H. E. MANNING.
Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.—JOHN xiii. 9.
Take my hands, and let them move At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be Swift and "beautiful" for Thee.
Take my intellect, and use Every power as Thou shall choose.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
If a man may attain thereunto, to be unto God as his hand is to a man, let him be therewith content, and not seek further. That is to say, let him strive and wrestle with all his might to obey God and His commandments so thoroughly at all times, and in all things, that in him there be nothing, spiritual or natural, which opposeth God; and that his whole soul and body, with all their members, may stand ready and willing for that to which God hath created them; as ready and willing as his hand is to a man, which is so wholly in his power, that in the twinkling of an eye, he moveth and turneth it whither he will. And when we find it otherwise with us, we must give our whole diligence to amend our state.
When the mind thinks nothing, when the soul covets nothing, and the body acteth nothing that is contrary to the will of God, this is perfect sanctification.
ANONYMOUS, in an old Bible, 1599.
Thy kingdom come.—MATT. vi. 10.
The kingdom of established peace, Which can no more remove; The perfect powers of godliness, The omnipotence of love.
My child, thou mayest not measure out thine offering unto me by what others have done or left undone; but be it thine to seek out, even to the last moment of thine earthly life, what is the utmost height of pure devotion to which I have called thine own self. Remember that, if thou fall short of this, each time thou utterest in prayer the words, "Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come," thou dost most fearfully condemn thyself, for is it not a mockery to ask for that thou wilt not seek to promote even unto the uttermost, within the narrow compass of thine own heart and spirit?
THE DIVINE MASTER.
If you do not wish for His kingdom, don't pray for it. But if you do, you must do more than pray for it; you must work for it.
She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not In the Lord; she drew not near to her God.—ZEPH. iii. 2.
Oh! let us not this thought allow; The heat, the dust upon our brow, Signs of the contest, we may wear; Yet thus we shall appear more fair In our Almighty Master's eye, Than if in fear to lose the bloom, Or ruffle the soul's lightest plume, We from the strife should fly.
R. C. TRENCH.
If God requires anything of us, we have no right to draw back under the pretext that we are liable to commit some fault in obeying. It is better to obey imperfectly than not at all. Perhaps you ought to rebuke some one dependent on you, but you are silent for fear of giving way to vehemence;—or you avoid the society of certain persons, because they make you cross and impatient. How are you to attain self-control, if you shun all occasions of practising it? Is not such self-choosing a greater fault than those into which you fear to fall? Aim at a steady mind to do right, go wherever duty calls you, and believe firmly that God will forgive the faults that take our weakness by surprise in spite of our sincere desire to please Him.
JEAN NICOLAS GROU.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.—LAM. iii. 26.
Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation.—PS. lxii. I.
Not so in haste, my heart; Have faith in God, and wait; Although He linger long, He never comes too late.
The true use to be made of all the imperfections of which you are conscious is neither to justify, nor to condemn them, but to present them before God, conforming your will to His, and remaining in peace; for peace is the divine order, in whatever state we may be.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
You will find it less easy to uproot faults, than to choke them by gaining virtues. Do not think of your faults; still less of others' faults; in every person who comes near you look for what is good and strong: honor that; rejoice in it; and, as you can, try to imitate it; and your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes.
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.—JER. xxxiii. 3.
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked.—I KINGS iii. 13.
No voice of prayer to Thee can rise, But swift as light Thy Love replies; Not always what we ask, indeed, But, O most Kind! what most we need.
H. M. KIMBALL.
If you have any trial which seems intolerable, pray,—pray that it be relieved or changed. There is no harm in that. We may pray for anything, not wrong in itself, with perfect freedom, if we do not pray selfishly. One disabled from duty by sickness may pray for health, that he may do his work; or one hemmed in by internal impediments may pray for utterance, that he may serve better the truth and the right. Or, if we have a besetting sin, we may pray to be delivered from it, in order to serve God and man, and not be ourselves Satans to mislead and destroy. But the answer to the prayer may be, as it was to Paul, not the removal of the thorn, but, instead, a growing insight into its meaning and value. The voice of God in our soul may show us, as we look up to Him, that His strength is enough to enable us to bear it.
J. F. CLARKE.
Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?—MARK. x. 38.
Whate'er my God ordains is right; Though I the cup must drink That bitter seems to my faint heart, I will not fear nor shrink.
The worst part of martyrdom is not the last agonizing moment; it is the wearing, daily steadfastness. Men who can make up their minds to hold out against the torture of an hour have sunk under the weariness and the harass of small prolonged vexations. And there are many Christians who have the weight of some deep, incommunicable grief pressing, cold as ice, upon their hearts. To bear that cheerfully and manfully is to be a martyr. There is many a Christian bereaved and stricken in the best hopes of life. For such a one to say quietly, "Father, not as I will, but as Thou wilt," is to be a martyr. There is many a Christian who feels the irksomeness of the duties of life, and feels his spirit revolting from them. To get up every morning with the firm resolve to find pleasure in those duties, and do them well, and finish the work which God has given us to do, that is to drink Christ's cup. The humblest occupation has in it materials of discipline for the highest heaven.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
For the whole world before thee is as a little grain of the balance, yea, as a drop of the morning dew that falleth down upon the earth. But Thou hast mercy upon all. For Thou lovest all the things that are.—WISDOM OF SOLOMON xi. 22-24.
Oh! Source divine, and Life of all, The Fount of Being's fearful sea, Thy depth would every heart appal, That saw not love supreme in Thee.
He showed a little thing, the quantity of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as meseemed, and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereon with the eye of my understanding, and thought, "What may this be?" and it was answered generally thus, "It is all that is made." I marvelled how it might last; for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding, "It lasteth, and ever shall: For God loveth it. And so hath all thing being by the Love of God." In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is, that God made it. The second is, that God loveth it. The third is, that God keepeth it. For this is the cause which we be not all in ease of heart and soul: for we seek here rest in this thing which is so little, where no rest is in: and we know not our God that is all Mighty, all Wise, and all Good, for He is very rest.
MOTHER JULIANA, 1373.
Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.—MARK x. 43-45.
A child's kiss Set on thy sighing lips, shall make thee glad; A poor man served by thee, shall make thee rich; A sick man helped by thee, shall make thee strong; Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense Of service which thou renderest.
E. B. BROWNING.
Let every man lovingly cast all his thoughts and cares, and his sins too, as it were, on the Will of God. Moreover, if a man, while busy in this lofty inward work, were called by some duty in the Providence of God to cease therefrom, and cook a broth for some sick person, or any other such service, he should do so willingly and with great joy. If I had to forsake such work, and go out to preach or aught else, I should go cheerfully, believing not only that God would be with me, but that he would vouchsafe me it may be even greater grace and blessing in that external work undertaken out of true love in the service of my neighbor, than I should perhaps receive in my season of loftiest contemplation.
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.—PS. xxv. 10.
Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth, Speak peace to my anxious soul, And help me to feel that all my ways Are under Thy wise control; That He who cares for the lily, And heeds the sparrows' fall, Shall tenderly lead His loving child: For He made and loveth all.
It is not by seeking more fertile regions where toil is lighter—happier circumstances free from difficult complications and troublesome people—but by bringing the high courage of a devout soul, clear in principle and aim, to bear upon what is given to us, that we brighten our inward light, lead something of a true life, and introduce the kingdom of heaven into the midst of our earthly day. If we cannot work out the will of God where God has placed us, then why has He placed us there?
