Great Texts of the Bible
Things Prepared for Love
But as it is written,
Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not,
And which entered not into the heart of man,
Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9.
Nowhere in the Old Testament are these words literally found. But the source of the quotation is undoubtedly the passage, Isaiah 64:4 combined with Isaiah 65:17 : “Men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God beside thee, which worketh for him that waiteth for him …”; and, “The former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Similar combinations of several prophetic quotations are not rare in St. Paul’s writings.
The context of the verse is the assertion of the Apostle that there is about the Gospel a hidden wisdom, an inner truth; and that this truth was invisible to the minds of those who rejected and crucified the Saviour; for, had they seen it, they would not have crucified Him. And then comes in the text, to prove that such blindness of the soul was recognized long before in the Old Testament Scriptures as a mystery and a fact. The blindness of those who slew the Lord did but answer to what “was written”—that solemn formula of final appeal with the Apostles and their Master. Isaiah had spoken of the acts of God in redeeming mercy as things beyond the reach of à priori discovery by human senses, and reason, and imagination. Man could receive them when revealed; there was that in man which could respond to them when revealed; but for that revelation there was needed the action of the Divine Spirit on the spirit of man. No record of facts, no witness of phenomena, without the special action of the Holy Spirit, could bring them home to the heart. But to Christian believers, to St. Paul and his disciples, they were brought home. And it was so, not because their eyes or ears were keener than those of the Lord’s executioners, or because their hearts were more imaginative or more sympathetic, but because the Holy Ghost had unveiled to them this wisdom, this esoteric wisdom and glory of the ways of God.
The Apostle’s quotation of the Prophet plainly refers to the whole gift of salvation, not only to the bright eternal future of the saved. The words cannot indeed exclude the thought of the glories of heaven, which assuredly senses have not seen, nor imagination conceived, but which God has prepared for them that love Him. But neither can they exclude the wonders of grace on earth; which equally are things of eternal plan and preparation.
The Things of God are not Revealed to the Natural Man
“Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man.”
1. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” The preaching of the Apostle Paul was rejected by numbers in the cultivated town of Corinth. It was not wise enough or eloquent enough, nor was it sustained by miracles. The man of taste found it barbarous; the Jew missed the signs and wonders which he looked for in a new dispensation; and the rhetorician missed the convincing arguments of the Schools. To all this the Apostle was content to reply that his judges were incompetent to try the question. The princes of this world might judge in a matter of politics; the leaders in the world of literature were qualified to pronounce on a point of taste; the counsellors of this world to weigh an amount of evidence. But in matters spiritual they were as unfit to judge as a man without ear is to decide respecting harmony; or a man, judging alone by sensation, is fit to supersede the higher truth of science by an appeal to his own estimate of appearances. The world, to sense, seems stationary. To the eye of reason it moves with lightning speed, and the cultivation of reason alone can qualify for an opinion on the matter. The judgment of the senses is worth nothing in such matters. For every kind of truth a special capacity or preparation is indispensable.
2. By the natural man is meant the ordinary faculties of man; and it is said of these that they cannot discover spiritual truth. By combining the three terms seeing, hearing, and entering into the heart, the Apostle wishes to designate the three names of natural knowledge: sight, or immediate experience; hearing, or knowledge by way of tradition; finally, the inspirations of the heart, the discoveries of the understanding proper. By none of these means can man reach the conception of the blessings which God has destined for him.
i. The Eye
“Eye saw not.”
1. Eternal truth is not perceived through the eye; it is not demonstrable to the senses.
(1) God’s works in nature give us wonderful pleasure. Let us not depreciate what God has given. There is a rapture in gazing on this wonderful world. There is a joy in contemplating the manifold forms in which the All Beautiful has concealed His essence—the Living Garment in which the Invisible has robed His mysterious loveliness. In every aspect of Nature there is joy; whether it be the purity of virgin morning, or the sombre grey of a day of clouds, or the solemn pomp and majesty of night; whether it be the chaste lines of the crystal, or the waving outline of distant hills, tremulously visible through dim vapours; the minute petals of the fringed daisy, or the overhanging form of mysterious forests. It is a pure delight to see. But all this is bounded. The eye can reach only the finite Beautiful. And the fairest beauty is perishable.
