False Aids Judged

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 14
WHEN the soul descends to an association below its profession, there is assuredly a secret predilection for the association, one which has been hitherto cloaked to oneself as well as to others, by the profession. Hence the necessity in God's ordering for the predilection to be exposed, and the profession weeded of an element, which like a worm in the bud, prevented efflorescence, and hindered the full expression of the light which has emboldened us to make the profession. A man would not willingly associate where he had no inclination; but it is only in his misery that his inclination is distinctly ascertained. In a Christian, the activities of his nature are more or less dormant at first, and while there is no pressure to draw them forth, he feels himself in a new scene, and the power which enabled him to enter it for a time sustains him; and his profession is truly in accordance thereto; but all the time there may be a worldly element which has not been crucified, and this element will expose itself, when the dreariness of the earth, or persecution for the word's sake arises; for though simple persecution from man only invigorates the soul when the truth dwells there in depth and reality, still as a rule, persecution or distress will necessarily invoke any element of nature that remains unmortified; and the strongest inclination breaks forth from its obscurity, and takes the lead.
When things are bright and easy around us, we may maintain our profession without much difficulty, but when there is famine in the land, as with Abraham, if we get occupied with it and not with God, we must consult our nature, and our nature by its counsel reveals to us its resources; which resources are nothing more nor less than its uncrucified predilections.
Abraham's nature counsels him to go down into Egypt for relief from the dearth; not, observe, into Syria, for Syria was the place from which he had departed at the positive call of the God of glory; and seldom will a true soul surrender what it has openly professed, or return to paths absolutely renounced; but there is an Egypt to every renewed soul, even after Syria is discarded; that is though the world, or
rather the flesh, may be abandoned, there is an uncrucified nature in us, which our profession and standing as Christians have hitherto concealed, and which the pressure of circumstances exposes, when in dreariness and loneliness, we turn to Egypt (i.e., nature, not exactly the flesh) for help and for alleviation of our suffering. Thus was it with Abraham; when he went down into Egypt all evidence of his profession was lost; and his exit from it was covered with reproaches for his unfaithfulness.
But this was not all: however searching this open and public discipline was to him, a. still greater and more personal suffering awaited him, and one by which his soul was taught more deeply to rise above those resources of nature which had led him into Egypt. Something, therefore, acquired in Egypt must be used as a means of crucifying that element in his nature which had led him down there. How this was effected is detailed in that remarkable page of Abram's history which treats of Ishmael, son of Hagar, the Egyptian woman; and do you not think that after all the sorrow he endured about him, when he had to cast him out, a thing " very grievous in Abram's sight because of his son" (and who can wonder that it was so?), that he did not, from his heart, repent having ever set his foot in Egypt? But still-so tender and blessed are the ways of our God-it was not till after the birth of Isaac that this painful demand was made on him, though long before necessary, in order that the element of opposition to faith in the soul might be silenced in crucifixion.
The Lord's way with us when we are learning, is to attach us to Himself first, and then detach us from nature. It was not until after the weaning of Isaac, and the feast consequent thereon, that Ishmael was cast out by the requirement of Sarah and the command of the Lord. How many years had elapsed since Abram had gone down into Egypt, seeking to mitigate the dreariness and famine which beset him in Canaan! yet only now comes the moment for the crucifixion of that which led him there, in the summary and relentless casting out of his son as a wanderer in this cold world I But Abram's soul, now full of the unfoldings of God's love to him in the gift of Isaac, is prepared, though sufferingly, to surrender the fruit of his own nature, which for five-and-twenty years has been allowed to remain only partially rebuked.
The Lord will teach us how tender and full is His love, and how absolute is His holiness in detaching us from every support which obstructs our enjoyment in Himself.