To Young Disciples
You are just entering upon your Christian course. You have felt the strivings of the Holy Spirit within you, and have yielded to them. You have heard the still, small voice of Jesus calling you — and have turned to follow him. You have heard the sweet bidding of divine love speaking from the midst of the sorrowful scenes of the night of betrayal, and saying, "Do this in remembrance of me" — and, obeying this command, you are coming to the sacramental table.
I desire to impress upon your minds this lesson, that the whole of your Christian life hereafter is to be simply remembering and obeying the words of the Lord Jesus. The voice that called you first into being, and that has now called you a second time into life, spiritual life — you will hear day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment, ever calling you forward to new duties, to fresh efforts and struggles, to higher achievements, to nobler and more Christ-like life.
Do not think that the work is all done. It is only begun. God has breathed his forgiveness upon your past life, but his voice to you is: "Go and sin no more!" He has kindled within you a spark of his own Spirit; he has put a germ of his own life in your soul; but he would have you grow up into the full measure of the stature of Christ. He has touched you with a longing for goodness and spiritual beauty — but he would lead you up to a full realization of all the sweet thoughts, hopes, and yearnings that today stir in your breasts. He has given you a taste of the joys that spring out of a sense of pardoned sin, and from communion with himself — but he would lead you up the mountain-side, higher and higher, until you drink at the fountainhead, where there is fullness of joy, and where there are pleasures evermore.
He has printed his own image upon your soul; the features are very dim and faint today; but he would lead you in the paths of holiness until your lives cast off all their imperfection, and bud and blossom in all the sweetness of heavenly perfection, in the complete, unblemished likeness of your dear Lord.
Your new life is but a grain of mustard-seed as yet, and it is to grow until it becomes a great tree, with deep root, tall trunk, wide-spreading branches, and rich fruits.
You are but babes in Christ now, and you are to develop into strong men and women, with noble powers, ripened beauty, and lives of blessed usefulness.
All these things are to be reached, all these joys are to be experienced, all these sublime attainments are to be gained — simply by remembering and obeying the words of the Lord Jesus. He will call — and you are to follow. He will call you away from all that is wrong, from all impurity, from all evil habits, from all sin. He will call you to virtue, to truth, to love. You shall hear his voice of tenderness in the darkness — as well as in the light; in the roar of winter's tempest — as well as in the quiet summer evening hush. Sometimes he will call you where the flowers bloom and the birds sing sweetly; sometimes into the desert where there is no beauty and no voice of joy; sometimes he will lead you gently by the flowing streams, under the shade of fragrant trees; sometimes up among the misty mountains, or across the stormy billows toward unknown shores. He may often call you away from your own pleasure. He may lead you in paths that are thorny. He may give you duties that seem too hard for you. He may call you into conflict, into grief, into chambers of sickness, into paths that are darkened by the deep shadows of adversity.
What I want to say to you, is that you may always trust him. You may safely follow where he leads. You need never fear to obey him, though, like Abraham, he calls you to bring to his altar your dearest and most precious joy. He will never call you into any wrong path. He will never demand a sacrifice which has not in it a blessing for your soul. He will ever lead you upwards to . . .
and greater usefulness.
My heart yearns for you with a tenderness and a love which I cannot express. And those yearnings are for this, not merely that you may be saved — but that your Christian lives may be beautiful and holy, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. I want to see you rise above the common mass of Christians, and shine with a richer luster. And there is no way that your lives can be made so beautiful, so fair, so lovely, so blessed and full of blessing — as by remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, by keeping your hearts full of them, by feeding upon them until their sweetness fills your whole soul and flows out in every word you speak, in everything you do, in every influence of your life.
Somewhere I have heard this little fable: One digging in the earth found a little lump of fragrant, perfumed clay, and asked, "Where did you come from? Where did you get your fragrance?" "One laid me on a rose," said the little piece of clay.
In the same way, the life that ever remembers the words of the Lord Jesus will be struck through with the fragrance of Heaven, for these words are flowers gathered in the heavenly gardens and borne down to earth. And he who lives amid them, and ever breathes their sweetness, will have a life perfumed by the fragrances of Heaven.