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Three Friends Of God by Frances Bevan


The hart panteth after the waters,

The dying for life that departs --

The Lord in His glory for sinners,

For the love of rebellious hearts.

Call back all the days of the ages,

All snow-flakes come down from above,

All flowers of summers departed,

But think not to measure His love.

Behold Him, O soul, where He told it,

Pale, bleeding, and bearing thy sin;

He knocketh, saith, |Open, beloved,

I pray thee to let Me come in.

Behold I have borne all the judgment,

Thy sins, O beloved, are gone;

Forgotten, forgotten for ever,

God seeketh, but findeth not one.

Behold with what labour I won Thee,

Behold in my hands and my feet,

The tale of my measureless sorrow --

Of love that made sorrow so sweet.

A flax-thread in oceans of fire,

How soon swallowed up would it be!

Yet sooner in oceans of mercy,

The sinner that cometh to me.| -- Henry Suso

THUS had Henry Suso learnt of God, from the day when he cast into the Rhine his human inventions, and left it to the Lord to do the work he had so vainly sought to do for himself. He had been the bondsman toiling under a heavy yoke of his own devising. He was now the knight of God, free to serve his glorious Master, and glad and joyful that he was counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

And now that his eyes were no longer fixed upon himself, the Lord could use him as His messenger to bring many souls to Him.

His conversations with his |spiritual daughter,| Elizabeth Staglin, appear to have begun about this time. She asked him one day, What is the beginning of a holy life? |We find,| he said, |different experiences in different people. I know a man in Christ, who, when he was first awakened, searched all through his conscience with great diligence, in order that he might remember all his sins, so that he might tell them all, great and small, to his confessor, in the hope that having fully confessed all, he might depart in peace, with all his sins forgiven, like the penitent woman who washed the feet of the Lord with tears, and to whom the Lord said, Go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee.' This was the beginning of this man's spiritual life.|

Here, it would seem, the conversation was suddenly interrupted, and Henry Suso left Elizabeth to meditate upon his words. She determined promptly to follow the example of this man, and she determined also that the confessor to whom she would tell all her sins, great and small, should be none other than Father Henry. But as she could not, on account of the distance, confess to him by word of mouth, she procured a large tablet of wax, upon which she wrote all the sins she could possibly remember, and sent it to him carefully packed, with the request that he would give her absolution for the whole.

When he had read through the list of sins, he found these words written at the end, |My dear sir, I, sinful woman as I am, fall at your feet, and entreat you, that with your faithful heart you bring me back to the heart of God, so that I may be your spiritual child in time and in eternity.|

|At this implicit confidence in him,| says the story, |he was deeply touched, and he turned to God and said, Merciful God, what shall I, Thy servant, answer to these words? Shall I drive her from me? Lord, I could not do that to a little dog. Lord, if I were to do as she desires, it might doubtless be displeasing to Thee, my Lord; for she is seeking in the servant the abundance of riches which are only to be found in the Master, in Thee, my loving Lord! I fall with her before Thy blessed feet, Thou gracious God, and I implore Thee, that Thou wilt grant her request. O Lord, let her have the answer to her petition, for behold, she crieth after us. What didst Thou, Lord, for that heathen woman? O Heart of Love, the tidings of Thine endless mercy have been told us far and wide, and were her sins yet more and greater, forgiveness is in Thee. Lord, turn Thine eyes of tenderness upon her, speak to her but that single word of consolation,| Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath saved thee.| |

And the servant sent an answer back by the messenger who brought the tablet, and he said to her that the thing which she had asked of him, was already granted to her, and that she now knew well that it was given to her, not by the servant of whom she had asked it, but by the Father Himself, who had welcomed her to His heart, so that she could go in peace, and show to all men what it was the Lord had done for her. For the Lord had shown him that God had spoken to her heart, and the angels had seen with gladness and rejoicing the grace that was given her. And thus did she go on her way, praising the Lord for His great salvation.

It is to be hoped that she learnt after a while that the true list of her sins could by no means be compressed into the tablet of wax.

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