How to Live a Holy Life
C. E. Orr
A person may almost be known by the books he reads. If he habitually reads bad books, we can pretty safely conclude that he is a bad man; on the other hand, if he habitually reads religious books, we can reasonably presume that he is a religious man. Why is this? It is because the nature of a person's books is usually the nature of his thoughts; and as a man thinks, so he is.
Consequently, our reading devotional literature is a great aid to our being devotional. Too few, I fear, realize how important to our spiritual advancement is the cultivation of a taste for devotional reading. As a rule, those who have a taste for spiritual books and gratify that taste prosper in the Lord, while those who have no relish for such books labor at a great disadvantage. Some one has said that "he who begins a devout life without a taste for spiritual reading may consider the ordinary difficulties multiplied in his case by ten." The most spiritual men of all ages have had a strong love for reading spiritual books. If, however, my reader happens not to have such a taste or such a love, he should not be discouraged, for it can be created and increased through perseverance in reading devotional literature. Just as a person who does not relish a certain food may learn to like it if he will persist in eating it, so a person who does not have a taste for devotional books may come to enjoy them if he will diligently and prayerfully peruse them.
Spiritual reading invigorates the intellect, warms the affections, and begets in us a desire for more of God's fulness and for a more heavenly life. It is especially helpful to prayer. When the mind is dull and the spirits low and we have no inspiration for prayer, the reading of a spiritual poem will often so stimulate the mind, raise the spirits, and animate the soul, as to make it easy for us to pray.
As to what books to read, the Bible, of course, is the best of all. But we need others. Although no other book can take the place of the Bible and none of us should neglect reading it, there are many books that can profitably be read in connection with it.
But whatever devotional book you are reading, do not read too fast. Think and digest as you go. Let there be a frequent lifting of the heart to God in prayer. It is not the bee that flies so swiftly from flower to flower that gathers the honey, but the bee that goes down into the flower. A few sentences taken into the mind and heart, and dwelt upon until they have become a part of us, are better than many pages read superficially.
If the reading of this little book encourages any on their pilgrim way; if it arouses them to greater diligence; if it creates in them a stronger desire to live more like Christ; if it gives them a better understanding of how to live,—this poor servant of the Lord will be fully rewarded for all his labor.
Even among the children of God in this beautiful gospel light of the evening there is an inclination, on the part of a few at least, and maybe more than a few, to slow down and not be their very best and most active for God. We hope that this little book will arouse such ones to greater zeal and earnestness. Diligence, yea, constant application, is the secret of success in all manner of life and especially in the Christian life.
This volume is written for all those who desire to please God with a well -spent life. It is sent forth in Jesus' name, with a prayer—that God bless and help both the reader and the writer to live life at its very best and fulfil the purpose of God concerning them.
Your humble servant in Christian love,
We have only one life to live, only one. Think of this for a moment. Here we are in this world of time making the journey of life. Each day we are farther from the cradle and nearer the grave. Solemn thought. See the mighty concourse of human lives; hear their heavy tread in their onward march. Some are just beginning life's journey; some are midway up the hill, some have reached the top, and some are midway down the western slope. But where are we all going? Listen, and you will hear but one answer—"Eternity." Beyond the fading, dying gleams of the sunset of life lies a boundless, endless ocean called Eternity. Thitherward you and I are daily traveling.
Time is like a great wheel going its round. On and on it goes. Some are stepping on and some are stepping off. But where are these latter stepping? Into eternity. See that old man with bent form, snow-white locks, and tottering steps. His has been a long round, but he has made it at last. See the middle-aged. His round has not been so long, but he must step off. See the youth. He has been on only a little while, but he is brought to the stepping-off place. He thought his round would be much longer. He supposed he was fairly getting started when that icy hand was laid upon him and the usher said, "Come, you have made your round, and you must go." The infant that gave its first faint cry this morning may utter its last feeble wail tonight. And thus they go. But where? Eternity.
If you were to start today and ask each person you met the question, "Where are you going?" and, if possible, you were to travel the world over and ask each one of earth's inhabitants, there could be but one answer— "Eternity."
"Oh, eternity, Long eternity! Hear the solemn footsteps Of eternity."
Only one life to live! Only one life, and then we must face vast, endless eternity. We shall pass along the pathway of life but once. Every step we take is a step that can never be taken again. With this fact in mind, who does not feel like calling upon the All-wise to direct his every step. If when we make a misstep we could go back and step it over, then there would not be such great necessity to step carefully. But we can never go back. We are leaving footprints. Just as our steps are, so will the footprints be which will tell the story of our life. If we had a score of lives to live, how to live this one would not be of such great moment. We should then have nineteen lives in which to correct the errors and sins of this one; but alas! we have but one. What, then, should we seek more earnestly than to know how to live?
We doubt not but there is in the heart of the reader a strong desire to live life as it should be lived. Thank God, you can. You desire your life to be like the fertile oasis, where the weary traveler refreshes himself. You have seen the rays of light lingering upon the hillside and treetop and gilding the fleecy cloud after the sun had gone down. You desire the beautiful rays of light from your life to linger long after your sun has gone down. You can have it that way. The deeds you do will live after you are gone. They are the footprints. Some one has said that we each day are here building the house we are going to occupy in eternity. If this be true, nothing should concern us so much as how to live. Some men are devoting their time and the power of their intellects to invention; some are studying statesmanship; some are studying the arts, others the sciences; but we have come to learn a little more about how to live. Many are thinking much about how they wish to die, but let us learn how to live. If we live well, we shall die well.
Since we have but one life to live and with it we must face eternity, I am sure there are many who want to make the most of life. There are many who want to be their best in life. This is not a play-ground, or a place to trifle with time. It is a place of work and effort, a place of purpose and earnestness, a place to do something. Life is not given us to squander nor fritter away, but was given us to accomplish a purpose in the mind of the Creator. If we will set ourselves to live as we should, God will help us and no man can hinder us. We are purchasing treasures for eternity by making a proper use of time. To trifle away time is indeed to be the greatest of spendthrifts. If you squander a dollar, you may regain it; but a moment wasted can never be regained.
There is great responsibility in life. It means much to live. The time was when you and I were not, now we are. We are, and there can never come a time when we shall not be. You and I shall always exist somehow, somewhere. One sweet thought to me is that I have time enough to do all that God intends for me to do, and do it well. Then comes another thought—a thought that awes: the good that I do, the sum of my usefulness, will be less than it should be if I spend a moment of time uselessly. God will give us all the time we need to accomplish all he purposes us to accomplish, but he does not give us one moment to trifle away.
The mission of this little volume is to strengthen and energize and help you to spend life as you should. May it please the Great Teacher, who has promised to "show us the path of life," to bless this little work and by it help some one to a pure and noble life and to the accomplishment of all God's design in giving them life.
Devotional Reading............................................. 4
The Way the Sail is Set (Poem)................................ 15
The Model Life................................................ 17
How to Live the Christ-Life................................... 22
The Bible Way................................................. 25
The Heavenly Way.............................................. 29
Keeping the Commandments...................................... 31
"Be Doers of the Word"........................................ 37
Who are the Wise?............................................. 39
Keeping the Commandments a Test of Love....................... 41
The Blessedness of Obeying God's Word......................... 43
The Relationship We Have with Christ through Obedience........ 45
Our Life is to Adorn the Gospel............................... 46
The Christian an Epistle of Christ............................ 48
How We may Live as the Bible Reads............................ 50
How to Keep the Word of God in the Heart...................... 52
Man the Vehicle for Exhibiting God's Perfections.............. 54
Some Use to Jesus (Poem)...................................... 63
Godly Living.................................................. 65
Something to Do............................................... 69
Spiritual Dryness............................................. 76
Keep the Roots Watered........................................ 85
Under the Fig-Tree............................................ 87
Shut the Door................................................. 91
Alone with God................................................ 93
Prayerful Remembrance (Poem).................................. 95
He Careth for Thee............................................ 96
"Consider the Lilies"........................................ 102
Sorrowful Yet always Rejoicing............................... 105
The Christian Walk........................................... 124
The Christian is to Walk Circumspectly....................... 125
The Latest Improved.......................................... 129
The Christian's Walk a Walk with God......................... 130
A Holy Life.................................................. 148
How to Understand God's Will................................. 160
A View of Jesus.............................................. 164
Devotion to God.............................................. 166
The Golden Rule of Life...................................... 174
Timeliness in Doing Good..................................... 177
The Warfare of a Christian Life.............................. 181
Life by Faith................................................ 183
A Valuable Legacy............................................ 185
Some Scriptures for Daily Practise........................... 188
THE WAY THE SAIL IS SET.
I stood beside the open sea; The ships went sailing by; The wind blew softly o'er the lea; The sun had cloudless sky.
Some ships sailed eastward, some sailed west, Some north, some southward trend. How can ships sail this way and that? But one way blows the wind.
An old sea-captain made reply (His locks with salt-spray wet): "'Tis not the wind decides the course; 'Tis way the sails are set."
* * * * *
I stand beside the sea of life; The ships go sailing by; The winds blow fair from heaven's land; No clouds bedim the sky.
