You are to begin each day with a supply from Christ, which will enable you either to remain in the old halting spot, or to enter on a new one. You pitch at one place, you remove to another; but the point is, that you are not thinking of one or the other; the one thing before you is to be prepared for either. You must be prepared to march as well as to remain; but if you are prepared to march - to enter on new circumstances, you must be first proved in prior ones. I do not mean any very remarkable circumstances, but something new, a fresh demand of some kind. It may be an unexpected visit from a former worldly friend, or an interview with a worldly saint; something apparently small, but unusual, so that it calls forth a new energy in you, and with it a fresh sense of dependence; but of this you may be assured, that if you have gathered the manna, that is, if your soul has been fed with Christ for the day, it is sufficient for the day. The day's provision was given before the day's demands came on. The Lord knows all that is before us, and He reveals Himself, if we seek Him simply; that is, in accordance with the need in which we shall be placed, whether it be to maintain us where we are, or to march. By marching, I mean entering on new circumstances of some kind or other. If I have begun the day with the Lord, I have the sense of His grace and power, and that is sufficient for all the demands of the day.

What an interesting journey it is! What a tale the earth could tell of its diurnal and annual motion; and surely we can tell a much more interesting and wonderful tale, as we perform our orbits, and are each supplied

[Page 18]

by Christ in varied ways for all that the path requires. The only strength you have is the strength which Christ has supplied, for He is your only food. In the wilderness there is really no food for nature; and as Christ is your only food, every divine energy is characterised by Him who is the food and the strength of your soul.

JOY IN THE LORD IS OUTSIDE EVERYTHING HERE

The light in which we see ourselves, and in which alone there is any good in seeing ourselves, reveals to us that which hinders us from being true to what we really are, even children of the light. As we are of God the light is our true place, and its power is to disclose to us everything unsuited to itself. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). In the light, we hold the light like the diamond, and are assured that it is our proper element; and it makes manifest everything that is not of itself. It exposes the hindrances which prevent the diamond from being filled with the light. If the clay and crust be removed from the diamond, it will tell its own tale. This the light removes, and then the fruit of it "is in all goodness and righteousness and truth" (Ephesians 5:9).

One great hindrance arises from a very common and sad mistake - namely, seeking joy in the Lord humanly, instead of spiritually. There is such a thing as receiving the word with joy, humanly. Many true-hearted have suffered much here. They did for awhile rejoice without discovering the enmity in them naturally. There was a conviction that God is worthy of all the affections of the heart; and so long as they were not diverted from Him, the conscience was satisfied, and all went on happily, and there seemed to be progress because there was joy; but when something occurred to test the will, either in the loss of what was valued, or anything falling out contrary to their desire, then

[Page 19]

the enmity came out, and all the joy was gone, and the conscience became thoroughly dissatisfied. If it had been simply spiritual joy and love for the Lord in the Spirit, His will, whether in affliction, bereavement, or disappointment, while felt as severing one more distinctly from nature, and everything here, would at the same time only deepen in the soul the sense of its resources in Christ. In the one case, the test, like fire to stubble, carried away in toto that which it tested; while in the other, the gold became more distinctly apparent. When Jonah sat under the gourd, undisturbed and sheltered, all was bright, and he was pleased and thankful; but destroy the gourd, and there is wrath and vexation, a disclosure that his resources were really in what pleased himself, and not in God. To find them in God, the gourd must wither.

There are stages in the history of many, like to that of the. widow of Sarepta. During the first year of her acquaintance with Elijah, all went on smoothly; it must have been a happy time. The barrel of meal wasted not, nor did the cruse of oil fail; during that period there was no trial to nature, for though the prophet sustained her, it was in natural mercies that the widow's resources lay. But when death comes in, when her only son dies, there is no remembrance of the joys of the past year. Her sin, brought to remembrance, oppresses and overwhelms her broken heart.

There is really no complete deliverance from sin, while what meets nature is the solace of the heart. As with Job, the comforts go first; the ability to enjoy them, next; and lastly, he loses sight of himself in the presence of God. If we be spiritual, the removal of that which ministers to nature only deepens and increases the spiritual; but if we have drawn our enjoyment from the mercies or expectations here, the break up and scattering of them must needs not only betray the insufficiency of what we had counted on, but it must also expose the innate insubjection and rebellion of our

[Page 20]

nature to God. So much so, that the once happy one is not only unhappy because of loss, but also because of the evil and wilfulness brought to light, where everything seemed right and orderly before. The only remedy for this is simple occupation of heart with Christ in glory.

But in another way we may also lose ground. It is said of tithes (Deuteronomy 26:14), "I have not eaten thereof in my mourning"; that is to say, nothing due to God has been limited or relinquished because of sorrow. When I make my sorrow an excuse for inattention or slackness in God's service, I am eating the tithes - His due, His rights. This is a common fault, and one commonly excused, but of great loss to the soul, because God, who alone can comfort those who are cast down, is neglected at the very time when He ought to be the object and rest of the heart. This inattention or slackness will betray itself in everything. Zeal for God's house is dormant, and the very time is lost in which one would secure the needed succour from God, because one turns in on one's self. His service is neglected, and He is unsought when most needed.

There can be no real progress, but as we reach and enjoy Christ outside and apart from the things that are seen; and if I am really there, I am outside that which suits nature. Revive or seek what suits nature, and you can never be in a full clear sense of its end before God.

How could you enjoy nature, and at the same time rejoice that your old man is crucified with Christ? Revive it for the heart, and you revive it for the conscience. If you seek resource in nature, you will not have rest of heart in God. The Lord lead you to find the rest of your heart in Himself, as you already know that the rest of your conscience is there.

[Page 21]

THE NEW STATE ON EARTH

Thankful I am to be allowed to greet you at the beginning of another year, as one cleaving to the Lord. You are a tree planted by the waters. The world itself is dreary, but you are planted by the waters, that is, you have supplies of His grace, making known to you the purposes of His love. You are now to grow as a lily, and to cast forth your roots as Lebanon. The supplies are to nurture and strengthen the heart first, as you will see in Jeremiah 17:7, 8, and are given to the one "that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is". You have trusted, and you are blessed, and you are planted by the rivers of water. Your roots are spreading out by the river, and the blessed effect of this progress in divine favour will be, that you will "not see when heat cometh"; when the fierce influences of this world bear down on you; and simply because you are so strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man, which the heat cannot touch; and the evidence of the world's powerlessness to affect you will be the fact that your "leaf shall be green". Every expression about you will wear the colour of unimpaired, unhindered life, its activity unchecked, no fading, no withering.

The one blessed is not without trials here; but the supplies are so great, not only the water (privileges), but the river that never fails, and is exhaustless, that you shall not see when the heat cometh. But more than this; if privileges fail, if the ordinary channels of blessings cease or be restrained, if it be a year of drought, you will not be careful, you will be able to rise above it. Your strength will not give way. You shall not cease from yielding fruit. What a beautiful tree! Your green leaf, every little detail of your life, is not to be discoloured by the world and its destructive influences. If the leaf be kept green, the health of the tree is proved. If every expression of my life is in divine freshness and vigour, there must be inward health and power of

[Page 22]

constitution. If the leaf loses any of its beauty and colour because of the adverse influences with which I am surrounded in this world, there is evidently a failure somewhere within. I do not recommend you to watch the leaves, but if there be anything like discolouration in the leaves, you will need to look to the river, the fountain of supply. There must be some failure or defect in appropriating the supply, if there be not power to resist the "heat", the power of this world. We are not only alive in Christ, but we live in His life, and we enjoy it as we resist that which would hinder it; we are made conscious of the power of Christ in us, as we are enabled to hold on in His beauty and freshness against all comers. Now the tree that can keep green under the terrible heat need not fear when there are no supplies here, when it is a year of drought. In passing through this scene, we have to encounter both. There is the heat, the adverse influences bearing down on us, ready to exhaust and wither us up; and there is the drought, the shortness of supply, or rather no supply; for there is really none from the wilderness as such. We drink of the rock that follows us, and that rock is Christ. But yet in spite of all this, we are to be the tree that shall not "cease from yielding fruit". Fruits are acts, positive services; the leaves are the tout ensemble.

The Lord grant that your leaves may be kept green in spite of the heat - the burning influences of this world; the tree yielding fruit in its season, though in a scene where nothing can contribute to it. This is the mission of the serving one; and the recompense is not here, but at the resurrection of the just.

LEARNING IN SOLITUDE

When a soul is deeply engaged with God and His truth, it necessarily seeks solitude. The very greatness of the occupation, and the engrossment of heart and

[Page 23]

mind with it, oblige one to stand aside from anything that would distract. When interrupted there is a continual recurrence to it, and one is detained with increasing interest. As the eye lays hold of an object through a telescope or stereoscope; the least shake, or diversion of the sight, and it is lost again; the nearer I come to it, the more earnest and intent am I to grasp what I feel is within my reach. I like to see a soul thus occupied with and interested about truth, not diverted from the wondrous and blessed range set before the eye of the soul, but intent on it until it possesses it, or rather is possessed by it.

You will find that no one learns truth easily. He who built on the rock was not secure merely because he built on the rock; but he also digged deep. What springs up quickly has no root. The more you understand the nature and scope of the word of God, the more will you see the demand it makes on you and how unreserved must be your subjection to it; while as you are subject to it, you learn the blessedness and virtues of it, yea, that in keeping of it there is great reward. For this reason bright days must be succeeded by dark ones. The true value of anything is known only when it is wanted. In the dreary and desolate hour to nature, we begin to know the value of the truth communicated to us in the bright day. The learning is at one time, and the proving at another. In fact, we ought to be prepared for the dark hour; so that, though it be dark, there is something so blessed, so suited, pouring its comfort and sustenance on our souls, that, after all, the dark and dreary hour becomes a more really festive time to the heart, because of the virtues of the truth now made known, than the time of its reception, which was so happy and exhilarating. Fuel for our fires may be provided on bright days; but surely there is often rich compensation for the dark days of December in the cheerful circles formed around the homely fireside. One may eat with an appetite and feel revived; but the

[Page 24]

sense of life or sustainment from the food in the hour of toil, is a far greater and a better thing. Thus, you have to learn now that the Lord is with you, however great may be the winds and the waves; and that He is with you to prove to you now the value of the truth about Himself, which He has heretofore taught you. What we really want is intimacy with Him. I cannot have this intimacy intelligently, without a knowledge of His mind - of what suits Him. If I were intimate with Him, I could easily and happily do His will; therefore intimacy is the first thing. Martha made serving the first thing: but right serving always flows from heart acquaintance with His will.

How much there is our souls have to be deepened in every day. I am lost, degraded, but He is my Saviour. The sense of the one deepens the other; the more I know Him as my Saviour, the more I cling to Him; the more I feel I am a lost one, the more I rejoice in having such a Saviour. The Lord keep you simply looking to Him, accepting the day and the hour He gives - not longing, not looking, for bright days, but using the day He gives as He gives it. Plants do not dictate to Him what weather He is to send, but they appropriate whatever He does send.

READING THE PSALMS FROM CHRIST'S SIDE OR FROM MAN'S SIDE

As christians we first have life ever so faintly, baby-like; and we grow out of babyhood and on to manhood, as we accept death here. This world is our moral grave; the only place of possession that we have in it is a grave, as with Abraham (Genesis 23:4). Life is first communicated, and this properly marks but the first stage in our history. There may be sorrow and darkness before there is a full clear sense of life as a known possession by the Holy Spirit. Until this is known, I judge that dwelling on the Psalms damages and

[Page 25]

hinders the soul. When I can read them as one who is really in the life of Jesus, and travelling in company with Him in His experience of the evil and sorrow here, it is quite another thing. There is a great difference morally as to the side from which you enter a trying path or trying circumstances. Christ enters the path of the true Israel from the side where there never was any evil. Israel comes from the side where all the evil and sorrow are, and seeks to reach the side from which Christ comes. Thus, in that sense, it is two meeting at a given point, but coming from opposite directions, and certainly there must be a great moral difference between the feelings of each at the junction. The one, from a scene of unperturbed holiness enters into the order and state of things in which the godly ones suffer here; the others, like drowning men, are making great efforts to reach firm footing. The one comes into the dark waters in a life preserver, not as being there and trying to escape from them, but going there to succour those who are there, and to lead them on and out of their trials. Christ fully enters into these trials, even as He did when He walked with Mary to the grave of Lazarus.

Now when you can read the Psalms and find yourself in them from Christ's side, you are not on the side of the remnant, seeking to reach Christ's side. The greatness of Christ's service to us in our trials here, is learned experimentally; and though we may learn resurrection, in the way Mary did, yet surely we should know that we had learned Christ as the resurrection before the trial because death comes on us. I mean that we should know Him as "the resurrection and the life" before a bereavement is sent to teach us what He can be to us in it. And this was just what Martha did not know. If I am living Christ in my trials here, I know how Christ raises me out of them. I have gone down to the sea in ships, and have done business in great waters (see Psalm 107). I am like a bird which has

[Page 26]

come from the firmament and dives into the depths of the sea, and I only return more vigorous, through experience, to the scene above. I feel my trials here as a living one feels them - as Christ feels them; and my fear is not whether I shall escape and enjoy life outside and above them; I am threading my way through a forest, unknown indeed, but where there is a sure way; so that it is not a question with me whether I shall get out of it, but whether I shall follow the only true and divine way in the difficulty; and this way - this path - Christ points out to the saints in the Psalms. I learn there His tender solicitude lest my eye should be turned from God; and thus I find what Jesus in His own life is to me, in scenes and circumstances natural to that life as man. I am not trying to reach life; but in the power of His Spirit, and in the light of day, I am acquiring a full and fitting idea of how I need what He is to me, in the varieties of sorrow which man's distance from God and perverseness have entailed on him. Christ felt one way about the death of Lazarus; Martha felt quite another way. The true and only divine way is to feel as Christ felt, and Mary is led into this. Christ takes up every trial and sorrow of the remnant as it is viewed in the eye of God. Man takes up his trial and sorrow as it affects himself. My place is to be in each trial and sorrow, even those which befall me on account of my own perverseness, or governmentally, as Christ would, regarding them with the eye or judgment of God, not merely seeking to get out of them, but exercising myself as to His way, and thus passing through them with God.

The "dying of Jesus" embraces a large experience. Flesh in every place and condition is found wanting, and I am in company with Him. I have the sense of the depravity of the flesh in the presence of God. I feel that in its will it is deservedly crucified, and gone in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. As I accept this for myself, I can suffer for Him. "We which live are

[Page 27]

alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:11). The more I bear about the dying of Jesus, the more I am conscious of the power and resources of His life, and in His life I can suffer here for Him. Then I can serve Him truly; and it is only as this is reached that there is true service.

READING THE WORD INTELLECTUALLY

I look to the Lord that your present depression may be only the winter, the precursor of a bright and vigorous spring-time. It is very plain to me that the cause of it is, that your soul has lost simple dependence on Christ, and that faith in Him, for if you had these, out of your belly would flow rivers of living water. They cannot flow out, unless they have first flowed in.

You put reading in the place of faith in Christ, and no wonder that you are unhappy. It is the mind which is ministered to by the reading. Faith is the work of God in the soul, enabling it to see things as He sees them in the light of His own word. I do not object to reading, far from it; but the word of God itself is profitless unless it is mixed with faith; and I doubt not that the depression and unhappiness of many earnest souls is traceable to this - even that the word, however it interests them, is not mixed with faith. Nay, more; the more interesting it is, the greater the blank and dearth afterwards, if there has not been faith to appropriate it, and, as I may say, to assimilate it in the soul. The mind is a mere glass, where things are shewn and explained to me by the power which holds it in possession. If the flesh has possession of my mind, I shall receive images and impressions of things which suit the flesh. If the Spirit of God holds my mind, I shall see with the Spirit, and with the understanding also. Ministry, either oral or written, addresses the mind, or one would not have intelligence, as to the truth presented. But it must address the conscience too, or intelligence, which is a peculiar pleasure to the mind,

[Page 28]

may be mistaken for faith; there must be faith in that which is understood, as of God, and therefore not only of authority, but that which must be part of my being from henceforth: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). The more conscience there is, the less will it endure that there should be merely intellectual pleasure with the word; because the effect of that is - I understand so and so to be the way of the Lord, but I have no power to walk in it; and for this simple reason - the word has not been mixed with faith. I believe if there were much faith and conscience, the reading would be small in proportion to the meditation and prayer. In ordinary reading my mind is gratified as it takes it in; and this is the aim of great authors; but in reading the word of God, it is not to arrive at comprehension only but appropriation; I must, if I own it as the Lord's word to me, be conformed to it. I must not only understand it, and rejoice in my apprehension of it; I must yield myself to it; I must be the transcript of it practically. And this is no small matter; this can only be by the power of God's Spirit through faith. The more I yield myself to the word in faith, the more do I know that it is His word; and the more does the Spirit enable me to walk therein. It is the step according to the word which assures the heart of the faith; and as I maintain the step, and keep therein, I know the succour of the Spirit, and the joy of His presence. I am glad to be ministered unto by any means, but I am not thinking of being ministered unto only; I am seeking how I may respond in my ways and walk to the ministry which I have received. Be assured that if you spent part of the time which you now spend in seeking to acquire relief by reading, in seeking in dependence on God to walk as the word enjoins (for that is faith), you would find that your soul has a link with Him, and as the assurance of this link increases, so will your joy and rest in Him increase.

[Page 29]

GLORY AND DEATH

"There was no more spirit in her", is the description given of the queen of Sheba after she had seen all Solomon's wisdom and glory (1 Kings 10). It was not from any lack in her own circumstances, for she had come with a very great train - her spices were a very great store, but the beauty and brilliancy of Solomon's glory so overpowered and captivated her heart, that she lost consciousness of all her own high and royal estate. She was like Paul in the third heaven, when he proved the superiority of divine things to the things of man. This is a great lesson. It is not that the rude force of evil has blighted the topshoot of our hearts, so that any gleam of real light is eagerly sought by us; but because of association with our Solomon in His own things which are so infinitely superior to the beauties of nature, that the best are eclipsed in our eyes. If you are the widow that has lost her only son (Luke 7), you have lost all interest in this world, because bereaved of what was dearest to your heart; you go through it with the feeling that nothing can repair the blank, and you rejoice to find outside it a gleam of light, and assurance of joy and rest with Christ; but if it be only this, the things that could have attracted you if bereavement had not withered your heart, are not really displaced, because not eclipsed by what is superior. The grapes are sour to you only because your heart refuses to reach to them. Now, if you are like the queen, you are introduced into a circle of things above, which so captivates you that you are proof against what is most admirable here; however beautiful they are in themselves, you have seen things above which transcend them beyond measure, so much that you have no more spirit in you, no more interest or pleasure in the greatest things here.

The difference between the two practically is this: the one who has been widowed here by bereavement is

[Page 30]

relieved by gleams of brightness from above, and thus learns to bear up and thread her way through this dark and dreary scene right up to glory; while the one for whom the brightest things here have been eclipsed by the glory of Christ takes a true and divine estimate of everything. She has learned what suits Christ, and she refuses everything of man as unworthy of Him. She begins with refusing herself. She has no more spirit in her. A widow has suffered from death in this scene, and looks to Christ to cheer and sustain her onward and upward. The queen is deadened to this scene because of what she has found outside of it, and therefore is more truly a widow in it. If she had not seen all Solomon's wisdom, she could not have become insensible to all the brightness here. The inclination to enjoy things below has gone, because of the things above, casting everything into the shade. She is not looking for gleams of light and cheer, but the full circle of Solomon's glory so engages her heart that she is dead to the things here. The widow can comfort a widow as she has been comforted herself; but the queen can give proof of the insignificance of earthly things because of her acquaintance with things above - she can detect the incongruity of everything here with the mind and purpose of God. If I turn to the glory merely for relief and comfort, I can be mixed up with a great deal here, nay, with everything that does not touch my heart or my conscience; but if I have been deadened to earthly things by the superior circle of things above, nothing here suits me, and I find that many a thing which once I had allowed or tolerated with an unupbraiding conscience, I now see to be incongruous and uncongenial to me as formed and influenced by another order of things. The glory of Christ eclipses the most beautiful things here, and what once would have awakened sensations of delight has now no charm for me. God disciplines us to make us seek resource in Christ in glory; but when we are in company with Him

[Page 31]

there we are so enriched that there is no more spirit in us.

Take care of lending yourself to the beauties of nature; if you do, you will have no heart for Solomon and his things. It is only intimacy with Christ in the sphere and order of His glory, which so absorbs the heart, that all of man is really excluded as incongruous; you practically become dead to that which has lost its interest to you; and thus, while you are a queen in that scene, you are a widow in this.

FAITH IN GOD

We cannot take any true step without faith. Faith is reckoning on God where there is nothing visible, and hence outside one's self; and when He tells me in His word: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house" (Genesis 12:1), if I accept it as His word to me, surely it effectually worketh, because received in faith. The word of God to me in Christ defines everything. In Him I can say: "Not ... by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Faith is in God Himself, and not merely about this or that particular thing that He says. If I have faith in God, everything He says to me has equal claims on me, and addresses me not with reference to my ability to obey, but with reference to Him who enjoins it. If it be only faith as to a particular thing, I reduce the word to the level of my power to obey it. The simple inquiry is, What does the Lord tell me to do? If He calls, and I believe in Him, I have power to obey, because I am not resting in anything but in Him who calls. Surely one should not go beyond one's faith; because if I do, I am trusting myself to something imaginary. But if I hear the Lord calling, and if I obey, looking to Him to sustain me, that is the obedience of faith. Now, plainly, the call comes first, and the faith follows; and hence

[Page 32]

the first point for us to ascertain is, Does He call; and what is His call? If my eye then be on Him, like Peter, I can walk even on waves to go to Him.

The more I see, the more I am convinced that there is no full and clear comprehension of the mind of Christ but outside of counter-influences; and the more imperceptible the counter-influences are, the more insinuating and dangerous they are. The unconscious influence from unhealthful associations is really more pernicious in spoiling the power of the eye than what is open and glaring. Light received by an impaired eye, an evil one, becomes darkness, because it does not impart the right idea about things. The jaundiced eye represents everything yellow. The light is pure, but the eye is affected by an unconscious influence, and the light becomes darkness to it; that is, the jaundiced eye uses the light to represent objects contrary to their natural state, and in quite another colour. Where have you learnt anything from the Lord distinctly, but where every counter-influence was inadmissible - in the sacred enclosure of His own presence, where nothing to qualify what He says can exist? There He communicates His mind, and in its strength and beauty it could not be learned elsewhere. Hence, we find in the Old Testament that, as a rule, the Lord appears when He expresses His will particularly. I refer to this in order to shew that when you receive His mind truly, you must be outside all other influences; and if you need to be so when receiving His mind, the more you cultivate the separation which this involves, the more intolerable will the order of things be, where influences of all kinds, like vapours, distract or warp you. If the order of things in which you are were of God's appointment, I am sure He would preserve you in them; but if He did, He would give you grace to be distinct from all that is around you, a body full of light, which is a more difficult course than withdrawing from it altogether. You will remark that in every case when a soul desires

[Page 33]

to get on, it discovers something in the way, a stone at the wheel, which must be removed before there can be onward movement. It is a great thing to discover the stone at the wheel. It is not half so hard to get out of a rut as to get over the stone which is before the wheel. The machinery may be all complete, the power to work it all in order, but there is an impediment just where the movement must begin, and until this is removed there can be none. Achan was the stone at the wheel to Israel. Abraham's father was the stone before his wheel. Self in various ways comes in as a stone, and the more imperceptibly it is placed before the wheel, the longer and the more vexatiously are we tried by it. The Lord lead you out of ruts and over all impediments, in order that you may be fully for Him here - a martyr. In Scripture there is but one word for witness and for martyr.

ADMIRATION OF TRUTH

If to the natural mind the scenery of the earth or the movement of the heavenly bodies is gratifying and interesting, how much more must the counsels of God, set forth in order, gratify and interest the spiritual mind; but while this is the case, the mere contemplation and admiration of them does not impart faith; and if there be not faith to see everything in relation to God; that is, if Christ be not the object and resource of the heart, there will be a tendency to vain-gloriousness because of the extent of scenery presented, without the strength which faith imparts to connect all with Christ, and not with one's self. "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect" (1 Corinthians 2:6) - that is, full grown. If Christ dwells, domiciles in the heart by faith, every bit of the divine field of vision not only imparts true gratification and cheer to the inner man, but establishes its link with Him. Everything is seen in relation to Him and when this is the case, the more

[Page 34]

conversant we are with the scenery of our own sphere, which is the sphere where Christ is, the better, for thus we are built up in Him. Again, it is not by the delight I have in surveying truth that I prove my faith, but in the commonest things here. If Christ be the light of my heart and the object of faith, then in the most minute details down here the power of Christ will be manifested. The Lord Himself comes down from the glory on the mount (Matthew 17:9); and forthwith with perfect ease and reliance on God, pays the taxes, as I may say, familiarly (verse 27).

The demands of the scene here test the reality of my link with the great Eternal One there. If I am fretful or nervous, or anxious about things here, it is evident that I have not appropriated Christ as much as I thought I had when I traversed with delight the course of His counsels in their glorious order. The trials or tribulations here test my acquisitions (see Romans 5: 1 - 5). Thus we read in James 1:3: "The trying of your faith worketh patience". I discover by my inability to meet an imposition or a vexation in the spirit of Christ, my lack of the grace of Christ. And hence, every one has some known trial which is a test to their spiritual state - a kind of thermometer. The proof of your rest in Christ and of your confidence in the depth and constancy of His love, is the way in which you are sensibly delivered from being a prey to either fear or pain because of things here. Many find reprieve from the corrodings of unrest in service of various kinds, because during the activity of the service they are not sensibly disquieted (I do not speak now of conscience trials, but of what is more Marah, the trials of circumstances); and thus they deceive themselves, for an unconquered trial is always an accumulating trial; but once conquered it is never again the same. A survey of truth is good and helpful for the eye of faith, but Christ must be its light; and the more the eye sees, the more will the heart and conscience be subjected to testing to establish the

[Page 35]

reality of our abiding in Christ, and to keep us clear of the intrusion of the flesh.

PERFECTION, THE AIM OF DIVINE LOVE

Much is contained in the Lord's words to Peter, "Lovest thou me?" to promote devotedness.

Love is the highest attribute of God, and for us the most enjoyable activity. In loving the Lord we are loving One who first loved us; in fact, we could not love Him otherwise; in order to love God we must know Him. How could we love what we do not know? In loving the Lord we love One whose love is perfect, and who draws out our love, which increases in proportion as we know His. Love, as we say, must have an ideal; that is, it has a standard to which its object must come up in order to satisfy it, though among men it is too often that they only fancy it comes up to it. But true love could not view with indifference the state of its object. With man, therefore, it is an advantage that love is blind. But with God it is not so, and His love puts away in the cross of His Son the entire offending thing - that is, He in judgment righteously gets rid of our condition which is painful to His love, and sets us up anew; we are graced in the Beloved; so that His love having nothing to check it, can flow out and on as it likes. It is not that He loves us in spite of our faults, but now He can rest in His love; because in Christ we are entirely new before Him, "holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:4). What a complete satisfaction to His love! and evincing at the same time the exactitude and inexorability of His righteousness. Lessen the righteousness and you lessen the love. The love cannot allow anything in me that would be below the divine standard, for the standard of the one who loves is always that which is perfect in his eyes; and hence with God, the standard is Himself. We in our love are obliged to tolerate and excuse, because even

[Page 36]

in our ideas of perfection we must make allowance for imperfection, or we must condemn ourselves or be dishonest. God commends His love to us while we were yet sinners. He from His own side in judgment removes every atom of the offending thing, so that we now, in the life of His Son, may make our boast in God, through Him by whom we have received the reconciliation. Everything has been removed by His love, that we may be on the happiest terms with Him and make our boast in Him; His love surrounds us, and nothing can separate us from it (see Romans 8:35 - 39). In my flesh there is plenty to pain His love; but He has judged it from His side for ever, and I am called to do so as I love Him. "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). If I love Him, I love what suits Him. I am not surprised to see judgment on everything unsuited to Him. See Deuteronomy 11:1: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge"; and in 1 Corinthians 2:9, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard ... the things which God hath prepared for them that love him". I love His perfection; for, after all, the thing to satisfy love is that the object is according to its standard of perfection. Hence the Lord shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied; and He will present us to Himself "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; ... holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).

Now, the more we know the Lord, the more are our souls filled with His perfection. Nothing there can ever check the sensibilities of our love; and the more we love Him, the less we can bear that which is unsuited to Him, and the more do we labour to conform everything to His mind and to seek that which will please Him. This imparts the greatest charm to devotedness, and is its reward. The delight of love, as seen in the eagle, is to lead her offspring into the same power as herself; and this is the way of divine love, not only in its nature but in its ability. This is the nature of Christ's

[Page 37]

love for us, and eventually it will reach its aim, for we shall be perfectly like Him. Hence, as we love Him, we seek that all who belong to Him should be here like Him. If we have learned in any little measure to fly, we take the place of the eagle-mother and encourage the young bird to fly. This is the delight of love, and this is devotedness of the highest order; while the satisfaction of love is, that there is nothing in its object to check it, but that it is according to its standard of perfection.

THE HIGHER WE ARE, THE SAFER WE ARE

I think you are right as to the distinction between the Lord's presence to two or three (Matthew 18:20), and His manifestation to the one keeping His word (John 14:21); though to both, His presence would supply whatever He knew each needed from His presence. You see we all need something or gain something from the presence of one on whom we are dependent, whether for care, counsel, or service of any kind. He, blessed be His name, is equal for any and all. He supplies all, but to each distinctly as each requires.

I am greatly impressed with the conviction, that unless we keep in the highest place near Him (a barn-door fowl, however high the perch, always goes to the top round), we shall neither be equal for the difficulties of the day, able to steer our way through the maze and confusion, nor be preserved ourselves from the influence it would exert over us. We must overcome the darkness with light; and if we do not overcome it, it will swamp us. It is not that we can go partly with it and still be light. The principles are completely antagonistic. If this were clearly seen, saints could not expect or attempt to go on, in any degree, on the world's level.

The Lord's rejection, accepted by Him in Matthew 22, tells you the moral state of the world, and of man, when He closes His ministry. In the first place, they

[Page 38]

were under Caesar, instead of being under the true King of Israel. Secondly, they denied the resurrection, as men practically do now. Thirdly, man asks what is the commandment, instead of looking to God for mercy as a lost one. These were the three religious elements of the world, when the word of Psalm 110 reached the ear of our blessed Lord; and surely these principles are as active this day as they were in that day. As a saint, I am not under Caesar but under Christ (the dues to Caesar are quite another thing; I do not count them as my property; it is here looked at religiously, not in a temporal way), and as Christ's I am looking for the resurrection, as the vindication of all that God is in His grace and power. The Lord is rejected, and has sat down, until His enemies are made His footstool; and I am either with Him above all these religious elements, or I am coalescing with that which is against Him. If I follow Him I am as light, overcoming the darkness, and I am myself preserved in the very separation which the light imposes on me. I take part with Him, I am of His Spirit. I find things here as He left them - the world as unwilling to accept me when I am like Him, as it was to accept Him; opposing, hindering, baffling me, as it did Him. And seeing that it is in order that we should represent Him here during His absence that He has left us here, how imperative it is that we should walk in His steps, and expect only to know His joy as our feet fall into His very footprints.

Saints so little take in the idea that they are to live Christ, not merely to belong to Him. He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit. We are now members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. People ought to be able to say of us, there is a part of Christ, not partly of Christ; and it ought to be the joy of our hearts to occupy this place, as no doubt it is when we in any little measure occupy it. Who knows the virtues and invigoration of any climate who has not been in it;

[Page 39]

and who can speak of its virtues and value but the one who has lived there and experienced it for himself? If we do not rise to Christ's level we must be on the level of His enemies. The two levels are very distinct, and remote, too, from one another; and the only way to get power to rise above the low level, is by maintaining practically in faith, because it is truth, that we do belong to the high level; and thus when in faith we accept our true place, God in His grace makes us to be in power, what is true respecting us in His purpose. If we accept the low, we ignore faith; and there is no rising to the place which in truth belongs to us, because there is no faith in us respecting it. When faith is in action, it knows that the low level is not my place; and there is no rest till I am landed in the high level which is my place.

LEARNING THE LORD'S MIND

The moment a conscience is restored or revived, it necessarily must ask, What would the Lord have me to do? and I think I find daily that the more lively my conscience is, the more dependent I am, on His word; for I feel that I have neither counsel nor power of judgment, but as I get it from Him. God as the source and fountain of all wisdom is thus the more and more before me; and as I cultivate the habit of turning to Christ, I find, through His grace, that it is but natural to the new man to do so. What I desire so much for souls, and what I seek to watch for and desire for myself and others, is this applying to the word not merely for guidance about some individual difficulty (I see there is a good deal of this latter, which is often selfishness, in a way), but to seek the Lord's mind and counsel, for the simple peculiar satisfaction of being in any degree in concert with Him. I do not speak now of any subject in particular, or any scripture in particular; but for the word to be studied so that I may

[Page 40]

have "wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him" (Ephesians 1:17). I find if I am not in concert with His mind, I cannot have fellowship with Him in His purposes. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed" (Amos 3:3)? Nay, more; if I am not in His mind, I shall be reducing His sayings and thoughts, which have reference to a deeper thing and purpose, to the level where I am, and where I can understand them. There were things which the Lord could not communicate, nor could His disciples receive, until the Holy Spirit came.

It is astonishing how saints will listen to the unfolding of high truth which many of them do not understand, and get a measure of good from it; but if you were to catechise each separately, you would find that they had only taken in bits which suited vacancies, so to speak, in their souls, and that they were so far edified; while those who feed on the truth so unfolded, are led by the unfolding, into communion with the Lord with regard to the truth.

One is ready to be distressed at times because there is not more practical christian life now; but there cannot be high practical life if there be not enlarged communion with the Lord. By communion I mean common mind. If I am walking with the Lord, I shall be in concert with His mind, and I shall get some idea of His inner counsels and purposes - those which lie next His heart. Now if I have got hold of these, I have got hold of the truth in the right way. It is not merely the knowledge of the truth, but the place and interest which it holds in the mind of Him who is the object of my heart, and, through His grace, my companion through this evil scene.

THE DEATH OF CHRIST THE DOOR OUT OF ALL HERE

As to the death of Christ being the point of separation from the world, and that only through which we can walk in it - Christ in His death bore all the judgment

[Page 41]

which lay on me. In a word, He suffered for everything; for judgment is on everything. His cross is that through which by Him all things are alone reconcilable to God; whether things in heaven or things on earth; all in me contrary to God is judged there; and through it only, am I reconciled to God. It is not from my sins merely that the cross frees me, but from myself and from everything under judgment. People will admit that nothing but the cross could free them from their sins, and place them in reconciliation with God; but everything here is under judgment, and there is no other way for everything else to be reconciled, but the way that I, a sinner, have been.

If everything here will be reconciled through the cross, it is evident that everything needed reconciliation; and no reconciliation could be effected but through the "cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14). This is our boast: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ". It is evident that the apostle is not here speaking of his sins; he is speaking of all the things under judgment, and he is glorying before God in his own position through it; not grieving that he has to give up the world, or trying to keep as much of it as he can without losing his peace of conscience; but glorying that he is absolutely severed from it all through the cross of Christ - the world crucified to him and he to the world. If you felt that judgment was on everything, you would like to be relieved from everything. You know what relief it is to you to have the cross between you and your sins - to know that in God's sight it is so. You would not revert to your sins. You would not, if you could, neutralise the efficacy of the cross, and return to your sins. You rejoice that it has for ever severed you from them in God's sight. You glory in it, and rightly so: you cannot do so too much, for it is God's doing, and you glorify Him as you exult in and enjoy it.

[Page 42]

Now if you could feel about everything in the world as you do about your sins, you would rejoice that by the same cross, you are crucified to the world and the world to you; as it is through it only, that there is in Him reconciliation for everything in heaven or on earth. This determines the question at once between what is of man's will and what is divine. Everything connected with the first Adam's fallen state, or with which he was connected, is judged in the death of Christ. All the old things stand on one side of His death; all the new things on the other side. When I in His life have reached everything according to God and suited to Him, am I sorry then to lose any of the things judged in His death? Nay, I am rejoiced, when loyal in heart to Him, to find that, at the same moment and by the same act, I am freed from all that is in and around me which is not of God, and under judgment. Everything not reconciled through the cross, by Him who bore it, is under judgment. How cheering to my heart to realise that I am, through the cross of Christ, entirely out of it; and "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). Christ lives in me, and I do His will in every position.

I hope you will see all that the cross embraces; and thus that the death of Christ separates me from everything here unto Him. His death opens a way for me out of everything here. I remember Him in His death and I announce it till He comes. What else does the scene tell me of? It required His death to effect reconciliation for me, and for everything that I see. Could the very earth be reconciled without His death? We know it could not. Can I look at it, and admire it, without recalling the price of reconciliation - or rather, is not the price of reconciliation the label to faith on every article on earth? His death is the only suitable association, solemn and momentous as it is, that you can have on earth. Everything else that you

[Page 43]

see, and yourself, alas! required it. You are in the place and scene of it, and you ought to be delighting that it has severed you in God's sight absolutely from it, and that in the new man you are apart from the scene. Though you are actually in it, your only association with it is His death; for if it were not for His death, how should you find a place of escape from it! Hence it (the death) becomes the true and most grateful remembrance of your heart about Him while you are on the earth. You cannot see Him, or be as He was on the earth, but through His death. His death is the doorway to Himself. You must remember Him here as having ended everything against God of the first man, and brought in everything according to the mind of God. Is it not simple - is it not wonderful? If you go into the haunts of men, it must be as seeking for the silver pieces, and you must go there as a widow as to this world, not as a worldling; but in company with Christ, sweeping the house, and seeking diligently for the silver piece.

May you drink in of the resources which are in Christ, and thus find yourself independent of natural ones. Mercy and peace be with you.

SELF VIEWED FROM MY OWN SIDE AND FROM CHRIST'S SIDE

If I am occupied with myself, it must be either with my bad or with my good. Now if I am conscientious, and the more so I am, the occupation will be with my bad, and in a peculiar and a fatal way. Occupation with my bad engrosses more than with my good. There is really nothing good. "In my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). But if I see myself as Christ sees me, I am - because He is light which removes, not law which exacts - made to feel that whatever is seen is necessarily excluded, if not of Him; for the good of light is to expose things

[Page 44]

as they are, and hence a very different action goes on if I see myself in the light. I am sensible of the high and blessed deliverance vouchsafed to me. Christ is made more precious to me than ever. My heart turns to Him, rests in Him, dwells in Him, more fixedly than ever, because I see what He is as well as what I am; and it is by Him who exposes me that I know that I am set free from everything exposed. As one feels the smallest atom in one's eye, so do I feel my least evils before Him. But He shews me that it is gone in the cross. I refuse and condemn it, and I am liberated, and I rejoice in Him. I know better than ever the righteousness of God to forgive and to cleanse me. When in the light, I never see evil, but in order to refuse it. In the other case, it is seeing and exploring, and deepening one's mind in all the tortuous workings of one's self: seeking exculpation, but only partially or occasionally finding any. When I see with the Lord, I see without any questioning; but as I see, I am relieved by Him, and He therefore engages my heart more deeply than ever. Myself fades in the distance; and I delight to dwell in and abide with Him, who, as I follow, is to me the light of life.

WHAT PREPARES ME FOR ACTION

Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and our daily course is to be simply the expression of Him as He was here. It is not to be premeditation how we shall act on a given occasion, but seeking to have Him so dwelling at home in our hearts by faith, that we may act in our small circumstances as He has acted in opening out the path for us. When we premeditate how we shall act, it is our reputation which is before us; but when we are filled with His company, and the influence of it, we in His Spirit bear ourselves acceptably to Him towards those we have to do with, and there is consolation

[Page 45]

from the affections of Christ awakened by intercourse and communion; and when we meet with enmity and opposition, then there is a fuller sense of refuge in Him: He is "a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10).

There is something very grand in the daily history of a saint. He knows nothing of the peculiar tactics of the foe for the day; he cannot, as in modern warfare, survey in a balloon the disposition of the enemy's forces; but without knowing from what quarter the attack may come, he is to be ready on every side, and he goes forth like the sun to run his course, resisting all evil, and contributing good on every hand; and, if abiding in Christ, he is well qualified to do so. He is not watching the enemy to see what he must provide, but he is cultivating the company of Christ in his heart by faith, and then he is prepared for every assault. The company of the One most loved and valued is the only military exercise for him. It is when the heart is most fully at rest that the hand is most skilful to shelter a friend or to confound a foe, and so when I know the rest of Christ dwelling in my heart, His strength is ministered through me according as the demand is made. Are you premeditating how you will act, going through drill and sword exercise in order to be up to the mark? or are you entertaining Christ as a guest in your heart, and therefore provided with His grace on every side? What a difference! In the one case, your heart is satisfied in its deepest enjoyments, because occupied with the Guest that commands the fullest circle of them; in the other, you are in a state of suspense, at best occupied with the demand which is made on you, rather than with the strength of Him who would enable you to meet all demands.

[Page 46]

EACH A PECULIAR PLANT IN A PECULIAR SPOT

When we consider that each of us is a plant of the Lord, and not one like another as to leaf or flower, the plantation is most interesting; and though there is no similarity in the circumstances or in the duties of any one, yet the health and vigour of each is hindered or promoted by the state of any of the rest, for we are members one of another. You are a plant of the Lord, set by Him in His plantation on earth, to have a certain leaf and blossom and fruit. He knows where He has set you, and He takes into account all the adverse influences which bear on you, He puts the plant where it can best set forth the beauty He has given it, which is His own. He knows the amount of frost and wind and sun which is needful. We in the new nature are exotics, but we are placed in circumstances the best suited for us to grow, to neutralise the adverse influences of the old nature to which we are so susceptible. As a plant of the Lord you are an exotic, and there is no other plant like you. He has only the one specimen of each, but while this is so, and this new plant is not in its own climate and home, and your old nature is at home here, and is fostered and promoted according as it uses and enjoys the things here, yet the circumstances you are placed in are the most favourable and the best adapted for spiritual growth. For the plant there is really nothing here, everything hinders it; and yet the place and trials which form your circumstances, however painful, are the most suited to promote growth, because the Lord knows the only spot in His plantation where you can or could grow according to His intention, and places you there. I think it is a great thing to be assured that I am not only a peculiar plant but that I am planted in a peculiar spot; and if I do not express the virtues and qualities of the exotic there, that I could do so less in any other circumstances.

[Page 47]

Bad health, for instance, is a very rough wind; but this the gardener sees necessary, in order to remove some of the vapours which would hang about the valley of the old nature, and thus retard and obscure the expressions of the exotic.

But there is another good from rough winds, even - that the plant, according to its vitality, really increases in strength on the very side on which it is most assailed. The vapours go, and the plant, taking advantage of the relief, declares its energy; I mean that it is not only the wind from the outside, but the power from the inside; so that when the wind tears away the ivy from the tree, the tree insists that it must not be embarrassed by the ivy again. The wind is as the cannon to make the breach, but then the soldier, sword in hand, enters it and is victor. You will at once see that there must be concert with the wind (the trial and pressure of circumstances, all to break down the flesh) and the power within. When any breach is made, then self-denial is required to turn to good account that which God has effected by chastening. This I feel the most difficult, and also the most deeply interesting action in our histories. There are the rough winds and the frost without; and there is the energy of the Spirit within, seeking to claim for Christ the place which the flesh had occupied. But besides this, the very scene in which I am set becomes an opportunity for me to refuse it, by the strength of the power within, and I receive an hundred-fold more for what I surrender. Thus, whatever our circumstances may be, dark or bright, they are really the most favourable and the most adapted for growth; and this is an immense comfort. If they be sorrowful circumstances which break down the flesh, the field is claimed by the Spirit. If bright ones, seductive to the flesh, as Egypt was to Moses, they are to be surrendered, that Christ may be the full joy of the heart.

If I say it delights my heart to see you growing as one of His plants (of which there is not another, and

[Page 48]

therefore commanding and insuring a special interest), how much more is it to Him who has chosen you. How beautiful in the eyes of the angels to see one singular and rare plant resisting the wind and every adverse influence, and setting forth the beauties of Christ in your appointed spot on earth.

THE FIRST LESSONS OF THE NEWLY-BORN

It was very grateful to me to hear that the Lord had revealed Himself to your soul. Fallen man could know nothing of God; and he cannot be in any degree before Him without feeling that he is a sinner and morally unfit for God. Adam and Eve, when they fell from dependence on God, felt this the moment they encountered the presence of the Lord God, and therefore they hid themselves behind the trees of the garden. Up to this, though they had some sense of departure from innocence, this sense they were able to satisfy by making themselves aprons for coverings, teaching us that man may allay his sensibility of evil with regard to his fellow-man, but the moment he has to do with God really and distinctly, his efforts are quite of another order - efforts which only prove that he is resourceless, for he flies and hides. It would be impossible for a fallen man to be otherwise in the presence of God, and therefore if a man does not feel he is a sinner, the only conclusion is that he never was in the presence of God. As the voice of God followed Adam to his hiding-place, so does that of His Spirit now with each of us. And as with Adam, the conference that he shrunk from ended in faith in God; so now every one - the greatest sinner - who is drawn to Christ in the light, will always know, like the woman of Samaria, that the result of it, as to her, is eternal life.

God is revealed now by His Son, and the entrance into His presence is known by the light there; as Christ says: "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Now this light

[Page 49]

has a twofold effect on the soul. What was dimly foreshadowed with Adam is, with the most blessed result, fully declared to us. The light makes manifest our unsuitableness for it, and the more this is seen, the more is its great power known; for there the value of the blood of the Son of God in cleansing from all sin is most deeply appropriated. If the light enters your soul faintly, disclosing to you very little of your natural alienation and unsuitableness for God, you will know proportionately little of its greater action, which is declaring to you the perfectness of your cleansing before God from all sin. The quickened soul is kept in healthy consciousness of the light by the word - the washing of water by the word. God is light; and you will find that nothing will deepen the two actions of light in your soul so much as reading His word. In reading the Scriptures, you will find how man's nature, with its principle of evil, is exposed and condemned by the word of God. And, on the other hand, your soul will be confirmed by every line of it more and more in the depth and greatness of His love and purpose toward you. Make the word your study, and your soul will take the colour of it and know the power of it. Nothing is so effective for silencing doubts, correcting false imaginations, and establishing the heart, as the word of God. May the light of His own presence be always your refuge and rest, and may the peace of it rest and remain with you.

NATURE WOOS AN IDEAL. THE SPIRIT SATISFIES THE HEART WITH CHRIST

Your conscience is never happy but as you act up to the faith of your soul. Your faith is assured that there is nothing like the presence and company of Christ for full, unbounded heart satisfaction. Your conscience is disturbed when you waver from this faith, and make trial of other things to fill your cup - the "wild

[Page 50]

gourds", which only bring death into the pot (see 2 Kings 4). Why, with such an assured conviction of the fulness that is in Christ, do you turn to other things, as if you could derive from them any of that rest which you know is in Christ, and this though you are aware you have suffered in your spirit in consequence? I believe that it arises from your not distinguishing clearly between your natural and spiritual affections. The things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned; you are not sufficiently convinced that you must retire from the spiritual, by which you can only discern what is of Christ or have communion with Him, when the natural absorbs your attention. You do not fear the natural enough. The natural may not be wrong, but it diverts you from that line in which only you can enjoy the Lord. You love Him, and you have an admiration for Him; but what is the fact, as any disquietude or attraction will disclose to you? You know you have lost the comfort and support of His presence. Your conscience, as well as the void that is in your heart, tells you so. Now if you had no confidence in nature, two things would be the result: one, that you would fear and deprecate the natural, which diverts from the spiritual; and, secondly, you would not be exposed to the defeats from which you now suffer because you trust yourself too much. Natural affection seems harmless enough until it encounters an order of things which suits it, but does not suit what is heavenly. Many a one loved Jesus with a true child's love, until his nature found out that there were other things which would suit his nature far better. What makes natural attachments so binding and unchangeable, is simply because one has only to do with nature, and one does not find in nature any one else so answering to one's own ideal. Now with the Lord, though the natural may own admiration of Him, yet when that which is nature simply, with power to engage or attract it, offers, it strengthens nature in itself, and in that line which suits

[Page 51]

it; and, as this is the case, the Lord is felt as more unsuited, and in a little time oppressive, so that the conscience becomes troubled because of the forgetfulness of Him and the eager promotion of that which has displaced Him. The Lord has taught you very distinctly that you must place no confidence in your natural ideal; and He bars and checks it on every side, while He has given you to taste of the true in Himself; and His dealings with you are therefore to promote in you enlarged acquaintance with Himself - the only One for the new man, because the perfect One. Nature cannot reach this perfect One; it seeks its ideal, and cannot go beyond it. He checks this, as I have said, and gives you that which checks your nature, in order that you may in spirit enjoy Himself, and find that He can fill your heart and soul. When once you learn that this can be only in the Spirit, you will have reached a great gain; for then you will fear nature, not only because it is the flesh, but because it would divert you from the deep, overflowing blessedness known to your soul in Christ Jesus. The more your natural affections are denied, the "manifold more" will be given to you in Himself, even in the present time.

May the Lord lead you into His own joy, so that from Himself your cup may run over.

DEPENDENCE ON GOD, NOT ON MERCIES

Christians often depend on God only partially, while leaning at the same time on some mercy of His hand to them, as children walk by the assistance of go-carts. To walk without any seen thing to lean on, is a new and peculiar path; and as a child pauses and fears ere he attempts it, though desiring it, and glad when he has succeeded in ever so small a way - so with us; we see we ought to depend on God, we feel we may, we pause, we fear, we attempt, we succeed, we are glad! God's sufficiency is known to our souls. The first time

[Page 52]

a child walks by himself is a new era in his life, and though the mere beginning of it may be forgotten, the fact and nature of the act is known to him all his life long; and if it be interrupted, either by accident or infirmity, he feels it sadly. When we have learned to walk in simple dependence on God, we can never happily substitute anything else for it. If failure or loss of communion deprive us of it for a season, there is always the craving of the new nature to return to an order of strength so normal to it, and so natural to us as of God. The Lord comfort your heart much, and teach you daily how to practise walking in dependence on Himself without any subsidy or aid. Accustom yourself not to look for it. Try to walk with ever so small steps in simple rest in Him, making known to Him all your heart. You may rest assured that the reason why our machinery is so often or ever out of working order, or dragging heavily, is because there is some pressure on our hearts which we have not disposed of. You must dispose of every pressure to God, or it will clog the wheels, and the whole of you be out of gear. Unburden everything to Him; dispose of every pressure to Him, and the peace of God through Christ Jesus shall keep your heart and mind.

THE SAINT AN EXOTIC

A saint is an exotic here, he belongs to heaven, but as a vine-branch he is to yield fruit for God and man. There is really no soil for the vine here now; consequently there is no vine; but as we through the Spirit are abiding in Christ, and He in us, we bear fruit for God's heart. Christ was the Vine when here, and we have to maintain the virtues of Christ now that He is absent. We are to live Him here during His absence; but we are not of earth, for our Head is not here, though we are here for Him, and we act like Him here. We are true to Him, and His love is known to us, and we continue

[Page 53]

in it, and our joy is full, because we are living Him where He is not; as the apostle says, "To me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). We are exotics, but we are here to represent and bear testimony to One who is absent; consequently, it is not ourselves we are thinking of or any one else, but the One who is everything to us, even Christ, whom we are seeking to express here where He is no longer, because He has been rejected by His once "own" from the world. The exotic yearns, and in a measure pines for its own clime, for there truly and fully it would be developed; but being here, where everything is adverse to it, and for Him from whom all is derived, He by the energy of His Spirit sustains us in His own life down here. We can thus brave all that is against us, and maintain true constitutional vigour, and ability, too, to manifest the rarity and value of the grace and divine power which has made us exotics, and thus set forth, to the praise and glory of Christ, His name to a world which has not comprehended His beauty. I am heavenly in nature, and it is as such that I set forth Christ. The more I maintain this, the more I repel the adverse moral influences bearing upon me; and the more I set forth the excellency and virtue of Christ. It is as I am an expression of Christ here, that I am really useful to others. The more I am, the more I exhibit what is the grace of God to man, the more the Father is glorified, and the more vigorous am I myself in my own heart; for because of the energy of the Spirit maintaining me in the life of Christ, I am in the healthy tone of constitutional strength. The more exotic you are, the more useful you are, the truer witness for Christ, and the healthier and happier you are; because, like one exercising one's self in frosty weather, you have the fresh glow of the virtue and power of life. Be an exotic wherever you are, be it in the queen's palace or in the humble cottage. Let each eye see that you belong to heaven, and that you manifest the life of Jesus amid everything that is adverse to it here.

[Page 54]

LOVE GIVES CHARACTER TO GIFTS, NOT GIFTS TO LOVE

Gifts speak to me of the love which gives them their character. The love is not lessened because it is expressed. It has spoken by its gifts, and they speak to me of it, but not to give me the idea that it has entirely expressed itself, like the silkworm conferring its gift and not surviving; nay, rather they assure me that it lives, and that it is in thought eternal and unalterable. This is divine love, it expresses itself by the greatness of its gifts; but it never lessens or diminishes its energy or thought of me because it has given so much. It remains rich in its own enjoyment in giving, and in my joy in possessing. The gift expresses to me the nature of the thought, but it is the thought which gives the highest character to the gift; and this remains for me to fall back on and enjoy, even if the gift perishes. We do not keep sufficiently in mind the thought that God has respecting us. We are pleased and gratified with His gifts, and, to a certain extent, we feel that it is from His love that they come; but His thought, and the interest in us from which they spring, often does not engage our hearts as much as the expressions themselves. He rejoices to give. I seek to study the love He has for me, and I see what and how He would tell me of His thought about me even on a low level; but the more spiritual and heavenly His gifts, the more I learn of His interest about me on the highest level. Invalid children receive from their parents indulgences and toys which stronger and happier ones do not require. I think many children of God do not study the love of their Father; they seek only what they think suits themselves. They consult not His thought and interest about them. Whatever they like they are thankful for, but they do not at all know the thought of His heart about them. They form an idea of His love from the gifts or acts, instead of knowing that His love gives a

[Page 55]

character to the gifts or acts. The greatest gift that He confers now, is affording us ability and opportunity for serving Christ; and the nearer we are to Him, and the better we know His love, the more shall we admit this, and seek this as the happiest and fullest expression of His love for us. Blessed be His name, we are made for His glory; and He in His own blessed way is making each of us a certain, not a random, stone in the temple which is growing unto the Lord.

Some of His gifts are with the intent that I should feel their insufficiency, like a ship full of fish to Peter, and he in the presence of God, a sinner (Luke 5). His gifts are cypher to my own heart. I read them as I know His love. Another may attempt to read them, but no one can know the true meaning of the gifts of any one who loves you, but one who knows the nature and thought of the love. The same gifts may be given to a dozen, and yet speak quite differently to each.

NO SERVICE OR MORAL WEIGHT WITHOUT SEPARATION

When we find ourselves in such a position as this, namely, with a better conscience and more respect for the truth of God than what is professed by those around us - it is important to see, and seeing, to maintain, the line of conduct in word and deed which will preserve one's own soul from declension, and also maintain that moral influence which such a position requires. A Nazarite defiled his head if he suddenly touched a dead bone. The real difficulty in intercourse with unseparated saints, as with the world, is to remain reserved; that is, not to blend with them; not to allow them to think that my tastes run in the same line as theirs do. I hang my harp on the willows. I am ready to serve and even to please them, but never as pleasure to myself. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning" (Psalm 137:5). If you are amused; if your

[Page 56]

humour blends, you are powerless, you are as one of them. You have so far lost weight, because you have lost the spirit of a serving one and are pleasing yourself. I do not want to make your life a burden - far otherwise; for you will find that the moment you sink to their moral level, you expose yourself to their power to make you feel your position; but while you preserve for your own conscience' sake, for their sake, and for the Lord's sake, reserve, as I term it, that is, not lending yourself to their invitations, whether intellectual or social, you are on ground above them; they will never trespass on you except for service - and service of the better kind, too; and you are always, through the grace keeping you, ready and prepared to serve them in every way. I know you will be sorely solicited, and your natural temperament will desire to yield to the current which is carrying all around you with it. Of course I do not want you to be morose - that would be unnatural; but I do want you ever to remember that you are a servant - and that in the highest sense; which makes it the more imperative that you should not at any moment be induced by blandishment, or any solicitation on the part of those around you, to overlook your position, where all depends on the amount of moral influence with which you carry yourself. Your nature often may long for a fling which is natural and pleasant to it; but as you have accepted the place you are in, I am sure your desire and prayer is that you may fill it according to the mind of the Lord, and thus serve Him.

May He guide, help, and cheer you, as His servant, and then all will be well.

THE GOOD OF UNSUITED CIRCUMSTANCES

When we speak of everything being suited to us, we necessarily make ourselves the ones to be considered, and that according to our own judgment. It is God's judgment - - our Father's judgment - that we have to

[Page 57]

do with; and hence the very position we think least suited to us may be the one where He knows we shall best learn that knowledge of His grace of which we are still ignorant. In circumstances which are easy and suited to us naturally, there is not the same order of exercise or of dependence on God which there must be if we walk with God in circumstances naturally and disagreeably trying to us. How can I get on in the latter, unless I am freshly invigorated at every juncture? I am kept in a constant state of dependence; like a man swimming, I must move on and strike out, or in a little while I shall go down. The entire question with us ought to be, Am I in the place and circumstances approved of and designed for me by my Father? As to ability to continue therein, He will surely supply it if I am where He would have me to be. And more than this, it is there that I learn the power of His grace to me. God is not now making smooth and easy places for us. He is, on the contrary, leading us into difficult ones, and teaching us that in His strength we are to rise above them, to be masters of the occasion. Before man was brought nigh to God in His Son, He did make smooth places for His people; but now being in Christ, He shews His favour in enabling us to rise above things - to be superior to them, because we are in the strength of Christ. Be assured it is a far more signal instance of your Father's favour towards you, as a servant on earth of His Son, to place you in circumstances unsuited to you where the grace of Christ may be known by you, making you master of them, than if He placed you in a nice little sphere where naturally you could swing round like a ship at anchor in a dock.

Would you learn the power of Christ, or would you recline only under the shade of a gourd? If you are in your right place (difficulties and disagreeables are no evidence that it is not your right place) you must conquer in it; that is, you must not only give satisfaction

[Page 58]

to all therein, but you must justify God in your own triumphant and thankful spirit before Him. Marah is not marah - it is sweet. Widowhood, indeed, but not widowhood which pines and mopes, but which is accepted, and which the heart accepts, as alone suited to it here while all its joys are found above.

RECOVERY THROUGH THE VALLEY OF ACHOR

What is divine is never lost; it may be covered with the plaster of this world, but whatever has been written on the fleshy tables of the heart will never be effaced. You will certainly sing again as in the days of your youth, but then you must be brought to the valley of Achor. Achor is sorrow; it is morally the death of all that which turned away the heart from God, and this can take place without actual bereavement here. It is renunciation in sorrow. It is a condemning to death the natural attractions which stole the heart away from the bright line in which God has set it; and this is known by the consciousness the heart has of returning to where it had left off. Like one long absent from a loved home returning to it, or the hound returning to the lost scent, which delights and commands all the energies of his existence. There is a sense of renewed connection with the light once enjoyed and the path once trodden; and there is the self-condemnation and repudiation of the imaginary pleasures which had diverted one from it. There must be in some way a discovering of the worthlessness of everything, to set one in the path of life with God. This Peter learned when everything was favourable to him in this scene (Luke 5). Christ in the ship, he doing His will, blessed with abundance of fish; but all these could not meet the need of his soul in the presence of God, and hence the One who did meet it, who thus proved His superiority over everything gratifying to a man, commanded

[Page 59]

and secured all the heart of Peter. He brought his ship to land, left all, and followed him. It is not an easy thing; it is, on the contrary, the moment of moral death, and therefore Achor, because then one denounces as vain all that has caused the heart to swerve. One must either see the net or find out that it is a net. "In vain is spread the net in the sight of anything which hath wings" (Proverbs 1: 17). If we see the net, we are not taken in it; but if we are taken in it (and this is the way most common with us), we are drawn away by the false glitter of the present thing; and then we are often, like the lion in the net, unable to extricate ourselves, and dependent on the wearing of circumstances, like that of the nibbling of the mouse to cut the knots. It is very gracious of the Lord when He gives desires after Himself in the soul; for surely, somehow or other, they will be satisfied.

PRAYING FOR OTHERS

As to your question about praying for others, and the experience or gain which we derive from doing so, even though our prayers are not answered - I have asked it to myself more than once.

In the first place, praying for others can only flow from a heart at rest about itself, and knowing in itself the value of the desires which it expresses for another. I could not be true or happy in praying otherwise. Secondly: if I am praying for another, according to the will of God, and in concert with the Spirit, I am in fellowship with the Spirit. It is not a question whether my prayer is successful. I have been in company with the Spirit of Christ in the prayer, and my own soul is invigorated by the very passage of His thought through my mind. I cannot have a divine desire for another awakened in me, but by His Spirit, and being awakened there, I am sensible, on account of it, of the strength and blessedness in Him whose desire is passing through

[Page 60]

my heart and mind; and this spiritual desire will be accomplished according to God; that is, according to His mind, not after man's judgment. Therefore when a spiritual desire is awakened and occupies your heart, touching any of His people, you are not only invigorated by this stream of divine thought passing through you, but you may rest assured that God will effectuate it in some way, though in a way manifestly of Himself. I should not keep a list of people to pray for, but I am thankful when I remember any, as I believe and feel my Lord thinks of them. What good is there in anything else here? May we abound therein, and we should if the Lord were our strength - the armour on (see Ephesians 6:10 - 18).

PRESENT CONFESSION OF SINS AND THE JUDGMENT-SEAT

The answer to your question about our sins now confessed being brought before the judgment-seat of Christ, is, I apprehend, that they will be brought out there. Our confessing them now shows that we are in the light partially, which then fully will lay all bare. Our forgiveness now - that is, our sense of it and consequent rest of spirit, is according to our confession, the depth and sincerity of it. But in that day not only is the sin set forth, in order to show the grace of God, but also to make manifest to us how we have missed our own blessing by our waywardness. Now, the more comprehensive our confession, the more full and blessed our sense of forgiveness, and of the righteousness of God in which He can forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In that day it is not for forgiveness at all, but to display to us His holiness and grace. Everything is brought out: it is not judicial but declarative; we are manifested before the throne of Christ; the whole history of His grace toward us is set forth, and the whole of our conduct also. What we

[Page 61]

may not have understood therefore in our history is now explained; and where we have failed to see our own conduct in its true light, as seen by Him, and therefore with only partial confession; or where it has not been seen at all, and therefore with no distinct confession - for sometimes I suppose we get, if I may say, a general indemnity from the Lord, when the heart does not condemn. We reach Him by faith; but I am sure there is not full power or full nearness to Him, except as there is a conscientious repudiation of the works of the flesh which would cause distance between Him and us, and which He, by His word addressed to us, would wash away. There is a difference between the forgiveness which gives rest to the conscience, and the washing and wiping of the feet which assures the heart that there is not a shade of distance between the Lord and it. Peter exemplifies this when he sees the Lord after His resurrection. His conscience is relieved by it, but it is not until after the dinner (John 21), the moment of social nearness, and the subsequent converse with Him, that Peter is restored to full confidence, and all sense of distance removed.

At the judgment-seat all comes out in its history; and it is both wonderful and necessary in order to present to us a full account of the way and manner of God's grace; and also His holiness, in letting us suffer loss when we have slighted it by walking in the flesh, and not in the Spirit of Christ in which, in His grace, He had set us.

WE NEED GUIDANCE TO SUIT OUR OBJECT, NOT TO FIND ONE

As to guidance, I believe it would be in proportion as Christ is simply our object. Guidance itself is very often our object. We are more anxious to ascertain the best way to go, in order that we may not suffer from mistakes, than simply because we desire nothing but to

[Page 62]

be near Christ and in communion with Him as the one object of our hearts. We know very well that when we have any commanding object naturally, we do not want to be guided to it. We have it. A mother knows that her child is her object. She does not want guidance as to that. She may require guidance as to the best way of caring for the child; but because the object of her affection is so distinct, she quickly adopts whatever promises to be the best for it. She has no doubt what the object is, her only difficulty is what would suit it best; and whatever she adopts, she adopts with simple and unequivocal reference to her object. Consequently, if she knows what suits it, she never needs guidance. Thus, if Christ be my object, so distinctly and unequivocally that He stands out always before me, I need no guidance to find or to secure Him: my only concern is, to do everything suited to Him. I have no doubt as to His being my object, my only question is what suits Him. When I know this, all is easy and happy; and certain it is, that when He is our object without any question, there is no great difficulty, with the Word of God in our hands, and the Spirit of God within us, in determining what suits Him.

Supposing for a moment that we adopt a wrong course, and yet have adopted it believing it would suit Him, it is not because we judged that it would be a wise course, for then our own conduct would be our object; but supposing we have adopted it, simply and solely because we had judged that it would suit Him, what is the consequence when we are thus mistaken? It is this: that, before very long, we find out our mistake, and see that it is unsuitable. The mistake in such a case is not that we have allowed another object to control us, but the course we are pursuing, as suited to Christ, is found in practice to be unsuitable to Him. In such a case we have taken counsel from our own minds; and we have not sufficiently and closely studied His mind.

[Page 63]

It is here where some truly devoted souls fail very much. There is no doubt of their personal attachment to Him; but they consult and acquire from their own minds and taste how they are to please Christ. This is what Martha did, instead of studying His mind to see what would please Him. Sometimes my own love for Him may be my object; but the more distinctly He is my object, the more constantly and closely am I found with Him, imbibing His mind as He has revealed it. And thus from association with Him, and the fulness of His communications, I am convinced that I can never, in any other way, discover what will suit Him.

If Christ were our one commanding object, how difficulties and questions would be solved; and if, like the bride in Canticles, we lost sight of Him for a moment, as soon as He was unquestionably our object, and proved to be so, the right line would open to us again, as to her; and we should have all the guidance we desired - even pleasing Him, in company with Himself.

GUIDANCE AS TO SECULAR BUSINESS

How should I know that I was guided of God to any particular place, in order to pursue my trade or calling? First, I must ascertain that I am simply free to go anywhere for the express purpose of pursuing my calling. I mean, that I am not, so to speak, previously engaged as Christ's servant on earth. In such a case, I am not at liberty to choose any place but for His service. Ephesus was an excellent place for Paul's business; and Thessalonica was, on the contrary, a very indifferent one; and yet Paul, as Christ's servant, must not remain at Ephesus, and he must remain at Thessalonica. This point being settled, the next is, that I am going, dependent on God, and not on what man may promise me. There is an assurance in my soul of His hand being with me. I am not looking for help or promises from man to assure me. I may get them

[Page 64]

afterwards, to confirm me that I am in the right path; but the first and simple thing is the assurance that my Father marks the way for me to go here, instead of there. I may see nothing to favour me, and much to discourage me; but faith is not surprised by a famine, that is, nothing to see; it relies on God, and God effects His own will in me in the end. There are certain things which, as I may say, belong to faith. If I am choosing any place in faith, I do not choose one above my present means; for, if I am dependent on God, I do not go into debt. I know that He can preserve the barrel of meal from wasting. If I am in faith, I do not, to use a common phrase, make an appearance. I am real in everything, because I am dependent on God. Like Ruth, I can afford to glean in the field on a hot summer's day, because I know in whom I have believed, and that I am in the right way.

Again, I do not attempt to do what I am not able to do, seeing that to act on the motto, 'Fortune favours the brave,' is simply natural. Bravery is not faith, and yet faith is brave; but it never leads a man to assume to do what he is not qualified to do well.

But again - If I am acting in faith, I am sure to be diligent, earnest, and ready to learn. The very dependence I have on God provokes me to patient, laborious attention to that which I believe He has ordained for me as my labour for my daily bread down here. The more the faith, the more the endurance in the face of the most irksome and trying difficulties. I think, too, that if I am appointed by Christ in His grace to serve Him, that God will balk me wherever I go in pursuit of my business, until I make His service paramount. If I earn wages, I shall only earn it to "put it into a bag with holes". If I choose for myself and go into the world to become prosperous and rich, He will upset my cup some day, and teach my heart that Beersheba is to be preferred to Rehoboth (see Genesis 26:22, 32).

[Page 65]

THE LORD'S PURPOSE IN HIS DEALINGS WITH US

Surely the Lord's discipline must be a subject at this time of peculiar interest to yourself. If I look on the One who administers the discipline, instead of dwelling on the irksomeness of the discipline to me, I cannot fail to derive a satisfaction from the discipline, even when present, which is only faintly represented by the different feelings you have towards your doctor, and the rigorous treatment which he sees it necessary to subject you to. You never allow any of the irksomeness of the treatment you are going through to suggest in your mind the slightest idea of unkindness with regard to him. You never confound the doctor, personally, with the pain or disagreeableness of the process which he prescribes, and insists on, as necessary to re-establish your health; and yet any benefit you derive from the treatment, you at once ascribe to him, and eagerly and thankfully award to him the credit of it. You feel according as you have confidence in him that he has prescribed a certain course for you, because he desires to restore you to health; and you submit to this course without losing a particle of your confidence in or regard for him, however painful and irksome it may be; and when you derive any benefit from it, you connect it with his purpose in placing you under the treatment; and you are full of commendation of him, even for the mode which he adopted, though one of much pain and suffering.

Thus ought we to view divine discipline. We know not what is the matter with us. God does; and we may rest assured that He is subjecting us to the treatment which will confirm us in health; and therefore we ought to submit, seeking to reach the improvement desired by Him, and never confounding the suffering of the process with the purpose in His mind, but entering into His purpose, and being in fellowship with Him

[Page 66]

about it, whatever the process may be. The process is surely necessary; and, however painful it may be, our minds should not be engaged with it, but with Him and His purpose in subjecting us to it. Hence, any and every gain from it to us causes us to revert more distinctly to His purpose, and demands of us to submit the more truly and implicitly to His discipline with us. I connect none of the painfulness with Him, but eagerly and happily I connect all the gain with Him, and the purpose of His love towards me. Divine health is fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, for that is the natural vigour of eternal life. If I am gaining by discipline, I am more in divine health, and so I do not murmur at the discipline or at Him who imposes it; I am occupied with the gain, and I praise Him for it.

May the Lord bless you, and perfect in you His own gracious purpose; and strengthen your heart to devote yourself without reserve to His service. May He cheer, help, and speedily restore you, for His own service in this evil day.

THE INNER MAN AND THE SUFFERING BODY

I have been struck lately with the distinctness with which the inner man, the new creation, declares itself in the sickness and suffering of the old - the body. In health and prosperity the distinctness of the two is not so clearly apprehended; but when sickness or affliction supervene, then the new is distinctly known as having nothing to do in itself with the sickness or the affliction, though the body in which it is, suffers. On the contrary, if our union with Christ be simply apprehended, there is a clearer and a fuller sense how entirely free the new being, in its nature and life, is from the sufferings of the old; and how really independent the one is of the things which are so essential and necessary to the other. And this is very helpful, because it imparts

[Page 67]

a consciousness of strength in the power of the Spirit, which enables the sufferer not only to bear his suffering better, but even when his sufferings are removed, to give a prominence to what is of Christ and eternal which he had not done before. Thus sickness and affliction help to rid us of that which interferes with our spiritual growth, for, as the outer man perisheth, the inner man is renewed day by day. And hence we often find that the greatest sufferers have the most joy in the Lord; and that, as dissolution approaches, there is more decided sense of ability to dispense with that which is perishing, and thus an abundant entrance is ministered.

How blessed to feel one's self so positively one in nature and life with Christ, that to pass away from all here would only consummate that which is the source of real enjoyment here in the midst of suffering; and that the blessed Lord who is ministering help to us in our infirmities here, from the highest heavens, is the One whom we shall be with, without any need of this kind any more. What a peculiar sense of rest and enjoyment it gives one to taste even a little of the happiness of living with Him, for there it is that He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied.

There is no joy in satisfaction apart from Him.

May He be so fully and vividly before your soul that your heart may make its boast in Him all the day long.

TESTING CONFIRMS FAITH AND ENSURES REST

I am glad to be able in some measure to be in company with you in your exercises before the Lord. I believe we have very little idea of the gain of an exercise. It is the trying of faith: faith must be put to the test, for the rest of faith which is obtained in His presence - instead of being confirmed by circumstances, and things around us - is checked by our own conjectures about

[Page 68]

them, until the faith has been tested; and then everything confirms it, and assures us of God's hand ordering for us. The gain of this exercise is that I make God my single object. When I am not walking in faith, I am in some way making myself my object; but faith casts me on Him, and it is only as I make sure of Him, for this is faith, that I am assured in heart that He careth for me, and am consequently restful. The gain is not that I eventually get helped and delivered, but that I have learned the deep, the never-to-be-forgotten lesson that I may trust Him and cast all my care upon Him.

You will find that it is the truth you give your fullest assent to which is the one most tested. The truth is the unfolding of God's grace to me in His Son. It tells me what He has done for and with me, and faith through the Spirit leads me to accept it. To make this acceptance sure and unmixed is the end of the testing. The more I am tested, the more established am I in the truth. It is "much more precious than of gold that perisheth" (1 Peter 1:7). If I really believe the truth, I ought not to fear the testing. If I fear the testing, it is evident that I do not set very great value on the truth. Moses is more tried about the possibility of bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt, than about any other thing in his history that we know of. David was more tried about the kingdom; Paul about the church: and surely no truth had each accepted with more assurance and purpose than the one about which each respectively was most tried and tested. When I have faith, the Lord is before me and not myself. I see what suits Him in the circumstances in which I am placed; and I always determine for Him, not thinking how my determination may affect myself. This is the action of faith; and I find in the end that I have done wisely even for myself, for He cares for me; and if I seek Him really, it could not be any loss to me. On the contrary, all things are added unto me. It would be impossible to care for and

[Page 69]

determine everything for the good and benefit of the head of a house, and not to find that in doing so I had secured the best for every member of the family. Thus it is when I walk in faith and make Him paramount; for really I have no rest or support elsewhere; and as I do, I choose in every instance for Him, and this ultimately is sure to be the best for myself, because I am of Him, and nothing can be done for Him to my injury or loss, but entirely the reverse. Thus by the testing the truth is confirmed; and I am, because of faith, more faithful - more closely and simply walking with Him, and accepting and pursuing that which He, my only confidence, would accept and acknowledge. If I accepted any other, I should throw myself out of the rest which I have in Him.

TRIBULATION DEEPENS

It is often necessary, and profitable too, after seasons of instruction, that we should be subjected to tribulation. The winter is needed to allow the growths of spring and summer to harden through patience or endurance; "for ye have need of patience [or endurance], that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). Endurance is learned in the winter, to harden the growths which have been acquired in easier times, and we must let patience have its perfect work. You can endure if you have the truth within, for the circumstances which demand endurance only invigorate and call forth the virtues of the truth. Our ability to endure is the measure of our strength in quality as well as extent. One horse will carry a heavier load, but at a slower pace, than another, who will surpass the former by a quicker pace. Both are needed at times; and the ability of each is measured by the different order of endurance. God puts the load on us suited to the ability, or order of ability, which He, through grace, confers on us; and I know the nature of the endurance

[Page 70]

required of me, from the nature of the burden imposed on me; whether I am to go slow like the waggon-horse under the lumber of life here, the weighty temporalities, like the Merarites; or to go more quickly with a lighter load. As speed increases, power is lost; that is, it is spent in the speed, and not in bearing a greater weight. What would have sustained a greater weight is spent in the speed in which the lesser weight is borne; so that while the fleeter horse carries less than the waggon-horse, the latter does no more than the former; and what is more, neither could do what the other does; and the waggon-horse, of the two, would find it more difficult to do the work of his fleeter brother, than the fleeter one the work of the waggon-horse. The real point for me is to bear well the load appointed for me, and in the pace appointed for me; and as I do, the virtue of the grace in me is brought out, and I am strengthened to bear what I know I have borne. I have learned what is the power of grace in myself. I have endured and the growths acquired in summer, now hardened, come in their turn, to blossom and bud and bring forth fruit.

SICKNESS AND SORROW

I do not think that bodily suffering weans the heart from the present scene to the same extent that sorrow does. Bodily suffering too often engrosses one's own personal attention; one feels so helpless, and there is such a constant effort to remedy it, and indulgence often is excused on the plea of consideration for one's weakness. But in sorrow, where for instance it is on account of the sufferings or death of one very dear to us, and which is indeed the cloud by day, we grow into the sense that we are in the valley of the shadow of death. When there is suffering of body there is a longing to get well; and often resistance to the suffering, so that we are taught how helpless we are; but in sorrow

[Page 71]

on account of another, everything around has lost its interest for us. In bodily suffering there is inability to enjoy or to do the things which others do. But in sorrow everything has lost its enjoyment, there is a dark shadow on everything; hence sorrow softens and mellows in a way that bodily suffering does not. In sorrow the heart retires from everything and everybody; I am cut off in sadness and affliction from the present scene, but at the very moment when all is a blank here, when I have descended to the depths, I find Him beside me who makes known His heart to me where no one else could reach me. "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4). It is then one is really softened, because the heart knows in its saddest moments the love of Christ; and hence, instead of being vexed or soured, you come out of it softened, because you have learned in your sorrow the greatest love; so that where the greatest darkness was, the greatest light has sprung up. The moment of the deepest depression is not only marked with an Ebenezer, but there your heart will turn from henceforth as the moment of its deepest joy in the knowledge of His love. In sickness, it is more relief, or His power and goodness one learns and looks for; but in sorrow, where there is nothing to cheer here, He comes in and makes known to the heart the greatest cheer; so that the saddest moment connected with earth becomes the happiest moment, because of His presence where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore. You will easily trace the effect of each on souls. In one, there is the knowledge of His hand and His power, they are receptive, and often dependent. In the other, in addition, the heart refuses to bind itself to anything again here. It has gone through the pains of death; it is not hardened, but it has received the greatest expansion through the heart of Christ which reached it in its widowhood.

