Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Parables of the Cross
Author: Trotter, I. Lilias
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parables of the Cross" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Parables of the Cross
by I. Lilias Trotter

To A.C. & B.A.B.
in memory of lessons
learnt together

Marshall Brothers, Ltd.
London & Edinburgh.



Death is the Gate of Life

There was deep insight in those old words. For man's natural thought
of death is that of a dreary ending in decay and dissolution. And
from his standpoint he is right: death as the punishment of sin is an
ending.

But far other is God's thought in the redemption of the world. He
takes the very thing that came in with the curse, and makes it the
path of glory. Death becomes a beginning instead of an ending, for it
becomes the means of liberating a fresh life.

And so the hope that lies in these parable lessons of death and life
is meant for those only who are turning to Him for redemption. To
those who have not turned, death stands in all its old awful doom,
inevitable, irrevocable. There is no gleam of light through it for
them.

* * * * * * * *

"The death of the Cross"--death's triumph hour--that was the point
where God's gate opened; and to that gate we come again and again, as
our lives unfold, and through it pass even on earth to our joyful
resurrection, to a life each time more abundant, for each time the
dying is a deeper dying. The Christian life is a process of
deliverance out of one world into another, and "death," as has been
truly said, "is the only way out of any world in which we are."

"Death is the gate of life." Does it look so to us? Have we learnt to
go down, once and again, into its gathering shadows in quietness and
confidence, knowing that there is always "a better resurrection"
beyond?

It is in the stages of a plant's growth, its budding and blossoming
and seed-bearing, that this lesson has come to me: the lesson of
death in its delivering power. It has come as no mere far-fetched
imagery, but as one of the many voices in which God speaks, bringing
strength and gladness from His Holy Place.

Can we not trace the sign of the Cross in the first hint of the new
spring's dawning? In many cases, as in the chestnut, before a single
old leaf has faded, next year's buds may be seen, at the summit of
branch and twig, formed into its very likeness: in others the
leaf-buds seem to bear its mark by breaking through the stem
blood-red. Back in the plant's first stages, the crimson touch is to
be found in seed-leaves and fresh shoots, and even in the hidden
sprouts. Look at the acorn, for instance, as it breaks its shell, and
see how the baby tree bears its birthmark: it is the blood-red in
which the prism ray dawns out of the darkness, and the sunrise out of
the night. The very stars, science now tells us, glow with this same
colour as they are born into the universe out of the dying of former
stars.[Footnote*:Prof. Huggins. Brit. Asso. 1891.]

Be it as it may in nature, it is true, at any rate in the world of
grace, that each soul that would enter into real life must bear at
the outset this crimson seal; there must be the individual
"sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ." It must go out through the
Gate of the Cross.

And here is the needs-be. Death is the only way out of the world of
condemnation wherein we lie. Shut into that world, it is vain to try
by any self-effort to battle out; nothing can revoke the decree "the
soul that sinneth it shall die."

The only choice left is this. Shall it be, under the old headship of
Adam, our own death, in all that God means by the word, or shall it
be, under the headship of Christ, the death of another in our place?

It is when we come to self-despair, when we feel ourselves locked in,
waiting our doom, that the glory and the beauty of God's way of
escape dawns upon us, and we submit ourselves to Him in it. All
resistance breaks down as faith closes on the fact: "He loved me and
gave Himself for me." We receive the atonement so hardly won, and we
go out into life not only pardoned, but cleared and justified.


Death to Sin's Penalty is the Way Out into a Life of Justification.

And as we go out free, we find that on the other side of the Cross a
new existence has really begun: that the love of the Crucified has
touched the springs of our being--we are in another world, under an
open heaven. "Christ hath suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust,
that He might bring us to God."

Does anyone read these words who is trying to struggle from the
natural life into the spiritual, by "some other way" than this way of
the Cross? It is as impossible as it would be to pass from to-day
into to-morrow except through the night. Your battling is a battling
against God. Yield and come to His terms. Yield now.

