O man, whoever you are, stand still for a moment and think earnestly of the high dignity for which you are created and sent into the world by God. You were not made for time and for passing things, but for God and eternity, and to have your heart filled with God and the things eternal.
You are here for awhile that you may seek the blessed face of God, from which sin has turned you away, so that you fix your eyes on the things below; whereas, if you were turned to Him, you would be filled through and through with light and holiness, and God would have in you His pleasure, His joy, His peace, and His contentment, and you would have yours in Him.
In this one thing all your gladness and blessedness consist, in time and in eternity, which nothing beside God can give you. The outside things of this world can scarcely bring you any pleasure, even for the short time of your weary life. You have within you an eye that is not satisfied with seeing, a mind that can find no rest except in that which is all-sufficient and of endless loveliness, and this is in God alone.
Have you a true desire to find Him and to see His face? See that you do not hinder yourself by your own endeavours. God is a Spirit and near to your spirit. You need not seek and wander far abroad and weary yourself with the reasonings and reflections and questions of your mind and the straining of your head, for by these means you will wander farther from God and the knowledge of His truth.
God is a Spirit, apart in the seclusion of His holiness from this coarse world, apart from the domains of the senses and of reason. And it is when your spirit, your love, your delight, and all your thoughts are withdrawn from this world, and it is as a strange land to you that you will see His face and hear His voice.
God dwells in eternity. He is evermore the same. To Him there is no before nor after, but an everlasting now. And if you would have communion with Him, avoid all needless looking back and looking forward; lay down all your questionings and reasonings and cares, and be as an innocent child in His presence, enjoying the blessed moment of the present, leaving it to Him to lead you and to care for you.
God is a Being with no parts, no limit, beyond all thought and comprehension. He is neither this nor that, but all in one. Therefore if you would have communion with Him, yield gently up all your this and that, all your own peculiar, limited, childish thoughts and imaginations of Him. Let your reason be taken captive by simple faith, and enter with your spirit into the wide, boundless land of stillness and of peace, with nothing to shape and limit your thoughts of Him, especially when you draw near to Him in prayer.
God is purity itself, true and clear as the unclouded light. And in fellowship with Him all that is in your heart must be pure and clear and true. Let the single eye of your heart look straight to God, with no other object besides; no mixture of self-seeking and of side aims and purposes; no known or unknown hypocrisy or pretense or show. And should any false or mixed motive rise up involuntarily, bring it honestly and restfully into His presence and lay it before His face, where it will vanish away; and let the clear sunlight of His countenance shine down upon all your thoughts ands purposes, spread out in simplicity before Him.
God is a Being, loving, gentle, and tender. He is love. And he who dwells in love dwells in God and God in him. Therefore, if you would walk with Him, be gentle and tender and full of love in all your works and ways. Let the spirit of the love of Jesus tame and sweeten the rough oppositions and crabbed tempers of your natural mind, melt down all your hardness, and bend your obstinate self-will; and should any of the bitterness of the old nature rise up, let yourself sink down at once into the deep sea of the gentleness and love of God.
God is a Being, still and peaceful, dwelling in the still eternity. Therefore your mind should be as a still, clear mountain tarn, reflecting the glory of God as in a mirror, where the image is unbroken and perfect. Avoid, therefore, all that would needlessly disturb or confuse or stir up your natural mind, from without or from within. Nothing in the whole world is worth being disturbed about. Even the sins you have committed should humble you but not disturb you. God is in His holy temple. Let all that is in you keep silence before Him silence of the mouth, silence of all desires and all thoughts, silence of labour and toil. Oh, how precious and how useful is a still and quiet spirit in the eyes of God!
God is a Being, joyful, satisfied, and blessed. Let your spirit, therefore, be glad and satisfied. Avoid all anxious cares, all taking of offense, all murmuring and gloominess, which cloud the heart and make it unfit for intercourse with God. Turn gently away when you perceive any of these things likely to beset you. Let the world and passing things be strange and foreign to your heart; but let it be at home with God, in the intimacy of love. Be as strict as you will with yourself and your evil passions and self-love and self-will; but with God be free as a loving child with a Father, confiding restfully in Him, seeing in Him the Friend of your innermost heart, and imagining in Him nothing but perfect love.
Let things around you all go to pieces. Let your body bear the cross and pain and weariness. Let your soul be sorrowful and barren. But let the spirit be untouched by all these things, still and glad, dwelling above the clouds and mists of lower things, satisfied and at peace with God within and His will without.
