|MEDITATIONS VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE|
|Written by purifysoul|
|Thursday, 10 December 2009 23:50|
VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
SADHU SUNDAR SINGH
" AT THE MASTER'S FEET," "REALITY AND RELIGION,"
"THE SEARCH AFTER REALITY," ETC.
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON
IN order to appreciate the value of these simple addresses and often quaint illustrations one should have seen the Sadhu, or at any rate have read his interesting Life. An Eastern ascetic, clad in his saffron robe, and like the old Friars, dependent on charity, this man has succeeded in winning a hearing for Jesus Christ among Indians which He never had before.
I took the Chair for him at the Church House when he came to address the Clergy of the diocese of London, and I was immensely impressed by his striking appearance and by the simpleness and yet supernatural power of his address.
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You must remember that this man has borne persecution and hardships of every kind for his faith; he has lived with wild beasts; he has been entombed alive, and yet he has kept the calm unruffled faith which breathes through the chapters which form this little book.
I hope the perusal of it will lead its readers to study more carefully the character and life of one like the Sadhu, for it is only when Christianity is represented in its Eastern dress that it is likely to win for Christ the allegiance of our Indian fellow subjects.
A. F. LONDON.
FULHAM PALACE, S.W.
IN this little book I have put down a few meditations on various aspects of our spiritual life, and have dealt with those difficulties which every man of God will necessarily meet with as he passes through the different stages of his spiritual life.
Possibly all may not agree with my views on some of the questions dealt with. It would be strange if they did. For as no two men are exactly alike in form and feature, and as all are not equal in their powers of hearing or seeing, so each man's apprehension of spiritual truth will be conditioned by his temperament, his experience, and his spiritual outlook. It is not likely that there will be divergent views on fundamental principles, but there very probably will be on non-essential points. For God in revealing His Will takes each man's spiritual state and capacity into account. Hence what may seem to one as in advance of the times may to another appear to be out of date and unnecessary.
Further, many fail to grasp the meaning of those God-revealed facts, which some man, living in union with God and illuminated by Him, has recorded. Without having had any very definite experience of enjoying God themselves, they set out to champion their doctrines about Him, and fight over the husks of non-essentials as dogs do over dry bones. But those who have enjoyed fellowship and union with God and have been lifted above these unprofitable wranglings, bring out of the storehouse of their own personal experience "things new and old
to which they testify without a thought as to whether others will agree or not. My sincere thanks are due to the Rev. T. E. Riddle, who has again assisted me in translating this book from Urdu into English; and also to Miss E. Sanders for her great help in reading and correcting the proof.
SUBATHU, SIMLA HILLS, August 1925.
ALONE WITH THE MASTER
I. IT was not for rest alone that the Master took His three chosen disciples to the mountain top. It was that there they might catch a glimpse of the reality of the glory of His divine nature, for the revelation of which their daily contact with Him had been a preparation. They had seen His miracles, and had heard those wonderful words, which no man ever before had spoken; but more was needed than that they should stay there in adoration and amazed wonder. It was very necessary that they should leave their crowded days, and in the mountain's quiet solitude contemplate the transcendent glory of His divine Person. Again, the transfiguring of His earthly form was not enough in itself. It was necessary, too, that their eyes should be opened, for without the opening of their spiritual eyes, neither could they have seen Christ's face, nor could they have discerned the presence with them of Moses and of Elias. So, also, they had to have their ears opened, for without those opened ears they could not have heard of "His decease which He should accomplish ", nor even have heard the voice of God Himself, which said, " Hear Him" (Luke ix. 28-36).
God became man in Christ, and speaks to us through Him, and we must follow Him in all obedience without asking How? or Why? But we can never hear His sweet voice until we have closed our ears to the distracting voices of the world, nor can we meet and have fellowship with Him till we desire it with our whole hearts. If we ourselves are not silent, we cannot hear what others are saying, nor can we understand them fully, unless we give them our full attention. So, to hear the voice of our Heavenly Father, we must wait in silence before Him with our whole mind and heart intent on Him; for He still reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him. And not only this, but those who so seek will have the privilege of the communion of saints, as did those three apostles who, through their connection with Him, enjoyed the fellowship of Moses and Elias.
2. Nor must we seek this holy fellowship merely as a means of worldly advancement, as did those two disciples who petitioned for positions on the right and left of the King, when He should come in His glorious King dom (Mark x. 35-37). Contrast with this the better way of Mary, who sought not an exalted position by the throne, but was content to sit at the feet of the Lord Himself, and hear His life-giving words. So did she choose" that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke x. 39-42).
