23. Walking in the Light

“A. D.,” Norfolk. We deeply sympathize with you in your present very trying position; but we believe your path is plain, namely, to walk according to the light which has shone in upon your conscience and understanding. One of the greatest practical difficulties of the present moment is to keep a wide heart while treading a narrow path. Some one has well said, “I must be as wide as Christ, and as narrow as Christ.” Here is the difficulty. We live in a day in which we are in danger, on the one hand, of shutting ourselves up within the narrow enclosure of our own opinions, tastes, and predilections. Hence the value and force of the first clause in the aphorism just quoted. But, on the other hand, we meet with a great deal of what the late Mr. Hewitson so justly designated “An every-body-liking and everything-approving spirit;” and hence the need of the second clause. We are clearly called to walk in grace toward all, even toward those who, as we believe, are in error. To exhibit an intolerant bearing, a morose or sour temper, a bitter spirit, is not Christian-like, but the very reverse. But then we must be faithful as well as gracious. There is great moral beauty in Lydia's words to Paul in Acts 16 “If,” says she “ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide.” There is a great principle wrapped up in these words. To accept of hospitality, where there is manifest and positive unfaithfulness to Christ the Lord, is to prove that He has a very low place in our hearts.
If there be honest ignorance, it is, of course, another thing. Where a man is sincerely living up to his light, grace can bear with him, even though he may be involved in a mass of error and confusion. But where there is the deliberate and intelligent cushioning of truth to carry out one's own will or serve one's own interests, or to be on good terms with one's fellow, then verily, faithfulness to Christ demands bold and unflinching decision. We must bear in mind, that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Beauteous combination! Rare and exquisite adjustment! “Power” without love might display itself in a haughty independence, or an intolerant dogmatism. “Love” without power might issue in a total disregard of the claims of truth. “A sound mind” will enable us to adjust, with a delicate hand, the claims of that and this, and to discern the fitting occasion for the exercise of each. Oh, dear friend, what a Volume we possess in our precious Bible!