Whom have I in heaven but You? And on earth I desire no one besides You.
What have I, but - Whom? Things, however many, rich, glorious, beautiful, cannot satisfy the soul, neither in heaven any more than on earth. Not in things, but in persons, the personal soul must find its portion. And not in many, but in One; to whom the soul can look, to whom at all times it can come, and to whom, as here, it can lift up its cry, "Thou art the Strength of my heart, and my Portion forever." But -
I. SUCH DELIGHT IN GOD HAS BEEN HELD TO BE IMPOSSIBLE. For example:
1. Calvin, a learned, devout, and in the main a true expositor of Scripture, but sadly wanting in those more gentle and tender instincts which are absolutely essential to its full and accurate understanding, has, in commenting on our text, actually said, "If we give the smallest portion of our affections to the creatures, we in so far defraud God of the honour which belongs to him." Now, that is utterly untrue and in dire contradiction to the Word which says, "If we love not our brother, whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we have not seen?"
2. And there are many devout souls haunted with the fear that, in loving those around them with the intense affection which they know they bear towards them, they are somehow defrauding God of what is due only to him. And yet more, when they compare the love which they have for God with the love which they cherish for those dear to them on earth, the latter love seems so much warmer and deeper than the former that, when they come to a text like this, they hesitate, and confess to themselves that such words are not for them - for them they would not be true. And they are sore troubled about this, and scarce know what to do. They would like to be able to say them, but they feel they cannot. Now, of course, there are many people in whom it would be hypocrisy, gross and palpable, were they to speak as does the psalmist here. They are cold, hard, worldly, and so earth-bound that they never think about loving God. The utmost you can get from them is a vague confession that they "suppose they ought to." But we are thinking of really devout, godly souls, who nevertheless sorrowfully confess that the words of our text, and the many others like them, are far beyond what they can say. Such people believe, apparently, that, though our blessed Lord has commanded them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, they do not, and they doubt if any one ever has done so, or can. They do not seem to see how serious is the charge they thus bring against the Lord - that he has commanded what it is impossible to obey. Earthly parents do not deal with their children so, but they seem to think our heavenly Father does.
II. BUT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR US, NEVERTHELESS.
1. Here, at any rate, stands one declaration of it. The psalmist, if he did not express, as we are certain he did, his own deep and sincere feeling, must have been the victim of delusion, or else a wretched hypocrite. But who thinks that?
2. And he is not alone in such utterance. The psalms are full of them, and we have already referred to the first and great commandment. The New Testament also speaks of "perfect love" - just that sentiment which our text tells of.
3. And there have been and are thousands of souls in which such love dwells, to whom God is their "exceeding Joy," whose supreme delight is in God.
4. And what seems to does not really contradict this. For consider the elements of our love to God. They are - complete distrust of self; confidence in God only for the supply of our souls' deepest needs, such as pardon, peace, purity, eternal life; holy reverence and awe and gratitude. But all these are far other than what we cherish to our fellow men; so that they do not clash one with the other. On the contrary, the lower love may help the higher, and the higher cannot exist if the lower do not.
III. BUT IF SUCH SUPREME DELIGHT IN GOD BE POSSIBLE, IT IS ALSO INFINITELY DESIRABLE. All life, even the most mean and poor, becomes transformed, transfigured, glorified, by means of it. The soul becomes independent of all earthly favour, and heeds not this world's frown, nor all "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." Unspeakably blest, and blessing is the characteristic of the soul in whom this love of God dwells. See Paul's "sorrowful, but always rejoicing," etc.
IV. IT IS ATTAINED THROUGH OBEDIENCE AND TRUST. "He that keepeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me," said our Lord. Such obedience is not only the fruit, but the root, of the love which grows out of it. We obey, and we come to love him whom we obey. Serving is the secret - not alone the sign, but the source also - of loving. Our love for our children is in proportion to the sacrifices we make for them. It is so everywhere and forever. - S.C.
1. We are here taught that God is the portion of His people. God not only gives us His grace and favour, pardon of our sins, a perfect righteousness, and a glorious inheritance, but He gives us Himself. He bids us find our happiness not merely in the streams which flow from His goodness, but in Himself, the fountain of all.
Whom have I in heaven but Thee? end there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.— "Whom have I in heaven but Thee?" Not "what." Not in things, but in persons, the personal soul must find its portion. Not in many, but in One, to whom the soul can look, and to whom, as here, it can lift up its cry.
