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A TWOFOLD RELATIONSHIP AND ITS FRUITS.
Whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
“Whom not having seen ye love.” [Verse 8] We some times speak of “love at first sight.” Two lives are brought together, and there is a recognition pregnant with far-off destinies. “Deep calleth unto deep.” The affinities leap into spiritual wedlock. Each knows the other as life’s complement, and the hearts embrace in hallowed union. It was only a look, and love was born:
Right o’er a mount of newly fallen stones,
The dusky-raftered, many-cobwebbed hall,
He found an ancient dame in dim brocade;
And near her, like a blossom vermeil-white
That lightly breaks a faded flower sheath,
Moved the fair Enid all in faded silk,
Her daughter. In a moment thought Geraint,
“Here by God’s rood is the one maid for me.”
The fair vision came, and its gentle impression awoke the sleeping love and stirred it into fervent and vigilant life. It was “love at first sight.”25
But love is not always aroused by the first eight. The “first sight” may not stir the heart to even a languid interest. The vision may be as uninfluential as a cipher. Or the “first sight” may create a repulsion. It may excite my dislike. It may rather rouse the critic than wake the lover. But love that remains sleeping at the “first sight” may be aroused by more intimate communion. The ministries of the spirit may triumph where the allurements of the countenance failed. Love may be born, not of sight, but of fellowship. It may spring into being amid the intimacies of a deepening companionship. You remember the story of Othello and Desdemona, and how their hearts were drawn into affectionate communion. It Was not love at “first sight,” but love at heart sight. He told her the story of his chequered life, of “battles, sieges, fortunes” he had passed, of disastrous chances, of moving accidents by flood and field. “This to hear would Desdemona seriously incline.”
My story being done
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs;
She swore, in faith, ’twas strange, ’twas passing strange;
’Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful.
* * * * * *
She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
It was the communion of spirit with spirit which unsealed the springs of their affection. We recognise the principle in common life. A number of young people are thrown together in frequent fellowship. For months, and perhaps for years, their association does not pass beyond the sphere of friendship. But one day the fellowship of two of them opened into intimacy, and the sober servant, friendship, made way for the master passion, love. They had seen each other’s faces for years, and they remained companions; they caught a glimpse of each other’s hearts, and they were trans formed into lovers. So love may be the child of spiritual intimacy. It may wait on knowledge. It may wake into being through the ministry of a deep communion.
“Whom not having seen ye love.” Theirs was not the love born of gazing upon Christ’s face, but the love begotten by communion with His heart. Love may be born of spiritual fellowship. If only we can get into intimacy with the Master’s spirit, love may wake into being and song. It is just for this opportunity of individual communion that the Master is craving. He has little fear of our not falling in love with Him, if we will only listen to His story. He wants to visit the heart and whisper His evangel in the secret place. 27Do I debase the sublime quest when I say He yearns to “court” the soul, to woo and to win it? “If any man will open the door, I will come in and sup with him.” That is what He asks—an open door. He asks to be allowed to visit the soul, to pay His attentions, to declare His aims and purposes, and to whisper the Gospel of His own unsearchable love. He wants to talk to us separately in individual wooings. He wants us to find a little time to listen to Him while He talks about the Father and Sonship, and life and its resources, and heaven and its rest and glory. He wants to talk to us about the burden of sin and guilt, and the exhaustion of weakness. He wants to whisper something to us about our newly born child and about our newly made grave. He would like to come very near to us and tell us what He knows about sorrow and death, and the morrow which begins at the shadow we fear. I say He wants to tell it all to thee and to me—to thee, my brother, as though there were no other soul to woo beneath God’s heaven. The winsome story shall wind its wonderful way around Christ and Bethlehem and thee, around Christ and Gethsemane and thee, around Christ and Calvary and thee, around Christ and heaven and thee! He will tell thee of His agonies and tears, and He will 28show thee the scars He received in the quest of thy redemption.
Hath He marks to lead me to Him
If He be my guide?
In His hands and feet are wound-prints,
And His side.
He will tell thee all His story. And the sublime purpose of the communion shall be to woo thee, that in His tender fellowship the springs of thine own love may be unsealed and thou mayest become engaged, by the bonds of an eternal covenant, to the Lord of life and glory. “We love him because he first” wooed us The early love may be timid and shy, half afraid of itself, and trembling in some un certainty, but it shall put on strength and sweetness in the deeper and riper fellowships of your wedded life. Wedded to the King, you shall come to realise more and more the freedom of His forgiveness, the triumph of His power, the sweet pressure of His presence, the alluring glory of the living hope, and with this enrichment of your intimacies your heart will become possessed by a more intense and fervent affection for Him “whom not having seen ye love.”
