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:UYPER BV4811 .K89 1918 
■uyper, Abraham, 
'o be near unto 
;od / 

Into ($ah 


Eerdmans-Seyensma Co. 








When in holy ecstacy the Psalmist sings: '*! 
love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice 
and my supplication," he pours out his whole soul 
in his song, but the love can not be analyzed. 
To have love for God is a different and a much 
weaker thing than to be able to say: '1 love 
God." There is love for native land, for the 
beauties of nature and for the creations of art. 
From tenderness of heart we have love for suffer- 
ing humanity. We are attracted by things that 
are pure, true and of good report. And along this 
hne of thought almost every honest soul can say 
that he has love for God, and that this love 
exceeds all other loves. Because from him and 
through him all loveable things are, and He is 
the highest good. 

Love for God may be fine sentiment. It may 
be sincere and capable of inspiring holy enthu- 
siasm, while the soul is still a stranger to fellow- 
ship with the eternal, and ignorant of the secret 
walk with God. The great God may still not be 
your God. Your heart may still not be attuned to 
the passionate outburst of delight: I love the 
Lord. For love of God in general is so largely 
love for the idea of God. love for the Fountain of 
life, the Source of all good, the Watcher of Israel 
who never slumbers; in brief, love for him who, 
whatever else changes, abides the same eternally. 

But when the heart can say: I love the Lord, the 
idea of the Eternal becomes personified. Then God 
becomes the Shepherd who leads us, the Father 
who spiritually begat us, the covenant-God to 
whom we sustain the covenant relation, the Friend 
who offers us friendship, the Lord whom we serve, 
the God of our trust, who is no longer merely 
God, but our God. 

For many years we may have had love for God 
in general and never have known him. He is 
only known when love for him takes on a per- 
sonal character; when w^e meet him in the path- 
way of life; when He becomes a person in con- 
trast with our own; when we enter into conscious, 
vital and personal relation with him, so that He 
is our Father and we his children; not merely one 
of his children, but his child in a special way, in a 
personal relation different from that of his other 
children, even the closest relation conceivable in 
heaven and on earth; He, our Father, our shep- 
herd, our bosom-friend and our God. 

He who has not entered into this can not under- 
stand it. It extends farther than his reach. If, 
however, he is religiously inclined, he soon real- 
izes, on hearing about it, that if he might have 
this love, it would be sweeter than that of which 
he is now conscious. It makes him feel that he 
lacks something and so may arouse in him a desire 
for it. It may make him crave what would be so 
beautiful to possess. This craving may prepare 
him for better things. If there is to be contact 
with God, it proceeds from both sides. God draws 
near to us, and we to him. First afar off, then 
closer by, until distance falls away and we meet 
each other. The blessedness of this moment can 

never be told in words. We then come near unto 
God, and this comprises all the blessedness of 

He who has not learned this secret may say 
with his lips: It is good for me to hold me fast 
by God (Ps. 73:27 Prayer-Book version), but he 
can not grasp it. So he passes it by as though it 
meant in general a pious frame of mind apart 
from feeling the burning within of the spark of 
true personal love. He worships God, he prays 
for grace, but has no genuine love. But "To Be 
Near Unto God" means such nearness to God as 
to see him with the eyes, to be aware of his 
presence in the heart, to hear him with the ear, 
and to have every barrier removed that thus far 
kept him aloof. "To Be Near Unto God" means 
to be near him in one of two ways: either to 
feel as though we were caught up into heaven, or 
as though God had come down to us in our lone- 
liness, sorrow or joy. The very word "near" 
implies that there is much that separates us from 
God, and makes us solitary. When God is far 
away from us and we from him, it makes us 
desolate. It also implies that we are not con- 
tented; that we can not endure it; that our whole 
heart goes out after him, and will not rest until 
the last barrier is removed. For only when God 
is near unto us and we are near unto him is there 
blessedness again, which nothing can exceed, since 
it is unspeakably good "To Be Near Unto God." 
This exceeding blessedness can only be enjoyed at 
rare moments here, but in the life to come it shall 
endure. For in the Father's house above, we shall 
be near unto God forever and forever. 

The world ruthlessly crosses our efforts along 

this line. Though it was not right, and never can 
be, we understand what went on in the heart of 
those who sought escape from the world, in cell 
or hermitage, for the sake of unbroken fellowship 
with God. It might have been efficacious, if in 
withdrawing from the world they had been able 
to leave the world behind. But we carry it in our 
heart. Wherever we go it goes with us. There 
are no monastic walls so thick, or places in forests 
so distant, but Satan has means to reach thSm. 
To shut oneself out from the world moreover, for 
the sake of a closer walk with God, is to seek on 
earth what can only be our portion in heaven. We 
may escape many things in doing it. The eye may 
no more see much vanity. But existence becomes 
abnormal. Life becomes narrow. Human UE.ture 
is reduced to small dimensions. There is no 
imperative task on hand, no calling in life, no 
exertion of all one's powers. Conflict is avoided. 
Victory tarries. 

But "To Be Near Unto God" in the midst of 
busy avocations yields its sweetest blessedness 
when it is cultivated in the face of sin and the 
world, as an oasis in the desert of life. And they 
whom the world has tried in most cruel ways to 
draw away from God have achieved highest honors 
and blessings. In spite of obstacles and worldly 
opposition they continued to have trysts with 
God, Jacob at Peniel, IMoses in Horeb, David 
when Shimei cursed him, Paul when the people 
rose in uproar against him. In the heat of con- 
flict "To Be Near Unto God" is blessed. 

And apart from conflict with the world, the flesh 
and the devil, when clouds of adversity gather 
overhead, when the heart bleeds with wound upon 

wound, when the fig tree does not blossom, and 
the vine will yield no fruit, then with Habakkuk 
to rejoice in the Lord, because His blessed pres- 
ence is more enjoyed in adversity than in seasons 
of material prosperity, — this is the lesson of his- 
tory in all ages. 

But the ways of the world are cruel. Its cruel- 
ties have assumed finer forms, but this refinement 
has made them more intolerable. In former days 
there was much that reminded people of the 
sanctities of life, that made them think of higher 
things, and kept eternity before their eyes. All 
this is mostly gone. In the busy life of the world 
today there is little to keep in memory the things 
that are holy and eternal. In public life all 
thought of God is ignored. In some places church- 
bells are no more rung. Few days of prayer are 
appointed. God's name is no more spoken. No 
mernento mori any more reminds us of death. 
Cemeteries are turned into parks. Sacred things 
are scorned. That which in private conversation 
and in the public press gives tone to theories is 
the delusion that heaven reaches no higher than 
the stars, that death ends all, that life without God 
is more apt to bring prosperity than life in the 
fear of the Lord. The habit of doing without God 
in public life puts itself as a stream between God^ 
and the God-fearing soul. To hold fast by God, 
against the current of this stream, takes strong 

This modern cruelty of the world offers special 
dangers to our young people and children. But 
let us have courage. All things are known to God. 
In tender compassion He will draw near to us, and 
to our dear ones, that we and thej^ may be near 

unto him. But in that case, satisfaction with half 
measures must not be tolerated. If we do, vague 
love for a far-away God will riiore than ever fail 
us. The free and untrammeled life, that joj'fully 
proclaims: I love the Lord, alone can save. For 
it does not remain standing afar off, but seeks 
access to the immediate presence of God, in per- 
sonal contact of soul with the Eternal. 


There is a peculiar charm about the thing which 
we have made. Not because of any intrinsic value 
it may have, but just because we have made it. 
The new beginner at the art of portrait-painting, 
who practices his art by copying celebrated orig- 
inals, will think more of his own copy than of the 
more excellent original. Flowers which the young 
lad plucks from his own little garden are much 
more interesting to him than the boquet from the 
florist. The country gentleman prefers vegetables 
from his own grounds or hothouse, even if less 
fine, to the produce imported from abroad. He 
who writes for the press deems his own article, 
published in some monthly or quarterly, the best 
of the edition. This holds good in every depart- 
ment of life. Produce raised ourselves interests us 
greatly. Cattle bred on our own stock farm is 
preferred to any other. We are more happy in the 
house which we have built. 

Of course, this implies some self-complacency, 
which especially in youth is apt to breed conceit. 
We grant that preference for our own work can go 
too far, as when from sheer egotism it makes us 

undervalue better works from other hands. This 
is evident in mother-joy, which revels in play with 
its own child, such as is impossible in play with 
a neighbor's child. Self-delusion and selfishness 
may at times be too evident in this joy of the 
mother heart, but history and folklore in all lands 
and times bear witness that there vibrates another 
string in mother love than that of selfishness, the 
sound of which can only be understood when it is 
recalled that she bore the child. The mother is 
conscious of a part of her own life in that of her 
child. The two do not stand side by side as 
Nos. 1 and 2, but the mother-life extends itself 
in that of her child. 

This trait is evident in every product of our 
own, whether of our thought, of our manual labor, 
or of our perseverance. And whether it is an 
article which we contributed, or a house which we 
built, a piece of embroidery which we worked, or 
a flower which we planted, a hound or a race- 
horse which we raised, there is something in it of 
our own, something that we put upon it, a some- 
thing of our very selves, of our talent, of our 
invention, which makes us feel toward it as we 
never can feel toward things which are not of our 
own making. 

And by this human trait God comforts the 
hearts of sinners. This trait is in us, because it 
is in God. Regarding this trait God declares that 
it operates in the Divine Fatherheart in our behalf. 
For where there is a soul at stake, God never for- 
gets that He has made it. "For I will not contend 
forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the 
spirit should fail before me, and the souls which 
I have made (Is. 57:16). As little as a mother 

can allow her just anger with the child of her 
own bosom to work itself out to the end, just so 
little can God's wrath with a soul fully exhaust 
itself, because He has made it. As a Father pitieth 
his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear 
him (Ps. 103). "Though a mother may forget 
her sucking child, j^et will I not forget thee" (Is. 

The Fathername of Grod expresses this same 
comforting thought. It implies not merely that 
human fathers love, and that God loves too, but 
that both the love of human parents and the love 
of God spring from the same source, to-wit: that 
God has created and made the soul that is in us. 
That we are created after God's image implies that 
God is conscious of the relation which He sustains 
to us. The High and Holy One finds something 
of himself in us, because we are his own products. 
As his own creatures, we are objects of his Divine 
interest. There is something of God in the soul, 
because He has made it. It bears the Divine 
stamp. There is something of God's power in it, 
of his thought and creative genius, as there is in 
nothing else. We are God's handiworks, no two 
of which are ever exactly alike. Imagine that we 
were gone, and the vast collection of the Lord 
would no more be complete. From this the tie 
between God and the soul is born, which makes 
each of us a star in his firmament which the 
Father of Spirits can not afford to lose. And 
therefore the Lord seeks what is lost. 

An artist who has paintings on exhibition in a 
gallery and finds one of them gone, can not rest 
until it has been traced and restored to its place 
on the wall. In like manner God misses the 

soul that has gone astray, because He has made 
it. The beautiful parables of the lost penny, the 
lost sheep and the lost son sprang in the mind of 
Christ from the thought that God can not let go 
the works of his hands. Therefore He does not 
leave the souls of sinners indifferently as prey to 
corruption. They are his handiwork. And this 
constitutes the bitterness of sin. 

If on entering the gallery one day the afore- 
mentioned aitist saw that an angry intruder had 
wantonly, under cover of night, cut his paintings 
with a knife, his bitterness of soul would know no 
bounds, not merely because these paintings had 
been destroyed as treasures of art, but as works of 
his own hands. This insult has been inflicted upon 
God. The soul which He has made has been 
inwardly torn asunder by sin and has become 
almost irrecognizable. And as often as we yield 
to sin, the soul is spoiled still further. It is every 
time the continuance with uplifted hand of the 
work of ruining the soul, which belongs to God, 
because He made it. 

The destruction of one's own soul, or of the 
soul of his children or of others by example or 
wilful temptation, is always the spoiling of a 
Divine work of art, a creation of God, which 
wounds him in his own handiwork, corrupting 
the traces of himself in it. It is as though a child 
is wounded and slain before his mother's eyes. It 
is defiance of the maker's love for his handiwork. 
It is wilfully giving offense, and grieving the maker 
in his most sensitive point. 

To him, therefore, whose heart is right, this say- 
ing of the Lord, "The souls which I have made," 
has a two-fold meaning. First, the comforting 

thought that, if we believe, God's anger with the 
~ soul which He has made will not continue to the 
end. And, on the other hand, it implies the help- 
' ful warning that we should not poison the soul by- 
continuance in sin, but that we should favor it, 
and spare it, and shield it from corrupting influ- 
ences, because it belongs to God on the ground 
that He has made it. The confession that God 
created man after his own image does not exhaust 
the fulness of the thought in hand. The plummet 
goes far deeper. The saving and uplifting power 
of this confession is only felt when each morning 
is begun anew with the vivid realization of the 
inspiring thought that the soul in us is a work 
of art, made by the High and Holy One, on which 
his Honor hangs, over which therefore He watches 
with holy jealousy; and that we can not ruin it 
by sm except as we commit crime against that, to 
which God sustains the peculiar relation of being 
its Author and Maker. 

Thus "The souls which I have made" does not 
say anything more, save that we should realize 
that . we are the children of God ; but it states it 
in a more gripping way. It declares that he who 
"■~ by sin denies his heavenly Father, violates God's 
honor and grieves the Fatherheart. 


Jesus has appreciated the grave character of the 
struggle in Jife between God and money. It may 
be said that this struggle is even more violent 
in Western lands than in the East, where he 
preached and went about doing good, because 


there the common necessities of life are more 
easily procured than here. The large part which 
money plays in life is too generally ignored. Aside 
from wealth and love of simplicity., life unfolds 
differently when there is a free hand financially 
than when hard work for sheer sustenance of self 
and family must fill the hours of day. The con- 
centration of every effort upon making money may 
soon degenerate into sinful passion, whereby the 
money-slave ignores all sense of honor; although 
by itself it is natural and free from blame that 
utmost pains are taken to improve financial con- 
ditions. Only think of how much there is at stake 
in this matter, as regards the education of the 
young, our own m.oral and spiritual development, 
and the cause of God's kingdom in the earth. 

Money is a great power, and in times of press- 
ing needs the lack of it renders one painfully help- 
less. Wherefore the influence of money upon an 
unconverted heart can not be estimated. When 
even godly people are caught at times in the 
snares of money, what must be its banal force 
with those who, though they know of more ideal 
aims, have never made a definite choice of God 
and of his Christ. Money and Satan mingle 
freely in such minds, and this opens the way for 
mammon. And though at first it may be tried 
to keep money and mammon apart, the endeavor 
soon proves futile. Money is a power in hand. 
But before we know it, it soon becomes a power 
over us; a power that rules over us and draws 
us away ever farther and farther from high and 
noble interests and makes slaves of us in the 
service of mammon. Jesus foresaw all this. He 
fathomed the disgrace and the shame of it. And 

mov^ed with compassion for this 'gilded slavery 
he called the people that flocked to hear him, 
from money back to God. 

This sharp antithesis alone should inspire us to 
resist the tyranny of money. When we are truly 
servants of God, money will be a servant to us. 
When, on the other hand, we seek protection in 
our own strength from the baneful influence of 
money, and from its strong temptation, we meet 
with dismal failure. Deeming that we are our own 
master, we find that the power of money lords 
it over us. Jesus therefore puts the two kinds of 
riches in contrast with each other: riches in money 
and riches in. God. Not that one excludes the 
other. If we are rich in God, it is nothing against 
us to be rich in worldly goods. For then we 
will be well aware of the fact that we are but 
stewards of the Almighty, and money will serv^e 
both us and God. If we are rich in God and poor 
in earthly possessions, we will be satisfied and 
happy with the higher riches of the soul. But if 
a man is poor in God, worldly wealth is but vain 
and hollow mockery. Material riohes and sensual 
pleasures do not ennoble and refine the soul. 
Moreover at death they fall away, if not before, 
and leave the soul empty and shorn. It is harder 
still to be both poor in God and in worldly goods. 
This provides nothing for the enlargement of life; 
nothing to sustain and hold one up. It brings 
bitter discontent alone, which feeds upon the 
vitals and robs existence, heavily freighted with 
carping care, of its latest possible charm. 

To understand what constitutes riches in God, 
imagine for a moment that all your earthly riches 
had taken wings, and that bereft of all you had. 

you are forgotten by those who once knew you. In 
this utter forsakeness of soul ask yourself: What 
have I left? What do I now possess? This will 
be our state in the hour of death. We will go into 
eternity alone. What will we take with us? We ^ 
must leave money and houses behind. We must 
part even from our body. There will be nothing 
to us but the soul, our spiritual self. Shall we be 
rich then? If so, it can only be in spiritual goods. 
When we die we are either rich in God or poor in 
God. It will not do, therefore, to defer searching 
self-examination. When I am alone with my soul, 
what have I; what is there of me? Does my 
money impart to me my worth as a man, or am I 
something myself? Are there treasures stored up 
in my heart? Apart from all material interests 
has my personal self any significance worthy of 
mark in God's sight, or am I actually nothing? 

Let us not deceive ourselves. Apart from 
covet eousness it is quite possible to enlarge one's 
intellectual equipment, to cultivate the aesthetic 
nature, and to excel in cleverness and in achieve- 
ment. All this has worth of its own, and is not 
acquired apart from God. But it belongs to the 
life of this world, and loses its significance the 
moment life on earth fails us. There remains of 
it only so much as has imparted a higher and 
nobler bent to our person, and has established 
and broadened our character and our spiritual 
powers, and thereby has become our property, 
which can not be taken from us by either catas- 
trophe or death. 

And without more, even this will not do. Per- 
sonality that is well developed, character that is 
firmly established, inner strength of spirit and of 


will-power can be of use to us only when we can 
apply them to good and noble ends. Satan is the 
'most strongly developed personality conceivable. 
Any one can train himself in sin. Hence the ques- 
tion remains: Have we developed the traits of 
character, and powers of personality, which are in 
harmony with the life of eternal blessedness? If 
not, at death, they will be of no use to us. Hell 
is full of strongly developed characters and culti- 
vated talents. But they afford no pleasure, but 
rather add pain to pain, because it all goes without 
God, and increases no riches in him. Like sets of 
fine sharp tools by themselves, they are utterly 
useless. Thus the heart can only speak of pos- 
sessions, when such powers and capacities have 
been so trained that they will permit admittance 
into heaven, will make us feel at home there, and 
will enable us to exert heavenly influences there. 

These heavenly properties are never acquired 
save through fellowship with God. From God as 
the Source, the powers of the Kingdom must 
operate in us that will entitle us to heavenly 
citizenship. In Christ we must be reconciled to 
God. The Father must come and dwell with us. 
For then the new life will be quickened in us, 
which draws its nourishment from • heaven and 
imparts higher powers, and fills the soul with all 
the fullness of God. Thus to be rich in God is 
to own God himself; to be a temple of the Holy 
Ghost; to carry Him, the Holy and Glorious One, 
in the heart wherever we go; and every evening 
and every morning to be refreshed in the inner 
man at the fountain of the Water of Life. 

Many obstacles prevent the full enjoyment of 
these blessings here. But this is the privilege of 


being rich in God, that the more we become 
detached from the world, the richer we become 
in God. And when at last the world shall fade from 
sight, the far more exceeding and eternal weight 
of these riches will unfold itself to our eyes. For 
this heavenly wealth will not waste, but ever 
increase in glory. It will be interest upon interest 
always in the very holiest sense. It will evermore 
be the Fountain and never again the cistern. It 
will be treasures that shall always exceed our 
boldest expectations, because they are centered in 
the Infinite. 

In addition to all this, according to the Scrip- 
ture, there is the inheritance of the saints in light. 
The difference between these two is determined 
by the difference between the inner and the out- 
ward life. The riches in God have to do with the 
inner life of the soul — already here in part, and 
presently to be revealed in full. To this inner life 
belongs an outward state. We do not have this 
here. It only comes with the division of the 
inheritance which is stored for us in heaven; even 
the inheritance of glory, the companionship of the 
saints made perfect,, and of all the holy angels. 
The life in the palace of God's everlasting Light. 
The fruition in glory such as here has never 
entered the heart. No more sin. No more sorrow. 
Eternally in Christ with God in fullest, largest 
satisfaction of what in its noblest flush of anticipa- 
tion the heart can expect or desire. 

Rich in God, and therefore rich through God. 
0, how deeply have we fallen that these riches in 
God attract so few hearts ; and that they who have 
won these heav^enly possessions still hunger at 


times for the things that wean the soul from God 
and must needs impoverish it. 


The profoundest question that governs true 
piety relates to personal fellowship with God. In 
the Psalms, which are the most beautiful utter- 
ances of a devout mind, this Divine fellowship is 
ever longed for and sought after. The tie is there 
mentioned that binds us to God as the Creator 
and Supporter of all things. The relation is there 
stated, which he who fears ther Lord sustains by 
faith to the Holy One. But these are not fellow- 
ship with the Eternal. He who fears the Lord 
does not rest until he has entered into such con- 
scious fellowship with Him that there is mutual 
knowledge between the two. Even the clear sense 
that God knows him and that he knows God. 

What we call friendly intercourse among men, 
intimate fellowship, sympathy of heart with heart 
in faithfulness and love, is the meaning of Ps. 
25:14: "The secret of the Lord is with them that 
fear him; and he will show them his covenant." 
As close friends on earth go through life together 
and reveal themselves to each other, and in this 
intimate walk become the conjEidants of each 
other's secrets, so it is told of the Old Testament 
heroes of the faith that "they walked with God." 
And although these are but figures and terms that 
are borrowed from human experiences, and 
although we ought not to use them ourselves when 
we would speak of our fellowship with God except 

with greatest reverence, it is equally sure that God 
has pointed them out to us for this end. 

To picture this Divine fellowship the Scripture 
even borrows figures from animal life. Jesus illus- 
trated his tender love for Jerusalem by the figure 
of the hen that gathers her chickens under her 
wings. David boldly declared before God that he 
would not only dwell in the house of the Lord 
forever, but that he would even make his refuge 
"in the covert of God's wings." (Ps. 61:4.) And 
why not? Did not God put this tender expres- 
sion of fellowship in the world of winged creatures 
as an intimation of what moves his own Divine 
heart? And is not everj- suggestive and touching 
instance of loving fellowship in the life of nature 
a Divinely given help to make clear to us the 
things which we observe and feel or only dimly 
sense in the mystic depths of our heart? 

But even the broad creation fell short of 
material along this line. Wherefore the Lord has 
put still another figure before us by which to illus- 
trate this intimate fellowship with himself; even 
that of dwelling together in one house. For the 
house, or with nomadic tribes the tent, is not orig- 
inal in the creation, but is mechanically con- 
structed by human hands. With Jabal mankind 
first came upon this find, whereby the social life 
of man took an incredible step forward. The 
home was foreshadowed in the creation. Jesus 
pointed to the fact that foxes have holes, and 
birds of the air have nests. And was it not a deep 
feeling of want that expressed itself in the words 
that He, the Son of Man, had no home * * * 
indeed, no place at all of his own where to lay 
his head? 


Life can only be fully developed by our dwell- 
ing together under one roof tree. The family home 
is the nursery of love. It is the outward encircling 
with the tie of the closer fellowship of life. Thus 
we see that in Scripture the house or tent is given 
us as an aid, by which fellowship with God 
assumes a form and an outline that makes it 
plain to us. God also has a house. And the idea 
of dwelling in God's house beautifully indicates 
~ the most intimate and tenderest fellowship with 
God. Purposely, therefore, the tabernacle was 
constructed in the wilderness. Presently it was 
perpetuated in the Temple on Mount Zion. It is 
expressly stated that in Horeb God showed Moses 
the pattern of the same. Hence the Tabernacle 
and the Temple were a pattern of what actually 
exists in the heavens. 

And in connection with this, the deep longing 
is constantly expressed to be privileged to dwell in 
the Tabernacle of the Lord. Rather be a door- 
keeper in the house of God than dwell in the 
palaces of the ungodly. "One thing have I desired 
of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may 
dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of 
my life ; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to 
enquire in his temple." (Ps. 27:4.) 

Tabernacle and Temple, however, were not per- 
manent. They only served for a time. In the 
broad development of the life of faith they were 
transitory. When Jesus had come, it was said: 
"Woman, the hour cometh, and now is, when ye 
shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jeru- 
salem, worship the Father, but when the true 
worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and 


m truth (John 4:21). This means worship with- 
out symbols, without outward forms, directly 
spiritually, from heart to heart. If then we are in 
sympathy with David's ardent longing to dwell in 
the house of the Lord, we must no longer apply 
this to an earthly house or visible church. For 
this only brings us back to the dispensation of 
shadows. The temple of God is no more an 
allegorical house of wood and stone, but the great 
palace of our God in the heavens. For heaven is 
God's dwelling place. There is the palace of his 
glory, the Tabernacle of his Majesty. When Jesus 
teaches us to pray: "Our Father, who art in 
heaven," he detaches the soul from every material 
thing, and lifts the heart on high, in order that 
we should no more think of the Majesty of God 
in terms of earth. 

To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days 
of our life means to be so vividly conscious of our 
fellowship with the living God that every morn- 
ing, noon and night our thoughts go out to Him, 
that we hear his voice in the soul, that we are 
aware of his holy Presence within, experience his 
workings in our heart and in our conscience, and 
that we carefully avoid the things which we would 
not dare to do if God stood before us and spoke 
to us. 

The Psalmist goes still one step further, whereby 
he clearly shows that through the shadows, the 
faithful under the Old Covenant grasped the 
higher reality. For he adds: "I will make my 
refuge under the covert of Thy wings." It is not 
enough to think of God's glory in the heavens, to 
dwell in his holy temple, to walk among the 

angels and the saints, who stand before the Lord. 
God's house will afford the opportunity for fellow- 
ship with him, but in it we will look for God him- 
self. One must live with a person in his house in 
order to enjoy his company to the full. But the 
house without him is nothing. He himself 
is the first interest there. Such is the case in 
our search after fellowship with God. Sursum 
Corda. Lift up your hearts. I will lift up my 
heart to the trysting-place of thy holiness. 

Even this is not enough, nor ever can be. To 
find God we must dwell in his house. But there 
"To Be Near Unto God" is the sole end and aim of 
all godly desire and endeavor. To give vent to 
this passionate longing David boldly exclaims: ''I 
will make my refuge in the covert of Thy wings." 
This is communion of spirit with Spirit. It 
involves the sacred touch. To perceive and to 
feel, to discover and to experience that nothing 
separates us any more from the Lord; that his 
arms are around us, and that as it were we cleave 
unto God. 

This is holy ground. It is not free from dan- 
gers. Misapprehension can interpret this figura- 
tive language literall}^, and in an unholy sense 
materialize our Spiritual God. False mysticism 
has shown what errors it may entail. Provided, 
therefore, that we are on our guard, this figure 
is aboundingly rich and supremely glorious. To 
possess God, and to have made fellowship with 
him a realitj' in life is beautiful, provided that it 
always is in Christ. We, impure and unholy, are 
brought by our Savior alone, into this tender com- 
munion with God. 



Does the Lord regard prayer only after long 
delay? Is He not omnipresent? Is not the whis- 
pered prayer known to Him before there is yet 
a word in the tongue? Can the All-Knowing One 
first stand apart, indifferently as it were, and only 
gradually perceive that we pray, before he regards 
what at first he ignores? 

Such is the meaning of verses 16 and 17 of 
Psalm 102. The Psalmist stands outside a closed 
door. Out of the depth his prayer ascends. But 
the thorn in the flesh is not removed. The Lord 
does not hear his prayer. And the Arch-enemy, 
who does not pray, and who does not know God, 
is encouraged by Jehovah. God's covenant people 
are repulsed. God hides his face. And the 
Psalmist cries: "Hear my prayer, Lord, and 
from me. In the day when I call answer me 

This brings relief to his troubled mind. With 
prophetic insight he anticipates the day when the 
Lord will hear the prayer of his people, and 
inspired by this thought he exclaims: "When the 
Lord will regard the prayer of the destitute, and 
not despise their prayer, then shall all the kings 
of the earth fear him." 

Thus the Psalmist v%-as still in that period in 
which the Lord held himself deaf to his people, 
and in which the moment tarried when he would 
regard their prayer. And do you think that the 
Psalmist did not feel and know the objections 
that are suggested by the nature of the Divine 
Being against this human representation? And 


are we so far his superior that the thoughts which 
arise in us were foreign to him? Who has ever 
outlined God's omnipresence and omniscience in 
terms of finer poetic imagery than he? Are not the 
expressions in which we clothe our prayers for the 
most part borrowed from his writing? Did not 
he propound the question: "Shall he who planted 
the ear, not hear?" And did not he confess in 
Ps. 139: "There is not a word in my tongue, but, 
lo, Lord, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou 
hast beset me behind and before. Such knowledge 
is too wonderful for me ; it is high, I can not attain 
unto it." 

The Psalmist has described the Divine virtues 
in behalf of the saints of all ages, and the 
mysteries of the Divine Being are nowhere more 
clearly set forth than in the language of his songs. 
And when this eminently-saintly man frequently 
speaks of God — also with reference to this matter 
of prayer — in this simple, human way, what can it 
mean, save that the confidential terms of intimate 
human fellowship have the same significance in 
the secret walk with God. And that there are 
moments when God disregards our prayers, but 
which, praise his name, are succeeded by other 
moments in which He does regard them? 

You believe in Christ. You believe that his 
saying is true: "He that hath seen Me, has seen 
the Father; and how saj^est thou then, Show us 
the Father?" On bended knee j^ou cum ess mm as 
your Lord and your God. But what is the incar- 
nation of the word except that God became man? 
And what profit can this be to j^ou, unless you 
realize that in Christ God has come close to j^ou 
in a human way? 

Before the days of the Bethlehem birth God 
spoke to us in the human word, but in Christ God 
is manifest in human nature. He reveals himself 
to us as the son of Man. A human heart speaks 
here in human language and in human ways. As 
the Apostle John asserts: In Jesus they have not 
only seen and heard what is God's, but have 
touched, that is they have handled with their 
hands, and have actually seen before their eyes 
the eternal — Godlike in human manifestation and 
in human form. Hence the whole Christian faith 
and Christian confession rests upon the clear and 
firm conviction that God has not willed himselt 
to be lost to us in endless abstractions, but that 
in our human nature, in human form and in human 
language he comes to us ever more closely, in 
order through the medium of our human heart to 
establish affectionate and full fellowship with us. 

Our Lord Jesus makes no high-sounding, 
abstract statements of the infinite in the Eternal, 
but shows us God as our Father, and calls us to 
be his children, and with childlike confidence, in 
a childlike way, and with childlike intimacy to 
have fellowship with him. Let it be distinctly 
understood that this rests on sober reality. That 
this is not mere semblance but actual fact, since 
God created us after his image. That thus, in 
the face of a broad difference. Divine reality is 
expressed in the human. And that, when the Word 
became flesh, the fact that the Son of God became 
Man, is directly connected with our creation after 
God's image. 

Would we undo all this, and create a distance 
between us and God which would exclude all per- 
sonal fellowship, by putting a whole system of 


abstract ideas about the immensities of God in 
the place of this heart-to-heart intimacy which 
can not be cultivated with God except in a human 
^way? Let us leave this to philosophers who do 
not pray, and to theologians dry-as-dust who are 
not children of their Father in heaven. But as 
for us, let us love God with a devotion which 
can only express itself in childlike fellowship with 

Moreover, in the practice of prayer we fre- 
quently observe that experience confirms the word 
of the Psalmist. At one time the heavens are open 
to us, and as we pray, angels descend and ascend 
to bring our petitions to the throne of grace. While 
at other times our prayers are faint, our words 
bound back as it were upon ourselves and every 
door of approach to God is closed up against us. 
At one time there will be an immediate hearing 
and a direct answering, and at another time we 
feel ourselves immured and thrown back upon our- 
selves, and it seems that there is no living God to 
hear us. And when the turn of the tide sets in, 
and we perceive that the gate of heaven reopens, 
and we feel that our prayer obtains free access to 
the throne of the Almighty, then we understand 
from our own experience what the Psalmist wrote 
about the blessedness of the moment in which the 
Lord regarded again the prayer of the soul that 
was destitute. 

Is now the solution of this apparent contradic- 
tion as impossible as it seems? By no means; 
provided we have eA^es to observe the part which 
God plays in our prayer-life. When we deem 
~that prayer is original with ourselves; when we do 
not believe that the spirit of prayer goes out in us 

from God, and we imagine that God's part in 
our prayer only begins when he hears and answers 
it, then indeed we face an insoluble riddle. 

But if we take it in the other, truer way, and 
make it clear to our mind that God has quickened 
our prayer-life and that he directs and carries it, 
the matter gleams with light. The farmer sows 
the seed in the newly-ploughed furrows and leaves 
it alone to do its work, and only returns to the 
field when the dew of heaven and sunshine have 
caused the seed to sprout and to send the blade 
upward, and the corn to ripen in the ear, that he 
might gather the harvest. 

And such is the case in our prayer-life. Our 
Father who is in heaven begins it by sowing the 
seed of prayer in our hearts. And then follows 
a slow process. The praj'er-life must develop in 
us. Praj-er must ripen in the soul. And only when 
this result has been obtained, and our prayer has 
unfolded itself in that higher form, does the 
heavenly Husbandman regard the prayer-life in us 
and enrich it with abounding answers. 

Such is the case with our prayer-life taken as a 
whole. Through foolish petitions we arrive at 
purified prayers. Through earthly prayers we 
come to those holier petitions which have been 
watered with the dew of heaven, and which scin- 
tillate with light from higher spheres than ours. 
But such is the case also with our individual 
prayers. These, too, are not unfolded and ripened 
at once. They also undergo a process in the soul. 
They also spring from a root and only by degrees 
develop themselves into prayers such as the Father 
in heaven expects from his children. Prayers 
which are not merely sounds in the lips but which 


rise from the depths of the heart. Prayers which 
fully harmonize with our own desires and inclina- 
tions. Prayers in which not merely a passing 
thought, but the whole person expresses himself. 
Prayers in which the soul truly pours itself out 
before the Holy One. 

God allows us time for this. It can not be at 
once. If he interfered at once no prayer-life could 
be developed in us, and no single prayer could be 
sanctified in us. Weeds that grow between our 
prayers must first be rooted out. Every infectuous 
insect that crept in must be destroyed. Prayer 
must refine itself and sanctify itself and in a 
heavenly sense through faith must be able to 
mature. And therefore he leaves us to ourselves 
for a time that through the fiery trial gold may 
proceed from the ore. 

And when at length our prayers are sufficiently 
purified to be laid upon the Altar of the Almighty, 
then he will regard them again. And we will 
thank our Father in heaven that he has brought 
us to the holy school of prayer. 


At one time it was thought that sound came 
from the throat, that its power was limited, and 
that it could only make our word intelligible at 
short distances. No one could hear us, nor we 
him, from a greater distance than our voice could 
carry. When there was anything to say, messen- 
gers were sent to carry it. When writing was 


invented, communications were carried by letters. 

All this, however, is changed. By this time it 
is understood that the throat has no sound of its 
own, but merely enables us to occasion vibrations 
in the air. And that these vibrations find an 
artistic instrument in the listening ear to receive 
them. T\Tien we speak we transmit our thoughts 
in these vibrations. They glide along air-waves to 
the ear of him who listens. And through the ear 
they wake the self-same thoughts in him. 

Such is our speech. But this was not enough. 
It was discovered that apart from voice and ear, 
communication could be established at far greater 
distances through electricity. This was first done 
by means of visible signs, and thus the telegraph 
originated. But later it was found that a similar 
contact of throat upon the ear could be obtained 
by means of an extended metal thread. This dis- 
covery gave us the telephone. And at length we 
have advanced still further and intelligible com- 
munication is achieved independently by itself 
through the air, and at distances of two or three 
thousand miles without telegraph or telephone 
wires, thoughts have been exchanged. 

In this wise things have become realities which 
at one time were entirely unthinkable. And he 
who considers how quickly these ever-more won- 
derful inventions have succeeded one another con- 
jectures that still more can be expected and that 
playing with and listening to each other at incred- 
ible distances will sooner or later be the common 

This is an aid to faith. That the Lord is simul- 
taneously "a God at hand" and "a God afar off" 
(Jer. 23:23) expresses in the language of prophecy 


that there are no distances with God; and that 
he can speak to us and can hsten to our voice, 
even though heaven is his throne and we kneel 
here on earth. ,Yea, even when we whisper our 
prayer under breath, so that he who stands by our 
side can not hear it. And faith had no other 
explanation for this than the question: ''Shall he 
who planted the ear not hear? Shall he who 
formed the voice not speak?" The confession was 
accepted that God is everywhere present. And 
this consisted in the fact that he is the All- 
Knowing One. But there was nothing in this to 
support and to carry the imagination. 

All this has changed. Now that it is possible for 
us with all our human limitations to extend our 
voice from city to city and to make ourselves 
intelligible to one another; now that we can 
exchange thought at a distance of many thousands 
of miles without wires or any such thing ; now that 
the impression is general that this is but the 
beginning of an inter-communication which shall 
be developed still more, we can imagine how com- 
munication can extend itself at length without 
limit, and how the Lord our God who is the creator 
of all these means, and has them at his disposal, 
can from the Throne of his glory look down upon 
us and can whisper to us in the soul. And how, 
on the other hand also, when our voice, however 
weak, goes out to him in supplication, it can be 
heard by him. As regards the life of glory 
among the saints in light it is ever more clear that 
communion shall not only be possible from time 
to time with a few, but that when once the lim- 
itations of this life shall fall away and glory shall 
begin, intimate communion shall be possible at 


one and the same time among and with all the 
redeemed of the Lord. 

But even then it will all be the expression and 
the working out of the fact of our- creation after 
the Divine image. It will not be just in the same 
way in which God communes with us, but it will 
be communion in a similar way. 

That we ourselves can speak with our fellow 
men at such incredible distances, brings us nearer 
to God in our prayer, and brings God nearer to 
us when he speaks to us. And the "Hearken unto 
me, my people," followed by the prayer: "Give 
heed to me, Lord," is more real to us than 

There is still another phase in our secret walk 
with God, which we may call the phase of holy 
rapture. It springs from the indwelling of the 
Holy Ghost in us. As often as this indwelling 
operates there is no distance. Then the Lord 
speaks to us in the inner-chamber of the heart. 
Then we perceive his sacred presence not afar off 
but at hand. And our speaking to God is the 
confidential whisper as in the ear. Such is the 
case at the cool of the day when the peace 
"which passeth human knowing" takes possession 
of the heart and the sweet joy of being God's 
child transports us into holy ecstacy. 

But we can not deal with this now. We have in 
mind the man who believes, but who through sin 
and trial has lost in part the sense of being a 
child of God, and finds himself distant from Ck>d. 
Such spiritual conditions occur frequently with 
those who are most saintly. Then it seems that 
at first God does not hear us, and as though we 


must entreat the Lord to listen again to the voice 
of our supplications. 

"Give heed, to me, O Lord," is the cry of him 
who feels that God has paid no attention to his 
prayer. In the same way when by Isaiah God 
says: ''Hearken unto me, my people," it implies 
that at first the people gave no heed to the speak- 
ing of the Lord. Hence both belong to the phase 
of temporary estrangement, when communion 
between the soul and God has been broken by 
sorrow or by sin. Then the means of communica- 
tion must be connected again. Then in the par- 
lance of the telephone God rings us up, and we 
ring up God, and thus the broken connection is 
restored. Union with God, fellowship with the 
Eternal, is the great sanctifying and protecting 
power which holds us up in the midst of all sorrow 
and trials. Not that we are apart here on earth 
below and that in our thoughts God is confined 
to heaven above, so that we can remember him 
on our knees but a few moments everj' day, but 
constant, unbroken fellowship with Our Father 
who is in heaven is the secret of the power of 
childlike faith. 

This was easier in earlier times when life was 
less hurried and less busy. At present life is a 
great strain on the nerves. It continually over- 
whelms us with new impressions and sensations, 
so that the quiet collecting of the soul before God 
is ever less frequent. And it is chiefly because of 
this that in these, our days, the secret walk with 
God suffers loss. 

But for this very reason the new inventions of 
communication and interchange of thought pro- 
vide a counterpoise. For they come to the help 


of our imagination and impart more reality than 
before to our effort to restore the broken connec- 
tion. And thus the finds of science become sup- 
ports to our piety. They help us to hearken unto 
God, and our prayer, "0 Lord, give heed to me 
and hear the voice of my supplication," borrows 
strength from them in our approach to the throne 
of grace. 



The knowledge that we have of ourselves dif- 
fers according to its source. We have acquired a 
part of it ourselves, another part we have received 
from God. When it is asked in what particular 
these two parts of self-knowledge differ, call to 
mind that as a rule we faithfully record the good 
there is in us, while for the most part we must- 
have the evil that is in us pointed out to us and 
brought to our remembrance by God. 

A child can understand this. When praise is^ 
offered, it is readily accepted. But a child resists' 
blame. He is not conscious of wrong and lightly 
passes it by. And he continues in this course until 
the conscience is awakened and God teaches him 
to become humble. 

In later life this goes on more covertly. In 
reality, however, conditions remain the same. The 
heart is not carried on the sleeve as in childhood 
years. Some people succeed in hiding their inner 
life from the eyes of others. No sooner, however, 
is the personal life disclosed to the ear of a friend 
but the same result follows. A part of our self- 
knowledge we have acquired ourselves. The other 

part we have ignored, until through bitter experi- 
ence it has been taught us by God. This differ- 
ence is at times strikingly evident. For, as a rule, 
we do not only fail of seeking instruction in 
matters of conscience, but resist the same when 
it is offered, and only consent to it when in the 
providence of God it is forced upon us. In many 
instances God is obliged — we say it reverently 
to force this self-knowledge upon people all their 
lives. They simply will not learn it and in every 
way they seek to forget what God shows them 
of themselves. 

But there are men and women who in all 
honesty seek a clear knowledge of themselves and 
who desire nothing more earnestly than to know 
the truth regarding themselves. Nathaniels, who 
do not invite but shun flattery; who despise the 
false image which they see of themselves in the 
glass, and who can not rest until they know 
themselves as thej^ truly are. When God speaks 
to them in the conscience they lend him a willing 
ear. They realize that God's lesson in the con- 
science is a warning, and they do not fail to profit 
by it. Now let higher, spiritual grace be added 
to this, and the gains will still be greater. Not 
only will they lend willing ears to listen when God 
speaks, but they will also study the lessons which 
God tries to impart to the conscience and attain 
the high, spiritual level of the pregnant prayer: 
"That which I do not see and discover in myself, 
teach Thou me, my God" (Job 34:32). 

These two parts of human knowledge are abroad 
everywhere. All through life there is a part of 
knowledge which we acquire ourselves and a part 
which God brings us. To see is to observe, and 


ordinarily we call the first part of our knowledge 
that which is acquired by observation. By the 
side of this there is another part of knowledge 
which man would never have acquired of himself, 
and which God has taught him. This character- 
izes human knowledge in general. Everywhere 
and in all ages man observes, gains experience, 
investigates and enlarges the scope of his finds, 
and in this way, among all nations, arrives at 
certain knowledge of nature and of life, and turns 
it into profit. In this process one nation excels 
another in keener sight and finer hearing, in 
greater powers of invention and perseverance, and 
consequently makes greater strides in develop- 
ment. But in the main all knowledge is alike. It 
is founded upon that what man sees. It is 
acquired by observation. It is developed by 
studious thought. Such is the case with the great 
inventions, in which there is always something 
mysterious; inventions which, though no one sur- 
mises it at first, disclose to us almost entirely new 
domains of knowledge, which unbelief attributes 
to chance, but which he who believes gratefully 
interprets from the Divine appointment. Thus 
aside from the knowledge that is obtained through 
what w^e see, another knowledge comes to us 
because God imparts it to us. 

High ideals, moreover, whether in individuals 
or nations, form the strongest possible motives 
that inspire the search after knowledge and truth. 
He who has no sense of ideals may seek material 
knowledge, but the knowledge of higher things in 
human life leaves him cold and indifferent. A 
money-wolf is an adept in the knowledge that 
promises gain, but what does he care for the 


higher knowledge of the nobler elements of human 
hfe? Just as little as a deaf man cares for a 
"Bach, or a blind man for the works of art by a 
Raphael or Rembrandt, x^d what apphes to indi- 
viduals applies to nations. When nations fail of 
ideals, they degenerate into materialism and sen- 
sualism, and shut themselves off from the higher 
life. They make no progress themselves and can 
not influence other nations for the better. Indeed, 
they retrograde and drag other nations down with 
themselves. This can differ in one age from 
another with the same people. In the sixteenth 
century the Netherlands fostered high ideals, and 
exerted noble and inspiring influences upon all of 
Western Europe. In the eighteenth century they 
degenerated and carried no blessing to other 
nations in any sense. 

And whether a nation is swayed by high ideals, 
depends on God. When he sends forth the breath 
of nobler aims and purposes upon a people, desires 
are quickened after the higher ends of life, and 
people are lifted up by the knowledge of nobler 
human existence. When he takes that breath 
away, the understanding is dulled, and all nobler 
knowledge fails. In an ideal sense God can draw 
a people to himself and impart something of his 
own Divine life to it. And He can withdraw and 
leave a people alone to its own hurt. In the latter 
case the loss of higher and nobler knowledge is 
inexorable. And so we arrive at the same result. 
By seeing and observing, a part of our knowledge 
is in our own power. But the part of higher and 
nobler knowledge God alone can impart. 

As we apply this to ourselves we see at once 
that this Divinely-imparted knowledge comes by 


no means exclusively through the conscience. 
Upon a far broader scale some of it comes from 
the Divine counsel, and some from the relation 
which he establishes between himself and us. We 
are born of our parents and we find many things 
in ourselves that remind us of them. But the 
formation of our person, disposition, temper and 
leading inclination are his work. When we dis- 
cover in ourselves a thirst after higher knowledge, -- 
and a susceptibility to nobler ends, the impulse 
born from this is a work of the Holy Ghost in 
the soul. The results of the knowledge which we 
have thus acquired are not obtained by observa- 
tion, but by virtue of the higher impulse which he 
quickens and maintains in us. 

Circumstances pla}^ a part in this. We may 
have a friend whose nobleness of character becomes 
an inspiration. We may go through certain experi- 
ences, and meet cultivated and interesting people 
who stimulate us to court higher lines of thought. 
We may have important duties laid upon us, high 
responsibilities, or bitter griefs, wliich advance us 
to more than ordinary heights. And again, it 
is God alone who disposes all these things in our 
behalf. But above everything else we can feel 
the beginnings of a strong drawing of God in our 
hearts when he leaves us no rest and weans us 
from earthly vanities, and mystically inspires us 
with a sense of necessity which compels us to take 
deeper interests in the higher things of life and 
makes us grow and expand in them with continual 
refreshings. And if this is so, it is not we who 

have raised ourselves up to God, but it is God 

who has raised us up to heavenly places with him- 
self. This mercy may have been shown to us 


and not to some others. And why? This is a 
mysteiy which we can not grasp. But the fact 
remains. We have two kinds of knowledge. 
Aside from that which is acquired by sight and 
observation, there is that other and higher knowl- 
edge which comes to us from God. 

This knowledge unfolds most beautifully in the 
soul that is subject to grace. Not every regen- 
erate child of God advances to great heights of 
learning. Some devout souls lack almost every 
power of entering into the mysteries of the higher 
life. Some cultivaie riiysticism along emotional 
lines, but continue devoid of knowledge. Others 
learn a great deal of the way of salvation, but 
cultivate little interest in the higher and nobler 
knowledge of human life. There are still others, 
and this is most glorious, who are warm of heart 
and of a deep mystical nature, and of clear 
insight into the way of Salvation, who, in addition 
to all this, reach the inner unfoldings, by which 
their knowledge is extended to those nobler parts 
of human understanding, which make them not 
merely deeply religious, but men of high ideals. 

Such people stand on the top of the mountain 
of God's holiness. A light above the light of the 
sun dawns on their horizon. Their knowledge 
becomes that of the saints made perfect. They 
are most deeply conscious of their entire depend- 
ence upon God and of their longing for ever 
larger knowledge of him and of themselves. And 
this, their thirst, can only express itself in the 
prayer: my God, aside from what I see and 
discover myself, teach Thou me. Instruct me 
ever more in holy fellowship with Thee. 


Night is a mj^stery. For most people sleep is a 
going out from life, in order, in the course of 
seven or eight hours, to come back to it. When 
they fall asleep, they are gone. And when the 
hour-hand on the dial points, say some seven or 
more hours further on, they arise and resume their 
part in life. There is at most an occasional 
remembrance of a dream, but for the rest it is all 
a blank. A third part of life is spent in sleep. At 
thirty years of age a man has practically lived 
but twenty. The remaining ten years have passed 
away in unconsciousness. 

But sleep serves a purpose. We retire weary 
in body and mind and with new strength we arise. 
As far as we know, we were inactive in sleep. We 
did not think, nor observ'e, nor will, nor work. 
This entire cessation of activity is the real 
ordinance of night. As long as we are in health 
and in full possession of our powers, and not over- 
burdened with cares, we sleep, undisturbed by out- 
ward things, in this way and in no other. 

WTiy this has been so ordained, we do not know. 
For though we say that we become weary through 
work, that our strength is exhausted and demands 
rest to recuperate, it means nothing. For at once 
we ask: WTiy this exhaustion of strength? He, 
after whose Image we are created, never wearies. 
The heavenly hosts of angels do not sleep. Of 
the new Jerusalem we read: ''There shall be no 
more night." We can imagine a being, who does 
not exhaust his strength and therefore needs no 
sleep. Why God appointed life for us with the 


continual exhaustion of its powers and their 
restoration by sleep remains a secret. But though 
no one understands it, this Divine ordinance has 
not gone forth without a purpose and a wise dis- 
posal. Does not the Scripture say that in the 
night our reins instruct us, and does not this 
impart an higher significance to sleep? Undoubt- 
edly such was the case with David. But this is 
by no means an ordinary experience. And even if 
this were the case, yet for the sake of spiritual 
instruction in the soul, this regularly returning 
period of seven long hours would be out of all 
proportion. Only think how large a part of the 
day it is^irom nine o'clock in the morning until 
four in the afternoon. And yet it comprises but 
seven hours, and these we sleep away out of every 

This is modified bj^ sickness, by pressing cares 
or old age, three causes which either shorten, dis- 
turb or delay sleep, so that a part of the night is 
sleepless. By either of these causes night obtains 
a different significance, but only because sleep can 
not be courted, or is too much interrupted or too 
early ended. Hence dreams are not without some 
significance. Dreams can discover us to ourselves. 
They can suggest helpful thoughts of life. They 
can afford us moments of fellowship with our dead, 
which gives us melancholy delight. God can 
reveal something to us in dreams. In spite of all 
this, most dreams are forgotten on waking. And 
when at rare times they leave a memory, nothing 
but vague, vanishing and mixed images float before 
the mind. Even the petition from the old evening 
. song, "In sleeping let me wait on Thee; in dreams 


be Thou my joy," does not determirie, save in 
rarest instances, the content of our dreams. 

This does not deny, however, that without our 
knowing it, and even while we sleep the Spirit of 
God ministers to our spirit and builds up our 
inner life. Also, in connection with this, the 
mystery of our existence by night includes certain 
effective ministries of God. But we can not deal 
with them, because they go on in our uncon- 
sciousness. At times, on awaking, we may be able 
to solve certain difficulties which troubled us the 
night before, and he who fears the Lord will thank 
him for this. But even then it is always a work of 
God, which we do not understand, and of which 
we can only say with the Psalmist (118:23), "This 
is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes." 

Our existence by night only obtains a conscious 
significance when, through sickness, care or old 
age our sleep is broken. With respect to this the 
Scripture declares: "In the night our reins 
instruct us." Says the Psalmist (77:6), In the 
night I commune with mine own heart. Isaiah 
adds (26:9), With my soul have I desired Thee 
in the night. And Job declares (35:10), God is 
my Maker, who giveth songs in the night. This 
provides a school of learning which we should 
take more seriously into account. Sleeplessness 
is a trying experience, which affects all of the next 
day. But it is a discipline which leads either to 
sin or to glory. It all depends upon the manner 
in which these sleepless hours are spent. If wake- 
fulness leads to nothing but gloomy and peevish 
complaint by day and to a rebellious turning over 
of self on the bed by night, it works sin. But 
when such sleepless hours are spent in the 


endeavor to confirm and make more real the fel- 
lowship with God, the inner life of the soul is 
strengthened and upbuilt. Moreover, such godly- 
motions are medicine against sleeplessness itself, 
while rebellious restlessness fosters and prolongs 
it. To fight God in such an hour makes restless- 
ness, it gives rise to feelings of oppression and 
renders sleep more and more impossible. While 
fellowship with God at such a time brings rest and 
calm to troubled minds and sleep to weary eye- 

But this is only a by-product. The main point 
is that a sleepless night is the time in which to 
seek the Lord, and to test the word of the 
Psalmist: "It is good for me to hold me fast by 
God." The strenuous activities of life, the con- 
stant noise on every side, and the absorbing occu- 
pations of the mind by day, hold us off and 
estrange us from God. But in the quiet hours of 
night nothing at all diverts us. The darkness is 
restful to the eyes. The stillness of night puts 
the ear on the retired list. No work of any sort 
engages us. Hurry has given place to calm. 
Nothing, indeed, diverts. There is no one near 
to trouble us or to detain us. All the conditions 
are there for undisturbed fellowship with God. 
Such hours of night invite us, more than any other, 
to enter into the sanctuary of the Most High. 
The midnight watch has something of Sabbath 
stillness about it, which is inaugurated by the 
evening reading of God's Word, and by the even- 
ing prayer, when on bended knees the soul was 
poured out before God. At length we are at rest. 
And now the cares and anxieties of the day must 
either be resolutely put aside or we must enter 

upon such close fellowsliip with God that he 
carries them for us. 

All this, however, is not entirely in our own 
hands. It is not enough that we think of God 
and make our approach to him. Communion pro- 
ceeds from both sides. Unless God draAvs near to 
us, we can have no close fellowship with him. 
To think: God is ever ready to wait on me, it 
merely depends upon me whether or not I will 
meet him, does not indicate sufficient humility 
or sense of dependence. Thinking of God is not 
fellowship with God. True fellowship is far more 
devout and far more intimately personal. And as 
often as w^e have true fellowship with God, it is 
a grace and a benefit for which we owe him thanks. 
It is not that we are so good and so devout as to 
lift up our heart unto God. But it is rather 
Divine Compassion that condescends to us to bless 
us and to make us rich with the experience of his 

If before sleep the latest feeling is one of delight 
in the tenderness of the Lord, and if the first con- 
scious thought on aw^aking in the morning of 
itself goes out after God, the gain is very great. 
This makes us to be accustomed to God, and pre- 
pares us for the night of the grave, when there 
shall be no more interruption in our fellowship 
with him. 

At night, on our beds, when we can not sleep, 
we feel our helplessness. Much more so, indeed, 
than when by day garments adorn our person, 
when our word makes our influence a power and 
when we labor to make or maintain our position 
in life. We lie prostrate on our bed and stand 
no longer upright. We are well nigh motionless. 


And this very insignificance of our appearance there 
renders us but the more fit to meet our Lord. 

And then God becomes great to us. We reahze 
his saying that he is Our Maker. His faithful- 
nesses present themselves to us. The arms of 
everlastmg compassion support and encircle us. 
Sadness of heart gives place to joy. Anxious 
thoughts become calm and glad. The soul 
becomes attuned to the worship of the eternal 
love of God. And when his Holy Spirit thus 
ministers to our spiritual needs and imparts his 
quickening touch, the hymn of praise rises from 
the heart and with us it is literal fact that God, 
our Maker, giveth us songs in the night. 


To get no hearing, as one stands at the closed 
door, and it is not opened, makes one anxious. 
He then knocks harder, and when this brings no 
reply, he calls, and calls louder and louder. And 
when still no sound is heard, and there comes no 
answering voice, fear strikes the heart lest some 
accident has befallen child or brother whom he 
knows is near. 

To get no hearing, when in distress one has 
called for help, and has waited and waited for a 
response and it did not come, how often has it 
turned courage into dismay. 

To get no hearing 1 What restlessness it brings 
when fear is harbored whether it is well with 
child, or brother far off, and one writes and 
wTites again, and no reply follows, and a telegram 
is sent with prepayment for an answer and no 
answer comes. 

To get no hearing! It makes the heart faint 


when a beloved member of the household is 
seriously ill and we approach the bedside and call 
the beloved by name, in a whisper first, and then 
louder, till we find that the patient does not 
hear us. 

To get no hearing ! It is overwhelming m cases 
of accident in mines or with a landslide in digging 
trenches, when victims are, as it were, buried 
alive, and one calls and calls again, and listens 
with bated breath for some sound or answering 
sign of life, and silence continues unbroken. 

To get no hearing! It caused such an^dous 
forebodings when, not many years ago, Martinique 
was overturned by an earthquake and telegrams 
were sent to the place of disaster to enquire after 
conditions of things there and no telegraphic 
signal was returned. 

The prophets of Baal experienced this tense 
anxiety on Mount Carmel when, "from morning 
even until noon" they cried: 0, Baal, hear us. 
And they leaped upon the Altar * * * and cut 
themselves * * * with knives and lancets * * * 
but lo ! there was no voice, nor any that answered. 
(I. Ki. 18:26). And greater anxiety still filled the 
hearts of the prophets of Baal when Elijah, from 
his side, cried out: ''Hear me, Lord, hear me," 
and obtained the coveted answer, and "the fire of 
the Lord consumed the sacrifice." 

But the saints of God in the earth have not 
alwaj's been similarlv favored. Read the com- 
plaint of Asaph in Psalm 83: "0, God, keep not 
thou silence; hold not thy peace— as one deaf— 
and be not still, God." Or consider David's 
distress which he voices in Psalm 28: "Unto thee 
will I cry, Lord my rock; be not silent^ — or as 


one deaf — to me ; lest if thou make as though thou 
hearest not, I become like them that go down into 
the pit." And what is stronger still, call to mind 
the Lama Sabachtani of Golgotha, echo of the 
prophetic complaint of Psalm 22: ''0 my God, I 
cry in'the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in 
the night season also I take no rest." 

And this is the difference between the religious 
man of the world and the devout believer on 
God. We have nothing to say of the man of the 
world pure and simple. He does not pray at all. 
He never cries to God, and never expects an 
answer. But the people of the world are not all 
like this. Many are not wholly irreligious. They 
still observe religious forms. They have not 
wholly abandoned prayer. It is mostly, it is true, 
a mere matter of habit. To say grace at the table 
before one eats, a so-called ''blessing," which 
consists mainly of a ''whisper," and upon retiring 
at night a short prayer of thanksgiving and sup- 
plication. This kind of prayer is revived in daj's 
of trouble, and in moments of anxiety, .when a 
loved one at home is sick unto death, or reverses 
in business bring a man low. Then the religious 
man or woman of the world prays and calls. And 
when prayer brings no help, and danger is not 
averted, and no answer is granted, the seemingly 
futile prayer falls heavily back upon the heart 
embittered by disappointment. 

The case is altogether different with the devout 
believer on God. The saintly man of prayer seeks 
his Father. From experience he knows that it is 
possible here on earth to hold communion with 
the Father who is in heaven. He has confident 
assurance of the hidden fellowship with God. 

Along the pathwaj' of life, which is sometimes 
rough and thorny, he knows what it is to "Walk 
with God." Blessed experience has taught liim 
that in this secret fellowship communion is 
mutual, so that he seeks his Father, but also that 
the Father gives himself to be found of his 
child. In such moments he can not say: God 
is here or there, for he feels and perceives that 
God is with him. He can not prove that God 
talks to him, and j-et he hears the voice of the 
Lord. This is not seemingly, but actually true. 
It is no self-deception, but rich reality. And he 
follows after the good shepherd, comforted by the 
staff and the rod whithersoever they lead. With 
the religious man of the world it is mere form, 
devoid of heart. With the devout believer on 
God it is sacred, blessed mysticism. 

There is discipline in this holy mysticism. Fel- 
lowship with God is not only broken once in a 
while, but frequently. Once there was no repre- 
sentation of invisible communication. But now 
there is. since we are in touch with people thou- 
sands of miles away from us. Xow we can speak 
with others whose faces we can not see, but whose 
voice we receive in return. So far have we 
advanced that telegraphy permits communication 
without wire or any visible, tangible guidance. 
And now we understand how this communication 
can be disturbed, interrupted and sometimes alto- 
gether broken. 

God's saints on earth have such mystical com- 
munication with their Father who is in heaven. 
They have a mystical telegraph, a mystical tele- 
phone, a mystical means of communication with- 
out wire or any material appliance. And as little 


as a primitive man can understand our telegraphic 
communication, so little can the man of the world 
imderstand the mystical fellowship of the earnest 
believer on God with the Heavenly Father, who is 
both far off and close by. And the believer on 
God understands how this fellowship can be inter- 
rupted, and even entirely broken off. For there 
are times when the soul calls and seeks God, and 
nothing comes back; when no sign from above is 
vouchsafed; when it seems that God is lost; when 
everything remains silent; when no voice comes 
and no answer. 

Why God withdraws himself at such times can 
be surmised, but can never be fathomed. The cry 
from the cross: "My God, my God, why hast 
thou forsaken me?" holds us face to face with an 
impenetrable mystery. But even here surmisals 
maj^ serve an end. We awake in the morning and 
our first thought is of God. This gives us the 
blessed sense of God's nearness, and as at the 
hand of God, we begin the day. But some other 
morning this is different. We perceive nothing of 
God. Our heart is not joined to the Eternal. 
Pray as we may, there is no fellowship. God! 
hold not thyself as one deaf; why dost thou not 
hear me? But religion operates. The loss of 
Divine fellowship makes us ver>' unhappy. Some 
sinful inclination of the heart has caused it. Some 
secret sin has prevented it. The heart has been 
troubled about many things that have excluded 
the Lord from the inner life. And the loss of fel- 
lowship is good. It makes us examine ourselves. 
It makes us unite the heart again to fear his 

Bodily conditions, too, may interrupt Divine 

communion. A headache may depress us and 
prevent the mind from free utterance, or lessen 
our sensitiveness. This also may act as a spur 
to give the body rest and calm in behalf of fel- 
lowship with God. 

At times, hovv'ever, the failure of obtaining a 
Divine hearing can not be explained from one 
cause or from another. We find nothing that 
accuses us. And yet God withdraws himself from 
us. But even then conjectures regarding the cause 
do not fail us. The believer on God sometimes 
overestimates his piety. He enters upon terms of 
familiarity with the love of God. He loses sight 
of the distance that extends between him and God. 
He takes it as a matter of course, as a something 
that ought to be, that fellowship with God is his 
portion. He even counts it at times as a mark of ,- 
special holiness that he seeks Divine fellowship. 

This can not be permitted. It makes common 
what is, and always will be, holy grace. Experi- 
ence teaches at such times that nothing strengthens 
and deepens the appreciation of fellowship with 
God as the temporary want of it. When for long 
times the soul has had no hearing, and when at 
length an answer comes from God, there enters 
into this secret communion a still deeper blessed- 
ness, and the soul bathes itself in the fulness of 
the love of God. 


It was common at one time for Christian people 
to speak of their conversion with joyous pride. It 
was said: '"At such and such a time I came to 
know the Lord." Afterward this was changed. 
Then it was said: 'Tn such and such a way I 


came to know nwself," or, ''I was converted then 
and there;" or, "Then and there I gave myself to 
Christ;" "In this wa}' or in that I found my 
Savior." And in whatever way it was expressed, 
it always meant the narrative of personal relig- 
ious experience. 

Every form of expression has its own value. It 
can scarcely be denied, however, that the older 
way of saying, 'T have come to know the Lord," 
is in nowise less accurate, profound and fervent 
than the later ones. Jesus himself declared : "And 
this is life eternal, that they might know Thee 
(John 17:3). and in saying this he confirmed the 
complaint of Hosea (4:1) that "there is no knowl- 
edge of God in the land." 

It must be granted, however, that with the lapse 
of time the sa5'ing, "I have learned to know the 
Lord," has not proved satisfactory, because it has 
come to mean intellectual and doctrinal knowl- 
edge of God, apart from its mystical background. 
For this knowledge of God has more than one 
significance. He who knows nothing of the Divine 
Being, attributes and works, can not be said to 
know the Lord. But neither can he be said to 
know him, who has not learned to worship him 
in his Holy Trinity. In connection with this, 
moreover, the saj'ing of our Redeemer should 
never be lost from sight: "No man knoweth the 
Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son 
will reveal him (Matth. 11:27). This revelation 
must include, without doubt, the light that shines 
forth upon us from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

But as readily as this is granted, it is maintained 
with equal emphasis, that this does not constitute 
the whole knowledge of God. True knowledge of 


God includes a spiritual reality which far exceeds 
mere intellectual acumen, and which merely 
employs the abstractions of dogma and doctrine 
as means by which to clarify impressions that are 
received and to explain sensations of soul and 
inner experiences. And this has gradually been 
forgotten. Knowledge of God in the abstract has 
been retained. It has come to consist largely of 
the studies of formal and doctrinal expositions. 
And the man who can most cleverly explain some 
point of dogma is deemed to be best grounded in 
knowledge of the Lord. 

This could not permanently satisfy. And so the 
experience of grace in the heart has gone over 
into the other extreme and mysticism has begun 
to interpret religion altogether, or nearly so, from 
the work of redemption by Christ, in connection, 
of course, with personal experience of grace. This 
was undoubtedly^ a partial gain. This inward state 
of soul warmly delights itself in the work of 
Christ's redemption, and glories in the way of 
salvation and is far better than a kind of Chris- 
tianity that merely weaves webs for itself out of 
doctrinal intricacies. 

But this is not yet the highest. The oldtime 
worthies were far more correct when they inter- 
preted the knowledge of God to be both doctrinal 
and mystical. At this viewpoint God himself 
was always the central object of interest and 
religion (i. e. the service of God) came to be 
better understood. As we have been created after 
God's Image, it is only natural and indeed neces- 
sary, that in relation to God, our experiences 
should be as nearly as possible like those which 
we have in our relation of man to man. 


There is language in nature and in the animal 
world. But human language is altogether different 
and far richer, even though no word is spoken. 
The countenance speaks; it speaks through the 
facial expression, but particularly through and by 
the eye. Through the eye, as a window of the 
body, we look into a man's soul. And through the 
eye he steps forth from his soul to look upon, 
examine and address us. Compared with the face 
the rest of the body is dumb and inanimate. 
Charms, indeed, are also effected by the hand. In 
Southern lands it is customary to accompany and 
emphasize every word with gesticulations. In 
moments of great excitement the whole body for- 
sooth is tense and expressive of emotion. Ail this, 
however, does not deny that the farther one 
advances in culture and self-control, the more 
calm and composed the rest of the body remains 
in order that the face may speak. For thereby 
the expression of the countenance becomes far 
nobler and much finer, A rough fellow in the 
street speaks with both hands and feet. A king 
from his throne speaks with his look and majesty 
of face. 

From this it necessarily followed that in our 
speech regarding our relation to God, "the face of 
God" appeared in the foreground, and that dis- 
tinctions were made in that face between what 
proceeded out of his mouth, what was expressed 
by his eyes, and what breathes in anger from 
his nose. In the nobler sense we disclose our- 
selves by meeting each other face to face. Hence 
of human fellowship with God it could not be said 
otherwise than that the highest form of it is to 
meet God face to face. 


This can not be taken in a material sense. 
Temptation leads to this and the Divine Father 
has been pictured in the form of an old man. Even 
Moses went astray in this direction when he 
prayed for a sight of God's face. It was a bold 
prayer. It brought this answer: "Thou canst 
not see my face, for there shall no man see Me 
and live" (Exod. 33:20). This, then, is impos- 
sible. We should never think of our Holy God 
in an earthly way. The metaphorical language 
which is our only point of support in this matter, 
remains enveloped in mystical darkness. A 
visible face only accompanies what is corporeal. 
God is Spirit. Hence no physical features can be 
attributed to Him. In fact, when we look anj'-one 
in the face so intently as at length to grasp, as it 
were, his inner self, the external face is but the 
means by which we obtain knowledge of his inner 
existence. It can be imagined in the last instance 
that all outwardness may fall away and the knowl- 
edge of the person still be retained. But it is dif- 
ferent with God. Physical means do not come in 
between him and us. Only as God's Spirit enters 
into us can our spirit enter immediately into the 
spirituality of God. As a result we obtain an 
equally vivid, and even a better, spiritual knowl- 
edge of the Existence, Being and Nature of God. 
Hence we only use figurative language that we 
might explain this knowledge. 

The main point is that we should no longer be 
satisfied with an idea of God, and a scientific 
knowledge of God, but that we should come into 
touch with God himself, so that there is personal 
contact vdth. him, as in and by our daily life he 
discloses himself to us, and personal relationship is 


established between the Living God and our soul. 
The Scripture expresses this mystical knowledge 
of God in various ways. It speaks of the ''secret 
walk with God," of ''dwelling in the House of the 
Lord," of "walking with God." And the Gospel 
develops this into the rich and glorious thought 
that "The Father comes and tabernacles with us." 
But the most commonlj^ used term for this higher 
knowledge is: "The face of God." The highest 
tribute that distinguishes Moses from all the 
prophets is that God "spoke with him face to 
face as a man speaketh with his friend." The 
meaning of "face" in this connection shows itself. 
Hence when in Scripture the Lord meets us 
with the exhortation, "Seek ye my face," it is 
deeply significant. We can see a person afar off, 
we can hear from him, we can become conscious 
that he is near by without having yet gone to him 
or having yet placed ourselves before him, so that 
he looks at us and we at him. So there are times 
in the life of the Christian when he feels impelled 
to have no rest until he finds God; until, after he 
has found Him, he has placed himself before Him ; 
and standing before Him, seeks His face, and does 
not cease until he has met God's eyes, and the 
consciousness dawns full and clear that God looks 
him in the soul, and that he looks God in the 
eye of Grace. When this comes to pass, the mys- 
tery of grace discloses itself. 

When we consider how solitude affects people, 
it may well be taken as a standard by which to 
estimate them. This is shown most strikingly in 

the case of the httle child, who, on being left 
alone, first becomes frightened and then begins to 
cry. If less striking, with adults as a rule, court- 
ing solitude or shunning it is marked with suf- 
ficient clearness to suggest something of their char- 
acter. Some embrace every opportunity to escape 
from busy surroundings and hide themselves in 
solitude, while others feel oppressed when they 
are alone, and only in company with others find 
themselves again. 

This shows itself in three ways. The most strik- 
ing borrows its character from the choice that was 
made at the fork of the roads of good and evil. 
One must needs hide himself to do wrong. The 
evil One works by night. But when wrong has 
been done and the conscience has been aroused, 
solitude is oppressive and diversion is sought in 
company. In a somewhat less striking way love 
or dislike of solitude shows itself in the difference 
between meditative or more active dispositions. 
One is more inclined to live within himself in 
order to think and ponder seriously. Another lives 
in externals. He runs and slaves, and enjoys 
making a show of his several activities. This dif- 
ference even shows itself among nations. One 
people lives within doors, another, when possible 
at all, lives in the street. In most cases this dif- 
ference is accentuated by climate and settings of 
nature. And finally this habit of seeking or shun- 
ning solitude explains itself from the conscious 
possession or lack of strength. DiflBident natures 
are almost afraid of the face of man and draw 
back with downcast eyes, while he who is clever 
and full of energy mingles freely among all sorts 
of people. 


Solitude, moreover, is loved by men of study. 
It lures the aged more than people of midlife. In 
a run-down state of health, with weakened nerves, 
people shrink from excitement. But this springs 
from accidental causes and is no index of char- 
acter. In connection with it, however, it is sig- 
nificant that the Psalmist twice calls the soul "the 
solitary One." Once in Ps. 22, the Passion-Psalm, 
prophetic of Golgotha, v. 20: "Deliver my soul 
from the sv»'ord. my solitarj- one from the power 
of the dog;" and again in Ps. 35:17: "Rescue my 
soul from their destructions, my solitary one from 
the young lions." 

The soul is "the solitary one." This is an index 
of its greatness. An only child is more precious to 
its parents than one of seven on which others 
may pride themselves. When this only child dies, 
the family passes out of existence, and the line 
of succession is cut ofif. The soul exists inde- 
pendently of property and of the body. However 
much we are attached to our belongings, their loss 
can be made good. And though the body will go 
down into the grave, it can be restored in the 
resurrection. But such is not the case with the 
soul. The soul is the only possession which can 
not be replaced. If lost, it is lost forever. For 
this reason Jesus solemnly warns us not to fear 
him who can kill the body, but rather to fear 
Him who can destroy the soul. All loss can be 
made good, but not the loss of the soul. And 
here your self-consciousness separates itself from 
your soul. Thou child of man, who viewest thy- 
self and thinkest about thyself, in the midst of 
this busy world you find yourself clothed upon 
with a visible body which prospers with bounding 

health or wastes away with disease. But there is 
something more in you, something that is hidden 
in your inner being; and that hidden something 
is your soul, which you must love. For in death 
you must return it in all honor and holiness to 
God who gave it. 

From this the sense is developed that the soul 
is solitary. There is mutual approach between the 
soul and the world. We have been endowed with 
the capacities of sense, which like so many win- 
dows, afford us outlooks upon the world, and place 
us in communication with it. God imparted unto 
us the capacity to feel and to sympathize, so that 
even when we are alone we can share the feelings 
of others, and at long distances of separation 
rejoice with those who do rejoice, and weep with 
those who weep. We have received the gift of 
speech whereby the soul can express itself and the 
soul of another can speak in our ear. Speech has 
been committed to writing and thanks to this won- 
derful invention, which likewise has been given us 
of God, the soul can commune with preceding 
generations and with contemporaries w^hom we 
have never met. Moreover, we have a sense and 
a knowledge of a higher world above, which makes 
it seem at times as though angels of God descended 
upon us, and from us ascended again. And the 
highest of all is the gate of the heart through 
which God can draw near to the soul and the soul 
can go forth to God. 

But in spite of all this the soul itself is solitary. 
It remains apart from the world, from nature, from 
angels and from God. And thus by itself it is 
something, it has something, which remains its 
own, pure and simple, and with respect to which 


the inner solitariness can never be broken. And 
one of two things is bound to happen: Either 
the soul may be left too solitary or its solitariness 
may not be sufiBciently appreciated. 

The soul is too solitary when we are bereft of 
our means of support and of the sweet companion- 
ship of life. This is the solitariness of grief and of 
forsakenness, which as burdens, weigh us down 
and make us afraid. For the soul is disposed to 
sympathy, to friendly intercourse with the world, 
to give and to win confidence, to live as man 
among men, and to spread its wings in spheres of 
happiness and peace. When these are withheld, 
when hatred repels, and slander persecutes, instead 
of love that attracts and sympathy that refreshes, 
shy and shivering the soul draws back within 
itself. It can not unburden itself. It can not tell 
what it feels. And shut up within itself it pines 
away in loneliness and grief. Again, when the 
joys of life take flight, and cares make heavy 
hearts, when sorrow overtakes sorrow, and the 
horizon narrows itself and the outlook becomes 
darker and darker, and the star of hope sets 
behind ever-thickening clouds — then, in distress- 
ing lonehness, the soul is thrown back upon itself 
and the solitary one pants for breath, and then 
is the time for Satan to come in with the thought 
of suicide. 

As the soul can be troubled and distressed in 
this way by too much solitude, it can also suffer 
loss, when as the result of superficiality, thought- 
lessness and want of seriousness, its solitude is not 
properly estimated. At such times the soul is not 
known, neither is it honored in its individual, soli- 
tary and independent existence. Then the only 


resort is endless rounds of diversion and recrea- 
tion. But never a turning in upon oneself. Never 
a collecting of the soul together for the sake of 
quiet thought. Never a search after the soul for 
its own sake. On the contrary the soul is kept 
in a state of constant excitement. It is held cap- 
tive to serve its environments. It is never per- 
mitted to rest for self-examination and for finding 
inward peace. 

The world at large is divided into these two 
great companies. On one hand they who are 
wretched and distressed of soul and who pine away 
in inner solitariness. On the other hand the 
merrj^-making multitudes who are always hurried, 
who are continually engaged with the art of 
externalizing themselves and never have a thought 
about their own solitary" soul. 

The only medicine at hand for both these con- 
ditions of soul is fellowship w^th God. For the 
soul has its holy of holies as well as its holy place 
and its outer court. The world does not come 
nearer to the soul than this outer court. There 
it remains, and has neither vision nor understand- 
ing of the several elements that constitute the 

Intimate, spiritual friendship makes closer 
approaches to the soul. There are some congenial 
spirits that understand us and see more clearly 
through us, and who are therefore better able, with 
tenderness, to sustain and to comfort us. But 
even they do not enter into the holy of holies. 
There is always a deep background into which 
they can not come, and where the soul remains 
in its solitariness. 

He who alone can enter into this holiest and 


most hidden recess of the soul is God by his 
Holy Spirit. He alone can fully break this soli- 
tariness of the soul. He alone can comfort him 
who is caught in the snares of death. He alone 
can save the soul of him who has long sought 
diversion in the vain pleasures of the world. 


All true religion and godliness springs from the 
fact that we have been created after the Image of 
God. Some of us have passed from the period in 
the Christian life of "milk for babes" to that of 
''strong meat for adults." We understand there- 
fore that calling upon God and walking in the 
ways of his laws do not by themselves constitute 
true religion and godliness, and that the secret of 
salvation is unveiled in all its fullness only when 
we have fellowship with the Eternal and abide 
under the shadow of the Almighty. 

Outward forms of worship are not without value. 
Provisionally they are the only thinkable ones. 
Although they do not make sure of heaven, they 
exert binding influences upon many thousands of 
people which prevent the dissolution of society. 
But the plant of spirituality outgrows at length 
the outward form and goes on, in the words of 
the Apostle, unto perfection. It comes to blos- 
som in the very gleam of God's majesty. It is 
fostered by the outshining of his glory and 
watered by the dews from above. Thus it comes 
to a personal knowledge of the Lord, as a man 
knoweth his brother; to a dwelling of the soul in 


the tabernacle of the Lord, and to the indwelling 
of the Holy One in the temple of the heart. 

This requires a new emphasis. Religious forms 
change and pass awa}', but that which remains the 
same under all skies, and which does not lose but 
gain in strength to the end of life, is the blessed 
communion of soul with the Father of spirits, so 
that by night we retire with God, and at the dawn 
of day we awaken with him, and that all the way 
of our earthly pilgrimage we follow our good 

Moreover, the more intimate communion of 
saints consists in this alone. It surely binds heart 
to heart when we learn that others hold the same 
faith as ourselves, that we belong to One church, 
and that together we break One bread and drink 
One cup. But in the great journey through life 
to the courts of everlasting light companionship 
is sweetest with those who, under whatever out- 
ward form, have given us intimations that they 
hve in communion with God. 

This relates back to our creation. That is to 
say, true religion and our capacity for genuine 
godliness spring solely from our creation after 
God's Image and after the Likeness of the 
Almighty. This is not altered by the fact that 
we have been conceived and born in sin. With- 
out regeneration there is no true religion. In this 
re-birth the fundamental trait of creation after 
God's Image is revived again. The fact that we 
have been born in sin can therefore be passed by. 
The subject in hand is conscious, actual fellow- 
ship with Our Father who is in heaven. And this 
' depends upon the necessary harmony which of 
itself prevails between the Original and what the 

image shows of it. The sodality of the Original 
and the image is felt and understood at once. 
One can not be an image, or image-bearer and an, 
exhibitor of the same apart from the relation that 
binds him to the Original. If a picture is a good 
likeness, it is this because the original is what the 
likeness shows that he is. This is more striking 
with a photograph than with a painted portrait 
or with a face that is cut from marble. For with 
these the artist painter or sculptor comes in as the 
third factor between the original and the picture. 
But not so with a photograph. By the operation 
of light upon the sensitive plate the original here 
dteates his own image and forms the features after 
those of his own face. And what a person makes 
in a photograph is an exceedingly weak imitation. 
which only resembles from afar what God did 
when he said: "Let us make man after our 
likeness," and then created him so. 

Intimate fellowship is only possible between 
people of like mind. There is fellowship of a less 
intimate sort. An impressionable mind communes 
with nature when she is arrayed in her beautiful 
garments of spring. This fellowship with plants 
and flowers is more intimate than with the starry 
skies. It is closer still with the horse we ride, with 
the dog that greets us joyfully at the gate, and 
the lark whose morning song charms wood and 
dale. With stream and mountain, moon and star, 
with flower and domestic animal, however, fellow- 
ship is always from a distance. An animal may 
look us in the face with marked expression, but 
we do not understand it. Animal life is different 
from our own. True fellowship only comes when 
we get in touch with man. Even as St. Paul put 


the question to the Corinthians, "What man 
knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of 
man which is in him?" (1-2:11). Man alone can 
understand man. The more human we are our- 
selves, the more fully will we understand the 
truly human in others. Of course, always with 
this difference, that the more nearly we are alike, 
the closer will be our communion. A compatriot 
comes closer to us than a foreigner. A member of 
the family, a professional colleague, a peer in 
society, one whose lot and experience in life are 
similar with ours comes nearer to us than he 
whose settings of life are in every way different 
from our own. Like alone understands like. 

The Divine saying, "Let us make man after our 
image and likeness," implied of itself therefore 
the Divine intention of creating beings who would 
be capable of Divine fellowship and who would 
be susceptible to this glorious . communion. If, 
then, all true religion consists of this mutual fel- 
lowship, it follows that when God created a being 
after his likeness He thereby simultaneously 
created religion. 

God magnified his omnipotence in the works of 
nature, and the more fully its early chaotic estates 
refined and unfolded themselves, until the mur- 
mur of waters bore fruition in the note of the 
nightingale, the more majestic became the revela- 
tion of the splendor of Divine Almightiness. The 
whole earth is full of God's glory. But there is no 
self-conscious and responsive fellowship between 
all this and God. God stands above nature. 
Nature is subject to His majesty, but it has no 
knowledge or understanding of God and therefor© 
no single note of thanksgiving, worship or com- 

munion goes forth from Nature to God. There is 
power in it everywhere, but there is no fellowship 
of love in it. 

And this is the Divine desire. God must needs 
address his creation and obtain a response from it 
in return. He must needs establish close, personal 
fellowship and mutual communion with his crea- 
tion. The eternal, knowing, loving, seeking 
Father desires to be known, to be loved and to 
be sought. The flame of religion must inwardly 
gleam through the works of creation, even as in 
the outward sphere the sun gleams throughout the 
earth. But this is impossible and can not be 
thinkable, except as God creates a being after His 
own image and likeness — a being of his own gen- 
eration, and who therefore is a child, who will 
cleave to him as Father; a being whose distance 
and distinction from his infinite majesty will be 
unfathomably deep, but who, nevertheless, feeling 
and knowing the Divine life in his own life, will 
associate with God as brother with brother, and 
who will thus be brought into secret and sacred 
communion with him. 

Religion, therefore, is not founded upon our 
creation after the Divine Image for our sake, but 
for the sake of God. Only our earnest endeavor 
to cultivate this hidden communion with God will 
fulfill the purpose for which he created us after 
his likeness. For though it is true that this 
glorious distinction of our creation in the likeness 
of God renders us unspeakably rich and happy, 
that it baptizes us into the Divine family, so that 
we are children of the Most Highest, and are 
thereby elevated to princely holdings in the 
heavenly sanctuary, he who counts this the all 

and all of this matter will utterly and dismally 
fail. In this respect also that which is first in 
rank and order is not what makes us happy and 
blessed, but that which tends to realize God's 
purpose. It is his purpose to be known and to 
be loved; to be sought after and to be worship- 
ped ; and to have the offerings of conscious, worship- 
ful communion with himself brought to his altars 
by his Creation. His purpose is not merely to 
be great, but to be known, to be praised and to 
be loved as such. And, therefore, God created 
man after his Image and after his Likeness. 



The new paganism, which is broadly on the 
increase, differs from that against which prophets 
and Apostles protested, in that it has no idols. 
Speaking metaphorically it has. It is properly 
said that a mother makes an idol of her child, a 
wife of her husband. One worships his idol in 
art and another in Mammon. However common, 
though, this manner of speech may be, the thing 
indicated is not idolatry proper, for this exhibits 
visible idols. It builds temples and pagodas in 
their behalf. It appoints priests, burns sacrifices 
and orders public festivals in their honor. Ancient 
paganism, with its visible idolatry, was personal. 
Modern paganism soars in vague enchantments. 

In Paris and in London, and as report has it, in 
New York, societies have been formed that assem- 
ble in pagan-like chapels and kneel and mutter 
prayers before idols. But these do not lead the 
new pagan movement. For the most part these 
people have lived for some years in pagan- 


Asiatic countries, and upon their return imitate 
in Europe or America what they have seen in 
Asia, and in which they took part while there. 
This is but a little flaw on the surface of things 
and has no significance in the great movement of 

The modern pagan movement, on the other 
hand, is driven by an entirely impersonal object. 
It has no thought of setting up idolatrous images. 
It scorns idolatry proper which is still perpetuated 
in India, China and Japan. But it is negatively 
impelled by the denial of a living, personal God 
and positively by doting on vague ideals, or else 
on pleasure and money. This makes warfare 
against modern paganism far more difficult than 
that which Bible prophets and apostles waged 
against the idolatry of anti"quit3^ Then name was 
contrasted with name, person with person, image 
with image. Not Baal, but Jehovah. Not Jupiter, 
but the Lord of hosts. Not the image of the 
great Diana, but Christ, the image of the Invisible 
God. The personal character which paganism 
derived from visible idolatrj^ made it imperative 
to set up by the side of it an equally personal 
object of worship. Thus Si on was contrasted with 
Basan, Jerusalem with Gerizim; priest with priest. 
And the living, eternal and adorable Jehovah was 
contrasted with Moloch and Baal. Hence the 
scornful description of idols. Ears have they, but 
thej" hear not. Eyes have they, but they see not. 
Mouths have they, but they speak not. They 
who made them are like unto them. 0, Israel, 
trust thou in the Lord (Ps. 115:6). 

There is nothing of this now. In our times a 
man dotes on humanity. Another man has a zeal 


for art. The higher forms of Hfe are loved and 
appreciated. Multitudes engage in the chase after 
pleasure and wealth, and obey the dictates of 
passion. By way ot reaction this has resulted in 
the fact that they who in other respects are faith- 
ful Christians have abandoned far too greatly the 
personal element in the living God, and in turn 
dote on the beautiful ideas of mercy and love, of 
peace and the higher good. But personal com- 
munion with the personal God is no longer culti- 
vated with that warmth of devotion and conse- 
cration which was the secret of the heroic faith 
of the fathers. 

It is granted that the immortal ideal of love 
and mercy indicates the essential nature of God. 
But the trouble is that instead of saying, "God is 
love" or "love is God," one forms an idea of love 
for himself, transforms this idea into an ideal, 
which eclipses God from sight. And estranged 
from the living God, one dotes on creations of 
his own thought. Applying this to Christ, we 
reach the same result. In contrast with an image 
of an idol, God has set up his Image in his 
Only-begotten Son, as Christ is revealed in the 
flesh. This relegates ideas and ideals to the back- 
ground. And in the foreground, in clear and 
transparent light, stands the Christ, the incar- 
nated Word. All the enthusiasm with which 
Christianity was carried into the world sprang 
from this heaven-wide difference. The philos- 
ophers of Greece and Rome doted on beautiful 
ideals. The Apostles were enthused with love for 
the living Christ, the tangible Image of the living 
God. The secret of their power lay in this per- 
sonal attachment of faith to the living Christ in 


vety person. It was a heart-to-heart love that 
conquered the world in that early age. Love, and 
attachment to the Mediator between God and 
man, worked the downfall of ancient paganism. 
When St. Thomas puts his hand on the wound- 
print in Jesus' side, sinks to his knees and 
exclaims: "My Lord and my God," all the power 
of personal worship of God in Christ reveals 
itself. And by this alone the church of Christ 
has become what it is. 

This is also lost to us. First, this power was 
weakened by a sentimental holding fast to Christ 
as man. Thereby God, if not forgotten, was 
obscured in his majesty. And now even Chris- 
tians put back the person of Christ, and pay 
homage to an ideal in Christ in order soon to 
own a relation to this ideal which is stronger than 
to the person of Christ himself. By admiration 
of the ideal the faith is demolished. 

This is the Lord's complaint in Asaph's Song, 
Psalm 81:11: "And Israel would none of me." 
It could not have been expressed more personally 
than this. They love my creation. They enjoy 
the world which I called into being. They admire 
the wisdom which I have made to shine as light 
in darkness. They dote on love and mercy, the 
feeling and appreciation of which I implanted in 
their breast. But me they leave alone. Me they 
overlook. Of me they have no thought. To me 
they consecrate no personal love of their heart. 
With me they seek no communion. Me they do 
not know. Personal fellowship with me has no 
charm for them. They have everything that is 
mine, but they would none of me. 

This complaint is often overheard among us. 

People will enjoy our belongings and take pleas^ 
ure with our goods. They will honor our ideas 
and adorn themselves with flowers from our gar- 
den. They will praise our deeds without stint, but 
they hold themselves aloof from every personal 
touch. No trace of affection for us can be dis- 
covered in their heart. No sympathy for us can 
be observed in anything they do. They show 
no desire to have personal knowledge of us. The 
reason for this, no doubt, in many cases, is to be 
found with the person himself. We can admire a 
man, honor him, praise his works and his life, 
and yet say, "He is no man to invite personal 

This, however, can not be the case with God. 
He alone is adorable. He is the highest Good. He 
is Love. In everything He is loveable and 
eternally to be desired. And when in spite of all 
this God complains, "They would have none of 
]^e," it is directed against our heart and against 
our faith. In words of deepest feeling it expresses 
God's grief over our disregard of him. I alone 
am He whom they should desire, and lo! they 
would have none of Me. They do not love Me. 
With heart and soul they do not cleave to Me. 
To their personal affection I, their God, am not 
the strong and all-else expelling center of attrac- 

This is a complaint against everything that is 
superficial, vague and unreal in our Christian life; 
against weakened conceptions of religion; against 
faithlessness of heart. Religious weakening shows 
itself in lack of holy ardour, in the quenched fires 
of nobler enthusiasm, and in the congealed state of 
the waters of holy mysticism. This is partly a 


personal wrong which springs from an overesti- 
mate of self, from too much self-sufficiency, from 
lack of dependence and fidelity. It is also an evil 
of the times, a general, contagious disease where- 
by one poisons another. It is apostacy on the part 
of the world of spirits which diverts the heart 
from the living God. 

But this must be resisted. The struggle must 
be begun against our own heart first, that it may 
be restored to personal communion with the living 
God. This struggle must be extended across the 
entire range of our environments to repress the 
false religions of vague and empty ideals, and in 
their room establish personal affection for the 
living God. This struggle must be continued with 
unfailing faithfulness in public preaching, in devo- 
tional literature and in ardent supplications to call 
God back into our personal life. And finally this 
struggle must be carried into the world at large 
to call it back from idle fancies to sober reality; 
from empty ideals to essentials; from religion to 
the only object of worship, and from doting on 
barren abstractions to the love of the faith that 
directs itself solely and alone to Him who has 
revealed himself in Christ as the personal, living 



A little child, especially when it is a girl, is 
often said to be the sunshine of the house. But 
however glad we may be, in dark hours of life, 
to own such a little sun to brighten the home, 
the joy of the Psalmist was far greater when he 
sang, "The Lord is the sun of my life." - 


We people of Western lands should be more 
familiar with the tender and passionate language 
of the poetry of Scripture. The music of the 
Psalter is uplifting: For the Lord God is a sun 
and a shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. 
No good thing will He withhold from them that 
walk uprightly (Ps. §4:11). It raises grateful 
echoes in the heart. But, alas, they are not orig- 
inal with us. Among rich and poor we speak of 
a sunshine in the house. But who volunteers to 
confess from long experience : The Lord has been 
a Sun unto me all my days, and will be till I die. 
The figure is still used, but mostly in a doctrinal 
way, and almost exclusively in the limited sense 
of "Sun of Righteousness." And righteousness has 
the emphasis at the expense of the rich imagery 
of the Sun. But this beautiful imagery of the 
Sun contains a world of thought. It is more than 
sheer comparison. For when we realize that God 
is the Sun of our life, the joy of it brings us 
nearer to him. It illumines all of life and lib- 
erates us from abstract thoughts of him. 

The sun is not to us what he was to the 
Psalmist in the East. The Western mind can but 
faintly surmise the sparkling radiancy of Eastern 
heavens. The firmament that overarches the lands 
from which Abraham emigrated and those which 
God gave him for an inheritance glistens with a 
sheen of heavenly brightness which makes our 
heavens at noon seem wrapped in twilight. The 
midnight sky which the shepherd's saw bending 
over Bethlehem was prepared, as it were, for the 
coming of the angelic hosts. And in a country 
where stars enchant the eye by their dazzling 
splendor and the moon puts the mind, as it were, 


in a state of ecstacy, what must the sun be of 
which the Psalmist sang: "His going forth is 
from the end of the heaven * * * and there is 
nothing hid from the heat thereof" (19:6). If 
any idolatry ever was intelligible, it was not the 
worship of images or of spirits, but the calm and 
reverent adoration of the .wandering Bedouin, as 
beneath such wondrous skies he beheld the stars 
by night and the glory of the sun by day until 
at length, swayed by ecstacy, he imagined that 
this dazzling, majestic, all-pervading and govern- 
ing sun was not merely a heavenly body, but even 
God him.self. 

This error was con-ected in Israel. The sun is 
not God. But God is the sun of the inner life. 
He has appointed the sun to benefit us in a thou- 
sand ways, and chiefly to furnish us with a glor- 
ious imagery, by which, amid the vanity and 
emptiness of life on earth, to set forth in glowing 
terms what God is to us. Comparing God with 
the sun is not original with man. We have not 
selected the sun as a likeness of God. But the 
sun forecasts in nature what God is to all higher 
human life. In the sunlight and in its effects God 
illustrates what He is to moral and spiritual 
human nature. And when in weary processes of 
analytical studies of the Divine attributes and 
Providence we reach at length some well-defined 
but cold abstractions, and we are past all feeling, 
it seems as if the glow of the higher life suddenly 
takes hold of us, when all we know of God, 
recapitulates itself in the single phrase of delight: 
''The Lord is the Sun of my life." This sacred 
imagery is peculiarly effective. It puts the per- 
vading power of God in our life clearly before our 


eyes. The sun is high above us in the heavens, 
and close at hand as well, and around us on every 
side. We feel his presence and seek protection 
from it in the shade. We exclude him from our 
chambers bv closing blinds. He is a power far oft 
and close by. He imparts power to the soil, where 
hidden from human eyes, it makes the seed germ- 
inate and sprout. 

And such is the case with God, both as to opera- 
tions and antithesis. His throne is high above us 
in the heavens. By His omnipresence God is close 
by and all around us. He has access to the heart. 
He searches its most hidden parts and there 
operates with secret power. Whenever a holy 
seed germinates within, or a virtue blossoms on 
the stem of the soul, it is God, our Sun, whose 
mighty power performs it. , , , 

Think for a moment that the sun were blotted 
out from the skies and the whole earth would 
soon resemble conditions of the North Pole. 
Every plant and herb would die. Every color 
w^ould pale. Snow and ice would cover the ground 
as with a shroud. That such is not the case now, 
that everything pulsates with bounding life and 
exhibits color and sheen, that food springs from 
the ground, and lilies adorn the field, and all 
nature exliales the sweet breath of life is because 
the sun radiates light and heat and as by magic 
brings life out of death and turns barren wilder- 
nesses into fruitful fields. , r>. j • 

And what the sun is to mother earth God is to 
the human heart. If the soul were abandoned of 
God and deprived of his gracious inshimng and 
inworking, life would soon perish from the heart, 
the affections would lose all warmth and deathly 


cold would chill the inner existence. No more 
flowers would bloom in the garden of the heart. 
No more sacred motion would stir the hidden 
waters of the soul. Everything within would wither 
and die. The heart would cease to be human, and 
whether it is said, "With Thee, O Lord, is the 
fountain of life," or "In Thy light shall we see 
light," or "The Lord is the Sun of my soul," it 
all means: With God the soul has life; without 
God it is dead. The source of all life and of all 
power is God. Everything, in brief, that makes 
the sun unspeakabh' precious in the world of 
nature God is to the heart and tt) all human life. 
With Him we are aboundingly rich and radiantly 
happy. Without Him we are poor and naked and 

The sun, moreover, not only nourishes the 
ground by his warmth, but by his radiant light 
exhibits and colors life. When the evening 
shadows lengthen everything assumes a dull and 
nebulous aspect. But dawn brings friendly light, 
by which all things assume proportions, distances 
are measured, forms and colors are recognized. 
And as it takes on brightness all nature speaks 
to the heart. And God does all this for the inner 
life. Where He is hidden from blinded eyes, life 
is a somber grey, without point of departure, direc- 
tion or aim. All knowledge and insight fails. 
Courage to go on grows faint. Inspiration to 
finish the course gives way. And nothing rests 
save groping for the wall as one blind ; with- 
drawing within oneself in cheerless, helpless soli- 
tude ; the loss of knowledge ; the loss of self- 
consciousness ; the privation of color and outline. 
A life as in the graveyard, where weeds thrive, 

snakes lurk about, and the shriek of the night- 
bird startles. Until God rolls the clouds away, and 
the sun rises again in the soul, and when as by 
the touch of a magic wand everv'thing becomes 
new, and light dispels inner darkness, and peace 
with a friendly hand opens wide the door of the 
troubled mind, so that by the light of God's 
countenance the onward way is seen with heavenly 
clearness, and the journey is resumed with fresh 
courage, tne wniles the sun from on high cheers 
and sanctifies the heart. 

The image of the sun is also significant with 
respect to the fact that the shining of God's face 
upon the heart is not an unbroken brightness. 
As day is succeeded by night, and summer by 
winter, it has ever been the same in the lives of 
the saints. There were times of clear, conscious 
fellowship with the Invisible, when life from 
hour to hour was as a walking with God. And 
these were followed by times of overwhelming 
activities which exhausted the mind, business 
interests that absorbed the soul, and cares that 
burdened the heart. This is a change in the 
spiritual life as of day and night. It is well with 
him who can say that his estrangement from God 
in every twenty-four hours is no longer than the 
hours of sleep. And aside from this almost daily 
rise and fall in the intimacy of the fellowship with 
God, this Sun withdraws himself and again makes 
His approach whereby summer and winter follow 
one another in the life of the soul. Undisturbed 
and unbroken fellowship with God is not of this 
earth. It awaits us in all its fullness only in the 
realms of everlasting light. There always have 
been and always will be changes here in our 


spiritual conditions whereby some years harvests 
will be far greater than others. Struggles whereby 
the soul climbs upward from lower to higher view- 
points — trials that bring the soul into depths of 
darkness whereby for weeks and months the 
higher life is buried, as it were, underneath heavy 
layers of ice. The sun is not gone, but is covered 
with heavy clouds. And this goes on until God's 
time of help arrives. Then clouds scatter and are 
driven away. Spring returns in the soul, the pre- 
lude to glorious sunshine. And in the end we 
thank God for the cold impoverishment of spiritual 
winter, which makes spring and summer all the 
more appreciated and enjoyed. 

Another point of comparison should not be 
ignored. Natural sunshine operates in two ways. 
It fosters and warms the ground, causing germina- 
tion and fruition. But it hardens the clod, it 
singes leaves and withers blossoms. This touches 
the conscience. When we glory in the Lord as 
the Sun of the Soul, it implies that God's love 
and grace can not be abused with impunity. 
Hardening is an awful thing, but it came upon 
Israel and is not infrequent now. When the 
warmth of Divine affection is resisted, it does not 
soften the heart nor make it tender, but attacks 
spirituality in its outward expression and sears it. 
This does not mean mortal hardening from which 
there is no repentance. He whose spiritual estate 
has come to this pass will not read these medi- 
tations. But temporary hardening retards the 
progress of spiritual life. This temporary hard- 
ening by grace and Divine love is frequently 
observed. It is then a sin which is cherished; it 
is a sacrifice which is not willingly brought; it is 


a step that will not be taken; it is an exertion 
from which we shrink, or it is sin in some 
material direction, or in the home, in public or in 
church life which we seek to harmonize with the 
privileges of Divine grace. But it will not do. 
In God's mind it is unthinkable. And as long as 
we persist in sin the sun will shine and sometimes 
his heat will be so fierce that no fruit of the 
spirit can ripen and the very intensity of the 
grace of God will harden us. ''Thou Lord art the 
sun of mj^ soul," is the language of faith with 
which to enter eternity. Let us see to it that it 
may not some day testify against us. "The fall 
and rising again" has an application also in this 



Ever\' creature is a thought of God. All created 
things therefore are symbols of the Divine. To 
hail winged creatures as symbolic expressions of 
the life of God is not original with us. The 
Scripture sets us the example. The devout believer 
is accustomed to its figurative language and he 
readily admits that it greatly cheers and blesses 
him. What Jesus said in these figurative terms 
regarding Jerusalem fell within the scope of com- 
mon understanding. The hen with her chickens 
is a symbol of divine compassion, which moves 
even an outsider by its beauty and tenderness. 
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have 
gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth 
her chickens under her wings and ye would not" 
(Matt. 23:37). But this word of Jesus has a 

deeper meaning than even an outsider, who 
admires it, thinks. It speaks of protection -and 
compassion for the sake of which the little ones 
are gathered together. It implies that the chickens 
belong with the mother hen. And except they 
return to her they can not be shielded against 
cold and other dangers. The striking figure indi- 
cates that the natural place of refuge for the 
chickens is close by the mother hen. And that 
they can only be safe and warm in her immediate 
presence under the cover of her outspread wings. 