* * * * * * * *

But blessed as it is, this passage into a life of peace with Him, woe
to the soul that stops there, thinking that the goal is reached, and
dwindles, so to speak, into a stunted bud. Holiness, not safety, is
the end of our calling.

And so it comes to pass that a fresh need for deliverance is soon
pressed upon him who is true to God's voice in his heart. The two
lives are there together, one new-born and feeble, the other strong
with an earlier growth. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit and the
spirit against the flesh," and the will power is distracted between
the two, like the sap that flows partly into the old condemned
leaves, partly into the fresh buds. Consequently there is the strife
of a kingdom divided against itself: sometimes the one life grows and
flourishes, sometimes the other; sometimes they struggle on side by
side, till the cry is forced out--"Oh, wretched man that I am; who
shall deliver me?"

And here again, when the point of self-despair is reached, and we
come to see that our efforts after holiness are as vain as our
efforts after acceptance with God, the door of escape opens afresh.

For there is glory be to God, a definite way out from the prison life
of sruggling and failure, sinning and repenting, wherein many a soul
beats its wings for years after the question of pardon has been
settled. And that way is again the way of death.

A stage of dying must come over the plant before the new leaves can
grow and thrive. There must be a deliberate choice between the former
growth and the new; one must give way to the other; the acorn has to
come to the point where it ceases to keep its rag of former
existence, and lets everything go to the fresh shoot: the twig must
withdraw its sap from last year's leaf, and let it flow into this
year's bud.

And before the soul can really enter upon a life of holiness, with
all its blessed endless possibilities, a like choice must be made:
all known sin must be deliberately given up, that the rising current
may have its full play.

"But," you say, "I have tried again and again to give up sin: I have
prayed, and I have resolved, but the will finds its way back into the
old channels, and is keeping alive the past before I know it."

Look at our parable. If you picked off one of the dead leaves and
examined the leaf-stalk through a microscope, you would find that the
old channel is silted up by a barrier invisible to the naked eye. The
plant has shut the door on the last year's leaf, condemning it to
decay, and soon without further effort the stalk loosens, the winds
of God play around it, and it falls away.


But where is the barrier that we can place between ourselves and the
old nature? Where is the sentence of death that we can pass upon it?

Back to the Cross again! It is there, within our reach. "Our old man
is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that
henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that is dead is freed from
sin."


Death to Sin is the Way Out into a Life of Holiness.

The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ shuts off the life of sin; like
the silted-up channel, it stands a blessed invisible barrier between
us and sinning, as we "reckon" it there: that is, hold it there by
faith and will. And His open grave is the open way into a life,
wherein our rising powers can develop into all their spring vigour.

The sap--the will--the "ego"--is withdrawn from the former existence,
its aims and desires, and is sent into the new. It is given over to
the other side: we hold to it that this is now our life, the only one
that has the right to be. We reckon ourselves dead to the old; we
reckon ourselves alive to the new; "putting off" the former, "putting
on" the latter.

Take a practical instance. An old habit of doubting and fearing
asserts itself in your soul, alive and strong. You have two things to
do. Close the door upon the doubt: shut your eyes to it: reckon
yourself dead to it.

And then reckon into life the new-born growth of faith in your soul,
and put all your force into believing: lift up your eyes to the God
in Whom you believe: believe in the teeth of everything, as if the
cause for doubt were not there. Then the sap, ceasing from feeding
the old shoot, will flow into the new.

