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163

XLVII

THE MINISTRY OF INFUSION

“He that believeth on Me . . . out of him shall flow rivers of living water.”—John vii. 38.

THE Master speaks of men and women from whose lives flow “rivers of living water.” We must go to Egypt, or to Galilee, or to some parts of Asia Minor, if we want to gather the full power of the Saviour’s words. We must watch the streams of vitalising water irrigating the otherwise parched and barren ground. The river is the minister of quickening, and everything it touches lifts its head in an access of refreshing life. And there are lives whose influence is just like that. They are quickening ministers in social fellowship. The faint are heartened in their presence. The weary are refreshed. The sluggish are awakened. Those who have had a hard lot to till find mysterious powers of irrigation in their communion. 164There is a certain positiveness about their life which stirs the hesitant, a certain strength of purpose which confirms the timid. They are “rivers of water of life,” and the river flows in their silences as well as in their speech, when they quietly wait as when they adventurously serve.

Such is the inevitable influence of a life of faith. Where there is the vital belief there is bound to be the flowing river. The living issue is not an act of will, but the outcome of a relation. Our finest ministry is not so much a conscious as an unconscious influence. Our faith brings us into communion with the Foundations of life, and then every highway in our being becomes the channel of His holy grace. Everything becomes influential, our rest as well as our labour, our restraints as well as our freedom, our waiting as well as our acting, our silences as well as our speech. The power of our being is washing against other beings, irrigating, and fertilising, and refreshing the ground of the common life. “Every thing shall live whither the river cometh!”

There is a very suggestive sentence in one of Goldwin Smith’s letters: “Gladstone, 165though little open to argument, was very open to infusion; and I have always believed that Morley had a great hand in infusing into him Home Rule.” That is the expression of a very commanding principle, and I think we find it in our Lord’s teaching about the invisible river in the believer’s life. Every life is far more influential in its infusions than in its ordered marches, but it is pre-eminently true of the life that is hidden with Christ in God. Men may be hostile to our logic who are yet hospitable to our spirit. We can reach them with an inspiration when our arguments fail. Our river triumphs when our formal approaches are rejected. We can infuse when we cannot convince.

And all this opens out wonderful channels of ministry. We can infuse one another with courage even when we utter no heroic words. Our own brave spirit is in circulation, and its strong, steady current is flowing into the common life. And we can infuse one another with quietness. Who has not experienced the quieting influence of a quiet presence? Who has not felt the pressure as of a strong, steady hand when some quiet woman has been about in the hour of sorrow 166or death? Yes, our own quietness can be transmitted by this ministry of infusion. “Then had thy peace been as like a river!”

Our rivers will be all right if we are right at the springs. If the Lord is our Shepherd our cup will run over. And therefore it is our highest wisdom to cherish our highest relation and to put our trust in the Lord. “All our springs are in Thee”; and if we abide in the Lord our rivers will always be flowing. Yea, even in time of trouble, when the mountains are being shaken in the heart of the sea, there shall be “a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.”

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