We gather from these words that there is such a thing in soul experience as "a following on to know the Lord;" and indeed there is no obtaining the blessings which are laid up for the righteous, unless there is this following on. "To know the Lord" is the desire of every living soul; that is, to know him by his own divine manifestations, by the gracious revelation of his grace, his love, his presence, and his glory.
But the expression, "follow on," implies that there are many difficulties, obstacles, and hindrances in a man's way, which keep him back from "knowing the Lord." Now the work of the Spirit in his soul is to carry him on in spite of all these obstacles. Nature, and all the work of nature, and all the power of Satan working on nature, is to draw the man back; but the work of the Spirit on the soul is to lead him forward, to keep alive in him the fear of God, to strengthen him from time to time with strength in his inner man, to give him those enlargements, to drop in those hopes, to communicate that inward grace, and to gird up the loins of his mind, so that in spite of sense, reason, and nature, he is compelled to follow on.
Sometimes he seems driven, and sometimes drawn, sometimes led, and sometimes carried, but in one way or another the Spirit of God so works upon him that, though he scarce knows how, he still "follows on." His very burdens make him groan for deliverance; his very temptations cause him to cry for help; the very difficulty and ruggedness of the road make him want to be carried every step; the very intricacy of the path compels him to cry out for a guide; so that the Lord the Spirit working in the midst of, and under, and through every difficulty and discouragement, still bears him through, and carries him on; and thus brings him through every trial and trouble and temptation and obstacle, till he sets him before the Lord In glory.
It is astonishing to me how our souls are kept alive. I believe a living man is a marvel to himself. Carried on, and yet so secretly; worked upon, and yet so mysteriously; and yet led on, guided, and supported through so many difficulties and obstacles, that he is a miracle of mercy, and, as the Apostle says, "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men; "the world wondering, the angels admiring, and men standing astonished, how the quickened soul is carried on amidst all its difficulties, obstacles, trials, and temptations; and yet in spite of all "following on."
But "following on" for what? "To know the Lord," as the sum and substance of all religion, as the very marrow of vital godliness; to know Jesus, so as by faith to enter into his beauty and loveliness, and feel ourselves one spirit with him, according to those words, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."