[Page 72]

THE FATHER'S DISCIPLINE

We must know what it is to be delivered unto death in some way or another; the sense of the perishing of the outer man must be deepened in us. Wherever the roots most extend, and where natural energy would most work, there death must come in the more. Every trial is, I believe, to correct a budding of the crab tree, the old life. Nothing shows or testifies so much the Father's interest about us as the way He uses circumstances to detach us from things which He in His holiness would have us apart from; and hence, wherever there is a root or a tendency going out into the world, or nature which is the world in miniature, He allows some one or something to vex and hurt us in that rootlet in order to teach us how to draw in, and that there is danger there. There was a growth there, and it should have been mortified; and if we have not done so, we suffer through the very thing we had not repressed, and we are made aware that there was a growth where we had not perceived it ourselves. How many things try and annoy us every day which are not really for Christ's sake! All these when carried to God are solved by the simple fact that they were necessary, as intimating to us that there was some proud flesh which required the caustic; and not only this, but while personally painful to us, the very trial corroborates in our hearts the depth and constancy of His love and care for us.

The Father's discipline, through circumstances here, is to me one of the most wonderful displays of the Father's love. Physiologists tell us that the presence of pain is an indication that there is something wrong with the constitution, and that measures should be taken to remove it, in order that the vitality be not hindered; for the tendency of the heart is to direct its energies to the suffering part, and thus weaken itself, while increasing the inflammation where there is disorganisation

[Page 73]

Now with the christian it is just the contrary; wherever there is pain (unless for Christ's sake) there is quick flesh, and the pain or suffering is allowed in order to warn one of the flesh, and to check it by the very suffering. It is a blessed thing to walk consciously in the assurance of being so fully watched over. Many look for favours from God, in their daily circumstances, who do not the way He takes to wean them from things here. They like to interpret His providences as if they were thereby given leave to bind their hearts to His mercies here; but the more closely and spiritually you follow the Lord's ways with you, the more you will find that it is to Himself He would bind you; and that His ordering for you here, is either to sever you from attachments in this scene, or to set you free from distractions, in order that there should be no interruption to your enjoyment of Himself. The more I know the love of the Father's heart, in associating me with His Son now, according to His own desire in the scene of eternal brightness, the more am I prepared and expecting that He will remove every hindrance to my practical enjoyment of it; and if I am enjoying it, I shall soon be able to solve satisfactorily to myself His ways and arrangements for me here as a citizen of heaven; whereas if I am trying to see how He considers for me here as a citizen of this world, I shall be continually disappointed and confused. What a different thing it is to walk here, as one kept dressed and fit for heaven, and only as one receiving rain and sunshine!

The Lord give us to be so assured in heart of His desire to have us in company with Himself, that we may view and measure everything as it tends to promote the end and aim of His love.

[Page 74]

FOLLOWING THE LORD

I trust with a real desire to help you a little, I am induced to review the difficulties which surround the path of a saint, ready, eager, and determined to follow the Lord wholly. If I did not regard you among the later class, I could not with any confidence expect that what I am about to set before you could reach you or address your heart with any helpful effect. The first thing I have to press on myself, and on you, is what following the Lord wholly means and involves. I believe the soul simply and wholly following the Lord, starts with Him as its life, assured that it has none other; that it is alone with Him, and that the Lord is its one object. The interests of the Lord, the saints, etc., come in as associated with the Lord; but for the heart there is an eminent, commanding, known singularity: "One Lord, and his name one". "I am Jesus" stands out pre-eminently; the greater the circle of associations or interests belonging to Him, the more distinctly and peculiarly He stands out before the soul earnest in following Him and it cannot follow Him if it be otherwise. If I do not know, not only in my heart, but in my intelligence, that my Beloved is superior in His power and manifested beauty to all others, and this especially, whenever, or wherever He is seen, amid the dearest objects of His heart, in the circle of all His glories, or when entirely alone, then I am not true or able to follow the Lord wholly. If a mariner mistake one star for another, it is evident he does not know his guiding star, and he is not following it. The heart that knows anything of following the Lord wholly, has acquired a sense of what He is which none of His interests or concerns can rival or bear resemblance to. Like the holy anointing oil, or the holy perfume, there must not and there cannot be, successfully, an attempt to make anything like unto it.

Now this consciousness of following Him is not

[Page 75]

known unless there be an unclouded intimacy with Him; and this cannot be maintained, but as I know how He, by the ministry of His word, washes my feet and wipes them, separating me virtually by the power of it from the defilement here which would cause any distance between Him and me. The greater the love, the less the true heart can suffer any shade of distance or reserve to arise between it and the Lord. If there be any, the following Him must necessarily be suspended. Service for Christ may not cease, but the sense of the nearness to Him which following Him implies, is lost, because even a shade of distance or reserve necessarily distracts the true heart, which knows its own place in nearness to Him, and nothing else will really suit or satisfy it. This distance must be removed before the following Him known to the heart can be resumed. Peter can cast himself out of the ship to go to Jesus (John 21). There may be full confidence in Christ's forgiving love where there is still a distance or reserve (as with Peter) which checks the heart and disqualifies it for the nearness which, as I have already said, following implies. I have dwelt long on this point because I think that it is here that saints first part company with the Lord. I desire much that you whom the Lord has led out of late, so Ittai-like (see 2 Samuel 15:19 - 22), may, though youngest, help on the oldest by your simple, earnest, unequivocal following of the Lord. If you fail here you will be bewildered by the zeal and usefulness of many around you. If your heart is true to Christ, the zeal and usefulness of others will be grateful to you, so far as they subserve to Christ's interests. May you and all others who are now following the Lord with purpose of heart, be kept from the snares all around - patient, humble, devoted, waiting on Him; and through His grace, helping and contributing strength to all His people on earth, to the joy of His heart.

[Page 76]

THE CHART AND THE COMPASS

Some seem to me only to have drifted on to the true ground, instead of that exercise of soul which encounters every adverse wind to reach the port plainly indicated on the chart. There is necessarily a great difference between the two; the one who has only drifted into the right port, knows not what to do, and is simply a waiter on Providence; the other consults his chart and bears for the known port again, more skilful than ever in encountering currents, tides, shoals, and all the intricacies of the coast. To a mariner in these days, who knows the port, the spot where our Lord would have us anchor, where there is only safe anchorage, is a great matter. The sea rages fiercely and the winds are boisterous, and hence there must be good seamanship, a clear, distinct knowledge of the chart, and the eye always corrected by the compass. The compass will always maintain its own point, no matter how the ship goes. The skilful mariner knows that he must follow what it indicates. Thus the Spirit always points to Christ, and once the soul has learned that He is the attractive point, all other things, like the points of the compass, will fall into order in relation to Him; and when He is thus the known controlling power of attraction, it is wonderful how plain the Scriptures (the chart) become to us and we see our course. There is a great mistake in the present day into which some true ones have fallen, unknown to themselves, and it is simply this - trying to find the port and anchorage without the compass. They are, I admit, students of the chart. They look for guidance from the word, as they would from a law-book; they know certain points apparently well, but they have not yet seen where they are in relation to them, and this is simply because they have no compass. They have not found Christ by the Holy Spirit as the one sole attractive point which determines every other point. They are occupied with

[Page 77]

many points, instead of being sensibly controlled by One, and then finding all others in relation to Him. The knowledge of relation comprises all true knowledge. If you know how you are related to anything, and it to you, you are wise. I remark that souls never get on who make points their study and their object; though any one who is simply taken up with Christ will in a surprising way be able to solve points. The word, too, has interest for the one who is sensibly controlled by Christ, which it cannot have for a mere student; simply for this reason, that it discloses Him. If I cannot in faith connect benefits with the Person who confers them, I am dependent on answers to my faith; whereas if the Person who confers them is before me, according as I know Him, there is an unfaltering guarantee of every benefit, because I have One greater than the benefits themselves. When Christ is not the guarantee to faith, there is always a tendency to look for something on the earth. One looks for things visible - mercies, blessings on the work, etc., to confirm and corroborate one's faith, instead of resting in Him in whom we are to be rooted and built up. When He is fully before me, when the needle turns to Him, everything and every person fall into their true place - true, because they are now in relation to Him who is Head over all things to the church. What else is real or true? It is poor work to try and arrange a room of confusion in the dark; but let in the light of the sun, and then if one knows what is right, all is easy. A good servant knows how his master would like to have the room arranged. If he tries to arrange it in the dark, as many a one does, he is losing his time. Even if he knows his master's mind, he does not know whether he is arranging rightly or not; he is at least only doing his best, and bad is the best. There is a hardness and a laxity incongruously manifested together in those who maintain only points like law-points; whereas when Christ is the only controlling power, there is the energy of life

[Page 78]

shaping itself to every conceivable state; inflexibly maintaining truth and holiness, but with a wondrous elasticity insinuating itself into every space, like the air, all-pervading; and though in great weight, yet so evenly balanced, so suitably applied, that there is nothing oppressive, but all is simple, genuine service.

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING A MEMBER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST

I study to enter more into the great responsibilities which devolve on us as members of the body of Christ. Can we at all estimate the quality and grandeur of our position as of His body here on earth? We are not simply disciples or saved ones. It is not with us as with God's people heretofore, separate from all other people, receiving from God and worshipping Him, as men in the flesh. Such was the moral economy in Old Testament times; but how different to be Christ's body on the earth, for as such, it is not merely that I have received even the highest favours from Christ, but I am of Christ. It is quite possible for me to have received great favours from Him, and yet not to be consciously in that close union with Him, which as a member of His body, I enjoy. As a member of His body, I am part of Himself, and I am, because of my calling, required to do everything suited to Him, and as He would do it. There is a great difference between being a recipient of the greatest favours, and being a member of the body of One who can confer the greatest favours. A recipient might be like a guest in the house of a great king - every good thing in the house conferred on him, but all the time he must feel that he had no living link to the king. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17); I am made to know that I am of Him, which no saint ever was before the church period. Everything conferred on a saint before, though it all necessarily drew out his heart in thanksgiving to God,

[Page 79]

never made him more than individually exalted. The man was exalted by the favours, but he had no sense of greatness, beyond the favours. Now a saint's highest glory is, that he is not merely in the house of the great King, but one with Him, and therefore connected with all His glory. We all in some measure see this as future; but what I feel is, that we so little set forth here on earth that we are in this wonderful relationship to Christ now. We are of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones; and it ought to be a matter of deeper interest to us to carry out and maintain the identification with Him, while we are where He is rejected and refused, than it will be to display it in the age to come, where there will be no one to deny Him, or to refuse Him His title. I believe that if each of us felt individually the dignity and gravity of our calling here as a member of Christ's body on earth, we should without effort, make other things secondary to it. If one of our greatest friends had been expelled out of this world, and we heard that we could keep alive his body and thus maintain communication with him by simple devotedness to him, how reproachable it would be if we never in any measure contributed to its resuscitation, wonderful phenomenon as it would be. But now it is still more wonderful; we are made His members - His body on earth; and wherever two or three are, there ought to be and, if there were faithfulness, would be, an expression of His body. What higher dignity, office, or duty on earth can I have than that which a member of Christ's body involves? And wherever I am on the face of the globe, if I am walking faithfully, I am helping and invigorating the whole body of Christ on earth; but if I am walking carelessly, and grieving the Spirit, my sense of union is weakened, and I am hindering the whole body.

I may have natural duties here, but they only determine my sphere and locality, not my purpose. To be a member of Christ's body on earth, is my highest

[Page 80]

dignity, my glory, and duty. But God orders whether I am to do garrison duty, or field duty, or house duty. Wherever I am, I am of the royal corps, and I maintain that I am one of it; no matter whether in camp or at depot, whether a parent or child or servant; the post where I am set has really nothing to do with my commission in the royal corps, though I acquit myself honourably in the post assigned to me. He is not a good soldier who cannot maintain his duty unless he is allowed to choose the post which he thinks easiest. The general sends me, and places me where he thinks best, and if I am a true soldier, I am not thinking of my circumstances, that is of my post, but how to acquit myself best in my post. He is a bad soldier who thinks more of his post than of his duty as a soldier. This some christians do, they think more of their family duties than of their duties to Him of whose body they are members on earth.

THE HINDRANCE SURMOUNTED PREPARES ONE FOR SERVICE

I am cheered by your letter on account of the grace given you of God. I need not tell you that I have looked to the Lord for your blessing at this juncture, for I am assured that one's aftercourse is greatly determined by the manner and power of one's exit and deliverance from a false religion (the more difficult to escape from the nearer it approaches to the true), but according to the difficulty encountered, it imparts a character and a strength to the one who has escaped, if effected in faith. That which has most burdened you and stood in your way, if overcome, must necessarily be the point in which you are strongest; for there has been your victory; and speaking naturally, heroes connect their names with their greatest victories. But we should look at these victories in another light. They not only form the disciple, but (as in the case of Saul of Tarsus, who

[Page 81]

was after he was delivered the most unswerving and effectual exposer of the Jews' religion - the very thing which had especially hindered him), the hindrance prepares one, and even defines for one, a line of service. It is on the same principle as "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). True, it would be the higher way to see and avoid everything false, but it is not always that we learn this way. We may be carried away by the effect of various influences in a corrupt state of things, and then the consequence is, that fort after fort has to be reduced before we are on the true and safe ground. But then we have learnt war, and are skilful to help others passing through the same sort of difficulties. It is plain to me that, if one has been led by faith to overcome the difficulties, especially those of the conscience, the nature of the difficulties overcome imparts a character to one's after-life and testimony. According to the power of faith at the start, so is the course. I do not mean that there is no advance from the start, but I mean that the difficulties which you have overcome, you will, when on the true ground, be able the more effectively to expose. The triumph of faith over the pretension you have escaped from imparts to you a power and a colour in accordance with the difficulty overcome, so that you are now most valiant where you have been most ensnared. "Out of the eater came forth meat" (Judges 14:14). This is the case where there has been faith, so that where the faith has worked, there will be testimony. If you have acted in faith you have had nothing to see around, but you will always from henceforth find that this same faith is like the reserve in the bank (as David recalls how he slew a lion and a bear), even a guarantee that you cannot fail, for God in whom you trust cannot fail, and it is to Him and for Him you have acted; and you hold on though every one around you fails and gives up. I am sure your trials and exercises have been deep and sore, and they are not over yet, but in faith all is sure, and

[Page 82]

pre-eminently, incipium belli dimidium facti. Your difficulties and trials are nothing if you have faith, for then God is before your soul, and not any of them, and He will assuredly prove Himself to you.

REST IN CHRIST BEFORE SERVICE FOR HIM

There are two lines of exercise which must engage the heart of everyone true to Christ. The first is rest in Himself; the next, service for Him. The tendency is to put the second first, or rather to engage in it, in order to attain the first. And I believe that this is attended with the worst consequences. It is legality, unknown, and so cloaked that it is not easy to detect it. I do not deny that there is joy in bearing fruit which is the true service (see John 15); but I think if you watch your own soul, you will agree with me that serving in order to be happier in Christ, tends to legality, and the work done is the source of the happiness and not simply Christ Himself. In John 14 I learn what Christ is to me, and there is no service enjoined there beyond obedience, as the proof of love. If I love I obey. Mary Magdalene (John 20) is an example of one whose heart was so true to Christ, that apostles or angels could not divert her from Him; but as soon as she had seen Him, her heart was satisfied. His calling her by name was everything - a personal individual link. What can surpass it! She was so controlled by Him of whom her heart was full, that she obeyed Him (verse 18), even at the sacrifice and loss of His own visible presence, because a truly loving one could do nothing else.

I think deep personal joy in Christ is a very quiet and unexpressed thing. I believe where there is great fervour of expression there is not much depth, though there may be real conviction. Where there is much demonstration, it is rather discovery, than home, personal enjoyment. Very little demonstration or rapture do we exhibit to our most beloved friends when

[Page 83]

we are at home with one another. When we meet after an absence, then there is rapture; but this is evidence that there has been an absence. Alas! we are often absent from our Lord; but surely the rapture felt at regaining His presence is lower than the restful enjoyment of His personal nearness. Let us, then, not make rapture everything, but rise from it to the deep rest and satisfaction of communion with Him. It is from this communion that service ought to flow, for it is only in it that I know my Master's mind. It is not the hardest working servant who in a household is the most confidential. A confidential servant is the highest servant. I am willing to clean shoes if no other work be allotted to me; but whatever my work may be I should like my master to trust me with his mind.

The saint is never to think himself safe from the evil in the world. No doubt, by faith he is kept from the evil; but then he must not shut his eyes to the form which evil takes in his time, as if he were safe from it. The reverse is the fact; for any evil working in the world finds its way into the hearts of the saints in a refined, specious way. Sensationalism is one of the means by which Satan is blinding the minds of the people of the world in this day - be it the novel, the concert, or the stage, it is mental intoxication. Was there none of it at the revival meetings? Is there not a leaven of it now? And should not souls see that their rapture or delight is not that in which the flesh takes part, but on the contrary, that which ignores the flesh, because we are in the Spirit, where the flesh has no place?

SERVICE TO CHRIST, AND SERVING HIM IN EARTHLY DUTIES

The Lord very definitely describes what service is, when He says, "If any man serve me, let him follow me" (John 12:26). The word "serve" there is the same as

[Page 84]

that used for serve in the earlier part of the chapter with reference to Martha. It is quite a different word for service in Colossians 3, etc. The true way to correct an idea is to see simply how the scripture presents the truth, and then if the statement challenged does not agree with it, it must be refused. Service to Christ has a very wide range, but I only serve Him as I follow Him. "If any man serve me, let him follow me". Whenever I follow Christ, I am serving Him; but I never can follow Him save in death to myself, for that is the connection of the verse in John 12:26. A christian is not only one endowed with grace; he is a new man; he is called to walk here for a little time where Christ is not, but to walk here for Him as His follower; this is his calling; the top-shoot, the leader of his whole being and course. This is the simple duty of every member of Christ. To every one there is given a gift of grace. Pre-eminently he is to live Christ. The leading-shoot is that which determines the height, growth, and value of the tree. But in order to conduce to this leading-shoot and to the full flourishing of the tree, there are collateral branches which have their value and importance in contributing to the growth and value of the tree of which the leading-shoot is the pioneer and exemplar. The leading-shoot for me is following Christ; but I may require many collateral duties and labours to contribute to the comely and effectual carrying out of my purpose of heart in following Him. For instance, being a domestic man is not the leading-shoot, but it may be a very valuable branch or collateral duty, qualifying me, as in the case of a bishop, for carrying out my leading idea, viz., service to Christ; and if I fail in that branch, I necessarily hinder the growth and value of the tree, and retard the progress of the leading-shoot. But it is a mistake to make the wife or the children the leading-shoot. It is the school in the wilderness; the scholar that gets on likes his lessons; but lessons are not service, though they be

[Page 85]

auxiliary to service. The lessons are needed, and if they are unheeded, the service will be damaged.

Again: being a slave, in itself is not service, though as such, I am, as Christ's slave, honouring Him and showing Him forth under the most trying circumstances. Service is not the fact of being a slave or of being a good one; but the fact of acting for Christ in the position in which, by God's providence, I am set. Thus I should not become either a slave or a husband to find a sphere of service, but I may find either duty a very useful auxiliary to me in serving Him, and the claims on me would give opportunity for the expression of the grace of Christ, which would be service; but the mere duties themselves would not be service. I am to serve Christ through the duties - the branches, but the branches are not the leading-shoot; and I repeat that the leading-shoot can never be attained but through self-denial, though I am prepared and better formed for it by the collateral duties. A beautiful tree grows systematically; the leading-shoot surpasses the branches, but is not outside of them, as if independent of them. Nay, it is dependent on them for its own vigour, and unchecked by them it contributes to them and they to it. They mutually support one another; but service to Christ must work higher than nature and superior to it, though the natural duties may fit one for doing so in a more comely way, and afford opportunity too for service, which is always above nature.

THE WILDERNESS AND CANAAN

We are told in Deuteronomy 8:2 to "remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years"; and their journeys, according to their goings out, are written by Moses (see Numbers 33). They pitched at last by Jordan (verse 49); all the dealings of the way, whether bright or dark, or both, go to teach one great lesson, namely, dependence on God. "Man doth not

[Page 86]

live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" (Deuteronomy 8:3). This was the word quoted by our Lord when tempted by Satan. He knew nothing but dependence - dependence according to the will of God expressed in His word. But if dependence on God be learnt by the vicissitudes of the way, as soon as full dependence is learnt, Jordan is reached; so that while my heart rests in dependence on God, I am crossing the last barrier between the wilderness and Canaan. I am not only dependent on God for His word and mind about everything; but the self, that which hinders me and bars my entrance into the scene of light and joy in His presence, is at the same time reckoned dead. Jordan is properly my death with Christ. The dealings of God in the wilderness have taught me dependence on God according to His word; but as soon as I have reached the sure and blessed way to go through the wilderness, I find I am in spirit so over Jordan that I am not in the wilderness but in Canaan; that is, when I am perfectly qualified to walk in the wilderness, because of dependence on God, I am out of the wilderness, in spirit I am over Jordan and in the land. When I am entirely fit to travel through the wilderness, I am not sensibly there, but in spirit across the Jordan in heaven. We are not morally prepared to cross the Jordan until we are perfectly fit to walk in the wilderness. I am not able to reckon myself dead until I have learned full and entire confidence in God. One may try to get into Canaan, but the way is through Jordan; and though one might try to die to everything here, yet it would be a poor thing, even if it could be accomplished, without, at the same time, unqualified confidence in God. When I am most fit to stay here I am most fit to go there, and the barrier which self rears up disappears. The water of Jordan is but touched, and all the barrier disappears. For we are dead with Christ, but it must be accepted in faith.

[Page 87]

The new thing is planted within us and it is surrounded by a hard shell - our own flesh. Now there are two forces at work to liberate the new being from the dense obdurate shell - the one within, and the other without. The one without, is the circumstances through which we are passing; the one within, is the desire or effort of the new being, or as the apostle terms it, the inner man, to be liberated. The outer things cause the inner man to turn to God and to wait only on Him; and when this turning to Him is complete, deliverance is known, the shell is broken. It is said that it is the young bird that pecks the shell from within in order to gain its liberty; but we know that the mother bird also assists in breaking the shell from the outside. Now, dependence on God is that which gives power to the inner man to burst from its prison; and the trials and dealings by the way are only the occasions for drawing out this dependence. We all, in some way or other, suffer from the shell; but once we know that it is the shell that hampers us, we seek the power that will enable us to break through. Some, like oysters, will not give up their shells till they are penetrated by death; but when we know what the shell is, we are not satisfied until it is fully broken. In this tabernacle we groan, being burdened, and the Lord tries us in one way and another; but there is no bitterness in the trial, once we see that the Lord is only doing from without what is in co-operation with His Spirit within, namely, to free us from the pressure of the shell. Dependence on God enables us to break it from within like the young bird.

May we accept with thankfulness His mercy in breaking it from without; which is really only helping the desires of His own Spirit within us.

[Page 88]

THE RACE AND THE REST

Our history is properly written in double columns - the one recounting the wilderness journey, and the other our heavenly progress. In the former we are learning dependence, in the latter it is possession. In the one I am learning Christ as the manna; how He sustains and succours me. His walk and steps on earth, all and each indicate to me how He will sustain me here. "When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them" (John 10:4). We are not called to any path here where Christ cannot sustain us, and He affords us the same grace which sustained Himself in our circumstances. "He ... set him on his own beast" (Luke 10:33, 34). The blessed Son of God has traversed the human pathway, depositing manna as small as coriander-seed all along, and on every side, to meet the smallest as well as the greatest trials by the way. Never was our pathway trodden by such a One before. He has not only traversed it, but He has surmounted every difficulty therein, bequeathing to us the fragrance and power of His grace to conduct us along the same. Every rose has its manna on it, and every thorn too; so that we are preserved from the snare of the one and from the pain of the other. Hence, our journey here is called a race, we are sustained to run, and in dependence too, because there is nothing to rest in; so that as we grow in dependence, we run the better; but dependence is the great lesson of the wilderness.

The other side of our history is heavenly progress, it is with Christ Himself where He is. Your growth in power and joy is as you are occupied with Him. The first-fruit is in heaven; the heir is there; and as I am consciously united to Him there, though not actually in possession, I enjoy Him who is the possessor; and hence the Spirit who unites me to Him is the earnest of the inheritance. There, there is no need, no thorn; it is all rest, it is not as He was in my path here, but

[Page 89]

as He is in Himself in His own peculiar blessedness that I learn Him. There it is rest - here it is a race; and I am to come forth from there as a strong man to run a race. There I know Him as my treasure better than the best thing here; and hence, though needing His succour all along the road here, yet I am giving up even the good things here, in order that I may freely and fully know Him as my gain - that I may win Christ. In the race I am sustained by the manna; but as I enjoy Christ in heaven, the rose is eclipsed and the thorn is forgotten. If I drop the weight in order to run, I relinquish all that I have here; for where my treasure is, there will my heart be also. My need here calls out my dependence on Him; but His riches in glory give me independence here. As milestones mark the road, so do the wells of His mercy mark the stages here in the valley of the shadow of death. But we traverse it as those who know what it is to lie down in green pastures, and to be led by still waters. You are the racer and the rester. As the one, you are dependent on Him; as the other, you are independent of everything here, because so consciously enriched in and by Him. May you abound in both.

THE BRIGHTEST DAY SUCCEEDS THE DARKEST NIGHT

Some receive the knowledge of forgiveness without much sense of sin, and their appreciation of Christ as Saviour is proportionately feeble. He that is forgiven much, the same loveth much. There may be the sense of forgiveness, with but little sense of needing it. The evening was not a dark one, and the morning is not a very bright one, although it may be a happy one.

If you have gone on in the world and its ways, wounding your conscience by sin and folly, before your conversion, the Saviour, if you are really separated to Him through grace, is loved by you in proportion as

[Page 90]

you feel your escape from your sins, and the judgment that impended over you. But then your love for Him is with reference to your former course. I think a great deal depends on the exercise of conscience and the nature of it which we pass through, before conversion or before we get peace. Some having been trained under the law have tried to be good, and having failed in their efforts, they delight in Christ not only as the Saviour, but as their righteousness, the answer to everything which their souls need before God. I see again some who have gone against their conscience, and have done wicked things; when convicted, they for the most part are occupied with the grace which has delivered such wretched sinners. The one has not been able to satisfy his conscience though making every effort to do so; the other has openly and violently run counter to his conscience.

Then there is a third class who, Isaac-like, have a quiet, easy life, and have little exercise of conscience, because walking according to the approved order of things in which they have been brought up. Grace presents a Saviour and forgiveness of sins to them, and they have the sense of pardon unknown to them before; but they had not suffered much from the need of it. This latter class are like the widow of Sarepta; they enjoy their quietude until some great link to this scene is broken, and then they learn their natural unfitness for God (1 Kings 17:18); then the sufficiency of Christ above and out of death is known to the soul, and it is as it were a new conversion; and a devotedness follows unknown to the other classes, unless they have learned the evil of their nature as well as relief from its evils. The one who has learned the evil of his nature before God, will be far more devoted than the one who has only known pardon for the sins of his nature. The latter may be more enthusiastic in his love to the Saviour, but it is because of what He has done for him. The one who has found Him as his in the presence of

[Page 91]

God outside and apart from the old man, will rejoice in what He is to him, and Christ is his gain. The one who has found Him as his righteousness before God grows in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. The first evening may not be the darkest. The widow of Sarepta's was not; but the dark one came, and the bright morning followed. We have many evenings and many mornings. To my mind the sense of Christ is greater when He is known in preserving from an evil, rather than in rescuing from it. I think some natures, as Peter's, will not bow without an actual fall; others submit and humble themselves when they reach only the brink; and others are subdued when they see the precipice from which His strong arm saves them. I think with every evening the foundation is enlarged and deepened; and hence, as one gets on, the cross and all that has been effected thereon gets a fuller and clearer place in the soul; but this must ever be with the sense of being united in glory to Him who was there.

THE NIPPING AND THE BUDDING

In the millennium every saint will flourish "like a tree planted by the rivers of water ... whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3). How beautiful to see a man every way prospering, and every leaf and movement expressive of beauty and vigour: that is what man will be, as man, in the millennium. But the saint now is to be much more than that, even the expression of the heavenly Man - to bear leaves and fruit such as Christ bore, but unknown and unnoticeable here among. men. The most beautiful ornaments cannot be seen in the dark. The leaves and fruit of the heavenly plant can only be seen by those who have heavenly vision. But the trying part is, the more I am the heavenly tree, the less do I bear the leaves and fruit of the earthly tree. The leaves of the latter wither, or are blighted, as the leaves of the former are seeking and asserting their

[Page 92]

place; and this accounts for much of the chilling weather and frosts which affect the saint now in his journey. The leaves of the two trees cannot grow together. We feel the nipping of the leaves of the old tree, but we ought to look then for the budding and blossoming of the new one. It would be a poor thing to endure the nipping of the one without the budding of the other; but if you have the budding, you ought not to sorrow because you are a sufferer from the nipping.

It is most interesting and instructive, the different kinds of nipping the saints are subjected to. I believe it is, as a rule, the one which is the most trying to them - the one which naturally they feel most. Job says, "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me" (Job 3:25). Where there is a fear, it is where there is vitality; and there death must supervene - the nipping must come. But when I come fully to lose sight of myself in abhorrence before God, and because of Christ, I am assured that if every leaf withered, I have a portion in Him which will not only endure but surpass everything here, and that it will grow every day more and more in its own perfect blessedness. Death has been morally entered into, and I have a grave here; and though the leaves or mercies of this scene may still surround me, I have been so introduced into and delighted, nay, satisfied with what is entirely outside it, that they are but garnishing to my table, fringe to my dress, the hyssop on the wall to the cedar of Lebanon. God does not grudge us the hyssop, when He has given us the cedar; but if we are making too much of the hyssop, He removes it, that we may exclusively turn our attention to the cedar. I trust that the fragrance and beauty of the cedar may so fill your heart, that everything which would come in between you and Him may be quickly and fully refused, and that you may have increased power from Him to raise you above the trials of the way, and thus prove His virtue in your very infirmities.

[Page 93]

THE DIFFICULTY INDICATES THE SUPPLY AT HAND

I am convinced that the way we act in the race is the correlative to the sight we have of Christ where He is. If you look at the difficulty or the barrier to be overcome in the race, you will never surmount it. But if you keep your eye on Christ you may run at it (as many riders do at a wall or fence) with your eyes shut, only to open them and see yourself safely over. He knows where I am, and He knows the path He Himself has taken in a like difficulty; we ought to have no difficulties but those which oppose and hinder the workings of His grace in us. Well; my eye is on Him, I know I am united to Him; as His I move on, and a path unknown to men unseen by men, is disclosed to me; the clue is given to me; I have the secret; I escape to where no one can follow me. The divine path - His own path, is opened out to me. If I look at it as a man, it seems like a trackless forest, an untrodden desert; but as I look to Him, I am led on step by step, so that the once threatening obstacles become a wall to me on my right hand and on my left. I am assured more and more that I am a member of Christ, linked absolutely to Him; and in my own proper life which is His, I am looking for Him to support me where He has set me, and to enable me to do as He would do in the circumstances. Every tree or flower is in accordance with the climate in which it grows; and so the climate of heaven produces its own growths, and the fruits also in the season. Man's industry attempts to accomplish on earth naturally what is perfect for us spiritually from Christ in heaven. The commercial effort is to supply the commodities of all countries in each; thus the good of the whole earth may be enjoyed in any part of it, according to the need at the time. For the winter, wool and animal food; for the summer, cotton and fruits. Now when the eye is on Christ, be it winter or summer with us, we obtain

[Page 94]

the supply suited to the need of the new being, and answering to it - as wool and animal food for cold, and cotton and fruits for heat answer to the need of the body. The nature of the supply is according to the need. Our mistake often is that we offer goods, right in themselves but not suited for the time; winter goods when it is summer time, or summer goods when it is winter. Hence mere stores will not do. It must be the constant importation of the needed article, the fruit in its season, and in the season for it. "His leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3). The felt difficulty is the demand for the suited importation.

May your harbour be full of cargoes, only to discharge the vessel containing the needed article. All this comes from the eye being set on Christ. All supplies are there.

You will be greatly enriched as your soul knows the riches of Christ.

THE DESERT AND THE HOME

We are often surprised, if not stunned, at the dark and desolate ways through which He leads us, but they are but the boundary line between the place that would detain us from Him, and the region of light and joy in Himself; and if it be terrible and almost overwhelming to nature to cross this line, the very sorrow and suffering endured in crossing it warn us from ever thinking of retracing our steps. The desert land - the land of death, is in our rear; the land of light and life for ever in His presence is before us. If we press on, there is increased cheer and support; if we linger or look back, the darkness petrifies the heart. All depends then on our pressing on and occupying the refuge - the home we have with Christ. If we have fled from a scene of sorrow and death, and have found shelter and security in the home of a beloved friend, are we satisfied to

[Page 95]

find ourselves just within the door? Surely not; we can indeed draw the breath of relief there, but it is as we get at home there, as we find our liberty and our rest there, that we put on the garments of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness; and the deep sorrow and desolation that are behind only cause us to cleave more to the place of deliverance and joy to which we have come. Thus the earthquake - the break up of everything dear to us in this world of death and sorrow, has a double benefit. It prepares us to find refuge and relief in Christ; and then as we are occupied with Him and learn His worth, we are warned and deterred from leaving Him, by remembrance of the very desolation which first made room for Him; and the more we are entirely alone with Him, the more do we discover that He not only can fill every blank, but that there are surpassing resources in Him which the heart fears to lose for an instant. If you stand only at the threshold of the relief, your soul will at best know but alternations; one time the sorrow will beset you, and at another the light and joy of Christ's presence will cheer you; but if you pass on confidingly into His presence, and abide there, and find your rest there, two things will be more apparent to you every day: one, that you are getting more deeply acquainted with the resources in Christ; and the other, that you are at a greater distance from the world, and the scene where there is nothing for you morally but a grave, and the sorrow which surrounds it.

The Lord lead you on triumphantly as one now walking with Himself, and thus happy here for Himself.

WINTER TIME - THE TEST OF GROWTH

In our journey here we pass through every season: the spring and the summer, but also the autumn and the winter. The winter tests the growth of summer. The tree that endures the winter best, is the one that

[Page 96]

will bud best in spring. In the winter, the sap - the power of life, is concentrated; everything without checks the expression of it, and there is hindrance on every side because of the inclemency; and this effects, as there is vigour in the plant, consolidation which forms stamina for future exertion and growth. Thus in trial and sorrow, there is everything checking and blighting outside and around, but this is the time that one more fully reaches and ascertains the real power within - what the resources really are, independently of all outward and perishable things; and as this power is assured and possessed, so will there be increased ability to bud and blossom and bring forth fruit when the trials are over and gone.

The Lord sees it necessary at times to subject His people to temporary eclipses of the natural sun, that is, the blessings which suit us naturally, in order that they should ascertain the measure and value of what He is in Himself; because it is as we know the latter that we enter into and know the joys of heaven. Here our God does for us and Christ does in us, for we are in Him; but there we shall not need anything to be done for us or in us, but what He is Himself will occupy and satisfy our hearts. The winter here is a temporary death, all encouragement to life is suspended, there is nothing to induce one to look around, or to bind one to this scene; and then it is one discovers the real amount of one's resources in Christ, and the actual extent of one's satisfaction in a purely human condition. During the eclipse there is nothing but Christ; and if He be known in His preciousness, the eclipse, the winter, becomes a time when the most blessed acquirements are made. How differently one would address one's self to the journey if one had experienced truly the loss of every green thing here, but at the same time were compensated for it all in the company of Christ. It would be as if one had died and had reached heaven and entered into its joys with the Lord, and had returned

[Page 97]

here again for another spring and summer and autumn. How wondrously would such an one bud and blossom and bring forth fruit! May you know much of this blessed acquirement in these dark and wintry days; and may the Lord be able to say of you, I have come into my garden and have eaten of my pleasant fruits.

PURPOSE OF HEART TO PLEASE THE LORD

It is the purpose which, like the leading-shoot to the spruce-fir tree, will determine and ensure the harmonious growth of all the rest; even every other duty which, like branches to a well-furnished tree, attach to you on every side. This purpose obtains force and stability from the fact that the love of the saints proceeds from love to Himself. "Lovest thou me?" "Feed my sheep". But more than this; I know His love to myself before I am the expression of it to others; and my expression necessarily always comes short of what I know; but yet it is in the toil and occupation of expressing it, that I deepen in the sense of His love to myself, which works in me this toil and interest for others. Hence not only is it said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17); but it is added, in John 15: 10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love". Here it is acting for Him; and where the acting is simply for Him, there will be obedience to His injunctions. Devotedness cares only to please Him, it is not occupied with exploits; and this trait you find especially exemplified in women in the Scriptures. The women ministered to Him, they stood by His cross, they prepared spices, they watched, they saw Him in resurrection. They occupy the place of personal devotedness; as some one has said, they have more affection, men more energy. I believe they fill a place in service which men never can render; and when the Lord is working, you will always find that women are helpers in a marked, though unobtrusive way. They are like the soft feathers

[Page 98]

to the quill; they are not the masons, they do not build, but in the cementing ministry women are unequalled. I see servants either remarkably helped or hindered when women are connected with their work. Paul knew their value. But if they leave their place, they spoil everything. They put the soft feathers assumptively in the place of the strong pinion, the cement in the place of stone - everything is misplaced; and like a man thinking his hands would be more useful if employed to carry him as his feet, he diverts them from their true usefulness and degrades himself to a beast.

How blessed to have no interest but His, and then surely, the eye being on Him, each will fill his proper place. Deborah will give the first place to Barak, but Barak will not go without Deborah. The Lord give you to supply, as He calls, the down to the quill; and may you with strength renewed mount up with wings as eagles, and not faint.

PREVIOUS INFLUENCE COLOURS OUR SERVICE

I always find that the course we take up at a juncture is in keeping with the influence we have allowed to rule us previous to the demand for any distinct action. We may fully intend to act rightly, but our previous course may have so unfitted us for acting rightly, that at the critical moment, though with the best intentions, we have not the power to act in accordance with them. Samson had never given up the intention of being a Nazarite and an adversary to the Philistines; but having yielded to influence and opened his mind to his company, he had no power to act against them, because they belonged to the line of things to which he had yielded in secret, and consequently had accepted. I cannot accept, and immediately after refuse. "No man ... having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better" (Luke 5:39). When I have accepted

[Page 99]

any influence for myself, I cannot act on that which surrounds me without first acting on myself, that is judging myself. If this could be done it would leave me without a conscience; I should be acting on the circle outside of me, while my own inner circle is untouched and skipped over. Hence the armour in Ephesians 6 is defensive and personal first before it is aggressive. Samson's hair must begin to grow again before he gets any renewed strength against the Philistines. Where one's self, that is, the inner circle, is unjudged and unsubdued, one cannot expect to have power with another. I must take the beam out of my own eye, before I attempt to take the mote out of my brother's eye. I may, like Samson, honestly attempt to act as I have acted heretofore; there may be purpose and will to do so, but in the attempt I shall be confounded, and my weakness exposed.

OUR FATHER'S PURPOSE

How beautiful and wondrous are the ways of our God with us when we once begin to see the purpose of His heart regarding us! We see a natural parent toiling and planning to get his children in the order and condition of life here which he thinks the best suited to his means and ability. Now, when we see that there is this purpose in the heart of God respecting us, His children, what may we not expect as to the order and condition of life which He thinks best? Who can describe or measure that? It is not what I think best. If I were to think most extravagantly, could I in any measure reach up to what He thinks the best? And when I see that He is leading me to the enjoyment of this His purpose, I have the key to every dealing and every movement of His hand. He has no doubt of being able to effect His purpose as a natural parent often has; but He wants to make us conscious of His purpose, and to lead us into the enjoyment of it. Our Father,

[Page 100]

as it were, longs to see us in His house, enjoying His purpose now accomplished in His Son our Saviour; and when He finds any unwillingness in our hearts to go there, He weans us from the things that stop the way. A child is not weaned in a minute, and it may go through a great deal of suffering before it is weaned, but it is all the healthier and stronger when the weaning is fully over. The desire of the Father's heart is that we should have such a sense of being with His Son in glory, that we should feel as if everything here for the moment had lost its claim and hold on us; and then, after this temporary death, this weaning, we should return again to the place of death, assured in heart and mind of the purpose of our God for us.

He is only conducting us through this world to the zenith of His own delight, and the purpose of His love for us; He passes us through all the seasons here; and the winter, the most trying one, is the most helpful, if we are really cast on Him in it. Then the real measure of our dependence on Him is ascertained, and also the extent of our resources in Him; and we make acquisitions in Him which we never make at any other time. All our growth and fruits depend on our winters, or rather on how we pass through them. The more we can rest in Him, the more we are independent of everything outside of Him at such a time, the more vigour we really possess; and the better we get over the winter, be it ever so severe. If I am independent of the winter, it is evident that I have mastered it, and not it me; and if I have done so, through the power of Christ, I am relieved though in no human way. Peter is delivered from prison in a superhuman way; but first he, though enduring a very trying winter, could lay him down and sleep - take his rest, because the Lord sustained him.

[Page 101]

WITHIN AND WITHOUT

Deep and true work must always begin within; though it is not half as showy as when it begins without. When it begins without, the manner and tone are all regulated by a certain approved form; and the pupil appears as he progresses, nice, orderly, and devout. The Friends, as a sect, afford the best specimen of this order - they speak advisedly and act cautiously; but they are really like consumptive people, all their colour is in their cheeks, and life within is failing. No doubt the one cast in a mould, as clay is, to make a brick, is, as a rule, the acceptable one, and the one who steers easily and with commendation through the rivers of ordinary life. They are successful in smooth waters, but if they drift into the sea, and the waves arise, all their acquired dignity vanishes, like stiffening from muslin in the rain. Their order and self-government are all outside, there is no sovereign power within, whose sway has been extending to the extreme confines, and which when any incursion or trial befalls any part, even the most uncultivated and most unsubdued, sends forthwith a direct force to its support, repels the enemy, and fortifies it against future attack. I do not approve of the unprotected state of the outlying provinces, or the way they expose themselves to attack; but I say that in the end they will be better governed under a strong central power, than when they were left to militiamen making a great appearance by their exercises and accoutrements. Many of your provinces and mine have been exposed to attack, and we have had to learn to fortify them by the grace given us. Christ, the wisdom of God, and the power of God, is by His Spirit the Sovereign; but we must yield ourselves to His rule so that it may extend to the utmost confines of our whole being; and thank God it is more effectual and for His glory, than if we had been cast in some mould which every one would commend. We are not moulded, we

[Page 102]

are hammered; and every one knows that the latter even on iron is the most enduring. I am afraid of the educated mould, but this makes me the more careful that we should be truly and fully hammered into the will and manner of our Sovereign. Do not excuse the wildness, insubjection, or carelessness of any of the provinces - any of your acts or utterances, but let the controlling and modulating of them proceed from Him who rules on the throne of your heart; and do not make little of the exposures which take place in the most distant parts of your kingdom: any defects in the extreme provinces, like want of animation in the extremities of the body, always indicate feebleness of life in the heart, and medical men thus form an opinion of the state of health. The way that we do the least things really indicates to us the extent and scope of Christ's rule in our hearts. If the extreme provinces be well governed all must be in vigour. Christ must govern, and He imparts the beauty and strength of His own grace to every act; whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we do all to the glory of God. If I am occupied with the mere act, I am affected; affectation is occupation with one's own acts, and therefore with the effort to obtain approval; but if I am occupied with the Object and Lord of my heart, I do the thing to please Him, and the one most grateful to my heart because it pleases Him. May you so yield yourself in heart and purpose to Him (for it is with the humble and contrite heart He dwells), that in every little thing there may be the evidence and colour of the great central power, and therefore far superior to the artificial flower which never has any perfume.

NO PLACE FOR FLESH IN THE GOSPEL

There must be something radically wrong in the way souls have received Christ, to allow of a course, apparently devoted, which is so contrary to His mind; and

[Page 103]

I believe that a great deal of such a course can be traced to some defect in their first apprehensions of Christ - I mean as to their acceptance, and the nature of it. The one who knows that the light which, through grace, has shone in on his soul, is from the glory, and the ministration of righteousness from that sphere now, as there was under the law a ministration of death from the same sphere, must stand before God, and in the world, with very distinct impressions. He has to do with Christ - his life, in a scene which engrosses and satisfies his heart; and according as he is engaged with it (as he values it, he will be engaged with it), he is transformed "into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Now as this transformation takes place, it is evident, because it is of the Spirit, that flesh is more and more distanced and refused - and not only this, but one is made independent of the things which minister to the flesh; and so much so, that it is the dying of Jesus that one now carries about, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in the body. There cannot be this independence of the flesh and what pleases it otherwise.

Habakkuk is independent of the comforts of the flesh - what ministers to it. Stephen is able to go a step farther and to endure the greatest sufferings, as if indifferent to them; but Paul does not know whether he is in the body, or out of the body. Now everything which sanctions or in any way enlists the flesh, always feeds and promotes it; and in religious things, when there is ministering to it through the senses or the feelings, one often imagines that there has been spiritual joy or gain; but it will be found that it is not so, from the fact that one is not more independent of the things which minister to the flesh. The attempt to enlist the senses and move the feelings is, I believe, fraught with real hindrance and grief to the Spirit of God; and while it gratifies for the time, it imparts no real power, and souls are as dependent as ever on the things which

[Page 104]

minister to their old and avowedly renounced nature. Besides, it is a desperate snare of the adversary, for they are deceived by the counterfeit, and thereby miss the real thing. The real thing could not countenance the flesh in any form, for it is of the Spirit, and the flesh and the Spirit "are contrary the one to the other". Souls cannot get power over the flesh, unless they realise their new and wondrous position in Christ, entirely out of the reach of the flesh, of death, and of judgment; and in the Spirit, through faith, in a new order of existence, even association with Christ, the eternal Son of God, in a new sphere, and with new interests according to His mind.

BE FIRST WHAT YOU WOULD DO

It is quite possible for the word to reach the heart, and even to interest one very much, as the seed which fell on the rock (Luke 8), and yet for no real power to be there. The Spirit of God is careful on this subject to show the difference between receiving the word humanly and divinely. "Our glad tidings were not with you in word [or sense] only, but also in power [the power of action], and in the Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The latter was wanting to the soils Nos. 1, 2, and 3. No. 4 - the good ground - only had it. I believe one's practice is the measure of the truth one has received in the Holy Spirit. You are an exponent of that by which you are controlled, and you like to be so. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). The expression in action is the grand result - the life of Jesus manifested in the body, which is "full of light, having no part dark". It is thus that the Father is glorified. It is not only what is in my heart but what is the effect in my body. The works James compares to the spirit of the natural body (James 2:26).

We are to exhibit in our bodies the colour and beauty of the truth committed to us. The act indicates the

[Page 105]

power. The external in everything indicates the internal. Let a man ape as much as he likes, or study to represent himself in a light not genuine, only give him time, and he is sure to betray himself. The effort to express any quality in action, is of itself indicative that the quality does not exist. The quality ought to be expressed, but it cannot be expressed unless possessed, and the attempt at expression without possession is affectation; it is an effort to exhibit a right thing without the power.

Hence we should seek not so much to do, as to be. You may remark in your prayers whether you are praying to be, or praying to do. You may say, 'But it is right to do.' I admit it; but the question is, How do I get strength to do? I reply, By first being. As I depend on Christ, as I draw from Him, as I feed on Him, I am enabled to act Him. It is a great thing to do, but I cannot do until I am first qualified. A child attempts to be a man, and the desire is right; but he must go through many an exercise and many a lesson, before he can act as a man. The effect of over-education in the present day, both in the church and in the world, is to lead the young into the idea that they are qualified to do anything that their seniors do, and it is simply burlesque. I do not at all want to weaken the desire to do. The "friends" of Christ do (John 15:14); but I say, if I am only seeking to do, I am occupied with my doings; and I am like a tree over-weighted with leaves and wood, and no fruit. If Christ is living in me, I cannot but express Him; but I am making no effort to do so. The deeper anything is in our hearts, the less we care to let others see it, but because of its depth and power it tells of itself, as it is said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:24). I believe, if I am studying to be true to what I am as of Christ, I shall do with ease and cheerfulness what is pleasing to Him, without any of the effort which the one trying to do constantly evinces. Every one can see what is natural and easy to a person and what is not; and we all know

[Page 106]

that that which is done with ease is generally done with skill. This is a doing day in one sense; that is, there is a great deal of activity towards others, but there is very little of the life of Jesus manifested in the body, which is an action that expresses Him with regard to every one, as He walked here; and it imparts a colour and a tone to every duty and occupation of life.

THE EFFECT OF BEHOLDING THE GLORY

What is the practical effect of looking on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face? We must bear in mind that the apostle is here (2 Corinthians 3) contrasting the difference between the ministration of death and the ministration of righteousness. The glory in the former necessarily consumed, because it only appeared with a claim on man, who is unable to meet it. Righteousness not being established, the glory could not freely express itself, though Moses in his face bore marks of its transforming power. On account of man's condition, it was fearful on Mount Sinai in its bearing on man, unrighteous as he was, yet no one could be in it without partaking of its moral supremacy, and therefore Moses' face bore distinct traces of its blessed power. Israel refused even to gaze on the effects of it on Moses' face. Man naturally shrinks, when seeking to maintain his own righteousness, from admiration or due appreciation of the transforming power of God; and therefore Israel, in asking Moses to put a veil on his face, only declared the moral distance of their hearts from God, and therefore the veil is transferred to their hearts. But now, says the apostle, there is a wonderful contrast. It is now the ministration of righteousness from the glory of God, for it was so announced in Luke 2. The Son of God is come to establish righteousness from the same glory, from which had come only the demand or claim of it; and, therefore, if the glory had the power to produce such effects on the face of Moses, when man

[Page 107]

in his then condition could not look at it, how much more now, when it is a ministration of righteousness? And hence the apostle declares that we use much boldness; and looking on the Lord, with unveiled face, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory. It effects a moral transformation into its own likeness. Humbling as it is to admit it, I believe any association with that which is morally superior to us must have this effect on us more or less. If we descend to inferior associations, we deprave our better tendencies; but if we are occupied with moral superiority, we always adopt; it is not that we improve, but according to the superiority with which we associate, we adopt a new manner of acting, instead of only improving an existing one; and as the way of God is unique and morally supreme, we, as we are conversant with it, adopt its characteristics an qualities, so that we are really in the process of transformation, and not of mere improvement, because it is new, and hitherto quite unknown to us.

Now the traces of this moral transformation which takes place when we are looking on the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, may be easily noticed. How differently does it make us regard the same things, so that when we feel them most, we are often, through this wondrous power, most above them in spirit. The contrast in the way in which we estimate circumstances when in the glory in spirit, and when out of it, is even greater than the contrast which we find in the mind of the psalmist (Psalm 73), when outside the sanctuary (verses 1 - 16), and when inside it (verses 17 - 28). The same painful question occupied him in both cases, but his feeling and judgment were different in each. But the light of the glory and Jesus in it, so transformed Stephen that he was practically superior to the deadly violence spent upon him, though certainly deeply affected for those who perpetrated it; for one trace of the moral effect of the glory is a greater sensitiveness to evil,

[Page 108]

while there is a marked and sensible elevation above it.

It is, alas! but slowly that souls enter into the counsel of God in His grace to us, or see that it is a manifestation of His own heart in the person of His only-begotten Son from the centre of the glory; that the grace which has reached us has its origin in the glory - belongs to it, so to speak. When I understand its origin, I must understand its destination, or rather its association; and when I find myself in this association, through the grace of God, thus manifested to me, I am looking on the glory of the Lord. Seeing Christ in glory made Paul blind as man, but he never lost the remembrance of it in his soul, and therefore he called it the "mark" toward which he pressed throughout his whole course.

May we be practically more like Him, our eye full of the glory of the Lord, and He ever before us, supplying to us power over our difficulties, and our hearts abounding in praise to Him who has blessed us with such a rich salvation.

AS I ABHOR MYSELF BEFORE GOD, I CONFIDE IN HIM

It is a great thing to be able to rest in unquestioning assurance on the love of God, when all the surroundings are against us. This was Job's trial. When prosperity and health are bestowed, it is easy to recognise the hand of God, and to mark His favour, taking the present mercies as so many proofs of His love and care. That was Job's state at the first. But a sad reverse came. His prosperity was gone, and his health was very grievously impaired. Was God changed because there were no proofs - no indications of His love? Could God change? If He had loved Job in prosperity; surely He did not change in adversity. Why then this great reverse? Simply because of the love that God bore him, and His desire that he might learn two things which are learnt at one and the same time. One is,

[Page 109]

that when we get near God we find out, like Job, that instead of deserving favours, we abhor ourselves. If I abhor myself, I could not expect favour for what I abhor; but at the same moment that I abhor myself, I have a deeper and fuller sense that I may depend on God. What a blessed state my soul gets into from this two-fold lesson! I abhor myself, but I depend on God; for I cannot depend on myself. Self is turned from, as abhorrent, and God fills my heart as the only One to rest in. Hence when Job prayed (prayer is active dependence), God turned his captivity. It is a moment par excellence when I denounce myself as no longer tolerable. The bondwoman and her son must be cast out; but at the same time I find, like Peter, one whom I can rest in, and I shelter myself in the folds of His eternal perfection. The troubler (self) is gone, and the Son of the Father is the ark of my soul and the home of my heart. Every trial is only to lead our souls to this happy consummation - even to be done with self in one's own judgment before God, but at the same time to be deepened in confidence in God. In fact, the one cannot be without the other. I have to learn that I am not suited in the best of my nature for God. Job was the model of amiability, and amiable people often get the most breaking down, to teach them that before God they are abhorrent, but when I see myself thus, in the same light in which I see it, I see the One who is perfect, who causes the contrast; and in Him I rest, and confide, and glory. May this indeed be richly your experience.

SUNRISE AND SUNSET, THE ETERNAL AND THE TEMPORAL

Another year opens on us. The past has been one of abundant mercy, as is proved by the one fact that the Lord is increasingly precious to us. He is the Sun of the one eternal day, and the more He is before the heart, the better and the more easily do we accept the falling

[Page 110]

shadows on man's life here. He is before us as the Sun rising. On His side, every joy and every tie is abiding and perennial; on our side it is a sunset, everything is gradually yielding up its vigour and beauty, though as the rising sun engages our hearts, the ignis fatuus of our sunset is eclipsed.

It is an unequalled moment to our souls when the Lord Jesus, the Sun of the never-ending day, is the light of our hearts, and the set-off for the evening shades of our own life. The circle of His radiancy, in its diameter, reaches down to the utmost line of our fading life, and up to the excellent glory; so that, once within this circle, there is darkness nowhere; death is abolished. We are then Simeons (see Luke 2); the sun of nature going down, holding as it were in our feeble arms of failing strength the Lord Jesus; our eye fixed on Him, and connecting the great future with Him, we let the past, with all its chequered hopes and sorrows, glide away. "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace ... for mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (Luke 2:29,30). When the eye is diverted from the rising sun it is beset by either the hopes or the fears of the setting one. But when it is steadily and immovably fixed on Jesus, like Stephen, when he looked up into heaven, then the halo around Him embraces us - includes us in its blessed circle, and distances the darkness or the sparks of our own kindling, on our own side. We come up to Jordan to see the ark of the covenant where the waters of death were, and practically to find that there is nothing between us and the heavenly land. The eye must be turned to the east and not to the west. I mean that when the eye turns to what is sinking below the horizon, there is either fear, or an attempt to retain the retiring light; but when it is simply and continuously set on the Lord, the light of His presence is above the brightness of the sun (all created life and power); and we know that we have it because we are blind to things here because of the glory of that light.

[Page 111]

Everything depends on the way the eye is turned. There are the two lights - the fading or closing one, and the opening or eternal one. When the eye turns to the former, the varied distortions which haunt the twilight are conjured up before the mind; but when it is fixed on the latter, the encircling wave of light encloses us, and we see in beautiful outline the eternal realities. The sunflower has but one sun, and to this it turns all day long, with an expanding heart: the sun has always a message for it, a ray to strengthen, to cheer, and to beautify; and thus as your eye is consciously set on Christ, so will you not only know that the efforts or the pretensions of man are eclipsed, but that every moment there is a message from Him to your heart by the Holy Spirit, conveying to you the love and thought of His heart about you. You are not only in the presence chamber, where all is light and perfection, but the greater than Joseph assures your heart that you are His Benjamin.

May each of us enter on the new year as real sunflowers and with the eye of the heart unfolded to Christ, and receiving from Him the gentle, exquisite, and invigorating influence of His own presence. There must be jealousy of heart that the eye turn not to any rival, for then we commit two evils; we forsake Him the fountain of living waters, and hew out to ourselves cisterns which hold no water. Let our motto for the year be "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1).

THE DIFFERENCE OF BEING A GUEST WITH CHRIST AND BEING UNITED TO HIM

What is the difference between one in the company of Christ and one who is united to Him? It is evident that the latter includes the former; but the former, as we see even in the case of John leaning on the bosom

[Page 112]

of Jesus, does not include the latter. If I sit under His shadow, I have great delight, and His fruit is sweet to my taste while I am there; but if this scene changes, I have no certain link with the happy scene which I have left. The sense of past enjoyment is not a link, it may be assured to me by the word, but I require to be there again in order to be conscious of my right to be there. Now if I am united to Christ I am secured in everything that I have enjoyed, whether I am in the scene of enjoyment or not. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17). The sense of being united to Him by the Spirit comforts and sustains my heart in a much greater way than the double portion of Elijah's spirit and his mantle cheered and helped Elisha when a lonely one in the wilderness.

No nearness of company could acquaint me with the wondrous unfoldings of the Spirit to me when I am in conscious union with Christ. How could any mere guest comprehend that word, "At that day ye shall know [be conscious] that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you"? (John 14:20). No experience could surpass this; and it can, through the Spirit by whom it is made known, exist in any scene. No one without a divine nature could appreciate the perfectness of Christ, or enjoy His company, but it is evident that the enjoyment cannot be but where He is who affords it; and hence, however capable I may be of enjoying it, if I am not in the scene where He is, there can be no enjoyment; whereas, if I am united to Him by the Spirit, I am conscious of being in Him and He in me; and therefore, though not in the scene of enjoyment actually, yet I possess the One who makes the scene so enjoyable. I am not only a guest, but I am owner in Christ. A guest necessarily only enjoys while he is a guest. The owner is owner wherever he is.

The order as it appears to me is, first, a guest, and this we see (Revelation 3) is of a twofold character. Christ sups with me, enters into my circumstances, as He

[Page 113]

says to Zacchaeus, "Make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house" (Luke 19:5). He first meets us in every variety of circumstance on our side, and next, we sup with Him. We pass into the circle of His things. We are emphatically His guests. We are conscious of untold benefits in His company. But the next thing is, and it is an immense advance, that we are united to Him; and the more we have gained by and appreciated His company, the more do we comprehend the vastness of the favour of union with Him; and it is consequent on union, abiding in Him, that we are disciples, and bring forth much fruit. The power of the absent Elijah is with Elisha though he be a lonely one down here. It is not that Elisha has been only a favoured guest, he has received of his spirit and the mantle that fell upon him, and he returns to the scene where Elijah is not, in all his power; fruitful and vigorous though the one who connects him with all the glory of God is no longer here. Thus the heir and owner possesses all that the guest enjoys, and he loses not the sense of possession, though he is not in the place of possession; but because he is in the spirit of the owner, he acts in the power and character of the owner, where his title is either unacknowledged or refused. There may be bright seasons of enjoyment to the guest, but there is no enjoyment when he is not a guest, if he be not consciously united to Christ, the source and owner of all, neither can there be true service as a disciple and friend to Him down here, where He is disowned and refused.

STANDING AND STATE

There is a phraseology now, such as 'being occupied with Christ', and expressions of that kind, which propose to give Him full prominence, but which are denied in practice. It is deemed only orthodox now to speak so, but I feel we must insist that the external should

[Page 114]

bear the marks of the internal; and that others should be able to judge of the occupation of the heart from the expression or fashion in which we appear. The truths of Scripture are received and treated too much as information. The mind sees and enjoys them as something incomparably fine and beautiful, but there is lacking the sense that every fresh ray of light is really lost or useless unless it makes its way through the pitcher; that is, unless the vessel is so controlled and coloured by it, that there is manifestly more likeness to Christ, and increasing growing up unto the measure of the stature of His fulness.

There must be standing to produce state, but if the state which is suited to the standing be not preserved, Satan's great aim is attained - even to prove the nullity of the truth of God, and that there can be the admission and profession of standing, without anything characteristic of it. Satan cares not what truth a man holds, provided he retains the character and principles of the world, and this really does more damage than ignorance of standing. The misfortune with many is, being content with a success at their first start, and being so elated by it that they are not set on going forward.

In this day of knowledge souls readily accept the standing, and think too little of the state which must accompany the standing. To counteract this tendency there must be prayer, and beginning at home with oneself. "Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt" (Mark 9:49).

Although Jacob had reached the right standing in the land (Genesis 32), yet he must go through a night of wrestling, he must be subdued before God, crippled and powerless, and then, at his wit's end, he exclaims, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Genesis 32: 26). There must be this struggle with God, this breaking down of one's own will and strength, in the presence of God, before there is simple dependence on Him, or confidence. The more thoroughly I am shattered, and made

[Page 115]

nothing before Him, the more confidence have I in Him that He must and will bless me. Here it is that the soul learns the state which suits the standing; but many a one who has accepted the standing is almost confounded when he is brought into the night of wrestling. This night is to introduce you into a new day, with a new name - Christ's day really, and Christ's name. It is quite right to see and to accept the standing in which God in His grace sets us; but the higher your standing, the higher your state must be, and the more you must be broken down to enter on, or be suited for your standing. I have no doubt the night of wrestling takes many a one by surprise; they have rested more on the truth of their standing, than on Him who sets us there, and is making us like Himself, because we are there. Hence, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts", is the prayer (Ephesians 3:17) when we have been set in Him in heaven (Ephesians 1). If I have learnt in the dreary night of wrestling that God can break me down, and that my confidence is in Him, who answers by assuring my heart of the name and power of Christ, I am in a new name, and a new power; I must not only see the standing, but I must come near to the One who sets me there. The danger with us is resting short of increased nearness to Christ, because of the high standing which, through Him, we are set in, and which we see. In the night of wrestling my flesh is broken down, and my confidence in Him is so answered that I enter on a new day with a new name - Christ. I have no doubt that many are disappointed that after hearing with delight, and receiving their standing as the truth of God, they are not more affected by it. The reason of this is, that they rest too much in the standing, and have not gathered the first-fruits, and put them into a basket, that they have not acquainted themselves more with Christ, have not drawn nearer to Him, and recognised Him as the only One to keep them in it. There is a felt want, with the acceptance of the truth, because

[Page 116]

the soul is not nearer to Christ, for if it were, it would have found that no flesh could glory there; and there it would have acquired a fresh vigour from Himself, adequate to sustain one in the near standing which had been revealed. The open firmament is the standing of a bird; but what use would be that standing if it had not wings? But wings must grow. The prodigal son is not told to come to the feast until he had the new clothes on, he not only hears of the standing, but he is given a state to suit it. The kiss does not give him a state it tells him of the Father's heart, but he replies, "I ... am no more worthy". He is near enough to feel this, and then it is that he receives his new clothes, fit for his Father's presence, which is the very highest standing, and higher than he had prescribed for himself. What is the good of a man being ennobled, made a prince of, if he feels he has gained no moral or sensible acquisition by it? This is the disappointment which souls feel without being able to account for it, and they are subjected to nights of wrestling, because they have rested in their grand titles, instead of in the means of supporting their titles, which is dependence on, and ever deepening acquaintance with, the One who has conferred them.

DEVOTEDNESS IS NOT EXPLOIT

It is a very blessed thing when the heart can be without distraction, caring "for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:32); the one occupation and the one motive then comprise his life, caring for the things of the Lord, and this that he may please the Lord. The heart is devoted to Him without any distraction, nothing even lawfully claiming one's time or diverting one's thoughts from Him, caring only for the things of the Lord, having no other things to interest one, but devoted to them, because they are His - and all to please Him. The shepherd's dog will lay himself down beside the coat of his master, and remain

[Page 117]

there for hours; he will endure cold and hunger, but leave the coat he will not, till he to whom it belongs returns to claim it. He cares for his master's things, and all his thought is to please his master. It may not appear to be much, but the fact that it is his master's is quite enough. It is not a question whether it is the most useful service. If a hare or a deer passed by, the faithful dog would not leave the coat. No thought of how much better it would be to the master to have a hare or a deer can divert the dog from his charge. The hare or the deer may pass by within his grasp, but he will not desert the coat, he clings to that which is his master's in his absence. This is what is so much wanted in this day. There is not that simple devotedness of heart which cares for the things of the Lord because they are His, and with the full sense that they are His, as the dog knows his master's coat. Nothing could persuade the dog that the coat was not his master's, and be it a good one or the reverse, the one charm of it is that it is his master's, and all his other feelings and interests are in abeyance to his caring for it. Many an earnest one now is looking more for a hare or deer; that is, to do some great exploit, something that one thinks must draw forth the commendation of the Lord, than that interest of heart only known to him who possesses it; which leads one to know what is really His, and, because His, to endure everything in order to tend or care for it. The dog knows his master's coat by scent. The devoted man knows the things of the Lord by intimacy with Him. Intimate affection always knows what belongs, what is peculiar to the loved one and it cares for it to please Him. The more suffering in the case, the more the heart enjoys the motive which makes it care; and hence it is not that it cares where there is no suffering, but it is more bent on the care as the suffering increases. For example, the dog in shelter or on a bright day would not be as conscious of the devotion that was in him to his master

[Page 118]

as he would be on a dark wintry night when the robber might attempt to steal away his charge. How finely in the latter case does his devotion to his master come out! Just so, the heart that knows Christ's things and has been entrusted with any part of them as a charge from Himself, enjoys itself in its devotion as the suffering in caring for it increases. It is told of a traveller in a great desert, exhausted from want of water, and at length having reached it, he supplied the company before himself, though he was the first to come up to it. This is the devotedness to Christ's things that becomes us, enduring loss and privation ourselves in order that we may save others; not seeking to distinguish ourselves, or to obtain a reputation for our services as a known one. Women are especially favoured in having this service, they can visit and tend in a way men cannot. To our Lord they ministered, like Abigail to David when Nabal would not. It is, the more one thinks of it, an incomparable service, that the Lord's things should be one's care here; things one has learnt in intimacy with Himself, that they are His and that He would have us to care for them; and we do so heartily, because it will please Him.

You will remark that it is the one thus thoroughly devoted to Christ who always has an ear for the greatest and highest thing you can tell him of Christ. The taste is for everything of Christ, that is ruling taste (passion if you like). The ambitious man could not get too much power; the covetous man could not get too much money; the spiritual man could not hear anything too great or too high of his place with Christ. The more thoroughly devoted I am to Him here, suffering for Him, despised and unknown, in my increasing care for His things, the more does my heart rejoice in the height and perfection which belong to me in Him outside this scene. The one who is pre-occupied with any kind of religious distinction here is proportionately indifferent to the heights of perfection in the coming kingdom; but the

[Page 119]

one who is mole-like, toiling on here with the one single cheer, even to care for the Master's things in order to please Him, always turns to the future, and knows truly that Christ in him is the hope of glory. Be devoted, and do not offer to the Lord that which costs you nothing.

THE THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF DEVOTEDNESS IN A WOMAN

The character of Anna the prophetess is a very interesting and instructive one. She has the three marks of a devoted woman. She departed not from the temple; she adhered with devoted affection to the circle of God's interests on earth; she clung to it with unswerving zeal. If this mark be not first or chief, no subsequent zeal or labour can conduce to the purpose of God at the time, but is at best zeal without knowledge; for it is expended in maintaining something which is not the purpose of God, or the sphere of His action. If I am working outside the divine sphere I may be laborious enough like Peter going a fishing, but I am really doing nothing to subserve the interests of Christ; and all my labour is in vain. I am not redeeming the time, I am expending my strength for that which does not profit. I cannot be in the divine sphere without the power of God, and everything, even the least which is done therein, is of God and well-pleasing to Him. The effort of the enemy, through the flesh, which is not subject to God, would always lead us outside this sphere; and though the toil or personal suffering may be greater, yet it is a serving of self. The first thing then with Anna was that she departed not from the temple, and thus it is with every prophet or prophetess now; there must be no departing from the sacred precincts of the present circle of God's interests. The second characteristic is, she served night and day (in darkness and brightness) with fastings and prayers; there was self-abnegation,

[Page 120]

and dependence on God. These two must always go together morally. Dependence, without self-denial, is only turning to God for your own benefit. The one who is really dependent on God is the greatest faster with regard to the flesh; for the latter is at enmity to God, and if I am dependent on God, and independent of myself, then Satan has no ground of attack. This characteristic describes the state of soul of one who is faithfully abiding within the holy ground, in which is the testimony of God. The third characteristic is double-sided; one side is toward God and the other toward the people of God. She gave praise unto the Lord, and spoke of Him to all that looked for redemption in Israel. This is the active service, so to speak; and it follows, is consequent on the former. The more the heart is filled with praise to the Lord, the more is there an increased interest for His people. What valuable laborious service did this pious woman perform! What interesting occupation she had! no unseemly notoriety, no unwomanly publicity, but here and there as she found any who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, to them she spake of Him for whom they looked. Her service was like fresh light and air visiting the inhabitants of a prison, not thinking of itself, but imparting comfort while offering its services. Surely Annas are much wanted in this day. The service inside when true, leads to the service outside, and each is in its own order; that is the external service is characterised by the internal service of the heart. I am sure that a woman, an Anna, receives a very different thing in the presence of the Lord in her soul, from a Paul or a Timothy. The inside gift must determine the nature and order of the outside duty or service. The male and female birds, though brought up in the same nest, have very diverse duties when they have to serve and tend the younger ones. The principle is simple: as I receive so do I impart; and if you really receive the living water, it will flow out as the Lord may order.

[Page 121]

The more thorough the heart is, the more it looks for and values what is highest, even though it may be far from it.

THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LIFE OF JESUS IN OUR BODY

I have been thinking of the difference between the new birth and the manifestation of the life of Jesus in the body. I think the tendency is to satisfy the conscience with the fact of new birth, without being set on the manifestation of the life of Jesus in the body. The new man is the jewel and the body the casket, but the purpose of the apostle was, that the casket should bear on its surface the beauties of the jewel - of the treasure. I feel people often rest satisfied or rather try to borrow satisfaction from the known and assured fact of possessing the diamond, and the mere fact of possession is their comfort, and they enjoy a meeting, or waiting on the Lord, according to the amount of brilliancy in which it shines, that is, the joyful consciousness of their possession. Now if this be the habit and the conscience has been taught to submit, then there will be indifference to the external manifestation of the treasure. The pleasures of the flesh and of the mind will get a place without offence to the conscience. It is from this that the saying has arisen, 'Religion is a thing within, you must not parade it'. How many who would not go to the extent of these statements yet really give way to the practice which results from it.

It ought not to satisfy my conscience that I am the Lord's, however true and happy I may be in my relationship through grace; but that if I am dead in His cross, I am now to be bodily the exemplification of the life which He lived on earth. Everything in the mind and in the flesh is to be suppressed according to His will. This is sanctification. Every bud and leaf of the crab tree is to be rubbed off, not suffered to grow, though

[Page 122]

they may be very like those of the apple tree. So that the question is, not whether they are good or bad, but whether they are of the crab tree or of the apple tree. I am to make no excuse for myself because of temperament, or education, or position; because the more there is to be overcome, the greater the vigour of life in overcoming it, and hence the greater gain. The greatest victory has the greatest prize. I believe the reason why the saint does not feel the incongruity between his own words and thoughts and habits, and Christ's, is that he has not been enough with Him to see the difference. We see in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 that there is the beholding Him first, before there is the carrying about the dying of Him. As I see Him in glory, I am transformed into the same image. It is not a mere quality I imbibe, but it is a personal state, life in its development in Christ in glory. It is not merely that I possess the diamond, but I am invested with a "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). I cannot suffer the old man to continue unrebuked and uncrucified as I am consciously invested with the moral tastes of the new man, and then it is that I carry about in my body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in the body. There is a sense within of the nature of the leaf that ought to be visible, and there is no true answer to the inner existence, unless there be a conformation in sentiment and manner answering to it, and it is wounded if there be not this practical answer.

The gardener is not satisfied without a certain colour in the flower; and the rarer it is, the more careful is he that the true tints should be expressed; and if they are not, he does not say that there is no life in the flower, but it has not the sun suitably to extract the proper tints.

Thus two things are necessary; first I must know the true tints, and these I can only know by seeing them in their perfection in Christ. There is no use

[Page 123]

in a country gardener trying for the tints of a flower which he has never seen in blossom, which is the case if they be rare tints. A common gardener is satisfied with any that are new and pleasing; but their being new or pleasing does not make them like the original. Well then the gardener must know the original first. You must know Christ in His moral beauty before you can know the tints and touches of Him which you would manifest in your body. And the next thing is that you cannot put up with anything inferior to the original. The cherubim were wrought in needlework on the veil: Christ in the most minute way set forth the attributes of God. Let us not say, 'This is the flower which is natural to this corner of the garden, this is my habit, it is natural to me to say and think and do after this and that fashion'. But now my garden is to bear the rarest flowers. I have seen the originals, I have buds and slips of each of them planted in me, and now I cannot suffer any of the old habits and tastes, even be they flowers, or make any excuse for them if they appear, any more than a gardener would suffer a nettle to grow beside a tulip. It is not only that the Master will be dissatisfied, but one who is in His mind could not endure to see weeds where the beautiful flowers of self-control and patience and forbearance should grow. One must be much impressed within with the perfect original, in order to be duly and heartily repugnant to everything that is not in keeping with the perfections of Christ. As our joy and delight in the original increase, there will be in each of us more bearing about of the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body; and thus the casket will answer to the diamond.

[Page 124]

NO REAL STRENGTH OR JOY FROM SERVICE EXCEPT IN THE LORD'S PRESENCE

How does the vine flourish? Neither wine nor oil can be obtained but through a process of bruising or beating. The finest fruit will not yield wine or oil without this severe process, though many a one, knowing that oil comes from olive berries, and wine from grapes, may think that he has both oil and wine because he has the fruits from which they are obtained. It is quite true that neither oil nor wine could be obtained without the olive fruit and the vine fruit, but after the fruit is gathered there is need of great skill to make it into oil or wine, and not only skill, but patience and attention. Fruit is the result of life, the outward expression of it, but the best acts in themselves will not make the face to shine as oil only does, nor will they gladden the heart as wine does. The acts cannot be done without grace, any more than grapes can grow without health and vigour in the vine; but as grapes are subjected to pressure, after being fully ripe, in order to produce wine, so the best acts - the fruits of grace - must be judged and sifted in the sanctuary, before there is real gladness of heart. Saints often expect the gladness to come from the work. The work is in the field. There Ruth gleaned, but it was at Naomi's home that she really enjoyed the fruit of her toil. It was all handed up to Naomi, and her acceptance of it was the cheer to Ruth. If she was pleased with her gleaning, as doubtless she might be, she was pleased with the grapes, and not the wine. The wine is not found until, as I may say, the grapes have been bruised into my Lord's cup. Grapes, that is acts, please while we are occupied with them, but they do not gladden the heart; they have nothing of the power of wine - of the joy the heart has while subjecting all its works and ways to Christ, and sharing in that which He extracts.

There is great difference between the kind of pleasure

[Page 125]

one has in doing things for the Lord, and the enjoyment the same one may have with Him consequent on, or subsequent to, the doing of the work. Many are satisfied with the grapes, and hence know little of the wine. There is more of grapes than of wine, and you can never store grapes unless you dry them, but you can store wine. Thus it is that one may account for the difference one often sees in workers while they are working, and when their work is over; while working there is a suavity about them, they are fragrant with grapes, and find themselves to be beautiful vines; but in private, in the desert, there is no wine. The vintage is over, and there has been no storing, no filling of the cellars with the joys which are made known after labour in His presence, and they are dull or barren till the grapes come again; whereas the great cheer is, or ought to be, in the wine which is extracted from the grapes. I do not disparage work. It is plain that if there are no grapes there can be no wine, but I fear often there are grapes without wine. The work is the grapes, but the real strength and joy of the heart as to it, is in the wine extracted from it when I get before the Lord, and see all that is of grace separated from the husk and pulp of nature; then I rejoice in that in which He shares. I have communion with Him about His own interests, and am gladdened by the wine of His own joy, and not merely by the grapes. I am like the bee that goes forth to gather the honey, but never eats it except in the hive; and to the bee there is no place like the hive. I wish there was more work, but I very much wish there was more real enjoyment in the Lord in connection with His interests here on earth. Work should be regarded less with reference to its immediate results, or as to how it may affect this or that person; the great question is will it, when sifted in His presence, be acceptable to Him, and this acceptability to Him is my reward: "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him" (2 Corinthians 5:9). One does not enough go

[Page 126]

forth to work in the joy and strength of one who comes out from his home to run his course. Many seem to droop because there are no grapes and are not happy unless they are doing. Doing is right enough in itself, but the order ought to be from happiness to work, and not to work for happiness. It is from the inner circle, the hive, the heart where Christ reigns, the only green spot, the fond enclosure - the sanctuary, that one should come forth to work like a giant refreshed with wine. I should not like to stop working because I had not great enjoyment in the Lord: but the quality of one's service depends on the nature of one's rest - and that rest should be like His own, known and enjoyed with Him. I think that we have but small ideas of how our outward bears the colour of our inward, and if our inward is not restful, there cannot be a rest-imparting service, however it may be attempted. If I do not make wine, I can have no wine for others. He that makes wine first tastes of it himself.

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?

Why are you set where you are, and why has the Lord told you so much of His mind? Wherefore and for what reason? He has made nothing in vain. The sand on the sea shore is there by His ordering, and it fulfils His decree - Do you? Why has He called you out, and having done so, why has He fixed your habitation at ----, and for what purpose? Is a star set in the firmament to be only a creation there, and has it no mission? Have you no mission which you could not have executed without the grace of God? You might have been a most dutiful child, a most loving sister, without grace. The young ruler (Mark 10) kept all the commandments referring simply to man, and the Lord loved him, but he had not the grace in his soul to prefer Christ to everything on earth. Now did grace, when he received it, confer no higher mission on him

[Page 127]

than the one he had fulfilled so well before he received it? What I want you to ask yourself is, Why the Lord, having brought you to Himself, appoints you to be where you are? And what does He expect you to do now more than a good unconverted girl would have done?

Are you a member of Christ in the very scene and premises from which He has been expelled, without any mission or calling entirely distinct and superior to anything which one in nature could discharge? If a tuber were brought from the tropics, and after much care in planting, it had grown up and was found to be only a potato, what would every one say? Would it not be said, 'We have plenty of that vegetable here already, there was no need to go so far and expend so much time and trouble in rearing a plant which already we can bring to quite as great perfection in this country without incurring so much expense and toil?' Can it be said of you by the angels that you would have been quite as good a daughter or a sister without grace? and that they do not see on you the coat of many colours, the manifold wisdom of God - that is, that the heavenly colours of divine light do not supersede the dingy hue of natural amiability?