I. GOD ALONE CAN MEET OUR SINFULNESS. This is our first need, for we are sinners, and this fact affects everything else. There may be any amount of slumbering grandeur in us, but it cannot get out for sin. None of us would be willing or able to reveal to another all that he is conscious of in himself. Hence men are reserved with one another. A man is accosting his neighbour in neighbourly kindness, and thinking the while, "He does not know me, and I durst not tell him what I think and what I feel and what I am. If I were sure he would understand everything just as it is, I might be able to tell him; but being sure that he would not understand, I cannot." Now we are not speaking of any great sins or vices which particular men may have committed, and the remembrance of which they carry within, like ghastly skeletons shut up in closed rooms, but just of the secret of sinfulness which is in every heart. A terrible secret! A secret which must be told, which cannot be shut up for ever. But to whom? To Him who is greater than the heart, and who knoweth all things. To Him, in fact, because He knoweth all things. And then, according to His own promise, He will meet us and take all our sin away. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but he that con-fesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." God is for ever declaring His willingness to forgive. Thus He makes Himself our God by meeting our sinfulness.
II. GOD ALONE CAN MEET OUR FEEBLENESS. We are compassed with infirmities, we are made up of needs. Some are so utterly blinded and bewitched that for a while they seem to indulge the hope that this world is the foundation-rock on which they can rest. How we should pity such men! And how pitiable indeed they become when they are undeceived; when the seeming rock shows itself to be but shifting sand; when the fair house shivers itself to atoms in their hands, and they stand houseless and homeless in the storm.
III. GOD ONLY CAN MEET OUR NOBLENESS. For we are noble, as well as frail and sinful. Things high and low meet strangely in our nature. We are made in the image of God. The image is marred but not erased. We belong to a fallen but also to a rising race. And this is our nobleness that we are still God's sons, and that we are awakening to this consciousness. And God alone can meet us in this. As He alone can understand the vastness of our needs, so He only can understand the greatness of our desire and the strength of our endeavour to be like Him, and with Him again. We misread, and then we misreport, each other woefully. We are on the homeward way together, and no doubt there is thus great mutual help, but there is mutual hindrance as well. One often casts a shadow on the path of another. He seems to see nothing but the wrong things, and the weaknesses; the rightness and the growing strength are within, and are seen only by Him who looks from above. It is not only that the wrong things are seen, and the weaknesses are noted, but often the right is called the wrong, and treated so. No doubt the temper of suspicion and distrust is fostered by the publicity which everything now receives, or rather by the malign prominence given in our daily literature to the vile and the wrong things. For the good things are not published; they are put into quiet corners; a thousand of them may be enacted by effort and by sacrifice, by patience and perseverance and love, and no notice will be taken of them. This uncandid temper, this extreme unwillingness to see moral inequalities among men, this strange desire to strike down the lofty and lay them with the low, rather than toil for the elevation of the low to the level of the lofty, is becoming quite one of the operative principles of our intellectual and social life, and of course it affects the Church also. Suspicion is bred among Christian men. One does not see how God is working in another, how the glorious image is shining out again. All this is trying enough, but at least it should enhance and endear to us the truth we are now enforcing, that God alone can meet our nobleness. How precious the privilege of being able to turn to Him when we can turn to no one else!
IV. GOD ALONE CAN MEET AND SATISFY OUR IMMORTALITY. He only is "the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever." Even if the things and the persons we are so apt. in our haste and blindness to put in the place of Him could be to us what we hope, the question still remains, "For how long?" and turn where we will, we can find no answer of such a kind as to furnish the ground of confidence for a single day. Try to apply the great language of the text to any person, to anything, but Him, and what a mockery it will be! Turn, then, from sin to God, from frailty to God, from trouble to God, from baffled endeavours to God, from unrequited love to God, from self to God, from men to God, from the world to God, from heaven to God, from eternity to God; and standing, separated and alone, on the height of this decisive hour, say, while heaven hears the cry, and angels register the vow — "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none," etc.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
I. THE PERFECTION OF WISDOM. What did the psalmist mean by the rapturous question, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee"? Perhaps, he was thinking, amongst other things, of false gods, and proclaiming the monotheism of Israel and disowning the gods of the nations. Perhaps he had no such specific idea in his mind; but simply looking up into the heavens with all their stars, and with all their possible inhabitants, he felt that they were nought to him. And then does he come down, or does he go up, in the next clause? "There is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." In one respect that is a descent; more truly it is a climax. What does he mean? This is not the utterance of a foolish, false, unnatural, impossible effort to denude him of what makes man. God desires no vacuum in the heart into which He comes. He does not "make a solitude and call it peace." Mark that "beside Thee" — "none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." Does not that suggest that there is to be none else on a level with Him; that His throne is to overtop all other golden seats? It implies, also, that all other delights and desires are held, not only in subordination to, but in association with, the supreme desire and delight which is fixed upon Him. A-s many loves as you will, as many desires as the heart can frame, if only all are linked with God, and you love and aim at all other loves and aims in God, and at God in all others.