(2) Art has many devotees. The highest pleasure of sensation comes through the eye. He whose eye is so refined by discipline that he can repose with pleasure upon the serene outline of beautiful form has reached the purest of the sensational raptures. The Corinthians could appreciate this. Theirs was the land of beauty. They read the Apostle’s letter, surrounded by the purest conceptions of Art. In the orders of architecture, the most richly graceful of all columnar forms receives its name from Corinth. And yet it was to these men, living in the very midst of the chastely beautiful, upon whom the Apostle emphatically urged—“Eye hath not seen the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
(3) Science cannot give a revelation. Science proceeds upon observation. It submits everything to the experience of the senses. Its law, expounded by its great lawgiver, is that if we would ascertain its truth we must see, feel, taste. Experiment is the test of truth. Men have supposed they discovered the law of Duty written on the anatomical phenomena of disease. They have exhibited the brain inflamed by intoxication, and the structure obliterated by excess. They have shown in the disordered frame the inevitable penalty of transgression. But if a man, startled by all this, gives up his sin, has he from this selfish prudence learned the law of Duty? The penalties of wrong-doing, doubtless; but not the sanction of Right and Wrong written on the conscience, of which penalties are only the enforcements. He has indisputable evidence that it is expedient not to commit excesses: but you cannot manufacture a conscience out of expediency: the voice of conscience says not, “It is better not to do so,” but “Thou shalt not.”
2. “Eye saw not.” When He came into this world, who was the Truth and the Life, in the body which God had prepared for Him, He came not in the glory of form: He was a root out of a dry ground: He had no form nor comeliness; when they saw Him, there was no beauty that they should desire Him. The eye did not behold, oven in Christ, the things which God had prepared. This is an eternal truth. There is a kingdom which is appreciable by the senses, and another whose facts and truths are seen and heard only by the spirit.
It was rumoured that underneath a certain piece of ground there was iron to be found, and two men were appointed to go and inspect the land and see whether there was really iron there. One man, a scientist and mineralogist, was very conscious of his own limitations; and, knowing his own weakness, he took with him some scientific instruments. The other man, who was buoyant and self-confident, said, “I believe what I can see, and what I can’t see I won’t believe”; and so he walked over the field, and got over it in no time. He said, “Iron? nonsense! I see no iron; there is no iron here.” This man went to the syndicate and said, “There is no iron there: I walked all over the field and I could not see a trace of it.” The other man did not trust to his eye at all. He carried in his hand a little crystal box, and in that little crystal box there was a needle, and he kept watching that needle. He paused, for the needle in that crystal box had pointed down like the very finger of God, and he said, “There is iron there.” He passed on, until again that needle pointed down, and he said, “There is iron there,” and when he handed in his report he said, “From one end of the field to the other there is iron.” “Oh!” said one of the adherents of the first man, “how do you know, when you did not see it?” “Because,” he said, “that which cannot be seen with the eye can be magnetically discerned.”1 [Note: A. G. Brown.]
ii. The Ear
“Ear heard not.”
Eternal truth is not reached by the sense of hearing; nor does traditional knowledge reveal it.
1. The many beautiful and varied sounds of nature speak to us of God, if God’s existence be already thrilling our hearts, but of themselves they do not reveal the things of God. How many sounds there are that gladden us! Think of the cooling sound of a rippling stream, or a waterfall, or a playing fountain on a hot summer evening. Think of the many pleasing notes and songs of birds. Think of the human voice. There is no sound that we would miss more than that. Then think of music, with all its varied modes of appealing to our feelings. Think of the music of the great masters, how it attracts and fascinates and subdues us, how it inspires and strengthens us, how it makes us glad! But “things which ear heard not,” and which ear can never hear, are prepared by God for those that love Him.
