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58

XIV

LIFE’S PERILOUS HEATS

“He took her by the hand. And immediately the fever left her.”—Mark i. 31.

IT is not illegitimate to allow our minds to pass from the fevers of the body to the fevers of the soul. Indeed, that is one of the authorised ways when we seek to interpret the miracles of the Lord. The Saviour’s miracles are the outer and visible types of inner and greater wonders. They are done in the body in order that we may infer the deeper emancipations of the spirit. Is not this the teaching of the Lord? “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” (Then saith He to the sick of the palsy), “I say unto thee, Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” That is to say, “I will liberate a paralysed body that ye may know I am able to liberate a paralysed soul.” And the latter deliverance is the greater of the 59two. Therefore, do I say that it is legitimate for our thoughts to pass from the fevers which consume the body to the deadlier fevers which consume the soul. Let us consider one or two examples.

There is the fever of impatience. Our spirits can become very heated in the exacting experience of having to wait for something which is long in appearing. We may lose the coolness of a calm self-control. It is the evidence of great strength of character when we can quietly wait the coming of a tediously slow event. Waiting is in some ways a higher attainment than walking, as walking may be a higher attainment than running. Waiting may be the revelation of very impressive strength. We see it in the wonderful patience of the Master as He says, “Mine hour is not yet come.” He refused to be rushed. His temper was not flurried. He was cool, and serene, and assured. He waited for the appointed time. He would not move until the hour had struck.

But the majority of us get hot with impatience when the waiting is long drawn out. We want to be “doing something.” And the feverish spirit affects all our powers unhealthily. 60Our faculties become like plants in an overheated greenhouse, and they wilt and droop. And what is the remedy? I find it in an Old Testament promise: “He that believeth shall not make haste”—he shall not get into a fuss. Belief in God holds the soul in a quieting and strengthening communion with God. We feel the cooling hand of the Master, and the perilous heats die out of our souls.

And there is the fever of fretfulness. The very word “fret” is significant of destruction. It is closely akin to the word “friction,” and it carries the same suggestion of something which is consuming a precious thing. The rubbing of two things together produces heat. The dry axle of a railway carriage, as it revolves, creates a perilous heat. The dry ball-bearings of a bicycle create friction and thereby engender heat. And all this comes from a lack of soothing, smoothing oil. And so it is in the soul. Fretfulness is the dry grinding of one thing against another. The mind is grinding against circumstance. It may be that the circumstance is a thing of yesterday, and we fret about it. Or it may be a thing of to-day, 61or it may be a thing of to-morrow. And we rub against it in fretfulness and worry, and we are rubbing all the time. And we get hot and feverish, and in the deadly fire many precious things are consumed. We need the cooling touch of the Lord. The axle does not need to cease its motion in order to keep cool; it only needs oil. And when our souls have the unction of the Holy One the movements of our life are eager, but they are not feverish. We can live and labour without any perilous heat. We trust, and we are not afraid.

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