II. A PRACTICABLE IDEAL. Can it be realized perfectly? No. Permanently? No. Approximately? Yes. Progressively? Yes. Do you ask how? The first thing to do, because men are meant to be guided by their brains, is .to familiarize our minds, by frequent contemplation and meditation, with the truth that God is our all-sufficient good. There is no depth in religion unless that lies at the very root of it all. And there will be no power in the practical life, for the sake of the clamant demands of which so many of us are strangers to God and ourselves, unless, in the midst of the bustle and the crowd, we do clear for ourselves a little space, and .there, in the silence of our own souls, learn to know how good God is. And another thing that is necessary in order that we shall progressively approximate to this great ideal is diligent and honest direction and suppression of desires that draw us away from Him. You have to cut off the suckers and the side-shoots if you want the leader to go straight towards the sky. You have to dam up the side-streams if you want the river to run with a power and a scour. And you have to exercise coercion, violence sometimes, on these vagrant desires, and gather them together, if they are to be directed successfully and triumphantly to Him. But there must be further distinct efforts, not only of a negative kind, and in the way of suppression and withdrawal, but of the positive kind, in the way of seeking after a closer union with God, and a more continuous experience of His all-sufficiency. If we practise these three things, meditation, self-control, and the aspiration after God, in the measure in which we do we shall be able to make this psalmist's word our own, and we shall find it true what God Himself has declared, "I have never said to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek ye My face in vain."
III. THE SECRET OF BLESSEDNESS. The misery of human life is its being torn asunder by the multiplicity of aims and objects. The blessedness of human life is its being simplified and unified into search after one. All of us know how the number of vulnerable points in a life is increased, just in the measure in which its aims and desires are manifold. And we might all of us know how we become lords of circumstances, and cased in triple armour against all sorrows, when we bring our lives down to the simplest form, and say, "God only is my good and my desire." It is bad business to put all your capital into one speculation. It is good trading to put all your desires on God. God, and God alone, will unify our lives. This saying discloses the secret of peace. It is something to be delivered from all painful and perpetual and profitless quests after the manifold, and instead of wandering about the world seeking for goodly pearls, to have no need to roam, because at home we have the one pearl of great price. Need I remind you, again, how this great utterance reveals to us the secret o! blessedness, in that it points us to the only path on which he that seeks is sure to find. To seek for anything else than God is to lay up for ourselves sore hearts some day. To seek after Him, and Him only, is to secure blessedness in the search, and blessedness in the fruition.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
2. While the psalmist professes to take nothing short of God Himself as his portion, he expressly excludes all other claimants upon his supreme regard and affection. He can survey the whole firmament, and range through all the courts of heaven's glorious palace; and though his eye falls upon myriads of noble and blessed objects — angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim — prophets, apostles, and martyrs — saints of all climes and all ages — all these he passes by, he will set his hopes upon none of them, he will fix his heart's trust upon nothing short of the eternal God Himself.
3. If the believer thus excludes all in heaven from competition with the one Lord of all for the supreme place in his heart's affections, much more will he not allow anything on earth to interfere with such a claim. The kind benefactor, the sympathizing fellow-sufferer, the beloved Jonathan who is as his own soul; none of these must be permitted to usurp a place reserved for only one. They have their own appointed places, but they must not presume to occupy that throne in his heart which of right is his Lord's.
4. But besides these various claimants upon the believer's affections, there is one who is often a more formidable rival to their rightful Lord than any other, and that is himself. It is very rarely that a man does not love himself better than any one else; and too often he occupies in his own heart the very throne of God. His dependence is upon his own wisdom and his own strength. He trusts in his physical or his mental capacity, or it may be his spiritual understanding and Christian experience. His trust is divided between his Lord and himself — his Lord's mercy and goodness, and his own faith and holiness; and so when these fail, as fail they always will, then of course he is disquieted and discouraged.
