“But this one thing I do.”—Ph1l. 3:13
MINE be the Pauline oblivion of the past. It is well to forget the things which are behind. If I remember too vividly former failures, the recollection will depress my soul and hamper my movements. If I remember too often former attainments, I shall grow contented and make no further progress. There is a tyranny of success as hurtful as the tyranny of defeat. And if I remember too constantly the modes of my religion hitherto, I shall look simply for a repetition of old experiences, instead of desiring fresh gifts. Yes, let me forget.
And mine be the Pauline aspiration towards the future. Like the runner in the chariot race, I should stretch forward to the things which are before. In front of me lie a fuller holiness, a larger likeness to Christ, a deeper humility, a more wide-reaching usefulness, the victory over death, the abundant entrance, the glory yet to be revealed. These things I must seek with the intensity which the man of the world carries into his business, the scholar into his studies, the explorer into his journeys and toils.
And mine be the Pauline endeavour in the present. Always let me be pressing toward the mark for the prize. Some sin I ought to put off every day ; some grace of the new nature I ought to put on. I must open my soul more absolutely to the Holy Ghost. Each hour must bring its work and its battle, its duty to be done, its prize to be gained. “Who would fail for a pause too early?” Ah, life is too solemn, too momentous, too earnest.
By forgetfulness, by expectation, by effort, I grow, I make progress in the pilgrim march, I climb nearer and nearer the summits of God’s snow-white Alps of purity.
THE HEART OF THE ETERNAL
“God is Love.” –1John 4:5
IT is a little flower which I pluck from the garden of St. John’s letter—this fragrant definition of God. Yet it suggests mysteries and miracles for which my intellect has no solution.
For it carries me away into the dateless years of eternity. Always Love has been God’s name ; always Love has summarised and crowned God’s nature. Deep in His heart it lay through these far-off years. But, even then, it cared for me, and foresaw my loss and bitterness and unrest and death. Long before my world was made, God, who is Love, was busy devising my salvation.
I look again at St. John’s rose-blossom, and I see a Cross on the Hill of Reproach. Love could not remain pent up in the breast of God. It must have egress and escape. It broke the confining barriers. The God of love, Plato said with unconscious prophecy, would be found one day lying on the city streets, shoeless, penniless, homeless. It is true of my God. He gave Himself for me. He became, in this apostle’s phrase, the Propitiation for my sins.
Again I lift St. John’s flower, and it awakens in me a glowing hope for myself. There is none so prevalent and powerful as this God of love. I welcome Him; and my heart is transfigured, my life is sublimed. I am changed into His image. I carry His superscription. I dwell myself in love. It becomes my atmosphere and my universe.
God is Love—Love indwelling, Love outflowing and suffering, Love melting and conquering and making all things new.
A PLEASANT SERIOUSNESS
“Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.”—Prov. xxiii. 17.
The fear of the Lord—it is a grand and significant Old Testament word. It depicts a state of mind and heart which might well be more manifest to-day, and which I must seek to cherish and foster within my own soul.
It is fear felt towards the Lord. Do I think, as much and as deeply as I should, of His dazzling and worshipful attributes? His justice cannot be tarnished. His holiness is without flaw. Before the splendour and awfulness of His majesty the angels veil their faces with their wings ; cherubim who know and seraphim who burn feel themselves unworthy as they stand adoring about His throne. He is a most pure Spirit, the old Confession says. His is the sevenfold radiance of divinity. Ah, He merits my reverence and my fear.
But it is also fear felt by the Lord. Many a year after Hebrew psalmists and prophets and sages had finished their course and borne their testimony, God lived and moved, laboured and wept and died, among men—God in the person of my Saviour Jesus Christ. And, when He was here, He knew well this sober and seemly grace. He was heard, the New Testament tells me, for His eulabeia—His godly fear. In my culture and habitual exercise of fear, I am in the best company. I hold fellowship with my Redeemer and my King.
So salutary a fear will deter me from sin. It will deepen my watchfulness and my holiness. It will increase my diligence. It will enable me, always and everywhere, to practise the presence of God. In many directions, at countless times, it will benefit my life. I should cultivate it more. There are shadows more to be desired than all the brilliance of the garish day.