2. No revelation can be adequately given by man to man, whether in writing or orally, even if he be put in possession of the Truth itself. For all such revelation must be made through words: and words are but counters—the coins of intellectual exchange. There is as little resemblance between the silver coin and the bread it purchases as between the word and the thing it stands for. Looking at the coin, the form of the loaf does not suggest itself. Listening to the word, you do not perceive the idea for which it stands, unless you are already in possession of it. Speak of ice to an inhabitant of the torrid zone, the word does not give him an idea, or if it does, it must be a false one. Talk of blueness to one who cannot distinguish colours, what can your most eloquent description present to him resembling the truth of your sensation? Similarly in matters spiritual, no verbal revelation can give a single simple idea. Talk of God to a thousand ears, each has its own conception. The sensual man hears of God, and understands one thing; the pure man hears, and conceives another thing. So that apostles themselves, and prophets, speaking to the ear, cannot reveal truth to the soul—no, not if God Himself were to touch their lips with fire. A verbal revelation is only a revelation to the ear.
3. Traditional knowledge will not reveal eternal truth. There are men who believe on authority. They have heard with the hearing of the ear that God is Love, they have heard that the ways of holiness are the ways of pleasantness and all her paths peace. But a hearsay belief saves not. The Corinthian philosophers heard St. Paul; the Pharisees heard Christ. How much did the ear convey? To thousands exactly nothing. He alone believes truth who feels it. He alone has a religion whose soul knows by experience that to serve God and know Him is the richest treasure.
I have a little kinsman
Whose earthly summers are but three,
And yet a voyager is he
Greater than Drake or Frobisher,
Than all their peers together!
He is a brave discoverer,
And, far beyond the tether
Of them who seek the frozen pole,
Has sailed where the noiseless surges roll.
Ay, he has travelled whither
A winged pilot steered his bark
Through the portals of the dark,
Past hoary Mimir’s well and tree,
Across the unknown sea.
Suddenly, in his fair young hour,
Came one who bore a flower,
And laid it in his dimpled hand
With this command:
“Henceforth thou art a rover!
Thou must make a voyage far,
Sail beneath the evening star,
And a wondrous land discover.”
With his sweet smile innocent
Our little kinsman went.
Since that time no word
From the absent has been heard.
Who can tell
How he fares, or answer well
What the little one has found
Since he left us, outward bound?
Would that he might return!
Then should we learn
From the pricking of his chart
How the skyey roadways part.
Hush! does not the baby this way bring,
To lay beside this severed curl,
Some starry offering
Of chrysolite or pearl?
Ah, no! not so!
We may follow on his track,
But he comes not back.
And yet I dare aver
He is a brave discoverer
Of climes his elders do not know.
He has more learning than appears
On the scroll of twice three thousand years,
More than in the groves is taught,
Or from furthest Indies brought;
He knows, perchance, how spirits fare—
What shapes the angels wear,
What is their guise and speech
In those lands beyond our reach—
And his eyes behold
Things that shall never, never be to mortal hearers told.1 [Note: Edmund Clarence Stedman.]
iii. The Heart
“Which entered not into the heart of man.”
Eternal truth is not discoverable by the heart of man, with all its powers of imagination and all its powers of affection.
1. Great thoughts originate from a large heart.—It is a grand thing when, in the stillness of the soul, thought bursts into flame, and the intuitive vision comes like an inspiration; when breathing thoughts clothe themselves in burning words, winged as it were with lightning; or when a great law of the universe reveals itself to the mind of Genius, and where all was darkness, his single word bids Light be, and all is Order where chaos and confusion were before; or when the truths of human nature shape themselves forth in the creative fancies of one like the myriad-minded Poet, and you recognize the rare power of heart which sympathizes with and can reproduce all that is found in man. But all this is nothing more than what the material man can achieve. The most ethereal creations of fantastic fancy were shaped by a mind that could read the life of Christ, and then blaspheme the Adorable. The highest astronomer of this age, before whose clear eye Creation lay revealed in all its perfect order, was one whose spirit refused to recognize the Cause of Causes. The mighty heart of Genius had failed to reach the things which God imparts to a humble spirit.