5. What then is the conclusion to which all this leads us? I do not know that we can express it more forcibly than in the closing words of the psalmist himself — "It is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Thy works."
(W. E. Light, M. A.)
I. A NECESSITY WHICH, MISDIRECTED, IS THE SOURCE OF MAN'S MISERY. We all of us need, though, alas! so few of us know that we need, a living possession of a living perfect person, for mind, for heart, for will. You try to fill that deep and aching void in your hearts, which is a sign of your possible nobleness, and a pledge of your possible blessedness, with all manner of minute rubbish, which can never fill up the gap that is there. Cartload after cartload may be tilted into the bottomless bog, and there is no more solid ground on the surface than there was at the beginning. Oh I consult thine own deepest need; listen to that voice, often stifled, often neglected, and by some of you always misunderstood, which speaks in your wills. minds, consciences, hopes, desires, hearts; and is it not this: "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God"?
II. THE LONGING WHICH, RIGHTLY DIRECTED AND CHERISHED, IS THE VERY SPIRIT OF RELIGION. He, and only he, is the religious man, who can take these words of my text for the inmost words of his conscious effort and life. And only in the measure in which you and I recognize that God is our sole and all-sufficient good, in that measure have we any business to call ourselves devout or Christian people.
III. THE BLESSED POSSESSION WHICH DEADENS EARTHLY DESIRES. The sun when it rises quenches the brightest stars, that can but fade in his light and die. And so when, in answer to our longing, God lifts the light of His countenance — a better sunrise — upon us, that new affection dims and quenches the brightness of these little, though they be lustrous, points, that shed a fragmentary and manifold twinkling over the darkness of our former night. Only remember that this supreme, and in some sense exclusive, love and longing does not destroy the sweetness of lower possessions and blessings. A new deep love in a man's or a woman's heart does not make their former affections less, but more sweet and noble and strong.
IV. THE POSSESSION WHICH IS THE PLEDGE OF PERPETUITY. The whole context requires us to suppose that the psalmist's eye is looking across the black gorge of death to the shining tableland beyond. So here we are admitted to see faith in the future life in the very act of growth. The singer soars to that sunlit height of confidence in the endless blessedness of union with God, just because He feels so deeply the sacredness and the blessedness of his present communion with God. Next to the resurrection of Jesus Christ the best proof of immortality lies in the present experience of communion with God. If there be a God at all, anything is more reasonable than to believe that the union, formed between Him and me, by faith here can ever come to an end until I have exhausted Him, and drawn all His fulness into myself. This communion, by its very sweetness, yieldeth proof that it was "born for immortality." And the psalmist here, just because to-day God is the Rock of his heart, is sure that that relation must last on, through life, through death, aye I and for ever, "when all that seems shall suffer shock."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)I. THEY EXPRESS A CONSCIOUS NECESSITY WHICH GOD ALONE IS ABLE TO MEET. "Lord, to whom shall we go?" God alone can meet the varied needs of our nature.
II. STRONG AND ABSORBING LOVE FOR GOD. This no hireling love for what it gets, but love for the giver, for the Lord Himself. And it need not come into collision with the love of our earthly friends. If we put the love of man first, all is wrong: but put the love of Christ first, and then all is right.
(E. Garbett, M. A.)
I. BECAUSE OF THE SUPERLATIVE BEAUTY OF HIS CHARACTER. Jesus Christ is the purest, truest, highest, most gracious human character which this world has seen. Every lofty virtue had in His life its natural home; every rich grace flowered in faultless perfectness, in coherence, and congruity, and symmetry. In the great worlds of character and conduct, in the realms of thought and feeling, speech and act, He has a sovereign pre-eminence. Without the thought of His character and the power of His influence, the moral wealth of the world would suffer an irreparable impoverishment, and the strength of the world's ethical energy would be seriously diminished.
II. BECAUSE OF THE DEPTH OF HIS APPEAL TO US. He never appeals to us for small things, but asks for those higher consecrations which tax to the very limit every power of life.