I really could not tell you what you ought to do, but I know that a star shines, and I know an exotic is quite different from the indigenous plants of the country, and that if it is not, the owner is greatly disappointed. I believe you have a very serious and responsible position. You are the only one in the sphere in which you move, to whom the Lord has shewn His mind, and what is the path for Him here. Surely if there were a firmament in which there was but one star, that one star would be under a great responsibility to the Creator to fulfil its mission in the sphere which it was appointed to enlighten.

[Page 128]

EVER IN ARMOUR

In our course here the armour must never be laid aside. The point in which we have most excelled or triumphed through grace, is the one where we may fail many years after. David began by slaying the Philistine giant; but when he was king and fought against the Philistines, "David waxed faint. And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant ... being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David" (2 Samuel 21:15, 16). The Meribah at the beginning of Moses' history is very different from the Meribah at the end of it. I think Satan is set on casting us down in the point or deed where we have most triumphed through grace; so that if you know anything in particular, where the Lord has given you power to act for Him in victory over your own nature, there you may look for a continual assault from Satan, in order to undo and counteract what the grace of God has enabled you to do to His praise. Satan never forgets a defeat, and his vengeance is not directed against us so much in general, as with regard to the particular occasions in which he has been defeated.

As a rule God humbles us either in our health, or in our circumstances, before He exalts us; at least before honour is humility, and this casts us on Him, and prepares us for the favour which He confers; for if not, there will be a defeat immediately after a success. If Satan has been foiled in one instance, he spoils what he cannot prevent, unless one is sensibly humbled after the victory itself. This was why there was need of the thorn in the flesh to Paul. Jacob was crippled before the blessing, Paul after it. The before prepares me for it, the after saves me from malice of Satan. The greater the victory any one has had, the more he needs to be dependent on God to save him from Satan; because Satan is more set against him, and in the particular point where he has been defeated, than against another.

[Page 129]

Satan is more against Job than other men at the time, and Job's success only exasperated him the more. To make him fail where he had succeeded was the great effort of Satan. I feel this constantly myself, and the assault comes round just as winter comes, and the soul like a tender plant is tried again and again. A dozen winters are not sufficient to test the power of endurance in the plant, but year after year the chilling cold sets in, and the question arises, Will it die or survive? These are the exercises we have to go through; and through mercy the finest summer succeeds the bitterest winter, though it is also true the coldest winter succeeds the hottest summer.

You may be like David - a king in comparison to what you were in other days, I mean as to progress and power in truth, and yet like him be in danger of being slain by the giant; or, like Moses, you may be more in the sight of the land than at the beginning of your course and get debarred by failure from entering in; for neither height nor light secures us against the malice of Satan, who seeks to cast us down from our excellency.

SUFFERING IN THE FLESH AND SUFFERING FOR CHRIST

I am sure, and the assurance is helpful, that the way of power and usefulness in the present time is, going out individually to meet the Lord. It is the trimming of the lamps which tests power, and which exposes hollow profession.

Our position is very much like that of the faithful ones in Babylon in a former day; they were in complete separation from all around, but with communications from above; they were wiser than all their enemies, but did not eat of their dainties. There is great moral elevation in this course - refusing the king's meat - the best things here, abnegation on the human side

[Page 130]

in the severest way, but receiving from God the highest and the best; and still further, suffering unto death, in order to maintain the honour and glory of God. The first is the preparation for the second; we have to suffer first in denying ourselves; we are in ourselves to suffer in the flesh, as Peter puts it, before we are able or prepared to suffer for Christ. Then it is, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you" (1 Peter 4:14). I remark, though I do not entirely commend it, that those who began by taking the veil as it were, that is, by ascetic separation from the world, eventually became, when in full liberty, the happiest and most devoted saints. I am sure Paul's way, utter blindness to all things here by the power of the glory, is the better way; the heart so captivated, like the queen of Sheba, that there is no more spirit in her; but this, as far as I know, is a very uncommon way. I believe the general way, and a very solid way, is a painful dissatisfaction with everything apart from Christ and a retiring from everything in order to get more of Him. There is often, I admit, too much expected from the surrender, but as the heart reaches Him (and He knows, blessed be His name, the desire working there), the surrender loses its consequence or importance, and though it is insisted on, it is not prominently before the mind, because the Lord Himself is more than a compensation. I believe the Lord tests our love. "Lovest thou me?" is the experience of the soul at some time or other; and again, like David, He provokes our love, by longing for the water of the well of Bethlehem.

There must be first the personal love which denies oneself; in other words, suffering from oneself, before there is the active love, which can endure suffering from others. Ruth surrenders everything for Naomi personally before she gleans in the field to minister to her. My love for the Lord makes its mark first on myself, and my heart likes to have it so, and then

[Page 131]

everything I have to do with must bear the mark of what has so truly marked me. I influence and reduce everything into the line into which I am directed myself. I am a tree of a particular quality; that quality is personal love to my Lord, and now I make all the elements - air, light, earth and water - co-operate with me in expressing and developing this quality. What a beautiful tree!

May you allow nothing to hinder the growth of this tree of life, for sure I am that nothing short of it will meet the desire of your heart. Sometimes a tree seems to be hindered from the situation in which it is placed; but its vitality is proved as well as tested by the rough breezes and cold shade to which it is exposed.

TRUTH HAS NO POWER UNLESS I SUBMIT TO ITS DEMANDS

The truth may be truly received, but it has no power over us unless we connect it with God and in faith are cast on Him about it. That is, it cannot be carried out without God. We may receive it most surely, and yet not be able to carry it out, because we are not cast on God respecting it. Now, the evidence that you are cast on God is that you fast. As you depend on God, you abnegate self. If you turn to human power you need not fast; if you turn to God you must fast. I feel that this is the reason there is so little practical expression of the truth; the need of grace with the knowledge of truth is not felt. The knowledge of the truth is rightly valued and prized, but there is all the more need of grace to remove and set aside what hinders its expression; otherwise you are a candle under a bed, or under a bushel; and if God goes on giving you truth, and there be an acceptance of it, without a corresponding breaking down of that which would obscure its light and hinder its power as the bed or the bushel, then He will in some very marked way break up the bed or remove the

[Page 132]

bushel Himself. If you take up your cross daily you will be able to accept death easily.

What I fear is the ready acceptance of truth without the sense of how much that truth will demand, and that the flesh must be surrendered if I am to be an impersonation of that truth. The beauty of the truth, the sweetness of it, is that which is thought of, and not the demand it will make on me naturally, the amount of displacement which it will entail. I find that the most conscientious are the slowest to accept a new truth, simply because they fear not being able to answer its demands. Of course it is all grace, and if I know grace fully I am not afraid of any truth, but then its import and demands are not overlooked by me. What I desire to promote in my own soul and in others is the sense of the responsibility I am now under, because of the light which God in His mercy has taught me, so that I am not thinking of the light, but of the imperative necessity that now rests on me to express the light, and when it is so I am cast on God, and thrown out of myself; and this is really praying and fasting; dependence, and self-denial.

I do not advocate a monastic or sanctimonious manner, but I do a subdued manner, one which evidences the cross being taken up daily. A nun is afraid to laugh or to look at anything lest she should revive her carnal likings; but the real widow, nothing could really interest in the scene from which death has severed her heart, and she accepts everything here in this qualified light. She can receive and use everything cheerfully, but a deep reserve in her heart forbids anything here to touch her heart. This is patience having reached its perfect work, and to be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

[Page 133]

THE TRUE WAY TO DISCOVER MY OWN DEFICIENCY

It is never useful to dwell on how little I take in, or how little I resemble the truth presented to me. I do not say that this will not come before me, but quite a different effect is produced when I discover my deficiencies from studying the portrait or the person, and when I am looking at the canvas on which I am copying it. In the first case it is the person or portrait that fills my eye, and the more I look at Him, the more I see what has to be acquired, and I am thus occupied with the amount and greatness of what I have to acquire, and not with the littleness of what is in the copy on the canvas. I am studying to be like Him, not inspecting how unlike I am, which is true enough; but this comes out by the deepened sense of the blessedness and beauty of Him, as I dwell on Him, and I am conscious that the beauty is only and singularly in Him, and not in me, though I desire to have it more than ever; but in order to derive more, I turn, not to my acquisition, where I only discover my deficiencies, but to Him from whom I acquire, and always with the sense of how much I have to acquire; but then with this, I have the stream of supply before me. It is just the difference between a man looking into his purse and seeing only a few coins in it, or going into a room full of gold to fill it. While filling it, he knows how empty it was, and as he puts in piece after piece, he feels, 'I had not this before'; but then he is occupied with the supply which meets his deficiency, and not with the deficiency merely. No amount of occupation with the deficiency will remedy it; but on the other hand, the more I use the means for remedying it, the more conscious I am how much I needed it. There is no use in a man dwelling on his thirst, he never relieves it by doing so; he has a very keen and peculiar sense of his thirst while relieving it: but then it is not the

[Page 134]

thirst that occupies him, but that which relieves it, and the zest with which he swallows the water impresses on him how much he needed it. If I am studying Jesus, I feel how little I am like Him; but all the time I am drinking in more of Him, and my desire or want is satisfied at the very time that I have the sense of its existence.

Occupation with deficiency does not rectify, but occupation with that which rectifies always deepens the sense of deficiency. If I am studying the Lord's path on earth with the eye of my soul on Him in glory, that tells me how unlike Him I am; but at the same time, I am filling my empty heart with His grace and His mind, and as I do, I am enriched, while I have the sense of how poor I must have been because I require so much; and this always goes on, for I always find myself empty and small when I am alongside of Him.

May He keep us with our eyes more simply set on Himself.

FRESH GRACE IS REQUIRED FOR EVERY FRESH STEP

The leaves of a tree this year are not the same as they were last year; new foliage comes with each succeeding year; the climate, the circumstances are never the same as in the former year. So is it with us as christians, the Lord's purpose is not to teach us habits, which a continued sameness of circumstance would produce, but the resources of life, and that through a variety and constant change of circumstances. If the circumstances were the same this year as they were last, the grace which carried one through last year would do for this; but when the circumstances are entirely new and diverse, then the grace must be entirely new and different in its order, to be suitable. Hence the manna was to be gathered every morning before the exigencies

[Page 135]

of the day occurred, before there was any demand; and that which was gathered was adequate for every demand which could accrue. What a wonderful way to begin the day; with fresh manna, prepared for every fresh and unexpected demand!

Our strength in Christ is not to be measured by the way in which we met any former trial, but by the way we meet the present one, though the remembrance of a former victory may encourage me as to a present difficulty, as the remembrance of killing the lion and the bear encouraged David when he was about to encounter Goliath. As there is progress, the trials or tryings become greater, but the strength is also greater; and if the strength be greater than the tryings, there is not increased suffering or anxiety, but there is the increased sense of the resources that are in Christ. A tall tree gets more of the storms, but then it is better able to resist and hold its ground than a young one would be if exposed to the same shaking. If you have got over a two-foot fence, prepare for a three-foot one, and so on. The tests are greater as we advance. There is often, as we see in young horses, more suffering in taking the first fence than in any succeeding one, if he be well kept in practice. Sometimes one balks and sulks and will not take the fences, and then there is loss; the sense of Christ's power is practically lost to the soul, and there is no use or gain in remembering how I rose above circumstances on a former occasion: indeed if I do recall this, it only convicts me of being worse mounted now than I was then, and this in a christian means that he is not as simply dependent on Christ now as he was at a former time. The saint's motto is, 'Now or never' - a saint or nothing. This schooling in the new life is most interesting. I have to meet new and unexpected fences or hindrances every day, and according as my heart is restful in Christ, I am able to meet them in His strength; and thus I go from strength to strength, till I appear before God in

[Page 136]

Zion. No rest till I get there. May you come forth fresh every morning like the sun, rejoicing as a strong man to run the race set before you.

STAGES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

There are three stages in the life of a bird, which very closely illustrate those of the christian's life. At first the little bird only opens its mouth to receive the suited food. Feeding is its one simple occupation. As it thrives, its feathers and wings grow, and as soon as they are fully grown and used another stage of life is entered on - it flies, and then it sings. These three things characterise it. First, acquiring food for itself; the second, acquiring a new motion, which is flying; and then singing. Now it is evident that the second stage cannot be reached unless the first has been enjoyed. Food has been so supplied and appropriated that the wings have grown and been used. The christian first desires the sincere milk of the word that he may grow thereby, and as he grows, he is conscious of a new power, the power to fly.

When you fly you enter on the second stage. Then you acquire for yourself, you can discriminate. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things" (1 Corinthians 2:15). Before, some one else had to discriminate for you. Now you can provide for yourself suitably. Flying is now your natural motion, you always move above the earth; you seek the things above, you set your mind on things above, and not on things on the earth. This new power is always heavenward. "Being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus" (Acts 7:55). And then comes the singing. I believe that no bird sings till it can fly. I am sure that no christian sings his true note until he can rise up in the power of the Spirit of God to Christ, where Christ is. This stage then is when the senses are exercised to discern good and evil, and there is known power in the

[Page 137]

Spirit to "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth" (Colossians 3:1); and then there is singing, which is expressing, in true and full tones, the deep and overflowing satisfaction which the heart enjoys in His presence where there are fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.

Now comes the third and last stage in the life of a bird, which is building a nest and caring for her young. Her history began in a nest, and now she builds one and nurses a young brood. She brings forth much fruit. But this is the stage of a full-grown bird, and it illustrates the christian, who having found everything in Christ for himself, can now in true devotedness of heart serve Christ - be His disciple in this scene, and be a blessing to others. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17). All the love and service rendered to the bird in its early days, it now renders to the objects of its care. As it has received so it bestows. It does nothing but as it has received, and this is true service.

Now this new stage demands a very peculiar manner and way, entirely different from any hitherto known. The bird that flies selects its own food and sings. It is individual - shines as a planet. It testifies of the goodness and favour conferred. It is often brilliant, but it is alone and singular. But when the bird builds her nest, where she may lay her young, her character and habits undergo a very marked change. She surrenders none of her former power, but instead of contenting herself with her peculiar personal blessing, she now devotes herself to objects outside herself, though they are part of herself - her offspring; and because of all her interest and toil about them, dear to her as her own life. What makes this entire and wonderful change in her is, that she shapes herself always to the good of the objects of her love. You have had your stage of individual blessing and enjoyment; once known, it is yours for ever; but now you must grow in another direction; you must not, when others try and oppose

[Page 138]

you, retire into the sanctuary of your own heart, and there delight yourself in your possession. No! you must now build a nest for the objects of your care, and you must exercise yourself to turn to account all their need, and make it an occasion for you to disclose your love and care. In the one case when tried, you retire into yourself, like the flower that closes its petals on a cold rough day, and refuses to shed its fragrance when everything is so out of season. In the other, you will be like the hawthorn tree that in the depth of winter hangs out its scarlet berries for the suffering birds, when there is succour nowhere else. This tree, the admiration of all in the gay month of May, comes forth and offers a ready sustenance to the needy. To be the latter, you must be proof against the frost of neglect, and the snows of indifference. You must not think of yourself, but of the need of those to whom you would minister; and this imparts a very distinct character to one.

In a word, instead of retiring into yourself to find with the Lord a comfort which you have lost in seeking from others, you seek for nothing from any around, and you come forth always to give. Until one is able to be a giver to every one and a receiver in a begging way from none, one is not safe from expectancy here; that is, there will still be a possibility of reviving links to this scene. But when one is so satisfied in Christ as to be free from self, and able to build a nest - seek the blessing of others - be a hawthorn tree in the dreary winter - such a sense of the superiority of Christ is acquired, that nothing here can captivate the heart; and all the trials and slights only extract more consideration for others; more of the nest; more of the scarlet berry. It is only when the heart is dead as to this world, and filled with Christ in heaven, that it is proof against reviving, and then it is free to be occupied with the interests of Christ here.

[Page 139]

DEPENDENCE ON GOD IS ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED WITH SELF-DENIAL

In remembering all the way in which we are led, it is good to examine where we have permitted the crab shoot to grow, and which, when not rubbed off in the bud, must be torn down, or eventually sawn off with deep suffering to the tree.

The fact of a place being arduous, is no reason for your taking the initiative in order to find an easier berth. The very arduousness was the needed thing for you, and instead of looking for strength to go on, you looked for a gap through which you might escape, and you found one; and now you find yourself confronted by a greater hedge, and one requiring more mettle or faith to surmount it. The Lord must exercise souls, and where there is dependence on Him as to purpose, He takes care that there shall be dependence practically, too; and hence if we will not learn it when first proposed to us, He gives us a loose rein and easier circumstances, but the test - the difficulty - comes up again. We must learn that our power is in Him, and that in His power we can do all things. I am daily learning that if I am true as to dependence on God, it will be seen by denying myself. That is, there is always less self-consideration, truer self-denial, as one is more dependent on God. I want less for myself and think less for myself in every way, as I am more simply cast on God; I am provided for by His hand, and I have fewer wants and less self-thought.

Self may come out in putting too much confidence in others. Every confidence is false and selfish except that which faith in God confers; and as there is confidence in God, there is an easy independence of all others; and one accordingly thinks neither of oneself in relation to others, nor of others in relation to oneself. There is no carefulness to make an impression, no ready sense of what is due to me. It in fact gives one

[Page 140]

the easy manner of wanting nothing from any one; ready for any one to use, but never expecting to be thought of or remembered because used. We must learn to lend, hoping for nothing. There is a certain honest feeling which expects acknowledgments of services rendered; but when this feeling rules, it has the tendency to make oneself too much the object; and though the feeling is right and true in itself, it brings self into prominence and imparts too much expectation from that which is not reliable in itself, even nature; and the only way to check this is by increased dependence on God. Real, full dependence on God imparts such an case to the soul, and consequently to all one's relations and ways with others, that only as it is learned, can one discover how much was expected and exacted from others, and as it is learned there is increased satisfaction of heart because of reckoning on God; and one wonders how increasingly little one expects or exacts. The Lord will have us not only to taste of dependence on Himself, but to be proficient in it; and the growths which hinder the fruit buds must be cut away, that the latter may come forth in vigour, and the tree answer to its true character.

THE WAY OF THE SATISFIED HEART AND THE UNSATISFIED

The difference between a satisfied and unsatisfied, though truly earnest soul, is very marked. The latter betrays self at every opposition; he is most diligent in acquiring truth, like the bee toiling all day for honey, but with this great zeal there is a peculiar sensitiveness to every obstacle, which, like the bee, he avenges by bitter retort. The sense of that great good, which will only satisfy me, stimulates me to unceasing energy to acquire it; but in proportion to my zeal, the more embittered am I with what interferes with me in my pursuit. The bee toiling indefatigably for the sweetest

[Page 141]

thing inflicts on its opponent the bitterest wound. The desire of the heart to reach the best thing is right and perfect, but because that which satisfies has not been reached, there is no power against the disturber, and this too often exposes the saint to the reproach of being in manner and word the very opposite to his profession and real purpose. The more we are set on reaching Christ the more conscious we are of every character of opposition which baffles and hinders. But because we have not reached Him in power and sufficiency, we too often turn to the flesh for aid. It is very distressing to the earnest toiler after Christ to be betrayed into angry and hasty retort when in any way assailed, but it is well to be able to account for this painful anomaly. Hunting is not enough without roasting; seeking and even acquiring is not sufficient.

Now when I have found Christ for my heart - when He satisfies me, my toil is not so much that of the bee among the flowers as of the bee in the hive; it is less the zeal of the seeker than the zest of the proprietor exploring and delighting in his acquisitions; I am occupied with beholding the glory of the Lord - His beauty - and enquiring in His temple. Such an one is not less sensitive to incongruities and offenders, but he is so assured of his wealth and power, that he feels like a rock on which the waves exert their violence in vain. Practically I am always acquiring more of Christ while here. I count all things but dung that I may win Him. I am in one sense the bee among the flowers all day long; but it is a very different thing to acquire with a satisfied heart than with an unsatisfied one. As I have acquired Him - as I know Him and the power of His resurrection, I am in fellowship with His sufferings, and I bear everything as He bore it, and can walk with His unfailing grace and dignity through every molestation. According as I learn in practice the virtue of Christ, so am I the more occupied with Him, and less occupied with the evil which would hinder me.

[Page 142]

GOD'S SUFFICIENCY LEARNED THROUGH DISCIPLINE

In our course here we have to pass through a twofold discipline; the first on ourselves, and the other on that which we value; and each has, or produces, an effect very peculiar and distinct in itself; the one is to cast me on God for help, the other, to cast me on Him for comfort and rest. In the one, it is His power rather that I turn to; in the other, it is more to abide in His rest. When saints are suffering because of their bodily afflictions they are taught how powerless they are. All flesh is as grass; there is a sense of the impotence of man when one is languishing under a painful illness, and then it is that the saint turns to God and values His power, because all human power is felt to be at an end, and this is a great lesson. Job learned it: "I know [he says] that thou canst do every thing" (Job 42:2) - there is no power in me, all is in God. Now this removes the great impediment to faith; because if I am so reduced and helpless, I cannot do aught but turn to God, as Jonah did when in the bottom of the sea. "Twice [it needs to be repeated] have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God" (Psalm 62:11). This is the great groundwork of dependence; it is the only ground the widow can take in going to the unjust judge (Luke 18); he had power, she had none. The pressure on her was so complete that she was driven to appeal to the only one that had power, though he was otherwise most repulsive.

The second kind of discipline is that which I value being removed, for this I want comfort. If I am friendless, or like Jonah, gourdless, I have no one to comfort me but God. Thus you see whether your suffering is only confined to yourself, or whether it is from the break up of things around, what you have to learn is the sufficiency of God. There is but the one thought with God in disciplining you, namely, to make your trials an opportunity for your heart to learn and discover

[Page 143]

more of His love, and the resources which are in Him, as He has revealed them to us in His Son, who has come near to us, to acquaint our hearts with both the help and the comfort; and therefore He not only rests us, but He gives us rest. In the one it is His power relieving us; in the other, it is Himself imparting the state of rest - the thing itself to us.

May we each learn more fully what He can do, or rather that He can do all things; and may we know, to the exceeding comfort and unspeakable joy of our hearts, that all our springs are in Him.

THE GREATER THE NEED, THE GREATER THE SUPPLY

You cannot have too great a sense of your responsibilities to your family and to others, provided you have at the same time a deeper sense that God cares for you. The failure, as with Moses when his father-in-law suggested to him that "this thing is too heavy for thee" (Exodus 18:18) is, that we think we are to perform our duty ourselves alone. It is quite true that the duty rests on you to meet every claim, but if the many claims awaken in your soul a deeper sense of God's care and succour, your very need and pressure becomes an occasion for acquainting you with the greatness of your resources; so that the greatness of the need only becomes an opportunity for disclosing the greatness of the supply. It was the vessels to receive the oil which failed with the poor widow (2 Kings 4:6) and not the oil. The supply only ceases when the need or the place of it no longer exists; so that need or responsibility, if used as a vessel, is only an occasion or opening for the mercy and goodness of God. A rich man is one who has not a want that he cannot meet. If he never had a want he would not know the use of money. The use of it is learned in spending it, laying it out properly. No one dislikes wants, if he has plenty of means to

[Page 144]

supply them. There is a known pleasure in using one's means in providing something which is desired - wants often increase with men as means to meet them increase.

With you, as the pressure or responsibility increases, so do the means to meet it increase, if your heart is simply dependent on God. Our springs are in God. The more you require, the more you take in when you reach the spring. The whole point (if the springs are sufficient for our travelling through the desert) is whether we are at the springs. If we are, and if they are inexhaustible, it only remains that we take in abundantly, even like a camel that can take in for eight days! You would not mind feeling in need, or a desire for help, when there was abundance beside you. The point we all fail in, is not in feeling our inability to discharge our duties fully, but in trying to journey on through this great sandy desert, without finding or reaching the springs. Let us learn from the birds of the air; they discharge their duties by going in quest of material for the nest first, and then for food. They have nothing of their own. They go and look for it, and they look until they find it, and this is just what you have to do. You feel your responsibilities; well, you have no means or power in yourself to meet them; but, like the parent bird, you go in quest of means; only with this great difference, that the bird does not know where to find it, and you do.

When Mary and Martha felt their powerlessness (John 11:3) they sent for Jesus. Send for Him to bear you company in your responsibilities; and then your responsibilities will only be occasions for you to know more of His love for you, and of the fertility and greatness of His resources. If you want anything, fly off to Him, and the oftener you fly to Him the more you will get, and the more you will find that the need is a great occasion of blessing, because of the way He meets you in every need. As you use His love, you learn what it is. If you use it not, you cannot know

[Page 145]

what it will or would do for you. Your experience will be, the more I need the more I get. To the house of Joseph it was said, "Thou art a great people", and therefore "the mountain shall be thine" (Joshua 17:17, 18). The large family got the large inheritance. Settle with the Lord that He can do everything, and then you will soon come to this, He doeth all things for me.

May the Lord comfort your heart, and assure it that duties and responsibilities are never to depress you, but that the greater they are, and the more you feel them, the more help and property you are entitled to, and therefore the richer you are in grace, because of your need of it.

LEGALITY AND SPIRITUALITY

The law addresses a man in the flesh. The life of Christ by the Spirit orders and directs the man in Christ. The former seeks to produce something from the man, subjecting him to this and that exercise in order to produce a given result. The latter, the Spirit of God in me, controls me according to the mind of Christ, and uses this body as a vessel. In the case of the one under the law, there is an effort to obtain from the flesh that which is not in it. In the other case, the Spirit is only expressing the desires of the new man, and then demonstrating the qualities of Christ in spite of the flesh, which has not only no sympathy with the Spirit, but on the contrary, has unceasing opposition to it. When I am legal I am trying to answer to the law in my flesh, which at best is weak, even when not opposed; for when I am legal I am only occupied with an attempt to extract something from the flesh, and so long as I do this, it is in a way pleasing to the flesh, even though there be many and great penances, because the flesh is acknowledged all the time, and the attempt of the legal is really to produce something good from the flesh.

Now the spiritual man is quite different - he has

[Page 146]

the taste and the power too to accomplish what he aims at, and he in the Spirit resists and silences the flesh which interferes with him, and there is actual compensation and success at the same time. There is the sense of acting in the Spirit, and the joy and strength which the Spirit imparts, and though there be mortification to the flesh, there is a sense of positive gain, not in the mortification itself but in the life of Christ, while the flesh is more sensibly set aside, and the body used as a servant. If there be suffering in the flesh, there is known joy in the Spirit. There is not, as in the legalist, depression and excitement alternating according as there is hope or no hope from the process of training, or rather exaction. The spiritual man doubts not the power and good quality of that which he depends on, and he is happy in acting according to the mind of Christ, no matter what waves and currents he may be exposed to. Trying to row a great boat is legality; there may be some progress where there is no opposition, but then all the tugging though very arduous and self-exacting is of no use. Now the spiritual is like a boat worked by steam, and hence it goes everywhere according to the captain's orders. Tides, currents or winds are not taken into account. Where the legalist is baffled and exercised to no purpose, the spiritual moves on with dignity and purpose, not attempting what is not in him, but answering by the great power in him to the mind of Christ. The legalist is ever thinking of his oar. Everything depends on his stroke. The spiritual attends only to the word of the Master, and by the simple movement of the helm turns to the exact point to which he has been directed. The legalist is ever thinking of his conduct. The spiritual is thinking of Christ and His word, and seeks strength to walk according to it, and is judged by it, if he does not. You can always distinguish the legalist from the spiritual by the way each moves about or does any act. The former is thinking of how he is doing it, the latter of the intention

[Page 147]

of it. The former is thinking of his own manner, the latter of his company, and of how he can serve them. There is moroseness and severity about the former, but a glow of life and victory about the latter.

THE TWO EDIFICATIONS - MINISTRY AND LIFE

In Ephesians 4 there are two edifications spoken of; one (verse 12), connected with the gifts from the Head in heaven; persons are gifted by Him to minister, and through their ministry there is an edifying of the body of Christ; but besides this, there is (verse 16), "that which every joint supplieth ... maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love". Thus there are two edifications; one from without, and the other from within; one through something imparted, the other from the condition produced by what has been imparted. It is the difference between food with air, and constitutional vigour. Food with air is necessary to health and contributes to it, but this is quite distinct from health. The healthier a person is, the more he gains from the best food and air, but the action of health in itself is quite different from the action of food and air. Food and air symbolise the ministry. It is the Lord's blessed way of feeding and refreshing His own on earth; but if the ministry has been effectual, there is another way in which increase or edification is promoted, and that is by the health which the ministry has produced. The using of the health is that edification "which every joint supplieth". Invalids are dependent on food and air for mere existence. They know nothing of the energy of health. Thus is it in some places with the saints, they are too much like invalids, they are dependent on ministry for existence, or at least for the sense of it. If they had health they would exercise the energy in every joint, and there would be edification of the body in itself in the highest expression of health,

[Page 148]

namely, love. A person in health is not independent of food and air, but he is like a camel in the desert that can carry water for eight days; he has taken in a supply; and the sense of life, in vigour and muscular power, is diffused through the whole body irrespectively of food, and often in bad air. A person in full health values and appropriates food and air better far than an invalid; but the invalid has no power in himself; he has not health, and he is entirely dependent on what is ministered to him. He may be like one in health as to appearance sometimes, but put him to act, it will be at once seen that he has no power of life. Health that reaches out to every joint, is promoted by the true and just answer of every joint to its proper function in the body. An invalid may sit and listen and feed very well, but the proof or evidence of health is when there is increase bodily in the joy of life, and the highest sentiment, which is love. When a tree comes out in leaves, and blossoms, and fruits, it proves not only that it has been well cultured and nourished, but also that there is vigour in itself, though it was not independent of the culture. Thus, the more health and vigour there is in the saints, the more do they appropriate the edification from without, through the gifts; but the virtue of what is received is proved by the way the body edifies itself from within, in its best expression. Love - the nature of God - is the fruition, the result of health, the true glow of life.

THE DUTY OF A PHILADELPHIAN

There can be no real work for Christ if one be not in the path with Him, and the effort to work for Him without being in the path with Him, betrays itself in the character and intention of the work. If I am not in the path with Christ, I must be in the path of man, which be it ever so good, is after all only a human path. It is not of the divine character of the path of "the Son

[Page 149]

of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13), and who in His work has always declared the Father. There is a carnal character about the work instead of a divine character. The mere work may be right in itself, but it cannot be done for Christ, if one is not with Christ. People insist on the goodness of the work; that may be undeniable. But the question remains, is it carried on in the path with Christ, or in the path with man? If the latter, man can bear me company in it. If the former, man, as man, can find no place in it; and the exclusiveness of Christ marks one, and this of itself is obnoxious to the natural mind.

I believe it is impossible to be a Philadelphian (see Revelation 3) individually, and to submit to an ecclesiastical position which denies all that should characterise a Philadelphian. The danger is of being in a position avowedly Philadelphian, and yet unexercised and untaught in soul in the moral status of one. But it would be glaring inconsistency to have learned and accepted the standing of one and then to consent to an ecclesiastical position which would deny it. On the contrary, when I am one, when I purge myself from the corruption of the great house, I seek those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. It is said to be assumption to take the place of Philadelphians; all I can say is, that if we are not Philadelphians the sooner we learn our lesson the better. If we are the church of God, that is the highest position, and it is greatly to our disgrace if we are not of the faithful remnant. It is only an exceptionable character who adopts an alias. If I am honest and true I abide by the family name, and if it be a high one, I only labour the more not to tarnish it, but to act worthily of it, especially if the other members of my family have compromised it.

Like Jacob at Peniel I must go to God's side, if I would have my name of Israel (a prince with God) come out in its true strength and value. It is God who has made me great, and as I am near Him, I am sustained

[Page 150]

in keeping with His greatness. If I turn to my own side I am no match for the flesh and its supports, and I have to compromise my name in order to suit my company.

STORM WITHOUT AND REST WITHIN

It is as we are really cast on God that we are at rest; we enjoy the peace, but still the storms occur to keep up the dependence; and not the dependence only, but that lightening of the ship, the fasting, that ignoring the flesh - that silencing of nature which must be when we truly have to do with God. The storm without and the calm within is our daily exercise and lesson. The storm is so great that flesh and nature are powerless to deal or cope with it; and the calm known only before God, is so apart from the ways and course of nature, that plainly it is in a region of its own; and hence as I am in that region I am consciously separated and distanced from the one in which the storm rages. Like the dove from the ark, I may venture out, but I soon return again to the shelter of the ark. There is a watery waste without, but there is rest and shelter within. If I value and cling to the rest within, I must bow to and accept the desolation of everything outside; and this is just where all the exercise is. There may be like the dove a longing to go out if all human hopes are not at an end; but the heart soon finds that there is no rest there, and it returns convinced that there is nothing but that one vast waste outside, but that there is a known rest within.

In turning to God we are not sufficiently prepared for the fact of the utter desolation of the flood, the end of all flesh; and that there is no rest and help to be found but in God. I believe there is a hindrance to our prayers because we cannot in heart consent to the drowning of every confidence and desire of the flesh, for this is real fasting; and our dependence on God

[Page 151]

cannot be absolute while we retain any part of that which is at enmity with Him. Let us not be discouraged, but pray, pray, pray. The thing in which He exercises the heart most, is that in which He most shews His favour.

HIS HEART AND HIS HAND

Do you seek solace from Christ's sympathy as much as or more than you do from the interference of His hand? Is it His heart or His hand which comforts you most? If He had not come down and walked beside us in all our circumstances down here, He could not have sympathised with us; He could not have made us feel His heart for us. He might have stood at a distance and have stretched out His hand as Moses did, when with his rod he smote the waters of the Red Sea; but Christ came down here, walked on the waters, and said to Peter, Come, to where He was. He walked beside Mary going to the grave of Lazarus, and wept as He went. It was His heart He was unfolding in that walk! It was His hand when He called Lazarus out of the grave. If He were to come and relieve you by His hand out of every pressure of health or circumstances, and order things for you, you would after all be only a solitary unit in your good health, or with your improved circumstances; but if you are relieved and comforted by His heart - His sympathy - you have made an acquaintance with Him personally, and you have all the comfort and cheer of enjoying His company in your dreariness; so that adverse circumstances with Him are better than happy ones without Him. It is better to have His company in the desert, like the disciples, or on the cross, like the thief, than to be a solitary Adam in paradise. The brightest things cannot perfectly relieve the heart. It is His heart only that can relieve; and this is known when no other heart could or would know how to draw near and bear one

[Page 152]

company. Surely company is better than comforts. It is with sorrow only here that He can sympathise, for there is nothing of God in the joys of man.

It was need at the marriage feast (John 2) which drew out His hand. Nothing but His hand would suit that, but in the second miracle at Cana, His heart entered into the sorrow of the father; and when He said, "Thy son liveth", the hand of mercy won the heart and faith of the father and of his house.

You must practise yourself in learning His heart; you must learn how He would act in your circumstances, for He is beside you when you are toiling in rowing; and if you become more sensible of His being beside you, and that He Himself has gone through every sorrow that a godly one could endure, you will, as you look for it, find a solace in His sympathy - in His heart, which no interference of His hand could obtain for you. Better for you to be at ---- wanting the Lord every moment, and finding Him near you every moment, than if you were in the brightest scene, where you could draw on things around for your enjoyment, and where according as you had power in yourself you would be able to appropriate the beauties around you. Seek to learn and to enjoy the interest which Christ takes in you, and you will find that, like the rock to Israel, He follows you, and makes up for your lack, by the streams that gladden the city of God.

LIFE ABOVE AND DEATH HERE

This is to you, I doubt not, the widow losing her only son. Saints cannot be persuaded that they must learn death here after they have learned life in Christ in heaven. They think it is enough to have known that they were dead by nature, and that through faith in Christ they are alive in Him; but they are slow to see and to accept that now alive in Him, they must practically find death in that out of which He has saved

[Page 153]

them. Being dead, we are quickened together with Christ; and in order to know the perfection of this new life, it is necessary that we should have no links to the life here - to feel what it is to go, as it were, to our own funeral. Either I die to everything, or everything dies to me. "We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:11). I see that when souls begin to get on, and to apply their hearts to the word of God, as they progress, they are taught death on their own side, in proportion as they taste of life on Christ's side.

I do hope, and it will be joy to my heart, to see you come out very brightly from this dark valley. Accept death in the valley but insist on it, at the same time, that life is yours on the hill. Say to yourself, 'It is all death here, but it is all life outside in Christ'. This will make you to expect nothing here; but to expect, and receive too, everything in Christ. If everything is dead outside of Christ, and everything of life is only in Christ, then Christ is everything to the heart; and this is just the thing you have to learn, in this the saddest hour of your life; but the midnight is the hour for Him to shew Himself - the "fourth watch" - the depth of the night; He is beside you, and if you know what He is doing, you will find Him the living One in His own bright glory, where the waves of sorrow and the darkness of death have almost overwhelmed you. I long to see you bright. No one can be bright until he comes out of his own grave, as it were; and it is when we accept death fully, that we know fully the joy of resurrection.

LIFE OUT OF DEATH

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). He has brought death very near to you all, and where you feel it very much. To you who remain, it has but one voice, and that is to walk with Him through the valley of sorrow

[Page 154]

to the morning of resurrection. He is the resurrection and the life. One never realises the full virtue of life but in death. There is the death of judgment because of our sins. The conscience when awakened passes through that death, and Jesus Christ through grace is the light of life. But there is the death to the heart also, which comes often very far on in one's history and this may be in various ways, but it must be in a way that we feel it. We could hardly tell ourselves where it might happen. The Lord only knows where death is unknown to us, and where we require to enter into it. If you learn death to your heart, you will find in Christ quite a new and wondrous portion - your conscience not only relieved of its burden and at peace with God, but now your heart, stricken down by the death of a loved one at your very side, can learn what it is to have the living One for your resource and compensation, in all His superior and abounding tenderness and love. It is the time for learning the reality of His love and interest. Joy is the time for my friend to enjoy me, sorrow is the time for me to learn and know the value of my friend. You never perhaps so needed heart company before. Death threatens all ties when it rudely breaks one, and that one of the nearest, but this is the moment for you to find a light in the darkness, and to know the companionship of the Man of sorrows, never realised before. You hide your head in sorrow, the whole sky is darkened, every eye sees the gloom without, and yet this is the moment for your heart to find in Jesus a resource and a satisfaction which you have never known before. A friend in need is a friend indeed. No one else can come near enough to you. The dignity of sorrow forbids the intrusion of any but the One who can truly sympathise. He can, and He leads you into deep waters in order that your heart may require Him, and having found Him, you may learn His value and worth in a way entirely new to you and in a way never to be forgotten.

[Page 155]

THE WAY CHRIST IS KNOWN IN BEREAVEMENT

The one who for many years has been walking beside you, as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, is now no more with you, and you have to journey on more solitary, and yet needing more care and company every day. You have to feel the need in order that you may look for and enjoy the way in which He will meet it. The more really desolate any one is here, the more will such a one find in Christ, if the heart truly turns to Him. He in His discipline allows the blank, not that you should sorrow and pine because of it, but in order that He may occupy it Himself. He has removed a partial and a transitory comfort, in order that He might fill the empty space with what is perfect and eternal. He often gives us in the human friend the mould of what He would be to us as the perfect and enduring one. As a mould is used to form the gold and the silver into shapes and figures approved by the owner, so does the Lord teach us that our dearest friend is only, in comparison, a mould for Himself; and as the mould is made only of earth, so is there as great a contrast between the human friend and the Lord Himself as between the earthen vessel and the gold. You would not complain of the mould being broken and no more at your service if you were in possession of Christ as the One who had only been using the mould to bring Himself into that very peculiar nearness to you which the mould expressed. All that was really good in the mould was of Christ - the real attractiveness of it was derived from Christ. Very near you, very useful to you, and very dear to you - but a greater than the mould is here and beside you, and you in spirit are called by Him to enjoy His divine preciousness without any mixture, failure, or cessation. I know you must feel it a very lonely time, but every gourd in time must come down, that the full beauty of Christ may satisfy and delight our hearts. May this be your experience richly.

[Page 156]

LEARNING THROUGH SUFFERING

How varied and peculiar are the shadows of death to which we are subjected, and each one is intended to be the occasion of our learning some new and deeper lesson of what He who is the life, is to us. As we are placed in the one, so do we learn the other in contrast. Life and the loveliness of Christ are learned while the contrast here serves as a foil for them.

The life and manner of Christ are manifested to me by the Spirit of God according to the nature of the death darkness in which I am here. Paul was a prisoner, John was an exile, when the manifestations and revelations of Christ were vouchsafed to them, and to each one in keeping with the living tomb in which they were immured. The suffering is like the black-board in a school-room, in which the characters of some new proportion are written in white. The suffering is only to close the natural side, the natural eye, in order that there may be divine vision, and that the single eye may see clearly and fully some new or hitherto unknown beauty in Christ. You must shut the eye of nature in order that there may be a single eye to see and to take in any new lesson of Him, the perfect One.

We may feel the dreariness of the tomb or the chill of the dreary time of sickness and sorrow, but when we can like Jacob rest through it all - make a pillow of the cold stone - it is then that the Lord causes a light to shine in the darkness, and we rejoice more, and our gladness is more than when corn and wine and oil increased.

EXERCISES OF THE WILDERNESS

The variety of exercises to which we are subjected in our journey through the wilderness is very interesting when we go through them with the Lord. They are not often what we might have predicted for ourselves,

[Page 157]

but they are the suited ones to deepen the work of grace, or to sever us from what would interfere with it; and as we are exercised by the trial, we find out, or at any rate reach the intention of it, even though often we could not define it to any one, or to ourselves. In the exercise we are brought near the Lord, and there the needed grace is acquired, the hindrance is checked, and while it is checked, the heart is drawn to the Lord, and the feature which He would impart is produced in us. The checking or breaking away of the old leaf is not enough, it is only preliminary to the other, namely, the gift of a new one. It is not enough that the gourd should perish. Its perishing really only makes place for Christ, but this is acquisition in the stead of the loss; and many are conscious of losing the old leaf, who do not apply themselves to the Lord to obtain the new one, that is, the feature of Himself which He would substitute for the old one which has been cut off. And this makes tribulation an occasion for joy, because when I come near Him, widowed of what meets me as man, He shews me what especially suits me in Himself, and I find a compensation in Him, the perfect Man - the Son of God - for the lost leaf, or broken branch of the poor weak man here. I grow in knowledge, and in possession too, of the one perfect One, and this is an unspeakable charm to the heart; because He lives I live also, and the joy of the Lord is my strength - "My joy fulfilled in them". What a picture on earth to see one Man threading His way through all the defilement and labyrinth of this world, well pleasing to God, and His delight always. It attracts the heart beyond anything ever seen by, or shewn to man on earth.

[Page 158]

THE ORDER IN WHICH THE HEART LEARNS CHRIST

The real good in any ministry is in the measure in which it feeds the heart with Christ. He is the Sun to give light and heat, and the greater the extent of surface presented to Him the more He confers. There is more capacity to take in, and this capacity is increased as the heart is occupied with Him.

The heart is first won, and this deepens as it learns His love in humiliation. He "loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). Secondly, it is satisfied because united to Him, and in association with Him where He is. The heart captivated by an object could never be at rest until it was united to the one who had won it, and for satisfaction it must be where He is - there is no company otherwise. The first desire of a true heart, as with the woman in Luke 7, is to seek the presence of the Saviour, to be in personal nearness to Him. With the bride in Canticles, whenever He is present, all is bright, but there is no satisfaction; there is true affection, and often deep delight, but there cannot be satisfaction until the heart is in assured union and association with its object. Thirdly, after satisfaction comes an entirely new occupation. All before related chiefly to oneself. The heart is won, and the heart is satisfied; now the occupation will be studying Him - seeking to be suitable to Him. Many try to be suitable to Him in order to satisfy their hearts, but then there is a legality about the effort, and it bears the mark of seeking to make oneself the object rather than Him.

Now after my heart is satisfied, I sit down before the Lord and study His mind, and from that study I adopt habits and ways, and enter on work in order to please Him. All the previous gains of the heart are increased by each new one; that is, I am more won by Christ as I am satisfied by Him, and I am more won and satisfied as I study Him. And then I learn

[Page 159]

sanctification in His company. "For their sakes I sanctify myself" (John 17:19). As I am sanctified I am ornamented, and it is the adorned one that is properly qualified to be the serving one, which is the last thing. "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her" (Proverbs 31:11). The serving one deepens in all the preceding gains. He is more won, more satisfied, more suitable as he is more serving.

The action of love, like Jonathan's for David, is always to seek the company, the presence of the one loved, and then to express itself by making much of the object, and little of self. The answer to the sinner is, "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace" (Luke 7:50). This is the confirmation given to the sinner in his first acquaintance - personal acquaintance with the Saviour. The saint has that love deepened, and he has besides, union and association; and then he is satisfied. This is the most blessed point to reach. Love really cannot think of anything until it is quite sure of its object; then when at rest about itself, it studies the mind and heart of the object.

I do not come to Christ as to my fellow, attracting Him by something in me - I have nothing to bring to Him, and He won me when I was in the most unattractive state; hence I must be well assured of the constancy of His heart, and of my association with Him far removed from the depth of misery I was in, before I can think whether I could be anything or could do anything to please Him; for I have nothing of myself, and it is only in His company that I acquire tastes and habits which answer to His mind.

DEPENDENCE LEARNED IN TWO WAYS

I dare say the Lord has a distinct purpose in allowing you to be placed in so many new circumstances, that you are to be emptied from vessel to vessel. A person in nature gets used to one set of circumstances, but really in grace there is a novelty in every step of the

[Page 160]

way; and it is because one does not so realise this novelty as to seek help from the Lord continuously, that He has sometimes to change us to an order of things entirely new to us. There is ever a danger to settle on our lees, to seek ease for ourselves. When things are easy and pleasant about us, we begin to think that we are an object of consideration, and that things are thus ordered by God because we are so, and this leads one to consider for oneself. It is true that each of us is an object of consideration to the Lord, but it depends on Him as to the way He may express His consideration. The Jew was an object to God on the earth and it was expressed in an earthly way; but the saint now, though he be a greater object, is considered for with reference to things above, and if I expect consideration in an earthly way, I am not in the mind of God whose object I am. If I am expecting Him to think of and order for me after an earthly way, I have not learned how He really does consider for me, and consequently He has to disturb my attempts to settle here. Then I become like a bird which when its nest is rifled or swept away, flies away, and fears to dwell near the scene of its sorrow; the wing is its only comfort and resource.

Job was greatly distressed because his nest was so entirely dismantled, and he felt that he had done nothing to deserve it; but in the long run he learned, not only that he was not entitled to anything, but that he was one to be abhorred; and how could he expect anything for what he abhorred? But then it was that he knew what it was to be entirely cast on God. When he abhorred himself he had no one to turn to but God, and this is dependence. When one has learned that there is no one else but God to rest on, there is dependence, because then I know like David how God thinks of me; and this produces confidence in Him. This John knew when leaning on Jesus' breast. Then I am like one coming down here, knowing that I have shelter

[Page 161]

under His wing above and a sure retreat; in the other case, it is that there is not a stick left of the old nest here, and one's only resource is to fly away and be at rest. The one is the dove of the ark that returns to its known place of rest; the other is learning to be a dove and crying out for its wings to fly away.

If you know what it is to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, you will abide under the shadow of the Almighty, and your visits to this scene will be with the intuition and clear knowledge of the way back to heaven. If not, storms will beset you until the earthly nest be quite scattered away, so that you will fear to build here and your only hope will be in flying away, for you have a dove's nature, and there can be no rest for the sole of your foot here. Thus we see these two dependencies; one, the better, is because I know what I have above, and I only come on a visit here. The other, because I have nothing here, and therefore I seek what is above. We all learn mostly in the latter way, but having reached the retreat above even in this lower way, and having tasted of being with our Solomon there, we can then enter on the better and higher thing, and come here only as a visitor. In the one, I am but an emigrant, or a swallow, seeking a suited house; in the other, I am a carrier pigeon, coming with messages from my Lord, to the needy ones of this sorrowful scene. I hope you will be a carrier pigeon, and be able to tell me that you are seeking nothing here, not because you have seen your nest blown away by a hurricane, but because you enjoy so much above that you could not dwell here.

SANCTIFICATION THROUGH HIS WAYS AND THROUGH HIS WORD

I do not think that the order of suffering indicates the exercise one is subjected to in it; we all are so differently exercised by the same kind of sufferings. Hence it is

[Page 162]

the exercise which really indicates the object or need of the suffering. Farmers would tell you, wind for a lamb, rain for a calf, and sun for a foal. The exercises from each of these influences are needed by each, and though one is quite different from the other, the same effects are produced. The results are brought about by very different agents; but the object of it all is to produce strength, and a better development of life. Chastening is to effect this; holiness is the standard; "that we might be partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). "The knowledge of the holy is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). We are divinely intelligent, that is, we have reached the highest point of intelligence when we are holy; "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). It is the "path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen" (Job 28:7).

I do not think that we are sufficiently interested in the subject of sanctification and how it is produced. The Father's chastening is to this end. Christ's present ministry is to this end, but He effects it by the word, from the place in which He is as the sanctified One; so that everything affecting us in the old creation, and every word connecting us with the new creation should all tend to this great consummation. The action of both these processes is very interesting; one detaching us by a dying process from everything here, and in us, which would hinder holiness, and the other by the living word leading our hearts intelligently into the mind and ways of Christ who is not here, but who has sanctified Himself that we might be sanctified truthwise, that is, not only by the truth but bearing the colour of it.

I think the washing by the word and the sanctifying by the word differ in this - the former is effected when the mind and conscience are diverted from things here to Christ; the latter when we are in association with Him after the order of His sanctification, or what the word produces; that is its own proper

[Page 163]

atmosphere (it imparts an oxygen of its own); there is no sense of the beautiful and perfect apart from purity, and divine purity is necessarily holiness: that is, distinct separation from evil - where evil is. Thus everything great and intelligent is connected with holiness. There is something wonderful in knowing oneself in this school, graduating into the highest intelligence, and into all that is beautiful and perfect; everything that acts on me, wind, rain, or heat, and every whisper of the still small voice that sounds in me, is to educate me in the path which to faith is distinct and plain, and most blessed, but unknown to the cleverest and sharpest intellect of the mere creature.

May you learn your lessons every day. You have only two books to learn from; one is, how His ways act on you; the other, how His words act in you. May you be an attentive scholar, and may you rejoice His heart in the fruits of your education to the glory of His name!

FRUIT-BEARING

The maturity of the plant is the great matter, for there is no fruit without maturity. It is a study both interesting and inscrutable how the variety of seasons and temperatures contribute to the maturity of plants. The gardener cannot alter the seasons, but he does all he can to remove every obstacle in the way of maturity, for his eye is on the happy consummation, and like the husbandman he has long patience for it. He looks for fruit. What is a garden without fruit? What does a gardener toil for unless for fruit?

The first thing for one who is for Christ here, is to be a disciple, and the mark of a disciple is not that he is alive and happy, but that he bears much fruit. Fruit is action resulting from abiding in Christ. It is life so matured that it expresses itself, but necessarily the

[Page 164]

expression is in keeping with that in which it is matured. For instance, a pear-tree is alive, but when its life is matured it bears ripe pears, and this is fruit. We live in Christ, and as His life is expressed in or by us there is fruit. You might be visiting the poor all day and giving away all you had, and there might be no fruit in any of it; and you might be sitting alone, and there might be fruit in the way your heart was going out in prayer for the Lord's interests. The first lesson in bearing fruit, and without which there is never any, is that "without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). It comes from abiding in Him. He leads me into the activity that pleases Him, and then I am a disciple - a scholar of His; not yet a friend, which is the next step, nor a witness, which is the highest (see John 15). A gardener is not satisfied that a pear-tree should do very well and bear much fruit one year - he is disappointed unless it does so every year. A saint has a great advantage over a plant, for he knows not only the desire of the Gardener, but he knows also the mind and heart of the Master for whom and from whom he may draw everything to please Him. You cannot awaken in a plant a desire to bear fruit. If it prosper it will, but in a saint in whom is once awakened the desire to bear fruit, to be His disciple, there is a turning to the Lord, there is a daily growing and cleaving to Him in order that he might not be in His garden as a pear-tree with leaves and blossoms only, but that acts in keeping with His own mind might be done by him.

We are each a peculiar specimen of grace; if you or I fail there is no second specimen to fill our place. The plant is there, but it has failed, and there is no filling up the blank, until the plant answer to the end for which it was placed in the garden. What I want is to promote in you the desire to be a disciple, to find yourself a channel through which the life of Jesus may be expressed, amid all the thorns and wild briars of this evil scene. "Holding forth the word of life; that I may

[Page 165]

rejoice in the day of Christ" (Philippians 2:16). Oh! to be able to invite the Lord to "come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits" (Song of Songs 4:16).

REMEMBERING EGYPT

The path is one of faith and faith sees nothing here. It sees neither the easy thing nor the difficult; neither the famine nor the green fields of Sodom. Abraham gave up his faith when he saw the famine, and Lot was outside faith when he saw the green fields of Sodom. Whenever the things around us influence us or govern us, we are not in faith; and when faith ceases there is no more real energy. A righteous soul will be vexed by the things around, but there is no actual deliverance. There is always in our course an opportunity for returning; it is allowed in order to test the faith and to assure the heart, when tested, that the faith which enabled one to step forth perhaps years ago, is as fresh in its energy as it was then. Now this opportunity to return occurs with remembering or calling to mind the country from whence they came out. Faith is really lost when there is not a looking to God to carry one on to His own city, and then thoughts and memories of the land of which Babel is the city come into the mind and pave the way for returning. One reverts to the tastes and habits suited to the Chaldean territory before one accepts the opportunity to return, and once the tastes and habits or the memories of the old country are entertained by the mind, one is morally fit for the place which answers to them; just as a prince who adopts the manners of a clown will find himself at home ere long in the haunts of a clown. With a saint it is either faith, or calling to mind the country from whence he came out; when it is faith, there is always progress, and the sense of power overcoming the present things: there are energetic activities even though the obstacles are not visible. I remember hearing

[Page 166]

of a near-sighted sportsman who could not account for the sudden and continual bounds the horse was making in the hunting field. He did not see the obstructions over which his horse was carrying him, whenever they opposed him in his course. This is just what faith does, it is even more energetic when there are oppositions than when not, and the whole being is made sensible of its power. There is the glow and animation of a well-exercised strength.

The softest furs grow in the coldest climes, the exterior is indicative of how the inward energy provides a defence against the atmospheric antagonism.

If memories of the land of the Chaldeans are awakened, if tastes once repressed or refused are revived, the heart has gone back to the world, and the feet are waiting or ready for the opportunity to follow. The memories may not shew themselves much or distinctly at first; the absence of the energy of faith is the first sign of decline. The external appearance indicates that there is a verging to Babylon, instead of there being a tighter girdle to face the foe, and a firmer step to encounter the roughness of the wilderness. Every one has a weak point, and all the evil associations and the checks in our course have been occasioned by yielding ourselves to the society where it was fostered; and sooner or later, unless we continue in faith, the memory of the world will be awakened, and then there is danger, and loss too, until the memory has been refused, and the stern active life of faith which looks for nothing here, be resumed.

CARE OF THE BODY

There is a wide difference between self-indulgence, which whatever form it takes is a hidden and deeply working evil, and care of the body; and yet we often confound them: in attending to the latter, we may fall into the former; while, on the other hand, in seeking

[Page 167]

to avoid self-indulgence, there may be culpable neglect of the body. We are never right about anything unless we begin with Christ, and having begun with Him we keep up with our beginning, as a river does with its source.

Now if we begin with the sense of the body being the Lord's, we shall order and care for it with reference to Him. If I am honest in saying that it is His, I am not righteous if I do not preserve it for Him as His property. To please self would be to depart from my source; to please Him would always maintain my connection with my source, and I should flow on in the channel which He had appointed for me, useful on the right hand and on the left, and continuous in usefulness.

I do not think or see that the Lord makes weak bodies strong ones, but when there is a real sense of the claim that He has on the body, there will be a watchful care not to subject it to any tax beyond what the Lord might require, and in every way to keep it fit and ready for use. In self-indulgence there is often a neglect of the body for some temporary gratification, and an overweening consideration for it another time. I feel there is nothing in which we more betray our insubjection to the Lord than in the way the body is treated; over-driven or over-taxed at one time to obtain some pleasure or profit, and again nursed and considered as if there were nothing else to be considered for, either by oneself or others. Our ways are not even. I believe the weakly body might be so tended that it would not be unable to flow on in the appointed channel. When a river ceases to flow there is loss to the locality, and when the body is unable to act, one's proper services are stopped. There is no doubt that we require to be weakened in our bodies by sickness at times, but weakness is no hindrance to God's power; unruliness is. I remark that in 1 Corinthians, where it is the unruliness of the flesh which is the subject, then the death of Christ is pressed - Christ crucified, no flesh to glory

[Page 168]

in His presence. But in 2 Corinthians, where it is the weakness of man, even death, which is before the mind, there it is to be the bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus that the life of Jesus may be manifest in the body.

I feel that we have not sufficiently regarded the body as the only medium now in which to set forth the life of Jesus; and that the body, which in nature expressed all our vanity and tempers, should now express the beauty and grace of Christ, is to me most wonderful and admirable. Nay, there is not a grace which appears in our bodies now, transient though it be, which shall not be established in perennial lustre at the judgment-seat of Christ; so that it is not only that we have rendered to our Lord what was His own, which is but simple righteousness on our part, but in every way that we do so, we ensure a positive gain for ourselves. Any care or discipline which will enable the river to flow on freshly every day (how beautiful to see the streams of life flowing from weak beings like us, but such is His grace) is right and proper; nay, our duty; but it must be ever remembered that the one object is that the river may flow on unhinderedly. If I look at Christ in His death, there is no place for me to glory but in Him, and if I feel myself in death, which is the lowest point of weakness, my relief and my strength is seeing Him in glory; and as I see Him, being transformed into the same image.

"HE THAT IS SPIRITUAL JUDGETH ALL THINGS"

One may be godly and devoted, and yet not spiritual. I am godly when I have the sense of God's presence and am influenced by it - devoted, as I surrender what I have. The one is as it were on me, the other from me. The spiritual sees things as they are seen of God; everything in his circle or circumstances is discerned as it really is in God's sight. It is not that things at a

[Page 169]

distance are made plainer to you as if seen through a telescope, for instance as you get light on Scripture through a teacher. The spiritual man sees not only accurately, but he sees each thing in its true relation one to another. His power is like that of the microscope, and he has a ready adeptness in distinguishing between things which outwardly are alike, but which differ as to size and importance.

If I am spiritual I see the machinery by which certain well-known sounds or acts are produced. Many a one hears the clock announcing the hours of the day who knows nothing of the wheels and springs which produce the sound. In the same way an event comes to maturity. Every one may hear of the event, but every one does not see the course and influence by which it was produced. The spiritual man knows that like produces like, and therefore he sees the things that are natural which must end naturally, while he is discerned of no man. He can distinguish between two things in which there is the least difference; he can choose his own time and the best opportunity for everything. He is both godly and devoted. He would not cast pearls before swine, he would not unnecessarily provoke opposition. The spiritual man does not seek for bad but for good. All that is not good he rejects, but he seeks only what suits God. It is not that he studies the various activities around him, he has affinity with all that is of God, and from everything else he separates with a distinct judgment; hence he is insulated from everything around him.

The creature, that is, the creature as set there of God, he always respects, but the way it is perverted and diverted from God he repudiates and avoids. As the value of the fox-hound depends on its power and quick-scentedness to discover and follow the game, so is the power of the spiritual man to pursue that which is of Christ, and Christ only, and he acquires growth and power as he proceeds.

[Page 170]

HOW TO MAINTAIN MORAL SUPERIORITY

It is the way we act in old things, things in which we were once at home, or rather the way in which they affect us, that discloses the nature and amount of change in us and the power to maintain the newness of life. To be really and fully a new person in old circumstances and ruled by a new power is the acme and joy of the new life - it is the Spirit's work, the walk of Christ here. To suit our company and in principle to say, Let us have but one purse, is what the world calls manners, but no one or no thing is so really esteemed or admired as that which preserves its identity inviolably; and the more uncommon or unique its type, the more it commands respectful attention, as it braves every influence, and maintains its peculiarity. An exotic is admired and valued, and the more truly it grows here like what it would be in the tropics, or elsewhere, the more it attracts attention and is commanded - the beauty and peculiarity of the plant are acknowledged, whereas if the lily of the Nile would, in order to be at home with the lilies here, become a common iris or flag (as they are called in the country) who would be attracted by it, or who would commend it?

There is really nothing which commands so much reverence as moral superiority. Man in his conscience knows that he has lost God, and hence has lost the superiority once belonging to him, for we were made for God. Now through grace we are new - "renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3:10); and as we maintain this image, not in figure or imitation, but by a new man - renewed in knowledge, that is, intelligence of our new being - so are we exotics of the most wonderful order, and whether it be owned or not, we command the profoundest respect. Dives does not own or acknowledge Lazarus but he observed him, and in his heart took note of him and testified of his worth and excellence in the day of visitation. I

[Page 171]

believe it is the exquisite moulding and conformation of Christ, the new man, as it is presented in its true temperament and habits, which arrests souls, and wins them too, far more than the concession or the connivance to the inferior man which one is by nature, as are all men. To be a lily among the flags is really the way to arrest and convince the flags of the beauty and greatness of the lily, not by the lily dwindling down into a flag. With a saint his joy and his strength are consolidated as he maintains his exotic character, and if he cannot, he had better avoid all association with what will only lower him to the level of nature, and strip him of the unique beauty which belongs to the new man.

THE DIVINE STANDARD

In a way I am glad that you seem to yourself not to be able to grasp what you appreciate, because it shews that you see the greatness of your calling, and this must always impart to us the sense of how little we are up to it. You must not give up the calling because you feel that practically you are below it. To retain a good conscience with a low walk is christendom's theology; and the tendency even of believers is to lower the standard, in order to meet the walk. Hence there is no progress; the conscience is preserved, but on a low level. The danger on the other side is of holding truth without being exercised in conscience as to the maintenance of it. The former leads to a low but conscientious walk; the latter, to an open breakdown - shipwreck; because conscience is preserved in the former, but not in the latter.

The true way is to accept the divine standard in all its integrity, and to insist on the conscience holding to it wholly, and to nothing but it. This will no doubt give the sense of how little we have attained; but if it does, it only exercises the heart to be led on, and to win Christ, If I have not a divine standard, there can be

[Page 172]

no progress, though I may feel quite conscientious. The quietness of my conscience is more the result of having reached a human standard, than that of one who would suffer the loss of all things to win Christ. In the latter case the conscience is good and true, not because it has reached the divine standard, but because it is conscious of that alone being its aim; and when it is so, every step is progress. An eagle knows more of the power of the sun than we do, because he gets nearer to it, his eye can bear the light, and he sees better as he approaches the source of light; he gains by every advance. Even when the optic nerve is weak, as with elderly people, the more perfect the light, the better they see. In the same way the very height and greatness of the divine standard is a help to me; as I approach it I gain, because my standard, Christ, is the source of power, and light, and of all blessing.

You may say, I cannot always walk in a light above the brightness of the sun. Saul became blind naturally because of the glory of that light. Did he therefore refuse it, or say it was too high for him? No, but he found that the more he turned to it, and was occupied with Christ in it, the better was he morally fitted to bear it, because he was transformed into the same image. Would you lower the standard to a hand lamp, which could only shew you your way on a dark night pointing out the safe path, and warning you of mud and ruts? You might indeed get home safely, but then you would have seen little on the way, nothing, save what concerned your own safety; no beautiful scenery, none of the endless wonders of what eye hath not seen; none of the charms which the most brilliant light displays are known to you; for that light really makes you possessor of the things which it reveals to you. Nothing contributes to us as light does. The man who never sees anything but that on which his eye at first rested in childhood has (no matter how much he has read) a very imperfect idea of everything. Nothing in ordinary

[Page 173]

life tends more to improve the taste and to correct self-consequence than seeing things and people greater than ourselves. The man who is content with the hand lamp (to speak figuratively) thinks only of himself, lives in his own circle; his own exploits and thoughts are his sun, moon, and stars, and he revolves in this circuit day after day; he makes no progress, his centre is himself. But the one who owns no lesser light than that which is above the brightness of the sun, has a range and circuit before him that is boundless; and instead of being occupied with himself, he is engrossed with Him who enables him to enter on this great tour, and introduces him into so fresh a circle of wonders, that he himself is as nothing in the midst of it.

Lower the standard, and you make man the greatest thing before the mind; maintain the divine standard, which is Christ, and you yourself will be lost in your contemplation of Him and in delight of heart with Him. Your selfishness will be corrected and repudiated, and you will daily more and more enjoy the new and wondrous association in which you are set, and will be daily more at home there, and more a stranger anywhere else.

May it indeed be so with us. I would rather bungle and blunder with the sun as my standard of light, than never make a false step with the hand lamp.

VICISSITUDES, THEIR USE AND OBJECT

The power to bear vicissitudes is the greatest proof of the possession of divine power, because that alone is as strong in one set of circumstances as it is in another. Men are considered strong when they have exercised themselves and have been drilled into a special force by practice and experience; and this is always more or less necessary for a saint; for though he possesses divine power, and that power is as strong in one set of circumstances as in another, still the awkwardness or

[Page 174]

the unskilfulness of the vessel has to be overcome by subjecting it to practice - making it quickly form from right to left, and from left to right, according as the enemy is in force. Hence vicissitudes are necessary for us while in this tabernacle. There is the camp life - the field practice, and the daily drill. Without the Spirit of God and a new nature one could not have any divine power. The power is always the same, but the extent to which we are governed by it is shewn by our being able to behave ourselves with as much facility and skill in new circumstances as in old ones. When we get used to a routine, the force of habit carries us through what would be most trying to others, possibly of more real power, just because our nature has been drilled into a particular groove. Now we must learn to sling with the right hand and with the left, and in order to teach us this, we are emptied from vessel to vessel; we are rapidly passed from one circle to another, in order to make us quite plastic - quite subject to the will of God; and wherein we are not, to expose the working of the will, and to shew us that the order and decorum in which we behaved ourselves in one set of circumstances and where we may have gained great reputation, had become habitual to us, and was not after all the work of grace, but the effect of habit.

The reason why we fail in new and unexpected circumstances is, that we too readily accept our success in the old, as true evidence of our power; and we rest in this, and in a measure plume ourselves on our ability. Peter had courageously struck off the ear of the high priest's servant just prior to his denying the Lord because of fear. The greatest apparent courage gave place to the most abject fear. There was really no divine power in either case. If the Lord be my criterion I shall not when I appear to succeed commend myself because others commend me, for I must see and own before Him how defective all is, though every one may commend; and then when all are against me, I know

[Page 175]

I can turn to Him in whom only I confided when all were approving. He only is my strength and support by day or by night, and as He is, His passing me rapidly from one set of circumstances to another, is only to prove to my heart the elasticity and extent of my resources in Himself, and these are perhaps most used when I appear to man most awkward and most unskilled, simply because there is nothing in myself to trust to; and then it is that one can say, "I ... glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

THE INNER CIRCLE THE FIRST TO BE OVERCOME

The proof of the real value and force of life - the life of Christ in us - is the way and manner in which it resists the opposition of the flesh, and not only how it resists, but how it expresses itself in place of that which it has resisted. I have a new nature, its instinct and standard is Christ; He is my life, and the only measure for my walk. The Spirit of God is the power to enable me to act according to my new nature, both as to its instinct and standard. Now if I were in heaven there would be no check to this new life; there would be perennial sunshine and everlasting verdure; but here on the contrary, everything is adverse to it, because the flesh is enmity against God, and this is in myself and in every one around me. I am here like a diver in a diving-bell, everything around me, the very element I am dwelling in, is fatal to me unless I can resist it; and I must not only resist it, but I must express an action in it, quite new and unknown to that which opposes me. It is not enough for the diver to exist under water, but he must also act there. A saint now has not only to know that he is safe in Christ, that his life is hid in Him and that he is at home with Him above, but he is set here to show forth the virtues of Him who has called him out of darkness into His

[Page 176]

marvellous light; and hence everything of the flesh in himself, and in every one whom he comes in contact with, becomes a trying of his grace. If he meets flesh with flesh, he is vanquished; if he overcomes it, he glorifies Christ. There may be great or little foes, but whatever they be, they are the enemies to whom we are not to yield; and each of us has his own foes to resist, and not only, as I said, to resist, but to set forth in place of and in contrast to that which he has resisted, the way and manner of Christ.

Now, the first opposition you meet is in yourself, and then in everybody else; it is the force of the flesh; you are called on to repel it, and if you cannot repel that force, you can repel none. Hence private life is the beginning of the campaign. If you cannot run with the footmen what will you do with the horsemen? The contrarieties begin at home, or more properly they begin first within. If you cannot resist them in the inner circle, how can you face the outer one? But they are to be resisted, and they are the force which you are called on to resist, and to set Christ on the ground which they once occupied. It will not do for you to say, 'This is unreasonable'. Doubtless it is; the enemy, the flesh in yourself or in any one else, can never do anything that is not unreasonable to Christ. But you must meet it quite another way; you must say, 'Here is one of the seven nations, the Canaanites whom I have to expel; I must not give him any quarter, I must resist him and set up in his place the Israel of God'. If you complain of your foes, either the inward or the outward ones, your strength is less than theirs, you are unwittingly making Christ inferior to them, or else you are thinking of yourself as still in the old man! The matter is simple and there is great gain in it. I am not merely to find fault with my enemies - the carnality in myself and in others; I am simply to resist them in the grace of Christ, and to set up, on the ruins of the foe, the beauty and comeliness of Christ.

[Page 177]

When the fir-tree forests in Canada die off, there succeeds without any interference on the part of man, a full plantation of oak and ash. One order has died off and another order has succeeded in its place. Thus must it be with you. You begin in private life, which is the closest circle to yourself. You refuse the old plantation there, and you supplant it with entirely new growths; and as you do this in the inner and home circle, you are preparing for still greater victories in the outer circle. Having learned on the parade ground how to use your weapons, you will find that they are "mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).

SELF-NEGATION: WHAT IS IT?

"Take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Every day is to be a day of self-abnegation, but also a day of following Jesus, walking here as He walked. This does not consist in vexing or over-taxing oneself, as if there were any inherent virtue in bodily exercise, but in refusing ever thing in us which interferes with our following the Lord. To follow the Lord in every detail, and not to follow one's own will, is the only true rule or course. If one were simply following the Lord and avoiding self-will, one would find that the body would not be unduly taxed, or uncared for, and there would be less suffering to mind and body, than in serving the world. Not but that there is bodily suffering in service, but that is an honour and not an evidence of neglect. The Lord cares for the body; His word is "Come ... apart ... and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31). He provides for the exigence of the day before the day comes, as He provided the manna for Israel before the sun was up. "He knoweth our frame". He does not require that

[Page 178]

I should exert myself beyond my strength, but that I should use my strength for Him and not for myself

This is self-negation; not overtaxing the strength, or vexing the creature, but devoting it to another instead of to oneself. And as there is surrender of what one naturally might use in order to distinguish or set off oneself, a fragrance will fill the house, as it filled the house at Bethany. Neither the Pharisee nor the Judas will approve of this personal devotedness to Christ, but still the fragrance is there.

Fragrance is within the compass or reach of the youngest in Christ, and the most retired. It is the property of flowers from the lily of the valley to the rose of Sharon, and it is also the property of ripe fruit. It is the peculiar delicate appeal that arrests and charms one, without insinuating any claim to attention, and which while contributing, is unobtrusive and unofficious as the air which is the medium of its communication. It is dispensed to all impartially, and each one's share depends on self. Self-denying devotion to the Lord produces this. Giving up what I naturally would like to expend on myself fills the house with this fragrance. There may be the fragrance of flowers or that of ripe fruit. When "the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear ... the time of the singing of birds is come ... the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell" (Song of Songs 2:11 - 13). Both flowers and the ripe fruit have the one common property. But for the fragrance of fruit there must be maturity which all have not attained to, while that of the flower is within the reach of all and any. The lily grows in the valleys among thorns. In the multitude of atomic contributions it forms an atmosphere of its own. The fig-tree and the vine bear their fruits. Special deeds are performed by them, their works are fragrant. Fragrance crowns the ripe fruit. For fruit there must be a tree, an amount of woody fibre and stamina; one cannot be practitioner until one has been fitted for it;

[Page 179]

You must receive before you confer. You must be out of the nest and have learnt to fly, before you can build a nest and serve others. But as the lily of the valley you may fill a circle with fragrance before the tender grape gives a good smell. You may not have the ripe fruit, but you may always be the lily. The more simply devoted you are to Him who is worthy of all devotion, the more fragrance there will be in all your ways, for it will be manifest that you are not seeking yourself, not wincing because your rights are invaded, or that you are not as much cared for as you are entitled to be; but that there is only one governing thought of your life about everything, and that is, how you may distinguish Him who fills every blank in your heart, and lights it up with unfading joy.

HOW TO STUDY CHRIST

In order to study Christ two things are necessary: first, the eye must be on Him in spirit, and secondly, the ear must be open to and occupied with His word, the gospel narrative especially. The gospels are the foundation of the testimony to Him, as He said to the twelve, "Ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:27). It will not do to have the ear open to the word, or the account of our Lord's ways and mind on earth, unless we have our eyes fixed on Him where He is. There is no union but with the ascended Christ, and your power here flows from your being united to Him there. And unless this sense of union be preserved, you will not be in power to act. A child must have power to act first before you can point out to it what course or manner it should adopt. Now if you only have the receptive ear as to what you are to do; that is, if you are studying the gospels without having your eye on Christ above, and consequently without a fresh sense of the power of action, the consequence will be that though you will know how He

[Page 180]

acted, you will never be able to act so yourself. You will be like a child looking at a picture-book, where the most interesting and useful activities are presented, but unable to practise them. The child may tell from his picture-book how many steps are necessary for an active person in this thing or that, but he cannot do one of them himself. But how different it is when the same child has power to act and walk; the picture-book is then a pattern to him to follow, and the steps are those which he can practise day by day.

If on the other hand the eye only is used, and the ear remains inactive; that is, if I only think of union with Him above and do not study His ways here, then, though there is a sense of power, there is no direction given to it. I am like a locomotive without rails; or a child with power to walk but without any instruction. In the one case it is knowledge of how a great many things should be done, but inability to do any of them; while in the other, it is ability to act, but entire ignorance as to how the power to act is to be employed. It is only in the combination of both that there can be a true study of Christ, and conformity to Him. The eye of the soul must be open to see Him by faith, and the ear must be open and receptive to learn of His ways and walk here.

DOUBLE RUIN OF MAN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

I have been very much interested in seeing the two ways in which man is ruined, and in which he has to be surrendered by us. First, he is under judgment because of sin. Nothing can save him out of that, but God's Son dying in his stead. Now every saint in the present day knows this in some measure; but the other is peculiar to this interval and involves a great deal. It is that man has refused Jesus, the Son of God, life and place here, and you must therefore make your election

[Page 181]

whether you will hold to the man who refused life and place to Jesus, or to Jesus who was thus refused and whom the Father has called to His right hand. I must first see Jesus coming to my side to get me out of my state - the state of judgment; but I must go to His side if I would deprecate and disavow the man who denied Him life and place.

If, as a saint, I see the first and not the second, I am indeed relieved from judgment through grace; but I am not in the joy or position before God which identification with Him confers on me. I must, so to speak, choose my man, I cannot have both now. In the millennium this will not be the case, because Jesus will reign, but the saints on earth then will have no identification with His side. But now He has not only come to our side, and conferred on man from Himself; but He relieves the saint from the state he is in, and connects him with the greatness of His own state, because by the Spirit we are united to Him. If I only see Him coming down to die for man, or even rising again, I know that I am safe from judgment, that I can go on with the man here: but if I see truly that He has been rejected by man I see that I must make choice between Christ and the man who would not have Christ. If Christ had reigned I should have been saved to live under His rule and care; but as He has been rejected here, and set at God's right hand in glory, I am through God's grace united to Him where He has been accepted, and I am dead to the man who rejected Him.

IS IT COMFORT IN A SCENE OF DEATH, OR ENTRANCE INTO A SCENE OF LIFE?

Death gives a great reality to everything, it leads the soul into another region - Christ's region, where life only is. The vanity of all nature is exposed, one breathes as it were on the other side of death, and even if it be but for a moment, that moment is to us of great advantage,

[Page 182]

for the sense of being where Christ is, in His life, is one that never can be imitated or erased from the soul. Mary tasted of life, I doubt not, as the Lord walked beside her on their way to the sepulchre, but she tasted of it as a comfort to her on her own side, where the wrench occurred, rather than as placing her on Christ's side in heaven, where all is life and perennial bliss. We generally look for comfort on our side, and when it is vouchsafed to us, we are assured that we have One who feels for us in our sorrow; the bereavement is mitigated and assuaged by the sense that Jesus comes nearer to us, and though we are desolate here, He makes amends, and repairs the blank by manifesting His concern for us; but this is still our side. It is a necessary comfort but it only relieves and sustains in a scene of sadness and death. It is "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isaiah 32:2), a refuge from the tempest, but I am still consciously in the land of tempest. It is Christ's wing let down to shelter me where I am, it is a power and solace which meets me while I am still in the home of sorrow. I am comforted indeed, but as one in a deep dark dungeon would be comforted by the presence of a known friend who has light, and everything to cheer one; but the more this friend and his cheer were known, the more dreadful would be the thought of his leaving. The scene is not altered, I am comforted in it by the presence of this great friend, but I am still connected with the scene of sorrow, and any improvement in it would materially interest me. I am only sheltered in it; if the storms were to subside, I could renew my links with it, though I have gained one thing of great value, and that is, that I have found out how Christ can shelter me, and compensate me for all loss in it.

But if the wrench of death here has led to my entering consciously into the scene where He is, how differently everything here is seen! I am then not sheltered only, but I have in spirit got home, and such a home! where

[Page 183]

everything lovely, and every loved one, have their place for ever. When it is thus with me, my great bereavement is only the hinge on which the door into heaven turned, and by it I have entered and found my place there in Christ, and now I can walk in this scene in cheer of spirit, and vigour of heart, because I am at home outside it, and though sheltered in it, I never seek improvement in it, because I am no longer of it but of the scene where Christ dwells.

NOTHING GAINED WITHOUT LABOUR

Nothing is accomplished without loss and suffering; not that it is the loss and suffering which produce the effect, but if there be not toil and suffering, there is no depth in the work. What is 'easily got, is easily gone'. The truth that seems plain and conclusive beyond all question, and that there is no difficulty in accepting, tries us to the very quick when we really adopt it. There is no sympathy in our nature with it, and yet it seemed so plain and self-evident, that we reckoned on following it out as easily as one would directions as to one's way through a forest or town. We find as we are really on Christ's path - the way of truth, that the power which draws us on, meets with resistance at every step, and that we are like a dog setting his fore feet against the course his master calls on him to follow in, or like the boy's paper kite, flying upwards by being pulled against the wind. The greater the wind, and the greater the pull, the higher we go. But then the resistance is great, and herein is the toil, and the suffering. The more truly we are on the path of life, the more we shall find that there is no co-operation but resistance in every bit of our nature; but if we yield like the paper kite to the pull, the very resistance only deepens the work in us and we rise. We often think that we can fly without any difficulty; that is, we see through grace, the path so plainly that we cannot

[Page 184]

suppose that either oneself or others can be so dull and sluggish as not to enter on it. But we soon find that we have either to bury the dead, or bid them farewell who are at home in our house, and it is no small thing to break away and be superior to either or both these claims of nature. Hence the man who feels they are there - that the wind is against him, the more he does so, and yet gives himself to the hand that pulls, the more he ascends. The more I feel how contrary all nature is, the very best of it, so that the one whom the Lord loved must bear his cross if he would follow Him (Mark 10), the more I bear about me the dying of Jesus. I am not surprised that there is not more of the life of Jesus manifested in us because there is so little of the dying of Jesus.

A man may have got new and beautiful furniture for his house, but there is no place for it, unless the old furniture is cast out; and however he may admire the new he will have toil and suffering in casting out the old; but as it is cast out and room made for the new, he finds that there is great profit. We must expect nothing without labour; it is said of Epaphras, "labouring fervently ... in prayers" (Colossians 4:12). There is no getting on in any one without toil and suffering, but every bit of the old furniture which you cast out to make room for a new article, only makes you more earnest to move more of the heavy articles, in order to make room for all the unpacked and as yet unused valuables, which are still only in store; so do not be discouraged, but labour on, and labour on, for in all labour there is profit.

A HOME ABOVE, AND A GRAVE HERE

There are two things which constitute a saint's happiness according as they are known simultaneously. The one is, that he has a home and life outside of this scene; the other, that he has a grave and dies in this scene.

[Page 185]

If I have not a home - a retreat, known to my soul in heaven, and an assured sense that Christ is my life there, I must, like the raven, though once in the ark, seek for something to solace me here. The real reason why I find it hard that my only possession here should be a grave, is that I have not an abiding sense of a home in heaven, of enjoying life there in all its wondrous perennial virtues and delights. If I do not walk in the truth, the path of wisdom, I am made to encounter rebuffs and rebukes in order to force me into the way, which is the one of pleasantness and peace. The truth is, we have a home in heaven and Christ is our life there; and if this be not simply enjoyed, there will be an attempt to modify the desolation here, and an inability to interpret the varied inroads which death makes on us. It is plain that if I have a home and life outside of this scene, I cannot have either in it, and consequently as I enjoy by faith the one, I see that it is only consistent that there should be neither here, and I become a Caleb, and find a throne at Hebron, where my father Abraham had only a grave! There is death before quickening, though we through Christ enjoy the quickening before we die morally, but it is as we die, that we are confirmed in life. The proof that I enjoy my home and life in heaven is shewn in the way that I accept the grave here. If I am walking by faith, nothing visible will suit me, for the visible comes not within the domain of faith. A man who has emigrated and has found a new home, and happy associations, does not lament that the sea rolls between him and his former domicile of sorrow and privation; but if his satisfaction in the new home flags, he will sigh for the old. So it is with the saint; when his faith and enjoyment in his home above wane, like Israel in the wilderness, he remembers and longs for the choice things of Egypt.

Every growth begins in summer, and the stronger it grows in summer, the better it is prepared for the winter. The defect with souls is, not that they bear the winter

[Page 186]

so badly, but that they have enjoyed the summer so little. They have not made their own of the season and clime which is suited for them, and without which there is no growth, so they are not prepared for the winter; and there is an effort to assuage the bitterness of winter when it comes, instead of having, like the ant, prepared in summer for the trials of winter. The growth is in summer -the endurance is in winter. Summer is my home and my life-time, winter is the testing time. If I have known the bright happy sunshine of summer, I am invigorated and ready for the dark bleak days of winter. Fine days in winter add really nothing to my growth. It is when winter is past and the rain over and gone, that the flowers appear and the singing of the birds is heard. It is the one who does not know that the summer is his only season - his only time for growth and fruitfulness - that pines for mild weather in winter. There will be a double defect in the soul unless it sees by faith on the one hand the perfection of the home and life in heaven, and on the other, the universal desolation here because of the rejection of God's Son who is our life in heaven.

Properly you are the dove who has found a retreat in the ark, and from thence you can fly out and survey the wave of death rolling over the earth, and accepting it, return again to the ark, and to the hand that is stretched out to receive you to the retreat which He has formed for you.

THE BODY FULL OF LIGHT

Two things went together in the wilderness for Israel, and they never are disunited now, though saints often think that they are. The two things were guidance and food - the cloud, and the manna; now the Lord Himself is both guidance and food to us, and we cannot have one without the other; hence, "When thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light" (Luke 11:34). The

[Page 187]

subject of light is fully opened out in Luke 11. The Lord Himself is the light which God has lighted; the elements of the light are moral, and are set forth by Jonah and Solomon, who typify Christ in His sufferings and in His glory. This is the way in which He has been manifested; He is the light, who coming into the world is the light of every man. There is light nowhere else. The component parts of the light are presented on the one hand by Jonah, the suffering one, and on the other by Solomon, the glorious one. If you have an eye (divine nature), you take in the light. Nothing can take in light but an eye; the best ear that was ever possessed could not take in light. The eye is the only organ which can, and hence if your eye is simple - occupied with the light - the body is entirely coloured by it, and there is no part dark. You are not a witness of the light until you are conquered or controlled personally by it.

In the gospels I see how grace practically leads me; in the epistles I see my standing in Christ before God; hence in the latter I am assumed to be dead, in the former I am taught the process by which I realise my death. If I am really dead I have no part dark, but while there is a dark part, there is a hindrance to the full efficacy of the light in making me a witness of it. In Luke 12:35 we get our proper attitude, loins girt and lights [candles] burning (our eyes are the candles of our bodies), and we ourselves like unto men who wait for their Lord. Then the body is luminous; the eye of the soul has fed on Christ in His sufferings and glory, and accordingly its course here is simply in keeping with His mind. If my soul is feeding on Christ, I am practically filling the place here which is pleasing to Him; and this is all the guidance I need; for it is the end of all guidance. He only is before me, I see nothing to interest me here, nothing to attract me but Himself, and what is of Him; and hence, every attitude and relation I fall into must be in keeping with

[Page 188]

the only light I have, and with reference to it. How He would like this move or that move becomes easily determined by me, if I see nothing or no one but Himself, and if what suits Him is thus the simple desire of my heart; and if so, that is, if one is thus simply occupied with Him, it is wonderful how easily and without effort one does this or that, and goes here or there according to His mind and pleasure. Naturally our own selves fill our eyes, and hence we go here and there and do this or that to please ourselves. If I were in a dark street where there were many dangers and many attractions, how anxious and troubled I should be until light had come in. And if the light pointed out distinctly the good of the one, and the evil of the other, I should have very little difficulty in choosing my way. He "that doeth evil hateth the light ... But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" (John 3:20, 21). The reptile flees from the light, the guileless bird welcomes and enjoys it, springing into life and activity because of its presence. We must be exercised; Christ is light, all else is darkness. He suits the bird (which illustrates the new man in faith); all the rest, the darkness, is the element for the reptile! If your eye takes in Christ - the light - in this world it must be as Jonah and Solomon; that is, in suffering and glory.

May the Lord engage our hearts so simply with Himself that we may enter on no step or act but as it suits Him; His own eye leading us into it.

THE GATHERING TIME AND THE STORING TIME

When we are well, and able to go about, the varieties of life carry us on in a wonderful way. The varieties of life are like flowers to a bee. You may have observed how a bee is occupied, now with one flower, now with another. It tries every flower. In some it finds no

[Page 189]

honey, and it flies off to another; but it appears to try every one. The interest is unremitting, time never hangs heavy on the busy bee. Thus in your daily routine of life, you have various things to engage and to interest you, and though you do not find in each honey, that is, real profit - something to carry back to the hive of your heart - I dare say you never feel that time is a burden. But it is very different now, when you are obliged to stay quietly all day in your room, where the flowers or interests are very few, and there is little o no variety. But such a time as this is necessary. The storing time is as necessary for the bee as the gathering time, for how otherwise could the cells in the honeycomb be made? There must be the monotony of building the storehouses as well as the exciting, ever new and endless variety of acquiring stores.

When we walk with the Lord in the ever-changing phases of life, we acquire stores; if we have conscience, seek for stores like the bee, and we learn many and new thoughts of Jesus who is now our manna; but these are only the stores; we require besides to retire into the secret of our hearts, and there in meditation with the Lord to see that we have storehouses for our stores.

It is in seasons like that which you are now passing through, that one finds out whether one really has stores or not. If there be no storehouses, the stores cannot be preserved, but if there be, the stores are there, and they will be forthcoming in the winter - in the day of loneliness. And not only so, but, unlike the bees' stores, the more your stores are used, the more they will increase, and the larger will be the store-houses, because the larger the place Christ gets in our hearts, the more will He be there. Thus I trust this little retirement, this drawing aside into the desert, may be a very happy season for your soul, and that when I see you, you will be like a hive ready to swarm, so full of life and of honey.

[Page 190]

BODILY WEAKNESS AND THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST

As a rule the weaker a person is in himself the more he is occupied with himself; his weakness seems to claim it, but this is only a proof of his weakness. Strength is seen in the possessor of it by the way he governs himself naturally - does what he likes with himself. In weakness, a man naturally yields to himself in everything. Saints with weak bodies claiming attention, and receiving it, are in danger of being over-occupied with their infirmity. I do not say that you are, but I am musing as to the course of treatment which would tend to preserve you from being so; and which would, besides, make the weakness of the vessel an opportunity of setting forth the excellency of the treasure in it. It is a very interesting question how a saint who suffers from bodily weakness can turn it to good account, and escape self-occupation. The weakness is there, and felt to be there, and it is intended that it should be felt; but it is to be turned to good account. The moment the weakness is felt as trial because it hinders my progress, the door has been open for turning it to account. If I am looking at it as an excuse for stagnation, I am under it; but when I feel that it hinders me, and that I have a strength and purpose in me, which is checked and limited by my bodily weakness, then I am ready for the sympathy of Christ, and I get it. Now, when I get His sympathy I find and learn two things; one, that the all-powerful One understands my weakness, in a true sense weeps with me, has full consideration for me, puts Himself on a level with me; but in such a way that it is not my weakness that is now before me, but what He is who has come alongside of me. And now I find another thing; I am occupied with the Mighty One who has thus come beside me in my weakness and I am diverted from my weakness to consider and note Him. I become like the little blade

[Page 191]

just emerging from the earth, coming from the darkness of the death-chamber into the new and wide sphere of this horizon. The weakness is lost sight of, as the little bird loses sight of the narrow limits of the shell, when its eyes first rest on the careful mother which has nursed it into maturity, and she now becomes the object of attraction as well as the source of comfort. Weakness draws out the Lord's sympathy and He meets one in it so effectually, that one is no longer occupied with the thing that He comes to sympathise about, but with Himself - an object as new, and as wide, and as beautiful as this upper sphere is to the young blade, or as the parent bird is to the little one just emancipated. Generally in bodily weakness, or in other weaknesses, we like the sympathy of our fellows and they harp on the one strain, actually augmenting the weakness and hindering progress. But when we know the Lord's sympathy there is a sensible relief, not from the weakness, but because of the new kind of occupation which has arisen out of, or through the weakness, even occupation with Himself. And then His interests become your interests; the blade becomes first an ear, then the full corn in the ear. Although unable to go about, your heart is with His people, and so in company with His servants in their work that you are really above your infirmity. You are borne alone in the Spirit's current, although you are in a weak helpless body, not able to endure one day's fatigue.

HOW WOULD AN OUT-OF-TUNE MEETING AFFECT THE SPIRITUAL?

Your question is - How would the spiritual be affected by the meeting being out of tune?

I believe the nearer you are to the Lord, the more would you feel every disturbance in the meeting; but at the same time you would be more restful in Him who is perfect, and above it all. If you lose your comfort

[Page 192]

because of the want of harmony in the meeting, it is to the meeting you are looking for comfort, and when it comes not, you only add to it by your fretfulness and disappointment. You expected some help or cheer from the meeting; there is disturbance, and you are disturbed, and you thus increase the disorder, because you feel the disturbance only on account of your own loss; whereas, if you are near the Lord, though you will be conscious of the smallest disorder, you are dependent on Him, and therefore you have a warmth in yourself which cannot be chilled by the atmosphere of the room. If you come to the meeting suitably, you come to communicate; you are happy in the Lord, and, as a member of the body, you naturally come to contribute to its general good. If there be disturbance, the more healthy you are, the more you feel it, but you do not add to it; on the contrary, by your health you actually check the spread of it. You rest in the Lord, and know Him afresh, as "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isaiah 32:2), you see the storm, while you are under the shelter of His presence.

It is a very interesting and important question, because its answer accounts for the different ways in which different saints view the same meeting. The spiritual one will feel the discord of the meeting, because he is so sensible of what suits the Lord, from being under the cover of His wing, and the more he is in the secret place of the Almighty, the more he feels and sees what is not in keeping with it; but while he is very sensitive, he only gets closer under the wing, though he sings not, because there is a storm! He is like the lamb that cleaves closely to its mother's side, when there is any noise or alarm of danger, more sure of its place and protection, though at the same time aware of the presence of trial; while the one who is disturbed, is like the lamb that has sought pasture at a distance from its dam, and which, when the danger arises, increases the panic and disorder by its own perturbation.

[Page 193]

"TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL THINE HEART; AND LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING"

(Proverbs 3:5)

There is a positive and a negative action enjoined in this verse: the one, trusting in the Lord with all your affections; and the other, not leaning on your own mind or its suggestions - your heart trusting in the Lord, and your mind not trusting in itself. It is very interesting to note the difference in practice which this counsel produces. When my affections lead me to trust in the Lord, I am gratifying my deepest feelings; for the Lord occupies my heart; in Him every resource and benefit is laid up for me, and He delights to give. When you trust in the Lord with all your heart, mere difficulties or sorrows, instead of causing distress, become opportunities for your knowing better His unequalled power and care for you. The moment a difficulty occurs, the heart turns to its resource, as a bird to its wing. If you lean on your own understanding, when a strait occurs, or when any claim is made on you, you begin to think how you can extricate yourself from it, and you are as one pumping at an empty well for water with which you want immediately to extinguish a fire, and after all your toil you never succeed. When you trust in the Lord, want is your passport to Him - your draft on His heart, which is a bank of treasures of every kind, whereat you are enriched and satisfied whenever you apply, until, from habit, you are never happy or at home anywhere else. You are restful, and never without resource. If, on the other hand, you lean on your own understanding, you will be anxious and devising, watching the effect of your sayings and doings, as a chemist watches the result of his various combinations, and yet, with all your toil, you are never able to produce the thing required. In the one case you can cheerfully answer every claim, because it causes you to apply where unbounded wealth is placed

[Page 194]

at your disposal; in the other, you are made to feel, the oftener you try, how inadequate and insufficient is anything of your own devising to allay or repair the moral disturbances ever occurring, where God and man are at a distance, and man and his fellow at variance.

PERFECTION ALONE CAN SATISFY THE TRUE TASTE AND THE TRUE HEART

Two things always go together - the desire to know more of the Lord, and the sense of how little one has attained to it. The first shews that there is true and active spiritual taste; the second, that there is a true and vivid perception of what is to be attained to. The apostle could say to the last, 'I count all things but dung that I may win Christ'. If one with much spiritual taste could reach to all that he desires, there would be a end to progress - for it would either be, that perfection could be attained in an imperfect state of things, which is incongruous, or there would be satisfaction with imperfection. Eden was enough to satisfy a man in innocence, but he lost the state to which it was suited when he fell, and now the man who is restored to God's presence in righteousness by His own Son, no attainment can satisfy, if his spiritual taste be true, but complete conformity to Him, which cannot be till He is manifested; then we shall be conformed unto the image of His Son.

Among men a refined taste is formed by cultivating it and gratifying it, and the more it is gratified the more it is increased; so that the more refined a man is in nature, the less satisfied he must be, because he is really in every way inconsistent with his creation. He is deceived and carried away, because he is pursuing a shadow. The man of the world is like a merchant who traverses the sea and land to obtain every precious thing, and through them to secure a home and a satisfaction for his heart - his search is endless, and he

[Page 195]

never succeeds. The saint has a home where everything is perfect, and where he is fully satisfied, but his duty calls him away from home, and he contrasts everything here with his home. He is a stranger here on a foreign mission. The merchant goes everywhere, seeking something to form a home. The stranger is here only to do a service; but then, because he is a merchant by nature, he is always tried and tested by any attempt to induce him to make light of his home, by seeking to find one here. The more he is in spirit in his own home, the more he sees the perfection of Christ in which he will enjoy perfection - the more does he desire to be like Him, and less is he satisfied with any attainment he has made of being like Him, or of possessing Him. To satisfy the true taste, there must be perfect surroundings. To give true energy and character, and to satisfy the affections, there must be a perfect object; and there is one - Christ - who is the mark or goal for which we forsake all here. Both will be obtained when He comes, and for this we wait.

The merchant by nature is through grace transformed into a stranger, sent here from heaven; he has to ignore all his old tastes and pursuits, and instead of seeking here and there, and everywhere, for something to improve his condition, he studies to make known the new order of things into which he has been introduced, and his only regret is, how little able he is to bear witness to them, because he is himself so little versed in them.

IF YOU MINISTER TO THE NATURAL, YOU CANNOT HAVE THE SPIRITUAL

You are not to be surprised or discouraged because you find your flesh opposing you in seeking after the Lord. The more you minister to the flesh, even in a common, that is, in a natural way, even reading about natural things, or talking about them, the more will it

[Page 196]

intrude when you do not want it, or rather when you do not wish to be disturbed by it, and when you consider it an intruder. If you would be free from the flesh when praying, etc., you must be careful not to encourage it at other times. People often think that they can do with the flesh what they can do with their clothes, that is, wear them and change them when they like; they think they can give their minds and thoughts to the things that please the flesh, and then in a few minutes get rid of it, as one would a dress, and put on quite a different one, to come into the presence of the Lord. The flesh once encouraged, once allowed to be about you as a dress, it is not so easily put off, even though you may most truly desire to be fit for the presence of the Lord, and to be happy there. This is in principle making the best of both worlds, and it cannot be. It must be either Christ who died for man, or the man by whom Christ was crucified. It is when you desire to enjoy the presence of Christ that you first discover that you have been cultivating a hindrance to it. You have been drinking old wine, you have been wearing natural clothes, and pleasing yourself; and then when you seek the Lord, all these things, which have previously engrossed you, are like a mob refusing you leave to pass the way you desire. It is a good sign when you feel this mob, because it shews that you are not content with being absent from the Lord, but yet, on the other hand, it shews that you have been tampering with the enemy, instead of refusing all his offers, so as to be ready dressed at any moment for the presence of the Lord. The more and the longer we are away from the Lord, the less we feel it, and the less we are conscious of the mob which hinders and depresses us. The more we wear common every-day clothes, and like them, the less do we care for state robes. We are not aware of our defects until we come in contact with that which is vastly superior. Many a one thinks that he dresses very well until he comes to town, and then

[Page 197]

he sees how shabby he is; he did not feel his shabbiness before. Thus it is with you; while you are happy and satisfied in your intercourse with those around you, your dress is in your own eyes nice enough; but when you would enjoy the Lord's presence, you find that you have been fostering and surrounding yourself with things that will get no place there, and then you find that it is no easy matter to change your dress, and put on quite a different one.

The only way to secure constant joy in the Lord's presence, that is, to be so dressed as to be unhindered there, is to seek His pleasure in the commonest details of our lives, not seeking anything for ourselves, but the things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22). "Enoch ... before his translation ... had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). Study to please the Lord, and thus you rebuke the tendency in your own heart to please yourself, you keep off the common garments of the flesh, and you increase your taste for the dress that suits the Lord's presence, which is simply a devoted heart.

CONSCIENCE AND SPIRITUAL TASTE

The plant called 'hen and chickens' is a very beautiful illustration of the new man - Christ and His brethren. The stem and large central flower is the parent plant, and growing out of the stem all around are small blossoms, alike in colour and material to the central one, and differing only in size. The colour always indicates the material, and morally the outside must be in keeping with the power within. The flaw outside intimates that there is a flaw within. Hence the tongue is the tell-tale of every one. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man" (James 3:2). "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress" (Psalm 17:3). Our great study should be to increase the treasure within, for, according as I am a mirror, I reflect Christ in His glory - that is,

[Page 198]

in the moral order which is suited to, and emanating from God. There it is that my spiritual tastes are formed, and there they are fed, but I have to maintain, to be an epistle here of what is written on me there. I find no help from my body, but it is an earthen vessel that the excellency of the power may be of God. I acquire the tastes there, and I seek to express and maintain them here. It is not merely conscience judging whether I am up to the word or light made known to me; but spiritual taste is much more - it is nature. My taste is formed in glory, and there it is nurtured and strengthened, and as it is, so do I find nothing here in keeping with my taste. Association with the Son of man, the One most perfect, and in every way the most beautiful, develops my new nature, which is the same as His. Where He is is my home - there I feed and rest; but here on earth, I am learning to set aside in death everything in me which hinders the life of Jesus. Now if I have only conscience, and if I hear much truth, or see much light, I am ever judging myself as to the extent in which I have received it. Conscience never imparts. It is like a register, which keeps an account of all the changes of conditions, or a pedometer, that only goes as you move, and therefore records how much you have walked, and how much you have not. It occupies you with your condition. Now, on the other hand, taste is ever set on finding something to suit itself. The blessed Lord walked about the earth - His own estate - looking for everything in it which could suit His taste. He required no register, no action of conscience, but He found but little here for His taste, and He continued in heaven, though manifestly on the earth. He was the "Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13). I do not say for a moment that we can go on without the conscience - it is quite right that the registrar should take note of the changes of condition, but this of itself would never advance us. Where the taste is the primary thing, then the conscience

[Page 199]

only warns or intimates to us that the taste has not been, as I may say, consulted. You can discern a person's taste by the company he seeks. If you seek company below what your conscience approves of, your tastes are low, and you will sink - the dead are there; but if you seek the company morally superior to you, your tastes are good, and you will be helped and strengthened even though you may feel your own inferiority. Conscience tells me that I am deficient, but it does not help; it is like pain in the body, which warns me of something wrong, but it does not relieve, though it suggests the need of relief. Conscience tells me I need spiritual food, or any kind of means, but it never supplies them. The source of supply, then, is the greater thing, and it is there that the capacity to hold and enjoy the supply is acquired, because there the taste is developed.

As I cultivate divine taste, I am occupied with good, and the more I am so, the stricter becomes my conscience to record the changes of condition. How different the experiences, "My soul thirsteth for thee" (Psalm 63:1), and "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" (Psalm 43:5). In the former I am occupied with Him who satisfies me; my taste has found its object; and my conscience is good, because I have not offended against it. But when I am watching what the conscience records, I am occupied with the results of life, and not with the power to support it, and this always depresses. The sun penetrates a very small way into the ground, and if I go to the ground to measure its power, I shall be disappointed; but if I keep near it, I enjoy all its warmth and brightness.

SCHOOL - THE BEST PLACE FOR LEARNING

The circumstances in which we learn most are those which most expose our weakness.

As a rule, we are placed in circumstances which demand that which we are most defective in. We are

[Page 200]

set in such and such circumstances, not because we can fill them, or behave in them, better than any one else, but on the contrary, because we need to be invigorated by grace in the defects which they are fitted to expose. They disclose to us where we need grace, so that constantly we are failing where we are expected to excel. We are put there to cast us on the Lord, and to teach us that we can do nothing. If we could excel there, we should glory in our own success, but when we find that we are placed in the very circumstances that, perhaps, more than any others expose our weakness, we then see that we have no hope of being able to stand or succeed, unless we obtain grace to do so. I am not placed in the circumstances where I could excel most, but I am placed in those in which I can best know my need of grace, and best learn dependence. If I could get on without grace, I should grow elated with myself, but when I find that unless the Lord is at my right hand I shall fail, then I am humbled as to myself, but I am also deepened in dependence, which the demand of my circumstances has, in a way, forced on me; and having learned the blessing of dependence, instead of regretting the circumstances which made it necessary to seek help, I am the more cheered and encouraged to go on in them.

For learning or service every one is placed where there is demand on him. The boy at school is not in the easy circumstances of home or the playground. The horse in harness is not in the easy circumstances of being in the stable or at grass. Nor are the teacher and the coachman in the circumstances where they can relax and enjoy themselves, but where they are tested, and where, unless they have quality, they are rejected or dismissed. The circumstances we are placed in are the ones in which we can best learn and be most useful. It is not because we have nothing to learn or nothing to do for others. If we had nothing to learn, there would be no difficulty in the lessons required of

[Page 201]

us every day. The fact that there is difficulty in them proves that we are not proficient, and that it is necessary that we should be subjected to circumstances which disclose to us what we require to learn, or to draw from us what we can render. Your weakness is exposed that you may acquire strength, and having received of the Lord, you will then be called on to render unto others - to comfort others, as you have been comforted of God; so that, whether learner or servant, you are always set in circumstances where there is exaction, and not ease. If the learner were to keep at the same lesson always he might feel his difficulty over, but so would his learning be over. If the horse remains at grass always, he is still a horse, but he is of no use to any one. Are you learning? Are you useful? Whenever you are either, you will find that you are in exacting circumstances, and therefore not those where you are most at home and most at your ease; but the more you turn them to profit, the more you are learning of grace, and the more useful you are in sharing what you have acquired. You look too much for 'home', and for being at grass; school and harness are not before you as your daily exercise; if they were, you would find that exactions were the very things that put you in a position to learn more, and to serve better.

The Lord lead you to see that He places you where you are to learn and to serve, and that, unless you receive grace to meet your circumstances, they must expose your weakness.

LIGHT IS TO EMANCIPATE, NOT ONLY TO ENLIGHTEN

When any one has been immured for any length of time in a dark cavern, and the way of escape has been in vain looked for, the first harbinger in the shape of a ray of light is greeted with a delight which is hardly surpassed by that which accompanies full emancipation.

[Page 202]

In the ray there is conveyed the promise and earnest of full deliverance. But while it imparts this cheering sense, it does so, not that the immured one may rest in it, but that he may use it, and follow its track, until he reaches the happy consummation of which it predicts. So must it be with you. You must use the blessed ray of light which has visited your soul to get quite clear of the cavern of depression; and if you follow the ray to its source, even Christ in glory, you will get clear of it, and you will never more return to the cavern, but you will occupy yourself with Him from whom the ray comes. You are not clear of the cavern if you still feel that it is so near you that you can speak of it. Souls may be in the cavern, either without light, or with light. In the former case the cavern hopelessly occupies them, but it is the one continued sameness of gloom; but in the latter case, though there is the assured hope of extrication, they are not free from the darkness, because the light has not been used to effect its full purpose. Here many souls suffer. They talk (or what is nearly as bad, think) of their experiences - of the difference between their state now and when there was no light at all. It is just what a convalescent patient does. He talks or thinks of what he can do today, which he could not have done three weeks since. A man in health thinks of what he will do, or is doing, and does not contrast it with the past. His mind and energies are taken up with the sphere which commands his attention. He uses his health, but does not think of it. I trust the Lord has given you a ray of light from Himself, and you are cheered; but what I desire now is, that you may so fully follow it to its source, as to feel that you have left the cavern (like bad health) a long way behind, and that, unlike Lot's wife, you will not look behind, but with more than an eagle pinion soar onward and upward to Christ Himself.

If you see the cavern you have not got very far from it, or you are looking back - both most dangerous to

[Page 203]

the soul. Go on with the Lord, and you will be bright and restful, and the cavern will never even haunt you.

SINS AFTER CONVERSION

What becomes of the sins which we commit since new birth - since we became christians?

I am not surprised at your question, or that it should be an anxious one to you: nay rather, I am glad that it is an anxious one, for it shews that you desire to maintain a good conscience before God. I think very often that saints, while professing to know more than your question supposes, in reality know not its answer, and sometimes seek not its answer, for they allow time or happy seasons to wear out the remembrance of the evil that had wounded their conscience. I think it an all-important subject, and one on which the strength and comeliness of our walk depends.

When I, in the midst of my sins, believe in Christ, God, because He can do so justly, justifies me. He has established righteousness through Christ. God is now just to justify, as He was just before to condemn. The Son came forth to do the Father's will - the will of God, and thus to give a righteous warrant for the expression of God's love, which, though it existed, could not have been expressed before there was righteousness for God to act on; not only righteousness for me, but righteousness through which God could express His heart to me - a lost one in my misery - now awakened like the thief on the cross, to believe on His Son. I look by faith on Him, by whom the righteousness is declared, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25). I am accepted in the Beloved, not because I am righteous, but because God is just, to accept me in the Beloved, who enabled Him in righteousness to meet me - a sinner believing in Him who effected it, and through whom I am the righteousness of God in Him. The righteousness is on God's side and effected for God. Faith in Christ in me reckons

[Page 204]

me with Him who effected it, and thereby I am in the very righteousness in which God is now just to justify and accept me. It is a righteousness suiting God, who can receive His prodigal son. I, believing in Christ, am through grace, accepted - made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. The thief on the cross believed in Christ, and though very ignorant, that did not set him any lower than the place which God in His love had provided for him. His sins were gone and he was to be with Christ that day in the third heaven, enjoying the love of the Father in all its greatness. He had much to learn and to know of Christ when he got there; the way and manner by which all difficulties to his reaching such a height were removed; how Christ had by one offering perfected them that are sanctified - all this must have been learned after he was in the third heaven, for surely it was not learned on this side; just as Moses and Elias doubtless learned more perfectly of Christ's decease on the mount of transfiguration than they had ever done before. All this shews, that being introduced by Christ into the place which the Father's heart desired for us, we learn how fully Christ has secured our title to be there. The blood was sprinkled seven times on the mercy-seat ("propitiation" same word) in the holiest of all, and it is in the holiest of all that I am most fully assured of my title to be there, and that in God's sight (not mine so much, though I there see it as He sees it) "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). It is a discovery on my part, and not anything of the nature of a performance; I discover the greatness of my title where I am most in the result of what Christ accomplished. When I am nearest to God; when I have reached the point where Christ according to the love of God has travailed to bring me - even to the Father - in Himself - then do I best know how fully entitled I am to be there; the very nearness increases the sense of title.

[Page 205]

Now, supposing I sin. I lose the sense of my place - this given place of nearness to God. I remember I had a place there. I have sinned, and I have lost it. I seek restoration. The word of God exposes and convicts me. Where do I look? Who is before God? What is the revelation to me now having to do with God, and knowing Him? Why, that I "have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God" (Hebrews 4:14). Christ is my link to God, He effected all for God. He is my Advocate, or Paraclete, or Patron, with the Father: I see Him there as the righteous One, by whom I have been brought nigh to God; by whom I have found myself in the wealthy place before God. I see Him there; He presents me before God, holy, unblameable, unrebukeable, when in faith; but not without confession of the evil by which I have lost the enjoyment of my high place. When I confess, I admit the sin for which Christ was God's sacrifice to put away all sin, and mine too. I write this sin on myself before God and according to the terms of my confession - the larger the characters in which I write it, the greater my sense of exoneration. Why? Because God "is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). I discover in another and a more distinct way how God has established righteousness in Christ. I am enlarged in my soul to a sense of the ground on which He can exonerate me because I confess the guilt which God has already judged in His own Son; and through whom He is just to justify me so that after real restoration, I am stronger than ever in His grace: and if it be otherwise, the restoration is not genuine. I discover what the grace of God is to me practically in myself, even as the thief knew it in its effects.

[Page 206]

TO PREVENT LAMENESS

There are two educational processes which must go on simultaneously, or there will be lameness; "The legs of the lame are not equal" (Proverbs 26:7); one is very slowly learnt, the other, very readily; but there is no real, permanent progress unless they go on together. One is self-mortification. This will be admitted as necessary by every class of christians, from the least to the greatest, and saints in general adopt it in some form or other. This in its full sense is extermination and not acquisition, though in most minds there is a latent thought that if the bad were mortified, the good would spring up in its place, as when an old crooked oak is cut down, a nice straight promising one springs up. Now this really only exposes where the lameness is, because if there be in the flesh no good thing, excision or mortification cannot improve it, or make room for an improved state; for there is nothing good in it. Hence, this it is that shews how necessary it is in order to prevent lameness, that one should know where advancement or growth can be acquired, and this is the other leg. It is by beholding Christ in glory that the new man is increased, "transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Now it is more difficult to lead souls to see and to obtain this second leg, than the first, and yet the imperfect way they obtain the first hinders them from seeking the other, or really being able to use the one which they assume to have.

But there is another danger; as soon as the soul sees the point of transformation there is the danger that he will become satisfied, and think that everything is in it, as once he may have thought that everything was in self-crucifixion. Now without a doubt the hobbling is worse when the second is supposed to be enough than when the first satisfied one. The one occupied with glory and omitting self-mortification is

[Page 207]

like a beautiful flower in a broken pot on the roadway. There is an air of fine sentiments, great appreciation of the beautiful, and reception of everything sublime, but such a one is like the man of mere learning who is not able to reduce what has been gained in education to any practical purpose. Surely if I am growing and developing in the highest nature, I ought to be ready to dispense with and refuse the nature that is adverse and pernicious.

Some might be stronger in the point of self-mortification if they had never known that of transformation; they are interested and captivated with the beauties of the glory, but too passive with respect to the vessel: the flower pot is allowed to be in any state it likes. We must mortify practically and absolutely, not merely submit to it because it is providentially ordered, but we must initiate it. A man who studies self-denial and does not see the side of transformation is one who makes everything of the flower pot, but has nothing but a daisy or some ordinary flower in it, although he passes better in the public eye. But how beautiful when there is a beautiful flower in a suited pot, and the pot kept, by self-control and self-denial, fit for the rare plant which is daily developing and expanding in loveliness to the praise of Him who planted it, and who nurtures and cherishes it.

NO GROWTH OR LEARNING WITHOUT EXERCISE

There is no growing without exercise; you would not expect to learn to write without pains and assiduity. We learn truth either because of our need, or for our need. In the latter case the need has not yet come, but in either case there can be no real learning but through suffering and exercise. The mistake with many saints in the present day is that they think because they can describe a truth, that therefore they have

[Page 208]

learned it. When a truth is really accepted, the conscience demands that there should be accordance with it. No one can teach well what he has not had much trouble in learning. The exercise in learning acquaints one with the care and attention which are required in order to be a proficient. You cannot teach writing unless you can tell what hinders and what facilitates good writing, and to know this you must have passed through these exercises; 'the sixpence you make wears like steel'. But besides this there must adding (see 2 Peter 1), or there is not vital power. It is easier to add when there is already some measure of any virtue, but it is the more necessary when there is a deficiency, and the Lord's ministry is always directed to the deficiency in order that there may be symmetry. Whatever we have most of is what we really most desire, and often what we have least of we are most satisfied with, just because we do not know enough of it to know its value. Many a one knows a language who could not teach it, he has never studied the grammar, though ordinarily he may speak good grammar. The danger in the present day is that so many can adopt and speak the language of divine truth, though it be quite a different one to his mother tongue, without passing through the exercise which would acquaint him with the exactions which it makes on one who truly learns it; and this alone qualifies for teaching it.

Divine truth is the life of Jesus and not a mere theory, and one must know it in life, in order to present it in life. Trying to act out what I see and hear, imparts to me great blessing as to every truth. I find it touches me on every point, and as I have said, where I have gained most already, I am glad to gain more, for I appreciate it better; but where I am most defective, there is most exercise of conscience, but not the same readiness to receive or adopt. I am to be always like one practising at the piano, not the tunes I know best

[Page 209]

but the ones at which I am most unskilful, and the more skilful I become at them, the better musician am I in every other, or for any other. You must practise, you must take pains. The deep ponderings of the middle ages though with less light, surpass the shallow platitudes of the present day with so much light. There is no depth where there has not been deep exercise, and the thought which has come from deep exercise, like the notes of a well-practised musician, has a tone and a mellowness about it, which tells of the long journey it has taken before being presented to the public. Any measure of gift is like taste; where you have most taste is where you never can accomplish anything quite to your satisfaction.

"TAKE HEED ... HOW YE HEAR"

(Luke 8:18)

When light first breaks in on the soul, it is sweet to it, to the new nature. It is the work of God; but in order to promote it, and to enjoy what the light confers, I must practically prefer it to everything else. If I do not give it first place and absolute attention, it remains inactive, like a light in a dark lantern; hence it is said, "take heed ... how ye hear". If you have had a glimpse of the unsearchable riches of Christ have you been diverted by it from other things which claimed your attention and interest, or have you gone on as usual? Can you sit and talk as usual, dress as usual, read the books you used to read? In a word, though you have tasted of something great, has it no peculiar effect on you? Has it produced no marked alteration in your feelings about things? If not, it really does not control you, and this is the secret why you do not advance. If it (the knowledge of Christ) controlled you, in spite of yourself, and without perceiving it, you would retire daily more and more from usual things, because more and more engrossed with the Lord. You would not make any arrangements to break away from this thing

[Page 210]

or that thing, but in seeking to know more of Christ, like a bird ascending to the sky, you would leave earthly things behind. The sky and air would be more beautiful to you as you ascended, and the things you had separated from would not be accounted of. What is the good of things if they are not used? and as you use them you must distance yourself from the lower associations. If you will not break from the common, you will never enjoy the uncommon. It is here where so many are detained. They wish for wings - they admire flying, but the moment they find that flying will distance them from old haunts and old tastes, they are content to hop, and not to fly; they are sluggards, they desire, and have nothing. The fact is, the more we grow up in the knowledge of Christ, the more we must separate from everything that is contrary to Him. The babe in Christ can mix with those, and can do things with impunity, which would make the father miserable. Spiritual sensitiveness increases with growth. The babe can endure an atmosphere which would be insupportable to a young man. It is the contrary way with the new creation and with the old. In the latter the young require the most attention and care and delicate nursing, but in the new, it is as there is growth that one must be increasingly watchful of every incongruity, because the organisation is so high and holy that the more it is developed, the more it is necessary to ward off everything that would grieve and hinder it. When fruit trees are in blossom that is the most precarious time, and the moment they are nearest having fruit, is the one in which they must be best sheltered from ungenial weather, far more so than at any other period of their existence. You have thought you could enjoy the uncommon and yet retain the usual, but you cannot. In proportion as you hold to the one you weaken the other.

[Page 211]

DEATH IS MOST FELT WHERE IT IS HARDEST TO DIE

I see so many nowadays, who are not entering the harbour fully freighted, and all because they are not cultivating the activities of life while in this death period; and the ruling passion is strong in death. If one has not died, death is before one, and the greatest death would necessarily be where one would most like to live, and where that is, the ruling passion is. No one is really dead while the ruling passion is yet alive, because it is there that death must first be felt and where there is the greatest buoyancy and tenacity of life. Whatever of yourself you try most to spare, is that which is your strongest hold on life, and hence you will find that in all God's ways with us, He cuts at the root of that particular passion or pre-possession which we especially desire to spare. One is mortified, another disappointed, a third is in sorrow. Why? Because the working of the natural life was most active in the quarter in which it is checked, and there death is most felt. It is often admitted that we have died with Christ by those who are not at all willing to be so dead as to be only a mere vessel for Christ's use - to accept death to everything of nature's life. This is carrying about in our body the dying of Jesus.

If any one will study and review the history and manner of God's ways with him from the first, he will see that God has always been subjecting him to blisters where they most rise, because there they are most wanted. There must be inflammation or the blister would not rise, and the blister is really to draw the inflammation to the surface. If there were no inflammation the blister would be harmless and painless. What a life of mortification Jacob had! At last he worships, leaning on the top of his staff, having nothing at all here, and he a worshipper, and thus he has an abundant entrance. If he had studied the ways of the

[Page 212]

Lord with him, he could not but have noticed the vexed feelings which he had when things were so ordered for him. Wherever I am vexed - mortified, there there is quick flesh. I may have sorrows besides, which is a very different thing. If I am vexed, my self-love is touched. When I have sorrow, it is because I lost something dear to me. In the one case I am made little of, in the other I am bereaved. In the one, I consider I do not get my due, and in the other I have lost what was really mine. The discipline or the mode of dying with respect to each is therefore widely different and the effect different too. In the one case it is what I am to myself that I feel, and in the other what others are to me. The discipline in the first case is always to reduce the sense of my self-importance, and the irritation, like that of a blister, though it does not of itself remove the malady, yet shews the seat of it, and one who is walking with the Lord in the light, must see that his vexation proceeds from wounded pride; whereas in the other case, it is not vexation because of my self-importance, but sorrow because of the importance of others to me, and in the discipline of losing them, I learn that Christ has not been enough for me, and I learn too where death is necessary for me, in order that I may be simply a vessel for Christ. The end of the discipline in either case is that we may so accept death as not to give way to either vexation or sorrow, but be wholly for Christ.

THE HEART SATISFIED

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4). According as the Lord is the object of your delight, the desires of your heart will be answered. There is no answer to them, no satisfaction, until the Lord is the object of your delight. When He is, then the heart finds everything to satisfy it. If every treasure or gain you could wish for were

[Page 213]

stored in some fort, or castle, your first work would be to possess the fort, and the next to explore and enjoy all the treasures in it. If I delight in the Lord, I possess Him. Love possesses what it delights in, even when there is no return. How much more when there is! His love begets ours, though it is always in advance of ours, and passes knowledge. The mistake with some is the attempt to satisfy the heart with the things which answer to the desires of the heart. First one thing and then another is sought after and even possessed, for instance peace, and the assurance of glory, and other distinct and special blessings, but the heart is not satisfied because many other things are wanting, and where there is want there is not satisfaction. There is no real satisfaction until everything is complete and without break or interruption. The heart seeks where it may rest in a sphere where everything is very good. The divine nature cannot be satisfied with anything short of this. The unsatisfied state of the natural heart tells how it has departed from God. The way with us is that we often seek and obtain some particular good, and the very enjoyment of it makes us feel more the absence of things which suit it, so that the possession of the good thing awakens the sense of the imperfection of the rest, just as one would feel if part of one's dress were excellent and new, but the rest old and worn. Every saint through grace obtains and possesses some of the treasures of the kingdom, but these beautiful and rare things only cast in the shade the common things around, and the heart feels that instead of being satisfied, it is ruffled by the contrasts which intrude and beset it. In fact it is the treasures which have been sought, and not the fort where they are all stored in permanency and in order, and where there is no disturbance nor incongruity, but everything abundant and appropriate; "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Where everything is perfect and beautiful, and everything timely and suitable, where

[Page 214]

without discrepancy or contrast, each is contributing its beauty and excellence, and adding to and setting off the other, this is the scene where the heart is satisfied, and this is only found in the Lord, and only secured by delighting in Him who is the centre and source of all, where all is divine order and divine permanency. One perfection, or even many, does not satisfy the heart; one perfect One with every perfection does satisfy it, but it is not the perfections I am to seek, but the perfect One - not the fruits in the garden, but the garden itself; and there I sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit is sweet to my taste. If the garden be mine, if I possess Christ, I possess not fruits nor treasures only, but I possess Him in whom they are in fulness, and every desire of my heart is met at one and the same moment, in unfading light and eternal perfection.

PEACE WITH GOD, AND THE PEACE OF GOD WITH ME

There are two states which must exist at one and the same time in order to ensure happy and steady walk. The one is peace with God; the other, the peace of God with me. In the first, my heart so rests in God's satisfaction in the work of His Son on the cross, that it is His satisfaction which I share.

I cannot reach up to or measure the satisfaction of God, or know fully how He was glorified in the way Christ answered to all the holiness of God; but as I taste of His satisfaction, I know why He can kiss me in my rags, and receive me into His house and home; so that my conscience is not only satisfied about my sins, but I am lost in the satisfaction of God, who can and does receive me according to His love in righteousness. It is then that I have peace with God; there is not an element to disturb; God has freed me through Christ from every atom of the offending thing; He

[Page 215]

has done it according to His own nature, that He might receive me to Himself according to His love.

His satisfaction is proved in the resurrection of Christ, and I trust in it, and not in the satisfaction of my own conscience about my sins; and then and there I have peace with God. This is one state; and if this state be not preserved, there will be no surmounting the pressure of nature, or the general atmosphere around. In this state you are like the cedar tree, with nature and purpose to rise in height above everything: its course is always upward, for in that direction is its growth. The heart at peace with God always finds that its course is upward, and its retreat and home above, and to this end all its strength and energy tend; and unless you are strong and matured in peace with God, you will not be able to seek His peace in your circumstances, which is the other state.

Now this additional state - God's peace keeping my heart and mind through Christ Jesus - is not enjoyed unless I have learnt confidence in God, and can open all my heart to Him, and let Him see in detail the good and the sorrowful in my heart. It requires much confidence to do this; to empty out all the furniture of the heart to God, praising Him for the good parts (there is nothing good except what is of Himself), and calling His attention to the broken ones. It is then that the peace of God keeps the heart and mind through Christ Jesus. The greatest wonder is, that one like you or me should be kept, in the midst of the most vexing elements, in the same state as the blessed God is on His throne, and it is the greatest favour that God could confer on any one on earth. Surely it passeth all understanding; and then it is you are not only a cedar tree, but everything you do or touch, every bit of furniture in your heart, is made of cedar wood and bears its fragrance.

In peace with God, you soar to the heavens, and then having made known all your requests to God,

[Page 216]

you have His peace imparting its wondrous value to you in everything here. In the power of life the cedar tree rises to its true place; but it is through death that its wood is available for furniture; for use it must be cut down and seasoned. Thus it must be with you, as to these two states. In the power of the Spirit of life you rise to your appointed home; you are always reaching upward; the door is thrown open; you have boldness to enter into the holiest of all; nothing lower is your place. But as to your circumstances here, the more dead you are, the better will be the wood for use, and the more will you be a vessel fit for the Master's use. It is death in this scene, and life in Christ outside of it.

The Lord grant that each of us may know more of these two states; and if the Lord detains you here for another year in the wilderness, may you be deeply and largely acquainted with this double blessing.

ISOLATION (1)

I believe that the Lord in a very peculiar way makes up to one for the privation of not assembling together, when it has been caused by circumstances beyond our control; still it is a privation. I think there is an evident distinction between being hindered by the chastening of the Lord, or by the power of the world. It is distinct mercy when one is not hindered; but when one is hindered, either by chastening or by an adverse power, there is an exercise of soul and heart accordingly.

If it be by chastening, the word, as we hear it, is directed to the removal or washing away of that in us which required it. If it be by the power of the world, the Lord manifests Himself, and encourages and consoles us by His presence. This latter is properly isolation - the only good isolation, and the Lord turns it to the best account.

[Page 217]

Paul in prison, and John at Patmos, are both isolated by the power of man; but the place and time of isolation were used of God to impart to them the deepest purposes of His mind, and I doubt not the nature of the isolation, indicated the line of truth which was committed to each. One was an exile; the other, a prisoner; and neither of them could by any means escape from the isolation to which they were subjected.

There is another isolation still more painful, and one which was experienced by the apostle Paul before the Roman tribunal, as he says, "all men [meaning saints] forsook me" (2 Timothy 4:16). They left him to shift for himself. It was dangerous to be identified with him; but he adds, "The Lord stood with me". Now this proves that if the isolation is imposed on one, the Lord does make up for it in a very distinct way by His own presence. But I could not call it imposed if I could free myself. Daniel thrown into the lions' den is an isolation that is imposed, for he could not escape from it, and the Lord is peculiarly with him; he would have preferred Jerusalem, but he could not get there, and hence in the lions' den he is better off than if he were at Jerusalem.

Nothing but the Lord's chastening, or coercion from man, ought ever to induce me to abstain from the circle of divine blessing on earth. But if the isolation be imposed either way, I believe that the lessons taught then are most peculiar, and not the mere lessons, but the manner and way of His love and interest as never known otherwise.

In the isolation of chastening, He comes as the physician to cure. The physician who cures always endears himself to his patient. He probes the heart maladies, and ministers the word of cure. In the isolation from coercion, it is as though you were in prison, and then He comes to you, and in the lonely limits of the prison chamber, He is your companion, not to make you indifferent to liberty, but to acquaint you with the

[Page 218]

compensation of His presence, and to interest your heart in His own interests, in a scene at once so dark and so dreary. His gentleness makes me great. No one is really softened - divinely so, except the one who has learned the sympathy of Christ. Paul seems to me to have acquired this softness in the prison.

An isolation where no one around is of a like mind, as a child in a worldly family, I consider imposed; and according as it is really and truly accepted, the Lord manifests Himself; and then it is that the heart studies, and learns His features, as you see with the bride in Canticles. It learns to have but the one study, and the more it studies the more it is interested in the study. "The eye is not satisfied with seeing" (Ecclesiastes 1:8). You are in a picture gallery, hung from ceiling to floor on every side with portraits of the one person; but in different circumstances and different aspects; all private, only visible to yourself, only belonging to you in isolation, and the compensation for it; never to make you indifferent to your liberty, but on the contrary to fit you for using it to more advantage when it is given to you.

ISOLATION (2)

When in isolation through coercion, over which I have no control, there is a time of special blessing. Duties may be of this order of coercion. I think solitude most necessary and profitable, and as there must be rest in sleep for the body or the mind which is much exercised, so there must be much meditation in solitude, for the one much occupied in acquiring. Where the acquiring is small, the retirement can be small. There is little to ruminate on, when there has been little taken in. To be a clean animal there was to be both the chewing of the cud, and dividing of the hoof; there must be rumination after feeding, and feet to practise.

I regret that there is so little meditation. I believe that one really fed by the Lord, is never satisfied until

[Page 219]

he goes over what has fed him before the Lord, and finds in His presence how adapted it is. I am sure that after a meeting, when there has been blessing, the desire is to get away and be alone with the Lord; there is a fear of losing it, unless or until one has reviewed it before Him.

If you are prevented from attending a meeting by any kind of service to the Lord, you lose nothing, but on the contrary, you have your reward.

"STRIVE LAWFULLY"

No one is crowned "except he strive lawfully" (2 Timothy 2:5). It is not every one who enters on the conflict and who earnestly, with every energy, desires to win, who really receives the chaplet in testimony of his success.

Of course the first thing is prowess or heart, emboldening one to enter the lists. The racer must have the mettle, it must be his nature to run, and without this quality, this mettle, that is, heart or faith, there is no use entering the field, for without it there can be no prospect of success. There must first be the intrepid steed or the spirited wrestler. Without mettle you are neither a racer nor a wrestler. It is this that makes the difference between a waggon horse and a racehorse or courser. The latter has nerve or liking for the race. Without this there is no use attempting to run or wrestle. But after you are assured of the inherent abilities of the courser, and are convinced of his endurance, there is another thing, and that is the training - the readiness and skill to obey and observe every rule.

This ability to observe and to submit to every rule is acquired by habit or training, and thus it is that the race or conflict is conducted "lawfully", according to the rules: and this I may call a right application of your strength.

The mettle, the high-toned nerve, the great power of execution, are all forfeited and lost if there be not this

[Page 220]

second power, to apply what is so valuable at the given time, and on the needed occasion, and if many a one cannot enter on the race because he has not the step or the heart to run; if it be sad to see how few are able to enter the lists, it is still more sad to see one with much ability forfeiting everything because unable to apply the strength to the tests of the race-course. If a horse can jump a wall five feet high, but will balk and sulk at a common country fence, his strength and ability are all forfeited, because he will cower at common things, and yet prove his powers in brilliant performances not so common. Just so with the saint; it is not enough to be endowed with the best qualities: of course if one is not, there can be no ability to take the lead; but unless these qualities do duty in the daily wear and tear of life, there is not a striving lawfully, according to what is consistent with God's order; anything else is illegal.

Now the saint is not only to have the qualities for the race or the conflict, but he must by habit or training have his powers so in hand, that he refuses nothing. He is as ready to prove his strength in connection with the commonest detail of daily life, because it is "lawful", as with something which makes a more singular impression. In a word, to "strive lawfully" one must not shy at or decline a single trial of strength set in our course; because in the race, failing at any of the trials, or avoiding anything which is in the course, is departing from it; and then there is no crowning, no reaching the summit; and not only this, but one is thrown back, hindered, and grieved at failure, and there is far more suffering on account of failure than there would have been if the test were submitted to with the grace possessed.

How different when one gracefully meets every hillock and fence with the same ease and purpose, and exhibits in one's own person the beautiful versatility and force of grace, which enables one to meet

[Page 221]

everything, great and small, in the way Christ did. This is to be not only a courser of remarkable power, but the one so well-trained that each resistance is met with ease and dignity, and a charity which imparts grace to whatever demands it.

THE DIVINE IDEA OF BEAUTY

Every real beauty is of divine order. Every thing in creation was made by the Son to meet and please the mind of the Father as known to Him. You cannot understand beauty but as you understand the order and relation in which things were placed in their origin. "God saw every thing ... and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). It is the harmony in the order which is beauty; there might be order, as there is in a regiment or a mill, and yet no beauty. It is the appropriateness of each thing to its fellow on every side which constitutes beauty. The harmony in the order of colours in creation is the beauty of colour. Beauty is not in a thing which is right and suited on one side, while the other side is neglected and uncared for. A man has properly four sides; the first to God, the second, to himself; the third, to his relative duties; and the fourth to man.

Now there is not beauty unless there be harmony in the order in which each is attended to and observed. It is not beautiful for a man to be reading his Bible when he ought to answer the bell rung by his master; it is not beautiful for a man to take such care of himself that he will not put himself out of the way to go to a meeting, or to be in good time; it is not beautiful to be very attentive to the wants of the poor, but to neglect home duties. Beauty consists of doing everything at the right time, and in the right measure, so that I do not overlook one side, or one claim, while attending to another. This was the beauty of the Lord; no one was neglected, and every side was fully attended to.

The sun is beautiful; it sheds its light on every side; it is not partial in itself, for it is the position of the

[Page 222]

earth which determines the measure imparted to each part; it is in itself beautiful. A tree grows round, and if it be benignly acted on, will present itself the same on every side. The blessed Lord could accept His place on the holy mount from God, and He could come down from it and provide means in His poverty to pay the tribute money, as if one were as natural to Him as the other. This was beautiful; but man saw no beauty in Him. You must have an eye for the beautiful or you will never discover it. Here it is where we all fail, we have not the divine idea as to what is beautiful. One saint is devoted, but neglects his family; another is the slave of his family, but too indifferent about other sides. Every one has his own standard of beauty; every eye forms a beauty, and this is in keeping with what each most admires though he may have none of it himself. Light-haired people generally like dark-haired, and vice versa; the talkative, the silent; the sanguine, the cautious; it is admiring in another instead of sedulously cultivating in oneself, so that there should be no deficiency on any side.

We all as saints are set in separate and distinct spheres and we are fit, if grace rules us, to fill our appointed sphere, like a star in the sky. One may be a forest tree and appointed to grow in the forest; another, a shrub appointed to grow in the garden. Each is beautiful when each fills the appointed duty; either trying to be the other would not be in any way beautiful. Doing what I am appointed to do evenly, happily, and continuously is beautiful. What makes any of us deficient in practice is not so much want of power to do a thing, as having little sense of what is divinely beautiful. We are like children who prefer some glittering pebble to the most beautiful portrait, and we betray a vitiated taste, in the eagerness with which some trifle is sought after and commended. Whatever a person commends and admires, that is what is beautiful to him, and generally he tries to be what he admires.

[Page 223]

The more the Lord is my study, the more shall I in every way give evidence of the fact, by cultivating in myself His beauty, which was perfect in the eye of God, but unseen and unknown to man; and as I am like Him, so will it be evident that I admire Him.

COMING FROM THE HOME

My desire for you is that you should know what it is not only to go to the Lord, as the retreat and home of your heart, but to come from Him. I think you are well versed in going to Him, but the coming from Him, bearing His stamp, though consequent on the first, is yet different from it. It is easier to live in one's home than in one's business. There is a greater tax on one's life, and its powers, in business and toil, than in the easy leisure of home. And this is just the difference between the corn of the land and the manna. The former is the life of Christ in heaven, where all is one unbroken scene of light and perfection, while the latter, the manna, is the life of Christ as He walked on earth where everything is adverse; where there is a continued strain, and exaction: no home, but toil; toil all the working hours. I find many saints, like young retrievers, are ready to go hunting, before they have been taught; that is to say - many try to live Christ, before they have lived on Christ, and a difficulty for a teacher is to lead them to Christ where He is. They are ready enough, like the young hounds, to run here and there for game, before they have learned the right way of searching for it. Now you have learned what it is to go into heaven and feed on Christ there, to eat of the corn of the land, where all is exquisite stillness, and restful enjoyment; but though you know much of the exercise which only the manna can meet, yet here your growth will be. I do not mean now in answering to the ordinary details of life; surely that will be included; but the purpose and the power to come from the Lord like a giant, refreshed with wine,

[Page 224]

or as the sun to run his course, would give a very distinct and enlarged scope to everything within your compass. A tree growing, and a tree bearing fruit, present very different aspects. In the former it is advancing - ever ascending upward. In the latter, the progress or fruit is pendent - turned downwards, soliciting as it were, the owner to pluck it, and be gratified. You go up for yourself, and you come down for the Lord. Everything is bright and encouraging as you ascend - as you enter your proper home. I am rejoiced that you know what are the endearments of that eternal rest; but then it is what you have learned there (for there your love for the Lord is satisfied and confirmed), that you have to express here, where there is one continued opposition, where your greatest friend is your armour-bearer.

The more I am at home above, the less do I expect to find any home here. But this is not the only point: the more you are furnished from above the more are you in fellowship with Christ's sufferings here; I might be for ever seeking rest, away from the fogs of this world, or like a prisoner in a dark cell, admiring and detained by every ray of light which had struggled into the dreary chamber. I might most truly desire the company of the Lord in my circumstances, but this is a long way off from walking beside Him in His circumstances. If so be that we suffer with Him; and this is death. I do not think we sympathise with Him until we have learned His sympathy in death. The desire for His company is long before. But I must know His company with me, not in my judicial death, from which His blood has released me, but in the pressure and desolation of death here which His company alone can assuage. It is consequent on this that I can have fellowship with His sufferings - really gird myself for a path of death - not for myself; that I have gone through already, but for Him, whose company I enjoy where He is. I must come into the scene full

[Page 225]

of what He is to me, in my home, before I can be for Him here; the leaf not withering, and the tree not ceasing to yield fruit, for the good and comfort of others.

PRAYER AND THE LIFE OF FAITH

I do not dictate to God in presenting my difficulties or trials to Him, I do more as Hezekiah did when he spread the letter before the Lord. I do not mean that we should omit detailing our troubles to the Lord; that, of course, must be done. Make known all your requests; and the more minute I am in detailing, the more confidence have I in His interest in me. I am minute, because I feel I require His care and succour as much in the smallest detail as in the largest; and we all know that the smallest feather contributes, or expresses, more love and comfort than the strong quills, though the latter are very necessary. But having minutely spread all my trials before Him, whether they be with relation to myself peculiarly, or in connection with the church, I, according to my faith, leave it to Him to act for me according to His own pleasure, assured that He will. I cannot tell how He will act, and it is more than probable, if my faith be simple, that He will surprise me in the way He will act. It was a surprise to Peter, the way he got out of prison. It was a surprise to Joseph. God answers many prayers even according to their wording, when there is little faith; and often it is the answers which have reminded us that we had prayed. But when I have prayed in faith, I repose in God. I do not know how He will act, but this I am sure of - He will make bare His arm, and make me know that He has most surely acted for my advantage and blessing.

Another thing, and one most important in this life of faith: it is like life itself, it must never stop - I must be ever going on. You can never have faith really if you are not living by it; that is, doing everything in faith - going to the meeting in faith, going to the

[Page 226]

market in faith, going to visit in faith, reading in faith, everything in faith. Faith is the only power to bear us over the difficulties and dangers of the way. It is our steed; we are not in our race unless we are borne on by faith, faith for the little things as well as for the greatest. May we each abound in it more and more!

GUIDANCE (1)

I feel that in matters for which you seek guidance, it is not so much praying for direction that one needs as getting near the Lord; and the nearer you are to Him, the clearer will everything appear; for you will remark that the thing most on your mind is the one most subjected to the test at such a time; and the proof of your reality is the way you stand clear of it; so that you can look at it, not as one under the power of it, but as one so satisfied with the Lord that you are able to accept His counsel, whatever it be. When we ask for guidance about a matter in which we are too much engrossed, or which is in a way necessary to us, we are not free enough to receive His mind. The heart is like a sheet of paper, all written over with our own desires.

Nothing is really necessary for us but Christ; and when we are simply happy in Him, we are ready for any counsel which He may give us. He orders for us here in the wilderness, because it is a wilderness, and we are needy in it; but we best understand His orders when we are first satisfied in His fulness. When I am very happy in Him, outside of what I need here, I am sure, as I walk in faith, to be kept from what would be a hindrance to my communion with Him, because I am in the fresh sense of what He is, and therefore quickly alive to what is not suited to Him.

I think the only way of truly judging about anything simply natural is, whether it causes any reserve between the Lord and me; and it is evident that it is only in proportion as I know and cultivate nearness to Him

[Page 227]

that I can be alive to the thing which would interfere with it. A thing which would be felt by one very near would not be felt at all by one at a distance.

The great end and value of waiting on the Lord is to ascertain His mind, and when I have learned it, to act upon it. If, after I have ascertained His mind, I do not act on it, I lose the certainty of His mind, and make myself a centre, instead of walking in the path marked out for me. I make my knowledge merely contemplative, and not practical, and my own health of soul suffers.

Coincidences buoy up the natural mind, and we must take care that they do not supersede faith, though they may sometimes confirm faith. The Lord bless and keep you learning how to abound, and how to be abased; the former is the harder of the two.

GUIDANCE (2)

As to guidance, the first thing to settle is the direction or line in which you wish to be guided. Is it for prosperity and happiness here, or is it in Christ's path, however suffering that may be?

Generally guidance is sought for one's own advantage. I do not doubt the Lord helps the waiting soul that does not rise higher, but this is guidance simply for one's own gain. I consider guidance to be for the Lord's sake, when He leads me as His servant, and this I can only arrive at by acting as He would act were He in my place and circumstances. Of course, if I knew how He would act were He in my place, all would be settled.

The real difficulty, then, is to find out how He would act, and this can only be acquired by acquaintance with His mind. The word, in a very distinct way, informs me of His mind; not with reference to some particular instance merely, but what His mind is. It is not so much, for example, what you could make of an oak-tree, but what an oak-tree in its qualities is. I get

[Page 228]

formed in His mind by intelligent study of the word; but it is not simply knowledge, but the mind of the Lord, which is unfolded in the Bible.

Many read the Bible, and are well informed in textual meanings, who have not acquired the mind of the Lord - that is, how He would act or feel in a given case. Now, if I do not know the Lord's relation, in His own mind, to everything here, I shall study the word ineffectually as to guidance; because I am studying it with reference to a relation which is not correct at the present time.

If I had to act for a king rejected, I should not be guided, were I to act for him as if he were reigning. Plainly, if you do not see Christ's present relation to this scene, supposing you go back to Jesus on the earth, sent to be the Lamb of God, which is as much as the best in systems see, how could you have guidance now according to His mind? If you are truly seeking to act as He would act, you are seeking Him in quite a different relation from that in which He is now; and every step you take for the Lord, even when sanctioned by the word, betrays this great defect - namely, that you are trying to act like Him in a relation to present things which was once true, but is not now; and then you would use the sword, like David, or great earthly pomp, like Solomon.

Thus there are three things necessary for guidance: first, that you are obedient, prepared in heart to act as He would act; secondly, that you understand His present relation to things here; thirdly, that you acquire His mind from the word as a whole; for it is the knowledge of His mind that imparts colour and beauty, like His, to our ways.

THE FIRST LESSON OF RESURRECTION LIFE

In Mark 8 the Lord has His own in circumstances to teach them this first lesson of resurrection life. The ship is on the sea, and they have no bread, no resources,

[Page 229]

and He is with them. The circumstances are just the suited ones for exercising their souls, and leading them into the rest which faith gives, when it sees no one to lean on, and the resource is only in God. They, like ourselves, do not understand the lesson which the Lord would teach them; and they reason among themselves, saying, "It is because we have no bread". With us, whether in our private circumstances, or in the church, when we are placed in circumstances where there are no visible resources, the first and great thing which hinders our blessing, and occupies our minds, is the attempt to account for this warning which we do not understand, by blaming ourselves for our want of prudence and foresight. The tendency is to be occupied with the failure or the want, rather than with Him who, in His mercy, is present, to keep and to satisfy our hearts in Himself, when there are no resources.

Here they are, in the ship, in the sea, without bread; no circumstances could be more resourceless, but He was with them, and He, they have now to learn, was sufficient. This is the large place, the resurrection-ground, the continent of blessing, which gladdened a Simeon, when he had the child Jesus in his arms. It was the shore on which the dying thief landed. It was that spot which Paul knew was "far better" than any here, that unknown land that in spirit every one now must enter on, whether on a death-bed, or in spirit crossing the Jordan. It is, in fact, the landing-place; and this is the first lesson of resurrection life, for it is the soul finding out that it has nothing but Christ, and what He - blessed be His name - is in His sufficiency.

Before we reach this, we may be like the disciples, truly loving Him, and knowing Him as our Saviour; but we have not yet stood outside everything, and found that He is enough for us when there is nothing else. But not only this (for this is only the beginning), we find here how fully He satisfies the heart, and makes up for everything.

[Page 230]

If Simeon, or a dying thief, or the martyr Stephen, find Him everything to them, why should we wait for the dissolution of the body, and of all here, to learn this full and blessed lesson? Surely Paul did not wait for it till death; but in order to learn it, the teaching figuratively set forth here is necessary. We shrink from being in the ship at sea, with nothing in it but Christ; and yet it is then we learn for the first time His full value. The mercies of a former day tell us who He is, and He recalls them to His disciples, in order that they may understand who He is; but He Himself is greater than His mercies; and when we have no resources, we learn what He is. I have nothing but Christ; is He sufficient, or not? This is resurrection, and when I have entered on it, I know the power and resources of the life of Christ. No soul can know consciously what Christ is, as to resource, above all the claims of nature, until it has learned this lesson. Abraham learned it when he ascended Mount Moriah, prepared in heart to extinguish the only light which cheered his eye on earth; and at no time did his soul enter into, or comprehend, what God is in His own might and majesty, as in that eventful moment. Each step in that solitary ascent only deepened his conviction of the greatness of the God in whom he trusted; and after it, he was prepared for the deeper communications from God. And assuredly, until we have found Christ - not only as our Saviour, saving us from the depths of our ruin and sin, but also as the One on the shore who is enough for us, where there is nothing else - we are not prepared for deeper revelations, for the unfolding of things connected with Christ, because we have not found Him to be the true resource of our hearts. An this, not only in our own individual history, but also in the church, and as His witnesses on earth; for, after all, there is no true standing publicly which has not been learned individually. If I know Christ in my private history as my resource when there is nothing

[Page 231]

else, I shall not find it difficult to see that He is enough for me in the church. If He stand by me, all men may forsake me; and I may, like Paul, confront unmoved the most dread tribunal in the world!

To know Him in His sufficiency, apart from everything else, is necessarily at the very beginning of our life in Him. He saves us, and because He lives, we live also; but the moment I know that He is my life fully, it is no longer "I, but Christ liveth in me"; and hence it is Himself who first meets me. He is the Head whom I am told to hold, and from whom all nourishment flows; this is what gives strength and character to the soul, and is learned and cultivated by every one who enjoys solitude with Him. If He is not enough for my soul alone with Him, I have not learned that He surpasses all things; nor could I bear to be deprived of everything here, nor to confront it fearlessly. When He is enough, retirement from everything and every one to Himself is full rest and solace to the heart; and the less question there is between Him and me, the more shall I seek to be alone with Him, because there I am prepared for explanation and correction from Him, which I should not have received or noticed in the crowd. If I have wandered from Him, I shall fear being alone with Him; and yet, if I have known what a resource He is to my heart alone, I shall be miserable until I have found myself again alone with Him, and have heard His correction, which restores and invigorates my soul. And as our souls learn this, two things are apparent in our course: one, that we can bear the loss of anything, because He is our resource; the other, that we fear not any power which may oppose us, because He is near us.

Blessed Lord Jesus, may our souls grow in the knowledge of Thy worth and excellence!

[Page 232]

THE STUDY OF SCRIPTURE: ITS EFFECT

The greatness, goodness, and wisdom of God revealed to the soul fills it with adoration, so that everything which makes Him known to me should call out worship, whatever the occasion may be. You get the perfect idea of this in the book of Revelation. In heaven, where I am free from all self-occupation, worship bursts forth; and now, when the calmness and rest of His presence is known, even the ordinary things of life call forth worship.

In this connection you will find that reading Scripture as a whole, as the revelation of Himself, will give you a grasp of God as He is, which will assist and lead to this worshipping sense. As a rule, I think Scripture should be read primarily with the thought that God is making Himself known to me. I ought, as I read the Scriptures, to seek to imbibe His mind, communicated to me through a spiritual medium, but in actual human scenes, which vividly present me to myself as if in them, and how God acts and judges with regard to me in them. I am thus learning Him in a variety of ways. In the Old Testament I find Him dealing with man as he is; feeble, and hindered by the intervention of any difficulty: sometimes with no water to drink, sometimes too much of it stopping his way. Satan is not so much seen there; but all creation, and man ostensibly hindering any one who is faithful to God on the earth. God shows His own that He is above circumstances, and how He does this is always interesting; but not only this, it also discloses to us His own nature, so that, as we read on, we are getting to know and understand Him.

In the New Testament His heart is declared to me by the Son of His love; and I am taught, not merely that He is above circumstances for His own, but that He places His own in the Son of His love above them too. Christ walked above circumstances here, in full rest of heart, in the Father's love. As I read this record,

[Page 233]

I comprehend the goodness and ways of God; I am in company with His heart, fulfilling its own wondrous will. But not only so, I find that, according to that will which I see accomplished in setting Christ at His own right hand, the church is set in Him, in all the majesty of God's purpose, above every power and hindrance, in the cloudless, unfading blessedness of His presence and home, in that nearness and glory which satisfies His love.

There is no fear of your getting too full of Scripture; for where there is faithfulness, God will place you in circumstances where you will learn practically the truth of Himself which verbally He has committed to you; so that it becomes your verbatim saying of Him from your own experience.

The study and apprehension of God's ways as a whole imparts a breadth and strength to the mind. It enables it to embrace, and, in a degree like the sun, to control all lower things, pressing them into their order and subjection to Him. You may cheer your spirit with detached portions of His word; but you do not acquire that breadth and volume, in the power of which you can reduce everything into its place before God, unless you possess in some degree, the comprehensive view which the apprehension of Him, in a variety of ways and places, imparts.

FOLLOW THOU ME

The great desire of our Lord is that we should follow Him, and the true heart is never fully happy nor right except when following Him. Our joy, usefulness, and growth depend on our following Him. Could anything so fully delight you as following Him in His path and ways through this evil world? The faithful spaniel knows no greater pleasure than following his master, however arduous and perilous the journey. In following, it is not the greatness of my zeal, or the

[Page 234]

extent of my work; but am I in the path that He went? If I know He has gone this way, I follow. I consider not what I have to encounter; my sole desire is to ascertain the way He went; and then, regardless of consequences, not thinking of them, I follow Him.

If there be any shade of reserve between Him and me, I cannot follow Him. When I follow Him, I am in unclouded intimacy with Him. It is a great incentive to me that He desires it; as the master's whistle to the spaniel, so is His voice to me. My heart desires it more than anything. See how our blessed Lord secured it with regard to Peter in Luke 5. Peter was zealous, using his time and means in the Lord's service, and subject to His word, but he was not yet following Him. This was produced in a very remarkable way. Peter was toiling for fish. The Lord gave them to him in great abundance. For the first time in the light of His presence, Peter learned that though sinful, the Lord was better to him than the fish; then it was he left all and followed Him. That was his start. Then he tasted for the first time what it was to find the Lord superior to every natural thing. But he had not yet learnt fully to follow Him.

I first find, like Peter, that when I am sensibly unfit for the Lord, He clears me of all fear. His love is perfected with me; but I require, subsequent to this, like Peter, to discern the worthlessness of self, where naturally I am most confident in myself. Hence when the same Peter avows that he will follow the Lord to death, the Lord informs him that he would first deny Him. Who can estimate the sting of sorrow in the heart which had tasted of the unparalleled joy of following the Lord, to feel that in any way, by word or deed, I should deny Him? But Peter will get the desire of his soul, blessed be God; and though he goes a fishing again (John 21), his heart through grace must find its object. The Lord, after they had dined, washed Peter's feet by exposing the self-confidence which had led to

[Page 235]

the break between them; and having commissioned him to feed His sheep, His lambs - sure evidence now that his heart is true to Him - He says, "Follow thou me".

The Lord give you to know the present and eternal sweetness and delight to His heart, and to your own, in following Him.

OUR VALUE TO CHRIST

The Lord has prayed that you should be kept from the evil here, but not that you should be taken out of the world. He delights in leaving us here for Himself, as well as to be a cheer to one another. There is nothing more encouraging than to be assured of the interest, and I might say consequence, we are to the Lord. You may feel you are very small and of little use; but when you turn to Him as to His thought of you, He says, 'I am glorified in you'. Can anything promote purpose of heart in you to answer to His mind more than knowing that He makes so much of what you consider so little, and rightly so, when we think how much He deserves.

The very fact that being here for Him is a pleasure to Him, and that as we blossom, and bud, and bring forth fruit, He is glorified, urges us to be more and more according to His mind. If I am only a daisy in a garden, and I know the owner of the garden prizes me very much, and likes to have me in his garden, and comes to see after me every day, and confers on me continually, like the shining of the sun, some special mark of his favour, do not you think that the little daisy will not be thinking of its littleness or uselessness, but of the unaccountable care, interest, and appreciation of the owner of the garden? He thinks of you, and He cannot love little. How the heart of the daisy, if it had one, would expand as it caught the approaching footsteps, in the daily visits of the owner. They say

[Page 236]

flowers do not open out into full bloom on a cold sunless day, but when the sun invites them, they expand into their greatest brilliancy; and thus the more you are assured in heart that you are to be left here for His glory, and that His delight is in you, the more will you be encouraged, and stirred up too, to be to Him what He esteems you to be. It is not so much what one does, or what one is, but what one is to Him; and not to Him only, but to His own here. Can anything conduce more to render my stay in this scene happy and cheerful, however enfeebled in health, or tried in circumstances, than the simple fact that, staying here, I can please my Lord, and be in fellowship with His interests in His people? And again, nothing can more promote zeal and earnestness in me to answer to this love than the very assurance of the estimate I am held in by Him, however I may think myself unworthy of it.

The Lord grant you to be so assured in heart of His interest in you, that daily you may more and more answer to His pleasure, and not be in any way cast down because you can apparently do so little. The fragrance of His name is a crown of glory to the greatest invalid. The Lord delight your heart in His unfailing love for you, and bless you in every way.

SUMMER AND WINTER

In my judgment the Lord's way with you is the natural one; I mean by natural, that it is according to divine order. There are two ways in which He deals with souls: out of the depths of sorrow or sickness leading into light, or after a season of special brightness leading one into the desert. The latter is the way in which He has dealt with you. You had a bright summer before this long and dreary winter set in; but this is the natural way; and unless the winter follows summer, there will be no real strength in the growths of summer.

It was thus with Abraham after he had seen the

[Page 237]

star-lit sky, and had by faith apprehended the evidence of things not seen; he was subjected to a deep sleep and horror of great darkness. And so it was with Saul of Tarsus. After his stay in paradise he was assaulted in a new and most painful way, marking the contrast of the two scenes; and thus, I apprehend, it has been with you.

The Lord first revealed to you the excellence and beauty of His presence and sphere; and then He subjected you to a deep painful sense of your own feebleness, in order that you might know that His gift to you was entirely independent of and apart from anything in yourself, nay, in spite of it. If, like a Jonah, you had learnt the delight out of the depths, you would be true and devoted, but not with a broken or subject will; you would still require the experience of the loss of the gourd, a further learning. But when you have learnt the Lord's side first, and then are set to learn your own side, you come forth delighting in Christ because yourself is entirely in contrast. Learning the good out of the effects of evil is too much of the nature of simple relief, and you must be subjected to great darkness again, as Jonah was in the matter of the gourd, in order that you may prove where your resources are. In the one case, you are subjected to the contrast in order to enhance the perfection made known to you; and in the other, you are introduced into the contrast from relief.

I mean that here lies the difference between those who are subjected to darkness, the practical death here, after knowing Christ in glory, and those who are, Jonah-like, led to see Him out of the depths.

If I am right in my opinion, you ought to come forth now counting everything loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. You had learnt joyfully of His beauty before; now in contrast, you have seen the weakness and unprofitableness of yourself, and of everything; the best of you is as nothing, and He is everything.

[Page 238]

This I trust will be the happy and effectual result of your late time of trial.

The Lord greatly bless and comfort you, and raise you up to live Christ, as superior to everything of yourself

BE PREPARED FOR THE WINTER

To fill any post really for God you must not expect it to be all happiness, though you will have the light and cheer of His countenance, even though the sun by day, and the frost by night, may try you on the human side. To find things pleasant is not the right expectation. To please the Lord is our summum bonum, and as we do, we are happier in pleasing Him than in pleasing ourselves.

