Copyright
Albert Leverett Gridley.

The divine life : its development and activities online

. (page 3 of 9)
Online LibraryAlbert Leverett GridleyThe divine life : its development and activities → online text (page 3 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


like character. Another of these passions may be pro-
fitably mentioned — jealousy. To be called jealous is



The Divine Life : Its Development and Activities 37

considered a reproach. But it is a reproach only when
the passion exists without due or sufficient cause. A
man may have occasion to be jealous of his wife or the
wife of her husband. It is one of the defensive passions,
not necessarily wrong. Some years ago a man was em-
ployed in one of our eastern states upon a piece of work.
He became enamored of the wife of one of the citizens.
She, wickedly, reciprocated. She made no attempt to con-
ceal her attachment. She packed her trunk, even in the
presence of her husband, with no attempt to disguise the
fact that she was about to desert him and her family for
her paramour. Her husband entreated, argued, pointed
out the disgrace she was bringing upon herself, on her
family of little children and on himself ; used every ar-
gument and inducement to dissuade her from her course,
but all in vain. She carried out her purpose and years
later a little clump of trees near the house bore the
legend "Tragedy Grove."

Jealousy? That husband had a right to be jealous.
Women often have a right and, too sadly, the occasion
to be jealous of their husbands. But the above incident
illustrates so strikingly the relationship between God and
his chosen people. How often he speaks of them as his
wife and how pathetic, how infinitely pathetic is his wail
over their faithlessness. What tragedies have followed.

The second commandment is instructive along this
line. "I, the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting
the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the
third and fourth generation of them that hate me" and
so on.

To a superficial observer it would seem as if God
were carrying his jealousy to an undue extent, "visiting
the iniquities of the fathers upon the children," and so
on. I might mention the law of heredity as coming in
here. It may be to some extent involved. But it is not



38 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

necessary to call it in to help us out of the difficulty. It
is only to those that hate him that he visits the iniquities,
of the fathers upon. The way to escape the consequences
of the fathers' sins is to stop hating God. It is only just
of God to do as he says. If the children continue to hate
God after the warnings in their fathers' example, they
simply become "accessories after the fact," to all of the
sins of their ancestors. If one partakes of stolen proper-
ty, condones the theft, or harbors the thief himself, he
becomes accessory after the fact and is, himself, a thief.
So if one wishes to escape being accessory to the sins of
his ancestors he must stop hating God.

"Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unright-
eous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord
and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God for
he will abundantly pardon." God deals with individuals
as they are. The law of the Kingdom is found in Eze-
kiel 18 :19-22 : "Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear
the iniquity of the father? when the son hath done that
which is lawful and right, and hath kept my statutes, and
hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sin-
neth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of
the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of
the son. The righeousness of the righteous shall be upon
him and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."
God dwells upon this still further, in this connection to
correct a very common misapprehension of the second
commandment. The jealousy of God is not unjust, neith-
er should ours be. We should be jealous of Gods honor
anl strive to promote it.

Another of the natural inclinations of men that
needs to be restrained, kept under a strong hand, is Cov-
etousness. "Thou shalt not covet," said the law. "Take
heed and beware of covetousness," says Christ. And yet
Paul exhorts "covet earnestly the best gifts," Is there
then, a contradiction? No.



The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 39

A very earnest desire is covetousness in its normal,
legitimate condition. But when that desire would lead
one to transgress the great law of love, when it would
lead one to take an object without rendering a just equiv-
alent, it is forbidden in the very nature of things. So when
it would lead one to disobey a commandment of God, as
Achan who coveted the wedge of gold and goodly Baby-
lonish garment, it is abnormal, wicked. With men in their
natural condition, this abnormality is so common, so uni-
versal, the command in the law and the injunction of
Christ come home with power. Paul's declaration is
very often misquoted because not wholly quoted. Men
say "Money is the root of all evil." No. "The love of
money is the root of all evil." No, again. It is only
when it "is coveted after" that "they have erred from the
faith and pierced themselves through with many sor-
rows." The love of money is a divinely imparted in-
stinct to prompt men to activity for the benefit of others
even after their own immediate necessities are met. But
"disinterested benevolence" is not so characteristic of hu-
man nature as to be, in itself a sufficient incentive. The
love of money comes in to help it out. It is perfectly le-
gitimate, necessary, useful, when kept within due bounds.

It is said that one tenth of our money belongs to God.
It all belongs to him. We are but custodians. We are
his stewards. But this does not by any means imply that
we are to give it all away, or to commit the responsibility
for its good use, to some one else. God wants railroads,
canals, factories, comfortable homes — in fact all of the
comforts of modern civilization for his stewards, his fam-
ily. All of these objects are perfectly legitimate.