But is it an act, or a gradual process, this "putting off the old
man?" It is both. It is a resolve taken once for all, but carried out
in detail day by day. The first hour that the sap begins to withdraw,
and the leaf-stalk begins to silt up, the leaf's fate is sealed:
there is never a moment's reversal of the decision. Each day that
follows is a steady carrying out of the plant's purpose: "this old
leaf shall die, and the new leaf shall live." So with your soul. Come
to the decision once for all: "every known sin shall go--if there is
a deliverance to be had, I will have it." Put the Cross of Christ, in
its mysterious delivering power, irrevocably between you and sinning,
and hold on there. That is your part, and you must do it. There is no
further progress possible to you, till you make up your mind to part
company with every sin in which you know you are indulging--every sin
of thought, word, or deed, every link with the world, the flesh, or
the devil, everything on which the shadow of a question falls, as
God's light shines in: to part company, not by a series of gradual
struggles, but by an honest act of renouncing, maintained by faith
and obedience. And as you make the decision up to your present
knowledge, you must determine that this is henceforth your attitude
towards all that is "not of the Father," as His growing light shall
reveal it.

From His side God will come in with a breath of His resurrection
power; for the Cross and the empty tomb cannot be long divided. The
law of the Spirit of Life can work now, as you deliberately loose
hold of all clinging to sin; the expulsive power of His working
within, and the play of His winds around, will make you "free
indeed," like these young shoots when last year's leaves have fallen.

* * * * * * * *

This brings us to the positive side; for when the sentence of death
on the old nature is realised, the new nature can be manifested.
Separation from all known sin is the starting-point for
santification, not the goal: it is only the negative side of
holiness; it is only reaching the place where God can develop His
ideal in us unhindered. It is when the death of winter has done its
work that the sun can draw out in each plant its own individuality,
and make its existence full and fragrant. Holiness means something
more than the sweeping away of the old leaves of sin: it means the
life of Jesus developed in us.

No matter if we feel utterly helpless before that lovely life of His.
Given the conditions--the hidden power within, and the old outlets of
growth shut off--the sun will do the rest; out of the midst of
apparent lifelessness, of barrenness, of difficulty, the blossoms
will be drawn forth. Do not let us "limit the Holy One of Israel" by
putting off His power to work this miracle into a distant future. How
hopeless the naked wood of a fruit tree would look to us in February
if we had never seen the marvel of springtime! Yet the heavenly bloom
bursts straight out, with hardly an intermediate step of new growth.

Look again at a flowering rush. The crest breaks forth from
nothingness--out of the lifeless-seeming pith come crowding the
golden brown blossoms, till there is hardly "room to receive" them.
What more do we need for our souls than to have this God for our
God?

Once allow the manifestation of His grace in these poor hearts of
ours to be a miracle, and there is no need to defer it vaguely. How
many of the wonders wrought by Christ on earth lay in concentrating
the long processes of nature into a sudden act of power. The sick
would, many of them, have been healed by degrees in the ordinary
course of things; the lapse of years would have brought about the
withering of the fig-tree; the storm would have spent itself in few
hours. The miracle in each case consisted in the slow process being
quickened by the Divine breath, and condensed into a moment.

Cannot we trust Him for like marvels in our souls? There, too, "a day
is with the Lord as a thousand years." There is no needs be on His
part that He should prolong this first act of makings us holy over
the rest of our lives. A miracle--a wonder--is all that we need, and
"He is the God, that doeth wonders." Satan is quite content that we
should have faith for future sanctification, just as he was content
that we should have faith for future salvation. It is when the soul
rises to "here and now" that he trembles.

Whatever is the next grace for your soul, can you believe for its
supply at once, straight out from the dry, bare need? Christ's
process is very simple and very swift: "Whatsoever things ye desire,
when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

And not only with the barrenness of our souls can God deal with His
quickening breath, but with our difficulties as well: with those
things in our surroundings that seem the most unfavourable.

See this bit of gorse-bush. The whole year round the thorn has been
hardening and sharpening. Spring comes: the thorn does not drop off,
and it does not soften; there it is, as uncompromising as ever; but
half-way up appear two brown furry balls, mere specks at first, that
break at last--straight out of last year's thorn--into a blaze of
fragrant golden glory.