I would give you some advice which is important as to all this. First, since outward things and needful business are apt to distract the heart when it is still unpracticed in communion with God, it will be good and useful for you purposely to set apart a little time now and then during the day, when you may shut your eyes to the things that are seen, shut out from heart all worldly business, and collect yourself in the presence of God, each one as often as his circumstances will allow.
And, secondly, above all things, bear in mind that all is of grace and not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth. Therefore we must not imagine that by our own diligent striving and racking of our brains we shall find and see God. Our part in drawing near to God can be only an inward, gentle, still, and peaceful yielding or bending of our will, of our love, and our heart, the force being in the working of God, in the hidden drawing of His love, which we must take notice of and follow in simplicity of heart, all our own working being still and silent.
When we perceive that the Lord would raise us to Himself or collect our thoughts, or still us and soothe us; or when we feel the deep blessedness, the childlike fear, which marks His presence with us, then we should yield ourselves up fearlessly to His mighty working and be still and welcome Him, in all simplicity, into the seclusion of our hearts.
Thou wouldst thus, as time goes on, make the experience that thou hast not only an outward man, with body, senses, and reason, a man belonging to this present time and to outward surroundings, but an inward man, a spirit of high nobility, whose home and birthplace are in eternity and having faculties and powers to see and to enjoy God and eternal things, to be satisfied completely, to be at peace in the gladness and the rest of God.
Thy love, thy heart, all the fervor of thy longings and desires, would at last (and this is the end and purpose of our creation and redemption) be emptied of all else, and the heavenly delight, the immeasurable God, would be poured out into this measureless vessel and fill it and possess it.
To this everlasting love, this all-satisfying Being, thou wouldst cling with all the united powers of thy love and delight, with the tenderness of the innermost heart. As an innocent child embraces his well-beloved mother and draws her to himself, so wouldst thou embrace the Eternal Love and be embraced by Him with the blessed embrace of everlasting arms.
With this, the bosom Friend of thy soul, thou wouldst delight to sit alone, shut into the inner-most chamber, the depths of thy heart far, very far, from all outward things, from all beside the Beloved.
In this sweet solitude thou wouldst be satisfied from thyself. (as it is written in Proverbs 14:14) because of the nearness of the all-satisfying One. That is to say, thou wouldst be so perfectly satisfied and filled and soothed alone with thy God that thou wouldst not turn to give a moment's glance at all the glory and the riches and the pleasures of heaven or of earth. But filled with the glow of His mighty love, thou wouldst become gentle and loving and tender - thou wouldst thyself be love.
In the light of God wouldst thou see light, even the truth itself, and this light would be mirrored in the stillness of thy glad and peaceful soul. Thy face without shame or fear, would meet the blessed, unveiled face of thy God. His eyes would meet thine eyes in the fullness of the depths of love, God and the soul redeemed rejoicing together in that tenderest embrace. As a little child thou wouldst look into His face with joy, with the unquestioning eyes of innocent love, and His eyes would rest upon thee as the eyes of a tender mother who delights herself in her child; and thus it is that all the soul is sanctified, and we are changed from glory to glory by beholding Him.
Thus wouldst thou have thy mind and memory filled to the full with the purest and the deepest joy and peace. All thy delight, thy joy and blessedness, would be in God; and His delight and pleasure would be in thee. He would dwell in thee and rest in thee as on His throne of peace and stillness; and thy spirit, that had wandered so long as a homeless orphan in strange lands, would sweetly rest at last in its own home and resting-place and lie down on the bosom of the Father in untroubled peace, hidden far from all strife and turmoil in the still eternity of God.
In this immeasurable, this boundless land of peace, thou wouldst dwell untouched and untroubled by the stormy winds of the old passions and desires, far withdrawn from all disturbing joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, which rave outside the haven of perfect peace.
Be not, therefore, so foolish, so perverse, O glorious creature, made after the image of the eternal God, in making thy royal I will not say, divine spirit, with its glorious faculties, the degraded slave of the small and poor and empty things of this passing world, of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. For it was for this God sent His son, to redeem thee from such slavery, and to bring thee into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
Think that, according to thy noblest faculties, thou art a child of eternity! God himself is the Father and the Fatherland of His redeemed. There is thy city and thy home, the world a place of exile, thy body a prison and a dungeon. Wilt thou not open the door at which the King, the Lord of Hosts, is knocking, that He may come in and abide forever in His glory and His love?
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon