Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - Psalms 25:14 - 25:14

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Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - Psalms 25:14 - 25:14

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Secret of the Lord

The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him;

And he will shew them his covenant.—Psa_25:14.

When the Hebrew poet spoke of the secret of the Lord he meant the knowledge of the God of Israel, the unseen and eternal Jehovah. When he thought of them that fear Him, he remembered the stalwart saints who shall ever be the heroic leaders of the faith. He recalled Abraham coming out of Ur of the Chaldees with a wisdom and a knowledge that no Babylonian star-gazer ever divined. He thought of Jacob rising from his midnight dream at Bethel, saying in penitence and awe, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” He saw Moses at the burning bush, putting off the shoes from his feet, for the place whereon he stood was holy ground. He remembered Samuel coming out of the temple in the morning light, having heard the voice of God, with a message he dared not tell to Eli. Each of these had entered into a solemn experience. Each of them had come forth with a secret. A new and deeper understanding of God’s ways, and thoughts, and purposes had been given them. He marks the law of their experience. It was the law of fear. They had that fear of God which is an awe and a reverence, a passion of desire to know, and a willingness to submit and to obey. Therefore God made known the secret to them.

Thompson dwells on St. Paul’s unspoken message, which, designated by the name of wisdom, he withheld from many of the Corinthians because they were not fit to hear it. He communicated it to the spiritual not to the animal man. Origen says that that which St. Paul would have called wisdom is found in the “Canticle of Canticles.” Thompson dwells further on the hidden meanings of the Pentateuch, believing that there was “an inexhaustible treasure of divine wisdom concealed under the letter of Holy Writ.” Thompson saw wise men whispering, and guessed that there were secrets; their presence discovered, they were open secrets for such as he. “You have but to direct my sight, and the intentness of my gaze will discover the rest.”1 [Note: E. Meynell, The Life of Francis Thompson (1913), 223.]

There were three courts in the Temple at Jerusalem. There was the outer court, where even the Gentiles who cared nothing for the God of Israel or the faith of the Hebrew people might freely come. There was the holy place with its sacred things, where only the Hebrew worshipper might walk. There was the most holy place, over which the veil of the Temple hung, and into whose unseen and unknown seclusion the high priest entered once every year, alone. There are these three courts in the life of a Christian man. There is the outer court, where a man who is living his life in the world must keep company with all who enter its circle. He must rub shoulders with the crowd, although he never forgets that they cannot enter into his secret. There is the holy place, where fellow-believers may pass, and speech and thought of the things of God have a gracious liberty. But there is the most holy place, and what passes there between God and the soul is to be kept with a guarded reticence until there is need for its being told.2 [Note: W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 247.]

When the ancient Jew approached his sanctuary, he found an outer court of the Temple full of activity with the coming and going of those who touched the whole natural life and the daily sacrifice on the altar. But behind lay the still silent room where the golden lamp burned and the bread of life was resting on the golden table. And behind again the silence of the Holy of Holies where man and God merge in union. Even so it is not the great activity, touching national issues—it is not even the sacrificial life of Dr. Paton that has most attracted me and, I believe, others. But here was a priest of the Most High God, in the sanctuary of whose heart the light burned and the bread of life was broken. And with reverent awe we knew that behind lay communion with the Inspirer and Hearer of Prayer. So that out of him from the Divine source flow “rivers of living water.” Thus heaven touched earth through our intercourse, and the passion for service of his soul entered ours.3 [Note: J. Marchant, J. B. Paton, 311.]

The secret of the Lord, as the Psalmist conceives it, may be held to include (1) Knowledge; (2) Character; (3) Happiness. Knowledge is the secret of the Teacher, Character is the secret of the Friend, Happiness is the secret of the Lover.



1. Every teacher has his secret. He scans his scholars, eager to find a receptive mind to whom he can reveal it. When the responsive glance, the significant word, or the searching question reveals the student’s promise, the teacher has an exquisite joy in revealing his secret.

The great painters of the Middle Ages took pupils into their studios. To every aspirant they gave honest attention. When one came who was swift to understand his master’s conceptions, eager to imitate his strength of line and purity of colour, humbly and patiently reverent in his zeal, the secret was disclosed. In our own day Edward Burne Jones became a disciple of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He spent still and strenuous hours in copying his master’s works, studying their distinction, and aspiring after their spirit. With a trembling heart young Burne Jones took his drawings to Rossetti to receive his judgment upon them. The honest painter looked at them in silence, and with a word of emotion he said, “You have nothing more to learn from me.” He had entered into the master’s secret. But mark the law. It is not to the carping critic, the scorning and cynical scholar, the contemptuous idler, that the secret is revealed. The secret is “with them that fear.”1 [Note: W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 4.]

God keeps His holy mysteries

Just on the outside of man’s dream.…

Yet, touching so, they draw above

Our common thoughts to Heaven’s unknown;

Our daily joy and pain advance

To a divine significance.2 [Note: E. B. Browning.]

2. There is a mystery in every Christian life. When the words are said in our hearing, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,” they seem to give a momentary glimpse of the truth. There is a secret in such lives, and that secret is God’s. He has to do with them. There is a communication between their souls and Him. He has told them a secret, and they keep it. Others may see that they have a secret; but intermeddle with it they cannot. There is only one way to attain it—by going through the same process as these have gone through. We may not at present think it worth our while to do so, or we may have an undefined dread of the supposed difficulty and irksomeness of that process: but at least let us lay it up well in our hearts that there is such a process, and such an end; that the Christian’s life is a reality, whether we ever attain that life or not; a mystery, whether we be ever initiated into that mystery or not; let us accept and reverence the inspired declaration that “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.”

The more of a man a man is, the more secret is the secret of his life, and the more plain and frank are its external workings. A small and shallow man tries to throw a mystery about the mere methods of his life, he tries to make his ways of living seem obscure. Where he goes, how he makes his fortune, whom he talks with, what his words mean, who his friends are—he is very mysterious about all these, and all because the secret of his life is really weak, because he is conscious that there is no really strong purpose of living which he himself understands. It is a shallow pool which muddies its surface to make itself look deep. But a greater man will be perfectly frank and unmysterious about these little things. Anybody may know what he does and where he goes. His acts will be transparent, his words will be intelligible. Yet all the while every one who looks at him will see that there is something behind all, which escapes the closest observation. The very clearness of the surface will show how deep the water is, how far away the bottom lies. There is hardly a better way to tell a great man from a little one.1 [Note: Phillips Brooks, New Starts in Life, 272.]

He always lived with his blinds up, and you saw all the workings of his mind. Had he not been steeped in the spirit of love he could never have survived the self-exposure which was a habit with him. But his very caprices were always unselfish, and he could afford to let his friends look him through and through.2 [Note: Love and Life: The Story of J. Denholm Brash (1913), 163.]

As in some cavern dark and deep,

My soul within me here lies low,

Where, veiled, she dreams in wondrous sleep

Of things I may not know.

And if perchance she wake awhile,

I probe her radiant eyes in vain:

She turns from me with misty smile

And, sighing, sleeps again.1 [Note: Laurence Alma Tadema.]

3. God may be expected to keep some things hidden. In the most intimate and sacred of our friendships it is not for us to say what secrets shall be made known to us, and what secrets shall be guarded from our cognizance. A government reserves to itself the right of saying what information may be imparted to its friends, and what, for sufficient reasons, shall be kept back. A general on the battle-field, whilst putting safe and suitable selections of news at the service of authorized war correspondents, cannot allow them unlimited access to his plans. It is necessary to respect official reserve. And is not the temper which accepts such conditions binding on a true servant of God? Let God Himself choose the things He sees fit to make known to us. If we live in reverent and believing fellowship He will treat us as confidants, and our knowledge of His methods and purposes will surpass that of the world; but at the same time we need to be told once and again that He cannot admit us to equality with Himself by making known the veiled things we petulantly demand. It ought to satisfy us if His heart trusts us, and He comes to us in forms of revelation withheld from the world. He who is thus initiated into His deep counsels and led to know His will makes few mistakes in his prayers, and the faith he cherishes does not suffer the bitterness of disappointment or betrayal.