A path when first entered on may be more liked if and better accepted than when the novelty of it has worn off. It is not the man who puts on the armour, but the one who puts it off, who is to boast. It has been said, 'The things that we try are made the trial of us'. I have found that often it is easy to enter on any service; but that the continued application to it, under every circumstance however adverse, tests severely the purpose as well as the grace in my heart. Consequently, as a rule, it is better to begin in sorrow and exercise of heart. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy" (Psalm 126:5), is the divine principle for all service and success here; the evening before the morning, for then there must be faith to begin with. I begin with God and reach Jehovah-jireh, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" (Genesis 22:14). You have begun in the summer. Be like the ant now and gather up strength for the winter, for it must come; though to a wise ant it will be really no winter, but rather a time when, well sheltered from the cold, it can enjoy the acquisitions of a more favoured season. I believe in perpetual favour with God, but I do not believe in unbroken sunshine here. On the

[Page 239]

contrary, "we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:11). I say this that you may not think it strange when the collar which you have rightly accepted, becomes trying or difficult to you; for surely if it be service it must be so; the servant must be more or less a sufferer.

I only exhort you to endure hardness and to be stedfast as much in the trying day as in the pleasing day; for we are ever subject to the attacks of the flesh, and we can only be conquerors as we walk in the Spirit.

CHRIST MY LIFE

The more I, as a partaker of the life of Christ, enter on the new path opened to me, the more must I know, not only that He has opened the way, but also that every stage of it is unknown to me, unless He leads me into it; and according as I see Him in it, I see that He has borne the judgment on me, which was death; and having done so, He, according to the Father's will, connects me with His life, a life entirely new to me, and yet now, through grace, my life. But I know nothing of the position and power into which this life will lead me; and I must learn all from Him who is our Head as well as Life.

If I ever lose sight of Him I know not where my life would lead me; for it is not life in me apart from Him, but He Himself is my life; therefore I need always to see Him, a real Man in the power of His life; and as I see His position and power, I at once see the position and power to which my life through Him reaches.

If I lose sight of Him, I lose sight of the Man Christ Jesus in the power of life, who is the source of life, and the witness of its power. I have no independent place. When I lose the sense of my connection with Him, I lose sense of the power and position of life, because I am not holding the Head. I have still the instincts of life; but if I cannot see Him in the power

[Page 240]

in which I may even desire to be, I cannot reach it, for He is the source of power; and my warrant as to assurance to my heart of my right to occupy and enjoy His place with Him. He is "the beginning of the creation of God" (Revelation 3:14), and it is only as I see Him Head of this new race, Firstborn among many brethren, that I am able to see, understand, and receive a clear sense of what I am in Him.

Wherever I see Him, I get a sense of power; for I realise that in Him I am there too.

If I, once a lost prodigal, want to know the measure of my acceptance with God, He alone defines it for me. It is only as I know what He is to God in glory, that I can in any degree truly estimate my own acceptance. Had He my sin laid on Him? How is He now accepted? For as He is now accepted, so am I; and therefore it is the gospel of the glory of Christ. Try for your own acceptance, and it will always be a dubious and imperfect thing. Get to understand His, and your soul will be enlarged into all the fulness and blessedness not only of His, but of your own, because you are in Him.

If I want to hold fast my profession as a heavenly man, it is by knowing that He has passed into the heavens. I have not passed there myself yet, but I am, in the joy of faith, in the reality of it when I see Him there, having surmounted everything; not merely, Caleb-like, exhorting me to go up, but from the utmost height assuring my soul of His success for me.

Do I want to know the power of resurrection? It is as I see Him raised up that I apprehend or realise myself in it. The more I apprehend Him in it, the more I naturally connect myself with Him therein as source of life and Head, to whom I am united by the Holy Spirit as a member of His body. Do I think of the judgments coming? It is as I see the keys of hades and of death in His hand that I, even though the beloved disciple, am delivered from fear; and if I would pursue

[Page 241]

my race in patience, doing the will of God, I must be "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

If the Holy Spirit would fill Stephen's soul with glory, He shows him Jesus in the opened heavens. It is ever the same. Whenever the soul gets a glimpse of Him, difficulty vanishes, because I know that He is my Lord and my life, and the sense of union and identity with Him transports me over all obstacles, whatever they may have been. They are not seen, because my eye is occupied with Him who is above them all.

May we know more abundantly through the Spirit now, our Lord's place and power respecting every difficulty, or trial, or emergency down here; and may we so carefully and constantly watch for Him, when in any way pressed, that we may see where He is, and be assured that if we get a glimpse of Him, our own deliverance in Him will be realised.

WEANING

It is grateful to me to write to any one who feels the raging of the storm, and is at the same time seeking to find, and finding shelter in the Lord.

What can we say? Does He not know us? Does He not remember our frame? We often think He does not. The time of weaning is often one of great suffering to the soul, but a necessary time. No soul learns truly to be independent of infant helps until it is weaned. It is. surprising how many nurses we have, and it is just in proportion as we attain strength to get on without any of them, that our age, or advance in life, is determined.

I believe that, except very few, each of us is going through a process of weaning; and what is it for? Simply that in our given strength we may be able to depend on God without the supports which betoken our personal feebleness. The suffering in weaning

[Page 242]

arises from the deprivation of something with which we connected the blessings of life; and this evidently may occur in many ways. Satan thought Job could not be weaned, for he said, "Touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face" (Job 1:11). But Job was weaned. The soul is weaned when it worships God and prays for others. I cannot worship unless my soul be occupied with God. I cannot pray for others if I am occupied with myself, and the loss of any of my channels of comfort.

God must wean us. Oh, what days and nights of bitter soul-tears we shed when the soul is being weaned from some long-enjoyed mercy. Is it that our God would not indulge us? Is it that He who gave His Son for us would deny us anything? No, but He must wean us, or we shall never know what it is to depend on Him apart from any human or natural intervention. Paul, no doubt, often spoke of having no confidence in the flesh, but it was in the prison at Rome that he was entirely weaned.

God's love can only display itself in its own greatness. If I have learnt the righteousness on which it is based, I shall better understand how much it must correct and subdue in me before it can enjoy itself with me.

If I judge myself in the light of His love I must see how much I need weaning.

WALKING IN THE LIGHT

As to your question about communion and walking in communion, I think it is quite possible to have had communion with God as to a certain part of His purpose and grace, and to have made no progress from it; and yet it was true communion as far as it went, and one might even revert to it as a known moment of power and enjoyment. I think a soul may have a true sense of the value of the blood in the sight of God, and can always refer to that moment with delight and assured

[Page 243]

blessing; but when he has to revert to it for present cheer, this in itself proves that he is not in present communion; for if he were, he would connect the past with the present, like the source of a stream, which only widens and deepens as it proceeds, the first drop swelling with every fresh acquisition, but still the present part of the stream imparting a force and a source of power and blessing which the first drop could not alone. If I have to revert to the first drop in order to prove that I have tasted of water in the desert, I am not walking in the light, or in communion with the Lord. I only refer to a moment when I was true to my calling, and had in the light a sense in my soul of enjoying a certain blessing. It was according to God's mind, and in that mind I was for the moment; and such is the impression that it has made on me, that I always revert to it, proving that I have never known any other like it.

Now there may be, and is, a great distinctness about the first drop to a parched soul in the weary land; but then the era which began with this distinct taste is to be continued; not merely as a taste of water, but a stream of endless blessing, which communion with God necessarily is; for in all His counsels and interests I find increasing strength and cheer.

I do not doubt that many have had a taste, but I fear there are many who comfort themselves by the past taste instead of being daily invigorated in the deep full stream of His love and purposes which can only be known in His own region, namely, the light. This is our only proper region too; and hence when we walk according to it, we go on in concert with the mind and thoughts of God, and in our onward course and journeying we find ourselves increasingly in company with His interests and counsels; through grace we are formed in keeping with His mind, not reverting to past gleams of light, however great their value, for cheer or assurance, but shining more and more unto the perfect day.

[Page 244]

SEASONED WITH SALT

"Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt" (Mark 9:49). The practical characteristic of a sacrifice is salt. It checks the tendency to decomposition in everything here. Wherever self is surrendered, then one, through grace, imposes a check on the expression of the flesh in others. Thus the speech is "seasoned with salt". You always check the working of the flesh by salt whenever you are really a sacrifice. Whenever you promote or feed the susceptibilities of man's nature, you are not salt; and then you are not a sacrifice. When you only repress your feelings, then you are not a sacrifice, because you are not salted with salt. You are only like a tree in winter; the sap has retired into the heart of the tree; but when the spring, the seasonable opportunity comes, it flows forth in full force, it is not sacrificed; and you cannot check others wholesomely when you are not sacrificially corrected yourself. If, when the seasonable opportunity, or the congenial company, causes the tastes or feelings once cultivated and cherished to revive, then they are not surrendered, and you would really foster and feed them in another, provided there was nothing in the atmosphere to check the unfolding; instead of evincing that there is the power of salt in you, in the very things which formerly you cultivated; and that not only had you repressed them, but that you so sacrificed them that now in their place you have a moral power to prevent the same in others from being injurious.

Repression and sacrifice are very different. The former is winter-time. You are reserved, you are a fountain sealed, a spring shut up. In repression there is a curb imposed, but no gain. In sacrifice there is a gain; that which was once an obstacle is turned to a gain by sacrifice. It is not only the crab-tree interdicted from budding; but now, grafted with the new stock, it yields the sweetest fruit.

In repression you are checked, but your heart is

[Page 245]

sad because of the dreary cold; but in sacrifice you have laid all upon the altar, and you can exercise a preservative power towards others in the very thing where you have failed yourself. "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32), is your experience. You are not occupied with curbing yourself, but you bring forth fruit pleasing to the Lord, and excellent for His people.

It is not now with you, 'I have had this feeling, and I repress it', but, 'I have had this feeling, and I sacrifice, I repudiate it'; and the consequence is that the influence you exert on others is the self-renunciation which you have proved yourself.

"MY PEACE"

Christ's peace in this scene was a wonderful thing. I note there are two truths which, as they are known, impart to us this peace. The first is seeing Him by faith in the place where He is, where He has prepared a place for us. In a place of evil and sorrow like this, it is an immense lever, lifting us above these influences, to be assured that the One who loved us, and gave Himself for us on the earth, has prepared a place for us in heaven, and that He is in the place that He has prepared. It throws the heart peculiarly into concert with the holiest and brightest scenes (as with one's home), because the delight of the heart is there, and everything suited to it is in the place. If He, the object for the heart, were not there, the heart would not be there; and if the surroundings were not holy and beautiful, there would be suffering from even our personal appreciation of Him, and not unbroken enjoyment of His presence.

To enjoy His society, there must be nothing to distract or interrupt. I enjoy His love here but partially, where so many things arise every minute to interrupt me, be they evil or sorrow or natural pleasure. I may

[Page 246]

not be much attracted, but yet I am interrupted. The heart is not restful until it is associated with its object in the place where not only there is no interruption, but where everything is consonant with the mind of the object. Surroundings are necessary, not merely for comfort's sake, but that there might be nothing to make one anxious or disquieted. You seek it with your friend; you draw round the fire in the winter evening, the cold is excluded, the lamp is lighted, the darkness forbidden, the door is closed. There is thus no interruption. The seclusion suits you, and the sense of home is known to the heart.

You must say to your heart, amid the din of strife here, and the chaos of everything morally, 'I see my Saviour where He is, and where He has a place for me'; this gives the heart superiority over this place; and thus you are so far in Christ's peace.

The other truth is, that He manifests Himself to us in this place of evil and sorrow. This gives strength to the heart, as the former gives repose to it. You require both strength and repose in order to be in His path here. When He manifests Himself - a wonderful favour - you feel as if He were beside you. "The Lord stood with me"! What could ruffle me when He, as a great tower, is beside me? "The righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10).

You have the greatest and most loving companion where you are the weakest, and can really do nothing; and you follow Him by faith where He has prepared a place for you, where you have nothing to do but to enjoy His company, without check or hindrance.

If you would know that He has a place for you in the Father's house, believe in Him.

If you would that He should manifest Himself to you, keep His words; and thus you arrive at His peace. Your roots are in heaven, but your branches are on earth. There is nothing to check the roots; and here He is the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night.

[Page 247]

When the roots are in heaven, the branches are sure to be according to His word; and hence He manifestly protects and fosters what is His own, and for Himself.

May His peace abound to you; may your companionship with Him, and His companionship with you, be well known to your heart.

ENTERING A NEW PATH

Everything depends on the way great eras of our lives are entered on. The germ of faith will outlive the sternest winds and roughest seas. We enter on them enthusiastically, or stoically. Nature or disposition may have much to do with our external manner; but it is faith in God which stands the wear of years, and the sorrows of life. I do not propose to you to anticipate trial, or deprecate in you expectations of happy days here - quite the contrary; but I say that that which will outlive all anticipation and all enjoyments, is the way in which you reckon on God when entering on the new path. You are now committing your bark to the sea, and "they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep" (Psalm 107:23, 24). But this signifies not, if they know on whom they can reckon when brought to their wit's end; because, in dealing with things which we engage in, we find how inadequate we are; and when we do, if we have known what it is to reckon on God, we cry unto Him, and He maketh the storm a calm, and we are led into the desired haven. I do not say that it is not right for you to go down to the sea; but I desire that you should realise the gravity of your step; and no doubt God will then unfold to you the wonders of His love, in the company and support and sympathy of your Captain.

When the gravity of a new position is not apprehended, there is an entering on it in that case or indifference which is sure to fail., and there must of necessity

[Page 248]

be discipline, to correct the rashness which is not faith. Moses meant right, but he is corrected by the one he first served, for his presuming to enter on so great a work without counsel from God.

The diligent bird builds its nest before the leaves are on the tree; for it knows, if it be well sheltered and secured when there are no leaves, how well it will be when there are plenty. If you and your dear husband enter on the new course depending on God, and not on leaves, or one's own feelings, you will find that, instead of this dependence, which the gravity of the step demands, hindering the leaves, or separating you, it will, on the contrary, enable you to enjoy them the more.

You can say, 'My nest is fixed in such a safe spot that, leaves or no leaves, it must abide, because of His hand who has ordered and fixed it, and just so long as He likes; and when He sees fit to break it up, He will only remove us where joys will never fail, and sorrows will never enter'.

So that, when He gives leaves, and fine bright days here, you can rejoice not merely in them, but in Him who has prepared a city of habitation for you in the wilderness, who provides everything which enables you to go on well and truly through this desert land; and hence, the more you begin with Him, the more will you be able to enjoy all the mercies of the way, because not primarily dependent on them; and the better will you bear up if the storm should come, and sweep away leaves, and nest, and all.

The Lord give you both to start in dependence on Him, a dependence that can stay your heart, either in joy or sorrow, and bless you very abundantly.

SELF-JUDGMENT BEFORE SERVICE

"He that watereth shall be watered also himself" (Proverbs 11:25). The more you impart to others what you have received, the more will be committed to you. The lapidary

[Page 249]

increases his wealth, not only by acquiring diamonds, but in setting them to the best advantage. In the same way will you increase your possessions in Christ the more you discover the value of each of His, and devote yourself to make them brilliant. It is not enough for you to loathe yourself. This is the negative; and though always necessary to make room for the positive, yet it becomes a snare if the positive be not added; you will not have roasted that which you took in hunting. The more you abhor yourself before God, the more you will depend on Him, because you lose self-dependence. The loss of everything here does not, as we see in Job's case, lead to self-repudiation, but to self-justification. Not until he sees God does he feel the true state of his nature. When it is abhorred in His presence, in the light in which it is, you find, like Peter, the only One to cling to. A man might dwell for ever on his ruin and shame, and yet never reach the new ground, where God's favour could greet him in a way double to any he had ever known. The fact of condemning oneself where there is conscience is a relief; and occupation with it leads to morbidness and inaction, and consigns one to a kind of despair, expressing itself in useless regrets and repinings. But when you see yourself in the light of God's countenance, because Christ is the light, you at the same moment, must utterly abhor yourself, and find the One to whom you can cleave. As the abhorrence of yourself increases, your dependence on Him increases. "Behold, he prayeth", is the evidence of one really convicted of God. Now if there is thorough self-repudiation because of what you are in God's presence, there is no dwelling on it, or reference to it; for the heart turns to Him in whom it rests, and who is the source of a new life and a nature suited to God.

And here it finds itself interested in all His. As Job prayed for his friends, so do you now show that you not only abhor yourself, but that you have interests

[Page 250]

outside yourself; and as you do, lost favours are doubled. The lapidary augments his wealth by making the most of each precious stone. The part of greatness is not the faculty to see, but the power to give light. The sun that rules the day shines to impart light. The Creator on the earth was the light of the world. The true evidence that you abhor yourself before God is that you are engrossed with Him who gives you a perfect place before Him, and is the source of every blessing to one otherwise so ruined. And then nothing of yourself can interest you; the only thing here which attracts your heart is what belongs to Him; and to that, and that only, do you devote yourself; not to note where they are defective, but to see how you may most effectively serve them.

If it is thus with you, you will be the first ripe grape hasting to maturity, in order that it might minister to and refresh the weary; or, like the ear of ripe corn, declining downward, to supply the want of the needy; and as you are, your soul will be deepened in the perfection and resources in Christ; you will have confidence toward God, and whatsoever you ask you will receive of Him. "Blessed of the Lord" will be your land, "for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath" (Deuteronomy 33:13). From the highest point to the lowest, you will be watered in your soul with the grace of Christ.

FEET-WASHING THE PRELUDE TO TESTIMONY

If I am in fellowship with one immensely superior to me, whose interests surpass all other interests, and include my own highest interest, it is evident that, while I am in fellowship with Him, His interests must command my attention; but I could hardly say that one who has not entered into this fellowship knows nothing of the feet-washing. I think, if the

[Page 251]

washing were effected, there would be spiritual consciousness of having part with Him where He is now, and, in a degree, in company with His mind. I believe our Lord is ever ready to wash our feet, and that the delay or the hindrance is on our side. He is near us, and ready to do it, as He was when Peter interrupted Him by his objection; but He was interrupted, and the washing was suspended until there was subjection - a submitting of oneself to this blessed action. One's own thoughts and ideas about the ministry of the word (which is the washing) hinder the Spirit's action, and the washing is suspended.

Now Christ "ever liveth to make intercession"; this never is interrupted, nor does it ever cease; hence mercy flows uninterruptedly to us, even when we are walking in a careless way. The washing is the action of the word on myself, made known to my own heart and conscience, and which, if not made known, leaves me at a moral distance in my soul from Christ. Now it is not only forgiveness, or relief to my conscience, which the washing comprises or expresses, but it is more; the forgiveness is assured to me because of the intercession, and because of Jesus Christ the righteous. When I am washed, I am cleansed; all that which has caused distance is sensibly removed from me, and now, by this action, I am made conscious of being in unclouded nearness to Him. I require to be washed when I have no sense of sins on my conscience, as well as when I have, if there be any reserve between the Lord and me, that is, if I am out of communion.

The action of the word, as you see in Hebrews 4, is to lead the soul to have to do with God, before whom all things are naked and open, and then the High Priest is known in sympathy; but this is only the beginning of the action of the word. The perfection of its action is when we have part with Him.

Now souls often stop, or are satisfied with the beginning of the action of the word, which assures of a link

[Page 252]

with Christ, and the restored sense of it. This is great relief and joy to one at a distance, or walking carelessly, as Peter was, but it is not intimacy without reserve; and if this is not known, it is not sought; and if not known, there is no following the Lord in fellowship. And here it is where so many saints are. They seek the action of His ministry to comfort and assure their hearts of a living, unbroken link with Him; but the washing and the wiping, which would remove the last shade of reserve between them and Him, they enjoy not; nor do they seek it, though they do not feel entirely happy. How could they? They "go a fishing", like Peter; and I believe that it is only as I get personally near the Lord, and sit before Him, that I am divested by His word of every shade of reserve, and find it my whole joy to follow Him, and do as He enjoins. But then it is His presence I seek, and not the renewal of the link between Him and me. If it be only the latter that I seek, and not Himself, there may indeed be no doubt of the link, but I do not yet know Himself in unclouded intimacy, and this is immense loss.

ANSWER TO 'HOW TO KNOW OUR SPECIAL LINE OF SERVICE?'

Walking with the Lord, doing to Him whatever your hand findeth to do, would doubtless disclose to you your calling ... I think the true way is to see that all your acts are done to the Lord; and as love is inventive, as well as suggestive, you will find, that as soon as you have brought one piece of wood (see Haggai 1:8), there is, without pre-arrangement, an opportunity offered to you to go to the mountain again for another bit. I am afraid of any system in service. If you are full of love to Christ, you may rest assured that ways will open to you of expressing it, which you never could have reckoned on. But you must do everything in. this spirit - watching and waiting how you may

[Page 253]

accord with His heart, which you know has blessed and is blessing you; and if you walk thus, you will soon learn to say a word to the weary. You know how He has served and blessed yourself, and the more artlessly you tell it, the more likely is it that the Lord will bless it.

The first great thing to get fixed in the soul is that I am Christ's. To get up in the morning with the sense of this, that I absolutely belong to Him, and to judge myself when I do not act as His, and for Him. I do not mean that you should be dissatisfied or doubtful, because you were not satisfied with your service, or because it was not something so decisive that you could speak of it and exhibit it. But I think your conscience ought to be satisfied that you are filling that place in the body of Christ where it has pleased God to set you.

Service is not to be estimated by the amount of injury which you could ward off by going right, or by that which you could inflict by going wrong, but by being in your appointed place. The more you walk in grace, the more must you take your right place; and therefore if you cannot find your place, the true way is to seek the Lord, and as you walk near Him, and are nurtured by His grace, so will you enter on the place He has appointed for you, and through the same grace keep it.

THE HEART SETTLED

The heart is never fixed, or as Peter expresses it, settled, until it has an object that controls it; not only one that it merely turns to and delights in, as a mother does to her child, or the miser to his riches, or the botanist to his garden. It is not enough that Christ should be your resource, but you must be detained by Him, captivated by Him in judgment and heart, and not merely as a necessity. Then you could not

[Page 254]

bear to see anything but as He sees it. You would be like the moon, which has no light without the sun; and you would prefer to be an unmeaning body of barren soil, to being anything which is not derived from Him.

Your mistake has been that you have been too much satisfied with turning to Him instead of coming from Him; being so with Him that you come into your daily circumstances as the angel of His presence. Of course we have to turn to Him, and it is most blessed to get what we need from Him; but when He controls me, I can enjoy nothing apart from Him; and the first thought of my heart about everything is, How does He like it? The heart likes to be controlled by an object worthy of controlling it. When you are thus controlled, you surrender your will and judgment to Him. You follow Him; you do not only seek Him. Surely you would find how differently you would encounter every question or case which would crop up, were you to come into the scene of them reflecting the light of Christ on them, as a moon in a dark night. Not merely submitting cases and questions to Him, but casting the light and mind of Christ, which are the cheer and sustainment of your own heart, upon them as they arise in your path. There is a great practical difference between going from darkness to get light, and coming from light into darkness. In the latter you are always safe yourself.

SELF-DENIAL (1)

If we want to advance in the knowledge of God's counsels, we must deny ourselves. The object of Daniel and his fellows in refusing the king's meat was not directly to attain to God's counsel, but to keep themselves undefiled; and this in obedience to His law, which ran counter to the gratification of their nature; and the result of this self-denial was that God gave

[Page 255]

them knowledge, and skill, and wisdom. Moreover, instead of losing by it, they gained, even in the line in which this self-denial was imposed. They were fatter and fairer than all who ate of the king's meat. This is gaining a hundredfold more in this present time. If I deny the gratification of my nature on account of defilement, I not only have spiritual gain, but the very thing which such gratification would naturally have secured for me, I gain in a better and a higher way. Suppose it be the lust of the mind; naturally speaking this or that study might enrich it; but if such study be defiling, and I relinquish it, my mind will never be barren for the relinquishment, but the reverse; pulse and water will prove a greater gain to me than king's meat. King's meat might be any gratification of self; pulse and water, lawful sustainment, just what I need and no more. God does not want to deprive me of what I really need; but as soon as ever it degenerates into self-gratification, it is defiling. Gideon's three hundred might drink of the water, but they must not go down on their knees to it. Teetotalism goes on a very different principle, and puts a veto on all; it is self-control and not self-denial. Self-control keeps the lust under for a moment, and when set free, returns to it again, perhaps with renewed zest. Self-denial is permanent and moderate, and requires much more moral power; for to deny yourself what you come in contact with, is a greater thing than to avoid all contact. Pulse and water is the type of self-denial.

We need a fine perception to see what would defile us. Anything, even a good act, done for the object of gratifying self is defiling. There is a difference between choosing a path of self-denial, and accepting it cheerfully from God. Both are valuable, but the former especially so.

[Page 256]

SELF-DENIAL (2)

When one has to consider for others, as indeed we all have, the more we deny ourselves the better; and when it is really done to the Lord, we are sure to be much more gainers than if, only thinking of ourselves, we had grasped at what apparently would help us.

To surrender a really good thing, in order that others may gain, is really grace. The Lord surrendered everything good in itself in order to bless us.

There is not enough of self-denial. Self-denial is where self is most felt, not where it is least felt; and all the light of Scripture cannot promote growth without self-denial.

This is where we all fail, and in this day there is a great deal more zeal to acquire knowledge and intelligence in the wonders of revelation, than to deny the man that has no sympathy with it, no part in it but condemnation.

THE WORK AND THE GIFT

The greatness of grace is that we are not only saved, and that we shall never come into judgment, but on the very spot, so to speak, where once there was no escape, like Noah in the deluge, on the same spot are we now, like him before the altar, in favour with God (Genesis 8:20). Our present state is what I speak of. It is not merely to have no fear of judgment, great as that grace is; but the finish of grace is to set us in the very scene of our misery and alienation, in the Spirit of life in Him who by His death has saved us. To save us by undergoing what was due to us is amazing grace, but His love is not satisfied with saving us; He must put us in His own power here. David saved Jonathan, when at the risk of his own life he encountered and killed Goliath; but if Jonathan had clung to David, he would have shared in his royal glories. I mean that we are not only assured now of the perfection of Christ's

[Page 257]

work on our behalf, but we are set here in His power - the power in which He walked here. The work of salvation has been done, and in proportion as we have entered into it, we know that we are in favour. But not only so; the Spirit has been given to us, so that it is not merely that we rejoice in what has been done for us, but we are in victory here, because of what has been given to us. Thus there is a twofold enjoyment; the enjoyment of the thing done, and the enjoyment of the thing given; we get both by the same Person - our Lord Jesus Christ; yet there is a difference in the enjoyment; it is the difference between the sense of existence, and the activities and progress growing out of strength in the existence.

A tree or a flower not only lives, but it appropriates the soil, and utilises the climate in order to produce leaves and fruit. Now this last is quite another sense from existence. The existence is a permanent reality, the activities or producing power a series of victories. I was once here a blighted, noxious plant; but now through grace born again, I have a new life, eternal life; and in the power of the Spirit of God, I am to be here, in the scene of my deepest humiliation, consciously in divine exaltation.

Thus I have this twofold enjoyment: one, that I am a new creation; and the other, that I have been given a wondrous power - the Spirit; I can do all things through Him who gives me power. It is not only rescue or safety, it is victory; and that, not in heaven, but on the field of battle, in the valley of the slain, and in the very presence of the foe.

May you not only grow as a tree by the rivers of water, but may the Spirit of God lead you into present victory over every obstacle; so that you may have an increasing enjoyment through what has been given to you, as you have a most sure and perfect interest in that which has been done for you.

[Page 258]

HOW OUR ASPIRATIONS ARE REALISED

If I am walking with my Lord as the treasure and resource of my heart, how can I have any large or valued possession down here? And more than this, I do not want it, for He is both my treasure and my resource. We often say, and I doubt not at times truly, that we enjoy Him as our treasure; and yet the moment part of our possession here is taken away from us, the poverty of our apprehension of our portion in Him is apparent.

God in His grace often takes us at our word - nay, I should say, at His word - when what we have expressed is the desire of His Spirit in our souls; and He says to us, as it were, 'You said your treasure and resource were in my Son. Well, then be it so! surrender every other treasure and resource, and prove the great unbounded excellence of Him'. The blessed God only does this to make good the true desires of His Spirit in us.

I am afraid, and yet not afraid, when I hear anyone, even in prayer, expressing more than he has come up to; because I know if it be sincere, even in intention, God must put it to the test. The cross is not only to be taken up, but to be borne all the way through. It is well to cultivate and cherish high desires; but be assured the more genuine they are, the more the will must be broken, in order to make room for the manifestation of them in living power. The light that is in the earthen pitcher does not shine forth until the pitcher is broken.

May you and I submit to be broken, that the true happy desires, which we at times have loved to give expression to, may find no impediment to their full manifestation; and thus that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh, to His praise and glory.

[Page 259]

THE DEEPER THE EXERCISE, THE GREATER THE DELIVERANCE

There is an exercise of soul known only in the din and conflict of the battlefield. No one goes up high who has not gone down deep. "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord" (Psalm 130:1). The deliverance then is as great as the depths were great. "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep" (Psalm 107:23, 24). It is no easy time with them. "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end" (verse 27). But you will remark that when they are delivered, they have really gained more than those delivered from other trials, for it is said, "Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven" (verse 30). They are glad and their voyage is over.

I think saints are too little exercised before Go about things that press on them. There is often a way of sliding over them after the manner of men, if there be any natural courage. If not, the mind and heart become embittered, everything is looked at through this dark haze, and everything done is unsatisfactory. One must either fall into one of these two states, or meet the trial fully and distinctly with God. It gives one's soul tone and strength to have waited on God, until there is the assurance as to His undertaking about it - such a sense of this that you would fear to ask Him again on the subject, lest you call in question the assurance of His seeing to it, which He had given you, and which is unmistakable.

It is not a promise that He will do exactly what you have expressed in words; but the assurance, as I might say to my child, 'I will see to it'. This exercise, once known, will never be forgotten; it remains in illustrated letters on the soul, and no time can ever erase them. And what is better, there is a knowledge

[Page 260]

of God as the source of help and strength, which not only imparts a quietness in every trouble, but surrounds the soul as with an atmosphere, in which it grows into the likeness of Christ, and is enabled to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2).

Hence it is, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word" (Psalm 119:67). In fact our journey to heaven is through an avenue of monuments of this kind - Ebenezers on both sides of us; so that there ought to be thanksgivings for the past, and girded loins for what is to come.

WHAT IS THE WILDERNESS?

The longer you are in the wilderness as a Caleb, with an actual acquaintance with Hebron, the better you know the marvellous unchanging nature of His care and ways with you; your garments wax not old, neither does your foot swell, and yet your heart is made more ready for dwelling in heaven. The wilderness is more to you, and heaven is nearer to you. The wilderness was immensely different to Caleb from what it was to the rest of Israel. At Eshcol you can fully say, "All my springs are in thee", and there everything co-operates to give them full effect.

In the wilderness it is the same springs, but then everything hinders by temptation and distractions. If you know, and as you know, the joys of God, where everything divine contributes, so do you seek those joys where Satan in every way obstructs and hinders. The wilderness is having all our springs in God while we are on earth. If I love the things that are in the world, I turn away from the wilderness. I might retire from the world politically and positionally, and yet enjoy the things that are in it; and, inasmuch as I do so, I am not enjoying God's provision for me in the wilderness - 'garments fresh and foot unweary', or in other

[Page 261]

words, comfort and strength - one unfailing, the other unchanging. Whenever I seek outside of Him, I do not get from Him. The more you taste what heaven is, the more you accept the wilderness in its true sense, namely, everything from God. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Psalm 92:13). You are blessed with the upper springs and the nether springs, and they increase simultaneously, because they come from the one source.

But we must enjoy them in Canaan if we would trust God for them in the wilderness. We must come from heaven to earth; and as the springs which delighted us in the former satisfy us in the latter, we learn God's provision for us in the wilderness.

What a fine moral aspect to be in the world as a wilderness, and in our spirits vigorous, fresh, and unweary. May you be so more and more. But as our joys are not simply in and from God unless we accept the wilderness, neither can we discern what is of God around us, except as we are sustained by Him in the wilderness. We must be out of the world, and sustained by God in it, before we can see what is for God, and what is not. If we do not accept the wilderness, we have not the joys of God; and if we are not out of the world we cannot know what suits God or discern things that differ. As every animal recognises its own species, so does the spiritual recognise the spiritual. If I know the joys of God in heaven, I seek them in the wilderness. It is the same God in both. The corn of the land makes me more eager for the manna; it is the same life in different places. The more vividly heaven is enjoyed, the more do I appropriate God's provision for me in the wilderness; and the more I am able to discern what is really of Christ in this evil world, and to be proof against all that opposes it.

[Page 262]

WISDOM AND FOLLY (1)

It is very interesting, though humbling, to note carefully the history of each year. We are told "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness" (Deuteronomy 8:2). We are to remember how we have been constrained by wisdom, or turned aside by the world, for there are these two currents running side by side of us.

Wisdom (see Proverbs 9) is assiduous in inviting us to the festival where Christ is the centre of everything, and where there is joy unspeakable; the Hebron - the resting place of His love - the only spot where the heart of God can be fully satisfied, because there only could we be in full undistracted enjoyment of His presence. There they begin to be merry.

Love has reached us in the depth of misery, but it is not satisfied until it has seated us in the circle where wisdom orders everything. It has done its most in entering into death for us; and it has done its best in setting us in glory where every item is the perfection of wisdom. One cry (that of wisdom) is ever inviting us to regale ourselves in these supreme delights.

The Lord points out in Luke 14 how natural mercies (the ground, the oxen, the wife), and natural ties, our relations, and even our own life, may draw us aside from the great supper - the festival of accomplished grace.

May you ever be accepting this constant, pressing invitation. It involves separation in a world of evil. The path of faith always begins with the evening, but breaks out into day. You must, when attending to the voice of wisdom, "Forsake the foolish, and live"; but in the end you will find, "by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased" (Proverbs 9:6, 11). The other cry - the world, invites us, passengers who go right on their way, by something alluring, something pleasant, not righteously acquired: the very opposite

[Page 263]

to wisdom, which requires self-denial at first. May you be greatly entertained by wisdom this coming year. "Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her" (Proverbs 4:8). The two cries are ever sounding in our ears, and as we are in the light, and on the wing, we are preserved from the snare of the fowler.

WISDOM AND FOLLY (2)

The instruction which we get in Proverbs 9 as to the difference between wisdom and folly will help you much in coming to a decision about anything. If you are unskilled in the word of righteousness, you are a babe. As I know Christ, He is the wisdom of God to me, and as the word of God is my only light, I can distinguish both good and evil.

Mark the difference in the way wisdom and folly invite the same people. Folly seeks those who go right on their way. Wisdom offers you bread and wine, to refresh and invigorate you. If you be wise, you shall be wise for yourself; but this always with the strict and unswerving rule, "Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding" (verse 6). You cannot be guided by wisdom and keep up association with the foolish, for light cannot blend with darkness. If your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light. But folly, on the contrary, always offers something to gratify, nothing that marks full age, distinguishing between the good and the evil. It invites too. "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant" (verse 17). It is something you are selfishly to enjoy.

Now the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Having God before you, in the sense of what is due to Him, is the beginning. The knowledge of the holy, the separate path, is the perfect application of wisdom, and therefore "understanding".

[Page 264]

THE EFFECT OF THE PRACTICAL DENIAL OF THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

I am glad you are so well, and working on so courageously. The Lord is as good as ever; no one is discouraged but the sluggard. If I move, I know I can move. The very exercise of my strength makes me conscious that I have strength. "The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh" (Ecclesiastes 4:5); you must exercise a life in order to find out the good of it. It would be legal to try and get it, but it is only healthy to use and exercise what is mine. Effort ended with John the baptist. It is all gift now, but I must use the gift. I find out the value of the gift as I turn it to good account. I do not make a fortune, but I spend the fortune that I have been given wisely and well.

You would like to hear of things here. I trust there is steady progress, though the sifting, no doubt, has reduced us in numbers. I believe there is an awakening to the great truths which have been taught too superficially. I feel the real break-down with brethren has been in avowing the truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and at the same time using any and every means that any man would use in the work of the Lord. No one can read the Acts of the Apostles without observing that from Ananias and Sapphira (chapter 5) to the end, the one thing which declared failure was a denial of the presence of the Holy Spirit; and when, with this dishonour to the Spirit, there was preached a gospel that the believer was accepted in the Beloved, you can well see that this truth could not be maintained in power in the soul, without the Spirit; and the holders or accepters of this great truth, while grieving or quenching the Spirit, must reduce it to a mere human dogma, which leaves them as much in the old man, or as worldly as ever they were; for if I am cleared of the old man by Christ's work, I must have the Spirit to keep me clear. If the old man be crucified, what power have I but the Spirit of God?

[Page 265]

Now, if the Spirit be hindered, I must continue in the old man practically; and if I hold the truth that it has been set aside in the cross, I must deceive myself, and thus allow myself to walk in it, and minister to it, as far as a mere legal conscience will allow me. There is really no true sense of the termination of the old man in the cross of Christ, if there be no Spirit to support my new nature against the flesh. I hope I make it plain to you. The Spirit being slighted, the highest truths must necessarily be reduced to human dogmas, placing the soul avowedly in an eminence, which it has really no power to retain. It is simply a grand title, without capacity or means to support it; and the consequence has been, that the holders of the grandest truth are found in the deepest mud of the world. There was, of course, no idea of crossing Jordan, or of doing battle for Christ in Canaan. They could assert that they were freed from the old man, and all judgment connected with him in the cross; but they never really entered by the Spirit into this liberation, which is not known in fulness, until by a spiritual death-bed, one has, as risen with Christ, been led by the Spirit to enjoy Him where He is; and then to become qualified and fitted for standing for Him here; and to this Gilgal introduces us, as in Colossians 3 and Philippians 3.

I believe the Lord is awakening many to their own failure in not honouring the presence of the Spirit more.

CAN A BELIEVER WORSHIP IN PRIVATE? (1)

As to your question, Can a believer worship God acceptably in private? there is a great deal more meant in that question than meets the ear. If it is sought to obtain warrant or authority for a person to be in private, worshipping apart, and isolated from other saints, it is simply impossible, and groundless. No believer can separate himself from membership in the body of

[Page 266]

Christ, and neither can he surrender his place of responsibility and privilege in the house of God, to which he belongs, and in which, as a lively stone, he is built up. Nothing can be more plainly taught in Scripture than that the believer now, sealed by the Spirit, can in no place be separated from, or indifferent to, the body of Christ, or it to him; for "if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26). In the greatest retirement, and the most complete isolation, there can be no severance, or disconnection from the unity of the Spirit, though the one thus ostensibly apart may persist in breaking the uniting bond of peace. There can be no such thing now as there was in Job's time, a pious believer serving God for himself, apart and independently of all others; nay, what he does most secretly offends and inflicts suffering on all; as Achan's most secret act, only known to himself, entailed judgment on the nation. And so does the most secret act of disrespect of, or disregard to, the Spirit, entail and inflict sorrow on the church now. See the case of Ananias and Sapphira.

Admit that nowhere, and under no circumstances, can a believer now be an independent worshipper, that is, worshipping independently of all saints or the church, then it is also plain enough in Scripture, that each individual may have seasons of the deepest enjoyment and the greatest adoration in the presence of the Lord. "Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him" (John 9:38). "Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God" (2 Corinthians 5:13). These are instances of individual worship.

It is a very interesting subject - the difference between individual and corporate blessings; but the former can never be independent of the latter; and the former only fits us the better for the latter; for the truer we are for the Lord individually, "according to the effectual working in the measure of every part" (Ephesians 4:16) - not at meetings only, but everywhere, and at all times - the more each helps to the edifying of the body in love.

[Page 267]

CAN A BELIEVER WORSHIP IN PRIVATE? (2)

There is a great difference between worship in one's own room, by oneself, and worship in the assembly, or in company. It has been said that there is the individual, the collective and the corporate. Well, accepting these, then, I consider the first can enjoy God adoringly, but, if he confines himself to this, he never could enjoy the presence of the Lord in the midst of the "two or three". Hence the Hebrews are warned not to neglect the assembling of themselves together. Under Moses they were congregated as a nation to the house of God, most strictly insisted on, from one end of Palestine to the other. Surely the congregating together now in the house, or rather as the house of God, must be not less binding on us this day, seeing that, as it is morally greater, the obligation to avail oneself of it must be correspondingly greater. The Lord is in the midst, and the gifts are there too, to succour and minister to the company. I am not now speaking of the body. I confine myself to the book of Hebrews. They were to exhort one another when they congregated together; but they doubtless knew, or had to learn, that though they no longer had the Urim and Thummim of the old dispensation, they now had the presence of the Lord in their midst. A meeting of two or three must always surpass the individual worship, if the Lord be in the midst. At the same time there is a great deal of truth in the remark, that as you are in your own private worship, so will you be very much in the congregation. If a man cannot enjoy the Lord in private, he will not in the company.

The effect of going to a meeting may be to lead to healthy exercise, but you could hardly call that enjoyment in worship. If a man is unfit for worship privately, he is also unfit for it in the company; and I believe any one who knows the blessing and grace of the Lord's presence in the midst of His gathered people, would

[Page 268]

never plead for private worship only. In any meeting in which He is present, there is a greater blessing than there could be in any private way; though the Lord may place one alone, or in prison, in order to fit and use one for some particular end or service.

MINISTRY, NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE

I have laid my hand on your last letter, and have read it over again. I fully go with it. I agree that a negative ministry will not do, and truly the negative is only effective in proportion as the positive has been presented and accepted. The reason for presenting the negative so much in this day, arises from the fact that the positive is supposed to be known. It has been accepted in terms. If really accepted, how can such and such things be retained? Here comes in the negative, as enjoining consistency with the positive, which is received and acknowledged.

I heartily wish for the ministry of Christ you speak of, but that cannot be, unless one be fresh and full of the subject oneself. It generally marks a declining state to be more occupied with state; as when one's health is impaired, one is more occupied with it, than with the course and vigour of life.

The ministry now, I feel, should be of a prophetic character, the secrets of the heart made known. Prophets came in to recall the people to their privileges, which they had despised, and to interest them in the future; but no one is ready for the future who is defective in the present. The true effect of the future is to prepare for it in the present, or the future has no moral claim upon one. I am often afraid, in presenting positive truth, that one must have omitted some part of it, or there would have been a greater effect produced on every one hearing it and accepting it. Mr. D--- was commanding John Newton the other day, because he was never pleased with a sermon unless it made the

[Page 269]

congregation angry. I feel the edge must be sometimes blunted, for souls do not seem to be much altered, though they admit they have seen and accepted some of the greatest truths in terms.

I believe when the exposition of Scripture appeals to the intelligence, instead of to the conscience, it tends to damage souls. The soul never imbibes the truth in living power but as it requires it.

I have come to one conclusion, and it is a humbling one - that my teaching can never produce an effect on any beyond the effect it has produced on myself... I trust we may all be more vigorous on this great subject - ministering Christ.

MAINTAINING THE COLOURS (1)

There is a higher duty incumbent on the evangelist than his gift, and that is, maintaining "the testimony of our Lord", and "of me his prisoner".

You see, when everything was in order, the simple duty of the evangelist was service according to his gift. The testimony was supported, and as he worked at his gift, and captured, say a rebel, another was added to the royal corps. But when the demoralisation was universal, and no one would stand to his colours, the duty of every true servant, be he evangelist or not, was plainly, first and foremost, to show that he had recovered from the general defection, and that before he would charge the enemy, he must assume the royal arms and standard; otherwise, the work and object would be to connect a rebel without any real interest or concern for the Lord.

Now the gift comes from the Lord - and seeing we are involved in the state of Asia (Paul says, "All they which are in Asia be turned away from me" (2 Timothy 1:15), it is plain that the first duty of every servant is to maintain with the greatest distinctness paramount to his gift, his allegiance and duty to the Lord, as not only the One

[Page 270]

who has been refused His rights here, but the One to be presented to the earth by His own on the earth. The Man in heaven has His members on the earth. The Holy Spirit maintains Him in His headship to His body here; and the earth, where He is not, is the place where He, the Holy Spirit, is testifying of Him; and to be in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and in heart associated with the One who is in heaven, is plainly our highest calling.

What is due to the Lord should be more before us than the need of souls; and really it is incompatible to suppose that the latter would be less wisely or truly considered for, because the servant who had, through divine favour (the greatest favour), learned what was due to the Lord here, where demoralisation is widespread, should make this primary. The evangelist should be for the body, not only seeking to get souls saved, and added to the table, but that they should stand openly and faithfully for Christ.

I hope you will not think that I deprecate an earnest love for souls, or disparage the labours of the evangelist; no, certainly not; but I do say that the evangelist in this day, when enlightened as to church truths (covered up for eighteen hundred years), must present what an evangelist ignorant of it would not be expected to do. He ought to be known the moment he appears by his regimentals, so to speak, maintaining the colours, different from all ordinary evangelists - in modus operandi, and everything, distinctly disowning and repudiating all the ways, inventions, and means which have been adopted by evangelists of the great christian republic, which has been formed for the overthrow of Christ's kingdom.

MAINTAINING THE COLOURS (2)

We have had a great deal of talk about maintaining the colours. I am often asked to define it. If I am living, not the man that is here, but the Man in heaven who

[Page 271]

is not here, that would, I doubt not, ensure the right colour. But this could not be, unless I know that I am united to Him in heaven, and have entered into the fact that I am of His body on earth. Owning the unity of the body, without the heavenly colour, without maintaining the Man in heaven, on earth, where He is not, is merely a skeleton, without life or muscle. It is faith without works, the body without the spirit. And you cannot be the heavenly man here without learning that you are in union and company with the glorified Man.

And here, I think, some have failed very much in this day. They have adopted the unity of the body as a doctrine, without the deepening sense that there can be no unity that has not its beginning with the Head; and that it is only as we realise our union with Christ, that we can truly be the practical expression of the unity of His body on earth. Any member of our bodies not in contact with the head because of paralysis is really incapacitated to be of any use to the other members. The strength and value, as to all benefit, of our union with one another is in the ratio of the strength and value of our union with Christ.

It is only as I realise my union with Christ that I can live Christ; and as I do, I impart the benefits derived from this wondrous union to His body on the earth. But if the union which I assert as a fact does nothing for me, and I still walk as a man of the earth, then the unity of the body is only a theory with me, and no benefit either to myself or to the saints.

MAINTAINING THE COLOURS (3)

I was speaking last night on the characteristics of the remnant - unswerving devotedness to the chief interest of Christ; the colours, as it were, for the time. I was giving as examples Anna the prophetess, who departed not from the temple, and the widow who gave her two mites. The former greeted Him on His first entry

[Page 272]

into the temple, and the latter, who gave her all to it, was in heart in company with Him as He, for the last time, was in the temple.

Usefulness has usurped the place of devotedness. Men can recognise and commend the former, but the heart of Christ values the latter above everything. Separation from systems is only the first step to the testimony. The testimony is the maintenance by the Holy Spirit, and through Christ's body, of the beauty, and ways, and works of Christ here on the earth, in spite of every adverse influence; the most novel, and the grandest morally, entirely unique, exceeding anything seen or expected among men, and therefore outside and apart from the politics and judgment of man, as to education, fashion, and everything.

GOD'S CALLING AND OUR APPREHENSION OF IT

Surely we may look at the church as a great ship, moored to the heavenly port; the deep sea, the Red Sea of Scripture, crossed over, and also the Jordan, the river beside the land. Seats for every believer in the great assembly are on the other side, in the land flowing with milk and honey. No one has entered into the full work of Christ until he has sat down on his own seat at the passover feast, at and after Gilgal. We are born of God for these seats; but we take a long time individually until we have, as it were, sense enough to see that the seats in heaven are ours, and that each one always had his own. We are like born princes; only very gradually do we comprehend the greatness of our position.

The first great step in our history is that Christ has triumphed gloriously, and that we are not only safe from judgment by His blood, but that through His resurrection we are at the other side of judgment; we are in a new region, even in righteousness.

[Page 273]

Our divine dignity is thus breaking in on us; we have got some sense now of our position. Very often we do not advance very rapidly from this. It has been said that a child learns more the first five years of his life than he does in the following twenty. Be this as it may, there is more rapid growth to rest of conscience, even peace, than there is to the other stages, and to the full apprehension of God's calling.

The next great step is that I learn that there is not only sin in me (Romans 6), but that there is no good in me (Romans 7). I abandon myself now for Christ: "Not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20) - "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). I know my princely state now; that it is one really heavenly. Hence the next great advance is that I have left flesh and blood entirely behind. I find that I have died with Christ, and that I am on heavenly land with Him. Here now at length I apprehend what was true of me from my birth; that I have a seat in the grandest circle ever to be in heaven or earth. Christ's work had acquired it all for me, though I only learn it by degrees. Hence, after Gilgal, we sit down and eat the passover in remembrance of Him. The corn of the land is now our proper food for serving Him, in keeping with our new, heavenly, royal, position. I am glad to think of you and --- as two of these great royal personages. May you both daily enjoy more the seats that are yours in His glorious presence! How happy to know that we, who have journeyed together so many years in the wilderness, are able to anticipate the day when we shall uninterruptedly commune together; the Lord one, and His name one. But the more our growth or spiritual sense now, the more we enter into the greatness of His grace; and if we do not, we are slow and dull of hearing.

[Page 274]

FROM WINTER TO HARVEST

Surely the year has a very marked meaning in Scripture. It seems to me that it embraces figuratively every stage of our existence here. We may say the winter, like the night of death in Exodus 12, where there was not a green thing in all the land of Egypt, was the time of our conversion: long dark nights, short days, with little sunshine; the soul learning the emptiness of all human efforts. But the seed being sown in the heart, it day by day advances to spring, when the blade appears - the new thing. The fruit of the grain of wheat is quite a new stage. This I call acquaintance with Christ. It is the sense the woman in Luke 7 had when she was beside Him. The woman who touched the hem of His garment had passed through winter, but until she had fallen down before Him, and "told him all the truth", she did not know Him; she was not in spring. Flowers and the singing of birds mark the spring (see Song of Songs 2:12). It is a great thing to enjoy the spring. Many souls know the services of Christ without knowing Himself; just as Joseph's brethren enjoyed Joseph's bounty and care for seventeen years, and all that time had no intimacy with him, and really did not know his heart. The intimacy which marks the spring is what we get in John 10:14, 15: "I know those that are mine, and am known of those that are mine, as the Father knows me and I know the Father". The acquaintance is of the same character as that which subsists between the Father and the Son.

Then follows the summer, which I call communion; sharing His mind, participating in His joys and in His interests, while at the same time I am perfectly assured of His care and interest in my affairs, as to my path here. Now the days are very long, and the nights very short. It is summer time. Spring or intimacy comes in with the newest, sweetest sentiment that could be revealed. He knows me, and I know Him. And then

[Page 275]

the communion that follows, and the association with Him now, as to all His interests and glories, is indeed a feast of fat things - joy in the Holy Spirit.

One season remains, the harvest. He looks for grapes. This I call testimony, being set for His name, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. This is the full corn in the ear.

PERSONAL ACQUAINTANCE WITH CHRIST

The nearer we are to Him, in personal acquaintance, the easier we shall pass from the sea to the shore. The woman in Luke 7 is a beautiful pattern. To get near Him was her simple purpose. Her conscience would have said, 'How can you? - you are a sinner'. 'Yes, truly', she might reply, 'but He is my Saviour'; and the nearer a sinner is to the Saviour, the more assured is the conscience, and the truer the faith in Him. Her sensibility would have said, 'You are not fit to go into a Pharisee's house'. 'Yes, truly', she might have replied, 'but I am above my feelings, or what any one among men may say of me, because I seek One above all men. And as for self-consideration, I have found such an Object for my heart in Him, that I delight to devote to Him the thing I once prized most for myself'. With what impressions, and stores of His untold love, must she have returned to her perhaps solitary home! She could say, 'I know Him, my heart is anchored in His heart'.

How much more of it should we know who are united to Him by the Holy Spirit! Can we not say, though we may have to encounter storms and adverse currents, trials from without and within, before we reach Him, 'I know Him, He is on shore, He is in heaven. He is the Forerunner; I am going to Him; and the heavier the sea, and the more adverse the winds, which occur on the voyage, the more is my heart assured of the link which binds me to Him'?

[Page 276]

Stephen is an example of this. As the storm increased, and reached its height, he only knew the more deeply where his heart was anchored, and his soul increased in vigour and cheer.

Blessed Lord! our first distinct acquaintance with Thee is only deepening all the way to Thee. The conscience is cleared, sensibility supplanted, self-consideration superseded, and Thyself the eternal delight of our hearts!

SUBSTITUTION AND ADVOCACY

It is clear that our Lord bore our sins in His own body on the tree, before we had committed one of them ... I do not like the expression, 'past, present, and future sins'; but it is true: "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" . There is no imputing sin to me after I have believed. Jesus, the Substitute, has borne the penalty due to every one of my sins, and He was crucified for us. When I sin now, He is the Advocate that grace should still flow to me, or I should be cut off. My conscience is relieved, not by the mere fact that He bore all my sins in His own body on the tree; but the ashes of the red heifer are brought before it by the Spirit - the running water. It is not the offering itself, but the ashes of it - the evidence and witness that it has been offered up; but it is necessary for my conscience to be purified by this living water on the third day, or I shall not be clean by the seventh day.

When we sin as unconverted, there is no advocacy; there is no sprinkling of the running water with the ashes in it. When the child of God sins, he has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; but sin is no less sinful; and hence there must be exercise, and the sense of it too, as the seven days set forth. We are not only forgiven, but cleansed. The atonement was for our sins, but sin also was condemned in the flesh. I have no right, after I have received the atonement

[Page 277]

to commit any more sins. If I were really dead I should not. I have died with Christ. Hence, when I act in the flesh, when the flesh in me revives, I have committed a double wrong; I have acted contrary to holiness, and I have revived the flesh, which through grace is now ended in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence true repentance is not only sorrow for the one wrong, but for the two; and therefore when I repent, I judge myself, I repudiate the flesh - its root, as well as the work of the flesh; and my conscience is cleansed by the purifying efficacy of the running water which bears the ashes of the red heifer. The Spirit brings home to my heart and conscience what it cost Christ to bear the judgment of, and put an end to, that flesh to which I have returned. I repudiate it in true repentance, and I am clean.

WALK IN THE SPIRIT

I have found, and have spoken of it here, that those who only see their sins put away through the blood of Christ, are often practically more separate from the old man, than those who both accept and teach that the old man as well as the sins was put away in the cross. I ask, why is this? I believe because the Holy Spirit is not honoured by the latter, though they admit the truth about Him. This to me is the real cause of the brethren's break-down.

The first thing for the soul, at all times, is to ascertain, 'What is God's feeling about it?' That is, I want to know how He feels; and this is uppermost in my mind, and not how I feel even about Him. This the prodigal learns - how the Father feels; and it is the first duty of light; as with the thief who says, "Dost not thou fear God?" (Luke 23:40) - "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned" (Psalm 51:4). When I am occupied with my own feelings, I am seeking to commend myself; when I am occupied with His feelings towards me, I am learning His blessed grace,

[Page 278]

and how He has placed me, through the work of His Son, according to His full pleasure - even as Christ is, beside Him. And if I were to live a thousand years, I should not be one whit better in His eyes.

Two things occurred at my conversion: one, that I was complete in Christ - you cannot add to what is complete; the other, that the body of sin was destroyed. You and I are only learning the truth of these two all our journey; and the better I learn them (they are only learned concurrently, and this is very important), the more I am for Christ here, and the more I enjoy my birthright. Where you fail, and where I fail, is, that knowing the truth, we do not dread the flesh more, and rely on our only support or power to keep us in the ways of the new man; that is, that we are not careful enough to walk in the Spirit. We have no power to act for Christ but in the Spirit. The attempt to utilise mind, feelings, or carnal strength of any kind for Christ is a delusion; and, like all delusions, diverts us from the true thing, more than if we had never tried to do anything. We are not sufficiently afraid of the flesh. For instance, if you talk politics with a man in the morning, you may think you are free of it in the evening, when you go to a meeting. No, you are not. You are like one who has swallowed a needle; it will work out somewhere; in the spot possibly least expected. The poison of the flesh has been imbibed; communion interrupted. The Spirit has been slighted, and He will have you to learn that it is a very bitter thing to forsake the Lord for the pleasure of the mind. There is no remedy but to be more afraid of the flesh, and more separate from it. The Romanist uses penance, because he feels it ought to be burnt out. It cannot; and therefore you say, 'It is there'. But if I walk in the Spirit, I am preserved from its influence. The poison of the flesh never, I might say, betrays itself in any likeness to the way it had entered. If it came in by politics, it might expose itself by temper, and vice versa.

[Page 279]

THE TWO LESSONS PREPARATORY TO SERVICE

This is the anniversary of the day when you first opened your eyes on this scene. From that hour to the end of your history here, your works will be reviewed at the judgment-seat of Christ. In the school of God, processes of instruction are adopted to effect a desired end, which to the casual observer bear no relation to the end desired.

Moses was being fitted for leading a nation out of bondage, while for many a long and weary year he tended to his flock in the land of Midian, enjoying at the same time the comforts of private life. One could hardly see how that kind of common work would fit him for the great moral eminence of judge and ruler of the thousands of Israel. No doubt he was often chafed, worried, and at his wit's end; but the process continued, and he learned at last to think little of his own powers to effect any great revolution among men.

But though he had thoroughly learned this lesson, it is remarkable that he lacked a correct sense of what was due to God, in neglecting to circumcise his son; so that though the forty years in the wilderness, with all the exercises connected therewith, had taught him to distrust himself, yet it had not taught him what was due to God in his children, who typically expressed his own works. Nearness to God alone acquaints us with this, and insists on it.

You cannot overlook or annul the purpose of the Lord in sending you into this world. You may not have ascertained it very distinctly, but this only makes your education the less interesting, and in a way less successful. But if you have, you cannot fail to see that your present occupation in the wilderness is a necessary process, to convince you of the powerlessness of your own resources; so that you may emerge from your exile distrustful of your own powers to accomplish

[Page 280]

what you most desire or value; and at the same time, as you draw near to God, you will discover that everything derived from you must be circumcised, or divested of all that nature can boast in. "Whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Romans 2:29). The Lord grant that you may seek from Him, and thus obtain, the double blessing vouchsafed to Moses.

HOW TO WALK IN NEW CIRCUMSTANCES

You are not only entering on a new year, but the nature of the circumstances you are to move in is entirely new. It is not at once you will perceive that circumstances which appear so extremely like those you were in six months ago, are so extremely different. I need hardly say to you, Start simply and absolutely for the Lord, and let your society be for the Lord. Keep the house for the Lord. If you act wisely, your acts will redound to the glory of Christ; like the wise woman (Proverbs 31), whose husband was known in the gates.

You have a fine field, or service, before you, in which you can be every way useful; not only in receiving the Lord's people, but, from your light and experience, able to contribute to their lasting blessing. You must be generally impartial. I do not say you are not to have special friends; but your aim must be to treat the Lord's servants and His people impartially, and as He would have you, so that their blessing may be, after His glory, the object of your life. You will find the service often trying, because you should not merely be ready to serve, but to carry it on in patience. All this would redound greatly to your own blessing. The felt demand on you would so cast you on God that you would be diverted from a scrutiny of your feelings to a self-judgment of your acts.

I believe the more the eye sees Him, and what was the manner of His life here, which is really ours, through grace, the more we are entranced with His excellency.

[Page 281]

As in the consecration-offering, not only was the one ram offered up whole - type of our acceptance before God in the acceptance of Christ; but the act of consecration itself began with filling the hands - typically our acts - with the fat, the excellency of Christ; contemplating Him as He was in the sight of God in His walk and ways. This is the practical beginning. Then, like Peter, I walk on the water to go to Him. I see in Him my standard; and if I sink, it is because, the eye having drooped from Him, I have wavered in faith. When His walk is before the eye of my soul, there is consequent self-judgment when I am not in His footsteps; but this is always marked by a deeper assurance of His power and goodness, a greater distrust of myself, and a greater eagerness, as well as confidence of heart, in following Him; whereas dwelling on my own state ends, at best, only in desires.

Self-judgment is like spring-time, casting off the dead leaves of winter. Desires with self-occupation are but winter longing for spring; the one stimulates, the other enervates. "The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat" (Proverbs 13:4).

FELLOWSHIP IN GOD'S PURPOSE UNDER DISCIPLINE

If our hearts were in happy fellowship with God, and in co-operation with His wondrous ways and arrangements, which are all for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we could not refuse or dissent from His calling on us for our quota to that great circle of His purpose, in which we should feel ourselves included.

If we were really and heartily interested in His purpose and ways, and carefully entering into them, and devoted to them, when we found that He considered it necessary that Lazarus, or even one much dearer to us, should sleep, we should, though unable

[Page 282]

to see why we are so heavily taxed, bow our heads, and submit to any call on us, because reckoning on the wisdom of His will and counsel, and knowing that He is making all things to work together, not only for good to me, but for His own glory.

I must get to this high level, or I never can comprehend or become resigned to the varied discipline by which our God is carrying out His own purpose, while severing us from self, practically setting flesh aside, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our body.

It is an exercise to our faith, until we get able to rest in the assurance that His way is perfect, and the only true and effectual way for subduing the particular kind of nature which each has. Faith in His ways is required before we have intelligence as to His ways. I must believe in the skill of a physician before I can confidently submit to perhaps very painful remedies. But when I come to understand his object, and the necessity for those remedies, it is not only faith in his skill, but approbation of his mode of treatment.

It is long with some of us before the approbation comes; and it is plain that we should be miserable under the treatment, if we had not faith, or in other words, confidence in the skill. If you have this confidence, you can cheerfully submit, even though, like Job, you may not approve; but when you have real fellowship with His purpose, you will approve; it will be grateful to your heart to bow, and you will find that what your God considers the right thing can be nothing else than the best thing for you.

HOW TO PASS THROUGH TRIAL

Since I heard of the many and diverse trials which press upon you, I have wished to write to you. It is not easy to rejoice at such a time, and yet it is at such times, to which you are no stranger, that one is assured

[Page 283]

of the power of Christ on our behalf. The trying, or testing, of the faith worketh endurance. One wonders how one is borne up, so that the sense of His sustaining power supersedes, and even in its unexpected greatness, diverts the heart from the oppression to the succour vouchsafed. David might naturally feel how the odds were against him as he approached the giant; but ere long the power of God, working in and by him, occupied and engaged him more than the trial. So, also, when he was at Ziklag, he "encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6); and he soon was more interested in the way God succoured him than weighed down by the affliction which lay upon him.

I have learned a great thing lately. Do not keep your eye on your trial or difficulty, in order to see what God will do for you; but keep your eye on Him, to see what is coming, as if there were no difficulty at all. The trials and difficulties are, I might say, always preparatory to some step in advance; and if the eye be kept on Him, you will be ready for the onward step; whereas, if the eye be only on the trials, though there will be a sense of mercy in the way He makes a way of escape out of them, there will not be, as with Abraham, the "Jehovah-jireh ... In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" (Genesis 22:14) - and a great blessing flowing from the trials. I mean the escape from the trial is the measure of the faith in the one case; whereas, in the other, something never expected, or within the range of probability, is sure to be vouchsafed - as to Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi. In the one case I limit God to my sense of suffering; I prescribe, as it were, what He is to do for me; in the other, I am leaving it all to Him, and He then astonishes me by the greatness and kindness of His heart for me. Instead of being engrossed with what afflicts me, I seek to find my resources and rest more in Him; and as I do, the trials are distanced in the sense of His power and favour.

[Page 284]

Thus our blessed Lord walked through this world. May He be your stay, and your delight too, and then all these trials will work for you increased blessing and comfort.

THE MARTHA SERVICE

You ask me whether I have any thoughts on the Martha service. I know what you mean by the question. The way in which Martha served was not acceptable to the Lord. The snare with zealous, but unbroken, hearts is to do the right thing in a wrong way; that is, in a human way. It is not enough to know the right thing, but I must also know the right way of doing it. The latter is not easily learned; the former is the fruit of light; the latter is never acquired but as there is practical grace, charity - the activity of Christ's nature in me by the Spirit. Martha desired to minister to Christ, but instead of first waiting upon Him, and getting imbued with His mind and tastes, she essays to serve at her own dictation. This was her mistake. When I consult Christ's tastes instead of my own, I am not the less ready to spend and be spent for Him; but I serve in quite a different way. It never occurs to me that what I am doing is a burden, when I work in answer to His mind; on the contrary, I have the assured sense of pleasing Him, and this is the greatest gratification to my love for Him. I feel I cannot do enough. Instead of being wearied by my doings for Him, I feel they are quite inadequate to express the delight which it gives me to do anything which would meet with His approbation. When I have the sense of pleasing Him, my only thought is to do more; and my study, to follow on in the line which He likes.

Like a fruit-tree, I bud, and blossom, and bring forth fruit, encouraged at every step by the consciousness that I am answering to His mind, who planted me, and gave me grace to bring forth fruit to His pleasure.

[Page 285]

It is a well-known fact, that the richness of the soil is never drawn upon, never exhausted, until the fruit ripens. Green vegetables do not exhaust the ground. There can be a great deal of green service, which is not a strain, nor a tax, on the servant; but when there is real fruit, there is sure to be both. I call it green service when a person spends what he cannot otherwise use; but I call it ripe fruit when one, in order to please the Lord in serving His people, curtails his own liberty, and deprives himself of many little comforts which might be called needful. In fulfilling this service there is self-denial, but it is not felt to be a burden, like Martha's, because of the delight of the heart in meeting the Master's wishes.

The christian is led of the Spirit to aspire to his proper service and calling; and the more genuinely he accepts this leading, and pursues it in faith - that is, in dependence on God, "which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight" (Psalm 144:1) - the more surely and efficiently will he reach, and retain, the post assigned to him.

The tree that has the best fruit has always the best and most healthy leaves. It is the small things here which really constitute our testimony.

FAITH, NOT HABIT

"Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out" (Song of Songs 4:16). The north wind is the trying circumstances, and the south wind the pleasing ones. They are the very opposite, and their combined action causes the spices to flow out. The reality of faith is proved, not by one set of circumstances, but by many and opposite ones. A man might prepare himself for the north wind, as sheep by their fleeces are prepared for the winter, or by having them shorn off for the summer. This is habituating oneself to one's circumstances, and no

[Page 286]

exercise of faith. Faith counts on God, and not on preparation. It is like the limestone, that absorbs the moisture in wet weather. In the day of supply it treasures up strength, and does not allow it to be evaporated; and therefore, in the day of drought, or of the north wind, it possesses its own resources, and gives forth the treasured moisture. It is not habit that is to sustain you, but, "the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). Then you have learned how to abase, and how to abound; you are not overwhelmed by the one, nor over-elated by the other; but you go through circumstances evenly, and the spices flow out, through the grace given to you.

WHAT ARE YOU SET FOR?

You are in your own little kingdom again. What is the sum of it? What are you set for? When the Lord is the object before the heart, all goes right. He is ours, Christ is ours, and we receive of Him as we look to Him. It is simply wonderful how we derive from Him. The only way to draw from Him is to look to Him. We possess what we see by faith. Doubtless there is always much to be overcome in order that we may see; the things that intervene must be removed. Jacob must halt before he can be an Israel for blessing; his eye must be simply on the Blesser.

The principle is the same always. "Come, take up the cross, and follow me" (Mark 10:21). There is no such thing as the flesh following Christ; and hence, to follow Him, we must cast away the old garment. In seeking the Lord I discover the things in my way. Long ago, in the country, we used to see what we called schooling. We would propose to reach a certain place in a straight line, not knowing the ditches, or rivers, or walls which lay between; but all the obstacles were to test the mettle of ourselves and of our horses. What are you set for?

[Page 287]

Are you ready for the schooling, in order to follow the Lord? He represents us before God, and He would enable us to represent Him before the world, if we had our eye simply upon Him. Have you purpose of heart to follow Him? Are you in the saddle? Do not waste your time in desiring; "the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing" (Proverbs 13:4). One step is worth an age of longing, or even praying; for sometimes prayers are made an excuse for not acting. It is a great comfort that if your heart is set on coming to Christ, and you begin the race, it will surely lead to Him fully in the long run.

THE GOD OF JACOB

I have been interested by the magnificent way in which God ministered to Jacob, when his head was laid on a stone pillow, seeking repose after a weary day, and with a heart still more weary. His mother's care, and object, and delight, he had been compelled to break from her side and her love, and had become a wanderer, homeless and friendless, but God ministers to him; and how? With no less than a display of future glory on earth. What a wondrous way of cheering a weary heart in that lonely spot! What a contrast between his circumstances and God's thoughts about him! Again, when he was afraid of his brother Esau twenty years afterwards on his return to the land, the same God ministers to him again. He wrestles with him till break of day, to prevail against his flesh, to cripple the hindering self; and all this to confer on him, with the dawn of a new day, the greatest name, even "Israel" - a prince of God; "for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed" (Genesis 32:28).

If he is in sorrow of heart, and pillowed on the hard stone at night, God opens heavenly glory to him; and if he fears the ruthlessness of the enemy, He rebukes his flesh, but invests him with the best and highest dignity.

[Page 288]

Such small occasions for such magnificent displays of His power and grace to us, not measured by our necessities, but by His own love! Hence His love not only meets the necessity, but it acts so that there shall be no room for want. Well, then, if you have sorrow, He will open heaven to you; and if you have fear, He will, while setting aside your flesh, assure you of your new name in Christ.

"LOOK NOT THOU UPON THE WINE WHEN IT IS RED"

(Proverbs 23:31)

Many a day I have suffered and sorrowed in seeking to wean myself from the pleasures of the mind; and it was in vain, until I had received, through mercy, a taste of being with Christ where He is. This threw everything into the shade. I do not doubt that I could resuscitate those pleasures; but instead of wishing to do so, I fear to look upon the wine when it is red (Proverbs 23: 31), because I know what is so superior.

If you have Christ as your treasure, you must "sell that thou hast, and give to the poor" (Matthew 19:21); even the things in nature which God had given you must not interfere with Him. The son of the bondwoman must not be heir with the one blessed One. When you know Him you find He surpasses all, and you take care that your natural surroundings are not such as will raise a question as to the fact of His pre-eminence; you have a treasure of another kind, and so find that the things in nature only hamper and hinder you; and the more your heart is occupied with Him, the more will you rejoice in the exchange, and count all things but dross that Christ may be your gain.

Surely you admit the blessing of all this, but do you fear the wine? The wine is the stimulant to nature, the water is natural blessing. Gideon's three hundred men were proved at the water. The good soldier prefers Christ to natural blessing; but the true heart, the real

[Page 289]

Nazarite, fears even to look at the wine - the society or association where nature is ministered to and pleased. The one in Christ shrinks from, nay, hates, the life for which Christ was judged. He rejoices in Christ his life, and walks here crucified in Christ's cross to all in him, and around him, which is not of God.

SPIRITUAL SLEEP

Your case is not an uncommon one. Song of Songs 5:2 "I sleep, but my heart waketh", I think describes your state. It is one of spiritual sleep, and this arises from indolence in walk; but though you might be able to trace the originating cause, the great matter with you is the remedy. I can only prescribe what the end of Song of Songs 5 sets forth: occupation with the Lord, personally, exclusively, and engrossingly; so that your own state may not be the object at all before your mind. The great thing for you is the light of His countenance; like a traveller on a dark night, the one single thing to be desired is the light. This must be the one thing sought, and the less reference in thought, or word, to others, about your own state, the better.

Medical men try to divert their patients from occupation with the suffering organs. How much more in order to obtain true moral cure must we be diverted from the darkness, or the cause of it, to the light, which only can relieve us. The more you speak of, or think of, the darkness, the more you aggravate it. "Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore" (Psalm 105:4).

EXERCISE, A PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY

I must say that the exercise through which you are passing indicates a preparation for ministry rather than the reverse.

Nothing conduces more to fit the minister for his work than a deep, real sense of the importance of the

[Page 290]

truth which he has to communicate; and when one is not deeply affected by it in oneself, then one cannot urge it effectually upon others. I do not think retirement from ministry would give good effect to this exercise. I feel it must come, as truth is apprehended in its divine greatness. It is ever the evening before the morning.

The sense of my moral distance from God deepens as I am made conscious of my nearness to Him. I should be overwhelmed by the former, only that in the light of the latter I know my deliverance from it.

Your exercise is nothing new. It may seem rather strange to you, because your naturally even way has preserved you from the sense of alternation. You have studied the word more than you have judged yourself by it. Had you been less personally careful in your walk, had you been openly or deeply exposed to yourself, you would have known more of this exercise before this. I regard it as distinct blessing from the Lord that you should be so exercised; and while it is a voice to myself, I believe it to be His own blessed way of fitting more for His service; and I find that with every who is progressing, there is exercise of this kind. It is like the three days when Paul was not able to see because of "the glory of that light", but he heard the blessed word, "... that thou mightest see, and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17).

There is another thing which this exercise imposes on us, and by which it is relieved, and that is by answering at once to every demand the Lord may have on us. This is devotedness in some shape or form. In some it may entail the confession of a course of hidden worldliness or worse. In others a self-renunciation, or abnegation of any selfishness or covetousness, which the truth, when maintained in power, insists on. The highest truth asserts its claims in the lowest details. Hence "if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we

[Page 291]

receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 3:21, 22).

Things which would be passed over in one of less light are subjects of judicial inquiry with one of more light, or of the highest light. For instance, insuring one's life, or saving money, I have no doubt the Lord suffers in a man little enlightened, which I believe would become causes of darkness to the one well enlightened, and the only way to obtain relief is by getting rid of the dark part.

I rejoice, beloved brother, and I am far from unfeeling when I say it, that you are subjected to this exercise. I have passed through much more trying ones myself, because I felt myself more self-condemned, and I often wonder how saints can adopt high truth without seeing deeper through the "hole in the wall" (Ezekiel 8:7).

If you give way to retirement you will shrink from the sword, or rather from the light; and you will not sing as in the days of your youth. I believe there is a new and blessed course before you. You are called upon now to fulfil what you started with, namely, to give up all for Christ.

THE THREEFOLD EXPERIENCE OF THE RISEN ONE

The retrospect of the past year cannot be without reflections of a deep and varied character, because the mercy of God has been gradually leading you nearer to Himself, and further from man's things and ways. It has been one of the most peculiar mercy to you. There is a period in each of our histories where the reality of our life in Christ is tested and proved by the death and darkness to which we are subjected, some in one way, and some in another, some only on their death-beds. But when the Lord would lead any one into His own path here, He leads him through the tunnel, or the valley of the shadow of death, in order that he may continue here in a new way.

[Page 292]

The past year is one ever to be remembered by you. In the hour of trial you have tasted of His life, which outlives the dissolution of everything here, imparting to you such a sense of its virtue that you, like Noah, enter anew on the earth; or, like Lazarus, you have been down to the sides of the grave, and you have come forth with this new and wonderful experience: "The Lord ... bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up" (1 Samuel 2:6). This is the first experience. But there have been three: first, you have proved the power and tenderness of His hand on your behalf; the second follows, and is conveyed in the words of our Lord, "Loose him, and let him go" (John 11:44). Lazarus must be in the full, unfettered vigour of his position. He had experienced the favour of the Lord in bringing him up from the grave; now he must be freed from everything belonging to the grave which would hinder his full enjoyment of the favour; even as the tiny bird not only bursts the shell, and breathes freely, but ere long receives feathers and wings, to reach the shelter that suits it, or to escape the danger that threatens it - soaring in an elevation above everything of man.

Your third experience is fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, just as Lazarus "was one of them that sat at the table with him" (John 12:2). In this fellowship, aware of, and partaker of His elevation, the most wondrous experience ever vouchsafed to the soul here, He imparts to me the virtues of His own position - ascended into glory. Oh, the favour when the Lord takes pains with us to lead us experimentally into this fellowship, which is His own calling for us; and where only, with enraptured eye and satisfied heart, we can share in the things of the Lord Jesus Christ.

May you be deepened in this threefold experience, and may the Lord enrich your heart with the sense of His full perpetual love.

[Page 293]

TWO WAYS OF RELIEF FOR SORROW

There are two ways of relief for the sorrowing one here: one is present nearness to Christ, where whatever the heart needs is found in Him. The want indicates the supply, but there must be nearness to Him for this. It is touching Christ that draws out the needed virtue. Now this mode of relief, while it places me superior to the pressure of the hour, enables me to be, though sorrowful, always rejoicing - able to serve, without being incommoded by the strait-waistcoat of circumstances here. There are "songs in the night".

The other mode of relief is the one, I apprehend, you look for, and that is the immediate coming of our Lord. Surely this will be the perfect relief; but I fear that you are looking at the termination of incongruities, more than seeking His present succour, so as to be like a giant refreshed with wine, making moral space for Christ in the midst of the direst opposition to Him. I should like to see you like a rose breaking through the dense jungle, to shed its fragrance, when there was no one, apparently, to appreciate it; made superior to the thorns and briars of the wilderness by the succour of His presence, who will speedily quash them in the day of His coming, and perpetuate to you the joy, without a check, which has sustained you in the dreariest hour here; and not simply looking for the termination of everything adverse, in the brightness and joy of a day when all shadows will be dispersed for ever. Is it the termination of the incongruous and sorrowful that you look for? or is it the present succour of Christ to be superior now, knowing that if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him? You are more a captive, waiting for and expecting the coming Deliverer, than the one His heart doth safely trust in, delighting in His love and succour, and thinking of the joy and welcome He will have at His return.

[Page 294]

THE WILDERNESS HISTORY

It is a great thing to know where you are historically. The wilderness journey is to teach us two things; one is, "that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" (Deuteronomy 8:3). This is simply dependence upon God. The other is, "that he might ... do thee good at thy latter end".(Deuteronomy 8:16). Once you have arrived at the first, you will rest assured of the second. When we are clear out of Egypt, the trials of the wilderness begin. Marah is the first, the natural inability to drink the water of the Red Sea, or death; but when we accept the cross of Christ, this is easy for us; the bitter water becomes sweet; we bear about in the body the dying of Jesus. On this follows historically the manna, and the rock that followed them; the life of Jesus, in the present power of the Spirit. It is a great thing when you are thus far on the journey; though you have not overcome the adverse power, or Satan, in the wilderness, until Amalek is overthrown; and this, though carried out by Joshua, who sets forth the Spirit of Christ, was really secured by Christ gone on high, as Moses supported by Aaron and Hur.

