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CHAPTER XXIX

THE WATER-SPRINGS

“YOU know, dear children,” the Master said, “that if you want fresh pure water, you can get it best from the spring. The water that runs away through the pipes becomes warm and muddy.

“God is the fountain head of the true and living stream, and to Him alone can we go to drink our fill of pure bright water. ‘The King has brought us into His banqueting-house, and His banner over us is love.’

“O children, well and wisely does He order all for us, leading us by strange wild ways, to bring us at last into the great depth of love, into Himself, the unfathomable blessedness. And that which there we learn to know, is beyond all imagining, and all understanding and all the foretaste of eternal joy.

“All that He does for us, and all the hidden ways of God which no eye can see, are in order that He may bring us into the holy and blessed delight of His presence.

“Hear how He calleth with His mighty voice, ‘Whosoever is athirst let him come, and drink of the water of life freely!’

“Children, the thirst is first in Him, He thirsteth for the souls that are athirst for Him, and when He findeth us, He gives us to drink so gloriously, so freely, and so fully, that from us there floweth forth the living water, a spring of everlasting life.

“It is not reading of God, or hearing of Him, or knowing of Him by sense or by reason, that will satisfy us, but it is receiving Him, drinking deeply of the blessed fountain that springs from the eternal depths — drinking from Himself where He is, and from none other.

“You know what a spring is, children, and what a cistern is. The cisterns become foul and dry, but the spring leaps up, and sparkles and flows freely, fresh and sweet and pure.

“Thus does the soul know God in a nearer and a better way, than all masters and teachers can tell of Him. He is a good teacher who tells you to go straight to the school where the Holy Ghost is the schoolmaster. He loves to find the scholars there, who are waiting to receive the high and blessed teaching that flows forth from the Father’s heart.

“If we hindered not His blessed work, how gladly, how fully, would that tide of life and joy flow down, as a mighty rain, filling the valleys and the depths, as the blessed rain for which Elijah prayed, when the earth was dry and thirsty, so that naught could grow and blossom.

“Children, it is the dry and thirsty land that calls for the great rain. And it is because we seek to satisfy our thirst with other things that the Holy Ghost is hindered.

“Do you find that your heart is dry and barren? If you do, see that you do not run off to your confessor, but flee to God, and confess to Him. And He will lay His divine Hand upon your head, and make you whole.

“Oh how great, how inexpressible, how blessed, how immeasurable, is the gift of the Holy Ghost. Were you to compare a point, which has no dimensions, with the whole world, the difference would be as nothing to that of Heaven and earth and all that therein is, compared with the gift of the Spirit of God. The least that we can conceive of the Holy Ghost is a thousandfold more than all created things.

“The Holy Ghost prepares the house in which He comes to dwell. And He fills the house with Himself, for He is God. Every chamber, every corner, is filled with His presence, though often we are not aware of His presence and His work, because we are taken up with outward things, and He will not let us know the sweetness of His presence, till we have closed the doors, and sit down in the stillness of rest, to listen to His voice. The disciples shut the doors for fear of the Jews.

“Ah, dear children! beware of the dangerous Jews, who would take from you the secret of the Lord, and the sweetness of the company of God the Holy Ghost. The Jews in the disciples’ days could only hurt their bodies, but this present evil world will hurt the soul and take from you the blessed intercourse of the heart with God. Go into company, and join in amusements where God is not, and His honour is disregarded, and then will the presence of the Holy Ghost be lost to you, and His gifts will be powerless in your hands.

“Do you say, ‘I only go to harmless amusements! I mean no ill. I must have pleasure and enjoyment at times’?

“O God! thou blessed, thou precious, thou eternal God! how can it be Thou art not to the souls Thou hast created, the sweetest, the most beloved — the most glad and blessed joy! And rather than enjoy Thee will the soul turn to the sad, dark, polluting, deadly pleasure and enjoyment of this poor world, there to find peace and joy!

“You say it does you no harm? Go and say that to God, for if that is true, your case is sorrowful indeed. It is that you have no delight in Him, and see no beauty in Him that you should desire Him.

“In three ways, dear children, did the beloved Lord attract to Himself the heart of John.

“First, did the Lord Jesus call him out of the world, to make him an apostle.

“Next, did He grant to him to rest upon His loving breast.

“Thirdly, and this was the greatest and most perfect nearness, when on the holy day of Pentecost, He gave to him the Holy Ghost, and opened to him the door through which he should pass into the heavenly places.

“Thus, children, does the Lord first call you from the world, and make you to be the messengers of God. And next, He draws you close to Himself, that you may learn to know His holy gentleness and lowliness, and His deep and burning love, and His perfect, unshrinking obedience.

“And yet this is not all. Many have been drawn thus near — and many are satisfied to go no further. And yet they are far from the perfect nearness which the heart of Christ desires.

“S. John lay at one moment on the breast of the Lord Jesus. And then he forsook Him and fled.

“If you have been brought so far as to rest on the breast of Christ, it is well. But yet there was to John a nearness still to come, one moment of which would be worth a hundred years of all that had gone before. The Holy Ghost was given to him — the door was opened.

“Do you ask, ‘Have I gone further than John had gone, when he had reached the second nearness?’ I answer, none can go beyond the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. But you may ask the question in another way. ‘Have you passed beyond all that is your own? all that has its sweetness in your enjoyment of the sweetness?’

“For there is a nearness wherein we lose ourselves, and God is all in all. This may come to us in one swift moment — or we may wait for it with longing hearts, and learn to know it at last. It was of this that S. Paul spake, when he said that the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart conceived, God hath now revealed to us by the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

“The soul is drawn into the inner chamber, and there are the wonder and the riches revealed. And truly he who beholds them often, must spend many a day in bed — for nature must sink beneath the exceeding weight of that great glory. John fell down as dead before Him — Paul knew not whether he were in the body or out of the body, when this door into the inner glory was opened, and he saw the Face of Christ.”

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