In the Mount

Heb. 8:5.---' Shewed to the in the mount.'

In the Mount, and in a very special way, God spoke to that which was deepest in Moses; the Eternal Spirit touched his spirit in some way which carried with it so much of certainty, of directness, of clearness of spiritual insight that it is described as a 'speaking face to face.' That was his time of inspiration, of enlightenment, when he saw truth clearly, when he felt it strongly, when he had not to grope his way, feeling for it step by step, putting out his reason before him as a staff to guide him, but when he, as it were, saw the heavenly things in the brightness of clear indisputable intuition. But then he could not remain upon the Mount. That spiritual elevation, that communion with the Divine, which so thrilled him that the inward glow of feeling lit up his face with radiant brightness, was not given to him for a permanent enjoyment. In truth, it was not given to him for mere enjoyment at all. It was given to him for a purpose, and the purpose was that he might carry out in action his task as he had seen it, that he might give actual concrete embodiment to those great thoughts which had filled his mind in the time of inspiration. Now, that is true for all of us in our measure. We have analogous experiences, and there is the same use to be made of them.

There comes to us all times of exceptional insight, of moral elevation---yes, of inspiration---when in a special way our spirits are touched by the Spirit of Truth and Goodness---times when we are upon the Mount, and see heavenly things clearly, and a higher pattern of life is shown to us. To every man these higher moments come, be they many or few. For our life---our spiritual life---does not stretch along one uniform level, nor is it even a steady, gradual ascent. In the life which is most regular there is still room for that which is only occasional; in that which is kept most orderly, with most punctual observances of duty and faithful use of privilege, there occur visitations of the spirit which are intermittent, and which cannot be counted upon as to when they should come or how long they shall stay. We do not realize the deeper meaning of life except at moments---moments which may possibly supply the inspiration of life, but which cannot possibly form its substance.

These hours of vision may be associated with the utmost variety of circumstances. It may be simply interruption of our ordinary work. We have been going on from day to day in the regular customary routine. Each day has been so filled with its multiplicity of engagements, its interests, its distractions, its pleasures, its annoyances, as to leave little leisure and less inclination for that quiet and serious thought in which we seek to see life steadily, and see it whole. We accept things as they are without asking questions. We drift indolently, or we rush eagerly with the crowd, without seriously putting it to ourselves whither all this is tending---whether we are making any worthy use of our life and our powers. We are so closely absorbed in our work that we fail to see it in its true proportions. We need to stand a little back from it, as an artist has to do to judge of the effect of the picture he is painting. And sometimes God compels a man to stand aside and look upon his life and his work from a little distance. He takes him apart from the multitude, that he may open his ears to voices that cannot he heard amid the bustle of the crowd. In the confinement of his chamber his spirit chafes at first as he thinks of the great tide of men with eager interests which flow each morning citywards and ebbs at evening, and of all the busy life from which he is excluded. By-and by a change comes over his spirit---the roar of that loud stunning tide sounds faint and far off; his interest in it becomes strangely weakened; other visions open out before his mind. He sees deeper than the surface stir and bustle of life, its ambitions and its rivalries, into the meaning of life itself, its possibilities and its purposes. He learns to see things in their true proportions, and wakes up to the discovery that he has been exaggerating terribly certain aspects of them. A Diviner pattern of life is being shown to him---an ideal higher in its aims, in its methods, and in its motives; and when he comes back to take up again among men his daily tasks, surely it is with an earnest purpose to make all things according to the nobler pattern that has been shown him.

But there are experiences tending towards similar results that enter much more frequently into life than such as that. To all men, and most of all to those who have youth and hope on their side, a period of leisure and recreation and contact with nature is not more a rest than an inspiration, a time of sanguine and earnest forecasting of the future, a time of forming of plans and contemplating ideals, of storing up impulse and stimulus, of girding up the loins of the mind with strenuous, self-denying purpose. Many of us must feel that some of our most fruitful hours, those of which the results have spread out through all the years of later life, and are working within us at this moment, have been hours, not of hard toil, but of what some would call idle reverie, in which the mind, relived from pressure, played freely round subjects of intensest interest, personal or universal; and while we mused the fire within burned into a glow which seemed to consume a whole mass of unworthy thoughts, and to impart a purer outlook. Surely there is not one of us who does not bring back to work something of higher aim and more resolute purpose. There have been times amid the silences of Nature when our mind rose up in involuntary protest against that which had been, against the slackness and the slothfulness and the selfishness of it, against its poverty, its frivolity, its folly; and there rose the alluring and inspiring vision of something better, of life lived at a higher level, with the consciousness of solid achievement, and with worthier aims. The leaven of that future began immediately to work in us. In the strength of that vision you will go forward, some of you, like Elijah, many days and nights until you come to another mount of God.

There are other times---sadder times---which have worked to the same effect---hours, not of elevation, but of deep depression, when we saw things after the pattern of the heavenly. It may have been an hour of stern self-rebuke, of humiliation and shame, when conscience justly scourged and spared not, or when you felt yourself baffled and helpless in the presence of a great perplexity; or the day you came back from standing beside a new filled grave, and realized that the world was emptier and poorer than it had been a week before. Men looking up from deep places, it is said, see stars at noonday; and sometimes it is when it is sighing its De Profundis that the soul catches the vision of God. Then you saw light in God's light, and you knew that you saw. You saw your life as it had been, saw it as it ought to be, saw it as, by the grace of Christ, it might yet be, saw it clearly and brightly and attractively. And you formed your resolutions. What came of them? Are you trying now to make your life after the pattern that was showed you?

There are countless hours of vision which we need not stay to classify. We wake up one day to feel as if all our previous knowledge of God had been but hearsay; we feel, 'I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.' Life seems to begin anew from times like that. We have accepted truth upon the authority of others; the time comes when we say, 'We see.' The entrance of God's Word gives light and so certifies itself. Our own hold of truth is never satisfactory until we thus see. The man who is to influence other minds must first himself see heavenly things upon the Mount. The prophet who is to be, not a mere echo, but a living voice to touch the hearts of men, must first of all be a seer. He must speak from his own intuition to speak with real effect, not from what someone else has told him, however true it may be and however high his authority. Not what he has read or heard, but what he has seen---his own vision of God and truth---that he must proclaim. A man may speak---often doubtless does speak---not from clear, certain insight, but from the use of his faculties of memory and inference, combining, arranging stored-up materials of knowledge and thought. Then he speaks doubtfully. But sometimes he speaks from clear, indisputable intuition; what he says may be partial, fragmentary, but he knows that it is true; and then he is simply indifferent to the criticism of men; it matters nothing to him if he can only help them to see what he sees.

Gradually, we begin to realize that God Himself is speaking to us in our souls. Truth sees to flash into our mind, like wavy streamers of northern lights. We would suddenly see a truth as though electric signs were signaled to us from a central station. It dawns upon us that God was the same now as when He revealed messages to prophets in olden times, and could still reveal His will. We see that temples and churches were not the most holy places, the soul of man itself was the really holy place, for God and man could meet therein. We see that any man could be a priest if he only learned how to hear the voice of God within his soul and to obey it, and can tell others how to hear it and understand it. To such an one the need to study theology for years and years in a university; it would be necessary only that one should be quick and sensitive to hear the Divine voice in the soul, and be ready and eager to do what God revealed there.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha

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