This striking word of our Lord was borrowed 
from the figurative language of the Old Testa- 
ment, which also in turn explains it. The first 
verse of Psalm 91: "He that dwelleth in the 
secret place of the Most High, shall abide under 
the shadow of the Almighty," is an instance of 
this metaphorical representation. It is the 
epitome of what the Psalmist describes elsewhere 
(61:4) : ''I will trust in the covert of Thy wings." 
The same thought was expressed by the wings of 
the cherubim covering the mercy seat on the ark 
of the covenant. It is ever the same thought. 
God has created the fowl that lovingly gathers 
her brood under her wings that she might shield 
and shelter them. And this beautiful figure is 
held before us that we might seek refuge under 
the shadow of the Almighty, and trust in the 
covert of his wings. 

This imagery is not borrowed from that which 
moves in the waters, nor from that which glides 
along the ground. It is almost never borrowed 
from four-footed beasts, but mainly from winged 
creatures that lift themselves above the earth, and 
live, as it were, between us and heaven. 


The angels before God's throne are pictured 
with wings as seraphs. The Holy Ghost came 
upon the Son of Man descending like a dove. 
The secret prayer of the troubled soul is that it 
might have wings to fly away. That winged 
creatures should be used as symbols to express 
what is most tender and affectionate in saintly 
character, and that boldest imagery should serve 
to portray what it is "to be near unto God," to 
make it, as it were, visible to our eyes and per- 
ceptible to our feelings, is entirely in keeping with 
the order of creation. It corresponds to the 
divinely appointed state of things. It appeals to 
us as altogether natural. But this symbolism 
must not be taken too literally. We must be on 
our guard lest sickly mysticism interprets holy 
mysteries to us in a material way. God is 
Spirit. Everj^ effort to be in touch with him, 
except in a purely spiritual way, avenges itself. 
For it leads either to idolatry which makes an 
image of God from stone or precious metal, or it 
loses itself in pantheistic mud, wliich inter- 
mingles spirit and matter, and ends in sensual 
excesses, first defiling and then killing what spirit- 
uallj' began. 

But however necessary it is to maintain the 
spirituality of our fellowship with God, it will not 
do to take spirituality to mean unreality. This, 
alas, is a common mistake and accounts for much 
spiritual barrenness. For then we only see what 
is before our eyes; nature round about us; the 
blue heavens above us; our body with its sev- 
eral parts; all which we consider real, because 
they have form, consist of matter, are tangible 
and have actual existence. Apart and distin- 


guished from this is what we think, what we pic- 
ture to ourselves, what we study out in our minds, 
what we take as the abstract world of thought. 
We interpret all this to be an unreal world, the 
center of which is God. An infinite Being who 
exists merely in our thought, in our mind, in our 
idea, with whom there is no fellowship except 
along the avenue of thought. But this provides 
no mysticism for the heart; no uniting of heart 
to fear the name of God; no experience of secret 
fellowship with God. If God does not exist out- 
side of our thought, the self-sufficient soul can 
not come near to God, nor can it dwell in his 

Every deeply spiritual life in Holy writ protests 
against this danger. Such was not what Psalmists 
and prophets experienced of God. They found 
Him as the real living One who came near unto 
them, and bare them on the arms of his ever- 
lasting compassions. He was a God imto them 
whose love they felt as a fire burn in the marrow 
of their bones, with whom they found peace, com- 
fort and rest for their weary soul as they realized 
that He sheltered them in the covert of his wings 
and allowed them to abide under the shadow of 
the Almighty. 

This thrice blessed state of mind and heart can 
not be analyzed. It must be experienced. It must 
be tasted. And having it, it must be guarded 
lest it is lost again or interrupted. But it can not 
be analyzed, interpreted or explained. That 
would give place to the wedge of criticism and 
chill the warmth that fosters it. The way to 
obtain it is to learn that self-sufficiency deceives. 
High-minded self-sufficiency is the canker which 


gnaws at the root of all religion. It is the futile 
dream of a little, insignificant world, of which 
self is the great center, whose mind understands 
everything, whose will controls everything, whose 
money can buy everything, and whose power 
carries everything before it. This makes self a 
miniature god in a little temple. In this sinful 
isolation one is, of necessity, icy cold, frozen away 
from the living God and unfit to dwell under the 
shadow of his wings. 

If in all honesty we can say: Such is not my 
case, because I feel my dependence, my lack of 
strength and my utter helplessness, then that we 
might have fellowship with God, we must unlearn 
our sinful leaning on people. We need not neces- 
sarily cut ourselves loose from every one. Far 
from it. The faith of another strengthens ours. 
The courage of another shames us out of coward- 
ice. The example set by another can double our 
strength. We are disposed to society both in mat- 
ters of life and belief. But we must give up all 
sinful dependence upon others. Dependence that 
takes a man for more than an instmment ap- 
pointed of God for our help, as long as he allows 
it, is sinful. We must not build on man, in order 
when human help fails to turn to the Divine. Our 
help must always be from God, whether power to 
save springs from ourselves or comes to us from 
without. Even in this way, that when at length all 
human help fails, nothing is lost. For the 
unchangeable God always remains the same. 

This assured confidence is maintained, as long 
as we faithfully endeavor to eradicate, root and 
branch, the doubt v/hich wearily makes us ask 
whether salvation is for us. To entertain this 

doubt, even for a moment, imnen^es and breaks 
us down. Then we are like the little chicken that 
anxiously looks around for the mother hen, and 
not finding her anywhere, helplessly flies hither 
and thither until snatched away by the hawk. 
Then all confidence is gone; and gone the percep- 
tion of one's calling in life; and gone the faith 
that God has led us hitherto and shall lead us to 
the end. Then all strength fails. And prophecy 
is dumb in the heart. Until at length, in despair, 
fellowship with Satan becomes more natural than 
the secret walk with God. 

The Psalmist not only glories that he rests in 
the shadow of God, but also that he hides in the 
shadow of the Almighty. This must needs be 
added. Compared with the defenceless chicken, 
the mother hen, which to save her young flies the 
hawk in the face and chases him away, is the 
symbol of a power that reminds us of Divine 
Omnipotence. For else resting on the Fatherheart 
of God avails nothing. He who rests under the 
shadow of God's wings, but does not trust, puts 
God to shame. It but fosters the fear that one 
who is stronger than God can snatch us away from 
under the Divine protection. When we are far 
away from God, unbelief can be forgiven, in so far 
as we fly to him for refuge. But when we 
have once taken refuge with him, unbelief in the 
heart is a fatal wrong. It profanes the love which 
God looks for from us. The blessed peace, the 
hallowed rest, the childlike confidence which God's 
elect have always enjoyed, even in seasons of 
bitterest trial, is not the result of reasoning. It is 
not the effect of deliverance. It is solely and 
alone the sweet outcome of taking refuge in the 


secret place of the most High, of abiding under 
the shadow of the Almighty, of knowing what it 
means, "To Be Near Unto God," and of enjoying 

If then we have thus far been strangers to God, 
let us not imagine, that in time of danger, when 
thunder-clouds have gathered thickly overhead, 
and all human help has failed, we ciin at once find 
refuge in the shadow of the Almighty. This has 
been tried in the hour of calamity by those of a 
transient faith, but the effort has proved futile. 
It is here the other waj^ The secret walk with 
God is not found as a means of deliverance in the 
hour of need. They who had found it in times 
of prosperity and ease knew the wings under 
which deliverance would be sure. And when they 
came to be afflicted and grieved they found rest 
and safe shelter under the wings of God. It is 
not the case of a hen without chickens, which 
spreads her wings for whatever would hide under 
them. But it is her ovm brood, which she has 
hatched, and for which she will risk her life, that 
finds shelter and protection with her. This states 
the case of the shadow under the wings of the 
Almighty. They whom he will cover with his 
eternal love are his own children. These are they 
whom he calls and awaits. These are they that 
are known of Him. They who are at home under 
the wings of God shall in the hour of danger dwell 
under the shadow of the Almighty. 



There was no violence in the displays of nature 
in Paradise. No other wind blew in the Garden. 


of Eden than the soft suction of air, which m 
warmer climates, occasions the morning and even- 
ing breeze. Hence there is no mention in the 
narrative of Paradise of a sudden rise of wind, but 
of a fixed, periodical one, which is called "A Wind 
of Day." And to Adam and Eve this wind of day 
announced the approach of God. 

This symbolism is still understood. Amidst the 
luxuriant stillness of Paradise, where ever>'thing 
breathes calm and peace, suddenly a soft rustle is 
heard sounding through the foliage. Just such a 
sound as we hear when, as we are seated near by 
a woodland, some one approaches us through the 
thickets, pushing aside the light twigs and making 
the leaves tremble. At the same moment when 
in Paradise that rustle is heard through the foliage, 
a soft breeze plays on the forehead and it seems 
that Adam and Eve feel themselves gently touched. 
And with that quiet rustling and this refreshing 
breeze there comes a word of the Lord to their 
soul. And thus the representation arose that the 
voice of the Lord came to them walking in the 
garden in the wind of the day. 

Thus the wind, as symbol and bearer of what is 
holy, has gone forth from Paradise into all of 
revelation. Of God it is said, Ps. 104:3, that he 
'"Walketh upon the wings of the wind;" that he 
'"Did fly upon the wings of the wind" (Ps. 18:10). 
At Pentecost when the Holy Ghost came to the 
church a sound was heard "from heaven as of a 
rushing mighty wind'' (Acts 2:2). And when 
Nicodemus received instruction regarding regen- 
eration, the Savior purposely applied the smybol 
of the wind to God the Holy Ghost. "Thou 
hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell 


whence it cometh, and wither it goeth," and such 
it is with the ISoly Ghost. 

In Northern lands like ours, where the wind is 
an ordinary phenomenon, this impression is no 
longer felt so strongly. But in the countries where 
Revelation had its rise and weather conditions 
were more constant, which makes the rise of wind 
more noticeable, the sound of the wind has always 
as of itself spoken of higher things. 

Natural philosophy had not yet made a study 
of atmospheric currents. As the gale arose with 
dark clouds in the sky, and by its rumblings made 
the forests to tremble, it was interpreted as coming 
from above. It came from on high. It came as 
a mysterious, inexplicable force. It was felt, but 
it could not be handled. It was heard, but it could 
not be seen. It was an enigmatic, intangible 
power, pushing and driving everything before it. 
And that power was conceived as operating 
directh' from God upon man, without any middle 
link, as though in the gale God with his majesty 
bent himself over him. "The Lord," said Nahum 
(1:3), hath his way in the whirlwind, and the 
clouds are the dust of his feet." 

The S3'mbol of the wind indicates the opposite 
of that of the temple. For this speaks to us of 
a God who dwells in us, as in a sanctuary; who is 
not far off but near by; who has taken up his 
abode in the heart, and who from its depths 
rebukes, directs or comforts us. And so the temple 
represents the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in 
the Covert of the heart. It represents the candor, 
tenderness and intimacy of fellowship. And 
though the temple may have a veil in it, and 
though at times fellowship with the indwelling 

spirit may be interrupted, the renewal of love 
never comes from without, but always from the 
depth of the soul. It is always Immanuel, God 
with us; in Christ with all his people; in the Holy 
Ghost with his child. 

And by the side of this is the symbol of the 
wind. Softly the wind of day enters Paradise. At 
first it is not. It arises unobserved, but always 
from without. It comes to man who does not at 
once perceive it. At first there is separation and 
duality. The symbol of the wind represents man 
as apart from God, and God as apart from man. 
And the approach does not go out from man in 
prayer, but from God in the wind of the day, by 
which He betakes himself to man, presses himself 
upon him, and at length entirely fills him. Both 
of these have their right of being. Christian piety 
m.ust reckon with both. He alone who allows both 
of these simultaneously their full right lives in 
vital communion with the Eternal. 

The difference between God and us is so great 
in every way that of ourselves we can never think 
of God otherwise than as a Being who is highly 
exalted above us. He has established his throne 
in heaven and we in adoration kneel on the earth 
as his footstool. This relation is expressed in the 
symbol of the wind. From the clouds above the 
wind strikes down upon us and at times we feel 
the cutting effects of it in the very marrow of our 

There is also a free communion between God 
and his child which annihilates all distance; which 
abrogates every separation, which presses after 
intimate union, and that relation is expressed in 
the symbol of the temple. Our heart is a temple 


of the Spirit. God himself dwells in the inner- 
most recess of the soul. The temple stands for 
the overvN'helming wealth of all-embracing love; 
the gale remains the symbol of the Majesty of 
God. And only when both of these operate 
purely, each within its own domain, there is the 
most exalted worship of God's majesty, together 
with the most blessed enjoyment of his eternal 

Thus the pendulum of the inner life of the soul 
moves ever to and fro. When we have given our- 
selves for a time too lightly £.nd too easily to the 
sweetness of mysticism, and in meditative com- 
munion with God are in danger of losing our deep 
reverence for his majesty, we must needs tear 
ourselves away from this hazy mood in order that 
we may the better recognize again the holy 
supremacy of the Lord Jehovah in comparison 
with the littleness and insignificance of our own 
finite self. And when on the other hand we have 
been for a time greatly affected by the Majesty 
of God, so that we know full well that the High 
and H0I3- One is enthroned in glory, but feel our- 
selves deserted of God at heart, so that the soul 
is menaced w^ith the loss of a closer touch upon 
God, then likewise with an effort of the will the 
frozen heart must be brought under the softening 
influences of the eternal compassions, so that com- 
munion with the eternal may be renewed and 
enjoyed again. 

But great is the gain when this motion to and 
fro is not too forcible, and when the intimacy of 
the ''Our Father" and the reverence of the ''Which 
art in Heaven" follow each other rhythmically in 
the daily experiences of the inner life. A purely 


meditative life with too much tenderness in it 
will not do. He who gives himself to this weakens 
and enervates his spiritual nature, becomes unfit 
for his Divine calling in the world, and loses even 
the exhilirating freshness of his piety. With a 
healthful state of heart this change is steady and 
regiilar. There is the constajit and earnest appli- 
cation to our work, with God above us, from whom 
comes our strength, and in whom stands our help. 
And then there is the search after God in prayer, 
the meditation on his Word, and the inner tender- 
ness which is produced by the motions of holy 
love. Our God is a God both far off and near at 

Thus the wind of the day has more than a 
natural significance. Every day of life forms a 
whole by itself. And in all the daily happenings 
there is a plan and guidance of God. And so 
there goes a wind of day through every day of 
life. First there are hours when nothing speaks 
to the heart. When everything loses itself in ordi- 
nary occupations and it seems that this day has 
no message for us. And then in the simplest event 
sometimes there is something striking that rouses 
the attention, that makes one think and one's 
thoughts to multiply; something that a child calls 
out to us, or a friend whispers in the ear; some- 
thing that suggests itself from within or something 
that we hear, something that was reported to us 
or that happened at home or in the office ; in brief, 
anything that brought color and outline into the 
dullness of existence and proved itself for that 
particular day, "the wind of the day" in which 
God's voice was heard. 

So the Lord goes out every day seeking after 

us. So the voice of God follows us after through 
all of life, to woo us, to interest us, and to win us 
for Himself. Lost, therefore, is each day in which 
the voice of God passes by us in the wind of the 
day, but leaves us unmoved and indifferent. \^'Tiile 
blessed in turn is each day in which in "'the wind 
of the day" God comes so near to the soul that 
the approach turns into communion, in the 
intimacy and tenderness of which with fresh 
draughts we enjoy again the unfailing love of God. 



We are always repelled in Psalm 39 by the hard 
words which David there addresses to God : Look 
away from me, that I may brighten up. For can 
we imagine a more unnatural prayer than this? 

Man and God constitute the greatest antithesis. 
And all true religion, springing from our creation 
after the image of God, aims solely and alone to 
put man into closest communion with God, or 
where this communion is broken, to restore it. 
And here the Psalmist, who still counts as the 
Singer who has interpreted piety most profoundly, 
prays and cries, not for the approach of God, but 
that God will look away from his soul, that He 
will leave him alone, give him rest, and so refresh 
the last hours of his life before dying: "Hear my 
prayer, Lord, hold not thy peace at my tears, 
look away from me, that I may brighten up, 
before I go hence, and be no more." (R. V. Marg. 

In Psalm 42 he said: "As the heart panteth 


after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after 
thee, O God," And here it is the direct opposite: 
''Turn thee away from me, that my soul may 
refresh itself." On the one hand intense longing 
for the joy of the presence of God, and on the 
other hand the crs^ of agony for deliverance from 
God's presence. Does it not seem, at first, that 
the one is a malediction against the other? 

This bitter wail of David does not stand alone. 
In the book of Job we find an even still more 
painful expression for this crushing consciousness 
of the presence of the Lord, when, as if to pour out 
his consuming anguish in fullest measure, he 
despairingly exclaims: "Thou puttest my feet in 
the stocks and thou settest a print upon the roots 
of my feet" (13:27 Marg. read). 

By itself there is nothing strange in this feeling. 
Even godless people are familiar with this agoniz- 
ing dread. When mortal danger suddenly over- 
takes them, they handle, as it were, with their 
hands the power of God which presses upon them. 
In case of shipwreck in the open sea it is seen 
again and again that godless sailors who but a few 
moments before over their wine-cups were making 
light of everything that is holy, suddenly terror- 
stricken, spring from their seats with the cry: 
"O God, God," and pale with fear, struggle for 
their lives. 

And aside from these, with ordinary people who 
do not mock at religion but live without God in 
the world, when serious sickness comes upon them, 
or some other disaster overtakes them, we see the 
same effect. The}^ also suddenlj^ become aware 
at such a time that they have to do with the 
terrible unknown power of that God whom they 

have long ignored, and they tremble in their 

In ordinary' life we are sufficient unto ourselves. 
We extricate ourselves from our little difficulties. 
We have the means at command to provide 
against special needs. We know how to rise 
above simple adversities. And when they are 
overcome, the triumph deepens the sense of our 

In the midst of all this we feel free, uncon- 
strained and unencumbered. In the face of it all 
we are our own lord and master. We feel our- 
selves measureably opposed, but we push it aside 
and bravely we continue the tenor of our way. 

All this, however, changes when anxieties, dan- 
gers and disasters overtake us, which overwhelm 
us, which we have no strength to face, which noth- 
ing can prevent, and in the midst of which we 
become suddenly aware of our utter helplessness. 
Then we feel that we are attacked by a superior 
force that overpowers us, that casts us down, that 
forces itself upon us and makes all resistance 
ludicrous and futile. This superior force then pre- 
sents itself to us as an unseen and unknown 
opponent, who mysteriously cuts the tendon of 
our strength, binds us as with bainds of death, dis- 
tresses and perplexes us with mortal agonies, and 
leaves us nothing but a cry of terror. And how- 
ever much the world has been estranged from God, 
even in the hearts of the most hardened sinners, 
there is, in such moments, still some trembling in 
the presence of the Divine majesty. There are 
many who have no faith in God, but anxious fore- 
bodings fill their minds, that they are yet to have 
dealings with him. And their self-reproach, that 

they have so long ignored him, adds to the t-error 
of their fears. 

But this apprehension of dread affects the godly 
man most strongly when faith fails him, and God 
momentarily lets him go. Then it seems that God 
loosens his hold on the soul and at the same time 
tightens his hold more firmly on the body. A 
man like Job could not think of anything that 
did not come to him from God. He had long 
enjoyed the peace of God which passeth all under- 
standing. And when the evil day came and loss 
followed loss, he could only consider them as so 
many arrows from the bow of divine displeasure 
to grieve and mortally to wound him. And 
because Job was inwardly pious, it could not end 
with this. At first he thought that God in anger 
stood far off, and with arrow upon arrow wounded 
him from the distance. But he perceives that God 
comes to him, and at length personally attacks 
him. And when he feels that God has come upon 
him, as man against man, that He attacks him 
and is ready to throw him, his fear becomes more 
striking. A tja'ant attacking Job and overcoming 
him in order to render him helpless, might at most 
put his feet in stocks. Now that God attacks 
him, this can not be the end. He perceives that 
God not only faces him and attacks him from 
without, but that by his Almighty power God 
enters into his inmost soul, goes through him 
altogether, until at length he feels himself pene- 
trated to his feet, even to the roots of his feet by 
the Almighty One, and crushed beneath the 
weight of His anger. 

Only they who are truly pious can suffer this 
mortal agony. Divine anger can only be felt in 


this way by those who all their life have been 
deeply impressed by God's power. For there is a 
two-fold sense of God's presence, ^ow m b essed 
fellowship with God. And again in the awful con- 
sciousness of God's terrible presence m the fears 
that assail us. And if we were dealt w'lth after 
our sins and according to our deserts, this latter 
fellowship would be our only portion, even fellow- 
ship with God in his holy anger. This it will for- 
ever be in hell. This is hell. 

Here on earth diversion and all sorts of meai^ 
are at our command to put the thought of God 
away from us. The ungodly enjoy this awful 
privilege in life that they can sm, without being 
troubled in their conscience for more than a few 
moments at a time by the presence of Almighty 
God They can put a screen between them^selves 
and God and thus be far distant from him. But 
not so in eternitv. There they stand continually 
in the presence of God. This awful consciousness 
of God's presence will be the worm that dieth 
not and the fire that is not quenched. 

It is different with those who here on earth 
have known what it is to be at peace with God. 
They have experienced divine grace. God with- 
draws himself in their behalf in such a way that 
He hides his anger from them and veils his 
terrible majesty. Notwithstanding their sms. He 
with himself, and without mortal fear, to have 
fellowship with him. The screen of the vanities 
of this world does not stand between God and 
those who fear him, but Christ the Reconciler, 
the Goel, the Mediator. And thus already here 
on earth sweet and blessed communion with God 
in Christ can be enjoyed. 


But if momentarily faith fails us, and the shield 
of Christ is taken away from before us, and in the 
midst of afflictions we feel ourselves suddenly face 
to face again with the naked majesty of God in 
his anger, the agony of soul in God's otherwise 
devoted children is more terrible than the children 
of the world have ever experienced on earth. The 
child of God is then caught, as it were, in the 
snares of hell. Such was the case with Job. This 
made him say: "0, My God, thou settest a print 
in the roots of my feet." This made David pray: 
"0 my God, look away from me, that I may re- 
cover strength before I die." And this is grace: 
that in such moments the Comforter comes to the 
soul, that the shield of Christ is placed again 
before us, and that God who made his anger burn 
against us, reveals himself again to his tempest- 
tossed child as Abba Father. 



In the Dutch national hymn the words are still 
sung by patriotic assemblages and in the streets, 
"My Shield and Confidence, Art Thou, O Lord, 
My God." And they but echo the Psalmist's song 
(84:11): "The Lord is a sun and shield: The 
Lord will give grace and glory: No good thing 
will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." 

As a means of defense the shield has passed out 
makes it possible for them to become acquamted 
of use. In our times battles are fought at great 
distances, with cannons and rapid firing guns. And 
safety is sought in lying on the ground or in 
hiding behind breastworks. But even when David 


wrote the Psalms archers were few and fighting 
wa5 done by man against man at the close range 
of eye to eye, of foot touching foot, and clashing 
of swords. And such combats could not end until 
one of the two assailants was bathed in his own 
blood In such times the shield was ones lite. 
Without a shield no man could meet another in 
battle who carried one. Among the nations of 
antiquity a shield therefore was the main thing. 
Even as to this day it covers the African savage 
when he makes an assault with his assagai l^or 
the shield catches the arrow, breaks the blow ot 
the lans and parries the stroke of the sword. When 
many thousands in Jerusalem, who m their day 
had used the shield and had saved their lives 
thereby, joined in the songs of Zion and gloried m 
Jehovah as the shield of their confidence, they felt 
in singing, as we can never fully appreciate: What 
it is, and what it means, to glory in God as a 

A shield was a cover for the body. It was not 
carried by another in front of the combatant, but 
was carried by the combatant himself. It was 
held with the left hand. It rested on the arm and 
was reallv nothing else than a broademng of the 
same. He who attacked with a gun involuntarily 
raises his arm, with which, at the risk of having 
it wounded, he covers his face and his heart. And 
not to expose the arm in such encounters, and to 
protect the larger part of the body, desire to save 
life invented the shield. First the long shield 
which covered the entire length of the body, and 
then the short shield, or buckler, with which to 
parry the stroke of the sword. But always in such 
a way that the soldier carried the shield himselt, 

! 93 

that he >moved it now this way, then that, and 
held it out against the attack. 

"The Lord is my shield" does not say therefore 
that God protects us from a distance and that he 
covers us without effort on our part. ''The Lord 
is my shield," is the language of faith. It springs 
from the consciousness that God is near at hand, 
that faith lays hold on him, that we use our faith 
in God, that therewith we resist our assailant, and 
that in this wa}'-, being one with God through 
faith, we realize that we are covered with his 
Almighty power. 

In case of extremity a mother can stand before 
her child and cover her darling with her own 
bodj'. And then we can say that the mother is 
a shield to her child. And God is the shield of 
our little ones, who do not yet know him, and 
who can not yet put faith in him. But this 
sacred imagers^ was not borrowed from this. It 
was suggested by the soldier who in many a hard 
and bitter fight had used the shield himself to 
the saving of his life. Indeed, the shield is to a 
man what wings are to an eagle. With the trained 
warrior the shield is, as it were, a part of his 
bod}'. It is one with his arm. And his fate hangs 
by his dexterit}' to use it. And so the Lord is 
a shield to those who trust in him, to those who 
believe, to those who in times of distress and want 
know the use of the faith which never fails, and 
who by faith understand that God directs their 

The shield points to battle and to the struggle 
against everything that threatens to destroy us. 
God is our shield against contagious disease, 
against the forces of nature, and against death by 


accident. But this does not mean that we are to 
sit down passively that God may cover us. The 
imagery of the shield allows no such interpreta- 
tion. On the contrary, that God is a shield against 
disease and pestilence, against flood and fire, 
means that with the utmost of our powers we 
must apply every means of resistance which God 
has placed at our command; that in prayer we 
steel our powers to act, and that by faith we have 
God for our shield, which we must turn against 
our assailants. 

This applies equally to the interests of the soul. 
Weak interpretation does not cover the case. It 
will not do to say that we must avoid sin. No, 
we must strive against it. We must understand 
that in sin a hostile power attacks us; that the 
thinking, planning spirit of Satan lurks behind 
that power; that unbeknown to us it forces itself 
upon us and aims to kill the soul ; and that, unless 
we have a shield to cover us, and skill to use it 
dexteriously, it will surely overpower us. God is 
surely more our shield in the struggle for the sal- 
vation of the soul than of the body. But it means 
that we ourselves must do battle in behalf of the 
soul; that we ourselves must catch the eye of the 
assailant; that we must raise the sword against 
him, and lift up the shield to cover the soul. That 
God is our shield in this spiritual battle means 
that we reach out our hand after God, that we 
employ every spiritual means of resistance at our 
command, and that in doing so we discover that 
God is the shield which by faith we hold up 
against Satan. 

We speak of an escutcheon, by which we mean 


a shield on which the man who owns it has graved 
his blazon. This is a sign of personal recog- 
nition for those who know him, and it 
announces who hides behind it. Thus the shield 
expresses the person and becomes something by 
itself. It becomes a personification. Great or 
small powers of resistance are recognized by the 
shield. And in this way God is the shield of those 
who put their trust in Him. No human pride has 
imaged on this shield a lion — or a bull's head. But 
in deep humility, in trustful meekness, in looking 
away from self and in confidence in his heavenly 
Father the man of faith puts on this shield noth- 
ing but the name of Jehovah. The Lord is my 
shield : this is holding the name of the Lord before 
the forces of nature and the powers of Satan. It 
is showing the world, in characters of flame, that 
we belong to the armies of the living God. That 
we do not fight alone by ourselves, but that the 
Hero, who leads us, is the anointed of the Lord. 
And thereby we proclaim that the highest power 
of every human soul is ours, even the invincible 
power of faith. 

Thus we see that this Scriptural imagery is 
deeply significant. We already saw it in the con- 
fession, that the Lord is the Sun of our life. But 
here we see that God is our shield and our 
buckler in the fight for the saving of our life. We 
also learn that it does not mean anything to say: 
God is my shield. But that the great thing is that 
io every time of need and in every hour of battle 
this holy shield is not left hanging on the wall, 
but that it is put to use by a living, zealous and 
an heroic faith. 



Nothing is quite so much of an obstacle in the 
way of communion with God as the saying of 
Jesus to the Samaritan woman at Sychar: "God 
is a Spirit, and they that worship him must 
worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). 
Our representations and thoughts begin with what 
we see and hear, smell and taste, but we have no 
hold on things that can not be seen and handled. 
If in spite of this we want to talk of them and 
imagine what they are like, we can but compare 
things unseen with things seen. We know 
that we have a soul, but no one has ever seen it. 
The question where in our person the soul dwells 
can only approximately be answered. Such is the 
case with the spirit-world and the souls of the 
departed. Good angels and bad alike are without 
a body. They have neither form nor appearance 
by which they can be observed. Whether _an 
angel needs space, no one knows. Whether in illness 
our sick-chamber can hold a thousand angels or 
not, no one can tell. The difficulty only lifts itself 
when they receive forms in which to appear to us. 
As pure spirits, angels are not discerned. The same 
applies to those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 
The dead whose bodies are in the grave continue 
in a purely spiritual state, until the coming of the 
Lord. Meanwhile we can form no idea regarding 
them. The same difficulty presents itself when we 
try to lift up our heart 'to God. God does not 
reveal himself to us in a visible form. He is . 
invisible because He is Spirit and the Father of 


spirits. Along the way of ordinary knowledge and 
discovery we can not find God. Contact of soul 
with God takes place in a spiritual manner. It 
takes place of itself in Immanuel. 

When in foreign parts we unexpectedly hear our 
own language spoken we feel at home at once. 
This is because we feel that this language is com- 
mon property between us and our fellow country- 
men. In it we live. By it they come closer to us 
than others who only speak a foreign tongue. This 
is still more strongly felt with regard to animals. 
Highly-organized animals come very close to man. 
There often is a remarkable understanding 
between a shepherd or hunter and his dog, or 
between a rider and his horse. But close as this 
approach may be, an altogether different and far 
richer world opens itself to us when we meet a 
fellow man. He is flesh of our flesh, bone of our 
bone, with a soul like our own. And this creates 
fellowship which is far more intimate and tender, 
especially when the people we meet are of like 
tastes and aims of life with ours. There are 
classes, social distinctions and other divisions in 
the world of man. And if anyone would become 
more closely acquainted with us and invite mutual 
confidence, he should be one of our class and be 
embarked, as it were, on the sea of life in the 
same boat with us. And this is the meaning of 

In the Babe of Bethlehem God draws near to 
us in our nature, in order presently in our lan- 
guage, through the medium of our world of 
thought and with the aid of our representations 
to make his presence felt in the heart, in accord- 

ance with the perceptions of which it is capable. 
He draws near to us in our nature, so that in 
order to find God we do not need to go out from 
our nature and enter upon a purely spiritual exist- 
ence. Desirous to bless us, God from his side 
makes the transition which he spares us. We do 
not go to him, but he comes to us. We need 
not raise ourselves up to him, but he comes down 
to us that afterwards he may draw us up to him- 
self. He enters into our nature. He assumes it 
and cradles in the Bethlehem manger with an 
existence which human nature brings with it. 
Here the distance between God and us is removed. 
The tension and effort to understand it purely 
spiritually is spared us. What we perceive is 
human nature. What presently we hear is human 
speech. What we observe are utterances of human 
life. An unknown brightness plays and glistens 
through it all and behind it all, a mysterious 
higher something, a something altogether holy. 
But now it does not repel, but it attracts and 
charms because it approaches us in our own 
human nature. The human nature of Immanuel 
is not merely a screen to temper dazzling glories, 
but the means and instrument to bring Divine life 
unaffectedly and intimately near to the heart. It 
is as though human nature in us unites itself with 
human nature in Jesus in order to bring God into 
immediate contact with the soul. 

We do not say that this was necessary by 
itself. The fact of our creation after the Divine 
Image seemed to give us every requisite for fellow- 
ship with God. But we must ever remember that 
sin ruined this Image. In this weakened and 

ruined estate nothing short of holy grace could 
fill the gap. This was done in Immanuei, in the 
coming of God to us in the garb of human nature. 
Idolatry proclaimed the need of this when it 
imaged the Lord of heaven and earth after the 
likeness of a man. Hence Christianity alone can 
undo idolatry and paganism, since in Immanuei it 
presents the true Image of God anew. The result 
itself has sealed this. In Christ alone pure fellow- 
ship with the living God has been realized and 
gloriously celebrated in Psalm and hymnody. 
Apart from Immanuei we have philosophy about 
God, denial of God, or at most idolatry and cold 
Deism. In and through Immanuei alone there is 
life in God and with God, full of warmth, eleva- 
tion and inspiration. In Immanuei God draws 
near to us in our own nature and through 
Immanuei the soul mounts from this nature 
spiritually up to the Father of spirits. 

In Immanuei we have the way, but not the 
goal. It begins with Jesus, but in the end the 
Father himself makes tabernacle with us and the 
day breaks of which Jesus said: "In that day I 
say not unto you that I will pray the Father for 
you, for the Father himself loveth you." Then 
also the abundant activity of the Holy Ghost will 
unfold itself, even of the Comforter who could 
not come until after Jesus had been glorified. 
Let there not be anything artificial therefore or 
conventional in our seeking after God. No wilful, 
premeditated going out after Jesus to have fel- 
lowship with God. Immanuei brings us reconcilia- 
tion, so that we dare to draw near again. He 
brings the Divine in human nature so that we can 
draw near again. We owe him the Word, the 

world of thoughts and representations, the blessed 
results of his work that are showered down upon 
us, and the supply of powers of the Kingdom 
which inwardly renew us. But underneath it all, 
personal contact, real fellowship with God, is 
always a hidden, spiritual motion, so that inwardly 
we hear his voice and we can say with Job: 
"Now mine eye seeth thee." This is fellowship 
with God as man with man. As Jacob at Peniel. 



In moments of intense joy the human face is 
radiant. When the soul is depressed, the face is 
sad, the eye is dark and it seems that instead of 
showing itself in the face and speaking through it, 
the soul has turned it into a mask behind which 
to hide itself. We see a connection therefore 
between joy and bright colors; between sorrow 
and half-tints, until mourning expresses itself in 

The same antithesis meets us when we enter 
the world of spirits. Satan is pictured in somber 
colors, while good angels are always seen as 
kindly appearances of light. In the house of many 
mansions there is everlasting light ; for Satan there 
is outer darkness. The righteous shall shine as 
the sun in the firmament, clothed in garments of 
light. On Patmos Christ appears to John in blind- 
ing glory. 

This beautiful thought of light as the expres- 
sion of things that are pure and true and glorious, 
was bound to present itself in the world of 


worship by application to God's majesty. God is 
light. In Him is no darkness at all. He dwells 
in light unapproachable, and Father of lights is 
his name. After the creation, therefore, when 
"darkness was upon the face of the deep," God 
could not appear in the created world without 
first sending forth the command: ''Let there be 
light," and then there was light. The majesty of 
God revealed itself in a column of fire at the Red 
Sea. i.nd in a cloud of light in Solomon's Temple. 
When Moses was to be marked in a special w^ay 
as the Lord's ambassador, his face shone with 
blinding splendor. The Savior showed himself on 
Tabor m light of glistening brightness. And in 
the descriptions of the New Jerusalem the climax 
of its splendor is that there shall be no more sun 
nor moon there, for that by his benign presence 
God himself shall lighten the world of glory. 

Sacred art has long expressed this by represent- 
ing the head of Christ and of saints surrounded 
by an halo and their form in glistening robes. We 
do not treat this here from its material side. It 
is well known that certain people, who are strongly 
impregnated with magnetism, are able to make 
electric rays of light go out from their finger tips. 
We need not doubt that radiancy of face in 
moments of great joy is connected with natural 
operations. But the source of this facial light is 
not in the magnetic current, but in the spirit, in 
the soul, and all the rest is used merely as vehicle 
and means of direction. 

He who watches a child, which never hides any- 
thing, an enthusiastic child with rosy cheeks, in 
such moments of great gladness, observes in the 
outward play of countenance that the eyes dilate 

and increase in brightness; that the facial color 
heightens so that it shines through and radiates, 
and that especially by great mobility the soul 
reflects itself in the face. This reflection in part 
is even permanent. Alongside of the noble coun- 
tenance of self-sacrificing piety, there is the 
brutish, dull, expressionless face of the sensualist. 
In the case of young, delicate persons especially, 
who have the fire of youth in their eye and whose 
complexion is transparent, the expression of the 
nobility of soul in the face is sometimes unsur- 
passably sympathetic in its colorings. 

Thus the sacred language which speaks of "walk- 
ing in the light of God's countenance" (Ps. 89:15), 
is naturally explained by life itself. With God 
everything material falls away. But the rich, full 
expression of the spiritual and the essential 
remains. God can not step outside of his hiding 
except as everything that reveals itself is majesty, 
radiancy, animation and glor}'. That this may 
also be a revelation in anger, is self-evident. But 
this we let pass. We deal with the fact that there 
is a soul which seeks after God, and finds God, 
and whi<;h, happy in this finding, looks into his 
holy face and drinks in everything it reads there. 
This brings but one experience, which is that no 
darkness proceeds from God but only light, soft, 
undulating, refreshing light in which the flower- 
bud of the heart unfolds itself. 

This is the first effect. Gloomy people may be 
pious, but they do not know the daily tryst with 
God. They do not see God in the light of his 
countenance, and do not walk in it. Even when 
they who in other ways are brave and heroic get 
dark lines in their face, it only shows that they 


are out of the light of God's countenance and are 
striving to regain it. Even among us a kind face, 
beaming with sympathy, is irresistable and draws 
out the light from the face of others, which 
expresses itself first of all in a generous smile. 

But this is much stronger with the Lord. We 
can not look at God in the light of his coun- 
tenance without having the gloom of our faces 
give place to higher relaxation. For in the light 
of God's countenance we know Him. When it 
shines out, his spirit draws near to make us see, 
observe and feel what God is to us. Not in a doc- 
trinal way, not in a point of creed, but in utter- 
ances of the spirit of unnamable grace and mercy, 
of overwhelming love and tenderness, and of 
Divine compassion, which enters every wound of 
the soul at once and anoints it with holy balm. 

The light of God's countenance shining on us 
compasses us about and closes us in. It lifts us 
up into a higher sphere of light. And as on the 
wings of it we feel ourselves carried by the care, 
the providence and almighty power of God. In 
the light of God's countenance everything, our 
whole life included, becomes transparent to us, 
and through every Golgotha we see the glory that 
looms up from it. The light of God's countenance 
shines through us and leaves nothing covered in 
us of the sins that are covered by grace. This 
can not be otherwise, for the moment we are 
aware that the light of God's face shines through 
our person, all hiding of sin is futile. Differently 
than X-rays, it shines through our whole heart 
and life, including our past. Nothing is spared. 
It is an all-penetrating light which nothing can 


Thus the hght of God's countenance ought to 
frighten us, and yet — it does not. And it can not 
do this, because it lays bare to us the fulness of 
grace which is alive in the Father-heart of God. 
When anyone does not believe in the entire for- 
giveness of sm, God hides his face from him. 
Only when faith in the atonement operates in full 
does the light of the Divine countenance shine 
upon, compass and penetrate us. 

And then comes the "walking in that light." 
Walking here implies that not only occasionally 
we catch a beam of the light of the Divine coun- 
tenance, but that it has become permanent for us. 
That is, it is there for our good, even when we 
do not think of it, and that we regain it every 
time our soul longs for it. And so we continue 
to walk the pathway of our life, from day to day, 
in the light of the Divine countenance. No longer 
inspired by our own phantasies, no more spurred 
on by the ideals of the world, which have shown 
themselves deceptive, and no longer with a dark 
heaven above us, in which at most a single star 
still glitters, but we go on by the light which is 
above the light of the sun and by the outshining 
of ever fuller grace in the light of the countenance 
of God. 



The searchlight, projected from the tower across 
city and plain, is a striking image of the flashing 
of the All-seeing Eye. A bundle of white, soft, 
clear light darts out into the darkness, with the 
velocity of the twinkling of an eye, from a single 


point as its source. 5i)reads itself over an ever- 
widening surface across the connriy below, and at 
once every object in the track of that light comes 
out in clear sight. Nothing remains hidden. And 
so the heart- and soul-searching light from the All- 
seeing Eye above shines forth into the deepest 
folds of the conscience. 

But the Psalmist does not mean this seeking and 
searching when he prays. "Seek, Lord, thy 
Ser^'-ant." The figure which the Scripture here 
uses is that of the shepherd, wandering among the 
hills and seeking the lamb that strayed from the 
flock and is lost. Thus the Psalmist himself 
explains it (119:176): "I have gone astray like a 
lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget 
thy commandments." And this figure from the 
country-life stands much higher than that which 
is bon-owed from the searchlight. Here love is 
the appreciation of having again what was lost, 
the impotence to let go what belongs to the flock, 
and the motive of the search, or rather the stim- 
ulating, impelling passion of the heart. 

And here is reciprocity. The lost sheep bleats 
helplessly for the shepherd, and the shepherd 
scans the mountain path to find it. The lost sheep 
wants to be found and the shepherd wants to find 
it. Its bleating is a call : "Seek me, shepherd," 
and by bleating it co-operates in the finding. 
Such is the Psalmist's cry: "Seek thy Servant;" 
a prayer that he might be found, which is at the 
same time an utterance of the soul that makes the 
finding possible. 

No child of the world prays this prayer, neither 
the man who, far distant from God. is engrossed 
in the pursuit of wealth, nor he who worships him- 

self in his heart as his own idol. There is no ref- 
erence here to the unconverted. He who here 
prays knows that he has become God's servant, 
that he has entered into the service of the 
Almighty; that he has been with God, and that 
he has strayed away from him. This is clearly 
expressed in the image of the shepherd with the 
lamb. That which has wandered away from the 
flock has been with it. That which calls for the 
shepherd has known him. ''Seek thy servant," 
is the direct prayer of the child of God who has 
known his Heavenly Father in his love, and who 
now for want of this love feels himself deserted 
and sick at heart and longs again for the tender 
enjoyment which he has tasted in the presence of 
his God. 

Do not misunderstand therefore the real mean- 
ing of this cry of distress. It is not a call for 
conversion, but for return. No unconverted soul 
can do this. He who so calls fell away from a 
love that had once been found and with all the 
tender yearnings of that lost love he wants it 

This is of frequent occurrence. A man had 
entered in through the narrow gate. He saw his 
path sown with higher light. The feeling of the 
new life filled his heart. Powers of the Kingdom 
coursed through the arteries of the soul. He 
understood what he lived for. The cup of recon- 
ciliation was handed him full to the brim. He 
rejoiced in his Savior. And in a most blessed way 
the holy intimate life of fellowship with God in 
Christ - unfolded itself within. But this did not 
continue. Fog rose across the inner sky. From 
following the right way it came to wandering, and 


from wandering to wandering away. And then 
everything became uncertain, restless and comfort- 
less. Influences from beneath repressed holy influ- 
ences from above. God seemed far removed from 
him. The tie of faith in Christ which was once 
so firmly strung, was weak. It was dark for the 
soul and in this darkness the heart began to feel 
lonely and forsaken, till it could endure it no 
longer and longed after God again and tried to 
seek him back. 

But seeking was not followed by finding. No 
signs marked off the path. Going this way and 
now that the soul remained equally far removed 
from God, or wandered at length still farther away 
from him. When once we have been enriched 
with the love of God it is not given us to play 
with it; first to win it, then to let it go, and then 
to take it back again at pleasure. He who has 
known the Lord and afterward has forsaken him 
does not of himself find him again. And so we 
learn to know our lack of saving power. We can 
not save ourselves. But we retain the deep con- 
sciousness that we can not do without God; that 
the want of his love creates an aching void in 
the heart, until finally it becomes a matter of con- 
viction: I can not seek God back, but God can 
seek me again. And then follows the anxious 
bleating of the wandering sheep. A call from the 
depth of the soul upon God whom he has lost, the 
prayer, the supplication: O God, seek thy 

This longing desire to find God back takes a 
wonderful hold sometimes upon the human heart. 
There are those whom God allowed, while they 
were yet children, and thus but partly known to 


themselves, to feel his lov^e; that He regenerated 
them, but that conscious faith did not reach the 
fuller knowledge of his name. This led to the 
unusual condition that God worked inwardly with 
his power, but that in spite of it doubt filled the 
heart and mind. We have all known certain peo- 
ple who were not able to believe, but whose noble 
qualities of mind and heart were both interesting 
and refreshing. They were frequently far more 
attractive than many confessed believers. They 
were flowers in the bud, which could not come to 
bloom, but even then the half-opened bud 
exhaled sweet fragrance. Inwardly they were con- 
sumed with longing after God, but they did not 
understand their own desires. They did not know 
that they already belonged to God, though at 
times they were conscious of nameless drawings 
after him. And they do not pray, but others who 
can, pray for them: Lord, seek this thy servant, 
seek this thine handmaid. For every utterance 
of their lives proves that they are thy servants. 
They are children of the family of faith. Onl\' 
they have not as yet discovered their Father. 
And as long as this is not a prayer from the lips 
alone, but from the heart, it is heard both in 
behalf of ourselves and of those the burden of 
whose salvation the Lord has laid upon us. For 
then God seeks them, and finds them, and gives 
himself to be found of them. 

How this takes place no one can tell. To this 
end God uses at one time a man's natural lot in 
life; at another time a written thought which he 
drives home, or some striking word which he 
makes us hear. To this end he works by means 
of affliction that heavily burden, the heart; by 

means of hard and perilous times, which try us to 
the utmost; by contact with different people who 
are met by the way; by impressions of angels 
that hover about us at his command, and by his 
secret workings in the heart. It is an embroider- 
ing which God works upon the soul in all sorts 
of colors and forms. But however different and 
inscrutable these operations maj- be, the outcome 
i.s assured. God seeks us. He finds us. And at 
length we discover that we have been found. For 
then God's presence in the heart is vitally enjoyed 

In the seeking of our God let us not hinder the 
finding. Not merely doubt, but even the inclin- 
ation to prefer doubt to assurance is sin against 
the love of God. When the Lord seeks you and 
laj's his hand upon your shoulder, do not draw 
back. Kneel at his feet. Offer thanks to him 
and worship. 



It is no longer doubted that atmospheric con- 
ditions vitally affect health. Fresh air builds up 
and invigorates. They who breathe pure moun- 
tain air have iron in the blood, while they who 
live in low and marshy regions breathe air that 
is impregnated with poisons from the swamps, so 
that their strength is sapped and their vital 
forces are weakened. It can not be otherwise. 
With every breath we take in air with everything 
it contains, and through countless pores in the skin 
we absorb atmospheric elements which open the 
way to influences that affect the constitution. The 
pale and the anaemic are constantly advised there- 
no ^ 

fore to seek fresh air and a healthy atmosphere. 
In hot and sultry summer days we pant for the 
relief which evening brings. And they who are 
in easy reach of the shore revel in the cool 
invigorating air of the sea. 

And since we are two-sided, that is to say, since 
we consist of body and soul, the atmospheric influ- 
ence upon our physical health finds a counterpart 
in the effects of the moral character of our sur- 
roundings upon our moral development. This, 
too, is above question. Sad and joyous events 
continually show that low moral standards in life 
injure character, while moral and healthy environ- 
ments quicken our own moral sense. In education 
the light and shadow sides are largely dominated 
by this atmospheric influence. The secret of 
mother influence upon the early formation of 
character is largely due to the fact that childhood 
days are almost entirely spent in her constant 
presence. The moral life also has laws of its own. 
It expresses itself in acts and in events. It re- 
flects itself in writings and in conversations. But 
apart from all this, moral life is still something 
else. It is even a sort of moral skj'-, a moral at- 
mosphere which is either healthy and bracing, 
poisonous and hurtful or neutral and weakening. 
However strong our character may be, the in- 
fluences of this moral atmosphere work out our 
spiritual benefit or bane. 

Nor is this all. Not only does the air which we 
breathe affect our bodily health, and not only does 
our moral environment shape our moral life, but 
a personal atmosphere also affects us strongly. 
Close fellowship with world-minded people clo-^e 
fellowship with people who are worldly-mmded and 

oi little elevation of character degrades us. Daily 
intercourse with people of nobler disposition, of 
more seriousness of thought, and of holier aims in 
life, spin- us on to better things ourselves. A good 
man is like a good genius to us. Pure environ- 
ments hold us back from things that pull us down. 
We notice this particularly in the case of men of 
sterling qualities and women of dominant spirits. 
They exert a power of attraction upon each other 
which tends to make them alike. One is stronger 
than the other, and the stronger is bound to mould 
the weaker into likeness with himself. Imitation 
is a fundamental trait of human nature and grad- 
ually and involuntarily the weaker inclines to do 
and to be like the stronger, which extends some- 
times even to the inflection of the voice and to 
the manner of conversation. And this personal 
influence leads of itself to religious influence, 
which is entirely apart from the moral. At heart 
all religion is personal. Moses put his stamp upon 
all Israel. The Gospel has been carried into the 
world by the Apostles. Augustin inspired the 
Middle Ages. Luther and Calvin are spiritual 
fathers of the Reformation. And to this day in 
every community, large or small, where a strongly 
inspired, religious life dominates, the persons can 
be pointed out from whom this healthy, bracing 
atmosphere has emanated. Fire in the heart of 
one strikes fire in the heart of the other. A devout 
Christian life wins the souls of its associates for 

Now we reach the highest round of the ladder, 
of which as a rule too little account is taken. We 
may breathe mountain or sea air. We may drink 
in the moral atmosphere of our environment. We 


may partake of the inspiration that goes forth 
from a finely-strung nature among our fellow men. 
But the highest of all, the influence of which for 
real strengthening of heart far exceeds all others, 
is the secret walk with God. Paul prays for the 
Ephesians (3:16) that they might be strengthened 
with might by his Spirit in the inner man. This is 
the highest and holiest atmosphere that can and 
ought to inwork on us. Imagine that our Lord 
were still on earth and that every day for a month 
we could be with Him, we would breathe an 
atmosphere of exalted and holy living, which in 
an altogether unequalled way, would strengthen us 
with might in the inner man. It was the privilege 
of the Apostles, exceeding every other, to spend 
three years in this holy atmosphere, and look, with 
what strength in the inner man they went out 
into the world. This is impossible now. Jesus is 
no more known after the flesh. But through him 
we have access to the Father, and through him 
we can have daily, personal, secret fellowship with 

If we think that everything ends with the brief 
moment of prayer, we remain but a short time in 
this holy atmosphere. Average prayer, as a rule, 
does not cover more than half an hour out of 
every twenty-four. This is not the way the Scrip- 
ture takes it. David sang: "I will dwell in the 
house of the Lord for ever," (Ps. 23:6). Both 
before and since this royal harper the saints who 
have sought and found and known and enjoyed 
the secret walk with God have always understood 
that it means repeated thought of God, constant 
lifting up of soul to him, considering all things 
with an eye to him who loves us, ever dwelling 


near unto him, continual consciousness of his 
holy, encouraging and inspiring presence, personal 
realization of God's nearness on every side, with 
all of life immersed, as it were, in the glory that 
shines out from the Divine Being, and feeling in 
the heart the throbbings of the Father-heart of 
God. Churches that are so conditioned are alive. 
They may be pure in doctrine but without this 
they are dead. Preachers who bring this to their 
congregations are embassadors of God. They who 
have no eye for this because the heart does not 
go out after it, are tinkling cymbals. 

When ''to be near unto God" is our joy and our 
song; when we dwell in the house of the Lord, 
and the secret walk with God is daily our delight, 
we experience the mighty, strengthening influence 
of the holy atmosphere above, which angels 
breathe and from which departed saints drink in 
the never-fading freshness of their soul. Then the 
powers of the Kingdom flow into the inner man. 
Heavenly ozone ministers to the soul. Spiritual 
power restrains what is unholy and impure in us. 
Draughts from the Fountain of Life make the 
breast swell with fresh vigor and vitalit}'. Even 
as in the Holy Ghost God himself touches us, and 
inspires us to render nobler exhibits of power. 

The whole social fabric of daily life would won- 
derfully change if every soul could breathe this 
holy atmosphere. Alas, for sin. When the 
anaemic is advised to try mountain or sea air he 
at once craves the means to do it. But when it 
is said, "Get away from your environments, seek 
the company of those of higher moral worth," 
someone may be moved, but the larger numbers 
continue their pleasure in their own evil ways. 


And when the matter is pressed, and it is said, 
"Cultivate the secret walk with God and drink in 
the atmosphere of the life above," no one responds, 
except as God draws him. And if we are privil- 
eged to know this secret fellowship, it but shows 
what excellent grace has been bestowed upon us. 
Let us therefore with St, Paul bow the knees unto 
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that this 
glorious privilege maj^ be not taken from us, but 
that from this secret walk abounding might may 
continuall}' be granted to strengthen us in the 
inner man. 



No thought lifts us more securely'' above the 
power of material interests and above the tempta- 
tion of the appetites than the confession, "God 
is a Spirit;" from which of itself the second flows, 
that he who worships Him can not and must not 
do so except in spirit and in truth. This excludes 
from God and from the worship of his name 
everything that is material, sensual or what is 
bound to form. God is a Spirit. This liberat-es 
the soul from every chain that might bind or 
oppress it contrary to its nature; always on 
condition, of course, that God, who is Spirit, is 
worshipped in spirit and in truth with all the 
love of the heart. That God is Spirit brings all 
idolatry to naught, ail creature-worship, and dis- 
misses every sensual horror which idolatry brought 
with it and which hastened the downfall of the 
nations of antiquity. Not to analyze the riches 


of this all-dominating thought too closely, the fact 
that God is Spirit lifts human life above the whole 
visible world and exalts the spirit within us to 
the high spheres of the invisible world where God 
dwells in light unapproachable. For if God is 
Spirit, he is altogether independent of this visible 
creation. He was, before the mountains were 
brought forth. There was an eternity when noth- 
ing material was as yet created; so that in depen- 
dent relations all visible things occupy a secondary 
place ; physical death does not end all ; existence 
can be prolonged, though for a while we are only 
spirit ; and we can revel now in the supreme riches 
of the thought that if needs be we can despise the 
whole world and yet occupy high spiritual vantage 
ground and be spiritually rich in God. 

But however strong and superlatively rich the 
confession is that God is Spirit, it, too, has been 
corrupted by sin. We see this most clearly when 
we think of Satan and the world of demons. Some 
people who deem themselves civilized and highly 
cultivated may hold Satan and his demons as 
mere fabrications of weak minds. They who 
believe, correctly hold that with respect to this 
matter also Jesus knew more than they who pre- 
tend to be enlightened. In the '"Our Father" he 
taught us to pray: "Deliver us from the evil 
One," and he wove the good rule into it when he 
furthermore made us pray: "Thy will be done 
on earth as it is in iieaven." 'Tn heaven" must 
mean: by thy angels. And angels are pure spirits 
without bodies. If Satan was not evil by creation, 
which can not be otherwise, if originally he was 
a good and a brilliant creature of God, who felt 
himself at home in the world of angels, it must 


be confessed that he, too, is a spirit and that his 
demons are spirits. This does not make sin purely 
spiritual, neither does it exclude sin from the 
world of matter. But it means that all sin, mclud- 
ing voluptuousness and drunkenness, originates in 
the spirit, and that the Psalmist was correct when 
he prayed: Keep back thy servant also from pre- 
sumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over 
me ; then shall I be upright and I shall be innocent 
from the great transgression (19:13). 

Nothing offends more greatly therefore than 
that in the social world immorality is taken to 
consist exclusively - of intemperance, debauch or 
A'oluptuousness, and that its attendants of scorn, 
bitterness, anger and revenge are seemingly no 
blots on the good name of celebrated people 
Along this line the glorious confession that God 
is Spirit is abandoned to pantheism, while 
presumptuous pride leads at length to such high 
esteem of self as to make one dream that he him- 
self is God. This has given rise to the monstrous 
idea, even among devout souls, that with the "new 
man in the spirit" all responsibility can be dis- 
owned for sins of sensuality which "the old man" 
has committed. And this in true is entirely the 
same error as that which is revived again in the 
school of Maeterlinck that the pure soul within 
is not stained by sensual misdeeds of the body. 

Holy Scripture subverts all this by impressing 
upon the soul that God is Spirit and that all the 
workings of God are the personal doings of One 
who is everywhere present with us. God is a Spirit, 
upon the soul that God is Spirit, and that all the 
pervading the whole creation; not a vague work- 
ing, elusive and inapprehensible. No, thrice no. 

He is a God who is our Heavenl}- Father, who 
speaks to us, who hears our prayers, in whose 
breast throbs a heart full of Divine compassion. 
He IS a personal God, who companies with us as 
a friend, who turns in with us for the night, and 
who allows us to dwell in his holy tabernacle. 
The works of God are constantly described there- 
fore as personal acts, in connection with which 
references abound to the face of God, to the 
mouth of the Lord, to the ear which he inclines 
toward us, to the footsteps of the Holy One, to 
the hand which is over us in blessing, and to the 
arm of strength with which the Lord breaks all 
forms of opposition. All this is in part personi- 
fication, by which what is found in man is applied 
to God. But there is more to it than this. He 
that planted the ear, the Psalmist asks: Shall he 
not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not 
see? (94:9). The eye and the ear, the hand and 
the arm are but bodily manifestations of our 
inward powers, which God has so made, because 
he created us after his image. When we say that 
God hears, sees, speaks, blesses and fights, it is 
not said so, metaphorically, after the manner of 
men, but by it is asserted that all this is original 
in God and that it only appears in us after his 
image. When the Scripture speaks of an arm of 
the Lord, it means that there is not merely a 
vague outflowing of power from God, but that 
God governs his indwelling and outgoing power, 
that he directs it to definite ends, that he uses 
or leaves it unused according to his good pleasure, 
and that when God employs his power to protect 
or to oppose us, it is equally much, and in a 
still higher sense, a personal act, as when we lift 

up our arm to protect a child or to ward off an 

When the prophet Isaiah asks (53:1): To 
whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? and the 
question in turn is put to you : Is the arm of the 
Lord revealed to you? it does not mean in a 
vague general way whether you believe that there 
is a God, and that there is a power of God, and 
whether you believe that this power is operative. 
But rather whether in your position and in your 
experience in life 3^ou have discovered that 
Almighty God has personal dealings with you, that 
as God he has turned himself in person to your 
person, and has come in contact with you as a 
man comes in contact with his friend or with his 
assailant, and whether in this strictly personal rela- 
tion you have discerned the arm of the Lord lift- 
ing itself up to cover and protect you, or turning 
itself against you to assail and cast you down. 

This is what most lives lack, even among those 
that confess Christ. They lack what is recorded 
of Moses: that he endured as seeing him who is 
Invisible. They do not understand what is told 
of Jacob, that he wrestled with God as with a man. 
They have vague impressions that there are certain 
influences, operations and powers abroad, but they 
do not see the Holy One, they have no dealings 
with God as with a Father who comes to his child, 
looks it in the face with his eyes, listens to it 
with his ears, puts his hand on it and covers it 
with the arm of his power. The}' praj' to God 
and praise him, but they do not meet him in the 
way. They do not feel his presence with them by 
night. They do not feel his holy breath upon 
their cheek. And they do not see the "arm of 


strength" which is all their assurance and salva- 
tion. It can not be insisted upon therefore with 
sufficient urgency that Bible reading be made a 
more serious business; that we wean ourselves 
from the false tendency to take everything in 
Scripture metaphoricall3^ God's word is a lamp 
before our feet and a light upon our path, because 
it alone engraves these two things upon the heart: 
that God is Spirit, and that, as Our Father who is 
in heaven, this God meets us in the way and deals 
with us as a man with his neighbor; invisible and 
yet seen. 



''This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, 
the only true God" (John 17:3). No human word 
can express a deeper thought or higher aim than 
this. It was not spoken by a seer to men, but by 
the Son to the Father. And it must be heard 
anew by him who would seek God, since it has 
been put on record for this purpose. 

No prayers of our Lord during his more than 
thirty years' life on earth, in Joseph's home at 
Nazareth, in mountain or desert place, by day or 
night, have been recorded in the Gospels, save a 
few sentence prayers and the cry of distress in 
Gethsemane. In John 17, however, the high- 
priestly pra3'^er of our Savior has come down to 
us in all its sublime grandeur. He who gave us 
the Scripture to guide us on our pilgrim journey 
has ordained that this prayer of Jesus to the 
Father should awake an echo in our own praying 


If all the prayers of our Savior had been pre- 
served m writing, it would have been an inex- 
haustible treasure. First, the child-like prayers of 
his early life, which already at the age of twelve 
showed such Divine traits that even in its still 
undeveloped form it breathed perfection and 
apprehended it. Then the period in Jesus prayer- 
life from youth to manhood spent in retirement 
and in preparation for the great work of our sal- 
vation. Then the closing period of three years, so 
brief and quickly passed, but which is by far the 
richest, because of the storms that raged and 
which were battled through at the pains of who 
can say how many long hours spent in agonizing 

Nothing of all the riches of these prayers has 
been handed down to us save this one. "I thank 
Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
because thou hast hid these things from the wise 
and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 
Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy 
sight." And in the high-priestly prayer, this 
sacred diadem which has been handed down to ug 
unchanged and unabbreviated, we discover what 
is at heart the same thought: "This is eternal 
life, that they might know Thee, the Only True 
God." In Matth. 11 it is not the prudent and the 
wise, but babes. In John 17 it is not the world, 
but them whom Thou hast given me out of the 
world. In both instances it is the knowledge of 
God; that which has been revealed of the Holy 
and the Highest. And what is to be adored in it 
all is the Divine good pleasure. 

This is prayer: Not criticizing what is holy, 
but taking it in, drinking it in. And by the 


entrance of the Holy One into our life, not merely 
to live forever, but to have a life which in its own 
nature is eternal. 

When something stirs in a secret place and 
something proceeds therefrom, there is life. The 
pregnant mother feels life when she is aware of 
motion within, and then knows that presently 
life will be born from her. So it is with us. Wlien 
everything is still within, when no voice is heard 
from the soul, and nothing stirs in our inmost 
parts, who can know whether the soul lives? We 
may live along with the life of the world and be 
affected by it, even as the motion of the sea 
leaves no single drop at rest, but communicates 
its own restlessness to it. This, however, is not 
a life of one's own. It is no inner impulse the 
momentum of which springs from oneself. 

Moving along with the rise and fall of the 
world's life may develop warmth within, may 
enrich one intellectually, may deepen the affec- 
tions and widen experience, but it has no root of 
its own, no individual impulse and therefore it can 
not convey permanent possession. And when at 
length death removes us from this restless life of 
the world, this purely impersonal life that has 
been lived with others, is shaken off and nothing 
remains. Real personal life, on the other hand, 
springs from a Divinely implanted seed, which 
inwardly germinates and unfolds. But, for its 
proper growth, it continually asks for food after its 
own kind. If it fails of this, it languishes and 
withers. Abundance of provisions, which are not 
meet, do not help it. It can not assimilate nor 
digest them. Insofar as they enter into it they 
only pervert it. Getting food after its own kind 


only once in a while, in small measures, does not 
help it. To reach full development it must con- 
stantly be fed with food convenient for it. 

This is "eternal life" for the soul. Not only 
life hereafter, but an unfolding here of the inner 
self, according to its disposition, nature and des- 
tim-. In this process everything that poisons the 
blood of the inner life is expelled, and every need 
of it is met. And the supply for this inner feeding, 
strengthening and sanctifying is so constant, per- 
manent and essentially eternal, as to insure per- 
fect fruition. This is eternal life for the inner 
self of man created after God's image. 

According to the teaching of our Lord, the soul 
only finds this food for eternal life in the eternal 
God. The Lord is my portion, my everlasting 
good (Ps. 16:5). What can my heart desire on 
earth beside Thee? (Ps. 73:25). God is the 
highest good. In Thy light we see light. With 
Thee is the source of my life (Ps. 36:9). 

Everything comes to us from God. We owe 
him thanks for everything we have. Every good 
and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of 
lights. From him, through him, and to him are 
all things. But the end and aim is, and ever shall 
be, that God shall be all and in aU. 

It is beautiful to confess that our God is Lord 
of lords and King of kings. That he appoints, 
allows and governs all things. Far greater, how- 
ever, is the confession that God the Holy Ghost 
enters into us and dwells in us, and chooses us for 
his temple, and makes intercession in us and for 
us with groanings that are unutterable. 

In this alone the heart finds rest. Everything 
that grace bestows are but radiations of glory and 


love. The burning hearth of all love and glory 
is in God himself. Every drop of the water of 
eternal life is refreshing, but the Fountain from 
which these waters spring is the loving heart of 
the Eternal. Throughout the entire Scripture 
therefore, and throughout the whole Church, and 
in every saintly soul, the confession of passionate 
delight: It is good for me, it is my blessed lot 
"to be near unto God," may always be heard. 
Him seeks the eye. Him desires the heart. And 
only and alone when the soul has found its 
highest good in God, can the germ of the personal 
life in us revive from its withered estate, and begin 
to develop and to unfold, until from the half- 
opened bud expands the blossom of everlasting 

This can not be otherwise on account of the 
nature of the soul. We have not made it our- 
selves. The world has not determined its char- 
acter. It has not become what it is by chance. 
God alone has planned what the human soul 
should be. Hence its nature is what he appointed 
that it should be. And so it continues to be 
whether it is the soul of a Judas or the soul of a 
St. John. It can develop itself in holiness, it can 
also degenerate in sin and become corrupt. But 
whether it unfolds in glory or in corruption, both 
are what they are by virtue of the nature of the 
soul as God has planned it. Every creative plan 
has gone out from God. A plan for the stars in 
the firmament, fOr the corn in the ear. for the 
lark that sings among the branches, for the angel 
that sings the Holy, Holy, Holy, in the sanctuary 
above. But the nature, the essential character of 
the human soul, was planned and ordained of God 


to be different from the nature of everything else. 

With charming clearness the Scripture defines 
the nature of the soul in this single phrase: that 
we are created after the image of God. This 
includes everything. From this everything explains 
itself. From this it comes that the soul can never 
have its "highest good" save in Him after whose 
Image it originated. The opposite truth no less 
holds good that everything that turns the soul to 
another good than God as the highest, wounds, 
corrupts and poisons it. It is painful to see that 
the nations with their seething multitudes have no 
understanding of this. But it is more painful to 
see that even among serious-minded people many 
lay hold on everything else but God. Most pain- 
ful of all is the sight of many religious people 
who follow after everything that is good, but show 
that they have never tasted the "highest good. 

But our blessed Lord does not despair. In 
heaven he continues to intercede for his saints 
upon earth: ''Father, this is eternal life, that they 
might know Thee, the only true God." And in 
perfect accord with this is the disclosure, m con- 
stantly new-born children of the Kingdom, of the 
ardent life of the soul, which responds to this 
prayer with a devout: Amen. 



In this meditation also the main thought is the 
striking word of Jesus: This is eternal life, that 
they might know Thee, the Only true God. Its 
meaning is too profound to be fully set forth at 


one time. Therefore we come back to it now and 
will presently do so again. 

We have tried to explain what eternal life is. 
We did not undertake to reduce it to a single 
definition, neither have we subjected the idea to 
close analysis. All we essayed to do was, to make 
the life to be perceived in life itself, and to 
explain that eternal life means more than mere 
life without end. Mere endless life would drive 
us to despair; eternal life, which is altogether dif- 
ferent, inspires and rejuvinates. 

And now to the point. It does not say that he 
who knows the Father shall have eternal life. It 
does not say: If you are religious and earnestly 
seek to know God, your reward after death will 
be eternal life. On the contrary it declares that 
to know God is itself eternal life. The difference 
is seen at once to be heavenwide. To interpret 
eternal life as a reward for pains taken to know 
God is superficial, mechanical and affected. The 
thought that eternal life is itself the knowledge of 
God is unfathomably deep. Eternal life as the 
reward for knowledge is a part of school discipline. 
First much study, much memorizing, much taking 
notes of dictations, and then promotion from a 
passing existence into an endless one. This makes 
it all a sort of higher life-insurance, or turns it into 
a course of mental gymnastics, into the study of 
a work on dogmatics which is subtly composed, 
every sentence of which is carefully constructed, 
and which presents in an orderly way what in the 
course of centuries has been systematized regard- 
mg the Being, Work, Person and Attributes of the 
Infinite. And when at length everything has 
become dry as dust to the eye of the soul, and 


when there is no more fragrance of Hfe percept- 
ible anywhere, the reward of this barren, dead 
knowledge is eternal life. All this falls away when 
the saying of Jesus is taken as it reads: The 
knowledge of God is itself eternal life. He who 
has it, has already, here and now. eternal life. He 
who dies without having found it here, will never 
find it in the hereafter. No eternal morning will 
dawn on him. And this interpretation, which 
seems to us the only permissible one, affects us 
like a power that pierces the conscience with the 
question: Have you this knowledge? And it 
urges us, now, before it is too late, to seek it 
with all our might, until in thrilling ecstacy of soul 
we feel the swell of the undulation of this eternal 

And now comes Philip with the naive request: 
Lord, show us the Father (John 14:8). This was 
childlike in its simplicity, but he chose the right 
starting point from which to advance. He who 
asks like this shows that he means it. and that he 
is in earnest about it. He wants to know God, It 
shows that he does not care for book-knowledge, 
but for life-knowledge of God, And what is more 
natural than that he begins by asking: Show me 
the Father. 

One of the defects of the religious life, as it has 
come down to us from the Reformation, is that in 
distinction from Rome it has been developed too 
dogmatically. This could not be otherwise. Doc- 
trine can not be sacrificed. But when it appears 
too onesidedly in the foreground, there is some- 
thing wrong. The same difference presents itself 
between the Gospels and the Epistles: the latter 


are in part controversial. In the Gospel the dis- 
tinction occurs between the sermon on the Mount 
and Jesus' controversy with the scribes. The first 
period of the Reformation was better than the 
later one. What rapture marks the language of 
the Confession and the Office of Holy Communion 
in distinction from the barrenness of later formu- 
laries. First there are bounding floods of life, and 
then we find drained river-beds with only some 
weak rill coursing through the sand. We will 
never know how greatly this has impoverished the 

But Philip knows nothing about these contrasts 
and formularies. He faces the matter with child- 
like simplicity. To him God is really the Eternal 
Being. He longs for God. He seeks after him. 
The prayer of his heart is that he might see God. 
Hence the request: Show us the Father. When 
reports go the rounds about a person and some- 
one asks: Do you know him? nothing is more 
natural, when you do not know him, than to say: 
I have not even seen him. For seeing is of 
first importance. An impression received through 
sight speaks for itself. Both in Old and New Tes- 
taments the desire to see God appears everywhere 
in the foreground. With Moses when he prayed: 
Show me thy glory, and Jehovah replied: No 
man shall see my face and live (Exod. 33:18, 20). 
And in I Cor. 13:12 St. Paul declares: But we all, 
with open face beholding as in a glass the glory 
of the Lord, are changed into the same image 
from glory to glory. In words like these the life 
of the Scripture beats and throbs. There is no 
dry as dust there. Everything pulsates with 


reality. All interests center in God, in the living 
God, to see him, to behold him, and ardently to 
rejoice in this life-giving look. When, therefore, 
Philip asked: Lord, show us the Father, he made 
the right beginning, and it sprang fiom his burn- 
ing thirst after the living God. 

But alas, God can not be seen with our outward 
eyes. The reason for this is perfectly plain. We 
can only see things, whatever they are, when they 
present themselves as parts of the visible world 
and are sufficiently limited to fall within the range 
of our vision. No one can see the world as a 
whole, but only in fragments and parts; now this 
part, now that, as far as it falls within reach. But 
even if we could see the whole world, we would 
still be unable to see God, because the world is 
finite, and God is infinite. The greatest idea that 
can be formed of the world falls away into noth- 
ingness compared with the infinite God. We can 
only see what falls within our range of vision and 
what has form and appearance. But God is Spirit, 
and they who worship him must worship him 
in spirit and in truth. God can not be seen there- 
fore outside of ourselves. To desire to do this is 
to bring him down to our level, to give him a 
form and to rob him of his spirituality. Here 
idolatry comes in. It began when people "changed 
the glory of the incorruptible God into an image 
made like to corruptible man" (Rom. 1:23). It 
did not spring from wickedness, but from piety. 
Not the worst, but the best people from among 
the nations built temples and placed an image of 
God in them. Then the priests showed them 
their God in an image which they had made. 


They thought that they had thereby brought God 
closer to the people, while in fact the miserable 
image had caused all knowledge of God to be lost 
to them. With every representation of God, God 
himself is gone. Hence the searching warning of 
St. John: Little children, keep yourselves from 

Thus there remains the cry: Show us the 
Father. The cry from the soul, that is not satis- 
fied with a dogma and a creed, but wants God 
himself; the truly childlike and devout heart that 
thirsts for the living God. And side by side with 
this remains the other fact, that no objective rep- 
resentation of God is possible, and that He can 
not be seen with mortal eye. He is the Invisible. 
With every effort to represent him by an image 
the Infinite is lost and man is exiled farther away 
from God. And the reconciliation of these mutu- 
ally excluding facts : that we are inwardly impelled 
not to rest until we have seen God, and that by 
representations of him we lose him altogether 
lies in Jesus' answer to Philip: "He that hath 
seen Me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest 
thou then, show us the Father?" (John 14:9). 

And how? There is an outward look and there 
is an inward look. But we can not have this 
inward look as single individuals. Not by our- 
selves alone, but in our human nature. In the 
Son of Man God himself appears to us in this 
human nature. Through fellowship with the Son 
of Man we see God, in Jesus, through Jesus, and 
through the Holy Ghost we see him in ourselves. 
Not the image of God in the temple of idols, but 
the image of God in Christ. 



There are sayings of Jesus that make one 
tremble and stand back — unless he believes on 
him. One of these is: He that loveth father or 
mother more than me is not worthy of me 
(Matth. 10:37). Imagine a man who would dare 
to say anything like this in a public meeting. 
Every hearer would take him to be insane. If a 
man were to come into your home and in your 
presence address your child like this, would you 
not take sure measures to prevent him from doing 
so again? But Jesus spake like this. And you 
teach your child that this saying is true — because 
you worship Jesus. 

Such is the case with Jesus' answer to Philip: 
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 
14:9). This rouses the same repellant feeling. 
We would make a man, who spoke like this, harm- 
less by securing him a lodging in an institution 
for the insane — unless we honored and worshipped 
God in him. There is no choice in this matter. 
In any nation in whose public conscience there 
glows a spark of religion, public opinion would 
demand the arrest of a man of such blasphemous 
pretensions. But to this striking saying of Jesus 
on the contrary our own heart echoes consent — 
because we worship him. 

It all depends on this. The Sanhedrin and the 
excited Jews in the courts of Justice at Jerusalem 
acted consistently from their viewpoint, when they 
took Jesus for a blasphemer and cast him out. 


They did not worship him. As long as their eyes 
were closed against the Divine majesty of Jesus 
they could not do otherwise. Their sin was not 
that they cast out Jesus, but that they did not 
see God in Him. They talked a good deal about 
God. But when God appeared to them in Jesus 
they knew him not and denied that it was He. 
And this is the case now. In times of refreshings, 
when religious perceptions are clear, thousands see 
God in Jesus who never did so before. In times 
of religious decline multitudes abandon the faith 
and take pleasure in heaping other honorary titles 
upon Jesus than those that are his own. They 
call him the ideal man, the model of true piety 
the hero of faith, the martyr for a sacred cause. 
These are altogether words, and only words, by 
which to soothe the conscience and to evade the 
issue at stake, which is, that with Thomas they 
should kneel adoringly at his feet with the cry: 
"My Lord and My God." In daring frenzy 
Voltaire permitted the Uinjame to flow from his 
reckless pen. But he was braver than these irreso- 
lute spirits. At heart they are one with him. 
They do not believe that they who saw Jesus 
saw God. But they have not the heart to say 
how this Jesus, who dared to say this, should be 

The highest act within reach of the spirit of 
man is to see God in Jesus. The Deity of Christ 
is generally accepted in childhood years. But as 
time goes on it is given little or no thought. For 
the rest this conviction is left as a foreign some- 
thing in the conscience, without being worked over 
and applied to the same in its later stages of 
development. This should not be censured too 


severely. Many can not advance beyond this. 
Their mental grasp has no further reach. And 
even from such a defective conviction childlike 
faith can borrow moral strength. But the thrice 
blessed, who have been initiated into a more 
sympathetic and more ardent piety, can not rest 
content with this. They think and contemplate; 
they go through spiritual experiences; and by 
these inner activities of the soul they enter into 
this mystery more deeply than mere analytic 
study of doctrine can effect. Seeing with the eye 
of sense is not full, clear and perfect sight to 
them. Without the eye of sense God saw purely, 
spiritually and immediately, long before we ever 
saw. And when in the creation after his Image 
God endowed man with the power to see, of 
necessity human sight was originally spiritual, 
internal and immediate. Only because God also 
clothed man with a body and placed him in a 
world of sense, did He form the human eye 
through which man can see this world. For this 
alone, and for no other purpose, was the eye of 
sense created. Consequently it can only see this 
visible world. When the other far more compre- 
hensive, invisible world is concerned, it has no 
use. And, therefore, man was endowed with 
another eye, even the eye of the soul, to which 
as a subordinate instrument, the eye of sense only 
renders auxiliary aid. There are two worlds: 
one spiritual and one material. In connection 
with these there are two eyes: one in the soul 
and one in the body. And there is a two-fold 
vision: immediate sight in the spirit and mediate 
sight through mortal eye. An inward look and an 
outward look. An imaginary seeing of which we 

are so clearlj' conscious that nothing is more com- 
mon than the saying: "You see that I am right," 
where seeing refers to what has been said or 
explained, and not to anything shown to the eye 
of sense. 

From the nature of the case, therefore, to see 
the Father in Jesus was no primitive act of the 
eye of sense. God is a Spirit, and he who would 
see the Father in Jesus, must see in him the Spirit 
which is God. Spiritual seeing with the eye of the 
soul alone is possible here. At first something 
deeply spiritual is discerned in Jesus, even as in 
other men of hoh' lives. Further looking into his 
holy being brings to light that in Jesus this 
spiritual excellence is of an higher type than in 
anyone else. In him it is clearer, fuller, richer. 
And this does not yet explain Jesus in' full. That 
spirituality in him is nobler, richer and fuller 
than in others, even in the best of men, does not 
say enough. In Jesus an unfathomable depth dis- 
closes itself, so that at length it must be acknowl- 
edged that in him the spiritual lives and shines 
more richly than was ever thought possible. It 
exceeds human thought. It surpasses the think- 
able. Of itself spiritual observation of Jesus 
passes on into the infinite. Latest distinctions are 
lost. From the background of his being shines 
eternal perfection. Everything shifts before the 
vision of the soul. Unconsciously the transition is 
made from the finite into the infinite, until God 
is discerned in Jesus and in wonder and adoration 
we kneal at his feet and worship. 

But this experience is not something apart from 
what the eye of sense sees in the Incarnate Word. 
In this examination the spirit of Jesus is not 


detached from his personal appearance. The body 
is not ignored that the soul may be discerned, but 
Jesus is taken as he was, appeared, spoke and 
acted. One appearance is faced, one perfect whole, 
one mystery. Even as among us there are times 
when a person becomes radiant and allows his 
soul to shine through his face, in his eye, about 
his lips, in his word and in his act, so that through 
the outward appearance the person within is seen 
— so it was with Jesus, only far stronger, and all 
the time. His appearance must have been over- 
whelming. The impression which he made must 
have been full of wonder. When we think of the 
soulfulness in his holy eye, the changes of expres- 
sion in his face, and his modulated, sympathetic 
voice, it is felt at once that his bodily appear- 
ance was no hindrance to reach the Divine in him, 
but was rather the vehicle by which to approach 
it. It was as though, through Jesus, God himself 
came out into thq visible world, inviting and 
alluring all who saw him to admire and to worship 
God in him. If at the time of Jesus' sojourn on 
the earth, man had been what he was before the 
fall in paradise, the perfect God would at once 
have been recognized in Jesus. But with the 
blinded eye of the soul sinful man could not do 
this; it was impossible. God was there in Jesus, 
but the world could not see him. The eye of 
the soul had been bandaged. And only when God 
himself had removed this bandage could man see 
God in Jesus. 

The eye of the soul is not something apart 
from the soul. It is rather the sum total of all 
its powers by which it perceives, becomes con- 


scious, discovers and enjoys. Spiritual seeing is 
feeling, perceiving, becoming aware of environ- 
ments with all the latent powers of the soul. It 
is the internal awakening of human nature, which, 
created after the image of God, goes back to its 
original image, has clear vision of the relation 
between image and original, between image and 
impression, imprints it upon its own sense of self 
(self-consciousness) and thus learns to know God 
with an inner knowledge. Only in this way has 
human nature in Jesus apprehended God in full 
and known him. Human nature in its totality 
is not in every one of us, but only a variation of 
it in one particular, definite form. In Jesus alone 
human nature as a whole was embodied. He, 
therefore, was called the Son of Man. Jesus was 
not only God, but He alone of all men fully 
apprehended and understood the Father. "No 
man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he 
to whom the Son will reveal him." By our- 
selves, therefore, and if left to ourselves, no one 
of us can apprehend God with the sense of the 
soul, nor see him with the eye of the soul. Jesus 
alone was able to do this, and is able to do so 
still, but not we. Only when we go to Jesus and 
enter into fellowship with him is the way to this 
open to us, whereby we become living members 
of this mystical body of which he is the head. 
And then not only do we see God in Jesus, but 
God also comes to tabernacle in us by the Holy 
Ghost. Philip, have I been so long time with 
you, and do you still say: Show me the Father? 
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father in 
me and through me, your Spvior. 



When the question is raised whether there is 
one that seeks after God, the Psalmist denies it 
and bitterly complains: ''They are all gone 
aside, there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 
There is none that understandeth, there is none 
that seeketh after God" (14:3). But was the 
singer insincere when in the ear of the ages he 
sang' so touchingly : "As the heart panteth after 
the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, 
O God" (42:1). Or did Asaph dissemble a state 
of soul, which would have been self-deceit, when 
he said: "Nevertheless, I am continually with 
Thee?" (Ps. 73:23). By no means. The question 
meant whether by nature there was one man in 
whose heart the magnetic drawing is after God, 
even in such a degree as to overcome every 
resistance and hindrance. The answer to this is: 
no, and ever again: no. There is no such draw- 
ing in the human heart. It has been corrupted 
and crippled and is no longer what it was by 
Divine creation, but what it has become by self- 
delusion. The number of those who take religion 
seriously is small, and much smaller yet the num- 
ber of those who recover the true type of piety. 
Take these, together with those who seem relig- 
ious, and watch them and listen as they talk, and 
we find them superficial and mechanical to an 
amazing degree. We rarely meet with a seeking 
soul that makes it a business to draw near to 
God, and to find him. Even in prayer, in church 
or at home, the question can sometimes scarcely 


be repressed: Does this man or woman, when the 
Amen has passed the hps, come away from God, 
or has the soul, even in devotions, been as far as 
ever away from him? 

Undoubtedly there are always some who in 
praj'-er and at other times seek fellowship with 
God in their heart. Upon inquiry, however, we 
learn that the magnetic drawing did not originate 
with themselves, but that God drew them. We 
do not know why Divine power operates in the 
case of one and not of another. The fact remains 
that as the magnet draws the steel to itself, God 
can draw the soul. And when he does, the draw- 
ing is irresistible, i^nd the soul seeks God 
because God draws it. 

Is the approach of the soul to God through the 
understanding, will, feeling or imagination, or is 
it through an inexplicable mysterious working 
which we can not name? The answer differs 
according to those who give it. The one attributes 
it to intellectual and doctrinal knowledge of God; 
the other to the fellowship of love; a' third to 
submission of the will ; a fourth to visions ; a fifth 
to inspirations, and the more people are asked, 
the more widely the answers differ. Here dispo- 
sition and temperament play the chief role. The 
subtle, analytical investigator of ideas and defini- 
tions entrenches himself in strong doctrinal con- 
fessions; the man of action, in devotion to prac- 
tical ends; he whose nature is finely strung, in the 
note of pensive longing which he elicits from his 
p'^irt'ons; and the imaginative mind, inclined to 
fancies of every sort, in representations and 
ingenious imagery. Every one after his own kind, 
we may say. Such is the case now, and so it was 


in times past. From ancient writings we see peo- 
ple of the long ago live and move before us, and 
things oi the past appear like things of the 
present. All sorts of currents and schools and 
tendencies of thought are ever abroad, one one 
waj' and the other another. Unanimity there is 
none. Seeking God with all the heart is unknown. 

This shows that the preference for one method 
of seeking God bars the way to other equally 
efiicasious methods of doing the same, and that 
God's children should freely employ all methods 
in order to be wholly free in their communion 
with the Eternal. God is not found by one power 
of soul in distinction from another, but by all 
the soul. God is not apprehended by human 
knowledge, or will, or play of imagination, but by 
the knowing, willing and thinking soul as a whole, 
in its inner unity and soundness. Ray by ray 
shines in, but all are caught in the focus of the 
soul-life in process of becoming aware of itself 
and of its environments, and the act of catching 
all these rays is called faith. 

Here, too, the diflaculty springs from the inward 
ruin occasioned by sin, which is still esteemed too 
lightly, because it is sought too exclusively within 
the scope of morals. The injury worked by sin is 
only fully known when its fatal effects are traced 
in religion. Things become far more important 
when it concerns our relation to God. For in con- 
nection with this everything centers in the first 
and great commandment: To love God with all 
the soul and with all the strength. This is pos- 
sible. The soul was created and equipped for this. 
It can safely be said that when the soul operates 
normally it can not do otherwise than direct itself 


altogether and with all its strength to God. In 
no other realm of life, therefore, does it show 
more strongly than in religion how utterly 
abnormal the soul has become by sin. And the 
worst of it is, that in this matter of religion the 
soul itself is so little conscious of it. He who 
has committed a crime knows it, and finds no dif- 
ficulty on his knees in confessing it before God. 
With the finer forms of transgression in morals 
this inner sense may fail us, but with the coarser 
forms of sin the conscience almost always speaks 
in every man. But when the first and great com- 
mandment is violated, almost no one is conscious 
of it. Thousands upon thousands every day deny 
God all love, withdraw their whole soul from 
him. rob him of all their strength, and thus in 
the matter of religion they are hardened crim- 
inals, who do not even know that they sin. Even 
with the saved, who have confessed to love God, 
the case is nearly the same. For some among 
these give God only a small part of their soul, 
work for him indifferently with only a few of 
their powers, and as they kneel in prayer at night 
are quite unconscious of the fact, that they have 
broken the larger part of the first and great com- 

This fatal defect shows itself when the powers 
of soul, which by reason of disposition and tem- 
perament are most prepared to act, and which 
therefore require the least sacrifice of self, are 
given free rein. When a man who is naturally 
intellectual becomes pious, he applies himself to 
doctrine. If to know the only true God is 
eternal life, he makes himself doctrinally strong. 
He has nothing to do with knowledge of God 


that is obtained along other Hnes than those of 
close, analytical studies, and in these he is pro- 
ficient. With utmost pains he traces what the 
great thinkers have put into their several doc- 
trinal systems regarding the Being, Work, Person 
and Attributes of God. On this he ponders. To 
him it appeals. He prides himself on it before 
others. He really thinks that in this way he has 
acquired the true knowledge of God. No, says 
another, Jesus has said that he who doeth the 
will of his Father who is in heaven, shall know 
the glories of the faith. As a man of action, 
therefore, he gives liberally of his means, labors 
with zeal and enthusiasm, in which few equal 
and none surpass him, brings willing offerings one 
after another, and with all his strength devotes 
himself to the interests of the kingdom — but he 
has a dislike for all doctrinal niceties. He makes 
no confe^ion with words. The all important 
thing with him is confession in practical life. A 
third has no interest either in doctrine or in 
works, but is emotional. He, therefore, seeks his 
strength in tender feelings, soulful utterances, 
mystical perceptions of love, and thinks that in 
these he comes closer to God. Imagination is 
the part of fantasy with another who seeks to 
establish his strength in visions and mystical rep- 
resentations, and in the contemplation of the 
things which his soul-eye discerns he is most 
happy. Did not St. Paul glory in rare exaltations 
of spirit and in being caught up into higher 
spheres? Add to these, inspirations, suggestions, 
experiences in which the soul is aware of sudden 
motions, and so much more, and it is readily seen 
that impressions and motions of soul differ 


greatl3' when a man becomes inwardly athirst for 

The pity of it is that so far from realizing 
that all these w^orkings, powers and exertions are 
bound to express themselves in love of God, so 
that loving God with all the soul may become 
real, the children of God, for the most part, hold 
themselves back within their own retreat, seek 
God with only one power of their soul, and not 
infrequently criticize a brother who seeks salva- 
tion by the use of another soul-power than they 
themselves employ. "With all thy soul," said 
Jesus. "With a part of my soul," they reply. 
And just because they are truly pious and sincere 
of purpose, they do not tremble at the thought 
of leaving the rest of their soul inactive for God. 


"And this is life eternal, that they might know 
Thee, the Only true God." But then we must 
not only know God intellectually, but with every 
power at our disposal. As knowledge it must be 
the result and summary of every observation and 
perception. In connection wuth this at once the 
question arises whether imagination, or more gen- 
erally, the power of representation, plays a part 
in this. A superficial mind inclines to answer this 
Spirit means that all corporeity and materiality 
must be excluded from it, no manifestation of 
negatively. For God is Spirit. And if the word 
God is possible in any way whatever. If all out- 
ward divine manifestation is unthinkable, how 
can we make a representation of God. We can 


make forms and figures of idols after the manner 
of heathen nations, but these are contrivances 
pure and simple. And in this matter of knowing 
God, which is eternal life, we have no interest in 
cunningly constructed fabrications. We want 
reality. Hence we would say that there can be 
no representation of God, no outward manifesta- 
tion of him can show itself, for the reason that 
his absolute spirituality excludes every idea of 
matter, form or dimension. 

But however convincing this maj' seem, it does 
not end the matter. How can we interpret 
Isaiah's words in the narrative of his vision-call 
(6:1)? Including the record of the vear in which 
it happened he declares: ''I also saw the Lord 
sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and 
his train filled the temple." 

We leave the question unanswered whether 
Isaiah saw some outside appearance, or whether 
something presented itself to him in his inner 
range of vision. It is enough that God mani- 
fested himself to the prophet in such a way that 
it enabled him to give a description of it in 
writing. It was an appearance which took such 
a forcible hold upon him. in connection with 
which so many things took place, and which 
resulted in such important prophecies, that it 
affected all his after life. 

We who in his inspirations and prophecies 
honor the work of the Holy Ghost, can not take 
this vision of his call as a meaningless product 
of an unhealthy imagination. There was reality 
in this v^ision, and an action on the part of God. 
And we conclude that among the many means by 
which God can make himself known to man, he 


has also used observable representation, however 

In the New. as well as in the Old Testament, 
we read repeatedly of angel-appearances and of 
appearances of the Messiah before his incarna- 
tion. And are not angels spirits like God him- 
self, incorporeal and immaterial? We hear 
repeatedly that angels appear, and speak and act. 
The angel that smote the armies of Sennacherib 
stands in line with the angel that led Peter out 
of prison. Before his incarnation the existence 
of Christ was purely spiritual, but with him the 
outward manifestation, and with it the clear rep- 
resentation, went so far in ancient times that the 
patriarch received him in his tent and enter- 
tained him with a meal at his table. It is well 
known that this is scoffed at, and that it is put to 
the score of innocent fiction; but less superficial 
psychology is not satisfied with this, and inclines 
to attach to such an account a much higher, inner 
value. When during his earthly ministry Christ 
accepted the Old Testament records of such 
appearances literally, including those which 
referred to himself, and ratified them in their 
immediate signification, what other conclusion can 
we reach, than that a certain appearance and a 
certain representation, of a Being which like that 
of God is purely spiritual by itself, is not unthink- 

The Scripture always pictures this appearance 
and representation in the religious hfe, with human 
features. In connection with the Cherubim we 
read of animal forms, of a lion and so on, which 
serve to represent great power and glory. But in 
every meeting with man the appearance of an 

angel, of the Messiah, or as in Isaiah 6, of the 
Eternal Being himself, takes place in human form, 
in human dress, and with the use of human lan- 
guage. With appearances of angels there is no 
mention of wings, borrowed from the animal 
world; of these we read in connection with 
Seraphs surrounding God's throne. 

The fixed application of the human form in this 
connection is significant. The appearance of 
spirits in human form is immediately connected 
with the creation of man after God's image. 
Christ himself is called the Image of the Invisible 
God, "the express Image of his person." And we 
are told that man is created after this Image, so 
that there is a certain likeness between these two. 
What then could have been more natural than 
that the Eternal God, in order to reveal himself 
to man, either by himself or by his angels, should 
have passed over from himself to his Image, and 
from his Image to man? The very thought that 
there is an Image of God implies that it is a mis- 
take to think that there can be no distinction and 
no expression in a spirit. It shows that God's 
life by itself is not an unbroken sameness, but 
that it consists of an infinite yet undivided ful- 
ness of distinctions, and that this varied life which 
is continually present with him in his conscious- 
ness, is to him the Image of his Divine Being. 

In any case it is certain that when God created 
man after his Image, this Image was there before 
he could create man after it. And also that this 
Image has always provided the way by which to 
reveal himself to man in human form. This was 
only completed in the fulness of time at Bethle- 
hem, though it was foreshadowed in previous 


appearances. In connection, therefore, with the 
knowledge of God, which is eternal life, the imag- 
inative life of our spirit must also be considered. 

The key to this secret is, that spirit and matter, 
God and the world, are distinguished from one 
another in such a way that it can never be 
ignored. For if we do we are, whether we will or 
not, irresistibly drawn into Pantheism. While on 
the other hand it can not be denied that God 
has created the world, so that whatever there is 
in the world can never express anything else than 
what has been thought out by God, even the 
Word from all eternity. Likewise as regards our 
soul and body, it must be inexorably maintained, 
that these are two, even in this sense, that after 
death the soul continues its life in the disem- 
bodied state until the resurrection. Though again 
it should not be forgotten that soul and body 
complement one another, and that the soul can 
only reveal the fulness of its power through the 

This gives rise to a threefold realm of activity. 
One is the realm of pure spiritual activity. 
Another is the realm of activity through and with 
the aid of the body. And there is also a mixed 
domain, in which the spirit truly operates purely 
spiritually^ but with data from the world of sense. 

The use of images in spoken language can not 
be reckoned with this. We know by these that 
we mean something metaphorical, something out- 
side of reality. When the righteous is said to be 
as courageous as a lion, everyone understands that 
it does not mean a real, devouring beast. But it 
is different in dreams. Then we see people and 
co-operate with them. We engage in conversa- 


tion. We are attacked. And everything seems so 
real to us that on awakening in fright, we find 
it difficult to believe that the burglar who threat- 
ened our life does not stand by our bed. 

This impression of reality in what is imagined 
is still stronger and much more acute in a vision. 
One can almost say that visions are dreams 
which one dreams not in sleep upon the bed, but 
by day, while one is fully awake. And though 
this vision-life is far more common in the East 
than it is with us, yet it is a mistake to suppose 
that it does not exist among us. Meanwhile an 
appearance far excels in clearness and reality both 
dream and vision. That we feel so little at home 
in this realm is only explained from the fact that 
science can not tell anything about these spiritua,! 
operations. It lacks sufficient, certain data for 
observation, and has not been able thus far to 
enter this mysterious domain. Before this world 
of real workings, it stands helpless. This encour- 
ages unbelieving science proudly to deny the 
reality of it, while believing science, confessing its 
inability to grasp it, gratefully accepts what has 
been revealed regarding it in Scripture. 

We should be on our guard therefore lest we say 
that in connection with our knowledge of God 
the imaginative life has no message for us. The 
intellectual man who asserts this, contradicts 
Scripture all too boldly. The second command- 
ment certainly binds us; that is to say, it for- 
bids us to make an image of God, even in our 
imagination. The imaginative life may operate 
in behalf of the knowledge of God, when God 
quickens it in us; as in the case of Isaiah's vision 
of his call, or in the appearances to Abraham. 


This forming of images has at last been per- 
fected in the "human nature" of Christ. After 
he had entered into glory, Christ appeared to St. 
John on Patmos in his human nature and the 
manner of this appearance has been committed 
to writing for us. This is the only appearance 
of Christ, given to the church, that may and 
should govern our imaginative life. 

To this we add that in a child of God even 
here something of his Father is manifest. The 
nobler the Christian life, the more this is visible. 
The weaker the Christian life, the less apparent 
it is. But when a Christian life is deeply spiritual, 
they who are equally devout, see through it, as 
it. were, something of the Image of the Eternal 
God. From this it follows that if we are God's 
children it is our high calling, not by our imag- 
ination, but by the image-forming manifestation 
of our entire personality to cause something of 
the Father to be seen by those who are of the 
household of faith. 



In behalf of the knowledge of God there is 
great power in conformity to his will. God 
becomes known to us by studious thought, by 
play of the imagination, by inner experience and 
in other ways. But it can not be denied that he 
also becomes known to us by the will. Within 
the last fifty years the will has been put in the 
foreground, by which to interpret many things 
which no one associated with it before. An impor- 
tant school of philosophy has emphasized the will 


to such an extent that the significance of the 
other activities of the human spirit has suffered 
serious loss. The fundamental position of this 
school is that the will alone determines things, 
accomplishes things, creates reality, and makes 
itself known as a power ; and that the more deeply 
one studies the question the more irresistibly one 
is forced to acknowledge that the will is the only 
power that governs and employs all other powers. 
This was confirmed by history. It is observed in 
the present. In every department of life the man 
of will exercises authority and overrides the weak. 
From man we have learned the wonderful power 
of will. Similar phenomena have been traced in 
the animal-world, but too little is known of this 
to build on. And so it has seemed safest to make 
the power to will, as it showed itself in man, the 
starting point. 

But, of course, it could not stop with this. The 
phenomenon of the will is too great, and its dom- 
inance too prevalent, than that it can exist in man 
otherwise than derivatively. In the original state 
of things the will existed outside of man, and man 
himself was the product of the great supreme 
Universal- will that brought all things to pass. 
What until now had been worshipped in the world 
as God, or had been denounced as Satan, was 
according to this school nothing but that Uni- 
versal-will, the gigantic will-power by which 
everything is what it is. The world shows any- 
thing but wisdom and less love. It is but the 
product of monstrous will-power. Hence the 
unsatisfying condition of its life. And since in 
us also, on a small scale, there is a will with 
power of will, the supreme duty of human life 

is to train the will, to develop it, to apply it to 
mighty deeds, and with this strongly trained 
human will to maintain ourselves in the face of 
the Universal- will. Hence everything that is, and 
everything that is called history, and life itself 
is reduced to one power, and the only thing that 
is supremely high and holy is our personal will. 

That the philosophic school which oracled like 
this is diametrically opposed to all religion, and 
more especially to the Christian religion, needs 
no demonstration. But it is noteworthy that the 
Christian religion in the Christian church, simul- 
taneously revealed an allied tendency, which like- 
wise put the will in the foreground, and at length 
subordinated every other utterance of the Chris- 
tian faith to it. We mean that religious tendency 
which interprets the confession with ever greater 
liberality, which allows feeling and sentiment ever 
less opportunity of being heard, and shows ever 
more the need and inclination to exhibit Chris- 
tianity solely and alone in works and display of 
power, that is to say, in utterances of the will. 
This idea and inclination was not born nor taken 
from this philosophic school, but owed its rise 
to an universal phenomenon, which shows itself 
in human life. The healthful Reformation in 
the ecclesiastical world was followed first by the 
barren period of dogmatics in the 17th century, 
and after that by the period of emotional religion 
in the 18th century. As neither the one nor the 
other proved satisfactory, and as it became 
evident that between these two, Christianity was 
losing strength, it naturally came to pass that 
with the depreciation of subtle credal statements, 
and an increasing distaste for weak emotionalism, 


another extreme was reached in the effort to 
realize the Christian spirit in acts of the will. 
Not the hearer, but the doer of the law shall 
be holy. Not every one that sayeth, Lord, Lord, 
but he that doeth the will of my Father who is 
in heaven shall be saved. If any one doeth 
His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether 
it be of God (John 7:17). In brief, in behalf of 
this new effort, many clear and strong utterances 
of Holy Scripture could be cited. Thus a tend- 
ency found an open door in every direction, which 
could boast of its meritorious exhibition of Chris- 
tian works, but with this drawback always, that 
it under-estimated both the confessional state- 
ments of the church and mysticism. 

The well-known fact that in the Christian 
stmggle of the 19th century English Christians 
stood in the front ranks, was a powerful aid in 
this direction. The period of concise confessional 
statements was dominated by Switzerland, France 
and the Netherlands. The emotional period had 
been brought into prominence by German and 
French sentimentalists. But with the 19th cen- 
tury England appeared in the foreground. Eng- 
land with its matter-of-fact system, its commer- 
cial spirit and cool determination of will. From 
England the thirst after deeds crossed over to the 
continent of Europe, and what this tendency-of- 
will accomplished in the interests of philanthropy 
and missions can never be fully appreciated. It 
gave birth to a new life and encouraged the desire 
to exercise power. It simultaneously put to 
shame the barren and meagre results of intel- 
lectual orthodoxy, and the weak and sickly fruit 
of sentimental mysticism. It inspired a willing- 

ness to give. It inspired a devotion and an energy 
of faith such as had not been in evidence among 
us since the daj^s of the Reformation. In the 
Salvation Army, which is the most sharply defined 
exhibition of this tendency and at the same time 
its crudest expression, there showed itself a many- 
sided activity in behalf of the poor and the unfor- 
tunate which aroused sympathy even in unbeliev- 
ing hearts. 