But one sails eastward, one sails west, One north, one southward goes: How can ships sail this way and that With selfsame wind that blows?
A voice made answer to my soul: "'Tis not how blows the gale; Each voyager decides the goal By way he sets the sail."—Selected.
How to Live a Holy Life
THE MODEL LIFE.
In doing anything, it is always well to have a model by which to fashion our work. In fact, nothing is done without a pattern, either real or imaginary. The little boy making a toy has in in his mind a model by which he is framing his work. Likewise, the sculptor has in his mind a model, and as the "marble wastes, the image grows" into the likeness of the vision in his soul.
To live this one life of ours as it should be lived, we must have a perfect model after which to pattern. Thank God, this perfect model of life can be found. Of all the vast number of lives that have been lived since Adam down to this present day, there has been only one that we can take as a model. This one is the life of Jesus. He says, "I am the life." To live this life of ours well, to live it to the highest degree of perfection, we must fashion it according to the glorious life of Christ. The life of Jesus is the model life for every other human life. He invites us, yea, commands us, to follow him, to step in his steps, to walk as he walked.
There have been many good men in the world, but none of them afford us a true pattern of life. There was a man who said, "Be ye followers of me," but he immediately added, "even as I also am of Christ." Man may so live as to reveal to us the life of Christ. We can then follow, not them, but the Christ-life they manifested through them.
Let me here say a word on a subject on which we may have more to say hereafter. The grandest, noblest work man has ever done is by his life to reveal the life of Christ to another, thereby helping that person to be fashioned more after the image of Jesus. A little flower grew in a place so shaded that no ray from the sun could fall directly upon it. A window was so situated that at a certain time in the afternoon it refracted the sun's rays and threw them upon the flower, thus giving it color and beauty, and aiding it to bloom. Some people are living in the dense shade. No light from Christ has ever shined upon them. If you so live as to refract the life of Christ and turn it upon them and thus stamp upon them a holier life, you have not lived in vain. To set the life of Christ in its purity and beauty before some one and influence him, though only a little, to live better and love Jesus more, is a work the worth of which can never be computed. He who helps another to a better way of living does more than he who gains great worldly honor and riches. Blessed indeed is that life which causes some other life to be more like Christ. Oh, may this thought seize upon our hearts and fill us with a greater passion to live the life of God.
We are told by the voice of Scripture to be "followers of God as dear children." When children are dear to the heart of the parent, he loves to have them obey him. God's children are dear to him, and he would have them follow him. To follow God is to imitate him, or be like him. This is the true way of life.
A text of Scripture as rendered by the Revised Version is very appropriate here: "Like as he which has called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living." 1 Pet. 1:15. Only those who live godly in their entire manner of life are spending the days of their pilgrimage as they should. Jesus has walked the true way of life; we are told to walk in his steps. If we will step each day just where Jesus stepped, then on looking back, we can not see a footprint of our own; but if we take a single misstep, our footprint will show our departure from the true way of life. How deep and awful are the words of Scripture wherein we are commanded to walk even as "Jesus walked"! Jesus says, "I am the way." There is no other right and perfect way. If we will walk as Jesus walked, then we shall walk in the true path of life. This only is the pathway that leads up to the golden gates of glory and the sweet fields of heaven. That bright world of bliss encourages us on. If we will follow Jesus and live as he lived, God's approval will be upon us, and his outstretched hand will help us along life's way and finally over the turbulent river of death to the sunlit shore of eternal rest.
Many times we may become wearied and think the toils of the way almost too heavy; but when we remember that it is the way that Jesus trod, then the heavens open to our view, we look forward to the mansion prepared for us, and the toils of the way grow lighter.
See that aged pilgrim journeying down the western slope of life. The sun is nearing the setting. Long and toilsome has been his pilgrimage, but he has walked in the path his Savior trod. For many years his life has been hid with Christ in God. In Him he has lived and moved and had his being. Now he is making his last step on the shore of time; he passes out of our sight through the gates into that land where toils are ended and the sun never sets. But his life was the life of Jesus. He was holy as God is holy; he walked as Jesus walked. This is how to live. This is the true way of life and the only way to life eternal. He who does not live with Christ on earth can not live with him in heaven, and he who does not live as Jesus lived does not live as he should. The life of Christ was the perfect life. Ours is perfect to the degree that we imitate him.
Take my life, O Christ divine, Make it holy, just like thine; Every act and thought and word Be an outflow from my God.
Guide my feet and keep my heart; Let me not from thee depart; Let me breathe thy warming love, That my soul be drawn above.
Draw me, Jesus, closer draw; Thy strong arm around me throw; Draw me to thy pierced side; In thy bosom let me hide.
Teach me all thy will and word, That my life be filled with God; Teach me, Lamb of Calvary, How to live this life for thee.
HOW TO LIVE THE CHRIST-LIFE.
Man can not naturally live the Christ-life. But Christ has promised to come into our hearts and live in us. In order that we may have Christ dwell in our hearts and that we may live his life, there must be a giving up of our self-life. There must be annihilation of self that Christ may live. It is truly wonderful and as glorious as it is wonderful that man can live the life of Christ in this world. But here is the secret: it is man ceasing to live the self-life and Christ living in him.
Imagine a hollow brass figure in the exact image of a man. Suppose you fill this hollow figure with a kind of life which we shall call self-life. This life goes to using the hands and feet, and eyes, ears, tongue, in short, all the members of this brass figure, but using them in the interest of itself. Now you desire to make a change; you want that image to speak, act, and think only for you. You must first put to death the life that is using the figure, cleanse it entirely out, and then get into it yourself. Once in, you can use all the members of that image for yourself. Your body is that image. There was a life in you that used all the members of your body in the interest of self. But there has been a change. You were made a new creature. The life you once had was put to death—was crucified; then Christ stepped into your heart, and now he uses all the members of your body for himself. You still live, yet not you, but Christ lives in you. Once you did things for yourself; now you do them for Christ. Just as you once lived purposely and intentionally for yourself, now you do things purposely and intentionally for Jesus, because it is he that lives, and not you yourself. You remember how once you would plan for yourself. In the evening as you lay upon your bed and again in the morning and throughout the day you would think about what you were going to eat or drink, what you were going to have for clothing, where you were going to live, where you were going to go, and what you were going to do. But now you are changed; you are a new creature. Now it is not you that lives, but Christ lives in you. Now you eat not for yourself but for Jesus. You now go, not where self would lead you, but where that life in you loves to go and would have you go. You do things, not for yourself, but for Jesus.
O Christ, I die, that thou mayst live, That thou mayst live in me; That all I think or speak or do, May be, O Lord, for thee.
May not the least of self remain, But all be put to death. Oh, may I nothing do for self, Nor draw one selfish breath!
To have my Savior live in me, To occupy the whole, To make my heart his royal throne And take complete control—
'Tis all I ask; 'tis all I wish; 'Tis all my heart's desire, Content if but a wayside bush To hold God's holy fire.
Low at thy feet, O Christ, I fall A yielded lump of clay, For thee to mold me as thou wilt, To have thy own sweet way.
THE BIBLE WAY.
If the Bible had not been given us, we should not always know the way that Jesus walked. But he has given us his Word. The way of the Bible is the way of Christ, and is therefore the true path of life. O pilgrim to the heavenly kingdom, the Word of God will be a lamp unto thy feet and a light unto thy way. It will lighten you home. There will never be a day so dark but the beams of light from the blessed Bible will pierce through the darkness and fall with a bright radiance upon your pathway. If sometimes you can not see just where Jesus stepped, take the precious Book of God, and it will be a lamp to show you the way he trod. One wintry morning a father went a long distance through the deep snow to feed his sheep. A few hours later a little boy was sent to call his father home. The child was carefully stepping in the footprints before him, but soon a dark cloud arose and the blinding snow-storm so dimmed his eye that he frequently stepped aside. In the beautiful, clear light of the Bible we can see all the way that Jesus trod. If we will walk according to the Bible, we shall walk as Jesus walked and not show a double track. Make the blessed Word of God your guide if you would walk aright the path of life and be happy.
"And often for your comfort you will read the Guide and Chart: It has wisdom for the mind and sweet solace for the heart; It will serve you as a mentor; it will guide you sure and straight All the time that you will journey, be the ending soon or late."
'The Scriptures are given by inspiration of God and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect' 2 Tim. 3:16. If by faith we receive into our hearts the instruction in righteousness as given by the Scriptures, it will make us perfect in this life. O reader, if you would know how to live, study the Bible. It points out the way clearly and plainly. Let its truths in all their power reach to the depth of thy heart. Let thy soul seize upon the Bible and drink its strength and sweetness as the bee sips the sweetness from the flower. As the animal eats the plant and by assimilation converts it into animal life, so eat the Book of God and convert it into human life. It is the food of angels. But rather than its being the Bible converted into human life, it is human life transformed into the purity of the Bible. There are great depths to the Bible. The simplest text contains depths to which we can ever be descending.
They who would live a perfect life must set the life of Christ before them as portrayed by the Holy Scriptures. You can not see much of this perfect life by a passing glance. It is he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues to look that will see the perfect life which it pictures. The artist must look long at the landscape and get it imaged upon his soul before he can produce it upon the canvas. The Bible description of the life of Christ must fill your soul with admiration and with a strong desire to possess it. Your heart must lay hold upon it until that life is focused and printed upon your own soul. It is like the art of photographing. The object must be set before the heart.
