Reading the word intellectually
I look to the Lord that your present depression may be only the winter, the precursor of a bright and vigorous spring-time. It is very plain to me that the cause of it is, that your soul has lost simple dependence on Christ, and that faith in Him, for if you had these, out of your belly would flow rivers of living water. They cannot flow out, unless they have first flowed in.
You put reading in the place of faith in Christ, and no wonder that you are unhappy. It is the mind which is ministered to by the reading. Faith is the work of God in the soul, enabling it to sec things as He sees them in the light of His own word. I do not object to reading, far from it; but the word of God itself is profitless unless it is mixed with faith; and I doubt not that the depression and unhappiness of many earnest souls is traceable to this — even that the word, however it interests them, is not mixed with faith. Nay, more; the more interesting it is, the greater the blank and dearth afterwards, if there has not been faith to approp¬riate it, and, as I may say, to assimilate it in the soul The mind is a mere glass, where things are shewn and explained to me by the power which holds it in possession. If the flesh has possession of my mind, I shall receive images and impressions of things which suit the flesh, If the Spirit of God holds my mind, I shall see with the Spirit, and with the understanding also.
Ministry, either oral or written, addresses the mind or one would not have intelligence, as to the truth presented. But it must address the conscience too, or intelligence, which is a peculiar pleasure to the mind, may be mistaken for faith; there MUST BE FAITH IN THAT WHICH IS understood, as of God, and therefore not only of authority, but that which must be part of my being from henceforth: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”. The more conscience there is, the less will it endure that there should he merely intellectual pleasure with the word; because the effect of that is - I understand so and so to be the way of the Lord, hut I have no power to walk in it; and tor this simple reason - the word has not been mixed with faith, I believe it there were much faith and conscience, the reading would be small in proportion to the meditation and prayer. In ordinary reading my mind is gratified as it taken it in; and this is the aim of great authors; but in reading the word of God, it is not to arrive at comprehension only but appropriation; I must, if I own it as the Lord's word to me, be conformed to it.
I must not only understand it, and rejoice in my apprehension of it; I must yield myself to it; I must be the transcript of it practically. And this is no small matter; this can only be by the power of God`'s Spirit through faith. The more I yield myself to the word in faith, the more do I know that it is His word; and the more does the Spirit enable me to walk therein. It is the step according to the word which assures the heart of the faith; and as I maintain the step, and keep therein, I know the succour of the Spirit, and the joy of His presence. I am glad to be ministered unto by any mean, but I am not thinking of being ministered unto only, I am seeking how I may respond in my ways and walk to the ministry which I have received. Be assured that if you spent part of the time which you now spend in seeking to acquire relief by reading, in dependence on God to walk as the word enjoins (for that is faith), you would find that your soul has a link with Him, and as the assurance of this link increases, so will your joy and rest in Him increase.
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