But that is not all by any means. God wants us to
feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and in
very many ways part with our money and our efforts
for something not ourselves and not connected with self



40 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

interest. And this for our own well being as much as
that of the direct objects of our interest. This is neces-
sary in order to keep that love of money in due subjec-
tion. God could supply all want, heal all diseases, cause
the gospel to be preached in all lands and leave us to
cherish our own selfishness, but that would strangle the
Divine Life. The proper use of our means and of our
efforts is intended to develop it. Paul wants gifts that
should abound to the account of the givers as well as to
his own.

In this connection we might speak of the natural in-
clination for revenge, to get even, and generally with a
desire to get a little more than even. There is some truth
in the words of Scott :

And if we do but watch the hour.
There never yet was human power
That could evade, if unforgiven,
The patient watch and vigil long
Of him who treasures up a wrong.

But in that case the one "who treasures up a wrong"
is much worse off than the object of the revenge.

But this is one of the strongest human passions, one
that must be held in check, controlled, kept in "modera-
tion" by an act of the will, to develop virtue. No one
who has not had experience in this matter, can imagine
the restfulness, the peace, the joy, comfort that comes
from leaving vengeance in the hands of Him who has
said "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."
When one has suffered some little wrong, real or sup-
posed, and can say, "Lord, I am thine, this matter con-
cerns Thee more than it does me, Take it into thine own
hands but be gentle toward him." What a restful, happy
sensation to feel that we do not have to be to the trouble
to try even to right our own wrongs.



The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 41

The opposite of revenge is forgiveness. This is rec-
ognied as of so much consequence that Christ empha-
sizes it and makes the forgiveness of our own sins de-
pend upon our forgiveness of others. "For if ye forgive
not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly
Father forgive you your trespasses. Superficially, this may
seem to be a kind of "tit for tat" arrangement, to be
merely arbitrary on the part of God. Could he not for-
give except upon the condition of our forgiving others?
Judicially, no. It would be a violation of a principle in-
herent in his very nature, the inherent attribute of jus-
tice. This attribute is not something attached to him,
but a principle inherent in him.

But here it may be well to recognize a distinction
that actually exists, but which is not always well under-
stood. It is that between subjective and objective for-
giveness, the difference between a forgiving spirit and
the objective or judicial forgiveness of the offender. The
former should always be present, the latter must depend
upon conditions. The judge may have no malice in his
heart against the prisoner at the bar, but justice may de-
mand that judicial forgiveness be withheld and that sen-
tence be pronounced. Jesus prayed, "Father forgive
them, for they know not what they do." That was the
expression of "his subjective attitude toward his mur-
derers, but every wail from a persecuted Jew in any
part of the world is evidence that they were not judicially
forgiven, and yet Jesus is their judge. All judgment
was committed unto him.

But what have these last two to do with moderation ?
In its legitimate sphere the desire for revenge is but an
instinct designed to assist in the execution of justice.
In the Mosaic law the nearest of kin were sometimes re-
quired to act as executioners as this passion would assist
in the discharge of that duty.



42 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

Forgiveness? The subjective attitude, or wishes
prompted by that attitude must be held in check at the
command of vindicative justice.

These are a few examples of many. Moderation
should be shown in work, in play, in exercise, in rest,
in eating and drinking, and so on.

There is one thing in which it would not seem to
be required, love to God. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy might, with all thy soul, with all thy
strength and with all thy mind."

In other things "Let your moderation be known to
all men."

The path of moderation is the path of rectitude and
to walk in it requires the exercise of qualities that great-
ly promote growth in Christian character.



CHAPTER VI.

"Grozv in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ." . (II Peter, 3 :18.)

"Follow after Charity, and desire spiritual gifts."
(I Cor. 14:1.)

As has been said, when one has been born again,
born of the Spirit and thus has become a child of God,
after all he is but a child and with unlimited room for
growth, development, before him. This development is,
of course, in accordance with the life principle he has
received.

When the life principle of that seedless organge tree
in Brazil has been imparted to a stock here or anywhere
else, it produces fruit according to that life principle.
When one partakes of the life of God, he will naturally
produce the fruits of the Spirit of God, as love, joy,
peace, meekness, temperance, and we may add activity
towards God, and so on. But it usually takes time for
such fruits to mature.

It is true that before one can be renewed by the en-
trance of that life everything in consciousness that is
opposed to that life must be given up. Every known sin
has to be abandoned, every evil passion, curbed. But
there may be, as there almost always are, things that
are not in our thoughts, or that are not thought to be
wrong, that, as they appeal to us in their true nature,
have to be abandoned, and that require an act of the will
to do. This may be a process requiring years to accom-
plish, but every exercise of the will in that direction
is an act that strengthens Christian character, adds a lit-
tle to our growth in grace. Temptations are liable to
assail one at any time. If one gets to feeling secure.