The Bible is the light that shines the image of Christ upon the soul. For the pure in heart to develop into higher spiritual life, they must gain such an admiration for the beauty of Christ that they will long to possess him in greater fulness. The pleading of the heart will be, "Lord, let thy beauty be upon us." Their souls will follow hard after his perfections. In no other way will the soul unfold and develop into the higher Christian life. He who has not learned how to grow in grace has not yet learned how to live. To live life in the best possible manner is to be making constant progress. Oh, let us give this world our best life! When we are nearing the end of the way and life's sun is sinking low, if on looking back we can see nothing but a life spent in the service of God, walking in the light of his Word, this will afford us untold satisfaction.
O blessed Word of eternal life, The lamp to guide the way Through this weary world of sin and strife To heaven's perfect day!
THE HEAVENLY WAY.
There is a heaven. There is a place of rest and happiness. I have not gone to heaven, but heaven has come to me; therefore I know there is a heaven. Many who have eaten oranges have never been in a land where oranges grow, but these persons know there must be such a land, because they have tasted its fruit. Likewise, I know there is a heaven because I daily taste its joy.
Not only is there a heaven, but there is a way to heaven. All can go who will. Heaven is a holy place, and the way to heaven is a holy way. A prophet of God said, "An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness." The Christian dwells in a heavenly place.
The writer to the saints at Ephesus says, "He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places." To live in a heavenly place, we must live a heavenly life. Those who do not live a heavenly life on earth will never live in heaven. The heavenly life is the only life worth living. It is the only life that ends in heaven. The way of holiness is the way of happiness. Holy and happy is the true and right life of man. This one brief life of ours should be constant holiness and happiness. Without these, life is not as it should be. It is our privilege in Christ to walk the path of life in perfect peace and joy and in perfect holiness. Such a life will flow out into an eternity of joys unspeakable.
Wait thou on God, O soul of mine! Listen to know his will; Light will come from the golden throne If thou, O soul, be still.
If thou wouldst sail on tranquil sea, Wait thou on God, my soul. Speak, act, and think alone in him; Sweet rest shall be thy goal.
If thou wouldst have life's way to be Verdant as the growing sod, Take each step 'neath the guiding eye, Keep in close touch with God.
Sweet heavenly life! sweet happy life! Thy joys increase each day. O soul of mine, press up and on This high and holy way.
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS.
God's Word is pure. Heaven itself and the great white throne is no more pure than the Word of God. That life may be pure, it must be in sweet harmony with the blessed Bible. A life that is lived in obedience to the Bible is as pure as the Bible. Such a life is pure enough for heaven. The writer of Revelation, being in the Spirit, saw "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." This pure stream was the wonderful word of life. It was as pure as its source, which was the throne of God. The life through which this pure stream flows will be as pure as the throne.
One of the Psalm-writers said, "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." "Thy word is pure; therefore thy servant loveth it." The writer of Proverbs says, "Every word of God is pure." When the veil is drawn aside and our souls are brought face to face with the purity of the Bible, then we understand that a Bible life is the best, purest, noblest, and holiest life that can be lived upon the earth.
O soul of mine, unveil thine eye, Look upward to thy God, A wreath of purity to see Crowning his every word.
In the following words we have the sum of all true and right living: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man." Eccl. 12:13. This text as rendered in the Septuagint version brings out clearer the true signification: "Hear the end of the matter, the sum. Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole man." Man is not entire, he is not complete as originally intended, when not keeping all the commands of God. Something is lacking in the life that is not in full obedience to every word of God.
The Bible speaks of a beautiful city in that bright, celestial world. It is a city of pure gold, clear as glass. Its walls are of jasper; its twelve foundations are garnished with all manner of precious stones; its twelve gates are gates of pearl; its streets are pure gold. In that fair city there is no sin, no pain, no sickness; sorrow and trouble never come there; a tear shall never fall from any eye, for no tears are there. There is no death in that wonderful city so fair. In the midst of the street stands the tree of life. Oh, who does not desire to dwell forever and forever in that city of love and light when the pains and sorrows, the trials and tears, of this weary life are over?
Listen while I read to you in accents clear, distinct, and unmistakable— "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Rev. 22:14. O traveler to eternity, your entrance into the beautiful, glorious city of God depends upon your conduct respecting the commandments of God while you are making the journey across the turbulent sea of life. Keeping the commandments of God is man's whole duty. If he does his whole duty through life, he will come up out of the dark valley and shadow of death, and find the gates of pearl unfolding. Who will not cleave to the commandments of God? Who will not obey his voice and walk daily in his holy ways? The obedient will be rewarded by an unfading inheritance in that eternal city of gold. There is a beautiful mansion in the great house of God for every obedient soul. Oh, how blessed!
I am thinking of heaven tonight, Of the mansion prepared there for me, Where Jesus my Savior now dwells, And where I am longing to be.
Will not heaven be well worth a life of obedience to the Word of God, though obedience calls us through storms of persecutions, furnaces of trials, oceans of tribulations, and years of toil and suffering? To Moses the reproaches of Christ were greater treasures than the riches of Egypt, "for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." Sit quiet for a moment and by a strong eye of faith look away into heaven and see that bright mansion prepared for you. See those jasper walls, those pearly gates, and those golden walks. See the crown of life, the harp of God, and the light of the Lamb. Shall we not bear the trials of life a little longer in patience? Shall we not be watchful to walk in God's ways and obey him, that this rich inheritance may be ours forever? Methinks I can hear a reply coming from the depths of many a sincere, trusting heart— "Yes, I will live in humble obedience to God on earth, that I may be with him forever in that celestial city of light." God bless you!
Beyond the shores of time and the kingdoms of this world is a kingdom called the kingdom of heaven. It is the place where God has his great white throne, around which the angels play upon their golden harps and shout, "Blessing and honor and glory and praise and might be unto God forever and ever." It is around this throne that those who have passed through the tribulations and the trying scenes of this lower world and burst through the gates of death are singing redemption's sweet song. Who does not desire to join that happy, heavenly throng and wave those palms and wear those white robes and sing those sweet songs over beyond the shadowy vale of death? I seem to hear many voices saying, "I hope to be among that blood-washed throng." Let me tell you in all tenderness and love, but very plainly, that the realization of your hope depends entirely upon how you live while here in this world. Oh, how much in that great and awful future is depending upon our manner of life in this time-world! Let us learn to live well, to be our best every day.
We may dream of a home in heaven; we may entertain hopes of seeing Jesus and of inheriting a mansion on the shores of eternal bliss; we may imagine ourselves walking through the blooming fields of paradise and sitting beneath the tree of life; but our dreams, our hopes, and our imaginations will never be realized unless we carefully keep the commandments of God. More than a profession is necessary; obedience is the only door into the kingdom of God. Jesus said, "Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Until our faith pierces through and beholds the beauties and the realities of God so we can say from the very depths of the soul, "I delight to do thy will, O God." and, "My meat and my drink is to do the will of Him that sent me," we have not fully entered the true and right pathway of life. Keeping the commands of God is the whole man and the whole of a perfect life.
"BE DOERS OF THE WORD."
I want to remind you again that the mission of this little volume is to teach you how to live. The life beyond depends on the life here. Let me emphasize what I have repeatedly said before: to live as we should, we must live by every word of God. To live by every word of God is not only to hear it but also to do it. We have learned that, in order to enter the city of God and eat of the tree of life, we must do his commandments, and also that it is not "every one that sayeth, Lord, Lord, that shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Now I will read you a text from the Epistle of James, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." We are living in a careless age. The Word of God is being treated with neglect. Many are hearing it, but alas! how few are doing it! In this way people deceive themselves. They think they are on their way to heaven, when they are not. The only way to heaven is by doing the commandments. To illustrate this, I will refer you to a few texts. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." Rom. 12:20. "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matt. 5:39. "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31. If it comes most natural for us to live according to these texts, we can begin to conclude that our hearts are right with God. However, we must have a heart that does not rebel against any text in the Bible.
We are exhorted earnestly by the apostle Peter to make our "calling and election sure." The only way to do so is to live to every word of God. Oh, my dear reader, those sweet hopes you have had of reaching heaven and of seeing Jesus and those dear loved ones who have gone before you to that other side will never be realized by you unless you be a diligent doer of the Word of God. I feel like warning you against all carelessness and neglect, and to keep yourself in the love of God. See that your heart and life reads each day as the Bible reads, and you will then have an unshaken foundation for your faith and hope. If you would know how to live and make the best of life, read the Bible much and conform your life to its teaching.
WHO ARE THE WISE?
Who is a foolish man? It is a man who hears the sayings of Jesus and fails to do them. He is likened to a man who was foolish enough to build his house upon the sand. This man would better not have built at all, for the cost of building was lost. He could have had the money for his use and enjoyment if he had not wasted it in building a house on the sand. A foolish man, indeed! Who is a wise man? It is the man who hears the sayings of Jesus and does them. He is likened to a man who built his house upon a rock. From a temporal standpoint nothing else is so conducive to man's happiness as a good home. No better use can be made of money than to spend it in the building of a home, provided the house be built upon a sure foundation. A man who hears God's Word and does it is likened to such a man. To build up a Christian character in obedience to the Bible is the greatest wisdom. That is building a mansion in heaven.