III. BECAUSE OF THE ELEVATION TO WHICH HE RAISES LIFE. We have no need, and no desire, to disparage the delicate beauty of the lives of some splendid Pagans, nor are we unmindful of the nobility of some characters which have even neglected the Gospel of our Lord — unconsciously to them, Christ is the root of every bit of their goodness. In every walk of life, and in every realm, Jesus has lifted some noble spirit into an excellent grandeur; He has fertilized his thought, inspired his genius, deepened every noble enthusiasm, strengthened every holy purpose, lifted every power to its best energy, created and sustained the highest tastes and sweetest dispositions, and given to the whole life symmetry and influence.
(G. B. Austin.)1. In those moments when the soul is left desolate, do not still seek comfort from the world. Why would you set your heart upon that which is not?
2. Be not overwhelmed with over-much sorrow. Such feelings are natural in the first flowings of affliction; but it is not meet to indulge and brood over them, so as to abandon the duties of life and sink in melancholy.
3. Harbour not revenge against those who have injured you, or in any way been the cause of your affliction. Revenge stops the sources of Divine consolation.
4. Beware of interrupting your desires toward God by any wilful sin. Afflictions do not intercept, they rather raise the desires to heaven; but every wilful deliberate sin overspreads the soul with a thick cloud, and separates betwixt us and our God.
5. Improve distresses of every kind as means of virtue, and grounds of praise.
(S. Charters.)I. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF ANY WORLDLY GOOD FOR THE HAPPINESS OF MAN.
1. The nature of man in his present state makes it impossible for him to be completely happy. He hath hopes which cannot be answered, fears which cannot be silenced, desires will not be satisfied.
2. The nature of things, or at least the posture of them, will not and cannot render us completely happy. They have too much uncertainty to be depended on, and too much alloy mixed up with them to pass for durable or solid riches.
II. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF AN INFINITELY PERFECT BEING, TO MAKE MAN COMPLETELY HAPPY. Let us therefore examine what are the essential qualifications of an all-sufficient good, that we may be sure we are right, in resorting to God for it.
1. God is Almighty, and so can do whatever He pleaseth in heaven and earth. Wherever therefore the ingredients of our happiness are scattered, He can bring them together, and make the faculty and its object meet.
2. Infinite wisdom knows how to employ an infinity of power with all advantage for our interests.
3. His goodness assures us that He will exert these great perfections in our favour, so that whatever infinite wisdom can contrive, or infinite power do for us, His infinite goodness assures us will be contrived and done for us.
4. Eternity and unchangeableness are necessary to finish and complete our happiness.
(N. Marshall, D. D.)I. THE PSALMIST HAD ASCERTAINED WHAT THE NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF AN ADEQUATE PORTION FOR MAN MUST BE. He had, without doubt, considered himself, his nature, his wants, his capacities — had thought on his situation, and the dangers to which he was exposed from every quarter. He must have ascertained what influence that must have on his soul, and on those scenes of trial and temptation through which he might be called to pass — what it must do when strength and flesh fail, when death shall call him away from every created comfort, dissolve the dearest and tenderest connections — what it must do for his departing spirit, and that throughout eternity — to which he could direct his thoughts, and say, "This is all I want."
II. THE PSALMIST HAD RESOLVED THE QUESTION, WHETHER THE PROPER PORTION AND FELICITY OF MAN WAS IN CREATED NATURE, OR IN GOD. This would be his language: — "Could I ensure the favour and friendship of Jehovah; His power, my shield; His light, my sun; His wisdom, my counsellor; His arm, my support; that consolation and joy He can at present create; and that never-ending felicity He can give me to possess; should I not then have what will satisfy my soul? May I not rest here, and say — 'It is enough'?"
III. THE TEXT EXPRESSES THE DECIDED CONVICTION OF THE PSALMIST, THAT THE ONLY PORTION AND FELICITY OF MAN IS IN GOD.
1. God is all-sufficient. There is no difficulty from which He cannot extricate the soul, no enemy out of the reach of His arm, no evil impending which He cannot prevent, nor any sum of felicity but what He can bestow.
2. God is an unchangeable good.
3. God is a portion of which the pious can never be deprived.
IV. OUR TEXT SUPPOSES THE PSALMIST'S PERSUASION, THAT JEHOVAH WOULD BECOME THAT MAN'S PORTION, WHO, RENOUNCING EVERY OTHER, SEEKS IT IN HIM.
V. ON THIS CONVICTION, THE PSALMIST MADE AN ACTUAL AND DELIBERATE CHOICE OF GOD.
VI. THE PSALMIST REPOSED IN GOD WITH ENTIRE SATISFACTION — HE WAS THE SUPREME OBJECT OF HIS DESIRE AND DELIGHT.
(N. Hill.)1. God is the proper portion of the soul, because He is the only underived and absolute good. Whatever of virtue and truth, of moral worth and spiritual beauty, there may be in any part of the universe, among our race or other races, all must be referred to Him as its source.
