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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER XXXVII THE CLOUD

Three Friends Of God by Frances Bevan

CHAPTER XXXVII THE CLOUD

AFTER all this history has been told, there remains for us the question, what is it that we have learnt in these latter days of fuller light, beyond that which the beloved |friends of God,| in those old days, believed and enjoyed?

Perhaps few there are, who have learnt more than they learnt. And yet it would be unthankful to deny that God has shown us things which they desired to see and did not see, although those things were plainly written in the Word of God. Their eyes were holden, as ours have so often been, as ours still are, with regard to many a blessed truth which in time, may be, we shall discover in that treasury of grace.

Perhaps the chief want that we may remark in the teaching of the Master was this: he does not seem clearly to have seen that the favour of God to us, and His delight in us, are not to be measured by the blessed work of the Spirit in us, but by that which Christ Himself is to the Father, who beholds Him and is satisfied. It is upon Christ that the eyes of God are set, and it is in Him that we are well-pleasing -- how perfectly well- pleasing to the Father's heart! Not a shade or stain, not a spot or wrinkle, in that Perfect One who stands before God. His righteousness ours, as our sin was counted once to Him.

The Master saw this last most blessed truth, but he does not seem to have been able fully to withdraw his eyes from his own state, and look up to Christ as the answer to the inquiry of his heart, |Is God well pleased with me?|

He knew, and believed the love that God had to him, but the delight of God in him he did not so fully know, for he measured it more or less by the work of the Spirit in his soul.

Let us not condemn him for this. For in this he was not believing an error, but he was looking only at a part, not at the whole, of the Word of God. It would be more to the purpose to condemn ourselves.

For whilst that great and blessed truth, which the Master saw so dimly, has been made clear to us -- whilst we rejoice in knowing that we stand before God in Christ, and in Him only, we are perhaps apt to forget the other part of the truth of God, which the Master saw and taught.

We see clearly that |herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.| But more often we fail to remember, |If ye keep My commandments ye shall abide in My love,| and |He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.| That is to say, that our sense and enjoyment of the love of God, our communion and rest of heart in Him, are truly measured by the love, and obedience, and devotedness to Him, wrought in us by the Holy Ghost.

|If a man love Me, he will keep My words and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.|

The Master understood and felt these words as perhaps few of us do in these days of greater light and colder love.

But when the sense of his own imperfection lay heavy on his heart, it would have been well for him could he have looked entirely away from himself, and up to Christ, thus to learn that though the cloud had come between his soul and God, the unchangeable love of God to His Blessed Son, the eternal and perfect delight of God in Him, were also his unchangeable inheritance, and that it was only the enjoyment and the rest of communion with him, that were at times withdrawn, because this rest and gladness are dependent on obedience and faithfulness.

Thus the Master was at times cast down, and as he said, the sweetness and the gladness departed from him; and he then said to himself, |If God will have me thus to suffer loss and desolation, His will be done.|

But whilst we would be glad to find that he learnt more clearly his acceptance in the Beloved of God, let us also confess with shame and sorrow, how often we have allowed this blessed confidence to make us careless in our walk and ways, and less grieved and humbled than the Master was, when we have so forgotten the words of Christ, that He has ceased to make His abode with us.

Is it not a sad and humbling fact, that very frequently, amongst those who speak most of their perfect and changeless acceptance in Christ, pride and vanity, deceit and covetousness, strife and division, are bringing dishonour to the name of God?

Let us, therefore, grieve for the Master, that whilst he was down here, he saw not all that we see -- but let us grieve more for ourselves, that in spite of the light granted us, we love not as he loved, nor walk as humbly with our God, as did his |Friends| in the early dawn of the day.

From their words and labours a great harvest sprang up two hundred years later, and the stream from which they drank became a mighty river, which overflowed the earth. But where is now their love?

|As the bridegroom to his chosen,

As the king unto his realm,

As the keep unto the castle,

As the pilot to the helm,

So Lord, art Thou to me.

As the fountain in the garden,

As the candle in the dark,

As the treasure in the coffer,

As the manna in the ark,

So Lord, art Thou to me.

As the music at the banquet,

As the stamp unto the seal,

As the medicine to the fainting,

As the wine-cup at the meal,

So Lord, art Thou to me.

As the ruby in the setting

As the honey in the comb,

As the light within the lantern,

As the father in the home,

So, Lord, art Thou to me.

As the sunshine to the heavens,

As the image to the glass,

As the fruit unto the fig-tree,

As the dew unto the grass,

So, Lord, art Thou to me.

As the lily of the valley,

White, and pure, and sweet;

As the lowly violet trodden

Under wandering feet --

As the rose amidst the briars

Fresh and fair is found,

Heedless of the tangled thicket,

And the thorns around --

As the sun-flower ever turning

To the mighty sun,

With the faithfulness of fealty

Following only on --

So make me, Lord, to Thee.|

-- John Tauler

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