A real, true Christian experience and life cost something, but they pay, because they will stand. A mere profession of Christianity may cost something also, but it does not pay, since it will not stand. A man who erects his house upon the sand can build at less cost than he who digs deep and lays his foundation upon the rock, but at the very time when the former man most needs his house—when the winds blow and the rain falls— that is when it is destroyed. On the other hand, the man who builds upon a rock has a house to shelter him through the storms. Likewise, he who builds up a Christian experience in obedience to the Word of God will have something to serve him in a time of need.
We thus learn from Jesus' parable of the wise and the foolish house -builders that obeying the Bible is the true way of life.
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS A TEST OF LOVE.
We are commanded to love God. It is the first and greatest commandment. Love is more than an emotion; it is an act of the will. A mother loves her child constantly, though she may not always experience the emotions of love. Her care for her child is a proof of her love. We may not always experience a feeling of love toward God, but we can always love him. Our love is measured, not by our emotions, but by our obedience—our service. We labor for those we love, and the love makes the labor light. It is not an irksome thing to obey God when we love him.
It is possible to make a profession of love to God and not really love him. It may be that many are deceived at this point. One scripture says, "If any man love God, the same is known of him." Jesus says, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Love is something more than mere words. It is useless to make a profession of love to Jesus and not do what he says. A husband can not convince his wife of his love by a mere profession of love, but he can convince her by his acts. We are to love, not in word and tongue only, but also in deed and in truth. Again, Jesus says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words." Here is an unfailing test of love. If you will not obey God, he knows you do not love him, no matter how much you may profess to love him.
So again we are reminded by the Holy Bible that, in order to spend this brief life of ours as we should, we must keep the commandments of God. No other life will find acceptance with God. No other life will please him. He desires your love most certainly, but he wants such love as will prompt you to obey him. Do not measure your Christian experience by your feelings, but measure it by your obedience as proceeding from an internal principle. When you find something in your heart that causes you to obey God no matter how you feel, you have good reason to hope that you are a Christian.
In subsequent chapters I will tell you something of what God's Word teaches, but, first of all, I desire to fully convince you, and to help you to feel, that the right and true way of life is in obedience to its teaching.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF OBEYING GOD'S WORD.
Everything is said in the Scriptures that can be said to show us the need of living in harmony with the Bible. If our lives are out of harmony with one text in that blessed book, we are not yet fitted for heaven. We can never be admitted into the everlasting kingdom of God if we knowingly refuse or neglect to live to every word of God. We are therefore exhorted, beseeched, entreated, encouraged, warned, and commanded to obey every text in the Bible. We are encouraged to obedience by being told of the blessedness of keeping the commandments.
It is natural for mothers to love to have their children well spoken of. We do not fault them for this. When a young man, by his good deportment, is gaining a fair name, mothers, when together, will remark, "It is blessed to be the mother of a young man like that." There was a woman who heard of the fame of a young man. He was casting out devils, healing the sick, opening blinded eyes, and unstopping deaf ears, and consequently he was gaining a wide and favorable reputation. This woman came to the young man and with that mother in her heart said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bear thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." It was, indeed, blessed to be the mother of this young man. An angel from heaven acknowledged this. In speaking to Mary of the birth of Jesus (for he was the young man), the angel said, "Hail, thou that are highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." She was more highly favored than any other woman on earth, because she was to become the mother of the Son of God. Can it be that any one can be more blessed than this happy mother of Jesus? Let us hear his reply to the woman—"But he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it." Jesus did not deny that it was blessed to be his mother, but said that those who hear God's word and keep it are rather, or more, blessed. God favors those who obey him. "The willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land." "Hadst thou hearkened unto my commandments, then wouldst thy peace be like a river." Happiness is the result of obedience, and heaven is the final reward.
THE RELATIONSHIP WE HAVE WITH CHRIST THROUGH OBEDIENCE.
The reason why it is more blessed to obey the Word of God than to be the mother of Jesus is obvious. Spiritual things are higher than physical things. Spiritual relation is closer than natural relation. Brotherhood in Christ is closer than brotherhood in the flesh. A brother in the Spirit is dearer to us than a son of our own mother. Obedience to God makes us one with God. Mary was the mother of Jesus after the flesh, but God's children enjoy such a relation after the spirit. At one time somebody brought word to Jesus that his mother and his brethren stood outside desiring to see him. "But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! for whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matt. 12:48-50. Every one who desires to spend life in the highest possible degree of perfection should make a constant study of the Bible and should carefully and diligently obey all its precepts. Doing this will bring him into the closest possible relationship with God and will make life the best man can live.
OUR LIFE IS TO ADORN THE GOSPEL.
To adorn is to make attractive, to beautify. We are exhorted by the apostle Paul to adorn the doctrine of the New Testament by our every-day life. This thought should be a powerful incentive to close living with God and assiduously keeping all of his commandments. Who would not take pleasure in adorning the teachings of Jesus by a pure life? This is the joy of the Christian's heart. He cares nothing for the adornings of the world, but oh, that he may so live as to make beautiful the blessed Bible!—this is happiness enough to him.
In another of the Pauline Epistles we are commanded to "let our manner of life be as it becometh the gospel of Christ." To become is also to make attractive or to give a better appearance to. An article of dress is becoming to us when it gives us a better appearance. We speak of any one's bad conduct as not being becoming to him. We are to become the gospel of Christ by holy living. When a life is lived as God designed that life should be, that life will be an adornment to the Scriptures.
God will beautify his children with the glories of his redeeming grace; he will adorn them with a meek and quiet spirit, which in his sight is very precious, that they, in turn, may adorn his commandments. As a bride decks herself with jewels, so the heavenly Father beautifies his children with the robe of righteousness.
The life of a Christian is God's special treasure. "They shall be mine," says the Lord, "in that day when I make up my jewels," or "special treasure" as rendered by the margin (see Mal. 3:17). By reading the context we learn that it is those who fear the Lord that are his jewels. To fear God and keep his commandments is man's whole duty. It is a perfect life. Such a life is the Lord's jewel. Such a life is recorded in heaven. Oh, how animating is such knowledge! How it strengthens our hearts to live a righteous life. To live a life that is worthy to be recorded in heaven and is a special treasure to God is truly wonderful. Our souls are awed by such a thought. Oh, how it ought to move our hearts to carefulness in life! How diligent we should be to walk as worthy citizens of our heavenly state! Some day the Lord will come and gather up these holy lives and place them in his heavenly courts above, where they shall shine as the stars forever.
Oh, take this life, this life of mine (To thee, O God, 'tis freely given), And polish it, that it may shine, And ornament thy Word divine.
THE CHRISTIAN AN EPISTLE OF CHRIST.
The life we live is being read. We are not going through the world unnoticed. Some one is looking on, and some one is to some extent fashioning his life after ours. Our life each day is being written down in some one's memory. My own dear children group around me at times and talk of their mother, who has gone to heaven. Her pure and holy life written in their memory is read over and over to each other and to me. She still lives as an epistle in their hearts. They read her daily life while she was with them, and they continue to read it since she is gone. Christians are said to be the epistle of Christ (2 Cor. 3:3). To read their life is to read the life of Jesus. All the Bible that many will ever read is what they read in the lives of Christians.
Life will be read just as it is, not as it may pretend to be. It is not what we pretend to be, but what we really are, that will go down in the memory of others. Those who read our lives have a way of reading between the lines. We should strive not so much to make life holy as to be holy. If you are holy, then live just what you are. We should never strive to be what we are not. The only way whereby the Bible may be read in the life is to get it in the heart. People will never read the Word of God in your life simply because you have a neat little Testament in your pocket or a large family Bible on your center table. The Bible can get into the life only by beginning at the heart. There is power in the Word of God, but it works from within. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." It will transform the life so that the life will read just like the Holy Scriptures.
The Word of God is a lamp to light us into a holy life. If we follow its instructions in righteousness, it will make us perfect. It reveals our imperfections and thus gives us an opportunity to make improvements. To discover an imperfection in the life is not a bad thing, and we need not think we are any the worse for the discovery. It is only when we let the imperfection remain after it is revealed to us, that we become worse.
The heart that comes under the influence of the Bible will bear the image of Jesus, but of this I shall have more to say elsewhere. So I conclude here by saying, live upon the Word of God, desire the sincere milk of the Word, and you will be an epistle of Christ. We should feel the responsibility that is upon us, remembering that all the Bible some will ever read is what they read in your life and mine. Oh! let us see that it reads in our life as it does in the book, lest those who follow us will not walk in the footprints of Jesus.
HOW WE MAY LIVE AS THE BIBLE READS.
It is just as natural and easy for a Christian to live the Christian life as it is for a sinner to live a sinful life. The sinner needs make no effort to live a sinful life; he lives it naturally and easily. Life proceeds from the heart. The heart is the fountain, and the life is the stream. As the fountain is, so the stream will be. It is not difficult to live a Christian life when our hearts are pure. This is the secret of purity of life.
