What phantoms they will chase!
(From Winslow's, "Nearness to the Cross")
The divine life in the soul flourishes or decays,
is vigorous or sickly, in exact proportion to its
proximity to the cross of Jesus. Here alone
spiritual religion flourishes.
Nearness to the cross! Alas! it is the exception
and not the rule. Standing by the cross! It is the
privileged position of the few and not the many.
The world, in some one, or all, of its many forms
of power; the creature, in its unsuspected yet
insinuating influence; unbelief, in its latent yet
ever potent force; sin, in its indwelling and ever
working sway, allures the soul from the cross.
And so the Christian disciple, unconscious of the
spiritual declension of his heart from Christ, finds
himself moving in a distant orbit, cold, and dreary,
far remote from the warm, genial influence of the
Sun beneath whose divine beams he was wont so
joyously to bask in the days of his "first love."
Jesus is not known, His cross is not recognized,
His love is not felt in the walks of worldly gaiety
and in the haunts of carnal pleasure. These things
are divided from the cross by a wide and ever
You cannot, my reader, mingle with
the world and maintain at the same
time, spiritual nearness to the cross.
The cross is the crucifier of the world, the death of sin.
Beneath its awful shadow, brought to its sacred foot,
the world's glory pales, sin's power is paralyzed, and
Satan, the arch tempter, recoiling from its brightness
and writhing beneath its death bruise, relinquishes
his victim, and retires, defeated and dishonored, to
his own place.
The cross, rugged and gory, heavy and offensive,
possesses no beauty or attraction apart from Him who
was nailed to its wood.
That which makes Calvary the most hallowed spot
to the believer, and the cross the most attractive
spectacle on earth, is the wonderful Being who there
poured out His soul unto death, a self consumed
victim amid the fires of His own love.
Love to Jesus will sweetly attract and powerfully
detain you at the foot of the cross, in devout,
To him who has no love to Christ, the cross of Christ
has no attraction. A heart chilled in its affection to
the Savior will wander away in quest of objects more
congenial with its carnal taste.
A trifle, a shadow, anything the most childish and
insignificant, will win and gratify a heart upon whose
affections Christ has no hold.
Oh, it is astonishing what straws men will
gather, and what phantoms they will chase,
when the soul's center is not the cross of Jesus!