The onesidedness, however, of this movement 
is a matter of regret, since it incurred the danger 
of abandoning justification by faith, and of putting 
in its place salvation by good works. The center 
of gravity was transferred too much from God to 
man. The outward supplanted the inward life 
of piety. And as on the part of unbelievers there 
was great and self-sacrificing activity along phil- 
anthropic lines, it soon became evident that peo- 
ple of this "Gospel of works" felt themselves in 
closer sympathy with unbelievers who shared their 
ideal of works than with the confessors of Christ, 
who fell short of it. And what cut more deeply 
still is that real religion, which is the search 
after fellowship with God, was undeniably more 
and more lost in this Gospel of the Will. There 
was too much lack of loveable, tender piety. The 
delicate plant of devotion became more and more 
mouldy. And both in preaching and in private 
conversation the hidden walk with God, the quiet 
ways of the secret of redemption, salvation by 
faith and being hid in Christ received ever less 
attention, until at length nothing more was heard 
of it. Everything had to be doing, nothing but 
doing. All that was asked for was facts and still 
again facts. The method came in vogue to com- 


pute these deeds in numbers, and from high figures 
to infer that God crowned the work with blessing. 
There were statistics of converts, of moneys raised, 
of society memberships, of the hungry that had 
been fed, of the naked that had been clothed, of 
the sick that had been healed. And flattery on 
account of such showing was not always unaccept- 

And when it w^as objected that Christianity in 
this way was externalized, and that the knowl- 
edge of God which is eternal life was relegated 
to the book of forgetfulness, the answer was, that 
this surmise rested upon a misunderstanding, since 
true knowledge of God does not come through the 
intellect, and not through emotion, but through 
the will. He who doeth the will of God knoweth 
the Eternal. This pretext will be examined in the 
following meditation. 


He that doeth the will of God naturally grows 
thereby in the knowledge of God. Of two per- 
sons, the one who is careful and conscientious in 
his confession, but careless as to his manner of 
life, has less chance to know the Lord than the 
other who is careful and conscientious in his man- 
ner of life, but indifferent in his confession. The 
so-called practical Christianity, the tendency 
which seeks salvation in christian works, was 
correct to this extent, that doing the will of God 
is certainly one of the means which is indispen- 
sable to him who would have a full knowledge 
of God. 


If the knowledge of God is eternal life, Divine 
knowledge can not be something apart from life. 
Do not forget, eternal life is not life hereafter. 
It is a life which does not spring from the cistern, 
but from the fountain. Such knowledge of God 
which is itself eternal life is unthinkable, there- 
fore, apart from practical life. When a will 
operates in all our works, and when our works are 
only good when they conform to the will of 
God, it is evident that there is a connection 
between the knowledge of God and the doing of 
his will. 

The ox knoweth his owner, Isaiah tells us, but 
Israel does not understand. We would say: A 
horse knows his rider. The draft-ox is not much 
used among us. But how does he know his 
owner, or the horse his rider? Certainly in part 
by the eye and by the ear, but even more by 
the manner in which they are treated. When the 
rider comes up from behind, so that the horse 
does not see him, and utters no word or sound, 
so that the animal does not hear him, the thor- 
oughbred knows his rider at once, and knows 
immediately whether his rider or a stranger 
springs into the saddle. A good riding-horse 
knows the will of his rider. He knows it even 
so well that at length horse and rider become one, 
and on the field of battle the horse will do his 
rider's wish, even with loosened bridle. Thus by 
careful training the animal has obtained such 
knowledge of his owner that to him it has become 
a living subordinate instrument. 

Likewise the child of God that has lived accord- 
ing to God's will, and at the hand of that will 
itself has conformed himself to it. has come 


to an instinctive knowledge of God such as no 
Catechism or Confession can impart. We do not 
say that this knowledge thus obtained is the 
only knowledge of God, nor that it is sufficient, 
nor that it offers satisfactory clearness; all we 
mean to say is: that doing God's will introduces 
a trait of its own into the knowledge of God, 
which is indispensable if that knowledge is to be 
a living knowledge, and which can not be 
replaced by anything else, be it understanding 
or feeling. . , i u 

Take the case of forgiving those who have 
trespassed against us. As children of God we 
well know that this is our duty. We know it 
even so well that we are well aware that the 
matter is not ended when we are outwardly kind 
and return no evil for evil. Christian forgiveness 
goes farther and deeper than this. It must be 
honest forgiveness without any reservation. Our 
greatest enemy must be forgiven. Those who 
curse us we must bless. We must love those who 
despitefully use us. Consider it carefully: we 
must love our enemy. We must not show him 
love that we might exhibit our generosity. Ihis, 
in fact, can only humiliate him. No, we must 
love him as ourselves. It is almost incompre- 
hensible, yet such is the command. As it is 
prayed in the Our Father: Forgive us our tres- 
passes, as we forgive those who trespass against 
us To forgive from love is the measure of the 
forgiveness of sin which we ask of God for our- 
selves. Not as though God could be bound to 
our measure, or forgive us because we forgive. 
That would be turning the Gospel around. But 
it signifies that we dare not ask more of God than 


what we know is in our hearts to do to our 

All this only shows that when in forgiving our 
enemy we do the will of God, we learn to know 
what it is to forgive, what it is to receive from 
God the mind and the will to forgive, and what 
it is to come to the knowledge of God as regards 
his mind and will to forgive us. He who him- 
self does not forgive, who in opposition to God's 
will harbors hatred in his heart, and does not con- 
form himself to God's will in this matter of for- 
giveness, lacks this particular knowledge of God, 
which makes it clear how God forgives him. 

From this one example it clearly appears that 
doing the will of God increases the knowledge of 
God; not metaphorically, not unreally, but in 
deed and in truth. 

There is still something else to be learned from 
this. The practical 'Gospel of Works" puts 
special emphasis upon doing extra things; things 
which are outside of he ordinary life. By pref- 
erence, therefore, it speaks of "Christian works," 
by which it means things outside the ordinary 
life of business, family and society, such as zeal 
for missions, visiting the poor, care for the sick 
and blind. And in part this interpretation is 
instinctively correct. When Christianity goes out 
into the world nothing of all this can stay behind. 
It all belongs to it. True, genuine Christianity 
can not be satisfied with inspiring ordinary life 
alone. It brings with it all sorts of things which 
remain unknown without it. Only it is a great 
mistake to suppose that the roses that grow 
against the wall are the main thing, and that the 
wall itself can be left to fall into ruins. 

No, the doing of God's will covers all of life, 
the ordinary as well as the extraordinary, and 
the knowledge of God's will in common life is far 
finer, more intricate and more difficult than it is 
in those extraordinary things. To know what 
God's will is in our personal life, in our busmess 
or profession, in the family with its several con- 
nections, in society and in the world in general, 
is a study that is never ended on this side of the 
grave. To learn not only what God's will is m 
it all, but to bend the mind according to it, and 
to conform the life to it, even to its minutest 
detail, is not only a daily study, but a daily 
struggle, in which he alone triumphs who is led 
by the Spirit of God. 

He who appHes himself to this, who makes this 
his daily task, learns to understand Gods will, 
and with every victory gained increases also in 
the knowledge of God. A knowledge which he 
does not acquire with his understanding, but with 
his whole personality. The more we begin to 
*-el as God feels, and the more we become mimied 
ao God is, the more truly do we become children 
of the Father who is in heaven. For then we will 
not think that we do the will of God, when only 
once in a while there is heroic self-demal. tJut 
we will understand that to do the will of God is 
to be so changed of mind and inclination that we 
ourselves wiU what God wills. And he who 
attains unto this and is daily engaged in this, of 
himself increases in the knowledge of God by 
increasing in the knowledge of himself. 
This wUl be plain when we remember that 

Being and Will in God are not two, but one. 

God's will is the crystal-pure expression of his 


Being. Hence knowledge of God's will becomes 
of itself knowledge of his Being. The one can 
not be separated from the other. Only this: the 
will of God can only be truly known in the way 
of the will. To know the Ten Commandments 
by heart, and to make a list from the Scriptures 
of every utterance of God's will, does not justify 
a man in the least for saying that he knows the 
will of God. He may know it from memory, but 
the will is within, and can only be known within, 
by having the personal will enter into the will of 

He who in a book on the art of navigation has 
read what a captain has to do in times of storm, 
does not know what it is to pilot a ship into 
a safe harbor. This is only known to him who 
has himself been out at sea in command of a ship 
in a storm and has brought it safely to port. 

Likewise the knowledge of God's will is not 
acquired by learning lessons in morality by heart, 
but with the organ of our own will God's will 
must be so understood that we ourselves fulfill 
it. And thus only in the-way-of-the-will do we 
come to that knowledge of God, which can only 
be learned in this way. 

We should not criticize therefore the Gospel 
of works, as though it had no use. On the con- 
trary, it is absolutely indispensable. Only it must 
gain in depth. It must be applied to all of life. 
It should also be clearly understood that so far 
from being all the knowledge of God, the knowl- 
edge of his will is only a part of it. Forsooth, 
it is an indispensable part, but only in union 
with the other knowledge of God, which is 
obtained through the understanding, feeling and 


imagination, does it form one whole. All these 
together constitute that full knowledge of God, 
which is eternal life. Only do not lose from sight 
that the daily increase in the knowledge of God is 
obtained solely and alone in the way of the will. 
There is a two-fold will of God: the one is over 
us, the other is concerning us. The will of God 
over us determines our life, our career and our 
lot in life. It was with reference to this will of 
God that Jesus prayed: Not my will, but thy 
will be done. But the will of God concerning us 
shows us how to will, what to do and to leave 
undone; and regarding this will of God we pray 
in the Our Father: Thy will be done as in 
heaven by the angels, so also on earth by me. 
And it is this second, this last-named will of God 
which if we li^'e m it, and conform ourselves to 
it, unconsciously makes us increase day by day 
in the knowledge of God. 



If there is a desire to know God, the will must 
be studied still more closely. In the days of our 
fathers the field, in which the will operates, was 
not suflBciently plowed and harrowed. The great 
question was whether the will was free or bound. 
For the rest, even in preaching and in catechising, 
the supreme significance of the will was ignored. 
Is not even now almost the whole realm of the 
will left fallow? 

Of course this does not mean to say, that both 
in the times of our fathers, and in our own past, 
there has been no increase in the knowledge of 


God through the will. How could this be other- 
wise? The will does not come into action by 
what is written about it in a book, or preached 
on it from the pulpit. It is the Lord who inspires 
the will to act, and in action to direct it for good. 
It is he "who worketh in you both to will and 
to do his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13), and how 
could the Lord be bound to sermon or lecture? 

We only mean that he who is so fortunate and 
blessed as not only morning by morning and even- 
ing by evening to be refreshed with a drop of 
grace from the fountain of Divine Compassion, 
but also to have time and insight to meditate on 
holy things, does wrong when he neglects the 
investigation of such an important component part 
of the power of the soul as the will. This makes 
poor; while to give one's mind to it makes rich. 
For the will is inscrutably wonderful. In the 
creation of the soul it constitutes a marvelous 
piece of Divine workmanship, and it is so deeply 
engraven a trait of the image of God, which 
reflects itself in us, that to leave it unstudied 
betokens lack of reverence and wonder. It is, 
moreover, so mighty a tool that the thoughtless 
use of it readily does harm. 

We must also distinguish between times and 
times. There is a time of childhood followed by 
that of early youth, when we live by instinct, and 
are not able to give a reason for the acts of the 
will. But then there comes a time when the 
troubled waters settle, and the mirror of the con- 
sciousness becomes clear, and we begin to think. 
Our age is farther advanced than that of our 
fathers, because it is older. Earlier instinctive 
life gradually becomes a conscious life. He who 


takes no part in this transition is left in the rear. 

The whole church will understand that she 
loses power when she adheres to the old, without 
harmonizing her insight into the past with the 
claims of our clarified consciousness. She then 
loses her touch upon life. Her preaching does 
not join itself to what stirs and moves in the 
world. She does not equip the faithful with 
needed armor, and becomes herself the cause, 
that in ever weaker positions in the conflict of 
spirits she is incapacitated. Confess, in times 
such as these, when in every way the will has 
become the object of investigation and thought, 
will it do for Christians to act as though the 
knowledge of the will did not concern them? 

Here we confine ourselves to our subject. It 
is the aim of these meditations to bring the soul 
into secret fellowship with God. This requires 
knowledge of God, even that knowledge which is 
itself eternal life. In that knowledge of God 
we must increase. And this increase is more pos- 
sible through the will than through the under- 
standing. This is the point which we emphasize. 
The holy apostle expresses it so clearly: ''Walk 
worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, whereby 
we shall be fruitful in every good work, and at 
the same time increase in the knowledge of 
God" (Col. 1:10), 

He who bends his will so that at length he has 
no other will than to forgive his debtor, comes 
through his own will to the knowledge of the 
compassionate God who forgives him. To God 
forgiveness is no outward rule, which he applies. 
To forgive proceeds from his will. And this will 
to forgive proceeds from his Being. If we come 


to will like this of ourselves, we become con- 
formed to our Father who is in heaven. The 
words of Jesus: Be ye perfect, as your Father 
who is in heaven is perfect, are then realized in 
us; they are realized in this particular; and con- 
scious that we are of the family of God we 
come to this knowledge of God, which is not a 
lesson learned by rote, but which proceeds from 
our divine relationship itself. Do we understand 
the beauty and godliness of this? 

All men are not alike either in mental capacity 
or in the disposal of time. Some are able to 
analyze all things and to study them out deeply 
and accurately. But more by far can not do 
this. We would not call them stupid for this 
reason, but as a matter of fact few people can 
make exhaustive studies of every part of our 
glorious confession. They simply can not do it. 
They have not the ability. Freedom of time also 
differs greatly in given circumstances. The day- 
laborer, who is away from home from morning 
until night has little or no time' for the study 
of sacred things, especially as compared with the 
clergy or professors of Theolog>% who can devote 
all day to it. And apart from time, opportunities 
differ widely. Such study requires education, 
books and retirement. And see the difference 
between a farm-hand at the plow and a university 
trained clergyman in his study, who is well sup- 
plied with books. 

If we take the knowledge of God as consisting 
mainly of book knowledge; if we say that the 
knowledge of God obtained in this way is eternal 
life, are wc not cruel? For does not this imply 


that eternal life is a right that belongs to the 
man of study, and not to the swain who follows 
sheep? And we know this can Dot be true. Tf 
the knowledge of God is eternal life, the increase 
in this knowledge must be for sale for something 
which is at every one's disposal, the professor in 
his study, the day-laborer at his work, the busy 
mother in her home. This brings us of itself to 
the will. Intellectual attainment is not enough. 
Many students of great learning appear to have 
no knowledge of God at all, while many hard- 
working plain souls exhale the fragrance of eternal 

Here we touch the sensitive nerve of life itself. 
In every person operates a will. It comes into 
action every day. The will is in all and is active 
in everything. The working, the action, the power 
of the will, its impulse and passion may differ 
widely, but without will there is no action, no 
deed, no career in life. Every difference between 
man and man here falls away. Every one faces 
it daily for himself. In whatever high or low 
position one finds himself, there is a will that 
wills, a will that operates. It proceeds in a quiet 
and peaceful way. It is not something apart 
that is added to life. It is the urgency of life 
itself that beats and throbs in every artery. 
Softly, by the side of very quiet waters, this 
action of the will continues all day long through- 
out life. It is a never resting, but an ever newly- 
fed stream of choice of will, decision of will, 
action of will, continually, quietly rippling along, 
bearing life company and partly carrying it. 
Thus by these utterances of the will it is in the 
power of every one to continuously increase in 


the knowledge of God, and thereby to obtain ever 
larger possession and fuller enjoyment of eternal 
life, provided we separate this utterance of the 
will less and less from the will of God and derive 
it more and more from the will of God. Thus 
every idea of cruelty falls away. Whether life is 
limited or large, makes no difference. Even 
though it wears on like the quiet flow of a gentle 
stream, every day the knowledge of God can be 
enriched by it, and we can increase in everlasting 
life; a queen on her throne as well as the farm- 
hand behind the plow, a professor in his study 
who is no better than he who moves the shuttle 
in the loom. 

This goes softly, as by the side of very still 
waters, and the glory of it is that it asks for no 
extra time outside of the daily life. Every kind 
of learning demands special time. The daily task 
is broken up for it. Special time must be set 
apart for it. On the part of many people this 
is almost impossible. For most people's life is 
a mill which never stops. But even this is no 
drawback to the knowledge of God through "the 
willing of the will." For the will never operates 
outside of, but always in the life. Whether, 
therefore, you walk behind a plow, or stand 
behind the school-desk, or care for your children 
at home, or nurse the sick, it is all the same. It 
is all utterance and activity of will. And pro- 
vided we do not oppose our will to the will of 
God, and do not diverge from it, but bend our 
will after God's will, it is all one process of 
activity, whereby we increase in the knowledge of 
God, in order through this knowledge to mature 
in eternal life. 




By doing willingly what God wills us to do, 
we increase in the knowledge of God; not in 
barren book-knowledge, but in living soul-knowl- 
edge, which is itself eternal life. This springs 
from all sorts of causes, but not least from the 
fact that our willingness is not born from us, but 
is wrought in us by God. "He it is, writes the 
apostle, who worketh in you both to will and to 
do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). Hence 
there is first the willing, after that the W9rking 
through and according to our will, and while we 
work this action of the will in the soul, it is God 
who worketh it in us. It is self-evident that in 
this connection this last distinction must be made. 
Otherwise our willingness would merely be on 
the surface, and the child of God, in good works, 
would merely be a puppet moved mechanically. 
This distinction should be clearly understood. 
We ourselves will, not because of ourselves, but 
because God so worketh in us, that now we our- 
selves truly and actually will to do thus and not 
otherwise. It takes some pains to see this clearly, 
and it is easy to follow the advice not to con- 
cern ourselves with the several distinctions. But 
when we lend our ear to this advice of spiritual 
sloth, we do ourselves a wrong. 

Ask any physician how many distinctions he 
makes in a single group of nerves, or how many 
differences he observes in germs of disease in the 
blood. And will it do, that so much pains are 
taken in behalf of the body, which perishes, and 
not in behalf of the soul, which is so much more 
precious? But this tendency prevails. While 


almost every one has some sort of a manuel, 
illustrated if possible, from which to learn how 
the body is constructed, nothing is read about 
the soul. By far the larger numbers of people 
do not investigate it, but speak at random about 
the soul, and about the will, and the understand- 
ing, and everything is in a chaos, and so most' 
people continue all their lives strangers to their 
own inner selves. Everything else can be described. 
One is familiar with his house, village or city, 
and sometimes also with foreign lands. But the 
key to the chambers and vaults of his own soul 
has never been found. And since lack of self- 
knowledge is punished with meagre knowledge of 
God, one deprives himself of his share in the 
eternal life, which far excels all things else. We 
therefore urge the remembrance of the distinc- 
tion that has been made. When a martyr says: 
I will die for the name of the Lord Jesus, he 
must himself will to do it. It must be his own 
act. But that he himself so wills it, does not by 
nature spring from himself. It is wrought in him 
by God. 

To illustrate: Bring to your mind a ship. It 
has an helm. Attached to the helm is the tiller, 
and this is held in the hand of the boatswain. 
If at sea the ship moves with the suction of wind 
and waves, without being directed, every time 
the ship turns the helm turns, and with it the 
tiller, and with the tiller the hand and the arm 
of the man. This is the image of a man without 
a will. He is adrift on the sea of life. As the 
wind and waves move, so moves he, subject to 
the currents and influences from within and from 
without, of inclinations and of circumstances. As 

life moves him along, so he goes, and so turns 
the rudder in his inner purpose, and the tiller, 
and the hand that is upon it, i. e., his will. He 
■is a man without a will. This is altogether dif- 
ferent when there is direction in the ship. Then 
the man at the helm directs the course. He 
knows where he wants to go. And when wind 
and waves take him out of his course, he resists 
them. Then the hand takes firm hold on the 
tiller, turns it, and with it the helm, directly 
against wind and wave, and the ship that obeys 
the helm- cuts the waves, not as tide and wmd 
should will, but as the helmsman wills it. Such 
is the man of character, the man of will-percep- 
tion and will-power, who does not drift, but 
steers. But there is still a third. On the bridge 
of the ship, far away from the helm, stands the 
captain. He knows the intended course, and as 
on the bridge he stands much higher, he can see 
far better whether the ship should turn to the 
right or to the left. Then all the man at the helm 
has to do is to listen for orders from the captain 
on the bridge and to obey them. 

Apphed to the soul, God is the captain on the 
bridge, and the man at the helm is ourselves. 
When with the tiller of he boat of our soul in 
hand we but will what God wills, and turn the 
helm to the right or to the left as God orders, 
then there is no danger to be feared, and pres- 
ently through wind and waves, the boat safely 
reaches port. If this goes on for life, we become 
accustomed to it; in the end we learn to know 
ahead whether the captain on the bridge shall 
order right or left; we come to know God's will 
more and more as of ourselves ; and so the knowl- 

edge of God brings us nearer to the haven of sal- 
vation, i. e., to eternal life. 

From the illustration we come back to the 
matter itself. When God so works in us that at 
length we ourselves will what God wills, the 
process is not outward but inward. It is not that 
we are here on earth below, and that far away 
from us, and seated high above us in the heavens, 
from immeasurable distances God imparts a 
mechanical impulse to us. Far from it. God 
enters our inmost selves. 

To a certain extent this is even the case with 
the captain on the bridge who calls to the mate 
at the helm. For what is it to call? He who 
calls makes air-waves to vibrate and these vibra- 
tions extend themselves to the spot where the 
man stands at the helm. Thus the vibrating air- 
waves enter the ear of the mate, touch his 
auditory-nerve, which communicates the motion 
to his soul. Hence there is a direct, continuous 
movement, which from the captain penetrates into 
the soul of the mate. Thus the illustration covers 
the ground. 

But with the case in hand it is yet stronger. 
When God worketh in us he is the omnipresent 
One, who is both high in heaven and close at 
hand. Even "close at hand" is still too weak a 
statement, for God is in every one of us. There 
is no part in our being where God is not omni- 
present. This is the case with all men. But when 
God deals with one of his children, this inward 
presence is much closer and more personal, for 
God dwells in such an one by his Holy Spirit, 
If we believe that the Holy Spirit is himself 
God, we understand that God himself tabernacles 

168 - 

in his child, that he has his throne in the 
inmost recess of the child's soul, and thus has 
fellowship with him, not from afar, but in the 
sanctuary of his own person. There God worketh 
upon us by day and by night, even when we are 
not conscious of it. He is our Sculptor, who* 
carves in us the image of himself, and makes us 
more and more to resemble his own Being. Thus 
he transforms us, and also the willing in us. It 
is God who worketh in us, not only our emotions, 
but also our willing, by transforming "the self 
that wills." 

When we understand it this way, it is plain 
that there is a constant holy entering in of God's 
will into our will, thanks to this purifying and 
refining and transposing of our inmost selves. 
This work goes on in us mostly unobserved and 
unperceived, so tenderly and gently does God's 
hand direct the task. But not always just like 
this. Sometimes the sculptor must forcibly strike 
off a piece from the marble, so that it crashes 
and sphnters as it falls. These are our times of 
violent inward struggles, when everything within 
us quakes with the reverberations of moral shocks. 
But whether it be gentle or whether it be violent, 
it is ever the process of sculpturing. And the 
sculptor works not after a model that stands 
before him, but is himself the model. He forms 
us after his own image. 

This Divine labor in the realm of our will 
brings us ever into closer resemblance to the 
image of God. And to be more and more trans- 
formed after the image of God only means that 
God's will ever more deeply enters into om- will, 
which in turn means an ever better understand- 


ing of God, a better knowledge of him, and an 
ever clearer insight into his will and purpose. 
Thus we see that there is still another way of 
learning to know God than learning about him 
from books or sermons. 

* Further on we will try to show that this knowl- 
edge of God from books and sermons is also 
indispensable, but we pass it by for the present. 
It is eminently necessary that eyes that are now 
closed against seeing God's work in the inner 
life of the soul shall open to see this glorious 
work. Without an understanding of the reality 
of the life of the soul, and of God's work therein, 
there is neither power nor outpouring of the 
same, nor fruit of that power in the life. In that 
case the Church is dead. It only echoes sounds 
when it thinks that it sings Psalms of praise 
unto God. Then the world pushes the Church 
to a side, and not the Church the world. All 
attention therefore must be centered on the will, 
on the willingness, on the self that wills, and 
upon God who in the self works the willing. 

The poet in his songs prayed for feeling, 
imagination and heroic courage. For feeling, will- 
power and heroic courage let every child of God 
supplicate the Father. 


The distance that separates the noblest and 
mightiest man on earth from God is immeasur- 
ably great. We fully understand that it can 
make us exclaim almost despairingly: "Why 
should we seek after knowledge of God? Behold, 


God is great, and we know him not. The most 
we can do is to kneel in worship before the 
unknown God." 

This is what the doubters meant, who at 
Athens had reared an altar to the "Unknown 
God." They did not mean that besides the many- 
gods, whose altars had been reared, there was 
still another God, whose name they did not know 
and to whom they brought their offerings as to 
an unknown god. No, that altar to the unknown 
God stood for a system and a viewpoint. By 
that altar they meant to say, ''Our fellow- 
citizens in Athens, who kneel before Minerva or 
Jupiter are mistaken when they accept the 
stories about the gods. All that is said to be 
known of God is founded upon self-deception. 
Of the Infinite himself nothing can be known. 
There is an Infinite One, or at least there is 
something Infinite. Who or what it is, is an 
impenetrable mystery. Worship this Infinite as 
the great Unknown. Do it with the confession of 
ignorance. Candidly confess that all knowledge 
of God is withheld. And then mysticism will 
work wholesome effects. But let us not confess 
to have what we have not. Let us not pretend 
that we are introduced and initiated into the 
knowledge of God. For this is self-deception. 
It will only deceive others and is the key to 

This was the thought of that small group of 
men in Athens. And among the ablest and 
noblest of our race there are many who think 
so now. From choice they call themselves 
"Agnostics," Their aim and purpose is to have 
it imderstood that they are by no means godless, 

and least of all that they are irreligious; that 
indeed they are most religious and that therefore 
with deep humility they are frank to confess, that 
the God whom we worship is One who by his 
Supreme Majesty withholds his knowledge from 

However devout this may seem, their viewpoint 
is essentially untenable. It is diametrically 
opposed to Christian doctrine. What Paul 
declared to the Athenians: "That God, whom ye 
ignorantly worship, him declare we unto you," 
remains unchangeably the confession which we 
hold in the face of these misguided people. 
Surely, had not God revealed himself, no one of 
us would have known him. But God has made 
a revelation of himself. This is the glad tiding 
which every true Christian makes known in the 
world. Wherefore in the face of this seemingly 
pious not-knowing of the Agnostics, we boldly 
maintain the word of Christ: This is eternal 
life, that they might know thee, the Only true 

There is also excess on the other side. There 
are ministers and laymen who talk so familiarly 
about God, without reserve or constraint, and 
who speak to him in prayer so irreverently as to 
arouse aversion. These are men and women who 
have no actual fear of God in their heart, who 
think that they know well-nigh everything about 
the Most Highest, and who do not even faintly 
perceive that all our speaking about the Eternal, 
: nd all our speakina; to him. is nothing more 
than stammering. Love truly casts out fear. 
But fear must be there first, and love must 


struggle against it. In this way only the victory 
is gained of the child-like Abba Father. 

When God is spoken of in a way which shows 
that there has been no fear of God, nor love to 
cast it out; that there has been no struggle and 
consequently no triumph, there is no child-like 
Abba, dear Father, but a pedantic show and pre- 
tense of knowledge, which exhales no fragrance of 
piety, but rather destroys the germ of vital 
godliness. To avert this it is needful that our 
knowledge of God is properly related to our 
whole inner self, to our creation after God's 
image, to our childship in the family of God, 
and especially to our will and purpose. Purely 
intellectual knowledge of God is a frozen criLst 
of ice from under which the stream has run dry. 

Another distinction must be observed. There 
are two kinds of willingness. One just remains 
what it is, the other is translated into doing. In 
our days the inclination is strong to attribute an 
inner excellence to the willingness that expresses 
itself in doing. There is something bold and 
almost brutal in the will-life of our times. All 
one needs is to will. He who wills must dare. 
Then let come what will. In every case the will 
must express a power that can do everything. 
''Where there is a will there is a way." And 
under the lead of such men as Ibsen and others, 
this will-effort has been driven so onesidedly, 
that in their effort irresistibly to carry out their 
own will many pride themselves on their indif- 
ference to opposition. 

Compared with these present-day heroes of the 
will, a weakling like St. Paul cuts a very poor 
figure. He candidly declares that he has known 


moments in his life when he had to confess: 
"What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, 
that I do" (Rom. 7:15). This is an honest con- 
fession, which age upon age has been shamefully 
abused, that under the cloak of piety one might 
continue in sin and keep the conscience quiet. 
An abuse which shall be judged of God. But 
apart from this abuse the language of St. Paul 
is the honest description of actual life, which 
declares that the ideal always stands above us, 
and that we always have to mourn our inability 
to reach it, and to make 't actual in life. 

There is willingness of heart, and an effort to 
realize it in life. This willingness of heart is for 
the most part free. He who restrains evil ten- 
dencies and conforms his will to the will of God, 
fosters an holy aim. This involves conflict, but 
only in connection with the remnant of the old 
nature that is in us. As long as we stand aloof 
from life, and take council with our heart, a 
child of God will inwardly triumph, and finally 
he will come to will only what God wills, and 
find happiness in this harmony of his will with 
the will of God. 

Now, however, follows a still greater difficulty. 
And that is: to carry into effect what we will at 
heart, against the world, the flesh and the Devil. 
In connection with this it continually happens 
that with the best will of the heart we meet with 
stubborn resistance; that we find no power in 
ourselves to cope with it; and that in the end we 
leave undone what we honestly meant to do and 
still want to do. This tempts us all too often 
to underestimate this inner willingness of heart. 
What is the good, we ask, whether we foster the 


best of intentions and cherish holiest purposes, 
when at the time of trial we are bound to fail? 
And this mood must be resisted. This is debase- 
ment of self. It not only unfits one for the 
battle of life, but severs the vital nerve which 
binds one to his Divme ideal. Better faint ten 
times and suffer the punishment of God's judg- 
ment in the conscience than to have part with 
the world in everyday sin without an accusing 

This inner willingness of heart to will what 
God wills has supreme worth, even though as yet 
strength fails to carry it into effect. For it is the 
development of the life of God's child. It is 
coming into closer fellowship with God. It is 
the increase in the knowledge of God. It is a 
discipline which keeps the conscience tender, and 
the ideal bright, and makes progress in the way. 

Of course the progress is greater when willing- 
ness of heart is carried out in the deed, until it 
becomes a part of life. For then the moral power 
of faith operates, the nature of the hero awakens 
and the power of the Almighty, which overcomes 
the world, becomes manifest in us. But it does 
not begin with this. It begins with the transpos- 
ing of the willingness in the heart. This is fol- 
lowed by the sad and painful experience that the 
willingness is there, but that the doing still 
tarries. In that stadium the strong and pene- 
trating working of the conscience performs 
wonders, for it brings us at length into the final 
stadium, from bare willingness what God 
wills we are brought to the doing of his good 



In the "Our Father," and in Gethsemane, it 
is each time the same prayer: "Thy will be 
done." But though the emphasis and the words 
are alike both times, the meaning is different. 
In the "Our Father" "Thy will be done" means: 
"Thy will, O God, be done by me." In Geth- 
semane it means: "Let thy will, O God, come 
upon me. Let come to me what may, not as I 
will, but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39). The latter 
prayer brings a large part of the knowledge of 
God which is eternal life. We increase in this 
knowledge when our will conforms itself to the 
will of God, so that we think, speak and act in 
perfect harmony with his ordinances. Thus we 
grow in the knowledge of God, because his will 
then enters into us, whereby our will is trans- 
formed, and conformity to the Image of God 
becomes ever more apparent. 

But there is another increase in the knowledge 
of God which comes to us when we are willing to 
suffer what God allows to come upon us, when 
we adapt ourselves to what in his council he 
has appointed in our behalf, and when we accept 
the things that come to us therein not merely 
without murmuring and complaint, but with 
heroic faith. This increase in the knowledge of 
God progresses differently and along lines of a 
far more painful discipline. The stress consists 
in this: That, accepting the will of God in our 
lot, we bear it passively. When "Thy will be 
done" means: "Let me fulfill thy will as the 

angels fulfil it in heaven/' it stimulates our energy, 
St r?^ up the will, and when we overcome sin the 
heart overflows with the feeling of supreme joy. 
But when "Thy will be done" means : "Let things 
occur not as I desire, but in keeping with thy 
plan," there is need of submission and resignation 
that we might endure what God appoints and 
allows. In the lower school of suffering at least 
there is no development of energy at such a time, 
but inward enervation; no stimuli to spur the 
will, but cords that tightly bind it; no smile of 
courageous heroism, but the tear of poignant 
sorrow. It leads to deeper knowledge of God, 
but as a rule in a far more trying way, through 
dark mazes of many unknown and unsolvable 
riddles. Problems that try one's mettle to the 
uttermost, when it comes not merely to momen- 
tary suffering of pain, but to the endurance of a 
bitter lot, which begins early in life and ends 
only with the grave. 

This frequently happens in life. Here is a 
woman who was a happy wife. Husband and 
child were her daily delight. She was not irre- 
ligious. Heartfelt gladness found frequent expres- 
sion in thanksgivings and praise. "The love of 
the Heavenly Father was great. He made her 
happy and glad." But circumstances changed. 
Great illness broke in upon her peace. Husband 
and child were snatched away by death. And 
now that everything is gone she can not be com- 
forted. The grieved and deeply-wounded soul 
rises up in rebellion against God. It has all been 
self-deception. She feels that in every way she 
has been misled. God can not be love. How 


could a loving God cruelly cast her down from 
the heights of her great happiness into the depths 
of bereavement and woe? In perplexity of grief 
her language becomes that of despair and of 
defiant unbelief. "Speak no more of God to me. 
Cruelty can not be love. There is no God." 
And so the break of happiness in life becomes 
the break of faith on God. She thought that she 
knew the Lord. Now that he shows himself in 
a different way from what she had imagined she 
abandons all she ever believed. With husband 
and child she also lost her God. And nothing 
is left in the soul but the burned-out hearth 
where the last spark has been extinguished. 

This shows how hard in the school of suffering 
the lesson is by which we increase m the knowl- 
edge of God. When for the first time in life the 
full weight of the cross is laid upon the shoulders, 
the first effect is the opposite from that for which 
it was imposed. It makes us numb and indif- 
ferent, and all knowledge of God is lost. The 
hymn of love was so beautiful. It sang itself as 
it were in the soul. A God who is nothing but 
love, who blesses and enriches our life and makes 
it glad, who would not treasure such knowledge 
of God. It is pleasing to us when love is 
shown, and nothing but love. How blessed and 
rich is the heart with a God who makes only 
streams of love, happiness and peace to flow out 
towards us. 

But the day of adversity dawns, the day of 
trouble and disappointment, the day of sickness 
and bitter grief. "Where now is the love of my 
God? Where the outflow of love from the Father- 

heart? Not only has he not saved me my dying 
husband and child, and left me praying without 
coming to my aid, but he has brought these 
sorrows upon me. He sent illness into my home, 
and 0, it is almost too cruel for words, he has 
torn my husband from my heart and has killed 
my darling child." In the end this will lead to 
another and a better knowledge of God, which 
will make his doings plain. But the first feel- 
ing of the heart is, that with God, as we imag- 
ine and dream him to be, we can not get 
along. We lose the God we had, and it takes 
many bitter conflicts of soul before, purified in 
our knowled<2;e of the true God, we embrace him 
in place of the other. 

Thus the first lesson is, that in everyday life 
we learn to submit to an higher appointment 
and bow before an Omnipotence against which 
we can do nothing. This seems dreadful. But 
it is the discovery in actual life of God as God. 
When we have but just come into the way that 
leads to the cross, we take ourselves as the main 
object of interest. It is our happiness, our honor, 
our future, and God is added in. We look on our- 
selves as the center of things, and God comes in 
to make us happy. The father is for the sake of 
the child. And the Almightiness which is con- 
fessed is but to serve our interests. 

This knowledge of God is faulty through and 
through. It turns around the order of things. In 
all seriousness it makes self God and God our 
servant. This false knowledge of God is entirely 
overthrown by the cross. Cast down in grief and 
sorrow we suddenly perceive that this great God 


does not concern himself with, lis; that he does 
not apportion or regulate the course of things 
according to our desire; that there are different 
motives in his plan, which have nothing to do 
with our wishes; that if necessary his Might 
crushes us on the spot; and that in the working 
of the plan and of the might we are nothing 
else, and nothing more, than particles of dust 
that cleave to the wheel, and withered leaves 
that are driven before the wind. Hence we must 
submit. We must bend. We are utterly impotent 
before it. And from the heavens in which we 
beheld thus far only the play of light and clouds, 
darkness descends upon the soul, thunder-claps 
reverberate in the heart, and flashing lightnings 
fill us with dismay. This is the discovery of the 
reality of God, of his overwhelming Majesty, of 
an Almightiness that absorbs everything we call 
our own. And for the first time we realize what 
it is to have to do with the living God. For 
such is God. Now we know him. 

And now begins the new effort of the soul to 
learn to understand this true God whom we have 
come to know in this way. Then we begin to 
wonder, to query and to ponder why Almighty 
God doeth thus and so. Then the troubled heart 
seeks an explanation. It looks for it in its own 
guilt and sin, in the after-effects of the past, in 
the purpose for which the cross was laid upon 
us, and in the fruit which it shall bear in the 
unravelling of eternity. For long times it is 
always the effort to find the explanation of God's 
doings in ourselves. Until the soul makes further 
progress and abandons the theory of Job's friends, 


and like Job out of the whirlwind receives the 
answer from God himself, and now learns to 
understand that the government of God covers all 
suns and stars, all hours and centuries, and causes 
every creature to revolve itself about him, the 
Eternal, as the one and only center, for the sake 
of his majesty and honor; that therefore his 
council and plan are as high as heaven, and far 
exceed our compreheL ion; and that not the 
verification of his Council, but the entering into 
the life of it, whether through joy or whether 
through sorrow, is the honor and self-exaltation 
of the soul. 

This breaks the passiveness which made us 
numb, and awakens again the impulse to will- 
ingly drink the cup; to drink it with heroic cour- 
age and not allow it to be forced upon us. To 
will to drink it even as Jesus willed to die on 
Golgotha; with a broken heart to co-operate in 
the work of God, and in this passive co-operation 
with God, who slays us, to find eternal life. It 
is even as the sentinel who lets himself be shot 
down at his post, and in dying receives the look 
of approval from his general, which exalts him, 
because he knows, and now understands, that he 
who exposed him to death, yet loved him. 


"I LOVE." 

At times there is something so overpowering, 
extravagant and unreasonable in the early love of 
a youth for the maiden of his choice, and of the 


maiden for the elect of her heart, that we feel 
that there is a mysterious, inexplicable power at 
play. This is not always so with those who are 
betrothed. Eccentric tension of the mystery of 
love is rather the exception. Neither should this 
doting, intoxicating love be associated with 
sensual inclinations or voluptuous desire. 'The 
ecstacy of love" in question here only shows itself 
with those who are in love, and while it pervades 
the soul and body both, even in our sinful state, 
it* can well be free from sensual propensities. 

When this rapture is equally warm and true on 
both sides, the w^orld hears nothing of it. Near 
families and friends alone are in the secret. 
Frequently, however, it reveals itself in a tragic 
manner, as when the young maiden discovers 
that her ardent love finds no equally ardent 
response in the heart of her lover. Scarcely a 
day passes that the papers do not report the case 
of some girl, in the home-town or abroad, who 
was betrothed and passionately in love, and who 
upon discovering that her lover was untrue to 
her, found life itself too heavy a load to carry, 
and preferring death to life sought it in suicide. 

''Ecstacy of love" is a high-strung degree of 
affection which takes the person whom it masters 
out of his normal self and transports him into an 
excited state of mind, which though it is not 
insanity, shows signs that are similar to it. There- 
fore we began by saying that it is outside of 
reason. One who is in this state of ecstacy can 
not be advised nor reasoned with. As Burger in 
his Leonora tells the tale so graphically, for those 


who so love, there is only one of two things 
thinkable; either they must be loved with equal 
warmth in return, or they can find no rest until 
they find it in death. 

This should not be taken too ideally. It does 
not follow by any means that such a young 
maiden stands exceptionally high as a woman. 
Rather on the contrary not infrequently such 
ecstacy takes hold of girls who are very ordinary 
0''".erwise, sometimes even very egotistical. In 
course of time also in many cases this ecstacy 
entirely passes away and nothing remains save a 
very ordinary, and sometimes a low-lived person. 
In the ordinary sense it is not passion that over- 
power^ such a girl. And this ecstacy may be best 
explained as an inclination bordering on insanity 
to identify her life with that of another. It is a 
noteworthy phenomenon. An overpowering desire 
in the heart, which when doomed to disappoint- 
ment makes one quickly and resolutely seek death, 
is an utterance in human life wliich deserves 

The Song of Songs describes this ecstacy of 
love, and aims to outline an image of the love 
of the soul for God. The whole Scripture 
stretches the canvas on which at length the Song 
of Solomon embroiders the image in vivid colors. 
Human marriage is the embodiment of the tie 
that binds God and his people together, God and 
the individual soul. Jehovah calls himself Israel's 
husband, and declares that he has betrothed him- 
self to Israel in righteousness. Infidelity against 
the Iloly one is called a whoring in idolatry. 


Thus it is ever the God-given love between hus- 
band and wife, which in vivid imagery is the 
standing expression of the love that binds the 
soul to God. In the New Testament this is 
applied to Christ. He, the son of God's good 
pleasure, is called the Bridegroom of his Church, 
and his church is the Bride, who invokes him. 

When Jesus analyzes the great commandment 
of love, he turns to the Eternal Being, and out- 
lines this love in terms which describe the 
ecstacy as in life. To love God with all the 
heart, with all the soul, with all the mind and 
with all the strength, what else is this than to 
be entirely lost in, and consumed by, a higher 
drawing, which makes us ignore every other con- 
sideration, in order to know and to find and to 
enjoy the object of our love, in which to lose 
ourselves altogether? The deep significance which 
the love between husband and wife should 
always have, and which it frequently still has, 
can only be explained from the fact that in this 
love God has imaged forth the highest love 
between himself and the soul. 

This lends an holy and exalted character to 
this high-strung love. This accounts for the fact 
that when this love develops harmoniously and 
nobly, it creates the purest happiness on earth; 
that in its sensual degeneration it works ruin and 
corruption; and that when suddenly and inhar- 
moniously it takes hold of a receptive mind, it 
wrests the intoxicated soul away from itself and 
leaves it a prey to semi-frenzy. For back of it 
all operates the higher love, which God has 
formed in the tie between himself and his 


creature, and it is only the sinful character of 
our earthly existence that unites what does not 
belong together, makes soul and body part com- 
pany, and breaks the equilibrium of the inclina- 
tions, so that what is best and holiest turns itself 
into sensuality or frenzy. Like the snow-flake, 
which comes down from the clouds pure white 
but is soiled through contact with the impurity 
of this world. 

Nevertheless, if we would understand what our 
love for God should be, we must come back to 
conjugal love. In the authorized version Psalm 
116:1 reads: ''I love the Lord." In the orig- 
inal it only states: I love. We would say: I 
am in love. It is an utterance of the soul when 
it perceives that the power of love has irresist- 
ibly taken hold upon it; when it feels itself 
inwardly moved as never before, and driven by 
an unknown inward pressure; perceives and knows 
that this is love, and in ecstacy exclaims: "I 
love, I love, I love." And as this wonderful inner 
motion of the heart transports the maiden with 
dehght, when this love directs itself to the young 
man of her choice, so here the same irresistible 
pressure operates, only in an entirely holy man- 
ner, lifting the soul above every other thought 
and directing it to God. With the young maiden 
it was but the faint impression of the highest; 
here it is the highest itself. Et-ernal love, which 
at last moves the pure tie between God and the 
soul to operate fully and harmoniously, and 
makes the soul to love with all the intensity 
which human powers can command. 

This is not the mysticism of imagination. It is 

not knowing God by the acts of the will. Neither 
is it knowing God through the analytic studies 
of confessional standards. It is the close approach 
to God with the warm, tender feeling of the 
throbbing heart that craves to be cherished; it is 
to have longed and languished for what can quiet 
the burning desires of the heart; to have tried 
everything that can be tried; to have suffered 
disappointment with it all, and now at last to 
find the true, perfect and holy object of the love 
of the heart; to receive God himself in the soul; 
and in this love to be supremely happy. 

The difference is perceived at once between 
this love and what is commonly passed as loving 
God. Who does not love God? Every one 
indeed, who is not out and out an atheist. Why 
should he not be loved? In him everything is 
pure and holy and exalted. There is nothing in 
him why he should not be loved, and every one 
feels that he is worthy of the love of all. The 
masses in general love God. They have nothing 
.against him. In God they find their ideal of 
what is beautiful, right and good. Therefore they 
•can not do otherwise. Even as they love virtue, 
and right, so tliey also love God. But in this 
Platonic love glows no tiniest spark of personal 
relationship and attachment. It is called love for 
God, but God has no place in the soul or in the 
mind. The inclination and drawing of the heart 
do not go out after him. There is nothing in 
this love of a burning thirst after God, such as 
makes the heart pant after the water brooks. 

By the side of this cool, measured, pseudo-love 
of the world, which is heartless, the Scripture 


places the utterance of tenderest piety that seeks 
after God, and finds him, and is aglow with 
warmest love for him; can not do without him; 
of itself thinks of him; is continually busy with 
him; and directs evers^ utterance of the soul to 
him and to him alone. And in this love there 
is a knowledge of God, which no analytical study, 
no work of the imagination, and no power of the 
will can bring us. It is to love, and in this love 
itself to enjo}^ eternal life. And thus to know 
God with an intimacy such al you would deem 
would not be seemly in a creature. Until in the 
hereafter every wall of separation shall fall away, 
and God in us and we in him shall be the per- 
fection of highest Love. 



To the superficial mind nothing seems so easy 
as to love. Of course, one loves himself. It is 
not at all difficult to love God. The only trouble 
sometimes is to love one's neighbor as oneself. 
Even this is not because there is no will and no 
power to love, but because at times this neighbor 
makes it almost impossible. 

This is altogether a mistaken view. To love 
God is far more difficult than to love one's neigh- 
bor. It can safely be said that where there are 
ten who love their neighbor, there is at most only 
one who is consumed with love for God. 

Jesus, therefore, has put love for God in the 


foreground as the first and great commandment. 
There is less complaint in the Bible about lack 
of brotherly love than about forgetfulness of God. 
The Apostle shows that this was no Jewish exag- 
geration, when in his epistle to the Romans he 
reiterates the bitter complaint of the Psalmist 
that: "There is none that seeketh after God, no, 
not one." This does not exclude the fact that 
love for God can be poured out in the soul. It 
is frequently observed that this Divinely-out- 
poured love which at first was small and weak, 
afterwards became stronger and more tender. 
But take a man by himself, as he grows up by 
nature, not only among good-for-nothings and 
criminals, but equally much among cultivated and 
honorable people, there is no love in that man 
for God. He does not seek God. Indeed, there 
is no one who really loves God in the way in 
which God requires it. 

For a long time this seemed to be different, 
but it was appearance only. Even at the begin- 
ning of the last century it was still the rule among 
the rank and file of our people to favor religion 
And to abhor every form of atheism. Without 
willing to be called pious, no one desired to be 
known as irreligious, and on solemn occasions the 
name of the Lord was always remembered. Are 
people worse now than formerly? By no means. 
They have emancipated themselves more gen- 
erally. But on the whole people now are what 
they were before. Only with tliis difference, that 
now unbelief is preached more boldly from the 
pulpit and university chairs, in the press and in 
open meetings. Has this practice provoked a 


single protest? Not at all. On the contrary, in 
the course of an ordinary hfetime the faith has 
been abandoned in ever widening circles, and 
there is almost no more shame now in being 
credited with atheism. Even this is nothing new. 
The selfsame condition prevailed in Israel in the 
days of its spiritual apostacy. This is convinc- 
ingly shown when God himself through Isaiah 
utters this reproach against his people: "Thou 
hast lied, for thou hast not laid Me upon thine 
heart" (Is. 57:11, Dutch version). 

It is very necessary therefore to examine still 
more closely what it is to love the Lord. Neces- 
sary also for believers, since even among them 
there glitters much that seems like the gold of 
love, but which is no gold. The first step is to 
realize that "to love God" is not the easiest, but 
the hardest thing to which faith calls us. Ordi- 
narily love is taken as willingness to consider 
others and to do all we can to make them happy. 
This is seen on every side where philanthropy 
awakens. Love there directs itself first, most gen- 
erously and easily, to the unfortunate, and it is 
a matter of congratulation that this generously 
interpreted philanthropy is carried, in these days, 
on such large scales. This teaches us to bring 
ofiferings, it invites devotion, it lessens much suf- 

But with this aspect of love, we make no 
advances with God. He is blessed forever more. 
He is not in need of anything. In notliing is he 
in need of us. We can furnish him no supply. 
Pity, which gives rise to philanthropic love, can 


never inspire us when it concerns the ever Blessed 
One. Here another kind of love is required. A 
love which springs from the perception that we 
belong with God by reason of our origin and man- 
ner of existence; that we are his creatures; and 
that therefore we can have no reason for being, 
no object for existenec. and no future desi.iny 
except in him. The hollow idea that we have a 
reason for existence in ourselves is robbery com- 
mitted against God. It is the wheel which 
detached from the wagon wants to roll on by 
itself. And when a man has thus actually detached 
himself from God, and from the heights of his 
imagined independence has turned himself to God, 
to love him as an outside something, and calls 
that love, it is worse than caricature and 
mockery. It is the outrage of love, which does 
not make us holy, but accuses and condemns us 
before God. 

To love God is to abandon everything that 
separates us from God, and every moment of 
our life to live wholly for God. To love God is 
to reconsecrate to God what became separated 
from God. It is a motion in the soul which is 
born in us, when magnetizing power goes out 
from God. and draws u;* to God. A prossiu'e and* 
an inclination in us, which leaves us no rest for 
a moment; and every time pushes aside, or back 
everything that separates or draws us away from 
God, and thus leaves us free to hold communion 
with God. 

This is first observed in prayer. Take heed, 
says the Apostle (I Pet. 3:7) that your prayers 

be not hindered. You feel this yourself when you 
want to pray, and cannot, because of the things 
that stand between you and God. Your thoughts, 
inclinations and feelings must first be detached 
from them all. They must be driven out from 
the mind. And then God comes back to you, and 
you can pray again. And what happens in prayer 
one moment must happen in every particular of 
your whole life; for only then will true love for 
God begin to awaken in you. 

Jesus had this in view when he said: ''Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, 
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and 
with all thy strength." These four together con- 
stitute the inner organization of our spirit. These 
four get implicated every time in egotistical or 
worldly interests. And therefore they operate 
wrongly. They separate us from the Holy One. 
And this is love, that we detach all four from 
these wrong connections and turn them, not in 
part, but entirely, to God. 

This is not really an offering. An offering is 
something of our own, which we could keep for 
ourselves, but which we freely give up to another. 
Nothing is said of this here, and never can be. 
Our heart is from God, our soul is from God, 
our mind is from God, and all our powers are his 
property. Hence we bring God nothing. We but 
return what belongs to him. And when we do 
this, and do it in such a way that our heart and 
soul and mind and strength, all four, direct them- 
selves to him, and serve him altogether, the sep- 
aration is ended and love celebrates her triumph, 


Then it becomes the shamefacedness of the thief, 
who returns what he had stolen and makes no 
boast of merit; but prays to be forgiven. 

This is what the prophet calls "to lay God upon 
the heart." Love is a tender, touching emotion, 
which needs symbols. This gave rise in olden 
times to the custom among lovers to wear each 
other's picture on the heart. It meant that one 
had given the other heart and hand, and that 
now one wears this symbol on the heart as a 
continual warning not to let the heart, thus 
sealed, for a moment go out to another, but to 
keep it faithfully for the one that is loved. And 
to lay God upon the heart means that the choice 
has been made, that the heart has been given to 
God, and that now the symbol of God's name is 
placed upon it, to seal the heart for God, and 
closely to guard the heart for God and God alone. 

The case remains always the same. It is not 
to love God in order to bring him something, 
but to lose self in God because we belong to him, 
and because b}^ this consecration of ourselves 
to him alone, can the end of our oxistenco be 
realized. To do all this, not in the mechanical 
form of a calculation, but through the losing of 
self in the ecstacy of tenderest love, is the first 
and great commandment; this is to know the 
Lord, to feel oneself as a child with his Father, 
and to be inwardly consumed by the love of God 
which is poured out into our hearts. The ques- 
tion remains, how many there are, even among 
the pious in the land, who in this way have laid 
God upon their heart? 




The commandment that ^.e shall love our neigh- 
bor as ourselves is so strongly emphasized in these 
days, that among the rank and file of people the 
first and great commandment is more and more 
forgotten. That it is everyone's calling first of 
all not only to serve the Lord, but to love him — 
who thinks of this? 

This substitution of the second in the place of 
the first commandment has captivated the popu- 
lar mind to such an extent, that even among 
believers love for God has lost much warmth and 
tenderness. Appeals in the house of prayer for 
charitable and philanthropic work get more eager 
hearing than the far higher call of love for God. 
This changing and turning about of the order 
here is fatal. He who loves God will also love 
his brother. But it does not hold true in every 
case that he who loves his brother also loves God. 
The first commandment guarantees the second, 
but not the second the first. To be warmly 
affectioned toward God, and cold toward a 
brother, is unthinkable. But many men and 
women are prominent in all sorts of charitable and 
philanthropic works who are stone-cold toward 
God, and who at times even deny his existence. 

It is necessary,' therefore, that the counterpoise 
be placed in the scale, and that throughout the 
church the great commandment to love God be 
solemnly impressed upon the heart. The voice 
of this call should everywhere be loudly heard 
again. And the preacher would have a right 
understanding of his duty if week by week he 

would bind this love for God upon the con- 
science of his hearers, with such warmth and elo- 
quence, that the whole congregation would be 
impressed with his tender devotion to God, and 
would be inspired by his zeal to such a degree 
as to be itself revived in its love for God, with 
the board of ofl&cials in the lead. The press also 
should have a part in this. By means of these 
meditations we seek to direct attention in every 
possible way to the necessity of making, more 
than has yet been done, communion with, and 
knowledge of, and love for God, our daily busi- 
ness. Sound creeds, a blameless walk, and good 
works are undoubtedly indispensable. But the 
marrow of all religion is fellowship with the 
Eternal. And in this fellowship it is only love 
for God in which the brightness of gold glitters. 
And yet as soon as we press this love for God, 
we face a very great diflBculty. It presents itself 
in the two words, which stand at the head of 
this meditation, or rather in the last of the two, 
even in this painful word all. Would you love 
God? Then, says Jesus, you must love him 
with all your soul, with all your heart, and with 
all your mind. And this, let us humbly confess, 
is not achieved in this life by the holiest of saints. 
Sin and the world have so estranged us from God 
that sometimes it takes an utmost effort, even a 
few times a day, apart from our regular prayers, 
to lift up the heart to God in a conscious utter- 
ance of love. Is it saying too much when we 
add, that many prayers are said at home and in 
church, during which the soul does not commune 
with God? And when at times we did succeed 
in having the soul go out in love to God, what 


then was the degree of tenderness m the love, 
and how long did this exaltation of soul con- 
tinue? More yet, how often did it become m us 
a thirsting after God? And suppose we have 
come thus far, not every day, but most days 
how far distant are we even then from loymg Uod 
with all the heart, and all the soul, and all our 
consciousness? For this all must also mclude all 
the day, so that our love for God never escapes 
us, even in sleep. , 

Naturally, a distinction must here be made. 
Love for God can spring up m the heart, can 
scintillate in the word, can restram sm and selt- 
ishness, and inspire deeds of devotion and heroic 
courage. But the inspiration of this love can 
ver\^ well operate in us, while we may not be con- 
scious of our love for God, nor of the reciprocal 
working of God's love for us in our heart. J^rom 
love for God a martyr can go into death, and m 
the moment of dying be so abstracted by deadly 
pain, or by the taunts of his executioners, that 
for the moment tender communion of love with 
God is impossible. It is equally true that busi- 
ness or professional duties, intercourse with peo- 
ple and the cares of daily life may so engage 
our minds that with perchance a passing thought 
of God, we are utterly unable to center our mind 
on God. But though we keep all this out of 
count, it is still the great commandment, to love 
God with all the heart, with all the soul, and 
with all the mind. And who of us has ever suc- 
ceeded in doing more of this than a small part 

of the whole? ^ • . . i r 

But there is One who has not fainted betore 
this first and great commandment, but no more 


than one: even Christ. Jesus alone has fulfilled 
the second commandment of love to fellowmen, 
and with respect to this, be it at a far distance, 
many saints have pressed his footsteps. But in 
the fulfilment of the first and great commandment 
Jesus stands incomparably alone. He alone has 
loved God with all his heart, with all his soul, 
with all his mind and with all his strength, 
always, even unto the end, without one moment's 
interruption. This is his crown of glory. Therein 
is the life of the world. Think him away and 
the whole world, with its thousand millions of 
people, stands before God without one among 
them who has kept the great, supreme and first 
commandment. But he has come, and now there 
is One from whose real human heart and real 
human soul and real human consciousness pro- 
ceeds this pure, full, unalloyed love for God, for 
the joy of which. Almighty God has created all 
mankind. This is the shield which is lifted up 
upon us. This accounts for the fact that God 
can still tolerate this world and bear it. 

With us also this will come. Many of our 
beloveds, who in the earth did not reacK it by 
far, in the realms of everlasting light now bring 
this perfect love-ofifering to God. And we shall 
come to it when in death we shall fully die unto 
sin and we shall be done with the world, and 
shall know God even as we are known. That 
is, if we fall asleep in Jesus, if in death there 
shall be nothing left to separate us from him. 

And that which makes us cleave to Christ is 
just this: That we love God, that the love of 
God has been poured out in our hearts, that the 
love of God has operated in us, that with us 

the love of God has come first, and that with all 
our imperfections and shortcomings it has been 
our deepest desire and will to have God's love 
be our supremest inspiration, and that it has pre- 
pared us for what is highest and best. And this 
is the mystery of being a Christian, that as we 
hide ourselves in the perfect love wherewith 
Jesus has loved God, through the glow of his 
love for God, we feel the spark of our love for 
God burn in our own heart, and that, when it 
goes out, Jesus kindles it again. 


Underneath, still deeper than the heart, lives 
the soul. When God searches a person he tries 
not merely the heart, but enters still more deeply 
into his being. The Scripture expresses this 
plastically by saying that after God has tried the 
heart he also trieth the reins (Jer. 11:20) in 
order to examine us in our inmost parts. In 
moments of extreme tension it is felt, even among 
us, that the heart is not yet all, but that we must 
reach down to the marrow of our inmost self. 
We see it in the case of Jonathan. When David 
had sworn that he would alwa5"s be faithful to 
him and to his house, Jonathan, deeply moved, 
replied: "Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will 
even do it for thee" (I Sam. 20:4). 

In all seriousness the only element of worth 
in the heart is that whidi comes into it from the 
soul, and passes through it to the soul. What 
goes on outside of the soul may indeed be very 
attractive. It is less captivating when only the 

outward appearance interests us. It is more 
strongly attractive when we admire a man's cour- 
age and energy, devotion and self-sacrifice. But 
all this passes away. We do not assimilate it into 
our life. As a rule, the emotions of the heart, 
which do not touch the soul, do not rise higher 
than the feelings, sometimes not higher even than 
the pseudo-life of sentimentality. The function 
of the heart onh' derives all real, abiding worth 
from the relation which it sustains to the soul. 

This does not imply bj^ any means that the 
heart is a superfluity, and that the soul alone is 
important. On the contrary the heart has been 
given us of God as an absolutely indispensable 
organ of the soul. That which stirs in the soul 
can only come through the means of the heart to 
that supreme perception and lofty utterance 
which we glorify as love. In the great command- 
ment, therefore, Jesus puts the heart in the fore- 
ground. First: Thou shalt love the Lord thy 
God with all thine heart, and only then: Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul. 

This could not be otherwise. Love does not 
have its beginnings in the soul, but in God. It 
comes to us from God. And only when this love 
from God enters through the heart into the soul 
does it awaken in the soul the life of reciprocal 
love for God, which now presses from the soul 
into the heart and makes us to love God. But 
this last stage is only reached through he heart. 
In the heart only is the flame ignited, and there 
the fire of love burns. As long as love is con- 
fined to the soul it partakes more of the nature 
of worship. The heart alone breathes forth 
tenderness and warmth. Only when we love God 


with all the heart does this love begin to glow 
in us with real human feeling. 

Love of the heart is irresistible, mutual attrac- 
tion. The Scripture speaks of it more than once 
as: "a cleaving of the soul unto God." When 
the magnet draws the steel so closely to itself 
that there is even no more air between, the steel 
cleaves unto the magnet. Hence when so tender 
an affection springs up between people, that at 
length everything that separated them falls away, 
heart cleaves unto heart and soul cleaves unto 
soul. In the same way there is no perfect love 
for God until everything is removed that made 
separation between him and us. And it also 
applies to this love that our heart, and through 
the heart, our soul cleaves unto God. 

This is a strong and forcible expression, such 
as the Scripture uses again and again. So strong 
that we ask: Shall it ever be true with us? But 
this is no question for the child of God. As a 
rule, indeed, a mountain of hindrances rises 
between the soul and God. In spite of this, how- 
ever, every child of God has known brief 
moments, in retirement and solitude, in which the 
love of God drew him so strongly and irresist- 
ibly, and God's blessed fellowship in Christ over- 
whelmed him so blessedly, that really everything 
fell away, and for the moment the cleaving of 
the heart unto God was the only true expression 
of what the soul enjoyed and felt towards God. 
What is called power of attraction in nature, 
in the spiritual is called love. Love is not some- 
thing artificial, something studied, but is of itself. 
WTien any one loves you, you feel it. You feel 
whether the love which interests you, and draws 

you, is strong or weak. And when a great love 
directs itself to you, goes out after you, and 
begins to affect you, you likewise feel the irre- 
sistibleness of its drawing. 

Jesus himself calls this outgoing of love ''draw- 
ing." The Father draws his elect. Of himself 
the Savior said I will draw all men unto me. 
That is to say, I will play upon your heart with 
such power of grace and love that you will come 
with me, surrender yourself to me, and serve me. 
There is ovenvhelming power therefore in this 
love, but so far from violently inflicting injury, 
it affects one most blessedly. As the sun draws 
the flower-bud upward, and by his cherishing 
warmth makes it to unfold, so this love of God 
draws you up to himself, fills you with most 
blessed sensations that make the heart to leap 
with holiest joy. You drink in this love, or if 
you like, it is richest enjoyment for the soul. 
And in the wealth of this tested love of God, 
pure and tender love for God awakens of itself 
in your heart. 

There is also love for the impersonal. We can 
speak vaguely of love of nature, when it interests 
us by its beauty and loveliness, or awes us by its 
sublimity. We can love science, righteousness, 
everything that is noble and of good report. But 
all this is visionary love — love in general, which 
finds no rest because the soul that personsally 
lives and loves, can only find satisfaction in per- 
sonal I'ove. For this reason there is something 
tender already in the' love for a song-bird or 
domestic animal. Here love concentrates itself 
upon a definite object and there is a reciprocal 
utterance. The attractiveness of a dog can be 


very great, because there is personal response. 
This is not the case with nature, nor with science 
or jurisprudence; but it is with a dog that will 
risk his life for you. 

All this, however, is but the prelude of higher 
love, and only with man it begins to speak in 
richer language, and to reveal its higher nature. 
And here, too, is ascent with differences. The 
love of mother and child, of father and son, of 
brother and sister, of friend and friend. Until 
at last we come to holy wedlock. This may at 
times be degraded by sin, but in its ideal inter- 
pretation it is highest love on earth, and there- 
fore it is stamped by God himself as the symbol 
of the love that binds him to his elect. 

But even in marriage love does not reach its 
full fruition. According to its nature it is con- 
scious of an impulse which rises higher still. And 
when finally love begins to reach out after the 
Highest Being, and j^ou feel that the spark of love 
for God has been kindled in your heart by God 
himself, j^ou perceive that love in you is now 
where it ought to be, that it can rise no higher, 
but also that it has no such desire, and that 
therefore it is thrice blessed. 

The conflict which then ensues is caused b\^ our 
inequality with God. He is everything, we noth- 
ing. He the High and Exalted One, we the vain 
creatures of his hand. We owing him everj--- 
thing. He needing nothing. And therefore he 
can take nothing at our hand. Among ourselves 
love is mutual as between equals. No great per- 
sonal love can develop between a strong man and 
a small child. The little child can not rise to the 
level of the fully developed man. Nor can he 


descend to the child otherwise than by disin- 
terested kindness. 

And this is just what God has done for us. He 
has done it in Christ. In Christ he has come 
to us as man, to make the inequalitj^ equal, to 
join himself to our life and in everything to 
become like unto the brethren, only sin 
excepted. This is the great myster>', by virtue 
of which with those who have joined themselves 
to Jesus, who believe in him and have become 
one with him in soul, tiTie love for God can 
develop itself independently of the hindrance of 

And if now j-ou say that Jesus gave 3'ou every- 
thing, and that therefore you can put no crown on 
his head which already he does not have, then 
bring to mind that there is one thing left which 
God alone can claim from his people, and that 
this one thing is the love of the heart. But then 
it must be love with all the heart, until the heart 
shall yearn after God, as God's heart has yearned 
after us. 


If you begin to feel troubled and even guilty 
that with the passing years you have made so 
little advance in love for God, then examine with 
more care than before the rule of Christ regard- 
ing it. You have known the great command- 
ment from childhood. You have learned it by 
heart, and your conscience has admitted uncon- 
ditionally that Christ is right. In your love for 
God nothing can be wanting. With all the heart 
and soul and mind and strength it must be 

unbounded love. Everytliing must go for God 
even as you have to look for everything to God. 

But even this broad admission did not satisfy 
Jesus. He did not say: Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God in everyi;hing. He has carefully 
distinguished between the heart, the soul, the 
mind and the strength. And did you do well to 
ignore this? There was a purpose in this dis- 
tinction. Our Lord has deemed this distinction 
to be necessary for the whole church. It wa^ his 
will that ministers of the Word should bind this 
love for God severally with the heart, the soul, 
the mind and the strength upon the conscience 
of believers. It was his will that every child of 
God should continually examine himself, whether 
he practiced his love for God m this same four- 
fold way. 

True godliness would have rooted more deeply 
and more firmly in the life of the church, if both 
preaching and self-examination had been applied 
more seriousl}' to the cultivation of this full, 
warm love for God, and if it had derived more 
vital strength from the keeping of this first and 
great commandment. No holier power can ani- 
mate us than love, and in all love the love for 
God wears the crown. Love, therefore, is the 
bond of perfection, provided it is not volatilized 
into a vague conception of ideal love without 
rule or object. Everything noble and exalted in 
love that can be idealized and celebrated in song, 
is only real, when it is a love that first loves God 
and for his sake one's neighbor. 

Attention is at once arrested by the fact that 
in commending love for God, Jesus gives the 
heart the first mention, and not the soul. We 


would have done otherwise. The soul as the 
center of our inner life would have been men- 
tioned first, and from this we would have derived 
love with the heart and mind and all our strength. 
Jesus, on the other hand, begins with the heart 
and then points to the soul, the mind and the 
strength . 

This difference between heart and soul is made 
clear by the word of the Lord in Jeremiah 4:10 
and 18. At one time Israel is told that the 
terrible outpouring of God's wrath shall reach 
unto the heart; and at another time that it shall 
reach unto the soul, but with a sharply-outlined 
distinction. When the troubles that come upon 
Israel are described in their first stages of alarm, 
it is said: ''This is thy wickedness, it is so 
bitter that it reacheth unto thine heart" (4:18). 
When suffering continues and the case at length 
becomes fatal, it is said: "That the sword 
reacheth unto the soul" (4:10). Thus the heart 
is the seat of the emotions and sensations, and 
the soul is the seat of life itself. 

Applied to love, it is the heart that receives 
the impressions of love and makes this ardent 
feeling to flow forth. But love is clarified in the 
soul, and the impulse of the passion of love 
springs from the soul. Without the heart love 
can not be enjoyed, neither can it be exercised. 
But neither can love, which is thus enjoyed or 
exercised, touch your self if there were not some- 
thing deeper back and underneath the heart, even 
the source of life itself, and if there were there 
no operation of the tie that binds heart and soul 
in one. 

Without ears there is no liearing, and there is 


no speaking without voice. But it is the soul 
which employs the ear as an instrument to hear, 
and which speaks in the voice, if the saying shall 
be true. In the same way there is no drinking 
in of love, and no exhibition of love, without the 
heart; but it is always the soul that employs the 
heart as instrument by which to enter, with its 
deepest and most hidden life, upon the wealth of 

To be able to say, therefore, that we love God 
with the heart, will not suffice. With the heart 
one can feel sweetly moved by enticing love, 
and become aware of reciprocal feeling of love 
within, and be quite innocent of actual true love, 
simply because the soul has no share in it. 

This is strikingly evident in art. In grand 
opera we listen to a touching recital of human 
suffering. At the time we are deeply moved and 
carried along. The sensations of anxious fore- 
bodings, described in song, were sj^mpathetically 
felt in the heart. We lived with the characters 
of the plot and shared their suffering. But pres- 
ently the play is over. For a moment the impres- 
sion stays by. But an hour later everything 
is forgotten and we continue our ordinary course 
as though nothing had happened. The case is 
not that the heart had not been moved, for even 
shallow feelings touch it. But the soul had no 
part in it, and therefore it did not touch us. 

The same thing continually happens in life, A 
mother can not detect a tear in the eye of her 
child, but is at once almost moved to tears her- 
self, and at the moment will do everything she can 
to comfort her darling and help him to forget his 
woes. But in many instances this does not go 


beyond the confines of the heart. When the 
child that wept, laughs again, everything is over. 
Because the love for her child does not spring 
from the depths of her soul, she does not know 
how to love the soul of her child, hence she does 
not save but spoil him. 

So there is a love for God with the heart, 
which is offended when the Divine honor is 
attacked, and which takes pleasure in tender 
feelings toward the Lord, but the object of it is 
self and not God. There is love there, but not 
the love that goes down deep enough to reach 
unto the soul. Our self is in our soul. There it 
stands before the face of our God. And there- 
fore on the floor of the soul the question must 
be decided whether God exists for our sake, or 
whether we exist, solel}' and alone, for the sake of 

When we can say: As for me, the latter is 
the case, it is glorious. But now the second ques- 
tion arises: Do we consent to have it so from 
submission, from the sense of our own unworthi- 
ness, or from love? Would we exist for no other 
purpose than for the sake of God, because we can 
do no other? Or because we would not wish it 
any other way, since God is our tenderest love 
and our whole existence is lost in love for him. 
If this be so, this love will be enjoyed through 
the heart, and it will express itself through the 
heart. The costly instrument of the heart was 
given us for this purpose. But he who employs 
this heart and plays on it in happy love, is always 
self in the center of the soul, in the deep under- 
ground of existence, where our person lives in 
the holy presence of the Triune God. 


Have you become aware of any such love for 
God in your inmost self? If so, do you under- 
stand what it means to love God in your inmost 
self with all your soul? Not whether there are 
times when this is so, but whether it has become 
the fixed habit of your life. Not whether you 
surrender yourself to the love of God with a 
part of your soul, with a part of yourself, to the 
end that you might be saved, and be forever 
happy, but whether you give yourself to it, to 
the end that you might glorify God forever. It 
is not the division of the soul between yourself 
and God which is required, in order that you may 
commit continual robbery in the soul, and with- 
hold from God part of your desires, part of your 
future, and part of your self-consciousness. The 
claim is terribly great. It is all comprehensive: 
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
soul. It means that there shall be no single 
utterance of life in you except such as springs 
from your love for God. 

To do this, it may be said, we should be angels 
and not men. And this is true, provided we say: 
Not sinful men. But for this you have your 
Savior who, as man, has fulfilled this perfect love 
for God in your behalf. And if by a true faith 
you fly to him for refuge, in spite of your lack 
of love, you will have peace in your soul. 



It is singular that the first and great command- 
ment includes the claim : to love God with all the 
mind. When Jesus holds the high ideal before 

us, to love God with the heart and with the 
soul, we understand it at once; for these are dis- 
posed to love. But how can we love with the 
mind? The mind has been given us to think, to 
ponder and to understand. How can it be an 
organ of love, an instrument on which love can 
play its holy melodies? As a rule it does not 
impress us, because in reading this command- 
ment no attention is paid to it. 

No account is made of it. The task of investi- 
gating the several parts of this first and great 
commandment is not taken seriously. In reading 
it over hastily we take it to mean that we should 
use the mind in the service of God, and leave 
the heart and the soul the task to love. But this 
is not so. It does not say that the mind must 
serve God; that we must direct our thought to 
God; that with the mind we must come to a 
clear confession of God, nor how we should 
direct the working of the mind to God. It 
declares clearly and plainly that with the mind 
we must love God. Jesus includes all religion in 
the one great idea of love, which love must pene- 
trate and pervade every part of our human per- 
sonality. From the soul it must have dominion 
not oiiiy in the heart, but also in the mind, and 
must bring it to pass that all our vital forces are 
led by this one supreme motive of love for God. 

The mind here does not mean simply logical 
thought, clear judgment and learned concepts, 
but the whole glorious endowment of our con- 
sciousness, including representation, imagination 
and intellectual activity. 

'Towers" are also a": work in nature. Far 
stronger powers than in us. But though nature 


is alive, it is unconscious. And though we are 
aware of some consciousness in the more highly 
domesticated animals, it is exceedingly weak with 
the best of them. The glory of conscious life, 
which is only perfect in God, is found in man 
alone, because with respect to this also he has 
been created after the Divine image. Conscious- 
ness may not reach by far its highest develop- 
ment in some people. With the insane it is sadly 
disturbed. But the most unfortunate idiot clearly 
shows the unspeakable greatness of the gift of 
consciousness, of self-consciousness, and of a con- 
scious life which even the ordinary man has 
received from God. Hence we have no right to 
estimate it as inferior to the heart. And all 
religion that would confine the service of God 
solely to the heart, and to good works, to the 
exclusion of this glorious human consciousness, 
cripples itself, robs God, and is bound to degen- 
erate into pseudo-religion. 

This shows at once that it is the Christian duty 
of human science to direct itself to God, and that 
not only a part of it, such as Theolog>', should 
take the knowledge of God for its object, and 
leave no path untrod in which it can enrich itself, 
but that science as a whole, and everywhere, 
should exhibit the glory of God. All science, 
however much disciplined and learned, that leaves 
God out of count, that awakens doubt about 
his existence, or dares to deny him, is no science 
but sin. It sins against the great commandment 
that with all the mind we should first of all love 
God. And since it is at variance with every idea 
of love to pass its object by with indifference, or 
to ignore it altogether, it follows that the scientist, 


who in his science does not feel himself drawn 
to God, and with his scientific knowledge, does 
not before all else seek God and his glory, breaks 
the great commandment. And this is the curse 
that rests so heavily on the science of our times 
that it does not feel in its veins the pulse-beat 
of love for God, and that it behaves itself as 
though the great commandment, to love Gk)d 
with all the mind, had never been given. 

The same applies to our doctrinal standards. 
The priests of science are only few in number, 
but every man is called to confess the faith. It 
is not difficult to understand what this means. 
Every man has a conviction, a system of prin- 
cipal ideas from which he starts out, a world of 
thoughts, however small, by which he lives, for 
which he contends, and from which he acts. By 
saying, therefore, that every man is called to 
make confession, we mean that no man should 
hold godless convictions of life, but that in every 
life-view God should be the center; that this 
world-view should cleave unto God, go out from 
and return to him again; and that everything 
else in this life-view must adapt itself to the love, 
the ardent love, for God which it claims. 

Not every man can make this clear for him- 
self. In every other particular the world derives 
its great ideas and representations from knowl- 
edge that has been handed down by past gen- 
erations. With its confession of the ages, there- 
fore, the Church of Christ simply comes in as 
an aid to the ordinary man. In the Church, with 
respect to the knowledge of God, every man 
receives the results of age-long experiences of 
faith. And no national conditions can be healthy 


and normal, save as the rank and file of the peo- 
ple take the confessional standards of the Church 
as the starting point of their views and convic- 
tions of life. Hence it is ruinous to love for God 
with "all the mind," when Christian confessions 
are left out from a man's convictions of life, and 
when it is falsely preached that everything 
depends upon the mysticism of the love of the 
heart and upon the act of the will. He who 
drives this propaganda impoverishes the love for 
God, by excluding from it all the mind, and does 
not tread in the footsteps of Jesus, but diamet- 
rically and directly opposes his supreme com- 

With this, however, love for God with all the 
mind has not yet reached its limit. Apart 
from science and Christian confessions there is 
the ordinary daily consciousness, the activity of 
the mind in daily avocations, in social inter- 
course, in plans we make, in lines of action which 
we lay out for ourselves, in intentions which we 
foster, in reading, in thoughts about persons and 
affairs, in representations, in imaginations, in 
appreciation of art and literature, in review of 
the past and in outlook upon the future. All this 
together forms the many-sided activity of our 
consciousness; it is the daily sphere of activity 
of all the mind; the school and workshop of our 
thought, study and contemplation; and all this 
can go on either without God, or continuously 
and at every point it can be inspired and ruled 
by the thought of God, and by the love of his 

With every one of us, therefore, Jesus claims 
all this for God. It is his will that love for God 


shall not only lead, direct and rule us in all this, 
but also that from an inner impulse all this shall 
form and clothe itself in the way which we know 
and understand is well-pleasing unto God. Above 
all else it is his will that we do this not from a 
sense of duty, because we must, though of our- 
selves we would like to do otherwise; and not 
for the sake of escape from the wrath to come 
or of earning heaven thereby; but from love, 
purel}^ from love for God, because for the sake of 
God we can no longer allow ourselves to use 
this costly gift of our consciousness in ways that 
will grieve God. 

And though, as we think of all this, we may 
realize that in actual life we are still far distant 
from this high ideal, in reading and re-reading the 
great commandment the true child of God will 
be arrested in his course by this claim also, that 
he must love God with all the mind. He will 
seek to control his conscious life far differently 
than before. And if he succeeds in making his 
love for God more evident in all his thoughts 
and in all his plans, the deeper experience of the 
love of God will be his daily gain, and in his 
inmost self secret fellowship with the Eternal will 
become ever more sweetly known. 


Nothing is more grievous to a Christian soul 
than the superficial fencing and boasting of love, 
which is current in our loveless society life. This 
play with what is highest in heaven and on earth 
is especially tr3'ing, when in unbelieving and semi- 


believing circles, especially by entire and partly 
emancipated women, the high ideal of love is 
used as a weapon with which to oppose the faith- 
ful confession of the Gospel. 

Love is then said to be "the whole of religion." 
There is no need of anything more. The Old 
Testament is by far too unmerciful. Paul was 
too severe in his anathemas, and only saved his 
honor by the hymn of love in I Cor. 13. Only 
St. John, the apostle of love, is a man of whom 
to be proud. That he should have asked for fire 
to come down from heaven to destroy the enemies 
of Jesus, is probably not true. His advice not to 
show hospitality to one who denies the doctrine 
of Christ (II John 10) occurs indeed in his 
epistle, but these epistles are unauthentic. More- 
over as devotees at the altars of love, they make 
Jesus their boast. He never allowed himself to 
be governed by anything save gentle, tender love. 
At times, indeed, Jesus could be hard, even 
sharp, in his retorts to the Pharisees, but these 
Pharisees are the so-called orthodox Christians of 
today, whom they themselves do not spare 
because this is not necessary. These slaves of 
the letter are outside of the law, outside there- 
fore also of the law of love. 

This false mania of love is inexorably con- 
demned by Jesus in what he said about the first 
and great commandment. Truly, love is of the 
highest importance. It is the one and only thing 
that is required, provided that it is conditioned 
by this rule: That all your love goes out from 
your love for God. That is to say, that in the 
love-life love for God stands in the foreground, 
and that it shall so dominate all of your love, 

that you love him with all 3-our heart, with all 
your soul and with all your strength. And as 
though this does not state the case sufficiently 
sharply and definitely, and as though to make 
the last misunderstanding and misconception 
impossible, Jesus adds a fourth claim and binds 
it upon the conscience that this love for God 
answers to the high ideal only when it is also 
love for God with all the strength. 

Hence Jesus does not do what many professed 
christians do. He does not say: "God is love, but 
you should also count with his holiness." No, 
the Savior puts nothing above, and nothing along- 
side of love. Love to him is all-sufficient. But 
he objects, that in principle, this love counts only 
with the neighbor. He demands and wills that in 
our love, the love for God shall be the all- 
dominating starting point. He will not let 3'ou 
go until you understand that no boundary of any 
sort may ever be put to this love for God, and 
that therefore it must likewise be a love for him 
with all your strength. 

Love for God with all the heart, all the soul 
and all the mind may be lost in sentiment or in 
vague idealism, but when it is required that we 
love God also with all our strength, the claim is 
laid upon the actual life, the entire personal 
existence and upon the whole outlay of personal 
and vital powers. 

Strength is what goes out from us as utter- 
ance of the talents wherewith we are endowed, 
of the powers and capacities that are at our dis- 
posal, of the means at our command, of the influ- 
ence we exert, of the time that is apportioned 
unto us, and of the circumstances which call out 

the exhibition of our strength. Jesus demands 
that all the powers that are entrusted to us, on 
the condition of responsibility to him who gave 
them, shall be exercised in such a way that in 
their working the love for God shall show itself 
as the dominant element. 

Do not take this in a sickly-spiritual sense. 
The idea lies at hand that love for God really 
only shows itself in our work and influence when 
we apply our strength exclusively to religious 
and spiritual things. For then it is imagined 
that a clergyman loves God better than a la\vyer 
or a physician; that a missionary is more devoted 
to God than an editor or a publisher; that an 
institution for the saving of unfortunates is nobler 
than one for scientific investigation. In brief, 
that love for God is more fully expressed by 
service in the realm of particular grace, than by 
life in the broader domain of common grace. 

This is all wrong. God's greatness and omnip- 
otence do not limit themselves to the more 
restricted interests of the salvation of souls, but 
pervade all human life. And with every one of 
us, according to our talents and callings, love for 
God must show itself with equal zeal and strength 
in every department of life. An artist or sculptor 
can and ought with equal consciousness and pur- 
pose glorify God from love, as a missionary or a 
philanthrophist. The humblest caUing is not 
excluded here. A farmer, who is an elder or 
warden in a church, must serve God from love 
with all his strength in stable and granary as well 
as in his duties as church official. A mother 
in the bosom of her family has as sacred a call- 
ing to love God with all her strength as a nurse 


or as a woman missionary in the foreign field. 
False dualism which relegates the mother or the 
servant to common life and pronounces the nurse 
sacred, does not feed the love for God, but 
poisons it. 

Three forms of sin in this connection lower 
human life: Neglect, misuse and abuse of our 
powers. In each of these sins love for God is 
denied. No star has been placed in the firma- 
ment but has been called to shine for God's 
glory. God has imparted to no human soul a 
grain of gold, but the brightness of it must appear 
and glisten in his honor. But what the stars do 
not do is done by indolent man. Many people 
of conspicuous talent, instead of improving it for 
God do nothing with it at all. Of course it would 
require effort, sacrifice and self-denial to improve 
each latent talent to the full. But when they are 
not willing to make tliis effort, sacrifice and self- 
denial for the sake of God, where then is their 
love for God? Even among Christians God's 
honor would be far more glorious, if instead of 
being buried under mountains of self-sufficiency 
and indolence, all the particles of hidden gold 
could glisten in public sight. 

The misuse of talents is different, but it is 
equally sinful and loveless before God. Here no 
efforts are spared; sacrifices are freely made; but 
the object of it all is to secure position for onc- 
self; to make good along material lines; to please 
others; and to become rich, not in God, but in 
public esteem. Very hard work is done, but from 
selfish motives, and not for God's dear sake, and 
for love of God. It is not working while it is 
day, as a child from love for his Father, in the 

sure confidence that he will supply all our needs, 
but slaving for the sake of providing the means 
oneself. It is for money and not for God. 

And along this line the third sin io easily com- 
mitted, even the yet worse abitse of one's talents 
in the face of God and of his sacred claims. O, 
who can count the men who might have shone as 
stars of the first magnitude in honor of the Lord, 
but who have abused their noble gifts in break- 
ing down what is holy, in attacking the Word of 
God, in opposing religion, and at length in the 
daring attempt to eradicate faith in God from 
the lives of others. Who does not know them, 
the singers and the artists, who have abused their 
glorious talents in behalf of wantonness and arti- 
ficial tastes, and in drawing souls away from God. 
How much wit has been abused in mocking at 
holy things and in making them appear ridiculous. 
What keenness of insight has degenerated into 
cunning and tricky slyness for the sake of cherish- 
ing lies and dishonesty. What maidenly beauty 
and loveliness has been sinned away in the pas- 
sion to please and to cherish impurity of purpose. 
All this abuse has been banefuUy expressive of 
enmity against God and not of love for God. 

By the side of this neglect, misuse and abuse 
of our gifts and talents, Jesus places nothing save 
the love for God. He does not bind this claim on 
the conscience of the worlds for the world does 
not know true love, because it knows not God, 
and all true love proceeds from love for God. 
But he puts the claim in all its fulness and bound- 
lessness upon you, who confess his holy name. 
He will not let you go until the scales fall from 
your eyes and you begin to see that you sin 


your life awaj- as long as you do not know that 
craving after the fullness of love for the Eternal 
which can not rest until it loves God also with 
all its strength. 



Knowledge of God is eternal life. Not that the 
one is something which is added to the other, 
for this knowledge is itself eternal life. This 
knowledge of God, therefore, can not be limited 
to what the understanding grasps or does not 
grasp, or to what has been committed to memor}-. 
Knowledge of God truly reflects an ever clearer 
image in the mirror of our consciousness, but it 
can never be outward, abstract or a barren jug- 
glery with words. This knowledge comes to us in 
virtue of our second birth, even as a child knows 
his father and mother. In bold words, one might 
say this knowledge is in the blood. It is a Divine 
atavism. This knowledge is taken hold of in the 
will, when the will takes hold of the will of God. 
This knowledge continually increases in the secret 
walk with God, and it matures in the life of 
prayer. In the gloomy depths of sorrow and on 
the sunny heights of joy and prosperity this 
knowledge brings us ever nearer to the riches that 
abide. It is a knowledge which comes of itself 
continually from the stream of life to the sur- 
face; which uses our person as its organ; and 
which at times has moments when it seems that 
"seeing face to face" as through the veil of the 
sanctuary is already granted here. 

This rich knowledge of God, ever more mature, 


ever more full and overflowing with Divine sweet- 
ness, must of course be apprehended in the clear 
consciousness, and be poured over as it were mto 
the doctrinal standards of the Church of Christ, and 
into our personal confession. Unless this is done, 
mystical corruption quickly enters in as well as 
mania for hallucinations and weakening senti- 
mentality. It fills one with sorrow, when in 
Church and out of it barren school-learning is 
seen in the place of Hfe, and the knowledge of 
God is treated as though it were a corpse rather 
than an inspiring, elastic hfe pervading the soul. 
This is not in accord with, but diametrically 
opposed to, Scripture. Hear the proclamation of 
the apostle of the Lord: ''He that loveth not 
knoweth not God, for God is love" (I John 4:8). 
If this puts it strongly, the fact remains: that 
by being most like God in what we do we enter into 
the pure knowledge of God. With this in view 
consider the forgiveness of sin, and you will under- 
stand the mystery of this knowledge of God. The 
chief question of your life and of your future 
which concerns you personally is now and always 
will be whether God forgives you your sin. This 
is not the way in which it is presented m the 
preaching of the day. For this makes the great 
question of life to consist in ridding ourselves of 
sin and in w^orking out our own sanctification. 
And this is self-delusion. It is and always will 
be even as St. Paul and Luther and Calvin bound 
it upon the soul. The great question of life is, 
how shall I be just before God? Forgiveness of 
sin is the way to dying unto sin; not otherwise. 
How we, who are in the midst of sin until we 
die, can be called unto sonship with God, to dwell 

forever in the Father-house above, this and this 
alone is the mighty problem of life which imme- 
diately touches our relation to God and our 
knowledge of the Eternal. Thus the riddle of 
the world and that of our soul always comes 
down again to this one inquiry: Is there grace 
for me also, and forgiveness and perfect recon- 

It is exceedingly significant that in the Our 
Father the brief petition for forgiveness links 
itself as with an iron hand to the declaration, 
that we ourselves forgive. "Give us this day our 
daily bread," is immediately followed by the 
praj-er for the daily bread of Divine forgiveness 
for the life of the soul. And this is joined to the 
honest and fully-meant declaration: As we for- 
give those that trespass against us. In other 
words : You must love, with that best love, which 
makes you forgive, from the heart, those that 
have wronged you. And he alone who loves like 
this knows God. He alone knows God in this 
his highest love, that though our sins be as 
scarlet he will make them white as snow, yea, 
though they have risen mountain-high, he casts 
them into the depths of the sea. 

Actually, therefore, in the Our Father itself is 
expressed this significant thought which it seemed 
so bold to utter, that we, by forgiving others, 
learn to understand that, and how, God forgives us; 
that is to say, that by loving others we learn to 
know God in his love for us. And that he that 
so loveth that he forgives his enemy entirely and 
altogether from the heart increases in the knowl- 
edge of God, learns to know God, and learns to 
understand how God loves him. 


Does this begin with you, so that you love 
first, and that afterwards God loves you? Far 
from it. Love never begins with you. Back of 
the first stirrings of love that ever moved the 
soul, it was God who put it there. Neither can 
you ever forgive from yourself. You can forgive 
in a way which makes your forgiveness itself to 
be new sin to j^ou, but never in the way which 
can release the soul. Frequently we hear of a 
man of the world who forgives. Indeed, as such, 
you have done this yourself from a sense of 
superiority, in order to show that your enemy 
was of too little consequence than that he could 
ofifend you; or to make a show of your own 
virtue in not carrying a grudge, and so to rid 
yourself of him and to be at peace with yourself. 

Such forgiveness, however, has nothing in com- 
mon with real forgiveness, except appearance and 
name. What the Our Father means on the other 
hand is forgiveness from love, which is so warm, 
honest and real as to make you feel: if God will 
so forgive me I am saved. For then it is God 
himself who has quickened this love in my heart, 
who from his own love has made this love to 
forgive flow into my soul, and who in my for- 
giving of my enemy makes me to know his 
eternal, compassionate and unfathomable love for 
me, who was once myself his enemy, but now 
his child. 

At J;he sound of the Apostolic word: "He that 
loveth not knoweth not God," the conscience as 
a rule falls asleep with self-satisfaction. What 
man is there who loves nothing and no one. Even 
robbers have been known to love an animal, a 
child or wife at great sacrifice of self. But what 


is that? When it says: He that loveth not, it 
means: He who does not Hve by love; he who 
is not governed by love; he who does not rejoice 
in love, and has no love that can endure the test 
of fire. And love is put to this fiery test, not with 
respect to those who are necessary to us, and 
who are agreeable to us in life, but only with 
respect to the man who stands in our way, whom 
we can call our enemy. The genuineness of your 
love therefore is only evident in forgiveness, even 
in the forgiveness of him who has offended you, 
who has opposed you, and who has embittered 
your very life. To forgive such an one, not from 
duty but from love, this alone is proof that there 
is this love in you which makes you learn to 
know God. 

But you say, "This is impossible. I can forgive 
for God's sake, and also because I myself am sin- 
ful. I can forgive from the sense of Christian 
duty, but not otherwise." And yet Jesus demands 
it: Love your enemies, bless them that curse 
you. Consider it well. Thou shalt love God with 
all thy soul, with all thy heart, with all thy 
mind, and with all thy strength. And the second 
like unto it is: Thou shalt love thy neighbor 
as thyself; and he is thy enemy. Not only must 
I love my neighbor also, but this second com- 
mandment is like unto the first. When it is asked : 
"How can this be?" we reply: only when you 
love in your neighbor what there is of God in 
him. Nothing more. Not his sin, neither his 
%wong committed against you. These you should 
rather hate. But even as you love nature because 
it shows forth the power and glory of the Lord, 
and an animal because it is wonderfully organ- 


ized and endowed with instinct by its Maker, so 
you should much more love your neighbor as 
man, because God has created him after his image 
and has endowed him with wonderful talents and 

If all this has been corrupted and spoiled and 
has become hopelessly satanic, so that there is 
nothing more of God in him, then love ceases 
and turns into hatred, even as it should. Satan 
also was a most wonderful creature, but he has 
sinned awa}' his all, and therefore every child of 
God hates this monster. But however deeply 
fallen he may be, man in this life is never like 
this. The murderer on the cross rejoices before 
the throne. Jesus has renewed unto life those 
who have wandered farthest away from the fold. 
And this is the glory of the Gospel that in every 
man, thus also in your enemy, there is a point 
of connection where grace may enter in. By 
this alone is the gospel our salvation. And he 
who for God's sake heartily loves this remain- 
ing spark even in those who have wandered 
farthest r.way, loves with a love which learns to 
know God in this his eternal love wherewith, 
while we are yet sinners, he also loves us. 



From of old the Church has pointed to nature 
and to the Bible as the sources of our knowledge 
of God; that is: the knowledge of God which 
comes to us from without ; which can be expressed 
in abstract ideas; and therefore has a place in 


Christian creeds. This does not include experi- 
mental knowledge of God, which comes to ii3 
personally from spiritual experience, from com- 
munion of saints and secret fellowship with God. 

The knowledge of God which comes to us from 
without is majestic. Confining ourselves to what 
nature brings, the Reformed confession truly and 
beautifully declares, that all creation is as a living 
book, the letters of which are the creatures. But 
the book of nature brings us no further than the 
recognition of the attributes of God, his power, 
wisdom, goodness, and so much more. It has 
nothing to say about life in the spiritual king- 
dom, of direction and rule by the Holy Ghost, 
of making our will one with the will of God, of 
having Divine love poured out into our hearts, 
of drawing closer to him, who is love, or of 
mystic contemplation. 

The Confession is a banner with clear inscrip- 
tions, which we lift up before the world in order 
to declare the glory and majesty of him whom 
we worship; but it is not the intimate communi- 
cation of that knowledge of God which comes 
from the knowledge of self and from one's own 

In these meditations we have put this more 
intimate knowledge of God in the foreground. 
Devotional literature is not acceptable to the 
world, because it speaks from and in behalf of 
communion of saints and from spiritual experi- 
ence to those who have enjoyed the same, or at 
least know the yearning after it. But we have 
repeatedly sounded the note of warning against 
sentimental emotionalism in this sanctuary of 
mysticism. So we come to the knowledge of God 


from nature, not that we might interpret it in a 
material sense, but rather that we might weave 
it into our spiritual life. 

In this respect also the erring soul frequently 
impoverishes itself. It has been learned by heart, 
and in general it is agreed, that Divine attri- 
butes exhibit themselves in the works of nature. 
From these we can infer that God is great in 
power, in wisdom and in goodness. But now that 
this is known, we are through with the book of 
nature. The sum of the knowledge of God, which 
it brought, is made out. So the book is put 
aside, and there is no personal, lasting impression 
of the majesty of God which nature was intended 
to convey. No one looks for it. No account is 
made of it. And there is almost a feeling of 
impatience, when in behalf of their superficial 
religion the men of the world appeal by preference 
to nature. It saddens one to hear it said with 
certain exultation, that the Church has served 
its day, that the Bible has lost its significance, 
and that there is a far richer religious joy "in 
the temple of uncut wood." 

But here the faithful are at fault. However 
much they deserve praise for their love of the 
Church of Christ, and however precious the 
treasures are, that have come to them from the 
Scripture, they should not have been indifferent 
to the fact, that we are equally called to remember 
that the invisible things of God, from the creation 
of the world, are clearly seen, being understood 
by the things that are made, i. e. from nature, 
even his eternal power and Godhead (Rom. 1:20). 

There are three progressive stages in the know- 
ledge of God. It begins with nature, it goes on 


to man as created after God's Image, and finally 
is made perfect in Christ, in so much as He is 
the express Image of God's Person. And these 
three do not stand loosely side by side, but 
form, if we may say so, a climbing pyramid. 
Nature forms the broad ground surface, it ascends 
in the rich unfolding of human life, and reaches 
its liighest point in the Incarnation of the Eternal 

Christ is not clearly seen, nor understood 
apart from the knowledge of man, and man is 
not clearly seen and understood apart from a 
sympathetic touch upon unconscious .nature. 
Hence the faithful should always live under the 
deep impression of the majesty of God in nature. 
Believers must live the life of mankind, i. e. 
history, over again in themselves. Onlj^ thus 
can they obtain the clear, full, living impression 
of Christ, who reveals God to them in the riches 
of his grace. 

In this way Almighty God began, and con- 
tinues until now, the revelation of himself. First 
in unconscious nature. When this was ended, as 
a richer revelation of himself. He created man 
after his own image and likeness. And when 
man had corrupted his way, and in part had 
worked out sin to its baneful end, as the richest 
revelation of himself, God sent his Son. 

These three links of the holy chain perfectly 
fit into one another. First there is the material 
world. In this world of matter man is created 
from dust. And in our flesh and blood comes 
the revelation of the Son of God, as man. 

The starting point here is, that God is invisible. 
Let us understand this well. In himself the 


Eternal Being is not invisible, and we are de- 
finitely told that once we shall see God face to 
face. We shall know him, even as we are known. 
Intellectual knowledge, and even spiritual know- 
ledge is not the highest. The highest is vision; 
clear, immediate sight. Seeing without inter- 
medium; without mirror; seeing essential Being 
itself. How this will be possible, is the mystery 
of the life to come, although however latent, 
the organ for this is even now present in the soul. 
It is not given us to use it in the present. This 
is the dispensation of limitations, of the finite, 
and of the things that are bound to form, color 
and dimensions. And since God is not limited, 
and has no form, dimension nor end, He is, in 
this dispensation, the Invisible to us. There is no 
clear vision of God in this life. The question was, 
how in this life, God could reveal himself to us 
in his Majesty, even in such a way as w^ould cry- 
stalize itself as a clear and fixed impression in us. 
And God has realized this aim, 1st by revelation 
in nature of his Omnipotence and Divinity in 
dimensions, which give us the impression of the 
infinite, even through we know they are finite; 
this is what we call the sublime; 2nd by the im- 
print of his life in the personal existence of man, 
creating him after His image; and 3rd by the 
restoration in full of this ruined and broken image, 
and by showing it to us, in Christ. 

Hence God himself is in and behind nature. 
Hence nature is not a finished work of art, that 
exists by itself outside of and apart from God. 
But God himself gives us to see and to hear hia 
Majesty in the starry heavens by night, in the 
colors of light by day, in the wonders of the 

vegetable and animal-world, in the splendor of 
the sea, in the roar of the hurricane, sometimes 
even in the rolling of his thunder. In all this, 
is, and lives, the God Whom we worship. In the 
throbbings of the life of nature throbs his own 
Divine life. Whatever moves in creation, flows 
through it, and addresses itself to us from it, 
is the inner motion of God's own life. All nature 
is nothing else than a living, throbbing veil 
back of which God hides himself, and in whose 
folds and undulations he reveals Himself to us, 
clothed with Majesty. In the profound saying 
of the Apostle: The Invisible God is not only 
understood in nature, but is also clearly seen. 
This clear sight is the all-important matter. 
Though this screen, this veil, this investiture of 
nature, God must be seen in his Omnipotence 
and Divinity. We are not to look upon nature 
as upon a dead palace which is beautiful by rea- 
son of its vast variety of lines and forms, but 
we must feel and know, that standing before the 
firmament, the cloudy heavens and the varied 
scenes of earth, we stand before God. That 
it is He who presents himself to us in it all, 
enters into us through it all, addresses us by it 
all, and who throughout the length and the 
breadth of it all gives us to behold the workings 
of the fingers of his Majesty. It is God who 
makes the lark sing for us. It is God who cleaves 
the sea, so that its waters foam. It is God who 
calls forth the sun from his tent, and at even- 
tide directs his return ti.ereto. It is God who 
every evening lights the twinkling fires in the 
stars. It is God whose voice we hear in the 
thunder. And only he who in all this, feels the 


very life of God, and clearly sees in it all, the 
Divinity of Omnipotence, understands the glory 
of the Invisible. 


God is invisible. He hides himself behind the 
veil of nature. But the folds of it move in 
undulations and in vibrations, frona which we 
preceive that God behind it, is close by. In 
everything that lives in nature, rustles, throbs, 
and stirs itself, we feel the pulsebeat of God's 
own life. The Scripture has nothing to say of a 
dead nature, but in all sorts of ways it makes 
us watch that we might hear ''the voice of God" 
and his "footsteps" in nature. When the earth 
trembles, it is because He is "wroth" and makes 
*'the foundations of the mountains to shake." 
In the darkened firmament "God bows the heav- 
en and comes down." In the whirlwind "God 
rode upon a cherub and flew." When "the deep 
abysses of water" foam, it is God who ''rebukes" 
them and drives them forth with "the blast 
of his nostrels." The flashes of lightning are 
arrows, which He shoots forth into the firmament. 
When it grows dark the stars appear, because 
God calls them, and behold not one faileth. He 
drenches the mountains from his heights. He 
sends forth the fountains, so that they walk 
among the hills. He makes grass to grow for 
beasts, and for man bread to come up from the 
ground. It is He who cleaves the sea, so that 
its v/aves foam. And he whose ear is spiritually 


trained, observes how God as his good shepherd 
goes before him in the waj', hears the sound of 
God's rod and staff on the ground, and is com- 
forted thereby. 