I have heard Sir Clifford Allbutt and Signor agree that the necessity or, perhaps better, the love of the mysterious, was an essential and valuable part of the human mind; far from being all disadvantageous or an impediment to progress, it had been in the main a stimulus towards something transcending man’s best efforts. Signor said: “It is in fact the poetic element; and what in the superstitious mind is mere dread, in Browning and Tennyson is aspiration. You cannot take away the mysterious from man, he cannot do without it.”2 [Note: M. S. Watts, George Frederic Watts, ii. 177.]

One of the most beautiful of the Bishop’s sonnets was composed at Trondhjem on August 12, 1888. It runs thus:—

And was it there—the splendour I behold?

This great fjord with its silver grace outspread

And thousand-creeked and thousand-islanded?

Those far-off hills, grape-purple, fold on fold?

For yesterday, when all day long there rolled

The blinding drift, methinks, had some one said

“The scene is fair,” I scarce had credited;

Yet fairer ‘tis than any tongue hath told.

And it was there! Ah, yes! And on my way

More bravely I will go, though storm-clouds lour

And all my sky be only cold and grey;

For I have learnt the teaching of this hour:

And when God’s breath blows all these mists afar,

I know that I shall see the things that are.1 [Note: F. D. How, Bishop Walsham How, 399.]

4. Knowledge comes by obedience. It would be hopeless to try to tell the secret, even for the sake of inducing others to treasure it for themselves. The fact is that the secret might be told, and told in the best of words, without its ceasing to be a secret to those who heard. Words are necessary in religious as in other matters; but there is no fear of their telling anything which ought not to be told: first, because the secret is designed for all, and revealed to all who will listen to it; and next, because it lies deeper far than the understanding, and never becomes the possession of any man till he takes it into his heart. For the obedience by which comes knowledge is the obedience of the heart. Obedience to law, and acts of worship arising out of fear of penalty, are merely hiding from God among the trees of the garden. Even obedience from duty can never be a satisfactory or final state; it is merely educational, to make manifest defect of life. “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” When the glory of the Lord has filled all the ‘courts of His temple, man’s outward nature becomes reconstituted, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless or indissoluble life. The tree of knowledge becomes one with the tree of life which is in the midst of the city, and on both sides of the river of life, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

I have known more than one Highland saint who never had any intellectual training. They had had little schooling, they never were at college, and their libraries were of the scantiest kind. Yet in every true sense of the word they were men of culture; their language was choice and their thoughts large and just; and they had singular power in complicated questions of seizing on the things that really mattered. What was the secret of that mental clarity?—“If any man willeth to do his will.” To God they had prayed—in Christ’s name they had wrestled—they had clung to the right and beaten down the wrong; until at last that life of deep obedience—that faithfulness to God in what was least—all unexpectedly had reached their intellect, and made it a sphere of mastery and joy.1 [Note: G. H. Morrison, The Wings of the Morning, 19.]

Just to ask Him what to do

All the day,

And to make you quick and true

To obey.

Just to know the needed grace

He bestoweth,

Every bar of time and place


Just to take thy orders straight

From the Master’s own command.

Blessed day! when thus we wait

Always at our Sovereign’s hand.2 [Note: F. R. Havergal.]

5. Obedience is rendered easy by sympathy and an open mind. The man who is full of himself, bent on his own will, seeking his own ends, is not in a frame of mind to have the secret of the Lord revealed to him: probably he does not want it, or wish to have it revealed to him. It is a check upon him. He does not want the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, because he has no wish whatever to enter into it. To enter into the Kingdom of God is to do the, will of God, and to try to love it, and the will of God is human duty—what is due from us to God as poor, weak, ignorant creatures at the best; coming we know not whence, going we know not whither; seeing but a little way into things; living by faith, by trust in the power over us, trust in the good about us, trust in the good in other people; and what is due from us to others, for we are related to each other as brethren, because we are all related to God as the Father over all.