2. The heart has the power of affection.—To love is the purest, the serenest ecstasy of the merely human—more blessed than any sight that can be presented to the eye, or any sound that can be given to the ear; more sublime than the sublimest dream ever conceived by genius in its most gifted hour, when the freest way was given to the shaping spirit of imagination. This has entered into the heart of man, yet this is of the lower still. It attains not to the things prepared by God; it dimly shadows them. Human love is but the faint type of that surpassing blessedness which belongs to those who love God.
There are unexhausted possibilities in our lives, and our human hearts are conscious of unrest. Have you never stood in the presence of a commanding and lovely landscape and had the thought come to you that you could conceive a landscape of infinitely greater loveliness than that which unrolled before your eyes? Have you never, if you are a lover of music, been in the midst of great music and had the thought visit you that you could conceive of harmonies greater and more majestic than the ear of man ever heard? Have you not, although surrounded by many of the joys of life, had thrilling moments visit you, when it seemed to you that you could realize a happiness that was infinite and perfect in its fulness? And so, on the other hand, have not the possibilities of suffering sometimes shot across your consciousness with almost awful force? As the traveller climbing the mountain sometimes comes upon the deep and dark crevice opening at his very foot, so has there not sometimes come to you in the mysterious journey of life a realization of the potential ability of your nature to suffer miserably? It is the sense of unexhausted possibility, the yearning of the heart towards something beyond itself, towards the things which “eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man.”1 [Note: C. Cuthbert Hall.]
I know ’tis but a loom of land,
Yet is it land, and so I will rejoice,
I know I cannot hear His voice
Upon the shore, nor see Him stand;
Yet is it land, ho! land.
The land! the land! the lovely land!
“Far off” dost say? Far off—Ah, blessed home!
Farewell! Farewell! thou salt sea-foam!
Ah, keel upon the silver sand—
Land ho! land.
You cannot see the land, my land,
You cannot see, and yet the land is there—
My land, my land, through murky air—
I did not say ‘twas close at hand—
But—land ho! land.
Dost hear the bells of my sweet land,
Dost hear the kine, dost hear the merry birds?
No voice, ’tis true, no spoken words,
No tongue that thou may’st understand—
Yet is it land, ho! land.
It’s clad in purple mists, my land,
In regal robe it is apparellèd,
A crown is set upon its head,
And on its breast a golden band—
Land ho! land.
Dost wonder that I long for land?
My land is not a land as others are—
Upon its crest there beams a star,
And lilies grow upon the strand—
Land ho! land.
Give me the helm! there is the land!
Ha! lusty mariners, she takes the breeze!
And what my spirit sees it sees—
Leap, bark, as leaps the thunder-brand,
Land ho! land.1 [Note: T. E. Brown.]
The Things of God are Revealed by His Spirit
“Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.”
1. Only the spiritual man can apprehend spiritual truth; and only the spiritual man can comprehend spiritual experience.
(1) Only the spiritual man can apprehend spiritual truth.—Just as a blind man cannot possibly form any conception of colour, or a deaf man of music; so the artist, merely as an artist, has no sort of title or qualification to pronounce on questions of scientific research, and in like manner the scientist, as such, is no more competent to discuss matters of religion than the humblest clodman of the land. The man of science, therefore, who loudly vaunts that in all his scientific researches he can find no trace of God, is merely proclaiming to the world his own unreasonableness; for not as a man of science, restricting himself to one set of faculties, but only as a man, giving play and scope to all his faculties, can he learn the things which are hidden from the wise and understanding, and revealed unto babes (Matthew 11:25). Still more unreasonable are the thoughtless and careless, who find no God in all their gaiety of life, and then say there is none; for from all such God hides Himself, and His glory is absolutely indiscernible by the wanton eye of worldly pleasure. What, then, is the great law of knowledge of Divine things? “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know.” Obedience to spiritual laws, conformity to spiritual conditions, is essential to real knowledge of God, and to true insight into the Divine meaning of the facts and forecasts of human life. Spiritual blessings cannot be attained, cannot even be apprehended, save by the humility of faith.