The important question, then, is, "How can I have a pure heart?" Hearts are made pure by the blood of Jesus. Then comes the command, "Keep thyself pure." That the heart may be kept pure, it must be kept filled with that which is pure. To keep darkness out of a room, we need only to keep it filled with light. Carefully closing up every crevice will not suffice if the light goes out. Darkness will be present. But simply keep the room filled with light, and no effort is required to keep darkness out. In like manner no effort need be made to keep impurity out of the heart and keep the heart filled with that which is pure.
But what is pure? "The word of God is pure, as silver tried in a furnace of fire, purified seven times." "Thy word is very pure; therefore thy servant loveth it." "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," and your heart will be kept pure. The Psalm-writer said, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against thee." Here is the only way to a sinless life. Keep the heart filled with the Word of God. It is the way to live as the Bible reads. To have a nicely bound volume of the Scriptures lying on the center table will not keep the life sinless. We must have the Word in our heart. One night while I was waiting for a train in one of our large Eastern cities, I went into a mission. A man arose and said he had read the Bible through forty-two times and could quote whole books of it from memory. Later in his talk he said he committed sin more or less every day. The Word of God did not keep him from sinning, for he had it in his head instead of in his heart.
To live a Bible life is the only true and right way to live, and in order to live such a life, we need to have the Word written in the heart. "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." Heb. 8: 10. Let us illustrate this by taking a single text: "Having food and raiment let us be therewith content." When we have these words in the heart, they will be true in the life. All fret and worry and murmurings will be banished out of the life when the heart is full of the truth.
HOW TO KEEP THE WORD OF GOD IN THE HEART.
Since keeping the Word of God in the heart is the only way to successful Christian living, you will at once want to know how to keep it in the heart. The Word is kept in the heart the same as food is kept in the body. The food is eaten, and then by the process of assimilation it becomes a part of the body. This is something of a mystery; nevertheless we all know it to be true. We feel weak in body, but soon after we partake of food, we feel stronger. Somehow that food gets into the life and makes us stronger. Now, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We can eat the Word of God, and we must eat it in order to get it into our heart and life. By eating and the process of assimilation the Word becomes a part of our inner being. We eat it by faith, and the Spirit assimilates it into our hearts.
Let us take a text: "In honor preferring one another." It is blessed to have an experience like this. To feel happy when others are honored and we are not is certainly a desirable experience. We can have it. As you read the above text, love it, admire it, desire it, ask for it, believe you receive it,—and you have it. It will be a truth of beauty and of power in your soul and life. But remember, you must have an eagerness for it. You must lay hold upon it as the infant does upon the mother's breast. The same is true with every text in the Bible. Eat the entire book, and thus you will have it as a glorious source of power and purity in your life.
MAN THE VEHICLE FOR EXHIBITING GOD'S PERFECTIONS.
Man was created for a purpose, and that purpose was to glorify his Creator (Isa. 43:7). But man sinned and came short of the glory of God. The Lord, that he may yet be glorified in the man, provides a way of redemption. Through the redemption we have in Christ we can live to the glory of God. This is God's purpose. The whole of life should be such as will glorify the Creator, and all that we do should be done with that end in view. God help us. Living for God, honoring his Word, magnifying his name—this is the duty of man. Awful responsibility! Oh, what carefulness it should work in us. What vehement desire! what earnest seeking after God! that we may live such a life.
Jesus was here in the world and was the light of the world. He had a human body and in that body lived a life that glorified God. That was an exemplary life. Such a life, and such a life only, is to the glory of God. We must fashion our life after his if we would spend life as we should. To know how Jesus lived is to know how we should live. Every life that is in the likeness of Christ's life is accepted of God. No other life can be. While Christ was here in the body, he was in the express image of the Father. The true, holy character of God was revealed through Jesus' human life to a lost and sinning world. God had done all he could to reveal his true character to man by laws, ceremonies, and ordinances; but these were only the shadow of the true life that was to be the light of the world. Christ was both God and man. Having a physical form, which is visible, he could set the holiness of God in plain view before the world. If you would know the true life, look to Jesus.
But his life could be perfect only as it was given in sacrifice for man. His life was holy because it was a life sacrificed to God. No life can be possessed by God and used to his glory, that is not sacrificed to him. Jesus gave himself as an offering and sacrifice to God for us (Eph. 5:2). This left him without a body or human life through which to demonstrate moral principle to the world. But now comes the command to man, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Rom. 12:1. God would have this human life of ours offered up in sacrifice, so that we are no more ours but his. When we do so, there will be a change, a great and wonderful change. That life will no longer be worldly or in the course of ordinary earthly-minded men. It will be a transformed life, a life in which God can live and do his will. Through the sacrifice of Christ, God will take the sacrificed life of man and possess it by his Spirit and again demonstrate moral principle to the world. O man, that is your calling in life. You are the vehicle to convey the perfections of God to an unbelieving world. Only an empty vessel for God to fill with himself and use to his glory.
O man, consider thyself, and know thyself, the purpose for which thou wert created, and the place which thou dost occupy in creation. Thou art no mean creature. Thou art highest of all. God condescends to walk and talk with thee. He upholds thee in his hand. Angels minister to thee. When thou passest through the waters, God himself will be with thee so that they shall not overflow thee, and when thou walkest through the fire, he will walk with thee so that the flame shall not kindle upon thee; because thou art precious in his sight and honorable, and he has set his love upon thee. Thou art so precious to him that he gave his only begotten Son to die to ransom thee.
In the vast created universe, what place does man occupy? He stands out as a creature that bears the stamp of the divine image, a creature that is endowed with eternity. The heavens shall pass away, but man shall be forever. He was made capable of holding communion with the Creator. He occupies the relationship with God as child with parent. Being made in the likeness of God, he steps out upon the stage of the mighty universe to play the highest and noblest part in the entire drama of created existences. The songs of the morning stars as they sing together, pouring their anthems into the ears of God, are not such sweet music as is the voice of praise and adoration from the holy soul of man.
Man was created for the very highest purpose in the mind of God. He is chosen to represent the divine character. On the stage men and women represent certain characters. Man upon the great stage of life is selected to represent the holy character of God. Oh, that he might play his part well! He who occupies the highest and most responsible part in this wonderful play of the universe will sink to the lowest shame and disgrace if he fails. The eyes of earth, heaven, and hell were turned upon man as he stepped out to play his part. A garden eastward in Eden was selected as the ground of exhibition. It was whispered throughout the corridors of the universe, "Will he succeed? Will he play his part well?" Ah, the sad story! He failed and he fell, bringing a world into shame and disgrace, causing angels to weep and God to repent that he had ever made him.
But heaven's love was set upon him, and God sought a way whereby the fallen man could be lifted from his low, degraded plane to the high position he once occupied. After searching heaven through, God found but one way for man's redemption, but one price to pay. Would he pay it? He called his Son, his only Son, and pointed out to him the fallen condition of man, and how He was robbed of glory and devils were rejoicing. The Father said to his Son, "Only thy entering into that lower world in the likeness of sinful flesh and suffering and dying can redeem man." The Son replied, "I will go. I will suffer. I will lay down my life that man may be restored to his former position, so that he can again take up the part he was to play." The price was paid; the plan of man's redemption was effected; the divine image was again stamped upon the man, so that in Christ Jesus he could again come out and in his life's play reveal the character of God to the world.
Reader, this brings us down to your day and mine. We have our part to play in life. That part is to display the divine perfections. Through Christ this is possible. Oh, what responsibility! Will we play our part well? Again the eyes of earth, heaven, and hell are turned upon us. The apostle says, "We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." 1 Cor. 4:9. "Men" includes both good and bad; likewise the term "angels" includes both good and bad angels. So, as I have said, earth, heaven, and hell are spectators. To live life as it should be lived is to act out our part upon the stage of life in such a way as to honor God and demonstrate his character before this mighty host of spectators.
Such is man. Through him the righteous character of God is made visible to the world. God himself is invisible; but since he comes into our heart and life, and since our life is physical and visible, his holiness becomes visible in our holy living. This is how to live. He who lives on a lower plane than perfect holiness is not living to God's requirements.
God did not redeem man at such a great price merely for man's sake. He redeemed him for his own glory. Redeemed man is God's purchased possession, that 'he should show forth the virtues of him who hath called him out of darkness into his marvelous light' (see marginal reading of 1 Pet. 2:9). Here again we learn that the mission of man is to show forth in his daily life the true, holy virtues of his Maker and Redeemer. This should be the first business of our life—living solely, purposely, and earnestly for God. We are beings in whom God dwells and through whom God is to display his own holy perfections. This is wonderful; this is weighty. There is, I repeat, great responsibility on man. But unless he feels it, he will never fill to the full the measure of life. Oh, how delighted is the loving heart of God to find in this world a being in whom he can dwell and through whom he can reveal his own beautiful life! Shall we yield ourselves to him? Shall we invite him into our hearts? Shall we consecrate our lives to him that he may hide our life in his life? Yes, dear Lord, we are thine, wholly thine, now and forever. Take full possession; live in us; reign in our hearts; use every faculty of our beings to thy own glory. Thy will be done in us and with us as it is done in heaven.