See this bit of gorse-bush. The whole year round the thorn has been
hardening and sharpening. Spring comes: the thorn does not drop off,
and it does not soften; there it is, as uncompromising as ever; but
half-way up appear two brown furry balls, mere specks at first, that
break at last--straight out of last year's thorn--into a blaze of
fragrant golden glory.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but
grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of
righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby." Never mind if
the trouble shews no sign of giving way: it is just when it seems
most hopelessly unyielding, holding on through the spring days, alive
and strong, it is then that the tiny buds appear that soon will
clothe it with glory. Take the very hardest thing in your life--the
place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph
gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into
blossom!

* * * * * * * *

And so the spring-time expands, till it passes once more into the
shadow of Calvary. For the blessedness of receiving is not all that
God has for us: a new world lies beyond--a world of giving: a giving
first to God in surrender, then to man in sacrifice.

A flower that stops short at its flowering misses its purpose. We
were created for more than our own spiritual development;
reproduction, not mere development, is the goal of matured
being--reproduction in other lives. There is a tendency in some
characters, running parallel to the high cultivation that spends its
whole energy on the production of bloom at the expense of seed. The
flowers that are bent on perfecting themselves, by becoming double,
end in barrenness, and a like barrenness comes to the soul whose
interests are all concentrated upon its own spiritual well-being,
heedless of the needs around. The true, ideal flower is the one that
uses its gifts as means to an end; the brightness and sweetness are
not for its own glory; they are but to attract the bees and
butterflies that will fertilise and make it fruitful. All may go when
the work is done--"it is more blessed to give than to receive."

And we ourselves are "saved to save"--we are made to give--to let
everything go if only we may have more to give. The pebble takes in
all the rays of light that fall on it, but the diamond flashes them
out again: every little facet is a means, not simply of drinking more
in, but of giving more out. The unearthly loveliness of the opal
arises from the same process, carried on within the stone: the
microscope shows it to be shattered through and through with
numberless fissures that catch and refract and radiate every ray that
they can seize.

Yes, there lies before us a beautiful possible life--one that shall
have a passion for giving: that shall be poured forth to God--spent
out for man: that shall be consecrated "for the hardest work and the
darkest sinners." But how are we to enter in? How are we to escape
from the self-life that holds us, even after the sin-life has loosed
its grasp?

Back to the Cross: not only from the world of condemnation and from
the world of sinning does it free us as we accept it, but from the
power of outward things and from the thraldom of self: not only does
it open the door into the world of acquittal, and again into that of
holiness, but yet again into the new realm of surrender, and thence
into that of sacrifice. For the essential idea of the Cross is a life
lost to be found again in those around.

Let us look at God's picturing. As the plant develops there comes a
fresh stage of yielding. At first it was only the dead, disfiguring
leaves that had to go--now it is the fair new petals: they must fall,
and for no visible reason--no one seems enriched by the stripping.

And the first step into the realm of giving is a like surrender--not
manward, but Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our
idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we
have never grasped its true meaning: that is not worthy of the name
for "no polluted thing" can be offered.

The life lost on the Cross was not a sinful one--the treasure poured
forth there was God-given, God-blessed treasure, lawful and right to
be kept: only that there was the life of the world at stake!


Death to Lawful Things is the Way Out into a Life of Surrender.

Look at this buttercup as it begins to learn its new lesson. The
little hands of the calyx clasp tightly in the bud, round the
beautiful petals; in the young flower their grasp grows more
elastic--loosening somewhat in the daytime, but keeping the power of
contracting, able to close in again during a rainstorm, or when night
comes on. But see the central flower, which has reached its maturity.
The calyx hands have unclasped utterly now--they have folded
themselves back, past all power of closing again upon the petals,
leaving the golden crown free to float away when God's time comes.

Have we learned the buttercup's lesson yet? Are our hands off the
very blossom of our life? Are all things--even the treasures that He
has sanctified--held loosely, ready to be parted with, without a
struggle, when He asks for them?

It is not in the partial relaxing of grasp, with power to take back
again, that this fresh victory of death is won: it is won when that
very power of taking back is yielded; when our hands, like the little
calyx hands of God's buttercups, are not only taken off, but folded
behind our back in utter abandonment. Death means a loosened
grasp--loosened beyond all power of grasping again.

