Bethesda and Principles

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Dearest—,-,
I do not hold that the church is to be ignorant of the times because her period is not determined by them; "There are many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time." Surely if Pharisees ought to have discerned [Matt. 16:33And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:3)], we ought. She ought by the word morally to discern all things, but she is doctrinally by the word set outside these times and signs. The Revelation is given to the church that she may understand her place; that does not necessarily place her in it. She is not of time, though in it; not of the world, though in it. As to the second remark as to the author of the Apocalypse being the same as of the Gospel, etc., it is merely ignorance, which would lead me to judge the author incapable of any sound judgment at all about the matter. The relation of the Father to His children never appears in the Revelation. It is the throne, and the language and style and spirit so unique as to prove totally the contrary to what you refer to.- would have been wiser if he had heard both sides, but in his position he is not likely to be free from the deceit of the enemy.... I do not meddle with other people's judgment as to Bethesda, because I have my own, and as I believe this is a deceit of the enemy; unless delivered from it I do not expect a sound judgment. The word abiding in us, and the unction of the Holy One can alone deliver us from the world, and Antichrist in his various forms.
The world and its spirit are not discerned else, so that I expect delusion.
I have not seen the last edition of Horœ Apocalypticœ. I read the third, I think, a year or two ago. As to four parts of the earth, there seems no ground for it at all. The Vulgate follows the corrected order of the words adopted by all the editors. As to the "measure of wheat," others have had the same thought before him; still one man's daily food for his whole wages is at least a scarcity, for as the commentaries say he may have a wife and children, and at any rate must have a house and clothes; however it would prove scarcity, and exact measurement rather than famine: moreover, I pronounce nothing upon it.
As to Heb. 12:22-2422But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22‑24), καί divides the terms. You are come to Mount Zion; to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; to an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly; to the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven; to God the Judge of all; the spirits of just men made perfect; Jesus, Mediator of the new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel. It ascends from the lowest point of millennial glory uniting heaven and earth, the earthly seat of royal grace in contrast with Sinai the nation's responsibility (Zion was after Ichabod), and then gives the heavenly Jerusalem in contrast with earthly Zion as in general the city of heavenly glory. He then opens out the whole πανήγυρις, the great multitude of angels just there meeting his eye; then as a special company he singles out the elect heavenly church: this gives the full display of grace in its heavenly character. Then he rises up to God, but in the character of righteousness which, whatever the life-giving grace needed, was His character in connection with the Jews or Israel, "God, the judge of all;" hence he next sees "the spirits of just men [an Old Testament designation, as Zacharias and Elizabeth in Luke] made perfect," (perhaps from the use of that word for the winning combatants not yet crowned) that is, the saints of the Old Testament; then, to the means of establishing the new covenant with Israel, "Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant," and the blood which cried for grace for the earth, for sinners and for Israel. The whole order of things in connection with millennial blessing is introduced, giving withal the present condition of souls, and the efficacy of what was accomplished to bring it in, leaving it, as continually in the Hebrews, open to heavenly or earthly accomplishment, though addressing those concerned in the heavenly.
I have no great light and no great difficulty as to the glorious place. I believe there will be a visible glory which will have in a certain sense a place for man to see it; it is the glorious state of the saints, not the saints simply. But then we must not leave out what is the very object and value of a symbol, moral characterization. In Hebrews it is a place, but that place is the church's glory hereafter, which, for instance, Abraham may enjoy, though not it. In Hebrews it is always an objective thing, for the epistle never rises to it as a condition....
Affectionately yours in Christ.
August 28th, 1851.
I think the seven angels are the mystical representatives of the churches in connection with the authority to be exercised on Christ's part in them, in whosever hands that may be found.