Now if Aaron had continued true to these experiences, they would have triumphed over the temptations of the wilderness. If you are daily bearing about in your body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in your body (which relates to yourself], and on the other hand, are in assured victory over Amalek, I believe you are proof to the four great temptations of the wilderness, as set forth in 1 Corinthians 10. The first - idolatry - is enjoying oneself here without God; and if the first be not checked, the second ensues, which is meretricious union or association with the world. On this follows loathing the manna - Christ in humiliation - as insufficient to sustain the heart here. Hence literature, and Jabal,

[Page 295]

and Jubal, and Tubal Cain's fascinations are delighted in; and, finally, the pleasant land is despised. I believe the one over whom Amalek prevails is one who, like Peter (though he truly loved the One he denied), is not walking in the effect of the cross on himself, and therefore without its result - the manifestation of the life of Jesus. Simply, if I am not practically applying the cross in which I am really crucified with Christ, I am not in a state to encounter Amalek. I have the two forces to overcome; first the one in myself, and then the one outside myself. Peter had not overcome the first, which was his self-confidence in following the Lord; and then, when the enemy desired to sift him as wheat, he found him unprepared, and the ready victim of his malice. His carnal confidence even in his love for his Lord made him an easy prey for the enemy.

May the Lord increase more and more your love to Him; but as sure as you trust yourself, you have not learnt the life of Jesus, through His cross; and so surely will the enemy overcome you where you least expected to be overcome. Be careful to ensure the victory within; and then you will by the Spirit of Christ, and the effect of His intercession above, overcome Amalek; and then, as by one step, you will join Joshua again at Jordan, to cross over into present heavenly joys with the Lord.

THREE ORDERS OF AFFLICTION

No doubt these afflictions when accepted, as sent by Him, effect great blessing, the blessing needed, and the blessing designed by Him. But afflictions affecting us personally must be either to promote our usefulness in service, as persecutions would, or governmental dealings, or chastening. If they are the first, which are the greatest morally, they are accompanied by distinct spiritual favour; what in military language I should

[Page 296]

call decorations, medals - sensible marks of divine favour such as when Paul could say, "The Lord stood with me" (2 Timothy 4:17), or like Stephen, looking up stedfastly into heaven, and seeing the glory of God and Jesus. If your affliction is of this class, you are suffering as one of Christ's martyrs. "For the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life" (Philippians 2:30.

Now if it is not of this class, it must be one of the other two. If it is governmental dealings - that is, a family judgment entailed, or inherited, because of the recklessness or carelessness of your progenitors - then, while there would be no special favour, no decoration, yet there is, if you are spiritual, such a sense of Christ's sympathy that your heart is deepening in the knowledge of His love. And thirdly, it may be chastening, which is His discipline, either to prevent a possible failure, or to correct an incurred one. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12, is an example of the former, Jonah or Peter of the latter. Paul was protected by the chastening, the thorn in the flesh, against a possible failure; Jonah had rebelled against Him; Peter had transgressed. In the first case I learn what He is; but in either case, when I am brought low, He helps me and delivers me, if I seek Him (see Psalm 107). In these cases there is a sense of His hand being on me, and a sense of being in prison, though He may prepare a whale for me, or come especially to comfort me; for as I am exercised, there is blessing. "Afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). To sum up: In the first, or highest order of affliction, there is special favour to me. In the second, there is sympathy. In the third, there is correction and exercise. In the first only it is for honour, though for profit in all.

[Page 297]

BEREAVEMENT

I am sure it is not easy for you to catch the light of the morning, in the darkness that the death or removal of one so dear and near has plunged you.

Faith asserts what facts deny at the time; but it is a great thing to insist on the word of God to one's soul, when nothing around corroborates, but on the contrary tends to contradict it.

When the sun is eclipsed at noonday, one ordinarily waits in patience, assured that it will return. True, the blank that you have sustained can never be repaired; yet you may say now in the depth of your sorrow, 'His ways are perfect'. Perhaps you cannot see them perfect yet, but faith in His word says that they are perfect; and faith will lead you soon into divine reality; and then, like Abraham on mount Moriah, you will find Jehovah-jireh - "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" (Genesis 22:14). How his sad night ended in the brightest day! "The end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11). May He comfort you, and thus prove Himself to be the resource of your heart.

It is extremely interesting to me how He satisfies our hearts, not now by things, as in the garden of Eden, but by Himself. He makes Himself known to the heart as the One nearest, and dearest, and most devoted to us, 'Whose love is as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end'.

DEPENDENCE THE PROOF OF PROGRESS

On every recurring anniversary we ought to be conscious of two things; one always fully, the second partially, and not so positively. The first, God's gracious ways, His favour to us during the past year, always abundant, if we are able to appreciate it; the second thing is that we are increasingly devoted to Him. The feast of tabernacles was of this character; it commemorated,

[Page 298]

in the ingathering, the full and bounteous way in which God had provided for them; and at the same moment they dwelt in booths, dependent on Him only, as they were when they came out of Egypt. They reverted to the hour when they were without anything, and entirely cast upon Him, while they reviewed the way in which He had crowned the year with blessing. Does your heart keep the feast in booths? "Booths" is the expression and evidence of dependence, and your growth is always marked by your dwelling in booths; that is, by your dependence.

I think the essential for progress is not the same as the mark of it. The essential is simply following Him - "Whither thou goest, I will go" (Ruth 1:16). There is no progress but as this is owned. Go one step out of His track, and you are not progressing, even though you have life. But the mark, or proof, that you are progressing is that you are more dependent on Him; you have an increasing sense of such personal helplessness that you cannot get on without direct support from Him, like Peter when he walked on the water.

I should wish to see you like a forest tree, which the higher it grows, the more do its branches, or extension, put forth the buds of life. I think you should be peculiarly striving together with the servants in this day in the gospel. I desire to see you so ingathering that, while you are like the merchant ships, you rise also while it is yet night - you circumscribe your own ease, but your "candle goeth not out by night" (Proverbs 31:18). I should like to see you so largely identified with the interests of Christ on earth that, while He takes care that down - the love of others - should line your nest here, yet you are a servant of the church; a carrier-pigeon, bearing the need of His people to Himself, and in His mercy made instrumental in bringing them help. "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much" (Ecclesiastes 5:12). I believe a blessed mission has been given you, and I trust nothing may divert you

[Page 299]

from it, and that each year your ingathering may be more significant of the Lord's present favour to you; and that you, while simply dwelling in booths, dependent on Him only, may rejoice with untiring joy before Him.

WHAT AM I LEARNING?

It is a great thing to be able to apprehend the particular lesson which the Lord is teaching us at the moment. If we are going on with Him, we must be learning something. It is not merely that spiritual health is preserved, though that is necessary, in order that one may the more effectually learn.

In the earlier stages of a christian's life it is easy to note the lesson for the moment. Forgiveness, peace, liberty, and so on. But when we have arrived where Israel had in the days of Joshua, when "the land rested from war", when it is no longer the question whether the old man is to be heard, or Christ, but when what is before us is simply and exclusively the knowledge of Christ, the lesson is not so marked. And yet there must continually be some new lesson, if there is any advance. If a tree grows, there must be new buds. I find that there is one great mark of the lesson which, in His grace, He is teaching me; and that is, the way in which that particular line of things is presented to me, and pressed upon me in every scripture which I read or hear. It is ever recurring. The writing on the fleshy table of the heart is not done without digging deep. There is line upon line; here a little, and there a little; but there is a deepening sense of light respecting the lesson of truth which the Lord is teaching me. It is always something of Christ - be it His sympathy, or how He suffered here, or how He enjoyed the love of the Father; and it practically reproduces in me the life of Jesus. I increase in the knowledge of Him; and as I do, I am discovering that greater things yet are to be learned, and therefore I am never proud of

[Page 300]

my learning; and as soon as one lesson is in a degree learned, I am led on to another; and every advance, like every fresh bud on a tree, only imparts tone and vigour to all the previous acquisitions.

I say all this that your reading of the word may not be formal. It is quite right to obtain a knowledge of Scripture, as to its general meaning; but the more I do so, the more am I helped in the formative power of the word, if my heart is really set on the Lord. A painter puts on colour after colour, and thus forms his picture; he studies the nature and use of colours first, but it is the skilful adaptation of them that creates the picture. It is well to read and to get knowledge, but unless you are in communion, you will not grow in likeness to what you admire, as recorded in the Word.

THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST

... I did not remember that I had not answered your question about the priesthood.... A very wonderful subject. Christ having set us as Himself before the eye of the Father, His present service is to maintain us in our walk here. For our weakness He is the Priest, and for our sins, the Advocate. I am a weak creature, even when I am not perverse. The Lord learned the weakness of the creature, but He ever did His Father's pleasure. He now imparts grace to me in all need; mercy, because of my weakness, and grace to help me; mercy is consideration; grace is actual favour conferred. The word detects the motive that would influence me. I learn myself concurrently with learning the grace of my Priest, who understands all my weakness, though He never gave way to it, and therefore He imparts His grace, or manna.

The blessed Lord enters into all I suffer from in spirit because of the weakness of the creature. Supposing I could not stay awake at a meeting, or that I was so timid I could not speak as I wished; well, He would

[Page 301]

be merciful to me, and help me by His grace, if I looked to Him; and at the same time He would, by His word, expose the way my flesh would feel, act, and shelter itself under the trial. This is on my side when infirmity is in the ascendant; but the Priest before God has quite another service. It is the perfect and divine, so entirely unknown to me, and so beyond all human apprehension, which He conducts me into, and supports me in. I learn Him, blessed be His name, in the weakness of myself, and in the greatness and perfection of the blessed God; one is too little for me, and the other is infinitely too great for me. But our Saviour is for us in both; and I believe we are more attached to Him as the Priest than only as a Saviour. We learn the largeness and suitability of His interest in us, adapted to every turn of our lives here. One could write volumes on this interesting subject. He comes down to our fireside, and He conducts and sustains us consciously in the glorious scene where God is. As consecrated ones, we enter the holiest.

THE WALK OF FAITH

I find that our great lack daily is not living by faith. We may do what is imposed on us, whether it be a pleasure or a duty, and yet it may not be simply faith. Every step should be in faith; and faith does not imply that I shall be gratified, but that the Lord will sustain me. And if we are true, and not deceived, there is not a day but that there is something ahead that we have to face, which we cannot find our way in, and which we are not able to bear up against, but in faith.

When I am in faith, my eye is outside this world, and fixed on Christ; and as it is, my steps here are those of a pilgrim and a stranger. The life of faith is the only true life, and the only wise one, because it is the only path in which Christ walked. We must be practised in it to understand it and persist in it. The

[Page 302]

more we walk by faith, the less can we, if conscientious, walk any other way. And then, wherever we are, we are always learning, deepening, in the knowledge of God. The one whose natural resources are exhausted, finds resources in Christ; and the one with abundance of natural resources finds how He surpasses them all, and that in Him only can he find help. This is the real learning of the wilderness.

WHERE AND HOW IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST MOST ENJOYED?

There is much interest in the thought pressed by ---- as to bridal affections, but I believe he is trying to reach it in the wrong way. I cannot get to London by flying; however right it may be to go there, I must go the only possible way. My great desire to get there will not make any change in the way to get there. I quite admit, "filled even to all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19) is more than union. "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:20); J.N.D. (Synopsis Volume 3, p. 367) says it is more than union, but surely it follows on union, and could not be enjoyed without union. It is enjoyed in heaven, and was not enjoyed while Christ was on earth. If I have to get to heaven to enjoy it, I must have union, for it is by union with Christ that I reach Him in heaven.

Now, every enjoyment I have of Christ is deeper in heaven, even though it be dwelling on the manner of His walk here on the earth. If I dwell on it, or on His death, while enjoying my union with Him in heaven, His love comes out to me in a much deeper way than it ever could before I knew that I am united to Him, and am with Him where He is. This the passover in the land typified; and in Ephesians, where we are seated in the heavenlies, the love comes out more deeply and fully than ever (chapter 3), and there we are fitted to be filled into the fulness of God. There is

[Page 303]

the knowledge of His love, and of all that He did, when I am in heaven, and lying down in green pastures; I have a much deeper sense of His love there, when it has effected its desires for me, than I could have in any intermediate stage of it. I should feel very sensible of the Shepherd's love, when on His shoulders, where He placed me, rejoicing; but I should have a far deeper sense of it when He had brought me home, and placed me in the centre of rejoicings.

I quite admit the growth of affection, as I am drawn in heart to my Saviour, as the woman in Luke 7, or Jonathan to David, or Rebekah, from all the steward had told her of Isaac; but surely the church's union with Christ has made all that complete and eternal; and it is after I know this that I begin to know Christ in any deep way; and any advance I make is for the body, of which I am a member, for I can never lose my corporate responsibility.

"The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (1 Corinthians 12:7). The bee always carries its acquisition to the hive; the wasp eats it. I really receive only to impart. Eternal life is common to all saints eventually, but to the church only "in that day". If I had not the eternal life, I could not have the capacity to enjoy it. The saints of a former day could never enter into things as we can. We are led into things as united to Him, our Head. We are first united to Him, and then we learn Him; but all is for the body, and to help on its growth here, and this is the only sure way for having the bride ready for the Bridegroom.

THE USE OF HUMAN MEANS IN THE LORD'S WORK

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, His residence and His vessel.

I am quite ready to accept anything the vessel may be led by Him to do. I may promise, in the fear of the

[Page 304]

Lord, and subject to Him, to come to a place or places. This is entirely between the vessel and the Owner of it. It is where one acts outside of the individual responsibility that I object.

A handbill is not the vessel. Oratory and the sensational are not of the Spirit. If you asked every one in the town to come to hear the gospel preached, I could not object. You are the vessel of the Holy Spirit. A placard on a dead wall is not the vessel, and remember that the individual body is the only instrumental means the Spirit has here; for He is against the world in all its organisation and machinery. Confine yourself to the only instrumental means (the bodies of the saints), and I cannot object; but the moment you swerve from that, you attempt to enlist into the service of the Spirit that which is incongruous to Him, because it is of the world that rejected Christ. Now the Holy Spirit and the world can never coalesce; they are more distinct than fire and water. He has come to reside here in the individual temple, and in the collective temple. He wants no help from any one. He uses His temples for the glory of Christ.

I may not approve of what the individual does, but to his own Master he stands or falls. When I see him using the world to co-operate with him in the Lord's work, I am at issue with him, even though I might attend his meetings. The woman of divination seemed to be quite a help to Paul, but he refused it. I seek to have such confidence in the organisation and power of the Holy Spirit, and His wonderful machinery, as in charge of Christ's interests here, that I need not supplement it by men's organisations, but simply wait on Him, and learn from Him how to be in concert with Him.

[Page 305]

THE TWO EXPERIENCES CONSEQUENT ON ACCEPTING JORDAN

In the aspect of Christ's death which the Red Sea sets forth, the blessed God was relieved of every atom of the offensive man; but in the Jordan aspect of His death, we are freed from every encumbrance connected with flesh and blood; and this is liberation. Now if I accept Jordan - liberation - I have two great experiences: one, how Christ sustains me as a human being here, in my own circumstances, and this is very continual; and secondly, that as I stand for Him here, His power, which I have learned in being associated with Him in heaven, makes me superior to human considerations. In one - the continual - He sustains me in my human condition, as He Himself lived here; in the other, I am for Him here, superhuman. A mother, with very small means and a large family, could enjoy His support and grace all the day long, which is the manna; but if a benefactor came to her, and offered her something worldly, which would be a gain to her humanly, but which would compromise Christ, she would, in Christ's power - a power hers, because united to Him by the Holy Spirit - refuse, at all cost and loss, the worldly offer; and thus she would be superhuman.

It is necessary that we should be kept in the simple reality of our position on the earth, though enjoying and able to act in consonance with our union with Christ in heaven. After Paul came down from the third heaven, he was, more than ever before, made sensible that he needed hourly grace, because of his position here. It is true that it was the old corn of the land that he fed on above, but it reached down to the manna, the life of Jesus here on earth. Paul seems always to have begun at the top; we begin at the manna; but when we taste of the corn of the land, we do not lose the manna; on the contrary, we look for it all the more in our daily circumstances.

[Page 306]

THE EXTERNAL THE EXPRESSION OF THE INTERNAL

He that cannot fulfil and walk in what is simply his duty must be weak in everything. The greatness of any one is seen in the way in which he is able to meet all the claims on his time and temper.

Graciously and perfectly does the Lord teach us and lead us on. His grace is not to enable us to do special things well, but to do everything well. It is the atoms that really constitute the globe; and in order to have the atoms of our daily life right, there must be full possession of our bodies by the Spirit for Christ.

We forget too much how the body is the index of the governing power, and that it is to answer to the place and service to which Christ has appointed it.

The idea of the 'Friends' was so far right, that their appearance must be indicative of their separation from the world, and nonconformity to it. Their mistake is that they assume the outward before the inward, and then it becomes pharisaical.

Our mistake in general is that we are too content with the conviction of what we possess, and the comfort flowing from it, and do not study sufficiently to make the external answer to the internal convictions. Old habits and tastes (or, if not tastes, the effect of them) too often remain unaltered, instead of the external man being the expression of the inner, or the new man. The light is in the pitcher, but the pitcher is opaque!

Human self-culture is directed to the habits - the external; it does not aim to impart a principle within. But the Lord's education of us is that the external, the body, should be the expression of what He has put within - His own life; and we are not to be indifferent as to the outward because of the assured possession within; for unless I am governed by it, there cannot be testimony.

[Page 307]

What a person is, is judged of by what he does. If he tells me what he is, I look to his ways, to see the marks about him of what he is. It is useless for a man to tell me he is humble in heart, if he is proud in manner. It is vain for a man to say that Christ is his one thought, if in words and acts he is ever seeking to gain distinction for himself.

It is true that there is the wish to be devoted, and to be like Christ, long before one's acts and manner corroborate the wish, and make it a fact; but the more the wishes which grace has generated in your heart are given a place, the sooner will they become facts; and the more Christ has His throne within you, the more you will rejoice in Him, and have no confidence in the flesh.

THE ACTION OF THE WORD OF GOD

The word of God, when received, must be searching, for it is light; and we are naturally all in the dark as to what suits God. If it does not search you, it is not light to you, and if you walk in darkness after you have seen the light, you will have a bad conscience, and you will either have some grievous fall, or become very unhappy.

If I accept the word of God, I must walk by it, and as I walk by it, I have the virtue of the light itself; it is an armour to me. A man asleep is alive, but he does not enjoy life; but the man who exercises his life unimpeded, enjoys it, and knows what it is.

You must yield yourself to the claims of God's word, and as you do, you will be like the tree, which first bears leaves, then blossoms, and then fruit. It is enriched by its own products. The word of God feeds the life, and if there is not yielding to its claims, there will not be energy of life, and there will be no leaves, no blossoms, and no fruit.

[Page 308]

Be subject to the word of God. Seek to be the practical exponent of it, as you receive it, and you will find that it not only searches you, but that, when it has its place in your heart, it greatly enriches you with its own divine virtues.

REAL SERVICE, NOT HUMAN AMIABILITY

If I can, I shall place before you the path of blessing with which, as I believe, the Lord has favoured you. The Lord must be your only true Object and Centre. You must not only refer everything to Him, but you must act from Him. This double movement you require for every service.

"If any man serve me, let him follow me" (John 12:26). This being admitted, you can test everything by the simple question, Is it to as well as from Him, and from as well as to Him? One of these, by itself, would not be perfect. Christ is always the Centre and Object of the Spirit, and as I am led by the Spirit, each act has this double movement. With Him for my Centre, my circumference is ever in relation to Him. Wherever I am, and do what I may, He is before me - the One I am thinking of. If I visit, I come from Him, and I think of Him there. I like my visitor one time, because I am able to bring my Object before him; at another time, because he brings my Object before me; and if I really come from Him, He is still my Object, even if I find neither with my visitor. The more He is thus to me, the more communion have I with His own whenever I meet them. It is never what I am in a natural way which really binds the spiritual to me.

True, the gracious, self-denying ways which mark you do most favourably impress; but, after all, there is no real binding power in them beyond the measure of Christ that is in them; and you will find that, even where there is a dry, hard bearing, if there is real devotedness to the Lord, there is more assured attraction

[Page 309]

and bond than where there is much outwardly winning and serviceable, without the devotedness. I am not reprobating the grace of unselfishness, but I am endeavouring to show that it is but a husk unless the Lord be both the Centre and the Object; and that the one who makes Him the Centre and the Object, and yet who could not clothe their service in the beautiful garments I refer to, would, after all, make a more lasting, because a divine, impression than the one who had relied too much, or mainly, on the attractive way in which the service was done. The divine thing comes to the surface in the long run. One is greatly captivated by amiability, but one never builds on it. Amiability is beautiful, but it is not sensitive; that is, it is not select in its objects, and it is not in its nature capable of making a difference. It is not love "without dissimulation" which governs it - that is, love without putting on a greater appearance than the love would warrant. Amiability may be unselfish kindness, but it is never real service. The dress is beautiful, but it is a blossom which bears no fruit. The substance is the thing to cultivate, and then, though it come out in a very homely attire, it is sure to be appreciated for its genuine worth; and this, after all, is, in the long run, what the crucible of this life determines.

I do not see that there is any lack of favour to you, and the more single-eyed and devoted you are to the Lord, the more you will endear yourself effectively to each one loving Him.

The Lord lead you to be thankful, and appreciative of His favours to you, and give you to make Him so your Object and Centre, that you will not be thinking how you stand with any one, but how He stands; and that your one desire and labour may be that He may stand higher and higher, each day, with all your friends.

[Page 310]

SCHOOL-TIME

Faith comes before assurance, and assurance before the answer. The gentile woman (Matthew 15:22) had faith in the Lord's power, before He gave her any assurance as to His intentions of relieving her; and even when He gave this, she did not actually get the answer to her prayer until she returned to her daughter, and found her whole. Real faith is always increased by opposition, while false confidence is damaged and discouraged by it.

It is a different thing to have confidence in God as to His doing anything for me on the ground of relationship - of my being His child, and to get a distinct promise and assurance from Him.

In the latter case, there is always the sentence of death put on the promise before the answer is given. The time of trial and suspense, while faith is in exercise, is the time of school. School is more preparing the mind for knowledge, and getting it into training, than actually acquiring knowledge. So with the soul. In trial it is learning to learn, more than getting any conscious acquisition. That comes afterwards, as with the pupil who wishes to continue the cultivation of his mind after he escapes from the toil of the school-room. Then only does he become fully conscious of what he has gained. While toiling, he was conscious of little advance, but he now finds that his mind has got into working order, and all that seemed dull and meaningless to him, as learnt by rote, assumes a new meaning and use to him. To the schoolboy everything is new, and he is hardly conscious of acquisition; but afterwards he makes use of his knowledge, to reach the science of things, and to acquire more.

The soul in trial is in its school-time, and should not be discouraged in being unable to discover at once distinct acquisition in its knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, from day to day. That will come by-and-by,

[Page 311]

when the trial is over, which is but preparing it for the consciousness of blessing and increased knowledge of Christ, and in this process self must be learnt and exposed, which is always painful.

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Peter 5:10).

SOWING AND REAPING

I do trust this may prove to be a sowing time with you. "He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6). If we really delight in receiving from the Lord, we shall bring forth the fruit of it; we shall have the deep good of it ourselves, and out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water.

It is a wonderful thing to be so satisfied in the Lord's company, that we can be tranquil about everything. You will often find that it is the one of the most anxious temperament who finds most in the Lord, when such an one begins to learn Him. I remember when I used to think that I should be happy beyond conception if I were able to say, "I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23:4); my "heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord" (Psalm 112:7). In order to reach this, you must find the Lord enough, without anything else. We all say that He is enough, but it is quite a different thing to know it practically. You can never prove the worth of any one, until you are absolutely dependent on him; and when that One is "greater than Solomon", it is no wonder that when we are shut in to Him there should, like the queen of Sheba, be no more spirit in us. I like the idea that first gave place to a nun, absolute consecration of heart to the Lord; but that is putting the cart before the horse. The nun gives up to find; you and I are to give up, because we have found. May you daily find Him more and more to you, and prove the restfulness of this acquisition.

[Page 312]

GRACE AND PRACTICE

I hope ---- is well, and daily entering more into the things that are ours, because of our alliance with "a greater than Solomon". The queen of Sheba was only a spectator; she had no right because of relationship to anything she saw. The church is in the closest alliance to Christ.

Progress is only advancing in the knowledge, the spiritual knowledge, of what we really possess at the outset. It is like ascending a ladder. The ladder is grace. The first step is, we believe that Jesus was sent of God; second, that in the fulness of His work we are justified; third, we make His acquaintance; fourth, we come to see Him in heaven; we know our association with Him there, and His power here, where He is not; fifth, we learn the mystery, the great things we are entitled to because of being His body; sixth, that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ; seventh, lost in wonder and in praise in the knowledge of Himself.

There is practice accordingly. The ladder of practice begins at the third step in the ladder of grace. Devotedness is the practice consequent on acquaintance. The next is testimony. Next, renunciation of the tradition and the rudiments of the world. Next, the entering into the nature of the body and the house, as each is in God's sight. Lastly, coming down in power to act a heavenly man here in every circle.

THE EFFECT OF LOOKING UNTO THE LORD

There is, I am sure, a wonderful effect from looking to the Lord. "I will look unto the Lord" must be your watchword. There is plenty to be corrected in ourselves, and the more we are in the light, the more we are distressed by it; but there is less possibility of reforming oneself than there is of taming the ocean! Displacement is the only progress. The more the eye

[Page 313]

is on the Lord, and the more the heart is drawn out to Him, the more is there a looking after Him, as Elijah said to Elisha (2 Kings 2:10), "If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee". Elijah there is the type of Christ glorified. It is the principle of faith, looking to what God accepts, and hence looking away from what is intolerable to Him - even oneself. The more He engages the heart, the more is the heart rewarded for its engagement; as one has said, 'The draught which lulls our thirsting awakes the thirst anew'. There is a wearing out of the sight in continued looking at one object naturally, but when it is the eye of faith, the more you look, the more you can look; and the more you gain, and become distanced from the old man, because of your conformity to what your heart delights in. Thus the transformation takes place.

The real gain of experience is that I trust myself less, and because I do so, I look to the Lord more.

THE HUMAN AND THE DIVINE

The devotedness of one is a help to the whole church of God. What an encouragement and incentive to be devoted! "If any man serve me, him will my Father honour" (John 12:26). There is nothing so important for the church as personal devotedness. All the light of heaven will be in vain without the fresh energy of the Spirit in continued surrender. The sin of Canaan is more worldliness, that of the wilderness, earthliness.

Death comes in, in one form or another, and this is only right, for we have brought it on ourselves. In Christ all heaven and its eternal delights are thrown open to us, with capacities to enjoy them; but in the flesh I am entitled to nothing but death. Hence every mercy is an instance of divine favour.

The danger of brethren is lest they should be satisfied with the creed, as I might call it, of the evangelicals - namely, gospel, good conduct, and good works. This

[Page 314]

never carries us beyond the earth. Christ's joys and hopes, His body on the earth, His ways ours here; this is spiritual, and is as remote from the former as heaven is from the earth.

There is no use in trying to make a man change his opinion until he first changes his place. Is it from man's scene you view things, or is it from God's scene? If from man's, your view will be earthly and natural; if from God's, it will be spiritual and divine. You will see things as He sees them: "I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end" (Psalm 73:17).

THE FATHER'S HOUSE

Certainly every one enjoying his union with Christ where He is, has entered in spirit into the Father's house. The Father's house is the only resting-place for the prodigal.

There are but the two places - the "great way off", where he received the kiss of reconciliation, and the Father's house; the first step from the one to the other is entrance into untold joy and blessedness. The right of entrance is not only assured, but enjoyed. Sitting in the heavenlies in Christ is our calling, together with all saints. Entering into and enjoying the Father's house now in the Spirit, is the right of children brought nigh unto Him.

The holiest of all is the moral character of the Father's house; Jesus is there for us. He has entered "into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24). He is a great High Priest. He sustains us there, and He is there. The more you are in the holiest, where you worship, the more will your assurance of the Father's love deepen without any outward evidence of it. The perfect rest of heart found in the perfect acceptance vouchsafed to you there, will promote and enlarge in your heart the knowledge of the Father's love. When the love of the Father is in you (see 1 John 2:15), you are

[Page 315]

sensibly enjoying that which could, and would, provide and procure anything for you, and the love of the world is not in you. It is not anything you see which detains or draws your heart, because it is already occupied with a love that has the command of everything, and is ready to use all for you.

The Lord sustain you in the unclouded light of His own presence, growing more and more into the pleasures that are at His right hand.

CHRIST KNOWN IN GLORY

Christ in humiliation wins our hearts, and Christ in glory satisfies them. We learn to be suitable to Him by being in His company.

If you are conversant with Christ in glory, you must be like Him in humiliation, because His life could not act differently in the same circumstances. It must act similarly in similar circumstances.

I am in the same circumstances in which Jesus was down here; and as I have Christ in me, now glorified, and able to communicate with me through the Holy Spirit, I am living here as He lived, and I have the enjoyment and resources which were known to Jesus here on earth; and my heart is consciously enjoying the love which He bore me, in treading the path of death and sorrow for me. I deepen in the sense of His love for me, while I live Him in the very circumstances which He passed through for me.

If I were not in His life, I could not comprehend how He walked and endured down here, and all to win us. He "loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). If I were only to follow Him, as Peter and John did here, in His humiliation, I should feel attracted to Him, but I should not know how He felt and suffered for me. I should still be in my own life, though quickened. But when I know that I have life in a risen Christ, and that He lives in me, I walk here as He

[Page 316]

walked; and I know and understand the nature of that love that made Him suffer for me here.

Company with Christ in His humiliation draws the heart to Him, but there is in it no necessary, or indeed possible, relinquishment of man in this life. But when I am in His life by the Holy Spirit, I can understand and feel as He felt, and the life of Him who here died for me is reproduced in me.

Christ in humiliation helped the man still in natural life, but the corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die to bear fruit. Now in Him I have resurrection life, so I can live as He lived here, and though I still have natural life, it is controlled, not by the will of man, but by the Spirit of God, in the life of Him who is risen and glorified.

The Holy Spirit is here for Christ, and not for the man on earth. The latter refused Him. The Holy Spirit maintains for Him in the place where He was refused.

Not only am I connected with my Saviour in glory, but He lives in me, and this is my start, not my attainment. It is really wonderful as simple grace.

SUFFERING PREPARATORY TO SERVICE

I have heard of the great sorrow you have been passing through; one would say insupportable, were there not an assured faith in the heart that the Lord has more a prospective meaning and purpose in these sore afflictions than a retrospective one. Affliction always precedes promotion, and according as one bears the first, one is proved truly qualified for the second. Joseph is in prison, David in Ziklag, before they are fitted, or proved by their power of endurance to be fitted, for serving the Lord. If you will receive your great affliction at the hand of the Lord in this light, you will certainly find that they who sow in tears reap in joy. The patience, the power to endure, measures the real amount of faith

[Page 317]

in God, and this is the groundwork of all service. When a man is impatient, when he chafes, then it is not God who is before him, but himself - he is hindered in his service, because the Lord cannot sustain him in it in that spirit. When one has got God for oneself, and He is simply and solely before one, everything one does reaches the spiritual, as of God. All His education and dealings with us are to bring us to this. "The trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:3). It is a very wondrous work that is going on in the Lord's education and preparation of us, for His own purposes as to us here, as well as for the place which each of us will hold in the holy temple of the Lord by-and-by. There is the wearing away of the outer man, and the renewing, day by day, of the inner man. There is a chiselling process going on, that the inner, the new man, may be more visible and prominent. It is only as it is, that we can be truly in His service, and the exercise of the soul, through the Spirit, as to all we have to pass through, is for this end. By-and-by the sound of the hammer will not be heard. Now we have the din of it on every side; and as we submit to it in our own hearts, there is the reaching to the "perfect and entire, wanting nothing", and this is real fitness for His service.

Take comfort in this deep affliction; talk it over with the Lord, and He will give you meat out of the eater. It is a great help and cheer when one understands the intention of perfect love, in removing anything that interferes with my progress, or with my fitness to be used as a vessel for His purpose and pleasure.

SOW TO THE SPIRIT

You must never expect to be without exercise, but the less you give way to the flesh, the more will it be displaced. There must be the distinct sense that if I turn from Christ, I lose the Spirit's support, and I am

[Page 318]

practically in the flesh. When I am seeking to walk as Christ, my eye on Him, I may be assailed by the flesh, but I am entitled to say (and this is my safety) that I am free from it, because in Christ I am dead to sin; I am not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. I know the lion is there, and I know how fierce he is; but I am, through grace, free of him. I must not tamper with him, or give heed in any way to him, but I must not deny that he is there; and therefore I walk in fear, but consciously happy that my real place, through the gift of God, is in Christ, clear of him. All spiritual things are given to us, but we are responsible to retain them, at least the enjoyment of them, and this you never can, except in their own proper soil and climate. "He that hath, to him shall be given". You cannot retain spiritual things in carnal enjoyments; even the best of them are the old wine. You must sow to the Spirit, and then of the Spirit you reap everlasting life, never-ending life of perennial freshness and vigour. If you come from a happy meeting or time with the Lord, and give yourself to carnal literature or gossip, you will lose the fragrance and value of the season with the Lord; but if you seek to abide more with the Lord, because of the happy time He has vouchsafed to you, you will be brighter and brighter; and as Christ gets increasingly His true place in your heart, all that is not of Him will be increasingly displaced.

HOW TO PROMOTE DEVOTEDNESS

The true way to promote devotedness is to seek and cultivate closer acquaintance with Himself, which leads always to practical separation from that which is unsuited to Him; and this is devotedness. The more you are with Christ, the stronger you become in heart and taste to refuse what is contrary to Him, and without making any plan, you find yourself retiring from old and cherished associations, and seeking and loving only

[Page 319]

those which connect you with Him. It is not then a surrender to obtain a certain gain, but a surrender to preserve the gain in its full value.

When nearness to Him is really known, and the soul has been transformed by it, the conversation of the world becomes intolerable; and in seeking and securing the better things, the surrender of everything which stands in the way, however great, becomes secondary.

If you subject yourself to the society of the world, when there is no positive call of duty, you suppress and blight divine growths in your soul; but if you seek and cherish nearness to the Lord, you will grow too big for your shell, and you will burst it ere long, and find the surrender a positive relief. It is better that the shell should be broken from the inside, rather than from the outside. As I feed on Christ, the inner man is renewed and strengthened, and all that hinders its expression is displaced. What a relief it is! What liberty the butterfly exhibits when it bursts from the chrysalis! Surely we ought even now to know that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17).

May our gracious Lord lead you into simple nearness to Himself, and strengthen your heart to answer to the love of His heart for you.

TRUE DESIRES

It is a great comfort to me that failure in the thing which I most desire is no proof that I do not truly and genuinely desire it; and that there is in me the nature that desires it. The failure is caused by the flesh, the evil will refusing to let me be the exponent personally of what in heart I seek; and you will find that though for the moment your acts may deny your purpose, yet that your purpose does not go with your acts, but condemns them.

I make a distinction between light and desire. Light is the reception of any truth, but desire is more; it is

[Page 320]

the heart set on maintaining it. Now circumstances test both. When it is only the former there is no power against a deliberate assault; one acts in nature, and the excuse is, that no other way was open. But with the latter, it is when the attack is open and palpable that he is victorious, though he often loses ground when he least expects it, and is, as we say, taken unawares. No open or deliberate attack could subdue Samson; his heart was right. Lot gave way before the first great attraction. The failure, contrary to your desire, only shows that you have not been broken enough; and therefore the breakdown occurs, in order to show you where your weak point is; and the truer your desire, the more will you watch and guard against it. It is the readiness and adroitness of your body (of which the tongue is the index), which proves that, like a horse well-mouthed, you are under complete control. If it be only light, and there be a departure, the conscience even will not be troubled, if there be a good excuse for the departure. When there is real love of the truth, it is quite different; one is always pained if one's acts do not declare plainly the ruling desire of the heart. In the former case temptations are allowed to occur, in order to expose to oneself how little really the love of the truth possesses one; in the latter, to show one where the danger lies.

It is a wondrous and beautiful thing to see our bodies made to the accompaniments to the divine nature, as a harp to the voice - sanctified in spirit, soul, and body.

THE WILDERNESS MAN AND THE HEAVENLY MAN

What I have feared about you is not an uncommon fear about others - namely, what is the end and aim of your life? You have been like Samson; the Spirit of the Lord has moved you. You made, or rather you

[Page 321]

were led a step, but you dropped back again, like a bow that has lost its power. You have lost definiteness of aim. Every saint has a mission; I do not venture to say what yours is. I was long enough finding my own.

The believer now is in two positions: he is in the wilderness and in Canaan. In the wilderness he must drink death, Marah. To the christian the world is a wilderness wide; but to the old man, still hanging about me, it is a scene of temptation, and therefore I must drink death, if I would cease from sin; and as Christ was in death for me, the tree in the bitter water, the bitter water is made sweet. I am myself in the same mind - I cease from sin. This is the wilderness man, correct, self-denying, and sustained by the Lord in every step of his daily life; in practical ways like the young man in the gospel; no infraction of the law - God's requirement of a man. Love is the fulfilling of the law. There is also the Abraham separation from old and natural claims; and there is the Moses devotedness - counting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Reproach and persecution would be incurred because of the separate, devoted path, for there is a going outside the camp, where there is an organised system, with military precision, professedly for God. This is the wilderness man. There is, besides, the heavenly man. He properly is the servant of Christ. Be he evangelist or teacher, he is from heaven, not from the wilderness. Of course, he has the loveliness of the wilderness man, but he has much more; he comes from heaven. The first thing that marks him is that it is Christ's mind - the unity of the Spirit, the direction of the Head for His body, which engages his unremitting attention. He is now a man of quite a new order; before he was helped, in divine grace, in his circumstances; he is now in the power of Christ here, for Christ.

[Page 322]

LEAVES AND FRUIT

I believe we have little idea how our own self-government affects our companions. In 1 Corinthians 13, "charity", the more excellent way to serve, is entirely taken up with the servant. The vessel, and its preparation for service, is the subject. We so often think of the people we are seeking to serve, and all their defects, instead of being so freed from self that we are able, in real love, to serve them. Real love is full self-denial.

It is not what we say in the home circle that tells so much as the way we control ourselves. With strangers we express our opinions; at home, among our own people, we testify in our own persons to the moral effect of our opinions.

The doctrine is the programme, the manner of life, the confirmation of it. I arrest or provoke a person by the doctrine, but I silence him by patient continuance in well doing. The doctrine is like the leaves of a tree, they tell what the tree is. Every one knows the name of the tree by its leaf, but the value of the tree is known by its fruit - the natural activity of life. There is seldom much, if any, fruit where there are too many leaves. The strength is spent in the effort for outward testimony; and on the other hand if there are not leaves enough, the fruit will be indifferent. There must be leaves; they are the public avowed expression of the nature of the tree; but if one is too much taken up with the assertion of one's opinions, though all right in itself, there is no strength left for the fruit, of which, if good, no one can partake without the conviction, though it may be unexpressed, that it is good.

There must be a full, clear, unequivocal expression of the doctrine which is to govern my life; but this being stated, I devote my attention now, not to expressions or a creed, but to the way the doctrine I have received as the truth of God, influences and controls me; and even though those around me may not approve

[Page 323]

of my personal devotedness to Christ, yet it must command their respect and notice, for in proportion as it controls me, the house is filled with the odour of it.

"HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME"

The mission of the Holy Spirit, in John 14:26, "the Comforter ... whom the Father will send in my name", is for the individual believer, but in chapter 15: 26, He is sent by Christ to His own here on earth to testify of Him, as He says, "He shall testify of me". It is of the deepest importance to apprehend what this means, as to the mode and measure in which this testimony is to be effected. It does not say that the Spirit is to lend His aid in conjunction, or in co-operation, with all human means, but that He is to be the Testifier - "He shall testify of me". Thus He can use any of Christ's own as His vessel in effecting this work.

It is a very simple question, but fraught with great issues - what would be the difference between a believer who would use all natural means for the spreading of the gospel, not seeing that the Spirit is the Testifier, and the one who fully believes in His mission, and solely depends on Him to do His work. It is clear which of these would be right. When such a transcendent power as the Holy Spirit takes up His abode with us, who are so infinitely less, He of necessity takes the lead, and carries us with Him as His vassals. Lesser lights fade before the noonday sun; how much more do we, and all our efforts, become insignificant before Him! He comes to do a great work, and He uses us as vehicles, as the atoms of the air are so many vehicles, or ways, of conveying the light of the sun to every corner of the earth. If the light of the sun be shut out in noonday, there is no light, unless there be a resort to some artificial and lesser light; and this is just what has occurred in christendom. The greatest

[Page 324]

power and the greatest light has been excluded by unbelief; and hence human power, education, or some human means, has been resorted to, to supply the lack. The man who uses any human means outside of the Spirit, clearly has lost sight of the word, "He shall testify of me". The Spirit is the One to do it, and not the instrument, though He may use the instrument. I may speak the word, or write the word, but it is only in proportion as I do either in the Spirit that the fruit of it will be the Spirit's work. It is an abnegation of man's power and means when we rely simply on the Spirit of God to testify of Christ; and this is but just and proper, seeing that man has rejected Christ. Satan's tool is man, and he has no place when man is completely excluded, and then it is that the Spirit has full sway.

The more ardent a man is, the more ready is he to rely on human means, or to enlist them in aid of the Lord's work; and when he does, he evidently has no practical belief in the Spirit of God, or he does not think Him enough for the occasion. Now this flaw in his faith betrays itself on every side. There is sure to be a defective apprehension of the Spirit's activities in himself individually. The dark part in him naturally is not detected and refused; a worldliness, corresponding to the defect, is always to be seen in the man who has not accepted in heart the complete rule of the Spirit in himself; and as he has not faith in Him for himself, he cannot have faith in Him for Christ. So, in seeking to testify of Christ, in preaching or otherwise, he uses human or worldly means, and he has never in his own soul a very distinct or joyous apprehension of things above; he is not heavenly. Thus truth acts and reacts. The man who believes that a divine Person resides in him, not only to enrich his heart with Christ, but to lead him, as He pleases, to testify of Him, is sure to be found breaking from the world at the side where naturally he had been most held by it. It is always so when the subjection is real;

[Page 325]

the fortress, the spot in the heart where the will has centred gives way; and if the fortress be captured, the enemy has lost his footing.

The compensation assured to the witnesses of Christ here, led and supported by the Spirit of God, is that while the world is utterly set aside and reproved, there is, through the Spirit, the glorifying of Christ, and "he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you"(John 16:15); heavenly things are their portion.

One word more. I am convinced that all our present weakness is traceable to disregard of the Spirit's presence. One of the fruits of this is the use of secular means, placards, etc., and I am thankful to note that, as men of God advance in nearness to the Lord, and in the knowledge of His grace, they entirely refuse them; while, on the other hand, when workers are carnal or have declined, there is often a desire for notoriety which passes for zeal, they turn more to these carnal means, and are, in my judgment, giving man a prominence that literally shuts out Christ; and this is Laodicean in nature.

GOD'S HEART AND ETERNAL PURPOSE

There is a flaw in your idea. God's great desire is to bless. His Son was ever His delight. No one knew the measure of the distance between God and man, but one Man - the Son of God; and no man ever knew what was in the heart of God for the sinner, but one Man - the Son of God. Adam was made in the image of God. He failed. Man failed after repeated trials. The brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person, came in then to do His will, to effect the blessing He desired; so that every family in heaven and earth can be named of the Father.

The Lord Jesus Christ is thus the One to carry out all the blessing in the heart of God; He is the one Object of His delight, and in Him all things are headed

[Page 326]

up. How otherwise could the blessed God care for the dispersed of Israel? How else could He be the Happy God? His blessed Son needed no glory. He had the same glory as the Father, but then He came forth to fulfil the purpose of the heart of God, of blessing man, and His "delights were with the sons of men" (Proverbs 8:31). Then He justly called forth the love of the Father, as He did when He went down into death.

God's object now on the earth where Christ was rejected, is the fulness of Christ, surely for Christ's glory, but also for the blessing of those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. God, in His own nature, loved the world, but the Son only could set forth that love. Hence the Son, in His new place, commands and concentrates all the delight and satisfaction of God; and all things will be headed up in a Man, and that Man the Son of the Father; but in the eternal state still a Man, and not the Son with the Father, as He was before the world was. His glory is not greater, but He has carried out the heart of God so fully, that He has the pre-eminence of every creature; and yet the glory He had with the Father before the world was is greater than any conferred or acquired glory, though the latter are testimonies to the perfection with which He has given true and full effect to the heart of God.

We must begin with the heart of God. He delighted to bless, and His Son only could do it effectually. Thus He enters on a new place, and with new glories; and in one of these glories He receives His complement here, to the eternal and inconceivable blessing of those who compose it - the church. His body is His complement, which it is God's object now to form and maintain here on earth by the Holy Spirit.

I have fellowship with the Father and the Son in Their purposes all round, and it is unspeakable blessing to enter into the Father's pleasure in the work and ways of His Son. Nothing can exceed His own blessedness.

[Page 327]

He delights in His own works. None could exceed them, but I must not lose the sense in my heart that He delights to bless me; that it is not only to make me an appendage to the Son's glory, though, through grace, I am a member of His body, and thus I am for Him; but I am also there for my own deep, eternal blessing, and God's heart decreed it for me. Hence Christ "loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20), and He gave eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him. The Father had the electing love; this you leave out, as though He regards us only as a builder would regard stones in a quarry, instead of tracing your blessing to the heart of God. I am set for the church, because it is Christ's interest, and the Father's purpose for His Son; but, at the same time, it is for the fullest blessing of His chosen ones. If there had not been in the heart of God a desire to bless, the Father and the Son could have gone on together in the excellent glory without us. But there was that desire in God's heart. The Son comes forth to carry it out, "the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18). His complement we are. In answer to the love of God we are saved; but in answer to Christ's heart (for He loved the church) we are given to Him, to be His body and bride, which He will present to Himself, a glorious church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The glory that the Son had with the Father before the world was, we shall see, but not be given, though members of the One who has received it as a Man.

LIGHT AND CONSCIENCE

The great subject of John's first epistle is light. The object of the epistle is that we may know that we have eternal life (1 John. 5:13).

Man at the fall got a conscience by doing evil; he had departed from an innocent state, to which we never

[Page 328]

return. God knows evil, because it is the opposite to good. Every trace of God is new to the fallen man; hence, on conversion, he is made acquainted with God, the only One who is good. Up to this he had a standard of his own, according as conscience acted, which he seldom was quite up to, though, in some cases, as Saul of Tarsus, he might be able to say, "I have lived in all good conscience" (Acts 23:1). The moment God comes in before the soul, the sense of the really good makes the sense of man's immeasurable distance from it almost intolerable. Saul of Tarsus falls on the ground. The thief on the cross fears God, admits the justice of his sentence. Now henceforth, after God, the really good, is reached, the sense of my disparity and distance morally from Him is ever increasing. The bad is very bad, as the good becomes known as very good. If I turn to the bad, or incline to it, there is the sense in my soul that I have turned away from the good - from God; but as I walk as a child of light, I am sensibly distanced from the bad, and the Holy Spirit bears me witness in my conscience. Hence the danger of putting away conscience from faith. If you have faith, you require to keep a good conscience; that is, that you are up to your faith. The demand God has on you is really conscience, and the demand increases as the knowledge of His mind increases. If I do not keep up to this, I make shipwreck. I believe in what is revealed, but I do not see that it distances me from the bad that is in me. The good is accepted, without its claim or power on me being accepted. The virtue of the word is lost, I am like the deaf adder. This is the great importance of speaking to the understanding, for otherwise the conscience cannot be reached.

When I am truly before God, every fresh ray of His light affects my conscience; I have a greater sense of good, and I am more sensibly distanced from the bad, not only that which is outside of me, but that which is in me. If not, the man with Ephesian truth

[Page 329]

will drop into the worst immoralities, because he can speak of what is highest without repudiating and rebuking what is of the old man. Hence, in John's epistle light is the polar star; light is for fellowship, light for brotherly love; and if your heart condemn you, in action towards your brother, God is greater than your heart. I suppose it is the heart in John, because the affections are under the control of the conscience. "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God" (1 John 3:21). God has more light than I have, but I act according to my light, and thus communion, or confidence, is not disturbed.

Believe me, it is very unsound teaching which does not touch the conscience, making me feel how good God is, and the consequent claim on me, if I am His; how evil man is, and what a distance there is between good and evil. By-and-by I shall know evil because I know good, and am for ever in it. The man who would save his conscience will not long continue safe. The more conscientious any man is, the more carefully he investigates a new truth, because he feels that, if accepted, it must make a fresh demand on him. Man is to be more repudiated, and Christ maintained.

HOW CHRIST IS SET FORTH ON EARTH

What a magnificent being on the earth is a member of the heavenly Man in heaven! What an exotic; and what a joy to one's own heart to be united in heaven to the Object of the heart! As one is near Him, and really enters into this, there is, like the queen of Sheba, no more spirit left in one. How Paul walked about here, diminished and reduced in his old self, but with the deep, everlasting satisfaction in his heart, in the crippled vessel, of what was his as a man in Christ! If you could get all the christians in the universe together as units, but with one purpose, you could not thereby effect the great desire of the true-hearted,

[Page 330]

namely, to set forth Christ here. The great object of the Holy Spirit is to reproduce Christ, the heavenly Man, on the earth. But no combination, or united purpose, with all christians to effect this, could effect it, unless they were members of Christ's body. It is not the number of believers, but it is the relationship which each believer has to Christ, which constitutes or qualifies each to be an effectual atom in setting forth Christ, because really part of Himself, in the closest union to Him. The work of all saints fails in reaching the real end and aim of their service here, if they are ignorant, or not aiming at what is incumbent on them as members of His body. How could any one be personated, or presented, or demonstrated, without his body?

I hope that, in the long leisure hours which you are given, you find great profit in dwelling on what you have in heaven, though so much is not revealed to you as to Paul. He enjoyed it himself more than he could speak of it; and this sisters can do.

WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS

The Lord would not allow the walls of Jericho to stand, if you were surrounding it in complete armour.... You do not remain long enough in the company of the Lord to get impressed with it, and morally transformed, or common society would be intolerably irksome and unpalatable to you. You must learn to live in heaven, and only to be here for the one object of pleasing Him. As we know the holiness and purity of Christ's company, the trifling of our worldly relatives becomes more and more irksome to us. You must learn to be in your family like a diver in a diving-bell, and then with what joy you will return to your associations above, because you have been so dependent on Him who is there, while in the depths down here, and in an element quite incongruous to you.

[Page 331]

Now you are only a frog, able to live in both elements. You lose weight by not being wholly a landsman. You know the gain of being on land, but, like the frog, you can jump into the water without any loss when it becomes convenient to do so. I want you to fear the water, and only to see a way through it into divine territory. I can propose nothing for you, but to be more with the Lord; this will so calm and influence you that you will act rightly and separately when you mix with your family, and you will go into their company prepared like a diver, drawing all your resources and sustainment from above, and nothing from what is around you.

PISGAH, OR POSSESSION?

It is possible, in a way, to be tantalised by the beauty and perfectness of the glory, because there is nothing like it here; and yet it may be as seen in the distance, as Moses saw the land from Pisgah; admired and loved, but with no positive possession, no setting the sole of one's foot solidly on it. If I only see glory as Moses saw Canaan from mount Pisgah, I have no sense of possession there; on the contrary, I see a better thing, in which I not only have no possession, but I am myself actually separate from it, and outside of it. This tantalises, if I may so say. If I were to die then, with this view fully before me, I should be a Stephen, but if I have to live here with a glimpse of it, but without any sense of possession, it is only tantalising. We must know the place and glory into which Christ has entered as our spirit's present home, an actual possession in which God has set us now, in order to be strangers here. When we know this, everything here is strange to us, because we are here from another place, a bright and a heavenly place. It is not only that we are looking for and expecting this place at the end. This will not make us strangers here; for we may have this, and still be at home here, and though we may wish to go

[Page 332]

to heaven, we are as yet strangers there, for we have never enjoyed possession there.

There is often this beholding afar off, and there may be a great deal of true admiration, the heart captivated with the view from Pisgah, which does not help one on in one's path down here, but, on the contrary makes one only feel the contrast between what is here, and what one has had a glimpse of; and in this case one is more unfitted for remaining here, instead of being empowered, because of moral superiority and elevation, to meet everything here as Christ's witness on the earth. The fact is, we are not now as Moses on mount Pisgah, nor even as Stephen; we do not see the glory from earth, we are placed in heaven, and there we see it. Thus we behold the Lord where He is in glory, and as we behold Him, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory; we are transformed into the condition of the place in which He is, and we in Him; and then we can walk here, expecting nothing from the scene, but able to contribute to it, as a rich man can contribute when visiting the haunts of the destitute. If he were one of them, or even in expectation of the riches he should one day possess, surely he could not contribute.

The Lord grant that we may indeed traverse the haunts of the destitute down here, with hearts full of the unsearchable riches of Christ; not merely seeing a future of unbounded wealth, but in spirit there now, our cup running over, and therefore not seeking for anything here; but, as opportunity offers, contributing to each according to his need.

CONTEMPLATION OF CHRIST AND OF ONESELF

There is nothing like retirement for the soul, if one is occupied with Christ, and not with oneself. Occupation with Christ results in my being more like Him, and more apart from myself. Occupation with myself is

[Page 333]

like the serpent's eye, that lures its victim to destruction. The more I am occupied with myself, the more important I make myself in my own eyes, and the more I am interrupting the growth of Christ in me. It is not that I am to be indifferent about my own state, but how am I to judge of it? Is it by feeling and fumbling over everything in the dark, examining the whole case of the patient, without either knowing the state of one in health, or how to produce it; or is it by bringing in One who is the true measure of everything, and who, as He gets place in me, displaces and condemns everything displeasing to Himself? In the latter case there are two things: there is the introduction of One who entirely and transcendingly preoccupies the heart, and who supplies to it, as He does, strength, and fulness of joy; the other is, He repels and rebukes all the lumber and selfishness which He finds in my heart.

Now, when I am occupied with myself, I never get rid of anything, however I may condemn it. All the lumber and incongruities remain as before. I may traverse them dolefully, as one does gravestones, but there they are, and there they remain, registers of sorrow and vexation. I may very truly mourn over them, and afflict myself because of them, but that does not clear my heart of any of them; they meet me at every turn; nay, more, the more my eye rests on them, the more grievous and painful they become to me.

When the stronger comes in, he takes away the goods in which we naturally trusted. The true converse of the heart is with its object, and if I make my own heart the object of my heart, I am like the fool that foldeth his arms, and eateth his own flesh. But if I have Christ in His own place, then the more I am in converse with Him, the more I am capable of being in converse with Him, and the more do I seek to return to it, and to continue it; whereas, in the other case, I am never drawn into it without sorrow.

[Page 334]

I like contemplative souls, but the more contemplative we are, the more we betray what we are occupied with. Is it with myself, or with Him who imparts Himself to me, and exposes and drives away all the noxious weeds which would occupy and damage me? Hence, while the contemplation is most desirable, it is of all importance that there should be a true object before the mind, for whatever the object is will be disclosed in the act.

If Christ be the object of your contemplation, you will find that you really are made ready for acting for Him; whereas, if it is yourself, you will be less and less ready; your gun will be unloaded, and you without energy or inclination for action.

Contemplation with a true object gives a readiness and a power for action; the gun is loaded and ready. But when the object is oneself, one is enervated, inactive, and silenced; the gun is spiked, and the courage gone!

WHAT SETS ASIDE SELF

How easily one becomes elated here, and consequently as easily disappointed! How we need to be exercised in the truth that He cares for us far more truly and wisely than we could care for ourselves.

Very few really know a Saviour in glory, a Saviour in death here, but in glory now. The evangelists in the Establishment preach Christ on the cross. Others go a step further, and preach Him risen, but they confine it too much to His resurrection from, or out of, death, and therefore still connect Him with our side of things, instead of setting Him forth as the Man in the amber spot (Ezekiel 1:4, 5), "crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:7).

Nothing sets aside self but Christ; none of the graces or gifts of the Spirit do. When the queen of Sheba saw all Solomon's glory, and told him all her heart,

[Page 335]

"there was no more spirit in her". There was nothing in her heart not confided to him, and then she did not care to think any more about herself. So with us, when Christ's concerns so fill the released heart that there is no more room for self. The question with me then is, not what will please me or suit me, or even serve me, but what will please Him; and one must be very near Him, with eyes closed and ears closed to all around, to know what that is.

This imparts solemn caution as to every word and action; it leads us to ponder everything, but because we believe, we do not make haste. Man grasps at every offer, because he has no faith. The man of faith can wait till the Lord bids him move.

The Lord keep us more practised in this holy watchfulness, walking before Him in all well pleasing.

HOLDING THE HEAD

How graciously the Lord has led you on for so many years, and made you a comfort to many! I find the great mark of growth is "holding the head". If my knowledge of Christ is limited to knowing Him as my Saviour, I never rise from the earth, the scene of His wondrous work for me. If I only know Him as the One hourly interested about me, touched with the feeling of my infirmities, One necessary to my existence - "because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19) - I am more and more drawn to Him, longing to be with Him. But when I know that I am a member of His body, and that He is the Head, I know that His place is my place, because as He the Head is in heaven, that is the body's place also. Then I begin to learn Him in that place.

Now a new day opens on the soul when there is any intimacy with Him as the Head. I feel we can hardly estimate the blessed effects of knowing Him as Head. You may for a long time have known Him in His

[Page 336]

perfect love; in fact, fear disappeared when the glorious light of His perfect love burst in on you. And in all your wilderness journey you could turn to Him as the One 'whose love is as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end'. "A friend loveth at all times" (Proverbs 17:17); but when you come to know Him as Head, you literally suggest nothing; you open out your heart fully; you submit to perfect wisdom every question and thought in your heart. You do not ask anything to be done for you; you submit your case, as you would in ordinary matters, to a great Counsellor. You learn from Him how you are to be, rather than what is to be done. You are the one affected, and not the things you have to do with, which necessitate and call for an arrangement or provision on your part. It is not so much that you learn what you have to do, as that you are divested of your own prepossessions, and entranced with entirely new ones. You will feel the marvellous effect on your returning to the old circumstances, because you have been engrossed with inconceivably superior ones, which you feel are really your own, through your relationship with the Owner; so that the old ones have lost their preponderating influence over you, and you regard them in quite a new way. In a word, they are so diminished in every feature that you wonder how they could have been of so much importance; and while you attend carefully to each of them in every detail, you can say with the apostle, "When I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11). Now the power of Christ rests upon you, and you bring the strength of the glorified Man to bear upon the disappointments, the fears, and the sorrows of the child, who has had bitter sorrow when the shelter of a loving heart has been removed; whose anguish has been great when a flower of hope has passed away, and to whom the gloomy cloud of impending loss or suffering caused unceasing anxiety. All these, the real misery of the natural man, will be now viewed by you in quite a new way. You

[Page 337]

will see all your circumstances not merely in the light of His presence; but because a wondrous change has been effected in yourself, they will appear altered in every way, and very diminished, simply because you have been so morally elevated - "strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory" (Colossians 1:11).

According to your spiritual prepossessions will the natural or carnal dwindle in size and importance; and yet you will attend to each better, because your ability will be greater. There will be no forecasting, no pre-arrangement, which always indicates an absence of resource, but at the same time, a confidence in one's own plans, very like the hunted ostrich which hides its head in the sand, and because it cannot see itself, it thinks that its pursuers cannot see it.

The Lord bless you much, and may you abide with your Solomon, and there learn how He, in an unsuspected and marvellous way, will fit you for everything.

THE CALLING AND THE SERVANT

I was glad to get your letter and, after all the perils you have passed through, to learn that you are well and hearty.

It is truly blessed when the servant cheerfully enters into the peculiar trials of his fellows experimentally. Ezekiel did so in a very marked way, and the servant is always efficient in helping others when he has been helped himself. I believe ministry is most effective when the minister is ahead of those to whom he ministers in suffering for Christ. In christendom it is the opposite way, the bishop is a lord!

I am cheered that your heart has been led to seek more light on the subject of bringing out the heavenly man on earth. The more light, or rather sight, we have, the more extended is our field of vision. The same truth which appears small and terminable to one, because he can see no further, appears to another

[Page 338]

boundless and majestic, because he sees so much, though to both it is one and the same truth. I feel I know very little of the real testimony, which in one line I may define as reproducing or expressing here the Man Christ Jesus whom the world rejected, but whom God exalted; expressing Him here in the very place where He was rejected. This could not be done but by His body. The body is the fulness of Christ. All the saints that were ever on the earth could not as units represent Christ as His body only can.

Hence if the mystery - that is, what the Son of God is to the saints now, their veritable Head - is unapprehended in power, there cannot be any idea of what it is to represent Him here.

John 17 shows what is His heart for His own, entirely independently of what we are. In fact our blessed Lord, in that chapter, keeps His eye absolutely on His own heart, and pours out His desires, unaffected or uninfluenced by our state.

This will be answered surely on the earth by the bride coming down out of heaven from God, and is answered now as there is in any of us a coming down from heaven. It is plain we must get there first, before we can come from there. This latter you have in Ephesians. We are raised up together and made to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ. The place is the point, and the Person the means. Now as united to Him, the glorified Man, we are, according to God's calling, to grow up unto Him in all things, who is the Head; and hence a manner of life is to ensue, quite beyond any we had known of before. This is the real point of difficulty to accept or to understand. Our blessed Lord while on earth confined Himself generally to the humbling which He bowed to when He became a man. If He were out of it for a moment, and said, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). He readily yielded, and was subject to His parents. He set forth divine beauty in the details

[Page 339]

of daily life, in flesh and blood; He was ever a Nazarite. He set forth God in the Man, but entered not into natural joys. He was a Man of sorrows, the entirely dependent Man, the One who supplies grace to us, who feed on Him through His death, for all our daily trials.

But He is now glorified; He is not now straitened; and it is as He is now that the church is united to Him; and it is as He is now that we are to represent Him on earth, where He has been rejected. He has, blessed be His name, been in my circumstances; and as I feed on Him, He gives me His grace to walk in my own circumstances. This is simple enough; but as united to Him, I am in His circumstances, and I am empowered through this union to act for Him independently of flesh and blood, and my own circumstances; and here is the corn of the land. Of course, there is no higher walk here than as He walked, but it is possible now, through the power that worketh in us, to rise above all human feelings, as Stephen had done, and thus magnify Christ in my body by life or by death. And here I believe Ephesian practice comes in, and is in every way superior to the practice of the wilderness man.

The practice of the heavenly man is of the highest order; it has no lower standard than what Christ is.

If it be love, it is Christ's love as an offering to God. If it be a man's love to his wife, it is as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it. It is as He is now, and not merely as He was.

I think I have now opened my mind very freely to you; you encourage me. As to Philippians 3, it describes the heavenly pilgrim. The corporate always resolves into the individual, otherwise it would be a mere theory, but the individual does not ascend to the corporate; that is not the way of the truth except in learning it. I see great importance in the name Christ in Philippians. If you have not got hold of the body,

[Page 340]

you cannot be individually in the current of God's mind.

I hope I am not making my letter too long, but yours is so interesting I cannot forbear answering it in detail. I quite feel with you 'that many are born mechanically as it were into the current of divine activity'. I am satisfied that the many who have broken away from the true ground are, as they allege, on the same ground as ever they were. I believe that many brethren, so called, embraced the truth of 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, the responsibility side of the one body, and really were glad to meet one another in this beautiful bond, who all the time had not the truth of the mystery; that is, that the Son of God is the Head; for when a question of discipline arose, the beauty of the bond gave way to the duty of the bond; and as they did not realise Christ's place as all powerful to carry out His own mind and pleasure in the church, they collapsed, and in terms and acts denied the responsibility of the body, or rather the body itself.

It is a remarkable fact, that independency was the cause of the first division at Plymouth, and it is the same in the late one. Many fled from connection with Bethesda because of the bad doctrine, and not because of the independency, and they, I doubt not, are subjected to the same test now.

You touch on a very sad feature of the times when you speak of those who are zealous for right principles, etc., but are in spirit no further advanced than members of the sects. It is simply intelligence without power, for if there had been power, it would have shown itself in the holders of it first; as a candle must be lit in order to impart light to another; you will always find that those who hear them are like unto them. Reducing christianity to a science is most deplorable. I believe there is the divine stream running through the. lake, as it were, and the very vigour of it is separating it from the turbid, sluggish waters on either side.

[Page 341]

We are not to be discouraged; God is for us, and Christ is above everything - Head. It is plain the nearer we approach to the morning star, the more suitable we shall become to Christ, like Rebekah when she approached Isaac; approximation produces suitability. As to your exercises before God, each one is formed by Him; and He is not less forming you now that He has given you more light and truth; and you must remember that all the way it is one tree, or one man. His first ways indicate His intentions about you; as I often say, our first circle indicates every circle throughout our course.

I believe there is intense and unspeakable blessing in being detained before the Lord; it is then one is divinely influenced; all our usefulness depends on our feeding on Christ. I do trust the Lord is awakening souls to the magnitude of His calling. The Lord bless you much in your work for Him. We shall be so glad to see you amongst us again if it be His will.

MINISTRY

No one was ever fitted to help others who had not been helped himself. The Lord does not instruct us by angels who never have the same temptations and deliverances which we have.

There are two classes of ministry. One by the servant who has been preserved from a snare by seeing it; another, by one who has escaped from it. Every minister of the word derives his power from one or the other. The first, doubtless, is the higher ministry, and where souls are awake, it is very effective; but the latter is the most generally acceptable, because as a rule, there are more instances of being caught than of being preserved. We all like to hear how to escape, and be at liberty again.

I do trust that the Lord intends great things for ---- in raising up among the saints there a man who has

[Page 342]

learned in the dust the exalted nature of "the Christ" - the Head in heaven, the body on the earth; hence heavenly in all its sensations, intuitions, and affections. Romanism gave up the Head by substituting a man for Christ's vicar. In every failure with (so-called) brethren in this time this is the first. The Head is given up, while the congregational character is retained. That is popery. Sardis recovered the gospel, but no church. The truth revives in Philadelphia. "Thou ... hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Revelation 3:8). "Thou ... hast kept my word" - protestants could say that much; but the great revival was "my name". Unbounded virtues and divine consequences spring from His name. His name puts Him in His place. If there be the gospel without the church, you are sure to work the flesh into a coadjutor in service; and when this is full blown, you can carry on christian things by human means (the great desideratum of the present day) without Christ; and this is Laodicea. We are to go on with Christ, thank God. In the kingdom of heaven founded on the word, not the Holy Spirit, every bulwark of christianity is being surrendered. There is Catholic emancipation, Jews in Parliament, and so on. I have heard that an M.P. said lately in the House, 'You gave up the Holy Spirit when you emancipated the Roman Catholics, you gave up Christ when you admitted the Jews into Parliament, and you gave up God when you admitted the infidel'.

Now concurrent with this retrogression, the blessed God has been pleased to revive the truth in the assembly; so that the truth is really there, though I admit very feebly held. This I feel, that it is an immense responsibility, the simple fact that it has been committed to us for the good of the whole church.

The bee carries the honey to the hive, it is common property; a wasp would eat it! The latter is isolation.

[Page 343]

THE LORD'S SUPPER AND TABLE

The first great thing to ascertain with regard to the Lord's supper is His own mind in instituting it. It was evidently to be in remembrance of Himself in His death. He addressed Himself to the eleven so thoroughly bound in heart to Him. It was a request which each heart there most eagerly responded to. To remember Him was the paramount feeling in their hearts. He asked those who were most willing to accede to His request.

A sense of His love would be engendered in us, as the remembrance of Himself in death for us was revived to our hearts. His love led Him to give up for us all things that He was divinely and rightly entitled to as a Man here; and the more this love, and the manner of it, comes before our hearts, the more are we attached to Him, and in heart dissociated from all that He surrendered for us. I would not call it a command; I feel I am asked by Him to do what my heart delights to accede to. The request is addressed to loving hearts, and hence the deeper and the fuller my remembrance of Him, in the hour when His love came out most fully, the more I am attached to Him. I do not say that I bind myself to think of nothing but His death. It is His death which draws my heart to Himself in this very special way, which results in the responsibility which the table expresses. The Supper leads me into His great love for me, and the table is my answer to it.

The remembrance of my Saviour in death for me so affects me that He is then more than ever before my heart in the depth of His love for me, a love which many waters could not quench; and I always find that when there is a real effect produced on me, I am then not so much occupied with the work which produced it (though the effect must carry with it the nature of the work), as with the One who did the work; and hence I believe the corn of the land accompanies the

[Page 344]

Supper, or follows it rather, as in the land, and as it did in John 14, which surely is the corn of the land, or Christ in glory. Confining the mind to the mere act of Christ's death, though that be the door by which we enter into this new region, would be limiting me to that which produces an effect, and would not leave room for the range and scope into which the effect would lead me. Because when I enter by fresh remembrance of His death into His love for me, I feed on Himself in death and in glory; and I am in full purpose of heart to be identified with His death here, which is the table side. It is the very sense of enjoying Him in glory, to which I reach afresh, in remembrance of His death, that prepares me, in heart and taste too, to have the fellowship of His death here. I walk along the Jordan, but on the heavenly side of it. Thus death and glory are mine; glory where He is, and death where He was. As I recall His death, I am renewed in His love to rise to Himself where He is (the corn of the land), and I am prepared for the grave responsibility of being identified with His death in the place where He died for me.

THE SCOPE OF GOD'S GRACE

When we read the epistles to the Romans and to the Ephesians carefully, we cannot but see the difference between where the gospel places us on earth, and where the knowledge of the mystery puts us. In Romans I am a justified man going on to glory, fulfilling (because walking in the Spirit) the righteous claims of the law - all that God had required of a man, magnified in our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence such an one presents his body as a living sacrifice, and serves according to the gift given to him of God, known by the measure of faith. As a christian, he is hated by the world; so that he might be killed here. "For thy sake we are killed all the day long" (Psalm 44:22). There

[Page 345]

is nothing of the mystery in all this, though no one could walk in the truth of the mystery if he had not all this; I am through grace as much an Ephesian saint as I am a Roman saint; but I must be the lesser, or I could not be the greater.

In Romans I am a delivered one on the earth, walking in the life of Christ, by the Spirit dwelling in me. In Ephesians I am a member of the body of Christ, united to Him who is the Head in heaven, and a member of His body set there where He is, by the same power that placed Him there. The power that put us there works in us here (see Ephesians 3:20), and now I am not only a justified man going on to glory, but I am united to the exalted Man; and in His power I am an expression of Him where He has been rejected. The body of the exalted Man is down here on the earth, to grow up unto Him in all things, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

Now we are not only opposed by the power of Amalek, who cut off the weak ones, but the whole subtlety of Satan is arrayed against us, in order to prevent our being in heavenly beauty down here. Satan cannot deprive us of our heavenly position, but he tries to prevent our carrying it out.

This is the scope of the grace given to us in the whole, though we grow into it in part. The only way to grow is to be conscientiously true to what we do see. "He that hath, to him shall be given". The more separate I am from the world, and the less I am conformed to it, the less am I warped, and the better I can "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2). Every true heart knows his own world. My world may not be the world to you. Music is one man's world; painting, another man's world; politics another's, riches another's, his family another's, and so on. Whatever is most difficult to you to surrender

[Page 346]

is your world; and as you advance, according as you seek separation to God, you have to separate from what you are most bound by, for it is that which influences you most. It may be a very paltry thing. Isaac was warped by his son's venison. Peter wanted to stand well with those who came from James.

The Lord give you to see the whole scope of His grace, and give you grace to lay aside every hindrance, dealing honestly and truly with the one next to you; as they say in the country, 'cutting the gad next the throat'. Many occupy themselves with the branches instead of with the root. The root is the seat of the evil, and the Spirit of God always leads us to it. The Lord be with you and bless you much.

OUR NEW HISTORY

As to the beginning of christianity, until Christ had brethren, and the Holy Spirit had come, it could not have begun. Then peace and life came out on the first day of the week. He became a Man, vindicated God in flesh and blood, and when entitled to glory, turned from it to die; and having borne the judgment on us, He was to God a sweet-smelling savour. Here our new history on the earth begins. He was alone before; He has now many brethren. The trouble at --- all springs, in my judgment, from separating the burnt-offering from the sin-offering; Christ was both. The sin-offering is my side, the burnt-offering God's side. God sent Him to fulfil both. I have escape through one. I have access to God in the other. Righteousness was not God's motive. The throne was established by righteousness, but it was not God's motive. God's motive was love; and even when Adam fell it was not righteousness which swayed the blessed God, but love; a determination to restore Adam, and relieve him from his degradation. Love is God's motive; and hence when sin lay in the way, and obstructed His love, He

[Page 347]

sent His Son to establish righteousness, that His love might have a perfect ground for its activity. Righteousness was a means to an end. The sinner has to get to God in righteousness; that is the sin-offering, and no further does the Book of Common Prayer go. Justice asks no more. The burnt-offering gave full vent to the heart of God. The veil was rent from within. Now if I do not begin in the nearness in which love places me, I never can understand anything fully. I never can see my relationship to Christ clearly, if I do not see that He by His work has placed me on His own level. If there be any imperfection in my apprehension of the gospel, there is sure to be a still greater misapprehension of my place in the church - the body of Christ. If I were not as He is, as an individual, that is, of His life and nature, surely I could not be suitably united to Him. I am of His life and nature before I am united to Him. It is all Christ; old things have passed away, all is of God, and Christ is everything and in all.

ANSWERS TO INQUIRIES - IN CHRIST THE FATHER'S HOUSE, ETC.

As to your first question, the rapture must include all saints, and not merely the church; and this fact would not be the less consoling to the Thessalonians.

Next: "in Christ" must be determined by the context. "In Christ", in John, is nature; in Romans, it is the new headship; and in Ephesians it is the means by which I am in heavenly places. It does not say union, but there it is by union that I am in Him; and it is not in Him as the representative Man, but as members of His body. All saints raised up together, but exhibiting His beauty here corporately. I am, blessed be His name, to know myself as raised up, and made to sit there, as truly and as absolutely as I know that His blood has washed away my sins. One is as much done for me by the blessed God as the

[Page 348]

other. If I do not know the power to set me there, I have not the power to maintain His beauty here; and this is the real importance of knowing where the grace of God has placed us corporately.

Lastly, as to the Father's house; Luke 15 is a parable, and conveys the grace of the gospel, and what the converted soul enjoys. In Jewish language the prodigal would have come from the "far country" (which would be even one yard outside the Holy Land) into the Holy Land. But christianity opens the Father's house to the prodigal, and not the land at all. This was the new thing where the "great supper" was held. Now the Holy Spirit comes down from the glorified Saviour, and delights my heart with the comforts of the Father's house, and not with the blessings of the land. This is the gospel; but in the church, as united to Christ, I am brought to 'that favoured hour, when toil shall all be o'er'. This is the difference between the gospel and the church. The deep assurance of the joy made known to me, far beyond Exodus 15, is the gospel; and in the church, as raised up, and in heavenly places in Christ, I am where the grapes grow.

One word more. I think "accepted in the beloved" very different from "in Christ". We are this moment accepted in the Beloved, but all the full consequences of that acceptance have not come to pass yet. I am this minute heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ, but I have not come into all the gain of it yet. I am sure the best way to counteract opposition is to confine oneself to passages which distinctly state our present union with Christ. For instance, if the church be His body and if He be its Head now, I should not attempt to prove union, any more than I should stultify myself by proving to any one that my head was really united to my body, or that my body was united to my head. The fact of the relationship proves union, because the relationship could not subsist without union; and the vain endeavour (unintentionally, I could fully admit)

[Page 349]

is to set aside the mystery, which is God's first interest and this has been successfully accomplished for many centuries, even the most pious lending a hand to it. The truth of the mystery discards and ignores everything of the first man, upholds and confines itself absolutely to everything of Christ; and thus the body completes Him, is His fulness, and displays His beauty.

FAITH THE GIFT OF GOD

The doctrine about faith that is in circulation around you is not a new one; it is a heresy of old standing. It springs from the desire in the human heart to be able to do something for oneself. It is a Satanic subterfuge, when the conscience must own that works cannot save the soul, and that salvation is only through faith, to attempt to make faith man's own work, and that having faith in Christ is the same as having faith in Napoleon. Faith in Napoleon affects me as to my intellect. Faith in Christ effects for me the greatest revolution ever known, translating my soul from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Can man effect this great alteration, for it is not a reformation but a transformation? Can man acquire by himself, or does he possess, this great power?

There is always God's power with faith in God's word. If you believe man's word you have only the worth of what you believe, but when you believe God's word you believe in God, and this could not be but by the power of God. How could man reach up to God but by His power? "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1). Faith and power go hand in hand. Man fell when he turned away from God in unbelief; when he pleases God it is proof that a divine light has entered his soul; he believes "that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

[Page 350]

The believer lays hold of what God in His nature requires. Therefore Abel offered the firstling of his flock, and the fat thereof. Faith in God is a true apprehension of God with relation to me at the moment, and surely this must be from God, and not from sinful man.

We have an illustration of faith in the nobleman in John 4:46 - 54; the moment he believed, the power of God wrought the cure in his son, though miles away from him; so the nobleman "knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house".

Again, all men have not faith: the assertion that they have is a false assertion, uttered in order to place a man's salvation in his own power. True, man is responsible to believe in God, but the fall is that he has turned away from God, and is at enmity against Him. God commands every man to repent; the law was given to disclose the inveterate opposition of man's heart to God; he was proved by it to be a sinner; all must be lost if God did not compel the prodigal by one means or other to come in. Look at the two thieves on the cross. The one had faith; the Saviour was manifested to him there and then; while in the other there was no faith, though he could reason well, and had heard enough to know that Christ was no ordinary person.

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is by divine power that man believes the word of God. His power is in His word. Who ever believed it that did not know His power in it? It is the incorruptible seed, "the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23).

The Lord preserve you from these workings of the mind, which is at enmity with God.