And it is no strange thing that happens to us, if God takes us at our
word, and strips us for a while of all that made life beautiful. It
may be outward things--bodily comfort, leisure, culture, reputation,
friendships--that have to drift away as our hands refuse to clasp on
anything but God's will for us. Or it may be on our inner life that
the stripping falls, and we have to leave the sunny lands of
spiritual enjoyment for one after another of temptation's
battlefields, where every inch of our foothold has to be tested,
where even, it may seem to give way--till no experience, no
resting-place remains to us in heaven or earth but God Himself--till
we are "wrecked upon God."

Have faith, like the flowers, to let the old things go. Earn His
beatitude, His "Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in
Me"--"the beatitude of the trusting," as it has well been
called--even if you have to earn it like John the Baptist in an hour
of desolation. You have told Him that you want Him only. Are you
ready to ratify the words when His emptying begins to come? Is God
enough? Is it still "My God" that you cry, even as Jesus cried when
nothing else was left Him?

Yes, practical death with Him to lawful things is just letting go,
even as He on the Cross let go all but God. It is not to be reached
by struggling for it, but simply by yielding as the body yields at
last to the physical death that lays hold on it--as the dying calyx
yields its flower. Only to no iron law with its merciless grasp do we
let ourselves go, but into the hands of the Father: it is there that
our spirit falls, as we are made conformable unto the death of Jesus.

Does all this seem hard? Does any soul, young in this life and in
that to come, shrink back and say "I would rather keep in the
springtime--I do not want to reach unto the things that are before if
it must mean all this of pain."

To such comes the Master's voice: "Fear none of those things which
thou shalt suffer": You are right to be glad in His April days while
he gives them. Every stage of the heavenly growth in us is lovely to
Him; He is the God of the daisies and the lambs and the merry child
hearts! It may be that no such path of loss lies before you; there
are people like the lands where spring and summer weave the year
between them, and the autumn processes are hardly noticed as they
come and go. The one thing is to keep obedient in spirit, then you
will be ready to let the flower-time pass if He bids you, when the
sun of His love has worked some more ripening. You will feel by then
that to try to keep the withering blossoms would be to cramp and ruin
your soul. It is loss to keep when God says 'give'.

For here again death is the gate of life: it is an entering in, not a
going forth only; it means a liberating of new powers as the former
treasures float away like the dying petals.

We cannot feel a consciousness of death: the words are a
contradiction in terms. If we had literally passed out of this world
into the next we should not feel dead, we should only be conscious of
a new wonderful life beating within us. Our consciousness of death
would be an entirely negative matter--the old pains would be unable
to touch us, the old bonds would be unable to fetter us. Our actual
consciousness would have passed into the new existence: we should be
independent of the old.

And a like independence is the characteristic of the new flood of
resurrection life that comes to our souls as we learn this fresh
lesson of dying--a grand independence of any earthly thing to satisfy
our soul, the liberty of those who have nothing to lose, because they
have nothing to keep. We can do without anything while we have God.
Hallelujah!

Nor is this all. Look at the expression of abandonment about this
wild-rose calyx as time goes on, and it begins to grow towards the
end for which it has had to count all things but loss: the look of
dumb emptiness has gone--it is flung back joyously now, for
simultaneously with the new dying a richer life has begun to work at
its heart--so much death, so much life--for

"Ever with death it weaveth
The warp and woof of the world."

The lovely wild-rose petals that have drifted away are almost
forgotten in the "reaching forth unto the things that are before:"
the seed-vessel has begun to form: it is "yielded . . . to bring
forth fruit."

Yes, there is another stage to be developed in us after the lesson of
absolute unquestioning surrender to God has been learnt. A life that
has been poured forth to Him must find its crown, its completion, in
being poured forth for man: it must grow out of surrender into
sacrifice. "They first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us
by the will of God."

