It is a great thing when the soul gets beyond the fact of its deliverance, wonderful and blessed as that is, and lays hold by faith upon the person of the Deliverer; for it is in being occupied with Him, in the having to do with Himself personally, and addressing Him in happy, assured confidence of heart as one now known and delighted in, that positive and increased blessing of an inexhaustible character consciously accrues to the believer. And the more I value the immensity of the blessing I now possess, the more surely should I desire to make the direct acquaintance of the One who has conferred so wonderful a boon upon me at the incalculable cost of the sacrifice of Himself. How much, dear reader, do you and I know of personal intimacy with Him, of Jacob's well at Sychar, and of Martha's cottage at Bethany, now the Man enthroned in glory? How much of that individual intercourse with Himself, without which each recurring day should be to us a cold and cheerless blank, and will be, unless we are drawing from earthly springs and human cisterns? Alas! how many habitually grieve Him by accepting the benefit bestowed, while exhibiting pronounced indolence or indifference as to the Benefactor, depriving themselves thus of that peculiar joy which fills the heart for the first time in that thrilling moment when we are conscious of what has never dawned upon us before - that we are personally known to Christ and He to us! Nor can we doubt that it is equally a time of exceptional joy to Him when a soul in the bloom and beauty of its new-born spiritual life is brought thus fully and blessedly into conscious acquaintance with. Himself, to enter upon an intercourse as intimate as the relations of the Father to the Son, and as lasting as God's eternity. It is the occasion on which the believer can say, and say it unequivocally, "Well, now I know Him, my Saviour! Not merely do I know what He did for me when He was here; but I know the One who has left the scene, the Man now in glory, and have been so brought into the secret of His own presence to have immediate contact with Himself, that, indeed, I know Him more intimately than I know any earthly relative, and am known of Him infinitely better than by any such!"
We are fully persuaded that hundreds of believers who are well assured of the blessing they have received go on in coldness and leanness, withered and stunted in soul, because of the absence of this. What they need is to have their hearts stimulated to seek this direct knowledge in cultivated and constant intercourse of the person of Christ. The Spirit of God loves to conduct the soul of the believer to Christ now, as also He will his body by-and-by, when morning breaks and glory dawns. For us nothing could be more profitable or more blessed; for Him no tribute so acceptable!
It is as somewhat illustrating this point that we put the following little narrative before the reader.
A few years ago a poor woman, one of a number who earn a scanty living by washing at the river-side near Glasgow, and whose only possession was the tub in which her daily task was performed, had the misfortune to fall into the Clyde, and as the river was deep and the current strong, her case was imminent, no help being apparently at hand. Suddenly a man who was a renowned swimmer and had saved many lives, plunged into the stream; but only by extreme exertion, and well-nigh at the cost of his own life, did he succeed in rescuing the object of his solicitude. The old woman herself had been so long submerged that animation was suspended, and no little effort was requisite before consciousness returned. And now, dear reader, what do you think were the first words which, issuing from her lips, manifested to those around that she had really come back, as it were, from death to life? Some expression of anxiety - as to her home, her family, her friends? Some disclosure of her feelings while in the jaws of death, or on her discovery that she had been rescued? No, nothing, nothing of this! But words that should be a touching lesson for us, who have been further gone than she towards a far more terrible fatality, and who have been rescued, not at the almost, but at the actual cost of Another's life. Her words were those which head this paper, "Oh, how I want to see the man that saved me!" Beautiful exclamation in the mouth of one who had nearly perished, but whose unselfish gratitude led her to concern herself about him whose self-sacrificing work had brought her back from death. The man came at her word. Again she spoke, "Oh, sir," she said, "you've saved me, and I've naught in the world save yon tub; but, oh! if you'll take it you're welcome, with all my heart!" The man, no less astonished than gratified, made no reply, but doffing his hat went round collecting from the assembled crowd, and speedily coming back poured all he had received into her lap, enriching her as she had never in her life either experienced or expected.
Is it not thus, though in an infinitely higher and more blessed way, that God, having given us eternal life in Christ, with Him also freely gives us all things? Have we, like the poor woman, experienced deep longings of heart to see the One who has saved us, and when we have made His acquaintance laid all we possess with all our heart at His feet? If so, surely we shall have found that, inasmuch as it is more blessed to give than to receive, He will be no man's debtor; but taking to Himself the higher blessedness which is His due, He will pour into our lap all that He has received, to share with us the spoils of His own victory, the guerdon of His own work! And thus to us shall belong the double and lasting indebtedness which our narrative illustrates. May we who have been so wondrously blessed, and who sometimes sing of Him, "And gave us all that love could give," be led of the Holy Ghost into personal acquaintance with the Man in glory whom grace has made our satisfying portion for ever. And may the taste we thus acquire for what we more and more find only in Himself intensify, as it surely will, the longing desire of our hearts to see Him face to face, when the day dawns and the shadows flee away W. Rickards (D).
In prayer I have not only to ask for things, but to realise the presence of Him to whom I speak. The power of prayer is gone if I lose the sense of seeing Him by faith. Prayer is not only asking right things, but having the sense of the Person there. If I have not that, I lose the sense of His love, and of being heard. J. N. Darby.