Do You Mean It?
James Smith, 1859
Some time ago, I heard two friends in conversation, and the one was expressing strong affection for the other, at length the other replied with deep emotion, "Do you mean it?" Ah, thought I, nothing will do, I see, but sincerity. It is not enough to talk about love, the question is, "Do you mean it?" Lip love is of small value, no wise man esteems it. When a profession of love is made, the spirit is observed, and the conduct watched — to see if the spirit and conduct agree with the tongue. Sincere love is valuable — but love in talk only, is of small importance. Whenever I hear people professing attachment, I will henceforth think of the question, "Do you mean it?"
But my thoughts ran further than this. I thought if man may put such a question to his fellow man, how much more, may the Lord Jesus put the question to us all. We often sing —
"Jesus, I love your charming name,
'Tis music to my ear;
Fain would I sound it out so loud,
That earth and Heaven should hear."
Do we mean it? If so, we shall take every opportunity to speak of Jesus. We shall talk of him to children. We shall tell our neighbors of his love. Every one of our relatives will hear of him from us. Nor shall we be satisfied with speaking once or twice — but we shall speak until we get them interested, and try to engage them in the work. Nor will our communications be cold or formal — but there will be some excitement about us, like that produced by music; like that felt when we speak of what we have greatly enjoyed — or of that in which we are deeply and intensely interested. Yes, yes, if the name of Jesus is like music to the ear; and if we heartily desire that earth and Heaven may hear it — then we shall speak of it, and speak as if we meant every word too. Now, if we often sing, or repeat this verse — and yet seldom or never speak of Jesus to recommend him to others, and to exalt his love, may he not well ask, as my friend did, "Do you mean it?"
Again we sing —
"Yes, you are precious to my soul,
My transport and my trust;
Jewels to me are gaudy toys,
And gold is sordid dust."
What does our conduct say? Does it say, that we consider gold as sordid dust, in comparison with Jesus? Are our thoughts of Jesus, and our preference of Jesus, to gold — as great, as our preference of gold to the dust in the street? Is this the case? We say so, do we not? And we say so often too, for this is one of our favorite hymns.
O beloved, how much pretense there is about us? How much more we often say than we feel, and how often we feel more than we embody in practice. When gold is preferred to the Word of Jesus, to the ordinances of Jesus, to private fellowship and communion with Jesus — is there not some reason to doubt, if we do not, at least for the time, prefer gold to Jesus! When the mind is more given to the getting of gold, or to preserving and improving our property, than to honoring, and making known the Lord Jesus, through the week; if on the Lord's day we sing this beautiful hymn, may not the Savior point with his finger to our conduct in the week, and ask, "Do you mean it?"
Once more we sing —
"I'll speak the honors of your name,
With my last laboring breath;
Then speechless clasp you in my arms,
The antidote of death!"
Is this likely? If we do not speak of Jesus, while we can speak with ease and freedom — then is it likely that we shall make an effort to speak of him, when the effort gives us great pain? Oh, if we do, may not our Lord well say to us, "Why did you not speak of me, when you were in health and strength? I gave you plenty of opportunities, and you could speak freely and fluently, on almost every other subject — why did you not speak of me then? You said, you wished Heaven and earth to hear my name — you said I was far more precious to you than jewels or fine gold — that I was your transport and your trust — but you could talk of gold and jewels, much more freely and frequently than you did of me; and if on any occasion I was spoken of by you, few would suppose from your manner or expressions, that I was your transport and your trust."
Beloved, are we not truly guilty? Must we not confess that we have been false, and inconsistent? When we make our warmest professions of love and attachment — has not our Savior much cause to ask, "Do you mean it?" Well, perhaps we do mean it at the time — but our feelings, like Ephraim's goodness, are as the morning cloud, and early dew — soon dried up and gone. Alas, that it should be so! But so it is.
O Savior, send, we beseech you, the Spirit of love into our hearts, that we may love you, with a pure heart fervently; and enable us so to speak of you to all about us, and so to act in the world, in the family, and in the church, that all may be convinced that we do love you in deed and in truth. Holy Spirit, direct our hearts into the love of Jesus, and shed abroad his love in our hearts, that we may love him with all our powers; and let our words and works say, that he is to us, the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely one! O to love Jesus really and truly, deeply and habitually; and to show our love to him — by speaking and writing of him, by dedicating ourselves to him, and by daily acting for him, in all the ranks of life!
Come, let me love! or is, my mind
Hardened to stone, or froze to ice?
I see the blessed fair one bend,
And stoop to embrace me from the skies.
Oh! 'tis a thought would melt a rock,
And make a heart of iron move,
That those sweet lips, that Heavenly look,
Should seek and wish a mortal love!
I was a traitor doomed to fire,
Bound to sustain eternal pains;
He flew on wings of strong desire,
Assumed my guilt, and took my chains!
Infinite grace! almighty charms!
Stand in amaze, you rolling skies!
Jesus, the God, extends his arms
Hangs on a cross of love, and dies.
Did pity ever stoop so low,
Dressed in divinity and blood?
Was ever rebel courted so,
In groans of an expiring God?
Again he lives! and spreads his hands —
Hands that were nailed to torturing smart;
By these dear wounds! says he, and stands,
And prays to clasp me to his heart.
Sure I must love; or are my ears
Still deaf, nor will my passions move?
Lord! melt this flinty heart to tears;
This heart shall yield to death or love!