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thoughts of wonder, adoration, and praise, and he will be contented to hear the voice of infinite love whispering to his soul, “What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter.”
THE DESIRE FOR SPIRITUAL POWER.
Why do we want this power? Are we not apt to think of results, while God looks at motives? He searches the inmost recesses of the heart, and do we not need to try our inmost thoughts in His sight as to any desire for power? This might often make us ashamed of our very desire. Power to witness for God may be what we covet, and we may seek that God would open our lips; but we may be witnesses for Him without speaking. The apostle Paul was called to suffer for God. Do we ever ask for power to serve God thus ?
Are we not apt to associate power with great results, and with taking a high place among our brethren ?
God's strength was perfected in Paul's weakness when he had the thorn in the flesh. To be for God may be more important than to do for God. Power is as much needed to live for Christ in the midst of the surroundings in which God has placed us, as to preach to thousands. It is often harder to lead a Christ-like life in the midst of an ungodly world than to preach the gospel or to stand before our fellow-saints. To walk in the fear of God, to be lowly in the world, and meek in the assembly of God's people, is better than to hold large meetings, or to have a name for zeal. motives are wrong, is it any wonder that our prayers for power are not answered ? Self and not God may be at the bottom of our prayers.
Let us seek to know what it is to be dying with Christ daily, that His life may be manifest in us—to be broken vessels, that the light may shine out.
H. G. L.
THOUGHTS FROM GOD'S WORD REGARDING
I.-THEIR PLEASURES. The exuberance of life and energy in the young calls for more variety of mental and bodily recreation than is needed by those of staid and maturer years. The natural sportiveness of youth is also pleasing to God, and is recognized in His word. When our Lord was on earth He well knew how to bend and adapt Himself to children, though as the “Man of sorrows ” He had before Him the agony of the cross and its atoning death. With all this fully in view, He so considered others rather than Himself, that the young were by no means lost sight of. Witness His receiving of little ones and taking them in His arms; also His sympathy with the young ones who shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David !” and His defence of them when the priests and scribes found fault, albeit, perhaps, too few of those whose voices were then raised in His praise, really knew Him as their Saviour from sin. His comparison of the older ones with children playing in the market-place also manifests His observation of youthful ways. The picture of Jerusalem in the millennial age, as given by Zechariah, shows how God notices the playfulness of the young: “The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” (chap. viii. 5). This recognition of the youthful pleasures of that coming day, when Jesus shall reign on Mount Zion, is quite in keeping with what we are told of Him in the days of His flesh. Surely, then, family life in houses in which God's word and Jesus' love bear sway, may well be cheerful and sportive and happy.
But God's holy fear should be in all the recreations of youthful believers, as well as that sense of ease and liberty which His changeless, boundless love gives. They may count on their Heavenly Father's presence and on His approving eye and ear for their times of mirth and relaxation as truly as for their hours of toil or study. The bow unbent and left at ease is as much intended for the heavenly fight-"the good fight of faith”—as the same bow when
“. bent with arrow on the string. For the mind and character of the young saint, suited recreation is just what hours of sleep are for our wearied bodily powers. But though both are needed, they must both be used with caution and with self-restraint. The same Solomon who wrote in Eccles. vii. 16, “ Be not righteous over much .... why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?” also wrote in Prov. xxv. 16, "Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee;" and youthful recreation is a kind of "honey."
The truth is, we are never fit for any of our surroundings except as our springs of strength and joy are above. To walk here below pleasingly to God, we must ever make God our strength and Christ our joy. If we do not, both the griefs and the joys of life will entangle and overcome us. And this is as true of the briefer pleasures and sorrows of youthful fellow-saints as it is of those of older ones. A day's or an evening's giddy amusement (especially if spent with unsaved or thoughtless companions) may do the young child of God as much soul-damage as will the giving way to a passionate sorrow. The word “temperance” in the New Testament means “self-restraint," and it is this which youthful believers are made divinely capable of exercising, and are expected to exhibit. But this “temperance is a part of that precious “fruit of the Spirit” described in Gal. v. 22, 23, and it is only by the Spirit's power being allowed free exercise that it can be brought forth in us.
If, through the Holy Spirit's inward company, the joy of the Lord is in the hearts of youthful believers, the world's entertainments will, first of all, not be wished for, and secondly, if unexpectedly entered on, they will speedily prove distasteful. The distance between young Christians and all such scenes of mirth will become greater and greater, till the pleasure-seekers of the world will as much dislike them as they in turn will pity the poor worldlings.
The truth is, that being joined in one Spirit to the Lord, or, as Paul says, “married .... to Him who is raised from the dead," the children of God find their all in Jesus, whose love in once dying and now ever living for them has won their hearts, and has made them as His redeemed ones altogether His.
II. —THEIR SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. In God's word we meet with precious instances of separation from the world in early life, and even from those dear by earthly ties, when the claims of God clearly called for it.
Surely it was the “expulsive power of a new affection” that took Rebekah straight from Mesopotamia to Isaac, and made her hasten the journey to him rather than consent to any delay; for her spirit was in fellowship with Eliezer's word to all Laban's household, “Hinder me not." In this she affords us a type of the bride's trueness of affection to Christ.
It was the same strangership, for love's sake, that enabled young Ruth to cleave to feeble Naomi, spite of her sister Orpah’s going back. And what a reward was hers ! She found herself sheltered under the wings of the Lord God of Israel, even when poverty and exposure in the gleaning field were her lot. And in what an honourable marriage her life-story ends!
Doubtless it was inward happiness of soul that pre
served Joseph, though young, from taking any part in the evil ways of his own brothers; that took him unharmed through the seductions of Potiphar's house ; and in prison caused him to be occupied with God-given “dreams" instead of idle talk, or murmurings at his hard lot.
It was communion with God from a child that made Samuel a listener in God's sanctuary, and his early word, "Speak, for Thy servant heareth,” characterized him through life, and thus was he saved from the company and the manners of Eli's sons.
And was it not a similar joy in God's voice in the Hebrew Scriptures that delivered Daniel from defiling himself with Gentile food and banquets ? Surely this was a greater deliverance than even that from the lions afterwards, and earned for him the precious title, “O man greatly beloved !” This is an Old Testament illustration of John xiv. 20-23.
As some of us in God's church are moving on in life, and are nearing its close, new thoughts are awakened in us, and greater cares occupy us, about younger saints, who are to live and witness for Jesus our Lord after we are gone. And all the more are we thus concerned because new forms of "the deceivableness of unrighteousness” keep arising, and will still more arise. “Even now are there
antichrists." Forms of error are beginning to appear which will deceive all—all, that is, in this Christendom sphereexcept those whose names are written in the "Lamb's book of life.” In these deceptive days the church is so like the world, that if young Christians only rely upon the guidance and example of even fellow-believers, they may be drawn into evil things before they are aware of it.
God grant that all our ordinary, and still more our unwonted and special assemblings, may quicken parents and elder ones in their care of younger believers, and also