“On whom . . . believing.” [Verse 8] Here is a second expression of the Christian’s relationship to Christ. “On whom . . . believing.” The figure is suggestive of a leaning posture, an attitude of 29dependence, a confident resting of one’s weight upon the Christ we love. It is the acceptance of His reasonings as sound. It is the assumption that His judgments are dependable. It is the usage of His weapons as adequate for our strife. It is the assurance that His promises are the expression of spiritual laws, and that there is no more caprice in their ministry than there is in the operation of laws in the physical world. “On Him believing.” But it is more than assent to a conclusion, more than a confidence in His word. It is repose upon a person, a resting upon a presence, a trusting in a companionship. If the Christian evangel is worth anything at all it means this that the Christ of God, the “Lover of the soul,” is by the loved one’s side in inseparable and all-sufficient fellowship. In the moment of extraordinary crisis and strain, “on” Him I can depend for immediate equipment. In the long-drawn-out day of wearying and monotonous commonplace, “on” Him I can lean for unfailing supplies. In the dark and cloudy day, and amid the gathering terrors of the advancing night, “on” Him I can depend for inspiring light and life. That is the very music of the Christian evangel. The words which indicate the Master’s presence suggest the all-significant closeness of His Spirit. “Companion!” “Comforter!” “Fellowship!” 30“Partaker!” The phraseology varies; the significance is one. The Lord is imminent and immediate: “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet”; upon Him we may trustfully rest our weight in all the changing circumstances of our ever-changing way.
“Whom not having seen ye love; on whom . . . believing, ye rejoice.” [Verse 8] Is there anything surprising in the issue? Won by His love, wedded to the Lord, confident in His fellowship—is it any wonder that out of such wealthy conditions there should arise a fountain of joy? Surely we have the very ingredients of spiritual delight. If we take spiritual affection—“whom not having seen ye love”—and combine it with spiritual confidence—“on whom . . . believing”—I do not see how we can escape the crown of rejoicing. If either of the elements be annihilated, our joy is destroyed. All the bird-music that rings through the countryside at the dawn can be hushed by the appearance of the hawk. Let your little child come into a presence in whom she has not gained confidence, and the light of joy departs, and her face becomes like a blown-out lamp. It is the co-operative ministry of love and confidence which awakes the genius of joy. It is the love and confidence of wedded life which make the clear, 31calm joy of the hurrying years. The thought of the loved one is a baptism of light. A letter from the loved one redeems any day from commonplace. The presence of the loved one is a full and perpetual feast. It is not other wise in the highest relationships. If the soul and the Lord are lovers, and there is a mutual confidence, the soul will drink at the river of rare and exquisite delights. To think of Him will set the bells a-ringing.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast.
How unlike that other soul of whom we read in the Sacred Word, “I remembered God, and was troubled.” A thought that rang an alarm-bell.
Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast.
A remembrance that rang anew the wedding-bells. “Whom not having seen ye love.” Then it is daytime in the soul. “On whom . . . believing.” Then there is no cloud over the communion. Daytime and no cloud! Then there must be sunshine in the soul. “Ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
“With joy unspeakable.” [Verse 8] All the deepest and richest things are unspeakable. A mother’s love! Who has discovered a symbol by which to express it? It is unspeakable. A profound 32grief! Where is the speech in which it can be enshrined?
In words like weeds I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold;
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
It is unspeakable. A bleeding sympathy! Has it not just to remain dumb? “We stand or sit with interlocked hands, bereft of all adequate expression! It is unspeakable. A spiritual joy! How shall we tell it? Where is the mould of speech which can catch and hold the ethereal presence? It is unspeakable.
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.
“With joy unspeakable and full of glory.” [Verse 8] It is a joy which is glorious and glorifying. There are joys that weaken and impair the soul. The happiness of the world is a corroding atmosphere that blunts and destroys the fine perception and discernments of the life. But “joy in the Lord” is light which glorifies life. It is like sunshine on the landscape. It adds warmth, and beauty, and tenderness, and grace. This joy is never productive of weakness; it is synonymous with power. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”33
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” [Verse 9] Wedded to the Lord in consecrated love, leaning upon Him in confident dependence, rejoicing in joy unspeakable—surely this will mean a ripening personality maturing day by day, shedding not only its disease but also its impotence. We “receive” the salvation of our souls. Moment by moment we “receive” it. Our salvation is a gradual but assured ascension into the strength and beauty of the King. We are in the currents of the everlasting life. Moment by moment we receive the end of our faith. Each moment deposits its own contribution to my spiritual heritage. Moment by moment I enter more deeply into my inheritance in Christ, into “the unsearchable riches of grace.”34
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