“See how that noble fellow Collingwood leads the fleet into action!” exclaimed Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, as he looked on the ship of his second bearing down upon the French line under a press of sail. “Ah! what would Nelson give to be here!” exclaimed Admiral Collingwood at the same moment. It seemed as if the two heroic men were animated by one spirit; as if by completeness of sympathy they knew each other’s thoughts. And have we not all seen something like this in our own experience? Have we not known persons so congenial in thought and feeling that scenes in nature lighted up their faces with the same delight, or cast over them the shadows of thoughtfulness and awe; sights of distress and tales of sorrow drew forth from them kindred tears of compassion; a noble poem or an eloquent oration awakened in their bosoms the same pure and generous emotions? And such, too, is the power of sympathy between man and God. Just as a man tells his secret only to his friends, knowing that it would often be unsafe, and at other times impossible, to tell it to others; and just as they, knowing his great aim and motive, can make more of a nod or look or word than others can of a lengthened statement; so God reveals, as He did to Abraham His friend in the matter of Sodom’s destruction, the depth of His mind and will to them who fear Him, and who by fearing Him have been made like Him; and they, loving in general as God loves, and hating in general as God hates, enter as others cannot into the meaning and spirit of God’s declarations.1 [Note: J. B. Johnston, The Ministry of Reconciliation, 335.]



1. God unveils His character by entering into friendly relations with man. It is always a sign of deepening friendship when people begin to open their inner rooms to us. To be made the depositary of a rare secret is to be sealed as a friend. When any one tells us a secret joy, it is a mark of intimacy; when any one unveils to us a secret grief, it is a proof of the closest fellowship. When we are taken from the suburbs of a man’s being to the centre, it is a proof of an enriching communion. “No longer do I call you servants; but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you.” Is there not something tenderly suggestive in the word which tells us that “when they were alone, he expounded unto them”? When He had His familiar friends to Himself, He told them His secrets and showed them His covenant.

Are these the tracks of some unearthly Friend,

His foot-prints, and his vesture-skirts of light,

Who, as I talk with men, conforms aright

Their sympathetic words, or deeds that blend

With my hid thought;—or stoops him to attend

My doubtful-pleading grief;—or blunts the might

Of ill I see not;—or in dreams of night

Figures the scope, in which what is will end?

Were I Christ’s own, then fitly might I call

That vision real; for to the thoughtful mind

That walks with Him, He half unveils His face;

But when on earth-stain’d souls such tokens fall,

These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,

Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace.1 [Note: J. H. Newman.]

2. Fellowship with God is the secret of the highest character in man. If a man admires, reveres and attaches himself to any one, he is naturally led to imitate him; and the tendency of all worship is to make a man like his God. The deities of heathendom are the product of the vain imaginations, unholy passions and guilty fears of their votaries, and the contemplation of them continues to quicken the foul source whence they have issued. The sins as well as the sorrows of those who follow after other gods are multiplied. And the worshippers of the true God are, in accordance with this principle of our nature, brought to godliness, induced and taught to love and hate, to approve and condemn, according to the perfect model. In every one that fears God, there is a real and growing assimilation.

Some words of Kingsley’s written in 1872, in which he defines a “noble fear” as one of the elements of that lofty and spiritual love which ruled his own daily life, may explain why he speaks of entering the married state with “solemn awe and self-humiliation,” and why he looked upon such married Love as the noblest education a man’s character can have: “Can there be true love without wholesome fear? And does not the old Elizabethan ‘My dear dread’ express the noblest voluntary relation in which two human souls can stand to each other? Perfect love casteth out fear. Yes; but where is love perfect among imperfect beings, save a mother’s for her child? For all the rest, it is through fear that love is made perfect; fear which bridles and guides the lover with awe—even though misplaced—of the beloved one’s perfections; with dread—never misplaced—of the beloved one’s contempt. And therefore it is that souls who have the germ of nobleness within, are drawn to souls more noble than themselves, just because, needing guidance, they cling to one before whom they dare not say, or do, or even think an ignoble thing. And if these higher souls are—as they usually are—not merely formidable, but tender likewise, and true, then the influence which they may gain is unbounded—both to themselves, and to those that worship them.”1 [Note: Charles Kingsley, i. 154.]