3. In meditation God speaks to our hearts, but not by words, and if we humbly bring our hearts to Him, the Well-spring of all Life, He will flow into us with all the fullness of His Presence. As the spring fills the vessel placed beneath its overflow, so do the spirit and the true peace of God flow into the heart of him who makes his heart lowly to receive them.
Hugo has said: "The way to ascend to God is to descend into oneself". " I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit" (Isaiah lvii. 15).
Hylton has these words: "Christ is lost like the piece of money in the parable, but where? In thy house, that is, in thy soul. Thou need est not run to Rome or Jerusalem to seek Him. He sleepeth in thy heart, as He did in the ship; awaken Him with the loud cry of thy desire. Howbeit I believe that thou sleepest oftener to Him than He to thee."
So, after we have climbed into the solitude of the mountain of prayer, and have there met with Him, we are not to waste our time, as those disciples wished to do) in planning and building shelters, but, with our new found power, we are to go back to the world of men to complete the work that has been given us to do.
MAN'S CRAVING FOR GOD
I. FROM our experience we know how strong is the desire for God that is born in our hearts. As the hart is distressed till it finds the water-spring in the jungle, so the heart of man thirsts for God, and is restless till it finds Him. Although, in many ways, man tries to satisfy this in born longing of his heart, yet this desire is never satisfied till he finds God. Only in Him Who has created both the heart and its desire can there be complete satisfaction. Homer has said: "As young birds open their mouths for food, so all men crave for the gods".
Once on a journey in the Hills I sat down to rest on a rock. Below the rock was a bush in which was a bird's nest, from which I heard the cry of the young birds. I saw that the mother-bird had come with food for them, and as soon as they heard the rustling of her wings they began to cry out, but when the mother had given them food, and had flown away, they were all quiet again. I went down to see the nest and found that, though they were not old enough to have their eyes open, yet without seeing their mother they used to open their mouths at her approach. Had they said, "Until we shall see our mother or our food, we shall never open our mouths, for we do not know if it is our mother or an enemy; or if she has in her mouth food or poison," then they would certainly not have had an opportunity, for before their eyes had opened they would have died of hunger. But they had no kind of doubt about their mother's love, and, after a few days, when their eyes would open, they would be happy in seeing their dear mother, and, growing stronger and stronger in her likeness, before long would be able to fly away in the open air.
Let us consider if we, who are called the noblest of all creatures, are not inferior to these insignificant nestlings, for often we have had doubt in our minds about the existence and love of our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, " Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John xx. 29). We, who open our hearts for God, receive from Him spiritual food, and, in time, shall reach our full size, and, when we see Him face to face, we shall be happy in His presence forever.
2 A story is told of a wise man who met three men on the road. The first man was pale and withered and stricken with fear. He asked him, " How is it that you are in such an evil state?" He answered, " The thought always troubles me that I may be cast into the fire of hell." The sage said, " It is very sad that instead of the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, you have fear of a created thing (hell-fire). Your worship is not true. It is a kind of bribe which you offer in the hope of saving yourself from hell-fire."
The second man sat consumed with grief and anxiety. The sage asked, "Why are you so sad and full of grief? He replied, "I dread lest I should be deprived of the joy and rest of heaven." The wise man answered, " It is a shame that you have left the thought of the Creator, and His wonder fullove, and only worship God out of a desire to gain heaven, which was created by Him."
After talking with these two men he met a third, who was very happy and contented. He asked him, " What is the secret of your joy and peace?" He said, " My constant prayer to Him, Who taught me to worship God in spirit and in truth, is, that He may grant me that I may love Him with heart and soul, and may serve and worship Him by love alone. Should I worship Him from fear of hell, may I be cast into it. Should I serve Him from desire of gaining heaven, may He keep me out; but should I worship Him from love alone, may He reveal Himself to me, that my whole heart may be filled with His love and presence."
3 If, instead of seeking God, we set our hearts on getting His created things, and try to gain material things instead of Him, then we have indeed forsaken the Creator of all things. But the time will come when we shall leave even the created things, and nothing will remain except our sin-blighted and worthless lives. But if we turn away our hearts from all material things, and turn to God, then with Him we shall get all other things. The worldly man, who seeks not God but self, will in the end find that nothing remains for him save his punishment and his unblessed life. In seeking himself he loses all. He neither finds God nor does he find himself.
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