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Chapter XI.
Our love kept for Jesus.

‘Keep my love; my Lord, I pour

At Thy feet its treasure-store.’

Not as a mere echo from the morning-gilded shore of Tiberias, but as an ever new, ever sounding note of divinest power, come the familiar words to each of us, ‘Lovest thou Me?’ He says it who has loved us with an everlasting love. He says it who has died for us. He says it who has washed us from our sins in His own blood. He says it who has waited for our love, waited patiently all through our coldness.

And if by His grace we have said, ‘Take my love,’ which of us has not felt that part of His very answer has been to make us see how little there was to take, and how little of that little has been kept for Him? And yet we do love Him! He knows that! The very mourning and longing to love Him more proves it. But we want more than that, and so does our Lord.

He has created us to love. We have a sealed treasure of love, which either remains sealed, and then gradually dries up and wastes away, or is unsealed 110 and poured out, and yet is the fuller and not the emptier for the outpouring. The more love we give, the more we have to give. So far it is only natural. But when the Holy Spirit reveals the love of Christ, and sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, this natural love is penetrated with a new principle as it discovers a new Object. Everything that it beholds in that Object gives it new depth and new colours. As it sees the holiness, the beauty, and the glory, it takes the deep hues of conscious sinfulness, unworthiness, and nothingness. As it sees even a glimpse of the love that passeth knowledge, it takes the glow of wonder and gratitude. And when it sees that love drawing close to its deepest need with blood-purchased pardon, it is intensified and stirred, and there is no more time for weighing and measuring; we must pour it out, all there is of it, with our tears, at the feet that were pierced for love of us.

And what then? Has the flow grown gradually slower and shallower? Has our Lord reason to say, ‘My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as a stream of brooks they pass away’? It is humiliating to have found that we could not keep on loving Him, as we loved in that remembered hour when ‘Thy time was the time of love.’ We have proved that we were not able. Let this be only the stepping-stone to proving that He is able!

There will have been a cause, as we shall see if we seek it honestly. It was not that we really poured out all our treasure, and so it naturally came to an end. We let it be secretly diverted into other channels. We began keeping back a little 111 part of the price for something else. We looked away from, instead of looking away unto Jesus. We did not entrust Him with our love, and ask Him to keep it for Himself.

And what has He to say to us? Ah, He upbraideth not. Listen! ‘Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals.’ Can any words be more tender, more touching, to you, to me? Forgetting all the sin, all the backsliding, all the coldness, casting all that into the unreturning depths of the sea, He says He remembers that hour when we first said, ‘Take my love.’ He remembers it now, at this minute. He has written it for ever on His infinite memory, where the past is as the present.

His own love is unchangeable, so it could never be His wish or will that we should thus drift away from Him. Oh, ‘Come and let us return unto the Lord!’ But is there any hope that, thus returning, our flickering love may be kept from again failing? Hear what He says: ‘And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever’ And again: ‘Thou shalt abide for Me many days; so will I also be for thee.’ Shall we trust His word or not? Is it worthy of our acceptation or not? Oh, rest on this word of the King, and let Him from this day have the keeping of your love, and He will keep it!

The love of Christ is not an absorbing, but a radiating love. The more we love Him, the more we shall most certainly love others. Some have not much natural power of loving, but the love of Christ will strengthen it. Some have had the springs of 112 love dried up by some terrible earthquake. They will find ‘fresh springs’ in Jesus, and the gentle flow will be purer and deeper than the old torrent could ever be. Some have been satisfied that it should rush in a narrow channel, but He will cause it to overflow into many another, and widen its course of blessing. Some have spent it all on their God-given dear ones. Now He is come whose right it is; and yet in the fullest resumption of that right, He is so gracious that He puts back an even larger measure of the old love into our hand, sanctified with His own love, and energized with His blessing, and strengthened with His new commandment, ‘That ye love one another, as I have loved you.’

In that always very interesting part, called a ‘Corner for Difficulties,’ of that always very interesting magazine, Woman’s Work, the question has been discussed, ‘When does love become idolatry? Is it the experience of Christians that the coming in of a new object of affection interferes with entire consecration to God?’ I should like to quote the many excellent answers in full, but must only refer my readers to the number for March 1879. One replies: ‘It seems to me that He who is love would not give us an object for our love unless He saw that our hearts needed expansion; and if the love is consecrated, and the friendship takes its stand in Christ, there is no need for the fear that it will become idolatry. Let the love on both sides be given to God to keep, and however much it may grow, the source from which it springs must yet be greater.’ Perhaps I may be pardoned for giving, 113 at the same writer’s suggestion, a quotation from Under the Surface on this subject. Eleanor says to Beatrice:—

‘I tremble when I think

How much I love him; but I turn away

From thinking of it, just to love him more;—

Indeed, I fear, too much.’

‘Dear Eleanor,

Do you love him as much as Christ loves us?

Let your lips answer me.’

‘Why ask me, dear?

Our hearts are finite, Christ is infinite.’

‘Then, till you reach the standard of that love,

Let neither fears nor well-meant warning voice

Distress you with “too much.” For He hath said

How much—and who shall dare to change His measure?

That ye should love as I have loved you.

O sweet command, that goes so far beyond

The mightiest impulse of the tenderest heart!

A bare permission had been much; but He

Who knows our yearnings and our fearfulness,

Chose graciously to bid us do the thing

That makes our earthly happiness,

A limit that we need not fear to pass,

Because we cannot. Oh, the breadth and length,

And depth and height of love that passeth knowledge!

Yet Jesus said, “As I have loved you.”’

‘O Beatrice, I long to feel the sunshine

That this should bring; but there are other words

Which fall in chill eclipse. ‘Tis written, “Keep

Yourselves from idols.” How shall I obey?’

‘Oh, not by loving less, but loving more.

It is not that we love our precious ones

Too much, but God too little. As the lamp

A miner bears upon his shadowed brow

Is only dazzling in the grimy dark,

And has no glare against the summer sky,


So, set the tiny torch of our best love

In the great sunshine of the love of God,

And, though full fed and fanned, it casts no shade

And dazzles not, o’erflowed with mightier light.’

There is no love so deep and wide as that which is kept for Jesus. It flows both fuller and farther when it flows only through Him. Then, too, it will be a power for Him. It will always be unconsciously working for Him. In drawing others to ourselves by it, we shall be necessarily drawing them nearer to the fountain of our love, never drawing them away from it. It is the great magnet of His love which alone can draw any heart to Him; but when our own are thoroughly yielded to its mighty influence, they will be so magnetized that He will condescend to use them in this way.

Is it not wonderful to think that the Lord Jesus will not only accept and keep, but actually use our love?

‘Of Thine own have we given Thee,’ for ‘we love Him because He first loved us.’

Set apart to love Him,

And His love to know;

Not to waste affection

On a passing show;

Called to give Him life and heart,

Called to pour the hidden treasure,

That none other claims to measure,

Into His belovèd hand! thrice blessèd ‘set apart’!

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