Jesus will gather his holy angels before him and address them thus: "Do you behold Brother—? He is a pilgrim and stranger down there in the earth. He is my child. I have washed him in my blood and clothed him with the beautiful garments of salvation. His heart is pure and full of love. He is dead to sin and the world. He loves my will, and his daily meat and drink is to do it. He loves my Word and has hid it in his heart. He keeps all my commandments. He seeks my glory. He often communes with me. He is fervent in spirit and zealous in good works. His good deeds and prayers I bottle up here in heaven, See that beautiful mansion yonder with its gates of gold and walls of jasper, its floors of transparent glass, its corridors of chalcedony, and colonades of topaz and beryl. That mansion is to be his home when his pilgrimage in that under-world is done. By his holy walk and devoted life he is now confessing me before men, and I take great delight in telling you that he is my child and in confessing him before you and my Father on his throne. Just as I have said in my Word, he that will confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father and the holy angels."
Redeemed man is a light in the world. In the darkness of this world he is a dispeller of gloom. His life shines, shedding its peaceful rays of light wherever he goes.
Man's life, when meeting the fullest purpose of God, is used as a magnifying-glass through which others may look and see the beauties of divine perfections. Alas! it is to be lamented that the life of many who profess to be followers of Jesus is such that it blurs the perfections of God.
In concluding this chapter, let me give you a few rules for daily living— rules which, if followed, will make your life a conveyancer of light, peace, and holiness from God to the world.
Live such a life that the pure and devoted will be pleased to have you come again.
Live so near to God that every man that meets you is made a little better by having met you.
Live such a life each day that the world can see in you the true way of life.
Be such a light that others can see the way to walk.
SOME USE TO JESUS.
O Christ, the way, the truth, the life, Keep me safe mid the raging strife; Help me a warrior brave to be And take the battle-field for thee.
I fear not the swift arrow's power Since thou art my high, strong-built tower; The darts may have a bitter sting, I shelter 'neath thy feathery wing.
Before me the Goliaths tall Must quickly flee or headlong fall; The foe is bruised beneath my feet; In thee the victory is complete.
Jesus, to thee I give up all, To live or die, to stand or fall. The sparrows have thy kindly care; I'm more than they, then need I fear?
I have a refuge from all harm Within thy strong encircling arm; Thou keepest me by day and night, And guidest my weak steps aright.
The hairs on my unworthy head Are numbered all, thy Book has said. Gathered, like the defenseless brood, My soul is kept in quietude.
As kind and loving parents would Give to their children all things good, So from thy presence angels bring Unto thy child each needful thing.
Sometimes thou hidest thy sweet face; The way is dark, I can not trace. Thou doest best; I'll not repine, But say, "Thy will be done, not mine."
Since them art good, so good, to me, I beg to be some use to thee: Intensify thy love divine Within my heart, that I may shine
A little brighter, Lord, for thee, That others thy great love may see. Oh, crucified let all self be, That thou mayst shine thy light through me.
I would not be so dazzling bright That all the world might see my light, But in some quiet nook of thine, An out-of-way place, there I'd shine.
'Tis not for me to shine afar, Like blazing sun or brilliant star; Just help me at my door to be A little candle-light for thee.
When some one is spoken of as living a worldly life, it is meant that he lives in a worldly manner, or in a manner like the world. Likewise, when some one is spoken of as living a godly life, it is meant that he lives in a godly manner, or in a manner like God. To many this is a hard saying, but it is possible for man to live just such a life; in fact, it is the only right way of life. A godly life is the only true life. Such a life is demanded by the Scriptures. We are to live "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Tit.2:12).
God's dear children are told to be "followers of him" (Eph. 5:1). In some translations this reads, "Be ye imitators of God," and in some others, "Be ye mimickers of God." From this we understand that to be a follower of God is to live or act in a manner like him. Again, it is said of those who abide in Christ, that they should walk even as he walked. Our manner of life should be as was the life of Jesus. It is said of Christ that "when he was reviled, he reviled not again." Although he was treated most shamefully by his enemies, he did not seek to avenge himself. When insulting remarks were made to him, he gave no reply. To live a godly life is to live in the same manner. When Christians are reviled, they bless; when they are persecuted, they suffer meekly and patiently. When Jesus was being put to death by his enemies, he prayed the Father to forgive them. When a man who had come to take Jesus had his ear cut off, Jesus in his tender compassion healed this bitter persecutor's wound. This is the true spirit of godliness.
The full standard of godliness is attained to only when the whole tenor of the life is in simplicity and godly sincerity. The apostle Paul said in testimony that his rejoicing was this: the testimony of his conscience that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, he had had his conduct in the world. A godly life is wholly free from ostentation; every act is done in purest simplicity and truest sincerity. As God scrutinizes every act by his all-seeing eye, he discovers no impure motive, as vain-glory or lifting up of self; for all is in godly sincerity.
The grace of godliness in the Christian character is capable of cultivation and increase. There is a law in both the material and spiritual that exercise is conducive to growth. The Spirit-filled apostle said, "Exercise thyself unto godliness." In the Emphatic this reads, "Train thyself for piety." Here is something for every soul that has any aspiration to be more godly in life. Train yourself for piety. To become of deeper piety and more godly is the joy of the Christian heart. By training we become more pious. The lawn-tender forms an espalier by intertwining the branches of the vine. He keeps intertwining them as they grow, and by such training forms a latticework made of shrubbery. The soul intertwined with the meek and lowly life of Jesus will form a character of deep piety and sincere godliness. The daily life should be intertwined with the life of Jesus. Let there be no reaching out for anything outside of him. For a proper development of the Christian graces there must be a constant training or intertwining of the soul with God. This linking more tightly is the result of growth, and growth is produced by exercise, and exercise consists in reading the Scriptures, in prayer, and in deep thought or heart-communion with God. The athlete takes such exercises and eats such foods as will most properly develop and strengthen his muscles. The soul that has any longings for more of God must exercise to have its yearnings gratified. To be conscious of a growing up into Christ, to feel the soul intertwining more and more with the life of God, is fulness of joy and perfect happiness. Christian reader, is there an ardent flame of pure love in your heart? Do you walk with Jesus in a devout, trustful, reverential spirit? Do you oftentimes find your mind contemplating the wonders of creation and the glories of salvation? Is your soul habituated to breathe in the atmosphere of heaven deeply? Is that holy awe filling you? Is that tender sensibility of spiritual things filling your heart? Is that fine, keen edge upon your soul that gives such avidity for holy things? Is to become more godly a sincere desire of your heart? Then diligently perform all the duties that belong to a godly life. Some give great diligence for a time and make spiritual gain and then lose it all in a day of slackness. But do not slack, be constant, be persevering, be encouraged, reach forth, press forward,—and the prize of meekness, peace, and godliness will crown your life.
SOMETHING TO DO.
There is so much to do that every one is needed to help in doing it. In this great, busy world of life there is something for every one to do. The command is, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Think over these words for a moment. Does not your heart feel that they imply great earnestness in life? They mean a life of labor—a life of service. "Do with your might" implies putting your whole heart into your work. Do it in just such a manner as shows you expect to make a success of it.
God has a work for every one that comes into the world. This world is going to be made a little better by your having come into it, or it will be made worse. Which shall it be? No one can do the work of another, since every one is given all he can do. It is true we are told to bear one another's burdens. I am to help you bear your burdens; that is a part of my work. You are to help me. We need the help of each other. But I can not do what you ought to do; for I have all I can do. What you neglect to do will have to go undone. If some one stops to do what you ought to do, just as large a rent is made in his life's work as would have been made in yours, but the reflection is on you.
A father who had five sons left them a certain work to do. He gave to each his portion according to his ability. Upon his return he found that four of them had done their part and done it well, but one had only partially done his. Consequently, there was a neglected spot—a dropped stitch— which constantly showed itself. If we fail to do the work in life that God in his wisdom has assigned us, there will be in the Father's great plan a blank space, a neglected part, that will show through all eternity. Is your life or mine going to be the dropped stitch in the great web of human life? Down in our heart there is a No for an answer, is there not?
Let not the precious moments of your life flee away unimproved. Jesus is our example. He went about doing good. Everywhere he went, he left evidences that he had passed along that way. O pilgrim on life's journey, what are you leaving along the way to show in after-years that you have passed along? Is it flowers you are strewing? Is it sunshine to cheer and lighten the hearts of others? Sad indeed if there is none to say, "He did me good."
It matters not how small may be the part of his great work the Father has assigned you, do that little and do it well and do it with all the earnestness of your heart. It is your part, and you should do it with as much earnestness and interest as those who are engaged in the greater works do their parts. If your part is not done well, there will not be completeness in the divine plan. A single stitch dropped shows a blemish in the garment. In the sight of God the most menial task is as sacred as that of the highest order, and when well done as greatly meets his approval.