J. H. THOM.
Pray for us unto the Lord thy God... that the Lord thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.—JER. xlii. 2, 3.
That which I see not, teach Thou me.—JOB xxxiv. 32.
O father, hear! The way is dark, and I would fain discern What steps to take, into which path to turn; Oh! make it clear.
"We can't choose happiness either for ourselves or for another; we can't tell where that will lie. We can only choose whether we will indulge ourselves in the present moment, or whether we will renounce that, for the sake of obeying the Divine voice within us,—for the sake of being true to all the motives that sanctify our lives. I know this belief is hard; it has slipped away from me again and again; but I have felt that if I let it go forever, I should have no light through the darkness of this life."
There was a care on my mind so to pass my time, that nothing might hinder me from the most steady attention to the voice of the true Shepherd.
Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.—PS. xxxi. 20.
The praying spirit breathe, The watching power impart, From all entanglements beneath Call off my anxious heart. My feeble mind sustain, By worldly thoughts oppressed; Appear, and bid me turn again To my eternal rest.
As soon as we are with God in faith and in love, we are in prayer.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
If you could once make up your mind in the fear of God never to undertake more work of any sort than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or flurry, and the instant you feel yourself growing nervous and like one out of breath, would stop and take breath, you would find this simple common-sense rule doing for you what no prayers or tears could ever accomplish.
How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.—PS. xxxvi. 7.
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.—DEUT. xxxiii. 27.
Within Thy circling arms we lie, O God! in Thy infinity: Our souls in quiet shall abide, Beset with love on every side.
"The Everlasting Arms." I think of that whenever rest is sweet. How the whole earth and the strength of it, that is almightiness, is beneath every tired creature to give it rest; holding us, always! No thought of God is closer than that. No human tenderness of patience is greater than that which gathers in its arms a little child, and holds it, heedless of weariness. And He fills the great earth, and all upon it, with this unseen force of His love, that never forgets or exhausts itself, so that everywhere we may lie down in His bosom, and be comforted.
A. D. T. WHITNEY.
The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.—DEUT. xxx. 14.
But, above all, the victory is most sure For him, who, seeking faith by virtue, strives To yield entire obedience to the Law Of Conscience; Conscience reverenced and obeyed, As God's most intimate presence in the soul, And His most perfect image in the world.
What we call Conscience is the voice of Divine love in the deep of our being, desiring union with our will; and which, by attracting the affections inward, invites them to enter into the harmonious contentment, and "fulness of joy" which attends the being joined by "one spirit to the Lord."
J. P. GREAVES.
I rejoice that God has bestowed upon you a relish and inclination for the inner life. To be called to this precious and lofty life is a great and undeserved grace of God, to which we ought to respond with great faithfulness. God invites us to His fellowship of love, and wishes to prepare our spirit to be His own abode and temple.
Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths—PS. xxv. 4.
When we cannot see our way, Let us trust and still obey; He who bids us forward go, Cannot fail the way to show. Though the sea be deep and wide, Though a passage seem denied; Fearless let us still proceed, Since the Lord vouchsafes to lead.
That which is often asked of God, is not so much His will and way, as His approval of our way.
S. F. SMILEY.
There is nothing like the first glance we get at duty, before there has been any special pleading of our affections or inclinations. Duty is never uncertain at first. It is only after we have got involved in the mazes and sophistries of wishing that things were otherwise than they are, that it seems indistinct. Considering a duty is often only explaining it away. Deliberation is often only dishonesty. God's guidance is plain, when we are true.
F. W, ROBERTSON.
When I awake, I am still with Thee.—PS. cxxxix. 18.
Let the glow of love destroy Cold obedience faintly given; Wake our hearts to strength and joy With the flushing eastern heaven.
C. K. VON ROSENROTH.
With his first waking consciousness, he can set himself to take a serious, manly view of the day before him. He ought to know pretty well on what lines his difficulty is likely to come, whether in being irritable, or domineering, or sharp in his bargains, or self-absorbed, or whatever it be; and now, in this quiet hour, he can take a good, full look at his enemy, and make up his mind to beat him. It is a good time, too, for giving his thoughts a range quite beyond himself,—beyond even his own moral struggles,—a good time, there in the stillness, for going into the realm of other lives. His wife,—what needs has she for help, for sympathy, that he can meet? His children,—how can he make the day sweeter to them? This acquaintance, who is having a hard time; this friend, who dropped a word to you yesterday that you hardly noticed in your hurry, but that comes up to you now, revealing in him some finer trait, some deeper hunger, than you had guessed before,—now you can think these things over.
G. S. MERRIAM.
Ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.—DEUT. xii. 7.
Sweet is the smile of home; the mutual look When hearts are of each other sure; Sweet all the joys that crowd the household nook, The haunt of all affections pure.
Is there any tie which absence has loosened, or which the wear and tear of every-day intercourse, little uncongenialities, unconfessed misunderstandings, have fretted into the heart, until it bears something of the nature of a fetter? Any cup at our home-table whose sweetness we have not fully tasted, although it might yet make of our daily bread a continual feast? Let us reckon up these treasures while they are still ours, in thankfulness to God.
We ought daily or weekly to dedicate a little time to the reckoning up of the virtues of our belongings,—wife, children, friends,—contemplating them then in a beautiful collection. And we should do so now, that we may not pardon and love in vain and too late, after the beloved one has been taken away from us to a better world.
JEAN PAUL RICHTER.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.—PS. xxiii. 4.
O will, that wiliest good alone, Lead Thou the way, Thou guides! best; A silent child, I follow on, And trusting lean upon Thy breast. And if in gloom I see Thee not, I lean upon Thy love unknown; In me Thy blessed will is wrought, If I will nothing of my own.
The devout soul is always safe in every state, if it makes everything an occasion either of rising up, or falling down into the hands of God, and exercising faith, and trust, and resignation to Him. The pious soul, that eyes only God, that means nothing but being His alone, can have no stop put to its progress; light and darkness equally assist him: in the light he looks up to God, in the darkness he lays hold on God, and so they both do him the same good.
When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.—MICAH vii. 8.
There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us.—PS. iv. 6.
How oft a gleam of glory sent Straight through the deepest, darkest night, Has filled the soul with heavenly light, With holy peace and sweet content.
Suppose you are bewildered and know not what is right nor what is true. Can you not cease to regard whether you do or not, whether you be bewildered, whether you be happy? Cannot you utterly and perfectly love, and rejoice to be in the dark, and gloom-beset, because that very thing is the fact of God's Infinite Being as it is to you? Cannot you take this trial also into your own heart, and be ignorant, not because you are obliged, but because that being God's will, it is yours also? Do you not see that a person who truly loves is one with the Infinite Being—cannot be uncomfortable or unhappy? It is that which is that he wills and desires and holds best of all to be. To know God is utterly to sacrifice self.
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed, and in truth.—I JOHN iii. 18.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.—JAMES i. 22.
Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers, Whose loves in higher love endure; What souls possess themselves so pure, Or is there blessedness like theirs?
Let every creature have your love. Love, with its fruits of meekness, patience, and humility, is all that we can wish for to ourselves, and our fellow-creatures; for this is to live in God, united to Him, both for time and eternity. To desire to communicate good to every creature, in the degree we can, and it is capable of receiving from us, is a divine temper; for thus God stands unchangeably disposed towards the whole creation.
