One Thing

Ps. 27:4.---' One thing have I desired.'

John 9:25.---' One thing I know.'

Phil. 3:13.---' One thing I do.'

These three persons---the Psalmist, the blind man, and St. Paul---at least knew their own mind, and they had the force which comes from simplicity and concentration, from the single heart and the undivided mind. Psychologists divide our spiritual nature into three departments---feeling, thought, and will---and here we have all three converging on a single point.

[1] Feeling.---Amid all the searching tides of feeling and desire, amid all the fascinations and seductions of the world, the Psalmist had arrived at a true sense of proportion, and with a grand ambition aims at nothing less than the Eternal and the Infinite---

From the gift looking to the giver, And from the cistern to the river, And from the finite to infinity, And from man's dust to God's Divinity.

' One thing,' he says, 'have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.'

[2] Thought.---Amid all the quicksands of opinion and conjecture in the world of intellect the blind man had set his foot on one rock of certitude---one foundation fact [like the Cogito ergo sum of Descrartes] which all the disintegrating acids of sceptisim could not dissolve. There may be a hundred controversies and a thousand "views" about each, but ' one thing,' he says, ' I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.'

[3] Will.---Amid all the vacillations and hesitations of the will, and all the cross roads and devious ways of human action, St. Paul had attained to a decisive purpose---' This one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forth to those which are before, I press toward the mark.'

1. What do we desire? What is our dearest wish, that which we set before us when we wake to each new day's work, that to which all else is merely the means? Are we still absorbed in the childish desire to get; still struggling to grasp the glittering things of sense, whether it be the flowers beneath our feet or the stars above our head; never convinced by past experience that our quest is vain, still assured that though we have been a thousand times disappointed of our anticipated satisfaction that satisfaction still lies ahead, and always hoping that when we have climbed the next ridge the mountain-top will be in sight? It is weary and heartbreaking work, this seeking satisfaction for the hunger and thirst of an immortal soul in things of time and sense. It is doomed to disillusionment and disappointment. At the end of the day we shall sorrowfully sing---if we are not too sad to sing at all---

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see.

Oh! well for us if we have learnt to add---

O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

We all know, if we will allow ourselves to think, that ' man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' Only the Infinite can satisfy us, and the highest form in which the Infinite manifests Himself to us is love. Only in love do we find that which, like fire, grows by giving and increases by spending. Shall we not, then, close with the Psalmist's choice---' One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple,' which, translated into our modern language, means just that we will desire above all things that peace with God which we find in His House, and at His Altar, and in the highest, holiest love to one another which, please God, we there may learn and cherish?

2. What do we know? Ah! there is the difficulty, the special difficulty of these modern days of universal questioning. It is so much easier to destroy than to construct, and to say what we do not know than what we do . We are inclined to cry like Phillip, ' Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.' If only we could be sure of the foundations! If only we could know God! And that is just what the agnostic says we cannot know. Well, when men call themselves agnostics let us take it at that. When the agnostic says that we can know only the things of sense, in the very act of drawing a line he has implied that there is a beyond. The very word " finite " to which he would limit us implies that there is an Infinite. You cannot fix a boundary unless you know that there is another side to that boundary. And while we are searching the heavens in vain to find the Infinite, He is close to us. For what is the foundation assumption of all science but that the world is a whole, all one piece, and that wherever we go, even if we penetrate to the furthest confines of space, we shall still find that all is rational---that there is One Mind at work, One Reason, One Purpose behind it all. And Jesus Christ has revealed the Name of that great Unknown, and taught us to look up with confidence and say, ' Our Father in heaven,' and to look down to consider the lilies of the fallow field, and see in them, too, the indications of a heart of love and beauty. It is the little children whose angels do always behold the face of that Father in heaven; and in proportion as we have learnt the childlike purity of heart we, too, open our eyes to that higher world around us, and realize with awful joy that we, too, have an element of infinity; that we, who cannot even conceive an ultimate limit with nothing beyond, have the infinite within us; and that we, who stand outside the time-sequence of past, present, and future, are not part of that time-sequence, but have an element of eternity; that already we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. Blessed are the pure in heart---the single-hearted---for they shall see God. That certitude does not fail us. ' One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.'

3. What shall we do? When the heart has spoken and said, ' One thing I desire,'and when the mind has spoken and said, ' One thing I know,' it remains for the will to say, ' This one thing I do.' And that one thing is to go forward with single eye, with firm resolve, and with boundless hope, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forth to those which are before. Does it seem ungracious to forget the past? Just for the sake of that past---that it may not lack its fulfillment and the harvest of its sowing---we may not linger on it in fond reminiscence. It was to the Philippians, whom he loved above all his scattered flocks, that St. Paul wrote of forgetting the past and pressing towards the goal. And the goal to which he presses and bids us press, the goal of the individual soul, if he is to do anything towards building the City of God, the City which hath foundations, is Jesus Christ---' That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death '---so to walk with Him day by day, so to abide in Him, that we may love with His love, think with His Mind, will with His Will, and that at last we, too, may be able to say, like St. Paul, ' I live, yea, not I, but Christ liveth in me.' So we shall be ready for our task---to build the City of our dreams.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha