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When the light first breaks in on the soul, it is sweet to it, to the new life and nature. It is the work of the Spirit; but in order to promote it, and to enjoy what the light confers, I must practically prefer it to everything else. If I do not give it first place and absolute attention, it remains inactive, like a light in a dark lantern; hence it is said, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard” (Heb 2:1).
If you have had a glimpse of the unsearchable riches of Christ, have you been diverted by it from other things which claimed your attention and interest or have you gone on as usual? Can you sit and talk as usual, dress as usual, read the books you used to read? In a word, though you have tasted something great, has it no peculiar effect on you? Has it produced no marked alteration in your feelings about things? If not, it really does not control you, and this is the secret of why you do not advance.
If it (the knowledge of the Lord Jesus) controlled you, in spite of yourself and without perceiving it, you would retire daily more and more form usual things, because more and more engrossed with Him. You would not make any arrangements to break away from this or that thing, but in seeking to know more of Christ, like a bird ascending to the sky, you would leave earthly things behind. The sky and air would be more beautiful to you as you ascended, and the things you had separated from would not be accounted of.
What is the good of things if they are not used? As you use them, you must distance yourself from the lower associations. If you will not break from the common, you will never enjoy the uncommon. It is here where so many are detained. They wish for wings—they admire flying but the moment they find that flying will distance them from the old haunts and old tastes, they are content to hop, and not fly; they are sluggards, they “desire and have nothing” (Pro 13:4).
The fact is, the more we grow up in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, the more we must separate from that which is contrary to Him. The babe in Christ can mix with those, and can do things with impunity, which would make the mature in Christ miserable. Spiritual sensitivity increases with growth. The babe can endure an atmosphere which would be insupportable to a young man in Christ. It is the contrary way between the new creation and the old. In the latter, the young require the most attention and care and delicate nursing; but in the new, it is as there is growth that one must be increasingly watchful of every incongruity, because the organization is so high and holy that the more it is developed, the more it is necessary to ward off everything that would grieve and hinder it.
When fruit trees are in blossom, that is the most precarious time and the moment they are nearest having fruit is the one in which they must be best sheltered from ungenial weather, far more so than at any other period of their existence. You have thought you could enjoy the uncommon and yet retain the usual, but you cannot. In proportion as you hold to the one, you weaken the other.
- J B Stoney