[Page 351]

THE CORN OF THE LAND AND THE MANNA

The corn of the land is Christ in glory; the manna, the life of Jesus on the earth up to glory. If you feed on Him in glory where God has set Him, you are empowered by Him to act for Him in superiority to everything. Here He humbled Himself. He is not humbled now; He is glorified. He is not limited to the compass of man, and to maintain for God therein; that was manna. Now He is far above all principality, etc., Head over all things to the church; this is the corn of the land. It was contended that we feed on the corn of the land in order to be here as He was here; that is, that we feed on the corn of the land to reach to manna. I do not think this is the full truth; though it is quite true that if I feed on Christ in glory I shall by Him be in His grace, or manna here. Paul began above, and hence had His grace all the way down. I believe he had more than the manna, that he had the corn of the land, and that the corn of the land is more than Christ was down here. For instance, He is Head of the church now; He was not so down here. If I know Him as Head, I feed on the corn of the land; not on what He was down here, but what He is now; but I do not lose what He was down here, by knowing Him in glory where He is now. Of course I cannot walk down here beyond what He was down here, but as I am in the power of my union with Him in glory, I am empowered by Him to be superior to all human considerations, in order to act here for Him, as Stephen did. There is not a practical thing in Ephesians which could be derived from manna simply; and yet manna was par excellence in the eye of God. It was the Son glorifying God in the form of the man who had dishonoured Him, vindicating God in that form. But now He is exalted, and we are united to the glorified Man. And I am empowered by Him to do greater things now, and things which could not have been done

[Page 352]

before. We are seated in heavenly places now, which could not be while He was down here. How could we keep the unity of the Spirit while He was down here? This can only be done through His present power, or the corn of the land. How could I grow up unto Him in all things, etc., while He was down here? That is not what He was - the manna, but what He is. How could I put on the new man until I was of the new man? and no one could be that until after He rose from the dead. Where are the gifts but from ascension? How could I love as He did, until after He had offered Himself to God? I cannot do anything right here without the manna; it is His sympathy and present support; I cannot do without Him as manna; but as I know Him above, He leads me to rise above all my own circumstances here for Him in His own power. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" (Ephesians 6:10). The subject is a very interesting one. Compare the practice enjoined in Romans with that enjoined in Ephesians, and you will see that the practice in the latter is derived from Christ above in everything, while the practice in Romans is more what a thoroughly gracious man could render.

CHRIST'S WORK ONE GREAT WHOLE - LEARNT IN PARTS

May you know well the surpassing greatness of His power! It is a great thing to know the power that put Christ in heaven in that place. It is not only to know the place, but to know the power that put Christ there. If I know the power I know where the power puts Him, or it would not be power. He was raised from the dead, from man's lowest place, and He is set in the highest. We are to know this power now, a much greater thing to us than knowing the place, because if I knew the place only, I should not be anything when not in it, but when I know the power, I can reach Him in the place wherever I am.

[Page 353]

Christ's work for us is one. By the efficacy of His death, He not only cleared us of all that was against us, but He secured to us the place to which He has been exalted. We have to learn this one great work in parts, but it is one whole work. The same work which saved the thief from impending judgment placed him in paradise; he learned it without a break. You and I must learn it one day without a break; now we are at one or other of the parts of that work.

There are four great parts - two relate to God, and two to ourselves. The blood on the lintel shelters us from the judgment; that was Christ's death, but the same death that sheltered me from judgment was the Jordan, and opened heaven to me. True, I did not know it when I first found shelter under the blood, yet it was the same work. He supplements nothing, nor is anything supplemented to His work save the Spirit to glorify Him.

Now a very interesting thing occurs. According to the part that I know, I am in practical life. If I am only sheltered, the one great characteristic of my spiritual state will be to get clear of the scene of judgment, though that is typically Egypt; yet I think it is the judgment that the sheltered one is seeking to escape from and not from the world simply as such. When the Red Sea is known - Christ's death and resurrection, there is a great advance. There is peace; the foe is silenced. The Lord hath triumphed gloriously. The morning of the resurrection is enjoyed. There is justification, and it is the joy of the new position which then characterises the one who has entered into it. The song therefore leads on into God's habitation. The work Godward is done to secure this.

But now come two other parts of the death of Christ; one, the brazen serpent, in which I learn that I am dead to sin, and in liberty in Christ's life; and the other, Jordan. Having died with Him, I am dead to the world, and seated in heavenly places in Him. I am

[Page 354]

across the Jordan. In Numbers 21, when the wilderness is over, I am entering on a new start; I learn that I am free from the law of sin and death in the life of Christ; and I have the water, given of God (verse 16) to sustain me in it. This is a great part of the work or death of Christ; for we believe that "if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him" (2 Timothy 2:11). This is liberty, and the characteristic of the one here is the greatness of life; while, when across the Jordan, it is more using God's power in testimony, maintaining that you are a heavenly man. Christ's work assured and effected the last at the same moment that He did the first. I think the third is a very interesting stage. Christ's life in all its great and beautiful details engrosses us; it is ours; and I suppose it is here that the sympathy of His heart is known; and here your heart is daily more attracted to Him. We do not lose the knowledge and sense of the previous parts by advancing to the others; nay, we are confirmed and deepened in them.

THE COMPLETENESS OF THE WORK OF CHRIST

As to ---- he is quite mistaken; he confines the work of Christ too exclusively to the sin-offering. Christ embraced every offering. In one offering He surpassed each and all.

The simple thing to lay hold of is Christ's work. This work determines my standing. Where His work puts me, a believer, there I am. This is a great point. The thief on the cross got the benefit of Christ's work without any break. From the deepest departure to the highest elevation, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise". That was the effect of the work, and that accordingly was his standing. The work of Christ embraces the beginning and the end; of course it does, or it would not be finished. There must be an end as well as a beginning. Out of Egypt, and in the land, out

[Page 355]

of the far country, and in the Father's house; as you get in figure in Exodus 24, the blood shed, and heaven in sight. Hence our blessed Lord begins with the finish of His work to the woman of Samaria, and He calls His work there, God's work. "I have meat to eat that ye know not of ... My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:32 - 34).

There are four aspects of the death of Christ from Egypt to Canaan.

The blood on the lintel, and

The Red Sea (these are Godward).

The brazen serpent, and

The Jordan (which are our side personally).

Christ did all in one death, in one stroke as I might say. Thus all the offerings were at one and the same time. I do not learn them without a break, but they were done without a break; and the good of this work is assured to me without a break.

The blood of the bullock on the day of atonement gave God liberty to have the high priest and his house inside the veil; and the blood of the goat, sprinkled on the mercy seat, gave God liberty to send forth from within Melchisedec, to bless Israel outside. The same blood gives the blessed God liberty to do two very different things - to put two companies of believers in totally different standings. The blood is the same, but the blessed God blesses each company as His grace leads Him; one inside, within the veil; and the other outside, or in earthly places. It was the one blood in Christ, but there were two bloods in the type, to mark the difference of effect.

THE HOUSE AND THE BODY

Your difficulty is, I apprehend, no uncommon one, namely, to distinguish between the house and the body. To begin then, the house can have in it bad building, the body cannot. Christ's building in the house is good building, and every living stone in the house, or

[Page 356]

assembly - the house aspect, is a member of His body. Every baptised person is in the house; only the Spirit-baptised person is in the body.

The house is in ruin. The faithful are called to follow righteousness, etc., with them who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. When it is so, a corner of the house is kept clean for the Lord. "Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever" (Psalm 93:5). The body is on the earth, but not maintaining the unity of the Spirit.

The house aspect of the assembly is spoken of in the first nine chapters of 1 Corinthians, and in the Hebrews. The faithful in the house, led of God, are gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and they, breaking bread together, are on the ground of the one body (because the one loaf) of which Christ is Head. At the same time they refuse to admit any one to the table in any way disqualified for the Lord's presence. When discipline in the house is in question, the Lord is owned; when it is edification for mutual blessing, it is Christ the Head who is before us. Each one in his individual capacity answers to the Lord in God's house.

The true course of action at this time is, that every saint should look out for those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart; and all such, gathered to His name, He in the midst of them, act according to His pleasure in the assembly, and are nourished and cherished by Him through the instrumentality of gifts, etc. Every professor, even though genuine, if disqualified by his conduct, is refused at the Lord's table. Every believer has a right to a place there, and I deny the one body if I refuse him his place, unless disqualified by his conduct; and any one at the table acting unfitly for the Lord, we are bound to put away from amongst us, though we cannot now put any one outside the house, seeing that it has become even more extensive than the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps when you weigh carefully the above, your difficulty may in some measure be solved. If I can help you, kindly write again.

[Page 357]

COMMUNION OF CHRIST'S DEATH

When the Lord was on earth, there was nothing ever enjoined on man by God that He did not scrupulously fulfil. He respected fully every ordinance of His with regard to the first creation, as He was called in it. But He died out of it. He gave His body to be broken, and His blood to be shed, and though He will hereafter resume connection with this old creation, yet never again as being in the flesh or of that order. We now, as His body on earth, enter into communion with Him as He left the earth. We as it were find ourselves in spirit apart from everything here with Him, in communion, calling Him to remembrance at the moment in which He died for us. In this communion we are outside ourselves as men; and we present our union, as His body, in the one loaf, on earth, where He died for us. It becomes the highest and dearest place to our hearts, to be here as He left it; to be the continuation in memory of Himself; and by communion of His blood, we discern His body, because His death occurred here. Thus we remember Him, and find it the moment when our souls pass away from all here, in company and association with Him; not in His life in glory, but we recall Him on earth, as He left it, and died out of it for us. This is our grand expression here. But on earth, in our course here, we go on respecting every ordinance of God, and from God. We, through grace, make the old creation to answer to every divine ordinance, which it never had done before because of the weakness of the flesh. The believer's body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit, and every relationship or position enjoined by God on the first man is maintained according to God through the grace of God in us, which necessarily respects what is required of God in every vessel in which it is deposited.

[Page 358]

FAITH-HEALING

The first error in the so-called faith-healing people, is that they put sin and sicknesses on the same footing. They say that the work of Christ clears us of our sins, He "bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24), - and that He also bare our sicknesses - that is, that He bore each alike. Now if this is true our sins could come back on us again; for it is evident our sicknesses come back to us again. Here is their first unsoundness. They put no difference between sins and sicknesses.

Next, they entirely overlook the discipline of the Lord with regard to the body. The body is the Lord's. He has washed away all our sins, but the body is His - His vessel, or channel for His service here; and He disciplines it, when it is acting in self will. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" (1 Corinthians 11:30). And when we are faithful, He allows us to suffer in the body, if not by persecution, by other suffering, for our profit. "We which live are alway delivered unto death" (2 Corinthians 4:11). Surely that is bodily pain.

Thirdly, these people misapply Scripture as to prayer, in order to produce results which will signalise themselves. They are seeking for evidences of God's favour and countenance.

The scripture is plain, "that if two of you shall agree on the earth concerning any matter, whatsoever it may be that they shall ask, it shall come to them from my Father who is in the heavens. For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:19, 20). The praying here clearly refers to something which the Lord approves of; and Scripture also implies that those who pray are gathered to His name, and that He is there. I quite approve of prayer meetings of this kind, and have been at two or three of such, with marked blessing; but there it is not unconditional, as the faith-healing people assert, but conditional in a very special way. There is first an agreement

[Page 359]

between two. It is not prayer for every case of sickness, as if it were a board of physicians, but a case as to which some two had previously agreed; and next, of the deepest importance, that they were gathered together unto the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith-healing in its system professes to effect cures in every case of sickness where there is faith in the invalid, and this must be so when it is assumed that a case of illness is evidence that there is not faith there. Thus Timothy with a weakly body must have been, according to them, lacking in faith. It is clear in James 5:14, that the praying is not promiscuous, but limited to the elders, and the answer depends on their faith. In the matter of sin, any one can pray for his brother, unless it be a sin unto death: "I do not say that he shall pray for it" (1 John 5:16). The faith-healing system is like a board of health. Every one can apply; there is no exercise about each case before the Lord. The Lord is not the one who counsels the prayer. Paul thanks God that he remembers Timothy in his prayers.

VALOUR FOR THE TRUTH

I am glad that you have looked to me in your difficulty. The Lord grant that I may in some degree help you. My comfort is, "Them that honour me I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30). If you stand simply for the Lord and His truth, you will be more than conqueror. It is consideration for a person or persons which has muddled the spiritual eyesight in every instance. The man who does not know his mother's son in his valour for the truth, not only saves himself but those who hear him. Psalm 18 up to verse 19 is pure grace. From verse 20 - 29 all depends on our righteousness. Verses 29 - 36, God is on your side; verse 37, all your enemies are consumed. The Lord first, and then His own.

In my experience, in each division which has occurred, there was no difficulty to one who had the Lord, according

[Page 360]

to His right, simply before him. The independency at Plymouth many did not testify against until the evil doctrine came to light. I question if any who separated simply on the ground of the doctrine, have ever been quite established. There were numerous companies in Ireland before the division; as many as thirteen in the county T. There is hardly one there now. They could not break the social tie between them. They were for a brotherhood. The social tie is very strong there; they felt that christianity strengthened it; and so it does, when Christ is the centre and source of it. But if He be not, what then?

There is no stumbling nor hesitation when there is in the soul a paramount sense of what is due to Christ. When persons are considered for, there is plenty of fickleness and feebleness. If you are decidedly set for the truth, and nothing but the truth, refusing to regard the person of any, you will succeed beyond your utmost expectation, for it is the Lord that fighteth for you; but if you draw back ... "We are not of them who draw back" (Hebrews 10:39).

The sum of all I can say to you is, that if you can bear, after all you have learned, to hear the work of your Saviour, and the motives of God reduced down to the measure presented in ----, you are neither happy in your soul nor loyal in your heart.

The Lord bless and save you in this evil day.

THE BODY OF CHRIST

The present display in christendom now, as a body, or representing it, so that man's eye could see it, is your idea of the meaning of 'manifested unity'. I do not believe that man's eye could see the body at any time. In Jerusalem before the mystery was revealed there was a manifested unity. Your own statement, 'I know the body is on the earth', is the divine citadel from which your faith must work and combat the hosts of

[Page 361]

difficulties arrayed against the Christ; and we cannot be too lowly or too meek in maintaining the unity of the Spirit, which never would have been disturbed, but for man's temper; this member and that member refusing to be controlled by the declared mind of the Head. Any one really in the Spirit owns, according to his light, his corporate responsibility, and though he would not claim, as you, 'to be a representation of the body', yet essentially he could not meet on any other ground. If there were only five members of the body, in any true sense or faith of their corporate responsibility, they would meet on that ground, and they would have the Head sustaining them, however lacking they were corporately. Their faith would help others, and thus recovery would progress by that which every joint supplieth.

The Head is what makes the church what it is, and this is the thing insisted on in Colossians. In Colossians 1 we have Christ as Head, and there His pre-eminence is insisted on, as Head of the body, the church. The nail of my finger is necessary to, and sensibly connected with my head, though not equal to it; and you do not touch it without affecting my head. It is said the damage done to it would be felt by the head before it was by the finger itself.

Paul does not speak of the Head in 1 Corinthians; the eye is there used as an illustration. "Head of every man" is very different from "Head of the body". There is no mystery in the first; the mystery is that Christ is the one Head of a multitude of believers, the members of His body, however small, livingly connected with Him, as are members of our own body. Christ is everything. If you look again at Colossians 2:17, you will, I think, see that "the body is of Christ" does not refer to the church, that it means the substance is Christ. I need hardly say that "the body of the flesh" does not refer to the mystery. I do not say the body is seen, and I am quite sure the joints and bands, the

[Page 362]

ministry by which the blessing comes from the Head, is internal. In Ephesians, the gifted persons were for the edifying of the body.

The more heavenly any one is, the more the body is before him for Christ's sake; so the body, in Ephesians 4:16, edifies itself everywhere, not in the meeting only, as in 1 Corinthians 12. In Corinthians we have the house, which is the manifested thing, up to chapter 10. It is responsibility only, and not revelation of the mystery in Corinthians. There is nothing about the body in Galatians, nor in Peter. As to 1 Corinthians 6 nothing can be plainer than that it is our natural body that is spoken of there throughout; you surprise me by conjecturing anything else. The body is the Lord's. In verse 17 it is "he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit". The path of the assembly here is marked out by the position and present place of the Lord. He is received up into heaven, seated at God's right hand, invested with all power over everything, Head to the church. His place determines our place, we are heavenly because He is heavenly.

You are looking at Christ as to how man treated Him, but not as to the way the Father honoured Him. It is with reference to the latter that our present path and position are determined. He has declared the Father, and He asked the Father to glorify Him. "Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee" (John 17:1).

I am not looking at a display of the body, but I believe in its existence on the earth; and I am sure that any decision arrived at by the Lord, in the midst of His own, in any place, is binding on the whole of His own in every place. I believe, dear brother, that if you look from heaven instead of with man's eye, you will regard the church - the body of Christ - as His object and His interest on the earth; and the nearer you are to Him, the nearer will His object, as a whole, be to you.

[Page 363]

GOD'S LOVE THE ORIGIN OF THE GOSPEL

It is a misconception of the spirit of the gospel to say that God had to be reconciled to man. God required that there should be a propitiation; but, blessed be His name, He provided it Himself. How it must have arrested the ear of John's disciples when John said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). God in His infinite grace removes the distance that sin has caused, and which Cain failed to do, though the sin-offering was at the door, or at hand. The sinner was bound to remove the distance, to make restitution for the offence he had committed, but he could not. God then repairs the distance from His own side. He thus showed how He desired to be on terms. He could not forego His holiness, but yet His love is so great the He gives His Son, and He sets Him forth as a propitiation (a mercy-seat really), through faith in His blood. If I had incurred the penalty of death for breaking the most beautiful work my father had made, surely in righteousness I must suffer. But the father repairs the broken work through another, because of his desire that I should be on good terms with him. This in a feeble measure sets forth what God has done. Man, God's most beautiful work, has incurred death. God cannot forego His righteousness, and man cannot repair the damage he has done. God then in His grace sends His Son. It is now God's Lamb, not, as under the law, the sinner's lamb.

In the prayer-book it is always the latter, the sinner pleading Christ's sacrifice to escape from the Judge. There is no sense at all of the Father's love; it is only that the sinner can escape from judgment through Christ's blood. Therefore Christ is regarded as the sinner's Friend, but God only as a Judge. There is doubtless this side in the gospel, but the other side, the greatest, is left out, even that the sending of the Son sprung from the love of God. "God so loved the world, that

[Page 364]

he gave his only-begotten Son" (John 3:16). Christ says of the sheep, "My Father, which gave them me" (John 10:29). Again, "That he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (John 17:2).

THE EVANGELIST (1)

An evangelist receives his gift from an ascended Christ to gather out souls from the world for the assembly, His body. He therefore rejoices when a poor sinner has been extricated from the grip of Pharaoh, all that terrible power and thraldom broken, and the soul delivered from the power of Satan unto God. I do not think we are sufficiently sensible of the greatness and magnitude of conversion. What a sight to see a soul drawn out of all the power of Satan and the net of Egypt! There was not a green thing in all the land of Egypt; there was darkness that might be felt, and there was not a house in which there was not one dead. An evangelist, conscious of that which God had done in delivering a soul from the house of bondage, must have deep exercise of heart before God; but when he knows the mystery of the Head and the body, when he knows the pleasure of the Head, because of knowing his own place in that wonderful mystery, with what feelings of unspeakable delight must he survey the new-born babe, when he reflects on the glorious manhood that awaits him - a member of the body of Christ, to the apprehension of which another may have the privilege to lead him. The women of Israel gloried in a man-child because he might be the Messiah, but how much more may the evangelist glory in sure certainty that his offspring in the gospel is part of "the Christ".

[Page 365]

THE EVANGELIST (2)

An evangelist, having received his gift from the Lord for the benefit of the church, sets to work and searches everywhere for the lost pieces (lost souls), sweeps the house diligently until he finds them according as the Lord directs him. You do not appear to seize the nature and scope of the Holy Spirit's action here for Christ. You seem, if I do not misunderstand you, to hold that if the saints do not co-operate with you, and invite sinners to come and hear you, you have no option but to use means of some kind to secure an audience. The evangelist, in my mind, in the first instance works alone, has an isolated service, going out to highways and hedges. This is the evangelist proper; and if he be led by the Spirit, he finds the eunuch or the Lydia; he is ever at the disposal of the Spirit of God; and the less he uses or obtains help from terrestrial things, or things of the world, the better and greater his work. A new thing has come in on the earth - a light from God. The Holy Spirit only can open eyes to receive or to see that light. If you would have that light received without mixture or leaven of the human element, keep as clear as possible of every thing of man. The Spirit uses your voice and real earnestness. Anything 'got up' is an offence to Him. Satan wanted to get a share in the work at Philippi. It is often from the way the gospel is preached that so much sorrow and difficulty is entailed on souls before they are able to leave the cradle. You must work like the wise woman (Proverbs 31), and if you do, your works will prove you in the gate.

I have said so much for the evangelist proper; but I believe in a day like this, the gospel should be preached in our rooms as a continual thing, where the children and domestics may hear the gospel, where the inquiring soul may learn the truth. At ---- three or four hundred attend on Sunday evenings without any kind of placards;

[Page 366]

very many not in fellowship, really anxious souls wanting to know the way of the Lord more perfectly. It has gone abroad that the needy soul would get help there. This I appreciate much, and this is the character our rooms ought to bear.

CONVERTS AND WITNESSES

How little one knows or enters into the grand realities of the new kosmos! This is, I believe, a momentous time. We have been, like Israel of old, oppressed by the Philistines in the land. We have, as it were, to regain possession. We have been merely nominal masters of it. It is a grievous anomaly to be nominally heavenly, while not in heavenly power. Here is our lack, a high name with a low practice, heavenly in name without the practical traits of it. It is a strange phenomenon that when there is a revival, even in the true sense, christians are more occupied with the winning of souls than with standing for Christ themselves. I believe the former would not be deficient if the latter were paramount. Recruiting is for the army; the more constant the fighting, the greater need for recruits; but to leave the front in order to recruit is not progress, it is only a cover to the conscience. No one was ever yet set for the glory of Christ and the extension of His name who did not rejoice in the conversion of earnest souls. There never is finer recruiting than in the days of successful battles with the enemy. There is fighting, no doubt, to win a soul; but it is as one can plant the heavenly standard in presence of the foe, that we are witnesses for Christ. It is the witness that is wanted in this day. Every witness is a trophy of the power of Christ on the field of battle. Without converts we could not have witnesses; but there are many converts who are not witnesses.

[Page 367]

"WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?"

(Isaiah 21:11)

I should like to hear your forecast, if I may so term it, of the state of christianity. Politicians speak of their forecasts, how much better should we be able to answer the question, "Watchman, what of the night?" Surely we are permitted to stand on the watch tower. The same view may be granted to each of us, but a view is not enough, though it be an exceedingly great favour; but the scope of our apprehension depends on our power to see, and the goodness of the light. Well, in order to provoke a response from you, though I have never attempted to reduce my judgment of the state of things spiritually to writing, I shall try to do so to you.

I begin with the present prospect with regard to the gospel. I see that there is everywhere a general publication of it, but I judge that there is not the same depth in the conversions as there had been when it was more privately preached and less public; that is, with the publicity, much to be desired, there has been less of the Spirit of God; and this feeble work in souls is followed up by the erroneous notion that holiness is a growth of the old stock, instead of being a practical state consequent on reckoning the old dead; our members "servants to righteousness unto holiness" (Romans 6:19). The foundation in souls who are thus converted is very shallow, and therefore one cannot expect that there will be strong men from such feeble babes. This is the gospel work on the largest scale; but I trust that many are, on the other hand, insisting on justification and deliverance.

The holiness movement I find obtains where there is the desire (unknown to themselves) to escape from church truth, the truth which only could preserve (see Colossians) from religiousness in mind or body. The full gospel, through mercy, is still with brethren, however divided. There may be a lack in some as to

[Page 368]

the height and nearness to God in which the work of Christ places the believer, but the great truth of a perfect salvation through His work remains with them; and those who have strayed from the ground of the church are in a way more careful to press the gospel in a practical way, as an offset for the truth of the church which has gone from them. I believe the great duty of those who through grace have been preserved from denying to Christ His place in our midst - for that is independency - is to maintain on every side His place; beginning in the assembly, or at least first known there, and reaching up to Him as Head of His body, the church. It would be vain for one to say that he regarded Christ as Head of His body, the assembly, and at the same time deny Him His place in the midst of His gathered people. My feeling is (and I trust I take it to heart) that we have not presented constantly and clearly Christ's side of the mystery; I mean Christ as Head as we find in Colossians. My impression is that we have been clear and strong on the unity of the body, but lacking in setting forth the interminable resources because of the Head. It is from His side of the mystery that we can say, "in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). I apprehend that if we were to visit the meetings of those who seceded from the true ground, it would be found that, while they seem very clear about the unity of the body, they say comparatively nothing about the Head. In the recovery of the truth, the first part of the truth shown to dear Mr. D. was the Head.

I believe this difference at ---- respecting Romans and Ephesians will result in much blessing; for many will see a wider distinction between them than they had ever supposed. It is remarkable that though the Corinthians had the truth of the one body and "the Christ", it does not appear that it was fully opened out to them; and one could hardly expect it, when they were not fit for the revelation of the "things which

[Page 369]

God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Could any one enjoy the Head in heaven who had not entered into the things which are above? Any one really at rest as to his salvation must either rise to the mystery, or sink to religiousness - giving an undue place to the mind and the body, mental and sentimental.

THE TRUE PRIEST

In a case of discipline every one is found out. The legalist, the Pharisee who seeks reputation from the assembly, has only one course for every case, and that is excision. The loose and indifferent says, in terms, 'You wink at me and I will wink at you'. This is even more destructive than the other, and offensive to the Lord. The spiritual, the true priest, has but one thing, the prosperity of God's assembly, before him. There must not be leaven allowed there. If the leprosy be deeper than the skin, it is a fretting leprosy, but the spiritual are slow to pronounce that it is so until it be self-evident. One is contrite and abject because continually overcome by the same evil; he evidently has conscience, but he has not judged the root; the act distresses him, and not the flesh from which the act springs. The spiritual has comparatively easy work with such a case. Another errs continually in the same line, but with increased cleverness to baffle discovery, and when discovered, a greater adroitness in excusing it. In the latter case, the question is, Is there any conscience at all? But I feel it is not so much for the wrong-doer we are to consider; "not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you" (2 Corinthians 7:12). The saints are defiled by an unreserved association with leprosy. "Have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thessalonians 3:14), there is neither courage nor faithfulness to adopt; and thus the "hair", the open demonstration of holy separation to the Lord, is lost; it does not exist, and many are defiled.

[Page 370]

Where consideration for myself, directly or indirectly, sways me, and not God's interest at the time, I am sure to be like Aaron, more or less influenced by the people. Moses was occupied with God's interest, and he can judge for God. The terrible consequences of unreserved association with leprosy are so little apprehended that souls are contaminated unknown to themselves; they are betrayed by their lack of sensibility; they have moral colour-blindness.

If God's present interest be not the aim and object of my life, I not only lose His support, so that I am like a bird with a wounded wing, but a lower character of holiness is tolerated, like Lot at Sodom, or Jacob at Shalem. I am not according to His nature, which I can never know nor imbibe but as I am near Him; and if I am near Him, I must be for Him.

HOLINESS ESSENTIAL TO THE LORD'S SUPPORT

I believe if we were more separate from everything unsuited to the Lord, that He would be very manifestly with us. We cannot come near Him if we are in darkness or defilement. He does not cease to care for us, for He never leaves us, but we cannot be near Him, or in communion with Him, with unwashen feet. If we do what is wrong we are unrighteous; and if we associate with the one who is unrighteous, we are unholy. If we were walking in holiness the Lord would very markedly help us. I think there may often be an honest course as far as conduct is concerned without holiness; we cannot understand holiness, the separation that suits Him, but as we are with Him. Moses on the mount learned what suited Him. I do not know the holy except as I am in the holiest. I believe it is here we are hindered. The Lord cannot come up with us without first chasing away all that is unsuited to Himself. We often want Him to adopt our order of things. This He cannot do; but He, blessed be His name,

[Page 371]

insists on our adopting Him and His order of things; and this necessarily at the expense of all that is of the flesh and defiling.

A man might be conscientiously right in his own conduct, who yet was defiled because of his associations; therefore it is said, "Touch not the unclean thing" (2 Corinthians 6:17). If I were thoroughly separate from the world that rejected Christ, how could I use it in any way for Him? Could I ask the world or its wall to bear a placard for Christ? I have to introduce a new power; or rather, the new power, the Holy Spirit, supports me, the servant of Christ, gifted by Him who is above all power, to do His work here. Is not the Spirit of God enough to do Christ's work? how then can using the world that rejected Him be tolerated?

The Lord cheer your heart, and strengthen your faith, and you will find that you have not counted on Him in vain.

TRUE SEAMANSHIP

Storms, all natural philosophers tell us, clear the atmosphere; but it is only those who outlive the storm who can appreciate that as a moral truth. It would be a poor consolation to a mariner in a sinking ship.

The great thing in a storm is to outlive it. If it has overcome you, it is useless to talk of the good of it afterwards; your history is at an end. I consider a man has not outlived a storm in the church, if he has been driven on the rocks, and stranded high and dry. It has carried him, and made a butt of him. But a man has outlived the storm, if he has put his head to the wind, and has hauled down every bit of canvas, and stood out boldly to sea. He knows there is a storm, he has made everything snug on board, but he refuses to be driven by it, he resists it, and really only wants to hold his own.

Now, apart from figure, my impression as to your course at this time is, that you have to go on, not

[Page 372]

indifferent to the storm, but refusing to be influenced by it. Your course and progress may be retarded and checked, as indeed it must be, but persistent purpose to maintain the course as God has taught it to you will weather the storm. The difficulty is simply to hold your own, to be as isolated as a ship at sea, and as true to your course as if you had the most prosperous weather. You may feel how small you are, how lonely you are. The fine fleet you set out with may seem to you almost all dismasted and wrecked, but your safety, remember, may be the safety of many. It is not any great battle deeds you are called on to do, but it is simply to keep yourself safe, to outlive the storm, not to be as one under it in any way. You may reply, This is no easy matter; but there is nothing for which there is not power with God. Go on firmly, not as if there had been no storm, but as if it had not altered you one bit. You are as inflexibly bound to your post as if there had been none, but you are aware all the time how others have suffered, and were driven by it. Your help to them consists in showing them how little it has baffled you; when there comes a lull, if you are safe yourself you can do great service to the wrecked ones. You will not preach navigation to them, but you will minister to their wants, and seek to restore their shattered frames to health and vigour, before you even indirectly allude to the bad and ignorant seamanship by which you were so exposed. You will, in fact, gather up the fragments, you will try to articulate the disjecta membra. A patient should never be allowed to touch on his malady until he is well of it. Occupy yourself with all the good that remains; as you do, you may be thought frigid, but as the ice of the dirtiest water is pure, your work will be pure and lasting. When God acts, even in nature, be it in ice or in evaporation, He always separates the precious from the vile. The former is the thing to be preserved, and this, in my judgment, is your path at this time.

[Page 373]

THE ACTS NOT A BOOK OF PRECEDENTS

The book of Acts is not a book of precedents. It is a book tracing the course and leadings of the Holy Spirit from the mount of Olives to Paul's imprisonment; how christianity was entirely new and outside judaism. The Jews having refused the Lord from glory, and every offer made to them, "It was necessary [said Paul] that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the gentiles" (Acts 13:46). The Acts trace this out for us, and set forth how every offer had been made to God's professed people on the earth. Hence the servants of the Lord seized every opportunity, temple or synagogues, for declaring the grace of God. But now christianity being refused by the Jew, it comes forth in its new and heavenly order. And everything now is to be of the Holy Spirit sent down to testify of the glorified Christ; and as the chapels or religious buildings are all now connected with some perversion or limitation of the truth of christianity, the Spirit would not lead a servant of Christ to use one of them for His testimony, except under very exceptional circumstances.

SIFTINGS

I feel there is no use in writing unless I enter into something like a history of the state of things. I am sure the test has come, but like an epidemic it has not reached every one yet, nor is it at its height. I see that the Lord called out 'the brethren' to testify to the proper calling of the church: the Head in heaven, and His body, in the powers and by the presence, of the Holy Spirit on earth, to maintain Him, His name, where He was not, and where He had a right to be. To be Christ's representative here was the calling of the church; the unity of the Spirit, kept in the bond

[Page 374]

of peace, was essential to effect this. Lose or neglect this unity, and you fail to comprehend the testimony, and therefore you could not keep it. To be useful to souls has been too much regarded as the end and aim of everything; and hence separation from system became the only church testimony, and this necessarily opened the door for every one who had conscience enough to feel the corruption in systems; right enough in itself, if in the new ground the true standard of the church's calling was in word and practice set forth, so that each novice not only felt he had escaped from the corrupt thing, but he had reached the nursery where he, though a seedling, saw trees at the proper height. But the contrary has been the case. Crowds have come in, and found, as I have said, relief to their consciences; but they have not been exhorted, by word and practice, that they had entered a corps which had its own calling; and they easily, and without any separation from the world, joined in with the only testimony enjoined or practised, the preaching of the gospel, and a general usefulness which commended them in the sight of men.

Here the mass are; and now when the test comes, they betray the fact that they are not gathered as the church of God, that they do not understand the nature of the unity they have professed to enter into. They may argue, like Lot, that they never knew it, but still they must be tested.

But it is not from the ignorant, or rather, those who admit their ignorance, that the trouble comes most, but from those who, while they are really ignorant in a spiritual sense, assume to know what is right; and this they do know, many of them, in an intellectual way. There is a theoretical knowledge of the church, and this, with evangelisation, is made the testimony. The doctrine of unity, of being one brotherhood, without the Spirit's unity, has been most pernicious.

I have no doubt that the truth of the testimony embraced in the words, "kept my word, and hast not

[Page 375]

denied my name" (Revelation 3:8), is getting strengthened in many souls.

Most of the labouring brothers here are clear and decided as to the testimony - as to the glorious nature of the truth which the Lord has revived to us in these days, and, however feeble, are seeking to maintain Christ's name here, in and by the church - His body in the earth.

The Philistines are in the land - on the right ground; our only course is, as in Jude, to be morally separate or distinct from them; and thus many will be helped.

THE MINISTER AN EXAMPLE

My feeling is that I should like to see you at ----, and it is simply for the Lord's sake, because I am completely ignorant of how it would suit your profession, or you suit it. I have been allowed for some time to remember you before the Lord, and keeping His interests before my mind, my judgment is that you could be a help there. Every new place has new trials. Your business may grow there, and it is in itself a worldly place, and one in a worldly place may soon drop into its ways without feeling it. It is coming from the holiest that we feel the disparity and contrariety of this scene. We become moulded by our associations. I have remarked that what appears very worldly to a separated Abraham, is only the natural way for a Lot. No one can ever determine what is of the world but the one who knows what is of the Father. The only fear I have for you is the world, of which ---- is a very conservative type; the most commendable, and therefore the most ensnaring, and the most difficult to break away from. To be in real service there, you must insist on yourself being the model of what you preach. Be able always to say, like Gideon, 'Do as I do'. Paul was always the model of what he taught, and I do not believe any of us effect for others in our ministry more than what the

[Page 376]

Spirit has effected in ourselves. If the ministry be of divine power, and adapted to a believer for his acceptance, surely it must begin with the minister. Charity begins at home, though it does not stop there. I need not add more than to commend you to the Lord. May you be assured before Him that He is leading you; go in faith, counting on Him, and if you do, you will find that He will support you with His own grace - the manna, not for a day only, but for your whole time.

"I SLEEP, BUT MY HEART WAKETH"

(Song of Songs 5:2)

May your heart have a fuller apprehension of Christ's heart. It is as we learn His, that we arrive at a true understanding of a suited response to it. "I sleep, but my heart waketh", is the state of those who have enjoyed His company, even elated by the happiness of the intercourse. One could hardly think that immediately consequent on this peculiar time of happiness, there should be any reluctance for a renewal of it. But such is the uncertainty of the natural heart in relation to divine things, and therefore to the Lord. The natural heart can bear to enjoy itself apart from the Lord, even though it has been convinced that the happiness in company with Him could not be surpassed. The heart remains true to Him, but the sleeping indicates that it is enjoying a rest apart from Him, from which it does not wish to be disturbed. That is, that one can have a cessation of active correspondence and interchange with the Lord, without surrendering the fidelity of the heart to Him. If the heart had been drawn aside one would not wonder at any measure of sleeping, or the inactivity of affection. But that the heart should remain true, awake to the deep tie that subsists between Him and it, and at the same time openly prefer the ease of nature to the activity that His love desires, is another evidence of the changeableness of our affections, or rather of their weakness.

[Page 377]

But He, blessed be His name, will not surrender His love. His love is ever active He will enjoy you; though you may for a moment sleep - be inactive with regard to Him - He cannot be so to you. And this is a great comfort. He knocks. I do not think a knock is the way by which He elicits my attention when I am sitting under His shadow with great delight. I consider a knock something to startle or awaken me; and in this case it discloses the state of a true heart, which yet can enjoy itself apart from Him, and really feels it irksome to resume the pleasure of His company.

It has been said that the relationship in Canticles is that of brother and sister (see chapter 8: 1); but be that as it may, there is no claim here on the ground of relationship, the claim is on the ground of love suffering in its service. The true heart must respond, though there be an excusing itself because of all that it would entail. This is the way the heart not in the activity of love always excuses itself. First, the disinclination to enter on new and suited circumstances, illustrated by: "I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on?" - I am resting. "I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?" (Song of Songs 5: 3) - how shall I leave this place of ease for the soiling conflict to which love in its activity is exposed in this world? It is an old saying, 'He that excuses himself accuses himself'. The Lord is not repelled, many waters do not quench love. His hand now finds an entrance. He put in His hand by the hole of the door. It is not His voice knocking, but His hand seen. Some distinct act of His arouses the dilatory heart to activity. Love triumphs. The true response comes - "I rose up to open to my beloved"; and immediately there is a sense of the blessing in doing so. "My hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh". The first movements in response to His love are marked with distinct fragrance; then follows a very interesting exercise. The Lord has withdrawn Himself. Love is unquenchable, but it

[Page 378]

likes to be appreciated because it is invaluable. Then after suffering for launching into extremes to recover lost ground, the heart finds repose and consolation in dwelling in detail on the personal beauties of the Lord; and at length the heart surcharged with His loveliness, like the disciples going to Emmaus, seeks Him, and finds Him in His own place. There is no true rest or recovery of the heart until then. It is welcome and happy light when you find yourself in His garden - Himself in His own place; and then you will exclaim, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine" (Song of Songs 6:3).

May this year be marked by the deep and full way in which your heart is affiliated to Him, practically ready for His company always, and finding your all in it.

THE STONE BEFORE THE WHEEL

It is most profitable and interesting to review the past, to remember all the way the Lord has led us. There are epochs in our history, the gentle and blessed way by which He has led you from one step upwards to another, the surrender He has led you to make for Him, and the consequent gain. But when we review our history we see how slowly we have surrendered all of the old man, and through Gilgal, the only entrance to the place where He is, have found our all in Him. The progress is slow; but we know that it is real; not from the gain at first, but from the sense of relief in the removal of the obstacle as a mote from the eye.

If you are true to yourself you will find that there is some link to the earth, and that by it you are held back; the last link is the one most difficult to break. The one in the ascendant is the stone before the wheel, and when you are in the energy of the Spirit, it shows itself in the removal of this obstruction.

There is nothing more interesting than the way the stone is rolled away. Go back to your conversion, and recall the exercises before the Saviour displaced

[Page 379]

the sinner to the joy of your heart. Then what a step, what a surrender, and how great a gain when you separated from the world and found yourself in company with His own gathered to His name! Well, countless have been the surrenders since.

It is when you become a young man, a strong intelligent capable man of God, that the conflict begins from without. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1 John 2: 15). Surely it is a fine sight to see a saint refusing everything here which suits and attracts a man. Then you are a father; you have found compensation, or the manifold more in Christ. I might be at the door of heaven, as at the door of a garden with the key of it in my hand, when a picture or a worry might hinder me from entering. My title is unquestionable, but I am diverted from entering, and there will be no entering until the stone be removed; though there may be increased vigour, yet health is not re-established until the distraction, be it pleasure or pain, be removed.

I do not think that improvement in spiritual health is the same as progress. I do not see how any one can really progress but inside the door of Gilgal. I may be gaining health in the enjoyment of life outside, but inside I grow in heavenly tastes and ways. I dare say you have surrendered as much as any one, yet you might be detained outside, or diverted, as a Barnabas was, and as even a Paul was. All I press upon you is that surrender must go on. "We which live are alway delivered unto death" (2 Corinthians 4:11).

The most disappointing people possibly are those who made a great surrender at first, in the way of separation, and are so satisfied with their one great achievement that they think no more is necessary. They are like ancient towers, monuments of greatness in another day, covered with ivy; earthly, neither fitted nor capable for the exigencies of the present hour. I do not say that you should be occupied with surrender,

[Page 380]

but sensibly in the Spirit, inside Gilgal, all of the old is left outside; consequently the more you are educated and imbued with the new - with Christ "everything, and in all", the more separate you must be from the old when you return to it. The Lord, I believe, is always preparing the loving heart for some advancement, and this advancement cannot be without the surrender of the carnal, which would neutralise it. Hence surrender is a prelude to advancement; "He, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus" (Mark 10:50). Paul was in prison, John was in exile, before either was sufficiently dissociated from earthly things to be fully occupied, one with the things in heaven, and the other with the Lord's ways on earth. I have written a long letter, and have indifferently expressed what I desire may characterise you.

To advance be your one great thought - going on to perfection; not merely happiness and usefulness, but increasing with the increase of God; and for this you must daily forget the things that are behind. May your divine stature greatly increase to the joy of the Lord.

NEW CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE NEW GRACE

Every new circumstance requires a new grace. If there be new demands on you, there are ever new temptations to evade or overlook the demands.

Where all are on a moral level, as you three sisters are, there is a danger of either a great declension, each yielding to the other, and thus finding excuse for oneself in the levity of the others (this is when there is no restraint), or there is a self-surrender in each, to promote a common good. Where all are equal, there is no acknowledged right to rule but as there is spiritual power; and there is no spiritual power to influence others, but as oneself is controlled by it. The less natural right we have to control any one, the more must we

[Page 381]

walk in increasing self-restraint, if we seek to have any moral influence with them. Thus where we are most at home naturally, we require the more to be guided, and in sensible support from the Lord to help and direct us; so that the circumstances which seem to be the easiest, entail on us the most watchfulness lest we should only please ourselves. He that is least among you is the greatest. Where service is most needed, the one who most renders it is necessarily the greatest.

This new circumstance should be a great chapter in your history. Like the locusts who "have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands" (Proverbs 30:27), able to keep rank. They had not a double heart. Some can get on very well when alone, or under the influence of one who has a claim, who would find it a very different thing to be placed with his equals. If he seeks himself there, his influence is injurious, and nothing can check him then but the grace in his fellows to deny themselves where they might gratify themselves. I look upon you now as on a new form of the school of God. If you can walk in self-control where there is no rein ostensibly, how easy it will be for you when in harness and under rein.

The Lord grant that you may have a very profitable time. "If thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things" (Proverbs 23:15, 16). The Lord bless you each and all abundantly.

NO PROGRESS WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT

You write how the Lord cares for His people everywhere. I am filled with wonder and adoration, I might say, when I reflect on the minute way He watches over and cares for each of His own; and the effect when this love is apprehended is to divest us of something more of the old self, by substituting in its place something of Himself. I find a man might reprobate the

[Page 382]

old man to the utmost degree, and there would be no real progress; or even a man might dwell on the beauties of Christ, and there would be no real progress. But when I see Him and myself concurrently, there is progress; there is displacement; there is sanctification. The light that shows me the beauty of a room, also detects for me the dust in it that mars or disfigures the beauty. To sanctify us is now the deep interest and work of our Lord; and you will remark that, as He gets more place in our hearts, that in us which had barred Him is displaced. When this is not on the increase, there is the adoption of a religiousness which makes oneself the centre, as Jacob at Shalem; a falling back, like one afraid to advance, to safer ground where one had enjoyed less conflict and more opportunity for natural tastes. I find that among us there is great earnestness at first until peace is known. Then comes the critical moment; if they do not go on to the mystery, they sink to the mental, or sentimental, or both; the mind and the body kept in a round of some activity. What is to preserve the believer from the religiousness of the man but the knowledge of the mystery? and this is what the apostle sets forth in Colossians. If the mystery were known, Christ would be everything; my walk and service would be according to His pleasure. Under the plea of the gospel, many have practically excused themselves from learning the mystery. Surely the knowledge of it would make one more qualified for any service to which the Lord had called one.

OUR NEW PLACE

Soon for us all things will be new. Indeed now to faith, the "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). I believe that when we truly see our new place where Christ is, we find it easy to see that we must be altogether new to suit Him in this new place.

[Page 383]

There is an order in Ephesians 2. First the place - heavenly places; second - the new creature; third - the new man. The hope of the gospel is heaven. The new place is the greatest and the best. The earth hath He given to the sons of men. The Lord's throne is in heaven. We see in Genesis 1 that the place was first formed, and then the occupants for it. Thus heaven is our new place, and so we are formed anew for it. The Lord having gone into heaven leads our hearts there. Stephen looked up stedfastly into heaven. Jesus is there. The soul looks up to see Him where He is. It is Himself who draws our hearts to the new place. "For their sakes I sanctify myself" (John 17:19). His absence from this place draws our hearts to where He is, but that place is an entirely new one to us, and we are therefore fitted for it. This new history properly begins with being risen with Christ. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1, 2). The new place is now the one that occupies our thoughts. Like a man on a voyage, going to see his dearest friend in a distant place, his thoughts are ever anticipating the new scene to which he is journeying; he anticipates the pleasure of meeting his friend, the beauty of the surroundings; and how much more when he knows that everything there is in perfect accordance with the mind and pleasure of his friend. Hardly anything is more attractive to us respecting heaven than that everything there is in perfect harmony with the mind of the Lord.

Now the more absolutely we are seeking the things above, the more fully will the rest of Colossians 3 be practically entered into by us. We learn that we must be practically cut off in divine power from the old man, and then we arrive at the new man, "renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him that has created him ... Christ is everything, and in all" (Colossians 3:10, 11).

[Page 384]

We are fit for the new place. "Such as the heavenly one, such also the heavenly ones" (1 Corinthians 15:48). The heart now not only soars unto the new place because its object is there, but the consciousness that I am new, and conformed to His image, makes me feel more at home there than I could be here. I am fit in new creation for my Lord in the place where He is. I am often made to feel that I am not fit for Him here. But the more I seek the place where He is, the more I find that the work of grace has severed me from the old, and from all that was of myself as earthy, and has made me new - heavenly; Christ everything and in all. I delight in the new place, for there the object of my heart is; and there I am suited to Him. I am fit to be in His company. When I look at this place, He is not here; and when I look at myself naturally I am not fit for Him. How happy then to know that I belong to the place where He is; and that through grace I am made suited to Him in that new place; so that I set my mind there, as the place where my deepest joys shall be realised.

May you enter more into these unseen realities, your anticipations brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.

THE ACTION OF LIGHT

There is hardly any subject more interesting than recognising the way the Lord leads on a soul. Edifying is His great service. Love edifies, and this is real growth. When the work is real, it is ever with the consciousness that He is making more room for Himself in my heart. Sometimes I know what the idol or prepossession which He supplants is, and sometimes I do not; I only know that I have lost interest in things in which I had interest, though I had not felt when they were superseded. Like the queen of Sheba, new sights - His things - have come to engage me so fully that natural things were displaced without my feeling

[Page 385]

any loss. This is the happier way. But often I am sensible that some taste or gratification which had power over me must not be resumed, because incompatible with the pleasures at His right hand. This is real progress; the dark part is discovered. There is often darkness lurking in a distant corner, when the light is not strong enough to displace all the darkness; and it is blessed progress when the darkness has been displaced; and though at times it is displaced without our feeling the displacement, yet afterwards, the very sense of being perfectly happy without the "wine" - whatever it was, makes one quick to see, that it is mere wine, which seeks to regain its power over one; and I am able not only to see it as that which is not spiritual, but as that without which I can be perfectly happy, because of what I have found in Christ. Nay, I am afraid of it, lest it should divert me from what I know is the best, or weaken my enjoyment of it. It is beautiful when the light so reigns within that the dark part is driven away, and then light like a gilding surrounds me externally. The whole appearance is affected by it; the body is luminous. The external becomes a transcript of the effectual work inside. There is no affectation about it; that is, there is no self-occupation with how I should do this or that, but one is like a leafless tree in early spring, coming into leaf all round. There is a beautiful conformity on every side, in dress, manner, and everything; "it shall be all light as when the lamp lights thee with its brightness" (Luke 11:36).

GROWTH - FRUIT-ROOTS AND WOOD-ROOTS

The growth in grace is a very remarkable work. It is the work of God. "He that has wrought us for this very thing is God" (2 Corinthians 5:5). It is a great and solemn fact, that our growth is the work of God. We are to desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby.

[Page 386]

It is not merely seeing the meaning of the word, or its exposing us to ourselves, as a man looking into a mirror, but "being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:25).

The growth of a christian is like the growth of a tree; first only a stem, then branches; but the growth once acquired, ever remains; and the growth acquired only prepares for a still greater growth. There is never a sense of having grown. The energy is to grow. "If any one think he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know it" (1 Corinthians 8:2). We see through a glass darkly. Where there is growth, there is always the sense of a longing to grow. Hence the larger a tree is, the greater its growth. It may not appear to the casual observer to grow so much as a young tree, but if you were to count all the growths on a large tree, you would find that combined, they far surpass the great visible growth of young trees. I believe the soul that is most growing is never occupied with his growth, but with Christ. Paul after thirty years of growth can say, "For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). A christian elated with his knowledge is like a shallow-minded man, vain of his learning. There is no end to the christian's growth because it is growing up into him in all things. As you grow, you grow more. There is endless growing.

They say fruit trees have three sets of roots. The tap-root which it lives by, and which must never be touched. Then the wood-roots, which should be pruned; and lastly, the fruit-roots, which are to be nourished and fed. The value of the tree is the fruit it produces. It is not mere existence - the tap-root; nor is it mere wood, which may be too luxuriant; but the great thing is to feed and nourish the fruit-roots. It is said that if they are well manured and ministered to, the tree will withstand frost, and the blight which so often blasts the finest array of blossoms. Thus the real

[Page 387]

value of growth is not the wood that every one may see, but the fruit which ministers to others, often in a very unseen way, but pleasing to the Lord. The owner of special fruit shares it with his friends. It comes to them as a mark of his affection and friendship; and have no doubt that when there are fruits of the Spirit in and from any of us, we relish them and own them as surely the Lord's gift. I do not mean mere temporal gifts, which often may be only as the wood in the tree; but I mean the charity which imparts a moral influence to the life, and ministers in some degree to us the frankincense of Christ. It is thus that fruit, the result of matured growth, is so esteemed b the spiritual mind. "My soul desired the firstripe fruit" (Micah 7:1).

Fruit is a divine virtue that has matured to an expression. Growth is of little value unless it attains to fruit. Hence fruit is the glory of growth, and not the wood, which is the measure of my advancement in knowledge. One little strawberry in the roadside hedge ministers more to the weary traveller, the pilgrim, than all the kings of the forest put together. They may boast of greatness and size; but the strawberry, unseen as to appearance, has far surpassed them in service.

The Lord give you to cultivate the fruit-roots more than the wood-roots, and then great blessing may redound to you. Fruits are not so much acts as charity.

PARTAKERS OF HIS HOLINESS

The Lord does not like us to take an affliction lightly. "A reproof entereth more into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool" (Proverbs 17:10). But the more you take it to heart, the more you reach "his holiness"; that, so to speak, is the goal. The Father's discipline is intended to effect the greatest gain that could possibly be acquired - even to be "partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). This -is the only time this word is used. The mere thought of partaking of the separatedness in which He is, is a great

[Page 388]

delight and encouragement to the heart. And it has very great practical effects. Once any of us have in any degree partaken of His holiness, we become correspondently sensitive to everything contrary to or inconsistent with it. It is the superior thing which ever enables us to refuse the inferior, and this in a wonderful way works all round.

It is not that we feel that we are doing anything, but we shrink from the moral atmosphere here, and like to be encased in the armour of light. The process is a very interesting one; your divine taste is so advanced that the incongruities in everything here are not only apparent, but their real worthlessness is disclosed. You do not feel that you are losing (though you are losing the things here) because you are so assured of the highest and greatest gain.

Three great divine facts or events have occurred, and our faithfulness is proved as we are affected by them. The first, that Christ has come, has died for our sins, and has risen. The second, that He has gone to heaven. The third, that the Holy Spirit has come down to be with us and in us. Then there is a fourth which is our prospect, even that He is coming again.

Now every believer knows something of the first - no salvation otherwise; the second and the third test our faithfulness. Christ is in heaven. Do we "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God"? (Colossians 3:1). The Holy Spirit is with us and in us: does He lead and control our hearts absolutely in this scene in the absence of our Lord? All knowledge of truth is ineffectual when we are not in correspondence with these great unconditional facts, which remain true even when we are not true to them; but when we are, all the truth is in its place in our hearts.

You are a special interest to the Lord at this time. May He fulfil all His pleasure concerning you, and fit you for His service in a scene where there can be nothing right, because He has been rejected here.

[Page 389]

WOMAN'S SERVICE

Each believer has been sent by the Lord into this world on some mission. He said at the beginning (a sure time to turn to for guidance), "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21). Before you can enter on your mission, you must be assured of Christ's work for you; you must, like the disciples in the passage I have quoted, first have in a known way received of His life, having practically entered into the meaning of the passage, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). If you are not in life and peace, you cannot enter on your mission. The mission (so to speak) to yourself has not been assured, and this must be accomplished in you, before you are fit or qualified to serve another.

The history of a bird is the history of a believer. First in the nest, served by parents; then when fledged, learning to do for others what has been done for oneself. First served, and then, in the power and enjoyment of it, serving. There can be no question that it is the duty and calling of each to serve in some way. But it may not be so easy to find out your specific and proper duty or mission and this is often the excuse for doing nothing, or something worse than nothing. I do not believe it would be found to be so difficult if you were really fit in heart to enter on service. I believe you would find out your mission if you simply occupied yourself with whatever came to your hand for the Lord. It might begin by carrying food to a sick child, or making a dress for a poor one, or reading to an old saint. There is a serving of one's time; that is, you will not be entrusted with very great works until you have proved your competency in small ones. It is impossible but that a star must shine, and it is equally so, but that if your eye were single, your whole body would be full of light. The cause of idleness, or ignorance of one's mission is, either that one is not fit for

[Page 390]

it, or not free and humble in heart enough to begin at the little works appointed for one to do. It is an universal principle, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10).

THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST

I think the Lord is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and He sympathises with them. Will is sin. Infirmity is not sin, though it might lead to sin; as Sarah, when from fear she told a lie (Genesis 18:15). Fear is not a sin in itself; I may have a timid nature. The Lord had more sensibility than any man, but He never gave way to it unduly. He could say, "The floods of ungodly men made me afraid" (2 Samuel 22:5). If I am weak or in pain, He feels with me as to my suffering, but the gain to me is when I know how He feels, and how His grace would lead me apart from will, to feel in the suffering. If He did not feel with me, He could not help me. He feels with me, but He meets it divinely. I meet it, as a rule, selfishly. He could say under great trial, "I thank thee, O Father". He says to me, as it were, I feel it as much as you do, or a great deal more. He felt the storms, the indifference of the Pharisee, etc., but He was not swayed by feeling. He ever went through it divinely. What I have to seek is that God should be more before me than my own feelings; that I do not deprive God of the tithes - of His due in my sorrow. My very suffering, which the Lord enters into, leads me, when enjoying His sympathy, to learn His way in them, and then I have advanced in the knowledge of Himself in the trial. Relief from the trial makes me rejoice, but His sympathy increases and enhances my knowledge of Him.

There is one thing which one learns when in company with the Lord, that could not be learnt any other way, and that is sensibility. I see how He feels every incongruity, but I see also how He regards it, not as it affects

[Page 391]

Himself, but as it affects God. This is the way Paul was brought to regard the thorn. You may be sure that the more you feel your trial, the more there is grace for you to bear it. Feeling is nothing without the grace. Feeling in our Lord drew out the grace, because there was nothing but good in Him. In me, feeling tends to draw out temper; but when I know His sympathy, I am sure to have His divine way of answering to the feeling.

GOOD INTENTIONS NOT POWER

"My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me" (Psalm 63:8). The virtue of this word is that it marks out the manner and order in which help comes. You are occupied with the Lord and not with the thing which may require His help; and as you are occupied with Him solely, He requites you markedly, by His right hand upholding you. The great thing is to be upheld in a world of antagonism; your intentions, however true and of God, are defeated in such a scene, if there be not a present help. You must have good intentions if the Spirit is working in your heart, but good intentions are not power, and will not secure you, if you do not carry them out. "The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing" (Proverbs 13:4). But even with full determination to carry them out, they are only the railway line; the engine is still required; otherwise the very sincerity of your intentions will exasperate you with the obstruction. Do not give up the right purposes because you have failed, but remember that it is not the intentions, however good, you are to trust in, or to keep before you, but the Lord Himself. If you are following hard after the Lord, your heart is set on Him only, and not on the carrying out of your intentions. And as He is thus your object, He makes you sensible of His help, not so much to carry out your intentions, as to make Himself known as upholding you. When intentions are your object, the more your conscience justifies you,

[Page 392]

the more are you aggrieved when they are thwarted. The reason you are allowed to fail is that you are making your intentions your object. The better anything is, the less will the Lord support it when it usurps His own place. He is to be the sole object, and when He is, wherever you are, and whatever you are called to, you consider for Him, and He rewards you by supporting you.

You will find that it makes a great difference, whether you come into any sphere here, with your heart set on Him, or set on doing something, even the best. When you come, having Him simply before you, you regard everything you come in contact with in relation to Him. It is not as things affect yourself, but as they affect Him. You have before you a perfect Man; and you thus come in conflict with the man here who is always imperfect.

I desire for you that you may enter on everything here so prepossessed by the Lord, so impressed and attracted by His perfections, that you do not build on the worth of your intentions, but that you are quite under His control, to act for Him as occasion offers. In a sense you have no intentions; and instead of feeling aggrieved when hindered in carrying out anything, the sense before your heart, whenever you fail, is that you had not sufficiently considered for Him to whom your heart is absolutely engaged; and you will always find, that when He is first with you, your best intentions are promoted by Him, and He is more and more endeared to your heart. May you prove this very abundantly!

THE OUTSIDE INDICATES THE INSIDE

"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Psalm 92:13).

Every divine demonstration has its origin within "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom

[Page 393]

is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). It is from the Lord the good is generated. Hence there cannot be an expression of grace beyond the grace within, and the only way to ensure a fuller expression is by getting more from the Lord for oneself. It is out of the belly shall flow rivers of living water. They flow in first, before they flow out. I can see my defects outside, but I cannot correct them outside; and if I were to attempt it, it would be mere patching up. When I see the defects on the outside, I must refer it to a lack inside, just as if I were to see a flaw on the leaf of a plant, I should at once attribute it to some damage at the root. The outside is like a barometer, it indicates the state of the heart; and the only way to be fair outside, is to have the grace of Christ ruling within.

There are two great eras in a christian's life. The first is when the devil by force would compel him not to leave the world - this is Amalek. I say force, for Amalek fights, and the young believer, ardent in grace, likes to turn his back on the world because he has come to Christ, and the devil works on his fear, as he did on Peter in the high priest's house, so that he dare not take such a dangerous path; he shrinks back, and like Isaac to his wife, he denies his relationship to Christ, though he could not surrender his own knowledge of it. Many are turned back here. They think that they cannot bear up against all the opposition that the path of separation from the world would entail on them. Now the one who resists Satan here, succeeds in turning his back on Egypt: he is a young man (see 1 John 2:13) he has "overcome the wicked one".

But you have greater conflict to go through before you can reach the real battle field, and this is Balaam. As Amalek was Satan's power to prevent you from leaving the world, the device of Balaam is to prevent your entering the land, where the true contention - the setting forth of Christ in the scene of His rejection - can only be.

[Page 394]

Now Balaam is very different from Amalek; and before you encounter Balaam you have learned according to John 3 and 4 that Christ is your life, and the Holy Spirit dwells in you. And you have overcome Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites - the force of Satan. This is, I suppose, the fire of persecution, which is what we get in Peter, while it is Amalek more in James. Force is to be met always by resistance; Peter should have resisted. And when the force of persecution is directed against you, you are to rejoice (1 Peter 4:13). But, after you are more than conquerors through Him that loved you, you are confronted with Balaam - the last form of the enemy before crossing the Jordan. Satan now would minister to the susceptibility of your nature. This device begins by an invitation; not an opposition now, but a solicitation - an offer to gratify you where naturally you can be most gratified. And there is no power against it but faith in Christ, which effects fasting; that is, not merely refusing the invitation, but if we "through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13), we shall live. If we "walk in the Spirit" we "shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh", and to this end we must sow to the Spirit. Here is the real school. It is that in the grace of Christ you refuse the offspring of your natural taste. It is not merely that you have made up your mind not to gratify it, but that you refuse it a place. This is practically Marah. The self-gratification is refused. Christ died on account of it, and that sweetens the death to you.

As I said at the beginning, the uncrucified sentiment, never intended to be divulged, will crop up in some form sooner or later; like a needle that one has swallowed, it will appear some day where least expected. Thus Balaam succeeds by ministering to the most vital part of one's nature. There is no real relief from Balaam but Jordan. You are dead with Christ. But at the same time remember that, as no good can be really outside but that

[Page 395]

which is wrought within through the grace from on high, so assuredly there can be no flaw or incongruity outside that had not commenced inside; and if it had been nipped in the bud, as a real evil, it would never have come outside. On the contrary, the subduing of it inside not only secures from its appearing outside, but the beauty and fragrance of the grace which had mastered it within is seen.

Every one suffers from vexation, and often from those nearest to us. The vexation or the irritation, or the hard feeling itself, is sure to come, but the danger is not so much from the entrance of either, as from entertaining it, feeling, like Jonah, "I do well" to have my own feelings. It is the grace of Christ, in the power of the Spirit, which only can supplant the workings of the flesh; and when these workings are thus superseded, there is always an enhanced sense of the favour of the Lord, and there is flourishing in the courts of our God. You are not unused to conflict, "but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4). And may His blessing satisfy your heart and beautify your life.

DEPENDENCE AND WATCHING

May you remember that this is not your rest, and may you not weary in the race. We taste of the joys of the Father's house when we reach the finish of the gospel; and though we know that we are placed in the heavenlies as members of the body of Christ, we are not absolutely in heaven yet; we are running on to it. It is really a steeplechase; every kind of obstruction is thrown in our way. But as we walk on in faith, "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).

The great thing for you entering this new year is faith. Faith is seeing Him who is invisible. When a mariner, however tossed about on the sea, can see the sun, he can tell the bearings of his ship.

[Page 396]

Your great object should be to set the Lord always before you. Be not satisfied with praying or reading the Scriptures, but that you see Him, your eye resting on Him, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). You look for Him as the mariner looks for the sun in the hour of difficulty. Every hour is an hour of difficulty with us, and if we do not keep our eye on Him in the little difficulties, we shall not be able to find Him in the great ones.

There are two things you must ever be in the sense of, and the fuller your sense is, the better you will get on. One is the sufficiency of Christ if you seek Him - "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me" (Psalm 63:8). This is all you could desire; but there is another sense you must have, and that is, the violence of the power that is against you. Satan is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, so that you should feel, I am encompassed with enemies, and I am not safe unless near the Lord. He is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it and is safe. In most cases, failure occurs, not because souls are not reading and praying, but because they are not watching. They are caught, where they did not fear any harm. "Happy is the man that feareth always" (Proverbs 28:14). Be a little child, holding tight to its mother's hand when it sees a big dog. Be always assured that more than a mother's hand is ever beside you, and be always aware that a terrible dog is in wait for you. Thus may you be greatly blessed.

WEANING

Where we feel most in this life is the place where we are afflicted as a rule; where there is most vitality in us naturally, there the blow is felt most. If we were dead where we are most alive, it would be comparatively easy for the Spirit of God to carry us on. The soul

[Page 397]

would be like a weaned child - the will would be broken. Where the strength of my nature is, where my whole heart is, there all my purposes and desires are concentrated. The Lord knows well where the greatest vitality is, and He touches that, in order that there may be an acceptance of the emptiness of everything. The things that are seen are temporal.

Many christians think that because natural affection is in itself lawful it is not wrong to be engrossed with it. This is unsound, for when I am Christ's disciple I have hated even my own life for Him, and He surely directs and enables me to fulfil every ordinance of God in His own sweetness and truth. But I sit loose to everything because He is so absolutely mine, and I am His. I have died to the natural purpose and will with Him, but He lives in me, and now He enables me to fill all my relationships in divine power and beauty.

Poor Jacob thought to save Rachel and Joseph by a plan (Genesis 33:2). He succeeded for a time, but eventually they were the first he lost.

The Lord grant that you may find such a resource in Christ for your heart, that He is not only a compensation to you for any loss, but that because of the deep satisfaction of heart which you have in Him, you can in some degree say, 'I have nothing to regret nor to lose'.

THE RULE OF THE SPIRIT

The great comfort in a christian's life is that he has to be pre-eminently occupied with the present. A natural man according to his ability and ambition is working for a future; he has not acquired his goal. A christian has not reached his goal, but it is secured to him. "I go to prepare a place for you ... and receive you unto to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2, 3). The past of our history cannot be altered; as to our sins, they are remembered no more; as to the peculiarities of our nature, some one way, and some

[Page 398]

another, not sinful, but personal, they have to be ruled by the Spirit of God, and not by our own will, which is evil. If I have no will, and the Spirit of God so rules me that my body is a living sacrifice, I should be doing the right thing each moment.

God made man upright; what we require for a true walk is to have the rule of the Spirit instead of the rule of our will. The rule of the Spirit is not severe, though it be very wide apart from the rule of our will. Everything conducive to my well-being as a creature of God, the Spirit suggests and supports, when I am simply subject to Him; whereas the will is whimsical, one time proposing great self-consideration, and at another, to attain some gratification, commanding a wanton sacrifice of health. The christian's history is made up of acts, the deeds done in the body; and all these acts bear on his position in the kingdom. Hence every act is of importance, and each act is good or bad according to the author of it. The Spirit of God does not in principle sanction asceticism, neither does He sanction self-indulgence. The ways of wisdom are really the ways of pleasantness and peace. If I need anything, the Spirit could not be indifferent to it. For the Lord's service I may have to endure; for instance, I might get a wetting when visiting some sick one; but my work over, the Spirit would lead to seek and enjoy relief. Sickness is properly a discipline, either to repress a natural faculty where the will has a more ready access, or to call out in me patience, which is a great mark of the Spirit's power in me. Thus the day duties in a christian's life are most interesting, not that you should be so much thinking of what you are doing, as being assured that you are doing it to the Lord; for here really lies the difference; the will only thinks of your immediate gratification, the Spirit thinks of your pleasing the Lord. The result is very marked. Where you have pleased the Lord in the act, you have not only your own gain in the acts, but you

[Page 399]

have increased your tie to Him; whereas when you please your will, your pleasure ends with yourself. In the latter you may feel that you have spent your money profitably; in the former you have invested it in the best way. The only way to arrive at this is making the Lord your sole object, and you will not do this but as He becomes necessary to you. Ruth cannot do without Naomi; and then she lives for her, goes out into the field to glean - a very laborious work, and proper only to the poor or strangers; but she pleased the object of her heart, as well as providing for her own need.

THE HEART WON - TWOFOLD

When there is real purpose to win Christ, the Lord is unceasing in His succour. The more the heart is won by Christ, the more is it dissatisfied with everything else, though it may try many things to satisfy it. It is a great thing when the heart is fully won by Christ. There are two ways of winning it; or to speak more accurately, to be won perfectly, it must be won in a twofold way. Jonathan is won, because of what David did, Ruth is won because of what Naomi is to her. The woman in Luke 7 sets forth the first; Mary of Bethany the other. In one, He is my relief; in the other, He is my resource. The heart is fully won when it knows Him as its one resource; but it must feel its need of Him thus first. When the heart is won because of what Christ has done, which is the Jonathan state, there is awakened in it a sense of dissatisfaction apart from Him; and in order to quiet or relieve this, many things or exploits are undertaken, which relieve while they engross, but no longer. But when the heart is set on winning Christ, or on having Him as its gain, it has discovered that which only can satisfy it. This is a great discovery, and not as common as people think or say. Now once your heart is really set on having

[Page 400]

Christ as its gain, you have come to the Ruth state; and then many of the good works which one did in the Jonathan state, though right in themselves, will become more a duty than an exploit, or an engrossment. They will fall very low in comparison with the one great, absorbing, satisfying occupation, which now rules the heart, and distances every other.

You have a true purpose to get on; if you exchange the word 'on' for 'up' it would help you much, because the danger with you is the sense of acquisition. Now when you are seeking to get up, or to have Christ as your gain, the more you do so, the less will you have the sense of acquiring. Here is your first check; but because your purpose is true, the Lord has been unceasing in all His ways (as the Father too), first in providing you with everything you could want; but in another way, in your health, etc., clipping your wings. You have everything here, but in a cage. Secondly, you have made your duty, schools, etc., primary things with your heart; you have pursued it as if it could afford you nearness to Christ. I commend the schools, as a duty of a landed proprietor, but they are not the chief service of a heart set on winning Christ. They are not primarily Christ's things; and while you put them in that position, they will be like dust in your eyes, which not only causes pain to the eyes, but also deprives you of light, and you neither know the cause, nor can you see where the dust is.

There is neither joy nor strength, but as I am in the line of the Spirit of God. When I am really for Christ, I am in concert with the Holy Spirit, and I must have both joy and strength. Though I visit the infirmary for incurables, or be beaten in the streets, nothing can deprive me of the Friend within.

Thus, as it appears to me, two things, or rather the remnants of two things, conspire to depress you. I believe that if you rise every day with the cry to the Lord, that your heart might simply follow the purpose

[Page 401]

which He in His grace had set there - even to win Christ, that you will be amazed at the way things will appear to you, and how your own heart will expand, and regard everything. This is my unfeigned desire for you.

CHRIST THE MAGNET AND RESOURCE OF THE HEART

In the Lord's goodness I am permitted to write to you on entering upon another year in the wilderness. The Lord has shown you and ---- much favour during the last year. The result of His blessed work is that "as he is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17); then untold blessings for this present time are assured to us.

We do not see Him alone in His joy and greatness, as angels do, as far as they are concerned; but we, as we see Him, see what is ours, for we are Christ's. As from the sun all light comes, so from Christ every grace comes to me. With the sun, the light is gone from me as soon as the sun disappears, but Christ never disappears, and the light and grace I have received from Him is never withdrawn from me, because it is ever true for me in Him, even though I have not, or do not enjoy it. Again, the sun has lost none of its light, though it has shone for many a year. So Christ, blessed be His name, loses none of His grace by sharing it with millions. The world gives, and loses what it gives. He shares, and ever retains His fulness to share still on for ever. We are not mere spectators or guests, great as that would be. We are participators, members of His body, assimilated to the image of the glory, as we behold His unveiled face in glory. Faith is seeing Him that is invisible. When I see Him, I see my resource. It is not looking in, but looking up. My heart, like David, may be able to speak of the lion and the bear, which He had previously enabled me to overcome. I set Him

[Page 402]

always before me; "because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved" (Psalm 16:8). Like the mariner at sea, I look out for the sun - for Christ. If, in a storm, I see Him asleep on a pillow in the hinder part of the ship, I say, He is quiet; I receive of His grace, and I am quiet.

Again, if I see Him walking on the crest of the wave, I say, I can walk there too, for Christ is there, and I am His, and His power is mine.

The progress of the soul is thus very interesting. Like a dog following its master: the one thing before it is the way the master goes; only with us, when we follow Christ, we share His power in the path, as Elisha got the double portion of Elijah's power by seeing him go up. "If thou see me ... it shall be so unto thee" (2 Kings 2:10); all turned on seeing him; and so it is now. It is not what I have known and enjoyed, but where is He? Where do I see Him? If I see Him rising, as in Romans, I see that I occupy a new ground, like Noah after the deluge. If I see Him at God's right hand, and the Head of His body, the church, as in Ephesians, I know that the power that set Him there has raised us up together and made us sit in heavenly places in Christ. From the smallest detail of daily life, up to the interminable range of glory, the one single thing for me is to see Him - "shewing himself through the lattice". Where is He in this domestic trouble? Where is He in every circle up to and in glory? The one resource everywhere. We often look at our difficulties first, before we look at our resource. How blessed for us to be so assured that Christ is our resource, that instead of being distressed by any difficulty, we at once turn to Him who having passed through the heavens, is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and has, at each trial, some special provision for us in the smallest thing, as well as in the greatest.

The Spirit of God is our telescope. "Being full of the Holy Spirit, having fixed his eyes on heaven, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus" (Acts 7:55).

[Page 403]

May you enter on this new year with greater enjoyment in our most marvellous telescope than ever, and thus be ever able to see the magnet of your heart, and your almighty resource, in every difficulty great or small.

JORDAN LEARNED PRACTICALLY

"He bringeth down ... and bringeth up" (1 Samuel 2:6). Often when a serious illness befalls us, we experience what it would be if all natural lights here were extinguished; how one could part company with all here, and depart to be for ever with the Lord. This experience is very helpful; one finds that the Lord's presence can be abundant compensation for every loss here. He is magnified to one's heart in a moment like that; and even if the illness be removed, the experience taught, because of its dangerous nature, cannot be lost, you have learned to accept Jordan. True it is, that often in the first instance it is the prospect of one's own dissolution which challenges the heart as to how it would bear to leave all here and go to the Lord. But when the challenge can be accepted in the words of Rebekah, "I will go", the light and power of Jordan, of crossing this death with Christ to where He is, are known and enjoyed; and this knowledge and enjoyment remain, though the health be perfectly restored; one is able in the brightest circle of earthly blessings still to say, "I will go", and not only so, but I know and enjoy the way to Him. This is really Jordan. My own death or dissolution is not Jordan. Jordan is when I am loosened from every tie here so absolutely by death with Christ that I can cross over in spirit to the place where He is, and become so formed in that place that I am in every divine relation on earth more truly for Him.

You see, it is a different thing to be loosened to every tie here when there is no hope of my being able to stay

[Page 404]

here, and to be so when I have plenty of natural vigour to enjoy them all. Christ surely is the joy of the heart when it cannot enjoy anything here; but He can be its supreme joy when it has full natural ability to enjoy all His gifts here. Nay, He can be so much so, that it delights in parting company with all here, and in spirit crossing over to be with Him where He is.

When I know Christ fully as my Saviour, God's love perfected to me, I delight to make much of Him at my own expense, as Jonathan stripped himself for David. Next, when I know Christ's company as indispensable to me, like Ruth, I give up my own place (earth) for His place; but when I know Him above, as united to Him there, I can resume here in cheerful devotedness, like a faithful wife to an absent husband, in every position in which He is pleased to set me. Knowing His work for me, I strip myself for Him; knowing Himself, He is necessary to me, and I leave earth for heaven; but when I am in the restful enjoyment of union with Him, by which alone I reach Him in heaven, I resume here in faithful devotion to His interests.

FRUIT OR USEFULNESS

"First the blade, then an ear, then full corn in the ear" (Mark 4:28). The last is fruit or usefulness; and all the previous growths were working to this end. The blade is the first manifestation of a distinct new existence here; and so it is when a christian takes a stand for the Lord. If you had not been born again in secret, like the grain in the soil, hidden from every eye, there could have been no blade. The blade at once declares your generation, as I may say. It is the first appearance of this new being here, but its first appearance (the blade) tells what it is; in your case it is seen that you are of Christ - a christian. Every one that can distinguish between one blade and another, immediately marks you off as a christian.

[Page 405]

Many are very long before they are thus distinctly manifested, and sometimes they are very pleased with themselves, or their progress, when they have arrived at this definite growth, which answers to the blade, that is, to be distinctly recognised as a christian; but this is not enough. As the blade becomes really established an entirely new phase is reached, and that is the ear. The ear indicates that I am set for being useful; not useful yet. It is the purpose to be useful that the ear sets forth; as the blade has weathered many variations of climate, wind, rain, and sun, before it has reached the ear, so has the christian experienced many trials and hindrances, and surmounted them, before he has reached as visible his fixed purpose - to be of use here. In other words, to be for Christ here and to serve Him. When he has come to this, he has advanced from dwelling in and caring about himself and how things relate to him. To be for Christ is now the great purpose of his life. This is the ear. Where the purpose is simply this, the usefulness comes, which is the full corn in the ear. I believe the hindrance to most is the lack of single-eyed purpose to answer to the purpose of the Lord in leaving them here.

The Lord give you simple purpose to be here for Him; not only here definitely as one of His, but so devoted to Him that He may use you - that you may, like Ruth, be ready to do the smallest service which comes to your hand, because it is the one that is suitable at the time and pleasing to Him - not thinking of yourself, but how you may be here according to His pleasure.

TO PLEASE THE LORD - THE HIGHEST AIM

To do the things that please Him is the highest and happiest aim and state. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, proved the blessedness of it. Before death had made, as it were, a complete sweep, the seventh is translated,

[Page 406]

that he should not see death, and "before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). He "walked with God" (Genesis 5:24); "he pleased God". This is the highest place for man on earth; the place our blessed Lord - who could say, "I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29), the Father - so fully filled; and it is not only the highest, but the happiest.

In the first place, if I please Him, I answer to His mind in creating me and setting me on the earth; what can be morally higher than to fulfil one's mission on earth, "unto all well-pleasing"? What more can His greatest work do, what less ought it to do, than to answer to the end for which the Creator had made it? One will readily see that there can be no higher place, nor any higher aim, than whether present or absent, to be well-pleasing to him, for that is the meaning of the word rendered "accepted" (2 Corinthians 5:9). This being admitted, and it cannot be denied, the next point is, how this aim, which is the highest, is also the happiest. It is happiest because it occupies us with our true object, and this of itself must divert us from thinking of ourselves, which is always the source of vexation and sadness; and as it is not to get something from our object, but to answer to His pleasure, we are waiting on Him and not expecting something for ourselves. If I expect, I am thinking of getting, and myself comes in, in the inquiry whether I have received or not; and if I do not feel that I have received, I get disquieted and dissatisfied. But if I am so occupied with Christ that I am thinking of pleasing Him in everything I do, and referring each and all to Him, I am waiting on Him to know His pleasure. It is not what I would like, but what He likes. It is not to get, but to please Him; this occupies you with the mind of Christ; and like flowers to the sun, you receive, while you turn to Him, the colours and the fragrance that He desires.

If I walk with a person, I must study to please him, if I care that we should walk together. "Can two walk

[Page 407]

together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3). And so with the Lord. As I make Him my object, and study to please Him, I must, necessarily, in habit and taste, be more like Him. Mary pleased Jesus, and was she not pleased herself? The more I please Him, the more I am pleased. I make Him my object, and study Him, not the effects of His gifts on me. I like His gifts because they are a pleasure to Him. I see the word, the attitude, the service that will please Him. I consider not for myself. My alabaster box goes, though it will be covered up in a tomb. Nothing is a sacrifice if I know that it will please Him; but this I cannot know but as I wait on Him; not for my own benefit, but that I may fulfil, in every detail, what will call forth His delight. He ever delights in us, but He does not express it but as we are where and how He would have us.