Back to the Cross once more: if there is any place where this fresh
lesson can be learnt, it is there! "Hereby perceive we the love of
God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down
our lives for the brethren." It is the very love of Calvary that must
come down into our souls, "Yea, if I be poured forth upon the service
of your faith I joy and rejoice with you all:" so spoke the apostle
who drank most deeply into the Master's spirit: and again--"Death
worketh in us, but life in you." "Neither count I my life dear unto
myself, that I may finish . . . the ministry."

Deeper and deeper must be the dying, for wider and fuller is the
lifetide that it is to liberate--no longer limited by the narrow
range of our own being, but with endless powers of multiplying in
other souls. Death must reach the very springs of our nature to set
it free: it is not this thing or that thing that must go now: it is
blindly, helplessly, recklessly, our very selves. A dying must come
upon all that would hinder God's working through us--all interests,
all impulses, all energies that are "born of the flesh"--all that is
merely human and apart from His Spirit. Only thus can the Life of
Jesus, in its intensity of love for sinners, have its way in our
souls.


Death to Self is the Way Out into a Life of Sacrifice.

This dandelion has long ago surrendered its golden petals, and has
reached its crowning stage of dying--the delicate seed-globe must
break up now--it gives and gives till it has nothing left.

What a revolution would come over the world--the world of starving
bodies at home--the world of starving souls abroad, if something like
this were the standard of giving; if God's people ventured on "making
themselves poor" as Jesus did, for the sake of the need around; if
the "I"--"me"--"mine" were practically delivered up, no longer to be
recognised when they clash with those needs.

The hour of this new dying is clearly defined to the dandelion globe:
it is marked by detachment. There is no sense of wrenching: it stands
ready, holding up its little life, not knowing when or where or how
the wind that bloweth where it listeth may carry it away. It holds
itself no longer for its own keeping, only as something to be given:
a breath does the rest, turning the "readiness to will" into the
"performance." (2 Cor. 8. 11.) And to a soul that through "deaths
oft" has been brought to this point, even acts that look as if they
must involve an effort, become something natural, spontaneous, full
of a "heavenly involuntariness," so simply are they the outcome of
the indwelling love of Christ.

Shall we not ask God to convict us, as to where lies the hindrance to
this self-emptying? It is not alone mere selfishness, in its ordinary
sense, that prevents it; long after this has been cleansed away by
the Precious Blood there may remain, unrecognised, the self-life in
more subtle forms. It may co-exist with much that looks like
sacrifice; there may be much of usefulness and of outward
self-denial, and yet below the surface may remain a clinging to our
own judgment, a confidence in our own resources, an unconscious
taking of our own way, even in God's service. And these things hold
down, hold in our souls, and frustrate the Spirit in His working. The
latent self-life needs to be brought down into the place of death
before His breath can carry us hither and thither as the wind wafts
the seeds. Are we ready for this last surrender?

Do you ask "Does God really mean the emptying to reach so far as
this?" Study the inner life of Jesus. "I speak not of Myself" He
says. "I can of Mine own self do nothing." "I seek not Mine own will,
but the will of Him that sent Me." His human self-life, sinless
though it was, was laid down that He might live by the Father, and
our self-life, defiled and worthless, shall we not lay it down that
we may live by Him?

But how? Again not by struggling and wrestling, but by dying to it in
Jesus. "I am crucified with Christ"--I myself in the very essence of
my being, I let myself go to that death, and by the mysterious power
with which God meets faith, I find that He has made it true: the
bonds are loosed and He can have His way with me.

See in these wild iris-pods how the last tiny threads must be broken,
and with that loosing, all that they have is free for God's use in
His world around. All reluctance, all calculating, all holding in is
gone; the husks are opened wide, the seeds can shed themselves
unhindered. Again and again has a breaking come:--the seed broke to
let go the shoot--the leaf-bud broke to let go the leaf, and the
flower-bud to let go the flower--but all to no practical avail, if
there is a holding back now. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and
sacrifice is the very life-breath of love. May God shew us every
witholding thread of self that needs breaking still, and may His own
touch shrivel it into death.