What shall be our reward for loving our neighbor as ourselves in this life? That, when we become angels, we shall be enabled to love him better than ourselves.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.—MATT. v. 8.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.—HEB. xii. 14.
Since Thou Thyself dost still display Unto the pure in heart, Oh, make us children of the day To know Thee as Thou art. For Thou art light and life and love; And Thy redeemed below May see Thee as Thy saints above, And know Thee as they know.
Doubt, gloom, impatience, have been expelled; joy has taken their place, the hope of heaven and the harmony of a pure heart, the triumph of self-mastery, sober thoughts, and a contented mind. How can charity towards all men fail to follow, being the mere affectionateness of innocence and peace? Thus the Spirit of God creates in us the simplicity and warmth of heart which children have, nay, rather the perfections of His heavenly hosts, high and low being joined together in His mysterious work; for what are implicit trust, ardent love, abiding purity, but the mind both of little children and of the adoring seraphim!
J. H. NEWMAN.
Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.—PS. xv. 1, 2.
How happy is he born or taught, That serveth not another's will, Whose armor is his honest thought, And simple truth his utmost skill.
If thou workest at that which is before thee, following right reason, seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract thee, but keeping thy divine part pure as if thou shouldest be bound to give it back immediately,—if thou boldest to this, expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with thy present activity according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound which thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no man who is able to prevent this.
Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts.—HAGGAI ii. 4,
Yet the world is Thy field, Thy garden; On earth art Thou still at home. When Thou bendest hither Thy hallowing eye, My narrow work-room seems vast and high, Its dingy ceiling a rainbow-dome,— Stand ever thus at my wide-swung door, And toil will be toil no more.
The situation that has not its duty, its ideal, was never yet occupied by man. Yes, here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be free. Fool! the Ideal is in thyself, the impediment too is in thyself: thy condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out of: what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the form thou givest it be heroic, be poetic. O thou that pinest in the imprisonment of the Actual, and criest bitterly to the gods for a kingdom wherein to rule and create, know this of a truth: the thing thou seekest is already with thee, "here or nowhere," couldst thou only see!
I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.—PS. xvii. 3.
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.—PROV. x. 19.
Prune thou thy words; the thoughts control That o'er thee swell and throng; They will condense within thy soul, And change to purpose strong.
J. H. NEWMAN.
Few men suspect how much mere talk fritters away spiritual energy,—that which should be spent in action, spends itself in words. Hence he who restrains that love of talk, lays up a fund of spiritual strength.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
Do not flatter yourself that your thoughts are under due control, your desires properly regulated, or your dispositions subject as they should be to Christian principle, if your intercourse with others consists mainly of frivolous gossip, impertinent anecdotes, speculations on the character and affairs of your neighbors, the repetition of former conversations, or a discussion of the current petty scandal of society; much less, if you allow yourself in careless exaggeration on all these points, and that grievous inattention to exact truth, which is apt to attend the statements of those whose conversation is made up of these materials.
H. WARE, JR.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.—MATT. vii. 1.
Why beboldest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?—LUKE vi. 41.
Judge not; the workings of his brain And of his heart thou canst not see; What looks to thy dim eyes a stain, In God's pure light may only be A scar, brought from some well-won field, Where thou wouldst only faint and yield.
ADELAIDE A. PROCTER.
When you behold an aspect for whose constant gloom and frown you cannot account, whose unvarying cloud exasperates you by its apparent causelessness, be sure that there is a canker somewhere, and a canker not the less deeply corroding because concealed.
While we are coldly discussing a man's career, sneering at his mistakes, blaming his rashness, and labelling his opinions—"Evangelical and narrow," or "Latitudinarian and Pantheistic," or "Anglican and supercilious"—that man, in his solitude, is perhaps shedding hot tears because his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength and patience are failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed.
Be strong, and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.—JOSH. i. 9.
By Thine unerring Spirit led, We shall not in the desert stray; We shall not full direction need, Nor miss our providential way; As far from danger as from fear, While love, almighty love, is near.
Watch your way then, as a cautious traveller; and don't be gazing at that mountain or river in the distance, and saying, "How shall I ever get over them?" but keep to the present little inch that is before you, and accomplish that in the little moment that belongs to it. The mountain and the river can only be passed in the same way; and, when you come to them, you will come to the light and strength that belong to them.
M. A. KELTY.
Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come to them, if it shall be necessary, having with thee the same reason which thou now usest for present things.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not.—ISA. xxxv. 4.
Why shouldst them fill to-day with sorrow About to-morrow, My heart? One watches all with care most true, Doubt not that He will give thee too Thy part.
The crosses which we make for ourselves by a restless anxiety as to the future, are not crosses which come from God. We show want of faith in Him by our false wisdom, wishing to forestall His arrangements, and struggling to supplement His Providence by our own providence. The future is not yet ours; perhaps it never will be. If it comes, it may come wholly different from what we have foreseen. Let us shut our eyes, then, to that which God hides from us, and keeps in reserve in the treasures of His deep counsels. Let us worship without seeing; let us be silent; let us abide in peace.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
I had fainted, unless I bad believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living—PS. xxvii. 13.
I will surely do thee good.—GEN. xxxii. 12.
Thou know'st not what is good for thee, But God doth know,— Let Him thy strong reliance be, And rest thee so.
C. F. GELLERT.
Let us be very careful of thinking, on the one hand, that we have no work assigned us to do, or, on the other hand, that what we have assigned to us is not the right thing for us. If ever we can say in our hearts to God, in reference to any daily duty, "This is not my place; I would choose something dearer; I am capable of something higher;" we are guilty not only of rebellion, but of blasphemy. It is equivalent to saying, not only, "My heart revolts against Thy commands," but "Thy commands are unwise; Thine Almighty guidance is unskilful; Thine omniscient eye has mistaken the capacities of Thy creature; Thine infinite love is indifferent to the welfare of Thy child."
And because ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.—GAL. iv. 6.
O Lord, forgive my sin, And deign to put within A calm, obedient heart, a patient mind; That I may murmur not, Though bitter seem my lot; For hearts unthankful can no blessing find.
M. RUTILIUS, 1604.
Resignation to the Divine Will signifies a cheerful approbation and thankful acceptance of everything that comes from God. It is not enough patiently to submit, but we must thankfully receive and fully approve of everything that, by the order of God's providence, happens to us. For there is no reason why we should be patient, but what is as good and as strong a reason why we should be thankful. Whenever, therefore, you find yourself disposed to uneasiness or murmuring at any thing that is the effect of God's providence over you, you must look upon yourself as denying either the wisdom or goodness of God.
Ye shall not go out in haste, for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.—ISA. lii. 12. (R. V.).
He that believeth shall not make haste.—ISA. xxviii. 16.
Holy Spirit, Peace divine! Still this restless heart of mine; Speak to calm this tossing sea, Stayed in Thy tranquillity.
In whatever you are called upon to do, endeavor to maintain a calm, collected, and prayerful state of mind. Self-recollection is of great importance. "It is good for a man to quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." He who is in what may be called a spiritual hurry, or rather who runs without having evidence of being spiritually sent, makes haste to no purpose.
T. C. UPHAM.
There is great fret and worry in always running after work; it is not good intellectually or spiritually.
Whenever we are outwardly excited we should cease to act; but whenever we have a message from the spirit within, we should execute it with calmness. A fine day may excite one to act, but it is much better that we act from the calm spirit in any day, be the outward what it may.