44 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

as if he were beyond the reach of assaults from the evil
one, he is likely to fall an easy victim to such assaults.

It may be well to define temptation as some appeal
to us from without that finds a response from within us,
an appeal that requires an effort of the will to resist. To
illustrate, if some one should come to one of us and tell
that there was an old man near by who had a thousand
dollars hidden away somewhere on his premises, and
propose that one of us should go with him, kill the man
and get his money, that would not be any temptation for
it would find no response from within us. The proposal
would be too horrible to be a temptation, it would be re-
jected with scorn, or anger that such an offer should be
made. But if in a trade we find that we have profited a
little more than we ought, or if more change has been
given than needed, there may be a disposition to not cor-
rect the trade or give back the change, and it might re-
quire an act of the will to do what one ought to do.

At any rate there will come solicitations to us from
without that find a response within and that require an
act of the will to resist. But every effort of the will to do
the right and resist the wrong tends to promote our
growth. And the measure in which such appeals lose
their force, the less they find a response from within us,
is the measure of our advance in the divine life.

It should be noted, too, that the more such victories
are obtained, the greater the advance in that life, the
more refined will be our sensitiveness, and things that
once seemed trivial, too small to notice, or not regarded
as wrong at all, may come to us as assaults from the evil
one that need to be resisted with all of our power. For
instance one who would be horrified at a proposition to
steal, in speaking of one whom he did not like, might use
very uncharitable language and not be at all conscious
that he was doing wrong. But as one grows in grace that



The Divine Life : Its Development and Activities 45

consciousness becomes more and more refined and he sees
wrong in words or actions that at one time did not seem
wrong. It would be well to occasionally look over the
lists of things that Paul mentions as to be avoided. But
we may touch upon this point later on.

It is often, perhaps commonly, supposed that Christ
had no temptations except the three mentioned in con-
nection with his forty days' fast. But it is apparent that
that was not the case. Even then we read that after the
Devil had met with such signal repulses as he did from
those passages our Saviour quoted from Deuteronomy,
even then we read that "When the devil had ended all
his temptation, he departed from him for a season." But
that he renewed his attacks and continued them all
through our Saviour's life is apparent from his prayers,
his continuing all night in prayer at times, and the dec-
laration that "he was tempted in all points like as we are,
yet without sin."

In the first passage at the head of this chapter we
read, "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ," in the second, "Follow after
charity and desire spiritual gifts."

Following after charity is growing in grace and no
one can grow in grace without following after charity.
I combine the two for a purpose. Charity is a technical
term descriptive of that kind or quality of love that is
Christian Love. Not that which animals have for their
young, not even that which all naturally have for home,
friends, relatives, country, or any other natural object
of affection. Love for any such object may be destitute
of the peculiar nature of Christian Love.

When the King James version was made the trans-
lators wished for a term that would contain not the
slightest suggestion of anything illicit, sinister, impure,
so they used the word charity to designate that kind or



46 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

quality of love that is begotten in us by the love where-
with Christ loved us. That is the kind or quality of the
love that is inherent in and inseparable from the life
that God or Christ imparts when we believe in, accept,
Christ.

When we receive that life, we receive it in its es-
sential nature, and that is love, for God is love. Love
that is not only infinite in its duration and extent but in
its purity and power. Note the value of that love as in-
dicated by the apostle in the twelfth chapter of first Cor-
inthians. He gives a long list of gifts such as wisdom,
knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles,
prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues,
and so on, through the list of things that we should think
of the greatest value ; but to him these were all of small
account as compared with something that is within our
reach. Note, "Covet earnestly the best gifts : yet shew
I unto you a more excellent way." What way was that?
The Charity we are speaking of. (I Cor. 13.) "Though
I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have
not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tink-
ling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge ; and
though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains
and have not charity, I am nothing." We should natur-
ally think that with all these, he would amount to a great
deal. But this is not all, "And though I bestow all my
goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be
burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

Of what infinite value it must be, and yet even that
is within our reach though any of the lesser things may
not be. Why is it of such value? It is the essence of the
Divine life. Then he goes on to tell what it is, and what
it docs. "Charity sufFereth long and is kind." What an
impossible thing is that for the natural man. But this



The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 47

is only the beginning, "Charity envieth not." What, no
envy? No, it envies no one. Further, "Charity vaunt-
eth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself
unseemly, seeketh not her own." Why, that is strange,
that it should not seek her own ; every one does that. But
the difficulty is that in seeking our own we are too apt
to seek a little beyond our own. But further, "is not eas-
ily prokoved, thinketh no evil ; rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoiceth in the truth ; beareth all things, believeth all
things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." These
must surely be enough, but no, he goes on. "Charity
never f aileth : but whether there be prophecies, they shall
fail; whether there be tongues they shall cease; whether
there be knowledge it shall vanish away."

