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The Horizontal and the Vertical

January 5, 2017

Heaven and earth are both beautiful when God gives a shining light, and man possesses a seeing eye. Faith and obedience run sweetly into one.

Near the base of a mountain range, early in the morning of the day and the spring of the year, you may have seen, in your solitary walk, a pillar of cloud, pure and white, rising from the earth to heaven. In the calm air its slender stem rises straight like a tree, and like a tree spreads out its lofty summit like an angel tree in white, and not like an earthly thing, it stands before you. You approach the spot and discover the cause of the vision. A well of water from warm depths bursts through the surface there, and this is the morning incense which it sends right upward to the throne. But the water is not all thus exhaled; a pure stream flows over the well’s rocky edge, and trickles along the surface, a liver in miniature, marked on both sides by verdure, while the barrenness of winter lies yet on the other portions of the field.

Such are the two outgoings of a believer life. Upward rises the soul to God in direct devotion ; but not the less on that account does the life flow out along the surface of the world leaving its mark in blessings behind it wherever it goes. You caught the spring by surprise at the dawn, and saw its incense ascending; at mid-day, when the sun was up, and the people passing, that incense was still rising, but then it rose unseen. It is thus in the experience of living Christians in the world. At certain times, when they think that none are near, their intercourse with heaven may be noticed ; but for the most part it is carried on unseen. The upright pillar is seldom visible ; but the horizontal stream is seen and felt, a refreshment to all within its reach. True devotion is chiefly in secret; but the bulk of a believer’s life is laid out in common duties, and cannot be hid.

These two, alternate and yet simultaneous, separate and yet combined — these two fill up a Christian’s life. Lift up your heart to God, and lay out your talents for the world; lay out your talents for the world, and lift up your heart to God.

James Arnott
Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth


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