All this is not for the sake of giving us a poetic, 
vivid view of nature. Heathen poets have done 
this. In nature also everything is for the sake 
of religion, to reveal to us in it the glorious 
presence of God, to bring us the fostering sense 
that in nature everywhere the living and almighty 
God is with us on every side, and to fill us with 
the sublime impression of his Power, Divinity 
and Majesty. 

But this is not all. This self-same living God, 
who in nature always envelops you and imposes 
his presence upon you, reveals himself altogether 
differently and far more richly in you as man, 
whom He has appointed as lord over nature. 
The revelation of his life in man is so wonder- 
fully divine, that after having said: thou shalt 
love God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, 
with all thy mind and with all thy strength. He 
transposes this great commandment into an 
altogether different one: thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself, and adds to this second 
commandment, that it is like unto the first; that 
to love God in his majesty and to love God in 
one's neighbor is one and the selfsame command- 
ment. To love God in God himself and to love 
God in man, or in one's neighbor, dififers in form 
and in fulfillment, but as commandment it is one. 

Vagrant wisdom forces the representation that 
from dead matter gradually the plant evolved 
of itself, presently from the plant of itself the 
animal, and finally from the animal, man. This 


wisdom has been christened with the name of 
involution and Darwm is called the prophet of this 
new evangel. 

This whole system is nothing more than self- 
miatuation of unbelieving thought. But there 
IS this truth m it, that the whole creation seems 
to have been built up as a temple in which man 
should serve as priest. Everything in it points 
to man. It calls for man. And when at length 
man appears in this temple of nature, everything 
that went before, appears to have served merely 
as preparation for his coming. Man has lustlv 
been called a world in miniature. The creation 
on^y finds its end in man. Almighty God who 
hides himself in nature as behind a veil, makes 
personal revelation of himself in man, not onlv 
m his power and majesty, but, what is far greater 
as bpirit. In man there is self-perception, clear 
consciousness thinking after God the thoughts 
ot God. reye.ation of will, thirst after holiness, 
the spark of genius, appreciation of the beautiful 
premonition of eternal existence, the resumption 
of being in one personal existence, the imprinted 
mcreated knowledge of the Eternal Being, and 
all this is m him, solely and alone because God 
created him after his iamge 

fK^f^u ''I'' ^u°T "" niaster-builder by the palace 
that he has built, a poet from his poetic works. 
a cogent thinker from his ^v^itings But the 
^fffCi'^'^f.^^ him that remains is altogether 
different, after you have seen in his picture the 
features of hs face, the flaming of his eve, and 
the expression of his person . . ^^ 

Such is the case here. The Divine Master- 
builder and Artist first showed his works in nature 


He comes a second time and shows his image in 
man, the portrait of himself. Not in one individual. 
This is impossible. But in man, as in the course 
of centuries, he was bqrn, has lived and has died 
by the millions. Among these millions there was 
the hyssop and the cedar. In these occasional 
instances of mighty personalities, who like cedars 
have stood high above the ordinary rank and 
file of men, the revelation of the Being of God 
centered itself ever more clearly. And when 
you take all the virtues, excellencies and rare 
capacities together, which have characterized the 
best and noblest of the sons of men, the grand 
and overwhelming sum-total brings a revelation 
of God, which far exceeds God's self-revelation in 

This is still the case now. What would it not 
have been, had not sin marred and ruined the 
features of the Divine Image in man? Now 
there is distvu'bance. The mirror in which the 
image is reflected is ruined by a thousand cracks; 
it is weather-beaten and blurred. Parts of lines 
and features are still discernable, but no more 
the image in the loveliness of its unity, nor in 
the clearness of its tints. And when even so, 
this image still interests and attracts, and ever 
and anon fills "you with warm sympathy, what 
must it have been to Adam, when in Eve he 
beheld it in its original perfection, and how deep 
must have been the fall in sin, which at once and 
irrevocably marred and ruined it. 

Experience of human baseness at times is very 
disheartening, and makes it easier to become 
misanthropic than philanthropic. But from the 
course of centuries history retains what was best 


in human nature, and bj' its magnilicent revela- 
tion of noble human lives reconciles us again 
unto man. There is the picture gallery of history', 
of the heroes in common life and of the heroes 
of faith, as the Apostle declares: (Heb. 12) "we 
are compassed about with so great a cloud of 
witnesses," wherefore we should lay aside every 
weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us." 
This is revelation of God even yet in fallen man. 
And if love awakens in you real drawing love 
for man as man, it is in virtue of the glory that is 
seen in man, the glory of God in human talent, 
in human genius and in human heroism, pouring 
out its raj^s in human love towards you. 

There is something mysterious in your own self, 
which is attracted by something equally myster- 
ious in another, whereby you overlook his failings, 
forgive his sins, disregard social differences, and 
with the myterious power of love envelop him in 
the hidden parts of his being. And though this 
love can be spoiled and become itself a sin, it 
is in love for one who loves you, that the warm 
glow of Divine sympathy overpowers your heart, 
and the mystery of love in the Being of God 
reveals itself to you. 

At first it is a matter of choice. In it beginnings 
love is limited, narrow-hearted and repellant to 
others; a gleam of light, which casts correspond- 
ingly the darker indifference for others as a deep 
shadow round about itself. This continues as long 
as love is still held in the meshes of selfishness. 
It is love from God, but it is not as yet love for 
the sake of God. Love for a few whom we deem 
worthy of our love, but it is not yet love for the 
neighbor, i. e. for man as man, a creature of God 


created after the Image of God. But the Spirit 
purifies this love. Love for man must be hke 
the love for God. There must be no di£ference 
between these two, or else the love for man will 
detract from the love for God in the heart. 

Thus it becomes more and more a process of 
distinction. Love of whatever of God there is 
in man. Likewise hate of whatever of the Evil 
One there is in man, with the serious purpose of 
love to oppose it, until it is gone from his heart. 
This is the way to discover whatever of God, 
hidden and latent through it be, still glows in 
other men's hearts, to encourage this spark and 
not to tolerate its extinction. Until at length 
this neighborly love reaches down to the latest 
trace, which in eveiy man on this side of the 
grave, even in those who have most deeply fallen, 
still reminds us of his creation after the Image 
of God, and of the possibility of its restoration. 
Even as the lover of choice porcelains gathers with 
great care the shards of the broken dish because 
he appreciates their worth in the possible case 
of their being glued together again. But even so 
your love for your neighbor has become nothing 
else than love for whatever of God there still 
remains in him. The second commandment is 
like unto the first. 

45 ' 


God is a Spirit. God is Invisible. But with 
increasing clearness He reveals himself. There 
are glimmerings through and back of the veil 

of nature. In man, who is created after his Image, 
he becomes more transparent. He is faliy seen in 
Christ, who is the express Image of his Person, 
the Image of the Invisible God (Col. 1:15). 
Image and not picture. What has been sculptured 
conveys more reality, than what has been pic- 
ured jn lines and tints. It gives the full appear- 
ance. In marble or in metal the image imitates 
the massive form of life. The picture that is 
drawn with the pencil or painted with the brush 
conveys in turn warmth of life, glow of soul and 
mobilitj^ of features, which cold stubborn marble 
refuses to express. But the image is more im- 
pressive. It is overwhelming by reason of its 
greater reality and almost tangibility. 

The Scripture therefore does not speak of the 
portrait, but of the image of God, who is invisible, 
and in this expression the whole action of religion 
centers itself. God gives his image. Man cornipts 
it. Man himself wants to make an image of God. 
This is a heinous sin. In the end sin reaches its 
utmost height, when Satan, as the Beast, the 
Man of Sin, the Antichrist, erects an image of 
himself, and demands the worship for it, which 
is due alone to the *' express image of God's person" 
i. e. Christ. 

This revelation of God is not to be taken in 
a figurative or metaphorical sense. On the con- 
trary it is supernatural reality. Hence the saying 
of Jesus to Philip: "He that hath seen me. hath 
seen the Father". (John 14:9) and hence the hope 
of glorv' for every child of God. that once he also 
shall see Christ as he is, and that in seeing the 
glorified Christ he shall see God himself face to 
face. He shall not see Christ and afterwards and 

alongside of him see God, but he shall see God 
in Christ. In the iinregenerate. sin has made the 
image of God unrecognizable. In Christ God gives 
his image in all its ifullness and perfect clearness. 
This was possible in our human nature, because 
the Son was the Image of the Father from all 
eternity, and as bj' the shadow of this Image our 
human nature was formed from the dust of the 
earth. He therefore who rests content with the 
revelation of God in nature, depressed as it is by 
the curse, or he who rests content with the revela- 
tion of God in the natural man, who is dead in 
sin, can not come to the true knowledge of God. 
but must of necessitv fall away into idolatry or 
false philosophy, ''No man knoweth the Father, 
save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will 
reveal him" (Mat. 11:27). 

Christ therefore remains the center of our Divine 
worship, not only by what he spake, by what he 
did, or what he suffered, but through his own Per- 
sonal Self. The glory of the apostles lies in what 
they have heard, and seen and handled of the 
Word of life. Christ is not only the chief est among 
the prophets, and the Head of the apostles, He is 
himself the personal embodiment of everything 
that is comprehended in the glory of our religion. 
"In him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead 
bodily." We name ourselves after Him. Salva- 
tion is given us in his name. From his Person 
and Name has gono forth the regenerating, life- 
renewing power, which has changed the fashion 
of this world. True Christianity is only where 
he is woi'shipped. He rules not merely bv the 
tradition of what he once was, spake, did and 
endured, but by a real power, which even now, 


seated as he is at the right hand of God, he 
exercises over lands and nations, generations, 
famihes and individuals. The course of the world's 
history and the final destiny of every individual 
life decides for him or against him. In loyal sub- 
jection to him, the world will rejoice in peace, 
turned against him, it will be troubled, and will 
continue to be troubled, until it either returns to 
him, or in rebellion against him works out its own 

And therefore every effort to weaken the 
Christian religion and to detach it from Christ, 
or to mingle it with philosophic and heathen 
inventions must result in spiritual and moral 
retrogression. He who in am^ wise puts the 
supreme name of Christ on a line with that of 
Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed, undermines 
the Christian religion, and all religion, together 
with the happy development of mankind, since 
it all leads away from the knowledge of God, 
falsifies it, and hastens its loss. And while to 
know God is itself eternal life, to be enjoyed 
here and in the hereafter, all alienation from 
Christ, all beclouding of his Name is no search 
after life, but after death. 

Seeking Christ for the sake of salvation is the 
beginning. But he who understands what salva- 
tion is, will for its sake cultivate the knowledge 
of God. Of a truth Christ is the surety that once 
the soul will be free from sin; the guarantee that 
no guilt of sin will any more distress us; the 
promise that once the body will be restored in 
glory; and no less the hope of a home in the 
Fathers' house of many mansions; of sacred joy 
in the realm of eternal light, and of endless 


fellowship with all the saints of God; in brief, 
of an inheritance that w^ill provide what no ear 
has heard, no eye has seen, and has not entered 
the heart of man. But all this is yet nothing 
else than the glory of the palace and of those 
who may enter therein. But the glory of salva- 
tion is found in God alone. To own God; to 
know him with clear-sighted understanding; in 
humble w^orship to fellowship with him; that 
alone is the heart and the soul of everlasting 

Hence there is salvation in Christ both because 
he delivers you from sin, and because he 
guarantees the inheritance among the saints in 
light. But salvation in Christ is realized in full 
only when in him, as the Image of the invisible 
God, you lay hold on God himself, and in the 
knowledge of God. which radiates from this Image, 
you imbibe eternal life. Salvation is not prepared 
by Christ, brought down to us by him, and into 
which he shall once lead his own, in order that, 
when all is done, he may retire from the scene. 
On the contrary, there would be no salvatioD 
even in the realm of glor>% if Christ would not 
be forever there, as the One in whom God can be 
seen and known and enjoyed. 

But this does not tarry until we come to the 
house of the Father on high. In the heavenly 
life our knowledge of God will be made perfect, 
but it is begun here. We have no bare promise 
of future revelation, but there is a revelation of 
God in Christ now within our reach. The Image 
of God in Christ is sketched for us upon the 
sacred page. God is a Spirit, and this self-revela- 
tion of God in the eternal AVord is expressed for 


us in the written Word. Atfer his ascension also 
Christ lives in the Word. With it the portrait of 
God's Image has gone out into the world. Its 
presence lives among us. Thanks to the Word 
we are so familiar with the person and appearance 
of Christ, that he walks with us by the way. As 
he moved among the people of his times, the 
imagination brings him into our own surroundings. 
And we take his word of the long ago to our- 
selves, as through he speaks personally to us for 
admonition, encouragement and comfort. 

There is moreover not only a portrait of Christ 
in the written Word, but powers, operations and 
influences have gone forth from him, w^hich have 
kindled fire in the human breast and have inspired 
love, holy resolves and spiritual consecration, in 
all ages to this day, the thought of which uplifts 
and cheers, and as it were, brings close the very 
breath of Christ to us. All this is not merely 
the passive result of his appear'ance twenty 
centuries ago, but in sober fact it is daily fed and 
nourished by himself, and from him makes its 
appeal to us. Every soul that is bom anew, 
every holy thought that comes into the mind, 
every good work which we are enabled to do, is 
all the work of Christ through the wondrous 
indwelling of the Holy Ghost. He would come 
and take up his abode with us. And He is come, 
and still comes every day and every night to 
confirm this indwelling in the congregation of the 
saints. He knows and calls us by name and adapts 
himself to the needs of the heart. And so he, who 
is the Image of the Invisible God, holds himself 
before us, continues in us the work once begun, 
and through ebb and flood tides makes the ocean 


of God's unfathomable mercies glisten ever more 

Thus there is a knowledge of God which we 
learn and derive from Christ. But there is a 
far greater knowledge of God which He himself 
imparts, which He brings, and makes fully clear 
to us in the hidden parts of the soul. The 
mystical part of it is, that he who is the Image of 
the invisible God, not only shows us this image, 
and fascinates us with it, but he chisels this image 
in us. Our inner life is made conformable to the 
inner life of Christ. His image is imprinted upon 
the saints of God. The highest knowledge of God 
that we can obtain in the earth is, when the image 
of God in Christ renews the image of God in us. 


True knowledge of God does not come from 
storing the memory. It only becomes this when 
it finds its startingpoint in the things, which the 
soul inwardly discerns and experiences. Every- 
thing here must go out from personal contact 
between us and God. There is no knowledge of 
light possible for one who was bom blind. And 
as long as we do not perceive and discover God 
in ourselves, and are consciously affected by work- 
ings that go out from him, true knowledge of God 
is impossible. This is not felt by the sense of touch, 
but in our own immediate spiritual perception, 
so that not from reasoning, and not from what 
others have told us, but immediately from our own 
selves we know that God is and that God is great. 
In times when defence of the faith called for 


heroic sacrifice, our fathers steadily held this in 
front. They insisted on the fact that God had 
implanted the sence of himself in man (sensiis 
divinitatis), and that this was the seed of all 
religion (semen religionis). But when persecution 
ceased, this real spiritual background of all true 
knowledge of God was wantonly forsaken, and 
far too much place was given to intellectual 
abstractions. Abstract knowledge of the true God 
superceded the knowledge which is eternal life, 
with the necessary result that book-learning 
supplanted true godliness, and that the life of the 
church become enervated and weak. 

The Church stood not alone in this. The retreat 
from reality to the paper-world of abstract inven- 
tions of the mind became noticeable in every 
department of the higher life. Even art, and 
with it poetry, became at length infected with 
this evil virus. Forms, words, phrases, rhymes 
and poetastry took the place of golden speech, 
which springs up from the fountain of life itself. 
This was inevitably followed by an equally one- 
sided reaction, which brought nothing but emo- 
tions, simple impressions, pure sensations, with 
the necessary result that the consciousness was 
dimmed, inner perceptions became vague, thought 
became confused and utterances chaotic.^ Such 
was the case in poetry and literature, and such 
also in religion. Nothing remained except percep- 
tions, sensations and impressions, which with un- 
believers led to a return to polytheism, and made 
believers lose themselves in sentimental Mj'Sticism. 

For let it be well understood, all tihis is 
dominated, in every domain, including that of 
religion, by strong currents in all of human life. 


Things are only right when the workings of the 
emotions and of the intellect unite in proper 
equipoise and in pure harmony. But sin can not 
tolerate this. It continuall}^ breaks the equipoise 
and banishes harmony, so that first, there is a 
time when the intellect kills the feeling, and then 
there is a period when the feeling sentences the 
intellect to silence. And in the face of it all. 
it is ever the sacred calling of preaching to form 
just estimates of every abuse, and to jealously 
urge the restoration of equipoise and of pure 

In these meditations on the knowledge of God. 
we have first considered, therefore, the working of 
the hidden fellowship from every side. We have 
seen what the imagination, inspiration, the work- 
ing of the will, love, the impressions obtained 
from nature, from man, and finally from Christ, 
contribute to the true knowledge of God. The 
reality of the secret walk with God had first to 
be made palpable. This was done the more easily 
because it harmonizes with the trend of the age. 

Emphasizing the reality of inner sensations 
agrees with current notions of the times. Barren 
trifling with ideas in religion has at length also 
repelled the common mind. Men crave the things 
that caji be felt and handled and immediately en- 
joyed, and that can pleasantly affect the entire 
personality. But it would be an unpardonable 
fault, which would soon avenge itself, if this were 
all. The Scripture does not allow it. The Church 
enters its protest against it. Every child of God 
asks for more. 

In Scripture the significance of the name is 
profound and far-reaching. The name of the 


Lord calls us out from the flood of emotions to 
higher and clearer consciousness. The feeling 
is a gift of God. but the gift of consciousness 
as a feature of the image of God in us far excels 
it. Feeling can do no more than furnish the 
material which the consciousness thinks upon, 
classifies and transposes into clearness of form. 
Even the plant is sensitive. In an animal feel- 
ing is sometimes exceedingly fine. But neither 
plant nor animal received the glorious capacity 
of the higher consciousness, which enables man 
to take in everj'thing. to sciiitinize and to estimate 
things in their significance, to appreciate, and to 
mirror them in his own thought. Consciousness 
makes man a King. In feeling he suffers and 

Consciousness has all sorts of forms. A form 
for art. A form for the moral, and a form for 
the religious life. But of all these forms it is 
always consciousness first, in which man finds 
himself back again, becomes capable of mighty 
action, and lifts himself up to the spheres of 
the eternal Word. One-sided absorption in 
mysticism has therefore always ended in degene- 
ration. Hence the Church must ever and anon 
send out the sacred summons to elevate the trea- 
sure of our religion to the height of our con- 
sciousness. Mysticism without more is darkness, 
and chaos. In our consciousness is the light. 

In behalf of the knowledge of God this light 
is first kindled b}' the Name of the Lord. This 
is at once understood, when on our kness before 
the Eternal, we first address him in general as 
God. and then proceed to call him Abba, Father. 
He who in addressing God quietly, with emphasis 


and attention calls him: My dear Father, per- 
ceives at once, that by this name a world of 
thought passes through his heart, and that from 
the high and holy places God comes nearer to 
the soul. The name is what I call someone, and 
I can only name him whom I know. The name 
is immediately connected with the knowledge of 
the person. It is the summary in a single word 
of what comes before me in the person. And 
though our human names are thread-worn, so 
that they no longer express anything, yet we look 
differently upon the man whom we hear addressed 
by name, than upon the stranger who passes us 
in the street. 

This can be applied to God in a far higher 
^ense, in so much as the Name of the Lord is the 
expression of his Being. Call him by the covenant 
name of Jehovah, by the patriachical name of 
God Almighty, as child call him Father, or adr 
dress him by the full name of Father, Son and 
Holy Ghost, and the Name always expresses the 
being. God's name is no human invention. God 
has given it to himself and has revealed it unto 
us. It conveys to us a summary knowledge of 
God, and brings him closer to us. It carries him 
into our consciousness, and explains him to us. 

Without the Name of the eternal Being, relig- 
ion and idolatry merge into one another; every- 
thing terminates in a dark religious perception; 
the ocean of polytheism presents itself to us; 
and personal knowledge of the personal God is 
more and more lost. But with the Name of the 
Lord, distinction presents itself. Antithesis be- 
comes plain between false and true religion. We 
come personally to stand before the personal God, 


and learn to know with whom we have to do. 
provided alwa3^s that we do not allow this Name to 
run dead in empty sound. Sin also accounts for 
this. The ''Our Father" is said without any 
thought of him, or of what the Father name im- 
plies, as though it were a dead term. It is the 
curse of custom,which by continuous repetition 
dulls the spiritual consciousness. Thus there is 
hasty, thoughtless and senseless use of sacred 
sounds, until in a moment of seriousness you turn 
in upon yourself, reverently repeat these holy 
names putting your soul into them, and you be- 
come surprised at the riches that glisten in them. 
When this becomes the case, the Name of the 
Lord is a torch that is lighted in the conscious- 
ness, and from the darkness of the emotions, 
gradually and of itself the liidden being of God 
looms up before j^ou with ever increasing clear- 
ness. Then you stand personally before God. 
and his Name always explains as much of his 
being, as at that moment the heart needs. And 
thus thoughtful consciousness can not and must 
not be content with stammering the Name. For 
then the name becomes the occasion for think- 
ing out what it implies, and for explaining God 
as far as possible to the consciousness. Not 
every one can do this equally well. The capacity 
of the consciousness to absorb is very limited 
with one, and wonderfully great with another. 
Indeed there is no advance save as each one 
acquires knowledge of God according to the mea- 
sure of his consciousness. That we should in this 
wise acquire knowledge of the things of the 
world, and of the several departments of science, 
and that with respect to the Name of the Lord 


we should neglect the same, can never be allowed. 
The name of the Lord must be hallowed. In- 
difference with respect to this is irreconcilably- 
opposed to the hallowing of God's Name. 





In our intercourse with the world and with 
society, intimacy is wonderfully deepened by the 
permission of calling a person by name. This 
intimacy becomes closer still, when the family 
name gives place to the baptismal name. Child- 
ren do not know this transition. Rules of polite- 
ness onl}' come in force when the shoes of child- 
hood have been outgrown. These rules but intend 
to heighten the unconventionality of childlife, 
and to elevate it to nobler forms, which purposely 
create a certain distance betw-een man and man, 
and allow individuals to develop themselves more 
freely. When in later years, however, closer 
acquaintance leads to friendship, or association 
in a common pursuit lessens the distance, and 
titles fall away, and for the first time we call one 
another by name, the method of intercouree 
modifies itself entirely. We feel ourselves at once 
drnwn closer together, and it seems that mutual 
confidence but waits the chance to reveal itself. 

As- a rule, the higher the station of the person 
who allows us to call him by name, the greater 
the leap from the estrangement to the more confi- 
dential intercourse. It is great indeed when we 
call a man by his family name. It is greatest 
when we address him by his personal name. 


Another difiference is, that among women, even 
as with children, the personal, baptismal name 
is used, and almost never the family name, while 
among men as a rule the family name is in 
vogue, and the use of the personal name indicates 
a far higher degree of intimacy. While at length 
in family life every more dignified title falls away, 
and the use of the family- name has no meaning, 
but everything hinges on the baptismal name, or 
passes over into an entirely other sort of names, 
which express the relation which one sustains 
to the other. Until finally we come to the mother- 
and father-name, and we speak of husband and 
wife, and parents say: my child. These names 
of common use in the family are more than sounds. 
They express something essential in the mutual 
relationships. They are somewhat on a par with 
the names we give to a physician, clergyman, or 
sexton, which indicate that we do not mean 
their person but their office. But while with 
the latter these persons, and the relation in 
wliich they stand to us, separate themselves, 
the father-name, the mother-name and the name 
of ''my child" contain this excellent trait, that they 
express simultaneously^ both the persons and the 
relationships, and that in this way they indicate 
the highest that a name can express. If then 
after these observations we address God as Our 
Father or as Abba, dear Father, we appreciate 
more fully than before, the supreme privilege 
which this Father-name confers upon a child of 

The names by which we seek to indicate the 
Eternal, are not all equally intimate. The vague 
name of God brings no approach. The mere 

word God indicates a highly-exalted Being, that 
far transcends mankind. But by itself it has no 
meaning. It is exclusive and reveals nothing. 
It does not indicate a single relationship. It 
only becomes significant and vital, when we put 
the word my before it. and speak of ''my God", 
or of the "Covenant-God". 

The same applies to the name: the most 
High. In Scripture we find it used in circles out- 
side of Israel. It occurs in connection with 
Melchizedek, with Nebuchadnezzar, Isaiah 14:14, 
in the heathen world where Daniel dwelt, and with 
good and bad angels. In Ps. 82:6 angels are called: 
children of the most High. Gabriel speaks of 
the power of the Highest that shall overshadow 
Mar>'. Demons likewise call Jesus: Thou Son of 
God, most High (Luke 8:28). This is but natural. 
This name of the most High merely indicates that 
our God is exalted far above all created things. 
But it is not a name that brings him closer to us, 
or that initiates one into his secret fellowship. 

It is altogether different when God reveals him- 
self as the Almighty, as Jehovah and as Lord. The 
patriarchs were permitted to call Him the Mighty 
God. This indicates protection, a refuge in time 
of trouble, surety of the given promise, a party 
to the Covenant, who will break everj' form of 
opposition in our behalf. Hence the rich develop- 
ment of this name in the manifold references to 
God as our high tower, our Refuge, our Rock; 
as of a God in whose tent we may dwell, and who 
is our hidding-place. It is all the unfolding of 
this one idea : God is the Almighty One, who 
watches over us to bless us. 

The same is true of the Jehovah name. This 


also is no hollow sound, but an expression of the 
Being of God; even of that in him which we 
need for our comfort in the midst of these chang- 
ing scenes of life. Everything about us comes 
and goes. We ourselves change continuously 
with every changing thing around us. Scarcely 
has spring given way to summer, before autumn 
is at hand to pass on into the winter-sleep of 
death. This antagonizes our inner being, which 
calls for immortality; which longs to remain like 
unto itself, and which at the bar of its own con- 
sciousness maintains in old age identity with the 
self of the child. But this change around us and 
within us ceaselessly goes on. There is nothing 
sure. It is all as the rocking of waves, on which 
we are rocked and irresistibly driven along. And 
in the midst of this restless ocean the wonderful 
name of Jehovah: I am that I am, is the revela- 
tion of the enduring, the abiding, the eternal, the 
unchangeable, and becomes one with the name of 
Rock. Thus the result of this name-revelation 
is, that he to whom Jehovah has shown grace, and 
who himself has laid hold on Jehovah, has in 
God the fixed point, from whence he defies the 
restless tossing of the waters on the sea of life, 
and lays hold on eternity itself in the God whom 
he worships. To know Jehovah it to have eternal 

The same is the case with the name: Lord. He 
who only speaks of God says nothing of the 
relation in which he stands to Him. But he who 
says: Lord, our God, or God the Lord, bears 
witness to a relation which he sustains to the 
Eternal Being. He is His property and servant 
From him he expects orders and ordinances. He 


acknowledges that he should live for God, because 
God is his Lord, so that he exists solely and 
alone for the sake of God. 

In this revelation of the Name, the love of 
God that sought us and drew us, has made still 
further progress. Israel was taught to know the 
Father-name, which is by no means revealed 
for the first time in the New Testament. When 
God said to Malachi: If then I am a Father, 
where is mine honor? this one saying clearly 
shows that the sense and significance of the 
Father-name was well-kno^^^l in Israel. Even the 
antithesis with the child was understood in it. 
Or was it not said of David: I shall be to him 
a Father. And he shall be to me a son. Every 
one feels that in the Father-name the Eternal 
Being comes close to us. It is as though all 
distance falls away, and as though by this name 
God himself invites us to warm confidence, close 
fellowship and intimate communion. The mother- 
name would have done this still more tenderly, 
but not so significantly, because the mother-name 
is more closely associated with childhood and 
early youth, while the father-name embraces all 
of life. The Father-name of God moreover includes 
both the tenderness of the mother-name and the 
energetic confidentiality of the father-name. 
"Though a mother may forget her sucking child, 
yet will I not forget thee. (Is. 49:15) 

The inner religious life awakens in all its rich- 
ness and fullness only at the sound of the Father- 
name. For now there is family life, continuous 
dwelling with God, the outpouring of the heart, 
the holding of oneself fast by God in confidence 
and love, in the fellowship of prayer and in a 


tenderness, which no longer hides anything. More 
yet, the Father-name includes the name of the 
child. With the Abba Father comes the surpris- 
ing discover>^ that one is himself a child of God, 
and with it is disclosed the nobility of our race, 
the royal exaltation above everything that sur- 
rounds us in the unconscious creation, and the 
thought which tranforms all of life, that this is 
not our real life, for that our real life is with 
and by and in our God. 

With this the last step is made possible. And 
at length comes the full revelation of Father, 
Son and Holy Ghost, of the one and threefold 
Being. This at once establishes .the connection 
of the relation which we sustain to God with the 
Being of God itself. By itself the Father-name 
might yet stand outside of the Divine Being, 
and merel}' have been borrowed from, human 
family life. In this case it would merely imply, 
that as we are children of our father at home, 
God also watches as a Father over us. But all 
this becomes different at once. In his Being 
God is eternally Father, and in this same Being 
of God is the Son. Hence what is known on 
earth in the family is only the image of what 
eternally was in the Being of God. It is no 
longer a comparision. The real is expressed in 
the Father-name. Likewise when we are privi- 
ledge to be called God's Child, this name is not 
borrowed from comparision with the family, but 
it comes to us directly from the image of God. 
He is not merely called our Father, but he is 
eternally our Father. We are not merely called 
his child. We are his child, generated by him 
and born from him. 


This is salvation. Wherefore he who takes the 
confession of the Trinity as a mere doctrinal 
question, does not fathom by far what this revela- 
tion of Father, Son and Holy Ghost implies. 
Only the Triune God is the wealth and the delight 
of the soul. 





He who seeks to live near unto God, and does 
not know how to keep his distance from God, 
commits sin. This is sadly evident at times in 
prayer before others, and shows itself at once by 
the use of "you" in place of "thee" and "thou". 
In countries where the language contains two 
forms o£ address, one more common and one more 
dignified, it has always been the custom to use 
the more common form in prayer. In France 
we have the 'Notre Pere qui est aux cieux, ton 
regne vienne"; and in German: "Unser Vater der 
du im Himmel bist, dein Name werde geheilight." 
In addressing his father a Dutch child always used 
the terms du and dein, which in meaning lay in 
between the vulgar Dutch "jou" and the dignified 
"thee and thou." But this has been changed. To 
address his father now otherwise than by "thee and 
thou" would be considered a breach on the part 
of the Dutch Child of the Fifth Commandment. 
When thus in addressing an earthly father a whole- 
some appreciation of language avoids the use of 
vulgar terms, it betokens a want of sufficient 
reverence before the Father who is in heaven, when 
one tries to show a certain daring, in thus ad- 


dressing the Highest Being. It betrays the tend- 
ency to show how intimately the man who prays 
holds converse with his God. And while this is 
done at the expense of reverence towards God, it 
leads to sin. 

Both what is exalted and what is ordinary have 
very naturally a certain trait in common. A king 
on his throne is exalted, his butler is only ordinary. 
Yet they have this in common, that their family 
name is rarely used. As a rule they are spoken 
of by name. In England people speak of King 
George. Almost no one thinks of his family name 
of Windsor. Likewise every one knows the butler 
by his first name, while in case of a payment of 
taxes his family name is frequently a subject of 

This is because the exalted departs from the 
ordinary measure of our life, and so does that 
w^hich falls below it. As we read in Isaiah 57:15, 
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that in- 
habiteth eternity; I dwell in the high and holy 
place, with him also that is of a contrite and 
humble spirit". The lofty and the humble are 
here mentioned in one breath. Our ordinary life 
has certain measures, forms and dimensions, 
certain well known figures and appearances. All 
this together forms our human life. And it la 
the sin of every thing that is called heathen, 
that it brings the Almighty down to the level of 
the human. Thus the heathen make an image 
of a man, or of an animal, and kneel down to it, 
and so destroy the incalculable difference between 
human and Divine life. 

In the face of it Holy Scripture discloses the 
holy sphere of the lofty, i. e. of a life that goes 


out far and high above our earthly, human hfe. 
Nature gives us an impression of it in the firma- 
ment that arches high above us, in the sky that 
hastens upwards, and in the mighty thunder that 
rolls through the dark hosts of clouds. In a 
heavy thunder-storm, in the hurricane that rages 
upon the great waters, in an earthquake which 
makes the ground to vibrate under our feet, 
with a volcano that vomits forth its lava, every 
one feels that we have to do with powers that 
exceed the limits of our human life. They are 
the interpreters of the existence of a higher, 
mightier world than ours. Wherefore all this takes 
its place in what we call the lofty. It ascends 
higher still when we lift up our soul and mind to 
the world of angels and of the blessed in eternal 
light. But higher still is the Most Highest, Our 
God in his Majesty. And every portrayal which 
God himself gives in prophecy of the palace of the 
Divine King, and of the throne of his Omnipotence 
above, lifts itself so high and far above all mea- 
sure of our common life that of our own accord 
we honor therein the Past in its completeness. 
This must be so, in order that we might continue 
to be man, and leave God to be God, and that 
we might never lose from sight the distance at 
which the Creator stands high above the creature. 
When we realize this distance reverence attends 
our worship, and in deep humility of spirit we 
kneel before his lofty throne. 

This same God who dwelleth on high, in the 
lofty and holy places, also dwells with him that 
is of a contrite and humble spirit. He humbleth 
himself to behold the things that are in heaven, 
and in the earth (Ps. 113:6). The laborer and the 

poor are frequently treated with far more consid- 
eration by those of assured position, than by those 
of lower social standing. When a subject ap- 
proaches his king, as a rule he is surprised by the 
kind treatment which he receives. And since the 
Lord God is highly exalted above every one of us, 
it is no contradiction, but entirely along the same 
line, that when he turns himself to his creature, 
he refreshes and comforts it by an holy. Divine 

Sacred reserve therefore becomes us in our 
approach to God. Familiarity with the Eternal 
must always proceed from the side of God, and 
may never be presumed upon by the creature. 
When man makes bold to ignore the boundary 
of reverence, God repulses him. For then man 
exalts himself at the expense of the loftiness of 
hid Lord. This interrupts the secret walk with 
God. At last he retains nothing but vain beating 
in the air after the Infinite, after a higher Being, 
a higher blessing, a name without content, a 
sound that volatilizes; and he has lost his Father 
and his God. 

The Our Father puts us under solemn restraint. 
By grace we are permitted to invoke God as our 
Father. But for the sake of reverence it follows 
at once : Who art in heaven, in order that, as the 
Catechism warns us, no one should think of 
God in an earthly way. 

That God is the Lofty and Holy One who 
dwelleth on high, and that there is a secret walk 
with him, because he humbleth himself to behold 
the things in the earth, creates of itself a two- 
fold endeavor to overcome the distance that 
separates him from us. One is, that God comes 


down to us. The second is, that we lift up our 
soul to him. It begins with the first. The second 
follows. In Paradise after the fall God comes 
down, to Adam, and this condescension on the 
part of God goes on thoughout all Revelation. 
This coming down is made perfect in the manger 
of Bethlehem in behalf of our entire race. At 
the great feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem God the 
Holy Ghost comes down into human hearts. 
This descent of God still continues with every soul 
that passes from death into life. Then God comes 
to take up his abode in the heart. Then he prays 
for us, and in us with groanings that are unutter- 
able, and he who dwelleth on high dwells at the 
same time in the contrite heart. 

Parallel with this runs the lifting up of our 
soul to God. "Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my 
soul" (Ps. 25:1). What we seek is "to dwell in 
the house of the Lord," to take refuge in him 
as our "high Tower," and to live our life apart 
from the world in order to dwell with the Holy 
One. "Seek the things that are above where 
Christ is" (Col. 3:1) and to you will be given 
"walks to w^alk among those that are above" 
(Zech. 3:7). 

When God comes down to you, the idol of 
self, even as Dagon's image, must be thrown 
down. But when this is done, and your spirit 
is contrite, and you have come down from your 
imagined heights to humbler perceptions of your- 
self, the wall of separation falls down, the dis- 
tance shortens, and the moment arrives when you 
feel that God is with you in your own heart, and 
that von cannot live otherwise than near unto 


Reverence before the Almighty has always 
proved itself most deep and most true with those 
who stand nearest to the Lord. While on the other 
hand they who have never entered into seeret 
fellowship ^^^th God. have become more and 
more devoid of all salutar\^ fear, awe and rever- 
ence before the Lord our God. In many cases 
they even profane his Holiness by reckless and 
thoughtless use of his Name as an expletive. 

It is grace, and grace alone, that the High and 
Lofty One takes his finite creature into his con- 
fidence, enters into secret fellowship with him, 
admits him into his tent and visits him in his 
heart. And they alone enjoy the delight of this 
sacred privilege, who receive it in a thankful and 
worshipful spirit. They have the promise that they 
will be tranlated one daj' from this earthly into 
the heavenly state, in order that in the high and 
lofty Fatherhouse of God, they may dwell for- 
ever with the Lord. 


There is also an entirely personal knowledge of 
God which comes to us through the ebb and 
flood tides of sorrow and of joy. But this must 
not be exaggerated. The idea that disappoint- 
ment and soiTow as a rule open the soul to God, 
and that suffering always makes perfect, is loudly 
contradicted by experience. Undoubtedly great 
disasters, which strike heavily and suddenly, 
such as pestilence, storms that threaten ship- 
wreck, destructive earthquakes, danger of death 
in sudden illness, remind the thoughtless for a 

monent, that there is a God with whom we have 
to do. But as soon as the danger is past, it 
takes but a little while for the faint impression 
to wear away. After a deliverance from pestil- 
ence, for instance, unblushing worldliness has 
frequently shown itself more godless than before. 
Everything was all right again. One was almost 
ashamed that at heart he had been afraid. But 
now one was master of himself again, and would 
improve his chance to enjoy life, before the 
possible return of similar ill luck. Or where they 
did not take so wide a swing as this, and dis- 
sipation was carefully avoided, the return after 
disaster to old-time self-sufficiency was almost 
systematic, and life was lived again, if not directly 
opposed to, yet uithout, God. 

And this was not always the worst. Great 
adversities have frequently led souls, that shared 
a general belief, into atheism. It was firmly held, 
that if in the hour of need God were but invoked, 
deliverance was sure. At the sickbed of husband 
or child the prayer arose: O, God, save them. 
But when this prayer evidently brought no relief, 
and inexorable death dragged the loved one into 
the grave, the whole soul rose up in rebellion. 
If, prayer brings no help in distress, there is no 
God. Or if there is a God, he can be no God 
of love, and in bitterness of soul life is lived 
in rebellion against God. 

Suffering truly makes perfect, but only when 
grace is known in the heart, and not with the 
unregenerate child of the world. In sooth, suffer- 
ing can be a means in the hand of God to bring 
a wanderer to a stand, and to conversion, but 


even then conversion is effected by the work of 
Divine grace in the soul, and suffering in connec- 
tion with this is merely an accidental means of 
aid. As Job sat among the ashes his wife did 
not hesitate to say to him; "Curse God, and die," 
And it is only the soul, which like that of the 
Psalmist, is a subject of heavenly grace, that is 
able, after deliverance from trouble, to confess 
before God: "Before I was afflicted I went astray: 
but now, being instructed, I keep thy word" 
(Ps. 119:67). 

In joyous and prosperous times conditions are 
still worse. As a rule they who live at ease 
are farther estranged from God, than they who 
have to work for daily bread. The sharply 
drawn antithesis betw^een the rich man and poor 
Lazarus has been verified in all ages and among 
all peoples. Radiant beauty, abounding health, 
unbroken prosperity in one's career or business, 
great happiness at home, abundance of material 
wealth, so that care and trouble were unknown, 
have almost never seemed able to foster true 
godliness. They rather fortified a man in his self- 
sufficiency, in the high estimate of his own self, 
and drew the soul away from God, rather than 
that by them the soul felt itself drawn toward 
him. Such has been the case with individual per- 
sons, with whole families and nations. When there 
was peace, and national power grew so that the 
people revelled in wealth, they went with equal 
pace almost always spiritually backwards. When 
the Dutch had to fight hard and long for spiritual 
liberty, religion and public morals stood high. 
But when in the 18th century gold streamed in 
from every side, and wealth became the law of 


life, the nation became decadent. The mighty 
world-empire of Rome fared the same way. 
Sobriety and restraint made it great, until luxury 
and love of pleasure began from within, what bar- 
baric invasions from without brought to a finish. 
Even of South Africa it may be asked, if the gold 
from its mines which suddenly cast treasures into 
the laps of the people, did not hasten its present 

There have been persons, families, and whole 
generations, which from gratitude for material 
blessings became more tenderly united to God. 
But this was only because grace preceded and 
accompanied prosperity. Solomon remains the 
historic type of how even with God's children 
prosperity can work a spiritual decline. They 
are strong legs that can carry wealth, says the 
proverb. And the exception is rare in which Satan 
does not succed in the abuse of our prosperity 
against him from whom it comes. 

In joy and sorrow both however most helpful 
means are offered to obtain deeper knowledge 
of God; negatively in joy, positively in sorrow. 
When in examining his wavs the child of God 
discerns that in days of joy and plenty he incurs 
the risk of becoming mechanical in prayer, of 
fostering pride, of building more confidence on 
himself than on God, and of being less persistent 
in his secret communion with God, it will turn, 
if he is sincere, the trend of his mind and heart. 
As strongly as his heart inclined before at times 
towards the goods of this world, he will now begin 
to be afraid of them. It becomes clear to him 
that God and worldly wealth do not agree, but 
rather antagonize each other. He feels that wealth 


itself is not at fault, for there was wealth in 
Paradise, and there is nothing but wealth in the 
Fatherhouse above, but that sin in our heart 
poisons our wealth, and creates a power that is 
hostile to God. 

In this way God becomes more spiritual to 
him, and in God, who is a spirit, he learns by 
contrast to understand better than before the 
price, the significance and the worth of the trea- 
sure of the spiritual life. There have been men 
and women among the saints of God who in the 
midst of wealth have become richer in God, and 
have been merely stewards of the goods entrusted 
to their care in his Name, for the good of his 
church and of his poor. The impulse to do good 
sprang not mfrequently from the fear, lest their 
wealth should draw them away from God. 

But greater is the knowledge of God which is 
learned in times of deep sorrow, when there was 
previous spiritual knowledge of God in the heart. 
Grievous affliction breaks the highness of self. 
It makes us realize that there are powers over 
which we have no control, and which can violently 
attack our strength, our lot in life, our family, 
our prospects of the future, and the loves of our 
heart. We may call these powers death, sickness, 
slander, anger, hatred, or what we like. But when 
they come upon us, and succeed in threatening 
or in breaking up our happiness, we feel that they 
stand before us as powers in hostile array, that 
they are independent of us, and that they have 
far more power over us than we over them. And 
this revelation of power is a revelation of the real 
power, which God has over us and over the world. 

As long as life runs a smooth course we know 

about God, we worship him, and his spiritual 
power is felt in the inner life of the soul. But 
it is an altogether different matter when the 
power of God is seen in the material, outward 
life. For it is in this that affliction makes a breach. 
It breaks it, and you see and feel and handle the 
power, that comes into the life from without, 
working havoc and distress. There is no power 
with us to face it. And in our powerlessness 
we discover that there is real power in God alone, 
which great and strong is able to bring deliverance, 
and to repulse the evil that is arrayed against us. 

Thus life becomes an arena in which these 
destructive powers work against us and our God, 
and the saving power of God enters into the 
combat on our side. At first we continue to take 
part ourselves, but when it becomes most fierce, 
we are incapacitated, at length we become alto- 
gether passive, and we feel and perceive that God 
and his angels fight for our salvation. When they 
are snares of sin, by which Satan seeks to foil 
us, this conflict is most exalted, most holy. In 
the end we feel that all the angels and all the 
devils watch intently to see, what will gain the 
day in the soul; the power of sin or the power of 

This conflict maj' also bear an exalted character 
with sorrow in the outward life, as bj^ means of 
new affliction Satan seeks to do us harm, and 
when in the end. by God's help, w^e may sing of 
victory. For by this very struggle the soul learns 
to understand more fully than ever before, that 
in the thing which Satan brings upon us, the 
appointment of God's love is carried out; that it 

is the purifying process of the melting-pot; the 
separating process of the winnowing fan; the 
unfolding process of the power of faith; the 
inspiring process of our spiritual heroism; the 
loosening process of ties which we prized more 
highlj^ than the tie which binds us to God; the 
equipment with the whole armor of God against 
still greater temptations to come; the anchoring 
of the soul to the higher world; and the humbling 
of self within us, in order that even in the heart, 
God alone may be great. 

And then it is no longer the question of highest 
importance, whether we are delivered from our 
trouble, or whether we are overcome by it. 
If God brings deliverance, there is outward 
triumph, which at times is sorely needed to exhibit 
the splendor of the supreme power of the Lord 
over death and pestilence, over slander and anger, 
over Satan and fortune. But this deliverance is 
not the main thing. If the exhibition of the 
supremacy of God is deferred to the life to come, 
we must rest content. The chief matter at 
stake is, that the gold, that was darkened, may 
glisten again; that we shall come forth from the 
fiery trial with greater spiritual riches than we 
ever had before; that Satan shall be the loser 
by us and that God shall be the gainer; that 
God shall more clearly and more intimately 
be revealed to the soul in his reality, and that, 
as from the soul of David, so from our soul, 
may rise the word of testimony: "Before I 
was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept 
thy word." All glory to Thy Name. 


There is still another way that leads to knowl- 
edge of God. It is one that cannot be dealt with 
save with most delicate care. We mean the awfal 
way that leads through the depths of sin. A 
single word of Jesus indicates it at once. To 
Simon the Pharisee he said: "To whom little is 
forgiven, the same loveih little" (Luke 7:47). 
V/ith this word our Lord places two persons in 
contrast with each other. On one side the most 
honorable citizen of Nain, Simon, his host. And 
on the other side a woman, who was known in 
the little town a? one of ill repute, a public 
sinner, as was the case. As her sins were many, 
she had been forgiven more, and consequently she 
loved more. The virtuous Simon, on the other 
hand, who had sinned less, was forgiven less, 
and consequently he loved less. 

If love for Christ is one of the richest sources, 
from which vital knowledge of God flows out 
towards us. for this woman, the way of deep sin 
thanks to the larger forgiveness, was the means 
to attain fuller knowledge of God. He who only 
strives after book-knowledge of God, can not 
understand this, and will never be able to put 
up with this vigorous word of Jesus. He on the 
other hand who knows from experience that warm, 
and upbuilding knowledge of God is fed and 
carried most effectively by love for God, accepts 
this word of Jesus gratefully, even though it 
makes him shudder. 

The contrast between the dark nature of sin 


and holiness is so sharp, that for the moment 
it takes a violent effort on the part of the soul to 
understand that a deep way of sin can be one 
that leads to richer knowledge of God. And it be- 
hooves us to treat this aspect of the subject in 
hand the more humbl}', because of those who, even 
in our land, in a satanic way have misapplied this 
word of Jesus, at times shamelessly confessing in 
private: "I gloriously sinned again, after which 
I had a blessed time of finding." Such satanic 
sayings are nothing else than a slander on the 
mercies of our God. But though this horrible 
abuse of Jesus' word compels utmost carefulness, 
the heavenly gold that glitters in this word, must 
not be dimmed. It is and remains true, that 
greater sin with greater forgiveness can lead to 
greater love and thereby to a richer knowledge 
of God. 

This word alone offers us the key to the beat- 
itude of the murderer on the cross, and to the 
promise of Jesus, that presently with himself he 
would be in Paradise. Fundamentally it is the 
same as what David wrote in Ps. 130:4. "But 
there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest 
be feared." From the forgiveness of sin springs 
tender attachment in the service of the Lord. 
Sin, forgiveness, love, and from this love knowl- 
edge of God, are the four beads in the one 
sacred string. 

The whole Gospel rests in fact upon this recog- 
nition, and the saying of one of the heroes of 
the faith in earlier days: "Felix culpa," which 
means that there was something glorious in the 
fall, can never be entirely ignored. The 
angels of God have no knowledge of sin, hence 


also they know no forgiveness. Hence again thej^ 
have no knowledge of the tender love which 
springs from forgiveness received, nor of the richer 
knowledge of God which is born from this ten- 
derer affection. It is foreign to them, and there- 
fore the apostle writes regarding this mytery that 
they are desirous "to look into it." Undoubtedly 
the revelation of the Being and Attributes of God, 
as it came to us in the mighty work of the 
Atonement is far richer, far more tender and 
more striking than the first revelation in Paradise. 
The grace, mercy and compassion of our God for 
the Sinner give us a look into the Father heart 
which apart from sin would never have been 
possible. The knowledge of God which we receive 
in and though Christ far exceeds all other knowl- 
edge of him. And yet in the Scripture the 
mission of the Son to this world is motived by 
sin alone. Everj- deeply moved utterance of 
love for God in old and New Testament springs 
from the thrilling experience of the heart, that 
the sei-^-ant and handmaiden of the Lord have 
been redeemed from sin and delivered from misery. 
And neither reconciliation and sanctification, nor 
deliverance from misery would have been think- 
able, had not sin engulfed the world. Even 
now it is frequently seen that the cool sympathy 
for God on the part of the unconverted differs 
from the warm attachment to God on the part 
of the redeemed in that the unconverted always 
discount sin, while the redeemed always start 
out from the knowledge of misery, that by reason 
of the knowledge of sin they may arrive at the 
knowledge of God. 


Love for God apart from sin operates most 
purely with the angels. And yet, however glorious 
their love for God may be, it is a different and 
a lesser love than that of the redeemed sinner 
for his God and Savior. It is not for us to say, 
how revelation would have unfolded itself, had 
not Adam fallen and had not Christ come. This 
much is certain, the rich knowledge of God's 
boundless mercies is the highest knowledge of 
God for us, and this is immediately connected 
with the loss of Paradise in sin and misery. 

This holds true with individuals. Many people 
who call themselves Christians in these days 
count little with the knowledge of sin. They were 
religiously brought up, and have not fallen into 
open sin. Hence sin does not oppress them, and the 
need of reconciliation is no longer felt. The 
Cross addresses them differently. Their Christ- 
ianity is one of high ideals and good works. 
The sad result is that they have less and less 
mystical, tender and cherishing love for God, and 
that the "Blessed is the man whose sin is covered" 
(Ps. 32:1) indicates a state of happiness, which 
is foreign to them. 

There are others who have become deeply 
versed in the knowledge of sin, either through the 
terrors of the law, or by the fact that God 
abandoned them to their sin. But at length 
they came to a halt. A burning thirst after 
reconciliation took hold of them. And having 
found the same in their Savior they are now 
filled with praise and adoration of the mercies 
of the Lord. Their love for the God of unfathom- 
able compassion is more and more increased. 

And according to the greater measure of their sin, 
they enter into a far richer measure of fellowship 
with the Father who is in heaven, and of the 
knowledge of his holy Name. A more brutal 
outbreak in sin is not at all the necessary back- 
ground of this experience. As in the case of 
Luther, a deeper insight into ordinary sin can 
create an equally burning desire after reconcilia- 
tion. Of all the apostles St. Paul glories most 
enthusiastically from the love of the redeemed, 
because, having persecuted the church of God, he 
felt himself to be the chief of sinners. And so 
it still remains true, that he who has fallen deeply 
into sin, and has come to a full and genuine 
conversion, has attained the thirst after reconcilia- 
tion and the gratitude of love for the same, in 
such a measure of intensity, as to spread in a 
surprising manner blessings everywhere, even to 
the extend that at times one can envy him the 
warmth of his inner life. 

Shall we then sin, that grace, and with it 
love and knowledge of God may increase? Far 
from it. This question is diabolical. He who pro- 
pounds it does not love God. He offers God's 
love an insult in the face. But it does imply, 
that it is safe for every child of God to look 
more deeply into the sins of his own heart; not 
to ignore his secret sins; ever and anon to apply 
again the full atonement to all the breadth and 
length of the sins of his heart; and thus to 
become ever more deeply sensible of how end- 
lessly much there was that needed forgiveness, 
and that has been forgiven. 

There are two ways that here present them- 
selves. ■ One man minimizes ihis sin. He ia 
offended when he is told of his guilt. He will not 
hear it said that he is guilty in all sorts of ways. 
He holds himself erect, and deems himself a 
saint. This is the way to cover up one's sin, 
and not to thirst after reconciliation ; not to return 
thanks for reconciliation and love; and con- 
sequently to remain far removed from the knowl- 
edge of God. But there is also another way. 
It is that of humbling oneself. In this way the 
child of God distrusts himself. He is grateful 
for having sin pointed out. to him. He investi- 
gates ever more closely his heart, his past, and 
the present state of his soul. And so there 
is everytime new need of reconciliation, new joy 
in forgiveness received, more love for the Merciful 
One, and an ever deeper entering into the knowl- 
edge of God his Savior. 

Moreover he who as a Christian man imitates 
Simon the Pharisee, and esteems himself to be 
just, can not bear that one who is a ^'Sinner" 
is addressed by Jesus. There is the exalted sense 
of one's own saintliness, which has no place for 
the compassion shown the prodigal who returns. 

But when by a deeper knowledge of our own sin 
we feel that we ourselves are small, and we refresh 
ourselves each day with a new draught from the 
cup of reconciliation, there will awaken in our 
hearts something of the joy of the angels of God 
over one sinner that repenteth, which is greater 
than the joy over the ninety and nine who have 
no need of repentance. For this is the Gospel of 




Although it is a Divine appointment, for which 
it behooves us to give thanks, it is nevertheless 
difficult for us, sinners, to realize that in the end 
even sin is compelled to become a means of 
leading us into deeper knowledge of God, and. of 
making the majesty of the Lord to shine upon 
us more brightl3^ That as the tempter of men, 
Satan abuses this appointment of God, that in 
a heaven-defying way he may mingle sin and 
religion, does not in the least darken the glory 
of this appointment. Neither can anyone say, 
whether, in case Satan first, and after him Adam, 
had not fallen, the Lord God would have opened 
another wa}-, unknown to us now, by which to 
lead us into an equally deep, if not a still more 
intimate knowledge of his Name and Being. 

All these reflections however do not advance 
us a single step. We have been born in a sinful 
world. We have to count with it. And this 
being the case it is meet for us to thank God, 
that he makes good to come out of evil, and 
that he uses even sin to enrich the knowledge 
of his Name and Being in the inner perception of 
his child. Grace, conpassion and mercy, as revela- 
tions of Divine love are more profound, than 
Divine blessing in prosperity and Divine help in 
time of need. But the knowledge of this grace 
and compassion can only be kno%vn by him, who 
has tasted the sweets of reconciliation, and who 
can count himself not only among God's crea- 


tures, but also among the redeemed. In Christ 
there has come to us a knowledge of God's 
name and being, such as has never been known 
outside of him, but Bethlehem as well as Golgotha 
find their cause alone in the salvation of sinners. 

Even the knowledge of the Almighty power 
of God has been greatly enriched by sin. Does 
not the apostle say that the "exceeding great- 
ness of his power, according to the mighty work- 
ing of his strength (Eph. 1:19) was only revealed 
to us in the resurrection of Christ and in the 
regeneration of believers." In the re-creation there 
was a greater exhibition of majesty and of al- 
mighty power than in the creation. In causing 
Christ to rise from the dead there was a mightier 
unfolding of Divine strength than in the first call 
from nothing into being. But there would have 
been no resurrection without death, and no re- 
creation without fall, and since both fall and 
death find their starting point in sin alone, this 
higher revelation of the Almighty power of God, 
which shows itself in resurrection and in re-crea- 
tion would never have come to us in this way, 
had we not sinned. And in order to get the fiill 
meaning of what this implies we must go down 
still one step more, and come to acknowledge, that 
in the hand of God sin becomes the means to 
heighten, and make more clear, our inner per- 
ception of the holiness of God. 

Of course they who in their unconverted state 
still walk in the way of sin, are here left out of 
count. We only speak in this connection of the 
redeemed, of those who have found eternal life 
itself in knowing God. And how did the history 


of sin in their case run? How runs it now? Two 
classes of persons should here be kept apart. 
Those who broke out into sin in an offensive 
way, and the others who remained withm the 
bounds of an ordinary sinful existence. Mary 
of Magdala and Salome do not stand in one line. 
Peter, who thrice denied his Master, passed 
through an entirely different inward struggle 
from John, who remained faithful to his Savior. 
The spiritual experiences of the two differ in this 
respect, that the sinner who went far astray can 
sometimes in his conversion arouse the jealousy 
of the sinner who remained within bounds. The 
inner tumult of the first is far greater, his struggle 
in the transition far more heroic. His glorying 
in grace, when at last the burden of his guilt falls 
from his shoulders, is much more abundant. The 
prodigal who returns has something, which the 
son, who remained at home, lacks. 

He who deems however that the calm, ordinary 
sinner can not drain the cup of grace to the 
bottom, if we may so express it, is mistaken. 
Even he who is guilty of the heinous sins of 
drunkenness, immorality or dishonesty, runs the 
great risk of counting these extravagant dis- 
sipations as his real, actual sin, and of ignoring 
the sinful nature back of them. It is repeatedly 
seen, that such sinners who have been converted 
from their former evil practices, entirely get away 
from them, while for the rest they continue in 
sin, without making any advances in sanctification 
of heart and life. On the contraiy they who have 
continued unblameable before the eyes of men, 
have after their conversion, a much keener eye, 
for the refined, hidden sins of the heart, and 

272 . 

as fruit of their faith the^' unfold a much richer 
Christain life. The conveil from gross sins fre- 
quently counts all his life long with the weight of 
pounds alone, while the quiet convert weighs 
with the assay-balance. 

This is not true of all. Alas, there are not a 
few who turn the fact itself that they remained 
free from great sins, into a cloak in which they 
make a fine appearance, and with their ordinary 
sins of pride and quiet selfishness go on to life's 
end, without ever putting up a serious fight 
against them. But if we take the redeemed in 
the narrower sense, the tenderness of conscience 
with respect to sin even goes so far, that they 
distrust their own examination of heart, and al- 
ways end with the prayer that God will also 
make known to them their secret sins, and for- 
give them. For when the heart does not con- 
demn us, God is greater than our heart, and he 
knows all things, even those that hide in the 
innermost recesses of the soul. 

But in whatever way and measure the inner 
struggle against sin awakens, it always begins 
with a troubled conscience. And that which dis- 
turbs us in this is always the voice of God up- 
braiding us for sin. This is partly the case with 
people of the world whose conscience at first is 
never entirely extinguished. But with them the 
voice of God in the conscience is not recognized. 
They take it either as a troublesome resistance 
on the part of their spiritual nature against the 
the things which their carnal nature craves. So 
they sear the conscience in order to go freely on 
in sin. Or, they take it as an impulse of their 

better self, and dream that they train themselves 
in virtuous living. This results in a good deal 
of social respectability and praise-worthy self-con- 
trol. But it bears no fruit for eternal life, inso- 
much as they claim the honor of it for themselves, 
and withdraw themselves from God, with whom 
they refuse to reckon. 

The operation of the conscience is altogether 
different with the redeemed. With them the 
first effect of the troubled conscience is, that they 
start back; that they become angry with the sin 
which they have committed; that for all the 
world they wish that they had never done it, and 
that now they stand embarrassed and ashamed 
before God. This gives rise to prayer. Amidst 
the cares and labors of the day they are aware 
that God opposes their sin, but there is much 
diversion in general intercourse with people and 
in work, and so they easily get away from the 
sense of it. In distinction however from the 
people of the world, they still pray. And at the 
close of day when before sleep they are about to 
bend their knees before God, they feel disturbed, 
they shrink from prayer, they are conscious that 
something lies in between their heart and God, 
and they scarcely dare to appear before his face. 

And then comes the moment of decision. If 
they shrink back and omit to pray, the conscience 
takes the soporific drink. And unless God inter- 
venes, they are lost. Psalm 32 describes what fol- 
lows: ''When I kept silence, my bones waxed old 
through my roaring." But David did not faint. 
He struggled on. However deeply ashamed he 
was of himself, he bent his knees before God. 


Verse 5 of this same Psalm contains the record. 
"I said I will confess m}^ trangressions unto the 
Lord." And so: I acknowledged my sin unto 
thee. . , . And thou forgavest the iniquity of my 
sin" When thus the soul holds on, and before God 
on bended knee mourns sin, the blessing is sure to 
follow. ''For this shall every one that is godly 
praj^ unto thee in a time when thou mayest be 
found. Floods of great waters may come. But 
they shall not come nigh unto him." 

And in this contrition of soul there is a recogni- 
tion of the holiness of God with an intensity such 
as has never been experienced before. It is no 
longer a holiness of God which was reasoned out 
and inferred from the given commandments; 
neither is it a holiness which loses itself in vague 
admiration of its own purity. It is the Holy One 
who in our conscience presses himself upon us, 
and who upbraiding our sins by his holiness, 
makes us to test and to taste the same in the 
bitterness of our self-reproach and penitence. The 
holiness of God then presents itself in the light 
which of necessity is formed by the striking con- 
trast with the shadow of our sin. It reveals 
itself as a power, which quick and quickening has 
antagonized the death of our sin. In its absolute 
judgment of a definite, concrete sin, it assumes a 
definite, concrete form. And after it is understood 
by us in this definite, concrete form, it lights up 
as an immeasurable realm of holiness, over- 
against the dark background of our sinful nature, 
from which the particular sin sprang. This holi- 
ness does not hover, as it were, over us. But it 
cleaves unto us. And thus convicted of sin, and 

under sentence of death, our soul comes into direct 
contact, and immediate touch with the holy God. 
It brings us living and striking knowledge of him, 
with whom we have to do. The sin was terrible. 
ButGod used it for this end: that through it 
we should come to a better understanding of his 



They who conscientiously devote a portion of 
their time to God, and try to know him, are few. 
Prayer, church-attendance and good works can 
be practiced without actual engagement with God. 
In many prayers the soul fails of appearing before 
God, and of having God appear to the soul. 
Many people go to church and come home again, 
without having met the Lord, or having been met 
by him. Even though during sermon time the 
mind was engaged with Divine things, by itself, 
this was not being busy with God. And as to good 
works, it needs scarcely be said, that we can fill 
up an entire day with them, without so much as 
devoting one thought to him, who inspired us to 
do them. 0, there is little, actual business done 
with the Living God. 

Thus far we only had in mind confessing, be- 
lieving Christians, who practice prayer, who live 
for their church, and do good works. Think now of 
the unchurched multitudes, who are not worldly 
in any bad sense, but rather cultivate seriousness 
of thought, who honor virtue and admire higher 


ideals. And what do we find even with the noblest 
and best of them, of a being busy with God? And 
of those who live only for business, and after that 
for pleasure, it must be confessed with shame, 
that there are no dealings with God at all. Add 
to this the people who are outspokenly wicked 
and godless in society at large, and others again 
who are indifferent to all higher interests, and we 
see, that the number of those who give but a 
small part of their time to fellowship with God is 
very, very small. 

It must also be felt, if we may so express it, 
that in his love for the world, all this must be 
very painful to God. For God so loved the world, 
that he gave it his only-begotten Son. He imparted 
unto it susceptibility to know him, and to love 
him in return. Only a small part of this world 
bears the Christian name. And in this small part, 
that has been baptized, even there there are but 
very few, who day by day turn their soul and 
mind to him, and enter into his secret commun- 
ion. All the rest pass by on the other side. They 
are filled with other things. And the knowledge 
of his Name and Being is scorned by them. 

But according to the Scripture, this is certain, 
that soon or late the moment comes for every 
one, in which God shall compel him, to deal ex- 
clusively, and with nothing else than, with him- 
self alone. He has appointed a day for this. 
And for whatever man this day breaks, in it he 
shall have to appear before God, and God shall 
overtake him with his Majesty, and shall take 
such possesion of him, that he shall not be able 

to think of anything save God. That day is 
the day of judgment. 

In the representation of this day of judgment 
art has done much harm. As art it could not 
do otherwise than work with the representation. 
For this it borrowed its material and image from 
an earthly court of justice, with the millions and 
the millions that have ever lived on earth as 
defendants before God's holy tribunal. It could 
not do this otherwise, and this has been done in 
a nmsterful way by more than one pencil or pen. 
It should not be forgotten however, that it is the 
outward representation of what is chiefly of a 
spiritual significance. And the spiritual act in 
judgment can not be pictured. So that when 
infidelity came in, which denies the judgment, 
it made use of the outward representation, by 
which to turn the matter itself into ridicule, and 
to show its impossibility. Where would there be 
room for these millions and millions of people 
to stand? How much time would it take to give 
ench individual a hearing, even to the particulars 
of every word and thought? It is said to be a 
day, and for ever>^ family it would require more 
than a year. 

Our confession struck a truer note, when in view 
of the spiritual nature of the judgment, it spoke 
of it as the opening of the books of conscience. 
With this understanding of it, the judgment is 
a review, in one clear v^ision, of the whole life; 
an immediate sight of totals, where before we 
only reckoned with the unpaid accounts of each 
moment. The judgment is a settling of accounts. 
What wc owe God, and what is our due fo- deeds 

done either good or evil, are recorded side by side. 
This is the teaching of Scripture. For we must 
all appear, "says the apostle," before the judg- 
ment seat of Christ; that every one may receive 
the things done in his body, according to that 
he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 
5:10). And every accountant knows what account- 
ing here means, and what it implies, that in the 
judment, God shall give us his • bill in toto, 
accompanied with explanations, so that we shall 
be convinced in the conscience that the account 
is correct and just. We shall have the total re- 
sult, the entire resumption of our life, from 
childhood on, shown unto us with such certainty, 
as to exclude every suggestion of doubt. 

In our automatic counting-machines, the cipher 
of whatever is put in, appears at once in sight. 
The addition takes place of itself. This is the 
image of our life. And he who throughout all 
of life has refused to notice the cipher, that show- 
ed itself each day, will in the judgment day 
suddenly see the total amount, in which nothing 
has been forgotten, and against which nothing 
can be said. There will be an opportunity to 
verify it, but this will do no good. A mistake 
in this account is unthinkable. And with the 
sudden clearing of the light of the conscience^ 
which will illumine all of life, there will nothing 
rest, save the acknowledgement that God is just. 
This is nothing to him, who believed and fell 
asleep in Jesus. The end will reveal to him 
also a terror-striking shortage, but on the opposite 
side of the page will appear the atonement by 
Christ, which covers everything. His judge is his 

Savior. And liberated from the curse, he enters 
into eternal blessedness. 

But this opening of the book of the conscience 
will be terrible for those who died without* Christ. 
Conversion will then be too late. There can be 
no more hiding in Christ. Xo more* part can be 
obtained in the atonement. There is nothing of 
good to balance the immeasureable guilt. And 
the sinner must faint under the weight of a 
sentence, that is read to him in his own con- 
science. And this will be the eternal pain in his 
inmost self, of the worm, that restlessly gnaws, 
without ever dying; and of the heat in his con- 
science of the fire, that shall never be extin- 
guished. There is no need of any torture from 
without, to be added imto this. The fire itself 
within is the eternal punishment, and this inner 
consumption of self will be as a cancer, that shall 
eat into all his being, and corrupt his entire 
existence. Even as cancer on the outside occas- 
ions no pain, but that which eats into the vitals 
within, so will the punishment begin from the 
conscience and go through all his existence. 

This will be " the knowledge of God" on the 
part of those, who here on earth, have not willed 
to know the grace of God. This knowledge of 
Divine grace is twofold. On one side, here on 
earth, through faith, it is a knowledge of God 
that saves. "This is eternal life that they may 
know Thee, the only true God." But on the 
other side there is a knowledge of God, which 
only comes after death, in the judgment, but 
which for this very reason brings no eternal 
life, but eternal death. In the earth it was 


lightly asserted, that there was no God, or 
that nothing of him was known, or that there was 
no need to concern oneself about him. But after 
death one stands before this disregarded God, 
feels the terror of his all-pervading presence, and 
is no longer able, try what he may, to escape 
from him. For this is not the end of the judgment, 
that immediately after it, life can be continued 
in the old forgetfulness, as though there were no 
God. No, the self-destroying impression received 
of God, at the moment of the actual judgment, 
continues, and is never effaced again. It is 
recorded of devils that they well know that God 
is, and that they tremble. And all who in this 
life have evaded God, will come in the judg- 
ment, and after it, to the terrible discovery, that 
they have been mistaken. They will see with 
their own eyes, that God really exists and they 
also will tremble. 

Behind the veil of vi.-ible thinjrs in this life, 
and back of the niit-ts of our earthly limitations, 
one can cover himself with the pretence that God 
is not seen, and thus persuade himself that there 
is no God because willfullv he does not see 
him. B 't all this ends wi Ji death. Then this 
veil wii: be rent from the top to the bottom, 
these mists will lift themselves, every pretence 
will fall away, and the majesty of the Lord God 
will appear, and disclose itself in all its glory. 

The knowledge of God, which w^as not desired 
in life, will then come of itself, and deluge the 
lost. But it will be a repulsive knowledge, which 
will not draw them toward God, but will make 
them recoil from before his terribleness. And 


wherever they may look, there will be nothing 
behind which to hide from the sight of the 
majesty of God. It then becomes the heat of a 
sun which does not cherish, but sears. The Scrip- 
ture calls it hell, and so it is, but only by what 
God through his sacred presence makes it. If God 
could be done away, or if one could withdraw him- 
self from the Eternal, or hide from before his Face, 
hell would be ended. But this is impossible. 
God's holy presence will not cease to deluge the 
lost, and that is eternal death. It is well with 
him, therefore, who in this life has sought the 
knowledge of God in Christ. After death this 
knowledge will be for him the drinking in of 
Divine sympathy. But w^oe to him who shall 
only learn to know God in the judgment. For 
him this knowledge will be nothing but horror. 



In connection with the knowledge of what lies 
beyond the grave the moment of dying is deeply 
significant. The way in which we see others die, 
and in which we die ourselves, contributes to our 
knowledge of God. In this hour many things 
that stood between God and the soul fall away. 
We then stand on the threshold of the unseen life, 
and the words of the Psalmist: "Our feet stand 
within thy gates, O Jerusalem," are applicable to 
the entering in through the gates of the new 

Let us take dying in this connection in its real 
true sense. Dying is an act. In our natural 


birth we are passive. Life then only begins. 
But when God has privileged us to reach the years 
of maturity, and the end has come, the servants 
and handmaidens of the Lord should not be 
dragged out by death against their will, but of 
themselves they should face it with a will. And by 
the way in which they do this, they should reveal 
the fruit of their labors of faith. The first Chris- 
tians sang hj-mns of praise as they carried out 
their dead. And St. Paul said: "For me to die is 
gain, for to be with Christ is by far the best."^ 
Thus dying was the last struggle, but not of one 
who defends his life against the waylayer. It was 
much rather the struggle of the hero, who bravely 
went ahead, in order jubilantly to come to God. 
Indeed, we may not court death. It is our 
bounden duty to guard our life unto the end. 
Suicide is no dying, but self-destruction. Dying 
is an exhibition of courage. Suicide is cowardice 
It is failure. It is lack of daring to continue the 
battle of life. It is desertion from the ranks. 
But though until the end, as long as there is 
hope and chance, nothing must be left untried 
to continue God's serv^ice on earth until he issues 
forth the call, — when it comes, the smile of sacred 
joy is more in place than the heaving of a sigh. 
He who believes has always confessed that he does 
not belong here, but that his home is above. 
Dying must make this real. In dying the seal 
must be put upon all our life of faith. Dying is 
nothing to a child of God save the entrance into 
an eternal life. And this it can not be, unless it 
is an act. We must not be overtaken, lifted up 
and carried off. We must hear the call, and 


answer in reply: ''Behold, here I am, Lord," 
and then bravely enter the valley of the shadow 
of death and go through it, knowing that the 
Lord awaits our coming, and that by his hand he 
leads us through this darkness to the light. 

Let it be said at once that such ideal dying 
is rare. The woes and sorrows of death often 
rob dying of its ideal, exalted and sacred character. 
A state of coma not infrequently prevents con- 
scious and willing dying as an act of the soul. 
It even happens, alas, that a narcotic potion is 
adminstered, whereby dying is degenerated into 
a sleeping of oneself awa3^ As long however as 
the person himself is irresponsible in this matter, 
let not such an impossibility of dying manfully in 
the faith on the part of a child of God be turned 
into reproach. In this matter also God is 
sovereign. As a matter of fact, the Lord fre- 
quently withholds heroic dying in the full con- 
sciousness of faith. 

Care however should be taken not to condone 
too much along this line. The Scripture always 
avoids sentimentalism. It rarely pictures a death- 
bed scene. In fact it only outlines the death of 
Christ on Golgotha, and that of J;*<"ob. Of the 
latter we are told that when he felt the end draw 
near, he strengthened himself, and sat upon the 
bed, and leaning upon the top of his staff, wor- 
shipped, and blessed his sons (Heb. 11:21). 

Jacob strengthened himself, that is to say, he 
did not allow himself to be overcome by weakness 
and regret, but struggled against it, took hold of 
himself, and gathered together the last of his 


waning strength, in order that in dying he might 
glorify his God. He had no thought of caring 
for himself, of being concerned about his own 
spiritual estate, or about breathing forth his latest 
breath. And when he blesses his sons, it is no 
family affair, but an holy prophesying that through 
his sons, as founders of the tribes of Israel, the 
kingdom of God should come and flourish, and the 
Messiah would arise. "Until Shiloh come!" this 
was the zenith of his prophecy. He blessses his 
sons, but in and through them his prophecy points 
to the coming of the Kingdom of heaven. Hence 
the Epistle to the Hebrews describes this as his 
greatest act of faith. "By faith, Jacob when he 
was djdng, blessed his sons and worshipped" 
(Heb. 11:21). 

We do not deny that in dying, darkness can 
overtake the soul. Satan can be let loose to har- 
rass our latest hour. But as a rule, we may say 
that life is given us for the purpose of making 
sure our faith, and that in dying the results of this 
assurance must be shown to the glory of the Lord. 
And therefore we should not allow ourselves in 
dying passively to be overcome by weakness and 
grief. In the article of death the will, the courage 
and the elasticity of faith must still struggle 
against the weakness of the flesh. In this holy 
moment, the spirit, and not the flesh should con- 
quer. Such was the case with Jacob. He strength- 
ened himself in order to be able to die in a 
godly manner. Had he not done so, in all prob- 
ability he too might have passed away in a semi- 
conscious state. But this he did not do. His 

mighty spirit shook itself awake. In dying he 
glorified God. In doing this he left a shining ex- 
ample for every Christian to imitate. 

There is a meeting with God in such dying, 
which enriches Divine knowledge, both in the one 
who is about to depart and in those who watch 
at the bedside. It is generally reported, as a most 
desirable way of dying, that one quietly and 
peaceably fell asleep. This almost always means 
that without giving any further signs of life, the 
patient passed away in an unconscious state of 
mind. This may very well be the case with 
unbelievers also. Of those who die without Christ 
it is continually said, that they died equally 
quietly and calmly; even perhaps with less per- 
turbation of mind, than many a child of God 
that is harrassed by anxiety and doubt. Nothing 
of a serious nature was said to them. They them- 
selves made no reference to anything. The phy- 
sician assured them that there was no need of 
alarm. And so the patient passed quietly away, 
without having known any terror of death. And 
others, seeing this, were impressed that there is 
really nothing to dying; it was all so quiet and 
gentle. Then came flowers to cover the bier. 
Visits of condolence are no longer paid. In this 
way nothing connected with death is spoken of. 
And when the funeral is over, ordinary matters 
form the topic of conversation, but not the things 
that are eternal. And thus the mighty lesson of 
dying is lost. Death ceases to be preacher of 
deeper seriousness. And the Lord of life and of 
death is not remembered. 

We, Christians, should not encourage this evil 


practice. And yet, we do it, when imitating the 
way of the world we say of such dead that they 
"peaceably passed away." Not calmly and peace- 
fully, but fighting and conquering in the Savior, 
should be the dying bed in the Christian family. 
He who has not the heart for this, but is careful 
to spare the patient all serious and disquieting 
thought, is not merciful, but through unbeHef he 
is cruel. 

In dying Jacob has worshipped. On the death 
bed one can pray. One can pray for help in the 
last struggle. Intercession can be made for those 
that are to be left behind, and for the Kingdom 
of God. By itself such prayer is beautiful. On 
one's deathbed to appear before the face of God. 
This last prayer on earth, when every veil drops 
away, and the latest supplication is addressed to 
God, who awaits us in the courts of everlasting 
light. Such prayer teaches those, who stand by, 
to pray. Such prayer exerts an overwhelming, 
fascinating influence. 

But Jacob did more. In dying he worshipped. 
In dying he felt impelled to offer unto God the 
sacrifice of Worship, and to render unto him praise 
and thanksgiving and honor; to lose himself in 
the greatness and majesty, in the grace and mercy 
of God ; and thus to offer him the fruit of the lips, 
better than he had been able to do in life. Such 
solemn worship on the deathbed is the summary 
of the worship which we have offered unto God 
in life; except that now it is felt more deeply, 
more intensely, immediately preceding the 
moment, in which among angels and saints above, 
we shall bring God the honor of his Name. 


All the knowledge of God that has been acquired 
before concentrates itself in such deathbed wor- 
ship, and in that moment it is wonderfully illum- 
ined, enriched and deepened. Now the dying 
saint knows God more clearly than he ever did 
before. He almost sees God face to face.. 

This worship also bears fruit in behalf of those 
who watch and minister at the bedside. At a 
deathbed, love is strongly aroused. The begin- 
nings of mourning already struggle in the heart. 
This makes it more receptive than ever, and the 
impression which it receives at such a time is over- 
whelming. Ordinarily it is taken for granted that 
one believes. But frequently no indications of it 
are seen. The contrary rather is suggested by 
narrow-mindedness and sin. But when the 
moment of dying has come, and children see it 
of their father, a husband of his beloved wife, 
that in this affecting hour the faith does not fail, 
but is maintained; that at the gate of eternity 
its language becomes more animated and forceful, 
and it seems that one hears an utterance of the 
soul after God, then the prayer of worship from 
the lips of the dying brings you as it were in the 
very presence of God, and makes you feel that 
he is nearer at hand than you ever knew before. 

Much dying would be far different than it now 
is, had life been different; if in dying, faith would 
waken up more fully; and if God's child would 
understand that even in dying he has to fulfil a 
duty, which he owes to God and to his fellowmen. 
Then dying would be far more than now a preach- 
ing of sacred reality, and the results of it would 
be effective in life to the honor of God. 




It is a contradiction in terms, that while mem- 
bers of the churches of the Reformation profess 
to live according to the precepts of Holy Writ, 
they do not fast. It is certainly a Scriptural rule 
of life, not only in the Old, but also in the New 
Testament. Christ himself fasted forty days and 
forty nights. St. Paul exhorts the children of God, 
that they give themselves not only to prayer but 
also to fasting. What is possibly stronger still, 
Christ has said, that there is a kind of evil spirits 
that "goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" 
(Matt. 17:21). 

In the days of Jesus' ministry on earth the ques- 
tion arose: "Why do the disciples of the Phari- 
isees fast, but thy disciples fast not." Though it 
may be inferred from this that in those days the 
disciples did not observe the Jewish fasts, Jesus 
settles the question by saying: "When the bride- 
groom shall be taken away from them, then shall 
they fast" (Mark 2:18-20). History shows that 
from the beginning the Church of Christ has prac- 
ticed fasting. We learn from Acts 13:2 that at 
Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first 
called Christians, as they fasted and prayed, the 
Holy Ghost gave them a revelation. It is well 
known that in Roman, Greek and Nestorian com- 
munions fasting is observed. It is also known that 
in Reformation times, days of prayer went hand 
in hand with fasting. Is it not therefore in con- 
l,radiction with the significance which Scripture 
and history attach to fastings, that among us fast- 


ing is almost altogether abandoned. It is still our 
habit, as it was in the days of Hosea, to say: 
'•Our God, we Israel, know thee" (8:2). But when 
Scripture shows that the Knowledge of God is 
greatly advanced by prayer, and prayer by fast- 
ing, is there not something lacking, when we, who 
say that we know God, do not fast? 

The answer is given in Is. 58:6. In the days of 
Isaiah there was much fasting observed in Judah, 
but by his prophet Jehovah declared that he 
would not accept this kind of fasting. "Is it such 
a fast that I have chosen; a day for a man to 
afflict his soul? to bow down his head as a bul- 
rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under 
him? . . . "Is not this the fast that I have 
chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, . . . 
to deal thy bread to the hungry, . . . when 
thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and 
that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 
Then shall thy Hght break forth as the morning, 
and thine health shall spring forth speedily." 

This striking protest against dead formalism 
has justly aroused among us a sense of aversion 
to formal fasting. As a form, as a mere bodily 
exercise, and as an exhibition before the world, 
fasting does not sanctify. Indeed it can work 
profanation. Hence Jesus' warning in the Sermon 
on the Mount: "But thou, when thou fastest, 
be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. . . 
but anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that 
thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy 
Father, which is in secret; and thy Father, which 
seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." 

As strongly, however, as our blessed Lord de- 
nounces formal, outward fasting, he commends 


fasting of the right sort, and declares that it has 
its reward of grace with God. We are only safe 
therefore, when on one hand we oppose dead 
formalism in fasting, and on the other hand bring 
into practice the true fasting, which hsis been 
appointed of God. And as we look back upon the 
past, and look around us in the churches, we must 
observe that dead, formal fasting has assiduously 
been abandoned, and that real, religious, and 
DiA'inely appointed fasting also has almost utterly 
died out. 

This leads to spiritual loss. We want eternal 
life. "This is eternal life, that they might know 
thee, the only true God." Nothing advances one 
in this knowledge of the only true God like 
prayer. And prayer becomes more fervent and 
tender by fasting. Can we escape therefore the 
fatal conclusion that by the disuse of fasting our 
prayers become less fervent, and that we conse- 
quently suffer loss in this ever ripening knowl- 
edge of God, which is eternal life? 

If this applies to ourselves and to our families, 
does it not equally apply to our churches? And 
when every time again we observe in our 
churches, that there are evil spirits at large, which 
can not be driven out except by fasting and 
prayer, is it too much to say, that the disuse of 
fasting is one cause, among others, that these 
spirits continue to harrass the life of the church? 

Should fasting, as a rule, on a given day of the 
week be introduced again? By itself there would 
be nothing against this. But it is to be feared 
that before long it would end in formalism again. 
Isaiah 58 and I Cor. 7:5 show that fasting, in the 
spiritual sense, has a much broader basis than a 


temporary abstinence from food. It aims to put | 
an end to the dominion of the body over the soul, 
and to restore the soul's dominion over the body. 
You know yourself that everything that feeds and 
pleases the body has a tendency to repress the 
clearness and elasticity of the life of the soul. 
The side of our life that is turned toward the 
world rarely operates in harmony with the side of 
our life that is turned toward God. When you 
are alone you feel as a rule closer to God than 
when you are in company. In the banqueting 
hall ypu are farther away from God than in your 
bedchamber. In the midst of the cares to in- 
crease your wealth you enjoy less of God's pres- 
ence ■'ban at the times when you give of your 
money to the poor. You are closer to God when 
you feed the hungry than when, with your family 
or guests, you feast on choice foods and drinks. 
In brief, experience confirms again and again, that 
the less enjoyment you take in the world, the 
more intimate is your thought of God. The more 
you get apart from the cares and the joys of the 
world, the closer becomes your walk with God. 

Do not infer from this, that in order to know 
God, you must withdraw entirely from the world. 
This is what the Stylists thought, the recluses 
and contemplative monks. This is wrong, because 
"fasting and prayer" is indeed one of the means 
by which to find God, but there are many other 
means to this same end, which only present them- 
selves in the midst of the busy life. We treated 
these means in former meditations. We will come 
back to them later on. But it must be a rule of 
our life, not to leave untried a single means, by 
which to grow in knowledge of the only true God, 


and that therefore we have to serve God as much 
in the midst of the world, and in the enjoyment 
of his blessings in our families and surroundings, 
as in our practice of "fasting and prayer." For it 
can not be denied, that it is helpful and beneficial, 
purposely, from time to time, to break away from 
the overwhelming dominion of the body and the 
world, and thereby make ourselves more suscept- 
ible to the influences from above. To this end 
one will be more impressed with the need of fast- 
ing and retirement at set times. Another will 
only come to it in moments of anxiety and deep- 
ening seriousness. Let every one with respect to 
this be sure in his own conscience. It may depend 
on temperament and circumstances. Let no one 
judge his brother. 

But the practice itself has a right of being 
introduced into the habits of life. Our first interest 
is eternal life. This can only be tasted in an ever 
deeper knowledge of God. This in turn is fed by 
secret prayer. And secret prayer has need, that 
in the face of the offensive dominion of the body 
and the environments, the dominion of the soul 
be strengthened by fasting rightly understood. 
That sobriety in food and drink is an aid in this 
direction, appears from the difficulty to pray, 
which you find upon your return from a banquet- 
hall. But this is merely the beginning of real 
fasting. It is not only abundance of food and 
drink, but extravagance as well in ornaments and 
clothes, in diversions and satisfactions of the 
senses, and in financial cares, voluntary or invol- 
untary, that harmfully affect your approach to 
God. Fasting, therefore, as an aid to sanctify 
prayer and to make it more fervent, is by no 


means alone the depriving of the body of food 
and drink, but the withdrawal of self by generosity 
from the dominion of money, by sobriety and sim- 
plicity of life to liberate oneself from the power 
of self-indulgence, and certainly also by seclusion 
to escape the mastery of environment. 

This is what the Lord declared, when he ex- 
tended fasting to loosening the bands of wicked- 
ness, and to feeding the hungry. From time to 
time the soul must set itself free, cast away all 
bands and become entirely itself. Then the gates 
lift up their heads, then the door of eternity is 
opened, and God makes his approach to us, and 
our soul its approach to God, and the knowledge 
of God, which is eternal life, blossoms in the 
sanctuary of the heart. 



When a child wants to ask his father for some- 
thing, he first seeks him, and only when he has 
found him, can he ask for what he wants. To 
state his request before his father is found is 
folly on the part of the child. Is not this an 
instruction in prayer? 

He who as a child of God would pray to his 
Father in heaven, and in faith ask something 
from him, must first make his approach to God. 
He must first seek the Divine Presence. And 
only when he has found the Lord, can he ask for 
what he wants. This is little thought of in 
prayer. We frequently observe that in our 

prayers, and in those of others, there is more 
speaking in the air, than prayer and address to 
the living God. Can it be denied that in extem- 
poraiy prayer before others, and even in pubHc 
worship, there is more argumentation and reason- 
ing, than real appeal to the most High, who is 
clothed with Majesty. 

Less can be said about secret prayer. Each man 
knows only his own prayer, and what others may 
tell him of theirs. But though we confine our- 
selves to this, the complaints uttered in a brother's 
ear about the barrenness of prayer, are such, as 
to justify the fear, that the recital of words begins, 
before the soul has consciously entered the pres- 
ence of God. Frequent and long prayers encour- 
age this habit. The eyes close, the hands are 
folded, and one begins certain known formal 
prayers, which though not irreverent, are out of 
harmony with the very deep reverence which is 
God's due. 

The Scripture repeatedly shows that not every 
prayer counts as such with God. It speaks of 
moments in which our prayers are hindered. It 
makes us hear the word of the Lord: "When ye 
make many prayers, I will not hear" (Is. 1:15); 
and it records the complaint of the prophet: 
"that no prayer passed through unto God" (Lam. 
3:44). Then heaven is as brass; there is no open- 
ing and no disclosing; there is no access and no 
entrance, and no spirit of prayer and supplication. 

In Zion there was "an oracle of God's holiness." 
When a godly Jew wandered in the mountains, or 
dwelt by the Jordan, he turned himself in prayer 
toward this oracle (Ps. 28:2). When Israel was in 


exile, they prayed with their faces toward Zion. 
As an after effect of this habit we still find in 
many countries, that people do not pray at home, 
but in churches. Such churches are open all day, 
and in the solemn stillness of such stately edifices 
one kneels down, unobserved and unknown, in the 
expectation that in these impressive places the 
presence of the Lord will make itself felt more 

This is unquestionably a great privilege for 
those who live in crowded cities. He who has a 
room at home, where he can lock the door, in 
order to be alone with God, has no need of it. 
But the great masses of people are not so fortu- 
nate. At home they are almost never alone, it is 
almost never quiet, and seclusion which is so help- 
ful to prayer, can almost never be found. 

Apart also from this difl&culty, it must not be 
forgotten, that in Israel God himself had ap- 
pointed such an oracle of his holiness, and had 
directed the souls of the faithful toward it. It 
was a means of cultivating real prayer. It every- 
time reminded the godly Jew that in order to 
pray he must first look to God with the eye of 
the soul, and that before prayer, connection must 
be made between the soul and God. To pray 
without first finding God, and knowing that one 
speaks to him, is really a caricature of prayer. If 
we would pray we should know, that at that very 
moment God attends to the voice of our prayer; 
that he inclines his ear to our prayer; and that 
he listens to the voice of our supplication. And 
this spiritual perception can not be awake in the 
soul, unless, before prayer, we consciously place 
ourselves in the Divine Presence. 


God's child always prays in Jesus' name. He 
must do this, because irreconciled and unredeemed, 
he would find no listening ear with God, But even 
prayer in Jesus' name becomes a word without 
meaning, when one does not first place himself 
before the face of the Holy One, and feels that 
of himself there is no approach to God, and that 
he only appears before God in Christ. 

In this connection the diflaculty is God's, omni- 
presence. The- very perception of faith that God 
is not bound to either time or place, but that he 
is everywhere present^ accounts for the fact, that 
one inclines to speak without first concentrating 
his thoughts upon God, placing him before the 
eyes, and seeking his presence until it is found. 

In his Word God teaches us otherwise. For 
though the Scripture reveals to us in most glorious 
terms the omnipresence of God, in behalf of 
prayer it can only mean, that wherever we are, 
we are always and everywhere able to find God. 
But it reveals with equal emphasis that in what- 
ever place we are, we have to do with the living 
God, who besets us behind and before, who com- 
passes our path and our lying down, and who is 
acquainted with all our ways (Ps. 139:5, 2). In 
addition to this it always points us upward. We 
must lift up our soul in prayer. Our prayerful 
thoughts must direct themselves to the heavens, 
where is a throne of grace, glorious with Divine 
Majesty. It is the palace above whither our 
prayers ascend. It is the living, personal God who 
inclines himself to us and toward Whom our pray- 
ing soul must turn. 

The imagination can lend no help in this, for 
God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must 


worship in spirit and in truth. But he who knows 
God as his Father who is in heaven, also knows 
that in prayer he has no deahngs with a force 
that extends and spreads itself everywhere, but 
with his covenant God, his Lord and King, and 
that he can not rest content until, in order to 
pray, he has resumed his secret walk with God 
and has obtained anew communion with his 
Redeemer. Before the days of telegraph and tele- 
phone this seemed far more mysterious than now. 
From experience we know that there is communion 
between people at immeasurable distances, which 
is supported by nothing but a weak metal thread. 
And even this thread has been ignored. There is 
now a telegraphic communication without thread, 
which in its vvondrous working has become a 
beautiful image of praj^er. So-called telepathy 
also comes to our aid. The authenticated facts 
that persons at far distances can have fellowship 
of soul with soul and communication of thoughts, 
is an indication, that our soul can have like fel- 
lowship with God, because, when the human soul 
is able to do this, the means of spiritual fellow- 
ship are infinitely much greater with God. 

The point is that with respect to prayer we 
must regard the indispensableness of this fellow- 
ship, and that we must not pray, until we have 
obtained this connection and fellowship with, and 
approach to, God. When Jeremiah complains 
that his prayer did not pass through, because God 
had covered himself with a cloud, he shows that 
he had sought this fellowship, and that he had 
perceived his inability to obtain connection. As 
when one stands before the telephone, and rings 
up central, and gets no hearing because the wire 

is broken, so he who prays stands at the gate of 
heaven, and calls upon God for a hearing, and 
seeks connection of fellowship, but gets no sign of 
life in return. This but shows, that real prayer 
can not begin until a hearing is obtained, and 
connection has been established, and we know 
that God has disclosed his face to us. If this 
fails, prayer is hindered. The fault lies with us, 
either because of sin, or because our thoughts 
wander, or because we are engaged with worldly 
concerns, or because the heart is not rightly 
attuned, or because of the superficiality and ex- 
ternality^ of the condition of the soul. 

This does not disturb the man who prays from 
sheer habit. He prays anyhow, whether he has 
any feeling or perception of connection or not, 
and even though he is aware that his prayer does 
not pass through. He has said his prayers, and 
that is the end of it. But the trul}^ godly man 
at prayer does not behave like this. If he feels 
that there is an hindrance, if he is aware that 
there is a cloud between himself and God, he 
turns in upon himself, he humbles himself before 
God and seeks cleansing in the blood of his 
Savior. And then connection follows, the gates of 
heaven swing open to him, and in the end his 
prayer passes through and ascends before the face 
of the Holy One. 

This is the sanctifying power of the conscien- 
tious practice of prayer. At first there is no 
prayer. But one does not rise from his knees 
until prayer comes and access to the throne of 
grace has been obtained. And in this very strug- 
gle, sin is broken and grace in Christ is restored. 




When we read in Romans 1 :20 that '"The invis- 
ible things of him from the creation of the world 
are clearly seen, being understood by the things- 
that are made," and in Matthew 11:27 that "no 
one knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to 
whomsoever the Son will reveal him," these 
two passages seemingly contradict each other, but 
not in fact. Every man can know God in all sorts 
of ways. This was not only so in Paradise, but 
still continues so in this fallen world, even in 
those parts that are under the curse of heathen- 
dom. The heavens declare the glory of God and 
the firmament sheweth his handiwork, Day 
unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night 
sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor 
country, there is no people known, even unto 
the world's end, which does not . hear the voice 
of the heavens. And not only does nature, which 
pulsates with life, pour forth speech for every 
one who does not purposel}'' stop his ear; but 
there is a speech of God in the conscience, 
that goes forth to every people and nation. It 
is not recorded of the first created human pair in 
Paradise, but of the heathen in the corrupted 
age of the Caesars that they "shew the work of 
the Law written in their hearts, their conscience 
also bearing witness, and their thoughts the 
meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another" 
(Rom. 2:15). The form in which the knowledge 
of God and of his Will expresses itself, may be 
idolatrous and oftentimes offensive, but the ira- 


pulse from which it proceeds, is never anything 
else, then the mistaken interpretation of the 
speech of God in nature and in the conscience. 
This is the seed of religion of which Calvin bore 
witness, the increated knowledge of God and 
the given knowledge of God, which was ever 
confessed by our fathers. This was not confessed 
for the sake of glorifying man, who fell, but 
contrariwise, to render the sinner inexcusable be- 
fore God. Fallen humanity as such, and every 
individual sinner in the same, stands deeply 
guilty before God, because he whose eye is fully 
open, and whose conscience reacts properly, per- 
ceives the eternal power and Godhead of the 
Lord Jehovah in himself, and everywhere around 
him in nature and in history. Such being the 
case, how are we to understand the words of 
Christ, that no one knoweth the Father, save the 
Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal 

It does not say, that no one can have any 
knowledge of God save through the Son, but 
that no one knoweth the Father, except he to 
whom the Son has revealed him. Of Satan and 
his angels it is clearly stated that they know God 
and tremble. This could not be otherwise. Satan's 
fall was nothing else than rebellion against God, 
evil lust to dethrone the Almighty and to put 
himself in his place. And how could this have 
been thinkable, unless he had known the existence 
and omnipotence of God? But every one under- 
stands at once that although Satan knows God, 
he has never known the Father. He who knows 
the Father is comforted and reconciled. Satan, 
on the contrary, whenever he thinks of God, 


trembles. The knowledge of the Father maketh 
rich, gives peace and eternal rest. The knowl- 
edge which Satan has of God makes him tremble. 
This is the difference between Satan and a great 
sinner on earth. While the criminal can take a 
sleeping draught to quiet his conscience and to 
forget God, Satan can not do this. This sleeping- 
draught of sin is impossible for him. His 
perception of God's Almighty presence speaks to 
him loudly from moment to moment, and there- 
fore he trembles. From this the miserable estate 
of the lost in the eternal fire is equally clear. The 
ungodly in the earth can put their conscience to 
sleep and as a rule live free from anxiety in the 
midst of sin. There are those whose consciences 
are so seared, that only now and then, in moments 
of intense commotion, they feel the wrath of God. 
and for the rest of the time live on in their sin, 
without any disturbing fear of God, just because 
they close their eyes and stop their ears. But 
when once this life is ended, and they go into 
eternity, this too will end. Then their eyes will 
fully open, so that they will never be able to 
close them again, and their ears v/ill be unstopped, 
so that they will never be able to stop them 
again. And with open ej-e and ear eternally 
to be subject to the omnipotence of God will be 
their miserable destinJ^ 

If no one can know the Father save as the 
Son reveals him unto us, it is evident, that this 
does not imply the general knowledge of God, 
which is within human reach everywhere, but the 
knowledge of God's everlasting compassion, which 
the sinner can not share, until reconciled in 
Christ he has become a child of God, and has 


learned to know God as his Father, and himself 
as this heavenly Father's child. 

There is no mention here of a doctrine, which 
is committed to memory or of a revelation that 
has been given in so many words, which we 
are to make our own, but of a knowledge which 
spiritual experience of personal redemption and 
reconciliation imparts to us. This certainly im- 
plies a revelation to the understanding. ''We know 
that the Son of God is come, and hath given us 
an understanding, that we may know him that 
is true" (I John 5:20). All revelation begins with 
the Word. When the Christ appeared, he went 
through the land preaching the gospel of the 
Kingdom. The gospel itself is a glad tiding of 
salvation which is to come, and of redemption 
which is announced. But this preaching, this 
glad evangel, these words of the gospel are not 
enough. These can be learned by rote. These 
can be committed to memorj', but they can 
not bring us the knowledge of the Father. This 
glad evangel by itself, even though we accept it 
in its entirety, and without hesitation, never 
brings us further than to say ''Lord, Lord!" It 
is with this as in the days of Hosea, (8:2) when 
all the people said: "Lord, we thy Israel, know 
thee." even while the anger of the Lord was 
kindled against them to the point of destruction, 
just because they knew not God. Even if 
therefore this doctrine, this message, this word 
of the gospel was carried into the world first by 
the apostles, and after that by preaching, and by 
the Scripture, by itself it can not impart the knowl- 
edge of the Father. This knowledge only comes, 
when the glorified Christ through the Holy Spirit 


imparts unto us the riches of his reconciliation, 
when he seeks us out as sinners, and makes us 
children of God. Only when Christ has made us 
children of God, does the knowledge of the Father 
become our blessed and glorious possession. 

But again, Christ does not come to us for the 
first time in the work of redemption. He is 
the Eternal Word, which was before all things 
with God and was God. All nature, with the 
revelation of God which it contains is created 
by him. He is the Word. No speech goes forth 
from nature without him. Without the Eternal 
Word nature would be dead and dumb, and 
would have nothing to say to us. And not only 
has nature been created by the Eternal Word, 
and endowed with a b.nguage of its own, but we 
ourselves, in the midst of nature, would not have 
come into this world, but for Christ. The whole 
scope of our human nature is from him. We too 
have been created by him. Our whole spiritual dis- 
position, and our capacity to overhear and under- 
stand nature, have been implanted in us by him. 
The same is true of our moral being. Christ has 
given us our conscience. He is himself the con- 
science of mankind. The fellowship of our hearts 
with the moral world order, our perceptions of 
good and evil, of right and wrong, of what fills 
one with horror and inspires one through beauty, 
of selfishness and love, of light and darkness — 
these have all come to us from the Eternal 

Hence it can not be said either that we know 
God apart from Christ, or that only in and by 
Christ this known God is revealed to us as 
our Father. For the broad foundation of the 


knowledge of God, on wiiich the knowledge 
of the Father is built, comes to us from the 
Eternal Word. The knowledge of the Father 
is not a flower, that has been wafted down 
from the heavenly regions, and has been tied 
by Christ to the withered stem of human nature ; 
but the withered state of our sinful nature has 
been revived by him with a new life, and the 
knowledge of the Father has been engrafted upon 
the knowledge of God that comes to us through 
nature, and through the conscience, by virtue 
of our creation from the Eternal Word. Hence 
these are not two kinds of knowledge, without 
an inner relation, standing externally side by 
side and joined together. But it is one knowledge 
of God, which comes to us fiom the Eternal 
Word, which arises in us through the instrument- 
ality of nature and of the conscience, and 
which in and through the redemptive work 
of the Messiah is elevated and carried up to 
the knowledge of the Father. 