3. To enjoy this fellowship we must “fear” the Lord. In order to read any one’s secret we must respect him. You cannot show the real secret of your life, the spring and power of your living, to any man who does not respect you. Not merely you will not, but you cannot. Is it not so? A man comes with impertinent curiosity and looks in at your door, and you shut it in his face indignantly. A friend comes strolling by and gazes in with easy carelessness, not making much of what you may be doing, not thinking it of much importance, and before him you cover up instinctively the work which was serious to you, and make believe that you were only playing games. So it is when men try to get hold of the secret of your life. No friendship, no kindliness, can make you show it to them unless they evidently really feel as you feel, that it is a serious and sacred thing. There must be something like reverence or awe about the way that they approach you. It is the way in which children shut themselves up before their elders because they know their elders have no such sense as they have of the importance of their childish thoughts and feelings.

You must believe that there is something deep in nature or you will find nothing there. You must have an awe of the mystery and sacredness in your fellow-man, or his mystery and sacredness will escape you. And this sense of mystery and sacredness is what we gather into that word “fear.” It is the feeling with which you step across the threshold of a great deserted temple or into some vast dark mysterious cavern. It is not terror. That would make one turn and run away. Terror is a blinding and deafening emotion. Terror shuts up the apprehension. You do not get at the secret of anything which frightens you, but fear, as we use the word now, is quite a different emotion. It is a large, deep sense of the majesty and importance of anything, a reverence and respect for it. Without that no man can understand another. And so “the secret of a man is with them that fear him.”1 [Note: Phillips Brooks, New Starts in Life, 275.]

We have listened to some sweet melody, and we cannot escape from its gracious thraldom. It pervades the entire day. It interweaves itself with all our changing affairs. We hear it in our work and in our leisure; when we retire to rest and when we awake. It haunts us. The analogy may help us to some apprehension of what is meant by the fear of God. The man who fears God is haunted by God’s presence. God is an abiding consciousness. God is “continually before him.” Everything is seen in relationship to God. The Divine presence pervades the mind and shapes and colours the judgment. Here are two descriptions from the Word of God, in the contrast of which the meaning will be made quite clear. “God is not in all his thoughts.” The Eternal does not haunt his mind. Everything is secularized, and nothing is referred to the arbitrament of the Divine Will. He is not God-possessed. “Pray without ceasing.” Here is the contrasted mind, from which the sense of God is never absent. Like an air of penetrating music the Divine presence pervades the exercise of all his powers. He is God-haunted, and in the consciousness of that presence he lives and moves and has his being. He fears God.2 [Note: J. H. Jowett, Brooks by the Traveller’s Way, 173.]



1. The secret of happiness is love. The people of God love Him, and He loves them; their habitual feeling is that their affection and gratitude bear no proportion to the greatness of His claims. Like the penitent disciple who had had much forgiven, they can solemnly appeal to His omniscience and say, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” And He loves them with a love which has a height and depth, and length and breadth passing knowledge—a love which has thrown open to them the book of Nature that their eyes might be filled with its beauty and their souls with its truth—a love which sings sweet songs in the carol of the bird, in the murmur of the brook, in the whispering of the breeze, and in the joyous music of the domestic hearth—a love which covers the earth with golden grain, and casts abundance into the lap of life—a love which has toiled, and bled, and died that the soul of man might be taken from the spoiler who has held it under his cruel and polluting sway, and be brought under the dominion of its rightful Lord and made fully happy, and that for ever, in His fellowship.

He looked out on the world through the eyes of Love, and that is why it was to him ever beautiful in its infinite variety, and in its amazing friendliness. He lived to be seventy-one as the world counts years, but even then he was Youth and Joy—in the best sense of the word he refused to grow up.1 [Note: Love and Life: The Story of J. Denholm Brash (1913), 8.]