At the end of this chapter the apostle speaks of the
three graces, faith, hope and charity. He says that the
greatest of these is charity. So if we follow after char-
ity we are growing in grace. Faith saves, hope is the
anchor of the soul to hold one steadfast, but charity is
the life itsekf.

Some years ago I was leading the weekly church
prayer meeting, and for a month or two we had been
dwelling upon this wonderful chapter, trying to get some
of its deeper meaning when an excellent Christian lady
remarked to the effect that no one ever lived up to the re-
quirements of that chapter. I replied "No man ever did
but the man Christ Jesus."

So in this chapter we have something of the content
of Christ's example referred to in the first chapter of this
volume. In order to be saved there are some things
that we must believe about Christ, to grow in the life we
must know something of him ; and we get a glimpse of
what he was and is from this wonderful chapter on char-
ity. Following after charity we are growing in grace
and in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.



48 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

That chapter marks some of the landmarks on the way
as we follow the example of our Lord.

That chapter shows us the goal that is set before us.
As we gain a conception of the content of this chapter
we obtain a knowledge of our Lord. Following after
charity we are growing in grace.

But how to do this is a very important question.
Paul says (Rom. 7, 18, 19), "To will is present with me,
but how to perform that which is good I find not. For
the good that I would, I do not ; but the evil which I would
not, that I do." And he says, "I find then a law that,
when I would do good, evil is present with me." And
the conflict is so great that he has to exclaim, "O wretched
man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of
this death?" But he finds a Deliver, for he exclaims at
once, "I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So
then with the mind I myself serve the law of God ; but
with the flesh the law of sin."

But with too many of us "to will" is not present
with us for we have not the fervent passion to do the will
of God that Paul had. He could truly say to too many
of us, "Ye have not resisted unto blood, striving against
sin." We care so little about it. With the apostle it
was not so. Every thought, word and act must be brought
into subjection to Christ. In God's own wisdom Paul
was forced to exert every ounce of his force, mental,
physical and spiritual in the conflict in order to fit him
for the work that God had for him to do. Frances R.
Havergal, or Fanny Crosby, evidently, never had such
soul conflicts for they were not necessary to qualify
them for their particular work. Paul was of sterner stuff
and had a sterner, harder work to do. He must be, and
he was, qualified for it by the exercise of the strength
necessary in the conflict between the purely human nature



The Divine Life : Its Development and Activities 49

that remained in him and the God life that had been im-
parted to him.

It is written even of Christ that he was made perfect
through suffering. That, perhaps, is one reason that he
often spent whole nights in prayer.

But how did the apostle finally win out? By throw-
ing himself wholly upon God. After his exclamation, "O
wretched man that I am," he finds a remedy and again
exclaims, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

It was through Him that he gained the victory, and
he could say, "There is therefore now no condemnation
to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the
flesh but after the spirit." "Looking unto Jesus, the
Author and Finisher of our faith." He is not only the
author, but the finisher of our faith.

But we must use the means that are furnished for
that end. No child ever came to maturity without food.
No child of God ever came to anything like maturity in
the divine life without feeding upon the Word of God
which is the soul's food. I submit a chapter upon that
Word and one, also, upon one of the most important
portions of that Word.

But there is nothing in any of these that can avail
to promote this growth, without prayer, communion with
the Father of our spirits, and faith. In fact, no prayers
would avail without faith. "Without faith it is impossi-
ble to please him : for he that cometh to God must believe
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that dili-
gently seek him." Note the heroes of faith and what
faith has accomplished as recorded in the eleventh chap-
ter of Hebrews. Our own faith is just as much warrant-
ed, and just as available as was that of any or all of the
Old Testament heroes. "Faith is the victory, O glorious
victory, That overcomes the world."



50 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

Much of the discipline I have been speaking of not
only contributes to our strength, but reveals our weak-
ness and our need of help from a Higher Power. When
Peter, attempting to walk on the sea and seeing the waves
and the tempest, saw his own littleness, he crid "Lord
save me." He would net have realized his dependence
upon God, or Christ, if he had not begun to sink, and so
we do not realize our dependence upon a Higher Power
until we find out our own weakness. And Jesus was
never more willing to help Peter than he is to help us.
"Are you having victory today." is a question that reg-
ularly recurs in one of the best religious journals. If
you are not, it is because you are not casting all upon
Jesus. If you are, it is in answer to prayers that may not
be more than Peter's "Lord save me."

For myself, I have never made much progress in the
divine life, but what I have has been of infinite value and
has been by vital connection of my life with that of Christ
and realized by prayer. How many, many times have I


1 3 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryAlbert Leverett GridleyThe divine life : its development and activities → online text (page 3 of 9)