I remember once being present at the Geological Society, when a bottle was produced which was said to contain certain Zoöphytes (delicate water-animals, having the form of plants). It was handed round in the first instance among the initiated on the foremost benches, who commented freely with one another on the forms of the animals in the fluid; but when it came to our hands, we could discover nothing in the bottle but the most limpid fluid, without any trace, so far as our eyes could make out, of animals dead or alive, the whole appearing absolutely transparent. The surprise of the ignorant, at seeing nothing, was only equal to that of the learned, who saw so much to admire. Nor was it till we were specifically instructed what it was we were to look for, and the shape, size, and general aspect of the Zoöphytes pointed out, that our understanding began to co-operate with our sight in peopling the fluid which, up to that moment, had seemed perfectly uninhabited. The wonder then was how we could possibly have omitted seeing objects now so palpable.1 [Note: Captain Basil Hall.]
(2) Only the spiritual man can comprehend spiritual experience.—People say to us: “Your joys are imaginary, your perceptions of God are self-delusions, your assurances, and hopes, and peace of mind, and consciousness of forgiveness, are your own creations: they are things which we do not feel, and do not understand, and do not believe.” It would be a wonderful thing if they did understand what they have never felt. There are simple things in everyday life that are closely akin to this. There are natures to whom sunsets and flowers and the infinitely varied landscapes of nature are utterly unattractive and meaningless.
Once in a dream I saw the flowers
That bud and bloom in Paradise;
More fair they are than waking eyes
Have seen in all this world of ours.
And faint the perfume-bearing rose,
And faint the lily on its stem,
And faint the perfect violet,
Compared with them.
I heard the songs of Paradise:
Each bird sat singing in his place;
A tender song so full of grace
It soared like incense to the skies.
Each bird sat singing to his mate
Soft cooing notes among the trees:
The nightingale herself were cold
To such as these.
I saw the fourfold River flow,
And deep it was, with golden sand;
It flowed between a mossy land
With murmured music grave and low.
It hath refreshment for all thirst,
For fainting spirits strength and rest;
Earth holds not such a draught as this
From east to west.
The Tree of Life stood budding there,
Abundant with its twelvefold fruits;
Eternal sap sustains its roots,
Its shadowing branches fill the air.
Its leaves are healing for the world,
Its fruit the hungry world can feed,
Sweeter than honey to the taste
And balm indeed.
I saw the Gate called Beautiful;
And looked, but scarce could look within;
I saw the golden streets begin,
And outskirts of the glassy pool.
Oh harps, oh crowns of plenteous stars,
Oh green palm branches many-leaved—
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,
Nor heart conceived.
I hope to see these things again,
But not as once in dreams by night;
To see them with my very sight,
And touch and handle and attain:
To have all heaven beneath my feet
For narrow way that once they trod;
To have my part with all the saints,
And with my God.1 [Note: Christina G. Rossetti, Paradise.]
2. What are the things which God has revealed?
“Things” is a short way of saying “thinkings.” Everything was first a thought. This world before it became a thing was a thought in the Creator’s mind. Every cathedral that has ever been built was a thought in the mind of the architect before it became a thing in the hands of the builder. Every book of poems was first of all a thought in the poet’s mind. The things here spoken of are God’s thinkings, God’s thoughts; but God’s thoughts are realities; they are no mere myths, they are things. What are these “deep things of God” to which the Apostle refers? There can be no doubt that St. Paul was thinking of the glorious total of redeeming mercy and the wonders of redeeming grace.
(1) The knowledge of Christ as God was to St. Paul one of the most wonderful revelations of the Spirit. He had known Christ after the flesh; he was aware that He had said and done certain things, and had been crucified; and the crucifixion he had regarded as a triumphant refutation of His claims, and as covering Him with well-merited contempt. But as soon as he was changed, the veil was taken from his eyes; and what eye, and ear, and intellect had sought in vain, God revealed by His Spirit.