J. P. GREAVES.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.—JOSH. xxiv. 15.
O happy house I and happy servitude! Where all alike one Master own; Where daily duty, in Thy strength pursued, Is never hard or toilsome known; Where each one serves Thee, meek and lowly, Whatever Thine appointment be, Till common tasks seem great and holy, When they are done as unto Thee.
C. J. P. SPITTA.
At Dudson there was no rushing after anything, either worldly or intellectual. It was a home of constant activity, issuing from, and retiring to, a centre of deep repose. There was an earnest application of excellent sense to the daily duties of life, to the minutest courtesy and kindness, as well as to the real interests of others. Everything great and everything little seemed done in the same spirit, and with the same degree of fidelity, because it was the will of God; and that which could not be traced to His will was not undertaken at all. Nothing at Dudson was esteemed too little to be cared for, and nothing too great to be undertaken at the command of God; and for this they daily exercised their mental and bodily powers on the things around them; knowing that our Lord thoroughly furnishes each of His soldiers for his work, and places before each the task he has to do.
M. A. SCHIMMELPENNINCK.
Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means.—2 THESS. iii. 16.
The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.—PS. xxix. 11.
In the heart's depths a peace serene and holy Abides, and when pain seems to have its will, Or we despair,—oh, may that peace rise slowly, Stronger than agony, and we be still.
But if a man ought and is willing to lie still under God's hand, he must and ought also to lie still under all things, whether they come from God, himself, or the creatures, nothing excepted. And he who would be obedient, resigned, and submissive to God, must and ought to be also resigned, obedient, and submissive to all things, in a spirit of yielding, and not of resistance; and take them in silence, resting on the hidden foundations of his soul, and having a secret inward patience, that enableth him to take all chances or crosses willingly; and, whatever befalleth, neither to call for nor desire any redress, or deliverance, or resistance, or revenge, but always in a loving, sincere humility to cry, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"
And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord.—NUM. xi. 1.
When thou hast thanked thy God For every blessing sent, What time will then remain For murmurs or lament?
R. C. TRENCH.
Let him, with a cheerful and thankful spirit, yield himself up to suffer whatever God shall appoint unto him, and to fulfil, according to his power, by the grace of God, all His holy will to the utmost that he can discern it, and never complain of his distresses but to God alone, with entire and humble resignation, praying that he may be strong to endure all his sufferings according to the will of God.
He who complains, or thinks he has a right to complain, because he is called in God's Providence to suffer, has something within him which needs to be taken away. A soul whose will is lost in God's will, can never do this. Sorrow may exist; but complaint never.
Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.—EPH. v. 19.
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.—I PETER iii. 15.
There are in this loud stunning tide Of human care and crime, With whom the melodies abide Of th' everlasting chime; Who carry music in their heart Through dusky lane and wrangling mart, Plying their daily task with busier feet, Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.
Strive to carry thyself with a total resignation to the Divine Will, that God may do with thee and all thine according to His heavenly pleasure, relying on Him as on a kind and loving Father. Never recall that intention, and though thou be taken up about the affairs of the condition wherein God hath placed thee, yet thou wilt still be in prayer, in the presence of God, and in perpetual acts of resignation. "A just man leaves not off to pray unless he leaves off to be just." He always prays who always does well. The good desire is prayer, and if the desire be continued so also is the prayer.
M. DE MOLINOS.
We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.—HEB. vi. 11.
The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.—2 THESS. iii. 3.
Long though my task may be, Cometh the end. God't is that helpeth me, His is the work, and He New strength will lend.
Set yourself steadfastly to those duties which have the least attractive exterior; it matters not whether God's holy will be fulfilled in great or small matters. Be patient with yourself and your own failings; never be in a hurry, and do not yield to longings after that which is impossible to you. My dear sister, go on steadily and quietly; if our dear Lord means you to run, He will "strengthen your heart."
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
Always begin by doing that which costs me most, unless the easier duty is a pressing one. Examine, classify, and determine at night the work of the morrow; arrange things in the order of their importance, and act accordingly. Dread, above all things, bitterness and irritation. Never say, or indirectly recall anything to my advantage.
MADAME SWET CHINE,
He that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death.—PROV. viii. 36.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.—ROM. vi. 22, 23.
O Sovereign Love, to Thee I cry! Give me Thyself, or else I die! Save me from death; from hell set free! Death, hell, are but the want of Thee. Quickened by Thy imparted flame, Saved when possessed of Thee, I am: My life, my only heaven Thou art; O might I feel Thee in my heart!
Sin itself is hell, and death, and misery to the soul, as being a departure from goodness and holiness itself; I mean from God, in conjunction with whom the happiness, and blessedness, and heaven of a soul doth consist. Avoid it, therefore, as you would avoid being miserable.
"I could n't live in peace if I put the shadow of a wilful sin between myself and God."
Unholy tempers are always unhappy tempers.
Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.—PS. xl. 12, 13.
Sin shall not have dominion over you.—ROM. vi. 14.
O Thou, to whose all-searching sight The darkness shineth as the light! Search, prove my heart; it pants for Thee; Oh, burst these bonds, and set it free!
Yes, this sin which has sent me weary-hearted to bed and desperate in heart to morning work, that has made my plans miscarry until I am a coward, that cuts me off from prayer, that robs the sky of blueness and the earth of springtime, and the air of freshness, and human faces of friendliness,—this blasting sin which perhaps has made my bed in hell for me so long,—this can be conquered. I do not say annihilated, but, better than that, conquered, captured and transfigured into a friend: so that I at last shall say, "My temptation has become my strength! for to the very fight with it I owe my force."
W. C. GANNETT.
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant.—GEN. xxxii. 10.
Some murmur if their sky is clear, And wholly bright to view, If one small speck of dark appear In their great heaven of blue: And some with thankful love are filled, If but one streak of light, One ray of God's good mercy, gild The darkness of their night.
R. C. TRENCH.
Habitual sufferers are precisely those who least frequently doubt the Divine benevolence, and whose faith and love rise to the serenest cheerfulness. Possessed by no idea of a prescriptive right to be happy, their blessings are not benumbed by anticipation, but come to them fresh and brilliant as the first day's morning and evening light to the dwellers in Paradise. With the happy it is their constant peace that seems to come by nature, and to be blunted by its commonness,—and their griefs to come from God, sharpened by their sacred origin; with the sufferer, it is his pain that appears to be a thing of course, and to require no explanation, while his relief is reverently welcomed as a divine interposition, and, as a breath of Heaven, caresses the heart into melodies of praise.
Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.—I SAM. XV. 22.
Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you to-day—EX. xiv. 13.
The folded hands seem idle: If folded at His word, 'Tis a holy service, trust me, In obedience to the Lord.
It is not the multitude of hard duties, it is not constraint and contention that advance us in our Christian course. On the contrary, it is the yielding of our wills without restriction and without choice, to tread cheerfully every day in the path in which Providence leads us, to seek nothing, to be discouraged by nothing, to see our duty in the present moment, to trust all else without reserve to the will and power of God.
FRANCOIS DE LA MOTHE FENELON.
Godliness is the devotion of the soul to God, as to a living person whose will is to be its law, whose love is to be its life. It is the habit of living before the face of God, and not the simply doing certain things.
J. B. BROWN.
Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.—MATT. v. 20.
