|LET us search and try our ways,| the Master said another time. |Let us set in order and judge our ways and doings, lest there should be in any of them some aim and object which is not God. We should do, dear children, as the husbandman does in March. When he sees that the sun begins to shine forth, he clips and cuts his trees, and digs up his ground, and turns over the soil with toil and care.
|Thus should a man with earnest care turn over the soil of his heart, and clip and prune the trees of his outward senses, and root out from the soil all useless weeds that draw the nourishment from the ground.
|How thickly do such weeds spring up! Pride of outward things, and pride of spiritual things. Covetousness, hatred, envy, and many more, uncleanness of heart, and laziness that hides itself here and there under a fair covering -- all these things should he confess and condemn in his heart before God.
|Yet when he has done this, it is as the fields in March -- the sun is shining, but the great warmth of the sun is not gone forth as yet, and the ground is cold and hard.
|But the summer follows soon, and the Sun of the Face of God shines down apace upon the bare and empty field. The sun, the sweet full sunshine, strikes down into the soil, and then cometh a gladsome summer, and fair fresh flowers of May spring up, and all is green, and the blossoms unfold, that are to turn to fruit at last. And no tongue can tell, and no heart can conceive, how great the joy and bliss that make summer in the soul where the Holy Ghost abides.
|For He in His great glory, and in His sweetness and in His joy, fills all the soul with the delight of God. He is, and He is called, the blessed Comforter, and thus is He found to be to the soul that is His home.
|Oh, how great and high is the feast He maketh there! Then is the festival spread out, and the odours of the spices and of the pleasant fruits are so sweet, that the soul longs yet the more, and the May time and the flowers are there, and the joy is poured out till every vessel is filled and runneth over, for the Holy Ghost gives richly, and gives sweetly, to the guests around His table.
|O children, one only drop of that comfort, drunk by one soul alone, surpasseth far, and extinguisheth utterly, all delight and sweetness that all created things can give.
|What should we do, dear children, when God has given to us this blessedness and rest? For there are some who afterwards rest in their enjoyment, and trust in it, so that they become careless and unfaithful, and seek after joy, rather than after God.
|And when the enemy sees that it is thus with us, he pours into our souls a false delight and sweetness, that he may pacify our hearts with that which is not God.
|What then should we do? Should we cease to yield ourselves up to this rest and sweetness? No, in no wise. We should receive it with the deepest thankfulness, and offer it up as a sweet odour to God in humility of heart, and praise Him for it, and own ourselves unworthy of it. And then as one who runs upon a message, so should we do. It may be such an one has run four miles, and feels the need of food and drink. And when he has eaten and been refreshed, he is so glad and strong again, that he can run ten miles more. Thus should the man press forward, whom God has thus fed and strengthened with His blessed comfort and delight. He should serve more actively than ever before, he should love more, and thank more, and praise more, and long more than ever before after God, with a burning love and deep desire, so that God may still his longing with yet deeper consolation and fulness of delight.
|For it will be with him as with one who brings a crown piece to another man, and the man runs to meet him, and gives him in return a hundred thousand pounds of gold. For as often as he turns to God in love and thankfulness, God runneth in His love to meet him, and giveth him a hundred thousand times more grace and comfort in each moment that follows.
|And thus the sweetness of the joy will lead us into yet further depths of the heart of God. Just as one who has to go on a journey, and he gets into a cart which is for use, and not for enjoyment. The gifts of God should be to us as the cart, and the enjoyment should we find in God alone.
|For there is a depth of glory and of gladness in the heavenly place, where dwells the sweetness of which I have been telling you, for ever and for ever. There is the heart so still, so real, and so solemnised, and ever more and more secluded, and ever further drawn into the inner chambers of God, and therefore more simple, more satisfied, and more free, as regards all outward things.
|For God is in that secret place of joy, and it is He who acts, and rules, and fills the house with Himself. And there does the soul breathe the life of God, and passes into the light and into the warmth of the Spirit, who is the radiance and the glory, and walks in the burning furnace of love, the love that is God Himself.
|And it is from this love and glory that such an one goes forth into the sorrow and need of the house of God below, with holy prayers and desires for that which God desires for all. And he will return again to the rest above, and thence look down upon the sorrowing and suffering saints of God.
|Thus goeth he in and out, and yet is evermore within, in the still and lovely place, for there is his life and being, and thence the spring of all he works and does.
|Dear children, when once a man is become as nothing before God, when he is delivered from himself, so that he is nothing, and hath nothing, then through this time of loss and sorrow, he enters into the surpassing joy. For it is sorrow and suffering to a man to be stripped and emptied of all, and to learn through tribulation and temptation what it is to rest in God alone. But had we to give up a thousand worlds, all would be as nothing to the joy of God.
|Did not the dear saints of old suffer and die with gladness and delight, for they had the comfort of God in their inmost souls, and for Him they counted all as bliss? For, children, there is no true pain, nor sorrow for the man who dwells in God. No sorrow here, no hell to come, for the eternal God could as soon forsake Himself as forsake the heavenly man.
|And therefore if all the sorrow of the world were to come upon this man, it could not harm him, and it would be to him as though it were not, for even sorrow to him would be joy and sweetness.
|For heaven is begun for those who dwell in God; there do they walk, and there is their eternal Home; they need but to set the other foot, which is still in this world below, in the land of life eternal, for the eternal life is theirs already. It has begun now, and it lasts for evermore.
|For they have entered in through the one true door, through Jesus Christ our Lord -- they have entered into life eternal, and into the depths of the Father's love. Then do they go in and out, and find unfading pasture, and to them are the words fulfilled which the Lord has spoken through His prophets of olden time, I will feed My sheep, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God.'
|And there, dear children, the rest and the work are one.|