The Lord compares Himself to one who had planted a vineyard, and when He had done everything for it, it brought forth wild grapes. As He says, "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" (Isaiah 5:4). That is, it brought forth nothing to please Him. He looked for the ripe grapes. "These three years I come seeking fruit ... and find none" (Luke 13:7). He seeks the expression of His own grace in us, and if we are thinking of growing grapes for Him - of pleasing Him - He is intensely our object, and we testify of our delight in Him by doing His pleasure, while at the same time our own hearts are gladdened as we answer to His mind. What a cheer to be to the One I love, what that One desires; it is the greatest delight to love. He is that to us, and He desires that we should be so to Him; and our love is never satisfied until we are so to Him. Hence He says with reference to fruit, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10, 11); and also, "that my joy might remain in you, and that your

[Page 408]

joy might be full". Both love and joy are known to the one who is pleasing Him.

If I am seeking my own happiness, or to be pleased with myself, I am not occupied with pleasing Him. The vine appropriates soil and climate to produce the ripe grapes. Thus every energy is devoted to this end. If you are thinking of pleasing any one, you are diverted from yourself; and not this only, you are interested in the one you are occupied with; and according as you love such an one, you feel your love rewarded and strengthened, because it is active, and has been engaged with that which gratifies it.

THE TESTING OF FAITH

There is a cheering side to every divinely appointed pressure or disappointment. It is good to bear the yoke, and cheerfully too, or it would not be as Christ bore it. Where our wishes are checked, it is often not only better for us, but really less trying, than when they are gratified. I think we should get to comprehend in some measure every dealing of the Lord. Sometimes we think we have learned our lesson because we have faith about it; that is, we are really cast upon God as to it, and know that we are. But then comes the trying - the testing. The faith has to be tested, in order that we may be governed by it, and that it may be proved that it is not merely a sentiment in our minds, but a power over our whole being. It is not enough for a horse to be able to jump a fence, it is necessary that he should jump it, in order that his limbs should be made skilful in acting up to his power.

A weakness, be it bodily or otherwise, is sometimes allowed to continue in order that there may be dependence, and when there is dependence, the weakness becomes a gain; the grit - the trying thing - is superseded by a pearl.

Do not be trying to be anything, let the heart be what it is, as Christ is in it; and as to work, the greatest

[Page 409]

secret of doing everything well and pleasing to the Lord is giving your attention to the one thing at the time, so that that thing is the one attended to until it is finished. I have had often to say to a labourer when I called him to do something, 'Finish what you are at first'. It is a great thing to work on cheerfully, expecting from none but the Lord; self-contained, a fountain, not a brook. This can only be when one is satisfied in the Lord. He delights in the soul that is satisfied in Himself, and can use such an one.

LED 'ROUND'

I cannot tell you, though I can tell the Lord, how thankful I was to get your letter. Varied are the ways by which the Lord leads us 'round', often not direct, when He would have us to teach others also. Moses was forty years in the wilderness before he was fit to lead the children of Israel. Caleb had to remain forty years in the wilderness after being assured of the land. He must not enter on possession without experience. Paul was allowed to diverge to Jerusalem, that he might be the unflinching witness of the setting aside of the old order of things, and that "the Christ", in and from heaven, was now the centre and the manifestation of God's ways and counsels. I think we are sometimes ready to say to the Lord, Could you not have taught me without subjecting me to so much sorrow and humiliation? The answer I have had is, 'You could not be effectually taught any other way'. The Lord knows the nature of the obstacle in me which He has to overcome: a less efficient hand might think that it could be removed in some other way.

One great comfort is that the greater the struggle, and consequently the greater the victory on the Lord's side, the greater champion you are for the truth. Paul, the greatest Pharisee, was the greatest witness of the

[Page 410]

free grace of God; and I, from my heart, desire and pray that you may now come out the great witness of Christ's present interests on the earth.

"I WAS BROUGHT LOW, AND HE HELPED ME"

(Psalm 116:6)

He who loves you infinitely more than any of us is making your bed in your sickness. As we wait on Him we learn what His purpose is in the suffering - the wisdom of it. It comes from the deepest love; but the delay with us is in being able to see the wisdom of it. Jacob is crippled before he meets Esau; he is a self-reduced man before he is a triumphant one, through God's own ordering. Joseph comes from a prison in Egypt to nearly the highest position there. "I was brought low, and he helped me". The great gain in discipline is the helplessness which discloses the vanity of natural resources, but at the same time separates our hearts to God. Then we are "partakers of his holiness". In Jordan "the living God" was known; and in the tediousness and irksomeness of illness there is a sense of the emptiness of everything, and the measure of one's real resource in God is found out. I have said to a dear brother before now, surrounded by his family and natural comforts, 'You enjoy the word and the Lord in your present circumstances, but I should like to know how much real spiritual enjoyment in the Lord you would have if these happy surroundings were broken up'. They were broken up afterwards, and no doubt with very great blessing to him.

In sickness one loses the power to enjoy, while in bereavement one loses the object to be enjoyed. I believe one learns differently in each. In illness I am occupied with myself, there the grievance is, and while there is life there is hope. It is my resourcelessness as to power that is impressed on me; while in bereavement it is my resourcelessness as to the place; I am lonely. My very health makes me the more keenly to feel like

[Page 411]

a tree with its branches torn off, which can never be restored. There is an end of hope in bereavement. In the one case myself is lost for a time to me; in the other, the stay of my heart may have gone for ever. Thus the Lord is the One who heals us in the one; and He only can fill up the blank in the other.

THE NURTURE AND ADMONITION OF THE LORD

We are left here for two great purposes; one to be of service now, the other to fit us for our appointed place by-and-by. We are useful in service as we learn grace, and we do not value grace but as we know ourselves. Hence there were forty years in the wilderness to teach "that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live" (Deuteronomy 8:3). I value the grace that forgives me my sins. If I had not had sins I should not have valued the grace which could and did righteously forgive them. It is my need in this scene which casts me upon God, and when I obtain mercy, and find grace, I am relieved of my need, and have received from God, instead of it, so that by the grace of God I am what I am.

Ways and habits of my own liking remain with me unless they have been superseded by grace. When I am led on in the nurture and admonition of the Lord I am not looking for defects in myself, but the word detects me, and grace uses the detection as an opportunity for giving me what is of Christ in its place. In human education the habit or way which my parents or guardians disapprove is condemned, and as I have sense I discontinue it; but under the nurture of the Lord the habit or way which is unsuited to Him is not only disapproved of, but superseded, and the manner of His grace is given to me instead of the one reprobated. Hence to a christian it is said, "Put off all these". They are habits; but put them off and put

[Page 412]

on the virtues of the new man. It is not as it is with men, natural education, and training; modifying or suppressing this or that selfish habit, so that it may not call forth censure, or make me disagreeable to others; this is what is called good manners - that I restrain my selfishness within due bounds, that I do not seek myself and my own liking at the expense of the likings of others, but consider for them first. But this will not do in grace. It is not improvement, or repression, or self-control, in this or that thing, but my selfishness or liking of every kind must retire, and for it be substituted the life of Jesus, an entirely new thing, and not any modification of the old. Thus grace leads me to act as Christ would act.

TO LIVE CHRIST

I shall be glad to hear how you prosper, for prosper we must if travelling the path of life. To walk in His life down here, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, acting as He acted, though apparently atomic, as all life is, rears up a monument for all eternity, a great coral reef. One is so often endeavouring to do some great thing, instead of the greatest of great things, which is always at hand, namely, to live Christ here. Every act that is of His life will endure for all eternity, as the source of it had existed from all eternity. I feel it would at the same time abundantly occupy me and fit me for any service, were I simply set on living Christ here; beginning my day with storing up the manna, and finding not a moment of my time uninteresting or unoccupied, because I had still another, and a fresh step to learn. The same step is not set on the second time. Act the step before you for this moment like Christ, and if you do, it will be recalled and revived at the judgment seat; but if not, that particular brilliant is lost, and you will never wear it. You will have plenty to do all day; and the man most in His life and ways

[Page 413]

is always most fitted and prepared for special services, such as leading a forlorn hope. A slave can adorn the gospel of Christ in all things.

I find that the brightest summer is when the winter has been longest and most severe. The wheat, the best grain, passes a winter in the soil. The bud, or blossom, or fruit, most fragrant of Christ, is the one which nobody knows what it cost me but Himself, and where one had hardly noticed it; like the beautiful wild flowers in the hedgerow, contending with bushes and briars, to shed their fragrance on the unthankful or unthinking traveller going by.

FREEDOM MUST PRECEDE DEVOTEDNESS

I was on the practical last evening. Your body presented as a living sacrifice is the beginning. Many begin with good works of some kind, but the real beginning is - the vessel is the Lord's, cleared out of everything which would in any way divert it from the new mind which is now to govern it. A man's mind is his kingdom. It is conformity to the world in some form which is the check or obstacle to the mind of the Spirit in us. The body would be luminous if there were no part dark within.

If I understand that I am free from the body of sin (Romans 6), and from the body of death (Romans 7), I rejoice that my body is the Lord's. This is the first thing; the next is, that the body of Christ is my first circle of interest. This is quite individual; it is a practice which can only spring from the state in which I am set; and the state springs from the standing - what God has done for me. The better I believe and know the full way in which the Lord has commended Himself to me, the better shall I commend myself to Him. Very often there is a real desire to commend oneself to Him, and in truth I should be commanded of the Lord; but I may seek a right thing in an incorrect way, and then

[Page 414]

I never reach it, because the crooked cannot be made straight.

I believe that the more I dwell on what He has done for me, and in consequence made me, the more am I in consonance with His pleasure, the more I do the things which please Him. If I am really free from the law of sin and death, what liberty His Spirit has in me! The law of His Spirit is asserted and maintained in my body according to His pleasure. Freedom must precede devotedness. Often one is devoted in order to be free; then always there is self-occupation in some form. It is the freedom to be enjoyed in devotedness which is the charm to me, and not the object to whom I am devoted. The hound hunts for the game; the hunter for the happiness in the sport. When I am quite free, my devotedness to the Lord is all on His own account; His life, and ways, and thoughts, all charm me, and advance me in moral likeness to Himself, which is the highest reward to a heart devoted to another sensibly superior to it. The devotedness of a free heart is occupied with what it acquires from its object, and not with that which it confers. When it is in any degree the latter, it is that I may receive something, my gain is before me; whereas when the Lord is simply my object, to learn more of Himself is the one aim of my life; and I do everything that I may win Christ.

LEARNING SELF IN GOD'S PRESENCE

Your letter cheered me much; there is nothing morally finer than that a soul should feel the pravity of man naturally, in the light of God's presence in grace. Without the latter it would be the darkness of distance. With you, thank the Lord, it is the consequence of nearness. This experience will make your future history glorious in the eye of God, most pleasing to the heart of Christ, and a blessing, almost second to none, to yourself. Now, you feel that, "In me (that is, in my flesh),

[Page 415]

dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). One has often the doctrine of the end of man before one really rejoices that one is fully freed from it in the cross. Then you can heartily thank God through Jesus Christ. It is a terrible experience - I know it, dear brother - to be so disgusted with the old self that we are glad to be set free from it in the life of Him who set us free. I do not believe that any one has really valued freedom from the law of sin and death until he has felt the corruption of himself. Then he hails with joy his freedom from it. It is then the doctrine of it is truly valued. The most of us learn it through experience, by seeing and feeling the precipices to which the flesh carried us. Were it not for the hand that ever holds us, we should have tumbled down! Surely then we are not only glad to be in Christ, and free, but we dread the flesh even more than before.

I have had you often in mind before the Lord. Surely I am encouraged now more than ever. I look now that you may come out to be fully for Him here.

THE EXPERIENCE OF A CALEB

The longer you are in the wilderness as a Caleb, with an actual acquaintance with Hebron, the more truly and really does your heart make ready for possession, as well as being enriched with the durable nature of His mercies to you here. "Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell" (Deuteronomy 8:4). Hence, the longer one is on the journey, the more miraculous the unchanging character of His care and ways with us. The wilderness was immensely different to Caleb and to the rest of Israel. He was not in the land, he was travelling on to take possession, but of a country known, not only by report, but where he had been; and as he travelled on, he was learning that the very same care or provision made for him at the first, remained fresh and unworn up to the last. Not only

[Page 416]

were his garments fresh, but his foot was unweary. The garments and the foot were in the same state all the journey up to the end. The one is the shelter of His wing all along the road; the other, the cost to myself, or the tax on myself, all the way; the one unchanging, the other unwearied. They suffered not outwardly nor inwardly; they were nourished and cherished all the way.

Each year your heart is deepening in the care of God in the wilderness, and has a brighter consciousness of your heavenly possession, which gets more enjoyable to you, while heaven is more and more within your reach. You can say, "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Psalm 92:13). You are blessed with the upper springs and the nether springs, and they increase simultaneously. It is as I enjoy the upper springs that I am conscious of the nether; as I eat of the corn of the land, so do I practically partake of the manna; as my heart is occupied with the glorified Christ, so are my steps here in the life and grace of Christ on earth. The less you have from earth and the world, the more you are in the wilderness; and it is in the wilderness, and in the absence of natural supplies, that you know the Father's care, and that the knowledge of heaven brightens. If you lose naturally, you gain spiritually as to both. The more the wilderness is a wilderness, the more God's resources are made known to you. The moment we gain from the earth or man, we are losing the wilderness, and with it the divine comforts of it. If I have nothing but God, I am in the wilderness, and I am supremely happy. It is the admixture of old and new wine which occasions our ups and downs here. The wilderness is having all our resources in God on earth, and without any check in heaven. He is everything to us. If I love the things that are in the world, I turn away from the wilderness. I might retire from the world politically and positionally, and yet enjoy the

[Page 417]

things that are in it; and inasmuch as I do so, I am not in the wilderness in the true sense of the word, nor enjoying God's provision for me when in it. God will take care that my needed comfort shall not be impaired, nor my natural force abated; but wherever I seek outside of Him, I do not get from Him. The more all my springs are in Him, the more I really enjoy heaven, where all my springs shall be in Him, with everything to co-operate and nothing to distract. My springs are in Him now, though hindered by Satan's temptations and distractions.

It is only as you are thus truly in the wilderness that you are in the joys of God, or are able to discern what is of God all round you. You must be separated in your own soul from the world and its things, and have found your springs in God, before you can be sure, or clear in judgment, as to anything or any one for God. If I am in the light I know what light is, for it aids me; and I know darkness, for it opposes me. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man" (1 Corinthians 2:15). It is not that you have spiritual knowledge, but that you are spiritual, living on divine springs; and then you can determine like test-paper the reality of each, and you seek it too. You know nothing but as you have been it; you cannot know the heavenly but as you have been in it; and you cannot discern in another what you have not known in yourself. You may see more in another than in yourself, but you could not see it at all if it were not, in some measure, in yourself.

JOY THE RESULT OF FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST

"Rejoice Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents" (Deuteronomy 33:18). Joy is very much connected with our fellowship with the Lord. Joy is not spoken of in John 14 where the subject is the way the Lord has provided for us during His absence. We have joy in chapters

[Page 418]

15, 16 and 17; in 15 in connection with service; in 16: 24 it is in connection with answers to prayer respecting church interests; and in 17 it is His own joy. "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5). Thus our joy is more connected with identification with Him than as a consequence of His work for us. Surely His work for us has relieved our hearts of every fear, but it is in fellowship with the Father and the Son that our joy is full, and it is in connection with Himself personally that Peter says, "Joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). As far as I see, we have peace as the result of Christ's work for us, but joy is more the reward of service, or of devotion to His interests. I think you may remark, that almost everywhere the ministry that is valued is the expounding of Christ's service for us; and, as is always the case, the demand indicates the supply. This measure of teaching is in keeping with the desire, and very often the necessity of souls, and hence there is little joy. I am quite sure, that if our hearts were restful in confidence in His unbounded interest in us, we should devote ourselves to His interests, as being really identified with Him. Union is the consummation of love, while communion is the life and fruition of union. I believe the Lord would prefer that I had one thought in common with Him as to His interests, than that I were the doer of any number of good works. The Lord loves our fellowship; we are "called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:9). The more we are in His company, the more we love Him, for we know Him better. Peter, James and John went with Him to the house of death, to the glorious mount, and to Gethsemane. May you have the deep and ever-increasing joy of being here in daily fellowship with Him as to His interests here.

[Page 419]

THE JOURNEY AND THE HINDRANCES

You have passed through a year of much exercise. It has been like a long voyage; the ship has been subjected to many a trial as to how it could bear up against the winds and waves from without, and furnish and preserve the needed comforts for those on board, or within. The without and the within, I might say, constitute our history for each year. I suppose each year is an era in our lives. The without is an unceasing opposition. Pursuing the illustration, the sea on which we sail is man's heart. The waves - the influence of man; and the winds - the power of Satan. Be it calm or storm, the opposition is the same. You cannot be helped by anything purely of man. It is in not remembering this that we all suffer. It is here the dark part is. The ship - the new being, has to make its way through the sea to the heavenly port, but if the ship expose itself to the sea, to the influence of men in any way, it suffers accordingly. Its highest condition is to be proof to its entrance, while in itself it has provisions of all kinds - home comforts for the whole voyage. This is the within, and from the Lord. We are really to expect nothing from without, to be ever on our guard; we have a relentless and unsparing foe, none the less dangerous when carrying a fair exterior. Surely the deep sea is not less dangerous in a calm than in a storm. In a storm you are watching on every side. The pumps are regularly worked; the whole of the ship is looked after in the strictest way, and if there be not supplies within, all hands would faint and die, even though you could successfully surmount the opposition without. The ship through grace will live; but many a sorrowful day would be avoided were we more alive to our danger, and the unceasingness of it.

You are cautious enough at any rate, and you are well provisioned, through grace; but while you keep on at a steady pace, are you courageous enough? Every

[Page 420]

one, thank God, can see the port you are bound for; for Hebron you are bound, but are you like Caleb unable to take Kirjath-sepher? I suppose there is a spot where each of us shows the white feather. I merely ask the question. I can truly say, "This also we wish, even your perfection" (2 Corinthians 13:9); when you fail in courage, add to your faith courage. Courage has to do with the without; the lack of it always indicates some lack within. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of courage.

The Lord be praised for the way your ship has traversed the deep seas for so many years, but where there is most grace, there is most progress. The ship that has gone well is the one that goes on better. The Lord bless you much.

THE NEW BEING IN THE NEW STATE

It is very profitable, yea, all important, to begin one's day with the Lord. The manna could not be gathered when the sun waxed hot. The great thing is to get so near God that you are divested of all connected with yourself, your own feelings, and impressions, and interests; and you find then that they are not indispensable, that you are quite happy outside and apart from them. Such a season as this has the greatest and most blessed effect on one - to have the sense that I am perfectly happy apart from all the prepossessions here, however great and good they may be in a human sense. When the queen of Sheba was in the presence of Solomon she had for the moment nothing to regret nor to choose. It has a marvellous effect on one to be in the full sense of the new being even for one minute, so grand and so great is it; and yet it is our only true state, and will be for all eternity. With raiment white and glistening I come into a world where everything spoils and tarnishes it, and I feel it; but I have to walk in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. You

[Page 421]

must get there really to understand what it is to be there. The word declares the thing to you, but you are not established in it until you have tasted of it.

ATTAINMENT AND GIFT

I have for some time been thinking of writing to you. I believe, if I may be candid with you, that the defect in your teaching has been 'the attaining process'. There are two ways ordinarily of advancing. One by assiduous pursuit, and thereby acquiring the thing desired; the other, by gift - endowment. The first may be illustrated by a man who makes his fortune, and rises to eminence; the other, by one who has received riches and honours by inheritance or gift. Now the latter is the way we receive everything divine, because everything is the gift of grace.

Let us examine the conditions or state produced in a saint by each of those two modes in which progress is sought. The one who tries to progress by assiduous pursuit is eager, earnest, full of aspiration, not satisfied with seeing. "Give, give", is the unceasing desire. Very attractive such a one would be as a listener, very interesting as a narrator of discovered truth, and of heavenly scenery. In manner there is a pleasing drapery of devoteeism, a captivation with Solomon's things, but with no knowledge of being united to Him, and therefore with no sense of possession. Hence there is no power to rend one's own clothes, and be superior to feelings or tempers in anything. Like a miser the joy is in acquiring, and recounting their gains, that is, their progress. They condemn every one not in accordance with themselves. They are always individual; they never have the sense that their acquisitions are in common with the body of Christ, or that all the saints are in conjunction with them.

Now on the other hand, those who are advanced by gift first learn that what they are offered is common

[Page 422]

property for the whole church. "To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for profit" (1 Corinthians 12:7). Anything conferred on one is really belonging to all; nothing is individual or personal endowment; and hence it is not as I discover truth that I progress, but as I comprehend Christ, and that I am united to Him. The more I see of Christ, the more I see what belongs to the church, and to me a member of the body of Christ. It is not the height that I have ascended that occupies me but His height; though His height indicates my height as in Him; I derive from Him. It is Christ who is exalted before me, and if I see like the queen of Sheba, I am not a mere spectator. The church is united to our Solomon, and all things through Him are ours; not ours because we had come to Jerusalem and had seen them; hence the effect is quite different. The more I see that I belong to Christ, and that I am united to Him, the more I use His power to free me from habits, manners, tempers, which hinder the exhibition of His life in me. I am assured of being one with Him, and of having all things in Him; and as this deepens, my manifest progress is in self-judgment, and in abrogation of the old man, which, even in that which was gain to me, shuts Him out. This gives subduedness of manner, and makes one sensible how little one is in keeping with the eminence to which we are raised; and while seeking to walk worthy of the vocation, one is ever more sensible of grace and worth in others than in oneself.

WHEN IN THE RIGHT ROAD I FIND HIS SUCCOUR

I was on Hebrews 4 this morning, and it came out very interestingly to me. If you are on the road to the rest - to heaven, you will find the High Priest's sympathy on the road. I think that He helps me over my infirmities, that I may be in company with Him in the holiest. He leads me first to taste of heaven in His own

[Page 423]

presence. Then I run on to it in power, through faith in Christ. But first I have to be helped along the road in the wilderness. I have to lean on my Beloved. The first thing is, you must be on the road to heaven, or He cannot help you. As I was saying, I ask a person, 'Where are you going?' not, 'What is the matter with you?'

There are a hundred roads; only one is the right one. The word is to lead me to the right one. Every conscientious person is sensible that there is a divine action at work with him. This is the word exercising his heart to lead him into the right road. Many a one is cheered by the sense of this divine action, though not helped. This action every godly soul knows; but it is not sympathy. Martha had the one, Mary had the other. It is here, too, we grow in attachment to Christ. No love for a person can be formed apart from company with that person. Our attachment to the Lord personally is in proportion to our sense of what we gain by being with Him. Then we follow Him. We give ourselves to Him. "I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications" (Psalm 116:1), is the start of our personal love to Him.

THE QUALITY AND ORDER OF DIVINE LOVE

I have been much edified lately by John 13 and 15. When the whole character of the ruin and evil was disclosed, the apostasy of Judas, the flesh of Peter, the crucifixion of our Lord, He, when leaving His own in such a scene, says, "Love one another; as I have loved you" (John 13:34). I believe all turns on the little word "as". Washing one another's feet as He has washed ours. No word is more debased in christendom than the word, charity - love. The more beautiful and excellent any divine thing is in itself, the more marred and mispresented it is in the imitation of it by the mind of man, because he reduces it down to his own level and desires.

[Page 424]

Charity among men means simply doing everything for me which would please me; whereas Christ's love has regard distinctly to one thing, even our perfection. He washes our feet and wipes them. Any love in me for my brethren less than, or of a different order to this, is not His love; and therefore one often feels no word so hard practically to follow out as that little word "as"; and yet, according as it is carried out, what remarkable effects follow!

In this love you seek to remove every spot from me, and I from you; and thus together we are seen to be His disciples. In chapter 15 this love goes on to death. He lays down His life for us. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends". "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:13, 12); the same order of love, that goes on to death!

I trust the Lord is helping you on. He delights to unfold Himself to us, but the greater the love, the less will it disclose itself unless we are in a condition to receive it. Melchisedec meets Abraham and discloses the heart of God to him; but Lot never (as far as we know) saw him, nor did he, as to his own felt condition of soul, need him. He sought his goods, and he got them. If he had been simply walking with God, how differently he would have been met!

The present gain of living Christ is, I trust and pray, coming more definitely before our souls. It is a cheer to the heart to know that nothing can be done against the truth, but for the truth. The Lord keep us, dear brother, strong and glad of heart in maintaining His truth and name, and serving Him. He would like to employ us to His own praise, and to lead us into fuller knowledge of Himself.

[Page 425]

RENUNCIATION BEFORE ENJOYMENT

The end of the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. He has the end ever before Him. I conclude that you have now returned to your own house; every day has its cares, and as the heart is simply waiting on the Lord, each day reveals more of His solicitude and grace to help us along. I believe the more we use the power which is ours, the more we live in the Spirit, the more shall we break from everything which would mar the enjoyment into which He leads. Renunciation before enjoyment, otherwise the old clothes, or hindering things, would mar our enjoyment. Put off the old man that you may enjoy the new. It has been put off for you in the cross, or you could not do either. In every advance, I believe the Spirit, the bond of union with Christ, indicates to us the hindrance to our enjoyment of Christ, by the thing which He severs us from. Paul had to be severed from Jerusalem before his heart thoroughly rested in the heavenly places. The Spirit severs me from one thing after another; but the severance, as I understand it, indicates to me not only the hindrances, but the character and nature of the enjoyment is foreshadowed in contrast, and as compensation for the thing renounced. If it be Jerusalem, then it is for heaven. If it be one's own clothes (habits, feelings, tempers), then it is for new ones. If it be leaving the ship, like Peter, it is for a vastly higher security, in the presence and company of Christ.

DISCIPLINE

The highest intention of discipline is that we should be "partakers of his holiness" (that word is only once used). Every stone thrown at Stephen detached him more from the present life, and brought him sensibly more into the holiness of God; so that discipline is a positive, present gain to the sufferer now, and of course

[Page 426]

fits him the more for service here, as well as for the place which each one is to occupy in the holy temple in the Lord. The sound of the hammer will not be heard by-and-by. The old man has to be knocked away, and the more it is, the more the life of Jesus is manifested here. Hence, "we which live are alway delivered unto death" (2 Corinthians 4:11). This I repeat is the highest discipline - suffering for righteousness. But secondly, there is retributive discipline - reaping what you have sown. Thirdly - if we do not judge ourselves we shall be judged, like Jacob at Shalem. This is, I think, a third order of discipline. The fourth is governmental. I might suffer on account of my ancestors, say, in having a weakly constitution. The remnant of Israel will suffer for the rejection of Christ; that is, they will suffer for the conduct of their ancestors. Discipline is a most interesting subject.

THE DIVINE PATH

I am very much interested in studying the divine path. It is always impossible to man. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). When you are in the divine path, the visible and the natural do not influence you; your eye is elsewhere; you see Him who is invisible.

Eve was influenced by what she saw. We are preserved from the influence of things around us, when we are walking in faith. We are in victory over the world then. A beautiful view is to the glory of the Creator, but if it diverts me from doing my duty as Christ's servant, it is evident that I am overcome by it. Hence as I am in faith, I am not looking for guidance by circumstances, though they be of God's providence, but when in faith I am led by Him; and then the circumstances are at best only subsidiary. It would be a wonderful life to be ever in faith; not influenced by the visible, overcoming the world, the heart resting in the Son of God.

[Page 427]

SORROW AND TRIAL (1)

"Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6). Thus He shows His interest in us. His purpose is that we should be "partakers of his holiness", a word used only once in Scripture. You have both passed through deep sorrow. The Lord not only measured the sorrow, but He is near you now to make Himself your solace. Thus the affliction is a gain in a twofold way; that is, on one hand you are detached by it from some "weight", and on the other, you are more separated unto God. When you are in Christ's path, He sympathises with you in your desolation, and you learn Him in a fuller way than ever before. The word (as we see in Hebrews 4) leads you into clear light exposing all the mixed motives, and when you are in the right way, you find how He feels with you, and by His company not only consoles you, but effects for you the greatest blessing, even that of knowing Him better, and being more simply attached to Him. The deepest attachment is formed in sorrow; that is, in your sorrow you find out the real value that any one is to you. No doubt Mary (John 11) learned more of the heart of Christ as He walked beside her to the tomb of Lazarus than she had ever known before.

May you both, though sowing in tears, reap in joy. To remain here after death has removed a beloved one gives one a right sense of the nature of the scene. The Lord has died here, and as we are true to Him, we follow Him to the place where He is.

SORROW AND TRIAL (2)

Hearing of your deep sorrow I think you will like me to write you a few lines of sympathy. I often feel that if we truly entered into communion with His blood, that is, being identified with His death, no death here would be a surprise to us. The greatest death - Christ's death - has occurred here. He not only died here,

[Page 428]

but He died on my account, which intensifies it immensely.

You never feel sorrow less because you have gone through much of it; nay, the more sorrow you have gone through, the more you feel every fresh sorrow. In our individual history there is no time in which our blessed Lord so peculiarly reveals Himself to us as in sorrow. Sorrow in itself makes one a recluse, but the Lord cannot be shut out, and when I know His sympathy in my sorrow, I am not only more attached to Him, but I am mellowed, I am sensible of a heart with the tenderest love touching my heart, and helping it, when I was ready to admit no one. The fact of finding Him beside me, and how He draws me to Himself, has wrought out in many a one a new era in the kingdom of love, a deeper tie to Him than ever; the very absoluteness of His love in its depths of tenderness has bound me absolutely to Him, and for Him, and I am weaned away from myself and the dark chamber of sorrow, into the bright and holy sense that I am an object of deepest interest to Him, and the very sense of this softens me into the gentleness and hope of a weaned child.

May you be thus blessed, and though you sow in tears you shall reap in joy!

SORROW AND TRIAL (3)

It is a very blessed time when there is a real sense that every tie to this world is being loosened, and one is about to step into an entirely new place "with Christ". Everything is real then. What He has done for us is deeply real; the nearer we are to Him, the more perfectly His love shines into our hearts. There is no fear when His love is perfected with me.

But it is not only that the dark side has been cleared away, but He Himself is made known to us, not only as the Saviour who has set us in unclouded peace with

[Page 429]

God for ever, but as our friend - "a friend loveth at all times" (Proverbs 17:17); "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isaiah 32:2). He is indispensable to us. We cannot do without Him. "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me" (Song of Songs 2:6). What a sense this gives us of His present consolation, as Paul says, "If there be ... any consolation in Christ" (Philippians 2:1). This is the greatest personal enjoyment now. I do not say, that standing here for Him, knowing our union with Him in heaven, does not lead us into a higher joy; but there is a more private joy, if I may so express myself, in sitting under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit sweet to my taste. It is what He is personally to me. I am restful in the perpetuity of His love, when I learn that I am united to Him; but it is the love that He has engendered and fostered in my heart privately with myself, which makes the union such a climax of bliss.

I send you this little line, that you may seek the more to know Him in this private way. He will bring you to His banqueting house. Be to Him as Ruth was to Naomi, "Whither thou goest, I will go". May your joy be indeed in the Lord; may He be increasingly your delight.

SORROW AND TRIAL (4)

It seems unaccountable to us at times, that the Lord who loves us so much, and is so deeply touched with our sufferings, should allow us to suffer so much, when we know that He could prevent it. John 11 acquaints us with His reason for doing so. If He allow great grief to overtake us, that great grief will recall a greater grief to Himself, and will receive from Him a sympathy and a consideration, which without the grief would not have been required. How it explains His heart to us! Our deepest heart-sorrow He allows, in order that He may make Himself nearer to us. He removes the most loved one, in order to make known how all-sufficient He can be to the heart.

[Page 430]

Blessed Lord! How great is Thy love, that Thou desirest to be so near, and so much to us! May your heart find it so, dear brother! May the terrible blank be filled up by Him, and then instead of loss there will be great gain. May you have this great gain and thus may you be divinely comforted.

SORROW AND TRIAL (5)

It is one thing to be silent and passive under suffering, and quite another to be conscious of its 'needs be'; and though it may be only in a very partial way at first, to derive such real good and help from it that, instead of lamenting, one is owning to the Lord His wisdom and thoughtfulness in putting one through such necessary discipline. Now this can never be reached but through exercise of soul. The trial which one feels much ought to exercise one much before God. If I am assured that His love is as great as His power, and knows neither measure nor end, must I not be exercised before Him as to why, in His love, He should allow me to be so afflicted? The very exercise engages and connects my soul with Him; and this nearness acquires for me help and instruction about many other things. The waiting on God in the time of affliction, or because of it, is requited with a growth and a strength in God, which tends to relieve of the suffering which was the original cause of waiting on Him; and the soul, once truly habituated to wait on Him, learns so to value it, that it never again can do without it and then it can say, "All my springs are in thee" (Psalm 87:7). The fact of the desolation which one feels here when a beloved one has been removed, and the reluctance with which one refuses to submit to it, proves that the heart required the trial, in order to discover to it that it had rested and hoped in something outside of God; and the exercise of soul, consequent on the affliction, leads to that nearness and waiting on Him,

[Page 431]

which supplies what was before unknown. Most blessed it is when the trial produces this, its true effect, the one intended for us by our gracious God, whose heart is set on our blessing.

THE LIFE OF FAITH

Our life in this world is to me very like one crossing the ocean in a boat. But it is great favour from the Lord that one has a good companion. There is no fear as to whether the boat will reach the desired haven, but in the voyage all who have gone that way have seen "the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep". Our history here is one of weakness and peril on our side, but one of boundless mercies on God's side. If we truly accept the first, we are sure to enjoy the second. May you enter this new path, expecting nothing from man's side of things, but everything from the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. May your boat be launched in simple faith that though you may encounter heavy seas and be tossed to and fro on the voyage, yet may that word be ever present to you: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). "The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11) and it is His end. May you start in faith, and then the end will be the fruition of your faith. It is a great thing to prove the Lord. Every one can be restful when there is nothing to disturb. To see the Lord sleeping in the storm, we can easily believe, but to be so near Him that we are more affected by Him than by the storm is quite wonderful! There is a passage that often tests me: "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2).

I have heard that a horse likes jumping when he can do it well, and engineers like difficulties when they have the means of overcoming them!

The life of faith is a wonderful life; always depending on God and on nothing else. The Lord Jesus had all power, still He ever was on earth the dependent Man.

[Page 432]

Do you like walking in dependence, having no hope, no resource but in God?

May His favour be the resource of your heart! The more you are blessed the more joy to my heart.

DEATH WITH CHRIST

My subject was 'Brought to God'. I dwelt much on the height to which we are brought. Our highest thought is that which characterises us. If we are bent on pleasure, or honour, or gain, our aim affects us in every detail. Thus if we were occupied with this great fact, that we are brought to God, we should be sensibly distanced from the depths out of which we have been brought. My first point is that this has been accomplished, and the second is: How are we to enjoy it now? By dying with Christ.

I sometimes wonder if the defect is in me or in my way of setting it forth, that the truth on which I have insisted over and over again is not more divinely received. You say that portions of truth come to your mind long after you have heard it; I have found this in a very remarkable way from having been so much with ---- in my youth. Things that I had no idea of when they were uttered by him have come to me since like revelations, only that I remember that I had heard it before.

I have long pressed that at the Lord's supper He should be simply before the heart - and not one's own state, that His work has placed us without a cloud in His presence, so that we can give ourselves absolutely to the remembrance of Him in His death. I do not recall His death to assure myself of the benefit flowing from it to me. Impossible to forget that, but I remember His death as it was to Him. If it were only the former I could go through the world rejoicing that I am relieved from the burden of my sins; but when it is the latter,

[Page 433]

everything here bears to me the shadow of His death. I cannot seek life where He died. Now how many souls have entered into this elementary truth?

THE PHILISTINES

The Philistines came from Egypt originally. They settled in the land. They are among the nations whom the Lord left to prove Israel (see Judges 3). They are a very peculiar form of satanic opposition. They are in some respects different from the seven nations who opposed Israel when they took possession of the land. The Philistines oppress those in possession. It is a very humiliating oppression, to be in the place of blessing, and yet to be as powerless in it as if you never had possessed it; like a man a prisoner or starved in his own house, and in the midst of his property.

I think the Philistines typify very much the form of satanic opposition from which brethren suffer. Led into the truth of our heavenly position and enjoying it; growing indifferent, we are deprived of divine health and vigour to enjoy what we possess.

1 Samuel 7 sets forth the way to revive, how we can be powerful in what we possess. It is a great thing to be so really on the Lord's side that we know that He fights for us. But we must go on and possess. It is quite wonderful how opposition melts away like the snow when the bright sun of truth confronts those who oppose it. Moses comes down from the mount and faces six hundred thousand of Israel. God was with him. "One man of you shall chase a thousand" (Joshua 23:10). Hebron, once the place of intimidation, is now through faith the citadel, the centre of strength and support.

Blessed be God! How amazing His grace is! How He turns the dry land into water springs! He supplants the greatest defect by the greatest virtue - the thief is to become a giver; Peter, the denier, is to strengthen his brethren, to be foremost in owning Him. How

[Page 434]

much more interesting a christian's life is than we generally imagine. "Ye shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15), and the light is all acquired from Him who is the one treasure of the heart; the more I enjoy Him, the greater my joy, for He is my joy, and the more I grow in moral likeness to Him whom I enjoy. The Lord be more and more the joy of your heart! May He take possession of every chamber in your heart, then your joy will be full and your moral influence will be increased!

SEEKING AND FINDING

"He that seeketh findeth" (Matthew 7:8). This is a most encouraging word. Of course, it is not seeking carnal things, but spiritual, divine blessing. The finding is in relation to the seeking. It does not say that you will find what you do not seek. The meaning of the promise is that if you feel the need of any divine blessing, and you seek for it, you shall find it. Why is any one lacking in grace or light? Simply because there is a deficiency in seeking for it; for if you seek it you shall find it.

If these were the terms an earthly parent prescribed for his children they would always feel that it was their own remissness that caused them to be deficient or lacking in any gift that thus he offered them. Do we really believe that we receive from God everything of His that we seek for or that we value, and as we value it? We often think we value some spiritual blessing when we do so very partially, and even when we really desire it, we are often not ready for it. We have to undergo some deep exercise of soul before the end desired is reached; to make room, as it were, for the blessing. A briar in the hedge may desire to be a standard rose tree, but it must submit to be grafted and all its own buds to be checked before the desire can be fulfilled. If you seek you will find, but you must be prepared for the process by which it will be effected.

[Page 435]

The great thing is to be growing up unto Christ. The young christian who is growing is more interesting and more helpful to others than the most advanced one who is stationary. You may be very religious, occupied with yourself, but when you come to Christ you are freed from yourself - you find Him, like the sun, commanding your day, not a star to be seen, any more than the darkness. You are a dissolving view, and not only is Christ everything but you are transformed. The nearer you get to Him the more assured you are of His grace, and the more set free from all doubts and difficulties - not only entranced, like the queen of Sheba, but transformed.

WALK IN THE SPIRIT

Hebrews 10 is very interesting: when faith carries you into the holiest, then you hold fast your hope. That is in heaven; by faith you are full of hope of being in heaven!

I sometimes think if it costs every one as much personal humiliation as I have gone through, to know as much of the Lord's ways as I do, I could almost despair of seeing any one come on to what I think every saint ought to come up to. I find it has a wonderful magnetic power to say to myself, Follow the Lord, that is, that following Him makes up for the deprivation of everything else, and scenes and duties, for which I have little or no attraction, seem invested with something greater and deeper than attraction the moment I realise that I am thereto called as pleasing Him.

The measure of every christian is the measure of the Spirit's work in him - the course of the Spirit in us, from which He never deviates. One may be too much occupied with the flesh and its failings, but the way is to be apart from the flesh altogether, and to walk in the Spirit. Through grace we have been transferred from Adam to Christ; we often mistake light for the

[Page 436]

work of the Spirit in us, that is, we may see a truth and enjoy it before it is wrought in us by the Spirit, then we are governed by it. I am much struck with the greatness of the truth that "ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit" (Romans 8:9), and the complete revolution the carrying out of this honestly would effect. The more one maintains this truth, the more simple every divine way is to one; as the flesh has been ended before God, it is plain that everything owned by Him must be directed by the Spirit. Meditate much on those words - "Walk in the Spirit"!

KEPT IN THE LOVE OF GOD

God has most wisely and sweetly appointed everything that is. If each of us had the cross, putting away in him what has been put away in it by Christ in agony, every arrangement of God for us would be not only bearable but sweet; this I am convinced of.

I think our strength and rest depend on our keeping before our souls, not the greatness of what is against us, but the greatness of that which is for us. Satan is overcome by a Man in whom we are "more than conquerors". I believe if you want Christ's company and the blessings of it, you must walk out solitary in the dark night into the desert place, stretching out your hand for Him, feeling for Him, and then He will appear and grasp it and will shed the light and joy of His society on you and on your path and place; and this once known can never be forgotten, though it may be overlooked, and it is never imitated, though it may have many rivals! How bright it makes this dying scene when you meet in it what will last for ever! As I look back I see the different grappling irons that would detain the balloon from soaring up. I feel so much the difficulty of getting the heart out of the world. Everyone seems to have something to tie him down, and to win Christ seems so little one's unceasing pursuit;

[Page 437]

consequently hearts are so little filled with the streams of blessing which flow from Him. I long to see you, not only intelligent in His mind and seeing what suits Him, but your heart giving out His enjoyments as one refreshed with new wine. Oh, how I feel the blessedness of being entitled to have done with all that that can dishonour Him! I feel the soul and mind ought to devote themselves in simple-heartedness to Christ. It often saddens me that so very few are really devotedly following the Lord, of the true servant type, keeping yourselves in the love of God, till He present you faultless before His glory with exceeding joy.

HEALING AND POWER

I have been presenting the healing of the palsied man as a pattern, first of the forgiveness of sins and then of the new divine power to rise above your natural proclivities. Freed from your old state, and by the Spirit of God introduced into quite a new one, how very magnificent it is! I think there is great loss in the way the gospel is often limited to the first, and that the second is not as much insisted on as the first is.

There are two great parts in the gospel: one, that Christ has wrought salvation - by faith you see it done; and the second, that you are ever acquiring a fuller apprehension and consequently a deeper enjoyment of your great gain in Him. Jonathan, when he saw the head of Goliath in David's hand, knew that all the pressure had gone; but now he has to know David in order to apprehend all that he has acquired through David. This is endless, "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). Many stop at the first and thus lose the second, whereas if the second were better known the gain from the first would be more deeply apprehended. There is a great difference in the effect on you by knowing the Lord's work and service for you, and in knowing something of His love to you personally. If

[Page 438]

you know the christian's standing and resources, the next thought is his exercises and conflict; there is no progress without exercise, "exercise thyself ... unto godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7). I hope John's writings will be more read and pondered over. It is a wonderful revelation! I am struck with the great fact that everything God gives us is in the new order as of Christ and beyond all human conception. The Lord bless you and lead you to find in His presence more than you can get anywhere else.

May you be there in such "adoring fervour", knowing so well the genuine thing, that you will be proof against the counterfeit!

THE LORD, OUR FIRST OBJECT

I am much interested in seeing (2 Timothy 4) that the apostle who had been in the brightest place ministerially, now in the lowest in the sight of men, was in nowise discouraged. The Lord was his resource, though often when there are some to lean upon, His all-sufficiency is not realised. The more divinely beautiful anything is the less it is appreciated by the human mind.

I do not believe we shall reap in joy unless we have sown in tears. The obstruction must be displaced in order that Christ may have His place, and this is always with sorrow at first, but there is joy in the end.

I think there are some who do not know what deliverance is, others know it but do not seek to be in it continually, and a third class who, "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:10), are in the joy of deliverance. I do not believe it is possible to be delivered and yet to walk in the flesh, or in the things from which you are delivered if you walk in the Spirit. I should say a saint does not know deliverance if he is walking in the flesh. As you are with God so you will be from God; you cannot rise higher with man than you are with God, and the way to advance is to go to God, rather than to try to improve towards man. Your

[Page 439]

worship, too, is the measure of your moral power. You must go to God before you can increase your power, as we see with Jacob at Shechem and at Bethel.

A sentence in your letter fills my heart with joy and thankfulness, that is, your longing to have the first man displaced and to be down here in the grace and manner of life of the Man out of heaven.

As the Lord sets the stars in the sky so does He raise up a light for Himself in places. If we would make others lights, we must first be lights ourselves. I have been greatly helped by seeing the effect of coming from the Lord. When you come from Him you are full of Him, He is your first object, even in the smallest duty. The heart's object reigns in the heart! If you sing or give out a hymn, it is all about Him, and not merely about your own blessing. The nearer we are to the Lord the more sensitive we should be to even a word which would not suit His ear.

I long to see you, like Ruth, cleaving to the best company - though it may be a poor, sorrowful old woman. If you value the best company you know of, you are sure to come to the best there is!

BAPTISM

I do not comply with your request to write a paper, for it would be making more of baptism than the Lord has made of it. Your question is, why are children of one believing parent holy now, and how can the unbelieving one be sanctified? Was it the death of Christ that effected this change since Ezra's time? And secondly, in what way did the death of Christ give Him a claim on every man? Admitting this universal claim, must the believing head of his house cause all his to pass through baptism unto Christ as that which expresses His death, and that man in the flesh has now no status before God? The death of Christ (see Colossians 2) has freed us from four things: the body of the flesh, circumcision practically known in

[Page 440]

the land after Jordan. Baptism is burial, the dead buried morally. This is the sea out of Egypt, and the river into the land, and practically precedes circumcision. The other two are the handwriting, what God required of man, and the powers of evil.

His death has freed us from everything which could hinder us from walking according to "the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Colossians 3:10). Christ has all the rights now, and every believer bears His name, not only in his heart, but openly submits to it in baptism, and consents that all his should bear the same mark, and in yielding to this he places them in the sphere where the Holy Spirit maintains Christ's rights, and therefore in the place of privilege for his children, already in the place of promise. This is a partial outline of what I see in Scripture.

SORROW

I can truly enter into your sorrow, a sorrow that, as connected with this scene, will never cease; and yet I rejoice that you are able to see the Lord's hand and mercy in the stroke - that you have songs in the night. As you say, What a ruin it all is!

He rolls in death on one side, that life may be more manifested on the other. To survive death and to go on without fainting is great grace.

Every one can go on when everything is bright; but when a child is fading away as a flower you have cherished with delight of heart for many a day, to be able to lay yourself down and sleep and awake again, can only be by the sustaining of the Lord (Psalm 3:5).

To go on again cheerfully is the work of grace. May you both be thus sustained of Him, and He only can do it. I doubt not that it will give you a very new and helpful experience. This scene darker than ever, one of death; the scene where Christ is, brighter than ever. Thus indeed out of the eater will come forth meat.

[Page 441]

THE LORD OUR ALL

How the Lord teaches us that this scene is a tunnel, even in small things, as we move towards the light at the end! Death must be felt by us. It must be faced by each of us and practically vanquished in the victory of Christ. Death is the great seed-time to us, it is the ploughing in winter. What a time it was to Mary of Bethany; how differently the same sorrow was used to the two sisters. One had the company of the Lord in her deep sorrow, and she learned depths and resources in His heart for her at that moment, never to be forgotten and never surpassed in the brightest hour. May this ploughing in winter be to you the prelude and the seed-time of deepened acquaintance with the vastness of His love.

The Lord give you to rest under His shadow with great delight. Study Psalm 63, everything from God there, nothing from man nor from the earth. Every advantage and link to this scene interferes with our true interests. I do not believe that any one is glad that the old man is crucified who is not disgusted with himself, and I do not believe that any one likes to cross the Jordan unless his heart is on the Lord at the other side more than on things here! May each of us know more of this.

GROWTH FROM INFANCY

Eternal life is the gift of God. The moment there is a divine work in the soul the purpose of God has begun there, and that purpose is that you are to be "in Christ". It is not the question of how much you know of this new work which has begun in you. The only standard and measure of that work is Christ. Every one in Christ is a new creature. The first part of your history is simply infancy, a babe cannot speak (as Paul uses the word) - there is another word for children in

[Page 442]

John. I think infancy proper is, I may say, when you are not weaned. You have to be fed with milk, you are not properly in history yet. In infancy you are not in any way independent, you have, as it were, to be fed and carried; you do not appear while in this stage, you are not as to your heart and conscience over the Red Sea; this is a very protracted period with many. You are like an infant all this time, occupied with your own wants. When you emerge from this you can speak - you can say, "Abba, Father". It is said that the first word that a child attempts to pronounce in any language is a word that means parent. Now if you are a child you are on your own account, you have the sense of your relationship, and your attention is directed to your food, you have the ability, the unction of the Holy One, a true taste to guide you as to your food. The better your food the more you grow, the more you are able to separate the precious from the vile, and the stronger you become. You are of a divine generation, you have to grow into this part from and as one superior to the life and nature you are in as a man; and yet the body is Christ's vessel. Now as you grow in strength you also come in contact with the god of this world. If you do not resist him and overcome him, you do not advance. All this time the eternal life is yours, the Spirit of God is occupied with forming you in it, and thus freeing you from every hindrance. You are growing up in Christ Jesus, and doubtless tastes and enjoyments of that life break in on you now and again.

In the manna, though only wilderness food, the heart is sensible of the new clime where the life of Jesus comes from.

But having grown and become strong, the word of the Lord abiding in you, you have grown out of infancy, you have overcome the wicked one; now you have to love the Father's things, which are not the things of this world.

[Page 443]

THE LORD'S WILL

You must lie in the line of the Lord's will in order to enjoy His favour. This line is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, it is of Him; I used to confine it too much to testimony for Him.

We should all flourish if we had our eyes on our Sun. The flowers on the earth may teach us thus. They are so affected by their sun. Their colours are bright when they have plenty of the sun, and their fragrance is in proportion. So we should have both beauty and fragrance if the eyes of our hearts were fixed on Christ. We are generally thinking of something to do; it is work of some kind that is before us. We are looking for the work to commend us, and not for the One whom Enoch studied to please; "he pleased God" by giving Him credit for His nature, that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

PURPOSE TO SERVE

I rejoice that you have a desire and, I trust, more purpose of heart to be useful to the Lord's own. It is the purpose which, like the leading shoot to the spruce fir tree, determines and insures the harmonious growth of all the branches; thus every duty will be like branches to a well-garnished tree, proving your vitality on every side. This purpose cannot have force or stability unless the love to the saints proceeds from love to Christ Himself. "Lovest thou me? ... feed my sheep" (John 21:16); but more than this - I must know His love to myself before I can be the expression of it to others; and my expression must necessarily come short of what I know; but yet it is in the toil and occupation of expressing it that I deepen in myself the sense of the love in Him to myself, which works in me the toil and interest for others. Hence, not only is it said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17) (that is, in washing one

[Page 444]

another's feet I realise the blessed service rendered to myself), but it is added in John 15:10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love"; here it is acting for Him, and while the acting is simply for Him, there is a close observance of His injunctions. Devotedness cares only to please Him, it is not occupied with exploits. This trait you find especially exemplified in women in the Scriptures. The women ministered to Him; they stood by His cross; they prepared spices; they watched for and first saw His resurrection. They occupy the place of personal devotedness. As some one has said, they have more affection, men more energy. To my mind, they fill a place in service which men can never render.

YOUR STUDY AND YOUR AIM

As to the sufficiency of the Bible to fit you for passing through the world; do you want to pass through it as a man of God or as a man in nature? You must know that it is sufficient to teach you all that is necessary for the man of God, or God's revelation would be insufficient to carry out His own purpose. This I know you would not venture to affirm.

Do you know all the worldly wisdom in the Proverbs? Do you know any one who does? The man who was master of the Bible would be a master man! I think you should make the Bible your head book - the summum bonum - the sea of learning; to you all the rivers run into the sea, and while you made the sea your grand study you would necessarily trace and understand the rivers which run into it.

It makes all the difference whether you are occupied with the sea or with a river or rivers, no matter how great or how many! Are you studying from the Bible or only what you may connect with the Bible? Is the Bible your centre - as an estate conferred on you? The more you learn from every source the nature and

[Page 445]

value of the estate, the more you are apprehending the value of what is your own property. If you work from the Bible, like a bee from the hive you will work back to it.

It is a great thing for the young to have a settled aim - you ought to be able to state distinctly to yourself before the Lord what your aim is, and once assured of His sanction as to the aim incumbent on you, all your works and ways would take the character and colour of it. Do you want to be Christ's servant or your own? Do you seek to distinguish Him or yourself? You must settle your aim first, then you will easily settle the rest. Nature may hinder you, but if you find that nature or Satan keep you from fixing your aim, then through grace you will be more than ever resolved to fix it. Your aim once fixed, you will always have a pole-star. I do not say that you may not often be diverted from it, but this I say, that every advance in the line of it will be grateful to your conscience; and every departure or apostasy will entail sorrow and correction to drive you back again. The Lord lead you to determine before Him the true aim that He would have you set before you.

I believe the reading of Scripture comforts, strengthens, enlightens and guides the soul.

A STUDY

I give you Luke 18 to study, the difference between wanting from God, and being satisfied with Him. To be perfect, sell all and find all your resources in Christ. If you want, you must come to God as a widow who has no resource but God - appearances must not discourage, because you know there is power to help you nowhere else. This made the widow persist in applying to the unjust judge. But you must be one who has no claim, while you know that there is the power to serve you nowhere else. You must not claim

[Page 446]

it as if you deserved it, but as one entirely dependent on God's mercy, and yet with the unquestioning confidence of a child in arms. No great intelligence in this state, but there is no question as to your resource. The young man is rich, he is no widow, he is not a publican, he is not an infant; he is a true Pharisee, but he must give up his perfection, he must count all things but dross - not for salvation - but for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ. There is a great difference between the affection which, like a lamb to its mother, is always looking at its own feelings, and how the Lord suits or relieves them, and the affection which thinks of His feelings and His interests and of how you refer your ways and works to them. The greatest delight the heart knows is in pleasing one it loves, and knowing the love, gratifies the love much more than being pleased with its favours. The apostle longed to know Christ, because the more He knew of Him the more he learned of One whom he delighted in, and then it was a pleasure to keep His commandments, for thus you abide in His love. As you please His love, you certify yourself in the love. Now study this, the difference between relative love that meets your need, and the love of union - this latter is the only knowledge of Christ which will compensate the soul for giving up everything here. "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ" (Philippians 3:7).

REACHING FORWARD

I have to rebuke myself for feeling tired - weary of this driving life. I was contemplating with pleasure the prospect of being able to return to my own house for these winter days, but I am ashamed when I think of the apostle - naked and hungry!

We must refuse the king's wine if we would encounter the king's fire. It is my duty and privilege to be here for the Lord's service. It is always the effect of His

[Page 447]

presence that He commands one's whole attention like the queen of Sheba in the presence of Solomon. "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be" (John 12:26).

It is one thing to renounce or drop off certain things, and quite another to be engrossed with the right thing. Monks renounce much, but they are not engrossed with Christ. It must be not only "forgetting those things which are behind", but also reaching out unto the things that are before. It is that which you give yourself to, not what you have abandoned, that colours you and which imparts a character to you. People often dwell unduly on what they have renounced, and are too indifferent about what they might be engrossed with, not remembering that it must be the latter that is forming them. I often feel that we do not duly prize the place we are set in by God. The sense of His satisfaction in it we can never know here, but we do not occupy ourselves with it as if it were worthy of the deepest engagement of our souls and inexhaustible in its treasures. We make a morning call or possibly a daily visit to the mansion, instead of living there and exploring all the chambers and ordering of it. In divine things the more engrossed you are the more able you are to be engrossed; the more you search into the treasures, the more you acquire strength and ability to search on. The higher the eagle goes, the more he gets into the power of the sun and the larger the sphere of objects presented to his strengthened vision. Here indeed is the elixir of life, the more used, the more it can be used. May we truly use it!

CHRIST'S DESIRES FOR HIS OWN

I often feel I am more shaken from the earth because it has failed to satisfy me, than because I know how much better it is to be with Christ. I suppose any one who knew this well in his affections would live Christ

[Page 448]

here, for nought else would satisfy his heart. I find it is a much easier thing to be done with the world than done with oneself; you may have neither hope nor prospect in the one, and yet have a great deal to be gratified in in the other. Nothing gives relief and deliverance except the Lord's presence, which could make the disciples feel they lacked nothing. As I can wish you nothing better than this, beloved brother, I do so with all my heart, with confidence that He will increase it to you. If one did but live up to the desires of His heart for us, not only how blest we should be, but also what a help and guide to the many who nowadays see that everything around is wrong and yet cannot see what is right. May He encourage and sustain you still more in His blessed service.

The disclosure of evil which has been long working is no small evidence of the Lord's drawing near to souls singly or collectively. What a resource it is that we can be assured that He lends an ear to our prayers!

Everything from above contributes to our true welfare; but we have to resist everything down here!

LIGHT DRIVES OUT DARKNESS

How would you remove darkness from any place? By bringing a good light into it. Well, this is the only way to be preserved from any evil, either in act or feeling, by being controlled by its opposite: "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light" (Ephesians 5:13). If you were arguing for ever with darkness or deploring it to anguish, you would not get rid of it; but bring in the light, and the darkness is superseded. Be occupied with the good, and the bad will disappear. I am sure it is the idol that hinders every one; the idol is what one likes best naturally; our idol now is the dark spot. You are in your right place, or it would be pleasant to see you here. I know that your blessing is sure when you are doing the Lord's will. I was speaking yesterday on the verse,

[Page 449]

"If any man serve me, let him follow me" (John 12:26), and in the evening on the bruising of the serpent's head. Where the power of death was most disastrous in a man, there the Lord subdued it in death. "He death overthrew", and He, the risen Man, is our Saviour. He not only gives us peace, but His own life. I am going to lecture on the difference between the first day in the wilderness and the first day in Canaan. You find Marah - bitter water - in the first, but Christ is the tree. Circumcision in Canaan, but Christ is the old corn of the land, and with us as the Captain of the Lord's host. We are ready to forget that this world is a wilderness, nothing but God, and we are each being taught this in one way and another. We learn not to look at our trials to see how He will act for us, but to look up to Him, and wait on Him, and watch what He is going to do for us; thus our difficulties are not a clue or indication of what He can do, for He will do some-thing exceeding abundantly. May your heart rejoice much in Him.

HOW TRUTH ADDRESSES ME

What a wonderful fact the resurrection is! This time last year I was occupied with Paul in heaven; now it is more with the judgment on everything here because of Christ's death, so that I have no standing place outside the glory! What is the difference in me practically? The truth we are occupied with not only colours us, but reveals the disposition in us to be so coloured.

If it be only the natural mind that is acted on, the intellect is interested with the information and arrangement, but if it be of the Spirit of God, I am sensible of a demand on my conscience to respond to it, and my interest arises from this claim on myself. Knowing that it is of God, I am seeking not only to conform myself to it, but I know that it addresses me, has a

[Page 450]

voice to me and a claim on me, so that I see I am not apart from it but included in it as belonging to it. If I have gone through a great death, Christ's death is the greatest, and His death strengthens my soul in the full consciousness of being out of death - the smaller deaths here remind me of the greatest, and make me sensible that here I must lose an only son, and therefore not as a disappointed one, but as one thanking God for any respite from sorrow.

If God shakes us out of this age it is only justifying His grace in receiving us in Christ outside it. "He that seeketh findeth" (Matthew 7:8). We get as much as we really value - I mean as to the desires of one's soul. How naturally we speak of ourselves to those who take an interest in us. If we took more interest in the Lord, He would speak of Himself to us. Some find resource in work, some in reading the word, but every resource fails except the Lord. May you turn more and more to Him as your resource!

GIVING

"God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). In order to be a giver according to the mind of the Lord, I must first have means to give. I must not deprive any one else of his first claim, either relations or dependents. If I possess property which I can use for myself if I like, it is absolutely my own, no one can in any wise lay claim to it. I have this to give, and this I will give, not trying to make it go further or to be more than it really is. If I do this, it is vanity or deceit or a desire to make one indebted to me for what I have not given him; as, for instance, if I were to give a gilt watch as if it were a gold one, thus seeking to obtain credit for a greater gift than I have given; and if I try to obtain an article at a cheap rate in the hope that the receiver will imagine that I gave more for it, thus I am trading on his credulity and fostering an unworthy spirit in myself. Of course,

[Page 451]

if I had to lay out a certain sum for a person, I ought to do so advantageously if I can; but I speak of giving what is my own to give, that I am not seeking to save anything out of it while giving the best part of it, nor do I endeavour to make it appear more than it really is. You must learn how to give from the Lord. He gives liberally. He gives, and is ready to give more. There is no regret in His mind for giving, nor desire to make His gift appear more than it is. The mind of a real giver is of the greatest nobility. It is like the sun. He gives, and is glad to give and that he can give, not grudgingly or of necessity; he sees what I require, and rejoices that he can supply it; and he has not a satisfying pleasure unless he has done it effectually. He has no such feeling as, 'I wish I could have escaped it', or 'I must clip and retrench and make hard bargains with others because I have been so liberal'. On the contrary, he feels he would like to give more, and what he gives is cheerfully bestowed. To be known as a Benefactor or Lady Bountiful is not divine giving. The heart of the true giver only likes possessions to share them, and there is no bargaining of mind that now he may spend more on himself, or desire to gratify a still more hateful propensity - that of hoarding. In both these ways great givers often deceive themselves and gratify their corrupt desires. It is the greatest and highest position a man can occupy towards his fellow. "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), and the true giver knows the sense of that blessedness.

THE SUPPLY OF THE SPIRIT

As to the assembly, there is a great sphere of service in the things that are Jesus Christ's. I am thankful that the brothers' hearts were drawn out in prayer for the Lord's blessing on His word. No one is really beyond his prayers. I do not mean his words, but the desires of his soul. "He that seeketh findeth" (Matthew 7:8). We get as much as we really value. I feel many have been

[Page 452]

hindered by making knowledge of the word everything.

In reading or hearing the word of God it is by the thing you know best that you advance in apprehension of the whole truth presented to you. A true knowledge of Scripture is most valuable, but it must be fitted to your lips. It is the sword of the Spirit only when you are in communion with the Lord.

You refer to the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We enter through His blood the new way, His flesh. He, the great Priest, to sustain me in His own life, as I feed on Him as the corn of the land. Every thought and favour of God now is to set us free from this scene that we may live in heaven, through the supplies of Him who is in heaven. He takes care of me here to set me free from distraction, not to sit down and revel here, but to be unhindered. Whatever He does or confers on me here is that I may take wing and rest in my nest on high, where the swallow hath found her a nest. I think the Father, in the same love, deals with us in two ways. As we are in flesh, He comes down to our need as He did in the Old Testament. But in the Spirit He brings us up to Himself, as in the New Testament. The supply of the Spirit of Christ is to bring us in out of this scene into heaven, for the "old corn of the land" is there. There are three experiences in Hebrews: my infirmity, company with the Lord, and racing to the place where He is. The happy thing is to pass through all three each day. When He lifts us out of our infirmity we are in His company, and having enjoyed His company we run on to the top where He is. May the Lord be better known to each of us day by day!

PATIENCE IN MINISTRY

I feel very helpless as to the coming meetings, but I am comforted when I am near the Lord. I do not know whether you have ever remarked this peculiarity of faith, that though you are assured when near the

[Page 453]

Lord, yet if you are at all distanced from Him, or your eyes on the difficulties, you have not this assurance, but you regain it when you are again near Him; you know that it is true. I have had interesting times, I might say, in every place that I have visited; I quite feel with you that we must be patient with others when we feel that we ourselves apprehend so slowly the immense scope of blessing presented to us. I see that the light and joy of a truth may very rapidly be apprehended, but until it masters you, you are not a master of it, that is, you cannot communicate it. I have been interested in seeing that we are fitted through the gospel to be companions of Christ and then united to Him. We are not united to Him and then made fit to enjoy His company, but we are first made fit, we are of His life and nature, then we are united to Him and able to enter into His interests. It is the perfection of love to be like its object; nothing can satisfy love but company. Union perpetuates it, the hearts who loved Him were glad when they saw Him (John 20:20).

I am greatly cheered amid all this controversy; I believe that hundreds amongst us do not know true christian standing nor the unique nature of christianity, and now under the hand of the oppressor it will be learned. He loves to come down to our weakest point and thus to make manifest the strength of Hiss arm. Give the Lord always the first place and He will greatly honour you. He says, "I love them that love me" (Proverbs 8:17).

DELIGHT IN THE LORD

What a world this is! 'Failure and death', as I said to ---- and he replied, 'Failure is the worst'. I feel I had rather turn to the light in the heavens in which our loved one is. I hope you are calm and cheerful. I longed to urge the sufficiency of Christ - how all the affections in mere nature could give place to Him when He opened the door of where He is and called

[Page 454]

her to Himself. The absolute triumph of the heart over every natural love, without the love abating in the least for them, it is only increased for Him, and in His power and rest the spirit triumphs! Not as one indifferent, but as finding the Lord intensely satisfying; in the sense of His perfect love that could assure her heart that every object of it was embraced by Him. The sun is the fountain of light and heat, and every living thing is nourished by it. The Lord is this to us. I see nothing but to go on more devotedly and humbly than ever, finding real joy in His presence, the absolute satisfaction which our beloved one felt. It is not truth that gives it, but soul delight in Himself. This I pray for - for you, for myself and for the church. May the blessing of Naphtali be with you - nothing to contribute to you here - but everything from heaven does.

THE BEST ROBE

I am thankful for the privilege of seeing the Lord's people in many places, and the more one sees of them the more one desires to know them better; but I do not find it a very easy thing to know their defects, I think I can see their progress or stature before I can see the checks or the causes of imperfection. I see that in the Romans very little is said of one's personal evil, while in Ephesians there is much exposure, and I account for it in this way: the more of Christ the more the contrast will be exposed. The simple and plain attire prescribed in Romans did not make so large a demand on us as to expose the working of nature which would refuse it; but the superb and heavenly costume of the Ephesians exposed and brought into relief all the various activities in us, which would mar or disfigure it unless suppressed. I think the nearer we come to the Lord, the more and the clearer we shall see our defects, but then we can afford to see them

[Page 455]

and discard them, too, because as we are nearer Him so are we better dressed. The prodigal's rags came off as the best robe went on, and once the robe is on the worse the rags or the old clothes appear. Many a one is satisfied with shabby clothes until he gets new ones, and then the shabby ones seem all but intolerable. You ask for your defects - I do not think occupation with defects is good for the pastor or for the pupil. I do not say that there are no defects, but I do not feel it is my business to look for them; they may come up, and if they do it is my duty to seek their removal; but no gardener looks for withered leaves, he has to find them, and as a rule he regards them as intimation to himself that he has in some way neglected the plant, and he becomes more zealous in his care and nurture of it. Never watch for a defect, but mark everything which hinders you in going up, going on and going out, going up into the holiest, going on in the race and going out without the camp. You will then discover when you are tied or held back, and possibly you will find that you are so ardent in one line of things that you are not free or ready for another when it claims your attention. It is a great thing to be even. I mean by evenness the ability to bring forth fruit in the season; when corn is laid, having had too much rain, there is a second growth and the grain is much spoiled; when you exert yourself too much in any one way, you are really unable to do anything more on any side. Whereas, if you were to bring forth fruit in its season, you would do what came to your hand, and having done it you could pass on to another; then you would be exercised in all the varieties of life, and would find that change of work was really a relief. If you overdo it in one line you throw all out of gear. I imagine that when you are interested in any service you would like the sun to stand still, and you to go on until your hand clave unto the sword! It is good to be zealously affected, but there is no greater proof of divine power than to be even. The tree

[Page 456]

of life bears twelve manner of fruits, one every month; if you are extreme it will be only one. If you are extreme in one thing you must neglect others.

THE BEGINNING OF SPRING

I hope your winter (if His will) is succeeded by a bright springtime, the ploughing in the winter making your heart more triturated, more disposable and more easily turned to good account. It is not in a moment that the benefit of the winter is known or seen. Many new stars, new worlds of thought and interest were for the first time presented to you during that lengthened night, and it is only by-and-by that you will remember how they first came before you. It was after Jonah came out of the fish's belly that he put into words the prayer that he had prayed then. This is one of the chief interests in the Psalms, they were written after the experiences, which gave rise to the sentiments, were over and past. The psalm is the review, the history of how one felt in a certain state of things after he was out of them. There are two great subjects in these histories. One is how much the sufferer is indebted to the Lord, and the other, how much he is attracted to the Lord. The first is necessarily ever present and manifest enough. As a rule there is very little about oneself when one is occupied with being indebted to the Lord or attracted to Him. You are consciously indebted to the Lord as you feel the comfort and blessing of deliverance, you feel that He has been for you. The greater the extremity you have reached, the more you feel how absolutely He has been for you, and as you feel this you are devoted to Him. Indebtedness produces devotedness. Attraction springs not so much from His services to you as from a knowledge of His heart or motive, and attraction therefore makes you seek Himself, not His service merely, and produces in you the highest service, which is following

[Page 457]

Him. I like that word of Peter's; there was attraction there, 'Why cannot I follow thee now?' and hence when fully restored the Lord said unto him, "Follow thou me". Indebtedness produces the stem and the branches, the flowers and the fruit, but attraction forms the roots, the extending and ever-deepening occupation of heart with Christ Himself. May we each increase in this latter more and more, and thus the other will be only increased and improved. I do not want you to write your psalm until you are farther on in the spring, but the Lord bless you and keep you.

JOINTS AND BANDS

I am glad you are interested in the subject of "joints and bands". You will remark that in Ephesians 4 there are two edifications spoken of, one as connected with the gifts from the Head in heaven. Persons are gifted by Him to minister, and through their ministry there is an edifying of the body of Christ; but besides this there is that which every joint supplieth - the edification of itself in love. Thus there are two edifications, one from without and the other within; one through something imparted, the other from the condition produced by what had been imparted - the difference between food and air and the health produced by food and air. Food and air are necessary to health, but food and air are quite distinct from health. Food and air contribute to health, and the healthier a person is, the more he gains from the best food and air; but the action of health in itself is quite different from the action of food and air. Food and air symbolise the ministry. It is the Lord's blessed way of feeding and refreshing His own on earth, but if the ministry has been effectual there is another way in which growth or edification is promoted, and that is by the health which the ministry has produced, the using of the health by that which every joint supplieth. Invalids are

[Page 458]

entirely dependent on food and air for mere existence, they know nothing of the energy of health; thus it is in some places that believers are too much like invalids, they are dependent on ministry (food and air) for existence or for the sense of it. If they had health they would exercise the energy in every joint, and there would be edification of the body in itself, and the highest expression of health, that is, love. A person in health is not independent of food and air, but like a camel that can carry water for eight days, he has taken in a supply and he grows through the very exercise of every joint, the sense of life in vigour and muscular power is diffused through the whole body irrespective of food and often in bad air. A person in full health values and appreciates food and air better far than an invalid does. The invalid has no power in himself, he has not health, and he is entirely dependent on what is ministered to him. An invalid is like one in health, as to appearance, sometimes, but put him to act and it will be at once seen that he has no power of life. Health is that which reaches out to every joint and is promoted by the true and just answer of every joint to its proper action in the body. An invalid may sit and listen and feed very well, but the proof or evidence of health is when there is increase in the joy of life, of which love is the expression. When a tree comes out in leaves and blossoms and fruit there is not only evidence that it has been well cultivated and nourished, but also that there is vigour in itself; yet it was not independent of the culture and nurture.

BEING IN THE TRUTH

I am not consciously "in Christ" until I learn that I have died with Him out of the old order, but God is dealing with me all the time as He sees me in Christ, or rather as He is able to do because of Christ, that I may reach being in Him. God is working from Christ to me to place me in Christ, and then that the old man may

[Page 459]

be set aside. I am freed from sin because of Christ, I get the life of Christ and the Spirit of Christ, I am of Christ's stock. I am to be conformed to His image, not a remnant of the old to be found.

I thank the Lord for your desires after Him, and they help me. Our entering into His life where it is at home is very interesting, and our magnifying Him in our bodies now. I find the nearer we get to the Lord the nearer we get to the real good in one another. It is the natural sentiment that checks the ever-flowing and ever-expanding love of the Lord, and it is only as one is really for the Lord that one can be truly for any of His own. Be assured that He is leading you nearer to Himself, and that this is more than any service. The mark of the deepest affection to Christ is that, if you look here, 'sorrow hath filled your heart' because He has gone, He has died here; while on the other hand, if you know Him where He is, you have power to testify of Him in this place in His absence, you see the world's estrangement from Him, but you are above all its power. We first see the truth, but then we have to be in it. Light precedes the Spirit's work; we must not only see that there is manna for us, but we must feed upon it.

You have an interesting field of service where you are, but when people are lame we must take care to make straight paths for our own feet.

THE DIVINE OBJECT

It is in one sense a mercy that your means are not adequate to your desires, yet be assured this will never restrain your heart from desiring what is within your reach, on the contrary it will make you chafe the more, like a mettled steed in a plough, unless you are compensated for the surrender. When you are not, there is not only restlessness but also the double action of always parading your surrender to obtain a name, and also of plunging into the thing surrendered whenever opportunity

[Page 460]

occurs. Prospects are much more difficult to give up than possessions. I have felt deeply in myself that with capacity to comprehend and enjoy the beautiful in nature I must turn away from it. Now mere assurance of salvation never diverts one thus, though conscience may upbraid when one has indulged largely, but one thing alone really diverts one in heart and desire from that which makes the man of the earth of consequence here, and that is, seeing the only one divinely perfect Man in heaven.

CHRIST WALKING ON THE WATER

It is a great thing to be in any measure acquainted with the country in which we are to dwell for ever, to realise in the Spirit that we have a place there. The more I know of that place the more I am practically severed from this place.

To the human intellect there is nothing more anomalous than that you, surrounded by everything antagonistic and liable to any suffering, are united to a glorified Man in heaven, where everything is in divine harmony and blessedness. Now it is a fact that you are united: how much do you enjoy it?

Enjoyment does not make it yours, but enjoyment springs from making it your own.

Do you think that you perceive the difference between knowing the Lord in your own or man's circumstances and knowing Him in His? The first you get in Matthew 8:26, the other in Matthew 14:25. In the first He is morally superior, in the second He is supreme. There is a great moral difference in your acquaintance with Him in these two ways. We have to learn Him in both.

LOVE

What you love best discloses your character, for you value and seek what you love.

Necessity seeks relief, but never thinks of love. What a surprise to the prodigal to be met by love!

[Page 461]

He had not calculated on that. If you would be perfectly happy, live entirely for Christ here. No one is so unhappy as the man who makes himself the object of all his concern. Out of nothing nothing comes, and as we are nothing in ourselves when we are engrossed with ourselves in any way, we are sure to be like one dropping buckets into empty wells and growing old in drawing nothing up! The learning in discipline is generally about oneself, that gained in friendship with the Lord is about Himself and His interests; the first is experience, the second more the deep things of God.

Standing in present favour supposes future glory!

DAY DRILL

Your home is day drill. If you are not up to day drill, how can you expect to go through your evolutions on a field day? "Prepare thy work ... and make it fit for thyself in the field" (Proverbs 24:27).

There is a tone and a ring about one who has controlled himself at home, which must tell on others when he is abroad. If I have practised restraint where I am free to do as I like, I can submit to it with ease and truthfulness when it is required of me.

To be always in buckle and armour is very irksome, but the sorest part of the exercise is getting inured to it.

When used to accoutrements your trouble is all but over, but it will not do to dispense with them at home and to have to run for them when you have an enemy at the door.

You must be a soldier of the line, on the parade ground every morning. Habit is second nature, and when you are well up to drill at home you will be ready for all that is required of you in open battle.

PHILADELPHIA

I quite believe that Philadelphia will go on to the end. In one sense it has always existed. But when the cry raised about fifty years ago awoke the slumbering

[Page 462]

saints, when the word reached souls with power - "Behold, the bridegroom; go forth to meet him" (Matthew 25:6) - then I say the Philadelphian character came out in new and brilliant colours, and though there was nothing outwardly to boast of, yet it was a great sight in the eyes of angels to see the graveclothes removed - "the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" (Galatians 5:1) practically known; the time-honoured institutions - endeared by sacred associations - separated from because, on enquiry, and comparing them with the word of God, they had no authority for their rules and regulations; when instead of the end of all ministry being the mere safety of the soul by-and-by, all desired and laboured to help one another in the knowledge of Christ. The awakened ones found that there was no food for their souls in the systems around, and the faithful course of a few produced an astounding effect. The seats of learning and centres of theology were stirred by this great moral revolution. Habits of life in private and in public were subjected to the scrutiny of the word of God; everything - dress, houses, and employments - was now required to be in conformity with a new rule of life - namely, Christ. The Holy Spirit was relied on as the only power for testimony; and it is here the first step of declension has occurred. No sooner had evangelistic work become ardent and engrossing, than the pastors' and the teachers' service began to decline; and with this increase of seeking souls in the world, arose the use of human means in reaching them. The Spirit of God was not simply and entirely relied on, and with the increase of human means to obtain congregations, there has been a manifest falling off in the supply and the devotedness of pastors and teachers. I am not excusing the pastors and teachers, far from it. I say the world has hindered them: the evangelists introduced the use of human means, and this has produced a weakness, corresponding to the strength required, in the department of each. Had there been

[Page 463]

an increase in every department as well as in one, the results might have been different, but the zeal in one has not been without a stooping to man, which has tended to enervate everywhere. The Spirit of God has not been honoured; hence there is not the same care and earnest service to the saints; the gifts are undeveloped - gifted men are connected with things in private and in public which, though not morally wrong, deter them from being very powerful expositors of the life of Jesus; for a man cannot really press on another what he is not living out in himself.

Thus worldliness and decline have set in widespread; though I doubt not there is a deepening in many souls of affection to Christ, and waiting for Him, and as when He left this earth He saw in the crowd one who answered fully to His mind, "she ... hath cast in all the living that she had" (Luke 21:4), so when He returns there will be a phase of the church, though unseen to man, most pleasing to Him - "The Spirit and the bride say, Come" (Revelation 22:17).

GROWTH THROUGH THE WORD

In Hebrews 12:5 the word for "rebuke" is the same as that used in connection with the Holy Spirit in John 16:8, where it is evidently to bring a charge home to the world. It means that the word of God exposes to me what would be a weight or a sin. We have in the race to lay aside everything that impedes our progress, we lay it aside in order to run the better. When the word convicts us we see what is unsuitable: he that hateth the light does not like to have his deeds "reproved" (the same word) (