If Christ, as thou affirmest, be of men
Mere man, the first and best but nothing more,—
Account Him, for reward of what He was,
Now and forever, wretchedest of all.
For see; Himself conceived of life as love,
Conceived of love as what must enter in,
Fill up, make one with His each soul He loved:
Thus much for man’s joy, all men’s joy for Him.
Well, He is gone, thou sayest, to fit reward.
But by this time are many souls set free,
And very many still retained alive;
Nay, should His coming be delayed awhile,
Say, ten years longer (twelve years, some compute),
See if, for every finger of thy hands,
There be not found, that day the world shall end,
Hundreds of souls, each holding by Christ’s word
That He will grow incorporate with all,
With me as Pamphylax, with him as John,
Groom for each bride! Can a mere man do this?
Yet Christ saith, this He lived and died to do.
Call Christ, then, the illimitable God,
Or lost!1 [Note: Browning, A Death in the Desert.]
(2) The revelation of God as Love comes also by the Spirit. It is in vain that you reiterate that “God is love,” if my terrified conscience and cruel temper shut out the very notion of love, and empty the word of all true meaning. The spirit of love must dawn upon our consciousness; no mere description will enable us to understand it; but as soon as its light arises within, a revelation is made, and the spiritual mind apprehends what was hidden from intellect and sense.
O Thou—as represented here to me
In such conception as my soul allows,—
Under Thy measureless, my atom width!—
Man’s mind, what is it but a convex glass
Wherein are gathered all the scattered points
Picked out of the immensity of sky,
To re-unite there, be our heaven for earth,
Our known unknown, our God revealed to man?
Existent somewhere, somehow, as a whole;
Here, as a whole proportioned to our sense,—
There, (which is nowhere, speech must babble thus!)
In the absolute immensity, the whole
Appreciable solely by Thyself,—
Here, by the little mind of man, reduced
To littleness that suits his faculty,
In the degree appreciable too;
Between Thee and ourselves—nay even, again,
Below us, to the extreme of the minute,
Appreciable by how many and what diverse
Modes of the life Thou madest be! (why live
Except for love,—how love unless they know?
Each of them, only filling to the edge,
Insect or angel, his just length and breadth,
Due facet of reflection,—full, no less,
Angel or insect, as Thou framest things.2 [Note: Browning, The Ring and the Book.]
(3) With the revelation of God as Love comes an understanding of the Divine plan of Salvation, a comprehension of the meaning of the Cross of Christ. And with the sense of sin that this inevitably brings come also the promise of the forgiveness of sin, and the still more blessed promise of the conquest of sin. This boon—the suppression and extinction of sin—is one of the great gifts which God has prepared for them that love Him.
Sin! wilt thou vanquish me!
And shall I yield the victory?
Shall all my joys be spoiled,
And pleasures soiled,
Shall I remain
As one that’s slain
And never more lift up the head?
Is not my Saviour dead!
His Blood, thy bane; my balsam, bliss, joy, wine,
Shall thee destroy; heal, feed, make me Divine.1 [Note: Traherne.]
(4) Union with Christ is one of the deep things of God, and in that union are endless spiritual blessings. To conquer the world by loving it, to be blest by ceasing from the pursuit of happiness, and sacrificing life instead of finding it, to make a hard lot easy by submitting to it—this was St. Paul’s Divine philosophy of life. And the princes of this world, amidst scoffs and laughter, replied, Is that all? Nothing to dazzle—nothing to captivate? But the disciples of the inward life, the humble of heart, and the loving, felt that in this lay the mystery of life, of themselves, and of God, all revealed and plain.
“Eye hath not seen”:—yet man hath known and weighed
A hundred thousand marvels that have been:
What is it which (the Word of Truth hath said)
Eye hath not seen?