The freedom from all wilful sin, The Christian's daily task,— Oh these are graces far below What longing love would ask! Dole not thy duties out to God.
F. W. FABER.
You perhaps will say that all people fall short of the perfection of the Gospel, and therefore you are content with your failings. But this is saying nothing to the purpose: for the question is not whether Gospel perfection can be fully attained, but whether you come as near it as a sincere intention and careful diligence can carry you. Whether you are not in a much lower state than you might be if you sincerely intended and carefully labored to advance yourself in all Christian virtues.
We know not exactly how low the least degree of obedience is, which will bring a man to heaven; but this we are quite sure of, that he who aims no higher will be sure to fall short even of that, and that he who goes farthest beyond it will be most blessed.
Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.—ISA. xlviii. 17.
I seek Thy aid, I ask direction, Teach me to do what pleaseth Thee; I can bear toil, endure affliction, Only Thy leadings let me see.
Of all paths a man could strike into, there is, at any given moment, a best path for every man; a thing which, here and now, it were of all things wisest for him to do; which could he but be led or driven to do, he were then doing "like a man," as we phrase it. His success, in such case, were complete, his felicity a maximum. This path, to find this path, and walk in it, is the one thing needful for him.
Every man has his own vocation. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea.
R. W. EMERSON.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.—ROM. xii. 21.
Come, in this accepted hour; Bring Thy heavenly kingdom in; Fill us with Thy glorious power, Rooting out the seeds of sin.
If we wish to overcome evil, we must overcome it by good. There are doubtless many ways of overcoming the evil in our own hearts, but the simplest, easiest, most universal, is to overcome it by active occupation in some good word or work. The best antidote against evil of all kinds, against the evil thoughts which haunt the soul, against the needless perplexities which distract the conscience, is to keep hold of the good we have. Impure thoughts will not stand against pure words, and prayers, and deeds. Little doubts will not avail against great certainties. Fix your affections on things above, and then you will be less and less troubled by the cares, the temptations, the troubles of things on earth.
A. P. STANLEY.
I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.—GEN. xvii. I.
Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord.—EX. xxxii. 29.
Take my life, and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
F. R. HAVERGAL.
I have noticed that wherever there has been a faithful following of the Lord in a consecrated soul, several things have inevitably followed, sooner or later. Meekness and quietness of spirit become in time the characteristics of the daily life. A submissive acceptance of the will of God as it comes in the hourly events of each day; pliability in the hands of God to do or to suffer all the good pleasure of His will; sweetness under provocation; calmness in the midst of turmoil and bustle; yieldingness to the wishes of others, and an insensibility to slights and affronts; absence of worry or anxiety; deliverance from care and fear;—all these, and many similar graces, are invariably found to be the natural outward development of that inward life which is hid with Christ in God.
H. W. SMITH.
Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done.—LUKE xxii. 42.
Just as Thou wilt is just what I would will; Give me but this, the heart to be content, And, if my wish is thwarted, to lie still, Waiting till puzzle and till pain are spent, And the sweet thing made plain which the Lord meant.
Let your will be one with His will, and be glad to be disposed of by Him. He will order all things for you. What can cross your will, when it is one with His will, on which all creation hangs, round which all things revolve? Keep your hearts clear of evil thoughts; for as evil choices estrange the will from His will, so evil thoughts cloud the soul, and hide Him from us. Whatever sets us in opposition to Him makes our will an intolerable torment. So long as we will one thing and He another, we go on piercing ourselves through and through with a perpetual wound; and His will advances moving on in sanctity and majesty, crushing ours into the dust.
H. E. MANNING.
Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.—PS. cxliii. 10.
The battle of our life is won, And heaven begun, When we can say, "Thy will be done!" But, Lord, until These restless hearts in Thy deep love are still, We pray Thee, "Teach us how to do Thy will!"
"You are seeking your own will, my daughter. You are seeking some good other than the law you are bound to obey. But how will you find good? It is not a thing of choice; it is a river that flows from the foot of the Invisible Throne, and flows by the path of obedience. I say again, man cannot choose his duties. You may choose to forsake your duties, and choose not to have the sorrow they bring. But you will go forth, and what will you find, my daughter? Sorrow without duty—bitter herbs, and no bread with them."
However dark and profitless, however painful and weary, existence may have become, life is not done, and our Christian character is not won, so long as God has anything left for us to suffer, or anything left for us to do.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
The Lord is my strength, and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.—PS. xxviii. 7.
Well may Thy happy children cease From restless wishes, prone to sin, And, in Thy own exceeding peace, Yield to Thy daily discipline.
A. L. WARING.
Talk of hair-cloth shirts, and scourgings, and sleeping on ashes, as means of saintship! There is no need of them in our country. Let a woman once look at her domestic trials as her hair-cloth, her ashes, her scourges,—accept them,—rejoice in them,—smile and be quiet, silent, patient, and loving under them,—and the convent can teach her no more; she is a victorious saint.
H. B. STOWE.
Perhaps it is a greater energy of Divine Providence, which keeps the Christian from day to day, from year to year—praying, hoping, running, believing—against all hindrances—which maintains him as a living martyr, than that which bears him up for an hour in sacrificing himself at the stake.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.—ROM. viii. 38, 39.
I know not what the future hath Of marvel or surprise, Assured alone that life and death His mercy underlies.
J. G. WHITTIER.
Be of good faith, my dear Friends, look not out at any thing; fear none of those things ye may be exposed to suffer, either outwardly or inwardly; but trust the Lord over all, and your life will spring, and grow, and refresh you, and ye will learn obedience and faithfulness daily more and more, even by your exercises and sufferings; yea, the Lord will teach you the very mystery of faith and obedience; the wisdom, power, love, and goodness of the Lord ordering every thing for you, and ordering your hearts in every thing.
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope.—ZECH. ix. 12.
O power to do; O baffled will! O prayer and action! ye are one. Who may not strive, may yet fulfil The harder task of standing still, And good but wished with God is done.
J. G. WHITTIER.
That God has circumscribed our life may add a peculiar element of trial, but often it defines our way and cuts off many tempting possibilities that perplex the free and the strong; whilst it leaves intact the whole body of spiritual reality, with the Beatitude thereon, "that if we know these things, happy are we if we do them." We know that God orders the lot; and to meet it with the energies it requires and permits, neither more nor less,—to fill it at every available point with the light and action of an earnest and spiritually inventive mind, though its scene be no wider than a sick chamber, and its action narrowed to patient suffering, and gentle, cheerful words, and all the light it can emit the thankful quiet of a trustful eye,—without chafing as though God had misjudged our sphere, and placed us wrong, and did not know where we could best serve Him,—this is what, in that condition, we have to do.
J. H. THOM.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.—2 COR. xii. 10.
Whatever God does is well! In patience let us wait; He doth Himself our burdens bear, He doth for us take care, And He, our God, knows all our weary days. Come, give Him praise.
Nothing else but this seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only the instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes towards us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.
H. W. SMITH.
The subjection of the will is accomplished by calmly resigning thyself in everything that internally or externally vexes thee; for it is thus only that the soul is prepared for the reception of divine influences. Prepare the, heart like clean paper, and the Divine Wisdom will imprint on it characters to His own liking.
M. DE MOLINOS.
I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.—JER. xxix. 11.
Thy thoughts are good, and Thou art kind, E'en when we think it not; How many an anxious, faithless mind Sits grieving o'er its lot, And frets, and pines by day and night, As God had lost it out of sight, And all its wants forgot.
