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“He leadeth me beside the still waters," said the Hebrew poet, in that sweetest, most devout, and most trustful of Psalms, whose opening words, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” are, by themselves, an all-sufficient creed : for it is allsufficient to know the Heavenly Father as the guide and guardian of His children,—to know that we belong to Him as the sheep belong to the shepherd,—that He belongs to us as the shepherd belongs to the sheep. When all is said and done, that is, after all, at once the simplest and the profoundest, the nearest and the most remote result of the soul's long seeking after God. We begin with the child-like cry, “Our Father which art in Heaven;" happy if we can end with “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.”
But it is not given us to be always led by the still waters. Often are we rather called to face rough torrents and traverse stormy seas : and many who would fain have lingered by the one have been driven by stress of circumstances, or have been called by the unmistakeable voice of God, to the other : for “the Lord” is not only our "shepherd ” but our commander and our king; and even His best beloved have had to leave the quiet fold, and, in many ways, to do the hard rough work of the world, in bringing men out of darkness into God's marvellous light.
There are times when we must be seekers after God, even though to “rest in the Lord” is always very blessed as one of the highest attainments of a religious life. In like manner, there are times when error must be confronted, and superstition be protested against, and the dry and sandy field of conflict be trodden, though the servants of the Lord long for the "green pastures" all the while.
Still, religious spirits have always felt, and must always feel, that the permanent things are not the things that pertain to controversy, to protest, or even to the anxious search for demonstrable truth. The enduring things are those that relate to simple-hearted joy in God, and to the calm confidences of the soul. The restless clouds are evanescent: it is the tranquil blue that remains. The mists of earth fleet by or die away: it is the gracious sunshine that abides. Battle-fields are for a day : but the quiet meadow-lands lie ever open to the dews and beams of heaven. The torrent rushes on in the hour of storm : but Nature loves to return to her “still waters ;” and on these she lavishes her sweetest treasures and most enduring gifts. So, while, in every age, contentions about creeds have mainly served to keep good men and women apart, it is to the religious trusts and aspirations common to all faiths that we are indebted for the living things of God that are as the bread of life to the world to-day. May I hope that to these living things these meditations belong?