What am I? In my flesh I am but equal to the beasts of the field. In my heart and mind I am corrupt Humanity. In my soul I know not what I am or may be, and therein lies my hope.
O wonderful and mysterious soul, more fragile than gossamer and yet so strong that she may stand in the Presence of God and not perish!
"Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove."—Psalm lxviii. 13.
By what means shall the ordinary man and woman, living the usual everyday life, whether of work or of leisure, find God? And this without withdrawing themselves into a life apart—a "religious" life, and without outward and conspicuous piety always running to public worship (though often very cross and impatient at home); without leaving undone any of the duties necessary to the welfare of those dependent on them; without making themselves in any way peculiar;—how shall these same people go up into the secret places of God, how shall they find the marvellous peace of God, how satisfy those vague persistent longings for a happiness more complete than any they have so far known, yet a happiness which is whispered of between the heart and the soul as something which is to be possessed if we but knew how to get it? How shall ordinary mortals whilst still in the flesh re-enter Eden even for an hour? for Eden is not dead and gone, but we are dead to Eden—Eden, the secret garden of enchantment where the soul and the mind and the heart live in the presence of God and hear once more "the voice of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen. iii.).
It is possible for these things to come to us or we to them, and in quite a few years if we set our hearts on them. First we must desire; and after the desire, steady and persistent, God will give. And we say, "But I have desired and I do desire, and God does not give. Why is this?" There are two reasons for it. For one—are these marvellous things to be given because of one cry; for one petulant demand; for a few tears, mostly of self-pity, shed in an hour when the world fails to satisfy us, when a friend has disappointed us, when our plans are spoiled, when we are sick or lonely? These are the occasions on which we mostly find time to think of what we call a better world, and of the consolations of God.
But let anyone have all that he can fancy, be carried high upon the flood-tide of prosperity, ambition, and success, and how much time will he or she give to Almighty God?—not two moments during the day. Yet the Maker of all things is to bestow His unspeakable riches upon us in return for two moments of our thought or love! Does a man acquire great worldly wealth, or fame, in return for two moments of endeavour?
"Ah," some of us may cry, "but it is more than two moments that I give Him; I give Him hours, and yet I cannot find Him." If that is really so, then the second reason is the one which would explain why He has not been found. A great wall divides us from the consciousness of the Presence of God. In this wall there is one Door, and one only, Jesus Christ. We have not found God because we have not found Him first as Jesus Christ in our own heart. Now whether we take our heart to church, whether we take it to our daily work, or whether we take it to our amusements, we shall not find Jesus in any one place more than another if He is not already in our hearts to begin with....