You are never to complain of your birth, your training, your employments, your hardships; never to fancy that you could be something if only you had a different lot and sphere assigned you. God understands His own plan, and He knows what you want a great deal better than you do. The very things that you most deprecate, as fatal limitations or obstructions, are probably what you most want. What you call hindrances, obstacles, discouragements, are probably God's opportunities. Bring down your soul, or, rather, bring it up to receive God's will and do His work, in your lot, in your sphere, under your cloud of obscurity, against your temptations, and then you shall find that your condition is never opposed to your good, but really consistent with it.
Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction—ISA. xlviii. 10.
Be patient, suffering soul! I hear thy cry. The trial fires may glow, but I am nigh. I see the silver, and I will refine Until My image shall upon it shine. Fear not, for I am near, thy help to be; Greater than all thy pain, My love for thee.
H. W. C.
God takes a thousand times more pains with us than the artist with his picture, by many touches of sorrow, and by many colors of circumstance, to bring man into the form which is the highest and noblest in His sight, if only we received His gifts and myrrh in the right spirit. But when the cup is put away, and these feelings are stifled or unheeded, a greater injury is done to the soul than can ever be amended. For no heart can conceive in what surpassing love God giveth us this myrrh; yet this which we ought to receive to our soul's good, we suffer to pass by us in our sleepy indifference, and nothing comes, of it. Then we come and complain: "Alas, Lord! I am so dry, and it is so dark within me!" I tell thee, dear child, open thy heart to the pain, and it will do thee more good than if thou wert full of feeling and devoutness.
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.—2 TIM. i. 14.
Oh that the Comforter would come! Nor visit as a transient guest, But fix in me His constant home, And keep possession of my breast: And make my soul His loved abode, The temple of indwelling God!
Thy spirit should become, while yet on earth, the peaceful throne of the Divine Being; think, then, how quiet, how gentle and pure, how reverent, thou shouldst be.
I cannot tell you how much I love you. But that which of all things I have most at heart, with regard to you, is the real progress of your soul in the divine life. Heaven seems to be awakened in you. It is a tender plant. It requires stillness, meekness, and the unity of the heart, totally given up to the unknown workings of the Spirit of God, which will do all its work in the calm soul, that has no hunger or desire but to escape out of the mire of its earthly life into its lost union and life in God. I mention this, out of a fear of your giving in to an eagerness about many things, which, though seemingly innocent, yet divide and weaken the workings of the divine life within you.
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.—GEN. v. 24.
Oh for a closer walk with God, A calm and heavenly frame; A light to shine upon the road That leads me to the Lamb!
Is it possible for any of us in these modern days to so live that we may walk with God? Can we walk with God in the shop, in the office, in the household, and on the street? When men exasperate us, and work wearies us, and the children fret, and the servants annoy, and our best-laid plans fall to pieces, and our castles in the air are dissipated like bubbles that break at a breath, then can we walk with God? That religion which fails us in the every-day trials and experiences of life has somewhere in it a flaw. It should be more than a plank to sustain us in the rushing tide, and land us exhausted and dripping on the other side. It ought, if it come from above, to be always, day by day, to our souls as the wings of a bird, bearing us away from and beyond the impediments which seek to hold us down. If the Divine Love be a conscious presence, an indwelling force with us, it will do this.
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.—EPH. iii. 15.
One family, we dwell in Him; One church above, beneath; Though now divided by the stream,— The narrow stream of death.
One army of the living God, To His command we bow: Part of His host has crossed the flood, And part is crossing now.
Let us, then, learn that we can never be lonely or forsaken in this life. Shall they forget us because they are "made perfect"? Shall they love us the less because they now have power to love us more? If we forget them not, shall they not remember us with God? No trial, then, can isolate us, no sorrow can cut us off from the Communion of Saints. Kneel down, and you are with them; lift up your eyes, and the heavenly world, high above all perturbation, hangs serenely overhead; only a thin veil, it may be, floats between. All whom we loved, and all who loved us, whom we still love no less, while they love us yet more, are ever near, because ever in His presence in whom we live and dwell.
H. E. MANNING.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.—HEB. xii. i.
When the powers of hell prevail O'er our weakness and unfitness, Could we lift the fleshly veil, Could we for a moment witness Those unnumbered hosts that stand Calm and bright on either hand;
Oh, what joyful hope would cheer, Oh, what faith serene would guide us! Great may be the danger near, Greater are the friends beside us.
We are compassed about by a cloud of witnesses, whose hearts throb in sympathy with every effort and struggle, and who thrill with joy at every success. How should this thought check and rebuke every worldly feeling and unworthy purpose, and enshrine us, in the midst of a forgetful and un-spiritual world, with an atmosphere of heavenly peace! They have overcome—have risen—are crowned, glorified; but still they remain to us, our assistants, our comforters, and in every hour of darkness their voice speaks to us: "So we grieved, so we struggled, so we fainted, so we doubted; but we have overcome, we have obtained, we have seen, we have found,—and in our victory behold the certainty of thy own."
H. B. STOWE.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.—EPH. iv. 25.
In conversation be sincere; Keep conscience as the noontide clear; Think how All-seeing God thy ways And all thy secret thoughts surveys.
The essence of lying is in deception, not in words; a lie may be told by silence, by equivocation, by the accent on a syllable, by a glance of the eye attaching a peculiar significance to a sentence; and all these kinds of lies are worse and baser by many degrees than a lie plainly worded; so that no form of blinded conscience is so far sunk as that which comforts itself for having deceived because the deception was by gesture or silence, instead of utterance.
He that is habituated to deceptions and artificialities in trifles, will try in vain to be true in matters of importance; for truth is a thing of habit rather than of will. You cannot in any given case by any sudden and single effort will to be true, if the habit of your life has been insincerity.
F. W. ROBERTSON.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.—PROV. xv. i,
Doest thou well to be angry?—JONAH iv. 4.
Renew Thine image, Lord, in me, Lowly and gentle may I be; No charms but these to Thee are dear; No anger mayst Thou ever find, No pride in my unruffled mind, But faith, and heaven-born peace be there.
Neither say nor do aught displeasing to thy neighbor; and if thou hast been wanting in charity, seek his forgiveness, or speak to him with gentleness. Speak always with mildness and in a low tone of voice.
Injuries hurt not more in the receiving than in the remembrance. A small injury shall go as it comes; a great injury may dine or sup with me; but none at all shall lodge with me. Why should I vex myself because another hath vexed me? Grief for things past that cannot be remedied, and care for things to come that cannot be prevented, may easily hurt, can never benefit me. I will therefore commit myself to God in both, and enjoy the present.
The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.—I COR. iii. 17.
Now shed Thy mighty influence abroad On souls that would their Father's image bear; Make us as holy temples of our God, Where dwells forever calm, adoring prayer.
C. J. P. SPITTA.
This pearl of eternity is the church or temple of God within thee, the consecrated place of divine worship, where alone thou canst worship God in spirit and in truth. When once thou art well grounded in this inward worship, thou wilt have learned to live unto God above time and place. For every day will be Sunday to thee, and, wherever thou goest, thou wilt have a priest, a church, and an altar along with thee. For when God has all that He should have of thy heart, when thou art wholly given up to the obedience of the light and spirit of God within thee, to will only in His will, to love only in His love, to be wise only in His wisdom, then it is that everything thou dost is as a song of praise, and the common business of thy life is a conforming to God's will on earth as angels do in heaven.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them;—PS. cxlv. 19.