It is a detriment to the faith, therefore, which 
avenges itself bitterly, when he who is converted 
rests content with the work of redemption, as 
though it comprises the sole glory of Christ, and 
abandons the knowledge of God from nature and 
the conscience to the world. He who, reconciled 
in Christ, kneels as God's child before his 
Heavenly Father, must let the light that has 
appeared to him in Christ, operate reflexively 
upon the revelation of God in nature and upon 
the revelation of God in human nature, both 
of which have their origin in Christ. St. John 
begins his Gospel by pointing out the relation 
which Christ sustains to the creation of the world, 


to the creation of our own nature, and to the 
creation of our own person. And this is the result. 
Thanks to our reconciliation in Christ the voice of 
God in nature and the voice of God in our con- 
science obtain a different sound. They increase in 
clearness and in significance. And by the opened 
ear they are heard with a clarity which blends the 
life of grace with the life of nature in glorious 
harmony and turns the whole world, and all 
history including our own lives, into one Mighty 
revelation of the Father, whom we worship in the 
face of his Son. 



We may sit for hours by the side of a person 
and hold no fellowship with him. In long railway 
journeys we may spend several days in the com- 
pany of others, and not so much as learn their 
names, or know anything about them. On the 
other hand we may be miles apart from a friend, 
and be continually engaged with him, so that 
we scarcely think of anything but of him, and 
in spirit enjoy closest fellowship with his spirit. 
It may sound strangely, but such is the fact. 
A mother who has lost her darling child was never 
so closely united in soul with the soul of her child 
as during the first hours after death, when the 
little one went far away from her. 

Fellowship of soul with soul may be greatly 
aided by personal presence, facial expression and 
mutual exchange of thoughts, but is not dependent 
upon them. In close fellowship of soul with soul 


we crave personal presence. Human nature consists 
of soul and body, and is only fully satisfied when 
fellowship of soul with soul is accompanied by 
physical presence. In the realm of glory, commun- 
ion with God's saints will only be made perfect 
by the sight of one another in the glorified body. 
Fellowship among the redeemed in the Father- 
house above, bears a provisional character until 
the resurrection, and awaits perfection in the 
return of Jesus. But however deeply significant 
personal presence and sight may be, presence of 
soul with soul does not depend on it. As God 
created us we are able, though separated in the 
body, to have close fellowship one with the other, 
either by writing, telephone or telegraphy, and 
also apart from all this, in a purely spiritual 
way in feeling, perceptions, thoughts and imagina- 
tion. Personal presence alone does not afford 
human fellowship; for this is always fellowship 
of spirit w^th spirit, of soul with soul, of heart, 
with heart. And the question whether we live near 
by a person or far away from him is not answered 
by distance or proximity but only and alone by 
spiritual nearness or estrangement. When parting 
from a loved one for a long term of years, even 
also at the last farewell before djang, we can assure 
him: "I shall continually be with yon." And many 
a mother with reference to her child, and many a 
widow with reference to her late husband, have 
literally fulfilled it. The child, the husband were 
gone from the earth, but fellowship continued, 
unseen, awaiting the re-union. 

When Asaph sings in Ps. 73:23 ''Nevertheless 
I am contimiallly with Thee" it can only be taken 
in the sense of this spiritual fellowship. Locally 


we are never separated from God. We can Qot 
be anywhere and God not be near. He besets 
us behind and before. Whither shall we go from 
his Spirit, whither shall we flee from his presence. 
We can not escape the presence of God. "If I 
make my bed in hell," sings David, Ps. 139. ''be- 
hold Thou art there. If I take the wings of the 
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the 
sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and 
Thy right hand shall hold me," God is never 
away from us. He can not be away from us, neither 
can we be away from Him. He is the Omni- 
present One. And his almighty power is operative 
every moment in every pulse-beat of the blood, 
in every quiver of the nerves, and in every breath 
we draw. 

But this Divine Omnipresence does not con- 
situte fellowship of our spirit with the Spirit of 
God. Two things are necessary for this. First 
that God makes his approach to our spirit and 
reveals to us the tokens of his holy presence with- 
in; and again, that our spirit opens itself to the 
Spirit of God, allows him to come in, goes out 
toward him, and in seeking him will not rest 
until it finds him. The approach of the Spiiit 
of God to our spirit may impart a mere superficial 
impression, and no more. In this sense there is 
scarely anyone who at sometime or other 
in his life has not been aware of a certain impulse 
from God in the soul. This has been perceived 
in the midst of sin. It is different, however, when 
the Lord God discloses himself to us, makes him- 
self known, taking up his abode in the soul, and 
annouces himself as the secret friend of the heart. 
Then alone the secret walk with God becomes 

possible, and He is sovereign to grant liis 
fellowship to the soul or to withhold it. Let 
him who received it, therefore, take thought, 
that thereby he was granted a privilege 
above all other privileges, a royal, heavenly and 
Divine grace of highest worth. And that we take 
this blessedness at this high worth will be evident 
from the fact, whether we in turn unlock our 
heart to the Eternal, and, not once in a while, but 
continuously, seek to enjoy this inward, secret 
fellowship with God. 

In the song of Asaph in hand the word "con- 
tinually" must be taken in its literal sense; not 
from time to time; not once in a while; but con- 
tinuously all the time without ceasing. He had 
enjoyed the blessedness of fellowship with God, 
but at intervals, from time to time. For a while 
he lived ''near unto God," and for a while he 
was away from God, and thereby his soul had 
erred. He felt that he had wandered off, and 
that he had been at the point of becoming 
unfaithful to God's children. From this mael- 
strom he only found deliverance when he returned 
to the sanctuary of God and opened his soul 
again to Divin© fellowship. This bitter experi- 
ence of soul led him to change his course. Not 
as had been his habit, to seek fellowship with 
God in the midst of all sorts of distractions, and 
then to wander away again from him, but from 
now on, continually, all the time, without resting 
and without ceasing to be with God. (Dutch 
version: "I will then continually be with Thee"). 
Not from now on to be absorbed in holy medita- 
tion in order through the imagination, representa- 
tion and deep mysticism to lose himself in fellow- 


ship with the Divine Being. For though, provided 
it is applied with utmost care, such losing of one- 
self in spiritual vision of the Infinite, as result of 
private prayer, can have a value of its own. It 
is not what continually being ''near unto God" 
implies. It can not mean this because in 
holy, mj'stical meditation the other operations 
of our spirit are an-ested, with this result, 
that we stand helpless in the face of our 
work in the world, so that nothing can come of 
doing God's will, while on the contrary, close 
fellowship with God must become actual in the 
full and vigorous revelation of our life. It must 
permeate and give color to our feeling, perceptions, 
sensations, thoughts, imagination, purposes, acts 
and words. It must not stand as a foreign factor 
by the side of our life, but be the glow that 
casts it sheen upon our whole existence. This 
can not be so with fellowship of man with man, 
but only with the fellowship with God, because 
in and from and to God are the issues of all holy 
and of all creaturely utterances of life. 

Asaph did not aim therefore at inactive 
meditation, but at a fundamental tone, a fund- 
amental temper of mind and heart, which con- 
tinually lifts itself in praise and direct-s itself in 
prayer, to God. An ejaculatory prayer is not 
enough. It proceeds only occasionally from 
the soul. While the requirement is, that at all 
times our expectation in everything be from 
God, and that our thanks are continually his 
due; to let God inspire us and so to deal with 
our faithful Father that it would at no time 
affect us strangely if He were to appear to us. 
Even as we have our self ever with us, and bring 


it into every interest of life, so we should allow 
the thought of God, the lifting up of the soul to 
God, the faith on, and the love for, God uncea- 
singly to operate in and with everything. . . This 
prevents estrangement, and straying away, and 
accustoms the soul to be continually "near unto 
God." This is shown most forcibly by the fact 
that he who so lives is at once aware of an 
aching void within, the moment he wanders away 
from God, which allows him no rest till fellow- 
ship with God is restored. 


The hen allows her chickens to run about freely 
within her sight until danger threatens, and then 
at once with raised wings, she clucks her brood 
towards herself, and does not rest until the last 
little one has crowded itself beneath her wings, 
and animal-mother faithfulness covers all the 
young innocents. But then the chickens do not 
hide themselves yet with the mother hen. They 
only do this when, seeing the approach of danger, 
of themselves, and of their own initiative, they 
flee to the mother hen in order to seek protection 
beneath her wings. , , t j 

The "Jerusalem, Jerusalem," which Jesus de- 
claimed against Zion was doubly upbraiding in 
its touching pathos, because it reproached Israel 
either for not surmising danger, or in case it did, 
for seeking defense and cover with men and not 
with God. In time of danger the people should 
have called upon God, and should have poured 
cut their supplication for help and deliverance 
unto the God of their fathers, and as soon as 


the waters in the flood of destruction that came 
upon the people began to rise, without waiting 
for an answer to their cry, they should have 
sought refuge with God. The people did not do 
this. They trusted in their own strength and 
underestimated the danger. And then instead 
of the people calling upon God, God called upon 
the people, saying "O Israel, flee unto Me, and 
let Me be your shield." In this way God called, 
not once but "many times." And Israel heard 
that calling and clucking of its God, but hardened 
the heart, and would not. And then the abandon- 
ment became a judgment: "How often would 
I have gathered thee, as a hen doth gather her 
brood under her wings, and ye would not ; behold, 
your house is left unto you desolate." And at 
this judgment Israel did not weep with shame, 
and self-reproach, but planted the cross of 
Golgotha; and he who wept over his people, 
was the Lord. 

We are here confronted with all sorts of spirit- 
ual conditions. One will be in danger, but as it 
threatens he neither knows God, nor is known 
of him. Yet in the face of shipwreck he will cry : 
"O God, help me," though his voice is lost in the 
storm. While another in the face of danger 
will brave it without a thought of God. Still 
another in time of stress will hear the warning 
call of God, but will not heed it. But there 
will also be those who, in the hour of grave need, 
of themselves will flee to God, will call upon him 
and hear his call, and who, before the soul is 
delivered, find themselves safely hidden with 
their God, shadowed by his wings and covered by 
his faithfulness. And these are they from whose 


soul in truth the call of confidence goes forth: 
"I hide me Loid. with thee." (Ps. 143:9 marg. 

Hiding with God is not dwelling in his tent, 
or knowing the secret grace of the hidden walk. 
Hiding never indicates a fixed condition, but 
always something transient. We seek shelter 
from a thunderstorm, in order presently, when 
the sun shines again, to step out from our hiding- 
place, and continue on our way. Little chickens 
hide with the mother hen, when a water-rat is 
around; but when it is gone, they run out again. 
And the soul of him who knows God, hides with 
his Father, as long as trouble lasts ; but when it is 
overpassed, there is no more need of hiding. 
Hiding in God is not the ordinary, but the ex- 
traordinary condition of a single moment "Until 
these calamities be overpast" (Ps. 57:1), or as 
said in Is. 26:20, "Until the indignation be over- 

But even he who fears God, does not hide with 
him in everytime of need. Trouble and care are 
upon us all the days of our life. The cross must 
be taken up each day anew. But as a rule the 
child of God calmly pursues his way in the assured 
confidence of Divine protection. He knows that 
God fights for him, that God is his shadow, that 
as his good shepherd he leads him, and that 
when too violent an assult threatens, God covers 
him with his shield. He then dwells with God, 
and God does not leave him to himself. All 
this is the daily, ordinary activity of faith, the 
operation of God's faithfulness, and of the trust 
of his child. 

But hiding it still something else. It is something 


connected with the hour of teiTor;when the water 
has risen to the hps, when dark dread has 
suddenly overtaken the soul, when there is 
no way of escape, when dark night settles on 
the heart, when faith no longer trusts itself. 
Then there is an heroic taking hold of self, and 
as in the moment of danger the child runs to 
mother, and hides himself in her dress, so does 
the soul fly to God, crowds close up to him and 
hides with him. And in doing this the soul has 
no thought of anything, nor time for making 
plans, save only and alone to hide with God, to 
be safe with him, to find deliverance with him. 
If despair of faith were possible, hiding might 
be said to be the act of despair. But though there 
never is despair in faith, in great anxiety of mind 
the child of God may despair of himself, of 
help and deliverance from without, of the working 
of the ordinary powers and gifts which at other 
times are at command, and now gives up every 
further attempt to resist because he feels that 
the fight is too unequal, that the opposing force 
is too strong and overwhelming, that he can 
not stand before it, and dares not run any more 
futile risks, and therefore throws pike and shield 
aside, and helplessly takes refuge with God with 
the cry: "O God, fight thou for me," and now 
hides with God. After the chickens have crept 
under the wings of the mother hen, the hawk 
that was after the chickens no longer sees them, 
but only the angry mother hen. When the child 
takes refuge with mother, and hides itself in 
her dress, the assailant has no longer to do with 
an helpless child, but with the mother who, like 
a lioness, fights for it. And when a child of God 

hides with God the battle is no longer one between 
him and the world, but between the world and 
God. He who hides with God commits his cause 
to God. He withdraws himself from it. All his 
support and hope is the righteousness of his 
Lord. And only when this has openly been 
shown, he comes out from his hiding again in 
order to finish his course. 

Hiding with God therefore is no ordinary act 
of the soul. It onl}- takes place amid circumstances 
of utmost need and danger. Only when David's 
spirit was overhelmed within him, and he was 
forced to exclaim: ''My heart within me is 
desolate" (143:4), so that he lay "in darkness 
as those that have long been dead," was the 
cry for help forced from his heart, whereby 
he struck the key-note and found the word, 
which only in momenj:s of like stress the soldiers 
of the cross have echoed and re-echoed from 
their own over-burdened spirit. 

There is also a hiding with God in moments 
of anxiety and need, which are occasioned by 
ordinary' events in life. For though as a rule be- 
lievers are not called upon, like David, to fight 
the battle of the Lord, something of that battle 
annouces itself in every famih^ life, and in every 
individual career. The instances in worldly lives 
of great perturbation of mind, which lead to 
despair and suicide, are almost without number. 
And it is noteworth}'- that what brings the wordly- 
minded through despair to suicide, drives the 
believer to hide himself with God. The man of 
the world and the child of God both give up. 
But while the worldly man seeks surcease in 
self-destruction, just to get away from his troub- 


les, the hope of eternal life dawns on the soul 
of the believer, and he also seeks to do away- 
with self, but bj^ expecting nothing more from 
his own strength and powers, and by resigning 
everything into the hand of God. Even as he 
who is incurably ill, suffers dreadfully, is no 
more able to endure it, and expects no more 
help from medicine, yet holds out unto death, 
because he can hide with God. So there can 
be despair in the family on account of consuming 
grief, bitter, sin, endless adversities, and lack of 
bread. There can also be a grievance though 
scorn and slander, so deep and cruel, that restora- 
tion of honor is no more possible, and life be- 
comes a burden. The cause of God may be 
involved in all this, but as a rule it is not, and 
all this dreadful darkness looms up from com- 
mon life. But though the. battle for God may 
have nothing to do with this, it is bound to 
have a part in this, because these grievous troubles 
make their wave-beats shake the faith in the 
heart of God's child. And then it can not help 
but become a battle of faith. A combat between 
the power of the world and that which reveals 
the faith. Fear would strike faith dumb, but 
faith will cry out for help against it. 

And in all such cases faith first struggles 
against it, then tries to conjure the storm, then 
battles as long as it can. But when finally it 
is utterly disabled, and feels itself at the point 
of defeat, it performs the last heroic act which 
makes it triumph: it lets go, it gives up, in 
order to commit its all unto the Lord, and then 
the tempest-tossed and uncomforted soul hides 
with God, and God binds up his sorrow. 



True prayer calls for an answer from God. 
But not all prayer is genuine. There is a great 
difference between formal prayer of the lips and 
earnest outpouring of soul in supplication. Form- 
al prayer however should not be underestimated. 
It implies a power that maintains prayer. And 
though it tarries, a spark from above may sud- 
denly come down into this dead formalism and 
ignite the flame of true prayer in it. But though 
it is unfair to say that he who prays in this mere, 
formal way, had better not pray at all, it re- 
mains true that cold and heartless prayer is in- 
fected prayer, in behalf of which the man of 
ardent prayer invokes the cleansing power of the 

If we would examine the true character of 
prayer, we must distinguish it from the form, and 
direct the attention to real supplication of the 
soul; and then he who prays, awaits an answer; 
such as in olden times was given in a revelation, in 
a word spoken in the soul, in a vision, or appear- 
ance of an angel; and in our times in the hearing 
of our prayer, in an unexpected meeting, or in 
a motion worked by the Holy Ghost within. 
He who prays in a godly manner always awaits 
an answer; not only when he asks for something, 
but also when he worships, ascribes praise, or 
gives thanks. In these holy exercises he does not 
merely aim at reciting words in honor of God's 
name and majesty but he asks God, whom he 
worships, to accept his praises and thanksgivings. 
The scripture speaks of them as offerings, and 


calls them: "the calves of the lips" (Hosea 14:2), 
or "the fruit of the lips" (Is.57:19) by which 
to indicate clearly the significance of an offering 
■which such prayer implies. From the account 
of the first fratricide we learn that there is an 
offering which God accepts and one which he 
rejects. And nowhere has it been more clearly 
shown than in Cain's anger and wrath, that with 
ever}' offering the human heart awaits an answer 
from God. 

But it does not always come. And amid the 
sorrows of heart and the distresses of soul nothing 
is more grievous than this lack of an answer 
from the Lord. Hear the complaint of Job 
(30:20): "I cry unto thee, and thou dost not 
hear me; I stand up, and thou regardest me not." 
This is expressed still more strongly in Ps. 22, 
where the Messiah exclaims: "My God, my God, 
why hast thou forsaken me! my God, I cry in 
the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the 
night season also I take no rest." Or as 
it reads in Micah 3:7 "Then shall the seers be 
ashamed . . . for there is no answer of God". 

The failure of obtaining an answer from God 
is by no means always the fault of the worshipper. 
With the Messiah at least this is unthinkable. 
Every one knows from experience that at one 
time he was heard in spite of an accusing con- 
science, and that at another time, when his prayer 
had been earnest and sincere, no answer came. 
In many instances, the hearing failed, because 
prayer was a sin in our lips. Withholding of 
an answer, on the part of God, can frequently 
be explained from the sinful mood of the heart 
during prayer. But sin on the part of a worshipper 


is not the only cause of the failure to obtain an 
hearing of prayer. The most devout saints in 
Israel complained again and again that their prayer 
was not heard, which was a source of deep grief 
to their hearts; and their grief was proof that 
their prayers had been earnest and sincere. The 
Lama Sabachthani from the cross shows the height 
which this sorrow of the human heart can climb, 
and Golgotha makes it plain, more strongly than 
anything else, that the withholding of an answer, 
on the part of God, can be intentional. 

The question in dispute on Carmel was an 
answer from above. Both Elijah and the priests 
of Baal acknowledged that if God is alive, and 
man prays to Him, a sign of life must proceed 
from the side of God, as an answer to prayer. 
The priests sought this answer with Baal, and 
Elijah sought it with Jehovah. From morning 
even until noon the cry arose from a thousand 
mouths; "O Baal, answer us," and they cut 
themselves with knives and lancets, because no 
answer came. Then Elijah also prayed and God 
answered by fire. The question at stake was, 
whether the God who was invoked was able to 
answer. A God who is not, and who is not alive, 
can not answer. Jehovah, who is alive in glory 
could answer, and the fearful answer descended 
in fire from heaven. 

But ability to answer is not enough. God must 
fJso be willing to answer; and the Sabachthani 
is the most striking instance of the awful truth, 
that at times God is intentionally unwilling, and 
that he does not withhold his answer by chance 
or by mistake, but in accordance with his counsel 
and plan. Even when his child continues to 


call he refuses to hear; even when the saintliest 
worshipper pours out his soul before him; 
even when his own well-beloved Son cries 
unto Him from the cross. This is the comfort 
of the cry from the cross for every soul that cries 
and gets no answer. Otherwise the silence of 
Grod might bring the soul to despair. But when 
it appears that even the prayer of God's own 
Son remained unanswered, why should a sinful 
suppliant complain or despair, when he, too, is 
numbered with the Son of God. 

Is this non-compliance on the part of God 
mere arbitrariness? Far from it. Such an idea 
is unthinkable in God. Even this Divine with- 
holding of an answer to our prayer is outflow of 
the love-life wherewith God compasses the soul 
of his child. In our prayer-life there is danger 
that we seek a gift from God rather than God him- 
self. Prayer is almost always invocation of God's 
help, of his assistance; of his saving and blessing 
grace; but apart from ourselves, our own interests 
and conditions of need, prayer seldom aims first 
of all to have dealings with God himself. The 
''Our Father" teaches the way. It instructs us first 
to pray for the hallowing of God's name, for the 
coming of his Kingdom, for the doing of his Will, 
and then it goes on to the prayer for our daily 
bread, for forgiveness of our sins and for our 
deliverance from the Evil. But this is the misery 
of our spiritual estate, that even in prayer we 
rarely stand on the sacred height of the "Our 

This wounds the tender love-life between God 
and the soul. Prayer for provision in personal 
need is natural, but it always springs from love 


of self. God must lend help and assistance and 
deliverance. And so it comes to appear at times 
that God is and exists merely for our sakes, for 
our benefit, to deliver us from trouble. But love 
is different. Love for God in prayer is, that 
first of all we are concerned with the things that 
glorify God's name, God's honor and G;od's power. 
If it be true that love alone maketh rich and ex- 
alteth the soul, it is grace, and nothing but seeking 
grace, when by temporary withholdings of answers 
to our prayers God initiates us more fully into 
the life of love, represses egoism in our prayers, 
and in our prayer-life also quickens love. 

Hence when an answer to prayer tarries, let 
not the soul grow faint. Apart from the fact that 
an answer is not immediately necessary, and that 
it is frequently shown later on that in his own time 
God granted the request, there is no reason why, 
when God withholds an answer, we need to des- 
pair. When saints in Old- and New-Testament 
times were tried along this line, and our blessed 
Savior endured it in the dark hour of death upon 
the cross, why then should we be spared? The 
very restraint on the part of God, when the soul 
cries out to him, may be the token, that he loves 
the soul more than we ourselves; that he wants 
to raise the life of the soul and the life of prayer 
to higher vantage grounds; that he desires to 
initiate us into the deeper ways of love; and 
that by not answering our prayer he prepares 
us for a more glorious future, when we shall pray 
more sincerely, supplicate more earnestly, and 
receive a far more abundant answer. Even 
among us it is frequently seen that a temporal 
withdrawal from those whom we love is the 


means to quicken tenderer love. How much the 
more is this true of him, who himself is love 
and who by putting a cloud between us and his 
Majesty, leads us up to the higher and far 
richer enjoyments of love. 



With the passing of anipther year another 
boundary-line in life is drawn. A new year is 
brought into the course of time. It was 1903, 
and so it continued for months and weeks and 
days. It became 1904, and involuntarily we ask 
what it shall bring us. Whether the year will 
outlive us or whether we shall outlive it. This 
of itself on the threshold of the new year 
makes us to look up to our Father who is in 
heaven, and ask little but trust much, to lay the 
hand on the mouth and as a weaned child quielty 
to wait what He will bring upon us, and upon 
our beloveds. 

The goings of the age are his, declares the 
prophet (Hab. 3:6 Dutch Version.) God counts 
and reckons with centuries, as on the dial of 
the clock it is done with hours and minutes. 
We are the little, needy ones who count with 
the tenth part of a penny. God bathes him- 
self as it were in the great eternities. There is 
no comparison between our and God's reckoning 
of time. With God it is the ever-flowing fountain 
of the eternal; with us the dripping of the mom- 
ents is heard in the ticking of the clock. While 
waiting for it, five single minutes seem some- 
times unbearably long. 

This vast difference between us and God should 


never be lost from sight. It is so wide that 
we can not possibly explain the connection be- 
tween our time and God's eternity, though we 
know that there must be such a relation, and 
that there is. When we die in Christ we 
shall enter upon an eternity of everlasting joys, 
but even this shall never be to us the eternity 
of God. Though we shall live eternally, we 
have had a beginning, but God never. "Before 
the mountains were brought forth, (Ps. 90) from 
everlasting to everlasting thou art God." And 
this never applies to man. But, however incal- 
culably vast the difference may be, between us 
who live by hours, and God who disposes of the 
goings of the ages, it is grace, that God divides 
for us the portion of life, which we spend between 
the cradle and the grave, into parts of years and 
days, and that he subdivides these parts into 
hours and minutes whereby our otherwise short 
life obtains breadth, extension of duration and 
richness of scope, which makes us bathe ourselves 
in the little pond of our brief years as in an ocean. 
We did not invent time, and its division into 
j''ears and days; these are ours by God's appoint- 
ment. "And the evening and the morning were 
the first da3''," is the creative word that appointed 
this order and division of time for us, before 
man had appeared on earth. Sun and moon, the 
rotation of the earth, and the pulsebeat of the 
blood in our veins, have been made with the 
view of solving human life into minutes and 
seconds. And by this wondrous means, wonder- 
ful in simplicity of appointment. Divine grace 
and mercy have created for us, and about us, a 
wealth of life in the past, now in the present, 


and presently in the future, whereby our short 
life appears to be almost endlessly long and great. 
Even the single year that is past seemed so long, 
that only a few of its significant days are clearly 
remembered, and the new j^ear just begun makes 
an impression as though it could never end. 

Our God moreover, whose are the goings of 
the age. has not only beautifully divided human 
life, and thereby mightily enlarged it to our 
idea, but he also pervades it continually with 
his faithfulness and Fatherly care. From week to 
week, and from day to day his mercy and love are 
over us, new every morning and scintillating with 
new brightness every evening. From hour to hour 
he goeth before us on the way. In the subdivisions 
of the hours into minutes and seconds the puke- 
beat of the blood in the heart is his work, and 
he notices every desire of the heart, that goeth 
out after him. He is the Father of the everlasting 
ages, who from sheer grace divides, for the sake 
of enrichment, the life of his child even into small- 
est parts, and pervades each division and subdivi- 
sion with his grace to keep us and to protect us. 

If God has so divided our life and entered it 
with his grace, we should reach out from this time- 
divided life after the goings of the age, and 
elevate ourselves to the levels of the eternal. In 
Revelation 10:6 we read that the angel who stood 
upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his 
hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth 
for ever and ever .... that there should be time 
no longer. Time is a form of existence given us 
by grace, but it is unreal; eternity alone is real, 
Our destiny lies in eternity and only from the 
viewpoint of eternity can human existence, life 


and destiny be understood. Whatever the year 
of life may be, it is never understood from itself. 
Before God, all of human life, with all its years, 
forms one plan, one end, one whole. This plan, 
of our life did not begin at birth but traces its 
lines back to the life of parents and grandparents. 
In the forward direction this plan does not end 
with death, but extends across death and grave 
into the ages of eternity. It may even be said that 
although we might live 70 or 80 years, this part 
of life, lived on the earth shrinks into almost noth- 
ing by the side of the tens of thousands of years 
that await us in eternity. All of earthly life is 
nothing but riding down the line to the first 
station, where the real journey through the table- 
lands of eternity begins. 

Not to see this plainly and clearly, is the 
main cause of discouragement which frequently 
overtakes people in their passage through this 
brief, earthly life. For a year of life can never 
be understood by itself, and must be viewed in 
connection with life in the hereafter, because it 
is so and not otherwise before God, and can not 
be explained in any other way. He who moulds 
and forms and prepares us for eternity is the 
Lord. In his works upon the heart, in his forming 
of the person, as well as in his preparing of the 
spirit \\'ithin us for eternity, the goings of the 
age are also his. The standard here is not 
what would give us pleasure and love for a mo- 
ment; but what governs his appointments of our 
life is what we are to become in the course of 
centuries. On this long way he leads us now 
through dark and deep places, and again through 
sunshine on the mountains of his holiness, but 


his plan and appointment always accompanies us. 
And not what would smile on us this year, but 
what 77iust happen with us, for the accomplish- 
ment of his plan regarding us, determines what 
the 3'ear will bring. And why it must be so and 
not otherwise we can not understand now, but 
we will in the hereafter. He who forgets this 
has no peace. He who with all his soul enters 
into the eternal activitj^ of God, rests, whatever 
comes, in the Father's faithfulness. 

If within the narrow confines of time we reckon 
by the day and the week, and the heart turns 
bitter everj^ time things go wrong and bring 
nothing but disappointment, we become the prey 
of uneasiness and gloom. Then complaint becomes 
unceasing, and the habit of seeing all things black 
overwhelms us. Then there is no heroism of 
faith, no inspiration to face destiny and no 
joy in God. Thousands and thousands spend all 
their daj's in cold indifference or in hopeless en- 
deavor. They are but a play-ball before the 
wind of the day and sink far below the dignity of 
man. Does not the prophet say, Eccles. 3:11 that 
God hath set eternity in the heart? This but 
means that God has given us power from amid 
the whirling time-flakes all around us to lift 
ourselves up to the sure levels of the eternal. 

With eternity set in the heart let every child 
of God bravely face the newly- opening year. 
He knows that the God whom he worships owns 
the goings of the age, and therefore disposes and 
appoints human life purel}^ in accordance with 
the claims of eternity. He prays that he may 
have peace and jo3% for the heart craves happiness. 
But if the year must bring him periods when 


God puts him into the smelting-furnace, or adds 
finer cuttings to the diamond of the soul, though 
his eyes may ghsten with tears, he will nobly bear 
up in the strength of faith; for he knows it is 
necessary for his good; that it can not be other- 
wise; and that if it were otherwise, his life would 
forever be a failure. It is hard to undergo a painful 
operation, but the patient willingly submits, and 
pays large sums of money to the operator, because 
he knows this drastic treatment alone could save 
him. This states the case of God's child before 
his Father who is in heaven. Not he, but God 
alone must know, what is indispensable and necess- 
ary for him this year, and what in view of his 
permanent formation it must bring him. And 
in case it appears that this year such a Divine 
operation is necessary for him, he will not murmur, 
neither will he complain, but he will submit him- 
self willingly to God, yea, though the waves of 
sorrow should rise ever so high, he will rejoice in 
God, knowing that everything God doeth, must 
needs be done, for the sake of God's honor and 
his own highest good. 



The Scripture is most urgent in pressing 
and driving the soul to God. It enjoins the 
supreme command of sobriety and purity. It 
urges us not to walk proudly but humbly. It 
is no less inexorable in its warnings that we 
guard ourselves in ever}' way against the killing 
power of money, and that we sanctify our wealth 


by large charities. But nothing of all this can 
compare with the unsparing compulsion with 
which the H0I3' Ghost in God's word relentlessly 
drives us to worship, to seek Divine fellowship, 
to have the soul appear before God. 

The Scripture places itself at a standpoint that 
is even more exalted than this. According to 
its claim it is not enough that believers make 
great the name of Him, whose property is majesty 
and power in the most absolute sense. All men 
must glorify God. Even this does not draw 
the circle by far of what must praise the name 
of the Lord. Together with man the Scripture 
includes in this circle all heavenly hosts. "Praise 
the Lord, all ye his hosts, ye ministers of his, 
that do his pleasure" (Ps. 103:21). All Cherubs, 
archangels and Seraphim. And from the heavens 
the circle descends to include within its bounds 
inanimate creation. Not only must everything 
that hath breath praise the Lord. "All his works 
in all places of his dominion" must magnify his 
praise. "Praise ye him, sun and moon; praise 
him all ye stars of light. Praise the Lord, ye 
snow and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his 
word." (Ps. 148). Mountains and hills, cedar 
trees on Lebanon, beasts and all cattle, creeping 
things and the hosts of birds that sing among the 
branches, must all make great the name of the 
Lord, must all pour forth abundant speech. There 
must be no people and no tongue where their 
voice of praise is not heard. "0 Lord, our Lord, 
how excellent is thy name in all the earth." 

Thus, as man, we are called to praise the Lord, 
in the midst of a creation from which a voice 
goes forth, which invites us to praise God, and 

returns an echo to our song of praise that re- 
sounds among the spheres. It is no dead, silent 
creation, stricken with dumbness, but a living 
creation, that utters speech. And he whose ear 
is attuned to understand this language of nature, 
hears the harmonious flow of praise and adoration, 
which it pours forth in perfect accord with the 
adoring language of his heart. And between 
these impulses of the heart, and undulations of 
sound in the creation, the Scripture has laid 
a tie in the emotional sphere of the world of 
sounds, m the wealth of music, in life's treasure 
of sanctified song. And psalm after psalm calls 
on us not only to hear the voice of the Lord in 
creation, and with our voice to glorify our God, 
but also to praise him with organs and stringed 
instruments (Ps. 150:4), with lute and harp, with 
high sounding cymbals and joyful noise. 

Organs and stringed instruments therefore are 
not secondary, but indispensable factors in wor- 
ship, a means ordered of God for fuller enjoyment 
in his praise and adoration; that through the 
world of music, too, the soul may come closer to 
God. Grant that ascription of praise in the house 
of prayer, consisting of unaccompanied voices, 
can be solemn and impressive, even then this 
human singing is music, and improves in merit 
and effect when it is developed and cultivated by 
art. Joyful noises from throat and harp both are 
part of the harmony which God has put into the 
wondrous world about us, and which now by the 
throat, and now by playing on organ or harp, is 
raised and set in harmonious action with the 
world of the heart. And whether we strike metal, 
or cause strings to vibrate, or by our breath drive 


sound from flute or trumpet, it is always an im- 
pulse in the soul which interprets itself in a vocal 
utterance of the world of sound, which in all 
spheres surrounds us. Neither singer nor harpist 
creates the world of music. God created it. It 
was there before the first man heard the first joy- 
ful note of birds. It lies enfolded in the air which 
is susceptible to vibration and undulation every- 
where. And it is given us by voice, by vibration 
of throat or by hand, to set this wondrous world 
in motion. And when this is done through the 
instrument, by throat or hand, it seems that the 
undulation, the motion, the inward song of the 
heart flows out in it, catches an echo from it, is 
carried along, is relaxed, and enriched, by it. 
Enriched in no small part by the fact that others 
beside ourselves at the same moment undergo the 
same emotions, experience like sensations in the 
soul, so that our praise and worship, through song 
and organ-play, flow together with theirs into one 
mighty stream of adoration. 

And because these vibrations and undulations 
of music react upon us as a power from without, 
and lose themselves in the infinite, it seems that 
this splendor of harmony, when song is accom- 
panied by stringed instruments, brings us into 
fellowship with God himself, as praise and worship 
from earth extends itself through the heavens, to 
the spheres where angels play the harps of gold, 
and where everything merges into one grand 
symphony of worship around God's throne. 

God has wonderfully adapted the human throat 
and vocal chords to the world of harmonies, and 
no joyful noise on earth excels that of the human 
voice. It is a gift, unequally divided. In southern 


lands people are endowed with finer voices than in 
colder regions. In the same country the dif- 
ference is wide between the discordant sounds of 
the street and the rythmic, cultivated voice of the 
artist singer. But with whatever difference, in 
disposition the human voice is a joyful noise of 
heavenly origin; and it shall only be heard in all 
its puritj', and wealth of expression in the realm 
of glory before the throne of God. 

B}' itself, however, the human voice leaves a 
gap for which God supplied an equally wonder- 
ful complement in the instrument. A piece of 
brass, a tightly-stretched hide, a horn from an 
animal's head, even a reed cut by the riverside are 
seemingly insignificant, and yet wonderful means 
in their effect ordained of God to support the 
human voice, to unite them in chorus and to bring 
the human heart to co-operate and to harmonize 
with the world of sounds that surrounds us. 

But even this is not free from sin. The art of 
music is mainly employed for the sake of man 
and not for God. It seeks no higher calling than 
to please the ear, to move the heart with untrue 
emotions, and to feast upon a wealth of enjoy- 
ment that is devoid of higher tendencies. This 
sin was less evident with the Masters than with 
a godless public, that uses purely for its own 
pleasure the master creations which, composed for 
the gloiy of God, inspire holy motives. This 
accounts for the distaste among devout believers 
for secularized music. And this is fair. Even 
music is not innocent. Vitiated music is a power 
that degrades. It counts its victims bj'- heca- 
tombs. But it is not fair that on account of its 
abuse, vocal and instrumental music should be 


eliminated from the services of the sanctuary. 
Far better offset abuse by the sanctified use of 
voice and stringed instrument. The revival of 
sacred music is always a sign of a higher activity 
of life. Christian people who do not sing and 
play for the glory of God ASTong themselves. 


Salem is the abbreviated form for Jerusalem. 
''In Salem in his tabernacle" means in its first, 
literal sense, that the tabernacle which was made 
in the wilderness, and had been moved from place 
to place, had finally been brought to the top of 
Mount Zion, so that God's dwelling place was 
within the walls of Jerusalem, 

This sounds strangely to us. Involuntarily we 
ask: How can God be omnipresent and at the 
same time dwell in a given city, on a certain 
mountain top, in a tabernacle or temple? If in 
the old dispensation God had his tabernacle in 
Salem, and his dwelling-place in Zion, was not 
Israel more privileged than we? Have we then 
retrograded instead of advanced? Is the Gospel, 
which has no knowledge of Jerusalem on earth, 
poorer than the ritual of shadows that could 
point to the place of God's presence? Especially 
when we read in the Psalms of "praise" that 
"waiteth in Zion," and of a "doorkeeper" in the 
house of the Lord, clearness of insight is greatly 
to be desired. Though in early youth we may 
sing or recite these sentences thoughtlessly, with 
the growth of years we demand clearer under- 
standing. This does not come by the study of 
history. It all depends upon personal, intentional 


fellowship with the living God, which is the heart 
of all religion, upon the urgent desire of the soul 
to be ever more and more in constant touch with 
God. But here we always face an antithesis 
which we can never solve, before which all science 
stands helpless; even the antithesis between the 
infinity of God and the finiteness of every creature. 

The attempt to bridge this gap has been tried 
in two ways. It has been vainly tried by man, 
and it has been brought about by God. In vain 
it has been tried by man in the way of the 
heathen, who have- reduced the infinity of the 
Almighty to the finite form of an image. The 
result was idolatry which killed the spirit, and 
which ended in the petrifaction of all religion. 
But it has been brought about by God, who has 
swept away all polytheism and idolatry by orig- 
inally confining his service to one place, b}^ clear- 
ing his temple on Zion of every image of him- 
self, and by maintaining the spiritual character 
of his worship ; and who, when the dispensation of 
shadows had fulfilled its calling, gave us his temple 
in the incarnated Word, and on Pentecost extended 
this temple to his whole church, which is the 
Israel of the new Covenant. Along this wondrous, 
Divine way the end has been reached, that now, 
without weakening in the least, the Divine Infinity 
or Omnipresence, the children of God know that 
they have to seek access to God in Christ; that 
they can enjoy his fellowship in the communion 
of saints; and that they see their hearts more and 
more fashioned by the Holy Ghost into a dwell- 
ing place of God. 

The clear representation, which this brings us, 
is, that the child of God, amid whatever dark- 


ness or distress, is nowhere burdened with the 
oppressive thought that God is far ofif and that 
his presence can not be found in prayer. Wher- 
ever he kneels down he knows that God is there; 
that he is close at hand; that he listens to the 
prayer; that he sees and understands his child, 
and knows his way in every particular; and that 
no heart-string can vibrate either with sorrow or 
^vith joy, but God knows in advance what sound 
it would emit. "There is not a word in my 
tongue, but, lo, Lord, thou knowest it alto- 
gether. Thou compassest my path and my lying 
down, and art acquainted with all my ways" 
(Ps. 139:4,3). While on the other hand also 
God's child is constantly under the mighty im- 
pression of the majestj^ and supremacy of the 
Lord. In his descent to us the glory and the holi- 
ness of the Lord may never be lost from sight. 
To this end the Lord has made it known, that 
the same God who is ever close by everj^ one of 
us, has his throne in the heavens, that there alone 
he unveils his glorious majesty, and is for no 
moment lost in the smallness, insignificance and 
finiteness of our human life. Life above and life 
on earth are distinctly separated, and not here, 
but only when we shall have passed through the 
gate of death, shall our eye see him in the fulness 
of his glory, in the Jerusalem, that is above. 

The transition lies between these two. The 
transition in Christ, the transition in the com- 
munion of saints, the transition by the indweUing 
of the Spirit in our hearts; and this is the taber- 
nacle in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion, his 
presence with the Israel of God. It goes on over 
and back. Christ in the flesh set in the heavens, 

the Spirit descending into our hearts, and as well 
in Christ as in the Holy Ghost God Himself is 
worshipped by us. 

This is the mystery. The son of man, who is 
one of us, who is our brother, who is closely re- 
lated to us, and who in our nature has gone into 
heaven, does not stand by the side of God, but is 
himself God. The closest possible fellowship be- 
tween God and man is thereby realized. On the 
other hand, while Christ is for all, the Holy Spirit 
descends and makes his dwelling in the heart of 
every child of God separately. Thus he founds 
a Salem in the hidden recesses of the soul, where 
God himself indwells, where his Divine life in- 
spires us, and where it becomes the source of all 
our holier and higher emotions, sensations and 
impulses. And these two operate upon, and com- 
plement, one another. So that there is no fellow- 
ship with Christ apart from the Holy Ghost, 
and on the other hand there is no indwelling of 
the Holy Ghost save on the ground of our fellow- 
ship with God in Christ. Our nature in Christ 
dwelling in the heavens, and the Holy Ghost 
indwelling in our heart on earth. Thus God him- 
self has laid the bridge of holy living, with one 
pier anchored in the heavens, and with the other 
resting in the center of our own human heart. 

Even these two points of support, however, are 
in need of union. This they find in the com- 
munion of saints. Everyone knows for himself 
how his fellowship with God is strengthened when 
he is in touch with saints in the earth, and how on 
the other hand this fellowship suffers loss, when 
he has no other human contact than that of peo- 
ple of the world. The deep joy of the sacrament 

of the Lord's supper springs from the focus of 
this fellowship. The holy supper bears witness to 
him of the glory of Christ, but only in the con- 
gregation, not without it. Hence no higher and 
holier institution could have been given to men, 
than when "in the night in which he was be- 
trayed" Christ brake the bread and poured the 
wine, and called the Holy Supper into being. 
This is the centrum; here all lines become one, 
along which fellowship is established between the 
soul and God. 

Nothing therefore is more heinous, than the sin- 
ful doing of those who by quarrelling and by 
passionate contention for the right of particular 
views cause this fellowship of God's saints to 
weaken and to grow faint. Our Savior gave us a 
new commandment, even that we love one 
another. This new love, which he commanded, is 
the tenderest love that is thinkable on earth, since 
it is in the flood-tide of this new love, that God 
will draw near unto us, and lift us up to himself. 
And what does he do, who, failing to understand 
this new love, abuses the church and this holy 
fellowship of love for the sake of propagating 
his own particular views, but break down Salem, 
destroy the tabernacle of the Lord, and as far as 
he is able obstruct fellowship with God? 

After conversion we are in an intermediate state 
until death. The night is far spent, the day is 
at hand, but it is not yet noon. That only comes 
when the glory of Christ shall break in upon all 
spheres. Until that hour we are ever approach- 


ing the day in its fulness, though in fact we walk 
in twihght. It is light, but that light is dim. 
Even after conversion we continue therefore pro- 
visionally in a certain kind of sleep, and the con- 
vert can only gradually escape its after-effects. 
Such was Ihe case in the days of St. Paul, when 
the change was far greater for the convert than 
now. Speaking for himself and for the converts 
at Rome the Apostle emphatically declares: "It 
is now (i. e. so and so many years after their 
conversion) — it is now high time to awake out of 
this sleep (which was still upon us) for now is our 
salvation nearer than when we believed." And 
then he adds: "The night is far spent, the day is 
at hand" (Rom. 13:11, 12). 

This detracts nothing from the incontrovertible 
truth, that he who came to conversion today, and 
tomorrow falls asleep in Jesus, is sure of everlast- 
ing salvation. But it does say, that he who after 
conversion is given yet many years of life upon 
earth, passes from the mists into ever clearer 
light, gets farther away from the night, and is 
conscious of the ever closer approach of the light 
of day. In nature there is no sudden disappear- 
ance of night, in order to give place with equal 
suddenness to the day and the noontide sun. 
There are transitions in nature from darkness into 
dawn and from dawn into broad daylight. Tran- 
sitions which are of longer duration in some parts 
of the world, than in others, but which occur 
everywhere. And so it is in the spiritual life. 
The new convert does not become holy in his 
purposes, tendencies and manner of life, all at 
once. From "being alienated from the life of 
God" he does not at once come into full fellow- 


ship with God. Where it was night in the soul, 
the sun does not immediately after conversion 
stand at the zenith. Here also are transitions. 
Beginning with a first ray of light; a first parting 
of clouds; a first breaking up of mists until a glow 
from higher spheres strikes the eye of the soul. 
And then it goes farther and farther. From grace 
to grace. More quickly with one, and with another 
more 'slowly. First a waking out of the sleep of 
error and sin. Then a shaking of oneself loose 
from this sleep. Afterward a waking up. And 
presently a going out into the light. And in this 
transition we have the incessantly moving power 
of the Christian life. Not to continue standing 
where we stand, but going on, and going on ever 
further. It is first a star that rises out of Jacob; 
presently the sun of salvation is at the horizon; 
and at length the sun, which sheds clear light on 
those that wandered about in darkness. It is all 
one course of triumph and victory for those to 
whom the lack of such light would mean eternal 
night, but it is a growing light, that ever rises 
higher, and at every moment becomes brighter; 
and Christian life would be worthless in this 
world, if the eye of the soul, as it gradually be- 
comes accustomed to stronger light of grace, did 
not obtain thereby an ever clearer insight into 
the riches of God's mercy. 

This brings a threefold growth. Growth in 
inner strength; growth in the more effective exhi- 
bition of the powers of the kingdom; and growth 
in fellowship with God, which is the heart of all 
religion. There is growth in inner strength through 
the fuller strength imparted from the heavenly 
kingdom. The night is far spent, and light shines 


ever more clearl}' in the soul. God shows this 
favor in the personal life. Increasing brightness 
in our personal skies. Less night and more day 
in which ever more and ever clearer light is 
sown on our pathway. As an effect of this inner 
growth, there is greater exhibition of power. He 
who must travel in the earh' dawn makes little 
headway, but when clearer daylight illumines the 
wa}^ he quickens his pace. Hence the exhorta- 
tion of the apostle : "Let us therefore cast off the 
works of darkness, and let us put on the whole 
armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the 
day." For as long as light and darkness strive 
for mastery in the soul, there is continual hesi- 
tancy and slipping of the foot. But with more 
light there comes more moral courage. We be- 
come more animated, we become more bold in 
holy undertakings, and more light shines out from 
us upon others. Instead of tottering, the step 
becomes firm; instead of work half-done, labors 
are finished and made perfect. Nor is this all. 
For however far we may be developed along 
moral lines, development in piety is more sig- 
nificant, and the rich gain which the clearer in- 
shining of heavenl}^ light brings, is the growing 
tenderness of our fellowship with God. 

Dark night prevails in the human heart at large 
through the oppression of error and sin. God truly 
is, and he truly is close by, but though mankind 
maj' feel its waj^ if haply it may find him, it 
is not aware of him, it does not see him, and 
discovers nothing of his holy presence. Thick 
darkness compasses it about and makes it feel 
oppressed, and the sense of uncertainty, and of 
anxiet}', as a serpent of suspicion, creeps into the 


heart. This thick darkness is the explanation of 
all idolatry and of all heathen oppression. And 
therefore Simeon rejoices m Christ as in "a light," 
so great, so beautiful, which having come down 
from the throne of heaven, lightens the darkened 
vision of the Gentiles. The densest darkness of 
the peoples is that they know not God, that end- 
less night excludes them from God, that no ray 
of heavenly light illumines their pathway, and 
that, without God in the world, they hasten on 
to judgment. 

Every convert therefore is called a child of 
light. He does not merely walk in the light, but 
from it he is born a child of God. Light in the 
soul from above, even though but a single ray 
is perceived, is inward wealth. It is peace in lieu 
of distress, rest in lieu of care, trust in lieu of 
despair, courage in lieu of inward faintness. This 
light shines on his way, it makes him know his 
own heart and the heart of his fellowmen, it 
brings wisdom in place of self-conceit, and en- 
nobles all human existence. But highest and 
holiest of all, this light discloses to him more and 
more the way of access to God; it lifts the ban 
that separated and excluded him from God; and 
now by degrees begins the tender, blessed life 
which enters upon the secret walk with God, 
which makes him aware of God at every step of 
life's way, as his Father who loves him, and as 
his Shepherd who leads him. This fellowship and 
walk with God, this dweUing in the house of the 
Lord, is not always the same that it provisionally 
was, but it advances, it makes progress, gains in 
intimacy, warmth and clearness. Not only is the 
night, that hid God from the inner eye, far spent, 


but he gets farther and farther away from it. The 
transition is continuous from night into clearer 
day, until at length there is fellowship with God, 
which the world neither knows nor understands, 
but which to him is highest reality, the source, 
the ever free-flowing fountain of the strength of 
his life. 

Many Christian people, alas, after conversion 
love to remain in slumber, and consequently lose 
the joy of this closer communion with God. They 
are the sick ones among the brethren, from whom 
no virtue can go out. There are others, however, 
God be praised, who know nothing of standing 
still, who enter ever more deeply into the secret 
of the infinite, and now waken every morning with 
God, labor all day long with God, and lay them- 
selves down at night to sleep with God. And thej' 
are the salt of the earth, and of God's church 
among the saints, and they keep the church from 
desecration and from languishing away in death. 



Not only with individuals, but in broad and 
influential circles denial of God breaks forth, 
stalks abroad, and puts every mask aside. This 
was different even twenty years ago. Individual 
atheists openly boasted of infidelity, and thereby 
aroused aversion, which with many turned into 
abhorrence. Many people were done with religion 
in any form, but to be taken for atheists was con- 
sidered an insult. They were not atheists. They 
had broken with traditional views of Divine things, 
but the eye of their soul was open to the eternal, 


so the}' said, and their heart still went out after 
the unknown Infinite. 

Now another step is taken. Even the appear- 
ance of godliness can be laid aside. Atheists have 
discovered that especially among cultivated 
classes they are represented by more people than 
they had dared to surmise. They observe that 
when they confess their denial of God, public 
opinion takes it calmly, and at times hails it as 
an evidence of honesty. Even among the faith- 
ful we have become so accustomed to the grow- 
ing numbers of those who deny God that we are 
scarcely aware of the trembling which it occa- 
sioned in better days. 

This is significant. When a child for the first 
time hears his father or mother evilly spoken of, 
he resents it. But when in the course of ten 
years he has grown accustomed to such talk, and 
can listen to it calmlj^, he has suffered moral loss. 
This applies to a nation with respect to its 
sovereign. When violation of royal dignity first 
begins, indignation will be general. But when 
this violation is continued, and royal defects form 
the topic of daily public talk, people cease to be 
affected by it. Respect for what is high becomes 
outworn. And in the same waj'- a people has 
lost something of the gold of its wings, when in 
its best circles it has become so accustomed to 
the language of atheism, that it raises no more 
protest among them. Especially along this line 
evil communications corrupt good manners. Here 
a poison works unobservedly that extinguishes 
higher aspirations and unnerves the elasticity of 

"Without God in the world" is not the most 


dangerous fofm of atheism. Many are atheists 
from sheer indifference. They care for nothing. 
Others are atheists, because in their career of sin- 
ful pleasure the}^ will not brook trouble from their 
consciences. Others again are atheists, because in 
their own wisdom they are too proud to bow 
before God. But each of these three groups main- 
tains discreet silence about God, rather than that 
from enmity it would seriously oppose the faith. 
They live "without God in the world" but thej- 
are no fanatics, who strive to banish God from 
the world. When it comes to this, spiritual infat- 
uation reaches its highest degree, and every pros- 
pect of recovery is cut off. 

That this atheistic fanaticism obtains public 
hearing from time to time, and that tracts, bear- 
ing the most shameful titles^ are broadcast through 
the land, to slander faith in God and to make it 
appear ridiculous, is most dangerous for the life 
of a nation. For it betrays the presence of a 
poison in national life that is bound to work harm 
and to break national elasticity. Even among the 
heathen, slander of the gods was made punish- 
able; and almost every nation that was great at 
first and then went down, shows in history this 
sad process, that it began with wealth ; that wealth 
produced moral decay; that moral decay led to 
religious indifference; that then in more culti- 
vated circles people lived "without God in the 
world;" and that at length fanaticism broke out 
against all religion, whereby at last the people 
became wholly degenerate and were overtaken by 
disgraceful ruin. 

In the days of St. Paul like conditions of un- 
godliness prevailed in Ephesus, and of the con- 


verts there to Christ it is said that at one time 
they themselves were without hope and without 
God in the world (Eph. 2:12). And this states 
painfully what we see all about us. With dif- 
ferences in degree many live year after year who 
think no more of God, and speak no more about 
him; no more religious books are found in their 
homes; they never pray, and their children grow 
up without religion. Baptism is no more known. 
They marry outside of the church. They bury 
their dead as we bury a dog. Their lives without 
God in the world, as such, are perfect. 

But most people have not gone such lengths. 
At marriage they can not dispense with the 
solemnity of the church service. Many have their 
children baptized. In times of serious illness they 
still call upon God. Some do not consider relig- 
ion superfluous in the education of children, and 
allow their servants time to attend church. But 
apart from these minor exceptions they live for 
the rest altogether in the world without God. 
And the worst of it is that they can live in this 
manner year after year, and not feel unhappy 
about it. The sense of need of communion with 
a higher life is almost wholly lost from their hearts, 
and they do not miss life with God. Living in 
the world without God has become their second 
nature. When it is over, all is done. No more 
voice in the soul speaks of desire after higher 
things. From one pleasure they go to another, 
and however little religion we would measure out 
to them, it would not satisfy them, but prove a 
burden. The same tenor of mind and heart which 
was abroad for two thousand years in the declin- 
ing world of the pagan Roman Empire has made 

itself master of these present-day out-and-out 
people of the world. They still strive for higher 
things. They are lovers of art. They are zealous 
in works of philanthropy. They labor for general 
culture as they understand it. At times they dote 
with ideals that awaken the poetic talent in them. 
But far from being led thereby to worship, this 
higher, more ideal Hfe is the ground from which 
they explain the superfluity of religion. Religion 
may do for the lower classes of society. They 
have outgrown it. To live without God in the 
world they consider a means by which to secure 
high places of honor in the life of this world. 

Love alone can save the world from these con- 
ditions. At Ephesus there were people who at 
one time lived without God in the world, but who 
by hundreds were turned to God, not by reproaches 
and uncharitable criticisms, but by the love where- 
with the apostles approached them. In this apos- 
tolic love the reality of life in the world with God 
was luminous. This thawed out hearts and cap- 
tured them. This reality is not devoid of creed. 
There is no greater witness for the truth and the 
facts of the Gospel than St. Paul. This reality 
of life with God is not without forms. Preaching, 
Baptism and Holy Communion stand ever in the 
foreground. But the power behind the creed and 
the service of forms was the work of the Holy 
Ghost, his indwelling in the heart, and life in 
constant fellowship with God. If then the church 
of God would raise a barrier in the way of in- 
creasing atheism of our times, let her hold fast to 
her confession, and honor the sacred services of 
the sanctuary. But above all things else, let her 
guard the essence that is behind these forms, and 


cultivate with young and old the supreme reality 
of life with God. 

This requires effort. We must live in the world. 
God only calls us out of the world at death. And 
almost everything in the world draws us away 
from God. Not only wealth and temptation, but 
also the incessant activity of life, labor that is 
strenuous, multiplicity of interests, much trouble 
and sorrow. Among confessing christians there 
are all too many, therefore, who count themselves 
christians and can live for hours and for days at 
times without a thought of God, who are dis- 
tracted in mind even in their prayer, and who are 
scarcely aware of what it means to be ''near unto 
God" and Vvith him to live in constant fellow- 
ship of the Spirit. This lack can not be made 
good by sound creeds, nor by constant bearing 
witness. Life with God in the world can not be 
replaced by much activity and good works. The 
lamp can not burn unless it is continually fed 
with oil. Not in us, but in God alone is the power 
and the might, that can break unbelief in the 
world. And in this conflict we can only be instru- 
ments in the hand of the Lord, when his power 
inwardly animates us, when his Spirit inwardly 
impels us, and when ''to be near unto God" and 
in the midst of the world to live with God, has 
become our second, our regenerated nature. 


Vital fellowship with God can not merely be per- 
sonal. It must also be collective. Whatever touches 
merely the world of our own heart is personal. 
And whatever we go through with others, who are 

connected with us by fixed ties, is collective. 
There is a collective life of the family, of the 
church, of callings and professions, and of nations. 
And that there is vital fellowship with God in the 
secret places of the soul, is not enough. In the 
family also, in the church and in social life fellow- 
ship with God must be a power. And it must be 
expressed in this: that God walks with us and we 
with God. Not only the first, but also the sec- 
ond. It is not enough that personally and collec- 
tively we have blessed experiences of continuous 
outgoings of the soul after God. This can always 
be the practice of communion with God from 
afar. Walking together the highway of life de- 
mands on the contrarj' that we go to God, that 
God comes to us, that the holy meeting is mutual, 
and that hand in hand with God we continue the 
journey of life. When it has come to this with 
us personally, we are in a christian way. When 
it has come to this in our family, we have a 
Christian home. When this is the case in our 
church, we enjoy a church life, which is not 
merely Christian in i.ame but in fact. And when 
in social or state circles we have the same experi- 
ence with those who are of like calling or con- 
viction with ourselves, then here also the Chris- 
tian banner not merely has been raised, but the 
cause for which, together, we suffer and strive is 
truly Christian. 

To Moses and Israel the Lord expressed this as 
follows: 'T will walk among you" (Lev. 26:12). 
In the case of Abraham it is only said personally, 
that he walked with God. But with Moses there 
is mention of collective fellowship of God with 
his people. Hence it does not say: 'T will be 


with you, as shepherd of my people," but far 
better: **I will walk in the midst of you" (Dutch 
version). The Lord going forth with his people, 
and at every step of the way the people being 
conscious of his nearness and of their fellowship 
with God. 

This can be fellowship from both sides, a walk- 
ing together of the way in holy love. But it can 
also be a walking together in sin on the part of 
man and in indignation on the part of God. *Tf 
. . . ye will walk contrary unto me" said the 
Lord, "then will I also walk contrary unto you, 
and will punish you yet seven times for your sins" 
(vs. 23, 24) . Contrariness is what we call antipathy. 
We can walk with a man who is antipathetic to 
us, whose presence is not agreeable, and whose 
company is not desired. He who feels and observes 
that God walks with him on the way, and still 
inclines unto sin, feels constrained by the pres- 
ence of the Lord. Even as a child, that is bent 
upon mischief, does not dare to do it, as long as 
father or mother is close by, but takes his chance 
the moment father or mother is gone, so a Chris- 
tian man does not dare to carry his sinful design 
into execution, so long as he feels that God is 
near. If only he could outrun God. But this is 
impossible. He can close his eyes so as not to 
see God, but even then the Lord continues to 
reveal his presence in the conscience. This gives 
rise to the unholy strife of willingness to sin, and 
of inability to do it, because God stands in the 
way. And if sin is not abandoned, contrariness 
to God springs up in the heart, even the deeply- 
sinful antipathy to the nearness of God. And 
since there is nothing that so angers God, as the 


desire, the tendency of the heart, not to seek, but 
to be delivered from, God, the favor of God to 
usward turns into holy antipathy. Thus the path- 
way of life is walked with God in enmity and in 
bitterness, and the Holy Spirit is grieved. 

This does not happen with a child of the world. 
He does not walk with God. He walks alone. He 
perceives nothing, feels nothing, sees nothing of 
the nearness of God. Hence he can not fall into 
sin in this way. His sin bears another character. 

But if we belong to the company of the re- 
deemed, if we walk with people in whose midst 
the Lord walks, all sinful living must be stopped, 
or else, if it is yet continued, the terrible sin of 
contrariness, of antipathy to God will spring up 
in the heart. The inner life of the soul will be 
corrupted, and presently all of the after-life on 
earth. And the ill-omened deception is, that this 
contrariness, this antipathy only shows itself, at 
the point of some special sin. This gives rise to 
these monstrous conditions, that in all other ways 
a man may seek after God, may be zealous in 
Divine service, may maintain devout habits of 
prayer, but as often as this particular sin comes 
in question, may lose at once all self-control, and 
perceiving that God continues to walk with him, 
may feel no longer comforted by thi^ blessed near- 
ness, but merely hindered thereby in his sin. And 
if the sin is still persisted in, the most terrible 
contrariness follows, even the dreadful contrari- 
ness of God. 

The case is not the same with sin that is com- 
mitted from lack of strength. For then when 
tempted, the heart will seek refuge with God. We 
are well aware at such times that Satan plans to 


undo us, and we hold ourselves fast bj^ God for 
protection against evil. And we may stumble, 
but even in the act of it, refuge will be taken 
with the unseen Companion who walks at our 
side. He will be invoked for forgiveness and help. 
And he who knoweth whereof we are made, will 
show mercy and keep us from self-destruction. 
Of course we must be fully bent upon following 
God whithersoever he leadeth, and choose no 
paths of our own with the expectation that God 
will follow us. The goings of God, both past and 
present, are altogether such as lead to the king- 
dom of heaven, and result in making his Name 

What then are the goings of our life? What is 
our aim in life? Whither doth our pathway lead? 
As children of God we pray every day: "Hal- 
lowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy 
Will be Done;" and if this three-fold prayer is 
not a mere form of words, but the compass of 
our life, our goings will be identical with the 
goings of God. Then we and God walk the same 
wa--. in the same direction, with the same end in 
view. He in infinite greatness, and we in the 
insignificant littleness of our quickly-passing life. 
But as individual drops we move along in the 
wave-beat of the ocean of God. All of life then 
moves itself in the direction of the mighty ap- 
pointment of God, and in this way we can walk 
with God, the whiles he walks with us, and from 
both sides it is continued in the bond of holy 

But this is almost only possible in collective 
fellowship. One only has ever trodden the wine- 
press alone. Every other hero of the faith has 


been upborne by the example, sympathy and fel- 
lowship of what is called the people of God. This 
is a sacred appellation, which no single group may 
arbitrarily appropriate to itself, and which is only 
real where God himself walks in the midst of 
those who share his favor. We are at once aware 
in family, in church and in society, whether pur- 
poses and endeavors coincide with the goings of 
God, or whether they are mere exhibits of out- 
ward forms of piety. These mere outward forms 
do not satisfy, they lend no support, they do not 
bear one up. Rest is only found when it is per- 
ceived that the presence of the Lord is a spiritual 
reality in the family, in the church, and in society, 
and that God himself walks in the midst of them. 
Then it is not enough that God walks with us 
and that we walk with him, but we feel that the 
same is true of the wife, the husband, the chil- 
dren, the brother or sister, the preacher, church 
officials, societies and associations. We know it of 
one another. We make the nearness of God 
clearer and more real to one another. We are 
not silent about it. We enjoy it together. Collec- 
tively we receive from him the sacred impulse 
with united forces to continue in his goings, and 
to hold his name high. The Lord is then not 
only close to the heart, but he is in the midst of 
us. He is the common center of all our interests 
and the tie that binds us together. It is then not 
merely a pious frame of mind but a godly life, a 
consecrated purpose, and zealous co-operation 
from which that holy activity is born, which in 
every department of life overcomes the world 
and makes virtues to go out, which are not from 
us, but which flame out in us from him who walks 


in the midst of us, because he is the source of our 
light, of our strength and of the inspiration of 
our hfe. 


Sin nowhere makes more rapid advances than 
in religion. Religion is the service of the Triune 
God. It is the highest and best that enriches the 
human heart. But the best is always the first 
that is exposed to corruption. 

Outside of Europe and America the Almighty 
created and supports a thousand million persons 
who continually die and are replaced, but who 
in this coming and going are utter strangers to 
the secret of salvation. Missionshave done some- 
thing, but what are they compared with the thou- 
sand millions of Asia and Africa, and the united 
forces of Islam and Heathendom? These mil- 
lions, especially in Asia, are by nature very sus- 
ceptible to religious impressions, much more so 
in fact than most of the nations of Europe. But 
they choose their own way, and are dead to all 
true knowledge of the way of the Lord. And as 
often as God from his Throne looks down upon 
those millions in Asia and Africa, there is never 
an echo among them of the songs of worship and 
praise of the heavenly hosts. They kneel down 
before all sorts of things, but they never worship 
the Triune God. 

Compared with this darkness of night in Asia 
and Africa, in Europe and America it is light. 
There is scarcely a village in these parts of the 
world, in which the sacrament of Baptism is not 

administered, where there is no church of Christ, 
large or small, and where there are not some 
deeply spiritual souls that live very "near unto 
God." This makes no secret of the fact however 
that in thickly-populated centers and even in 
larger villages the great majority of people are 
either dead to the service of the Lord, or merely 
adhere to it outwardly, and attach no single trace 
of spiritual reality to it. When this lack of re- 
ligion began to assume ever larger and more 
unequal proportions, a gigantic effort was put forth 
to purify Divine service, to reform and to trans- 
form it, which at first worked admirably. But 
now look at the Geneva of Calvin, the Saxony of 
Luther, or at the Hague of William the Silent, 
and confess whether we do not face new disap- 
pointments, and whether the half of the popula- 
tion of these places is not estranged again from 
true religion. By means of the Reveille and of 
the spread of infidelity Christian revival ensued, 
which fortunately is making progress, but even 
in the circles that have been revived, we feel 
troubled again at the coldness, formalism and 
manifest lack of sacred fire. Even when we con- 
fine ourselves to the narrowest circle of the fam- 
ilies that is still devoted to the service of the 
Lord, and examine to what degree of heat the 
spiritual arose and maintained itself in it, we are 
constantly disappointed, and we ask again and 
again whether that is all that is felt for, and con- 
secrated to, our faithful God and Father. And 
when at last we look at our own family, and 
closer still confine ourselves to our own heart, 
and ask ourselves what the inner life for and with 
God is, in home and heart, and what it ought to 


be for this faithful Father, who is not moved to 
ask in despair, whether constant, inward, tender, 
ever-in-grace increasing piety has not become 
impossible for us? 

This question can only in part be answered in 
the affirmative. Sin works effects which ener- 
vate and weaken, so that even in the most godly 
circles true religion is most of the time at low 
ebb, and only in rare moments of spiritual 
tension does it rise to the fullness of flood-tide. 
The result is disheartening. God looks down upon 
this world morning by morning and evening by 
evening, and continues his Fatherly care over his 
fourteen hundred million of children of men, but 
only here and there does the psalm of worship 
and pure love arise before him from a tender, 
devout heart. 

But age upon age God continues in everlasting 
love to entice us by his Word, to call us and to 
draw us to this full, true and unshakable religion, 
which finds its terse expression in the supreme 
command that we shall cleave unto the Lord our 
God (Deut. 30:20). It is the image of the child 
at mother's breast, who literally cleaves to her, 
and hangs on her, fosters himself in the warmth 
of the mother-life, feeds himself at the fountain 
of mother's breast, and cries when he feels him- 
self separated from mother. And this supreme 
command, that we must depend on God, and 
cleave to him, protests in the name of the Triune 
God against all mechanical religion, and against 
every endeavor to reduce it to mere formalism. 
It does not exclude thinking on God, but declares 
that intellectual activity with God is not religion. 
It includes the confes.sion of God, but denies the 


right to assert that religion consists of confession. 
It posits the claim of an holy life, and of abound- 
ing in good works, but deprives us of the illusion 
that true piety can ever be satisfied with this. 
It certainly demands high esteem for outward 
forms of Divine service, but resists the error 
which identifies forms with the essence of religion 
itself. It is inconceivable apart from zeal for 
God's kingdom, but it declares that though all of 
life is spent for God, apart from love, we are mere 
sounding brass or tinkling cymbals. It tolerates 
no boast of true religion apart from personal 
fellowship with God in the secret intimacy of 
communion. And even when we can thank him 
for the grace, that at times in earnest prayer this 
heavenly fellowship with God in Christ was food 
for the soul, it still declares, that this occasional 
seeking after and visiting with God is not yet all 
of true religion, because true religion demands, 
that without break or interruption we shall cleave 
unto God, and hang as it were on God. Such 
dependence upon God imj)lies, that moment by 
moment, we feel God's presence in the heart, and 
that with all the powers of our soul we hold 
ourselves fast by God. 

But holiest saints confess, that such inward 
spirituality is impossible in this life. The heart 
is not attuned to it, and life round about us is 
not adapted to it. Simple honesty demands that 
this be openly and candidly confessed, provided 
it be accompanied with self-accusation and shame- 
facedness. Attainment of this highest good has 
been tried. In every age there have been those 
who for the sake of cleaving solely unto God 
have renounced life in the world, and have with- 


drawn themselves to cell or hermitage. But 
though they could banish the world from the 
cloister, they took their hearts with them, and it 
was the heart itself that obstructed the way to 
closer fellowship with God. This was possible in 
Paradise, and has become such again in the con- 
gregation of the saints made perfect above. But 
it is not within reach here on earth. We may not 
withdraw ourselves from life. We have here a 
calling to fulfil, and to do service for our God. 
We can not separate ourselves from the heart. 
It is ever with us. But God knoweth what we 
are made of. He remembereth that we are dust. 
And he covers our guilt, of not reaching the un- 
reachable, in gracious forgiveness. 

Only we are not to rest content with this. We 
must not resign ourselves to this. We must hold 
the imperfection of our religion ever clearly before 
our eyes. We must enter complaint against our- 
selves, which will itself become the stimulus to 
seek from day to day, and from week to week, 
after closer fellowship with God. And here is 
the difference between superficial and true religion. 
The superficial worshipper understands that he 
can never attain unto such an unbroken cleaving 
to God, and so he continues his life calmly and 
peacefully, without ever finding the secret walk 
with God. All deeper and truer piety on the 
other hand is grieved, that this fellowship of soul 
with the faithful, loving Father is continually 
broken. Whenever it perceives that it has lost 
its hold on God, it trembles. It rebukes itself 
and courageously strives to restore the broken 
communion, until in the end, the moments of 


life spent with God increase, and the moments of 
separation from God decrease. 

To cleave unto the Lord with all the heart 
and soul and consciousness is then at first a 
heavenly joy which ma}^ be tasted only once in 
a whole month. Gradually it becomes a com- 
munion of soul without which no week pa^es. 
By degrees it becomes an elevation of soul which 
repeats itself almost daily. Going on this way, 
this happy joy in God returns several times a day, 
so that even by night, upon waking, the nearness 
of the Lord is consciously^ felt. And though even 
so, the highest still remains beyond our reach, 
cleaving unto God begins to occupy ever wider 
room in our lives. And not intimacy with God in 
solitude, but intimac}' with God in the midst of 
our busy lives becomes the booty of the soul. 
Then it is no more a singing after Asaph: "It is 
good for me to be near unto God," but it be- 
comes a singing like Asaph from blessed experi- 
ence of heart. 



When it is asked of a person whether we know 
him, the meaning can be twofold. Casually, it 
may mean whether we would know him if we 
met him. With respect to his character it may 
mean whether we understand him. He, who on 
the eve of your departure for Java, entrusts an 
important document to your care, for sbme one 
living there, merely intends by the question 
whether you know him, to prevent j^our handing 
the same to the wrong person. When, however, 

some one consults his father about a business 
scheme with some man, the father's question in 
reply: ''Do you know him," will mean: Are 
you sure that he is honorable, reliable and trust- 
worthy as to his business ability? 

This two-fold significance of knowing anyone 
personally must be reckoned with in Scripture and 
in knowledge of God. To know is always funda- 
mentally an observation of difference. He who is 
not conversant with botany, only sees trees and 
shrubs; while he who observes the difference be- 
tween oak and beech trees, oleander and rhodo- 
dendron, jasmine and snowball, begonia and 
heliotrope, recognizes what he sees and rejoices 
in the wealth of it. The same is true among peo- 
ple. In the business street of a foreign city we 
see nothing but people who pass us bj^ without 
speaking, while in our home town every one is 
familiar to us, and we even know the name some- 
times of the smallest child. But this goes no 
further than the difference between A and B. We 
know people from one another. We know the 
difference between them. We do not mistake 
them in passing. Their appearance is familiar. 
We know them at first sight. But if we mean 
that closer and more intimate knowledge which 
enables us to form some idea of a man's char- 
acter, inner life, endeavors and aims, another dif- 
ference is at stake. Not the difference in cloth- 
ing, facial features and outward appearance, but 
the distinct knowledge of a man's bearing, utter- 
ances and feelings. Such knowledge becomes a 
testing; an entering into the inward existence of 
such a person. 

Where it is told of Samuel that he did not yet 


know the Lord (I Sam. 3:7), it means exclusively 
this first outward knowledge; and not the deeper 
knowledge of the Divine Being, which only springs 
from secret communion. By night Samuel heard 
himself called by name. He heard it as clearly 
and plainly as though Eli had called him. But 
he did not j^et know the difference between a 
call by name from God and a call by name from 
a man. Three times therefore he went to Eli, 
saying: "Thou didst call me." And only when Eli 
assured him, that he had not called him, and at 
last told him that it might be a call from God, 
a new light arose upon Samuel, and in that voice 
he recognized the voice of God. The voice is a 
wonderful mystery. Every person has his own 
voice. Even in the dark we recognize father, hus- 
band or brother at once by the voice. The wonder 
is equally great that as each man and child has 
a voice of his own, we are able to distinguish 
between them. And so has the Lord a voice of 
his own and it is for us to recognize the voice of 
God in distinction from the voice of man. He 
who does not understand this difference, does not 
know the Lord as yet. He who understands it. 
knows the Lord. This provisionallv outward 
knowledge of God leads of itself to the more inti- 
mate fellowship of the Lord, whereby gradually 
the full, rich knowledge of the perfection of God 
is attained, which is eternal life. 

In this knowledge of God there is a twofold 
dispensation. The first in Old and New Testa- 
ment was the portion of patriarchs, prophets and 
apostles They received a special revelation from 
God. God spake with them in dreams, visions 
and appearances, but also by internal address in 


their hearts or by external address to their ears. 
Of course this might have been continued, so that 
we, everyone personally for himself, might have 
heard the voice of God. But it has not pleased 
God so to do. It has seemed good to him first 
to give his revelation personally to prophets and 
apostles, with audible voice or by visible appear- 
ance, and lastly in the incarnated Word. 

Afterward, however, this has changed. Revela- 
tion given up to that time has been collected in 
the Scripture, and therein it has become the com- 
mon good of all believers, the permanent, endur- 
ing treasure of the whole church of Christ. This 
does not mean to say that now there is no more 
secret fellowship with God, nor that God can not 
give anyone now personal leading and direction; 
but nothing more is added to revelation. To 
revealed truth nothing more is added. And senti- 
mental mysticism which dreams that this is yet 
possible, has not been able these nineteen cen- 
turies to add a single line to the Scripture. 

The method of knowing the Lord has thereby 
become different for us from what it was for 
Samuel. For us the Word is the voice of God. 
We do no longer hear ourselves called by name. 
We receive no more by audible voices new light 
from above. Nevertheless the same difference goes 
on in our behalf. The Scripture speaks to every 
man, but with this difference, that one does not 
hear God's voice in it, because he does not know 
God, while another in reading Scripture hears 
God's voice from the same, because grace has 
brought him to the knowledge of God. 

This is hard to understand. You, who have 
been permitted to grasp the mystery of the Word, 


and day by day are subject of the blessed, mysti- 
cal operation of the same, and thereby have come 
to fixed, unshakable faith, you are amazed that in 
many families the Bible has been laid aside; that 
he who still reads it, finds nothing special in it; 
and that you are bitterly resisted, when you 
maintain that everyone is duty-bound to subject 
himself to that Word. And yet nothing is more 
simple. They who have broken with the Scripture, 
do not know the Lord, They do not recognize 
his voice, and do not perceive, that in the Scrip- 
ture Almighty God calls to them and addresses 
them. This makes the separation; this digs the 
abyss; this divides in the same country one part 
of the population from the other. This causes 
bitterness, because they who do not know the 
Lord, and do not hear his address nor his voice 
in the Scripture, are baptized members of the 
Church of Christ; they not only want to be called 
Christian, but pride themselves on the fact that 
they honor Christianity as a purely moral power; 
so that they stand on higher vantage ground and 
are more enlightened, than narrow adherents of 
barren creeds. 

This leads to ever sharper distinction between 
people and people. They who do not know the 
Lord, who do not hear his Voice, and reject his 
Word, are not able to put themselves in the 
place of their fellow-countrymen, who delight 
themselves in the knowledge of the Lord, who 
refresh themselves in listening to his voice and 
who have in his Word the fixed ground of their 
faith. "While on the other hand they who know 
the Lord, may bear witness to the same, may 
openly confess it, and defend the ordinances of 


Grod; but they are not able to impart their faith 
to others, and to open the inner ear of their 
fellowmen to the holy mysticism of our God. 

There is a difference here. Among those who do 
not know the Lord, there are enemies of God 
who have stopped their ears to ever}^ voice of 
God; but there are also seeking, wandering spirits, 
who envy you j'our faith, and who would thank 
you if you might be the means in God's hand to 
bring them to it. Of the first, Jesus said: "Give 
not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast 
ye your pearls before swine" (Matt. 7:6). 
Nothing can be done with them but to resist 
them; to suffer their scorn, and to show them the 
power of faith. But of the others Jesus said: 
"He who is not against me, is for me." On them 
the service of seeking love must be expended. 

They are the spiritually' sick, who wait for 
spiritual nin-sing-of a twofold character. First that 
we shall treat them ever}' one according to the 
nature of his spiritual malady. John the Baptist 
had a proper word for everyone that came to him, 
and Jesus administered appropriate medicine to 
every spiritual invalid. This implies the con- 
demnation of those who deal with all unbeliever?; 
alike, and who thereby show that they know 
neither their way nor their time. And secondly 
(his spiritual nursing posits the no less imperious 
claim that as believers we shall spare them offense 
Nothing is more repulsive and more continuously 
offensive to those who have not faith, than the 
unspirituality of believers, their formal profession 
without moral and spiritual fruit, their zeal with- 
out an holy background, their bold assertions 
without corresponding seriousness of life. They 


are inclined to accept the sacred mysteries, pro- 
vided they but discover that sacred power goes 
out from you. When thej- see no such power; 
and perceive that fruit remains wanting; that 
there is no higher seriousness of life; when they 
hear on the contrary, of hypocrites who behind 
fair exteriors prove themselves inferior in char- 
acter to unbelievers, they are offended, and this 
keeps them back from Christ. 

Such was the case in the days of Samuel, when 
Hophni and Phineas transgressed in holy things, 
and Eli lacked moral courage to make seriou? 
protest. Such is the case now when he who calk 
himself a believer appears to be at heart a child 
of the world. Then the struggle becomes very 
fierce. O, that the children of God might under- 
stand their sacred calling, to confess their faith 
heroically, but above all else, by means of their 
family life, of their social activities, and of their 
seriousness of purpose; in brief, in all of life, to 
be preachers of Jesus Christ. 

In countries like ours, where water abounds, it 
is difficult to form an adequate idea of thirst. 
Hence words of Scripture like "thirsting after 
righteousness," or "thirsting after the living God," 
are ordinarily taken in far too weak a sense. On 
a hot day, after a long walk, or in times of 
feverish emotion, we may reach out eagerly after 
a cup of cold water, but this is by no means yet 
the thirst tliat overtakes people in mountainous 
districts, when not metaphorically, but actually, 
the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth, the 

last drop of saliva is dried up, and the swollen 
throat with difficulty allows the breath to pass 
through. With such a thirst it becomes a serious, 
and ever more anxious longing for moisture, and 
passionate craving for water; and he alone who 
so understands it, fathoms the depth of the long- 
ing after God's presence, which is so often ex- 
pressed by the congregation in worship of song or 
reading of the Psalter, without real appreciation 
of the panting of the hart after water brooks. In 
like manner, who knows anything now, of ''thirst- 
ing after righteousness" such as a St. Paul, a 
Luther or a Calvin knew it? Even when the cup 
filled with righteousness is placed before us, much 
is made of the fact that more than one stretches 
out a heavy hand for it, and slightly moistens the 
lips with it. But thirsting after it, calling for it. 
inability to longer go without it, a weeping after 
God, where do we see it? There are still those 
who thirst, but has not their number diminished? 
And is not this very lack of real thirsting after 
God and after righteousness the banal danger of 
our times? 

This is occasioned by sin. Sin is the cause that, 
unless God shows mercy, the stimulus of this 
thirst scarcely operates. At times it requires 
special grace strongly to revive it again. Such 
grace operated in the days of the apostles, and 
again in the days of the Reformation. In these 
times this thirst operates, 0, so weakl}^; and O, 
among so few; and even with these, so faintly. 
Let us be grateful to God, if at any time in our 
own heart we perceive something of this real 
thirsting after the living God. Thousands upon 
thousands live and die, without ever having 


known anything about it. How great then is the 
grace that has been shown to us! 

Prophets and Psalmists, Jesus and apostles lived 
in a mountainous countr}'. This accounts for the 
frequent references in Scripture to water and 
thirst. ''With Thee is the fountain of life." "All 
my springs are in Thee." ''Ho, every one that 
thirsteth, come ye to the Waters." ''Whosoever 
drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall 
never thirst." Such is also the striking saying, re- 
garding the valley of mulberries in Psalm 84. 
Mulberries ripen most lusciously in hottest, sun- 
niest spots. Thus the valle^^ of mulberries is the 
image of those conditions in life, when everything 
in us languishes, makes us apprehensive, and 
chokes us with grief. When the heat of day and 
the heat of battle make us pant for air and 
breath, when we can do nothing more, and fear 
overtakes us, lest, unless God helps us, we shall 
faint by the way. 

There is certainly abundance of water in moun- 
tainous districts which flows down from the snow- 
fields and leaps down in murmuring brooks. But 
it is unequally divided. At one time it threatens 
to drag one down in its wild course; while again 
one travels a barren path for hours, without find- 
ing a single drop. And then there is but one 
relief, which is a tiny stream that trickles down 
the mountain side. The traveler refreshes liim- 
self with this, and as he goes on again, his burn- 
ing thirst is quenched. Hence in the valley of 
mulberries the Psalmist speaks of two forms of 
relief. One is that in the midst of scorching heat 
one comes unexpectedly to such a little stream. 
The other is that rainclouds gather overhead, 


which cast broad shadows, and so afford the 
traveler protection from the heat of the sun. 
Thus it is in the vallej'^ in the midst of the moun- 
tains, and metaphorically for God's child in the 
midst of troubles. When, languishing and hard- 
pressed he can do nothing more. God is a foun- 
tain to him, and it is God who stretches out 
broadly the rain-clouds o^-er him, which cover 
him with their shade. "When they pass through 
the valley of mulberrv^ trees, they make him a 
well; yea, the raincloud shall cover them with 
blessings" (Psalm 84:6. Dutch version. vide 
R. v.). 

Thus to worship, in the living God and in his 
Christ, the Fountain of life, has become our com- 
forting manner of metaphorical speech. And in 
order to grasp the rich significance of this meta- 
phor, one should see for himself what, in moun- 
tain villages, the village fountain or well is. In 
these villages, which are mostly very small, there 
is generally only one well, one fountain, in the 
midst of the village. From this single fountain 
ever}^ villager drinks. In the morning and at sun- 
down every person comes to this well, to fill his 
pitcher with water, and carry home the precious 
supply. Horses and cattle are driven thither to 
drink from this same well. Soiled clothes are 
carried there, in order, after being washed clean, 
to be taken back home. This makes the village 
well the center of the entire village life. Every- 
one gathers around it. At that well people meet 
one another. There they converse together. 
There the common life is lived. And thus the 
whole community feels that this single well is 
indeed the fountain of life, for the entire village. 

If in such a place the Psahn is sung, that God is 
the fountain of hfe, everyone understands it, the 
dehghtful imagery appeals to them ail, and the 
pregnant thought enters into every soul, that 
without God we would perish in our miseries from 
thirst, and that God alone is the center, in whom 
all they who fear his Name are one, and together 
live one life. ^ 

This has been brought closer yet in Christ. In 
C'lii'ist the Fountain of life has been borne into 
human life and into human nature. There are 
no two fountains of life, one in God and the other 
in Christ, but it is the one Fountain of Divine 
life, which springs up in the Father, has come close 
to us in the Son, and by the Holy Ghost flows 
into our heart. When therefore Christ is not 
surely worshipped as God^ and knees are not bent 
before him as God, Christianity is gone. This 
One Christ is the Fountain of life for the entire, 
large village, if we may so express it, of the 
Church of the Lord on earth. No one has the 
water of life in his own home, but every morning 
and every evening every child of God must go 
out to this one fountain, which is in Christ, to fill 
the pitcher of his soul against the long day and 
the long night. This Fountain never disappoints. 
It alw^ays flows. Water of life is there to be found 
every moment with fresh supplies. There is never 
a shortage of it for anyone. There is abundance for 
all. And though our eye does not see it, invisibly 
throughout the whole world every true believer's 
thirst is quenched from this one Fountain. 

Thereby this one Fountain of life in Christ is 
and remains the center for the life of all people 
and the fellowship for all hearts. All sorts of 

distances and separations in society and churches 
hold us apart; but spiritually and unseen, all that 
are born of God, gather together day by day at 
this One Fountain of life. And it is the one 
Christ who from his abundance quenches the 
thirst of all. And from being really one in Christ, 
and from this real life from this one Fountain, 
in spite of differences, beligvers on earth derive 
each day anew, the power of unity by which to 
realize and to work out the kingdom of heaven 
on the earth. 

But it must be an act of faith. It says: "They 
make of him a well." It does not go of itself. 
Thousands upon thousands, alas, come and go, 
without ever having known, admired, and quenched 
their thirst from, this Fountain. The act of faith 
alone brings one into fellowship with this Foun- 
tain. Christ wants to be accepted. By faith we 
must make him our Well. It is with this also as 
it is in the mountain village. Sometimes there 
lives a rich man in such a village. He has dug a 
well in his own yard for himself. He has no need, 
therefore, mornings and evenings to go to the 
village well. But the others, the poor people, 
have no such well of their own. Hence it also 
applies here: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for 
they go out after the Fountain of life, hence 
theirs is the kingdom of God. 



When God had created the first human pair, 
no dangers threatened them in Paradise. Neither 
the elements of nature, nor wild animals, nor 
climate, nor any disease, exposed them to any 


risks. All Paradise was with them. It was alto- 
gether pleasure without burden. At one point 
only they were in danger. That was their spiritual 
estate. In this they were vulnerable. If the soul 
fell down they were gone ; unless God saved them, 
they were gone forever. 

The curse, which came upon the earth imme- 
diately after they had fallen, showed at once that 
pandemonium had been let loose against them, 
and that the whole creation, as it were, had entered 
into conclave to destroy them. When we think 
how absolutely helpless these two people stood, 
almost without clothing and entirely unfortified, 
in the face of these unloosed and raving forces of 
world and nature, we feel at once that absolutely 
nothing would have come of them, and that they 
would have met death at once, if only in maw 
of lion or tiger, had not from the side of God 
secret, wondrous grace watched over them. 

How human life saves itself now need not be 
asked. We now face the evil and destructive 
forces of nature strongly fortified in every way, 
and it is an exception when a flood surprises, a 
hurricane destroys, an epidemic works havoc, or 
wild animals carry off human victims. But of all 
the means of resistance, which are at our disposal, 
Adam and Eve had none, and they were but with 
each other. This makes it so wonderful that our 
race was not at once destroyed, that it maintained 
itself, that it increased and obtained the upper 
hand. For many centuries indeed after Paradise 
had disappeared, man was forced to wage war to 
the death with the wild forces of destruction, and 
to this day the names of a Nimrod and of a 
Hercules are alive in the memory of nations, as 


of heroes who knew how to restrain the monster 
of destruction. Most people hve upon their com- 
mon strength. WeakHngs hve beneath themselves. 
But there have always been a few, who have 
excelled themselves. And later generations have 
honored these heroes as men, who have achieved 
the superhuman, and who by efforts born from 
almost superhuman inspiration have left behind 
a blessing for the entire human race. When dif- 
ficulty faced them as a wall, and others remained 
standing before it, thej^ knew how to get over it, 
and make a way for those who followed after. 

When the fight with the monster of elements 
and forces of nature had so far led to victory, that 
with much caution and watchfulness, normal 
human life became possible to a certain extent. 
Satan set up men against themselves, and an 
entirely new struggle was born, even of man 
against man. The evil game of Cain and Abel. 
To despoil each other of goods, to aim at one 
another's life, to subject as slave another to one- 
self. Now pandemonium no longer of nature, 
but of human evil broke loose in the bosom of 
humanity itself. The misery that has overtaken 
our race by this second conflict is nameless. First 
lust of robbery and murder among each other of 
man against man, of house against house. And 
from this, war of nation against nation, of people 
against people. And then, again, heroes have 
arisen. Men who excelled others and themselves. 
A Samson and David, a Prince William and 
Prince Maurice. Heroes, who, under high inspira- 
tion have broken resistance and have delivered 
their people. Again the Wall, against which every 
other man dashed his head, but over which they 

leaped. And thus came about deliverance of the 
people. And thus the names of these heroes are 
held in lasting honor. Not by our race as a whole, 
but by the people whose deliverance they have 

Meanwhile a third struggle had begun. Not 
against nature, and not against the lust of robbery 
and murder of a fellowman, but the conflict be- 
tween the kingdoms of the world and the king- 
dom of heaven. The grace of God descending, 
the light of God inshining, in order to bring the 
children of men to the inheritance of the children 
of God. And face to face with this, the power of 
Satan, sin and world, to destroy the cause of God 
in the earth. And again there have been heroes, 
who, excelling others and themselves, have stood 
their ground where others fainted. Again the wall, 
which inexorabl}^ foiled the many, but over which 
enthusiastically they leaped. A Noah, an Abra- 
ham, an Isaiah, presently the martyrs and the 
Apostles, and after them a Luther and a Calvin. 
Again this same high inspiration. The wall at 
last thrown down. And their names held in grate- 
ful remembrance, not by a single people, and not 
by the whole race, but by the generation of all 
the children of God. At the center of this con- 
flict was the Lion from Judah's tribe ; the supreme 
Leader and Finisher of the faith, the Son of God 
and the Son of Man, the vanquisher of death in 
his glorious resurrection. Here God in him, he 
himself God, and therefore the wall of sin and 
death forever demolished b}' him, and the way 
opened to everlasting peace. 

Now consider our struggle. It is threefold. 
There is the struggle against the forces of nature 

in sickness and in threatening destruction; the 
struggle for existence and a living. The struggle 
against our fellowmen, when they do us wrong, 
slander us and threaten our rights and liberties. 
And thirdly the struggle against the powers of 
Satan, sin and the world, in behalf of God's 
glory, the cause of the Lord, and the soul's sal- 
vation. From the combination of these three 
powers that are arrayed against us spring all our 
woes and miseries, all our sorrows and anxieties. 
Man has a struggle on earth. It is not equally 
severe in every case, but it frequentlj^ appears 
that with some individuals it is a struggle against 
hellish powers. In the face of it one stands 
cowardly and powerless; larger numbers struggle 
with little more than ordinary effort; but there 
are always a few who face the fight with the 
uncommon courage of heroes and they triumph 
by faith. Again the wall; before which others 
falter but over which they know how to leap. 
They do it with their God and in his Name, and 
leave a blessing behind them for all their house 
and times. 

What is the secret of the courage and power that 
overcomes in the case of these heroes and hero- 
ines? Of course they excelled themselves, that is 
to say, they knew how to apply a power of will, 
which reall}'' far outreached their own strength. 
This high power comes not from without, but from 
within; from their fixed heart, from their soul 
taking hold of itself, from the spirit that is in 
them. By comparison one perceives something 
of this high tension in the man who runs amuck, 
in the drunkard, in the insane, in the man who is 
carried away by his passion. Everyone runs out 


of the way of him who runs amuck, because it is 
kno^vll that no one can face him. He is thrown 
by a shot from a gun. Three officers of pohce 
are unable sometimes to overpower a subject of 
delirium tremens. It takes the straight-jacket at 
times to render insane people powerless, which 
shows what gigantic strength they are able to 
develop. And in a fit of passion many an excited 
person has withstood three men and thrown them. 
All these are exhibits of human misery, but in 
every one of them, there is gigantic development 
of strength, because a something within was able 
to cause such tension of spirit, and through their 
spirit of their muscles, as passes all measure. 

But even as such muscular tension can spring 
from evil excitement and overe?:ertion of the 
spirit, so by an inner tension of the Holy Spirit 
the soul can double its strength, yea, increase it 
threefold times. Not from human miserj' this 
time, but from sacred exaltation for the sake of 
resisting human woe. Then there is the wall 
again. The wall of injustice perpetrated against 
us, of trouble that overwhelms us, of sorrow that 
can not be borne, of opposition that threatens 
to undo us, of sin that aims at our descent into 
hell. A wall that must be demolished, or broken 
through, except we be lost Then heroic courage 
must show itself. Not that of wild, ungovernable 
tension, but the pure, calm, persistent courage of 
the hero, who never gives in, and in God's strength 
overcomes. Then we make true for ourselves what 
the Psalmist sang (18:29): "By my God have I 
leaped over a wall." And "by my God" does not 
mean to say by the help of God, or by a Divine 
miracle, but it signifies: With God in mv heart, 

through this highest inspiration, which the inwork- 
ing of the Holy Ghost alone can bring about in 
mj^ soul, I know that it is God's will, and that it 
must be done And then it is, if you like, a 
miracle, for then you do and suffer that which 
far supersedes your own strength. But the wall 
yields, it breaks, and j'ou leap over. And on the 
other side of it you kneel down to ascribe praise 
and honor to him who has enabled j'ou to do the 


In the Te Deum the church sings: "To Thee 
all angels cry aloud: ... To Thee Cherubim 
and Seraphim: continually do cry. Holy, Holy, 
Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth 
are full of the Majesty of thy glory." Contin- 
ually, i. e. without ceasing, without pauses, always 
the never-ending ascent of the hymn of praise 
from angelic choirs before God. This unbroken, 
continuous, unchanging and fixed permanency of 
things is the peculiar characteristic of the world 
before God's throne. In the house of the Father 
there is no time, but eternity, and therefore there 
is no breaking down of life in a night, no tran- 
sition from morning to midday, but it remains 
eternal morning. There is no standing still and 
beginning again. No stopping and resuming. No 
intermezzo of rest or relaxation. But life, ever 
springing up and coming back to itself, without 
waste of power, and consequently without need of 
change. There is no more development, hence 
transition from one condition into another is im- 
thinkable. No break or disturbance mars the ful- 

ness of the blessedness which is eternal, and 
therefore the word "continually" in the Te 
Deum expresses admirably the characteristic of 
the super-earthly, of what is devoted to God, even 
the kingdom of heaven. 

It sounds paradoxical to us, when the apostle 
exhorts us to: "Pray without ceasing," or to: 
"Rejoice evermore," or to hear the Psalmist say: 
'I have set the Lord always before me" (Ps.l6:8), 
"Nevertheless I am continually with thee" (Ps. 73: 
23), "Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord" (Ps.2o:^ 
15), but in connection with this unbroken note of 
the higher life, he who is no stranger to the secret 
walk with God, feels the sacred stress of this 
"continually," "without ceasing," and "at all 
times." For "continually" sometimes means: 
"Now and then." A nurse in the hospital contin- 
ually makes the round of her patients. But such 
is not the meaning here. When the Psalmist 
sings: "Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord," the 
word in Hebrew does not mean "now and then," 
but "always and without ceasing." It means to 
say : "The eyes of my soul are never turned away 
from God, but are always looking toward my 
Father who is in heaven." It means that in our 
secret walk with God we do not bring God down 
into time, but allow God to lift us up into the 
eternal. Secret fellowship with God is the fore- 
taste of the heavenly. It is not a musical instru- 
ment from which tones are elicited from time to 
time, and meanwhile remains closed, but a self- 
playing organ that but waits for our ears to hear 
its heavenly melodies. 

Do not say, that prayer without ceasing, always 
to be blessed in God, alwaj^s to be looking unto 

the Lord, to set him always before you, and to 
fix your eyes ever upon him, is simply impossible, 
because from the nature of the case, human life, 
surroundings, business cares and daily duties for- 
bid it. For in this sense both David and Paul 
knew well that life is not ceaseless devotion and 
the world no monastery cell. But it was not 
meant this way by either Psalmist or Apostle. 
There are moments when on our knees we are 
alone with God and pray. There are moments 
when we retire to some secluded spot, in order to 
lose ourselves in thinking on God. There are 
moments when we sh^ke ourselves free from every 
care and consideration of this life, in order to 
engage ourselves solely and alone with the things 
of the hidden life. It must be confessed that for 
first beginners this is about the only form in which 
they can imagine prayer, fellowship with God, and 
looking unto him, to be possible. Life to them is 
still divided into two parts. A life without God, 
broadly extending itself in the world, and along- 
side of this and apart from the world an exceed- 
ingly limited life with God. They have grasped 
something of the kingdom of heaven, but the life 
of the world is still the real life to them, and as 
an oasis in the wilderness of this worldly life, 
there are moments in which they devote them- 
selves to God. And as long as such is the case, 
of course, prayer without ceasing, rejoicing ever- 
more, and continual abiding with God, is impos- 
sible. For then there is no indwelling in God, 
but dwelling in the world, in order to go out from 
it now and then for a few moments of interview 
with God. Then prayer is brief. Thought of 
God is momentary. Presently it ends. Eyes open 


again to the world, in the life of which the rest 
of the day is spent. Such is the existence of 
him who out of every twenty-four hours of the 
day spends eight in bed, more than fifteen in the 
world, and altogether scarcely half an hour with 
God. He has often tried to retire half an hour 
for prayer and sacred meditation, but life is too 
busy, it rushes on relentlessly, and even in 
moments of seclusion thoughts wander too far 
afield for serious concentration on holy things. 
And under the spell of disappointment the effort 
is all too readily abandoned. 

Continuous, unbroken, unceasing fellowship with 
God does not depend upon thought, and can not 
be reached by the will, but springs of itself from 
the inner motion of the heart. If the body is the 
temple of the Holy Ghost, as we believe, so that 
God dwells in us, God's nearness to us and our 
nearness to him takes place of itself, whether we 
think of it or not. God, the Holy Ghost, does 
not come into the heart, presently to leave it 
again. There is indwelling. There is a coming 
once, in order to abide with us forever. And even 
when we do not pray, or know not how to pray 
as we ought, God, the Holy Ghost, prays in us 
with unutterable groanings. The mother keeps 
watch by the bedside of her new-born babe, even 
though the babe has no sense of it whatever. 
Hence the question only is, whether the inner 
disposition of the heart attains gradually that 
sanctification, that opening up to Divine things, 
whereby we begin to feel and to perceive what 
goes on in the secret chambers of our heart. 

At first we live outside of the heart, and isolated, 
it floats as a drop of oil on the waters of life. 


But gradually there comes a disclosing- We begin 
to live a little more with and in our own heart. 
And when we enter our heart sufficiently deeply, 
we find there God, the Holy Ghost, who has com- 
passion on us. This of itself brings us to a life 
of two phases; one outward and the other inward. 
But though at first these two are strangers to 
one another, they gradually approach each other, 
mingle together and permeate each other, until 
the point is reached when the inner life lends its 
glow to all the outward existence, and when, 
not the clearly conscious, but the fellowship which 
is apprehended with the tentacles of the soul, 
progresses more and more unceasingly. 

This is at first pure, sacred mysticism, and 
nothing more. But it does not keep itself at this. 
Unconsciously, the eye of the soul begins slowly 
to discover the clear reality that God dwells not 
only in the heart, but that in the outward life on 
e\'ery side he is the omnipresent, the all-directing, 
Almighty and the all-provident Worker. And so 
we begin to have an eye for God, who in all things, 
and b}^ and through all things, presses upon us. 
The note which arises from the depths of the 
heart is echoed by all of the life in which we ful- 
fil our calling. That which formerly drew us awaj' 
from God in that life and threw us back upon 
ourselves, now begins with wondrous allurements 
to draw us more and more closely to God. And 
not by reasoning, not with outspoken thought, but 
in the immediate sensation of the life of the soul 
itself God begins both inwardly and outwardly 
to open the eye to his Majesty. It is true, sin 
works interruptions again. But sin never rouses 
hatred against itself more strongly in the heart 

than when again and again it throws distractive 
discord into the harmonj' of the Psalm of hfe. 
And to break with sin, and to lose self again in 
worship and blessed fellowship becomes of itself 
the rising impulse of the heart. 



The spirit within us is that by which we live. 
It is at the same time our breath of life and our 
spiritual inner self. The spirit is what we are 
above and besides the body. It is that whieh has 
been breathed into the ''unformed lump" to make 
us man, to make us live as man, to make us a 
person among the children of men. "To yield up 
the spirit," as a rule, is nothing but to die, to 
breathe out the breath of life. When on the other 
hand the apostle says, that no man knoweth the 
things of a man, save the spirit of man which is 
in him (I Cor. 2:11), the word "spirit" indicates 
our conscious ego, our spiritual^ existence as man, 
our inner personality. 

Although this seems to be something entirely 
different, in Holy Writ the breath of life, the 
spirit which we yield up in d3'ing is never sep- 
arated from our spiritual existence. Both our life 
and our person are expressed by "spirit," and both 
are called "our soul." When the Psalmist cried: 
"0 Lord, deliver my soul," or rejoices: "Thou, 
Lord, hast delivered my soul from death," it refers 
in Psalm 116 to the saving of life, to deliverance 
from danger, and not to spiritual redemption. 
But our inner spiritual existence is also called our 
soul. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, 


so panteth my soul after thee, God. My soul 
thirsteth for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42). 
In verse 4: "I remember these things and pour 
out my soul in me." Again: "Why art thou cast 
down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted 
within me." The Scripture makes no distinction 
between our life and our spirit. In God's word 
our life and our spiritual existence are one. In 
Paradise God forms man from the dust of the 
earth. But the material form is not man. He 
only comes into being when God breathes life 
into it. Then there is life, then there is human 
life; and there is no human life except as utter- 
ance of the life of a soul; and there is no life of 
a soul apart from an ego, a person, a spiritual 
being that hides in our heart. Any man can 
sully this spiritual existence in himself, can sin it 
away, corrupt it, but he can not shake it off, nor 
lay it aside. Death does not annihilate it. It 
abides, it continues to exist, even with the lost in 
the place of perdition. 

Man's spirit is his real self. All the rest is but 
the house, the tabernacle, as the Apostle calls it. 
The real, essential man is the spirit that dwells 
in this tabernacle. The spirit in us is our ego, 
our person, including our disposition, character, 
consciousness, feeling, will powers, gifts and tal- 
ents; in brief, everything that forms our inner 
existence, constituting a particular being, bearing 
a particular stamp, and expressing itself in a par- 
ticular character. In Scripture it is always the 
same antithesis. In Paradise it is the form which 
is made of dust and the spirit which God breathes 
into it. In Psalm 139 it is the unformed sub- 
stance which, as a piece of embroidery, is curi- 


ously wrought, and in addition to this the ego 
that was made in secret. And in Job 10:9-12: 
''Thou hast made me as the clay; Thou hast 
poured me out as milk, and curdled me Uke 
cheese. Thou hast clothed me with skin and 
flesh, and hast fenced (crocheted) me with bones 
and sinews," and over and above all this "Thou 
hast given me life," i. e. my spirit. What is 
visible, and tangible, comes first, and into this 
enters the invisible, that which exists in the secret 
places of the heart, and that is our spirit. And 
God does not abandon the spirit within us to 
itself. It remains in his hand. It is ever under 
his care. He watches over it. He has the super- 
vision of it. And regarding this Job declares: 
"Thy oversight hath preserved my spirit" (Job 
10:12 Dutch version. See Marg. read. R. V.) 

At first we know nothing of this Divine over- 
sight of our spirit. The infant in the cradle is 
utterly unconscious of mother's care. The sick 
man in his slumber is not aware of the nurse at 
his bedside. Only when in later years the eye of 
the soul is opened to the supervision and faith- 
fulness of God, we become slowly conscious of 
this Divine oversight of our spirit. Provisionally 
it is the discovery of the heavenly Father's super- 
vision with respect to our outward life, and then 
only on special occasions, when, for instance, we 
have been delivered from sudden danger. We are 
under the impression that life goes on of itself, 
and that only in particular instances God con- 
siders and looks after us. For many years prayer 
and thanksgiving assume a warmer and more per- 
sonal character only in moments of special need 
or anxiety. The larger part of life is spent before 


the calm and blessed feeling of assurance takes 
hold of us, that bj^ day and by night, in ordinary 
and in extraordinary circumstances we are watched 
over, cared for and looked after by God. 

We also come to discover that the inner life of 
our soul is in God's hand. That he has charge of 
it That his care is constantly at work in it. 
That he has continual oversight of it. This dis- 
covery arises first in the conscience. He who has 
oversight not only takes care but also looks out, 
examines, estimates values, exercises authority and 
power, praises or blames. This aspect of God's 
oversight of us is the first that comes to our 
notice. As a rule this happens after a wrong has 
been done, when we are painfully conscious of 
Divine displeasure. Then we learn that God has 
the oversight of us, that he regards the least sig- 
nificant of our acts, and that in everything he 
exercises care over our entire person, over what 
we do and leave undone, over our inclinations and 
desires, over our thoughts and words, yea, even 
over the impulses of our imagination. 

And when it has come to this, we know two 
things. First, that God has the supervision of 
our lot in life, of our adversity and prosperity, of 
everything that happens to us, and that there is 
a line drawn through our life which binds our 
present to our past, and leads the present into the 
future. We then know that we are creatures of 
God, that we are his possession, his property; 
that he disposes of us and not we of ourselves; 
that the plan of our life has been drawn by God; 
and that the course of life is in full accord with 
it. But, secondly, we also know, that in our inner 
life we are not our own lord and master, but that 


our moral existence as man is constantly under 
the supervision of this selfsame God, who judges 
us at the bar of our own conscience, as often as 
we go contrary to his holy will. 

And from these two there arises graduallj^ the 
still higher sense, that "God's oversight of our 
spirit" bears not only an admonishing and a 
judicial character, but also that of faithful care, 
which we learn to adore in our lot in life. The 
soul perceives that God not merely spies our inner 
existence in order to estimate it, but that he is 
continually active in it, that he constantly culti- 
vates it, and ceaselessly devotes his care to it. 
The apostle delineates this in the image of an 
husbandman who guards the crops that grow in 
the field which he has cultivated and sown. Thus 
our soul is as a garden of the Lord, in which his 
plantings germinate and bloom, which he fosters 
by his sun, which he waters with his dew, which 
he weeds and protects, and in which he causes 
fruit to ripen. 

We train the soul ourselves. Good and evil 
influences affect us equally from the world of men 
and spirits. But the constant activity of God in 
the soul bears a far more significant character. 
Though we do not observe it, God always has 
access to our hearts. Even in our sleep he comes 
\o us, in order to operate upon our inner life. 
He prepares in us the powers which we presently 
shall need. He disposes and orders in us the 
powers which must be applied to a given end. 
He is even now busy in preparing in us what is 
to show itself in us ten or more years after. In 
the inner hfe of the soul nothing escapes him; 
sensations, tendencies, rising feelings, everything 

is under his holy supervision. He revives in us 
what is ready to languish. He bends straight in 
us what threatens to become crooked. And as a 
mother cares for her babe in outward things, so 
does our faithful Father provide against every 
difficulty and every need of our soul. 

This is a work of God, which began in his 
council, which was reckoned with in our ancestors, 
which from the cradle has been accomplished in 
us, and never ceases all the days and nights of 
our lives. A work of God upon the soul, which 
goes on when we are alone, and when we mingle 
with the multitudes; which does not desist wlule 
we are at work, and which, with a firm hand, is 
directed to what God has determined by himself 
to make of us now and forever. Our own plan 
regarding our development and the formation of 
character, as a rule does not extend further than 
this brief life, but *' God's supervision of our spirit" 
extends to all eternities, while it prepares in us 
here, what will only unfold itself on the other 
side of the grave. 

This "oversight of God" is both guardianship 
and training. It is the work of the Supreme Artist, 
in preparing from the life of your soul an orna- 
ment for the house of the Father above. This 
activity of God upon and in the soul, this Divine 
oversight of our spirit can be resisted, whereby 
the Holy Spirit is grieved. But as workers to- 
gether with God we can do our part. This is the 
aim of the sacred impulse of childship, ever seek- 
ing strength in the humble prayer of Psalm 138: 
"Forsake not what Thy hand began, 

O, Source of Life, 

Grant Thy assistance." 




The one thing of all others among men is to 
believe on Christ. The Scripture announces in 
every way that God has given his only begotten 
son, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life. To this is added 
with equal emphasis that he that believeth not 
the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God 
abideth on him (St. John 3:16, 36). When asked 
what the great work is, which we have to do in 
obedience to God, Jesus answered: The work of 
God which ye have to do, is, to believe in me. 
Faith in Christ shall once bring abcut the division 
in eternity, and this same faith leads to decision 
here on earth. Not a certain general religiousness, 
not personal pious inclination, and not a general 
faith on God, but solely and very definitely faith 
in Jesus, in its presence or absence, determines 
eternal destiny, and decides the question already 
here below whether one belongs to the flock of the 
Good Shepherd, or whether he stands outside of it. 

The whole Gospel hinges on this faith. The 
entire Revelation of God — read it in Heb. XI — 
from the days of Paradise was directed to this 
faith in Christ. The sola fide, through faith alone, 
is still in another sense than that in which Luther 
used it, the fundamental thesis of all higher 
human life. There are also all sorts of other 
marks and signs and utterances of soul and rela- 
tionships among men which indicate another 
tendency in our life, or which can impart another 
tendency to it. And all this can have worth and 
significance, but only in a small circle, for a 


limited time and in a given measure. Sympathy, 
inclination, preference, affection, all blossom with 
silvery blossoms, but never dominate all of life, 
do not change the ground of existence, and have 
no all-deciding and ever-abiding results. Faith in 
the Son of God stands far above eveiything else 
that flourishes in the world and acts as a uniting 
and inspiring factor among men. All other things 
are in part, lack the deep fulness of life, and are 
as the grass that flourishes, and when the wind 
passes over it, withers. What alone remains as 
foundation of the inner life, what gives the tone 
to life and forever guarantees life in endless un- 
folding, is faith in the only begotten Son of the 
Father, or as it was said in the prison at Philippi: 
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt 
be saved." This is the all-embracing, all-permeat- 
ing, and in itself complete and perfect happiness, 
that endures unto the eternal morning. 

We need not consider here what this faith is, 
how it operates, wherein it consists. It is a 
mystery which the church of Christ has tried 
again and again to express in words, but which 
she has never been able to state in all its fulness 
and in so many words, so as to exclude all mis- 
understanding. When the church outlined faith 
too distinctly it led to cold and barren intellec- 
tualism without spiritual fervor; when she entered 
more deeply into the mystery of the hidden life 
of the heart, she frequently crowned a scorching 
mysticism, which presently volatilized in excite- 
ment. But the sum and substance of it always 
was, that a lost world, an undone human heart, 
cried out for deliverance, and that age upon age 
all human ingenuity, heroism, and tender compas- 

sion had tried to provide it, but in vain, until at 
length God brought it. He imparted it, not in 
the form of a gift, but in a most holy person; 
who was not one taken from among us^ but one 
who came down from heaven ; and not as an angel, 
which as God's servant and our helper stands out- 
side of both Divine and human natures, but as 
one sent from heaven and come down to us as the 
only begotten Son of the Father, who having 
entered into our nature, brought God himself to 
our view. "Philip, he that hath seen me hath 
seen the Father; and how sayeth thou then, show 
us the Father" (John 14:9) 

And therefore faith in Christ can never be any- 
thing else than the highest, the one and only 
thing. When God gives himself in Christ to the 
world, and enters so fully into our human life 
that this Son takes our nature upon himself, that 
the Word becomes flesh, which angels hail as 
Immanuel, God with us, the absolute and in itself 
complete revelation of Divine compassion has 
come to us. Hence it can neither go higher nor 
farther, since the end of what is eternally com- 
plete in itself has been reached. Nothing there- 
fore transcends faith in Christ. Nothing can be 
placed by the side of it. There is nothing with 
which it can be compared. It transcends all 
human thought. It can neither be substituted nor 
excelled by anything else. Faith in Christ brings 
salvation, or there is none; without Christ there 
is no salvation for the lost world or for the heart 
that in itself is lost. 

For the rising of this star of faith in the life of 
the soul Jesus demands an act on the part of the 
soul. Not, as is self-evident, that any action of 


the soul can ever create faith in Christ, produce 
it, imprint and implant it. The seed of faith is a 
Divine sowing. Faith in Jesus is as much a gift 
as Christ himself is. Faith is a work of Divine 
compassion, wrought by the Holy Ghost. But all 
faith in Christ has this peculiarity and necessity, 
that it must be taken up into the consciousness, 
and that therefore it enters into the consciousness 
with irresistible power. Faith enters in as a sen- 
sation, as an impelling force, as an inspiring prin- 
ciple, and as a power which governs and changes 
all of life. And in behalf of our consciousness 
faith is bound to obtain a content, a form, an 
appearance. It brings also emotions with it, even 
unspeakable emotions of uncommon power. But 
above and outside of all this, it also has an intel- 
lectual content, which needs to be understood, a 
content which fills itself with what we know from 
the sacred Revelation, of the person of the Son 
of God, of his life on earth, of his works, of his 
words, of his sitting at God's right hand, and of 
his continued activity from heaven. This is what 
is learned by heart; there is memory work in it; 
memory of names, facts, conversations; memory 
of words and deeds, mortal sufferings and glorious 
resurrection. Only memory does not cherish faith. 
Ideas and faith are not essentially one. Learning 
ignites no glow in faith. And therefore Jesus 
declares, that in order to become ever clearer, 
stronger and more inspiring, the one thing faith 
needs is, that you see the Son of God. ''Every- 
one which seeth the son, and believeth on him, 
has everlasting life" (St. John 6:40). This seeing 
of the Son of God alone brings the rapture of 


soul, which maintains the glow of faith and makes 
it to burn brightly. 

The entire content of the memory must be 
reduced from the memory to the unity of the 
image of the Son of God. It must all be united 
and brought together, in order to portray this 
image in sacred purity to the eye of the soul. 
And where this image makes itself perfect in you, 
all inner pressure and sensation and all holy 
emotion must fuse with this image in you, that 
you may enjoy it. This living image of the Son 
of God must impress you, and attract you, must 
not let go of you, must engage you and bring you 
into sacred ecstacy. Not as a knowing after the 
flesh. It must be a spiritual vision, but always 
such that the name of Jesus passes over into the 
person of the Christ, and that from the person of 
Christ the inner Divine being takes hold of you 
and with magnetic power attracts you. No glori- 
fication of Jesus, as in the days of Feith and Van 
Alphen, which brings the words to the lips: "Oh, 
were Jesus still on earth, at once I'd hasten to 
him." That would be the descent from the high 
to the low. The spiritual vision, the soul's seeing 
of the Son of God stands incomparably higher 
than what the disciples have ever seen and handled 
in Jesus' person on earth. 

The Apostle knows the Savior far better than 
the disciple has ever kno^vn him. The Ascension 
has not impoverished, but enriched us. And the 
seeing of the only begotten Son of the Father 
which nurses the faith, feeds and every time re- 
freshes it again, is such conscious fellowship of 
soul with the Lord of glory, that in and through 
him, the Eternal Being himself is reached, and, 

spiritually seeing the son with the eyes of the 
soul, the child of God knows himself to be one 
with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. 
Hear the petition in the high priestly prayer: 
"Holy Father, I pray thee, that they all may be 
one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that 
they also may be one in us; that the world may 
believe that thou hast sent me" (St. John 17:21). 



"My foot standeth in an even place," has a 
threefold significance. It is the expression of 
satisfaction on the part of the Sunday-child. It 
is the cry of relief on the part of him who has 
struggled hard and bitterly to succeed. It is the 
calm utterance of higher peace on the part of him 
who believes. 

The imagery of the Psalmist is clear. A road 
can bear a twofold character. It can be smooth 
and even as a skittle ground, or macadam streets 
in cities and towns; or it can be like what we find 
in mountainous districts, where steep descents and 
ascents are common and the unevenness of the 
path brings weariness. With us, a stretch of sandy 
or muddy road may retard travel, but in the main 
our roads are even from north to south, so that 
no image could be derived from them for the 
pathway of our life. A way may seem long to us, 
it may be lonely, or it may repel us by its filthi- 
ness, but all this does not offer the antithesis 
which level road and mountain path present. 

The Scripture, on the other hand, originated in 


a mountainous country. The Psalmists have dwelt 
and wandered in the mountains. Of itself, there- 
fore, their fertile minds would borrow images 
from life in the mountains by which to express 
the antitheses of life. And so the easy walk, with 
a light step, on a smooth, straight and even road 
suggested of itself to them the image of a life of 
which we would say, in the language of a sailor, 
that ''everything went before the wind." On the 
other hand, the exertion, which makes even breath- 
ing difficult on the way where there is for hours 
together a steep, downward grade and then for 
hours again the grade is equally steep upward, 
presented quite as naturally the image of a trav- 
eler of whom the Dutch people would say again 
in terms of the sea: "He can scarcely keep 
his head above water." Hence in the expression: 
"My foot standeth in an even place," the self- 
sufficiency can assert itself of the man who has 
succeeded in everything he undertook, who has 
never known real adversity, and who, weaned from 
carking care, has never seen anything but sunshine 
on the pathway of his life. 

These words, however, imply much more when 
they become the confession of a man who, dis- 
appointed every time, and foiled, saw all his efforts 
end in failure, but who kept on trying, would not 
give up, now fell and again climbed the steep 
mountain side, until at length the point was 
reached where the straight road through the high- 
land stretched out itself before his feet, and pros- 
perity began, imparting to him a happy existence 
under the fulfilment of his ideals. 

But the phrase: "My foot standeth in an even 
place," attains its greatest fullness of meaning 


when it becomes the expression of that assur- 
ance of faith, which with spiritual elasticity, knows 
how to overcome every difficulty of life on earth, 
and now proclaims with Habakkuk (3:17): 
''Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither 
shall fruit be in the vines; and there shall be no 
herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
I will joy in the God of my salvation." 

Let the ''Sunday-child," as the man is called 
who has never known reverses, be on his guard. 
A life without cares, without troubles, without 
sorrows and disappointments, easily spoils one. 
Optimism undoubtedly cultivates a happy state 
of mind, but it lacks power to strengthen char- 
acter, to practice elasticity and to stretch it, and 
to become richer in noble treasures of the mind. 
But this is not the worst of it. It is far worse 
that the "Sunday-child" is so prone to attribute 
his good fortune to himself and to think that 
they who vainly struggle, owe their misfortunes 
to their simplemindedness. He is the man who 
always has good insight, and a correct estimate of 
things. Others allowed the right moment to go 
by unimproved. He was always ready to act at 
the proper time. And so his self-esteem increases, 
which cultivates his pride, and chokes pity for 
the sorrows and adversities of others. Or, in case 
such a child of fortune is still somewhat relig- 
iously inclined, he is easily tempted to regard 
himself as a special favorite of God, whose path- 
way, by reason of this Divine preference, was 
always smooth, and he lives in the expectation 
that in the providence of God his lot in life will 
be prosperous to the end. And so it goes on with 
growing conceit in the idea of one's own superi- 


ority and of being a privileged character, until 
there comes a turn in life, and the sun goes hiding 
behind the clouds. Then everything collapses at 
once. Then there is no power of resistance. Then 
there is no disciplined strength. Then there is 
nothing to hold him up and to enable him to cope 
with his difficulties. And in the end he is lost in 
self-perplexity, having neither courage to live nor 
hope for the future. 

This is entirely different with a man who is 
beset with difficulties. Every new year of his hfe 
brought him new troubles in the face of which to 
maintain himself. With one it was the struggle 
for existence with honor both of himself and 
family, to be successful in his calling and to 
accomplish what he began. With another it was 
a struggle against slander and envy. With a third 
it was a struggle for the sake of his conviction, 
of his views, and of obtaining an entrance for his 
ideas. Again, it was an endless struggle with 
impaired health. And again it was sorrow; trouble 
because of a child that brought disappointment, 
or grievous affliction in the loss of a child or a 
beloved wife by death. And though there are 
cases where such troubled times give place to 
sunnier days, there are others where literally for 
many years it is one constant struggle with 
anxiety, with never-ending disappointment, with 
no outlook upon relief. This frequently brings 
the bitter result that gloomy melancholy settles 
upon the heart; that irascible thoughts acquire 
the upper hand; and that haunted by the idea 
that every opportunity of life is lost, the struggle 
is abandoned, and emptied of will and courage, 
the days are pined away in ever deepening gloom. 


But there have always been others who have 
persevered, who would not give up, who did not 
abandon hope, and who by great pov/er of will 
reached the point, where they could breathe again, 
and opposition seemed broken. And thanks to 
the practice acquired in the struggle, they put 
forth a final, giant effort. And, indeed, they 
overcame. Now they were through. Now better 
days began. And with an inexpressible feeling of 
blessedness, as far as this earthly life can bring 
it, they exclaimed in a very different way: ''God 
be praised, my foot standeth in an even place." 

If this is already glorious, there is still a higher 
viewpoint. There are times when one can not 
row up against the stream of the ills of life. 
These can take hold of one's life so deeply as to 
continue with him unto the grave. Even he who 
is most grievously afllicted has no guarantee that 
better days will come. An outcome such as Job 
obtained, to no one is assured. It may please 
God to glorify the majestic grace of faith in a 
life, on which the sun of happiness has never 
shone. For poor Lazarus the hour of jo}'- only 
came when he was carried by angels into Abra- 
ham's bosom. We have no right to anything; 
and he who is no stranger to the knowledge of 
his sin will not demand from God happiness or 
deliverance out of trouble. He may pray for it 
and supplicate for it, but it always is: "Father, 
if this cup can not pass from me; not my will, 
but thine be donel" 

But this is the glory, that wondrous faith not 
only reveals its power when suffering is turned 
into joy, but also, and even more, in suffering 
itself, and most of all when the sorrow accom- 


panies us to the grave, and the cross casts its 
shadow across our path to the end. For this is 
the glory of faith, that it discloses another, a 
better way to us, a way on the heights of the 
mountain of God's holiness, which excels the ways 
of our earthly life, and dissolves all our sorrow, 
misery and affliction of soul in an higher vision. 
This way of faith passes not under the cloud 
which prevents the sun from shining on our path. 
He who travels this path has the clouds under 
him, and enjoys the free shining of the sun of 
grace. And then whether things in life succeed 
or fail, whether the struggle must be begun anew, 
or whether at last the struggle against what the 
world calls fate, is too much for him — in pleasure 
and distress, in sorrow and in joy, in prosperity 
and in adversity — the soul maintains its equipoise, 
the heart remains strong and fixed, and glorying 
in faith he says: Whatever be my lot, my foot 
standeth in an even place, which through faith, 
God has disclosed to me. 


Life in the world above bears an entirely dif- 
ferent aspect from life on earth. In the realm of 
glor3^ is no sin, and consequently jqo redemption; 
no misery and therefore no deliverance. Neither 
can there be the transition from doubt to faith, 
from weakness to strength, from grief to comfort. 
In brief, all that by sin and misery brings con- 
stant changes, disturbance, transition, restoration 
and higher exaltation in our life on earth, is ex- 
cluded from the life eternal. 
This process of continuous change was foreign 


to life in Paradise, and when sin came in, Para- 
dise was gone, and the curse overtook our earthly- 
existence. Not as though deadly monotony pre- 
vailed in Paradise, or that in heaven the absence 
of all change about God's throne would occasion 
a somber pall to darken the life of the blessed. 
Without endless distinction no higher life is think- 
able, and that richer unfolding of life before the 
throne of God shall once exceed and excel every- 
thing that we have known as higher development 
of life on earth or have dreamed of in poetic 

But life in the hereafter can not be measured 
by the standards of this life. It is of a different 
sort. It bears a different character. It obeys a 
different law. It interests and charms the senses 
by an entirely different beauty, wealth and enjoy- 
ment. On this very account it always is to be an 
object of faith and hope, and does not lend itself 
to forecasting in this life. And though Scripture 
may employ images from the earthly by which to 
convey to us an impression of the heavenly, every- 
one feels that the fat full of marrow and unmixed 
wine of the marriage-feast of the Lamb serve ex- 
clusively to waken the sensation of festal joy, 
and are by no means intended to indicate wherein 
this heavenly delight shall consist. It hath not yet 
been revealed what we shall be. It is enough for 
us to know that it will be a life in endless joy 
and glory. But how this joy shall once disclose 
itself to us, and in what form it will present itself, 
faith leaves with God. And all that the souls of 
God's children can desire, in expectation of this 
glory, centers itself in the Father who is in 
heaven and his son Jesus Christ. 

Here on earth sin characterizes all of life. It 
does this by no means merely in the sense, that 
sin is continuously committed night and day, and 
that sin occasions ruin, but rather in this sense 
that sin breaks human life, constantly removes its 
supports and makes them change, and makes the 
way of life not straight, but restlessly to go up 
and down; now through deep places, again across 
heights, now through light, then through dark- 
ness; now marked by laughter, then by the weep- 
ing of those who mourn. That there is pleasure 
and pain; joy and sorrow; that there is strength 
and health and again weakness and sickness; that 
there is birth and death; a carrying to baptism 
and a carrying out to the grave ; that there is total 
exhaustion and revival of strength; that there is 
corruption of soul and conversion; that there is 
temptation and allurement after Christ; in brief, 
that all of life reaches upwards and breaks into 
endless antitheses, springs from the one all- 
dominant fact of sin. 

When it is once fixed in the mind that without 
sin there would be no misery, no sickness and no 
death in the earth, that it is sin which imprints 
its stamp of rupture and of healing upon our 
entire earthly life, it is exceedingly interesting 
for once to picture human existence from the view- 
point of this rupture. Without sin there would 
be no judges to pass sentence, no physicians to 
heal the sick, no clergy to preach God's Word, no 
works of mercy, no church of God in the earth. 
It must not be inferred from this, of course, that 
this broken life which has burst into all sorts of 
differences and antitheses, is the real life. Life in 
holy harmony and unbroken unity stands infinitely 


higher, and shall one day show itself to be our 
true, real human existence, even as it is this 
already for God's angels. But it does follow from 
this that our earthly life must be continuously 
tossed and shaken and move ever up and down; 
and that it becomes richer, more interesting and 
more significant in the measure in which we are 
exposed to stronger tossings, and the up and 
down movement of our existence assumes larger 
proportions. These tossings in life are unequal. 
With one they are far more serious and grievous 
than with another. There are those who are 
scarcely ever moved, and who in consequence 
know but little elevation of life. But there are 
others who are cast to the bottom of the deepest 
abyss of suffering, but who as a result can have 
most blessed walks on the mountains of God's 

Of this latter class one is continually the speaker 
in the Psalms. This accounts on one hand for 
the calls from depths of misery and for the com- 
plaints that bands of death and hell strike terror 
to his soul, and on the other hand for the jubilant 
exultations on account of deliverance and redemp- 
tion, which result in the grateful acknowledgment, 
that God has brought him into a ver}' abundant 
refreshing (Ps. 66:12 Dutch version). 

Refreshing means the renewal of strength. A 
fresh team before the wagon means one that 
comes from pasture in the fulness of strength. A 
fresh corps of troops means a battle array which 
had no part yet at the front but goes out in 
unimpaired vigor. So there is refreshing when 
you come out of a period of deadly weariness of 
soul, of utter loss of strength, of inner under- 


milling, so that rejuvenated and renewed in 
strength of life you feel by the grace of God that 
you have been, as it were, given back to your- 
self, in order, as though nothing had ever been 
the matter with you, in full realization of Divine 
grace, with renewed courage to take up the battle 
of life again. This refreshing can bear a two- 
fold character. It can be a refreshing from spirit- 
ual fainting, but it can also be a refreshing from 
discouragement with your lot in life. You may 
have been near the valley of the shadow of death, 
and now you walk again in lovely sunlight, which 
illumines all of life. The feeling of oppression 
and distress which trouble, adversity, bereave- 
ment and suffering brings can weigh like a ton 
upon the heart, and almost crush it. Most people 
never learn what this means. They, too, drink 
their cup, but to most people by far this cup is 
not handed save by measure. They would have 
no greatness of soul to endure it. But there have 
alw^ays been a few, against whose breast the waves 
of the bitter lot beat restlessly and unsparingly 
and almost so pitilessly, that only their inborn 
heroic nature protected them by God's grace 
from fainting. Such a period can be long pro- 
tracted, and the continuance of trouble and suffer- 
ing is namelessly exhausting and fatiguing:. But 
when finally there is a surcease, and sunny days 
arrive, and the oil of gladness is given for mourn- 
ing, it frequently pleases the Lord to impart to 
such a sufferer of the Job-type such unknown joy 
of life that the song of praise rises from the soul: 
''O, my God, Thou hast brought me an abundant 
It is more quiet, but still more blessed when 


this abundant refreshing overtakes us spiritually. 
Of course, this only overtakes him who exists 
spiritually, who inwardly leads a spiritual life and 
who can thirst after God as the hart thirsts after 
the water brooks. The many thousands who live 
in unconcern, without ever missing fellowship 
with God, stand entirely outside of this. But 
when you are aware of a spiritual life in the soul; 
when you know what it is to be initiated in the 
secret walk with God; when you have learned 
every morning and every evening to draw real 
strength from seeking and finding God; then life 
divides itself for you into two sharply contrasted 
sorts of days: days when rich in God, and living 
close to him, you feel the soul within you leap 
for joy; and other days, when the heavens seem 
like brass, and you are thrown back upon your- 
self, and nothing but darkness is perceived within, 
and like lost sheep you feel that you have wan- 
dered away from God. This may be the result 
of committed sin, but it can also be that God 
purposely leads you through darkness, to try your 
faith and to operate on you more deeply with 
unseen grace. So there may be days, and weeks, 
and sometimes months that God hides his face 
from you; that no star appears in the dark sky 
of the soul; and that, feeling yourself forsaken of 
God, you mourn within yourself with a sorrow 
which the world neither knows nor understands, 
but which cuts you sorely through the heart. 

But this suffering is only for a time. In the 
forsakenness you were not forsaken, but God was 
operating on you with a grace, the fruit of which 
you would only recognize and enjoy later on. 
And when at length these days of spiritual dark- 


ness are ended, and light shines forth again, and 
God returns to reveal himself to you in the full- 
ness of his grace, then for you also there is abun- 
dant refreshing. And then you perceive and con- 
fess that had not God led you through this depth 
of forsakenness, you would never have experienced 
such deep joy in your soul, as now became your 
portion. Only after having led you through this 
depth of darkness, was God able to bring you out 
to such abundant refreshing. 



To go from strength to strength is to grow, to 
wax strong, to increase. It is not to remain what 
we are, and mostly retrograde. On the contrary it 
is to advance, to make progress, to become richer, 
fuUer and more abundant in faith, in virtue of 
which to become richer in godliness and in fruits 
meet for repentance. 

God shows this growth from strength to strength 
in plants. When the oak first starts to grow, it 
can be bent over with the hand, but when it 
obtains size and becomes a full-grown tree, it is 
able by its strength to resist the hurricane. The 
same is shown in animals. The young colt which 
at first is scarcely able to stand up becomes after 
a few years the strong horse, after whose power 
man estimates the power of steam, which laughs 
at the heavily laden wagon, and with rider in 
saddle leaps over wall and hedge. 

But God shows this process more beautifully 
in our own child. First the helpless babe, which 
is fondled on the lap, and has to be carried on the 
arm. Then the struggle with the difficulties of 

learning to walk, until at last it succeeds when 
the ankles have become stronger. And so the 
growth goes on until full maturity is reached; 
and then there is strength for a hard run, the bold 
jump, the climb of a steep rock, the defiance of 
weariness and fatigue. 

All this is material. The growth of oak and 
horse, and the growth of the child, with regard to 
the body. But this increase of strength is not 
confined to the material; from the visible it ex- 
tends to the invisible. There is also develop- 
ment in the human spirit. Development by train- 
ing of the artistic talent, which was latent at first, 
then made itself known, and gradually became 
capable of mightier utterance. But there is also 
development through training, education, and self- 
exertion on the part of the thinking spirit to fur- 
nish the store-house of memory ever more richly, 
to clarify the insight into the world round about, 
to grasp unity in multiplicity, to feel the relation 
between dull reality and high idealism, and thus 
to stand ever more strongly in spirit and might. 
Always growing, ever increasing, with the excelsior- 
flag around the shoulders climbing the mountain 

This development from strength to strength 
becomes different, when we pass on from the 
invisible in art, and the invisible of the under- 
standing, to the domain where character unfolds, 
and the moral man is formed and steeled. To 
obtain strength of will and gradually to steel 
this will power. To feel the waking up of the 
sense of honor and to see it come to an ever 
finer point. To see the bud of fidelity and honesty 
unfold and blossom ever more beautifully. To 


observe by the side of sense and love of truth 
the rise of hatred against falsehood. To become 
ever more deeply conscious of the sense of 
justice, to see the seriousness of life increase. 
0, it all presents the beautiful image of a going 
from strength to strength in the inner personality. 
In body grows the man, in understanding the 
scholar, in character the person. 

But even this does not express the meaning of 
going ''from strength to strength" in the song of 
the Psalmist. In the child of God there is still 
another life; the life of Divine grace. In this 
life also there must be advance, growth and 
development. Here, too, the law must operate. 
Not to remain what we are, but to go on and to 
go further from strength to strength. 

In the world of matter, growth has its measure, 
its limit. In the acorn it is assigned how high 
the oak which springs from it shall be able to lift 
itself. At first it sprouts, then grows and gains, 
but at last the limit, the measure is reached; and 
then the oak may expand in thickness of trunk 
and breadth of foliage, but there is no more gain 
in height. Such is the case with animal growth. 
From being little, it becomes large, expands and 
becomes full grown. In the course of a few years, 
however, sometimes after only a few months, or 
even weeks, the measure of the animal is ex- 
hausted, and its size remains what it is. The same 
applies to the human form. Far more slowly than 
animals man gradually reaches his growth in 
height. This takes sometimes twenty and more 
years. But at last the measure here, too, is com- 
plete. Then there follow changes, fuller strength, 
and expansion, but he gains no more in height. 


With old people not infrequently there is shrink- 
ing and diminution. 

With the artist also there is a moment in hia 
life when he has reached his zenith, and the full- 
ness and richness of his expression of art rather 
decreases than gains. In the intellectual domain 
there may be a few whose minds at 70 or 80 years 
of age are still fresh and green, and even excel in 
depth and wealth of scope — but for by far the 
most the boundary line is here drawn, beyond 
which there is no more advance, and which indi- 
cates the end of development. Only in the domain 
of morals and of the unfolding of character this 
limit by itself can not be shown. Love and con- 
secration can ever increase. Solidity of character 
can advance in strength even unto death. And 
this claim is imposed upon the child of God. No 
reaching of limit here on earth, but always a going 
further and further. Even until death a going 
from strength to strength. 

But here our misery appears, which alas! ob- 
trudes itself inexorably even upon the work of 
grace. Observe it with yourself, watch it with 
others. See it in a child of God, after an absence 
of ten or twenty years. For then you ought to 
see in him, and he in you, as with eyes, and 
handle with hands, the ripe fruit of this ten or 
twenty years' work of grace. And is it so? Can 
it be truly said, that a child of God, who was con- 
verted in early life, at 60 years of age is ten years 
farther advanced in grace than he was at 50? 
Do you feel and observe a doubling in the power 
of grace when you meet again at forty years of 
age him whom you lost from sight when he was 
thirty? Do parents, after the measure of their 


years, as a rule, stand so much higher? Is the 
oldest child in the family always farthest advanced 
in grace? Observe particularly certain defects in 
character, certain well-known weaknesses and little 
sins, that showed themselves unpleasantly in a 
child of God, ten or twenty years ago. Meet- 
ing such a brother or sister again after this interval 
of years, is the change marked as a rule, and is it 
observed with joy, that all these unpleasant sins 
and defects are gone without leaving any trace? 
Or is it not rather true that after twenty and 
more years you find all too often in your acquaint- 
ances and friends, yea, in your own children and 
parents the same limited grace, which you 
mourned in them before, and this gift of grace 
as intricately bound up with the same thorns and 
thistles as before? Moreover, when you consider 
yourself, and examine your own life before the 
face of God, are you not bound to confess with 
shame, ■ that sometimes ten long years have ad- 
vanced you no single step in spiritual growth, and 
that the old weeds still flourish with old-time lux- 
uriance in the field of the heart within? 

What is the ordinary course of things? Is it 
not that one becomes converted; that after con- 
version he concentrates his mind and soul on holy 
things, and in all sorts of ways acts differently 
than before, and that in doing this he becomes 
conscious of a rupture with his past and the be- 
ginnings of a new life. At first it is even too 
ideally strung, so that after a few brief years a 
calmer state ensues. And this stage of the life of 
grace in most cases becomes permanent. It re- 
mains what it is, but growth there is none. One 
feeds on what was gained as spiritual capital in 


that first period of grace. There is considerable 
increase in knowledge, as well as in spiritual ex- 
perience and in spiritual wisdom, but there is no 
acquisition of higher strength. Sometimes even 
there is a relapse, which is not survived except 
with much difficulty. And so there is consider- 
able satisfaction. There is no striving after higher 
things. And one remains what he came to be 
until death. 

We do not say that this is the case with all. 
There are those, thank God, who bum as sliining 
lights in the congregation, and who do not cease 
all the days of their lives to drink deeply from 
the cup of grace. But yet how different would 
the revelation of the kingdom of heaven be among 
the people, if all they who believe, who know 
themselves to be children of God, from the hour 
of conversion until the day of death, would cause 
the call of progress to be sounded in the soul. 
Who can say what it would be in the heart, in 
the home, in the church of God with every one of 
us if it were and ever continued to be, an un- 
interrupted going forward from strength to 
strength ! 



A truly sinless, pure heart is the precious pos- 
session in the eyes of a child of God which he 
always prays for, but which here on earth he 
never obtains. They who stand outside of the 
faith are not considered here. We fully grant 
that they value purity of heart. We do not deny 
that they strive after it. But what they mean 
by it is something else. For the child of God 


purity of heart is the means of seeing God. For 
the others it is rather the way by which not to 
fail of high moral character. And these two can 
not be mentioned in the same breath. 

"Blessed are the pure in heart" is a word of 
Jesus, which was purposely spoken to the children of 
God, as Matt. 5 :8 clearly shows. For it immediately 
follows: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they 
shall be called the children of God." And it is 
self-evident that the seven beatitudes together 
deal with the same class of persons. The peace- 
makers, the pure in heart, they who hunger and 
thirst after righteousness, they who are poor in 
spirit, and so much more, are always that people 
that puts itself under the guardian-care of Jesus 
and desire to enter into the kingdom of heaven 
which has come nigh. 

Virtuous people, even moral idealists, are not 
considered here. Undoubtedly there is much in 
them that must be highly prized with respect to 
this earthly hfe. But this is not reckoned with 
now. They who have been initiated in the secret 
of salvation, they who have passed from the 
world into the kingdom of the Son of God's love, 
alone are here considered. Purity of heart which 
leads to seeing God is not anywhere conceivable 
save in a child of God. 

This is not said without a tremor. It is exceed- 
ingly difficult to know who is, and who is not, a 
child of God. There are those who are, but who 
scarcely dare to confess it of themselves; and 
others appropriate it to themselves who exhibit 
little of its characteristics; while many more on 
the other hand make themselves known in a 
way that raises serious doubts whether their con- 


fessed ''childship" is not "stolen goods". But apart 
from this, it is certain, that the most faithful chil- 
dren of God are continually engaged in bitter 
combat, because there is still so much impurity 
in their hearts, which every time again is a stain 
upon their lives. Even this is not all. It must be 
confessed that not infrequently two men or two 
women stand side by side in life, one of whom 
zealously works for Christ while the other rejects 
him, and that, when the test is applied of purity 
of heart and behavior, the confessor of Jesus is 
put to shame by the denier of Christ. This is 
grievous for the faith; and is to be mourned with 
tears. It must not, however, be ignored. David 
did not do so, neither did St. Paul. "The good 
that I would I do not: but the evil which I 
would not, that I do" (Rom. 7:19). And in all 
ages this sore battle has been waged in the 
church of Christ. Hypocrites, false brethren, 
stand outside of this. They are not reckoned 
with here. Among true confessors, age on age, the 
same complaint has been current. It is even 
worked out sometimes into a sinful system of the 
old and the new Adam, even as Maeterlinck is 
doing now from his viewpoint of unbelief. But 
however it may be experienced, interpreted or ex- 
plained, the phenomenon shows itself every time: 
there is true, sincere confession, there is faith of 
the right sort, and with it there is a hopeless 
struggle with the impurity of the heart. 

To be pure in heart moreover is mostly mis- 
understood, as though it referred exclusively to 
purity from sensual sin. The voluptuary is then 
called unclean, the man who drinks to excess, the 
epicure, the miser, the effeminate. And cer- 


tainly these gross sins should first of all be 
abandoned. But he who is free from these ex- 
cesses is, therefore, by no means yet pure in heart. 
Purity of heart embraces the entire life of the 
soul. Pride, arrogance, dishonest practice, anger, 
hate, falsehood, and so much more, including even 
ordinary vanity and self-sufficiency make the 
waters of the human heart muddy and unclean. 
Whatever does not belong in the heart renders it 
unclean. As a pond becomes unclean by what 
passersby throw into it, so the human heart is 
defiled by everything that God did not create in 
it, but which has entered into it from Satan or 
from the world. And the awful part of it is 
that already at birth so many germs of impurity 
were imparted unto it, which until death are never 
wholly lost. That we live in a world which 
strongly furthers the growth of these impurities. 
That we mingle with people, who, inwardly 
impure, accustom us, so long as it does not lead 
to gross excess, to make light of this impurity in 
ourselves, and of like impurity in them. This 
weakens our moral sense, our moral judgment, 
and makes us dream of a pure heart, the whiles 
in many points we remain impure of heart. 

If Jesus had meant that they only go out free, 
who never caught their own heart in any impure 
thought, inclination or sensation again, this beati- 
tude would drive the soul to despair. For no one 
is like this. The struggle with impure germs in 
the heart continues until death. We make ad- 
vances, but only by applying an ever finer test; 
by detecting impurity in things which before did 
not even suggest the thought of sin to us. The 
more we advance in faith, the keener the eye of 


the soul becomes in the discovery of sin, and for 
this reason the more we shake ourselves free 
from sin, the sense of guilt does not diminish, but 
rather increases. The world does not understand 
this, when it hears an angel of love and mercy 
touchingly plead for forgiveness of guilt. But by 
itself there is nothing strange in this.' They who 
have far advanced in godly living now discover 
sin in what before seemed to them perhaps even 
virtue. Jesus knew this, and therefore this can 
not have been meant. It does not say: Blessed 
are they who have a pure heart, a heart without 
sin, but: Blessed are they who are pure of heart. 
In the heart the ego dwells, the person acts, 
the child of God thinks, ponders, decides and 
chooses. Hence there is a difference between what 
the self finds in the heart, and what it there orders 
and directs. And since no one dwells anywhere 
else than in a heart that is inwardly defiled, and 
from which all sorts of poisonous vapors arise, the 
question regarding purity or impurity of heart is 
only decided by the question, whether these cor- 
rupting tendencies of the heart are regarded with 
deep hatred and fiery indignation, or whether 
there is sympathy with them, and they are 
granted indulgence by the Will and by the Mind. 
Frequent failure is not suflficient proof of impur- 
ity of heart. The question is whether impurity is 
resisted, whether it is striven against with all the 
spiritual power one has at his command, whether 
with the invocation of the help of God and of 
his Christ and of his angels, everything that 
threatens defeat is avoided, and the supplication 
is continued: "Lead me not into tempation, but 
deliver me from evil." 


This alone is the point. In the heart self 
must stand pure in battle array against the impiu*- 
ities that proceed from the heart. When the dis- 
tinction is ignored between the self that believes, 
and the inequalities that prevail in the heart, you 
are lost. For then you identify yourself with 
these impurities. Then you sink away in the evil 
waters of your own heart and are drowned in 
your sinful inclinations. 

If, on the other hand, in the inner chambers 
of your heart you are bold', heroic and determined 
in your stand of bitter hatred against your sinful 
inclinations, as against your mortal enemy, the 
heart may remain full of impurities until death, 
but you are pure of heart, and by God's grace 
you triumph again and again over the sin that 
attacks you in the heart. Then Satan is not your 
tempter, but God is your confederate. Then the 
struggle which is never given up brings you the 
closer to God, and in the midst of battle there 
are moments when with the vision of the eye of 
the soul, you see, as it were, your God. 



Sleep and prayer have this in common that 
both he who prays and he who sleeps closes his 
eyes, and retires from light into darkness. But 
they are not the same. He who prays will close 
his eyes, in order not to be distracted by what is 
seen around him. If possible he would stop his 
ears in order not to be distracted by noises from 
without. There is also prayer with others to 
which other considerations apply. But by itself 

one who prays seeks strength in retirement. This 
is expressed in what Jesus told his disciples: ''But 
thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet 
and shut the door behind thee"(Matth. 6:6). And 
he set us the example, as often as he withdrew him- 
self for prayer into the solitude of the wilderness, 
or into the loneliness of the mountains. Even in 
Gethsemane the Lord seeks solitude for his last 
agonized prayer, and leaves his disciples at a dis- 
tance, that he might pray alone. 

Insofar as this expresses a desire for rest and 
quiet in prayer, it agrees with what we seek in 
sleep. But with this the likeness ends. With 
prayer we withdraw from the world that in our 
fellowship with Almighty God we maj^ be more 
fully awake to the higher order of things. In 
sleep, on the other hand, we retire from the world, 
in order to lose ourselves in unconsciousness and 
in forgetfulness of self. At least, such it is, when 
everything is normal. In Paradise it would 
always have been so. But in stern reality prayer 
and sleep are continually confused in a two-fold 
way. They are confused in such a way that 
prayer is overtaken by what belongs to sleep, and 
when we lie down to sleep the soul passes into the 
attitude of prayer. Not as though in prayer many 
actually fall asleep. That this happens some- 
times when prayer is too long, is granted. This, 
however, is always exceptional. But what fre- 
quently happens is, that he who with others 
prays with him who leads in prayer, either allows 
his mind to be diverted or unconsciously lets it 
rest. And that the night, which was intended for 
sleep, frequently ends in prayer, see it in the case 
of Asaph, as in Psalm 77 R. V. 2, 5, he complains: 


"My hand was stretched out in the night to my 
God in prayer. Thou, Lord, held mine eyes watch- 
ing. In the night I communed with mine own 
heart; and my spirit made diligent search." 

When we close our eyes for sleep, or for prayer, 
we go out from light, by excluding the same, into 
desired darkness. We do this with respect to 
sleep, that with our spirit we may sink back 
into the darkness of unconscious life; and with 
respect to prayer, that, shut out from light of 
day, we may seek in clearer conciousness the 
higher light which shines around the throne of 

In nature, light is not disturbed by darkness, for 
darkness is there of itself, and it is only by 
increasing light that darkness is overcome. At 
first there was no light, but darkness. "The earth 
was without form and void and darkness was upon 
the face of the deep;" and in that darkness Hght 
broke forth by the creative word of God. And 
when, later on, darkness again covers the earth, 
it does not obtrude upon light from without, but 
is there of itself, as soon as light withdraws itself. 
This is so in the world of matter, and spiritually 
it is not otherwise. There was darkness in nature, 
and so it remained until God created light; and 
so soon as God withdraws the Ught of sun, moon 
and stars, darkness returns. 

So in the mind of a new-bom child there is 
at first entire unconsciousness and ignorance. This 
continues until the light of the consciousness 
awakens in the soul, and gradually gains in clear- 
ness. But this clearness of the consciousness can 
fade again into darkness. This happens when one 
faints, or is hypnotized, in part also with the insane 


and the dotage of old age. The same happens 
moreover every night. Sleep is the passing of the 
light of our consciousness into the twilight of 
slumber, and finally into deep, sound sleep. At 
night the light of day without, and the light of 
self-consciousness within, set in darkness and un- 
consciousness. It may even be said that the 
more absolutely the light of the self-consciousness 
passed out, the better and more healthy was 
sleep. Not to know anything on waking of the 
seven hours we slept, is the most normal opera- 
tion of nature. 

In paradise, before he fell, the first man slept 
like this. So the young child still sleeps at 
mother's breast. So the weary day-laborer of 
little intelligence in part still sleeps. But such 
sleep is no longer the rule. Our sleep is all too 
frequently restless, either when physical causes of 
sickness or excesses disturb it, or when the mind 
is too excited to allow the self-consciousness to 
pass into entire forgetfulness. And so we come to 
dreams or to half or entire sleeplessness. 

Dreamlife is a dark domain which has been in- 
vestigated but little. It is enough that we know 
what anxiety and agony it can occasion; how in 
sinful imagination it can soil the consciousness; 
how prophecies and premonitions sometimes loom 
up in it; and also how God has used it more than 
once as a means by which to execute his holy 

Next to dreamlife, however, and more distress- 
ing, is the woe of a sleepless night, when cares 
keep the heart awake ; when the mind is too much 
on a tension; when a task, which awaits us in the 
morning prevents us from sleep, or when sickness 

holds back the passionately longed-for sleep from 
our eyes. Sleeplessness is a part of human misery, 
which is foreign to younger years, but which in 
later years few escape. 

As in good prayer the mind excludes itself from 
the world, but is the more clearly awake to the 
higher world of thought, so it can also be in the 
dream and in sleepless slumber. In sleep the mind 
should sink away in forgetfulness, but on the con- 
trary it lives the more intensely in terrifying or 
in holy dreams. And in place of rest the mind 
finds in sleepless slumber only a greater tension 
and far more pressing and wearing activity. And 
the Lord is also in this. Asaph expressed it with 
fervent piety: "Thou holdest mine eyes watch- 

This spiritual recognition, that it is not chance, 
but the Lord who holds our eyes waking, shows 
that dreamlife and sleepless slumber serve a pur- 
pose. By means of them the Lord intends to do 
something; and when at night the heart com- 
munes with itself, and the spirit makes diligent 
search, this, too, is a part of our life for which 
we are responsible. Sin consists not only of 
words and deeds, but also in thoughts, also in 
what goes on in the mind. We are responsible 
even for our dreams. Not for what happens to 
us in our dreams, but for what we do in them. 
We do not all have the same dreams. Every one 
dreams according to the content of his imagina- 
tion. And however little we may be lord and 
master over our dreams, every one feels, that in 
case our Savior has known a dreamlife, it can 
not have been otherwise than perfectly holy. In 
the night itself we can not make the dream dif- 


ferent from what it is, but purifying our imagina- 
tion and cleansing our thoughts will in time trans- 
port our dreams into sinless domains. 

Our responsibility for what our mind does in 
sleepless hours of night is of necessity far greater. 
For in the darkness of night our spirit can invite 
the world, or it can meditate and ponder on holy 
things. It can also toss itself about in us with- 
out will and without aim. What our spirit then 
must do in the darkness, is to open the door to 
holy things and dwell in a higher world. Even 
when in the midst of sleep there is a quarter of 
an hour of wakefulness the mind can and should 
engage itself with God. The first thought on 
awaking must be again of God. "0 God, Thou 
art my God: early in the morning will I seek 
Thee" (Ps. 63:1 Dutch version). For him who 
so understands it, sleepless slumber is a spiritual 
gold mine. 

In such sleepless nights many people have been 
wonderfully enriched in spiritual things. Here 
also is Divine mercy. Sleeplessness is occasioned 
by our misery, but this misery also God by his 
grace transposes into supreme mercifulness. In 
such nights God has remembered his own with 
such spiritual benefits that a night of sleep has 
sometimes seemed a loss. Divine work goes on 
through the hours of night in the souls of hia 
elect in a way that glorifies his name. 


The Spirit, with the Father and the Son, main- 
tains all power, and causes it to work not only in 


forest and wilderness on earth, but also in sun, 
moon and stars. Wherever there is a creature, 
the Spirit operates in it. Without the operation 
of the Spirit no force of nature is even thinkable. 
And this spirit, which thus operates in every 
creature, is none other than the Holy Spirit, who 
is to be adored in the Triune Being as the third 
most holy Person. But this is the difference: 
This Spirit is not known nor worshipped in his 
holiness, as the Holy Spirit, save among creatures 
who are themselves spiritual of nature, and who 
have become conscious of their spiritual charac- 
ter. Above, the angels of God; here on earth, 
the children of men. 

A star in the firmament is brute matter and has 
no knowledge of holiness. A plant is without any 
sense of it. And though Scripture attributes a 
soul to an animal, and though it has certain 
intelligence and power of will, an animal is out- 
side of the sphere in which the holiness of the 
Lord is acknowledged. The connecting sense of 
the holiness of the Lord is found here on earth 
in man alone. Not immediately upon birth. The 
infant in the cradle lives only after the flesh. It 
knows nothing as yet of holy sensations. Only 
as it develops and matures, this sense is grad- 
ually awakened. Even then it often takes many 
long years, before the higher moral sense of the 
holinesses of God awakens sufficiently for the con- 
science to react forcibly against the unholinesses 
of this world. 

But even so, it is all as yet outside of the holy 
sphere of our Pentecost. The church alone knows 
the grace of Pentecost. It is the holy privilege 
of the ransomed of the Lord. The world does 


not know this grace and does not see it. It ha3 
not even the faintest idea of what this grace 
might be. For this very reason it should be 
strongly guarded against, that on the ground of 
this privilege, the church should imagine that the 
Spirit does not operate in this as yet unregenerated 
world, and that he is a total stranger at least to 
the forces of nature in the material, unconscious , 
creation. This error is fundamental among those j 
who are too mystical and over-spiritual. Hence 1 
it must every time be confessed again and brought 
to mind: The Spirit is in every creature. The 
Holy Spirit works in every creature of rational 
life. But the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, which 
the miracle of Pentecost brings, is only known 
and tasted in the church of Jesus Christ. 

The working of the Spirit, the activity of the 
Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of this Holy Spirit 
must be collected in this mutual relation as in 
one bundle. Or else the child of God mercilessly j 
abandons the unconverted world, in direct con- 1 
flrct with the prayer of the Lord: "I pray not 
that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, 
but that (in the world) Thou shouldest keep them 
from the evil" (St. John 17:15). 

And now the second point which should be care- 
fully considered. On the day of Pentecost the 
Holy Spirit was poured out for the first time and 
once for all, and he has been in the church ever 
since, never to leave her again, but to dwell in 
and with her forever more. But .... and 
this is all too frequently forgotten. What is in 
the church is therefore by no means yet present 
in everyone that is counted in the church. The 
true church of the living God is the body of 


Christ, the mystical body of which he is the Head ; 
and in this mystical body the Holy Spirit dwells, 
first in the Head, and from this Head, along all 
articulations, tissues and veins inspires every one 
who as a living member has been incorporated 
in this Body, and lives in connection with this 
Body. It is not an individual here and an indi- 
vidual there, who each by himself receives the 
Holy Ghost, and who now by uniting together 
constitute the Body of Christ. A body does not 
originate in such a way, that first there are the 
members, and that afterward these individual 
members are joined together into a body. The 
body is conceived and born with the crust and 
with the beginnings in it of every member that 
later on is to come out from it. Even the beard, 
which only covers the chin in later years, is not 
brought to it from without, but grows from a 
germ which the infant at birth brought with it. 
And in this body is the life. Not in one member 
by itself. An amputated leg is dead. Even an 
arm that is still joined to the body can be ren- 
dered as good as dead, and only becomes alive 
again when from the body the blood flows into it. 
And so it is with the Body of the Lord, which 
is the Congregation of the Saints. The head of 
that Body can not be touched. Christ is in 
glory. The Holy Spirit never departs from Him. 
And while Christ as the Head is inseparable from 
that Body, the Holy Spirit, the life of the Church, 
is always insured and guaranteed in that Sacred 
Head. However nearly hfe may be extinct at a 
given moment in the members of the Body, it 
flows with irresistible pressure from the Head to 
the members again. And even presently exercises 


that wonderfully assimilating power again which 
shows itself so gloriously in every reveille. Of 
course, this Body is not identical with the visible 
church. But the visible church also is not alive 
save by the Holy Ghost, who, flowing out from 
the Head of the invisible Body of the Lord, keeps 
the church alive so long as she does not cut the 
vital connection with the invisible Body. 

And this is the effect of this indwelling of the 
Holy Ghost in the church that he who is con- 
nected with this church in an organic, spiritual 
way, knows and tastes a fellowship with the Triune 
Being, such as is not possible outside of it. There 
is, indeed, a certain sense of the existence of God 
among the unconverted. Also a certain feeling 
of dependence upon a higher Power. The voice 
of conscience is also heard in their hearts. When 
advanced in years, they frequently think of what 
is to come after death. But not with all. Far 
from it. It can not be denied that the number 
of those who have no more concern about God 
than about their sin and about their future after 
death is steadily on the increase. 

But this does not deny that in Christian as 
well as in heathen lands there are always many 
people who still hold a certain general religious- 
ness in honor. But what these people altogether 
miss is not the working of the conscience, but 
fellowship with the Holy Ghost. And fellow- 
ship with the Holy Ghost is, of course, nothing 
else than fellowship with God himself. Not the 
fellowship of the flock with the Shepherd, not 
outward submission to the appointments of God 
in our lot of life, not an all-sided dependence 
upon God, but fellowship with God in the sense 


of the immediate meeting of the Ego of God and 
the ego of the heart in the mysticism of grace. 

We have heard of the holy Apostle, and in 
reading his Epistles we have a certain fellowship 
with the Man of Tarsus. But it would be some- 
thing entirely different if we lived with St. Paul 
for a whole year. This difference applies here. 
You may have heard of God, of his wondrous 
deeds, of his virtues, of his powers, and God may 
still be a stranger to you. But fellowship with 
the Spirit allows the soul to meet God personally, 
to learn to know God personally, to associate with 
the Eternal Being personally, and even as a child 
with his father to hold converse with the Triune 

This is what waiting on the Lord brings you. 
A friend meets friend and presently they part 
again. But a child waits for his father because he 
belongs with him and misses him when he is away. 
And so it is in this fellowship with God through 
the Holy Ghost. He who has come to know God 
personally as his Father and has been initiated in 
his secret fellowship, can not therefore always 
continue therein. The many activities of daily 
life do not allow it. The distractions of the world 
prevent it. We cut it off continually by sinful 
suggestions from our impure heart. And then the 
Lord frequently withdraws this fellowship from us 
in order to stimulate anew and make stronger the 
desire after it. But, and this is the chararcteristic, 
a child of God, who first enjoyed this fellowship, 
and lost it, misses it, he feels the need of it, and 
has no rest till it is found again; even on waking 
from sleep in the morning, the first impulse is to 
obtain this fellowship again. 


Of two things one: either the child of God has 
this fellowship, or he longs for it, he prays for it, 
he waits for it all the day long (Ps. 25:5 Dutch 
version). In conversion it is a seeking for what 
was not as yet possessed. Afterward it is a seek- 
ing back what has been lost. And here also it 
apphes: ''He that seeks, shall find; he that 
knocks, it shall be opened unto him." 

''0 GOD, MY GOD." 

The flower-bud of prayer unfolds slowly in the 
soul of a child. Not that there is no certain 
sacred inclination to pray in the heart at a very 
early age. But while the bud is early set, the 
question is when it will blossom. For many 
months the young child was present when mother 
prayed, but had no understanding of it, and not 
infrequently disturbed mother's prayer by crying. 
But at last the moment arrives when for the first 
time in prayer it undergoes a peculiar sensation 
and is impressed by what is holy. Tender mother 
piety tries to confirm this impression. And before 
long the child kneels down when mother kneels, 
and when he is put to bed the first efforts are 
made to teach him to pray himself. Then mother 
folds the little hands, closes the eyes and says a 
simple prayer. Ten, twelve words. And the dear 
little one brokenly repeats them after her. 

Here the form is ahead of the reality. The 
impression of reverence and awe before the Divine 
Majesty is there. A young child loves that first 
praj^er. But the Eternal has not yet revealed him- 
self in a clearly conscious form to the heart. 


Hence a young child learns prayer to Jesus more 
quickly than direct prayer to the Most High 
God. He does not express in his little prayer 
anything original. He only repeats something, 
and when he first weaves something into his 
prayer himself, it is not worship, but the request 
for something that employs his childish attention. 
It is all, however, a speaking into an unknown 
Holy sphere that is above or around his little 
bed. It is all along the line of a steady but slow 
development, and prayer from his own impulse 
to a God who is to be personally addressed, and 
who, at least in a limited way, is personally 
known, is little seen, as a rule, before the tenth 
year. There are exceptions with children of five, 
six or seven years of age, especially when they 
die young. Ordinarily, however, the fuller un- 
folding of the flower-bud into an own, personal 
and conscious prayer, does not come much before 
the twelfth year. Such is more apt to be the 
case, when back of the tenth and twelfth year 
there was a period of three or more unfavorable 
years, in which the child was obliged to sit still 
during long devotions, and when motherly tender- 
ness of teaching prayer involuntarily turned into 
a purely formal compulsion of keeping eyes closed 
and hands folded. 

What God himself performed in the child's 
soul during those early years the holy angels 
know, but we do not. Only in the end the result 
becomes evident to us. And this begins to show 
itself about the twelfth year. At that age it be- 
comes evident whether a spiritual sense is awak- 
ened in the heart, or whether indifference, if not 
aversion to holy things has risen. If a spiritual 


disposition of heart shows itself, it is about at 
this age that God himself takes mother's task in 
hand, and allures the lad or the young girl into a 
first personal prayer, which is born from an own 

But from this on to the moment in which the 
soul cries out: "O God, my God," the way is 
long. Generally the kindly, tender brightness of 
childhood prayer is not a little darkened when 
the years of maturity are reached. From all sorts 
of books and conversations an entirely different 
world of thoughts has entered into the conscious- 
ness, which, compared with the poetry of the life 
of prayer, either appears bitterly prosaic, or if it 
glistens in a choice collection of ideals, which may 
encourage the cultivation of plans and intentions 
and expectations, it does not focus them in the 
worship of an Eternal, glorious Being. 

These two currents, the current of the practical 
and ideal life in its multiplicity, and the unity 
of our life as it is focussed in prayer, antagonize 
one another, and in this antagonism sometimes 
prayer is forever lost. There are those, alas, who 
were spiritual in childhood, and who in adult 
years have entirely unlearned the art of prayer. 
It also happens that prayer continues to be made 
and increases in seriousness and depth, but that 
the world is not brought into allignment with it, 
and the life of the world remains unreconciled 
by the side of it, until the soul is more and more 
overcome by an oftentimes sickly mysticism or 
by an overexcited spiritualism. But in the ordi- 
nary way of piety this period of struggle is fol- 
lowed by a period of spiritual fixedness. The 


relation between the life of the soul and life in 
the world has then been regulated. The little 
boat no longer drifts with the caprice of wind and 
w^ave-beat. A rudder has been provided, a com- 
pass has been taken aboard, the lee-boards can 
be let down sideways. And thus the soul can 
direct its own course as it rides the waters of the 
sea of life. Heroic devotion to one's task in life 
goes hand in hand with an ever richer develop- 
ment of the life of prayer. 

The sphere of the life of prayer and the sphere 
of one's calling in life begin more and more to 
cover one another. Moments of true prayer mul- 
tiply themselves, by as much as in the work itself, 
the elevation of soul to God becomes more fre- 
quent, and ejaculatory prayer occurs more often, 
until at length a prayerful disposition of the soul 
becomes more and more habitual. On the other 
hand, secret praj^er is more and more introduced 
into the daily task, and it is felt that prayer is 
not bound to single holy utterances, but that our 
whole existence with all its needs may be com- 
mitted to God and may be sanctified in him. 
Thus prayer grows in significance and begins, to 
cast its benign shade over our entire life, and so 
increasingly becomes the strength of our life. 
"Fervent prayer is half the work," is first mechan- 
ically quoted, but afterwards becomes blessed ex- 
perience. And the moment draws nigh when 
finally the "0 God, my God" becomes the clear, 
pure expression of what the inner life of the soul 
experiences and enjoys in its innermost and holy 

If it should come to the lips too readily, this 
''O God my God" (Ps. 43:4) would be gross 

egotism, and coveteous selfishness, 
tuous claim of God for oneself. ''My God" with 
no thought of others. This sin in prayer is won- 
drously overcome in the "Our Father." This 
alway prays: Not give me, but give us our daily 
bread; not forgive me, but forgive us our debts j 
not deliver me, but deliver us from evil. We 
never stand before God alone, but always in the 
fellowship of love with all God's saints. Hence we 
must pray as a member of the Body of Christ, and 
not as one who stands by himself alone. But the 
"0 God my God" does not antagonize this in any 
particular. It aims at something entirely dif- 
ferent. It springs from the altogether different 
idea that God cares not merely for all his chil- 
dren, as a king watches over his million subjects, 
but that the Ejng of Kings has this advantage 
over all the princes of the earth, that he knows 
all his children personally, that he understands 
them thoroughly, that he sustains a peculiar rela- 
tion to each of them, that he has given each a 
calling of his own, that he has apportioned each 
a separate task, that he trains each for a particu- 
lar destiny in eternit}^ and that therefore he not 
merely sustains a general relation to all, but that 
in addition to this, he stands in a particular rela- 
tion with each of them. This relation is so per- 
sonal, that it is never the same with any one else. 
He is Our Father, but as a father of seven chil- 
dren is the father of all, and yet distinguishes be- 
tween them, and adapts himself to each one, 
according to his nature, disposition and character, 
so the Lord our God is Father of all, and yet 
Father in a special sense of each of us, in a 
special manner, drawing near to us in a mystical 


way, and revealing himself to us in mystical 
sensations which have a character of their own 
and bear an original stamp. He knows us and 
we are known of him, such as is not possible with 
another person who is differently constituted than 
ourselves. He is the "One Sun," which glistens 
differently in every dew-drop. Only this, the dew- 
drop does not know it. God's child can know it. 
And when this knowledge comes to him, he kneels 
ciown before "God his God." 

Distinguish carefully. From God's side this 
peculiar relation, which is different with each of 
his children, existed from the moment of concep- 
tion and of birth; yea, already before conception 
in the calling of the elect from eternity. The 
difference lies only on our side. Years of our life 
pass by when we indeed know God, and lead a 
praj^er-life before his face, but only in a general 
sense, which is still weaned from the particular. 
We pra}' as others pray. We are one of God's 
children, but we are not yet discovered to our- 
selves as one such, in whom something special of 
the Father is expressed. But from the general 
gradually the particular separates itself. That 
which imparts to us a character of our own, which 
gives us our own 'calling and makes us to be a 
particular person, begins to enter into special 
fellowship with the Lord our God. And now it is 
the unsearchable riches of our God, that he, who 
created and elected every one of his children with 
a particular disposition and with a proper calling, 
will be and can be that special God to every one 
of them as belongs to their nature and condition. 
Not a general fulfilment for all alike, but for 
every one of them that special fulfilment which 


he needs. Not only the most-special Providence, 
but also the most special self-revelation of his 
Divine Majesty in the mirror of the life of each 
soul. And when it comes to this, but also only 
then, there rises from the heart of itself spon- 
taneously the jubilant exclamation of worship: 
^'0 God my God." 



Not only the child, but also he who is older, 
would rather look at pictures and prints, than 
read; or in reading, at least, would like assistance 
for his representation. Hence the preference of 
our fathers for illustrated Bibles, and the new 
demand for books and periodicals with illustra- 
tions. For a long time there was little love for 
illustrated books, partly because the plates were 
poor and partly because the readers were over- 
wise. But since we have become a little more 
natural, and photography and photo-engraving in 
less than a quarter of a century have improved 
the illustration to unknown fineness and beauty, 
the old love for seeing is revived again, and by 
looking at pictures, our representation has been 
uncommonly enriched. And now everything is 
embellished with illustrations in a good way and 
in a sinful way. The power in letting things be 
seen is recognized again. Even newspapers seek 
strength in this. At present it is still the picture 
with the Word. Gradually it will become ever 
more picture and ever less Word, until in the 
end exaggeration will avenge itself and the more 
just relation will return. 


The main point with it all is, that our nature 
has been so created and disposed, that it prefers 
immediate sight. And that it carries this even into 
the spiritual desire to see, rather than to arrive 
at insight by exercise of thought, is not a defect 
in us, neither is it a result of sin, but a Divine 
instinct. Of the heavenly glory it is not prophe- 
sied that the redeemed will be subtle thinkers, 
but that they manifest themselves as children of 
God in this particular also, that they desire to see 
the Eternal Being, and that they surely shall enj oy 
this clear, beatific vision. 

Philip's request: ''Lord, show us the Father, 
and it sufficeth us," v.'as but the naive expression 
of this deep desire, and Jesus' answer to this 
question shows, that the entire Christian reUgion 
can be capitulated under this viewpoint of sight. 
The Apostles gloried in the fact that they had 
seen and beheld the Word of life. In prophecy 
the vision had prepared the way for this seeing. 
And when the apostles portray the glory that is 
to come, they prophesy that now we see as in a 
glass darkly, but that then we shall see face to 
face, and that in this seeing we shall know even 
as WG are known. Not reading, not reasoning, no, 
but seeing, and clear vision shall constitute heav- 
enly bliss. And John adds: "Beloved, it is not 
yet made manifest what we shall be, but we 
know .... that we shall be like him; for 
we shall see him even as he is." This seeing is 
cultivated by picture and print, and seeing spiritual 
things is aided by the emblem — The Cross, the 
All-seeing eye, the emblems of faith, hope and 
love, The catacombs of the early Christians are 
full of such emblems. 


That nature, and life itself, is full of imagery, 
is of still greater significance. The Bible, more 
than any other book, employs it, by which to 
show us the spiritual. Apart from picture and 
print, and aside from the emblem, it is this 
imagery which does not stand by the side of the 
Word, but enters into the Word, and shows things 
through the Word itself. The true vine, the good 
shepherd, the Lamb of God, the sower who sows 
the seed, and so much more, it is all imagery 
borrowed from nature and from life, which God 
employs in his Word, by which to bring the 
spiritual nearer to us in greater clearness. 

The Scripture does the same thing with respect 
to the Most Highest, whereby to bring the view 
of the Eternal Being closer to us. This Eternal 
Being comes near to us in the imagery of: The 
Lord is our Rock, the Lord is our High Tower. 
He is our Shield. He is our Keeper. He is the 
Father in the house of the many mansions. He 
is our King, seated upon the throne of his glory. 
And among these images is also this beautiful 
one: "The Lord is thy Shade" (Psalm 121:5). 
Isaiah uses it when on his knees in worship he 
exclaims: "0 Lord, Thou art my God, . - . . 
Thou hast been a strength to the poor, ... a 
refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, 
for as heat through a thick cloud, so Thou shalt 
bring down the noise of tyrants" (Is. 25. Dutch 
version). And likewise reads the song of 
Hamaaloth: "The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord 
is thy shade upon thy right hand" (Ps. 121:5). 

This figure of speech is beautiful because it is 
gentle and tender. It is not a revelation of power. 
No strong arm here bares itself. There is scorch- 


ing heat such as in the desert of the East can 
prostrate life. And see, quietly and with majesty, 
a thick cloud passes over the desert levels, and 
sunlight no more blinds, and sunheat no more 
burns, and the traveler breathes again, refreshed and 
restored by the Divine shadow from above. Shade I 
We sons of the West do not know the glory of 
this short word to the man in the East. With 
the exception of dog-days, the sun is no fierce 
tyrant to us, to make life a burden. To us the 
sun is a lovely something, which we seek. The 
sun refreshes and cherishes us. We love his light. 
But in the land where prophets prophesied and 
psalmists sang, where Jesus walked about with his 
disciples, everyone seeks by means of thick walls, 
heavy hangings, high trees and long white gar- 
ments, to escape the fierce tyranny of the sun. In 
hot seasons everything there burns, glows, and is 
scorched. And in level deserts man and beast 
are helplessly surrendered to the heat of the sand 
and the scorching rays from above. Everything 
calls and prays for shade. And all this, applied 
by metaphor to the struggle of. God's people, and 
to the battle of life of his servants, inspired both 
prophet and Psalmist to refresh Israel with the 
glorious word of comfort: The Lord thy God 
is thy Shade! 

Thy shade against what? Against the heat of 
the day metaphorically descriptive of the burden 
of the daily task, of the heat and fierceness with 
which startling opposition, adversity and perse- 
cution overtake you. The, Lord is thy Shade is 
allied with the other image: the Lord is thj- 
Shield, but has another tendency. When you 
have to do with an enemy, a persecutor, whom 


3^ou know, whom you see before you, and whose 
assault is upon you, you need a shield, and he 
who in such threatening moments has sought his 
shield with God, has always found it there. But 
it is entirely different when heat brings burnings 
which can not be grasped, which from the mys- 
terious background of our lot in life, from covert 
opposition, as an elementary force press them- 
selves upon us from all sides, and make us dis- 
tressed, and which we can not resist. Such is the 
case with the Arab in the desert, when the heat 
of the sun makes the sand burn under his feet 
and the roof of his mouth to be parched. And 
so it is with the people of God, when opposition 
arises on every hand, when here it is water that 
threatens inundation, and there it is the whirl- 
wind that carries everything before it. And so it 
is in the personal life when because of the will of 
God, and for his sake, one trouble brings another, 
and one is driven from trial to trial, and the heat 
of battle steadily grows in strength and at length 
you have to succumb. 

And in such an hour when, as we would say, 
the water comes up to the lips, but which makes 
the Scripture, which is Eastern in its imagery, 
speak of a scorching heat from the sun which 
threatens utter prostration, then the Lord is the 
Comforter, since he is then your shade which 
covers you, and makes you breathe again. In 
accordance with the sacred imagery this can be 
done by means of a cloud which intercepts the 
heat of the glowing swn, but it can also be done 
in a more tender way. In the desert a father may 
take the side of the sun and so make himself a 
shade for his child that walks with him. And 


this is what the Psalmist suggests, when he sings: 
''The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand." 
And thus the Divine tenderness of highest love 
mingles itself in the comforting. 

God leaves you not alone. The journey through 
the wilderness can not be spared you. The heat 
must burn. But the Lord looks after you. He 
comes to you. His approach to you is very close. 
He takes a stand between the heat of the sun and 
you. He takes you by the hand. He covers you 
with the shade of his majestic greatness. And so 
you go on your way rejoicing, refreshed by God's 
love and covered by his holy shade. 

All this is poetry. We know it well. But 
though it be such, this does not make it fiction. 
There is that which no eye has seen and no ear 
has heard and has not entered the heart of man, 
but which, already, here God gives to be under- 
stood, to be seen and to be enjoyed by those who 
have been initiated into his secret walk. God can 
be far removed from us. He can also be close at 
hand. This depends on his grace. This depends 
upon the inward condition of the soul. This much 
is certain, that when he is close at hand and the 
heat of the day threatens to bring prostration, then 
he is your shade, and you feel the cool of it on 
your right hand. The cooling effect which the 
shade of God brings, must be felt. It must be 
felt in the soul. And if you do not feel it, may 
it not be because you are not near unto God? 


The ear is inclined toward someone, either when 
our hearing is impaired, or when he to whom we 


listen has a weak voice, or when the distance is 
too great that separates him from us. The first 
is impossible with God. How should he, who has 
planted the ear, not hear; how should he who has 
created sound, and the hearing of it, not hear all 
creaturely sound? Hence, when it is said of God, 
that he inclines his ear to our prayer, it always 
means a grace to usward, an act of Divine com- 
passion, whereby the Majesty in the heavens 
adapts himself to us, bows Himself down to us, 
and seeking, meets us in the way. 

True prayer is always clothed with deep 
humility. There are all sorts of prayers. Prayer 
that is said; words that are muttered thought- 
lessly; prayer because the stated hour has struck; 
prayer from sense of duty; prayer born from 
need; prayer from deep longing after God; 
prayer for higher, heavenly strength; prayer from 
gladness in happy thankfulness; prayer for one- 
self; prayer for others; prayer when on2 is alone; 
prayer with others; spoken prayer; silent prayer; 
— the form always changes, and each has its own 
value. But in all true prayer, in which one can 
not rest until he knows that God listens to his 
prayer, the soul feels small, the person is con- 
scious of weakness, and in his own estimation he 
is as nothing, and less than nothing, before the 
Triune God, and self is effaced in order that God 
may draw us up to himself, that the heart may 
be lifted up, and that we msiy have freedom of 

What is the world compared with the firma- 
ment, and what are we who pray, compared with 
the world in which we are one of more than a 


thousand millions of living souls? There are a few 
mighty ones who feel, and must feel, that they 
are great in the world. Think of a Napoleon, or 
of a Bismarck. But there is nothing of this in 
the ordinary man who prays, whose name is 
scarcely known outside of his village or town. 
The mighty ones on earth have their own account 
with God. We can not reckon with them here. 
We deal here with the ordinary worshipper who 
is scarcely known outside of his own little circle. 
And what is such an one, if he bends his knees 
before the Most High God, the Almighty Creator, 
who maintains and governs this little world, and 
the many thousand suns and stars which sparkle 
and shine in the heavens that endlessly spread 
themselves above us? 

In all true prayer, therefore, i. e. with such 
prayer with which in some measure at least the 
soul thinks of the majesty and greatness of God, 
he who prays can never be anything else than a 
nothing in his own esteem, and be deeply con- 
scious that his prayer is but a passing breath, 
unless it pleases the Lord to incline his ear unto it. 

This need springs from the insignificance of the 
human voice, from the immeasurable distance, and 
more still from the indispensableness of personal 
inclination to him who prays. When we would 
have prayer pierce the heavens, our voice is so 
much the acme of weakness, that it makes no dif- 
ference whether a leader in the house of prayer 
raises his voice so as to make it resound through 
the arches, or whether a sick man on his bed 
breathlessly whispers his low prayer to God. Even 
where no sound of voice is heard at all, the silent 


prayer must be breathed from the soul. The voice 
here avails nothing. We can compel a hearing 
with men by speaking more loudly and boldly; 
but when we would speak to "our Father in 
heaven" the voice loses absolutely all significance. 
Then the stentorian voice of the orator has no 
advantage whatever over the weakest voice of a 
child. And whether the shipwrecked man in his 
extremity cries out his "0 God, help me" in the 
face of the howling tempest, it is all the same. 
Whether strong or weak, our voice avails nothing 
here. The bleating of the lost sheep can make the 
shepherd hear. Our voice can never move God 
to hear us. 

The voice in prayer is for our own sake and for 
the sake of those who pray with us. Even on our 
knees in solitude we feel impelled to express our 
prayer in words. Clearness only comes into our 
prayer by the means of words. It brings relief, 
it unburdens the soul. The undulation of sensa- 
tions within comes to rest in the whispered or 
spoken word of prayer. A prayer without words 
can cry out from the soul after God, but that 
takes place instinctively and we do not even call 
that prayer. Real prayer goes through our con- 
sciousness. He who prays must know what he 
wants to pray for. Hjs memory must be active. 
He must think of the needs, for which he prays. 
He must know the mercies for which he gives 
thanks. He must be fully aware of the task in 
behalf of which he invokes Divine help. From 
the mysticism of the heart the praying soul must 
come to be clearly conscious, and this comes to 
pass in the word and through the voice, and this 
makes prayer perfect. This shows itself still more 


strongly in prayer with others. Then the voice 
is the instrument which brings the prayer of him 
who prays to the soul of those who pray with 
him. He who leads in prayer must be like him 
that plays the keys of the organ. His soul plays. 
The soul of the others must sound with his. And 
thus there is common prayer; a special grace 
imparted to us by God. 

Then comes the distance. When we want to 
ask some one across a stream or lake for some- 
thing, we naturally raise our voice, and it helps 
us when he on the other side turns his ear toward 
us, and by his hand back of it shows that he 
listens, and tries to understand our call. And 
what broad waters flow between us and God, when 
we want to call on him. The whole world lies 
between and all the absorbing interests of life, 
and the immeasurable distance to the heaven of 
heavens, where the Lord is enthroned in ever- 
lasting light. 

Our Savior commanded us not to begin prayer 
by addressing the Holy Spirit within us, not with 
calling upon the Omnipresent One, who compasses 
our going and our lying down and whose hand is 
upon us, but with a reverent invocation of "Our 
Father who art in heaven," and the Heidelberg 
Catechism says so beautifully, that we should do 
this, in order not to think of the great God in an 
earthly way. Of course, this is not all. By con- 
tinuance prayer becomes more intimate. This 
means that in prayer God gradually reveals his 
holy presence to us and comes close to us. And 
at length even enters our heart, when the Holy 
Spirit prays with us and for us, and teaches us 
how to pray. But to begin with this is sickly 


mysticism. At first we face the distance. First 
the soul must lift itself to higher things. Not 
here below but above is the altar of the prayers 
of the saints, which burns with incense before his 
face. No more here below, but in heaven our 
Savior is seated at the right hand of God, and 
prays for us, and by his intercession supports our 
prayer. First ''Lift up your hearts," the sursum 
cor da, and then as we pray God in his majesty 
graciously condescends to us. 

And this true impulse of prayer expresses itself 
in this, that prayer can sometimes become a call- 
ing, a crying, a roaring, as the Psalmist says; and 
only when we observe that God inclines his ear 
to us, and regards us, and hearkens to our prayer, 
does the praying soul find rest. When in prayer 
we feel that the listening ear of God inclines itself 
to us, the distance is bridged, and we know that 
God has come near to us, and that we are near 
unto God. 

And so, at length, prayer reaches its highest bliss 
in what in the third place we called the personal 
turning of God to him who prays. Thousands 
upon thousands call on God every morning and 
every evening for help and for salvation. True, 
the number of those who no longer pray is on the 
increase. But still the numbers of those who in 
times of need and stress cry after God for deliv- 
erance are incalculably great. And now the point 
is, to knc^ that among those thousands and tens 
of thousands who are to be noticed, God also 
looks on us, and that he knows that we, too, call 
upon him. Among all these voices that cross each 
other and mingle together to have our voice also 
penetrate to the Almighty. If we may express it 


in a very human way, to know, to perceive, to 
feel, that we, too, come to our turn, and that for 
us also there comes a moment of hearing — that 
is what he who prays means, when he gives jubi- 
lant thanks, that God has also inclined the ear to 
his prayer. 

Of course, this is not so with God. He does 
nothing in turn. He hears every one who prays 
immediately and all at the same time. But in our 
human consciousness there is always in our prayer, 
when it penetrates, a sense that God now turns 
also to us, and inclines his ear to our personal 
prayer. That he inclines to your prayer differ- 
ently than to the prayer of others, because the 
Most High God knows your particular life, under- 
stands your personal nature, estimates your special 
need o^ soul and therefore has stored up for you 
an altogether particular hearing of your prayer. 

And this is the glory of prayer. You call upon 
God, and he knows you. He distinguishes you 
as one among thousands. However insignificant 
you may be, with whatever burden of sin you 
come to him, he does not pass you by. He 
despises not your supplication. He turns him- 
self to you, and inclines his listening ear. And 
when you perceive this inclination of God, prayer 
becomes a seal to you of your election. With 
close by you, but that eternally you belong to him. 
kings and princes on earth, the mighty and the 
great alone are admitted. To him, the King 
of Kings, even the most forgotten and despised 
have access. When you pray, and God inclines 
his ear to your prayer, you are close to God, and 
your Father who is in heaven, seals the fact to 
you, that not only now you have his presence 


mOM ME." 

The Holy Scripture speaks of a seeking of God's 
face. "Blessed is the people that know the joy- 
ful sound: they shall walk, Lord, in the light 
of thy countenance" (Ps. 89:15). But the Scrip- 
ture speaks also of something more intimate, when 
it comes to a mutual fellowship, when not only 
the light of God's countenance shines on us, but 
when also the soul lifts itself up to God. ''The 
secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; 
and he will show them his covenant" (Ps. 25:14). 
But with the third round it goes still further, 
when Almighty God not only makes his face to 
shine upon us, and admits us to his secret walk, 
but when he enters into our heart, makes it his 
temple, and as Holy Spirit dwells in it. "The 
Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with 
groanings which can not be uttered, and he that 
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of 
the spirit, because he maketh intercession for the 
saints" (Rom. 8:26-27). 

This three-fold degree of fellowship should be 
carefully distinguished. He who stands on the 
first round of this ladder of fellowship has turned 
away from the vanities of the world and has 
accustomed himself to the light that shines from 
above. He walks no longer in his own light, but 
in the light of God's countenance. The darkness 
is past. He knows in whom he believes. And 
the people that thus walk in the light of the 
Divine countenance, who enjoy this not merely 
from time to time, but continuously, the Scripture 


pronounces blessed. Then of itself and uncon- 
sciously the second round is reached, the entering 
upon the secret walk with God. Not that the 
light of God's countenance shines on us all, but 
in this way, that the soul has become a mirror, 
from which this light is reflected. That God 
shines on us, and that the soul shines out toward 
God. This is the secret of the Lord which is 
inwardly disclosed to us. But even this is not 
enough. The intimacy of living near unto God 
goes still further, enters in still more deeply, and 
then it comes to this indescribable, this unspeak- 
able, this impenetrable reality that the Lord God 
unites himself in the Holy Spirit so closely with 
our spirit, that he is not merely above and around 
us, but that he is also in us, that he turns into 
us, makes our heart his dwelling place, and that 
in our inmost self he speaks to us and we to him. 

This highest round is not reached at once. There 
is progression here, a blessed development and 
deepening, which is not acquired by all, and in 
which provisionally, they who have reached it, 
find themselves only now and then. This is 
known as their most blessed moments; as a peace 
of God which comes and goes again, and which, 
when it is lost, is sought again anew. The break 
can come from lack of spiritual training. It can 
come through a superior power from without. But 
in most cases it comes through sin. The latter 
was the case with David, and therefore from his 
desolate and "God-estranged" heart the prayer at 
once arose: "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" 
(Ps. 51:11). 

When we treat of the Holy Spirit, our finite 
mind deals with mystery. Human language has 


no words for it. Our conception here fails of all 
analysis. We can believe, we can undergo sensa- 
tions, we can enjoy, but here on earth, at least, 
and in our state of sin the deep mystery of the 
Triune Being of God can not be unveiled to us. 
We worship Almighty God as our Father who is 
in heaven. We worship the God of all grace in 
the Only-begotten Son, whom he gave unto us, 
whom he sent, and delivered in our behalf. And 
we worship still more intimately the thrice Holy 
One in the Holy Ghost, whom we possess as Com- 
forter in our hearts. In whatever direction our 
thinking and pondering moves, whether to the 
world round about us, whether in the world of 
our heart, it is always God whom we meet, 
it is always in God that our searching gaze finds 
its point of rest, it is always to God that our 
worship and devout adoration lift themselves. It 
is always God who overshadows us, and inwardly 
fills us with his holy love. One and the self-same 
God, one glorious and ever-blessed Being, one 
Omnipotence which carries and knows us. 

But it remains a mystery. A mystery which is 
tender to our heart, rich in blessed enjoyment, 
ever more intimately revealing itself to the seek- 
ing soul, but far transcending all our thinking, all 
our understanding, all our study and pondering. 
It is the most real of all realities. It is the one 
thing that stays by when once the world shall 
fall away from us, and consciousness shall be 
darkened in the haziness of death. It is the 
secret of the Lord at which scorners laugh, which 
leaves the world cold, awes the sinner and strikes 
terror at his heart, but which, according to the 
covenant of peace, is shown to God's child in the 


stillness of solitude. It is the Holy Ghost him- 
self who, entering into the heart of God's child, 
sets the seal upon it of this Triune Mj'stery. 

But for this reason fellowship with the Holy- 
Spirit in us is exceedingly sensitive and tender. 
Nothing must come in between, or it is gone. It 
can not withstand anything or it is lost. It can 
not bear any disturbance, or it has fled. Not 
that the Holy Spirit withdraws himself and leaves 
us to ourselves. On the contrary he remains in 
the heart which he has chosen for his dwelling 
place. Neither Satan nor the world can expel 
him from his temple. And this is his Divine love, 
that dwelling in us, he allows himself to be 
grieved, to be offended, to be hurt and wounded 
by our sin, and still continues his stay. 

This does not seem to you to be the case. In 
the hour of transgression, you feel that the Holy 
Spirit became a stranger to you; that he went 
far away from you; and that he could scarcely 
be reached by your earnest supplication. He 
truly continued to hold tenure in your heart, but 
in the heart itself a wall of separation was reared 
between your spirit and the indwelling Holy 
Ghost. The door of the temple within was locked 
by your own ego. You descended in your own 
being to the deeper underground, above which 
this temple raises itself. In this temple the Holy 
Ghost was still enthroned, but you had no more 
access to it. So all fellowship was broken. All 
secret intercourse was cut off — your sin had 
wound you round as a spider the fly. And while 
the Holy Spirit, whom you grieved, in seeking 
compassion reaches out after you again, you draw 
yourself back in your own sense of guilt. 


And even in such moments, faith that is not 
understood, continues to shine through. After 
his deep fall David felt the anxious estrangement." 
He realized that as long as God looked upon his 
sin, no restoration of fellowship was possible, and 
therefore he prayed: "Hide thy face from my 
sins, and blot out all mine iniquities" (Ps. 51:9). 
He became inwardly conscious that his polluted 
heart was bound to estrange him from God, and 
therefore he pleaded in such touching and beauti- 
ful terms: ''Create in me a clean heart, God, 
and renew a right spirit within me." He walked in 
deep darkness, and so he prayed that the light of 
God's countenance might pour down its beams 
again upon him. But though he bruised his 
guilty head against the wall of separation, in that 
same striking moment the sense of faith was alive 
in him, that behind that wall the Holy Ghost 
still reached out to comfort him, and therefore 
he prayed not: "Give me back thy Holy Spirit," 
but altogether differently: "Take not thy Holy 
Spirit from me." 

Thus the soul that is troubled and wretched 
holds fast to faith. It does not understand this 
in itself; it does not grasp this; but it feels that 
grace does not let go, that grace is in God, that 
God with his grace still operates within, and it 
only fears that this grace, which is in God him- 
self, might be removed from it. And against this 
fear the soul prays, supplicates, cries: God, 
stay by me, stay in me. Let me not go forever. 
And this supplication keeps on, in earnestness and 
in sincerity, until at length in unspeakable com- 
passion the door of the temple opens itself again. 


And then the joy of salvation returns; the 
meeting again between the soul that had deeply 
grieved the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit who 
rather than let go the soul of God's child, had 
allowed himself to be grieved. It is well with him 
who has experienced this with regard to his own 
sin. He alone understands what it is to have the 
Holy Ghost as his Comforter. 



In prophecy it is said, that God "turned aside 
to tarry for a night" (Jer. 14:8). This figure is 
borrowed from the wayfaring man who at sun- 
down turns in to spend the night, and when, in 
early morning the sun appears above the horizon, 
he leaves the hospitable inn and pursues his way. 
Applied to the Holy One of Israel, this means 
that at times the prophets were aware of the 
indwelling of the Spirit in the soul; but that it 
was not permanent, that it was transient, and that 
soon the God close by had become again a God 
afar off. By the side of this experience of a God 
who turns in to tarry for a night, and then leaves 
the soul again, Jesus puts the promise, that on 
the day of Pentecost, God the Holy Ghost, shall 
come to the people of the Lord, and shall not go 
away, but abide with them forever. St. John, in 
his Gospel (7:39), states this forcibly, when he 
says: "The Holy Ghost was not yet given, be- 
cause that Jesus was not yet glorified." This 
can not mean, of course, that the Holy Spirit did 
not as yet exist, but signified that the Holy Ghost 


had not yet taken up his abode in the church 
permanently, because, only after his ascension, 
Jesus would send the Comforter from the Father 
to the church. 

And so it must be understood when the Apostles 
speak of the church as of a "Temple of God" and 
as a ''dwelling place of God in the Spirit." "Know 
ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that 
the spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Cor. 3:16), 
not merely signifies that the Holy Spirit turns 
into the hearts of the saints, but much more and 
much more strongly, that having entered the 
heart, he abides there permanently; that he never 
more leaves the heart that has once been enriched 
with his indwelling, but according to Jesus' prom- 
ise he remains there forevermore. 

It indicates a new state of things, an entirely 
different dispensation of the Spirit. What under 
the old dispensation took place transiently, what 
was an occasional descent from on high into the 
hearts of a very few, under the new dispensation is 
an age upon age indwelling in the whole church. 
Under the old dispensation the separation between 
God and man was maintained. The only dwell- 
ing of God among men which was permanent was 
in Zion. But under the New Covenant, in virtue 
of the sacrifice of Golgotha, the wall of separation 
has been done away for good; what separated 
man from God has forever been brought to nought. 
God has not merely come to his people, but has 
come into his people. The temple of Zion has 
ceased to exist, and in the place of it has come 
the church of the living God. She is now God's 
temple. God dwells in her. 


Thus humanity is divided. There is the unre- 
generated world, with which the separation con- 
tinues, and which has no more temple on Zion. 
And there are the people of the Lord, who are no 
longer carnal, but live their hves in the spirit. 
Among this people, in this Church of the Lord, 
all separation has fallen away. She is more closely 
allied with heaven than with the world. She has 
become the permanent, abiding, the never-ending 
dwelling place of God in the Spirit. 

But care must here be taken. This does not 
mean that God's spirit reveals his operations in 
God's saints alone. He who says this, denies the 
omnipresence of God, the Holy Ghost, and limits 
his activities. The Holy Ghost is himself God, 
and therefore there is nothing in God's creation 
in which this Spirit does not operate. Not alone 
in everything human, but in every creature, where 
there is a working of the Son and of the Father, 
there is likewise a working of the Holy Ghost. 
With every other representation the unity of the 
Threefold Divine being is lost. In creation itself 
the omnipotence of God is evident; that is to 
say, the omnipotence of the Father, as well as the 
omnipotence of the Son, and the omnipotence of 
the Holy Spirit. From the Father is the fullness 
of power, from the Son the fullness of thought, 
from the Holy Ghost the fullness of energy. There 
is no force of nature, no organic working, no 
Divinity evident in the richness and beauty of 
nature, but the Holy Ghost glorifies himself in it. 
And if this is evident in the inanimate creature, it 
is much more strongly evident in the conscious 
creature. To think of an angel apart from the 
fact, that all talents and gifts which operate in 


him, are derived from the Holy Ghost, is absurd. 
The same applies to man. No general has ever 
excelled, no poet has ever sung, no scholar has 
ever reaped the admiration of the world, no 
artist has ever enriched life with his creations, 
but it was the Holy Spirit, who caused the spark 
of genius to glow in him. 

Such and not otherwise is the teaching of 
Scripture. It even goes to far, that no gift of 
the Spirit, and no talent among men has ever 
been used against God, but it was the Holy 
Ghost who not only apportioned this talent, but 
also maintained it, and caused it to work. Hence 
this is the awful judgment which awaits the man 
who has misused his talent against God, that once 
he shall know what it is, with a gift of the Holy 
Ghost to have turned himself against God. 

The indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul 
is altogether different from these gifts. Entirely 
apart from our gifts and talents we have a per- 
sonal life. This personal life enables us to com- 
pany with the three persons in the Godhead per- 
sonally. As among men we company with one 
another, so that they and we enter into conscious 
fellowship, and undergo one another's influence, 
mutually receive and return love, enter into their 
thoughts and acquaint them with our own, suffer 
their superiority, enter into covenant and rela- 
tion with them, devote ourselves to them and 
make sacrifices for them, so it is given man to 
enter into personal intercourse with the Holy One, 
in secret fellowship and in holy communion. This 
indwelling of the Holy Ghost in us signifies, that 
God not only allows himself to be sought of us, 
but that he himself has come to us; that by 


regenerating us he has enabled us to obtain per- 
sonal fellowship with him, that he did not wait 
till we had found him, but that ^e made the 
approach to us and touched us not from with- 
out but from within, and that m the deepest 
secrecy of the life of the soul he estabhshed the 
tie which made us to taste his presence m the 
very roots of our being, m the deepest ground 
of our sensations, in the immediacy of our first 
perceptions and feelings. 

This Divine fellowship does not depend on 
natural gifts and talents, for he who is "^ost richly 
endowed with genius may suffer the lack of it, and 
the plainest among the plam may enjoy it to the 
full. In humamty itself God has implanted the 
disposition for this. Sm alone has disturbed it. 
In regeneration God restores this disposition. Then 
fellowship IS possible again. Then fellowship 
comes again. Then in the deepest secrecy of hi. 
soul man is one again v/ith God 

This is the work of the Comforter. It is not 
yet the heavenly state, which will be all joyous 
when even the memory of our sm not only, but 
of the fact of our ever having been sinners will 
be taken from us, and will be cast into the depth 
of the sea. Here we still feel that we undergo a 
Divine, artistic operation. By having o^^ under- 
standing darkened and by being blinded and for- 
saken we are reminded again and again of the 
antithesis between this glorious indwelling of thB 
Holy Ghost, and the fact that we have been born 
S sin With us the Holy Spirit continuously 
reacts against our, sinful nature. And ^heref^^^^^^ 
here on earth he is and remains our .pomforter. 
For this is the blessed comfort of a chdd of dust, 


that while on one side he still sinks away in 
misery, yet under it all and with it all he remains 
conscious of the blessed presence of the Holy 
Ghost. That the Holy Spirit does not go away, 
that he does not allow himself to be sent away, 
that he does not give us up, but continues to 
dwell with us, and to take us as we are, is his 
infinite, his Divine love. That he did not merely 
"turn in to tarry for the night," but that he 
abides with us forever, is our joyous bliss, and 
the glorious richness of our comfort. 



The exhortation that we should accustom our- 
selves to God, carries a reproach that brings 
shame. It is as though one would say to a child: 
"Accustom yourself to your mother I" This might 
be said with regard to a stepmother, stepfather or 
stepbrother, but we do not accustom ourselves 
to our own mother, who has carried us under her 
heart. We love her with all the fidelity and 
affection of the heart of a child. 

We only accustom ourselves to what is strange 
to us, or what by estrangement has become so. 
When, therefore, we are exhorted to accustom our- 
selves to God, it implies that our Father who is 
in heaven has become a stranger to us; that this 
estrangement is still a barrier in the way of our 
fellowship with God; and that we should endeavor, 
the sooner the better, to accustom ourselves again 
to God, in order that this obstacle might be 


-With God, of course, this does not mean, what 
it does with us, when we speak of becoming 
accustomed to one. We speak of it most fre- 
quently when we first come in touch with some 
one who acts strangely, a man of strong peculiar- 
ities, who is unpreposessing. Then it is our duty 
not to be repelled by him, but indulgently to seek 
common points of interest with him, and to adapt 
ourselves to his strange manner. We also speak 
of accustoming ourselves to one, who either by a 
difference in development is far above us, or who 
by social difference has another outlook upon life. 
For this makes a difference in inclinations and 
sympathies, in mental activity and choice of voca- 
tion in life. He is interested in what does not 
interest you. And in the great drama of life you 
play in an altogether different act from his. Thus 
to accustom oneself to another, in all such cases, 
means, that we restrain ourselves, that we smooth 
down the sharp edges of our own character, and 
that constrained by the dictates of love and the 
necessity of social intercourse, we enter into his 
life, in order to understand him, to sympathize 
with him, and gradually to adopt him into the 
circle of our affections. 

All this of itself is entirely different with re- 
spect to the Lord our God. With him we have 
to do with our God and our Creator, with our 
Lord and our King, with our Father who is in 
heaven. Everything in him that appears strange 
to us is our own fault, our own sin; it is sign 
and token that we are wrong; that we are corrupt 

in our sensations and feelings, and that we are 
astray in the deliberations of our hearts. If we 
were what we ought to be, there would be no 
estrangement from God, and no need of the 
exhortation to accustom ourselves again to God. 
Hence the saying: "Accustom now thyself to 
him," is a judgment that is passed on us, a com- 
plaint against our mode of life, and at the same 
time it is a sacred admonition to become a child 
again in fellowship with our Father. 

What is unbelief in these our days? From what 
cause is the quiet, firm confidence in what God has 
revealed unto us, shaken with many, even among 
the faithful? One first speaks of impenetrable 
secrets; then of problems which defy the under- 
standing: gradually it is doubted whether revela- 
tion is correct, until, at length, in the face of 
Scripture and experience the human interpretation 
of life is boldly posited as the only valid one. 
What this amounts to is, that feeling strange to 
God and to his Word, there is no willingness to 
get accustomed to him, to his doings and to his 
Word. On the contrary it is demanded that God 
shall change him&elf and show himself to be con- 
form to our thought. If we accustom ourselves 
to him we must change and reform ourselves 
until we are meet for God. But doubt and un- 
belief demands that our confession of God shall 
be modified in such a way, that it shall turn out 
a God for us who shall suit us. 

This struggle was not so sharp and bitter at 
one time, because at least in its main outlines 


the Bible interpretation of life was counted valid 
in science, in public opinion, and therefore in edu- 
cation, and in the better forms of social inter- 
course. He who in those better days believed, was 
carried by the general tenor of life, and there 
was no occasion for offense, not even among 
the younger people. But all this has changed. 
Every fundamental idea about God, creation, the 
fall, the Atonement, life after death and the last 
judgment, which was once common property, has 
been given up by science, has become uncertain 
in public opinion, has been banished from educa- 
tion, and dismissed as topics of conversation from 
among more serious-minded people. And not this 
alone, but gradually an entirely different system 
of fundamental ideas has been put in place of it. 
An altogether different confession has arisen, a 
different catechism has found entrance. Broadly 
ramified, the rationalistic interpretation of life now 
stands in public opinion side by side with the 
Christian Confession. 

Thus to the estrangement from God which is 
occasioned by sin, a second estrangement has been 
added, which tempts us to adopt an interpreta- 
tion of life, which openly conflicts with the plan, 
doings and wisdom of God, as revealed in his 
Word. Everything in God has thereby become 
strange to many people. In no single particular do 
they feel at home with God or in his Word. The 
child has ceased to know his Father. Hence the 
call : "Accustom now thyself to God" is most serious 
and doubly significant. It now means: Disen- 


gage yourself from the tie that binds you to the 
wisdom of the world, and with all your mind and 
heart enter again into the plan and most holy 
thoughts of God. 

Do not take this in a philosophical sense. 
Interpret it practically in behalf of life. Especially 
with regard to the mystery of suffering, to which 
Eliphaz applied it, even though mistakenly, in 
the case of Job. Suffering would be no mystery 
amid the hardships of life, if it were always care- 
fully measured out to individuals, according to 
their misdoings against God or man. For then 
nothing would be evident in suffering save right- 
eous retribution, and for the rest every one's lot 
in life would be alike. This thought certainly 
implies the unchangeable fact of eternal retribu- 
tion, in accordance with every man's deeds, 
whether they be good or evil. The mistake, 
hov/ever, is, that this retribution of eternal justice 
is confused with the mystery of suffering here on 
earth; so that suffering is taken individually, and 
estimated by each personal manner of life and 
behavior. This makes us stumble on the hard 
fact, that we are offended at the godless man who 
prospers, and even worse, that our soul smarts 
with indignation at the sight of a true child of 
God, a noble character, a faithful servant of 
Christ, who, as we would say, did nothing wrong, 
overwhelmed by waves of affliction. That men 
might do so, we understand. When a tyrant 
honors the godless, and harasses the children of 
God, we think it dreadful, because it is always 


God who allows it; but we can submit to this. 
But that God himself inflicts this in sickness, and 
by means of cruel death, is and remains at this 
viewpoint a stumbling block which one can not 
get over, and which has killed much rootless faith. 
What accounts for this, save that God's thoughts 
are entirely different from our thoughts, and that 
instead of accustoming ourselves to his plan, we 
stubbornly maintain our interpretation of suffer- 
ing in opposition to him. 