Though Mr. Paynter was a deeply spiritual man, there was nothing in his life or speech to suggest gloom; certainly there was not in his looks. Many a laugh have we had together, over some amusing incident or story, in the lighter interludes of life; and though he himself rarely told a story, yet sometimes he would make a “dry” remark, which showed that the sense of humour was not absent. He was a happy man—happy in all the domesticities of his home and family life—happy among his flowers—happy in his work—happy always in doing good to others, and all because he was happy in God, and had learned what St. Paul meant when he said, “All things are yours.”2 [Note: S. M. Nugent, Life Radiant: Memorials of the Rev. F. Paynter, 228.]

Just to recollect His love,

Always true;

Always shining from above,

Always new.

Just to recognize its light


Just to claim its present might,


Just to know it as thine own,

That no power can take away.

Is not this enough alone

For the gladness of the day?3 [Note: F. R. Havergal.]

2. We learn the secret of happiness as we try to express our love in noble character and unselfish conduct. Men are so constituted that obedience is its own reward. There is no delight so deep and true as the delight of doing the will of Him whom we love. There is no blessedness like that of the increasing communion with God and of the clearer perception of His will and mind which follow obedience as surely as the shadow follows the sunshine. There is no blessedness like the glow of approving conscience, the reflection of the smile on Christ’s face.

To have the heart in close communion with the very Fountain of all good, and the will in harmony with the will of the best Beloved; to hear the Voice that is dearest of all ever saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it”; to feel “a spirit in my feet” impelling me upon that road; to know that all my petty deeds are made great, and my stained offerings hallowed by the altar on which they are honoured to lie; and to be conscious of fellowship with the Friend of my soul increased by obedience—this is to taste the keenest joy and good of life, and he who is thus “blessed in his deed” need never fear that that blessedness will be taken away, or sorrow though other joys be few and griefs be many.

To Florence Nightingale, communion with the Unseen meant something deeper, richer, fuller, more positive than the fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning, but not the end, of wisdom, for perfect love casteth out fear. It was for the love of God as an active principle in her mind, constraining all her deeds, that she strove.1 [Note: Sir Edward Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale, i. 50.]

The income from his books and other sources, which might have been spent in a life of luxury and selfishness, he distributed lavishly where he saw it was needed, and in order to do this he always lived in the most simple way. To make others happy was the Golden Rule of his life. On August 31 he wrote, in a letter to a friend, Miss Mary Brown: “And now what am I to tell you about myself? To say I am quite well ‘goes without saying’ with me. In fact, my life is so strangely free from all trial and trouble that I cannot doubt my own happiness is one of the talents entrusted to me to ‘occupy’ with, till the Master shall return, by doing something to make other lives happy.”2 [Note: S. D. Collingwood, The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll, 325.]

3. And thus we are brought round again to knowledge. For the final verdict upon the realities of religion rests not with the highest intellect, but with the purest heart. Humboldt tells that the Arab guide employed in one of his desert journeys had such a keen and highly trained power of vision that he could see the moons of Jupiter without a telescope, and that he gave the date when one of those moons was eclipsed, a date afterwards verified by the traveller on his return to Europe. The watchmaker, the line-engraver, the microscopist, who for years have been poring over minute objects a few inches from the face, could not emulate the feat of the Arab whose eye had been trained for a lifetime by use in the desert, and might possibly doubt the fact. In that respect the man of science himself, with his wide knowledge, exact observation, many accomplishments, was inferior to his unlettered guide. A devout soul seeks wistfully after God, accustoms its faculties to discern and interpret His signs, and acquires a vision penetrative beyond that of his neighbour.

In one of his saddest poems—in the series entitled “Men and Women”—Browning tells the story of Andrea del Sarto, who was called the faultless painter of Florence. In his youth he had loved and married a woman of rare and radiant beauty. He rendered to her an almost worshipping homage. He longed to lift her to the high plane of thought and desire and holy ambition on which he moved. But she was a shallow, thin-natured, mean-souled woman. She was the woman who smeared with a careless fling of her skirt the picture he had painted in hours of spiritual ecstasy. She was the woman who craved him for his hard-earned money that she might spend it at the gaming-table with her dissolute companions. Browning sets down the tragedy of their years with his usual unerring insight. It was not that she disappointed him, robbed his hand of its power, dulled his mind, shadowed his heart, and, as he foresaw, would sully his fame. It was this more piteous thing, that he could not disclose himself to her. She was not able to see and to understand him at his highest and noblest. She never discerned the moral majesty of his mind or the spiritual hunger of his heart. The poet sets the sorrow of it all in a sigh, which is the climax of his story.