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.—PS. xxxvii. 4.
Though to-day may not fulfil All thy hopes, have patience still; For perchance to-morrow's sun Sees thy happier days begun.
His great desire and delight is God; and by desiring and delighting, he hath Him. Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee thy heart's desire,—HIMSELF; and then surely thou shall have all. Any other thing commit it to Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask; yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask.
I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.—ACTS xxvi. 19.
The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey.—JOSH. xxiv. 24.
I will shun no toil or woe, Where Thou leadest I will go, Be my pathway plain or rough; If but every hour may be Spent in work that pleases Thee, Ah, dear Lord, it is enough!
All these longings and doubts, and this inward distress, are the voice of the Good Shepherd in your heart, seeking to call you out of all that is contrary to His will. Oh, let me entreat of you not to turn away from His gentle pleadings.
H. W. SMITH.
The fear of man brings a snare. By halting in our duty and giving back in the time of trial, our hands grow weaker, our ears grow dull as to hearing the language of the true Shepherd; so that when we look at the way of the righteous, it seems as though it was not for us to follow them.
Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.—HEB. x. 9.
Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God.—PS. cxliii. 10.
Lo! I come with joy to do The Father's blessed will; Him in outward works pursue, And serve His pleasure still. Faithful to my Lord's commands, I still would choose the better part; Serve with careful Martha's hands, And loving Mary's heart.
A soul cannot be regarded as truly subdued and consecrated in its will, and as having passed into union with the Divine will, until it has a disposition to do promptly and faithfully all that God requires, as well as to endure patiently and thankfully all that He imposes.
T. C. UPHAM.
When we have learned to offer up every duty connected with our situation in life as a sacrifice to God, a settled employment becomes just a settled habit of prayer.
"Do the duty which lies nearest thee," which thou knowest to be a duty. Thy second duty will already have become clearer.
Say not thou, I will hide myself from the Lord: shall any remember me from above? I shall not be remembered among so many people: for what is my soul among such an infinite number of creatures?—ECCLESIASTICUS xvi. 17.
Among so many, can He care? Can special love be everywhere? A myriad homes,—a myriad ways,— And God's eye over every place?
I asked: my soul bethought of this;— In just that very place of His Where He hath put and keepeth you, God hath no other thing to do!
A. D. T. WHITNEY.
Give free and bold play to those instincts of the heart which believe that the Creator must care for the creatures He has made, and that the only real effective care for them must be that which takes each of them into His love, and knowing it separately surrounds it with His separate sympathy. There is not one life which the Life-giver ever loses out of His sight; not one which sins so that He casts it away; not one which is not so near to Him that whatever touches it touches Him with sorrow or with joy.
In Him we live, and move, and have our being.—ACTS xvii. 28.
Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?—PS. cxxxix. 7.
Yea! In Thy life our little lives are ended, Into Thy depths our trembling spirits fall; In Thee enfolded, gathered, comprehended, As holds the sea her waves—Thou hold'st us all.
Where then is our God? You say, He is everywhere: then show me anywhere that you have met Him. You declare Him everlasting: then tell me any moment that He has been with you. You believe Him ready to succor them that are tempted, and to lift those that are bowed down: then in what passionate hour did you subside into His calm grace? in what sorrow lose yourself in His "more exceeding" joy? These are the testing questions by which we may learn whether we too have raised our altar to an "unknown God" and pay the worship of the blind; or whether we commune with Him "in whom we live, and move, and have our being."
Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.—COL. i. 10, ii.
To be the thing we seem, To do the thing we deem Enjoined by duty; To walk in faith, nor dream Of questioning God's scheme Of truth and beauty.
To shape the whole Future is not our problem; but only to shape faithfully a small part of it, according to rules already known. It is perhaps possible for each of us, who will with due earnestness inquire, to ascertain clearly what he, for his own part, ought to do; this let him, with true heart, do, and continue doing. The general issue will, as it has always done, rest well with a Higher Intelligence than ours. This day thou knowest ten commanded duties, seest in thy mind ten things which should be done for one that thou doest! Do one of them; this of itself will show thee ten others which can and shall be done.
I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.—JOHN ix. 4.
Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task?—EX. v. 14.
He who intermits The appointed task and duties of the day Untunes full oft the pleasures of the day; Checking the finer spirits that refuse To flow, when purposes are lightly changed.
By putting off things beyond their proper times, one duty treads upon the heels of another, and all duties are felt as irksome obligations,—a yoke beneath which we fret and lose our peace. In most cases the consequence of this is, that we have no time to do the work as it ought to be done. It is therefore done precipitately, with eagerness, with a greater desire simply to get it done, than to do it well, and with very little thought of God throughout.
F. W. FABER.
Sufficient for each day is the good thereof, equally as the evil. We must do at once, and with our might, the merciful deed that our hand findeth to do,—else it will never be done, for the hand will find other tasks, and the arrears fall through. And every unconsummated good feeling, every unfulfilled purpose that His spirit has prompted, shall one day charge us as faithless and recreant before God.
J. H. THOM.
Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law.—PS. xciv
Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.—JER. x. 19.
Hold in thy murmurs, heaven arraigning! The patient see God's loving face; Who bear their burdens uncomplaining, 'Tis they that win the Father's grace.
Do not run to this and that for comfort when you are in trouble, but bear it. Be uncomfortably quiet—be uneasily silent—be patiently unhappy.
Hard words will vex, unkindness will pierce; neglect will wound; threatened evils will make the soul quiver; sharp pain or weariness will rack the body, or make it restless. But what says the Psalmist? "When my heart is vexed, I will complain." To whom? Not of God, but to God.
Surely, I have thought, I do not want to have a grief which would not be a grief. I feel that I shall be able to take up my cross in a religious spirit soon, and then it will be all right.
Thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.—ISA. xliv. 21.
Oh, give Thy servant patience to be still, And bear Thy will; Courage to venture wholly on the arm That will not harm; The wisdom that will never let me stray Out of my way; The love, that, now afflicting, knoweth best When I should rest.
J. M. NEALE.
Supposing that you were never to be set free from such trials, what would you do? You would say to God, "I am Thine—if my trials are acceptable to Thee, give me more and more." I have full confidence that this is what you would say, and then you would not think more of it—at any rate, you would not be anxious. Well, do the same now. Make friends with your trials, as though you were always to live together; and you will see that when you cease to take thought for your own deliverance, God will take thought for you; and when you cease to help yourself eagerly, He will help you.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
Ah, if you knew what peace there is in an accepted sorrow!
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.—ISA. xli. 10.
Lord, be Thou near and cheer my lonely way; With Thy sweet peace my aching bosom fill; Scatter my cares and fears; my griefs allay, And be it mine each day To love and please Thee still.
What if the wicked nature, which is as a sea casting out mire and dirt, rage against thee? There is a river, a sweet, still, flowing river, the streams whereof will make glad thy heart. And, learn but in quietness and stillness to retire to the Lord, and wait upon Him; in whom thou shall feel peace and joy, in the midst of thy trouble from the cruel and vexatious spirit of this world. So, wait to know thy work and service to the Lord every day, in thy place and station; and the Lord make thee faithful therein, and thou wilt want neither help, support, nor comfort.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.—ISA. xxvi. 3.
