IT was strange to many of those who listened to the Master, to hear that they would find this blessed welcome, if only they would go straight to the Lord Himself.
They had learnt in former days that Mary and the saints would speak on their behalf to God. And many a one would go to kneel before the image of the Virgin Mother, and implore her to intercede with her Son, and to incline Him to show mercy upon the poor faithless soul, who believed in the love of Mary rather than in the love of Jesus.
|Children,| said the Master, when he had read to them the story of the woman of Canaan, |what should a poor and sorrowful and comfortless man do now, when trouble has taken hold of him, and there seems no way of deliverance? He should do as this dear woman did. He should go to the Lord Jesus, and with a loud voice call upon Him. The loud voice, dear children, is the strong desire. And he should say to Him, Lord, Son of David, have mercy upon me.
|Ah, children, this call can reach into the measureless depths -- a thousand miles and far beyond, it will reach beyond all created things, for it is an immeasurable sigh. But it is so, because it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, for it is He who maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
|Dear children, this woman had a perfect trust in Christ. And this is the one true way to God. This way leads a man straight to the Lord Himself without any to stand between.
|Let me tell you of a good woman, to whom it happened four years ago, just as it happened to the woman of Canaan.
|It seemed to her as though Heaven were opened to her, and that she saw the Lord, and Mary His mother, and all the saints around Him.
|And a great, and deep, and bitter sorrow came upon her, a sorrow too deep for words, and she felt as if in that moment she knew what hell must be.
|For the saints stood near to the blessed Lord, and she, though she could behold them there, was far, far away. Separated from God and all His saints, and it is this separation, that alone is hell.
|And she felt in her soul that it was an eternal doom, and her heart died within her.
|And in her anguish and despair she turned humbly and imploringly to Mary, and to one saint after another. But then she saw that all these saints perceived her not, nor turned to look at her, nor heard her bitter cry.
|For they one and all were gazing upon the face of God, and they were so filled with the joy of His countenance, that they had neither eyes nor ears for aught beside.
|Then she turned, as the natural heart will turn, to the bitter suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ,| (those people who so often knelt before their crucifixes would understand these words,) |and it was answered her, Why shouldst thou take comfort from the sufferings of the Lord whom thou hast never honoured? of Him of whom thou art not worthy?'
|And when she saw that neither Mary, nor the saints, nor the cross of the Lord could help her, she turned herself to God, and called mightily upon Him, and owned to Him that she was a sinner deserving hell alone.
|And the Lord, who waited till she would come to Him alone, and to no other, spake comfort to her heart, and drew her to Himself, and showed her His unfathomable love.
|For unto God can no creature come through any other creature, nor through any image, nor any symbol. Therefore cast but from your hearts all saints and angels, if you would behold the Face of God. For all that comes between your souls and God is a hindrance to beholding Him, and therefore is it a hindrance to our being conformed to Him. If you place a plate of gold over your eyes, it will hinder you from seeing, just as much as if it were a plate of iron.
|But our poor sinful hearts like to have something to see or hear with our outward senses, and when the outward man is reached and touched, we deceive ourselves, and think that it is well.
|Whereas the blessed mouth of Christ has spoken, saying, God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Not in outward things, not by the senses, not through images and pictures.
|Do not think, dear children, when I say this, that I would forbid to you every image. I would fain impress upon you one Image which should be ever with you. That Image will be stamped upon you, when you have found the way to the Father's heart.
|That Image is the Image higher and fairer than all beside, and dwelling in His secret place, and beholding Him, so that as a mirror you reflect His glorious face, you will be changed into that blessed Image, in soul and spirit, and in all your being.
|And whether you walk or stand, or eat, or drink, or sleep, or wake, that Image of the Lord will be seen in you. And beholding Him, as a painter beholds the fair picture that he will copy, each line, each colour, will be that of the beautiful and glorious One on whom your eyes are set.
|This is the true Image, the fair picture of delight. There do we behold the lowliness and the gentleness and beauty of the Lord. Dear children, at all times, and in all places, let this mirror in your hearts reflect the blessed face of Christ. And let all your ways and all your works be compared therewith, and measured thereby.
|If you have to be a porter or a labourer, let this mirror be bright and undimmed as much as if you were sitting alone in your room or in a church.
|Let all things be done, and all words be spoken, as if you stood before Him and beheld Him. When you eat, let each morsel be sanctified to you by His precious Blood. When you drink, think how He has given you to drink from His smitten side. When you sleep, lie down and rest upon the heart of Jesus. When you speak, remember how He stands before you, and hearkens to each word, and that every movement, and every gesture, and every meaning of your heart, are watched by His eyes.
|And thus more and more will you be lost in the divine Image, and He will be revealed.
|Do you think it will be a loss to lay aside all outward forms?
|Do you think, Is it not well that I should remember the sufferings of the Lord, and look at His image?'
|Dear children, S. Paul has said, We walk by faith, and not by sight,' and it is a cloud and veil to that which is the truth and reality, not a help to seeing it, if you put an image between.
|Not that we should think lightly or seldom of the Lord and His bitter sufferings, but for the very reason that we remember Him and all He suffered with thankfulness and love, should we cast aside our images.
|If a man owed me five pence, and gave me instead five shillings, I should not say that he had wronged me. There is an outward way of beholding the Lord, and there is an inward way. And in this inward beholding and understanding, there are degrees, as we find in Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. If a great master, and a rude and untaught peasant, were placed before a beautiful picture, they would both see it, and yet they would not see alike. For it needs the understanding of the heart. And as far as we are emptied of ourselves, and of all that is not God, shall we have eyes to behold His glory.|