What am I? In my flesh I am but equal to the beasts of the field.
In my heart and mind … I am corrupt Humanity.
In my soul …
I know not what I am or may be,
and therein lies my hope.
O wonderful and mysterious soul,
more fragile than gossamer
and yet so strong
that she may stand in the Presence of God
and not perish!
“Though ye have lien among the pots,
yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove.”— Psalm 68: 13.
By what means shall the ordinary man and woman,
living the usual everyday life, whether of work … or of leisure,
And this without withdrawing themselves into a life apart—
a “religious” life,
and without outward and conspicuous piety
always running to public worship
(though often very cross and impatient at home);
without leaving undone any of the duties necessary
to the welfare of those dependent on them;
without making themselves in any way peculiar;—
how shall these same people go up into the secret places of God,
How shall they find the marvellous peace of God,
how satisfy those vague persistent longings for a happiness
more complete than any they have so far known,
yet a happiness which is whispered of
between the heart and the soul
as something which is to be possessed if we but knew how to get it?
How shall ordinary mortals
whilst still in the flesh re−enter Eden even for an hour?
For Eden is not dead and gone, but we are dead to Eden—
Eden, the secret garden of enchantment
where the soul and the mind and the heart live in the presence of God
and hear once more
“the voice of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3).
It is possible for these things to come to us ..
or we to them, if we set our hearts on them.
First we must desire; and after the desire,
if steady and persistent … God will give.
But we say, “ I have desired and I do desire,
and yet God does not give.
Why is this?”
There are two reasons for it.
For one—are these marvelous things to be given…
because of one cry;
for one petulant demand;
for a few tears, mostly of self−pity,
shed in an hour when the world fails to satisfy us,
when a friend has disappointed us,
when our plans are spoiled,
when we are sick or lonely?
These are the occasions on which we mostly find time
to think of what we call a better world,
and of the consolations of God.
But let anyone have all that he can fancy,
be carried high upon the flood−tide of prosperity, ambition, and success,
and how much time will he or she give to Almighty God?
not even two fleeting moments during the day.
Yet the Maker of all things
( WE SUPPOSE AND ASSUME )
is to bestow His unspeakable riches upon us
in return for two moments of our thought or love!
Does a man acquire great worldly wealth, or fame,
in return for two moments of endeavor ?
“Ah,” some of us may cry, “but it is more than two moments that I give Him;
I give Him hours, and yet I cannot find Him.”
If that is really so,
then the second reason is the one which would explain why He has not been found.
A great wall divides us from the consciousness of the Presence of God.
In this wall there is one Door, and one only, Jesus Christ.
We have not found God because we have not found Him first
as Jesus Christ in our own heart.
Now whether we take our heart to church,
whether we take it to our daily work,
or whether we take it to our amusements,
We shall not find Jesus in any one place … more than another
if He is not already in our hearts to begin with.
How shall I commence to love a Being whom I have never seen?
By thinking about Him;
and that by thinking about Him very clearly and persistently;
by comparing …
the world and its friendships ,
and its loves and its deceits
and its secret enviousness’s
with all that we know of the lovely ways of our gentle Jesus.
If we do this consistently,
it is impossible
not to find Him more lovable
than any other person that we know.
The more lovable we find Him the more we think about Him,
and the more we find ourselves beginning to love Him,
and once we have learned to hold Him very warmly
and tenderly in our heart,
then we are well in the way to find the Christ
and afterwards consequently that divine garden of the soul
in which God seems to slip His hand under our restless anxious heart
and lift it high into a place of safety and peaceful tranquility
When for some time we have learned to go in and out of this garden,
with God’s tender help we make our self a hidden comforting place—
a nest under God’s wing,
and yet mysteriously even nearer than this,
it is so much nearer to God.
To this place we learn to fly
to and fro in a second of time:
so that, though weary and harassed in the everyday of life ,
in an instant a man can be away in his soul’s nest;
and so very great is the refreshment of it
and the strength of it
that he comes back to his endeavors a new man,
and so silently and quickly done … that no one else in the room
would ever know he had been there:
it is a secret between his Lord and himself.
But the person who learns to do this
does not remain the same raw uncivilized creature
that once he or she was:
but slowly must become quite changed;
All tastes must alter, (all capacities will increase in an extraordinary manner),
and all thoughts of heart and mind must become acceptable and pleasant to God.
The man who has not yet begun to seek God—
that is to say, has not even commenced to try and learn how to live spiritually,
but lives absorbed entirely in the things of the flesh—is a spiritual savage.
What raises a man above a savage
is not the size of his dining−room, the cut of his coat, the luxuries of his house,
the learned books that adorn his bookshelves,
but that he should have begun to learn how to live spiritually:
this is the only true civilizing of the human animal.
Until this is commenced, his manners and his ways
are nothing but a veneer
covering the raw instincts of the carnal man …
Instincts satisfied more carefully, and more hidden,
than those of the crude savage, but always the same ,
the crude and the properly mannered.
There is little variety in the lusts of the flesh;
they are all after one pattern, each of its kind,
yet following one another in a circle,
and are very limited.
It is not the clay of our bodies fashioned by God
which makes some spiritually common or savage , and some not.
It is the independent and “Self-Godlike” thoughts
which can make of us common, and even savage, persons.
The changing of these thoughts,
the harmonizing of them,
and, finally, the total alteration of them, is the work in us of the Holy Spirit.
By taking Christ into our hearts ,
and making for Him there , a living nest,
we set that mighty force in motion
which shall eventually make for us a nest in the Living God.
For Jesus Christ is able
(but only with our own entire willingness)
to make us not only acceptable to God,
but delightful to Him.
So that even while we remain in the flesh
He would seem not willing to endure having us away from Him,
but visits us and dwells with us after His own marvelous fashion
and catches us up to Himself.
To begin with, we must have a set purpose
and will towards God.
In the whole spiritual advance it is first God
and then we who must make the effort,
which God will then stabilize,
and finally … on continuing to maintain this effort
He will bring it to complete fruition.
Thus step by step the spirit raises … then the effort … then the gift.
First the will to do , worked into us through the spirit
and then the grace (spiritual empowerment) to do it with.
Without the surrendered will … God gives no grace:
without God’s grace … no will of Man can reach attainment.
God’s will and Man’s will, God’s love and Man’s love
these working and joining harmoniously together
raise Man up into Eternal Life.
* * *
God is desirous of communicating Himself to us in a Personal manner.
In the Scriptures we have the foundation,
the basis, the cause and reason , of our Faith laid out before us;
but He wills that we go beyond this basis,
this reasoning of Faith , into experience of Himself.
For this end, then, He fills us with the aching desire
to find and know Him,
to be filled with Him,
to be comforted and consoled by Him,
to discover His joys.
He fills us with these desires in order that He may be our gratification.
By being willing to receive and understand
only through the medium of the written word
we limit God in His communications with us.
For by the Holy Ghost He will communicate not by written word alone
but by personal touching of love brought about for us
by the taking and enclosing of Jesus Christ within the heart
not only as the Written Word, the Promise and Hope of Scripture,
but as the Living God.
For and toward this end …
inward meditation and pondering are a necessity.
Continue to Chapter 2