With God, individual retribution is connected 
with the last judgment, and not with sentence 
passed by an earthly judge, and far less still with 
suffering, which he brings upon us. According to 
the teaching of Scripture, sin is no evil that cleaves 
to single individuals, but a poison that has 
entered into our whole race. The creation of man 
was not individual, but in it was created a race, 
all mankind, which, in all ages and among all 
nations forms one whole. Not a large number of 
people that only afterwards by laws and other 
w^ays are counted as one whole, but our human 
race; from which individuals proceed, and to 
which they belong as twigs and leaves to a tree. 
And to save the race of man which he created, 
God brought suffering into the world of men, as 
an antidote for the poison of sin. With him suf- 
fering is a cup of sacred medicine which he 
administers not to the individual person, but to 
our race, in order to counteract the poison of sin. 
And now he selects priests and priestesses who 
are called of him, to administer 'the sacrament of 


suffering to the world. If he elected godless peo- 
ple only for this purpose, they would harden 
themselves against suffering, and the godly would 
pride themselves on being spared. The medicine 
would do no good. It would bring spiritual pet- 
rifaction. It would bring loss for gain. 

No, to bear suffering, he calls first of all upon 
the best, the most godly, the most noble, his 
prophets and his martyrs. Thereby the holy 
operation of the medicine goes forth and accom- 
plishes that whereunto he has appointed it. The 
Cross explains it. God so loved the world, that 
he gave it his only Begotten Son. Personally 
Jesus stands entirely outside of sin. He is not 
only the most godly, the noblest, the best of the 
children of men, but he is the Son of Man, and 
upon him comes the burden of suffering as upon 
no other man. And from no suffering among 
the children of men has there gone forth an opera- 
tion unto salvation as from his Cross. And there- 
fore, the Cross expresses the thought of God, the 
appointment of God, the wisdom of God. Whoso- 
ever would understand his own sorrows and the 
suffering of the world, must accustom himself to 
this appointment, to this thought and to this 
wisdom of God. And he who does this has heav- 
enly comforting, yea, he can give thanks that 
the cup of suffering has not passed him by. He 
feels that he is himself a priest, in order that 
following after the One High priest, he may, in 
the name of the Lord, administer the sacrament 
of suffering. 




To be near unto God is a luxury of soul which 
by grace can be our portion also in unconscious- 
ness. When a child of God that enjoyed the 
secret walk is put under an anesthetic for the 
sake of an operation, it does not break fellowship 
between his heart and God. The same is true of 
a swoon. In high fever when the heated blood 
over-stimulates the brain, and delirium ensues, 
the relation with God remains equally intact. 
Even sleep, which for many hours deprives us of 
self-knowledge, may not be taken otherwise, and 
this entirely apart even from our consciousness 
in dreams. And yet in each of these conditions, 
from our side, as far as conscious life goes, being 
near unto God is inactive. But consciousness of 
fellowship with God is not, therefore, lost. Being 
wakened by a gentle touch, it is felt again and 
resumed. Consciousness of this fellowship has 
only become inactive. It is with this as with 
our capacity of sight. This, too, in sleep is not 
gone, but its at rest. Electric light illustrates this 
clearly. When the button is turned, everything 
is light, and when it is turned again, everything 
is dark. The power remains the same. It only 
draws itself back from shining. 

From God's side, on the other hand, fellow- 
ship with the soul of his child operates contin- 
ually; even under narcotic influence, in a swoon 


and during sleep it maintains itself and acts. The 
knowledge of this imparls rest, as one undergoes 
an anaesthetic, and no less that peaceful feeling 
with which at night we lose ourselves in sleep. 
"Let me sleeping wait for thee; Lord, then sleep 
I peacefully," as it was sung in Hernhutt. And 
who can doubt but that the strength-imparting 
and strength-renewing operations with which our 
Father who is in heaven favors his children, are 
yet more manifold and effective in sleep than by 
day. The third part of our life, that binds us 
to our couch, by no means serves the needs of 
the body alone. It meets a higher end. Particu- 
larly by night God builds his temple in our hearts. 
This detracts nothing from the fact that, "To 
be near unto God" only obtains its highest sig- 
nificance, when with our clear consciousness of 
day we hold blessed fellowship with God. When 
we perceive, observe and know, that the soul is 
near to God and God near to the soul; when, 
humanly speaking, there is an exchange of per- 
ceptions between God and us; when we, speak- 
ing reverently, with the telephone call up God in 
prayer, and far from on high the answer comes. 
But consider well, that this calling and answering 
are not exhausted by the words you stammer 
and the ideas which thereby operate in you. A 
mother has tender, affectionate communion with 
the little one at her breast, apart from any word 
and outside of any intellectual understanding. 
That which operates in this fellowship and main- 
tains it, is life itself, the drawings of the blood, 


the thrilling of the feeling. And though, when 
the child shall have become a youth and a young 
man, this fellowship will express itself in words 
and in ideas, the root of this communion, even in 
later years, will reach deeper than the lips that 
speak the word. What does not the look of the 
eye convey, the expression of the face, a tear a. 
smile, and how sweeth^ does not operate in and 
under all this the commimion of the same blood, 
the tenderness of hiding love? 

All this is not unconscions, but constitute? part 
of the consciousness. It ii as the fragrance of a 
flower, as an atmosphere of love which we breathe 
in. It is the perfume and the atmosphere of the 
heart, which we drink in with full draughts. And 
truly, you well know what the scent of a rose is, 
and of an hyacinth; you are perfectly conscious 
of it, even though the ablest botanist is not able 
to analyze this perfume in ideas, nor to describe 
it in words. Thus to be consciously near unto 
God, means far more than you can understand, or 
express in words. It is a becoming aware, a per- 
ceiving, a feeling, which may not be attributed 
to the nerves. That creates false mysticism. But 
it is a perceiving and an expressing of self in a 
spiritual v.ay, in the immediate union of your 
inner sense with the life of God. 

To make this plain the Scripture distinguishes 
between the soul and our inner being. It speaks 
on one hand of the heart and of the soul, and on 
the other hand of something that lies far behind 
and deep underneath the two. This is expressed 


plastically in several ways, mostly by contrasting 
the heart and the reins, and also by speaking of 
the bowels, or as in Proverbs 20:27, by contrast- 
ing the soul with "the innermost chambers of the 
belly." Translating this into our language, "the 
soul of man" here means our consciousness, and 
the latter clause what we call: Our hidden inner 
being. In this sense it is said, that "our con- 
sciousness is a candle of the Lord that searches 
our innermost being." Our consciousness is a 
searchlight which God himself sends forth across 
our entire inner being, in order that in its bright- 
ness and clearness we should learn to know our 
own inmost self. 

Thus only are these words intelligible to us, 
and unveil a deep, far-reaching thought, which 
penetrates and appeals to us. Our consciousness 
is not of our own making. To become conscious is 
not our act. But all consciousness is an operation in 
us which is quickened by God, and which is 
maintained in us by him from moment to moment. 
It is on a line with the sun. The sun is the light 
in the world of nature, by which God enables us 
to see, to observe and to investigate nature. And 
in like manner the consciousness is a light which 
is ignited by God in our personal ego; or 
better yet, it is a light which God causes to shine 
in the world of our innermost being, in order that 
in this spiritual light we should examine and esti- 
mate our own spirit. This light of our con- 
sciousness is called a candle, because when we go 
•down into ourselves, we begin with a sinking away 


into pitch darkness, and in this black darkness 
of our innermost being, God meets us with the 
candle of our consciousness. 

Of course, our consciousness is no candle, which 
the Lord uses to search us. God has no need of 
the hght of the sun by which to clearly see his 
whole creation. In the deepest parts of the 
earth, where no beam of sunlight ever enters, it 
is light before God as the day. As David sang 
in Psalm 139: "Yea, the darkness hideth not 
from thee; but the night shineth as the day; the 
darkness and the light are both alike to thee." 
What is here true of the light of the world, 
applies equally to the world of our inner being. 
There, too, God has no need of a candle, where- 
with to throw light upon us. In the darkness of 
this hidden world also the darkness shineth as 
the day. But we have need of this candle and 
it is grace, that by the light of this candle of our 
consciousness God lightens the darkness of our 
inner being. We make artificial light. This makes 
us think. We do this by reasoning. We do this 
by our representations. And that can have its 
use. But frequently this artificial light shines 
falsely. It misleads. It never shines further in 
than the surface. This artificial light of our own 
pondering and musing never enters into what 
Solomon calls, with such plastic, graphic power, 
''the innermost chambers of the belly." And all 
too frequently it blinds our eyes, so that we can 
not see the light of the candle of the Lord with 
the eye of the soul. Hence the so-called "civil- 


ized world" for the most part is blind to the 
light of God's candle in us. 

The light of this candle of the Lord in us does 
not argue, and does not analyze, but shows what 
there is in us, lays bare our own being before the 
eye of the soul, gives us self-knowledge, and cuts 
off all self-deception. And it is the light of this 
candle of the Lord which makes us clearly see in 
the deepest underground of our being, the fibres 
by which the root of our being has fellowship 
with God; fellowship by reason of our creation 
after the image of God; fellowship through the 
blessed, glorious regeneration of our sin-corrupted 
nature; fellowship through the Divine indwelling 
of the Holy Ghost ; fellowship through the glorious 
inworking of ever-increasing grace; fellowship 
above all else through the tie that binds us to 
Christ, and makes us members of his body. 

The brightness of this light is always the same 
in degree, but the effect of it gradually increases 
in strength. At first there is still so much that is 
wrong in the heart, so much dust of sin, that 
covers the heart and renders brightest light invis- 
ible to us. But gradually this vile dust flies away 
before the breath of the Lord, and then the eye 
comes to see what was hidden underneath this 
dust. And thus it can not be otherwise, but that 
the deeper the light can shine in, the more glor- 
iously it becomes manifest to the eye of the soul 
that we are bound to God with all the ties of 
our life, and that our fellowship with God 
embraces our whole life. 



The soul's nearness to God and our "mystical 
union with Christ" belong together. All the 
apostles placed the emphasis on this; and in their 
writings the fathers of the Reformation, with 
Calvin in the lead, always referred to the mystical 
union with Christ as an indispensable factor in all 
true religion. The temptation to which, alas, so 
many yield, of staying on Golgotha, and of there 
closing off their account with Christ, kills the 
faith. The course of procedure is, that the con- 
science awakens for a moment; that the weight 
of sin burdens the soul; and that fear of judg- 
ment strikes the heart. In such a moment the 
consolatory thought of the cross arises invitingly 
in the soul. If the atoning sacrifice is accepted, 
one is saved. Nothing more is needed save only 
to believe. And one is readily persuaded to do 
this. To express this as sharply as the case allows : 
One closes the bargain. And now he deems him- 
self saved. He accepts it as a fact, that he is 
assured of eternal life. He thinks that the aton- 
ing sacrifice is glorious. It brings perfect salva- 
tion. Thus Christ has become his Savior. But in 
his conversation nothing is heard of a closer, 
tenderer relation of the soul to Christ. In the utter- 
ances of his spiritual life nothing is perceived that 
refers to it. He is now saved, and that is the 
end of it. 

This, however, is nothing but self-conceit. 
Nothing but spiritual egotism is at play in this. 
Escape is sought from eternal punishment; one 
wants to insure himself for eternal salvation. But 


there is nothing indicative in this of thirst after 
the living God; nothing of the child's longing for 
his Father's house; nothing of sacred jealousy for 
the honor of God's name. And from this, no 
spiritual power can proceed. No religion can 
operate in, nor go forth from, this. And what is 
more, it can not be true, that in this wise Gol- 
gotha can bring propitiation for the life of the 

The Gospel does not preach this. It does not 
explain the atoning sacrifice to us in this way. 
The Scripture never attributes power of salvation 
to Golgotha, except as the mystical union binds 
our inner life to the life of Christ. It must be a 
being buried with him in his death, in order to 
rise with him unto life. They alone who have 
become one planting with Christ, share the grace 
which he obtained. They alone who have be- 
come sheep of his flock, can come after the great 
Shepherd of souls. It is not Golgotha which saves 
us. He who saves us is Christ, who died on Gol- 
gotha. You must become one with him, as mem- 
ber of his body. You must be accepted and in- 
corporated under him as your Head, before one 
drop of grace can fall on you. In the Father you 
must have been given to Christ, so that his glory 
may be revealed in you. The mystical union 
must have laid the tie of love eternally between 
him and your soul. Yea, it must become Christ 
in you, and the Father in Christ, so that through 
this middle link your life of nearness to God can 
become a reality. For so your Savior himself 

prayed in his high-priestly prayer: Holy Father, 
I in them and thou in me" (St. John 17 :2dh 

If however, our mystical union with Christ 
shall maintain its true religious character, and not 
degenerate into sentimental Chnstolatry, this 
relation to Christ must never be taken as an end 
in itself. Christ is the Mediator, and there can 
be no Mediator except for the sake of making our 
approach to God possible. To be near unto God, 
in sacred confidence to feel oneself to be close by 
God to live here on earth in nearness to God 
through faith, and once, after death, to serve 
God eternally in the Fatherhouse above— that is 
and remains the end and aim; and everything the 
Scripture reveals to us regarding the Mediator- 
ship of Christ, must result in this, and can never 
rest in itself. Once Christ himself shall deliver 
up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that 
God may be all in all. He who stops short with 
himself, or has no further desire than to be num- 
bered with God's people, arrests spiritual progress 
in his own soul. 

The ideal end at which we aim, may and can 
not be less, than to enjoy God forever, and to 
exist for no other purpose than to glorify his 
name. And just because this is the ideal end, all 
rehgion on earth is imperfect, which does not 
already here bring us nearer to God, make us 
dwell in nearness to him, and induce us to spend 
all our strength and all our talent in his service. 
Piety that consists in soothing emotion and in 
spiritual recreation, lacks strength and inspiration. 


And our piety only becomes energetic when we 
love God with such perfect consecration, that we 
know of no higher joy than to drink in his peace, 
no greater recreation than to be near unto him, 
and no holier ambition than to fight and to sufifer 
for his holy name. And not even service of 
Christ may detract anything from this. The 
Savior himself has never desired or aimed at any- 
thing else than to bring us to the Father. Who- 
soever turns this into a sort of Christ-worship, 
making him the end and aim, and thereby losing 
from sight the approach to our Father who is in 
heaven, does not honor Christ, but opposes him, 
and does not confirm the mystical union with 
his Savior, but tears away the fibres thereof. 

This makes the union mystical, i. e. it is not 
lost in emotions, sensations and meditations, but 
rests in the nature of the soul. The feelings which 
you cherish for Christ, the sensations wherewith 
the Person and the gracious work of the Savior 
afifect you, the thoughts concerning him on which 
you ponder, and on which your confession is 
based, truly possess supreme merit. They are 
indispensable. All of your conscious life must be 
saturated through and through with Christ. But 
without more, this gives you no share in the 
mystical union. That which is mystical in a holy 
sense, lies deeper than the consciousness, and roots 
in your being itself. Hence, the Scriptural teach- 
ing concerning regeneration, the new creature, the 
new man. There is not merely atonement and 
forgiveness, and on your part confession, faith 

and singing hj^mns of praise. No, Christ has 
entered into our nature. This was possible, be- 
cause our nature was created after the image of 
God; and therefore that which shall take you 
away from yourself and from sin, must touch you 
in your own nature, in your very manner of 
existence, it must bring about the change in your 
person, in your outward life, and thus it will be 
an holy and a Divine work, which does not take 
place in your lips, nor in your brain, but in the 
mystical underground of your being. 

And this wondrous work is not directly brought 
about by the Father, and in every one by him- 
self, but is effected through Christ, is bound to 
him as Mediator of all, and finds in this Mediator 
its indestructible guarantee. For the tie which 
Christ establishes between himself and us, is so 
sacred, that he compares it with the tie that binds 
him in his Divine nature to the Father. "I in them, 
and Thou in me, Holy Father, keep through 
thine own name those whom thou hast given me, 
that they may be one, as we are" (John 17:11). 

No outward, mechanical representation should 
be made of "the body of Christ." Among our- 
selves we speak of the body, the corps, the cor- 
poration of those who are like minded, who work 
together for a given aim. They who belong to 
it, are called members, and the management is 
the head. But with the body of Christ all this 
has a far deeper sense and a far more serious sig- 
nificance. No one becomes member of the body 
of Christ by making application, or by subscrib- 

ing to a doctrine. No one is incorporated in this 
body by a military oath. No one becomes a 
member here, in order presently from choice, to 
resign his membership. No, the body of Christ 
is anchored in the soul, as an organism which 
forms one whole, no part of which can ever be 
alienated from it. It is invisible to the eye, but 
known of God. Even an infant can belong to it 
as an integrant part, before it has ever lisped the 
name of Jesus. We do not join that body, but 
God adopts us into it, incorporates us in it and 
appoints each of us, as members of Christ, an 
own, fixed place in it. At the same time our 
calling and destiny are thereby forever fixed. In 
this body we are fellow-members with other mem- 
bers, not from our choice, nor from theirs, but 
pursuant to Divine disposal, we and they form 
a unity which never can be broken. And with 
them all we are under Christ, as our living, quick- 
ening and inspiring head, from whom alone 
warmth of love is obtained. And our existence 
as members in that body and under that Head 
has no other aim than through the mediator to 
bring us near to God again, to assure us of an 
eternity in his holy presence, and thus to guar- 
antee the highest end of our existence: even an 
existence throughout everlasting ages for the sake 
of the honor of the thrice holy God. 

This is the mystical end, which the mystical 
union with Christ serves as means, and therefore 
Christ intertwines the tie that binds him to his 
own with the tie that binds him to the Father 


in the: "I in them and Thou in Me." A unity 
sealed of God, 



It was a wonderful word which Jesus spake — 
one which still pours balm into many wounds, 
and revives courage when ready to faint; a, word 
which has made heroes and martyrs, and has 
strengthened and comforted them — when at the 
end of the beatitudes he said: "Blessed are ye, 
when men shall revile you, and persecute you, 
and shall say all manner of evil against you 
falsely, for my sake." 

This word reaches farther than the prophecy, 
that prison and martyrdom awaited the disciples. 
These would be limited to certain periods in the 
struggle of Jesus' church. But what is not bound 
to any age, but always goes on, is the malice and 
hatred, the mockery, scorn and disdain, from 
which the world can not restrain itself, whenever 
the Lord's people gather strength to oppose it and 
courage to resist it. Persecution unto blood is 
exceptional. This other persecution, which with 
the lancet of scorn and abuse, strikes at the heart, 
goes on in all ages. And therefore, this beatitude 
of the Lord enters so deeply into our human life. 
It betrays the tender sympathy of Jesus for what 
awaited his own. It finds application, now here, 
now there, every day. No day passes but it 
imparts courage and comfort. It does not mean 

that we should defiantly meet the world that is 
offended at Christ, but it aims to inspire the dis- 
ciples of the Lord to stand their ground when 
they would retreat, and to remain unmoved in 
the face of slander and disdain. 

But do not forget that this word has its dan- 
gerous side, because it has often been misquoted 
and misapplied. This depends upon that which 
in your actions and words makes people disdain 
and persecute you, and to say all manner of evil 
against you. It may be true zeal for the cause 
of the Lord, but it may also be exaggeration, 
eccentricity or loveless bigotry; or, worse yet, it 
may be the gap that yawns between your con- 
fession and practice, hypocrisy which, in part, dis- 
figures your life. And even if in the latter case 
the reason of resisting the world may be zeal for 
the cause of Jesus, yet, in fact, so much of self 
mingles with it that the ''for my sake" with which 
Jesus conditioned his beatitude, only partially 
applies to you. Yea, it may, and does happen, 
that the mockery, disdain, and slander of the 
world, is invited almost so exclusively by your 
own sinful alloy, that even not a few of your 
fellow-believers are bound to take the part of the 
world against you, and far from calling you 
blessed in Jesus' name, feel instinctively that your 
example has hampered rather than helped the 
cause of the Lord. 

Understand this well. It does not mean to say 
that you are only right, when the world honors 
your loveableness of character, acknowledges 


your honesty and uprightness, and pays homage 
to what is called your philanthropic and ethical 
nature. The world has demonstrated this dif- 
ferently in the case of Jesus himself. When we 
do nothing else in the name of Jesus than what 
the world can praise, that which is characteristic 
in our confession and in our life is gone. On 
ethical grounds nothing could be said against the 
Apostles of the Lord, and yet the world has dis- 
dained them, and has not rested until it had 
hounded them to the death. In our confession, 
life and zeal there must always be that w^hich the 
world can not tolerate, which offends it and com- 
pels it to resist. Only, what may never be want- 
ing, if the beatitude of the Lord may be applied 
to us, is what Peter (1-4:14) states as follows: 
"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, 
happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and the 
Spirit of God resteth upon you." This must be 
so. The Spirit of the Lord must rest upon you, 
the Spirit of the Lord must speak both from 
what you do and from what you leave undone. 
It must not be against you, but against the Spirit 
of the Lord, that the fierce anger of the world 
turns itself. Then you are reviled for Christ's 
sake, and from this disdain springs the blessed- 
ness which your heart craves. 

The question here again is whether you are 
"near unto God," for when you are near unto God, 
God is near unto you, and then the world turns 
not against you, but against God, and only against 
you, in the measure in which you are near unto 


God, and God is found near unto you. The proof 
of this is, that as soon as you let go your hold 
on God, the world is ready at once to turn its 
scorn into praise, and its disdain into applause. 
There is undoubtedly hatred against the neigh- 
bor in the sin of the world. This began with Cain. 
But only insofar as the personal hatred of ego- 
tism operates against one's neighbor, the fire of 
this hatred is brought to burst out into flame by 
the passion for personal profit, by material 
interests, by the struggle for position, by willful- 
ness and jealousy. This hatred of the world is 
not turned against Christian people in particular, 
but operates at large in the world itself. 

But in the lowest parts of the sinful human 
heart there is no hatred against the neighbor, but 
against God. Thus it began with Satan, and thus 
he has transferred it into the hearts of mankind. 
This hatred against God may in a general way 
express itself covertly, and only rarely turn into 
open denial of God and blasphemy. But it 
is this hatred, which propels the stream of the life 
of the nations. The never-satisfied passion for 
emancipation. The ambition to be one's own 
lord and master, and to own no God as Lord 
and Master above self. To be as God and to be 
God himself, and unwillingness to bend the knee, 
is the evil germ from which all sin grows. And 
because the Lord's people oppose this, and loudly 
plead for God's majesty, the world turns on these 
people, to stop their mouth, to rob them of 
influence, and to doom them to inactivity. 


But the fire of this hatred only breaks out 
fiercely and unsparingly, when the world perceives 
that it is no more you who speak of God and 
bear witness for him, but that the living God 
himself speaketh in you, because he dwelleth in 
you, and when for this reason it can strike in 
you at God himself and at his Christ. When 
the world perceives that the spirit of the Lord 
rests upon you, it can not tolerate you, and 
puts the choice before you between letting go of 
God and its deadly hatred, which shall not rest, 
until it has spiritually or morally destroyed you. 

To be near unto God, so near, that he has 
made your heart his temple and has come to you 
with the Christ, in order to take up his abode 
with you in the Holy Ghost, is glorious, blessed, 
sweet mysticism of the soul; but there is more. 
The heart can be no bushel to hide the light 
that shines in you. When the Spirit of God truly 
rests upon you, that light shines out, and he 
who hardens himself against that light will come 
not at once but gradually to discover, that you 
are one who stands in contact with the living 
God, and that he who has dealings with you, 
of himself comes to have dealings with that 
holy power which is the Lord's. And then opposi- 
tion follows, not on account of secondary inter- 
ests, not because of accidentals, but because of 
what is highest and most glorious in you. 

When Asaph sang of the blessedness of being 
near unto God, his mind was engaged with this 
antithesis between the world and God. This 


antithesis can not be separated from the near- 
ness to God. The nearer we are to the world, 
the farther away we are from God. And the 
nearer we are to God, the greater the distance 
between us and the world. If it were possible 
for us to go out from the world, after we have 
come near unto God, there would no conflict 
break out in the heart and no hatred in the world 
against us. But this cannot be. '*I pray thee 
O Father, not that thou shouldest take them out 
of the world, but that in the world thou shouldest 
keep them from the evil" (John 17:15). The 
grave significance of the Cliristian position is, 
that with God in the heart, life has to be lived 
in the midst of a world, the heart and life of 
which reacts against God. It has indeed been 
tried, as Christian so to appear, that the world 
hands out a passport and grants you an honorary 
diploma as one who "though Christian, can be 
tolerated;" but this seductive exhibition of favor 
is not bought at anytime, save at the price of 
dullijig the sharp edges of our confession. 

If the world could make such separation be- 
tween you and the God whom you profess and 
whom you serve, that it could prosecute its 
opposition to God without touching you, it 
would readily do so. The world still feels itself 
bound to 3-ou as man. But with true followers 
of Christ, this can not be done. They are so 
near unto God, that the eye of the world dis- 
covers no more distance. And therefore it attacks 
you personally by making the most of anything 
wTong it discovers in you, by mocking at every 


unsanctified utterance, which is observed in you, 
and then falsely and slanderously saying all 
manner of evil against you. To be near unto 
God and to bear this trouble, belong together. 
In such a way however that it must never be 
courted; the world must never be incited to it 
by your desire after the martyr crown. Only 
what is altogether natural and springs up of itself 
is inwardly true and has merit before God. And 
then blessedness ensues not only later on but 
is already tasted in the midst of oppression, and 
then God's angels see and God's children perceive 
already here, that in the midst of trouble the Spirit 
of glory, the Spirit of God resteth upon you. 


There is an evil among devout friends of the 
Lord, which must be resisted. In spiritual things 
each desires to impose a law of his own upon the 
other. Piety is said to be bound to a given 
form. One's own way of piety must be the 
standard for every one else. Minor differences 
may be tolerated, but in the main the same sort 
of piety must manifest itself in all God's children 
alike. And so it follows that the piety which they 
practice is the standard for all their spiritual 
examination and- criticism. 

That pride may have a part in this, can not 
be doubted. But in this instance, at least at 

the beginning, pride is not the motive. It is 
rather that a beginning is made from the earnest 
desire to belong to the people of God, partly as 
an assurance of one's own salvation, but more 
for the sake of taking an active part in the work 
of sanctifying the name of the Lord, and of 
advancing the interests of his Kingdom. 

In the family circle, or outside of it, one meets 
with those who carry the impression of tender 
piety, and who are reputed in general to be very 
godly. Such people are envied. 0, if one could 
only himself be such. And so he sought their 
company, watched them, observed what they did, 
and what they did not do, listened to their con- 
versation, and so gradually formed an idea of 
what he himself should be, in order to be in- 
itiated equally closely, as one of God's dear 
children into his secret walk. Thereby a de- 
finite type of piety was brought before his mind. 
According to this fixed type, he sought to reform 
his life in the world, his life before believers, and 
his life before God. And when he finally succeded 
in this, he rejoiced as one who had gained a prize, 
was over-rejoiced when he became adopted by "the 
pious" as one of their own, and now is fully con- 
vinced that every one else must come in the self- 
same way, must correspond to the selfsame type, 
must have the selfsame experiences, yea, that 
in their language and expressions they must 
manifest the very thing which as an ideal had 
long escaped the censor himself, but which at 
length he had obtained. 


Our fathers used to say, that this is putting 
oneself in the place of the Word of God. Not 
from oneself, nor from any saint whatever, 
but exclusively from God's Word the stand- 
ard must be derived which determines gen- 
iune childship, and the true gold of our god- 
liness. These censors did not deny this; only 
they tried to show that God's Word posits the 
claims and marks of true grace, which they 
themselves imposed upon you, and which they 
sternly applied in their own circle. But one 
thing they forgot, and this became the cause of all 
this injurious spiritual unnaturalness ; they did 
not see, that God's word, as in every thing else 
allows play-room in the spiritual life for very 
great diversity, and in this very diversitj'- seeks 

This does not mean to say, that the Scripture 
acknowledges two classes of spiritual children. 
There is but one class, but in this one true class 
the Scripture aims at an almost endless diversity, 
an ever new variegation, an ever surprising in- 
dividuality, change and modification in all sorts 
of ways; not only in the groups, but in each 
separate child of God. It is with this as in the 
world of flowers. The rose constitutes a class of 
its own. No one will mistake a rose for a lily, 
or take a field violet for a rose. To be a real 
rose, it must exhibit certain characteristics, or 
else it is not a rose. But what endless variety 
there is between the monthly rose and the 
swamp-rose, the tea-rose and the Alpine-rose. 

What varieties again in each of these groups 
what difference again in growth, leaf, color and 
in fragrance. Does not every more richly devel- 
oped rose addre^ us as a something by itself, 
with a charm and beauty all its own? 

Such is the case in the whole creation of God. 
He calls every star in the firmament by name, and 
this implies the expression of an own being.. And 
on the earth every mountain-line differs, and every 
animal, even every insect, as well as every veget- 
able and food that springs from the ground. 
And in like manner every one of the children of 
men is "after his own kind;" every race, every 
tribe, every people, every family and every 
family-member differs from every other. No 
mother is ever mistaken in her children. And 
so it is also in the spiritual. The Holy Spirit 
divideth to every man severally as he will, (I Cor. 
12:11) or to express it still more strongly: one can 
not be a standard for an other. Paul who was him- 
self an Apostle refuses to be this. And he declares 
with utmost emphasis: Every man, i. e. each 
individual, hath his proper gift of God, one after 
this manner, and another after that (I Cor. 7:7). 

So it is, and so it must be, because our spiritual 
life, if it shall be real, is not our work, but a 
work of God. It is a difference as between writ- 
ing and printing. Wliat comes from the press is 
in all the copies of the same work precisely 
alike. Every man's handwriting on the other 
hand exhibits a character of its own. It is the 
difference between the products of nature and the 

factory. A factory manufactures after a fixed 
model, everything alike; in nature in which God 
works, everything differs and everything exhibits 
a something of its own. 

If now the spiritual life of piety is forced into 
a selfsame mould, the work of man counteracts 
the work of God; then there ensues spiritual 
unnaturalness, painted flowers, but no real flowers ; 
then no virtue goes out from it, and this sort of 
imprinted piety does not bring one nearer to 
God, but rather builds up a wall of separation 
between the soul and God. Then there is 
spiritual dullness, depression and gloom, whereas 
God's children should glory in their freedom, 
and by reason of this free, happy feehng of 
the breaking of bands they should jubilate with 
a song of angels in the heart. The lark which 
meets the sun with a song, not the snail which 
marks its slimy track on the hard clay, is the 
image of the redeemed in Christ. 

Only let not liberty here be mistaken for 
license. Every bird sings with a voice of its own, 
but received that voice from God. And so has 
God, who created you, implanted and increated in 
the hidden depths of your being that peculiar 
something from which your character, your per- 
son and likewise your own form of childship 
springs. Everything in us also is organically con- 
nected. The mingling of blood, the sensitive 
life of nerves, the relation between understanding 
and imagination, the stringing of the heart, the 
embroidery of tendencies and sympathies, the 


tone-scale of the conscience, susceptibility to 
emotions and sensations, education, environment, 
business, all this together puts a peculiar stamp 
upon our whole spiritual being. One is after 
this manner, and another after that. And in 
connection with this the Holy Spirit divides his 
spiritual gifts, without mistake, and not as we 
would have it, or as another would suggest, but 
even as he wills. Spiritual uniformity after a 
given pattern is here unthinkable. As God 
clothes the lilies of the field differently, so he 
weaves an own spiritual garment for each one of 
his children. Uniformity must be discarded, and 
our spiritual robe must unfold itself singly before ^ 
God and men. 

As every precious stone has a light of its own, 
and no jasper can be an emerald, so in one's heart 
the diamond of childship must sparkle with its 
own brightness. Then only will the secret walk 
with God be free, and rich, and broad, for only 
so do we appear before our God and Father in 
the form, in the spiritual robe, and with the 
spiritual jewels, which he has given his children. 
To draw near unto God is not going in with 
the crowd, but it is the approach to God in this 
own, this particular, this personal, this peculiar 
way, which God has appointed for us. A mother 
knows each of her children by their own voice, 
even when she does not see them; and so does 
our Father in heaven know each of his children 
by their own voice, which he draws out from 
the soul. 




"To be near unto God" is not alike in every 
case, but, even as with everything else that 
touches life intimately, it is with *'one after 
this manner, and with another after that." They 
who have drifted away in the stream of meth- 
odism, have not realized this, at least they have 
not acknowledged it, and hence the danger in 
methodism of barrenness in spiritual things. 
Always doing outside things, always zealous labor 
and toil for Jesus, but so little sound of gentle 
stillness, in which the secret walk is enjoyed. 

Because of our sin there is always danger of 
fatal onesidedness, even in holiest things. There 
is sickly mysticism, which sits down by itself 
and accomplishes nothing. And by the side of it 
methodism, which is never at rest, and which in 
being over-busy at length has neither ear nor eye 
for the inwardness of the holy walk of a saved 
soul with God. And therefore, the mystic has 
something to learn from the methodist, and the 
methodist from the mystic. Only from the im- 
pulse of both does blessed harmony arise. 

By itself a mystical search after the Divine 
is by no means yet ' Christian. The heathen in 
Asia practice it, even on a large scale, and though 
it has mostly disappeared from Islam, it has been 
practiced there, and it is still known among the 
Sufi in Persia and by the Dervishes in Asia 
Minor. But to bear the Christian stamp nearness 
to God must be through the atonement and 
relation with the mediator. "The Father and I 


will come and make our abode with them" (John 
14:23). And this excludes from the search after 
God and from being near unto him, the always 
killing uniformity. In this sacred domain imita- 
tion leads to nothing but selfdeceit. All mystic- 
ism of soul, which seeks and finds God, realizes 
that there is fixedness and unvariable sameness in 
God's unchangeableness, but the reflection of 
what is Unique and Eternal in God, which is cast 
into the human soul, cannot be and never is the 
same, because one soul differs from another soul 
in nature, disposition and utterance. For this 
reason every soul has a history of its own, from 
which special needs and talents arise. 

Hence it is not corect to infer from Elijah's 
experience at the cave, that the Lord only reveals 
himself in ''A sound of gentle stillness" (I Kings 
19:12 R. V. Marg-re<ading) . The commlission 
that was given to Elijah, shows differently . He 
was commissioned to annoint Jehu, to which was 
added the saying: "Him that escapeth the Sword 
of Hazael shall Jehu slay: And him that escapeth 
from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay" (I Kings 
19:17). There never was a bolder fanatic than 
Jehu. Not in the fire, and not in the storm, but 
in a sound of gentle stillness, does not say by 
any means, that Moses did not find God in the 
fire of Horeb, nor David in the storm of per- 
secution by Saul. It only states, that for Elijah, 
at that moment and in the mood in which he 
found himself, the heat had first to be cooled, 
and the storm in his heart had first to spend 
itself, before he was able to meet God in a sound 
of gentle stillness, and to receive his prophetic 
commission. On Carmel it was fire and it was 

storm, and if ever and anywhere, it was on 
Carmel that Elijah beheld the presence of the 
majesty of the Lord. 

The impossibility of making a rule regarding 
nearness to God, that shall apply to all cases, 
extends so far, that a selfsame rule for all of 
life, even with one and the selfsame child of God, 
is unthinkable. He who is old and full of days 
has known the years of manly strength, and back 
of these the years of j^outh, and back of these 
again the days of childhood. And let him 
speak, w^ho during these four periods of his 
life has known something of the sacred, hidden 
walk with God, and he will confess that in each 
of these four periods it was different. In general 
indeed there was progress, but yet in such a way, 
that now as man he longs at times for the return 
of the days of his childhood, that he might the 
better understand the saying of Jesus regarding 
children: "Of such is the Kingdom of heaven." 

This makes it such a profanation of the sacred, 
when we parents have no eye for the peculiar 
character of the life of the soul of a child, and 
by our heavy oppressive forms ignore the sym- 
plicity. the brightness and enthusiasm of the child. 
The spiritual training of a child starts with 
faith that God operates in the child, or at least 
can operate in him. But at the same time, that 
the Holy spirit doeth this "as he wills'' (I Cor. 
12:11). Without this spiritual insight it is im- 
possible to be a mother, father, older sister or 
brother, yea, even a nurse-maid or a teacher of 
children, in its higher sense. Love of children 
wrongly applied blights so much in the heart 
of the child which otherwise ^.ould bloom 


luxuriantly. And as with the child, so it is with 
the lad and the young daughter. In every period 
of life there is an own form of life of the soul 
with its own needs. He who understands this 
pleases and disciplines, supports and strengthens 
the child, and leads him to God, and so makes 
gains for God. While he who always endeavors 
to apply the model of his own condition of soul 
to that of the child mars development and dwarfs 

It is not othenvise with the great difference 
which God has ordained between man and woman. 
There are men who make one think of a woman, 
and among women in our times ambition gains 
ground not only to develop themselves more 
independently, which is right, but also to obtain 
this development in a form like to man; which 
goes against Divine appointment.. But apart 
from these eccentricities, every one feels, and 
knows that the soul-life of women bears another 
stamp, and is differently strung of God, than the 
soul-life of men. Perceptions, powers, feelings, 
talents differ. The lily is not inferior to the palm- 
tree, but is has received another beauty, another 
glorj^ of God. The same sun in Go(l,s heaven 
works different effects upon one plant than upon 
another. , 

And so it is with regard to being near to God 
on the part of the man, and being near to God on 
the part of the woman. It is the one Sun of 
righteousness which works differently upon each. 
The mother, the father, who looks upon son and 
daughter as one, and does not treat them differ- 
ently sometimes spoils so much which with more 
intelligent insight would bloom gloriously. Only 


father and mother can suffice for the mixed 
family, and where either of the two falls away, 
the task of the remaining one of making due 
allowance for the difference of nature and dis- 
position of son and daughter is extremely dif- 
ficult. This applies as well to man and wife 
especially when one has made farther advances 
in the way of salvation than the other. The 
pious wife who longs to win the hesitating husband 
defeats her own purpose, when she aims to 
graft her feminine soul-life upon him ; likewise the 
husband who for the sake of winning his wife 
for God tries to drive her in the spiritual yoke 
of his own masculine life, is himself the cause of 
his bitter disappointment. The husband should 
indeed strengthen the wife spiritually, and accus- 
tom her to storm and fire,, and the wife should re- 
fine the husband spiritually, and accustom him to 
the sound of gentle stillness, but the fundamental 
trait of the proper soul-life of each must remain 
inviolate. The wife lives near unto God differ- 
entl}' from the husband. 

A similar difference characterizes the several 
conditions in which we find ourselves. Take the 
ecclesiastical conflict. In this struggle there is 
a period of necessary and unsparing resistance 
against everything that desecrates God's covenant. 
But after victory is won, there comes a time of 
calm and peace, of quiet work for God's King- 
dom, in the struggle against sin, misery and woe. 
And it is frequently observed, that men who in 
the first period nobly persevered, and showed in 
themselves men full of the Holy Ghost, in the 
next period of rest and peace, visibly retrograded, 
and deserted their former spiritual vantage-ground. 


And as in ecclesiastical affairs so it is in the 
struggle of our own life, in the difference be- 
tween rising superior to one's sins and fainting 
in the face of too great temptation. All this 
creates a difference of conditions, of circumstances, 
of sensations, of experiences of soul; and woe 
to him who amidst all this, has only one string 
to the harp of his soul.. Our heart has been 
richly strung of God, and for every turn in life 
the heart must be able to play another string, 
for the sake of the honor of God and the com- 
fort of our hidden man. 

The example of Elijah shows that God himself 
counts with this, and after the nature of our 
state approaches our heart from different angles. 
He alone who has a listening ear for this, who 
adapts and disposes himself accordingly, and is 
inwardly so richly disposed, that he seeks after 
God at any gate which it may please God in 
those circumstances to open for him, will not 
only feel himself "to be near unto God," in all cir- 
cumstances, but will also in every circumstance 
enjoy it most richly. At one time in quiet 
meditation, at another in bitter conflict, now 
going out, then coming in, but at all times it 
will be vital, inspiring and strong. 

God's seeking to draw our soul unto himself 
and to open it for himself, is changeable as the 
seasons in which nature undergoes the workings 
of the sun. And therefore he who spiritually 
knows only one season of year, becomes impover- 
ished. He who follows after, in the changes 
which God brings upon him, is the rich child of 
the rich Father who is in heaven. 






The secret walk with God is not only different 
for one child of God than for another, but the 
difference is inwardly connected with individual 
disposition, character, nature and temperament. 
Where there are two persons who live close to 
God, one not only doeth it differently from the 
other, but the way and manner in it of each, 
is related with his condition and frame of soul 
and even of body. To be near unto God can 
therefore never be imitated. It is no lesson that 
can be learned by heart. Every one must seek 
his own way to God, until by Divine grace he 
finds it. To be near unto God can never be any- 
thing else than the outcome and the fruit of our 
own personal spiritual life. If then it shall be 
real, and no imitation, it is bound to assume a 
form of its own, which entirely corresponds to 
our nature, and which would not do for another. 

Let this first of all comfort you and put you 
at ease. It frequently happens, that a dear, true 
but very plain child of God hears others tell 
of a walk with God, which he can not grasp, 
or that he reads of Augustine and others, who 
communed with the Eternal Being in a mea- 
sure and form that far, very far transcends his 
own experience. This makes him doubt whether 
he will ever himself come near unto God. Such 
it can never be with him and yet, such the 
hidden walk must be. In this way Satan detains 
the souls of the humble. For it is not so. With 


Augustine, that great spirit, it must needs be so 
and not otherwise, and ^or this very reason it 
never can and never will be so with the humble 
and the plain. As it was with Augustine or Calvin 
would not meet their case. 

But next to this comforting thought, it con- 
tains a strong stimulus and a spur. It imposes 
the obligation to produce from one's own being 
and in connection with one's own spiritual existence 
and life of the soul an own form for the hidden 
walk with God. It will not do to saj^: I can 
never attain the height of an Augustine. Just 
because j^ou are not an Augustine, it will not 
do to imitate him. For you are called of God, 
and you are bound, to seek from and for your- 
self, this own and only path, by which you, 
and no one else, can attain the hidden walk, 
and continue in it. This does not mean to say 
that there ma\' be no blessing in learning how 
others have sought and found it, or that reading 
what some great spirits have written about their 
nearness to God maj^ not inwardly edify us. 
Even the humblest poet can learn from Bilderdyk 
and DaCosta. The humblest artist-painter can 
profit by the works of Rubens and Rembrandt. 
All this can be productive of great good. Only, 
as 'one and the selfsame bread forms an own 
blood in every individual constitution, and main- 
tains an own life of the nerves, thanks to the 
inner workings, so also it is one sacred material 
on which many subsist, but alwaj'^s in this way, 
that with every individual the inner spiritual 
feeding has a process of its own, and leads to an 
own result. 

Not only in the case of Paul, but also of 

Jeremiah and David the Scripture describes this 
particular character of every individual's hidden 
walk with the Eternal Being. Although Psalm 22 
bears a strongly marked Messianic character, and 
although this song of the most grievous woe 
only attains its fullest significance in its applica- 
tion to the Man of Sorrows, it would be mislead- 
ing, if we did not take it as an interpretation of 
David's own experience, and if we did not apply 
it to the Psalmist first. 

As St. Paul declares, Gal. 1:15, that it hath 
pleased God to separate him from his mother's 
womb, and to call him by his grace, and as it 
reads in Jeremiah (1:5) "Before I formed thee 
in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest 
forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee," so also 
David confesses that the Lord's interest in him 
began before he was bom. "For thou art he," 
sang he in Ps 22:9, "that took me out of the 
womb: Thou didst make me trust when I 
was upon my mother's breasts: I was cast upon 
thee from the womb. Thou art my God from 
my mother's belly." 

Entirely apart from the deeper significance of 
these words when applied to the Messiah, it was 
froni the life of David's own soul that this con- 
viction sprang regarding his own walk with God, 
and it should not be lost from sight, that entirely 
apart from his calling as the elect servant of the 
Lord, he apphes it altogether in a general sense 
to the forming and creation of a human being. 
"Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I 
will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonder- 
fully made, marvellous are the works; and that 
my soul knoweth right well. My substance was 

not hid from thee, when I was made in secret 
and curiously wrought in the lowest part of the 
earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet 
being unperfect; and in thy book all my members 
were written, which in continuance were fashioned, 
when as yet these was none of them." Psalm 139: 
13-16). This was said apart from David's special 
calling in an altogether general way, and the 
church has never hesitated, in singing Psalm 139, 
to apply this to herself. 

Thus, in order to form a just estimate of the 
beginning and the development of our hidden 
walk with God, we have to go back not merely 
to our conversion, but back of this to our con- 
ception and to our birth. The way in which 
each one of us shall find his own, personal walk 
with God, was written in God's book, in days be- 
fore we were born. 

If it is said that Jeremiah and Paul did not 
state this fact in connection with their personal 
initiation into communion with God, but very 
distinctly in connection with their special call- 
ings, one as prophet, and the other as apostle, 
it is readily granted. But on the other hand it 
is equally true, that for their callings, as prophet 
and apostle, their own personal, spiritual develop- 
ment was of hiehest significance. In their pro- 
phetic and apostolic calling they had to fight 
the spiritual fight. Their official life was not 
lived outside of the life of their own soul. The 
fact that before their conception God had fore- 
ordained in them everything that they would 
need for their calling, also implies that their 
spiritual quickening, training and development had 
been provided from God's side before their birth, 


and that in their conception and in their birth 
such a human person was called into being, as 
would be able to enter upon such a spiritual 
condition and to fulfill such a spiritual calling. 
In whatever way therefore we take it, the three 
strong declarations of David, Jeremiah and Paul 
always contain this positive teaching, that already 
before, as well as in their conception and birth, 
the Lord God has ordained and created them in 
such a way, both after soul and bod}^ that in 
their spiritual and bodily creation every necessity 
had been provided, which later on would fashion 
them in this especial manner, and construct their 
spiritual stature. 

Applying this to ourselves, we should not 
doubt but that our conception and birth, quite 
apart from our own as yet unconscious condition, 
was a work of God according to God's plan and 
compass, and under his holy inworking. That 
which characterizes the disposition of our soul, our 
gifts and talents, our form of existence, and even 
the particulars that concern our body, is no play 
of chance, no arbitrariness, no fate, but the plan 
and working of our Providential God. Hence 
we are not made, as we are, in order that only 
later on God might see what he might make of 
us. No, everything here has been thought out. 
everything here forms one whole, everything here 
has been appointed from the beginning by an 
omniscient, fore-seeing and almighty God with 
a view to the appointed end, and directed at the 
same time, at every point of the way, with 
the view of obtaining that end. 

If that final end is your eternal salvation, and 


if the spiritual life of the soul, including the 
secret walk with God, leads to this end, the 
whole appointment regarding the form in which 
you were to be born, both after soul and body, 
was of necessity directly connected with what 
you once will be as a child of God, and with 
the particular wa}'' in which God will be willing 
to receive you, in distinction from others, into 
his holy, secret walk. If in your intercourse with 
people, you daily meet with those who have much 
in common vAth you, and you with them, but 
never meet with a person of whom you can say, 
in every particular: "He is just like me. He is my 
exact double," there must be something in the 
disposition of your soul and in your bodilj' 
existence, which is different from that in others. 
And this is not by chance, but after God's will 
and appointment. And every pecuharity that 
constitutes your person, is in turn no play of 
the riches of nature, but has been so disposed and 
not otherwise, because each of you have to seek 
your secret walk with God in your own way and 
after your own method; and that you might find 
that way, and walk in it, you were in need of just 
such a disposition of soul, and of such natural 

Thus are you free from people, even from 
pious people who press their piety upon you. 
But in everything, from your conception and 
birth you are personally bound to God. For 
consider and do not forget in Psalm 22 it says: 
''Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my 
mother's breasts." To make one trust, in such 
a way, that the soul itself trusts, is to evoke an 
inner working of the soul itself. David reckons 


the life of his soul from the moment when as 
infant he cradled at his mother's breast. 



Prayer and worship are not the same. This is 
felt at once when we consider the distinction 
between religion in heaven and religion on earth. 
Here on earth we are in all sorts of need and 
misery. We endure a thousand anxieties. We 
struggle with disappointment and adversity. And 
every day our life is a concatenation of needs 
that call *for fulfilment. This condition of 
itself impels us to make prayer and supplication, 
to invoke help and deliverance, to implore for 
redemption and the grant of our desires. In 
religion here on earth prayer, supplication, the 
invocation of higher help is entirely in place. 

This is altogether different in heaven. Un- 
doubtedly in heaven also there is prayer, even 
much prayer. Christ himself lives to pray for 
us. But prayer in heaven, on the part of Christ 
and of the angels and of the blessed, bears an 
entirely different character from our praj^er on 
earth. "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed 
be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will 
be done on earth as it is in heaven," can also be 
prayed above. The Kingdom of glory tarries. 
The conflict between the power that opposes God 
and Christ continues. The end is not yet. 
And therefore it is natural that everything in 
heaven invokes this end, and prays for the 
coming of the Kingdom of glory. 

It is also plain that in heaven prayer is made 
in behalf of God's people in the earth. The 
Scripture teaches this clearly with respect to 
Christ. That the angels remember us in their 
supplication is quite certain. And that the blessed 
themselves unite with Christ and the angels in 
prayer for the triumph of the Kingdom of God 
in the earth, can scarcely be taken in question. 
But though we follow along this line as far as 
scripture allows, it is self-evident, that neither 
the angels nor the blessed can join us in the 
prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread, for- 
gi\ J us our debts, and lead us not into tempta- 
tion, but deliver us from the Evil." The blessed 
may pray that they might be clothed upon, but 
their state is not one of need, misery, lack and 
want. They are blessed and drink with full 
draughts from the fountain of bliss. And where 
we are permitted to look at life in the heavens, 
as in Revelation, we are told almost nothing else 
of angels, seraphs and cherubim, and of the 
blessed, save that they worship. Holy, holy, 
holy is the Lord of Hosts. The whole earth is 
full of his glory. 

If then there is this difference between religion 
above and religion on earth, that with us prayer 
stands in the foreground, and worship in the 
heavens, it is of utmost importance, that we 
carefully consider the character of this worship. 
Prayer is the search after God's nearness in our 
behalf, that he might be gracious unto us. Wor- 
ship is the search after God's nearness, in order 
from our side to bring tribute unto God of praise 
and honor, thanksgiving and glory. In principle 
one is the opposite of the other. He who praj's 


desires something from God. He who worships 
desires that his soul and his whole being may 
devote itself to God. He who prays intends 
that something shall come to us from God. He 
who worships intends that something from us 
shall come to God. 

That grace operates in worship, is self-evident, 
but it is another kind of grace. It is grace, that 
the infinite, almighty and self-sufficient God will 
accept the magnifying of his name at the hand 
of the creature. He is so infinitely exalted that 
the creature can not bring him anything. And 
though every voice of angel and every tongue 
of man were to be silent forevermore, the Eternal 
Being would be in need of nothing, and would 
remain sufficient unto himself. And herein is 
grace that the most High God, who is in need of 
nothing, will take pleasure in the songs of praise 
of angels and of men, and that he grants unto them 
the sacred joy of showing forth his praises. All 
worship, all thanksgiving, every hymn of praise 
and every tribute of honor rests upon the founda- 
tion of this to us impenetrable grace. 

This worship and tribute of praise can at the 
same time serve to make great the name of 
God before our fellow-creatures, but in worship at 
least this is not the intended aim. He who sings 
the praises of God, can do this for the sake of 
confessing his Holy Name before unbelieving 
multitudes, and of winning them for God, but 
worship is an holy utterance of soul, which takes 
place between our soul and God, and can at most 
adapt itself to the worship of fellow-believers. 
In its highest utterance, worship can not be 
mechanical. Worship only comes to pass when 


the soul loses itself in God, when, in adoration it 
marvels at his virtues and his works, and of it- 
self breaks forth into praises even as the .Eolian 
harp emits its dulcet strains, when the wind plays 
on its strings. 

Examine now the life of your own soul and 
see, not whether there is more prayer in it than 
worship, but whether, together with prayer, wor- 
ship is accorded sufficient room of its own. And 
then, alas, it must be the honest confession of 
many, that in the life of prayer, worship con- 
stitutes but all too meagre an element. We do 
not say that most people do not worship also, 
but we are bold to express the surmise that the 
blessed joy of worship is but all too little known 
and sought. 

And this should not be so. He who seeks 
the secret walk, he who desires to be near unto 
God, should not in prayer be engaged almost 
exclusively with himself or with his own interests, 
but when kneeling before God, he should not 
even lastly be busy with God. The knowledge of 
God lies in worship, far more than in prayer. He 
who prays for something, thinks first of all of 
his own need and want, and he only loses him- 
self in his God to this extent, that with God 
there is power and might that can come to his 
help in his need.. He, on the other hand, who 
worships, loses himself in God, forgets himself, 
in order to think of God alone, to let himself 
be illumined by the lustre of God's virtues, and to 
cause the reflex of God's greatness to be reflected 
from his own soul, as it mirrors itself in his ador- 
ing and spell-bound spirit. 

Onl^- when the Kingdom of Glory shall have 


been ushered in, shall we, on the new earth and 
under the new heaven, together with all God's 
angels, do nothing else. At present, need and 
want continuously bring prayer to the lips. And 
yet, woe be to him, woe be to her, who already 
here, has not some knowledge of that real life, 
which finds its blessedness in worship. 

Let thanksgiving here be the training school. 
The Reformed Confession takes the whole life 
of a child of God as one of gratitude, and giving 
thanks is the beginning and continuance of all 
worship. 0, who would not daily pray for the 
forgiveness of sins ; but it is dreadful when earnest 
thanksgiving for pardon obtained on Golgotha 
remains lacking or at least does not fill the soul. 
So it is with our whole life. There is constant 
need and want, and the pressure of soul from 
the depths to call upon God, that he might be 
gracious unto us. But is there ever a moment in 
prayer, when there is no occasion as well, to give 
thanks for grace obtained, and to honor him who 
gave it? 

Giving thanks is not yet perfect worship. It is 
worship only with respect to what God has done 
for us. But he who has learned to give thanks, 
honest, affectionate thanks, comes of himself to 
this yet far more perfect worship, which has no 
other desire than to glorify the majesty of God. 
With the heathen at times there was more worship 
for idols than is found with us for the Holy One. 
Is the admonition superfluous that we shall 
accustom our children from the beginning not only 
to pra3\ but also to giving thanks and to worship? 
There is nothing so effective in bringing the soul 
near unto God as worship„ 





Christ is your King. He has been anointed 
King not merely over Zion, the mountain of his 
hohness; not merely King, after the earthly Zion 
had been profaned, over God's kingdom in the 
earth. No, Christ is also King over the persons 
who are subject unto him. Our personal relation 
to Christ can not be expressed in a single word. 
It is many-sided. When we think of the guilt of 
sin, which threatens doom, Christ is our Recon- 
ciler. When we seek safety with Christ against 
tha power of sin and of temptation, he is not our 
Reconciler, but our Redeemer. Or when we look 
to Christ for direction and guidance in the laby- 
rinth of life, the selfsame Savior is not our 
Reconciler, not our Redeemer, but our Shepherd, 
who has gone before us in the way, and has left 
us an example. 

But even this does not exhaust our many- 
sided relation to our Savior. For that self-same 
Christ is also our glorified Head with the Father, 
the Lord before whom our knee must bend, and 
whom our tongue must confess; and therefore 
the King who has incorporated us with his people; 
whose subjects we have become; and in whose 
palace we shall once be expected. The honorary 
title of King is even so little accidental, that the 
great plea on Golgotha is at length fought out 
under it, and at the bar of Pilate the conflict 
between the Emperor of Rome and the Anointed 
One of God concentrated itself in the struggle for 
the honor of Kingship. As announced to John 


the Divine, in Revelation, the Lamb is not alone 
our Reconciler and Surety, not alone our Redeemer 
and Savior, and not alone the Shepherd and 
Bishop of our soul. No, the Lamb of God — and 
in this antithesis you feel what strikes and 
irritates — the Lamb of God is also Lord of lords 
and King of kings (Rev. 17:14). The Lamb with 
the crown is the exalted, the holy combination of 
self-effacement and dominion. 

Your King! But in what sense? Is earthly 
kingship here the real, the actual, and is the kingly 
image of the earthly prince applied to the Savior, 
merely by way of comparison, by which to express 
his power and honor? Christ your King! Does 
this title of honor merely serve to have you think 
of Christ, as in a distant hamlet the man behind 
the plow thinks of his sovereign in the royal resi- 
dence? This is to him a secret and mysterious 
power, expressed in the image on a coin, but for 
the rest it is a power which remains foreign to 
him, a power far off, of whose splendor and lustre, 
of whose glory and pomp, he can form no faint 
idea, but which he honors from afar. A sovereign 
in the glorious palace, but who is unapproachable 
by him, to whom he pays tribute because he is 
his subject, and for whom, if he is pious, he inter- 
cedes in his daily prayer. 

And truly, there is likeness here. Christ also is 
enthroned in a palace of glory, even in such a 
palace, that all royal pomp on earth pales before 
the splendor of its greatness. The subject of Jesus 
also sacrifices for his king his child in Divine 
service, his money in the labor of love, his strength 
in what must be done in behalf of his kingdom. 
This King also has his throne afar off, and here 


on earth the King of God's kingdom can not be 
seen. But with this the likeness ends. That 
Christ is your king is as a figure of speech, so 
httle derived from earthly princes that on the 
contrary the kings in the earth are only image- 
bearers of his glory, and that true, real, actual 
kingship is never realized in a prince on earth, 
but is known in Christ alone. 

Head, Lord and King are but three rays of the 
selfsame glory. Head points to the inner relation- 
ship and sodality of your life, existence and inner 
being, with the life, existence and being of your 
Savior, Lord expresses that Christ owns you, 
that you are his property, that you belong to him, 
that he has redeemed you from the power of 
Satan, and that he has bought you with his blood. 
And only in this two-fold relation, because he is 
your Head and Lord, he is also your King, who 
has taken you up into his Kingdom, incorporated 
you with his people, made you sharer in his lot, 
and rules you by his royal law of life. You are 
his subject, but only because thereby you are a 
member of the body of which he is the head. 

This seems at first hearing an enigmatical union, 
but it is one which beautifully explains itself 
when that body, and in it the significance of the 
head, and what under the head every member is, 
is clearly understood. Imagine man, to take a 
perfect instance, as in paradise he came forth 
from the hand of God. The clean, pure, beauti- 
ful body, and in that body the several members, 
in which it revealed itself, and its noble head, with 
the fullness of facial expression, with the fine, 
expressive features, with the animation that 
uttered itself in them. Thus only can we have 


the image before us of the body of Christ, of the 
members in that body, and over all these mem- 
bers, the glorious Head. 

The image here, however, is not merely the 
human body. Body in this connection rather indi- 
cates in a broader sense what we more commonly 
call an organism, even in the sense in which an 
animal also is an organism, and the plant an 
organism, and as we apply the figure of a body 
or of an organism to all sorts of association of 
man with man. Thus we speak of a corporation 
(which is nothing else than a body) signifying 
thereby all sorts of unions, societies and confed- 
erations that are formed. So we say that the 
family has an organic existence. So we speak of 
the body of the state, and of the body of the 
people. And for this reason, and in this connec- 
tion, we call him who directs such a corporation, 
the head of such a corporation, or the head of 
the body of the state. It is even the rule to call 
those who belong to such a society or body, mem- 
bers of the society, or members of the church. To 
become a member of a nation, is to become in- 
corporated in that nation. 

And this is the figure of speech which the holy 
apostle applies to Christ and his people. The 
organism of the plant also renders service here. 
Did not Jesus say: "I am the true vine, and ye 
are the branches?" And does not St. Paul speak 
of having become one plant with Jesus? It is 
always the one effort, to make it tangible and 
clear, that Jesus' Kingship is no external dominion 
over us from without, but that before we become 
subjects of Jesus, we are linked into his life, and 
that with the thread of life itself, if we may so 


express it, we are bound to him; so that it is one 
blood of hfe that circulates in him and in us; and 
that it is one spirit of life that animates us and 
him unto life. Yea, that as little as the head can 
be moved from one place into another, but the 
foot, the hand, the eye and the ear go with it — 
so also every vital movement of our King of itself 
stirs also in us, and puts us into motion with him. 
Thus Christ is our King, because of itself and of 
necessity the members follow the body, and the 
body goes wherever the head directs it. 



If the temper of the soul were harmonious, you 
would never feel nearer unto God than in prayer, 
and in prayer you would never be far away from 
God. To pray and not be near unto God, rightly 
interpreted, is impossible. And yet what prayer 
is not made each day in every city and village, 
yes, we may say in every house, again and again 
in which the soul never for a moment comes under 
the overwhelming impression of standing before 
the face of God. Sin weakens our inner life in 
all sorts of ways. Hence the mainspring of the 
life of the soul can not properly operate as we 
should ardently wish it might. Then we feel that 
we can not pray. Yet we do not want to neglect 
prayer. So we fold our hands and stammer our 
petitions. But when the Amen has been said, we 
feel discouraged by the lack of elevation and in- 
spiration that has marred our devotions. 

Apart from leading others in prayer, every one 
must and can pray, and yet to pray well is an 


exceedingly difficult art, or rather it is a sacred 
action, which demands the utmost clearness, 
urgency and readiness of soul. But to pray well 
must never become art, or else it ceases to be 
prayer. The disciples realized this, and when 
they had witnessed once again the sacred act, that 
Jesus, having gone a little distance from them, 
had separated himself in prayer to the Father, 
they were so impressed with the sense of their 
own inability to pray that, on the return of Jesus, 
one of them said unto him: "Lord, teach us to 
pray, as John also taught his disciples" (Luke 

An over-spiritual child of God, in our days, 
would perhaps have turned away such a request 
with a rebuke. For everyone must pray of him- 
self, and what value can a memorized prayer have 
before God? But Jesus was not so over-spiritual. 
He never prayed otherwise than of himself. But 
he understood how difficult true prayer must be 
for us who are sinners, and though his disciples 
were to be the teachers and leaders of the church 
in all ages, he appreciated the request that he 
should teach them how to pray, and so he gave 
them to pray the Our Father in his own heavenly 

He did not say: "Pray after this manner." He 
did not give them the Our Father as an example, 
how to pray. No, the Lord expressly said: "When 
ye pray, say." John, too, had evidently given his 
disciples such a formulary prayer. And so Jesus 
also gave his disciples a prayer in a fixed form, a 
prayer evidently intended and appointed to be 
prayed by them all together. For the form is in 


the plural: Our Father, our daily bread, our 

In all ages, in all her forms, the Church of 
Christ has been true to the Our Father. And in 
our liturgy our fathers also have not only adopted 
fixed prayers for public worship, but have always 
ordered the use of "Our Father" in the congrega- 
tion of believers. But since the eighteenth century 
this has been discarded. Particularly from Scot- 
land the influence has come in, to put everything 
aside that had the appearance of a fixed form, 
and to prescribe in church none other than the 
free prayer of the leader. This aim was high. 
But was it not too high, and has not over- 
spirituality worked all too grievously an injury to 
the spiritual? 

Undoubtedly, the highest end is attained when, 
independent of every aid, from the free impulse 
of the Spirit, the soul lifts itself up to God, and 
on the wings of the Spirit, spreads itself before 
God in sacred, devotional language. Such glor- 
ious moments are not infrequent in the prayer- 
life. And it is plain that in such moments even 
the Our Father is not sufficiently concrete to 
direct the soul in its utterance before God. But 
in all seriousness, how many among the great and 
small in the congregation have risen to these 
sacred heights. And, if there are such, how many 
are the moments of a long day, when they are in 
such sacred and exalted moods? We must needs 
reckon with reality. And think not only of your- 
self, but have a tender consideration for the poor 
sheep in the church and in your own home, whose 
spiritual standing is still low, and who yet needs 
must pray, and for whom it is no less glorious 


than for you, when in prayer they come a Httle 
nearer unto God, and may perceive something of 
his holy presence. How much higher did not the 
apostles of Jesus stand than we, and yet for them 
Jesus deemed a memorized prayer so little aim- 
less or superfluous, that he himself gave them one. 

It is true, every written prayer leads to abuse. 
But would you think that Jesus has neither fore- 
seen nor known, to what abuse even the Our 
Father would lead? And yet he gave it to his 
disciples. Nothing can be so holy, but our in- 
firmity and sin will turn it to abuse. Baptism is 
abused. The Lord's supper is abused. The 
Scripture is abused. Must everything then be 
condemned because of this? Prayer also places 
a painful choice before us. Say that only the 
Spirit's prayer from one's own soul is acceptable 
before God, and forsooth, there will be no more 
abuse. But, then, there will also be thousands of 
families where no more prayer will be said, and 
all remembrance of it will gradually be lost. But 
restore the use in its fixed form, and of necessity 
the muttering with lips will ensue, in which the 
soul has no part. Not in every case, praise God, 
but with many, and thus many a prayer is pro- 

Standing before this choice, many incline to 
say: "In that case let the rest go without prayer, 
provided there are a few who pray aright. In 
any case cut off the work of the lips, in which 
there is no heart." And yet we may not say this. 
What Jesus spake to his disciples excludes this. 
Let us be more humble. Let us acknowledge, that 
even the congregation of the Lord occupies too 
low a viewpoint for what is so deeply spiritual, 


and that, if prayer is to be maintained, if it shall 
continue to be a power in the whole church, in 
every home, for every member of that home, for 
great and small alike, both must be practiced; as 
well the prayer from one's own soul, as the written 
prayer which all can pray, because all have been 
instructed in its use. 

Our praise in hymn and psalm would also be of 
an higher order if every one of us were born poets 
and if we never sang hymns from a book, but 
always from our own inspiration and impulse. 
But this we do not do. We can not. We are 
no poets. And no public praise would be possible 
if the same hymn were not sung together. This 
also leads to abuse. Hynm upon hymn is sung 
by more than one person in the congregation with 
the lips, in which the soul has no part. But who 
will for this reason banish hymns and psalms from 
worship in God's house? This would be a reach- 
ing out after overspirituality which would mean 
death to public worship. 

But there is still a more significant reason. Do 
we not know from experience that when the soul 
seeks to draw near unto God, nothing at times is 
more helpful than to repeat to oneself some in- 
spired verse from the Psalms, which we have 
learned when a child, and which by its devotional 
language of itself takes us out of our ordinary 
world of thought and lifts up the soul to God? 
When we wanted to pray, and prayer would not 
come, has not the Our Father frequently been the 
grateful means of bringing us into the prayerful 
mood? The Scripture also is a formulary, and 
always remains the same. And is not reading of 
Scripture before prayer continually the means that 


not only enables us to pray, but to pray in such 
sacred terms as to carry the soul with them? 

A twofold cause here operates. First, lan- 
guage. Prayer and praise have a language of 
their own. This language does not rise of itself 
from every soul. There have been those who 
were specially gifted with this. Is it not natural 
that they, who sing after David, and who pray 
in the words of Paul, feel that this helps and 
elevates them, and brings them further than of 
themselves they ever could have come? But 
there is still something more. Words of prayer, 
and elevations of praise, which from youth have 
been with us in life, impart to our utterance of 
soul a steadiness which strengthens, and makes 
us inwardly devout. And when in addition to this 
we realize that these wonderful words of prayer 
and elevations of praise are not only familiar to 
us, but that they are now, and have been in all 
ages, the language of God's children, it is as 
though some portion of the precious ointment of 
Aaron has been poured out upon it all, the sweet 
fragrance of which refreshes the heart. 

The aim of the seeking always is to experience 
under it all the blessed nearness of God. Well, 
then, the Our Father also, when it is quietly, rest- 
fully and solemnly said, opens the gate of heaven 
to the soul. Psalm language of itself carries the 
soul upward. Everything that lends our wander- 
ing, and frequently impotent soul the support of 
the sacred Word, lifts us up into a higher mood. 
Moreover, everything in prayer and praise that 
makes us experience the communion of all God's 
saints and fellowship with our own more godly 
past, places a protecting power by the side of the 


power of the world that aims at keeping us far 
distant from God. 

The benediction also at the close of public 
worship might easily be composed by each 
preacher for himself. That this is not the case, 
that in the benediction at least a fixed form has 
been maintained, is a gain to be thankfully 
acknowledged. Now the preacher can put noth- 
ing into it of himself. He is forgotten thereby, 
but just because he steps into the background, 
the benediction affects us as a gentle dew of grace 
which comes to us from God. 



For the soul ''to be near unto God" implies, that 
we lift up ourselves with mind and heart from 
our everyday surroundings into the sphere of the 
Divine Majesty. This is what, in language of 
Scripture, the Sursum Corda has become, namely: 
the impulse to lift up soul and mind unto God 
and to appear in the audience-chamber of his 
holiness. In his infinite compassion God truly 
comes down to us, to dwell with us, and with his 
rod and staff to comfort us. This by itself brings 
God near to us, but by no means always brings 
our soul near unto God. The seeking love of 
God can for long times be near unto our heart, 
and can even be within it, while the heart is un- 
conscious of it. An infant can be carried by God's 
nearness, and have no sense whatever of the 
Divine Majesty. In conditions of sickness, which 
darken our consciousness of self, God's nearness 
to his child is not removed. Even when in dying 


our consciousness fails us, the nearness of God 
continues to support the soul, which he has called 
unto himself. 

But however closely these two are allied, they 
must always be carefully distinguished. Whether 
God is near unto us, and whether we are near 
unto God, is not the same. And in behalf of the 
latter, not of the former, it is exceedingly impor- 
tant that our mind be not too closely chained to 
the world of visible things, but that we should 
understand the sacred art of turning our mental 
perception from this world into that which is 
around God's throne. 

The soul first learns this in prayer. And it is 
noteworthy that in the short form of the Our 
Father, Jesus repeatedly directs our thoughts to 
the invisible world. At once in the address : "Our 
Father, who art in heaven." According to the 
Heidelberg catechism, this means that we should 
not think of God in an earthly way. And this 
IS correct, provided it is properly taken not as 
a sound, as a word or as a term whereby to ex- 
press something supermundane, but as an effort 
of the soul, by which, at the very beginning of the 
prayer, to free itself from the embrace of earthly 
interests and to enter into the high and holy 
spheres that surround the throne of God. The 
prayer: "Thy kingdom come," carries the same 
effect, since that kingdom can not be anything 
else than the kingdom of heaven. Hence the 
petition implies, that the powers of the kingdom 
of heaven ought to permeate our life ever more 

Fellowship with life around God's throne, how- 
ever, is most clearly expressed in the third peti- 


tion: Thy will be done on earth among us as in 
heaven among thy angels. Here the reference to 
heaven is immediate. Here both the similarity 
and the difference of life on earth and life in 
heaven is simultaneously shown. Here Jesus 
urges us. that in prayer, and in seeking the near- 
ness of God, we should acquaint ourselves with 
the world of angels and of the redeemed, in order 
by our relationship with their world, to strengthen 
our approach to God. Jesus urges us even so 
strongly in prayer to bring our souls into contact 
with the invisible world, that in the last petition 
he makes us sensible of the inworking that goes 
out upon us from the head of the fallen angels. 
"Deliver us from the evil," is the petition which 
reminds us that evil, that sin which springs up in 
our heart, is fed and inspired by a higher power 
from the invisible world, and that God alone can 
deliver us from this deadly inworking. Is it then 
too much to say, that in this brief prayer of six 
petitions, Jesus leads us out from the earthly 
sphere of visible things, and unveils to the sense 
of our soul clearly and strongly the reality of the 
invisible world? And all for the sake that we 
might the more fully and the more intimately 
enjo}^ "to be near unto God." 

In Scripture, this communion with spirits from 
the invisible world, is shown in more than one 
instance to be inseparable from nearness unto 
God. Only think of the vision call of Isaiah and 
of the Revelations on Patmos. Isaiah not only 
saw the Lord upon the throne, but also the 
Seraphim around it, and he heard the "Holy, 
holy, holy is the Lord of hosts," which with other 
music rang through the arches of heaven. On 


Patmos it was the same. There, too, the seer's 
eye beheld the holy One, and also the Chenibim 
who reveal God's majesty, and what is more, 
from ''the elders," i. e. from the circles of the 
blest, he heard the hymn of praise : "Thou, Lord, 
art worthy to receive glory and honor and power I" 

And so throughout the entire Scripture there 
runs a golden line of heavenly light, which brings 
the prayers and the hymns of praise of God'fl 
people into fellowship with the songs of praise of 
angels and the redeemed. It is not only that the 
angels and the blest in unapproachable light, and 
we on earth in our twilight, sing praises to the 
Trinity, but that there is a connection between 
the voices of angels and the tongues of men. 
Indeed, sometimes it seems that we on earth but 
echo what is sung around God's throne in heaven, 
and that our heart only finds rest when there is 
holy accord and blessed harmony between created 
spirits above and the creature that on earth 
thirsts after the nearness of God. 

But this presents the question whether this 
indispensable fellowship with God's angels and 
the redeemed around the heavenly throne has not 
been too much lost from sight in our circles. 
That we should be on our guard against abuse in 
this matter, is self-evident. Idolatry has not 
improbably arisen from this search after inter- 
course with the world of spirits. Even within 
the church of Christ the search after this fellow- 
ship has all too frequently drawn souls away from 
the nearness of God, rather than introduced them 
into his holy presence. Dealings of the soul, if 
we may so express ourselves, with angels and the 
blest, have tempted anxious souls all too often 


to introduce intermediary persons between our 
soul and God, to whom to look for help rather 
than to God. It is plain, therefore, that for the 
sake of correcting this abuse, safety was sought 
in sobriety, and that with holy enthusiasm it was 
undertaken not to allow oneself to be drawn away 
in his prayer by anything, not even by angels, 
from God himself and from immediate com- 
munion with God. But it can not be denied that 
by exaggeration this carefulness has led to the 
other extreme. For is it not a fact, that in the 
prayers of the church, in prayer at home, and in 
personal supplication, the spirit-world is almost 
entirely ignored, and that thereby all such prayer 
has become antagonistic to the note which Jesus 
himself has struck in the Our Father? 

In the Our Father, Jesus brings our soul again 
and again in touch with this higher world of 
spirits, while from our pra3^er this communion 
has almost entirely died away. For the sake of 
avoiding the abuse of one extreme, one can easily 
and of itself pass over into the other extreme, and 
this is bound to injure the life of our soul. He 
who dies, knows that he will not find God and 
the Savior alone by themselves, but he will find 
them surrounded by a world of saints. Not a 
Father alone, but a Fatherhouse, and in that 
Fatherhouse the many mansions, and in those 
mansions, with God's angels, the saints that have 
gone before. 

And though we speak of this world of glory as 
of the world above, because we can not think of 
it otherwise than as being far exalted above this 
guilty earth, we well know that this distinction is 
not a separation, and that already here on earth 


communioii with that world is possible. When 
the Psalmist would praise God, he calls upon the 
angels to praise and bless the Lord (Ps. 103) . There 
is an host of the Lord that encampeth round about 
them that fear God. Not only Satan, the head of 
fallen angels, but good angels, too, are in com- 
munication with our soul. And in moments of 
blessed elevation of spirit the soul has been con- 
scious of the nearness of the good spirits of God, 
and it has seemed that they made us feel in a 
more tender and more intimate way the nearness 
of our God. 

We undergo the same inworking for good or for 
evil from men. One evil-minded person in your 
environment can draw your soul away from God, 
estrange every utterance of life from God, and 
throw you back into your earthly, sinful shallow- 
ness. On the other hand, one devoted child of 
God in your midst can effect the exclusion of 
every unholy suggestion from conversation, the 
opening up of the soul, and the closer approach 
to God. 

Such is the case here. He who accustoms him- 
self to enter into the life of the holy world of 
God's angels, and already here on earth admits 
the company of the saints into the circle of the 
perceptions of his own soul will thereby not only 
banish evil, but will himself attain a holier mood, 
will feel himself supported in praise and prayer, 
and will encounter far less difficulty in raising ham- 
self from his earthly life to the nearness of his 

We were not created for solitariness. The 
moment when, deserted of all, you have to fight 
your fight alone, you feel that something un- 


natural has come upon you. Not alone, but "With 
all the saints," we will come to the knowledge of 
our God, and if in eternity it will be the wonder- 
ful exaltation of life together with all angels and 
all saints to glorify God forever, why, then, should 
we forsake and neglect the glorious power which 
already here on earth can unfold in our prayer, if 
by anticipation we live already here in the blesaed 
communion, which awaits us up yonder. With all 
God's saints we are one body in Christ, as our 
head, but on earth we taste little of the fellowship 
of the whole body of the Lord. On the other 
hand, communion with saints and God's angels is 
continually open to us. Blessed is he who not only 
enjoys this in his own soul, but also knows how 
to inspire thereby the nearness of his God. 



One who in mature years, and in his right mind, 
does not strive from time to time against some 
sin or other, can scarcely be im^^gined. The 
human heart is an impenetrable riddle. Even 
with sneak thieves and drunkards we are often 
amazed at a coy tenderness that shows disgust 
with one or more sins, which in better circles are 
altogether too frequently given free passage. But 
repression of some striking sin, in the case of one- 
self or of others, is by no means always yet what 
the apostle calls the struggle against sin. Every- 
thing here depends on what occasions the struggle 
against this or that sin. One will resist such a 
sin from concern about his health. This is often 
preponderant with respect to sensual sin. Another 


takes care of himself, because, in case his sin be- 
came known, it would injure his good name. A 
third strives against a temptation because indul- 
gence would ruin him financially. A fourth puts 
a mark against a given sin because in his narrower 
circle of life it is sharply condemned. Only think 
of Sabbath desecration. And in this way, by all 
sorts of persons, one sin or another is resisted 
from reasons that have nothing to do with the 
real struggle against sin. With not a few, indeed, 
there is no mention whatever of a conscious 
motive, and all their striving against this or that 
sin springs from a certain moral instinct, from the 
judgment of public opinion, or from the desire to 
be decent. In this way profanity has become notice- 
ably less in our civilized circles, but far more be- 
cause it is now considered coarse and uncivilized, 
than from fear of the holy God. 

All such resistance against all sorts of sin, how- 
ever, should not be judged from the heights as 
indifferent. Because of its very contagiousness 
every open sin is most dangerous. Apart from its 
guilt before God, sin by itself is moral sickness, 
and everything that opposes the outbreak or 
progress of this sickness is gain. Only the struggle 
against sin in any form, without higher motive, 
brings no spiritual gain. David's saying: "Against 
thee, thee only, have I sinned," remains the funda- 
mental rule. And only when we strive against 
sin, because sin opposes God, does our struggle 
obtain the holy, the higher character. 

The struggle against sin, because sin strives 
against God and God strives against sin, brings 
us near unto God. The struggle then remains no 
longer merely moral, but it becomes religious — an 


expression of godliness, and at the same time a 
precious means of cherishing nearness unto God. 
See it in the life of nations and associations, how 
waging a common war brings people together, 
closely unites them, and makes connections for 
the present and the future. 

When France at length obtained Russia as an 
ally, Russian sailors in Paris were almost carried 
on hands. In the war of the Boers against Eng- 
land every Dutchman felt his heart beat in sym- 
pathy with that of his fellow countrymen in South 
Africa. From fear of Russia- the English and 
Japanese have become brothers. The same is seen 
in the life of society and church. In times of 
election unions arise between temporal allies, 
which govern their entire future. It is seen in 
every domain that nothing unites so closely, and 
brings one so near to another, as the struggle 
against a common foe. 

The same applies to the struggle against sin, 
when it is honestly carried, because sin is inimical 
to God. For then God and you fight the same 
fight. Then this fight of itself makes you join 
yourself to God. Then you do not fight alone, 
but with your God. With the weapons which 
God provides for this warfare, under Christ as 
your leader. And then nothing brings you so 
near unto God, and keeps you there, as the life- 
long continuance of the bitter fight against the 
enemj^ of God, and of your own soul, and of the 
soul of your loved ones. 

And then it is not a life-struggle against one 
particular sin, but against sin, i. e. against all sin- 
ful influences, inspirations and workings, which go 
out from Satan upon yourself and your entire 


surrounding. Indeed, there are bosom-sins, and 
it is no minor fault, when the heart is so little 
known to itself, that no confession can be made 
before God of the sin that most assaults and con- 
quers self. And it cannot fail but that everyone 
who takes his private life seriously is more par- 
ticularly on his guard against certain definite sins, 
and in his thoughts and prayers is more engaged 
with these, than with other sins. His stniggle 
directs itself most against that evil which over- 
came and injured him most. And in memory 
thereof the shame and sorrow because of defeat in 
the struggle against this particular sin, will intrude 
themselves most strongly upon him. It was this 
sin which inflicted the most cruel wound, and left 
behind the blackest mark. 

But do not fail to observe the danger which 
this implies. For is it not heart-breaking to see 
the number of lesser sins in their character to 
which even earnest Christians are stone blind? 
And the burden of this guilt rests for no small 
part upon this one-sided striving against a par- 
ticular, great sin. Where a greater danger 
threatens, all sorts of lesser dangers that might 
harm are of themselves almost lost from sight. 
When a loved one lies at the point of death, no 
one inquires after the concerns of cellar and 
kitchen. When a rynaway horse races through the 
streets, no one is on the lookout for muddy places, 
but makes himself scarce. When fire breaks out 
in the house, no one attends to the draught from 
an opei window. In saving a man from drowning, 
no one is concerned about the incidental tearing of 
clothes. When war breaks out, of itself all sorts 
of other quarrels, however important, are silenced. 


And thus a more serious evil will always cause 
the struggle against a lesser evil to weaken. 

And such is also the case with respect to the 
soul. When the struggle is continued to resist 
and to repel the particular sin which tempts one 
the most strongly, a number of other sins have 
almost free play and their progress is unnoticed. 
He who perseveres in the main fight against 
arrogance and pride, against sensual propensity, 
or avarice, is thereby exposed to the danger that 
little untruths, dishonesties, infidelities, bitter- 
nesses, vanities, selfishnesses and so much more, 
become almost a second nature, strike root in his 
heart ever more firmly, and soil his inner life. 
This is only discovered when at last the chief 
enemy has been as good as worsted. Then tender- 
ness of conscience begins immediately to work 
with these erstwhile neglected sins, and one is 
frightened at the sight of the luxurious growth of 
weeds in the garden of the heart. 

And to what cause can this sad outcome be 
attributed save to this, that one struggled bravely 
indeed to free himself from his worst enemy, but 
utterly lost sight of the struggle against sin, 
because God strives against it. It continued to be 
an effort to set one's person free, to measure his 
strength of spirit and will against the strength of 
this particular sin; dissatisfaction with self, in 
case of defeat, and the determination not to rest 
until victory was gained. But all this went on 
outside of the secret walk with God. Divine help 
was invoked to worst the enemy of the soul, but 
there was no awakening of soul to beat off, as a 
poisonous adder, the enemy of our God. And, 
therefore, such a struggle could not bring you 


nearer unto God, but every time threw you back 
upon j^ourself. 

Should we then give up the struggle against 
the sin that tempts us most, that we might resist 
the numerous lesser sins? By no means. He who 
leaves the main entrance to a fortress unprotected 
merely to repel assaults at the side entrances, will, 
when presently attacked from behind, have to give 
up all further resistance. No, what you should 
do, is, with an eye open to the moral danger that 
threatens, by a far more serious exertion of 
strength, the sooner the better to make an end 
of the struggle against your chief sin, not by giv- 
ing it free play, but by breaking with it once and 
for all. Thus alone will 3^ou obtain a free hand, 
in the Lord's strength, to bring spiritual harmony 
in the further discords of the soul. That this is 
possible is evident from the witness borne by many 
a disciplined child of God, who at length has put 
on the whole armor of God, and has triumphed 
gloriously. The mistake is, that one makes his 
leading sin his bosom sin, and then views it as 
an evil which by some fatality he is bound to 
resist until death. The enigma of our human 
heart is, that we resist our main sin most con- 
tinuously and at the same time cozen it. A 
duality within, in which, through lack of heroic 
action, we accustom ourselves to what is deemed 
to be a necessity of life. 

Then it is not the spirit within us, which, united 
with the Spirit of God, fights in our soul the fight 
of God against sin, for the sake of God, but a 
ience. This evil, however, must be broken. It 
must become a life-struggle against every sin 
and against the sinful nature, for the sake of the 


holiness of God. In order to come nearer unto 
God, the child of God must take service under 
Christ in the warfare which God himself wages 
against Satan and his works, and thus obtain a 
twofold result: that whereas hitherto he suffered 
defeat, now he conquers, and that whereas he thus 
far wandered away from God, now he knows him- 
self to be near unto God. 


When Asaph wrote: "But it is good for me to 
be near unto God," and thereby expressed in 
words a deep utterance of soul, which age upon 
age has found an echo in thousands of hearts, 
life had many more advantages for those who 
sought the Lord than it has for us now. In the 
East, where Asaph lived, it is still the custom that 
every event in life is put into relation with God; 
that in everything God is remembered, and the 
name of God is named. There is so much that 
draws us away from God, and therefore, pious 
usage prescribed, that from early infancy the child 
should be trained to remember God in every event 
of life. This is still the custom under Islam, 
where it is overdone, even to the extent that it 
must give rise to abuse. 

But there is something attractive in the habit. 
The call to prayer from the pinnacle of the 
minarets has the same tendency. Where there 
is so much that draws us away from God and 
keeps us far removed, a counterpoise was sought 
in life by which to bind the soul to God. The 
Christian church did the same in the middle 


ages. The ringing of bells, the stations of the 
cross, crucifixes, and so much more, all tended to 
quicken the thought of Christ. And in the age 
of the Reformation our fathers tried to reach the 
same end by putting prayer in between every- 
thing, by multiplying church services, and by the 
effort to sanctify every event of life in God. Not 
only testaments, but also contracts of rents were 
begun in the name of God. On coins the words 
appeared, "God with us," or, as in the United 
States of America, "In God we trust," and wher- 
ever it was possible God's holy name was brought 
to remembrance. An atmosphere prevailed in this 
which was pregnant with something of the holy, 
sometimes even too much so. To this was added 
that in the days of Asaph and of our fathers the 
religious undulation was far stronger, and relig- 
ion occupied a far broader place in life. 

But we have everything against us. In society 
life the name of God is scarcely ever mentioned. 
No bells are rung. An entirely different world of 
thoughts fills minds and hearts. He who tries 
to keep up sacred usages is criticized as being 
old-fashioned, if he is not scorned. A life divested 
of God and his name is most desired. And as 
regards religious undulation, it still continues in 
small circles, but the tidal wave of life goes, 
purely materially, for money and sensual pleasure. 
In such a time "to be near unto God" requires a 
double effort, and nothing should be neglected, 
neither positively nor negatively, that here may 
have effect. Positively every means should be 
persistently applied to engage the soul with God 
each day for a longer period of time and with 
greater intimacy; and negatively by opposing and 

resisting everything that hinders or prevents our 
communion with God. 

Does the church of Christ understand the great 
interest that is here at stake? Can it be said, 
that an effort is in evidence, at least within the 
church, to pursue this exalted aim? As one means 
"to be near unto God," the Apostle indicates a 
''life in peace." His exhortation runs: "Be of 
one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and 
of peace shall be with you" (II Cor. 13:11). And 
yet this peace is continually broken. Let us be 
well understood. It does not say, that there may 
no differences arise, nor that with every difference 
safety must be sought in indifference. Paul did 
not do this. No, the point in question is the 
spirit in which differences are faced and settled. 
A twofold impulse may have play. On one side 
the holy impulse, in the face of differences to be 
doubly on our guard, that love shall suffer no 
less, and that no unholy word shall escape our 
lips or pen. But also on the other side the un- 
holy impulse, in the face of differences to allow 
one's bitter mind free play, to give one's passion 
to annoy free rein, and to inflict whatever pain 
one can. With the first, one puts himself in an 
atmosphere of love and peace. With the second, 
one breathes an atmosphere of bitterness and 

In the church it is the same as in the family. 
Between husband and wife, between parents and 
children, and between children among themselves, 
differences continually arise. It can not be other- 
wise. Interests, insights and endeavors run in 
opposite directions. But see the difference be- 
tween one family and another. In the family 


that is of a noble mind, a limit is put upon these 
differences, a spirit of love prevails, which of 
itself opens a way of escape. And where love 
dwells, the Lord commands this blessing, that 
hearts remain united. But next to this, alas, how 
many families there are in which pains are not 
spared to measure out the difference as broadly as 
possible, to put the sharpest arrow, as long as it is 
not poisonous, on one's bow, and where again and 
again husband and wife, parents and children, 
brothers and sisters face one another like furies. 
This is always the same antithesis which we have 
indicated. This* sinful earth brings us no world, 
no family or church, without differences or dis- 
putes. But it all depends whether a dispute in 
family or in church finds an atmosphere of love 
and peace, or one of bitterness and anger. 

And now the Apostle points out that cherishing 
the atmosphere of love and peace is not only a 
Christian duty, which brings gladness and com- 
fort into life, but that it Js also a necessary 
requisite for the cultivation of life in fellowship 
with God. A child of God can, and indeed must, 
be near unto God. and live in communion with 
God. even amid conditions of restlessness and 
strife. He who perseveres obtains this blessed 
end. But, 0, it is made thereby unspeakably 
much more difficult. Where the atmosphere that 
surrounds us is charged with evil electricity, and 
the tongue can not be held in leash, and discord 
rends the robe of love, and the passion of strife 
breaks loose, everything draws the heart away 
from communion with its God. There the peace 
of God, that passeth all understanding, can not 
fill the soul. There is no calm there and no in- 


ward restfulness to lift oneself up from this 
earthly sphere into the world above, and to enjoy 
the bliss of nearness unto God. And then in two 
ways harm is done. First, you fail of one of the 
most precious means of being near to God; and 
again you become subject to the dominion of an 
element that inserts itself with separating effect 
between you and your God. 

A gently tempered mmd can, with respect to 
this, be a blessing to a whole family, to a whole 
community; and a mind that is poisoned with the 
bitterness of gall can spoil the tone and spirit of 
an entire family and an entire community, and 
make godliness therein to suffer bitter loss. Of 
every thoughtless and unholy word, and also of 
every bitter and irritable frame of mind, account 
must once be made before God. For do not for- 
get, that nothing trains the mind and heart so 
effectively as the custom and the habit which 
form and govern the condition and the mood of 
heart and mind. 

If you have once acquired the habit of holding 
yourself back and of self-control, and when Satan 
places poison into your hands, at once to reach out 
for the alabaster box of precious ointment, the 
struggle becomes gradually easier, the effort to 
encourage stillness more lovely, and the joy of 
having cultivated peace and love increasingly rich. 
If, on the other hand, you give way to your 
sharpness, to your passion, to your bitterness of 
mind, you lose more and more the power of self- 
control, and create for yourself and your sur- 
roundings unspeakable harm and wTong. 

The peace of which the apostle speaks has noth- 
ing to do with sentimentalism, with lack of cour- 


age to speak, with being blind to wrong practices. 
Mere sentimental goodness is no sacred art, but 
cowardice. But this is sacred art: to stand strong 
and courageous, in everything, and yet so to take 
hold of things, deal with them, and settle them, 
that no unholy spark starts fire in your own mind, 
and that you do not disturb for a moment the 
inward peace of those who are around you. 

He whose piety is more appearance than reality, 
cares for none of these things. But he who strives 
unto the end in every way to keep sacred his 
secret walk with God, and to be continually near 
unto God, can offer no resistance to the stress of 
this apostolic word. He feels in his own soul that 
the atmosphere of love and peace makes him 
dwell near unto God, and therefore he flees from 
the sphere of strife and unrest, because it draws 
him away from God. 


The world, our environment, our business, yea, 
and what not, as a rule leads us away from God. 
This means that it takes definite effort, in the 
midst of daily activities, to keep our thoughts and 
utterances of soul directed toward God. There 
have even been whole days of which at night on 
bended knee, it had to be confessed that the mind 
and soul had not once been lifted up to God. To 
picture this in brighter colors than the case war- 
rants, will not do. Thus and not otherwise is 
the sad reality with many whole days of life in 
which God has had no remembrance. We were 


too busy, too overwhelmed, too much diverted 
and preoccupied than that at night we could retire 
with the blissful experience of how good it was "to 
be near unto God." 

This is, of course, exclusively a result of the 
sinful character of our earthly life, for by itself 
there was no need that anything should draw us 
away from God. God does not stand by the side 
of things. He is in all things. From him, by him, 
and to him. Diversion is a necessity when too 
onesidedly and too exclusively our spirit has been 
engaged with one thing. This is noticed by the 
staring eye, the exT)ressionless face, and the con- 
stant return to the same subject. And the 
specialist recognizes the danger of this. When 
the soul and the mind are directed to one thing 
too onesidedly and too continuously, so that one 
thinks of nothing else, forgets everything else, and 
involuntarily keeps busy with the selfsame thought, 
there is the beginning of mental disorder, and 
diversion is the proper medicine. 

This is not the case with thinking of God. In 
the created world a number of things stand side 
by side of one another, each with their own claim, 
and our mind is normal when in just .proportions 
we pay proper attention to them all. If this order 
is broken, by thinking too much of one thing, 
and too little of the other, equilibrium is gone 
and the spirit fails at length in its own confusion. 
God, on the other hand, never stands by the side 
of a created thing. It should never be ninety 
parts of our attention for the creature and ten 
parts for God. Neither should it be ten parts for 
the world and ninety parts for God. In the full 
one hundred parts of everytliing God is to be 


worshipped. Jesus emphatically declares: Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength, 
with all thy soul and with all thy mind. In the 
same way the one hundred parts of our strength 
should be operative in created things. But both 
should proceed so as to enter into and permeate 
each other, and together constitute one blessed 
life. Thus it is in the Fatherhouse. Thus it was 
in paradise. Thus it sometimes is here for the 
space of one brief moment. But as a rule it is 
so no longer. There is division. There is distraction. 
The struggle of godliness is to oppose this division, 
to resist this distraction, and j'et, at least parts 
of each day and parts of each night, "to be near 
unto God." 

What divides and distracts should be justly 
estimated. With respect to this, Adam is still 
inclined to put it upon Eve, and Eve to charge 
it to the serpent. The world, the many activities 
of life, the diversions of the moment are held 
accountable for our distractions and life without 
God. One is busy from early morn till late night, 
and in dead weariness one falls asleep, sometimes 
before prayer is said. There is no time for God 
and for his service. There may be for those who 
quietly remain at home, but not for the man of 
business. And so life is ever held accountable, 
the restlessness and noise, the ever-enticing world. 
Or complaint is made of the body. One does not 
feel well, headaches, fevers and other troubles 
keep the spirit bound. Only there is almost no 
complaint of one's own soul. And against this 
Isaiah enters his striking accusation: Your de- 
ceived heart hath turned you aside. 

Surely the world has come in with its entice- 


ments, life with its activities. Thereby you have 
allowed your heart to be deceived. But it is not 
the world, nor its activities, but your deceived 
heart that has turned you aside. It has even 
turned you aside to this extent, Isaiah adds, that 
your soul can no longer save itself, i. e. it can no 
longer escape from its own intoxication. Isaiah 
declares this regarding the man who has an idol 
for himself. A tree has been taken home. The 
knotty parts have been cut off, and of the smooth 
part the poor soul makes an idol. And it is not 
the idol that is at fault, but the idolatrous thought 
in the soul, which had captivated the heart, before 
he made his idol. That piece of wood, that idol 
is but the expression of what went on in his heart. 
Not the idol, but his deceived heart turned him 
aside, even so effectively'' that at length he no 
longer sees the difference between a piece of wood 
and God. Or, as the prophets put it: "He is 
turned aside so far that he can not come to dis- 
cover that there is a lie in his right hand" (Isaiah 
44:20). This selfsame evil operates, not only 
among the heathen, but, if in another manner, 
among Mohammedans, Jews and Christians. It 
is a human evil. An immediate outcome of our 
sinful nature. 

How does this show itself? Very sharply and 
clearly, as soon as a magnet operates upon the 
heart, which attracts, interests and holds the 
attention, and which involuntarily and of itself 
again and again stimulates the soul and the 
senses, fills the thoughts, animates conversation 
and brings one into a fanatical state of mind. 
This does not mean the tension and activity of 
spirit, when duty, business, the course of con- 


versation, etc., arrest the attention to itself. On 
the contrary, in this case lack of attention and 
neglect of due examination of the interest at stake, 
is a fault; and may even be a sin. No, the idol- 
atrous turning aside of one's inner self only be- 
comes apparent when this magnet continuously 
draws, and even without occasion, and when the 
drawing does not operate from without, but from 
one's own heart. 

There are people who, when they come to 
you, you instinctively know in advance what they 
will talk about. There is but one thing that fills 
their minds. One interest to which they are con- 
tinually awake. With one it is money, the idea of 
becoming rich, of increasing gains in every way. 
With another it is pleasure and the desire to 
shine. With a third it is art, music, a concert, a 
piece of literature, a museum, so long as it is dedi- 
cated to art, and makes an artistic showing. With 
another, again, it is a scientific problem which 
constantly pursues him. With another, again, it 
is politics, or society gossip, or the hunt, or sport. 
In all this, spiritual sickness is symptomatically 
present as soon as one particular interest, even 
apart from special occasion, of itself engages the 
attention, animates and preoccupies, and renders 
one dense and unsympathetic with respect to 
other things. 

For then there is one-sided concentration of 
mind upon one given point. This one thing is, 
then, the main thing, to which everything else is 
rendered subservient. This means to say that 
this one thing takes the place with him, which in 
a normal condition of soul, is only accorded to 
God. And thus it becomes idolatrous. It is the 


one absorbing subject of thought. One never get5 
through talking about it. No sacrifice is deemed 
too great in its behalf. One devotes himself to it 
with all his soul and mind. Nothing higher is 
known and respected. With respect to it even 
brotherhoods are formed, insomuch as one is in- 
terested only in those who live in behalf of the 
same interest and are absorbed by the selfsame 
thing. With those who live like this the equilib- 
rium is broken, and the highest place, which is 
God's right to fill, is occupied by this other thing, 
which they love with all their heart, and with all 
their mind, and to which they devote themselves 
with all their strength. 

Now, it is self-evident, that being magnetized 
in this idolatrous fashion, does not occur with 
Christians in this literal sense. This neither can 
be so, nor is it so. He with whom this is the 
case may announce himself as a Christian, but a 
Christian he is not. But from this it by no means 
follows, that the child of God is not exposed to 
this danger. It is even confessed, of those who 
have most earnestly sought after the secret walk 
with God, that no sin was so constantly at the- 
door of their heart as this inclination to allow 
themselves, by the workings of their own heart, 
their soul and their mind, to be turned away from 
God to creaturely things or creaturely thoughts. 
To be full of the Holy Ghost means, that the 
desire of the heart, which goes out after God and 
holy things, is constant. He with whom this is 
the case does not need to repress other things 
from his thoughts in order that he might think ot 
God. Involuntarily he thinks of God, and of othef 
things only by special effort. 


But what continually occurs, even among Chris- 
tians, is the very opposite, to-wit: That of itself 
all sorts of other things are subject of thought, 
and that only by determinate effort the soul is 
engaged with God. If, now, these are every time 
other, alternating things, the danger is not so 
great. For then it is not one given thing that 
captivates the heart, and the worship of God 
stands high above every other interest. On the 
other hand, however, the danger is great when the 
heart allows itself to be turned aside onesidedly 
to one given thing or to one special sort of things, 
which enthuse us and engage the heart, for then 
they are apt again and again to take the place 
in the heart which belongs alone to God. 

You can not be near unto God and have part 
in his secret walk, when involuntarily and of itself 
magnetically you are every time turned aside 
again to things that are finite. For then the 
heart has deceived itself and the deceived heart 
has turned you aside. And, therefore, when you 
struggle, and feel that your life is not one that is 
near unto God, then cease to complain onesidedly 
of the world, of your environment and of your 
busy life, as though these alone turn you aside 
from God. Rather turn in upon yourself. Spy 

our thoughts, conversations and perceptions. 
\nd when you see that not alone, and not even 
aostly from without, but from these thoughts 
within there arises the diverting working, which 
disturbs your fellowship with God, and prevents 
you from living near unto God, then cast down 
this idol within and destroy it. 

There is no room for Christ and Belial in one 
and the selfsame heart. Or do you not know, 


with St. Paul: "Do ye not know your own selves, 
how that Jesus Christ is in you?" (II Cor, 13:5). 


God, in his word, opposes every tendency and 
every effort to break up life into two parts; one 
for ourselves and one for God. He allows no 
division, no separation; no six days of the week 
for us and Sunday for God. No unconsecrated 
life interspersed with consecrated moments. No 
unhallowed existence through which at distances 
a sacred thread is interwoven. No life apart from 
religion marked here and there with piety. No, 
the claim of Scripture on this point is absolute, 
and though it seems strange to us, the claim 
remains: 'Tray without ceasing;" in everything 
give thanks; rejoice in God always; and: "What- 
soever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" 
(Col. 3:23). 

