PART I — DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
LET GO AND TRUST
IT is an inspiring thought, that we are addressing a multitude of readers who would know more of Christ. A languid desire is not sufficient. You must desire Jesus with an intensity which will make your soul a glowing furnace. You must reach the point where you will be willing to sell all, or hold all else cheap in comparison with the fullness of love to Christ. There are but two steps down into the pool which makes whole — consecration and trust. Difficulties attend both steps. Some are in doubt whether they surrender all to the disposal of Christ. To such we say, Consecrate all you know, and then all you do not know. This includes all your assets. God asks no more than this. At this point many fail, through fear that they are to become paupers, when God means to endow them with untold wealth. What, let Christ become my Lord indeed! Is it safe to give Him complete control over my heart, to be the Sovereign of my will, the Owner of all my property, while I sink down to a mere stewardship under Him. Will He not take some cruel advantage of me? Will He not command me to hard service? Will not reproaches be heaped up on me, if I avow before men and angels that I am wholly Christ's? Very likely He will honour you by entrusting to you some difficult labour. If you go into partnership with Him, you must share all the reproach which comes upon the firm. You are advised beforehand that Jesus is an unpopular character in what is called the best society. "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?" "The world will hate you, because it hateth Me: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Hence there can be no perfect consecration without an accompanying perfect trust.
Just here let us whisper in your ear, that perfect reliance on Christ is impossible so long as you are cherishing your good name as a treasure more precious than His glory. I think that He had ministers of His Gospel especially in view when He said, "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" This is not a rebuke for a jealous care of our moral standing, since an untarnished name is, with preachers, an indispensable condition of success, but for a weak truckling to a public opinion, hostile to unadulterated Christian truth. Some are tempted to temporize, and tone down the Gospel to please men on whom they think themselves dependent. Reader, your reputation is not too good to give to the Lord Jesus. Paul's self-surrender included his popularity. "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
Some teach that consecration must be a perfect and distinct act, preceding faith as a distinct act. But we can never surrender to a person whom we do not trust. So that faith, simple faith, lies at the bottom of every step God-ward. We have recently seen a beautiful illustration of the need of trust in order to complete consecration. A glass-worker makes a beautiful, yet exceedingly frail, ornament, and brings it to his friend as a gift. He says, "This is yours; it is very delicate, and must be touched with the greatest care.
"But," says the friend, whose hand has been out stretched for several minutes, "why do you not let go your grasp and give it to me?"
"O, because I am afraid that you will take hold of it so strongly as to break it, and all my labour will be lost," replies the giver.
"But you say that it is mine; let it go, then, and if it is shattered in the transfer, the loss will be mine and not yours."
If your gift of yourself to Christ is in good faith, let yourself go; and if you break all in pieces, you have lost nothing; it is His loss. Perhaps He can make a better use of you, thus shattered, than He could with your wholeness. In His service a broken heart is a thousand times more efficient for good than a whole one.
It is true, also, that far more of consecration succeeds the act of perfect faith and realized sanctification than precedes it. Under the full blaze of the Spirit's illumination we see much more to consecrate than we did before.
"But," says one, "I cannot see God's hand; how, then, can I know that he accepts the offering of my heart?" You are not required to know, but to believe.
"How can I believe when I feel no change?" You are commanded to trust Christ to save, on the basis of His promise, not of your feelings. You will sooner or later know that He saves, on the ground of the Spirit's testimony. When you really make a legal tender of yourself to Him, God will enable you to believe that He accepts you, according to His promise. The divine order, both in nature and in grace, is faith, the stepping-stone to knowledge.
Professor Morse believed it possible to communicate intelligence by electromagnetism before he knew the fact. His faith led to his knowledge. You must believe that Jesus Christ is able to save unto the uttermost, before you can "know the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe." If you attempt to reverse the process, you will grope in Egyptian darkness evermore.
If the blessing of conscious completeness in Christ, and the abiding Comforter and Sanctifier, is by faith only, why not now? Today is the day of salvation. Full salvation surrounds you like a shoreless ocean. Appropriate to your utmost capacity today. You will gain nothing by waiting. There is no lack for God to supplement, and there is no particular in which you can improve yourself and make yourself more acceptable to Him. Neither sanctification nor justification is by works. Works involve the element of time; but faith says, "Now, this instant, Thou, O God, wilt receive my offering." "But," says doubt, "suppose that I feel just the same after I thus believe, what then?"
Keep on believing the promise, and insisting that God is true. He may delay for days and weeks the declaration of your complete acceptance, in order to develop and test your faith. The longer the delay, if you trust unwaveringly, the more marvelous the manifestation of Christ to your soul as your complete Saviour, when the Comforter takes the things of Christ and shows them unto you. The Syrophoenician woman lost nothing by pressing her suit against chilling discouragements. Faint not. Just here thousands have failed. They did not grasp the prize because they did not persistently believe.
Others fail through a subtle legality. They trust in their consecration, and not in Jesus only. They take a commercial view of the matter, and present the offering of their hearts as the meritorious ground of receiving the fullness of the Spirit. This is a piece of folly and presumption, which finds its parallel in the wayside beggar, who insists that the act of stretching out his upturned palm earns the alms which the passerby may give.
After you have laid your gift upon the altar, look away from the gift, that is now God's, toward the skies, whence the fire will come down to consume your sacrifice, in token of its acceptance. Thus in all our approaches to God there are three requisitions — Belief, Faith, Trust. "For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
Others fail because of their seeking the gift, and not the Giver. You must desire Jesus only. You must pray this prayer: "Lord Jesus, glorify Thyself in me." When you are seeking for some delicious ecstasy you are not seeking to glorify Christ to the utmost of your ability. There must be an absolute resignation of self and selfish desires in order to be a perfect believer. You must come to the point where the poet's words will be the honest expression of your soul: —
"To do, or not to do; to have,
Or not to have, I leave to Thee:
To be or not to be I leave;
Thy only will be done in me!
All my requests are lost in one,
'Father, Thy only will be done.'
"Suffice that for the season past
Myself in things divine I sought;
For comforts cried with eager haste,
And murmured that I found them not.
I leave it now to Thee alone;
'Father Thy only will be done.'
"Thy gifts I clamour for no more,
Or selfishly Thy grace require
An evil heart to varnish o'er:
Jesus, the Giver, I desire,
After the flesh no longer known:
'Father, Thy only will be done.'
"Welcome alike the Crown or Cross,
Trouble I cannot ask, nor peace,
Nor toil, nor rest, nor gain, nor ease,
Nor life, nor death; but ever groan,
'Father, Thy only will be done.' "