What comforts, Lord, to those are given, Who seek in Thee their home and rest! They find on earth an opening heaven, And in Thy peace are amply blest.
W. C. DESSLER.
God is a tranquil Being, and abides in a tranquil eternity. So must thy spirit become a tranquil and clear little pool, wherein the serene light of God can be mirrored. Therefore shun all that is disquieting and distracting, both within and without. Nothing in the whole world is worth the loss of thy peace; even the faults which thou hast committed should only humble, but not disquiet thee. God is full of joy, peace, and happiness. Endeavor then to obtain a continually joyful and peaceful spirit. Avoid all anxious care, vexation, murmuring, and melancholy, which darken thy soul, and render thee unfit for the friendship of God. If thou dost perceive such feelings arising, turn gently away from them.
Every day will I bless Thee; and I will praise Thy name for ever and ever.—PS. cxlv. 2.
Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.—PROV. xvi. 3.
Lord, I my vows to Thee renew; Disperse my sins as morning dew; Guard my first springs of thought and will, And with Thyself my spirit fill.
Morning by morning think, for a few moments, of the chief employments of the day, any one thing of greater moment than others, thine own especial trial, any occasions of it which are likely to come that day, and by one short strong act commend thyself beforehand in all to God; offer all thy thoughts, words, and deeds to Him—to be governed, guided, accepted by Him. Choose some great occasions of the day, such as bring with them most trial to thee, on which, above others, to commend thyself to God.
E. B. PUSEY.
Will you not, before venturing away from your early quiet hour, "commit thy works" to Him definitely, the special things you have to do to-day, and the unforeseen work which He may add in the course of it?
F. R. HAVERGAL.
Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He bath given us of His Spirit.—I JOHN iv. 13.
Within! within, oh turn Thy spirit's eyes, and learn Thy wandering senses gently to control; Thy dearest Friend dwells deep within thy soul, And asks thyself of thee, That heart, and mind, and sense, He may make whole In perfect harmony.
Wait patiently, trust humbly, depend only upon, seek solely to a God of Light and Love, of Mercy and Goodness, of Glory and Majesty, ever dwelling in the inmost depth and spirit of your soul. There you have all the secret, hidden, invisible Upholder of all the creation, whose blessed operation will always be found by a humble, faithful, loving, calm, patient introversion of your heart to Him, who has His hidden heaven within you, and which will open itself to you, as soon as your heart is left wholly to His eternal, ever-speaking Word, and ever-sanctifying Spirit within you. Beware of all eagerness and activity of your own natural spirit and temper. Run not in any hasty ways of your own. Be patient under the sense of your own vanity and weakness; and patiently wait for God to do His own work, and in His own way.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.—JAMES i. 26.
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.—PS. xxxix. I.
No sinful word, nor deed of wrong, Nor thoughts that idly rove; But simple truth be on our tongue, And in our hearts be love.
Let us all resolve,—First, to attain the grace of SILENCE; Second, to deem all FAULT-FINDING that does no good a SIN, and to resolve, when we are happy ourselves, not to poison the atmosphere for our neighbors by calling on them to remark every painful and disagreeable feature of their daily life; Third, to practise the grace and virtue of PRAISE.
HARRIET B. STOWE.
Surrounded by those who constantly exhibit defects of character and conduct, if we yield to a complaining and impatient spirit, we shall mar our own peace without having the satisfaction of benefiting others.
T. C. UPHAM.
Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the—will of God, ye might receive the promise.—HEB. x. 36.
Sweet Patience, come: Not from a low and earthly source,— Waiting, till things shall have their course,— Not as accepting present pain In hope of some hereafter gain,— Not in a dull and sullen calm,— But as a breath of heavenly balm, Bidding my weary heart submit To bear whatever God sees fit: Sweet Patience, come!
HYMNS OF THE CHURCH MILITANT.
Patience endues her scholars with content of mind, and evenness of temper, preventing all repining grumbling, and impatient desires, and inordinate affections; disappointments here are no crosses, and all anxious thoughts are disarmed of their sting; in her habitations dwell quietness, submission, and long-suffering, all fierce turbulent inclinations are hereby allayed. The eyes of the patient fixedly wait the inward power of God's providence, and they are thereby mightily enabled towards their salvation and preservation.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.—MATT. iv. 4.
A man's life conisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.—LUKE xii. 15.
Whate'er God does is well, Whether He gives or takes! And what we from His hand receive Suffices us to live. He takes and gives, while yet He loves us still; Then love His will.
Is that beast better, that hath two or three mountains to graze on, than a little bee, that feeds on dew or manna, and lives upon what falls every morning from the storehouse of heaven, clouds, and providence?
For myself I am certain that the good of human life cannot lie in the possession of things which for one man to possess is for the rest to lose, but rather in things which all can possess alike, and where one man's wealth promotes his neighbor's.
Every lot is happy to a person who bears it with tranquillity.
Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of.—MATT. vi. 8.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.—MATT. vi. 33.
Thy kingdom come, with power and grace, To every heart of man; Thy peace, and joy, and righteousness In all our bosoms reign.
God bids us, then, by past mercies, by present grace, by fears of coming ill, by hopes in His goodness, earnestly, with our whole hearts, seek Him and His righteousness, and all these things, all ye need for soul and body, peace, comfort, joy, the overflowing of His consolations, shall be added over and above to you.
E. B. PUSEY.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, always to seek Thy kingdom and righteousness, and of whatsoever Thou seest us to stand in need, mercifully grant us an abundant portion. Amen.
Be content to be a child, and let the Father proportion out daily to thee what light, what power, what exercises, what straits, what fears, what troubles He sees fit for thee.
I have taught thee In the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.—PROV. iv. 11.
We know not what the path may be As yet by us untrod; But we can trust our all to Thee, Our Father and our God.
WM. J. IRONS.
We have very little command over the circumstances in which we may be called by God to bear our part—unlimited command over the temper of our souls, but next to no command over the outward forms of trial. The most energetic will cannot order the events by which our spirits are to be perilled and tested. Powers quite beyond our reach—death, accident, fortune, another's sin—may change in a moment all the conditions of our life. With to-morrow's sun existence may have new and awful aspects for any of us.
J. H. THOM.
Oh, my friend, look not out at what stands in the way; what if it look dreadfully as a lion, is not the Lord stronger than the mountains of prey? but look in, where the law of life is written, and the will of the Lord revealed, that thou mayest know what is the Lord's will concerning thee.
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.—PS. xxxi. 24.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.—JOHN xiv. 27.
In heavenly love abiding, No change my heart shall fear; And safe is such confiding, For nothing changes here.
A. L. WARING.
A true Christian, that hath power over his own will, may live nobly and happily, and enjoy a clear heaven within the serenity of his own mind perpetually. When the sea of this world is most rough and tempestuous about him, then can he ride safely at anchor within the haven, by a sweet compliance of his will with God's will. He can look about him, and with an even and indifferent mind behold the world either to smile or frown upon him; neither will he abate of the least of his contentment for all the ill and unkind usage he meets withal in this life. He that hath got the mastery over his own will feels no violence from without, finds no contests within; and when God calls for him out of this state of mortality, he finds in himself a power to lay down his own life; neither is it so much taken from him, as quietly and freely surrendered up by him.
DR. JOHN SMITH.
And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.—DEUT. xxxi. 8.
Know well, my soul, God's hand controls Whatever thou fearest; Round Him in calmest music rolls Whate'er thou hearest.