2. He is a good adapted to the nature and necessities of the soul. Man was made originally in the Divine image; and whatever changes may have occurred in His character and condition, His nature is unchanged. A sick man is still a man; and a soul, dislocated and enervated by sin, is still a soul. As such it can find its supreme happiness only in God.
3. This will be further evident from considering that God is an infinite God. Here is a God we can adore. Here the intense longings of the soul are satisfied. In this august, ever-present, all-seeing, all-controlling Divinity, our minds repose with the assurance that His nature is not only suited to our nature, but absolutely boundless and unsearchable.
4. This implies that God is an eternal good — which may be mentioned as another proof that He is the only adequate portion for the soul. 5 As the crowning argument to show that God is the proper portion of the soul, it may be added that He is a most comprehensive good. Where He gives Himself, He gives every other good.
(H A. Boardman, D. D.)
I. IN REGARD TO THE UNCONVERTED. God is not in all their thoughts, much less supreme in them. Nor do they wish Him to be. The psalmist desired, but they do not, to be for ever with God. It is said that men dread annihilation, the soul dying with the body. But do men dread this? Have not poetry and philosophy greatly exaggerated here? Unquestionably, man's dissatisfaction with the present is proof of his being designed for another state of being. But whilst a man may have the witness in himself that he is not to be annihilated, he yet may have no horror at the thought of it. He would be glad to. know that death is but an everlasting sleep. For they cannot endure to look forward. Wrath and retribution are there. Hence they cannot shrink, as do the godly, from ceasing to exist. But is not this the most affecting of all evidences of the vast extent of human degeneracy — that any should be willing to perish as do the brutes: that the soul should not shrink from annihilation? But the psalmist — how different his desire! And this not only as to the future, but as to the chief good of the present.
II. THE RIGHTEOUS. Too often they love life over-much. If their circumstances be easy, how they shrink from death; how few are "ready to depart and be with Christ, which is far better." Christians who cling to this world are more blameworthy than the ungodly who shrink from the next. For the psalmist, God alone could suffice. And in regard to our hope of the future, take heed lest our delight in heaven be that there our loved ones are, rather than that God is there. The presence of God and Christ make heaven. Let us learn to say, "Whom have I in heaven," etc.
(Henry Melvill, B. D.)
1. It must be an all-sufficient good.
2. It must be perfect goodness.
3. It must be firm and unchangeable in itself.
4. It must be such a good as none can deprive us of, and take away from us.
5. It must be eternal.
6. It must be able to support and comfort us in every condition, and under all the accidents and adversities of human life.
7. It must be such a good as can give perfect rest and tranquillity to our minds.Nothing that is short of all this can make us happy: and no creature, no, not the whole creation, can pretend to be all this to us. All these properties meet only in God, who is the perfect and supreme good; and, consequently, God is the only happiness of man.
(J. Tillotson, D. D.)
1. Be watchful of your desire for possession. A man may have a greed for gold without having the gold. A poor man may love money.
2. Be watchful of your desire for pleasure. Be on your guard that it does not take the moral grit out of your soul. Work and play should go hand in hand, and both should be hallowed.
3. Watch your desire for praise. Don't let it tone down the energetic strokes that give strength and value to your virtues.
4. Watch your desire for ease. I suppose it is true that there is a vein of laziness in all of us. We don't want to be bothered; but the world has a right to expect us to evince that we possess will, character, and to evince also that that character is supreme.
5. Watch your desire in reading. Be on your guard against books which make no requirement upon your thinking powers, and take care they do not wound your sympathy. Some persons will weep profusely over pathetic scenes described in books, and have no tears to shed or help to give in the actual needs and griefs of life.
6. Train your desire to make the best of your circumstances. We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can use them. Every man is a king or a slave. Don't ask to be "coddled," but let your request be: "Get out of the sunlight; give me opportunities." Be on your guard against wandering desires, refit is these that give emptiness to life.
7. Finally, bring your desires to Christ. Put that desire which is spoiling you into His hands. Let His love cleanse and direct and complete it. There is nothing that will kill an old love like a new love, and higher. Make faith the teacher of desire.
(W. R. Britton.)
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