That is a beautiful thought expressed by the Mohammed Bible. It tells of Gabriel's being sent to earth to do two things. One was to keep King Solomon from becoming so much engaged with the affairs of his kingdom as to neglect the hour of prayer. The other was to give assistance to a little ant that was trying to bear its load of food up a hillside. To Gabriel the one duty was as important as the other because both came in the plan of God. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Think these words over again. Let them have the full force of meaning to your heart. Take as much interest in helping the little child get the tangle out of the string as in building a church edifice.
Many are working, but alas! how few are doing their best! So much time and labor are being wasted; so many things are being done that had as well not be done. God wants not only our service but our best service. We are under obligation to do our best every day. If we let a day pass by without doing what we could and in the best way we could, our work is not perfectly done.
God pours his blessings out upon us, but the blessing is not to end with itself. Remember these words: "Freely ye have received, freely give." Seek to be blessed of God, that you may pass the blessing on to others. Leave some footprints here upon the sands of time, so that in after-years they may guide some one to a noble deed and better way. When you reach the end of life, you can experience no greater consolation than to know you have done what you could. Improve the moments of time while you have them. They are passing swiftly. They will not wait for you. Some people are going to do, but behold, the opportunity passes before they are ready. Opportunities do not wait. Do good while you may. You are going to give the flower tomorrow, but tomorrow the flower may have faded. You intended to speak a kind word yesterday, but thought you would defer until another day. But the strain was so great the life went out, and your kind word came too late. Today is the day to save the lost. Tomorrow may be too late. How sad that a soul through all eternity will be crying out, "You were going to help me, but you came too late." O God! help us to be up and doing while it is called today. What work you are going to do, do it now as the poet urges in the following beautiful lines:
"Let's not be living in the past, On what we have been doing, Nor building castles in the air And after them pursuing. 'Work in my vineyard, go today': The Master's time is narrow For yesterday we'll see no more— We may not see tomorrow.
"If for discouragements you look, You certainly shall find them, But they are not discouragements Except to those who mind them. The future for itself will care, We'll not its trouble borrow; Sufficient evil is today, Then think not of the morrow.
"Let's cast our bread upon the flood, In many days to gather, But then at eve hold out the hand For present blessings rather. We hide the seed deep in the ground And watch the closing furrow, When, lo! the field's already white, Not waiting for the morrow.
"The sower and the reaper both May now rejoice together, For what they sow and gather in Is fruit that lives forever. The saint rejoices evermore, E'en in the midst of sorrow; He knows the weeping's but a night, Joy cometh on the morrow."
Man was made to labor. He is so constituted that he can not find true rest and enjoyment in idleness. How much the Bible says about good works! We are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Jesus purifies unto "himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." We are told by the scriptures to "be careful to maintain good works" to "be not weary in well-doing," and to "do good unto all men." Time is given us to spend in usefulness, not in idleness. Money lost may be regained, but a moment never.
As Christians we have the mind of Jesus. With such a mind we can not be contented unless we are doing the will of God and making the proper use of the moments he gives us. Mind is the same quality whether it be in Jesus, in angels, or in men, and it is governed by the same laws. It is true that after man's transgression he was told that in the sweat of his face he should eat bread, but this does not imply that the disposition to labor is a result of the fall. The disposition to labor that we find in man's constitution is not the fruit of corruption in his nature, but is a part of his original constitution. We find this disposition in the mind of angels. They are ministering spirits. They are doing the will of God. How often we read in the Book that tells of heaven how angels have visited this transitory world of ours on errands of help, mercy, and consolation. They have closed the mouths of lions, opened prison doors, stilled the waves, whispered comforting words, rolled away the stone, and ministered strength and help to the needy.
Man is not designed for prayer and praise only; he is designed for service as well. His mission is twofold: he is to adore and praise his Creator and to serve his fellow men. Some have symbolized the two functions of man's life by the ascending and descending of the angels on the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream. They ascended to God and descended to man. Life should be spent in praising God and in serving man for God's sake.
There is something to do. There is much to do. There is too much to do for us to idle away one moment of time. A full and well-spent life is one which is spent in doing good out of pure love to God and man. When we shall have come down to the end of life's journey, how sweet it will be to know that we have done all we could to help other pilgrims make their journey in safety! There is a reward for every generous act. Heaven is faithful and will repay. What we do here will find an eternity of reward. Let not, therefore, one day pass you by without your doing something purposely for God.
We often meet with those who complain of dryness and deadness in their worship. They are very unlike the Psalmist's picture of the "blessed man." "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither." This is a true picture of the Christian life. The soul should be as a watered garden—fresh and green and sparkling. It should be a springtime. You have seen a garden in the spring or one that is well-watered. All is beauty, freshness, and vigor. Such a garden is used by the prophet to symbolize the Spirit-filled soul. He says, "And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Isa. 58:11.
In order to have such a happy experience, however, the children of God must meet certain conditions. The context says, "If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul." If our souls are not drawn out in pity for the hungry and we fail to do what we can to relieve them, we need not expect anything other than a spiritual drought in our own cases.
Spiritual dryness is sometimes the result of attachment to the world. "Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth." Unless we live by the Bible, we can not be spiritual. A little affection for the things of earth robs the soul of spiritual life. In this matter Satan is an excellent reasoner. He will suggest that your desires are only for the glory of God; that you have no affection for the worldly object, but desire it only for God's glory. A young lady to whom I gave warning said that her desires were pure and that she had no affection for the object, but sought only to please the Lord. Very soon, however, she came to the realization that her soul was a desert place, and all because she had believed the falsehood of Satan. Beware how you desire earthly things for God's glory. Underneath may be a desire for self-gratification, ease, or luxury. If you are troubled by a lack of sensible devotion in worship, examine your affections. Possibly you may find some tiny roots twining around something of this world.
Spiritual dryness may be the result of sloth. "Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep." Prov. 19:15. Spiritual idleness soon results in spiritual dryness. That sophism of Satan's, "No time for prayer," is very dangerous. Any neglect of spiritual devotion must result in lukewarmness. Oh, how unreasonable is man and how easily the desires of the flesh deceive! If you neglected to water your garden, you would not wonder for a moment why it was drying up. Then, when you are neglecting to water the soul in vigorous, spiritual exercises, why do you wonder at your being so spiritually dull? "Awake, thou that sleepest!" Up and away to the hill of the Lord. Be the frequent witness of a sunrise scene from the mount of prayer.
The San Jose scale works imperceptibly at first. Oftentimes its presence will be detected only by the experienced. Its presence will perhaps be known first by the fruit. If your spiritual fruit is not as beautiful, well-flavored, and fully developed as it should be, look for the presence of sloth in the soul. The poison of sloth will get into the soul little by little. First there will be a momentary delay of spiritual duties. Satan is too wise to suggest an entire abandonment of them, but he will suggest a little postponement. One delay will soon be followed by another and then by another. These delays are an opiate that dulls the spiritual senses, and thus they will yield more readily to postponements and finally find pleasure in them.
Let me make this still more simple, for some may need it made very easy to understand. When the soul is like a watered garden, it will be drawn to God in prayer in the early morning. Any delay will cause uneasiness and restlessness. The soul longs to hasten away to the presence of God. But one little delay after another brings on a morbid condition. The soul loses its keen relish; its senses become deadened, so that there is no uneasiness; while the senses of the self-life will find pleasure in sloth.
When the soul once gets into the habit of idleness, it experiences no little difficulty in getting out. On becoming aware of his state, the individual may acknowledge his inactivity and make half-formed resolves to be more earnest and diligent, only very soon to relapse into the same former sluggishness. This virus of sloth inoculates the entire spiritual being, poisoning the will and making spiritual activity most disagreeable. Not only does it destroy the will of the soul, but it blindfolds the eyes so that the individual can see no necessity for great fervency in spirit or for diligence in spiritual exercise. In a half-dazed manner he acknowledges that the "watchings often" and "fastings often" and "praying always" of the apostle Paul were very consistent in him, but does not realize that such would be as desirable in his own Christian profession. He wonders why he is not healed as people were in the days of Paul. Why wonder? He does not wonder why the flowers wither when it does not rain. It is the fervent, earnest prayer that God hears.
Nothing but the greatest diligence and determination and strong laying hold upon God will ever put spiritual sloth to death. In this respect it is like the South American animal called the sloth. Though one species of the sloth is only the size of a cat, and is extremely slow on the ground, its highest rate of speed there being not more than ten feet an hour, yet it is difficult to exterminate.
One reason why so many are slothful is that they do not realize the true worth of prayer. Oh, I would to God that men rightly valued communion with God or a few thoughts of him! The lifting of the heart to God in praise or adoration is of greater value than the wealth of worlds. It is not enough to know much about the doctrine of the Bible, to be acquainted with this present reform, and to live a fair outward life; we must be filled with the Spirit. We must be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose leaf does not wither. Take plenty of time to gain heaven. Take time to be spiritual. A home in heaven is worth laboring for. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Spiritual dryness is the result of spiritual indolence. Be active, and you will not be unfruitful.
A work of this nature would be inexcusable for not saying something about prayer, for who can live life triumphantly without prayer? Who can properly estimate the true worth of prayer or rightly appreciate the privilege of prayer? Man esteems it a great honor to be admitted into the courts of the lords and kings of earth. What an honor it is to have audience with the King of glory! He extends the golden scepter to us, and we come hopefully, confidingly into his presence to tell him all that is in our hearts. He loves us so. We should not dare to come into the awful presence of the Great King did we not know that he loves us with an everlasting love. When we understand his love toward us, we tell him with joy and eagerness every desire of the heart.