“Ear hath not heard”:—yet harpings of delight,
Trumpets of triumph, songs and spoken word,
Man knows them all: what lovelier, loftier might
Hath ear not heard?
“Nor heart conceived”:—yet man hath now desired
Beyond all reach, beyond his hope believed,
Loved beyond death: what fire shall yet be fired
No heart conceived?
“Deep calls to deep”:—man’s depth would be despair,
But for God’s deeper depth: we sow to reap,
Have patience, wait, betake ourselves to prayer:
Deep answereth deep.1 [Note: Christina G. Rossetti.]
3. These things God has prepared. The term used recalls the words of Christ: “The kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
God prepared the things that He knew man’s heart would long for. A thing prepared is a thing ready at the moment it is needed and expected. So, when we feel the yoke of sin heavy, then is the moment to accept the prepared deliverance. It was prepared on the Cross, it is found at the Cross. As deliverance from sin is found at the Cross, so also was union with Christ and likeness to Christ prepared at the open grave of Christ, and found by faith in a risen, living Saviour. The hope of our calling, the riches of the glory of our inheritance, the exceeding greatness of His power, these are not future blessings, they are prepared here and now for those who believe and love. And what of the things on before? Truly the glory of them is past man’s understanding—the city prepared, the place prepared, the rest, the work, the joy, the crown that God is making ready.
There is a Stream, which issues forth
From God’s eternal Throne,
And from the Lamb,—a living stream
Clear as the crystal stone.
The stream doth water Paradise;
It makes the Angels sing;
One cordial drop revives my heart;
Hence all my joys do spring.
Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard,
From fancy ’tis conceal’d,
What Thou, Lord, hast laid up for Thine,
And hast to me reveal’d.2 [Note: John Mason.]
4. The things are prepared by God for them that love Him.
Everything is seen by its own glass; everything looks foolish when seen through any other glass. Music is meaningless when addressed only to the eye; painting has no message to the ear. The deep things of man can be seen only by their own faculty. So is it with the deep things of God. There are things in religion which are mysteries to every organ but one—the spirit of love. There are depths which love alone can fathom.
The good things are for those who love. Repentant sinners they may be, like David, yet because they are forgiven much they will love much. Love is the condition without which revelation does not take place. No selected child of grace can remain unloving and cold, and yet see and hear and feel the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
For the heart only dwells, truly dwells, with its treasure,
And the languor of love captive hearts can unfetter;
And they who love God cannot love Him by measure,
For their love is but hunger to love Him still better.
For the lack of desire is the ill of all ills,
Many thousands through it the dark pathway have trod;
The balsam, the wine of predestinate wills,
Is a jubilant pining and longing for God.
Oh, then, wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of His marvellous face!
(1) To love God is to love His character.—God is Love: and to love men till private attachments have expanded into a philanthropy which embraces all, at last even the evil and enemies, with compassion—that is to love God. God is Purity: and to be pure in thought and look; to turn away from unhallowed books and conversation, to abhor the moments in which we have not been pure, is to love God. God is Truth: to be true, to hate every form of falsehood, to live a brave, true, real life—that is to love God. God is Infinite: and to love the boundless, reaching on from grace to grace, adding charity to faith, and rising upwards ever to see the Ideal still above us, and to die with it unattained, aiming insatiably to be perfect even as the Father is perfect—that is love to God.
(2) Love is manifested in obedience.—Love is the life of which obedience is the form. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” Nothing can be love to God which does not shape itself into obedience. We remember the anecdote of the Roman commander who forbade an engagement with the enemy. The first transgressor against his prohibition was his own son, who accepted the challenge of the leader of the other host, met, slew, spoiled him, and then in triumphant feeling carried the spoils to his father’s tent. But the Roman father refused to recognize the instinct which prompted this as deserving of the name of love. Disobedience contradicted it, and deserved death. So with God: strong feelings, warm expressions, varied internal experience co-existing with disobedience, God counts not as Love. Mere weak feeling may not usurp that sacred name.