To Thessalonica Paul WTites: 'Tray without 
ceasing. Rejoice evermore. In everything give 
thanks" (I Thess. 5 : 16, 17, 18) . To the Philippians : 
"Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4). And to 
those at Colosse: '"Whatsoever ye do, do it 
heartily, as to the Lord" (Col. 3:23). There is no 
respite given. No compact made with you. God 
takes no pleasure with anything less than all of 
your life. Where faith becomes the rule of life, its 
dominion aims to be absolute. No finds, no ex- 
cuses, no half-measures are tolerated. He who 
would live this life as a child of God, as a servant 
of Jesus Christ, inspired by the Holy Ghost, must 


be led and carried in everything by faith. He who 
divides and makes distinctions robs God of a part 
that is God's. If you would love God with all 
your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind 
and with all your strength, every subterfuge is 
closed off, and the all-claiming and all-demanding 
character of faith is founded in Love itself. 

Every division works injury to your life, and 
to your religion. He who makes division here, and 
does too much for religion, neglects his family or 
his calling. And he who divides and is not pious, 
gives the lion-share to the world, and with an 
avaricious heart deducts from what he pretends to 
set aside for God in strength, time and money. 
He who would have the blessing of nearness unto 
God and of going through life in secret fellow- 
ship with God, can not cultivate it spasmodically. 
With him God must be known in everything he 
undertakes to do. God must be the sole end and 
aim, God must be entreated and given thanks. 
This can not be done in a formal way with closing 
of eyes and folding of hands and muttering of 
words, but in the inmost chamber of the heart 
and in that hidden recess of self-consciousness 
whence are the issues of life as well as of prayer. 

This is opposed by the idea that a clergyman 
•can continually turn this fellowship with God into 
a reality in life, but not a business man; that 
the man or woman who is zealous for missions, 
philanthropy or evangelization, stands in holy 
service before God, but not the father and mother 
in the family. The work of a clergj-man, mis- 
sionary or nurse is then called consecrated labor, 
and the work performed by the gardener, merchant 
or seamstress is said to be secular. This false rep- 


resentation of the matter has worked much injury 
to piety and to vital godliness. 

It goes without saying that he Who ministers 
in the sanctuary is of itself more closely engaged 
with holy things, and enjoys an uncommon priv- 
ilege, of which he shall give an account before 
God. Nor can it be denied that at the exchange 
and in the shop it takes more effort and victory 
over self to continue in everything near unto God. 
This is a greater struggle in which God knows 
what we are made of, and is mindful that we are 
dust. But by the side of this stands the fact that 
ministering in the sanctuary brings with it in no 
small measure the danger of becoming accustomed 
to holy things, and of handling the same more and 
more with unholy hands, whereby judgment is 
made so much the heavier. In best churches and 
in most excellent missions also evil times returned 
again and again, in which priests and priestesses 
profaned the sanctuary, and when not from among 
them, but from among plain patrons and working 
people and shop-keepers and merchants the new 
action arose, which restored the holy to honor. A 
pious preacher, a godly missionary, a consecrated 
nurse, and likewise a truly godly warden, elder or 
deacon, represents a glorious power. But it is a 
mistake to think that of itself the more conse- 
crated calling brings true godliness with it. Young 
preachers of tender consciences, have frequently 
been bound to confess that they were put to 
shamo bv the godliness of manj^ a plain member 
of their congregation. 


Moreover, it must be granted that in our ex- 
tremely defective condition certain definite and 
special consecration of a part of our life, of our 
strength and of our money to religious activities 
and interests is necessary. You can not serve God 
all the days of your life in such a way but that 
the day of rest retains its supreme significance. 
You can not continue near unto God in every- 
thing you do in such a way, but that the particu- 
lar moments of direct prayer, of worship in the 
Word, and of thanksgiving and praise continue 
to be a need of the heart. Neither can you prac- 
tice justice and compassion in everything in such 
a way, but that setting apart of special gifts for 
the service of God is appreciated by you as a 
sacred duty. 

In the Jerusalem above this duality also shall 
fall away. The church triumphant in heaven 
shall not stand in, nor by the side of, the life of 
glory, but shall be that life itself. But such it is 
not as yet here. It can not be otherwise but that 
here this duality continues. The church is some- 
thing else than the family or the shop. The 
mighty antithesis between things of this world 
and things of the Kingdom demands this. But 
this may never allow religion, piety or godliness 
so to withdraw itself within the sacred domain as 
to become a churchly life with godliness by the 
side of a life in the world without godliness. God- 
liness may find a more exalted utterance within 
the sacred domain, and impart strength for daily 

life, but to be true and genuine, it must be a 
golden thread that maintains its glistening bright- 
ness throughout all of life. 

It all depends on whether you truly believe 
that God is almighty, the Creator of heaven and 
earth. Whether you believe and consider that 
ever}'- material you handle is his creature; that 
every article of food and drink on your table is 
his creature and his gift; that your body and all 
your senses are his embroidery; that every force 
of nature with which you come in contact, is his 
omnipresent working; that every circumstance 
you encounter has been appointed you by God; 
that every relation in which you are placed by 
blood, by marriage, by appointment or choice, 
has come to you under and by his providential 
plan; that your every exigency and difficulty has 
been put in your way by God; that every task 
or duty to which you are called comes to you 
from God and has a definite significance in his 
government; that you can not think of anything 
so high or so low on earth but it all forms a 
link, great or small, in the chain of his dispo- 
sitions; that no joy is enjoyed and no suffering 
suffered, but God measures it out to you; in 
brief, that nothing can be thought of in heaven 
or on earth, and nothing can exist, but God, who 
created heaven and earth, maintains and governs 
it, has a holy purpose with it all, in everything is 
God who disposes and ordains, and who in all 
things uses his people, which includes you, to 
carry out his counsel. To make an exception of 


anything whatever with reference to this, is 

When, therefore, the Apostle says: "Whatso- 
ever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord," he says 
nothing but what immediately flows from your 
confession that you believe in God the Father 
Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. For 
then there is nothing in your personal life, or in 
your family life, or in your study and work, or 
in anything you do, that would separate you from 
God, and that should not rather, provided it is 
rightly interpreted, lead j^ou to God. You can, 
indeed not sin as to the Lord. Sin separates, breaks 
fellowship and throws you back upon yourself. 
But for the rest, whether you stand behind the 
counter or work at your trade; whether you sit 
in your office; whether you lose yourself in study 
or devote yourself to art; whether you are at 
home or in other company — it all can and must 
be one working, one activity with strength 
imparted of God, in things Divinely created, for 
a purpose which God has ordained. 

Hence the question is whether your fait h, no t 
in the mysteries of salvation, no, but your faith 
first of all in God as Creator of heaven and earth 
floats with you as a drop of oil on the waters, or 
whether it permeates all of your life and is applied 
by you to everything. In case of the latter there 
is no division anywhere, and the man who plows 
and sows, the carpenter at the bench or the stone- 
layer, the mother who cares for her children and 
her home, in brief, every man and woman, in any 


position of life whatsoever, never labor apart 
from God, but always in his creation and iii his 

Then to be near unto God, the fellowship with 
the Eternal, the secret walk with him who know- 
eth the heart, is no sweet-smelling savor by the 
side of life, but the breath of life itself, spreading 
its sweet perfume upon your whole existence. 
Then in everything you are glad, because the 
majesty and the grace of God breathes upon you 
from everything and in everything. Then, in 
everything, you pray, not with the lips, but in 
the heart, because, in whatsoever you do, you feel 
your deep dependence upon his Almighty power. 
Then in everything you give thanks, because all 
trouble is outcome of his grace. And every 
adversity is intended to stimulate you, with the 
aid of ever more grace, to greater exertion of 
strength. Then everything will be done heartily, 
i. e. not mechanically, not slavishly, not of neces- 
sity, but willingly and gladly, because in this way 
you are permitted to do it in his service. And 
thus you attain that high level of existence where 
godliness and fulfillment of duty are one, because 
whatsoever you do, in quiet and restful nearness 
unto God, you are permitted to do as to the Lord. 



One of the last hallelujah psalms closes with 
the mention of the children of Israel, as "the 

people that is near unto God." It says in full: 
"He hath exalted the horn of his people, the 
praise of all his saints; even of the children of 
Israel, a people near unto him" (Psalm 148:14). 
The distinction that is here made is, that not only 
the individual soul may find itself in closer fellow- 
ship, in more intimate communion, in more con- 
stant walk with God, but also that this, in a 
much vaguer sense, of course, may be true under 
given circumstances of a large number of persons, 
and even of a whole people. 

To a certain extent this can be said of a rural 
population in distinction from the population of 
cities. The story of ''the temple of uncarved wood" 
remains herewith under sentence of its own un- 
reality. For in its hypocrisy it never was any- 
thing else than the poetic, pious talk of those 
who would rather take a walk on Sunday than go 
to church. We mean the fact, which has been 
observed in almost every country, that the rural 
population, taken as a whole, has remained more 
devoted to religion than the great masses of city 
people, at least among what are called protestant 
that have become estranged from all home relig- 
ion and from public worship. It can even be said 
that this serious phenomenon increases in propor- 
tion to the increase of city population. 

This does not mean to say that in these great 
cities there is no remnant of devout people. These 
city people, indeed, are sometimes very influential, 
and in many ways their piety is of a higher type 
than rural piety, especially in strength of purpose 


and elasticity. This is the result of greater friction 
and of more intense competition. He who in 
such cities still cherished the sacred traditions of 
the fathers, did so under protest. He had to suffer 
for it, and to struggle in behalf of it. But he who 
maintained himself in the conflict, came out of it 
better disciplined, fortified and strengthened, and 
felt himself better equipped against unbelief and 
indifferentism. But apart from these relatively 
always small exceptions, it can not be denied that 
in rural districts reverence for religion is more 
firmly rooted, and that in city life this reverence 
wanes; especially where there are great indus- 
tries, much commerce, and much speculation at 
the exchange. Indeed, among factory owners and 
hands, among merchants and oflSce clerks, among 
members of the exchange and capitalists there are 
also truly pious children of God, but they are 
white ravens among the black flock. 

That which co-operated to bring this about is 
manifold. What with weather and wind, harvests 
and failure ^f crops, with cattle and land plagues, 
people in rural districts are far more directly de- 
pendent upon the works of God than people in 
the cities. With respect to industrial interests. 
and mechanical inventions man is the more prom- 
inent agent who exercises power. In rural dis- 
tricts temptation also is less brutally on exhibition. 
Evenings there are shorter and people rise earlier. 
People know each other more personally, which 
makes the discipline of public opinion more effec- 
tive. The membership of a church is smaller, 


which allows the supervision of the church to be 
more general. And so there are many causes that 
co-operate, but among these the principal cause 
always is: Life in the country itself, and the 
consequent influence of nature, of the visible crea- 
tion of God which surrounds the countryman. 
From this it can be inferred that he who seeks to 
be near unto God loses a notable capacity, when 
he does not open eye and ear to the impression 
of the nearness of God, which the visible creation 
can impart. 

The need of this opening of eye and ear is 
evident from the large number of city people who 
in summer go to the country, but who go only 
for pleasure and fresh air, and return as estranged 
from God as when they started. But as a matter 
of fact, the city man misses nature. Parks and 
boulevards offer some compensation, but the great 
masses, especially working people, only return 
home at dark. The starry heavens truly also 
glisten above our cities, but among those who 
walk the busy streets in the evening, who lifts 
his eyes on high to see who has created all these 
things, who bringeth out their hosts by number, 
and calleth them by name? 

In our villages nature is all around, whether it 
is desired or not. It forces itself upon the inhab- 
itants. In cities, on the other hand, people are 
shut off from nature and only they who seek it 
above or outside of the town find it. In the coun- 
try God's voice addresses us from within and from 


without. In the city alone from within, while the 
human voice makes itself loudly heard in all sorts 
of ways to hush the voice of the Lord, even in 
his starry heaven and in his thunder. They who 
are advanced in years, and whose life's task is 
done, not infrequently seek the country again to 
make good what they have lost. In most cases, 
however, susceptibility to understand nature has 
been lost, and so they remain isolated from their 

Now, compare this with Scripture. Man has his 
origin in a glorious paradise, where all nature 
addresses him in a pure language of God. Even 
after the fall so much excellence remains in 
broken nature that the invisible things of God 
are understood from created things, both hi? 
eternal power and divinity (Romans 1:20). "The 
heavens declare the glory of God, and the firma- 
ment showeth his handiwork. Day unto day 
abundantly uttereth speech, and night unto night 
sheweth knowledge. There is no people or land, 
where this voice of God is not heard" (Psalm 19). 
Excellent is his name in all the earth. The voice 
of the Lord is upon the waters. The God of glory 
thundereth. The voice of the Lord is powerful. 
The voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The 
voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars, even the 
cedars of Lebanon (Psalms 29). And so it goea on 
through all the Psalms. Read and read again 
Psalm 104. And at the end of the Psalter we 
have a striking description of nature in Psalms 
147 and 148. And even before the Book of the 


Psalms is Job with his wondrous descriptions of 
the Behemoth, the horse and the pleiadea. It is 
all one mighty call in the greatness and beauty 
of nature to behold the glory of God. 

And when in Scripture we come to the preach- 
ing of the Son of Man, it is again the self-same 
call: 'Consider the lilies of the field, how they 
grow!" "Behold the fowls of the air;" it is light 
thrown upon the mysteries of the Kingdom bor- 
rowed from what is seen in the sower and the 
shepherds; and at the close of his ministry there 
is the touching comparison of Jerusalem with the 
hen that gathers her chickens under her wings. 
The glow of nature scintillates throughout all of 
Revelation. God's ancient people was a rural peo- 
ple. The holy land, which God had appointed for 
his people, was then, though no longer now, a 
fertile field of unequalled beauty. The new earth 
under the new heaven shall be a return of para- 
dise. The wilderness shall blossom as the rose. 
And when our times are familiar with the glori- 
fication of the artist-painter, because of the beau- 
tiful scenes which, with depths of color and life, 
he works before our eyes — what dullness of the 
spiritual eye it betrays when at the same time it 
is blind to the thousand-fold more enchanting 
glory in the handiwork of our God, who is the 
chief est artist of all. 

It affects one strangely, therefore, to find so 
little, if any, appreciation of the beautiful in 
nature among Christian people. Undoubtedly the 
voice of the herald of Peace far excels the many 


voices of nature. "In his temple," says the 
Psalmist, after having described the power of God 
in nature, "in his temple doth everj'one speak of 
his glory" (Psalm 29:9). And in the Hallelujah 
song of Psalm 147 it is said that Israel is highly 
exalted above primitive peoples, because the Lord 
hath made known his word unto Jacob. And in 
closing it declares: "He hath not dealt so with 
any nation: Neither have the heathen knowl- 
edge of his laws." In the congregation of believers, 
where the word is rightly proclaimed, there is a 
spiritual beauty which far outshines the beauty 
of nature. 

But shall we be onesided on this account and 
allow the half to be lost? According to our con- 
fession God is known in two ways. Surely from 
his Word, but also from the creatures, which are 
letters in the book of creation, to make us know 
the might and majesty of God. Christian con- 
fer nces, devotional meetings, devotional books, 
are all very excellent, but must on this account 
the great book of creation remain closed to the 
eye of the soul? It all goes for the sake of 
impressions, impressions oq the collodion-plate of 
the heart. For the sake of impressions which far 
excel the impressions of daily life, and those which 
we receive from men. 

We may not, and will not, live under the 
impression that the Divine can ever be reduced to 
the measure of the human. We will not lower and 
lessen God after our dimensions, but lift up our- 
selves to the measure of the majesty of God. Not 


a God after our image, but we created after the 
image of God. And this you will not get from 
■ books, and not from travel, and not from acquaint- 
. ance with men. For all this only confines you to 
the limit and to the measure of our small propor- 
tions, and is altogether different from a rising or 
a setting of God's sun; altogether different from 
the flash of lightning or from the thunder that 
rolls in the clouds; altogether different from the 
I glory of the starry skies that arch themselves 
I above you; altogether different from the great 
i forests, or the lion that roars for prey. 
I In nature we have the sublime, and in the 
i sublime we have the Divine utterance of what is 
\ superlatively beautiful and glorious. The high and 
i the lofty: even a majesty which infinitely sur- 
: passed the small dimensions of human economy 
and of human A.orks, so that you may know and 
understand that you are not in touch with the 
bungling works of man, but with the glorious, 
sublime art of the Creator of heaven and of earth. 
Truly, the beautiful in nature can not disclose to 
you the way of salvation, and its spiritual mys- 
teries. For this purpose God in compassion has 
given you his Gospel. But what the outshining 
of God's majesty and divinity in nature effects is: 
that it binds and expands and elevates all your 
ideas to an higher sphere than what your sight 
, can give you; that it lifts you up from the insig- 
nificant-human to the Divinely-great; in brief: to 
• what is exalted! And that in this way it brings 
the High and Lofty One nearer unto you. 



Many causes can interrupt the secret walk with 
God. The most mysterious to the pious mind is, 
that God withdraws his face, in order, by the 
want of it, to make you thirst more strongly after 
it. The most common is, that earthly interests 
so engage the attention and keep it absorbed that 
the soul is ensnared by them. And the most offen- 
sive to the soul is that actual sin came in the way, 
which not only broke your fellowship with God, 
but continued to prevent the return to the near- 
ness of the Holy One. 

Actual sin alone has mention here. A word, a 
deed, of which you felt, when you faced it, that 
it would be a sin to you, and which you failed to 
evade. A sinful tendency, a sinful mood, especially 
a sinful desire, can seriously affect the fellowship 
with God, but the working of it is different. For 
on this side of the grave this sinful inclination 
will stay by us, but provided it is not cherished, 
this by itself will not prevent the secret walk 
with God. The secret walk with God is always 
in Christ, from which it is evident that we do not 
come to God as one who is holy, but as one who 
in himself is a sinner. But it is different with a 
sin that has been committed. Then there was 
consent, permission and the doing of it. Then at 
once the light of God's benign countenance was 
gone. Then on the side of God it become dark, 


and the inclination to flee from God was stronger 
than to be near unto God. 

We perceive this change in our spiritual atti- 
tude clearly, at once and in the most painful way, 
when it was a sin that tempted us; a sin which, 
once committed, startled us, and for which we 
would give anything if the stain of it could imme- 
diately be removed from our soul. When, if we 
may say it in an ordinary way, it was a bad ain. 
For nothing shows our low moral viewpoint ao 
sadly as our general ignorance of our minor daily 
sins, neglected duties, unlovelinesses, expressions 
of egotism, pride and vanity; small untruths, 
little dishonesties, and much more of the same 

This is still entirely different from what David 
calls "secret faults." They are faults which may 
stain the garment, but so little as to escape our 
notice. This refers to unknown sins, and which 
only with later development of soul, will be rec- 
ognized by us as such. But we know the sins 
which we say are "not so bad." We have be- 
come accustomed to them and therefore they 
have ceased to trouble us. Our soul no more 
reacts on them. And of this sort of sins it is cer- 
tainly true, that they hinder the secret walk with 
God, but do not prevent it. They do not break 
what once existed. But they affect the hidden 
walk with God to this extent, that it becomes 
sporadic, remains fellowship from a distance, and 
that we fail of the fuller enjoyment of the same. 

Interruptions by sin in fellowship with God are 
only possible when, as a rule, you are near unto 


God, when you know him in all your ways, and 
have been initiated into the secret of salvation, 
and then commit a sin which startles and frightens 
you, and brings a dark cloud to your sky, and you 
are thrown back upon yourself, and you feel that 
you have no more part in the lovely walk with 

In Psalm 32 David speaks of such a break, and 
frankly confesses that this condition was con- 
tinued because he kept silence. "When I kept 
silence thy hand was heavy upon me day and 
night." But at length he broke this silence, "I 
said, I will confess my transgressions unto the 
Lord." And when he has done it, the break is at 
once removed. Now he seeks and hnds God 
again, and so he sings: "For this shall every one 
that IS godly pray unto thee in a time when thou 
mayest be found. Thou compassest me with joy- 
ful songs of deliverance." Yea, now he meets 
with God again, and God does not repel him nor 
hold him back. But he hears it sweetly whispered 
in his soul : "I will instruct thee ; I will guide thee 
with mine eye." 

And in this Davidic experience of soul lies the 
only true diagnosis, and the only effective medi- 
cine. When we were so weak, nay so wicked, as 
willingly and knowingly to commit a sin, the first 
impression which it made on us was that we 
wanted to hide from God, that we were afraid of 
appearing again before his presence, and that with 
the bitter remembrarice of our sin we drew back 
^vithin ourselves. Not from enmity, but from 


fear. Not from lack of will, but from shame. We 
\\ell knew that we must get back to God, but we 
postponed it. We wanted to pray, but we allowed 
time to intervene. We kept silent. And in this 
oppressive silence, which so sorely weighed upon 
the soul, we got farther and farther away from 

This is the diagnosis, i. e. the explanation of 
the wound from which at such a moment the soul 
bleeds. The only true medicine is immediately to 
break your silence, seek solitude, kneel down, and 
without sparing yourself confess plainly and can- 
didly your sin before God, call upon him for for- 
giveness, yea, implore him that he take not his 
Holy spirit from you. 

This takes pains. At such a time 3^ou must do 
\-iolence to yourself. You feel the sharpness of 
God's anger, and back of it you must grasp his 
mercy. But the outcome of this is always sur- 
prising. It is just as David said. It breaks at 
once the ban which sin put upon the heart. Some- 
thing in the soul gives way, and liberation follows, 
deliverance, reconciliation, and God comes near in 
faithfulness as Jesus pictured it in the shepherd 
with the lost sheep. It seems as though in such a 
moment God draws nearer than ever to convince 
you of his infinite compassion. 

Satan whispered within : "Stay away . from 
God," but your Father in heaven called out to 
you: "No, come unto me, my child." In this 
approach of your sin-confessing heart to God, and 
of God to your soul, the interruption falls away, 

and it is good for you, unspeakably good, to be 
near again unto God. 

And what is the secret of this healing work of 
the soul? Is it not stated in Jeremiah's words: 
"Lord, thou knowest me, thou seest me, thou triest 
mine heart that it is with thee" (Jer. 12:3 Dutch 
version). That which makes the utterances of 
Psalmist and prophet so striking is, that they 
interpret all of life within the scope of battle for 
or against God. Battle against God on the part 
of Satan. Battle against God on the part of un- 
holy, worldly powers. Battle against God's holi- 
ness on the part of every sin They do not speak 
the weak, cowardly language of a self-developing 
and degenerating moral life, but they relate every- 
thing to God, as the center of all things. It is all 
a battle of sin and unrighteousness against God, 
and a battle cf God against all unrighteousness and 
sin. It is an age-long battle, from the days of 
paradise on, which will not cease until the end of 
the ages, when God in Christ shall triumph over 
the last enemy. And we are all involved in this 
conflict, and have our part in it. When we sin, 
it is on the side of Satan against God. When we 
live by faith, it is on the side of God against 

This is the interpretation of life as given by 
prophets and apostles. And this should be the 
profound and striking interpretation of life on the 
part of all God's children. And what is a sin 
which we commit? Even this: that in an evil 
moment we strengthen the forces of evil against 


God, and that in co-operation with Satan we 
oppose God. And if this be the case what is it 
to make confession of sin, save that so soon as 
you realize this, you at once step out from among 
the ranks of Satan and return to the battle lines 
of God, imploring mercy, that you may be counted 
worthy again to fight under his banner, and again 
to join forces with him? 

And now the heart appeals to the omniscience of 
the God of all compassions. Did you mean to 
desert the ranks of God and to join the forces of 
Satan? No, no; and once again, No. You did 
not mean to do it. The thought of such an evil 
did not rise from within yourself. You allowed 
yourself to be taken unawares. You slipped with- 
out realizing the dreadful wickedness of your deed. 
And now as you perceive that this is the sin that 
you committed, you appeal to God. In the in- 
most recess of your heart there was no desire to 
desert God. And your sorrow of soul, your re- 
morse, your self-reproach is, that in the face of it, 
you have incurred the guilt of an act of enmity 
against God. And, therefore, you plead with him 
and ask him, the all-knowing, whether as he tries 
your heart, he does not see, and does not know, 
that in its deepest depths, as against Satan, it is 
with him. 



It can not be denied, that in former times, 
especially in the middle ages, too much was made 

of Satan by dragging him, as it were, rightly or 
wrongl}', into everything. But does it not seem 
that now we rather incline to the other extreme, 
and forget, if not deny, the very existence of the 
Evil One? With this denial, self-conceited free- 
dom in matters of belief makes singular shifts 
with the Gospel of our Lord. For then it is said 
that one frees himself from the Old Testament, 
but for this very reason adheres the more closely 
to the Gospel. These wavering spirits are not 
concerned with Moses but with Jesus, and fre- 
quently do not hesitate to criticize you, who hold 
to the whole Scripture, as being too Old-Testa- 
mentish and consequently only half Christian. 

But see how these people, who are so loud in 
their praises of the Gospel, themselves deal with 
it. It is true that Satan has almost no mention 
in the Old Testament, and that he is broadly 
dealt with in the Gospel. And not this alone, but 
in his words as well as in his works, Jesus con- 
tinually shows that he reckons with Satan. Only 
think of the temptation in the wilderness, of the 
constant casting out of devils, of the great con- 
flict of evil spirits against the Savior, how he 
understood that all his sufferings and death was a 
struggle with this Prince, and how, without multi- 
plying instances, in the short "Our Father" he 
added the petition as a final prayer for all his 
people: "Deliver us from the Evil." 

All this, however, will not do. The half friends 
who have put the Old Testament aside, in order 
to adhere solely to Jesus and his Gospel, do not 


hesitate to dismiss this whole matter of Satan's 
influences, part and parcel, from their Gospel. 
And with respect to this it is evident again, that 
every such effort aims not at forming the mind 
and thought after the Gospel, but at moulding 
the Gospel after their own world of thought. 

With respect to this they who, while more faith- 
ful to the Gospel do not deny but forget the real 
workings of Satan, are not free from guilt. Or is 
it not extremely rare, that in spoken or written 
address, in psychology or in revelations of the 
inner life, the Evil One is reckoned with as a real 
factor? It should be carefully observed, that like 
a thief, Satan is most pleased when his presence 
and his work are not noticed. In circles where 
his existence is denied or ridiculed, his hands are 
altogether free to murder souls according to his 
liking. But that he can be so strangely forgotten 
by those who are more inclined to believe the 
Gospel, offers him the finest chances to poison 
souls. We may be sure that in all this denial and 
in all this forgetting of the actual existence of 
Satan, a trick of Satan himself operates. When 
the mighty spirit of Christ moved the waves of 
the sea of life in Palestine, Satan did not succeed 
with this for a moment, and Jesus compelled him 
to show himself. But now he succeeds in keeping 
himself in hiding, and unseen and unnoticed, from 
the ambush, to inw^ork his character, and conse- 
quently with better effect. 

How the working of Satan proceeds is not re- 
vealed unto us in its particulars. We only know 


that the world of men is not the only world of 
conscious beings. There are myriads of other 
spiritual beings who are known as spirits, angels, 
cherubim, seraphim, etc. It is also certain that 
this world of spirits is not separated from our 
world of men, that it exists by the side of it, 
and is in all sorts of ways related with it and 
inworks upon it. And in the second place it is 
additionally revealed, that in this world of spirits 
the antithesis between holy and unholy has broken 
out, even earlier than here on earth, and that 
from this world of spirits it has entered into our 
world of men. 

Hence there is a certain alliance between good 
spirits and good men, and also a conspiracy be- 
tween unholy spirits in the invisible world and 
unholy spirits in the visible world. Joy among 
good angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, 
and smiles of derision among evil spirits when the 
effort to bring about the fall of a lost man meets 
with success. It is all one conflict, one warfare, 
one struggle with Christ as the Head of holy 
spirits here on earth and outside of this world 
against Satan, who is the head of all unholy 
spirits among men and among devils. 

All this is clearly, broadly and exhaustively set 
forth in the Gospels, Epistles and in Revelation. 
We know this, we believe this, and are obliged to 
direct our doings and non-doings in accordance 
with this. But how these workings of unholy 
spirits upon the world of men proceeds, is wrapt 
in shadows, so that only some vague features give 


direction to our thoughts. This much, however, 
is certain, that a threefold working severally de- 
lineates itself with sufficient clearness. There are 
workings from the unholy spirit world, which, 
without definite attack, of themselves find a 
vehicle observable by us, in public opinion, cus- 
toms and habits of life, and sinful human nature. 
This is the common, the everyday recurring, the 
ever continuing process which, as it were, is in 
the very air, and of which we all undergo a cer- 
tain influence. There is a second working which 
is better defined when one of the many evil spirits 
makes itself master of the spirit of a given com- 
pany of people or of the spirit of a given indi- 
vidual. Sometimes several wicked spirits do this 
at once. Bring to mind the parable of Jesus 
(Matt. 12:45). And, then, there is a third, still 
more definite, yea, even the most definite working, 
when Satan does not employ the agency of one 
of his adherents, but when he prepares himself 
for battle, in order to make a leading assault in 
the world of spirits. 

In accordance with the spirit of the times, and 
of persons, the first, second or third working ap- 
pears more conspicuously in the foreground. This 
is seen in the days of Jesus. The main dispute 
had then to be settled, and all three of these 
workings were strongly evident. Satan himself, in 
array against Jesus and his apostles, evil spirits 
arrayed against chosen victims, and the ordinary 
workings among the rank and file of the people. 
Escape there was none. Hiding would not do. 

The conflict was in the open. Altogether differ- 
ent from now. 

Even in those days, however, Satan tried to hide 
himself. We refer to this for our instruction. 
Peter, with his sensitive nature and excitable 
mind, was used as instrument. "His 5esus to 
die on the Cross! Never!" Love for Jesus was 
the motive of antagonizing this dreadful thought 
in Jesus. And so we read: "Then Peter took 
him, and began to rebuke him, saying, 'Have pity 
on thyself! This shall not be unto thee!' " (Matt. 
16:22). The working of Satan was concealed in 
this. Peter did not realize it. But Jesus saw 
through it at once, and in turn rebuked the dis- 
ciple, who was adrift on his feelings instead of 
resting on the prophesied plan regarding the man 
of sorrows. "Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou 
savourest not the things that be of God, but 
those that be of man." Thus Satan did not gain 
a hair's breadth. Jesus unmasked him at once. 
Even with his attack from the ambush he could 
make no advance against Jesus. 

But this event is of infinite value to us. It 
shows that a direct attack of Satan can lurk in 
loveliest forms of devotion, when apparently no 
evil intent is at play, even when we have the 
impression of walking very tender ways. This 
does not say, that Satan ever attacked you per- 
sonally. It is very possible that he confined him- 
self in this to the use of one of his subordinate 
spirits. It is even possible that as yet he has 
never influenced you otherwise than by his gen- 


eral workings in the spiritual atmosphere. But 
the incident with Peter shows that you might be 
mistaken. That there might have been an attack 
of Satan when you did not in the least suspect 
it. And in any case, that the daily prayer: 
'"Deliver us from the Evil!" is no superfluous 
wealth for anyone of us. 

Thinking of a temptation that was endured, 
the question sometimes rises long afterward, 
entirely objectively: Was not this a direct attack 
of Satan on my heart, and was it not God who 
delivered and saved and preserved me? It is not 
always in the temptation to some particular great 
sin. See it in the case of St. Peter. He deemed 
rather that he was doing good. But this is cer- 
tain, that the greatest obstacle in the way of the 
world of evil spirits is your seeking and striving 
to be near unto God, to live in his secret fellow- 
ship, to choose your path in life and to follow it 
unto the end, in conscious communion with God. 

And for you, on the other hand, there is no 
safer stronghold in which to hide and safeguard 
yourself against these unholy influences than in 
being much in close nearness unto God. For this 
reason Satan is ever on the alert to interrupt this 
fellowship with God in your heart. That you 
seriously seek this hidden walk with God, is 
reason enough for Satan to venture an attack on 
you in a particular way, by no means always to 
allure you into a great sin, but very frequently, as 
in the case of Peter, by imparting unto you divert- 
ing workings of the affections. 

Be, therefore, on your guard. As soon as you 
become aware of spiritual coolness, as soon as you 
perceive that this, that or the other thing renders 
it difficult or prevents you from being, and con- 
tinuing, near unto God, then consider what in- 
fluences you are becoming subject to, what un- 
noticed inworkings take place in your soul. Shake 
yourself free from them all. And do not rest 
until you have found your hiding place close by 
the heart of God. Hesitation, procrastination will 
not do. Jesus broke the spell immediately, and 
at once repulsed Peter with the words: "Get thee 
behind me, Satan!" Brief, forceful and aggressive! 
Thus only the snare breaks, and you can escape. 



Ascension day is a Divine memorial day. It is 
the glorious memorial day of our Savior. The 
work of redemption which was to be accomplished 
on earth was now finished. Not only his bearing 
of the form of a servant; not only the way of the 
man of sorrows; not only entering in upon eternal 
death, but also the sojourn of forty more days on 
earth, in order to consecrate his apostles to the 
holy, gigantic task, which awaited them from 
now on. 

These forty days again were a sacrifice of love 
brought by Jesus. The glory of heaven allured 
him. The place at the right hand of God called 

and wooed him. The crown awaited him. But 
yet he tarried. He still remained in the sphere 
of this world. Not because it attracted him. On 
the contrary, between the risen Savior and the 
world, which was still submerged in misery, every 
tie of connection was severed. With respect to this 
world he had ceased to dwell in its midst. He had 
died unto this world, and his resurrection had not 
restored him unto it, but only to the circle of his 
saints. And so there was something anti-natural 
for him in this forty days tarrying on earth. He 
no longer belonged to it. He had become estranged 
from it and it from him. Even though he still 
tarried in it, the world would see him no more. 
He would still be in it, but out of all connection 
with it, no longer belonging to it, but to an 
higher sphere, into which he had actually entered 
by his resurrection. 

But Jesus loved his disciples. The touching 
parting wuth them in Gethsemane, the parting 
with Peter in the court room, the parting with 
John on Golgotha, could not be final. Not the 
world, but they must see him after his resurrec- 
tion. They must be initiated into their new rela- 
tion to their Lord. Regenerated in his resurrec- 
tion itself they must receive the apostolic anoint- 
ing. They must be prepared for the transition 
into the new relation, when they would be alone 
on earth and their Master in heaven. And for 
this purpose Jesus had brought this last sacrifice, 
that he did not ascend to heaven immediately 
after his resurrection, but only weeks afterward, 

and that for those many days he forewent the 
glory which awaited him on God's throne. 

But this could not last. The end must follow. 
It was an holy pause in his glorification, entered 
upon from love, but which of necessity had to be 
as short as possible. It could not, and was not, 
permitted to be a continuous intercourse with his 
own. That would not have answered his purpose. 
It would not have accustomed them to the parting 
that was to follow. And therefore there was noth- 
ing but an occasional appearance in order to with- 
draw himself again. At first more frequently, then 
more rarely, in order presently at Damascus and 
on Patmos to reveal himself but for a fleeting 
moment. In between these lies the final parting. 
The last meeting on the Mount of Olives, with 
Gethsemane at its foot, Jerusalem stretching itself 
behind it, and back of Jerusalem Golgotha and 
the cave from whence he rose. Jesus had given 
them his last command. The moment of parting 
was at hand. And then from the top of the Mount 
of Olives he lifted himself from their midst, and 
ascended so that they saw it, higher and ever 
higher, until a cloud received him out of their 
sight, and angels from the spheres of light came 
down, who gave them the last word of comfort: 
"He is gone away from you, once to return. Once 
the whole world shall be his." 

Where those heavens are, whither Jesus went, 
remains a mystery to us. We look for them above, 
and all Scripture tells us, and our own heart 
returns an echo to it, that the heaven of glory 
must arch itself above us. It is an increated need 


of our soul to look for God's throne not in our 
proximity, nor yet underneath, but above us. The 
heavens are God's throne and the earth is his 
footstool. We look up to the heavens, from whence 
light comes to us, where God's stars twinkle in 
the firmament, from whence rain descends to us 
and waters the earth and spreads blessing all 
around us. But dimensions here do not count. 
The heavens of our God are not of our materiality, 
they do not count with our distances, they are 
not comprised in the measure of the finite. Once 
they will open themselves to us from a direction 
where we did not expect it. They will not be 
where we surmised it. But in unknowTi glory 
they will open their gates to us. And into this 
glory, when he ascended, Jesus has entered. 

"Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens!" ex- 
claimed Isaiah (64:1) in great distress of soul. For, 
taken in its deepest sense, our niisery consisted in 
the fact, that by its sinful degeneracy our world 
was shut off from the heaven of our God. The 
holy above and the unholy round about us and 
in our own heart. And then there was every time 
a looking up to heaven above which seemed like 
brass, and whose closed gates and windows scarcely 
allowed our prayers to pass through. We were 
disposed to that heaven. We were designed for 
it. Only a life in communion with that heaven 
could impart the Divinely intended lustre to our 
existence here on earth. We were not able to 
climb up to those heavens, in order to unlock 
their gates. All we could do was to look up to 

that heaven, stare at it, and call to it and sup- 
plicate, that our God, or he who alone could do 
it, would rend those heavens, and afford us access 
again to them. 

And this prayer has been answered in Chriat. 
First in that he descended from heaven, and then 
in that he ascended thither again. By the latter 
far more strongly than by the former. For, surely, 
when Jesus was on earth, there was always an 
opened heaven above him, and angels of God 
ascended and descended above the Son of Man. 
But only by Jesus' ascension has communion be- 
tween heaven and earth been established on a 
broad scale, durably and permanently. He 
ascended, not as he descended, but he carried up 
our human nature in himself. He came to us 
from heaven as the Son of God, but as the Son 
of Man he returned into heaven. His ascension is 
no break of fellowship with his own, but rather 
an anchoring forevermore of the tie which binds 
him to his saints on earth. This fellowship is even 
wonderfully mutual. He our Head, und in him 
our life hidden with God, but on the other hand, 
he, our Savior, taking up his abode in the hearts 
of his own and staying near them with his 
majesty, his grace and with his spirit. And now 
there is not a moment more of interruption, far 
less of a breaking of the tie which binds our 
earth to heaven, but in the sacred mj'ster^^ we 
have an ever continuing, living, holy outpouring 
of light and brightness, of power and might from 
on high, and by the side of this, in an equally 

sacred mystery, a restless ascent of our faith, our 
love and our hope up to the throne of glory. 

By his ascent up to heaven Jesus has not be- 
come farther removed from us, but he has come 
nearer by. What now vibrates and lives and 
operates is fellowship between the King of glory 
and his saints on earth, no longer confined to the 
upper room, no more limited to a mountain in 
Galilee, but beaming forth throughout the whole 
world, wherever there are souls which he redeemed 
and saved and who, in supplication, go out to him. 

It is now an invisible, unobservable, but a force- 
ful and systematic operative Divine regiment 
which Christ as our Head makes valid in all the 
earth. In the wilderness Satan showed Jesus the 
kingdom of this world and mirrored to him a 
diabolic authority over them all. Jesus refused 
this, and for what he then refused he now received 
as crown upon his work of Redemption the spirit- 
ual and Divine government over all peoples and 
nations. Thus he perfects over all this world, 
wonderfully and majestically, the gradual prepara- 
tion of spiritual conditions which will once bring 
about the consummation, in order that then he 
may establish his eternal kingdom, in all its com- 
pleteness, in this selfsame world, from which he 

Thus have the heavens been rent, thus have the 
windows and gates of heaven been opened, never 
to be closed again, nor even to be veiled. He who 
with his prayers now stands before a heaven of 
brass, has no one to blame but his own unbelief 


and lack of spirituality. But for him, for her. 
who believes, the heavens are opened, and from 
thence pours forth into the darkness of this world 
and into the darkness of our own heart, a soft, 
blessed glow of light, love and Ufe. And the soul 
that is cherished thereby, has already now "walks 
above" among the saints of God, and with the 
smile of joy on his face, he sees the approach of 
the hour when, having finished his earthly course, 
he, too, shall enter upon the fulness of that glory. 
The early Christians realized this, and therefore, 
clothed in white garments, they carried out their 
dead who had fallen asleep in Jesus amid songs 
of joy. We, at a greater distance from the Mount 
of Olives, follow other customs, only, let it never 
be with less fixedness of hope in the heart in be- 
half of our beloved ones who have fallen asleep. 



In your most pious frame of mind, and urgent 
longing of soul to be near unto God you may not 
claim the Lord your God for yourself alone. This 
is a sinful abuse which is readily committed by 
passionate devotion. In the "Our Father" a 
plural is used, where we, when left to our own 
impulse, would readily use a singular. It does not 
say: "My Father," but "Our Father," who art in 
heaven, and the plural "us" is used in the Lord's 
prayer to the end. This does not mean that we 
may not use the singular in our devotions. In 

the "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani" Jesus quoted 
Psalm 22 and of itself there could be no plural used 
whenever the Son of God practiced fellowship 
with the Father. Jesus as such stood entirely 
alone, in holy isolation. And though it may not 
be in that exalted and peculiar sense, in which it 
was the case with Jesus, yet with us also condi- 
tions arise and experiences of soul, which isolate 
us, and of which at least we do not know that 
we have them in common with others. Then it is 
a personal condition, from which we call upon 
God, and it is natural that we use the singular 
and say: *'My God" and "my Father." 

This, however, should not be the rule, it should 
not be the common tenor of our prayer. Of itself 
this is not so when we pray together. But it 
must not be so in our quiet, solitary and personal 
prayer. In case of common need, even when we 
pray alone, we feel instinctively that this is not 
permissible. In times of shipwreck this has spon- 
taneously shown itself. If among the more than 
one thousand miners who perished at Courrieres, 
there were those in that dreadful subteranean hell 
who knew how to pray, it probably was not 
thought otherw^ise. And when recently Vesuvius 
vomited fire and sulphur, they who were devout 
did not remain at home to pray each by himself, 
but all gathered together for prayer in the churches. 

Such is the case with all men before God, in 
the common need of sin and misery. This com- 
mon need may assume a special form in each 
individual case. Sin may bear a special character 


and the misery of life may make itself known in 
a particular way to each of us. This, however, 
does not take away the fact that all sin and misery 
flows from one common source, that it makes us 
sharers of a common lot, and that it should move 
us unitedly to call upon God for redemption and 

If such is the case with our supplication from 
the midst of danger, it is the same with respect 
to our thanksgiving for grace received and with 
our prayer for safe-keeping by this grace. Every 
one's salvation and deliverance is from Bethlehem 
and Golgotha and the opened grave. One and 
the selfsame Satan seeks to work harm into the 
grace of all, and the safe-keeping of all by the 
grace of God proceeds from the inworking in our 
hearts of the same Holy Spirit and from the same 
glorious government of Christ as our King. If 
thus in sin and misery we share a common lot 
with all mankind, in the sphere of grace we share 
a common lot with all those whom the Father 
has given to Christ. Our spiritual attitude in 
holy things therefore neither can nor should be 
any other save that we know and feel that we 
approach God "with all saints" and that with all 
the saints together we stand before our God. 

Consider that the Apostle says: "With all 
saints" (Eph. 3:18). Some godly people well 
know fellowship with the godly in their own town, 
but they forget that the godly and the saints are 
not the same, and this they leave out of account. 
This does not say that it is not good and excel- 


lent to be daily in spiritual touch with such in 
one's town, in order to strengthen the faith and in 
behalf of mutual edification. Only, common fel- 
lowship with the godly is altogether different from 
the sense of sharing a common lot "with all 
saints." With "the saints" the Scripture does not 
speak of subjective, personal piety, but of objec- 
tive sanctification through and in Christ. 'The 
saints" are the redeemed, they who have been 
drawn unto eternal life. Not your choice, but the 
choice of God here counts. Not a fellowship with 
those whom you think are godly, but sharers in 
a common lot with those who have been effec- 
tively called of God. 

Thus the circle of the saints is not narrow, not 
provisional, not local, but it is a* multitude which 
no one can number, in all parts of the world, 
here and up yonder, from the daj^s of Paradise 
until now, and from now on to all eternity. As 
we sing in the Te Deum: "The holy church 
throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee." 

Hence, "with all saints" means fellowship with 
all those who have been and will be redeemed by 
the blood of Christ in your immediate surround- 
ings, in your^, whole land, in your church, in other 
churches, in other lands, both in the present, in 
the past and in the future. It is the whole "body 
of Christ" with all its members, not one excepted. 
With the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles 
and martyrs from of old, with your redeemed rela- 
tives and family members and acquaintances, who 
have gone before into eternity, with those who 

• 567 

still continue with you, with those who grow up 
frcm among the children of the church, and those 
who are still hidden in the seed of the church, or 
who are brought into the church from without. 
No one whom God has included, may we exclude. 
And that this refers not merely to your salvation, 
but also to your fellowship with the Triune God, 
and to your being near unto God, clearly appears 
from what the apostle writes so enthusiastically, 
that "with all saints" ye may be able to com- 
prehend what is the breadth, and length, and 
depth and height in the mystery of the grace of 

This exposition of the sense of your sacred fel- 
lowship is deeply significant with respect to prac- 
tical ends. When you accustom yourself to re- 
duce the multitude, which no one can number, to 
the few Christian people whom you personally 
know as members of your own church, your sacred 
horizon becomes very small and naiTOw. Then 
the people of God slink away to a few hundreds, 
and all the rest of the world appears to you like 
lost masses. If, on the other hand, you think of 
the wide circle of all God's saints, those at hand 
and those afar off, of the present and of the past, 
of those on earth and of those in heaven, and of 
those who are yet to be bom, then all the saints 
of the old Covenant at once come nearer, then 
there is life in fellowship with apostles and 
martyrs, then there is an innumerable multitude 
of brothers and sisters above, and from the rising 
generation and from those that will come after 

them, we look for a continuous increase of the 
body of Christ. 

Then discouragement and depression give place 
to a feeling of triumph and of endless glory. 
Your case then stands no more alone and by it- 
self, but thousands have shared it with you, and 
still other thousands have been far worse con- 
ditioned than you, who nevertheless have entered 
upon eternal life. You experience also the glor- 
ious effect of the magnitude of the work of grace. 
You do not belong to an insignificant, forgotten 
society, but to a multitude without end, a vast 
company which no one can number, which now 
already stands before God, or is on the way to 
the Fatherhouse, or presently is to be born from 
the almightiness of God. Then God and the work 
of his grace assume proportions of infinite great- 
ness to the eye of the soul Everything little 
and circumscribed falls away, and the pilgrim 
journey is continued, not with sighings and with 
complaints, but jubilantly in the salvation of 
God and even here with the standing of the feet 
in the gate of the heavenly Jerusalem. 

And this is the frame of mind that prepares 
you for the secret walk with God, and causes you 
to be near unto God. As long as it is only a per- 
sonal dealing with God, as though you together 
with a few other Christian souls sought a hiding 
place with God, the majesty of the work of grace 
is lost to you, and with it the majesty of his 
Divine Being. The straits of your own soul's 
condition and of the outward needs limit also the 
length and breadth, the height and depth of the 


majestic doings of God. Thus your own insig- 
nificance is readily transferred to the Eternal. 
But when you feel that you are a living member 
of the whole living body of Christ, that you are 
one of the multitude that can not be numbered, 
that you are related to all the saints above, to 
all God's saints in the whole earth, and to all 
the saints among the children, and among your 
children's children, then the pinnings of the sacred 
tent are put out widely, your outlook is enlarged, 
your love is extended to thousands upon thou- 
sands, your faith is deepened and your hope 
begins to glisten with all the radiancy of glorious 

The heart of our God is so wide of conception, 
that nothing estranges you farther from this 
Fatherheart than your owtq narrow-heartedness. 
In the Te Deum it is sung: 

"The glorious company of the apostles praise 

The noble army of martyrs praise thee." 

Sometimes the desire comes upon one that he 
might have lived in the da3^s of Isaiah, and that 
he might have companied with St. John, and 
might have witnessed the heroism of martyrs in 
the face of death. And then one thinks that all 
this is lost in an unapproachable past. Then, live 
in the sense of communion "with all saints," and 
they all will come nearer to you. They all are 
your brothers, with whom you are included in the 
one body of Christ. And the nearer you come 
to this company of God's saints above, the nearer 


you will feel yourself in the presence of God, who 
hath included you "with all saints" in the self- 
same bundle of life. 






The apostle from whose hand the richest 
epistolary legacy has come to us, was in the habit 
of opening and closing his epistles with a bless- 
ing. The one he used in opening was almost 
always: "Grace be with you and peace from God 
our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ." And 
the prayer with which he closed mostly read: 
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you 
all." It was truly exceptional, when at the close 
of his second epistle to the Corinthians he so far 
departed from his usual way, that he expanded 
his prayer, and said: "The grace of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellow- 
ship of the Holy Ghost be with you all." This 
closing prayer is particularly noteworthy, because 
the church of Christ almost everywhere has used 
it as the apostolic benediction at the close of pub- 
lic worship. Millions upon millions of times these 
sacred words, so rich of content and so tender of 
purport, have been repeated, after the departure 
of Paul, and it is for a large part now that con- 
gregations of believers return home from the place 
of worship under the impression of these words. 

In this habit of St. Paul of opening and closing 
his epistles with a benediction one can observe 
the aftermath of the manner of the East, and on 
this ground take it merely as a phrase, and merely 
as a formula of good breeding, which as such has 
no spiritual significance, at least to us. But is not 
this unspeakably superficial? Is it true that from 
of old, and even to this day, it is customary with 
people in the East, in meeting and in taking leave 
of one another, to use fairly lengthy formulas of 
salutation, and this salutation and farewell con- 
sists mostly of prayers for blessings from on high. 
But how can it follow from this, that such prayers 
are nothing but empty phrases? Is not through- 
out the whole Scripture the selfsame use in appli- 
cation? Did not our Lord himself appear to his 
disciples with the salutation of blessing: ''Peace 
be unto you!" And again has not this constant 
use in the apostolic writings given rise to the 
adoption of this ancient custom as a true integral 
part in mutual Christian fellowship? Adopted not 
merely in the church of the East, but transferred 
to the church of the West, and there also conse- 
crated by the usage of nearly twenty centuries? 
And if, moreover, as for instance in Jacob's bless- 
ings of his sons, even prophetic revelation has 
employed this benediction, by which to throw a 
beam of light upon the future, is it not super- 
ficial and thoughtless, to see in such a prayer for 
Divine favor, nothing but words and sounds, and 
to deny it all real significance? 

By the side of blessing stands the curse, and 
this also in Scripture is deeply significant. Not in 


every case. Not the curse of hated and anger. 
Not base meanness, which uses the curse as a 
poisoned weapon to wound. But the curse of him 
who is authorized to pronounce it, the curse of a 
father, or of a mother, or of one who is clothed 
with spiritual authority. Such a curse was vaHd 
as spoken under supreme responsibility, under 
inspiration from above. And such a curse came 
true. And where by the side of the curse there 
stands an equally sharply outlined address of 
blessing, which also derives its words and signifi- 
cance from the person, from the position and the 
occasion whereby and under which it took place, 
it is evident, that in this most noteworthy phe- 
nomenon of blessing and of curse, there hides a 
spiritual utterance for which in our Western lands 
and in our unspiritual times appreciation and re- 
ceptivity have all too far been lost. Of the curse 
there is almost nothing left among us, save the 
blasphemous language of profane persons who 
abuse the holy name of the Lord as expletive and 
as an expression of anger. And of the prayer of 
blessing little else remains than good wishes at 
New Year, at a birthday, or at the solemnizing 
of marriage. 

But in this mighty difference between a wish 
and the ancient address of blessing the weakened 
and abated character-trait of our utterance of life 
delineates itself. Even upon the deathbed little 
more is heard of such blessing of one's children. 
At present the only particular of a death that is 
mentioned is, that the patient passed away quietly 


and calmly, i. e. without any perceptible death 
struggle. In most cases nothing more is heard. 

In the face of all this the church usage has 
stood firm, and the congregation of God gathers 
in the sanctuary with the holy salutation and re- 
turns homeward with the address of blessing from 
the Lord. For this closing benediction the con- 
gregation even stands, or kneels, and reverently 
bows the head, and in quiet seriousness listens to 
the words of blessing, presently closed with the 
Amen. This is most encouraging, and the minister 
of the Word will do well to heighten this last act 
of dismissal by restful, calm and solemn tone. 
The preceding utterance of the words: "And 
now, receive the blessing of the Lord," is an 
introduction which tunes the heart and mind and 
consecrates and exalts. For what else utters itself 
in this salutation and final benediction than the 
glorious perception that the church of the living 
God stands in living contact with an higher order 
of things from what this world offers, and with 
him who has founded his throne in it. He who 
stands in the faith knows that he lives in a two- 
fold world. In the common world together with 
unbelievers, and in the higher world with the 
saints around God's throne, with the good angels, 
with his Savior and King, and in Christ with his 
Father and his God. 

These two worlds are dove-tailed into one 
another. From the higher order, grace, peace and 
life, power and might have come down into this 
visible world ; they have attached themselves, and 
now cleave in Christian lands to all sorts of 


Christian ordinances and usages. But the real 
meeting of these two spheres takes place only in 
believers, who still live in this visible world, and 
yet carry the higher world in their heart; the 
latter expressing itself in their communion with 
the Holy Ghost. And as often as this preponder- 
ance of the holy in believers comes to a clear 
expression through the word, there is the holy 
salutation, and presently at parting, the address of 

But this gives rise in life to a twofold sphere. 
The sphere of the unbelieving world, and the 
sphere that is breathed upon from the higher 
order of things. You are at once aware of this 
by the difference in your feelings as you move 
among children of God, or among children of the 
world. In both circles, in both spheres a dif- 
ferent tone prevails, different language, different 
love. With the children of the world the flower 
of one's inner nature inclines to close itself up; 
with the children of God this calix opens itself. 
This is no reason that one should withdraw him- 
self from the visible world. On the contrary, God 
has given us here our calling and our work. We 
should even be on our guard, not to lift ourselves 
up in spiritual pride before the children of the 
world. What better are you than they, and what 
is your higher life other than pure grace? You 
should never be unmindful even to give yourself 
to this world, like your Savior to serve it, to 
bless it with your love, and to work for its good. 
But our spiritual saving of life is always to be 


fully aware of the antithesis between the world 
and the higher order of things, and always to 
foster fellowship with that higher order of things, 
to strengthen it, to feed it, and to remove every- 
thing that might hinder or weaken it out of the 
way. This power and ability does not come to us 
from ourselves, and not from one another, but 
solely and alone from God. That which main- 
tains our vital connection with that higher world 
is exclusively the grace of Christ, the love of God 
and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost. And for 
this reason, as often as the congregation assembles, 
the minister of the Word salutes it with this 
assunince. and at the dismisses it with the 
same in the name of the Lord. 

To be near unto God is the vital strength of 
all believers. That alone and nothing else. He 
wh J wanders away from God, and becomes 
estranged from him, weakens himself, disturbs his 
inner life, and is lost again in the world. On the 
other hand he who continues to be near unto God 
and lives in secret fellowship with God, drinks in 
the powers of the kingdom each morning anew, 
lives in spiritual realities, and is breathed upon 
from on high. And this salutation of blessing 
an I this dismissal with blessin^- is the constantly 
repeated a^urance from the Triune GoJ that his 
grace, his love and his fellowship continue to in- 
cline toward you: that God will be near unto 
you, in order that you may be near unto him, 
and that it is your sin alone that deprives you of 
this blessed communion. 




Say to my people," said the Lord to Ezekiel: 
I know the things that come into your mind, 
pvcry one of them" (Ezekiel 11:5). Hence also he 
knows what should, but does not, come into it. 
\- itiier the all-seeing eye nor the all-hearing ear 
he Holy One of Israel are ever impeded. The 
. it of that eye penetrates into everything, and 
no vibration escapes the hearing of that ear. In 
one of the marble tombs at Syracuse the tyrant 
Dionysius was able to build a wondrously far- 
carr>'ing echo, that he might overhear the con- 
versations of his captured opponents. Even now 
this echo clearly returns the crackling of a sheet 
of paper at a distance of several hundred feet, 
and as the stor>' runs, nothing kept tliese prisoners 
in check like this so-called "ear of Dionysius." 
They could not put it out of mind. They thought 
of it with every word. It ruled their spirit and 
their life. . 

This is what these wretched prisoners did for 
the sake of the ear of a man. And what do we 
do about the holy ear of the all-hearing God? 
What do we do for him who does not only see 
and see through everything we do, but to whom 
also every word is known before it passes over 
our lips. Yea, who moreover scans the thoughts, 
which we will never put into words, and who is 
aware of every impulse, every motion every 
vibration, which will never crystallize itself within 
us into a thought, but which nevertheless comes 
into our mind. He who does not believe, experi- 


ences no impression, no influence, no governing 
power of that all-knowing and all-hearing char- 
acter of the perceptions of God. He acts, speaks, 
thinks and allows his inner life to operate as 
though there were no God who watches him, who 
overhears him, and whose eye inwardly searches 

He who believe.? can not act thus. With hiiu 
the fear of the Lord is identified with every awak- 
ening in the life of his soul; and when he thinks 
of God. he refrains from the evil deed for the sake 
of God's holy will; he shrinks from the unbe- 
coming word, suppresses the unholy thought, and everything sinful or demoniac that would 
enter into his spirit. But alas, his soul is far from 
being alwaj'S as fully awake as this. During long 
periods of his life, his faith, as it were, slumbers. 
Then he does not think of God. He does not 
concern him.self about God. And he is almost 
indifferent to what God observ^es in his inmost 
life, of his doings and of his omissions, and all this 
leads to sin, until the conscience begins again to 
operate, and God awakens him. Is, then, our life 
of faith from fear only? No, it is through that 
fear from love. From Horeb it was announced to 
the people of God: "I, the Lord thy God, am a 
zealous, i. e. a jealous God, visiting the iniquity 
of the fathers upon the children" (Exodus 20:5). 

It is our ble.s.sed privilege, that we may be near 
unto God. that we may enjoy his presence and 
his fellowship, and that we may taste his secret 
walk. But to our spiritual perception responds a 
perception from the side of God. To him who 
loves us more tenderly than a father, it is a 
Dvine delight, when his child is mindful of him, 

thinks of him, goes out to him, and seeks his holy 
fellowship. On the other hand Gods love is 
wounded when his child can forget him, and not 
think of him, and be engaged in mmd with 
everything save him; when, as far as it depends 
on us, he is the forsaken one. For, m order 
deeply and strongly to impress upon the heart 
the outgoing of the Fatherheart of God after 
love's fellowship with his child, God m his word 
does not shrink from representing this love to us 
in the image of conjugal affection . ^^ , • i 

In the description of connubial love m Ezekiel 
16 it is constantly declared that God hath be- 
trothed himself unto Israel. In the image of^ the 
church as bride, the passionate love which umolds 
in the relation of husband and wife, is repeatedly 
applied to God and his people As a bride lives 
solely and alone for her bridegroom so must 
God's people live solely and alone for God. And 
as desertion on the part of the bride or wife 
deeply offends the heart of the bridegroom or 
husband, wounds and bruises it, so that envy 
arises irresistibly, even jealousy burning like hre 
so the Lord our God declares that he is moved 
by holy envv when his people can forget him 
when his redeemed ones can wander away and 
desert him in his love. Yea, then, even the anger 
of quick jealousv can not be restrained. -Who 
visiteth the iniqmty of the fathers upon the chil- 
dren unto the third and fourth generation 
Thus to be near unto God has its terrible other 
side He who is not near unto God, is near unto 
something else, inclines his heart to something 
else gives his love to something else. And this 
provokes Divine jealousy. Whether in that case 


you pawn away your love to your own self, or to 
a man as your idol, to the world, or to demoniac 
spirits, the Scripture always and unconditionally 
condemns this as a drawing away of self from 
God, as a violation of faithfulness to God, as a 
wandering away from the Holy One, and as a 
desertion from him who alone is worthy of all love. 
There is here no neutral ground. It is always 
engaging the heart with something, surrendering 
the heart to something, or a coming into the mind 
of something which does not reach out after God, 
but after God's creaturely competitor, and which 
within the sacred domain of Divine love is on this 
account an enemy and an opponent. 

And this arouses holy jealousy. Not, indeed, as 
though there were passion in God, but in place 
of it there is sensitiveness in God, which with 
respect to power of operation, far exceeds all 
human passion. With conjugal love only what is 
known and observed ofifends, but there is so much 
that is not known and that consequently does not 
offend. With wedded love there is also mislead- 
ing and deception. But even this does not offend 
so long as it is not known. No bridegroom on 
earth can scan his bride to the roots of her inner 
life. This leaves a wide margin which is not 
taken into account. 

But all this is unthinkable in the case of the 
Lord your God. In all you do and leave undone, 
in all your thoughts and speech, in all your inner 
ponderings and perceptions, nothing escapes him. 
He enters, restlessly, more deeply into your inner- 
most being than the brightest beam of light into 
the bedding of the stream. And here no mislead- 
ing avails, no presentation of self other than you 


are, and no hypocrisy. His all-penetrating glance 
puts every cover aside. And these two taken to- 
gether account for the fact, that sensitiveness in 
Divine love is far more strongly moved to jeal- 
ousy, than strongest human passion can ever 
arouse brooding envy. 

When we are not remembered by our friends it 
troubles us. But it troubles the bridegroom far 
more grievously when he perceives that his bride 
is filled with other thoughts than of him. Tender- 
est love demands that we are continually engaged 
with one another, that during temporary separa- 
tion we live together in thought, and that while 
the separation lasts, we cherish no other desire 
than to meet one another again, to be near one 
another again, and in each other's company to feel 
rich and happy and blessed. Apply this to your 
love for God, to your confession that it is good 
for you to be near unto God. For this love, too, 
IS unique. It is no love by the side of another 
love, but one which far excels, and is bound to 
govern every other attachment, every other affec- 
tion, every other union of soul. It is not loving 
wife, child, church, country and God, but it is 
loving God alone, and from this love have the 
cherishing affections flow forth, with which you 
also love your wife and child, your church and 
native land. 

And is it then too much for God to ask, that 
you will always be engaged with him, that you 
will always think of him, will always let the heart 
go out to him. and that you will repress every- 
thing that enters into your mind to lead you away 
from him and to induce you to forsake him? Is it 
not God's jealousy of your love, your honor, your 


highness and your glory? And is it no violation 
of yourself and of your God when you discard 
this holy urgency of love, and play with it, and 
for the sake of religious recreation spasmodically 
return to it, only to withdraw yourself presently 
from it again, that in your innermost soul you 
may engage yourself with all sorts of things except 

The wound which this inflicts upon his holy 
love would not be so grievous if God could for- 
get you for a time, even as you forsake him. 
But God can not do this. Before there is yet a 
word in your lips, behold, he knows it altogether. 
As God himself declares: "I know the things that 
come into your mind, every one of them." Thus, 
also, let us repeat it: does he know every one of 
the things that ought, but do not come into it. 
He knows and mourns every moment that you do 
not think of him, that you are not engaged with 
him, that you do not seek him, do not desire his 
nearness, and shamefully live apart from his 
secret walk. And when in spite of all this you 
still sing with the multitude: "But it is good for 
me to be near unto God!" is there then not 
something of a provocation on your part which 
offends and which is bound to wound God? 

And if this is the reverse of what it is to desire 
to be near unto God, confess, does there not 
spring from this an entirely unthought of new 
impulse to make your seeking after God's near- 
ness an ever deeper reality in your life? As long 
as you view nearness unto God from your side 
alone, you can comfort yourself for any temporal 
loss of it by considering the compensating, un- 
speakable riches of the single moments of its 


enjoyment. But when you consider nearness unto 
God, thinking of God, being engaged with God, 
from the side of God who loves you, an entirely 
different note mingles itself in this love-song. 
Then you can not and will not grieve the Holy 
spirit. Then it is not your soul alone which seeks 
God, but far more yet, it is God who awaits the 
love of your soul. It is your God who with holy 
'jealousy is angry every moment that you with- 
draw yourself from his seeking love. 



Times differ. They are not age upon age, one 
monotonous sameness. They are rather contin- 
uous succession and restless change. And even of 
a century, which has just closed, and which as 
"the nineteenth century" almost imagined itself 
to have been the discoverer of the abiding light, 
it can be said in the words of the Psalmist 
(Ps. 102:26) : "It shall wax old as doth a garment, 
and shall be changed." From this difference fol- 
lows the "difference of signs," not unlike the dif- 
ference in weather. Sea- and landman, who are 
both dependent on the weather for sailing and 
agriculture, have learned from their youth up 
how to observe these signs. Not as wonderful 
signs that had never been seen before. But even 
as the preacher at Jerusalem taught: "That which 
has been is now; and that which is to be hath 
already been" (Eccl. 3:15). 

For the most part these "signs of the times" 
show themselves even as the signs in weather, 
solely in different degrees of strength with which 


ordinary phenomena appear, and consequently in 
their mutual relation. Whether in the evening the 
sky shows itself bright or dull red, depends upon 
the greater or lesser density with which mists or 
vapours place themselves between our eye and 
the red glow of the setting sun. And so in the 
world of spirits, an entirely distinct constellation 
exhibits itself, according as the cloud of religion 
pervades life with full weight or remains sus-* 
pended, light and extremely transparent, over the 
waters of life. 

The difference in this respect between age and 
age is evident. In the age of the Reformation 
the vast plea of religion filled almost all of life. 
In the court room, in the cabinet of princes, in 
public opinion, in the pulpit, in the market place 
and especially in the family, religion was more 
than anything else the decisive factor. From 
every side it appeared in the heavens clear, fiery 
red. Now compare with, this the eighteenth cen- 
tury. How dull its red was then. All its bright- 
ness had waned, all warmth of religion was with- 
drawn to a single mystical group, and in public 
life religion was debased to trivial reasoning, to 
ignorant self-conceit, laughter and scorn. Then 
came the nineteenth century, brought to higher 
seriousness by revolution and Napoleonic wars, 
and in the religious domain it furnished us three 
signs: 1°, in the Christian domain and in a very 
limited circle the Reveille; 2°, as a new find the 
quickly exhausted modern theology, and 3°, by 
the side and on account of this, in the broad 
domain of science, endless doubt and proud 
materialism, and among the upper classes, cold 
unbelief, a break with all religion. 


In our twentieth century, however, the table 
turns again. There is once more a reveille, but 
not in the Christian domain. It is far more a 
reveille of mystic, religious feeling, entirely inde- 
pendent of Christianity, for the most part re- 
jecting the way of truth and seeking ways of its 
own, and thus of itself falling back into ways 
which man had discovered in earlier times. 
Spiritism, theosophy, Buddhism are now the 
desired articles. A few, though these are excep- 
tions, even turn to the Crescent again. What is 
not observed, is return on a broad scale to the 
Man of Sorrows. People want to become relig- 
ious, but they must be allowed to remain anti- 
clerical. In the eighteenth century the slumber- 
ing. In the nineteenth the pouring out of the 
spirit of deep sleep. In the twentieth century a 
gradual awakening of religion, but still dozing in 
false, mystical dreams. The Christ and his Cross 
are passed by. 

The Pharisee does not observe such "signs of 
the times" (see Matthew 16:3). He thinks and 
continues to think that everything within his 
narrower circle is good and sound, and everything 
outside of it evil and unholy. And he does not 
surmise even from afar the influence which the 
change in the spirit of the times exerts upon him 
and upon his circle. The true disciples of Jesus 
do not do so. They know better. They feel 
and understand that in the spiritual domain also 
the waters of life continually merge into one an- 
other. They notice it in themselves and in their 
famihes and in their associates; they see how the 
general conditions of spirits work effects on every 
side. And with every new change they ask them- 


selves what criticism this demands at their hands, 
and what duty this lays upon them. 

They maintain their stand. They do this by 
the grace that is within, and by the spiritual 
impulse that operates in them. Though they 
should have to die for Jesus, they can not for- 
sake his Cross. With ties that can not be loosed 
the Cross lies bound on their heart. They feel 
themselves as in an oasis, around which as far as can see grins the grey spiritual barrenness 
of the desert. In this oasis they rejoice. There 
they drink from the fountain of life and enjoy 
the bread, and shade of palm trees. They make 
their children enjoy it with them. They give 
thanks, they glory, they jubilate. But nothing in 
them makes them boast of it. God Almighty has 
brought them to this oasis. Not because of any 
good there was in them. They know themselves 
in no particular better than anyone else. Each 
day, rather, they dress again the bleeding wound 
of their own heart. It is grace and nothing but 
grace. Grace, which in its entirety, never was any- 
thing but grace. , 

But the desert, round about this oasis, still con- 
cerns them. The sand waves from it fly upward. 
The hot wind travels ihrough it. And they who 
wander in this desert, are they not in many 
instances their fellow countr5-men3 not infre- 
quently of their own family? Sometimes their 
own friends. And apart from this, what talent, 
what civic virtue, what noble sense glistens among 
these wanderers. Much that is low, much that is 
common, much that is rough, it is true. Such are 
the masses, but all are not such. And praj'er in 


behalf of these wanderers, involuntarily, ascends 
from their troubled hearts. 

Even in the deepest parts of their inward life 
they undergo the noticeable influence of this 
change in the signs of the times. To be near 
unto God and to continue there is far easier when 
everything around you warmly calls for the honor 
of God, than when the spirit of the times opposes 
eveiything holJ^ This was the holy secret of a 
long period in the middle ages, the secret also of 
the fifteenth and a part of the sixteenth century. 
Almost everything pressed after God's nearness. 
Rehgion was the atmosphere which was breathed 
of itself. Hence the overpious traditions from 
both these periods. But the thermometer has 
since gone down. First it became cool, then cold, 
then shivery. Everything broke down, everything 
obstructed the way when the soul went out to 
seek God's nearness. O, so much that blossomed 
before, now froze. Hence the search after God and 
approach to his nearness demanded effort before 
unknown. It became a struggle. A climbing with 
hands and feet in order to ascend the holy moun- 
tain. And in addition to this, what mists still 
interv'ene that cut off the outlook, what effort it 
still takes to keep oneself standing above it. And 
above all, what painful distance extends between 
this high mountain top and the world below at 
the foot, which is still your world, and into which 
your daily task calls you. 

True, there is gain. That which results from 
this continuous, serious, and holy effort, ' goes 
deeper, is more enjoyable, and affords tenderer 
blessedness. He who in spite of current and 
storm drops anchor in the harbor, has higher joy 


than he who has drifted with weather and wind 
and tide. But it brings weariness. It wears on 
the mind. And the aftermath of this exhaustion 
involves the danger that the spirit of the world 
outwits j^ou, and makes you dread still more a 
new course, which is attended with danger, per- 
haps of death. If, then, forsooth, being near 
unto God at such times is more blessed, the 
joy of it is less permanent. And more times fol- 
low of wandering away and of estrangement in 

This unfavorable change in the signs of the 
times also brings new duties. The captain who 
safely made the harbor through curretit and 
storm, can not be indifferent to the other sailors, 
who, less fortunate than himself, outside still 
struggle with death. Or, he who has reached the 
oasis, and quenches thirst and feasts, should 
not be indifferent to the long caravan that still 
wanders amid mortal dangers in the desert. And 
you, who by grace, and nothing but grace, re- 
fresh yourself in the nearness of God, you should 
not, can not, if rightly disposed, be selfishly indif- 
ferent to the thousands and thousands who, lost in 
byways, do not know Christ, do not understand 
the cross, and therefore live without God in the 
world. No hardness therefore for them, but Divine 
pity of soul. No pity that spitefully scorns and 
repels, but pity that by courage invites, and as a 
sacred magnet attracts. Never hide nor cloak 
your religion. Never indulge in guilty silence or 
behavior as though you were one of them. Never 
practice cowardice that deems itself love. . But 
understand them. Enter into . their, condition. 
Show them not your own wisdom, but your heart. 


Always let them feel that you care for their 
eternal welfare. 

In order that you may do this, do not separate 
yourself, but take part in actual life. Be at home 
in what the things of the world, under God's 
providence, provide of interest and beauty. Al- 
ways keep open a space where you can meet 
worldly people, discover yourself to them, and 
talk with them. Truly, their estrangement can 
become ill will and resistance. A moment may 
come, when, by forgetting yourself, you might 
turn the holy into ridicule. And then breaking 
away may become duty. But even as on the way 
to the cross your Savior ever had his eye on the 
world, and on the cross still prayed for forgiveness 
for those who knew not what they did, so should 
the eye of your seeking love be upon, and your 
prayer continue in behalf of, those who have 
wandered from the fold of God. In this seeking 
love and in this prayer you will have the surest 
sign that you are not mistaken, but that you your- 
self in all reality are near unto your God. 



Our secret walk with the Eternal does not fol- 
low a fixed, uniform model. That which presents 
itself in this exceedingly holy and deeply spiritual 
domain in an imitated form, arouses the suspicion 
of insincerity. Even in human fellowship all 
friendship of a more intimate sort struggles to 
free itself from the stress of conventional usage. 
Uniformity only prevails, and only may prevail 
in human intercourse when contact in broader 

circles is superficial, which brings the kindly smile 
to the face, but does not evoke it from the heart. 
Our life with God can not subject itself to the 
mechanical. Even as in nature, the utterance of 
life in the spiritual realm is organic. And as 
every tree unfolds a different leaf, and every stem 
a flower-bud of its own, so every human heart 
discloses itself to God in its own way, sings an own 
song unto God in an own tune, and in the secret 
walk with the Almighty tastes an intimacy of 
enjoyment which corresponds to the proper need 
of its own inner existence, and can not be enjoyed 
in just that way by any one else. 

If anywhere, the apostolic word applies here: 
"With one after this manner, and with another 
after that." Sex exerts influence on this, and 
temperament, conditions of life, nationality, 
nature, disposition and character. And even 
where these data show themselves almost exactly 
alike in the members of the same family, there 
is yet such a great difference in what is personal 
that two brothers or two sisters only very rarely 
exhibit entire likeness of appearance in their 
mystic, religious nature. 

A sharply marked difference with respect to 
this shows itself not only between two or more 
persons; a similar difference also shows itself with 
the selfsame person. Your own sacred sensations 
in your search after nearness to God are by no 
means always of like nature. It is evident that 
they differ moreover in degree of distinctness of 
impression. But that is not all. They also dif- 
fer in character and nature. They are altogether 
different in moments of intense joy from what 
they are in moments of dire need and great 


anxiety. Robust health or wasting disease imparts 
an altogether different stamp to your inner exist- 
ence. After victory over self in the hour of 
temptation your fellowship with God is of an 
entirely different nature from what it is after 
fainting in sin and fall. Under all this the heart 
is always the selfsame organ, but entirely different 
combinations of registers are opened every time, 
and constantly changing is the chord. And this 
continuous changing and becoming different must 
every time be pointed out, because death reigns 
supreme in imitation, in sameness, in uniformity, 
and rich, full, blossoming life of godliness only 
revels in endless variety and uniqueness. 

One difference can not be emphasized suffi- 
ciently: to-wit, the difference in age. The apostle 
describes it so accurately: "When I was a child, 
I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I 
thought as a child" (I Cor. 13:11). But it did 
not continue so. Later it was altogether different: 
"When I became a man, I put away childish 
things." Consider carefully that the apostle men- 
tions this difference between the existence of a 
child and that of a man, when he treats of the 
personal knowledge, which we have of our God. 
The working of this difference, of course, is far 
more delicate. For the sake of brevity the apostle 
merely places the child by the side of the full- 
grown man. It needs but a reminder, however, 
that the lad and the young girl exist differently 
from the youth and the young maiden. That the 
man in the strength of his life is different from 
the man in his declining years, and that at the 
end of the pilgrim journey the grey old man 
again presents an own image with own needs of 


soul. And all these transitions in age and con- 
ditions of soul exert of themselves a necessary- 
influence upon our communion life with God. 
What comes, develops itself from what went 
before. Thus with the regular, undisturbed de- 
velopment of person there is a continual enrich- 
ment, strengthening and deepening of personality. 
Moreover every new phase of life adds to what 
went before a ne\Miess of utterance, even in such 
strong measures that the old man finds it difficult 
to think himself back in the threatening struggle 
of passions, in which he had to defend or to 
recover his fellowship with God. But though 
modification, change and reforming of the secret 
walk goes on until the end, Christ himself indi- 
cated that with respect to this there is a striking 
difference between the child and the man, which 
lends an altogether proper type to the inner 
existence of each; and neglect to recognize this 
radical difference frequently ruins fundamentally 
the Christian training. 

Provided the family and other surroundings 
do not from the first choke the seed of religion 
in a child, the mind of the child is religious. Not 
by pretension, but by receptivity for holy impres- 
sions and by silent reverence for the Eternal 
Being. To teach a child how to pray, when it 
is done under Christian guidance, and in no 
mechanical way, is a beautiful and tender delight 
of soul. This is not so because of his knowledge 
of the holy. But because even when the child 
can not yet read, and is far less able to follow the 
catechism, let alone to understand it, he stands 
instinctively related with the world of hidden 
things. He can give himself no account of this. 


He is not conscious of it, and therefore can not 
explain it. But it is evident even from his fear 
in the dark, or at strange sights and sounds. 

This fear shows that the child knows and per- 
ceives the existence of another world from that 
which he sees with his eyes. Hence his faith in 
the reality of the phantoms that create his fear. 
This sense of the existence of a mysterious world, 
and the perception that this mysterious world 
can unveil itself, immediately governs the mind 
of the child. His delight in fables and fairy tales 
is directly connected with this, and imparts to 
the soul of the child that intensity and depth 
which addresses you so alluringly from his eye. 
And by this same trait the child instinctively 
opens his heart to religion. It is an unseen work- 
ing that goes out from the unseen world upon the 
heart of the child. It is God himself who plaj's 
the tender harp in the child heart. This natural 
religiousness of the child is more closely related 
with the life of the blessed than the religion of us 
who are full grown. With us a whole world of 
thought, of reasoning and consequent doubt enters 
in between, which is only lifted out again at our 
death. Hence the word of Jesus, that "to become 
as a little child" is regeneration of our person 
which alone admits us into the kingdom of heaven. 

Nothing therefore is more cruel and painful 
than to see a child abandoned to leading and 
training which has no understanding of this, and 
which treats the child as a small adult. This 
kills and destroys the childtype in the childheart. 
Cruel and painful is the artificiality which teaches 
the child to pray, but with a voice without tender- 
ness, as a something that must be done, without 


praying with the child, so that the child feels 
more disturbed in his religious impulses than led 
and helped. It is equally cruel and painful, in 
the presence of the child, to be unsympathetic, 
rough and hard in holy things. This hurts the 
heart of the child, and then it does not take long 
for the tender germ of religion in the heart of the 
child to be choked. It is cruel also to let the 
years of childhood pass without training the child 
in holy things, and to think that religion will 
come somehow to him later on. The early years 
of life are the appointed time in which to let the 
foundation of all religion, which is fellowship with 
God, crystallize in the heart of the child. 

In the childheart there is natural receptivity 
which, when it is led and trained in a reverent 
way, imparts a bent to the heart whose effects 
will be beneficial for all of later life. On the other 
hand, if this is not cultivated, and this first recep- 
tivity is destroyed, even though the religious 
sense may awaken later on, it may always lack 
that fervor and tenderness which Jesus demands 
in our childlikeness. 

This danger can only be averted by bringing 
the child at once, in his own way, after his nature 
and type, into fellowship with God himself. The 
child should learn to know sacred history, the 
sacred truths of the faith, and hymns and sacred 
songs. All this is excellent. But this will not 
avail unless first of all the child's instinctive per- 
ception of a mysterious world unfolds into an 
immediate perception of his fellowship with the 
all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent God. 




The sublime note of joy with which the apos- 
tolate went out into the world, concentrated itself 
in the confession: ''The Word was made flesh, 
and dwelt among us." The Gospel did not first 
come in Bethlehem, it resounded already in Para- 
dise, and both Moses and the prophets are ignored, 
when the gospel of grace is said to have begun 
with the Apostles. Nay, rather the Israel of the 
Prophets had the selfsame Gospel as we. You 
need but turn to the writings of New Testament 
evangelists and apostles to find yourself again and 
again referred back to the Old Testament, to see 
the proof of the truth drawn from this ancient 
source, and to find sharply outlined, and to us fre- 
quently surprising, indications that the treasures 
of the new covenant have been deposited ages 
ago in the old covenant, even though at first in 
germ form. 

No, the difference and the antithesis between 
what lies before and after Bethlehem consist in 
something else. There is undoubtedly a positive 
and an absolute difference between the gospel 
before and after the manger cradle. But this dif- 
ference does not consist in greater or lesser riches 
of the Old or New Testament gospel. No, the 
old and new covenant only differ in this respect, 
that the Old Testament lacks the reality of the 
New Testament. This was generally indicated by 
speaking of the dispensations of shadows and of 
fulfilment; but this statement is far too weak. 
The difference can be expressed more accurately 
by- saying, that in the Old Testament the image 


is shown, but in the New Testament the reality 
itself has appeared in the person of Christ. "The 
law, which is given by Moses" (John 1:17) does 
not refer to the ten commandments. The law 
here is the name of the whole Old Testament, 
taken as an instruction, a revelation, a word of 
God addressed to Israel. This word, revelation, 
instruction which God gave in figure, began to 
assume a form with Moses. But when Bethlehem 
sees the birth of the Holy Infant, something 
entirely different appears. It is no more instruc- 
tion and announcement, but it is truth that is 
given. And in this connection truth means what 
we call reality. The image is not the truth, the 
shadow is not the truth. Image and shadow in 
themselves are unreal. That which is true only 
comes, when in tangible reality he appears, whose 
image has been seen from afar, and whose Divine 
shadow has fallen upon Israel. 

Therefore the Apostles emphatically declared 
that they had seen Jesus, that they had heard 
him, that they had handled him. They empha- 
sized the fact that now the Word has received 
flesh, i. e. reality in the earthly. This empha- 
sized no less the fact that Jesus has been foretold 
that he has appeared at times, and that he has 
vanished again, but that at last he has come in 
full reality, and that from Bethlehem to Gol- 
gotha he has dwelt among us. 

To dwell in a place is really and permanently 
to tarry there. Not merely to come, but also to 
stay. Not to turn in for the night a single time, 
but continuously and permanently to reveal one's 
presence in one. place. God. dwells in heaven and 
his abode is in the light. But though the Scripture 

declares that God dwells in the high and lofty 
place, it immediately adds that this same God 
looks down upon the children of men on earth. 
Heaven and earth are not intended to be sep- 
arated, but to form a higher unity, so that the 
Lord our God dwells siinultaneously both in 
heaven and on earth. It began like this. God 
dwelt in Paradise and originally the fellowship of 
man with God and of God with his creature was 
very real and unbroken. The separation only 
came when by sin man expelled God from this 
earth, drove him out of his own creation and 
from fellowship with his own most exalted crea- 
ture. But God takes no pleasure in this. Expelled 
by sin, he returns in seeking grace. "Adam, where 
art thou?" is the call of God, with which he re- 
turns, and claims his world again. 

At length God regains his abode on the earth. 
Provisionally in the cloud, in the column of fire 
and in the tabernacle, but fully symbolical on 
Zion. "This is my habitation. This is my rest," 
said the Lord, "here will I dwell" (Ps. 132:14). 
Zion by the side of Bashan indicates that God is 
still expelled from the world at large, but that in 
Zion he has prepared a place of rest for himself, 
an oasis of grace, a habitation of his^ own. This 
sacred symbolical return of God to this world 
prophesied age upon age in advance the glorious 
Bethlehem event. And when at length the full- 
ness of time is come, and the Babe is born in 
Bethlehem, God no longer dwells symbolically in 
Zion, but in full reality in Christ. And therefore 
the Apostles preach with so much delight that 
God has been revealed in the flesh, and that re- 


vealed in the flesh, i. e. in reality he has dwelt 
among us. 

Hence Bethlehem is the real and actual return 
of God to earth, in order here on earth permanently 
to dwell with us and among us. This is the restora- 
tion of what was real in Paradise. And does this 
end with Golgotha, or if you please, with the 
ascent into heaven? By no means. For God to 
dwell on earth is only possible in the fullest sense 
through Golgotha and the Ascension. Between 
Bethlehem and Golgotha there was real dwelling 
of God upon earth, but in the most extremely 
limited sense. A dwelling which was confined to 
one people, and which among that one people was 
limited to the narrow circle of those who followed 
Jesus. The promise, however, ran, that God 
would dwell on earth among all peoples, in all 
parts of the world, and that he would be approach- 
able from age to age by every soul that feared 

And this full, extended, unlimited, permanent, 
ever continuous, and ever self-expanding dwelling 
of God among the children of men was only pos- 
sible when Jesus was no longer seen and heard, 
and handled among one people, in a narrow circle, 
but when he was elevated to the throne of grace 
and glorified. From thence he could extend his 
working to every people and to every heart. For 
this reason he declares in the hearing of his dis- 
ciples: "It is expedient for you that I go away," 
and also adds: "When I shall have gone away, I 
shall come again, and with the Father make my 
abode in you" (John 14:23). 

Thus there is a threefold dwelling of God on 
earth. First, symbolical in Israel on Zion. After 

that the reality of the flesh, when Jesus walked 
about on the earth. And now, in the third place, 
the dwelling of God among us and in us in all 
parts of the earth. Our heart is made a dwelling 
place of God in the Spirit. Our heart is the real 
Zion, and therefore our redeemed human heart is 
the temple in which he dwells. Sin expels God. 
In grace, God resolves to come back and to dwell 
again among us and in us. This constitutes all 
the mysticism of real, godly religion. Religion 
does not begin with this. It rather begins with 
an outward confession; with knowing God only as 
one who lives above, and is always conscious of a 
fatal distance between self and the Most High 

But grace for grace gradually works modification 
in this, and makes internal what began with being 
external. To have the Spirit, is to have God him- 
self in one's own heart, to carry him about in 
one's own soul, and the new commandment of 
brotherly love is nothing but the commandment, 
that as you carry God about in your own heart, 
you should discover that same God dwelling in 
the heart of the brother, and that you should join 
heart to heart, because that selfsame God fills the 
heart of each. But although this is so, most peo- 
ple are afraid to face it. Though God dwells in 
their heart, they every time put him back into 
the corner of their heart. Thus they become 
aware again of distance, and for the greater part 
withdraw their heart from God. And this is the 
sin of the saints. 

But grace holds on. God will not let you go. 
From the corner of the heart in which you hold 
him back, he comes every time again to capture 


a part of your heart, till at length you throw up 
your hands, open your whole heart to him, and 
now experience with joy that he really in Christ 
has made his abode in you. This is the contin- 
uous Christmas gospel. Not a Christmas gospel 
that remains standing by the manger, but such 
an one as passes over from the manger into your 
own heart. First the jubilant note of the aposto- 
late : "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among 
us." And then the song of praise on the part of 
God's saint: "The Word was made flesh, and has 
taken up his abode in mine own heart." 



Refreshment of grace is particulaily rich when 
also in departing from this world the soul is priv- 
ileged to be near unto God. On the death-bed 
highest bliss has often been enjoyed. Many have 
departed, not only strong in faith and in higher 
clearness of mind, but also with the foretaste of 
heavenly joy. No rule can be made for this. 
A blessed death-bed is not alwaj^s the reward of 
holier-mindedness and of deeper spirituality. A 
death bed that enhances the glory of God has not 
infrequently been the portion of one who in life 
had wandered far away from his Lord. And on 
the other hand painful distress has been witnessed 
on the part of those who for many years had 
known the secret walk with God. 

As a rule this depends upon all sorts of things 
that have nothing to do with a devout frame of 
mind and heart. First upon age, temperament, 


the nature of disease, degree of weakness, state of 
nerves, freedom of speech or diffidence, and upon 
the longer or shorter period of dying. In part, it 
also depends upon the physician. Whether he con- 
ceals the certainty, or at least the probability of 
the approaching end, or whether frankly and hon- 
estly he acquaints the patient with the exact state 
of things. Again it depends upon family and 
friends, and upon those who care for the sick, 
whether they are spiritually inclined, and assist 
the patient in holy meditations, or whether they 
provide so-called diversion and vex him with 
multifarious earthly concerns. 

If it happens that all this co-operates for good, 
and that he who is about to appear before God 
lies for a few days at least with a waiting heart 
at the gate of eternity, watching for its opening 
unto him, and meanwhile bearing witness to the 
power of everlasting life, sometimes in terms 
which far excel ordinary speech — then special 
grace operates in such a dying person. The Lord 
truly imparts this special grace to comfort his 
dying saint, but mostly to glorify himself, and to 
cause a testimony of striking power to go out 
from so glorious a death-bed. 

The desire to pose as a saint is a sin which in 
its more refined forms cleaves to all religion. It 
has even been observed in martyrs. This desire 
would be more generally in evidence if the Lord God 
did not prevent it by weakness and disease. And 
in this prevention of making a show of one's piety 
we are bound to appreciate grace. But some- 
times dying grace shows itself in a higher form, 
'when . soniething of almost prophetic inspiration 
takes hold of a dying saint. This was strongly 


evident in the case of Jacob the patriarch. But 
though in lesser measure, occasionally such higher 
inspiration is still witnessed among us when it is 
not merely a dying in faith, not merely a falling 
asleep in Jesus, but when fully awake and with 
open eye it is a triumphant passing through the 
gate of eternity. In such a case there is clear 
consciousness, and from it a holy testimony, be- 
cause he who dies knows and feels until his latest 
breath, that he is near unto God. 

But from this it may not be inferred that a less 
triumphant death implies that the soul was de- 
prived of God's nearness. Bodily weakness all too 
often affects the mind, so that little is observed 
from without of what inwardly takes place in the 
spirit. God is able to do, O, so much in and for 
the soul of which a third person can have no 
knowledge. When an infant is carried from the 
cradle to the grave, no one can say that God 
was not able to minister grace to him. But no 
one saw anything of it. The little one himself 
knew nothing about it. The same can take place 
in sleep. Would anyone say, that while we sleep, 
God's ministry is excluded for seven or eight 
hours from our heart? In great sickness some- 
times one can be unconscious for several days 
together. Would God, then, all those days stand 
powerless before this disabled soul? The point 
in case of the infant, in sleep or in sickness is, 
that gracious ministry can take place on the part 
of the Holy Ghost, which through physical causes 
can not be observed from without, but remains 
concealed within. 

This physical hindrance occurs in most cases by 
far when the end draws near. Most strongly ixj 

the case of those who die unconsciously in a 
swoon; sometimes very strongly with the sick, 
whose pulse is almost gone, and whose breath can 
scarcely be felt. And of these no one may say 
that, on account of this, their soul passed away 
in secret, and was estranged from God. Omnip- 
otence and grace are able to do in holy secrecy 
what can not be observed by human eye or ear. 
The consciousness of him who died depended 
from the nature of the case upon the strength 
that still operated in his brain. But suppose the 
brain refused, should the inner life of the soul 
on this account be deprived of grace? Presently 
the brain shall refuse to function altogether, when 
without a clouded mind the soul shall know and 
glorify God. "To be near unto God" in dying, even 
if not discerned by any outside person is nothing 
else than already an entrance here in part upon 
that which after death becomes altogether and 
wholly so; the beginning of the new condition, 
when separated from the body, entirely incor- 
poreal, our person is and companies with God. 

But apart from this, while we continue our 
pilgrim journey on earth, the Divine ministries in 
behalf of the dying are deeply significant to us 
as a memento mori. This is what Asaph's mes- 
sage implied: ''Whom have I in heaven but 
Thee?" (Ps.73:25). By itself this means to know 
nothing in heaven but God. which is quite the 
same as to love God with all the mind and soul 
and heart. But Asaph's question puts the matter 
still more clearly before us. The struggle of our 
heart on earth is, that it goes out after all sorts of 
things, including God. This struggle is laid upon 
us, inasmuch as God himself has related our heart 


to all sorts of persons on earth, and has endowed 
it with powers to appreciate the glories of nature, 
and has imparted all sorts of inclinations and call- 
ings to us, which go out after visible things. The 
Stylist who withdraws his ej'es from all earthly 
things, so that with nothing about him but air 
he might seek after God, evades the struggle and 
becomes unnatural. The holy art of the child 
of God is to possess things that are seen and 
handled in such a way, that he can truly say, that 
nothing on earth pleases him but God. This only 
means to say, that he only regards all visible 
things as things which are of God, and exist for 
the sake of God, and must serve God. Thus his 
pleasure in God embraces and includes all these 
other things. But in such a way that they are 
only considered insofar as they are subjected to 
God, and as they reveal his Divine power. 

Whether in deed and in truth this is the case 
with us, becomes evident only in dying. For 
then all these things fall away from us, and God 
alone remains. It has been tried to transfer 
earthly desires into heaven, by picturing all sorts 
of other persons and means of enjoyment there 
by the side of God. Mohammedans go farthest 
in this. But among Christians not a few regard 
heaven first of all in connection with their own 
dead, that there they might resume with them 
the former life. Thus even in heaven they imagine 
a whole world again by the side of God. This 
confuses the spirits. For he alone who in dying 
expects nothing in heaven but God, shall also find 
in the Fatherhouse, through and under God, that 
other holy fellowship. But this shall have no 


other purport than the better to glorify the God 
and Father of all in Christ. 

This same thing must here be applied to our 
secret walk with God. We must frequently ask 
ourselves: If you had nothing, absolutely noth- 
ing aside from God, would your soul be perfectly 
satisfied? When you seek and endeavor and 
strive to be near unto God, is it that you might 
rest in him with all your heart, or is it perhaps 
merely that you might find in him the helper, 
who can give you all sorts of other desired things 
after which your heart goes out really the more 
stronglj'^? Let no one complain that he who has 
God and him alone, has nothing but God. For 
he who has God in him has everything. But that 
3'ou might test the sincerity of your own personal 
piety, you should know for yourself whether you 
are so concerned about God, that though all other 
things are added, you are intent upon him alone. 
Or, whether your heart really seeks the other 
things, and in addition to them God, through 
whose help you might obtain them the more 
surely. Or finally, whether you want to become 
a partaker of God and with him of the other 

And in behalf of this test, anticipation of the 
hour of death has uncommon value. That you 
imagine to yourself the moment when everything 
on earth shall fall away from you, and as far as 
you are concerned, shall cease to exist. That 
whether, when you enter upon the thought that 
you will have nothing in heaven forever but the 
Triune God, it lifts your heart up to the highest 
foretaste of holy joy, in the sense that in all 
honesty you can say that it is good for you "to 

be near unto God", because you have nothing 
beside him in heaven, and because you desire 
nothing beside him on earth, all the days of 
your pilgrim journey that still remain. 



More than twenty centuries have not been able 
to darken the golden glow of the immortal song 
that has come to us in Psalm 42. And with all 
the bitter estrangement from God that character- 
izes human life, the priests of art still unite with 
the redeemed of the Lord in giving the song of 
"The hart that panteth after the water-brooks" 
a place which is far above every other l)Tic that 
voices the deep longing of the human heart after 
the fountain of all blessing. The passion that 
thrills in this Psalm, the enthusiasm that breathes 
in this glorious song is striking. Our most blessed 
experience is "To be near unto God." And in the 
face of distraction and temptation, our fainting 
soul can turn away from the world unto God, in- 
asmuch as a voice whispers within that he who 
forsakes God robs his own heart of peace. 

We have often turned to God and have knocked 
at the door, to be admitted again to the secret 
walk with God, after we had made the discovery 
in hours or days of wandering, that the joy of the 
world is vain and that its glory is deceptive. At 
another time we have, as it were, allowed our 
heart to be taken to God by one who "holy and 
humble of heart" allured us back to God. At 
another time again, either a wounded heart or 


some great anxiety, or want in which we almost 
perished, impelled us to seek aid and comfort with 
God in his holy nearness. The paths by which 
the heart comes to God wind themselves through 
all the parts of our life. And however often they 
are abandoned, these paths every time disclose 
themselves anew. But in all this there is no play 
of sacred ardor. In such moments if left to itself 
the heart would rather not incline toward God. 
And it is either an inward necessity or a stimulus 
from without, that drives the half-unwilling and 
self-suflBcient heart to God. 

But in this Psalm the heart drives itself. Irre- 
sistible longing after the living God arises not 
from without, but from within the heart itself. 
It is not from an accidental circumstance, not from 
a cause which operates from elsewhere, not from 
the promptings of conscience, not from urgency 
of need, neither from prudence nor calculation, 
but from the new nature itself, from the regen- 
erated nature of the heart, that the longing after 
God, the sense of inability to do without God, 
the impetuous hastening after the living God, 
springs. Even Augustin's exclamation: "My heart 
is restless, till it rests in thee," pales before this 
fervor. For here it is thirsting. Here it is thirst- 
ing after the living God, even as a man or a brute, 
whose blood through exhaustion is dried up, not 
merely calls for moisture, but cries out aloud for 
the same, as far as the parched palate and husky 
throat still allow this to be done with audible 
sound. The figure is borrowed from the animal- 
world, where mention is impossible of a moment's 
consideration, pious purport or intentional call- 
ing. From the hart, which exhausted and dis- 


abled cries as in despair, because having at last 
reached the stream-bed finds that there is no 
water there, and which now, from the mere 
impulse of nature, because it is ready to suc- 
cumb, and is unable longer to go without drink, 
breaks the air with its desperate cry for water 
in the dried-up bedding; because presently it must 
faint if water does not come. 

This impulse of nature, this passionate desire, 
this almost dying of thirst after God on the part 
of the soul, this consuming longing after the living 
God, is the exalted, striking, enchanting char- 
acter of this Psalm, which at the same time puts 
us to shame. For how many have been the 
moments in your life when, without the pressure 
of need, or solicitation from another, or sting of 
conscience, from a purely natural impulse of soul 
you have thirsted after the living God? You feel 
and appreciate, in listening to these moving tones, 
in singing yourself this glorious song, that not only 
at times, but always, this ought to be the state 
of the heart; that God created you for this pur- 
pose; that his plan concerning you intended such 
glorious longing in you after God; that every 
time this plan ceased to operate in you, you fell 
from the heights of your nature; and that you 
sin against grace, when at least in your reborn 
nature this pressure, this thirst, this intense long- 
ing for the living God can be silent. 

As through exhaustion blood cries for water, 
and utterly fails unless relieved, so we have re- 
ceived a nature from God which, normal and 
unhurt, must cry after God or faint. Piety which 
at times imagined that it already stood strong 
and secure, here feels itself sink away, because it 


has so seldom attained unto this passion, this 
consuming longing after God. It is your holy 
exaltation, a solemn seal upon your human nobility, 
that your nature has so been created that such 
may be the case and can be. It is at the same 
time a deep humiliation that this nobility of 
higher origin so rarely exhibits itself in the full- 
ness of its strength. But it is also a stimulus 
which leaves you no rest, which makes you turn 
in upon yourself and think, and which, under 
these changing perceptions, makes the thirst after 
the living God to be felt, and as soon as it is felt, 
makes its quenching to be experienced in 0, such 
a blessed way, because God draws near unto your 

"So panteth my soul after Thee, God. 
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God." 
That 'iiving" also is here an image of nature. 
There is stagnant water, which is dead, and be- 
comes marshy and poisonous, and is unfit to re- 
fresh man and animal. The hart therefore panteth 
not merely after water, but after the water- 
brooks, i. e. after the fresh, murmuring, flowing 
water that lives. *'And thus," says the Psalmist, 
"panteth my soul, yea thirsts my soul after the 
living God." Not merely after a confession of 
God, not merely after a representation of God, 
not merely after a reminder of God, not even 
after a Divine majesty, which far removed from 
the soul stands before it as a God in words or in 
phrases, but after God himself, after God in his 
holy outpouring of power and grace, after God 
who lives, after God who in his life inclines him- 
self toward you, who with his life pervades you, 

and who in holy manifestations of love reveals 
himself to you, and in you, as the living God. 

You realize that here all learning falls away; 
all dogma, all formularies, everything that is ex- 
ternal and abstract; everything that translates 
itself into words, that in the word it may dry up 
and wither. It is not your idea, not your under- 
standing, not your thinking, not your reasoning, 
not even your confession, that can quench this 
thirst. This ardent longing goes out after God 
himself, until in your soul's transport of love, you 
feel in your own heart the warmth of the Father- 
heart of God. It is not the name of God, but God 
himself whom the soul thirsts after, and of whom 
it can not bear to be deprived; God himself in 
the outshining of his life. And this outshining of 
his life must permeate you. It must be assimi- 
lated in the blood of your soul. 

The Psalmist sought this in the Sanctuary. He 
was from Israel. And in Israel the clear, rich, 
full enjoyment of God's presence was confined 
to Zion. God had chosen Zion as the place where 
he would give himself to be enjoyed in this full- 
ness by his people. At that time the life of the 
world drew itself too mightily away from God. 
Idol upon idol filled the world. And therefore 
the presence of the Lord was symbolically cen- 
tered between the cherubim on Zion. To trans- 
fer this to the congregations in church-buildings 
in our behalf is to cut the nerve of this Psalm. 
For though there is indeed much in our sanctu- 
aries that draws us to God, and much in the 
world and even in our homes that draws us away 
from God, this again would prove itself to be 
the stimulus from without. And what this Psalm 


intends, is thirst in the heart itself, which from 
the blood of the soul cries after God, 

Zion is not your prayer cell. Zion is not your 
church building. Zion is not even your Christian 
association. What Israel found on Zion symboli- 
cally is for us reality in Christ; in your Vindi- 
cator and King, himself God, to whom be glory 
both now and forever, Amen. 

He who is redeemed is in Christ, and Christ is 
in him. As living member he has wonderfully been 
incorporated in the mystical body of Christ. His 
regenerated nature has most intimately become 
one with Christ, and in this mystical life with 
Christ alone, the heart that thirsts after God, 
drinks in the life from God, And therefor "'to be 
near unto God, *'yea. the drinking in of the life of 
God with all the passion, all the thirst of our 
soul, is not bound for us to any place, to no 
presence of others, to no day, to no altar and to 
no priest. Every place, wheresoever, can at any 
moment become a Zion to us. It but depends on 
this one thing: that God is approached in him in 
whom alone there is access, and who ever iiveth 
to make intercession for us (Hebr. 7:25). 




























DEMCO 38-297