See how this bit of oat-grass is emptying itself out. Look at the
wide-openness with which the seed-sheaths loose all that they have to
yield, and then the patient content with which they fold their
hands--the content of finished work. "She hath done what she could."
Oh, the depth of rest that falls on the soul when the voice of the
Beloved speaks those words! Will they be said to us?

The seed-vessel hopes for nothing again: it seeks only the chance of
shedding itself: its purpose is fulfilled when the wind shakes forth
the last seed, and the flower-stalk is beaten low by the autumn
storms. It not only spends, but is "spent out" (R. V.) at last. It is
through Christ's poverty that we are rich--"as poor" in their turn
"yet making many rich" is the mark of those who follow His steps.

Are we following His steps; are we? How the dark places of the earth
are crying out for all the powers of giving and living and loving
that are locked up in hearts at home! How the waste places are
pleading dumbly for the treasure that lies there in abundance, stored
as it were in the seedvessels of God's garden that have not been
broken, not emptied for His world, not freed for His use.

Shall we not free it all gladly.--It is not grudgingly or of
necessity that the little caskets break up and scatter the seed, but
with the cheerful giving that God loves. Have you ever noticed how
often the emptied calyx grows into a diadem, and they stand crowned
for their ministry as if they gloried in their power to give as the
time draws near?

Even here in measure the faithfulness unto death and the crown of
life go together: even here, if we suffer, we shall also reign with
Him.

It is when the sun goes out from our horizon to light up the
dayspring in far-away lands, that the glory of the day comes on: it
is in the autumn, when the harvest is gathered and the fruit is
stored for the use of man, that the glow of red and gold touches and
transfigures bush and tree with a beauty that the summer days never
knew.

So with us--The clear pure dawn of cleansing through the Blood--the
sunrise gladness of resurrection life; the mid-day light and warmth
of growth and service, all are good in their own order: but he who
stops short there misses the crown of glory, before which the
brightness of former days grows poor and cold. It is when the glow
and radiance of a life delivered up to death begins to gather: a life
poured forth to Jesus and for His sake to others--it is then that
even the commonest things put on a new beauty, as in the sunset, for
His life becomes "manifest in our mortal flesh;" a bloom comes on the
soul like the bloom on the fruit as its hour of sacrifice arrives.

Oh, that we may learn to die to all that is of self with this royal
joyfulness that swallows up death in victory in God's world around!
He can make every step of the path full of the triumph of gladness
that glows in the golden leaves. Glory be to His Name!

And the outcome, like the outcome of the autumn, is this: there is, a
new power set free; a power of multiplying life around. The promise
to Christ was that because He poured forth His soul unto death, He
should see His seed: and He leads His children in their little
measure by the same road. Over and over the promise of seed is linked
with sacrifice, as with Abraham and Rebekah and Ruth; those who at
His bidding have forsaken all receive an hundred-fold more now in
this time, for sacrifice is God's factor in His work of multiplying.
"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."

It is the poured-out life that God blesses--the life that heeds not
itself, if only other souls may be won. "Ask and it shall be given
unto you" is one of God's nursery lessons to His children. "Give, and
it shall be given unto you" comes further on.

The reason is this:--that into the being that is ready to let the
self-life go, God the Holy Ghost can come and dwell and work
unfettered; and by that indwelling He will manifest within us His
wonderful Divine power of communicating vitality--of reproducing the
image of Jesus in souls around.

It is true that it is a rule that sometimes has exceptions: there are
those to whom a blessed life of fruitfulness to God comes in a simple
way, with seemingly no hard process of dying involved, just as there
are plants that reproduce themselves by bulb and tuber, sucker and
shoot, without going through the stripping and scattering that we
have been watching. But the law of creation is "the herb yielding
seed and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is
in itself." And let us count it all joy if this law is carried out in
us.