About this time I had constantly in my mind that wonderful reconciliation of half the theological enigmas which ever have arisen, which Maurice points out in one of his sermons on the Temptation, and expounds more fully (tho’, I think, not so forcibly) in one of his latter Prayer-book series on the Consecration Prayer. He reminds us how “worldly men in their carnal and proud hearts cannot conceive how the Father commands because the Son obeys, and the Son obeys because the Father commands.” This had for some time given to me a most blessed and practical solution of the question of Free Will. I dared not apply the term “servile” to this loving and willing yet eternal obedience of the Son “begotten before all worlds”; yet surely it was the fullest, completest obedience, the perfect type of all imperfect obedience on earth, and likewise was the authority of the Father the fullest, completest authority, the perfect type of all imperfect authority on earth. This fundamental doctrine of the filial subordination of the Son from all eternity (in no wise interfering with His co-eternity and co-equality with the Father) is hard to receive, and will always be rejected when the understanding seeks to exert an universal empire; yet I fully believe that it is the keystone of theology and humanity.1 [Note: The Life and Letters of Fenton J. A. Hort, i. 135.]
While abhorring war, M. Coillard always had the strongest sympathy with the military profession. His mind seemed to move in its imagery. Christianity, as he conceived it, was the march of an ever-victorious army; to him it meant a loyalty, not a philosophy, still less a ceremonial system. He had no other ambition than to be “a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” “A French general,” he once wrote, “told his aide-de-camp that the politeness of a soldier was obedience; and I myself hold that in all circumstances our duty to our Master is fidelity.”2 [Note: C. W. Mackintosh, Coillard of the Zambesi, 106.]
Lord of the host of deep desires
That spare no sting, yet are to me
Sole echo of the silver choirs
Whose dwelling is eternity—
With all save thee my soul is pressed
In high dispute from day to day,
But, Love, at thy most high behest
I make no answer, and obey.1 [Note: John Drinkwater, Poems of Men and Hours, 21.]
Things Prepared for Love
Blake (R. E.), Good News from Heaven, 18.
Brown (A. G.),God’s Full-orbed Gospel, 110.
Davies (J. LI.), The Purpose of God, 55.
Dewhurst (E. M.), The King and His Servants, 173.
Drummond (J.), Spiritual Religion, 78.
Gibson (J. M.), A Strong City, 181.
Greenhough (J. G.), The Mind of Christ in St. Paul, 77.
Hodge (C.), Princeton Sermons, 358.
Hopkins (E. H.), Hidden yet Possessed, 1.
Horton (R. F.), The Trinity, 21.
Houchin (J. W.), The Vision of God, 132.
Inge (W. R.), All Saints’ Sermons, 92.
Lockyer (T. F.), Inspirations of the Christian Life, 44.
Matheson (G.), Thoughts for Life’s Journey, 34.
Matheson Voices of the Spirit, 158.
Moore (E. W.), Life Transfigured, 87.
Morris (W.), in The Welsh Pulpit of To-Day, 396.
Moule (H. C. G.), Christ is All, 107.
Murray (A.), The Spirit of Christ, 214.
Paget (E. C), Silence, 130.
Price (A. C), Fifty Sermons, iv. 249.
Robertson (F. W.), Sermons, i. 1; iii. 26.
Shedd (W. G. T.), Sermons to the Spiritual Man, 315.
Shelford (L. E.), By Way of Remembrance, 184.
Spurgeon (C. H.), New Park Street Pulpit, ii. (1856), No. 56.
Temple (F.), Rugby Sermons, iii. 236.
Westcott (B. F.), The Historic Faith, 142.
Cambridge Review, iii., Supplement No. 56 (Moule).
Christian World Pulpit, xii. 273 (Chown); xxix. 360 (Wickham); xxxii. 193 (Westcott); xxxviii. 424 (Ferrier); lxii. 12 (Hall); lxxx. 150 (Hanson).
Churchman’s Pulpit, Sixth Sunday after Trinity; x. 430 (Shelford).
Homiletic Review, xlvii. 189 (Hillis).