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CHAPTER XIX

THE APPLE TREES

BUT there was a warning the Master had to give, when he had spoken of the joy and gladness of the men who eat the corn, and drink the wine of God.

“Understand me, dear children,” he said, “we may have this good and blessed enjoyment, and then glory in it, as if it were something of our own, and even the blessed work of God may be a temptation to our pride and self-righteousness. For nature will take pride even in the blessed joy of the Lord.

“Have you never been into an orchard, and seen the apples that had dropped from the trees, and had been left lying on the ground? After they dropped down, the unclean worms and maggots came and made holes underneath the apples, and ate out the heart beneath the rind. And though all the apples might look fine and sweet, and ripe and yellow, so that to you they were all alike, as long as you only saw them lying there, yet if you were to take them up one by one, and handle them, and turn them round, perhaps you would scarcely find two that were not worm-eaten and full of holes.

“And so, dear children, there are great experiences, and beholdings of the Face of God, times of joy and adoration, so that we may feel ourselves in the third heaven like the blessed Paul, and yet so much may we be exalted by the very joy of God, that we shall need a messenger of Satan to buffet and beat us.

“Yes, we might be great prophets, and do great signs, and heal sick people, and discern spirits, and foretell things to come.

“In one word, children, we might have and do all things, and yet be worm-eaten apples after all. Therefore beware.

“We have been speaking of the high things of God, which the pride of the heart may feed upon. So is it with lower things — for pride will feed on the lowest as well as the highest. Thus in giving money — if we give it in loving service to another, or for the Lord’s work, and neither tell other people, nor commend and praise ourselves in our inmost hearts, it is well. But those who give great gifts, and do great works, are very often worm-eaten apples. When people put up beautiful windows and altars in churches, and perhaps have their coat-of-arms upon the windows, do they not desire that every one should know what they have done? But a little sum given in quietness to God, to be known by Him alone, is far better than if we were to build a great church, and ask for the prayers of men as a payment for our good works.

“Leave it to God, dear children, and trust Him to make it up to you, if you think you are losing anything by not asking for prayer to be made for you.

“Be sure of one thing, that the only possessions you have, are your nothingness and your sin. All besides is not yours, but God’s. A man who owns this is a fruitful tree in the garden of God, and on such a tree alone will the sound fruit be found.

“There may be far finer apples, large and yellow, on the trees around, and on a fine day you see them all on the trees, and you think the large yellow apples are the best.

“Then comes the wind and the storm, and the apples fall from the trees, and you find out how many are eaten out by the evil worms, and are nothing worth.

“Dear children, I have said enough of the worm-eaten people, and I should like to say a word to you about those in whom the works are wrought by the blessed Spirit of God. They are God’s beloved children, who stand listening and waiting to hear His voice, and to follow Him.

“He leads them oftentimes in a lonely and a lowly path. But they dare to go forward, and have no fear, for they trust the Spirit who guides and keeps them. Then it is no longer they who work, but God who works in them, and the works of God are works that are far above all sense, and nature, and reason.

“Were a man to do nothing else for a whole year but yield himself up to the work of God within him, he would never have spent a year so well and with such blessing, even if he had done no good work besides. Even if for one moment only, his eyes had been unsealed to see the hidden work of God, he would have spent the year better than any who had themselves worked hard from the beginning of the year to the end, out of their own hearts and minds.

“As God is high above His creatures, so is the work of God far above all works of men, and where the work of God is filling our hearts, there is less to show in busy works that men can see — for to wait on Him and listen to His voice is often all we have to do.

“Children, be sure that every plant our Heavenly Father has not planted, must be rooted out at last. But give the Lord room in your hearts to work His glad and blessed work, and then you will know the love wherewith the Father loves you.

“Love, so great, so deep, so marvellous, that it passes all our thoughts and all our understanding. For we are loved with the love wherewith the Father loveth His only begotten Son. And this is the work of God, to shed abroad in our hearts this deep and precious love, this love which is a depth unfathomable.

“It is by living faith alone, that our hearts are thus left at rest for God to work in them, and all the great works which men can do are as nothing when compared with this. But when God thus works in us we need above all things to be emptied utterly of self, or we shall give ourselves credit for the work which is His alone. For could we find a man who knew this surpassing joy and rest of heart, and who was lifted up thereby in his own eyes, this would be the deepest fall of all the falls that could betide. May He who alone can give, and alone can work, grant to us thus to yield up our hearts in stillness and in peace to Him.”

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