To one who is as a "sparrow alone upon the housetop."
"Fear not, for I am with you."
To Mr. Macdonald, July 22, 1855.
My dear friend,
I will tell you what I have just been thinking. You know our gracious Lord
said to His disciples, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do
not go away, the Comforter will not come unto you." It seems to me, that
friend after friend, comfort after comfort, might also say to our foolish,
clinging, sensitive hearts, "It is expedient for you that we go away; for if
we do not go away, the Comforter will not come unto you!" In other words,
"If we remain, you will build on us part of your comfort, and then you will
be a loser, not learning the height, depth, length, and breadth of the love,
sweetness, and fullness which are in Christ Jesus. A pang may be felt as one
by one is taken away; yet how blessed to be in the position of the poor
sinner who was left alone with Jesus, when His gracious lips did drop as the
honeycomb into her heart, saying, "Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no
more." Oh, it is worth being stripped of all that is our own to hear this
secret of divine love, and to enjoy Jesus as our "all in all."
Now, I know you will assent to this in your judgment; but
I want you to have the full benefit and blessing in being brought nearer to
Jesus; for I well know what creatures we are, for self-hewn cisterns; and
how when one is broken we seek for another, instead of turning to the
Fountain. Look at your own heart, and see whether it is not so; whether you
are not often wanting a friend, a letter, or anything to break the desolate
feeling. Am I speaking too closely? It is because I am so much of your own
temperament that I thus judge you, and long to draw you to the full bliss of
forsaking all for Christ. Then shall you most abundantly find all in
Him, and praise Him for every stripping and emptying which prevented your
resting in a lower source of enjoyment, or enjoying even Himself through the
medium of others. Oh! it is most precious to commune directly with Himself,
and receive lessons of wisdom from His own blessed mouth—
"With You conversing, I forget
All time and toil and care;
Labor is rest, seclusion sweet,
When You my God are there."
This is the application of the subject. You are now in
the very position to be learning the sweetness of being alone with Jesus;
and if you feel a lack in outward ordinances, and a lack of Christian
communion--it is to bring you in quiet retirement to open your heart more
fully to the Prince of Peace, that you may not have to go abroad for
your choice things—but find Him at home in the inner temple of the new
heart; and thus shall your present wilderness blossom abundantly, and you
shall rejoice even with joy and singing.
Our dear Lord always gives us just what is needful for
our present circumstances. Inasmuch as we are repining against them, we
are "the rebellious, and shall dwell in a dry land;'' but when we accept
them at His hands, seeking therein for Jesus, we shall find that there is a
blessing in them, however painful they may be to the flesh. Your present
trials are covenant discipline in covenant love, to teach you to live above
self and creatures, to be less dependent upon 'streams', and to be drawing
from the Fountain. You see how freely I write, just like an elder
sister who has trodden the path before you. I myself have been deprived of
blessings dear as the right hand and the right eye--that I might come to "Peniel,"
which I need not tell you means the "face of God." Just see how Jacob sent
all over the brook, in Gen. 32:22, 23, 30. Even the nearest and dearest must
go away, and he must be left alone to see the "face of God;" then it is
recorded "He blessed him there." Oh, that this might be written of you.
I think much of the high calling which you are
contemplating, and also of what is said to the tribe of Levi in the Old
Testament, "You shall have no inheritance in their land." Moses, in blessing
that tribe, said, "Neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own
children," all betokening a peculiar separation to the Lord, and showing
that they should esteem everything secondary to His glory, and that He being
their inheritance, their confidence and chief delight should be in Him.
Blessed state of high privilege! May it be fully yours in the spiritual
sense, and may all the changes and tossings to which you are subjected, be a
means used by the Lord to bring you to it. Press after it, for "the soul of
the diligent shall be made fat." "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it."
May the guiding cloud ever go before you to mark where
you should encamp in the wilderness. Remember it will be a wilderness
everywhere, and you in some sort or other must feel it to be so; but many a
stream will gush out of the Rock, and many a refreshment be prepared when
you are faint and weary; not to tempt you to sit down in peace—but to
strengthen you to go onward.
I am glad you are at times happy in "The Hiding-place,"
although you do come back to the painful consciousness of self. Even while
you are learning what you are, you are safe in what He is, and you
shall at last be more than conqueror; yes, even experimentally so now while
"looking unto Jesus." "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." "Walk in
the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Constantly
come to the light of the Spirit, that your fleshly thoughts, words, and
deeds may be reproved; and as He discloses to you the evil, beg Him also to
subdue it. It is not enough to learn our sin and cry out against it; the
blessing is promised "to him who overcomes." It is not merely in
self-loathing—but in self-forsaking, that our victory comes. "Be," in this
sense, "faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life."
It is very probable that we shall meet no more on earth;
but I trust that when the earthly house of our tabernacle shall be
dissolved, we may have "a building of God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens." When we have arrived there, it will be of no
importance how roughly or how smoothly we have fared by the way. And now
farewell; seek close walking with God, yield yourself fully and continually
to the Lord. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk
you in him," rejoicing that "you are not your own."
The Lord bless you and keep you from evil, that it may
not grieve you, and continually set before you an open door in providence,
saying, "This is the way, walk in it." He is our Rock, following us all
through the wilderness, where our bread is given us and our water is sure.
In our adorable Emmanuel, ever yours affectionately,