"If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Whether it is laid down in
toil among the lost, or in travail of soul among His children that
Christ be formed in them, either way there will be life brought forth.

It does not follow that every seed will spring up: it is not so in
the natural world. The plant's business is to scatter it, not
withholding, not knowing which shall prosper, either this or that, or
whether they both shall be alike good; once scattered, the
responsibility is transferred to the ground that receives it. But the
aim of the plant--the goal of all the budding and blossoming and
ripening--is that every seed should carry potential life.

Thus are we responsible, not for the tangible results of our ministry
to others, but for its being a ministry in demonstration of the
Spirit and of power, such a ministry as will make those around us
definitely responsible to God for accepting or rejecting the fulness
of His salvation. If so, the "signs following" will not be wanting.
It will be to the one the savour of death unto death, and to the
other the savour of life unto life, but "whether they will hear, or
whether they will forbear, they shall know that there hath been a
prophet among them."

* * * * * * * *

But even when the plant's goal is reached, it is not a finality.
"There is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning. Every
ultimate fact is only the beginning of a new series."[Footnote*:Emerson]
"While the earth remaineth seed-time and harvest . . . shall not cease."
Life leads on to new death, and new death back to life again. Over and
over when we think we know our lesson, we find ourselves beginning
another round of God's Divine spiral: "in deaths oft" is the measure
of our growth, "always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the
life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh."

This bit of sphagnum shows the process in miniature: stage after
stage of dying has been gone through, and each has been all the while
crowned with life. Each time that the crown has sunk down again into
death, that death has again been crowned in the act of dying: and the
life all the time is the apparent thing: the daily dying that
underlies it is out of sight to the passing glance.

Yes, life is the uppermost, resurrection life, radiant and joyful and
strong, for we represent down here Him who liveth and was dead and is
alive for evermore. Stress had to be laid in these pages on the death
gateway, but a gateway is never a dwelling-place; the death-stage is
never meant for our souls to stay and brood over, but to pass through
with a will into the light beyond. We may and must, like the plants,
bear its marks, but they should be visible to God rather than to man,
for above all and through all is the inflowing, overflowing life of
Jesus: oh let us not dim it by a shadow of morbidness or of gloom: He
is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living, and He would have
us let the glory of His gladness shine out.

Think of the wonder of it--the Fountain of Life Himself wells up
within us, taking the place of all that we have delivered, bit by
bit, into His grave. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
Little have we proved, any of us, the resources that lie in that
mighty indwelling, little have we learnt what it is to have all our
soul-fibres penetrated by its power. May God lead us, no matter what
the cost, into all that can be known of it, here on earth.

And the results need not end with our earthly days. Should Jesus
tarry our works will follow us. The closing in of the signs around us
make it seem as if we should not taste of death, and as if the time
left us to work and suffer for Him were growing very short; but if
that last gate has to be passed before our spirits are sent free into
the land of perfect life, God may use, by reason of the wonderful
solidarity of His Church, the things that He has wrought in us, for
the blessing of souls unknown to us: as these twigs and leaves of
bygone years, whose individuality is forgotten, pass on vitality
still to the new-born wood-sorrel. God only knows the endless
possibilities that lie folded in each one of us!

Shall we not let Him have His way? Shall we not go all lengths with
Him in His plans for us--not, as these "green things upon the earth"
in their unconsciousness, but with the glory of free choice? Shall we
not translate the story of their little lives into our own?

For all their teaching of surrender and sacrifice is no fanciful
mysticism; it is a simple reality that can be tested at every
turn--nay, that must be so tested. If we are apprehending Christ's
death in its delivering power, our homes will not be slow to find it
out.

* * * * * * * *

O Jesus the Crucied I will follow Thee in thy path. Inspire me for
the next step, whether it leads down into the shadow of death or up
into the light. Surely in what place my Lord the King shall be,
whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.

Amen.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parables of the Cross" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home