But had you—oh, with the same perfect brow,

And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth,

And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird

The fowler’s pipe, and follows to the snare—

Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!

Lover he was, with the lover’s secret, but she brought no mind, and the lover’s secret she never knew. For the lover’s secret is only with them that fear.1 [Note: W. M. Clow, The Secret of the Lord, 10.]

4. The nearer we live to Christ, the further shall we see into the Unseen and discern the secret of God. The vision of the godly man, like that of the prophet at Bethel, pierces into the unseen, and he is sensible of things to which others are blind. If he cannot envisage horses and chariots of fire, the vindicating ministries of the covenant, he can read the terms of the covenant in letters clear as the stars, and these revelations are enough, and assure as perfectly as glimpses of the hosts God leads. Doubts and misgivings are dispelled by spiritual insight. In the things which, to a worldly mind, suggest the anger of Heaven, he is made to see occasions which discipline the character into higher fitness for receiving the awaiting blessings of an immutable covenant.

For many years a lady made her livelihood by taking Greenwich time round to the jewellers’ shops in the small towns to the west of London. She was the daughter of a watchmaker, and possessed an excellent chronometer which had been bequeathed by her father. When necessary, the authorities of the Observatory kindly regulated it. Every Friday she went to Greenwich, got the standard time, and carried it to her clients, who paid a small fee for the service rendered. She belonged to the old dispensation, and may stand for one of its types. Many provincial towns, and even private firms of watchmakers, are now in direct electric connexion with Greenwich, and get the standard time every day.… In the United States of America, every post office is linked with the Observatory at Washington. Under the earlier Covenant, men who wished to learn of the things of God had to avail themselves of the ministries of the prophets, or sit at the feet of scholars, whose office it was to interpret the books of the law. But under the New Covenant the regenerate soul is brought into direct contact with God, and acquires Divine wisdom, not by listening to a neighbour, but by heeding swift inward impressions wrought by the wonderful Spirit of God.2 [Note: T. G. Selby, The Divine Craftsman, 175.]

Love touch’d my eyes—these eyes which once were blind,

And, lo! a glorious world reveal’d to view,

A world I ne’er had dream’d so fair to find.

I sang for gladness—all things were made new.

’Twas Love unstopp’d my ears, and every sound

Borne through the silence seem’d a psalm of praise:

Bird-song, child-laughter—yet o’er all I found

Thy voice the music of my happy days.

Love chang’d life’s draught and made the water wine,

And through my languid senses seem’d to flow

Some pow’r enkindled by the fire divine,

Some inspiration I can ne’er forego.

Love rais’d the dead to life—and never more

Can many waters quench th’ eternal flame.

Love open’d wide the everlasting door,

And bade us enter, called by His name.1 [Note: Una, In Life’s Garden, 6.]


Banks (L. A.), The King’s Stewards, 142.

Brooks (P.), New Starts in Life, 271.

Clow (W. M.), The Secret of the Lord, 1.

Cowl (F. B.), Digging Ditches, 79.

Holland (C.), Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, 150.

Johnston (J. B.), The Ministry of Reconciliation, 323.

Jowett (J. H.), Brooks by the Traveller’s Way, 172.

Keble (J.), Sermons for the Christian Year: Ascension Day to Trinity Sunday, 343.

Morrison (G. H.), The Afterglow of God, 366.

Potts (A. W.), School Sermons, 78.

Selby (T. G.), The Divine Craftsman, 142.

Simeon (C.), Works, v. 168.

Vaughan (C. J.), Memorials of Harrow, 270.

Literary Churchman, xxxviii. (1892) 45 (C. W. Whistler).

Sunday at Home, 1910, p. 629 (G. H. Morrison).

Treasury (New York), xvii. 404 (G. B. F. Hallock).