Prayer is the energy and life of the soul. It is the invincible armor which shields the devoted Christian from the poisoned missiles shot forth from the batteries of hell. It is the mighty weapon with which he fights life's battles unto victory. He who lives in prayer reigns triumphant. The dark storm-clouds are driven away, mountains of discouragement are cast into the sea, chasms of difficulties are bridged, hope is given wings, faith increases, and joys abound. Hell may rage and threaten; but he who is frequent and fervent in prayer experiences no alarm.
By prayer the windows of heaven are opened, and showers of refreshing dew are rained upon the soul. It is as a watered garden, a fertile spot where blooms the unfading rose of Sharon and the lily-of-the-valley; where spread the undecaying, unwithering branches of the tree of life. By prayer the soul is nourished and strengthened by the divine life. Do you long for a brighter hope and deeper joy, for a deeper sense of the divine fulness, for a sweeter, closer walk with God? then live in prayer. Do you love to feel the holy flame of love burning in all its intensity in your soul? then enkindle it often at the golden altar of prayer. Without prayer the soul will weaken, famish, and die, the fountain of love dry up and become as a thirsty and parched desert. Do you admire the character Jesus? Behold his lowliness and humility, his gentleness and tender compassion. Have they any beauty and do you desire them to grace your soul? then draw them down from the skies in all their glorious fulness by the fervent prayer of faith. As through the process of assimilation food is transformed into an active, living being, so through the medium of prayer the character Jesus, in all its transcendent beauty and glory, becomes the character of man.
If you desire victory during the day, begin it with prayer—not a few hurried words, not a few ejaculations, but minutes of deep, intimate communion with God. Linger at the altar of prayer until you feel particles of glory drop in richness into your soul, scattering sweetness throughout. In the early morning hours, when the still, balmy breath of nature plays around you, let your soul fly away on the wings of prayer with its message of love and praise to its Maker.
"Sweet morning is the time to pray: How lovely and how sweet To send our early thoughts away Up to the mercy-seat!"
If you desire to be more deeply and sincerely pious, pray. If you desire heights in his love, depths in his grace, fulness in his joy, and richness in his glory, pray, pray with all sincerity of heart and intensity of soul. Did you say you had no time for prayer? What a pity! Your happiness and success in life depend upon prayer. Your eternal enjoyment depends upon it. Then, oh, what a pity that you have no time for prayer! Satan will tell you there is no need of so much praying. He will give you indifferent feelings if he can, and tell you that you can get along well enough without it. He will do all he possibly can to prevent your praying. If there is not much benefit derived from prayer, why is he so concerned? The Bible commands are: "Watch and pray," "Pray always," "Be instant in prayer," "Pray without ceasing," etc. Beloved saints, I exhort you to a life of prayer. I beseech you in Jesus' name to go often into your closets and there in all earnestness of soul pray until the love of God and light of heaven fill your beings. Pray until a rapture from the skies sweeps over your soul, making the place of prayer the dearest spot on earth to you.
KEEP THE ROOTS WATERED.
How often you admire a tree for the loveliness of its green foliage and the profusion of its luscious fruit. You speak to your friend of the beauty of the tree and of the goodness of God in bestowing such a gift to men; but perhaps you do not speak nor even think of the coarse, unsightly roots hidden deep in the ground. But that tree owes its beauty and its life to roots. The foliage is bright and fresh and green because the roots are burrowing deep in a rich and well-watered soil. The flavoring of the fruit is generated by the roots down in the dark and silent chamber of the earth.
Perhaps there comes to your mind now some whose faces you always see lit up with a radiant glory. You can not fail to admire them. Their words contain a secret power and seem to awaken in you all that is noble. They seem to lift you into a higher life. From their words, their actions, and their countenances flows an influence that causes you to forget the things of earth and makes you feel as if you had joined the society of angels. Such ones have a secret hidden root-life that generates this peculiar charm in their visible life. Down in a closet is a secret laboratory where the fragrance and beauty and glory that flow out of their lives are compounded. There the roots of their inner life take hold upon the riches of heaven's grace and drink in of the waters that flow. In their oft and silent communion with God they take root downward, and then they go forth into life and bear fruit upward. While others are talking with their friends about the things of earth, they meet with God in the garden of graces, where the sweet spices flow out and the frankincense and myrrh scent the air, and there they become laden with a profusion of fruits and impregnated with a sweet odor, which they bear out into the world. They are like the tree planted by the rivers of water, whose leaf does not wither.
O beloved pilgrim, see that the roots of your inner being are well watered. Let them drink in the sparkling waters of life. Remember, effectual work for God consists more in being than in doing. Do not go about in your labor with an empty basket. It is only when you go out from deep and silent communion with God that your labor will be effectual. Never think that you have so much to do that you have not much time for prayer. An hour's work done in the quiet, secret power of the Spirit is worth more than a day of your own efforts. Keep the roots watered.
UNDER THE FIG-TREE.
In the beginning of his ministry Christ called to Philip to follow him. Upon being called Philip went in search of Nathanael to tell him that he (Philip) had found the Christ. Nathanael was somewhat doubtful, but at Philip's invitation he went to see. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael, wondering how this man happened to know him, asked, "Whence knowest thou me?" Jesus answered, "When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee." John 1:48.
It is evident that something had occurred with Nathanael under the fig -tree outside the common details of every-day life. If there had not something rather unusual or something higher than the common events of life occurred there, the Savior would not have mentioned this one particular place. Any other place would have done as well. There was in this answer something that was highly significant to Nathanael. At this time there were many devout people looking for the "consolation of Israel." They were looking for the coming of the King of the Jews. It is not difficult for me to believe that Nathanael was under the fig-tree praying to God for the speedy coming of the Messiah. When Jesus said to him, "When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee," Nathanael immediately replied, "Thou art the King of Israel." He was doubtless under the tree in prayer to this end not once only, but very probably for months and maybe for years. He had been praying for this very thing. He had selected one especial fig-tree as a place for prayer. It was not a fig-tree, but the fig-tree. There he had prayed long and often for Israel's King to come. So when Jesus said, "When thou wast under the fig -tree, I saw thee," he knew at once that his oft-repeated prayers were answered, and therefore said, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel."
Many a devout one since that day has had his secret communion-place with God. Perhaps it was in the woods on a mossy knoll, under an oak, on a grassy spot on the bank of a stream, or under a shade-tree that grew by the brook in the meadow. To these places of solemn silence they would retreat when the shades of night were falling or when the light of the morning was streaking the sky, and there from the fulness of their souls they would pour out their praise and thanksgiving to God. These were the dearest places in the world to them. It may be there are aged ones today who had such places in the earlier days of their lives. Though they are now far removed from those scenes, these are still sacred in their memory.
There are those today who have their altars of prayer in some secluded place. There they meet God and tell him all their sorrows and cares, there they recount to him his loving kindness, there they implore his grace to sustain them through all their trying scenes of life, and there they worship at his feet. Bless his name! Beloved, have you a "fig-tree"? and are you often found under it? Have you a quiet nook somewhere which is hallowed by the presence of God?
The beloved disciple John, when in the Spirit, saw golden vials in the hands of the worshipers of the Lamb around the throne. These golden vials, he says, were "full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5: 8). Are you, dear reader, every day filling golden vials around God's throne with the sweet odor of prayer? Again, this disciple, when the seventh seal was opened, saw seven angels standing before God with seven trumpets. Then came another angel, with a golden censer. To him was given incense, which he offered with the prayers of saints upon the golden altar, and the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of saints ascended before God. (See Rev. 8:3, 4.) We have the privilege of mingling our prayers with the incense that is being offered before the throne.
The Psalmist seemed to comprehend something of the nature of prayer when he said, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." Psa. 141:2. The prayers that were offered by the devout Cornelius were so fragrant before God that they were kept as a memorial of him. A memorial is something kept in remembrance of any one. If you want to be kept in remembrance before God, see that your prayers are highly impregnated with a sweet odor. You must pray or die. No one can retain spiritual life any great length of time without prayer. So we exhort you to a life of prayer.
SHUT THE DOOR.
It is as impossible to live and prosper spiritually without prayer as it is to live and prosper physically without food. Those who enjoy a close walk with God and have power with him are those who pray. Natural abilities and intellectuality can never supply any lack in spirituality. Unless you are spiritual, you are of but little use to God; and to be spiritual, you must live much in prayer. It is not those who are on their knees the oftenest or the longest that do the most praying. Some may pray more real prayer in one hour than others in two or three hours. Too many people leave the door open. Prayer that feeds the soul must be offered with the door shut. "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret." Matt. 6:6.
God is in secret. He is hidden from the world. The world does not see him, neither knows him. You can never reach God in your prayers unless you shut out the world. Shutting the door means something more than closing the door of your literal closet. Persons may enter the literal closet and close the door, and yet have the world in their hearts and thoughts. Such have not closed the door in the true sense.