The external - the expression of the internal
He that cannot fulfil and walk in what is simply his duty must be weak in everything. The greatness of any one is seen in the way in which he is able to meet all the claims on his time and temper.
Graciously and perfectly does the Lord teach us and lead us on. His grace is not to enable us to do special things well, but to do everything well. It is the atoms that really constitute the globe; and in order to have the atoms of our daily life right, there must be full possession of our bodies by the Spirit for Christ.
We forget too much how the body is the index of the governing power, and that it is to answer to the place and service to which Christ has appointed it.
The idea of the “Friends” was so far right, that their appearance must be indicative of their separation from the world, and nonconformity to it. Their mistake is that they assume the outward before the inward, and then it becomes pharisaical.
Our mistake in general is that we are too content with the conviction of what we possess, and the comfort flowing from it, and do not study sufficiently to make the external answer to the internal convictions. Old habits and tastes (or, if not tastes, the effect of them) too often remain unaltered, instead of the external man being the expression of the inner, or the new man. The light is in the pitcher, but the pitcher is opaque!
Human self-culture is directed to the habits — the external; it does not aim to impart a principle within. But the Lord’s education of us is that the external, the body, should be the expression of what He has put within — His own life; and we are not to be indifferent as to the outward because of the assured possession within; for unless I am governed by it, there cannot be testimony.
What a person is, is judged of by what he does. If he tells me what he is, I look to his ways, to see the marks about him of what he is. It is useless for a man to tell me he is humble in heart, if he is proud in manner. It is vain for a man to say that Christ is his one thought, if in words and acts he is ever seeking to gain distinction for himself.
It is true that there is the wish to be devoted, and to be like Christ, long before one’s acts and manner corroborate the wish, and make it a fact; but the more the wishes which grace has generated in your heart are given a place, the sooner will they become facts; and the more Christ has His throne within you, the more you will rejoice in Him, and have no confidence in the flesh.